Tag Archives: exercise

Overcoming Fear of Public Exercise

30 Apr

Many people, particularly , fear starting an exercise program. If you are shy about exercising in public, you are not alone. Allow me to ease your fears!

Fear #1: “I am embarrassed about my body/appearance.”

As a fitness instructor, I see all types of bodies. Bodies truly do come in all shapes and sizes, and ALL bodies are amazing! I am constantly in awe of our biological machines. Your body moves you from place to place. Your heart and lungs work 24/7 without you telling them to! Your skin and bones and organs regenerate. Your wounds heal. EVERY body is a miracle and a wonder.

Many women, especially, are concerned about extra fat they may be carrying in one area or another. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, we can put on more fat than is healthy. But it’s not the freakin’ end of the world, people. What’s so bad about fat, anyway? Yes, if you are carrying so much fat that it is negatively impacting your health, there is a reason for concern. But most people don’t walk around ashamed about their high cholesterol levels. Most of the time we’re concerned about how we look. I have to tell you, the meanest things I’ve heard people say about fat are things people have said about themselves. STOP IT. You don’t deserve that kind of abuse.

The problem with hating your body is that you stop living your life. If you are telling yourself: “I can’t exercise/socialize/wear nice clothes/apply for that job/date that person/etc. because of my body and how it looks.” then you are probably not very happy. And if you think you are not happy because of your body and how it looks, think again. You are probably unhappy because of all the opportunities that you are CHOOSING not to take. Choose life, my friends. Even if if feels uncomfortable, just take baby steps. Put one foot in front of the other until you look up and realize, “Hey! I’m doing it! I’m living life!”

You’d be amazed at how little connection there is between body image and what a person actually looks like. Some of my thinnest, most toned students are the most concerned about “fat” (not an issue for them) on their bodies. If you can’t be happy with yourself until you look like models in magazines, you’ll never find it. Because those images aren’t real:

When it comes to exercise, if you have not been training, be kind to your body and choose a workout for beginners. Find a trainer or a class where you feel comfortable and supported (if you’re in Madison, WI check out – not a fashion show, come as you are!). Once you start moving, I promise your relationship with your body will move forward as well.

Fear #2: “I might sweat/turn red/pant/burp/fart/or otherwise embarrass myself during exercise.”

Uh, yeah. I hope you will sweat and breathe hard during exercise! It feels amazing! What a rush when your body heats up and you feel that blood pumping– that’s what working out means! You work out your body to work out stress, toxins, sluggish digestion, low energy, anxiety, boredom, etc. That’s your body coming alive! And yeah, sometimes people fart or burp in exercise classes. I have never in my years of training seen one person point and laugh (ok, that did happen once between two 8-year-olds in my kids’ kung fu class…). Might you feel awkward for a moment? Possibly. Will your life end? Definitely not. EVERY body has the same basic functions, including the awkward ones. You are not alone in that, I promise.

Fear #3: “I won’t be able to keep up because everyone else knows more and is more fit.”

If you have never exercised on purpose before, you need to find a beginner-level class or a trainer who specializes in working with beginners. A competent teacher/trainer will never ask your body to do anything it can’t handle. That being said, all bodies have different strengths and weaknesses. Some bodies are very strong but lack endurance. Some bodies are very flexible but lack strength. You get the idea. Work to your strengths.

If you are paralyzed by fear, start with something you know you can do. Walking is a wonderful place to start. Walk 5 minutes at a casual pace to warm up and practice upright posture, then push your speed and swing your arms until you are breathing hard and sweating. Maintain as close as you can to that pace for 20 minutes. Finish with a 5 minute cool-down walk. Repeat that workout 3-6 times per week, adding speed or distance if you feel like it. You will improve your fitness AND your confidence.

If you read this paragraph and though to yourself, “I’m not that out of shape…” then you don’t have to worry about starting a fitness class or program. Just be kind to yourself and remember that everyone had a first day.

Fear #4: “I will look silly because I am uncoordinated.”

I have worked with so many beginners. Some are more coordinated than others. As an instructor, I analyze movement and provide corrections. I don’t place judgement. My least coordinated beginners have often become star students! And at my studio, other students are always supportive. When you look for a place to exercise/learn an activity, look for a place that feels safe to you. Follow your gut. Some places are better than others, and when you find a good one, you won’t need to worry about looking silly because your peers and instructors/trainers will be nothing but supportive of your growth in fitness.

Fear #5: “I won’t fit in or make friends because other people will be clique-y and/or mean.”

Not everyone is in it for the social aspect, but if you want to make friends at your exercise class it’s the same deal as any other situation. Say hello and introduce yourself. Be nice. Small talk is easier because you have something in common. “How long have you been doing this? This is my first day and I’m nervous…” Talking to other students/members about their experience is also a good way to feel out the vibe of a place. If people are nice to you, that’s one more reason to keep doing it. If they are not nice, remember it’s not you, it’s them. Either they are very shy/awkward or they are kind of a jerk. At that point you get to decide if this is a class/gym you want to join or not. And sometimes it’s worth trying a week instead of just one class. Maybe one instructor is very introverted so their class has a different feel. Maybe you have more in common with the Thursday night group than the Wednesday night group. Dare to find out! You just might have fun.

Too Muscular? Is That a Thing Now?

21 Mar

Is there such a thing as being too muscular for a woman? This never occurred to me until I started teaching kickboxing. Every now and then a student would approach me and ask, “This isn’t going to make me too muscular is it?”

1. No, you’re not going to get “too muscular” from working out 2-3 times per week. You’re going to maintain a healthy body.

2. Since when are we worried about this??!

Muscles = Strength. Physical strength is especially important for women. Yes, it feels great to be able to endure a hard workout, but more importantly it feels great just to be able to do normal stuff. I teach a Women’s Strength Training class at . After training for a few months, one of my students said to me, “I feel so much better. I know it sounds silly but before I took this class I wasn’t able to lift heavy things. I self-identified as ‘weak’ and I would joke about it with friends and family. They would say, ‘Oh, don’t make her carry that, she’s so weak!’ and I would laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I’m so weak!’” After a few months of strength training she became proud of her ability to manage physical tasks in day to day life.

Concerned about looks?

First of all, a strong woman is a sexy woman and anyone who sees physical strength as a turn-off is SO not worth your time. Seriously. Think about it.

Secondly, the purpose of diet and exercise is to nurture vibrant health. And when I say “diet” I mean eating for health every day as part of a healthy lifestyle. I do NOT mean jumping on the bandwagon of some diet fad in order to lose weight because you don’t look like the model on the latest cover of Cosmo.

We all have different body types, and a healthy body is an attractive body.

That being said, let’s say you legitimately need to lose some body fat for health reasons. Muscle burns fat.

Let me go one step farther and speak to those of you who still really want to look like those models in the magazines.

Check out Heidi's abs. I guarantee you she does strength training.

Cardio alone will not give you a body like this. Women who do cardio only tend to have a doughy look, even when they are very thin. Anyway, how muscular do you think you are going to get? Is Jillian Michaels too muscular?

You think a body like this happens by accident??

I can imagine some women would say yes. They want the abs but not the arms. I don’t really get it. What about Jackie Warner? Are those abs too much for you?

Good news! I give you my 100% guarantee that you will never look in the mirror one day and think, “Whoops! I’ve gone and done it! I didn’t mean to build those large, well-defined muscles! What’s a girl to do?”

These women are full-time fitness professionals. I’ve read Jackie Warner’s book. I know what she eats. That woman is DISCIPLINED.

Let me put it simply. Even if there were such a thing as too muscular (and perhaps some body builders have gotten there…), it is pretty much a full-time job to get there.

For the average woman, doing the recommended amount of exercise (alternating strength/cardio 3-6 days per week) and eating healthy foods without taking supplements like creatine, you’re just going to look good and feel strong.

In my book, that’s a good thing.

How To Love Push Ups (Even If You Can’t Do One Now)

14 Feb

I can’t tell you how many women walk into my studio feeling seriously demoralized because of a real or perceived lack of upper body strength. Yes, men naturally have more upper body strength than women and yes, it can be really annoying when a man can do more push ups or pull ups than you without training. So what can we do about this?

As once said, “Don’t be a cry baby. Be a try baby.”

Push ups have been called “the perfect exercise” because they truly work the entire body and you can do them anywhere with no equipment. Women, in my experience, sometimes approach this exercise with hesitation. I can’t really blame them. If I hear one more fitness instructor refer to push ups from knees as “girl push ups” I am going to puke. I watch men do sloppy, pointless push ups every day because they would have to go to their knees to do them properly. Meanwhile I see many women who are ready to do push ups from their toes but lack the confidence.

Anyone can learn to do proper push ups, even if they start out with very little upper body strength. As with any physical activity, it is important to learn proper form from a qualified instructor to avoid injury and maximize efficiency. After that, it all comes down to your personal commitment.

Check out this instructional video and get started today. Set a goal you can keep, but know that the more often you practice, the faster you will see results. I recommend working on your push ups at least once per day (it takes 5 minutes or less!) but if that seems daunting start with 3 times per week. Anything less than that will leave you feeling frustrated.

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