Committing to physical activity


Where does the dread before a workout come from? Is it actually the workout itself? If this were so we would not say things like “I’m fine once I get started, it’s getting there that is the problem.” Even the most seasoned fitness enthusiasts experience decreased levels of motivation before exercise. So it can be of no doubt that as a ‘regular joe’ you will certainly face this dilemma as well.

My experience as a personal trainer has taught me the dread comes from a combination of trying to meet a ‘gold standard’ with our effort, and the level of commitment we expect is necessary to give towards this standard.

At the very beginning of training experiences, people come to me with fiery ambitions ready to finally give what it takes to meet the goal. Yet they burn out so quickly. The greater, more intense the fire, the quicker the burnout. On this basis, it is my belief that effort is not our issue when it comes to physical activity. It is the component of commitment.

Think of it like a relationship. You want to make good, lasting impression, but the type of relationship you want to have will impact the degree of effort you give. So if you hadn’t any clue into dating, would you ask somebody who has been married a long time current dating advice? Perhaps, but that advice would be on the premise that you have to get married, which you may or may not want.

First, develop a cordial friendship with physical activity. This will allow you to find out what particular type of exercise you like to be around. And trust me, different modes of exercise have different personalities. But do try new experiences.

Second, if you want to be more serious about it, make some dates. Start planning workouts, asking others what works for them, and see if it becomes something regular for you. It might lead to a daily thing, and it might not, you really have nothing to lose by trying.

Third, and this is the big one, make it a life commitment. Hire a trainer. Become a trainer or instructor. Live your passion out and grow with it. Very few of us reach this point with physical activity. We have other commitments to hold onto that we’ve already grown a part of, and this is perfectly okay.

There is no need to come out expecting to live in perfection with exercise. It’s a journey just like any other thing. If you give more commitment than is necessary the dread you feel toward something will grow heavier over time. The point is to feel happy about yourself with what you are doing. Exercise can do that, but it’s not a surefire way.

Quick story to end. A lady goes up to the Dalai Lama and asks “What’s the key to life?” Dalai Lama responds, “This is the easy question. The key to life is happiness. Hard question is, ‘What is the key to happiness?’ Big house? Car? Job? This is the question we must all answer.”

By Trey Tompkins

Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes columns for the Record-Herald.

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