Recently a good friend told me she was struggling to maintain her workout habit. She could force herself to go to a class every now and then, but it wasn’t enough to keep her in the shape she prefers.
She was relying on willpower to get herself to go and it wasn’t working.
“In order to build any habit it has to be rewarding,” I explained. “You need to love it so much that you’re willing to rearrange your day to make sure you can do it.”
I know this firsthand, because it happens to me all the time. Especially when you have a flexible schedule, something my friend and I have in common.
Every week meetings, calls and opportunities come up that conflict with my workout. But skipping workouts makes me miserable, so unless it’s a life or death situation I reschedule everything else before sacrificing my workout time.
There’s no way that would happen if I didn’t love my workouts.
But then she lit up, “I think I feel that way about Pop Physique. Do you know it? It’s with ballet barres.”
I told her I didn’t know it, but that I don’t like workout classes in general.
“I don’t like the group energy as much as my solo workouts or working out with a partner. When I’m alone I put on headphones, I close my eyes and just pump iron. It’s like meditation. I need that to get me through work every day, and don’t get the same feeling from someone yelling at me to pedal harder.”
At this she cut me off. “That sounds AMAZING! I love that feeling too. And now that you mention it, I don’t love the class dynamics either.”
This spurred a deeper dive into how it feels to be in group workout classes.
It turns out there’s an unspoken air of competition in the room. Other women stealing furtive glances at each other in the mirrored walls. A sense of always being looked at and judged for the size of your waistline and the tone of your legs.
As much as she enjoyed the workout, she could still sense an atmosphere of hostility created by the other women in the room.
No wonder it required willpower to go.
Suddenly alternatives to the group classes felt far more appealing. After some reflection we uncovered the barrier that drove her away from solo workouts to begin with.
“You know, the main reason I avoid working out on my own is that I don’t really know what to do in there. I just walk around aimlessly and do stuff at random.”
This was a fantastic insight, because she identified a barrier she can actually do something about.
I proposed a solution: get a trainer.
But not one of those trainers who throws medicine balls at you from weird angles. You don’t want to be dependent on someone else being there for you to get your workout in.
Find someone who will spend a few weeks showing you the ropes. Someone who can teach you about each of the major muscle groups and give you a handful of exercises for each that you can do on your own.
“I think this might be a game changer.”
What are the barriers keeping you from working out?