What Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Knew...
I get it. The gym can be a daunting place. If you’ve never been in before, you’re mind is going crazy…
‘Where do I put my bag? Where do I go first? What the heck is this machine…? Is he looking at me…? OH GOSH EVERYONE IS LOOKING AT ME! Am I doing this right…? Is this what I should be doing…? WHY ARE THEY ALL STARING!’
But trust me, 99% of what is going on inside your head right now is just your brain trying to play tricks on you.
As a personal trainer, I’ve had countless women semi-reluctantly come into a session (and keep in mind this is just the ‘talking’ part, not physically being in the gym), because they just have so many fears about training — regardless of what type of training that is. And these fears may manifest in concerns, or they may manifest in excuses.
Last week, I placed a focus on why we needed to get real with ourselves and get out of that workout ‘rut’ — and why it is so important that we prioritise moving our bodies in our everyday life.
So, to help with that, I thought I’d answer the questions I hear most. Because a lot of the time, the things that are stopping us are just inside our head.
So now, instead of having to go into the gym feeling scared/nervous/unsure, you now have some questions answered, and you can go in with more confidence.
Buuuut there were so many questions that popped into my head I thought ‘Wait a minute… WHY NOT DO TWO?!’ So keep an eye out for Part Two next week! Because otherwise you’d be reading for days.
So here we go…
I can usually guarantee I’ll hear one of the following:
1. I am so short on time. I’m so busy and I just haven’t been able to fit it in anymore!
This is one I hear all the time. Does the person think it’s a legitimate excuse? Yes. Is it? Probably not.
A lot of the time, when you have all these fears in your head, you’ll find (and use!) every excuse in the book of why you can’t do this ‘thing’. And I know that’s a hard thing to hear, and even harder to admit. But you’ll notice it… deep down there’s fear, so you come up with reasons why you can’t do it. Be real with yourself! Are you genuinely the busiest person on earth? Or do you just not really want to do something?
Moving your body in some way is one of the most important things you can do. It’s an instant mood-booster, it’s an energy pick-me-up, it’s an aid for your immune system, it helps build strength and endurance, it helps you sleep better, it staves off diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease… need I say more?!
So whether it’s before work, after work, in the evening, in your lunch break… there’s always time to move. And I’m not talking a two hour gym session.
It could be a walk, a 20 minute stretch, a Pilates or yoga class, a quick high intensity session... what I’m trying to say is absolutely eliminate those ideas about what you ‘should’ be doing, and start listening to what you enjoy, and what fits well in your life.
I guarantee, once you start moving in a way you enjoy, you’ll see results, feel more confident and happy within yourself AND be excited about fitting exercise into your day.
2. I just avoid any area with people (especially males!) because I know they’re all staring at me.
This is something I hear SO OFTEN. But trust me, everyone in the gym (especially the men!) are too busy watching themselves to worry about you. And I know, it’s sounds like I’m trying to make everyone out to be superficial and up themselves. But I’m not (I promise!). Whether someone just loves looking at themselves, or they’re focused on their form through an exercise, their eyes are generally on themselves.
Yes, of course. It’s just like anywhere else in life — people will check other people out. And that might make you uncomfortable or you might take it as a compliment, but either way that is absolutely no reason to stop doing something that you enjoy and that makes a difference to your life (do you stop walking down the street for fear of someone checking you out??).
As an aside, I have noticed, in my own workouts, that people will sometimes ‘stare’. And I am totally guilty of this. But it’s usually not staring — it’s being in a rest period between sets and just sort of ‘zoning out’. And this is definitely more awkward for someone when they realise they’ve been mindlessly staring at you!
3. I will be by myself and I just can’t bear the thought of going alone…
I would say around 80% of people in the gym or class have gone by themselves. You aren’t the first person to ever go alone, and you won’t be the last!
And those people that seem to know everyone? Chances are it’s actually just because they have struck up conversation with people in the gym/class in the past. Not because they come to the gym with a posse of 10 people. When you spend time somewhere, of course you get to know people!
The other thing to remember here is that the gym/class environment isn’t a hostile one. People want to help you! Whether it’s a tip, help with a machine, nailing your form, advice on what you need for a class, or anything else — chances are if you ask someone, they’d be more than happy to help. Yes, they won’t come over (unless it’s a personal trainer who wants to help you workout safely), because that’s not what people do. But if you ask, you’ll find friendly, ready-to-help people.
So if it’s going alone that is worrying you, I promise you… it’ll just feel daunting for the half an hour before you get there!
4. I don’t know much about exercise or what I should be doing…
You’ve not been to a class before and you’ve not been into a weights area before, and you’re looking around thinking, ‘Where the heck do I even start? What ARE all these things…?!’ And you just don’t really know where or how to begin.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of working out, where there seems to be new exercises popping up every day. But I promise you, within even a week of being in a gym environment, you’ll feel like you know what most of the machines/weights/accessories do.
Here’s the thing: no one expects you to know what everything does, how to build a workout or how to perform exercises on your very first day. From different exercises, to weight, to repetitions, to sets, to rest periods… there’s a lot to think about when it’s all new to you.
And the worst thing you could do? Dive in and pretend you know what you’re doing. Go to the class instructor, or go to the personal trainers, and ask for guidance or an orientation session. It’ll give you the confidence to know where to start and what to do. And even if you feel uncomfortable for looking like a ‘newbie’, chances are there’s 5 other people around you wishing they’d done the same.
It’s also important for another reason: your safety. Especially with weights, it’s incredibly easy to injure yourself if you are not performing the exercise with the correct form (especially with heavy exercises, and especially ones that involve your back). Take the time to learn and to ask for help… wouldn’t you rather 5 minutes of help over a damaged back…?
And here’s the other thing to remember. Just because Sally told you that you should be in the gym lifting weights doesn’t mean that’s what works for you.
We all have forms of exercise that work for us, that don’t work for us, that excite us, that bore us to death, that we love doing, and that we hate. Just because something is deemed to be the ‘wonder workout’ doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Listen to your body. If something active lights you up — that’s where you need to be. Moving your body and seeing changes isn’t as simple as eating less and exercising more. It’s a complex mix of hormones (particularly stress hormones), the physiological build of a body, our nutrition, how well we nourish our bodies and a whole lot of other factors including hydration, sleep, exercise history and so on.
So choose the thing that you enjoy most. I guarantee you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to exercising and you’ll be happier, less stressed (and with that comes the body changes that you want to see), full of energy and more confident in yourself.
There's four of my most answered questions up there. And I hope they put your mind a little at ease! Like I said, that is just 'Part One' - 'Part Two' will come next week! If there's anything you have ever wanted to ask a personal trainer... now is your chance!
Hit the comment button below, or email me at email@example.com (or hit our contact page up above!) - I would love to hear from you, and answer any questions you're too nervous to ask someone in person.
BY COURTENAY MCCULLOCH
Founder of Thrive Collective, activewear-wearing, brunch-loving, dog-obsessed girl on a mission to help all women realise their real potential and start living a life where they thrive in every moment.