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First and foremost let me tell you that it is completely within your rights to hate exercise. It is also completely within your rights not to do any exercise at all. You get to be the boss of you. That means you are under no moral or social obligation to exercise or even think positively about it.
Personally, I’ve grown to love exercise and love what it does for me. And I love to teach other people to exercise and to share my love for exercise with folks. Some people will never love exercise or even like it. And that’s okay. But I think sometimes people who think they hate exercise, really only hate one aspect of exercise. And sometimes (but not always) I have been able to help people move around, over, under or through those barriers to exercise and they find that they do really like exercise after all.
So if you hate exercise, but really wish you didn’t hate exercise, or at least could understand what all the fuss from all those happy exercisers is about, I have some thoughts to share with you. Here are some of the most common exercise “hate points” I’ve discovered and some suggestions for how you might move around them if you like.
1. I hate to sweat. The first thing to understand is what about sweating do you hate? Are you embarrassed about sweat? Most great athletes sweat. In fact, it’s a sign that your body is working in a healthy way. Are you uncomfortable when you sweat? If you have the means, you might consider buying some exercise clothes in technical, sweat-wicking fabrics. Cotton (especially cotton socks) is uncomfortable when it gets wet and can lead to chafing. Or maybe you want to exercise someplace cooler (see next point).
2. I hate being hot. First of all, I feel ya. I also hate being hot. But here again, there are some options. You can exercise in a highly air-conditioned space like the mall. The mall is also usually quite flat, easy to navigate for people who have less control over their feet and usually (but not always) pretty safe. Also, if you like to exercise outside, you can aim for early morning or evening. Just be sure you are someplace relatively safe and have a charged cell phone with you at all times. Also, swimming is a great exercise for people who like to stay warm. But this leads to a whole other problem for some exercisers (see next point).
3. Exercise messes up my hair. I hear you. Swimming or having hair that is soaked with sweat may initiate a whole hair care ritual that is absolutely no fun. If this is you, I might suggest that you exercise first thing in the morning, and accept going to your workout with messy hair. Then you can get coiffed just one time in the morning in the locker room after your workout rather than having to do your hair once per day. Another option is to do your workout at the end of the day and wash your hair before bed time. Depending on your style, perhaps you can just spray with water and style your hair in the morning. I find that wearing a thin sweat band under my hair, helps keep my hair from getting too sweaty, but your experience may be different.
4. Exercise is boring. So many people try just one form of exercise, and when they don’t love it, they decide that exercise is no fun. Finding the right form of exercise is like finding your prince or princess. Sometimes ya gotta kiss a whole lot of frogs before you find the right one. So don’t get married to the first form of exercise you try. Experiment a little. Go on some exercise dates. And even when you find a form of exercise you love, you’ll still need to change things once in a while to spice things up. Sometimes you need to do it in a different place. Sometimes you need to try a different position. And sometimes you just need to try something altogether different.
5. I suck at exercise. Here’s a secret. I am very, very uncoordinated. Sure, now I teach dance classes. But it was really a challenge for me to learn the choreography and put together my routines. Because most of us suck when we try something new. And we suck at it until we do it a while and then we either suck at it less, or we actually get kinda of good at stuff. But understanding the lot of the newbie and embracing beginnerness can help you not only in your exploration of fitness, but in other stuff as well.
6. Exercise hurts. This is an often complicated but important point about exercise. A certain amount of soreness or stiffness is pretty normal when you exercise in a new way or with some muscles you haven’t used in a while. This is called DOMS for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. BUT exercise shouldn’t hurt a lot while you are doing it and it shouldn’t hurt a lot the next day. The key here is to work very slowly and gradually beyond your current fitness level. Depending on your current activity level this might mean moving very slowly. Or maybe you are only going to work out for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter how little you start with. Nobody even has to know what that is. It matters that you aren’t in too much pain and that you are able to exercise again in a day or two. If you are coping with serious or chronic pain, you might need to work on some underlying issues with a physical therapist and eventually work with a trainer to develop a program. But a lot of studies indicate that even people coping with chronic or serious pain eventually find pain relief from a properly constructed, reasonable exercise program.
There’s more to say, but I gotta go teach my dance class. So for now we’ll say, “To be continued…”
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
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