Here’s an interesting statistic for you:
A government study estimates that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, potentially setting themselves up for years of health problems. *
What are the recommended amounts of exercise?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.
Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
For most of my life, I was strongly in that 80%. Not only did I not do the recommended amount, I disdained it. One of the major reasons I didn’t do it? I had no idea how fun working out could be.
I’m an introvert and the idea of sweating and doing things I would have no idea how to do in front of other people sounded terrible. I was afraid I would be judged. I was afraid I would make an ass out of myself. I was afraid I would pay for it and I would hate it. I was simply afraid.
I suspect I am not alone in this. I think that is why the $10 gym memberships to Planet Fitness or whatever are so popular. However, working out, just on the face of it, is incredibly boring. I mean, hopping on a treadmill or an elliptical for an hour… ugh. If I had to do that, I wouldn’t go either. In fact, I firmly believe that if I had started working out at a place like that, I would have given up in a matter of weeks.
I also tried running on my own. I was able to do it, but I was bored silly. I know there are people that love running with a passion. I’m not one of them. Though trail running can be pretty darn fun.
However, I was lucky. I started working out at a boutique gym that only offered classes. Yes, classes. Look, I know. If you have never worked out before, the idea of a class sounds horrible. I am sure there are some classes out there that suck. But every class I have taken has been totally worth my time, and here is why:
The Coaches or Instructors are In Charge
Instructors want you to come back. So it is in their best interest if you have a great experience. That means getting a good workout, having fun, making sure people stay safe, and making modifications when necessary for people. But the beauty is, they are in charge of making that happen. You get to turn off your thinking mind for awhile and just follow the instructions. I love having someone else take care of everything, from the handling the programming to making sure I have good form. I don’t have to worry about that.
Furthermore, if you are really worried about not knowing what to do – that is all the more reason to take a class with a Coach or an Instructor. They are there to help you and show you what to do.
There are Other People There
We all have a fear of being judged – myself included. However, over and over I have found that no one cares that much about you. And that’s a good thing. People are there for their own workout and their own reasons. They are not there to judge someone new. More likely you are coming into a place they already like and they are happy to have you there.
Also, I have met amazing friends through my gyms. Seriously great people that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for classes. Now I know that every time I go I will see folks I love being with, and that is tremendous motivation.
A Great Class Will Get You Out of Your Comfort Zone
And this is another good thing. We are creatures of safety. We tend to stick with what we know. Would I have learned to throw a right hook, climb a rope, do a kipping pull-up on my own? Of course not. The photo to the right is me, being coached on how to climb a rope, in a park, in the winter, in Michigan. It was a blast, but no way would I have done that alone.
Even running – sure, I ran on my own, but I had a lot more fun when I found my tribe and we ran together. If you can find a running group at your pace, that is also a wonderful thing.
All You Need is One Class You Love
If you can find one class that you enjoy or one Coach that knows how to make a class fun, that’s all you need. Once you find that, you will probably find yourself going to more classes, willing to try new things, or following that instructor or Coach to other classes. Then just go a few times. Make a month-long commitment. Before long you will be meeting those recommended guidelines in no time.
Pictured below: Me, one year later, scaling the rope in a Spartan Race. The person who took the photo was one of my teammates and friends from the gym.