Ambivalence is a word defined as the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about someone or something. There is a term in fitness pegged “exercise ambivalence,” and anyone who has tried a routine workout plan has dealt with these feelings towards exercise. We say that we have made the intention to plan a workout, but just haven’t gotten around to it (along with the thousand other things going on!).
There are a number of competing life pressures that contribute to our inability to get into a gym. Jobs, kids and bills deplete our energy levels. This gets us to thinking that a workout will likely provide insufficient results and ultimately give us no benefit.
This is not true. Recently, I spoke with a member who comes here to Court House Fitness in town. We’ll call this man Ted. Ted shared his story with me and the secret that gave him the most success.
On days that Ted didn’t want to come in, while driving home from work, he would still pull into the parking lot. Whether or not he came in wasn’t important. His commitment was to simply make it to the parking lot and that was the only active promise he stuck to.
Some days Ted just left from the parking lot, and some days he chose to come in. As time passed, he started coming inside more and more on those days he felt “exercise ambivalence,” or, when he didn’t really feel up to working out. What Ted learned over time was that the days it was hardest for him to come into the gym were also the days he felt best after the workout.
This is a monumental stepping stone in creating a change in behavior. Ambivalence never really happens at the moment you are exercising. It occurs in the moments that you are not. This may also be true with other life circumstances such as work, bills, or taking kids around. You know that once you get to a point you will be fine.
In a sense, the reason we do decide to workout is to shed that feeling of contradiction and to be stronger. You must, MUST, fulfill the commitment you’ve promised to yourself. Even if it is something as small as pulling into the parking lot.
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes fitness columns for the Record-Herald.
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