If there is one thing I’ve learned from being in the fitness industry for more than 20 years, it’s that there is a psychology behind people’s exercise habits. It’s about much more than checking off the “I worked out today” box. People don’t know what to do, they feel intimidated, they get frustrated at lack of results, they don’t feel like they fit in, they don’t even know where to start.
One of the most interesting things a newbie said to me at the beginning of a group exercise class was, “Can I do this class?” I’d never met her. I had no idea if she could do it or not. What I felt like saying was, “I don’t know, can you?” I didn’t say that and, if I had, I wouldn’t mean it as a smart-aleck response. The determination to continue in a workout program that is new/hard/unfamiliar is a very personal choice. Not one that anyone else can make for you. I’ve seen people give in after five minutes and I’ve seen people struggle and struggle and keep coming back until you look up one day, and they’re the beasts of the class. I try to relay that to newbies – the beasts started out at the same spot as you. Don’t give up.
But I’m getting ahead of myself… the psychology behind why people don’t (and do) work out is very interesting to me. So I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their frustrations about working out. It proved to be very enlightening and what I thought would be one blog post turned into a series examining the top five responses: time/schedule, feeling intimidated/unsure what to do, cost, perceived value not being met, and a mismatch on workout personality. With each reason, I will offer suggestions for overcoming it.
This first blog post examines the response we all could have guessed: lack of time/working out doesn’t fit into the schedule.
Kelly says, “The times of classes at the gym are not always the best for me!”
Aaron says, “By the time I have an opening in the schedule, it’s already late.”
Duyen says, “Class times are tough when you want to maximize time with family.”
Jodi says, “Finding and keeping a routine is hard.”
Dawn says, “My schedule doesn’t allow gym time.”
It’s no newsflash that we’re all busy, right? Being an adult is hard. Being an adult with kids or a job or fur babies or any combination plus a million other things is really hard. We could all compare notes on how busy we are.
I remember hearing my friend Joelle (who has four kids) say once, “I plan my entire day around my workout. It’s my priority and I put it on the schedule first.” Not many people can say that, right? But what if you did that? What if you just tried that? For one week? I bet it would be a very interesting experiment.
Which leads us into….
Suggestions to Overcome Lack of Time for Working Out
- Put it on the schedule first
Let’s be real honest… you do have time to work out. If you have 30 minutes to watch a TV show or look at Facebook, you have time to work out. I’m not trying to dole out the tough love, but I am trying to view the issue honestly. What if you tried Joelle’s suggestion of planning your day around a workout? Again, just try it for one week. So if your day looks something like this, where could you fit it in?
Drop kids at daycare
Go to work
Pick up the kids
All the things we have to fit in at night
Go to bed
If you’re a morning person, how about getting up 30 minutes earlier? Or what about working out at lunchtime? Other options might be before you make dinner or while you’re making dinner (stick the food in the oven and workout while it cooks) or after dinner. Think about when you have the most energy – if you’re dead tired in the evenings, fitting in a workout probably won’t work.
- Don’t feel like it has to be some big, gigantic thing
Working out doesn’t need to be complicated. Now, some people prefer a gym environment and enjoy the group motivation factor – I totally get that. But, if you’re squeezed for time, don’t feel like a workout requires a drive to the gym. There are many workouts you can do at home without any equipment at all. YouTube has made it SO easy to have a virtual workout library at your fingertips for free.
For example, I just searched “effective 10 minute workout” on YouTube and found this one and this one and this one. All of these are 10 minutes long and don’t require any special equipment.
Another option that is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time is a brisk walk.
- View it as time for you
There are so many people that think of working out as, “Ugh!! I have to work out! I hate working out! It’s one more thing on my plate and I don’t want to do it!”
Let’s try a shift in perception. You go, go, go all day long. You “serve” others for the most part all day – be that your boss or your family or whatever. What if you viewed working out as a little vacation from reality? Time that is just for you. Something that you look forward to instead of something you dread. Think of that 30 minute walk as time to listen to your favorite music, be outside enjoying the breeze, no one pulling on you or asking you to do something… it’s just for you.
- Make yourself a priority
My last suggestion is just simply to make time because you deserve to do something good for yourself. You’re worth taking care of. You deserve to feel good and you know that doing something healthy for yourself is going to make you feel better. I have clients who tell me “this is the first thing I’ve done for myself in years.” While I hate that it’s taken years for it to happen, this is the RIGHT attitude. Choosing to make time to work out is a gift to yourself. And you deserve it!