Some of you may be really gung-ho about your training. Fit and proud, you revel in being the ‘weird one in the corner’ doing crazy stuff. You couldn’t give a toss what people think about kipping pull ups and you certainly don’t give a monkeys what you look like, puffing, heaving and sweating your way through your workout.
All power to you, I admire you!
Me however, I get embarrassed. I often feel self-conscious about what I’m doing and worry about what other people will think, particularly when everyone else around me is doing something completely different.
|Yep, I feel silly|
There’s an example from just this week. Having failed to get up early one day in order to train before work, I decided to do the workout at lunchtime instead. The office I work in houses around 500 people and has a large field out back. This is a lovely grassy area that is kept well mown, with benches around the side – perfect for training. Oh yes, and it is also in full view of the staff canteen and several floors of offices!
All morning I was trying to imagine myself training out there but all I could think of was how embarrassing it would be for my colleagues to see me, stumbling around all hot and sweaty trying to grind out burpees and squat jumps. They wouldn’t know what I was doing or why (how many people really understand the demands of a gold standard burpee if they’ve never done one?) and I was convinced that, far from looking impressively athletic, I’d just look like a pathetic lump throwing myself about.
Yes, these really were my thoughts!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to get out there and do it anyway. The alternative option of getting in my car and driving 20 minutes to the local park when there was a perfectly acceptable field right outside the door was too ridiculous to contemplate. (Although I did in fact contemplate it. At length). Not to mention the waste of petrol and carbon emissions just to assuage my fragile ego! So the office field it was.
As I started to jog around the field to warm up, I got that familiar feeling of excitement mixed with trepidation and by the time I had started my circuit I was definitely having fun – in a painful, sweaty sort of way.
I no longer cared about the girls on the benches with their sandwiches or the maintenance guys smoking cigarettes by the delivery bay. All I could think about was, “I’m the one getting fitter here. Whatever I look like right now, I’ll look awesome in a few weeks’ time!”
Working out in strange environments or doing something a bit different takes a small, private act of bravery. When trying an exercise for the first time, you are afraid of screwing up and looking like an idiot. When going all-out in an intense circuit you know you are going to look a bit crazy. This is all very well if you are surrounded by people doing the same thing. But if you are the only one, it can feel very exposed.
This also applies to any women who regularly find that they are the only female in the gym. Guys will look, they can’t help it. But it can be hard to block this out and just get on with your workout. It’s not as if we are bouncing along at 5 miles an hour on the treadmill with not a hair out of place. We’re under the bar pushing bodyweight or more and it doesn’t always look pretty!
Once I was doing near-max squats when my tracksuit trousers ripped up the back with what seemed to me to be deafening noise. I would have died of embarrassment had I not had almost 100kg on my back at the time.
But if you care about training and you care about results, you have to learn to put these thoughts to the back of your mind. Almost everyone feels self-conscious at some point, but only some people let it hold them back.
Once you learn not to care about what others might think, an amazing thing happens: you find you can do anything!
And here’s another truth: those wonderful exercise endorphins you feel when you train don’t just reduce pain, they also make you feel great about yourself. But you have to be exercising in order to get them. Sitting around worrying won’t make you feel good.
So today’s lesson is: screw up your courage and go for it because you are the one who is benefiting.
I’ll leave you with some inspiration I saw on Ross Enamait’s blog:
Rocky training montage – even Rocky can look kinda silly doing bunny hops with a piece of wood across his shoulders. But who wouldn’t want to train with this intensity and belief?
Large fella on a bike – read this amazing story about how one guy conquered his fear and laziness and made an enormous difference to his life
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