Confession: Sometimes I skip workouts.
I love lifting and getting sweaty just as much as the next person, but sometimes I just really, really, really don’t want to go to the gym.
We’ve all been there; even those among us who identify as gym-junkies and fitness fanatics have had periods when getting to the gym was the absolute last thing we wanted to do. Sometimes that feeling is a message: It could be time to rest, recover, or reduce the intensity with which we exercise.
In this case, your “work” is your fitness—it’s the very real and essential act of self-care that is movement. Yes, you heard that right: exercise is fundamentally a form of self-care, and the very act of moving is to honor your body’s need to do so. If we care for our bodies, we find that all obstacles in life become more controllable.
Alas, sometimes the resistance that stands between us and our fitness isand relentless. I don’t subscribe to the “no excuses” adage that so many fitness trainers throw out; I think there are lots of excuses, and many of them are extremely valid. But sometimes it’s not a matter of excuses at all—just a matter of fighting resistance, making things more realistic, and removing obstacles that stand in the way of us and our workouts.
Thankfully resistance can be overcome; what follows are four simple strategies to assist you in doing so.
OVER COMING FITNESS RESISTANCE
The oldest tool in the anti-resistance toolbox is also one of the most effective:
. This can be done by signing up for a class that you’re expected to attend, having a gym buddy, or simply asking your personal trainer to hold you to your intentions. The base rationale is this: If you say you’re going to do something and other people are counting on you to do it, you’re more likely to do it.
If resistance is the issue, it makes sense to take the path that involves as little of it as possible. What I mean is this: When resistance is bubbling up from within you, do your best to limit external resistance.
- If evening exercise is the aim, keep your gym bag in the car so that instead of going home after work, you go straight to the gym.
- If early morning exercise is the aim, sleep in your gym clothes or lay them out the night before. (Sleeping in them might feel icky for some, but I recently wore the same sweat pants 8 days in a row, so what do I know?)
- Try to find a gym that’s close enough to your home or place of work that getting there isn’t inconvenient.
If you can create a situation that involves fewer external obstacles, you’ll increase your likelihood of overcoming resistance.
Part of what keeps so many of us from committing to a consistent fitness routine is the misunderstanding of what that has to entail. If, like me, you were bred to believe that workouts need to be long and comprehensive in order to be effective, allow me to disprove that myth.
While it’s nice to be able to commit to an hour long+ training session when time allows, this isn’t always possible. Further, we fall into the trap of thinking that if we can’t do said training session, we might as well not do it all.
Wrong! Wrong on all counts!
Minimum effective dose is the smallest or shortest amount of something you can do while still eliciting a positive response. So rather than commit to hour long workouts, consider 30 minutes.
And here’s why: when it comes to fitness (and just about any other positive habit), . If perfection is the goal, we’ll rarely-if ever-reach it. By setting ourselves up to only go to the gym if we have plenty of time, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. What happens when we’re slammed with a project? Up all night with an infant or a sick kiddo? Traveling and pressed for time?
If we set out to move , regardless of the length of the workouts, we’ll be more likely to create a sustainable, long term habit.
Along this same vein, consider that not every workout needs to be “hardcore,” because the more consistently you move, the more movement becomes your norm.
As a personal trainer, I understand the struggle to conform to societal pressures and strive for an “ideal” body. Even after healing my body image issues, I found myself over-identifying with my athleticism and putting a great deal of pressure on myself to “perform.”
When we stress and obsess over the reasons behind our pursuit of fitness, it can often be difficult to step into a space of ease and adaptability. We wind up making things feel very serious, and in the process can bump up against a mountain of resistance.
But if we can learn to move for the sake of movement, to view fitness as a means of self-care and a method of honoring our bodies, we can begin to overcome this resistance.
Take the “shoulds” and the “musts” and the seriousness out of fitness, and ask yourself instead: What do I actually enjoy? What makes me feel ? How can I move in a way that honors my energy levels, my preferences, and my limitations?
Resistance is a very real struggle. It manifests within us, paralyzing and debilitating us, and is further exacerbated by many of life’s external obligations and commitments. But, with the right tools and a willingness to adapt, resistance be overcome.
Fitness, as it turns out, doesn’t have to be so serious. It be something that adds a tremendous amount of value and meaning to our lives, if we can learn to overcome the resistance that stands between us and our body’s inherent desire to move.