Whenever I hang out with my friend Karen Kraus, we either end up planning to take over the world together, or planning to make the world a better place together. So, as you can imagine, I adore her. She’s smart and driven and compassionate and filled with joy. My kind of gal.
I’ve also worked with her as a personal trainer and she is understanding, intuitive, and patient. She helped me design a workout that focused on arm strength and accommodated my bad back, but also managed to include a bunch of exercises that work core, legs, and overall balance. It tires me out, but after about three weeks I’m already noticing a difference.
Her bio is pretty durned impressive, too. Karen is a former collegiate athlete and elite level cyclist. She currently stays active by practicing yoga, cross country skiing, trail running, cycling, strength training, and simply being outside. Right now, she’s working as a certified ACE personal trainer and licensed and nationally certified massage therapist, and come fall she’ll also be teaching personal training and massage at Saint Paul College. She is truly passionate about health and wellness, and knows that if exercise isn’t FUN, nobody’s gonna do it.
I asked Karen to write a bit about motivation, fitness, and mental blocks. Here’s what she had to share:
What Do You Think About When You Think About Exercise?
In some ways, exercise is like fashion. Some of us are natural style “experts,” while others dread the thought of going into a store. For me, nothing ever seems to fit and I have no idea what will look good on my body. It took me years to enter a clothing store without feeling judged by the employees as I walked in. Actually, I take that back: I still struggle with it. I keep saying to myself, “They’re here to help me. If I just walk out of the door, I will have to keep wearing these horrible clothes and I’ll never look on the outside how I feel on the inside; which is AWESOME!”
Fitness employees are the same way. We are here to help YOU! We want you to feel amazing about yourself. Working out and moving your body has so many benefits, but to me the most important thing you can possibly gain from working out is feeling good about yourself. Working out and moving your body allows you to take control and can give you amazing self-confidence and body-awareness. Maybe you are thinking, “I’m sure working out will make me feel better, but how in the world do I even get started? What if everyone in the gym, class, studio, or playing field stares at me as I walk past?” Well, keep on reading, sister, because I’ve got a few steps below to help you out.
Five Steps to Help You
Break Through Workout Barriers
1. Don’t Let Fear Get You Down
“Feel the fear and do it anyway. “
~ Susan Jeffers
All right, you are scared.What if you are the weakest in the class, or you don’t know how to work the treadmill? Even worse, what if everyone STARES at you? My advice: Put on a big smile, stand up straight, and be truthful with yourself. Maybe you don’t know how to use the equipment, maybe you are the weakest one in the class … but guess what, that is OK. Once you accept the fact that you are not a master at fitness and you realize everyone else was in the same boat as you at one point, you will be able to take the big leap into a healthier life.
2. It’s Gotta Be Fun
“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”
~ Michael Jordan
Nobody likes to do things that are not fun, so don’t. There are millions of different activities that will get you moving. Write down all the things you like to do – or might like to do – that involve moving, sweating, and getting stronger. Try them all and find your favorites. If you create a workout plan that is comprised of activities you absolutely dread doing, it will be incredibly hard to keep it up.
3. The Strong Guys Are Nice
“Success rests not only on ability, but on commitment, loyalty, and pride.”
~ Vince Lombardi
The scary guy down in the pit grunting and sweating with veins popping out of his muscled arms is NOT laughing at you. Crazily enough, it can be just the opposite. More often than not, if you find the courage to ask one of these guys or gals a question about lifting, they will bend over backwards to help you out. Weight lifters love nothing more than to talk about their bodies and show people “the best way” to do an exercise. Be selective in who you decide to walk up to. Watch them for a while. If they are talking and having fun, then ask away. If they have headphones on and are beating themselves up over the burger they had last night, steer clear … they could turn into a pit bull.
4. Make Time
“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
~ Charles Bruxton
If you want to do something, put it in writing. Scheduling your time efficiently is so important in today’s world, and our days are already jam-packed with other commitments. Pencil in your workouts and treat them like work meetings. Do not cancel them! Taking even 20 minutes out of your day to work out will be so very beneficial to you. I know this may sound crazy, but setting that alarm to get in a workout in BEFORE work is a smart idea. By 6 p.m. your brain can cook up many reasons why it would be better to go home instead of work out.
5. Seek Help
“Who exactly seeks out a coach? Winners who want even more out of life.”
~ via Chicago Tribune
If you think it’s going to be hard to do this on your own, find help. Using the buddy system can really increase accountability. Team up with a friend, find a group that is training for an event, or hire a personal trainer. There are fitness professionals everywhere that are more than happy to talk with you. If personal training seems expensive, try partner training, small group training, or a group fitness class.
Hopefully some of the ideas in this post will give you the courage, motivation, and excitement you need to get moving and embrace the world of movement and exercise. Try these five steps, put your workouts on a calendar, get your butt off your chair, and get moving!
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Image via livestrong.com