Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

Why The Journey To Fitness Starts In Your Mind

The fitness industry is growing at a surprisingly high pace. In the UK, there are over 7,000 gyms, which are visited by a variety of fitness enthusiasts of all ages. As such, if you want to find a local gym to boost your fitness levels, chances are that you don’t need to look further than a handful of miles around your home. Gyms are in all major cities and towns, and new franchises are opening all the time. The cost of the typical gym membership varies throughout the range of facilities, ensuring that every gym-goer finds something to fit their budget. 

In short, it would seem that we are equipped to get fit in no time. So it might sound strange to know that more than 20 million Britons are physically inactive. What is more worrying is that 80% of the population fails to hit national fitness targets — moderate exercise for 30 minutes 12 times a month. If you’re considering starting your fitness journey, you’re probably at a point in your life where the national fitness targets are a long-term goal that appears inaccessible for now. Nevertheless, getting fit brings significant health benefits. The cost of not exercising is too high to ignore. However, the journey to a stronger and healthier you is a rollercoaster of emotions that begins in your mind. 

Motivation is such a fragile entity

Motivation is volatile. Just like a big cloud that floats above your head, it can disappear as soon as the wind changes. As such, even with the best of intentions, you might find yourself struggling as the days go by to keep your gym appointments in your schedule. In retrospect, it seems that even the most mundane reasons can force you to cancel your workouts. It’s been a long day. You’re feeling tired. You’ve got a headache. You’ve still got work to do. There is always something that comes in between you and the gym. Why is it so hard to maintain your motivation? The answer is simple. There is no such thing as motivation. Of course, you want to improve your fitness. However, it means building new habits and going out of your comfort zone to make time for your workouts. Going to the gym demands more than motivation. It’s a matter of discipline and dedication until you’ve solidified the new habit. 

You need to learn to manage the pain

Getting fit is not a smooth ride. It is a painful journey, during which you need to learn to listen to your body. Sore muscles are an unavoidable consequence. At first, you may need medication to relieve the pain, such as heat patches for your back and shoulder muscles, for instance. Pain expert has a broad range of gels, creams and patches to target local soreness. As your muscles grow more resistance, the pain is likely to reduce. However, you need to learn to understand what hurts and build your pain threshold. The motto “no pain, no gain” may give you some guidance, but ultimately, there is a time to push through and a time to stop. Getting familiar with varying levels of soreness is a necessary skill to develop. 


You’ve failed before, and you’re worried you will again

If you’re starting your fitness journey back after a health mishap, you are rightly worried about encountering complications. Fitness injuries are a common problem. Did you know that many enthusiastic gym-goers are forced to abandon their ambitions after hurting themselves? Fitness injuries are, in many ways, similar to falls. Just like a fall, they tend to be discarded as benign. However, falls can be devastating for seniors or unfit adults. The same principle applies to fitness accidents. Both are often the result of elevated mental stress, which affects your body and your ability to focus. Exercising when you’re stressed out may put you at risk of an injury. Instead, it’s important to practise mindfulness. Make a point of being present in the moment so that you can focus on your posture and movements. 


You’re ashamed of yourself when compared with others

Here you are, fighting with the gym equipment while your eyes land on another gym-goer at the back of the room. She’s lifting weights with ease. Her arms are strong – there’s none of that unpleasant wobbling when she moves. She is confidently adjusting her posture in front of the mirror. Why can’t it be me?, you think. The thing is, it could be you at the end of your journey. But regardless of that, comparing yourself to others isn’t going to help. On the contrary, it only makes you feel inadequate. Instead, you need to take back control of your negative thoughts. If you find yourself admiring the weight-lifter, you could ask her for tips, for example. It’s a healthy way of turning your negative self-image into a positive. 


If you don’t reach your unrealistic goals, you’ll be disappointed

You want to fit into a tiny outfit for the Christmas party at the office. You want to be ready to run a marathon by March. Sure, it’s nice to have an objective to work towards. However, setting unrealistic goals is the most devastating strategy you can follow. According to, your goals need not only to be realistic, but they should also come with a workable timeline. Say your ultimate goal is to drop a dress size. Rather than setting a short deadline against it, you can focus on short-term achievements to celebrate. Why not celebrate mini-milestone along the way? You could cherish the first pound off, or keep a countdown of your workouts. Short-term goals are not only easier to manage, but they also keep you accountable. Additionally, you can’t expect to set a distant objective and hope to stay motivated to reach it if you don’t create a path to success. 

don't give up

You don’t know where to start

Going to the gym can be overwhelming. Even though things might have seemed clear and straightforward when you first joined, each club has a variety of machines and workouts for its members. The headless chicken analogy comes to mind, and that’s probably how you’re going to feel if you try to manage on your own. Yes, things can be scary when you don’t know where to start. But you don’t need to figure it out alone. You can join a class to learn more about effective workouts, for instance. You can find online tutorials for the most popular gym equipment. You can even work with a personal trainer to create a programme that suits your needs. The only thing you should do when you start is not to let any of it overwhelm you. Most gyms have plenty of help available for members who need it. You can find a way to manage your confusion and stress at the start of your journey. 


You know you’re not fit enough

It can be disheartening when the person next to you seems to be running forever on the treadmill, and you can barely walk a mile without needing a break to catch your breath. You are unfit. But it’s a good thing because you’re actively working to improve it. Therefore, you need to consider your level of fitness when you approach your exercising routine. Making the gym a habit when you’re unfit can be tricky, especially if you try to push yourself. You have to accept that it takes time to build up your strength and stamina. But while you focus on getting the basics first, you can transform your lifestyle accordingly. Introducing more walking during your day can help to boost your performance until you’re ready to take on the treadmill like a champion. 


You find trackers stressful

Should you or should you not invest in a fitness wristband? There are two types of reactions to fitness trackers. Some people love them and find data motivating. Others find them stressful. If you worry every day about hitting the 10,000 step milestones to make your Fitbit vibrate, it might not be the right tool for you. Ultimately, you don’t need a fitness tracker to work out. More importantly, you don’t have to keep track of your steps or calorie expenditure to get fit. You can find different ways of monitoring your fitness journey, such as recording your milestones in a journal. From the number of days you spend at the gym to the pride moment when you finally gave up snacks, there are many ways to keep your eyes on your progress. 


You are scared about what your shape says about you

The gym is not for fat people. Fat shaming is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon. However, you’d be surprised to know that nobody is going to make you feel worse than you do yourself. Gyms offer a welcoming environment for enthusiasts of all shapes. Most of the people you meet are unlikely to make fun of you – and you can be sure that no manager would let the abuse go unpunished. But your journey to a healthier you is about learning to love yourself and take back control of your body. As a result, it’s the occasion to shut down your worse fat-shamer, yourself. 


Getting fit is a journey of ups and downs. For many, the path to success goes beyond physical efforts. It’s a journey during which you make peace with your fears, your low self-esteem, and your unrealistic expectations to become a better and stronger self. 

Mandy X


Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash