I’m really proud of myself.

Why, you ask?

Well it has to do with exercise. When I started my journey to clear skin, I began a regular exercise routine for the purposes of health, and subsequently beauty. My exercise routine consisted of running for 20 minutes and doing a 15 minute circuit training routine every other day or so, and a half hour of yoga every day. I did all this by myself at home.

I was really good about it for at least 6 months – definitely my best record at keeping up any kind of exercise routine!

But when you do the same exercise routine over and over again day after day… it damn well gets boring. And when you add in the fact that I am the only one to motivate myself and the distraction of my computer is always nearby… well this is a recipe for sure disaster.

Sure enough, I began slacking off and the days in between my workouts got longer and longer.

It never slid back to the old days of absolutely never exercising or worrying about it in the slightest… luckily I did manage to keep up with going for regular walks and the very occasional run.

The problem is that I know I feel best when I do at least some high energy exercise on a regular basis because then you get that endorphin high that wards of depression – I just don’t seem to get that from walking. The paradox is that even though I know how good it makes me feel, the high energy stuff is the hardest to actually get motivated to do! Especially by yourself…. it’s just so easy to give yourself permission to be lazy. Even if I got up the motivation to actually do the exercise, I’d still slack off and not work my muscles to their full potential because there was no one else there to answer to!

So why didn’t I just join a gym or an exercise class?

Well, I’ve never been very good at committing to extra curricular activities. I’ve never liked the idea of having to be somewhere at a certain time each week. Having to go to work or school was enough! I just wanted to do whatever I wanted the rest of the time! (I was definitely not one of those people in school who was on 5 sports team, worked a part time job, and was president of the debate and yearbook clubs all at the same time). Believe me, I’m great at coming up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t commit to this or that.

And let’s be honest, it’s also intimidating.

Seeds of doubt poison our minds so easily…. what if I look stupid because I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I’m so out of shape I can’t keep up? If I go to the gym, won’t there be all these fit people there looking down on me? What if I look totally out of place? What if my makeup sweats off my face and people look at my skin?

But the truth was that I knew that if I continued to try and exercise by myself, there would be no more exercise. The lack of motivation would take over for sure. And it’s especially important now that I’m not going out to work at a job where I move kayaks around… I’m working on my computer and my life has become sadly sedentary. I NEEDED to join a class.

So I says to myself, “Tracy…. when you get to Australia. Join something. Do it. Do not make up excuses why you can’t” (and I did come up with a few “Oh we don’t have much money and we’re supposed to be paying off debt…. Oh I don’t know if I’ll be able to borrow a car for when I need to go…. Oh I’ve never been to a fitness class before”).

And this is why I’m proud of myself: I pushed those doubts aside and I ACTUALLY DID IT! Like right away.

I decided that I wanted to join some dance classes. I love free style dancing, so it made sense to me that maybe I would enjoy choreographed dancing (despite having never done it in my life)… sounded fun and a good way to get fit.

I dropped by a local dance studio and signed up for a yoga-pilates class, a Zumba class, and a ballet fitness class.

Yoga-pilates is all about doing strengthening exercises for your core muscles, plus yoga poses and stretches. Zumba is a really fun, fast paced choreographed latin style dance fitness class (kind of like aerobics but more fun… you may have seen commercials on TV for Zumba), and ballet fit is like strengthening and stretching via ballet moves. It’s great for your butt.

Anyway, before my first class, which was yogilates, I got that butterfly in my stomach feeling. That “do you really want to do this?” feeling. Of course I knew it was not based in anything aside from a fear of the unknown, so I didn’t chicken out and just went.

Sure enough, my postures and poses ended up getting corrected a lot by the instructor when it seemed like she wasn’t correcting anyone else. What was even worse was that at my next class, Zumba, I was SO uncoordinated! I was so bad at doing the dance moves correctly.

Of course, that immediate reaction is of embarrassment and wanting to run away in shame and never come back.

But luckily I didn’t let that feeling take too much hold, because I managed to remember these 2 things:

  1. I’m only being corrected and am uncoordinated because I’m new at this. Everyone here was once new to this too and probably also got corrected. And as for the dance moves – well, choreographed dancing requires a specific part of your brain that hasn’t been worked like this before – it needs a chance to rewire itself to accommodate this new learning (sure enough, I was way better the next time).
  2. No one cares. Do you really care if someone else is uncoordinated or doesn’t know what they’re doing? Do you judge them? Do you look down on them? No. Everyone is concentrating on making sure that they get it right so that they don’t look stupid. Or just concentrating on their own workout. People honestly don’t care about what you do.

I’d say the “no one cares” and “people are only paying attention to themselves” rules are the best ones to remember in this situation, and in life (ie. no one cares if you have acne).

Here are some other tips and tricks to help you feel less intimidated by public or group exercise:

  1. If you are worried about your body – ie. that you’re going to seem extra flabby/out of shape/whatever compared to all the chiseled jocks and hot chicks with toned abs – this is usually unfounded. Even if everyone is pretty hot….. they probably didn’t use to be! Everyone had to start somewhere and be that flabby person at the gym. In fact, there is a class they do at my dance studio called “fit pole”, a choreographed dance form that is getting really popular these days. They use what’s generally referred to as a “stripper pole”, but it’s not, like, training so you can be a stripper. Although I guess it would be a great class to take if you did want to be a stripper. In reality it’s just a non-sexy fitness class and it’s popular because working with the pole builds very strong muscles and beautiful abs. Anyway, you’d think such a class would only be full of hot young babes, but I’ve noticed that there are women of all sorts in these classes – short, tall, skinny, big, young, and old!
  2. If you want to go to the gym but you’re intimidated because you don’t know how to use the equipment, just ask the people who work there. It’s most likely that they will show you exactly how to use everything – and often when you get a membership to a gym it comes with a complimentary personal training session. So you can get help with a fitness program plus learn what you need about the equipment. Even if you need to pay a personal trainer one time to get some help, I think that’s more than worth it to get rid of that intimidated feeling. (And remember that personal trainers are always working with people who don’t know what they’re doing and are out of shape, so definitely don’t worry about them judging you!!)
  3. Look at the positives! Stop focusing on anything negative you feel about being at the class/gym due to insecurities. Once you get the hang of things and start to feel the benefits, you’ll look back and ever wonder what the problem was! It’s just getting over that initial hurdle.

So anyway…. I’d like to say that I LOVE my classes now.

They’re each an hour long, yet they’re so easy to get through – unlike if I tried to exercise an hour at home, I’d be itching to have it be over. Plus I can tell it doesn’t bother me to work my muscles hard (because I know the instructor won’t let me get away with not, plus I just want to to get the benefits)…. but somehow even though I’m working them harder, being in the group setting makes it feel easier.

I actually look forward to going to the classes and working out now, and I know that I am way more present when I’m there because there are no distractions. I can’t run away and slack off on the computer, or even think about the chores that I need to get through after I’m done. It’s like I dedicated the time to go there and now I’m there and that’s all I need to focus on.

Anyway. Fitness classes – highly recommended!

Do you do any group or public fitness? If not, do you want to but are intimidated?

photo by tibchris