How To Overcome Common Workout Fears and Reach Your Goals
February is almost over, the year is starting to roll along, and we've got one question for you: how are you doing on your New Year's resolutions?
We hope you're still going strong with your new year goals, but we understand that sometimes it's harder than we thought to keep going even after just one month. If you're struggling with your New Year's resolutions, just know that you can always start again! You've still got 10 months to reach your goals, and we're here to help!
Today, we are here to help you overcome any fears that may be stopping you from reaching the second most common New Year's Resolution: getting more exercise. We know that starting a new exercise routine can be rough, and there are a lot of unspoken fears that surface once we start going to the gym...or even before we go for the first time.
But don't worry. You can overcome your fears and become a new, better you! Here are just some of the fears you may be experiencing and how you can overcome them:
Fear of What Others Think
When you're new to going to the gym, the sight of seeing "experts" lifting 200+ pounds and knowing how to use every machine can be intimidating. You may walk around, trying to watch others use different machines so you can copy them and appear to know what you're doing. But as soon as you get on that machine or pick up that barbell, it suddenly feels like all eyes are on you, waiting to watch you mess up.
These feelings can be intimidating to anyone, but especially for those who maybe haven't been to the gym for a long time or ever. This feeling of being judged and being afraid of how you appear to others can be debilitating, and it can ultimately lead to someone giving up on their exercise goals.
To help you feel more confident about going to the gym for the first time, here are some things that can help:
- First, recognize that you're going to go to the gym and exercise for YOU! You aren't trying to impress anyone, so just do what you're comfortable with.
- Research how to use certain machines and what exercises are most beneficial before going to the gym.
- Go with a friend who is familiar with gym equipment and can help you know what to do.
- Don't look at others and compare how they're better to you. Instead, look at them and see that you can work your way up to be on the same level.
- Remember that the people at the gym are there to exercise, too, not to judge you.
Fear of Getting Out of Breath
When you jump on that treadmill or start lifting those weights, you may find that you quickly get out of breath. For some, getting out of breath can cause a sense of panic, creating a fear that they won't be able to breathe at all. Once the breathing gets hard, they stop their workout.
Getting out of breath is normal when exercising, and it's more common if you're out of shape. Before starting your new exercise routine, you can always visit with your doctor to determine what kinds of exercises may be best for you and will help you ease into exercise. Pushing yourself past the limit right from the get-go will surely cause you to lose your breath. To help you work through your workout, try these steps:
- Ease yourself into a new routine. Start small and work your way up.
- Practice good breathing techniques: breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Be conscious of your breathing, and control it.
- Tell yourself that it will be okay if you start getting out of breath.
- Be aware of any worrisome signs, such as a heavy chest, lightheadedness, rapid heart rate, confusion, dizziness, and chest pain.*
Fear of Breaking A Sweat
Are you so nervous about sweating in front of others that you avoid going to the gym? If so, that's completely understandable. Many people are self-conscious about sweating, and exercising (and sweating) indoors can make some people uncomfortable. Sweating is a natural way that your body regulates its temperature so that you don't overheat. When you start getting hot and sweaty from your workout, you should be able to cool down quickly once your workout is done. In other words, you won't keep sweating.
While sweating may be embarrassing for some, sweating actually has a lot of great benefits, including:
- Producing endorphins. Because sweating is associated with working out (an activity that products endorphins), prolonged sweating can increase the amount of endorphins your body makes, which can make you feel happier longer.
- Detoxifying the body and reducing zits. Sweating opens up your pores and releases the toxins that can clog your pores and attack your body. By getting a good sweat on, you can keep your body clean and reduce your chances of getting zits and pimples.
- Preventing colds and illness. Sweat contains antimicrobial peptides that help fight against viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
Along with these benefits, just remember that everyone sweats, whether they show it as much as others or not. Sweating is completely natural, and learning about what happens in your body when you exercise can help reduce any fears you may have about sweating in public.
Fear of Hurting Your Back
We sometimes hear of individuals who went out to exercise and ended up straining or hurting their back, which can cause a legitimate fear for the rest of us to go out and do the same thing. However, the key to avoiding any injury, including back injuries, is to practice proper form. Exercise, when done properly, doesn't strain your back; it strengthens it. And by strengthening your back, along with your core, can reduce back pain!
When exercising, be sure to follow these proper forms to help you avoid back injuries:
- If you are doing lower back exercises, such as squats and lunges, keep your abs tight, and pull your navel in towards your back.
- Avoid exercises that feel like you're straining your back.
- If you are lifting weights, lift with your legs, not your back!
- Do you exercises slowly and consciously.
- Use braces or tapes t help support your back during exercises.
- Stretch your back after your workout.
Fear of Pulling A Muscle
Just like hurting your back, the fear of pulling a muscle is legitimate and common. But, again, the key to avoiding a pulled muscle or any kind of injury is proper form! In addition to form, stretching both before and after a workout can reduce your chances of pulling a muscle. Just follow these simple pre- and post-workout stretches:
- Step into a lunge position. Bend the right knee to stretch the lift hip flexor. Then straighten the right knee to stretch the right hamstring. Move back and forth without holding the stretch. Switch sides.
- Swing your arms back and forth around your torso to loosen muscles.
- Move into the same lunge position as in the warm up, but hold it for 20-30 seconds. Switch sides.
- Stretch your hamstring for 20-30 seconds on each side.
Fear of Continuous Post-Workout Pain
If you've ever started exercising after not doing it for a while, odds are you've experienced legs that feel like Jell-O and arms you just can't seem to lift up all the way anymore. These feelings often come from jumping into a rigorous workout instead of easing back into exercise. Soreness is normal, but if you push yourself too hard right away, you could end up injuring yourself.
If your soreness is just from starting to exercise again, it will usually go away after a day or two. Just take it easy until the pain subsides, but keep exercising those muscles! If it hurts too much to do a full workout, do half of the number of reps, or do half the weight. Go at your own pace, and cut down your speed for cardio workouts. In time, your soreness will dissipate, and your muscles will become stronger.
A great way to help you ease post-workout pain is to run some Tohi Complete Relief on the sore spots. The natural ingredients and essential oils inside this muscle rub will create a cooling sensation that soothes sore muscles and eases discomfort.
Fear of Not Accomplishing Your Goals
If you're keeping yourself from the gym because you're worried it will end up like those other times you stopped going, just tell yourself, "This time is different!" Don't focus on how you're not to your end goal yet and how far it still seems. Instead, focus on your success for each workout. Did you push yourself or do more reps? Do you feel like you can breathe easier and like you're getting stronger? By tracking individual, daily successes, you will feel more motivated to keep going.
Fear of Missing Out
If any of these other fears are keeping you from achieving your New Year's goal of getting more exercise, let this one motivate you to get started! There is nothing worse than looking back and wishing that you could have stuck with your exercise routine and achieved your goals. But guess what. You are in control, and you can achieve your goals! Just imagine where you want yourself to end up, and use the fear of missing out on that to motivate you to keep moving along, one workout at a time.
*Disclaimer: RMO is not a health practice and is not liable for any injury. Please consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routines to ensure your safety.
Borreli, Lizette. “Sweat It Out! 5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Sweating That Actually Don’t Stink.” Medical Daily. 07 November 2014. https://www.medicaldaily.com/sweat-it-out-5-surprising-health-benefits-sweating-actually-dont-stink-309718
Economy, Peter. “10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019.” Inc. 1 January 2019. https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html
“How to Stop Feeling Judged at the Gym: The Psychology of Gym Anxiety.” Routine Excellence. https://routineexcellence.com/stop-feeling-judged-gym-psychology-gym-anxiety/
Mansour, Stephanie. “How to overcome these common workout fears- and finally lose weight.” NCB News. 15 January 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-overcome-these-common-workout-fears-finally-lose-weight-ncna952941