16 April 2010

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.

So many folk say they want to be able to go to the gym/run 5K/do weights etc.  I tell them that with a plan, they can.  They maybe make a start and then slacken off and stop working out so often or just stop.  My knee jerk reaction used to hearing this used to be along the lines of 'well clearly you don't actually want to be able to do x/y/z'.  But now instead of merely replying with a quip, I ask them why they have stopped or haven't gone to the gym today, and then out tumbles the string of excuses...  Now, I've been called a lot of things for these replies, including a 'gym nazi' which is one of the nicer names, but it wouldn't get the heckles up there wasn't some truth in it!

Below are some of the classic excuses I've heard recently and my thoughts on these.

'You see, the thing is, I just don't have the time'
In life, if you really want to do something then you WILL prioritise it.  It will become an appointment in your diary.  This is true for many things, lunch with friends, evenings out, doctors appointments, holidays, think about it.You don't need a lot of time to get results.  You can do a warm up, cool down and a full body weights session in 30 minutes.  You can do an high intensity intervals session in 20 minutes.  Quality over quantity!  You DO have the time.

'I can't be bothered today'
What exactly can't you be bothered with?  Put on your gear.  Get on with it.  Once you start warming up you'll probably find your motivation again and complete your workout, even if it's not with your usual vim and vigor. Even twenty minutes makes a difference and you'll probably feel better for having gone too.  If 'I can't be bothered' is becoming a more regular part of your repertoire then maybe it's time to re-examine your routine, perhaps you need to change it, try something new, ditch a piece of equipment in favour of another, perhaps even set some new goals and find some new inspiration.

'My head/knee/elbow/back hurts'
That does not mean that you can not do something.  If the pain is not serious then you have options.  If you have books and magazines then have a flick through to see if there are alternative ways of working the same muscles that do not involve your injured joint or limb or takes the pressure off it.  Google the exercise you want to avoid and browse alternatives.  If there are gym staff handy then ask them to show you something new.  Go for a swim or a walk instead.  Jump on the cross trainer instead of the treadmill.  Even if you warm up and have a good long stretch that's still going to do you more good than sitting on your bum doing diddly-squat.

If the head/knee/elbow/back thing is recurring then check if you are performing your workout correctly, go and see a doctor or a physio and start working towards sorting it out.  Unless you're getting your legs chopped off then there are NO excuses.  Even if you do get your legs chopped off then there's still hope for you, a paraplegic has sailed across the ocean, a woman paralysed from the waist down has kayaked hundreds of miles, a guy who was told he would never walk again 6 months later did the London marathon on crutches.  Gerronwithit!

'My muscles hurt from yesterday'
If your workout for today isn't loading the muscles that are sore then go.  If your legs are stiff, a good warm-up followed by a light jog or going for a walk or a swim will actually aid the recovery process.  The blood gets moving round the body, more oxygen gets delivered to the muscles, lactic acid gets flushed out. If the soreness isn't too severe then you'll probably find you'll have loosened off enough after your warm up to carry on with what you had planned in the first place.  It is hugely important when you have muscle soreness to keep moving and not allow yourself to stiffen up, unless you really want to be suffering tomorrow as well.  If you have a desk job then keep getting up and wandering around, if you can't leave your desk then stand up and do hip circles, walk on the spot, anything!

'My kits dirty'
So?  Are you seriously telling me you don't own a clean pair of knickers, a clean pair of socks and a clean t-shirt?  Ok, it's a bit minging, but I'd rather chuck on dirty shorts (with clean undies) than do nothing.  If you've noticed early enough then chuck it in on a 30 degree quick wash and hang it up straight away, most kit will be dry in no time at all.  Go and treat yourself to another full set of kit.  There's nothing more frustrating than heading to get changed and finding the drawer empty and all your kit festering in the washing basket.  Sort it out and do not let it happen again.

'I finish at 5 and I need my tea and then it's too late'
Bollocks.  This is about being organised and planning your meals.  Shove a banana and some protein down your neck at your desk at 4, if you're not allowed to eat at your desk then sneak into the bogs and wolf it down, you can hit the gym at 5 when you finish and have your tea a teeny bit later.  Plenty folk work 9-5 and still manage to work out.

'I don't know what to do'
What do you want to do?  What do you enjoy?  What are your goals?
Buy a book, if it's general fitness you're after then you can't really go wrong with John Shepherds Your Own Personal Trainer, if you're interested straight off in weight training then buy Alwyn Cosgroves New Rules of Lifting (for women or men).  If you're really stuck, see what classes are on and try some of those, you don't have to go to the same one every day or even every week.  Book a session with a personal trainer.  Have a look at workouts on the net.  Buy a hand full of fitness magazines and see if there's a routine in there that you think you'd enjoy.  Never tried running?  Have a look at 5K plans.  Need something easier on the joints?  Do the same plan but on a cross trainer!  Join a swimming club or a sports club.  The possibilities are endless!

'I can't join a gym' or 'I can't afford it'
What's wrong with the great outdoors?  If you do have to be in all the time then there's a freeview fitness TV channel, if you don't like it or can't get it then buy a couple of DVDs , you don't have to be a gym member to be able to work out.  Small space?  Most workout dvds do take this into account.  You don't need lots of kit either, none if you're just doing body weight exercises and a couple of dvds.  A small set of adjustable dumbells and a mat is about all you'll need to begin with for resistance. If you have space then a skipping rope, a swiss ball and a bench will provide about all you'll ever need.

'I've got kids'
Even better, they make great weights, get them to cling to your legs while you try and hoover.  Got 2?  Make one batter, one bowler and you're the poor sod who has to do sprints to fetch the ball, and no, you can't just get your dog to fetch, that is cheating!

'I travel a lot for work'
I have a few choice words for you, pressups, dips, planks, squats, lunges.  Do them as a circuit without a rest.  If you're lucky, some of the hotels you get chucked into might have spa/gym areas.  Use them.  Have a look on youtube for the hotel room workout and have a look at other body weight exercises.  Resistance bands are small and light, take those for some resistance.

The long and short is that if you do want to reach your goal, prioritising and planning are all that are needed.  For sticking points there are always points of reference; professionals, books, the web, friends in the know.  It is up to you to man-up and get on with it.


  1. Anger. So much anger.


    Only one little thing I could add - I stay away with work from time to time and always take my running kit. Its nice to run somewhere different. I even try to pick hotels that are near a canal/river/park/coast for that reason.

    Actually, there's one more...

    ...set a target, a medium or long term goal, and find a programme that will deliver it. someone who enters a 5k race and finds a couch to 5k plan is far more likely to succeed than someone who just says 'I'm going to have a go at running'.

  2. Exunktly!

    Cheers for the addition Rob! :)
    Ooh, and for folk going to hotels, there's also the garmin sites and fetch everyone for finding a route to run near the hotel. Lordy you're lucky you can pick your own!

  3. Great post!! And so true :)

  4. Ahaha, you *are* a gym nazi! But that's why I like you :) Plus you and your rowing saved me from my own little period of "I can't be bothered".

    Rob's point about goals is a good one too. Maybe one of you should do a sister post on how to motivate yourself to move, now that there's no reason not to!

  5. Good post :-) It is all about prioritisation, most people would rather prioritise sitting in front of the TV! I try and join groups and clubs so that I'll always go because I hate letting people down and it becomes just like any other appointment in my diary, I know that Monday at 7 is running club so I don't book anything else in!


  6. When I say pick my own, what I really mean is I can pick my own as long as its a Travel Inn or Travelodge. Classy eh?

  7. Me bag's packed and I'm off there tomorrow ma'am!! Can't wait to get me mitts round the rower pullbar:)

  8. Caroline, thank you! Hope it didn't come across as too agressive!

    Alison, good idea! I'll maybe make the next blog about motivation, planning and logging.... so much ground to cover, I could blether on for hours!

    Lucy, thank you for your comment. Clubs and groups are fab! :) Good point there about not letting other folk down.

    Rob, keep digging that hole ;)

    Tex, You are a nut. I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do this Friday for the 10K row! :)