Have you ever signed up for something but never used it? My latest thing was a monthly online ‘face yoga course’ which was 20 mins everyday. I achieved day 1! It’s still waiting for me in my inbox to start again. One of the biggest industries where people sign up and ‘don’t use it’ is ‘fitness and health’. Most gyms have the capacity for around 300 to 500 members, but usually have 6,500 members on their books – if everyone turned up, it would turn into a rock concert. They know that half of the people paying the monthly fee will not show up and around 25% of the other half will only come along sporadically. The reason gyms can charge so little is that most members don't go. People who don't go are subsidizing the membership of people who do. So, if you don't work out, you are making gyms affordable for everyone. If you do actually go to the gym, you are getting an amazing deal.
So what makes some people buy a gym membership or buy a monthly yoga or fitness pass, but not actually use it?
Well good intentions are often set socially: in the pub over a few drinks or with friends and family at dinner when discussing goals and ambitions and even after a really inspiring day/movie or documentary. And today it’s so easy to buy something online, you don’t have to think about it, you just click a button, no need to show up and actually hand over your hard-earned cash. Signing up is easy! Also, apparently we love the idea of having a fitness membership or being pre-committed to something and we can visualise ourselves going along 3 x a week.
Going to the gym, a yoga class or a fitness session is not easy, because there will be endless roadblocks and obstacles to try and stop you and I’m not just talking about the continuous Stirling road-works! Time, traffic, work, family, sickness and laziness are all obstacles, but I think one of the biggest reasons we don’t always follow-up on our ‘good intentions’ is because we want to avoid ‘discomfort’.
On one hand people say they want to get healthy, get fit, get more flexible, etc, and they know exercise and yoga can help, but exercise is uncomfortable and often our ‘dreams and goals of working out 3 times a week’ are visualised whilst sitting in a lovely warm and comfortable home on a soft couch with lots of cushions and a blanket over our toes with a big cup of hot tea- sound familiar, anyone?
Here are many of the discomforts I have heard people (myself included!) blame on exercise:
- I hate sweating.
- I hate being too hot.
- I hate being too cold.
- I hate being out of breath.
- I hate when my hair gets messed up.
- I hate sore muscles.
- I hate getting wet in the rain.
- I hate getting out of bed when it’s dark and cold.
- I hate going out at night when it’s dark and cold.
- I hate getting dirty.
- I hate working out in front of people at the gym.
All of the above create a feeling of ‘uncomfortable’. So sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and do something that’s prevented you from exercising in the past, such as getting out of bed for an early morning run or exercise class, and/or leaving your warm, cosy home for a late night yoga class. The more you experience slight discomfort, the easier it gets. Those folk who go to the gym every morning at 6am (or maybe even 5am!!!) probably don’t even think about it and any discomfort is hardly noticeable, in rain, snow or sunshine!
So maybe it’s time to go running in the rain, get hot and sweaty, get snowed on, get out of breath and have to rest, get dirty shoes, get messy hair, and say hello to someone at 6am. On the other side of your ‘discomfort’ will be a huge sense of accomplishment, plus a hot shower, your warm home, office and a lovely meal.
Our comforts will always be there, so ask yourself when you are avoiding coming to class, ‘is it discomfort that’s driving it?’ Would you prefer to go home and potter about in a nice warm home?
Maybe next January, instead of New Year’s resolutions, create a contract for yourself, sign it and get a family member or friend to sign it too, as a witness, with a declaration of your goals, for e.g. attend 2 x yoga classes and 1 hot core a week until the first day of Spring; run your first 10km; walk 100km! A signed contract is a ‘real commitment’ to you and it’s a bit of fun!
Know that every class you do, every run you do is an escape from digital technology, it’s ‘off-grid time’ and that in itself will make you feel amazing. If you’ve invested in yourself, and put your money down, then get your monies worth, because you are worth it!