Today I am going to discuss one of my pet peeves. I’m talking about the use of fear to get people into exercise and the promotion of exercise as scary.
Exercise, scary? Whilst it may sound a tad melodramatic, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being scared.
I decided to google ‘exercise motivation.’ These are some of the quotes that came back –
“You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow. You choose.”
“Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going!”
“Pain is just weakness leaving your body.”
And my ultimate favourite –
“Good things come to those who go out and f*****g earn it.”
(Please excuse the language!)
Vomit? Fainting? Pain? Dying?! You bet I’m scared!
I could be wrong but all this ‘motivational’ talk doesn’t exactly have me running for my trainers. For die-hard gym-goers maybe all this macho talk gets them going. People who want to get back into exercise or start a new fitness regime need encouragement and support, not just ‘get on with it then!’
We aren’t stupid. We know getting fitter isn’t always easy and we know it takes work. In the beginning it can feel quite hard building your fitness level up. Therefore, we don’t need to be told again and again, ‘It’s going to hurt!” with connotations of pain and suffering shoved down our throat!
We should be focusing on all the good things about exercise – the enjoyment, the rewards and the feel-good factor. Yes, sore muscles are part and parcel of working out but they are not a big selling point!
We need to hear “you can do it,” “you will really enjoy it,” and “you will feel fantastic afterwards.”
Many people put off exercise because of low self-esteem, convinced that a fitness class will be too hard, they won’t keep up and they will look stupid. I come into contact with so many women who under-estimate their ability to get fitter. With the fitness industry and enthusiasts painting this portrait of exercise as a military boot camp that will spit you out barely alive, it’s no wonder.
I would like to firmly remind anyone coming to my classes for the first time that they WILL be able to do it, no matter what their fitness level, age or size! I always say take it at your own pace.
Scare tactics and the whole, ‘drop and give me 20,’ approach may work for some. Others may just feel scared and this can put them off exercise altogether. I say exercise shouldn’t be scary, it should be fun and promoted as fun!