Have you noticed that fitness seems to have turned into a blood sport? That the tone has become harsh and almost gladiatorial? Like everyone should be training for a battle to the death in a raucous Colosseum. While the hard core approach may work for some intense-exercise individuals, many do not respond well to the drill sergeant approach. This harsh tone is sometimes set by the overuse of several phrases in the fitness world. So what are these phrases? You might be using them yourself without realizing the impact you are having on your friends, family, or even clients if you are a trainer. If we have more empathy for our friends, we might be surprised at how motivational we can be! So let’s work on eradicating these condescending and potentially harmful and hurtful phrases and try to do better by those whom we hope to inspire.
Keep reading and see if you’re guilty of spreading these sometimes un-spirational dictates:
“No pain, no gain.”
What the hell does that even mean?! Pain is pain. It is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, which means
you need to stop whatever you are doing! Now, if you’re referring to soreness or burning muscles, then say so! The danger with this phrase is that people will hear it and assume they are supposed to push through or ignore an injury because, well…no pain, no gain, right? Exercise does not have to be painful. In fact, it can even be fun! Yes, you can enjoy it and it will still be effective! The best exercise is simply the exercise that you like to do…and it shouldn’t require a post-workout visit to the emergency room. Do not be discouraged if you don’t like to do exercise that hurts. You’re not the only one. I sure don’t! Like others, I enjoy a good burn and a vigorous workout, but pain? No thank you. Yes, there is a portion of the population that sees it as a badge of honor to bleed, tear muscles, go into renal failure, or vomit during a workout (I’m looking at you Pukie the Clown), but there’s no telling what toll 10 years of these extremes will take on the body. Besides, there are plenty of other types of exercise that will benefit your heart, your muscles, your skeleton, your brain, and so much more, without pain. Find what you like to do and what makes you feel good, and stick with that. Slight discomfort is fine. In fact, you want to push towards discomfort to see changes and improve your strength, cardiovascular health, etc, but pain is completely unnecessary, detrimental, and may result in a costly trip to the ER.
What a snotty thing to say! Guess what. Life happens, it’s not an excuse. Not everyone works in a gym, not everyone is financially stable, not everyone is an excercise-aholic, so there are plenty of excuses, nay, reasons to not workout. Here are a few: no childcare, chronic pain, death in the family, deadline at work, car accident, flat tire, hatred of exercise, or just being too damn tired from life’s other requirements. This is why we should always strive to be encouraging and not condescending. If someone gets in a workout, they get it in. If they don’t, they don’t, but let’s not shame them. Let them be content with their “excuses” for not working out and then help them seize the opportunities when they present themselves, which may just be a couple minutes of exercise. For those out there who are struggling to get a workout in, just do what you can do, when you can do it, if you can do it, and then celebrate and be content with what you have just done. Everyone has their own set of circumstances, obstacles, opportunities, problems, and solutions, so do what you can do to live your life well. During an appearance on a popular daytime talk show last year, Gillian Michaels, the queen of intense fitness herself, admitted she hadn’t worked out in months because she was too busy to do so. And this is a person who lives in fitness clothes and gets paid to be all things fitness. What does that tell you? No excuses, huh? Guess there are.
““I regret that workout,” said no one ever.”
I beg to differ! I guarantee there are plenty of people out there who have regretted a workout (go ahead and search “exercise
fails” videos and see if you can still say that with a straight face). Especially if they broke a bone, tore a ligament, had a heart attack, got paralyzed and the list goes on. The problem with these generalized statements is that there is an exception to every rule and someone has created these “motivational” quotes to inspire intense people to exercise, forgetting that not everyone responds to these harsh and dogmatic words. If you do respond to these types of quotes, good for you! Go get ‘em, tiger! But if you don’t respond to these quotes and they just piss you off and make you want to sit on your couch and eat pizza, don’t get discouraged. Just ignore them because they aren’t for you. Let me tell you a secret. I make my living training other people, teaching dance and fitness classes, and doing nutrition coaching, yet there are some days where I just do not feel like lifting a weight or doing a plank or dropping it like a squat. There have been a few times when, unwisely, I’ve worked out or taken a class before I taught for two hours, and I did regret it. I got sick and dizzy, and wasn’t able to teach to my full potential. So go ahead and change this fitness saying to ““I regret that workout,” said Desiree Nathanson.” Quote me on it.
So, consider this a challenge to all of us who hope to inspire others. Let’s try using positive reinforcement and encouragement when trying to motivate our friends, family, acquaintances, etc. Enough with the egotistical condescensions and angry douche baggery! Let’s be empathetic and use kind words and pats on the back to inspire others, and leave the anger to Kanye.