How to Beat 6 Reasons You Dread Working Out

Tips to become a person who looks forward to exercise

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say something like, “I love exercise! It’s my passion, the highlight of my day, and I look forward to it!”

Perhaps you’ve found that person to be incredibly annoying. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself thinking, “Am I missing something here? Because I do NOT love exercise.”

Workout dread is totally understandable. We know it’s good for us, but sometimes that knowledge just isn’t enough to get motivated. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here are six common reasons for avoiding exercise, along with tips on changing it up. 
1. You're going it alone. You may have heard me say it before, and it’s worth repeating: Use the buddy system! If you’ve got a friend, spouse or family member to help you stay motivated and accountable, you might just change your whole outlook on exercise.

The trick is to find different groups for different activities: Some friends have a stronger sense of adventure and can’t wait to get outside for a hike or bike ride. Others prefer a little one-on-one time and would make a great companion for a long walk-and-talk.

Don’t be afraid to walk on the wild side: Find your most daring pal and jump into that Zumba class you’ve been longing to try. You’ll get your hearts pumping and keep each other on track, and you might just have some fun along the way.

2. You've been hurt. If you've suffered from an exercise-related injury in the past, it’s no wonder you might be avoiding the gym.

Perhaps you’ve got bad knees or “tennis elbow." It goes without saying that safety comes first, but exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  If, for example, running is out of the question for you, there are still plenty of upper body and core exercises you can do.

And if you’ve got a specific injury that concerns you, a personal trainer might be a worthwhile investment: Anyone with a proper certification will be able to guide you through a workout without aggravating an injury — and can even help you get stronger so you can avoid injuries in the future.

3. It's boring. Sure, exercising can be monotonous. And if something bores us, that’s reason enough to stop doing it. But if you think about it, anytime we do something the exact same way all the time — even sex! — it’s going to get boring.

(MORE: Find Your Motivation to Maintain an Exercise Program)

The key is to mix things up. If you’re only doing cardio, for example, it’s high time you started adding in resistance training. And if you’ve shied away from certain activities, whether it's yoga, Pilates or using an elliptical, force yourself to try something new.

Sometimes, the little things make all the difference: If you listen to music during your workouts, try a whole new playlist.

You might even try downloading an audiobook or free podcast to your iPod so you can set your imagination free while working out. Variety is the spice of life; so if the exercise part of life has gotten boring, it’s time to spice that up, too. 

4. You're not seeing results. This is a common pitfall: You’ve finally gotten motivated and gotten moving, and yet none of the magical body transformations you’ve been promised have come to light. Or maybe you’ve been exercising regularly for a couple of months and have seen some good results, but suddenly they’ve come to a screeching halt.

In both scenarios, it may be that all you need is a little extra push.

Cranking up the intensity of your workouts can often help you break through a fitness slump. That’s where interval training comes in. Intervals are short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a period of moderate recovery. 

5. You don’t feel confident about your body. Maybe you are out of your exercise routine, or something at work or with your family is causing stress and low confidence. There are a million reasons to be in a self-esteem rut, and it happens to the best of us.

Whatever the reason, when you are at that point, it can be hard to go to a class to feel your thighs and problem areas jiggle for an hour, with mirrors everywhere.

This is when experimenting with classes is key. I like to sprinkle in spinning to my routine. No excessive bouncing, great music to help draw my focus away from body issues and rooms with either no mirrors, or low-lighting, or both!

And for a quick pick-me-up, swap out the unforgiving spandex outfit for a softer cotton blend. I love the brand Green Apple. The silhouette is flattering and the fabric feels comforting to the touch.

6. You don’t have time for the cleanup. When it comes to excuses for avoiding exercise, “I don’t have time” is the gold standard. But sometimes it’s not the workout itself that wreaks havoc on our schedules; it’s the cleanup afterward.

We can’t exactly run to the gym before work or squeeze in a workout during lunch if it means we’ll show up drenched in sweat afterward.

(MORE: Change Your Mind to Change Your Weight)

But with a little extra planning, you can get some exercise and get back to your day in one piece. Generally, gyms provide showers, of course, but these days they also offer some pretty nice toiletries. So if you just throw a change of clothes and some shower shoes into your bag, it's relatively easy to come out looking nicely put together; it may just mean shortening your primping routine a bit.

There are also quite a few “showerless” options on the marketplace. Check the aisles of your local pharmacy or even a camping/outdoor sporting goods store.

My daughter likes ShowerPill. It’s a large body wipe, “individually packaged to be discrete, yet versatile and big on performance.” Throw one in your bag, and you can always freshen up quickly in a pinch.

Remember, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So stop the craziness, start switching things up, and watch the dread — and the pounds — start to melt away.

Who knows? You might even turn into one of those “I love to exercise” people. 

Kathy Smith
By Kathy Smith
"America's Trainer" Kathy Smith has been shaping women's thighs and lives for over 30 years through her best-selling collection of workout DVDs and books. Her motto is "Progress, Not Perfection." Find her at www.KathySmith.com or on Facebook.

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