How many times have you decided that you are going to start working out, only to quit a few days or a week later? We see it AAAALL the time…and why? One reason folks quit is because it HURTS. And, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ll get disheartened when you are in pain. Maybe you actually hurt yourself, or maybe you’ll start working out again when you are feeling better. Maybe?
But, why do you hurt?
This is what we hear:
“Working out has to be like in the Nike ads.”
“I need to do the workout from Men’s Fitness.”
“It’s not ‘working out’ unless it looks like the gym commercials where hard bodies are pushing to the limits.”
“The people that I see that are in the best shape are working out hard—I see their faces grimace and the sweat pouring off, and their muscles bulge…I want to look like that, so I have to do those workouts.”
“I should be shaking at the end of a set.”
“When I was younger I could do X number of squats with X weight and I was in good shape then, so I need to do that now.”
“I’ve heard it’s not a workout unless I can’t walk the next day.”
YOU HURT BECAUSE YOU’RE STARTING TOO HARD, TOO FAST
No one would imagine handing car keys to a 14 year-old with aspirations to be a racecar driver and advise, “If you want to win, you have to drive fast.”
It’s unfortunate that the workouts that get the most attention are the ones that leave us mere mortals staring with our jaws dropped and our hearts skipping a beat.
We see commercials for boot camps and Facebook videos featuring amazing feats of strength—the physiques of the people are so attractive and the exercises are so impressive.
It’s no wonder that folks are so confused about what exercises to do to get results.
Can everybody just CHILL the F#@* OUT about exercise?
Do you know that it’s more beneficial to workout some everyday, rather than work out hard once a week?
Let’s look at the basic calorie burn:
For a beginner, one hard, one-hour workout might burn around 400-500 calories. Maybe. At the high end. But, when will that body be able to work out again? We’re betting that it will take at least a week (remember, that person is a beginner) before they can move normally again.
But, a gentle mobility-based half-hour workout will generally burn around 150-200 calories. If that body can work out just twice more in the week, they are burning a week’s total of 450-600 calories. And that’s just three times in a week. If that body can work out five times in the week, there’s a 750-1000 total calorie burn (which makes 400-500 look kinda pathetic).
You’re not doing your body any favors by beating the hell out of it. If anything, you’re providing yourself with an excuse to NOT exercise.
Most importantly, the body that chose the gentler workout can still function, and can move around and feels less pain and suffering than the body that went through the intense one hour workout.
We’d argue that more than calorie total, and more than physical pain, what an extremely difficult workout does to the beginner spirit is more profound and also more detrimental.
How do you feel the morning after a hard workout? It can be worse than the morning after a keg party at a frat house: physically ill, injured. We’ve seen those unable to sit, stand, walk normally, lift a fork, brush their teeth, or put on a shirt. They feel defeated, or worry that they are actually injured. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole when you feel beaten up, and ultimately, “maybe I’m just not cut out to be a fit person.”
That’s the worst.
We are all born with these bodies of potential—and so much of what we do with them is shaped by how we feel about ourselves.
What if you moved in that gentle, mobility-based way, so as to wake up the next morning with the reminder that you had done something good for yourself—a reminder in the form of minor muscle awareness? You can still physically pat yourself on the back and go about your day feeling proud and maybe even look forward to the next workout. “When is that next, empowering workout? Maybe I’ll work out again today!” Regardless, you are ready for it.
A gentle, mobility-based workout isn’t as sexy. It doesn’t sell magazines or inspire signing up with a muscly trainer. But, it’s the kind of workout that leads to longevity in fitness, and ultimately, consistently moving bodies are more fit bodies.
Cheri is a distance runner, new mom, NYC-based Master Coach and on-camera trainer for the live, daily fitness show, Daily Burn 365. This is an excerpt from her in-progress book, “My Trainer Says.”
BY CHERI PAIGE-FOGLEMAN