Breaking Down Barriers to Physical Fitness

The hardest part about building a routine of exercise into your life is starting.

I managed to reach adulthood without ever playing a sport. In fact, I also found a way out of at least half of the gym classes I was required to attend (huge apologies to my gym teachers: you tried).

To say I was “not athletic” is a gentle way of putting it. I have terrible depth perception and coordination and, if I’m being honest, I only liked to do things I was good at … and that wasn’t sports.

In adulthood, however, I feel the void of having no foundation of physical exercise or athletic skill built into the rhythm of my life. As I’ve written about previously, my husband and I have been working towards improved health over the past few months, not just with what we eat, but with how we live our lives. We’re being mindful about how we’re living healthfully in all areas of life, and exercising our bodies is a big part of that journey.

When my health coach urged me to start exercising, I was irritated. I have enough to do. I have a lot going on in my life, and as it is I have minimal time at home. It’s not as simple as trading time I’m watching TV for watching TV while on a treadmill. I’m not watching TV … how does exercise squeeze into my already overpacked schedule?

It’s not as if I’ve never exercised. I’ve had brief spurts of gym memberships throughout my teenage years and adult life. For a couple of years, I regularly attended a yoga class. I even ran my first 5K a few years ago during the Ashland Balloonfest.

I found a ton of enjoyment in exercise during those times, but they always seemed to derail. The yoga class got usurped by a rehearsal that scheduled against its time, the gym memberships were dropped due to injuries or the complications of pregnancy and having newborn babies. 

Beginning to re-include exercise as a regular part of my life felt daunting. I lead a very full life, and I struggled to see how I could add something as regular as going to the gym four times a week into it. 

As I wrestled with this challenge a friend asked me about my blockers. I told her how I felt too busy, that the gym I’d been going to closed too early or wasn’t open early enough, that I struggled to find a time that I could exercise that wouldn’t require me to re-do my makeup and hair, and how I didn’t like to wear contacts, preferring my glasses.

She sagely suggested that I get a membership at a 24-hour gym, that I wear my glasses when I exercise and just take them off when they were obtrusive, and suggested that I stop taking off my makeup and putting up my hair when I went, and just touched things up when I finished. 

As obvious as each of those suggestions seem in hindsight, I was missing all of them, and it was damaging my health. Removing those barriers were the things I needed to make it simple to start exercising regularly.

Given, it’s probably not optimal for my skin that I leave my makeup on while I work out, but it’s way less ideal that I don’t exercise at all. Once I started going, I found myself looking forward to going back. 

I’ve been running, lifting weights, practicing yoga and using the elliptical four times a week for about a month. So far, I really enjoy the time I spend exercising, and I look forward to that time alone to actually watch a TV show, pray, meditate, and challenge my body to grow stronger and faster. I feel energized, happier, stronger and grateful that I was able to overcome my objections and take care of my body in this way. 

Support Our Journalism

Our stories will always be free to read, but they aren't free to produce. We need your support. To help our news organization tell Knox County's story every day, join our team. Become a member today.