In a world where absolutely everything is overshared (and over exaggerated if we are really honest) it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle - especially when it comes to exercise.
Over the past 10 years there have been so many different exercises crazes taking the UK by storm. Somewhere along the line it has become trendy to beast yourself beyond your capabilities in order to have worked out: “Go hard or go home”, “If you ain’t puking dying or fainting you’re not working hard enough”, “No pain no gain”.
How did this category of motivation all of a sudden become the definition of what makes a good workout? I’ve come across so many people who genuinely believe that blood, sweat and tears and the inability to walk for a week is something to be celebrated.
It’s not their fault though - it’s ours. By that I don’t mean me personally, I mean the industry. Those fitness professionals who preach this kind of stuff to their clients and overwork them during sessions when they are clearly only beginners just to keep up with the “trend”. Those instructors who shout orders to keep going when their technique is failing, rather than taking it down a level and teaching the correct technique. I know this is not everyone in the industry, however there is still far too much of it going on and now with social media promoting this kind of stuff at the top of our feeds, what hope have we got?
I totally get that this might be what people go to fitness classes wanting to do because they’ve seen it on Instagram. But it’s our job to teach them how to do exercise effectively and safely and if that means taking them back to basics first, then so be it. What’s interesting is it’s usually people who leave the basic first sessions (because the workout isn’t angina-inducing enough) who often end up going right back to basics with a physio later down the line for injury management and only then understand why building the foundations of fitness first, are so important.
We all seem to find it really hard to allow ourselves to be a beginner. We are impatient and want results yesterday but actually, if we start with the basics, the results will be so much better in the long run. Think of it this way: would you build a house on shoddy foundations? No. It might look good to begin with, but cracks with start to show and eventually problems will occur and ultimately it will fall down. Starting as a beginner may seem boring at first glance, but personal training should be just that - personal, whereby the training plan and exercise is about you and your needs, and not just do what Instagrams tells us is cool. Don’t get me wrong, once the foundations are in place, a lot of these “trendy” high intensity exercises are great ways to add variety to your training and of course you should use them, but it’s no way a place to start for beginners.
If you’re new to exercise, don’t feel pressure to jump straight in at the deep end just because social media tells us we should be. Listen to your body, allow yourself to be a beginner and find a trainer who is confident enough in their abilities to take you right back to the basics and not just go with the crowd.
By allowing yourself to do this, you can take the time to build a strong base that will set you up for life, not just exercise. Remember, no one starts off being excellent.