When I tell people I work in health and fitness, about half of them reply with; oh my god, I am soooo unfit. But what does unfit even mean? Unfit for what? Unfit for purpose? Unfit to exercise? Nobody is totally unfit. You might not be as fit as you used to be, you might not have ever felt physically fit, but I can guarantee you are, in at least some way, fitter than you think you are.
When someone joins up at set U free I make it my mission to find at least one way that person is fitter than they thought. I don’t let anyone leave the Launch Pad feeling they are totally unfit, because if you believe you are unfit then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So I want to help you work out how you might already be fitter than you think, and how you can use that to start improving your fitness. Most of us like to succeed, we like feeling we are good at something. So if you find a type of fitness or way of getting active that you are good at, you are much more likely to enjoy it and stick to it.
Look back to look forward
First of all, if you have ever been a regular gym goer, or in peak physical fitness in the past, then chances are your current level of fitness is nowhere near as bad as you think it is. It just feels bad by comparison. You look back at what you could do before, and become disheartened when compared to what you think you are capable of doing now. But never underestimate yourself. Determination, motivation and inner strength are personal skills that do not go away easily. If you were determined enough to push yourself in the past, then you will soon find the motivation and the inner strength to push yourself again, and once you do, your fitness levels and your confidence will quickly improve.
Big tip. If you are returning to fitness after a break; don’t try start where you left off. You will quickly feel disheartened if you can’t do what you used to, and you’re more likely to give in. Start back at the basics and you will quickly improve. Quickly improving is much more motivating than constantly failing.
The same is true if you have ever competitively or even just regularly played a sport, even if it was a really long time ago. Playing a sport regularly makes the physical movements and skills involved become habit. Just like riding a bike, you won’t have forgotten those habits and skills. You might be rusty at first, but it will soon come flooding back and you will find your technique and your fitness will soon be on the up.
So, if you were on the uni netball team, or spent your 20s playing squash, put your worries aside and get yourself back to it. Team sports like Netball and Hockey have had a massive resurgence in recent years with lots of adult amateur teams open to total beginners. Check out the England Netball website or here for details of local hockey clubs.
Think even further back
Even your childhood hobbies could impact your current fitness. If you did gymnastics as a kid, then chances are you have a decent range of movement through your joints. Gymnastics also uses a lot of balance and encourages a focus on core strength and control. These are not skills that are easily lost forever. So you will probably find that you are flexible, have a good sense of balance and core strength.
If you don’t fancy taking up gymnastics as an adult then you can still put those skills to use. You might find that you are good at activities like yoga, pilates, or even climbing. You could try something different like hoola-hooping, trampolining, or pole fitness which will definitely put that flexibility to good use. You may also find you enjoy and/or are good at body weight exercises like; squats, lunges, push ups, crunches and planks.
If you did a lot of dance classes when you were younger, then you probably have a good sense of rhythm and co-ordination. A love of music and dancing is usually from the heart, so once the tunes are pumping you will soon want to get in your flow. If you don’t fancy adult dance classes then you may want to try out other rhythmic sports like aerobics, zumba, bokwa, step or clubbercise.
Look at your lifestyle
Even your lifestyle and daily routine can have a surprising impact on your fitness. If you have a fairly active job where you are on your feet and moving about a lot, or if you don’t drive, then chances are you walk a lot further and more often than most people. The likelihood is that your cardiovascular fitness at low intensity is pretty good (or at least above average). You may might find you are good at things like swimming, cycling or rambling. You could join a running group or try the couch to 5km to give you that extra push with intensity. If you want to try some weights training then use light weights for high repetition sets (15-20 reps of each exercise).
Even if you have never done any physical activity, and you drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home and sit on the couch, you are still probably fitter than you think. There are lots of different types of fitness. So even if you get out of breath walking up hills, you might still be flexible, have great core control or awesome strength, you have just never realised it.
Are you one of those people who can carry 4 bags of food shopping in each hand? Are you able to run up the stairs (or to the bar at last orders) but no good walking long distance? Great, you are probably pretty strong, so use that. Why not give boxing or martial arts a try, or classes using weights like body pump. Or you may enjoy weights training using heavier weights for fewer repetitions (6-10 reps of each exercise).
No matter how out of shape or unfit you feel, getting started is the hardest part. If you keep telling yourself you are unfit, you will never get the courage to try, and nothing will change. Trying something different, something that feels out of your comfort zone can be scary, but if you find something you are good at, you will enjoy it, and your fitness levels will quickly improve.
Sometimes you need to experiment and try different things to discover what you are good at and what you like. Nobody is great at everything. If you failed to keep up at spin class, that doesn’t mean you are unfit, just means that’s not your area of fitness, so try something else. Ladies can check out the This Girl Can website for more ideas on local classes, and different ways on how to get active.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas and inspiration on ways you could think about starting to get more active, if not then get in touch and I will help you realise you are fitter than you think.
I am Jennie, former big girl turned personal trainer. I started set U free fitness based on my own difficulty experiences of losing weight, and then maintaining that weight loss in a safe and healthy way. I wanted to create a friendly fitness studio, where people can come and get safe, realistic advise. So here at set U free, we don’t offer diet plans, we don’t believe in restriction. We do believe in; you feeling in control, giving you the information you need to make your own healthier choices, and mostly just feeling awesome, and awesome isn’t measured in pounds.
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