Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fear of fitness

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Sean McCawley, Fit for Life: Fear of fitness


As the weather gets warmer, daylight fills the sky longer, and the first quarter of the year concludes, people begin to settle into new habits. New jobs, a fest set of classes at school and new hobbies start to be ingrained in people’s lives.

Along with new year habits, exercises are usually a new tactic society wants to engage in as a regular part of their lives. So, what better way to leave the dark, cold and damp months behind us than by giving our bodies the gift of exercise?

As new inquiries reach out for guidance on exercises and personal training, we discover how raw some people’s relationship with exercise is. A critically important initial interview question we ask our new exercise participants is, “What does your current exercise routine consist of?”

We get the former athletic and fitness veterans who say, “About two to three times per week. I do a few days at a local gym, maybe some Peleton at home, and I might do a yoga class.”

When I hear this, I clap my hands. Good for them. Conversely, the other side of the new clients we interact with inform us that their weekly exercise status is “Close to zilch.” This might be alarming, but the number of people who don’t participate in weekly exercise is surprisingly prevalent.

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To guide individuals eager to improve health and fitness in a positive direction, we discover what obstacles impede them from achieving their fitness goals. The popular response is time, work, kids.

Family and financial logistics should prioritize our lives to function as humans in our present society, optimally. However, some people are just straight-up scared of exercise. We hear statements from our community that make exercise sound just as terrifying as spilling your coffee on your Armani white button shirt before a job interview.

Entering the sliding glass door of a new gym for someone utterly foreign to this environment can seem like a stepping foot into Jurassic Park. Gyms impose an intimidating presence. Taking a tour through the weight room floor after 5 p.m. could be horrifying for some. You might find a “bro’d out” group of high school and college-age young gentlemen wearing shirts without any sleeves and earbuds in listening to the latest jam. The visual display of grunting like a wild gorilla while sweating profusely as they press a heavy weight over their head isn’t a rare sighting.

Traveling over to the group fitness class sector, you might come across a few ladies dressed in Lulu Lemon gym attire with the image that they may be entering a gymnastics competition.

One might think those outer brackets of the gym might be a little too advanced. Perhaps the center of the gym could be a little more welcoming. But, think again, a trip to the center of the gym has rows of steel devices with cables, stacks of cast iron weights, and a seat known as the weight machines.

For the rookie gym-goer, one might think they are making a trip to the dentist while sitting in a Transformer. Jurassic Park, wild gorillas, gymnastic competitions, and large metal contraptions? I’d be a little scared too if I stepped foot into that world.

What can we do to lower this curtain of gym anxiety? This is an important question to ask novices in the exercise arena who have anxiety similar to the army of Spartans going into a sea of arrows that blacked out the sun in the movie 300.

One of the first steps is to understand that exercise does not need to be a rigorous event in the gym. Granted, I have been a gym rat the majority of my life since my dad purchased me a membership to a gym when I was 11 years old. I felt the gym was my safe place. However, I can put myself in another’s shoes who view the gym as a jungle.

Performing a full-body resistance training routine using only three pieces of equipment will offer the life-changing responses necessary to a human’s life without having to step foot in the gym. The trick is knowing what the basic and straightforward mechanisms of exercise can do. These three items include the ground beneath your feet, gravity and your body. Fortunately, if you’re reading this article, you already have those items in your possession.

Exercises such as prolonged walking, hiking or walking up and down sets of stairs offer your body cardiovascular and strength improving adaptations. If you want to challenge yourself with a workout, find out what distance you walk, how many times per week and how many sets of stairs you travel up and down each week.

Then, multiply these factors by two. If you’re only walking one block per day, walk two. Or if you don’t walk at all, start walking one block. If you hike once per week, hike twice. If you don’t hike at all, take a trip to a local park with a slight incline and walk five to 10 minutes.

The beauty of the body’s physiology is that it will adapt to the physical demands we expose it to. So, if you’re starting from ground zero, take a look around and see what you have to utilize for exercise. If it’s a Peleton, a membership to the gym, or a 10-pack of yoga classes, adhere to using those resources at least once each week. If you’re a little greener around the edges, know that you’re not alone. Just know that your desire to improve your fitness can start right in front of you.

Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, napatenacious@gmail.com or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.



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