This will not surprise you: I spend a considerable amount of my life trying to convince people to try new things. It ranges from small things like trying to get a stranger at the grocery store to try the free yogurt sample with me (it’s less gross if you do the fiber shots with a friend!) to big things like voting (you! Vote!!) to the gross things like convincing my three pre-men that peeing IN the toilet rather than just in its general direction will result in sunshine, puppies and a happy mother (not literally puppies of course, I cannot have another incontinent bladder in the house). But aside from literally having to mop down my walls – that’s why we painted them high gloss Mr. Home Depot man! – the most common changes I champion are of the fitness variety.
So, naturally, I hear a lot of excuses (some refer to them as legitimate reasons but whatevs.) They are varied and occasionally creative but they usually distill down to some variation of the following:
Excuse: I might be bad at it.
My answer: Of course you will. If you expect to be the best at everything you try then you will never try anything. Just accept that it probably won’t come naturally to you – if it did you would have figured it out by now and you’d be playing pro golf with Tiger – and move on. I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret of mine: I suck at most things I try. Especially at first. That’s why God invented giggling. Everyone is horrible at something but it doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy it! Have we learned nothing from American Idol? Other variations of this theme include “I’m too uncoordinated” “I’m not a runner” and “I spaz like a three-legged chicken whenever anyone starts counting backwards.”
Excuse: I might not like it.
My answer: True. I’ve done lots of things I hated. But I’ve always learned something from it so it’s not a waste of time. I’m not asking you to pick out curtains with it; just try it twice. Try it once and you’ll probably hate it but go a second time and guaranteed there will be someone newer than you there. It’s amazing what feeling like a “regular” does for your confidence! And if you try it twice and still hate it? Cross it off your list. You’ll get no grief from me.
Excuse: People will stare at me.
My answer: You lucky dog. I’ve been making desperate bids for attention practically my whole life and still rarely get a chuckle from a passerby. But seriously, I do realize that some people are not as exhibitionistic as I am and balk at getting checked out. This is especially true in a gym setting but can be true for any fitness endeavor. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that people really aren’t watching you. They are. They might be ranking you on the hotness scale. They might be making fun of you. They might be wondering where you got those sexysexy yoga pants. They might be staring off into the distance in your general direction. But chances are, whatever they’re thinking, unless you’re Marissa Miller or David Beckham, you’re not the main attraction. So if you just keep going about your business, then so will they. (Alternative option: if you are really brave/confrontational, stare right back at them. Ear wiggling optional.)
Excuse: I don’t know what I’m doing.
My answer: Nobody does. At least not at first. There is nothing natural about the chest press or a roundhouse – they’re learned skills. And thankfully most of us “regulars” (man I feel like I’m subliminally pimping fiber here – yay for poop!) remember what it was like to be a newbie. We’ll help you if you ask! Or ask a friend you trust to show you around. Or one of those gym employees standing around looking bored. Asking questions doesn’t make you look silly, it makes you look smart. Besides, teachers love it when you ask them questions. It’s so much easier than trying to read your mind based solely on that squinched-up face you’re making.
Excuse: I might get hurt.
My answer: This one’s a certainty. You will get hurt. But think how cool the battle scar will be to show off to all your buddies! I know, I know, some people have legitimate health issues but seeing as my paraplegic friend spanks me in basketball, surely you can find something that won’t exacerbate your bursitis. Besides, exercise provides a huge range of health benefits so that scraped shin or rolled ankle will be totally worth it in the end! And if you tell someone you’re really sore from weight lifting/yoga/recumbent hand biking then you might even get a free massage out of it. (Just don’t tell them your butt is sore. I once had someone at the gym ask me to massage their butt for them because they had a big ol’ knot in it. That led to one of the longest awkward silences I’ve ever participated in. Just… no.)
Excuse: I might get bored.
My answer: Then you’re doing it wrong.
This list is by no means exhaustive so fill me in: what are you afraid of? What holds you back from exercising? You have some good advice to relieve people’s fears? Has anyone ever asked you to massage a strange body part for them?