We are all guilty of making gym excuses.
Right now I’m sat at my desk dreaming up logical reasons why I can’t go this evening. And with the darker evenings and colder weather, it’s probable I’ll be making even more of them.
But the excuses don’t just stop there. They continue when we reach the gym and are faced with the machine battlefield ahead.
Every time I get to the gym floor, my stomach flips. It’s how I imagine life round a watering hole in Africa.
Every animal has their place and woe betide you if you stray. For me, it’s straight over to the rower.
I hate it and I probably do it wrong, but it’s my comfort starter. From there it’s any bodies guess. If the lion pack (meatheads) are in the weight section, then my gym fear sets in and I avoid it like a zebra. If the hippos (lazy mums) are on the mats, then I waddle on by.
My gym routine is repetitive and dependent on everyone but me. There’s nothing worse than realising someone is queuing for your machine whilst you’re already sweating on it.
Leave me alone!
I’m usually peer pressured into doing shorter than I actually wanted to do.
Why do I feel like this?
In truth, it’s down to education. It’s hard to know you’re using a machine correctly or even doing an exercise right. And in an age where judgement is a way of life, gym fear consumes our minds.
So could the solution be a personal trainer?
This breed of alpha walks the gym floor with stature, grace and (in some cases) sex appeal. But do we need them?
Dan Osman, 30, from Essex has been a PT for 12 years.
With a 1st class honours in sports studies and a post grad diploma in sport and exercise nutrition, the UK accredited strength and conditioning coach has all the credentials needed to assist any struggling fitness case. Not to mention putting his own body through bodybuilding competitions and copious amounts of fake tan.
Last week I met with Dan to find out if a PT is the only way we can conquer our gym fear.
“For the majority, the gym is a time spent in our comfort zone,” Dan says, “we exercise because we think we should and stick to a path we feel comfortable with.
“But if you continue like this you won’t see the benefits that you seek.”
Plunged into a spit and sawdust setting, there I found myself captivated by Dan and his wealth of knowledge.
“It’s about learning how to use things correctly, adjusting simple things like posture and knowing the correct weights to use.”
Starting with a warm-up, Dan talked with ease and detail on how a machine can be used. Taking more weight than I thought I could handle, I leg pressed as I listened to his advice.
“People come to the gym for a multitude of reasons.
“I have clients that come in and tell me that they don’t want to sweat today. I’m serious. Some people go to the gym like they’re ticking it off a list.”
Moving on to a chest press, Dan put the weight up higher than I’d usually allow.
“It’s about pushing ourselves to a safe limit and not getting stuck in a standard routine.
“Of course the balance is between fitness and diet, but consistency plays a huge role.
“Practise makes permanent.”
Dan goes on to credit Charles Duhigg, an author of The Power of Habit and the science behind our habit formations.
“If you can include the gym like you would brush your teeth in the morning, then in time it becomes part of your routine.”
As he navigates me around the gym, I go on to push weights that I normally would shy away from.
“Four more sets!” I hear him encourage me as my brow drips.
Strangely I enjoyed the addictive pain surging through my arms.
Usually I gym three times a week. I have a routine like most gym goers and the majority of time I rarely notice huge changes.
“It would be easy for me to say that everyone needs a trainer, but the truth is you need encouragement and knowledge.
“Of course I’d recommend anyone to take professional advice. It will enhance your workout and steer you in the right direction.”
As I nervously lifted the last bar of my workout, I realised I could lift more than I thought. Yes it was a struggle and at times I wanted to throw my water bottle at him.
Two days later, my muscles were sore and it was time to go it alone. Whilst I was no lion (I have some way to go), I walked over to the weights and picked up the KGS.
This foreign part of the gym was full of grunters. And despite the off-putting jungle calls, I joined them.
Occasionally I felt like I was being watched, but perhaps that was because they wanted my apparatus.
The fact was, gym fear is just in our heads. Like everything in life, sometimes we just need someone to guide us.
And perhaps the PT is a good way to discover what you can do.
But mainly it’s just a matter of self-belief and persistence.
If you want it, then do it.
Go grunt it!