By Josie Rubio
It happens gradually, but the realization is often sudden: You actually like exercise. When did that happen? Who is this person lacing her running shoes at 6 am? Who is this stranger who is a little disappointed — instead of relieved — when he doesn’t have time for a workout? Who is this fitness enthusiast smiling at other people in class — even at the instructor, who was previously object to your grimaces (maybe even the recipient of an occasional glare and eye-roll)?
Often it’s the class instructors and yoga teachers who notice the shift first. “When I am leading a class, I often see the signs of progress before the student does,” says Amy Lucky, co-founder of Yoga Loft Naples in Florida. “And I love to wait for the realization to appear in their whole body.”
Maybe you’re not there yet — or don’t think you are — but hang in there. Plenty of ih8exercise.com readers have shared their inspiring stories about how they transformed from exercise haters to fitness lovers, so remember: it is possible, and in fact it's even very likely, if you hang in there with your workouts.
Here are a few signs you’ve become an exercise lover. They might not all apply to you, but if even one sounds familiar, then you’re on your way!
You’re up early (and happy about it). “You know a client transitions from an exercise hater to an exercise lover when they actually enjoy waking up for a 5 am class,” says Liz Cort, founder of TeamFitMom.com and owner of Fitness Fusion of the Hudson Valley in Red Hook, New York. “Through the years, I've always suggested clients get up and work out early!”
Often, a morning workout leads to other healthy habits. “I've had clients who are trying to get back into their fitness routine say that they dread the thought of 5 am workouts,” Cort says. “With a little encouragement and coaching, after a few weeks of commitment to that early morning routine and schedule, they start making habitual changes like going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, and eating better during the day in attempts to not sabotage their workout efforts.”
Early workouts may not be for everyone, but morning exercise is a sign you’re hooked. “When clients start sharing with me what they love about 5 am workouts, and the energy it brings to their day, and they repeatedly show up, I know they’ve made the switch,” says Cort.
You no longer think of it as just another dreaded task. Sadie Lincoln, founder of barre3, often hears from people who are surprised to have fallen in love with her workout, a blend of barre, yoga and Pilates. “These are the clients who have always associated exercise with something that they ‘have to do,’” Lincoln says. “They thought of exercise as a chore and something that caused pain or a feeling of being depleted.”
When you find something you enjoy doing, it will be easier to stick with it. “There are so many forms of exercise,” Lincoln says. “The key to becoming a fitness lover is to find a method of exercise that you actually prefer, that feels good in your body while you are exercising and even better afterwards. I love that moment in class when I witness clients discovering how to challenge their body in a way that also brings joy to their practice.”
You feel adrift when you miss a workout. “The first way I can tell someone is on the right path on going from an exercise hater to a fitness lover is when they tell me about the empty and almost guilty feeling they get when they skip a day of exercise,” says Chris Chinn, co-founder of Sweat City Fitness in Culver City, California. “I'll have customers tell me that they feel ‘thrown off’ when they are absent from their workout. But I tell them that's when I know that they're becoming a fitness-committed person. Humans are very routine animals and when you feel that lost, astray, disoriented feeling after missing a workout, it means that your mind-body has accepted exercise as part of your lifestyle.”
You’re no longer anxious. “Routine is just the first step to becoming a fitness lover,” Chinn says. “But it's a big step because it's become part of your comfort zone. You no longer feel anxious, nervous, or out-of-place when you step into your workout environment. And that's the hardest obstacle to overcome. Just getting to the gym, track, outdoors, et cetera, without anxiety/disgust is half the battle of being a fitness lover.”
You’re no longer a wallflower. Patricia Moreno, founder of the IntenSati workout, says, “I see it when the person moves from the back row to the middle or better yet, front row, when they start talking and enjoying their fellow classmates or even giving them a high five!”
You’re up for meeting a challenge (and maybe even seeking them out). Chances are, obstacles and difficulties are going to present themselves no matter what kind of exercise you take up — a pose you fall out of, a move you can’t grasp, a speed you can’t reach. In yoga classes, for example, Lucky says that many first-time students are surprised at how challenging the practice can be. “The initial frustration of not having the endurance to complete a class or maintain a pose is always apparent on the faces of new — and advanced — practitioners. A student once told me, ‘But it looks so easy in the pharmaceutical drug commercials!’ When a student returns to a yoga class a second time, it is because the challenge enticed them in some way.”
Teachers often see a shift in attitude in the way students work through the challenges in class. “I can tell when, instead of getting frustrated over a move they can’t get and leave, they stay afterwards and ask for a little more clarity or coaching,” Moreno says.
One you are challenged, you’ll have room to learn and grow. “Success in yoga does not happen without hard work and devotion and the constant exploring of a physical or mental edge,” Lucky says. “When we come to an edge enough times, we learn that there is nothing to do there but relax around that edge. When we fully relax around an edge, the edge disappears and the only thing left is new mental territory, new physical space, deeper breath, and the grace of allowing rather than striving.”
Facing challenges in class will even help you outside of the studio or gym. Moreno says she notices a change in students “when instead of walking out of the room, on to the next thing, they take the time to come up to me after class and thank me and tell me about the breakthrough they experienced or the way the workout has helped them develop the strength to meet a difficult challenge.”
If you've made the switch to being an exercise lover, how and when did you first recognize the change in yourself?
Photo Syda Productions/Dollar Photo Club