From First to Last - my least favourite exercises

As someone who works in the fitness industry, I can often times be put on a pedestal by others. They assume I am good at ALL the fitness things and can eat whatever I want simply because I “work out ALL the time”…their words, not mine! Today I am here to tell you otherwise because if you didn’t already know, newsflash, us trainers are humans too and we are not invincible. We sometimes lack sleep, proper nourishment, or the strength to perform certain movements. 

Ever have a workout where you just dreaded a certain exercise? Or maybe you’ve gone to a fitness class and wish the instructor had forgotten about the burpees today? Me too! Everyone has exercises they feel really confident with and other exercises where we either don’t like them or lack the confidence to perform them. If you are anything like me, you tend to focus on the stuff you feel really good about and ignore or remain complacent or comfortable with the movements you maybe aren’t so great at. What I witness often in group fitness is clients always taking the same modifications because that is simply how they have always done it, without attempting the more difficult ones. Unfortunately that is not getting us anywhere to overcoming whatever is it we don’t like about that movement. 

What’s my advice?

Focus on the movements you aren’t great at! It is the only way to see progress. To start, ask yourself why you don’t like it. Do you lack the foundational strength or skill set to achieve it? Is it difficult? Whatever your why is, start there. When I feel overwhelmed I break down the exercise into smaller components so that I feel I have control over all the moving parts. Eventually it leads to greater success with the motion as a whole. In other instances, it might mean you have to do accessory work. All that means is you focus on supplementary exercises that can help improve specific components of the bigger movement. 

So now by this point you’re probably still wondering what my insecurities or challenges are in the gym. Before injuring myself about a year and a half ago, I felt confident with a lot of things when it came to working out. Now I do have a general fear of failure or embarrassment because each workout poses to be a different challenge for me depending on the day. I am nervous taking group fitness, especially at the studios I work at, for fear of disappointing myself and the clients who see me having to modify or pull back on exercises. I know that in time I will feel my best and be able to move the way I want to. Lifting heavy things intimidates me right now but I LOVE it (when I know I am healthy enough to do it)! I am definitely erring on the side of caution until I know I am truly 100%.

Let’s talk healthy Rachel pre-injury LEAST favourite exercises now. My least favourite/dreaded/sometimes avoided exercises:

  1. Bench Press
  2. Pull Ups
  3. Push Ups (especially after my injury)

ALL THE UPPER BODY THINGS. My excuse has always been that my lower half weighs WAY more than my upper half and there is absolutely no way I can possibly lift myself for a pull up. Bench press and I have been playing mental games for years. I still picture my mental struggles with the bar training at the University of Toronto Varsity Stadium in the summertime. Pushups are never easy but now that my core is weaker, a bigger challenge now more than ever. Pushups and pull ups require you to lift your whole body weight though. In my opinion pretty badass so I should get to loving them and working on them more! 

My approach has been the most ridiculous and unsuccessful. I either do these exercises when I am completely alone in the gym with no one there to judge me…because I assume that is what people would do (so silly of me). Or I ignore them altogether! 

How will I overcome this?

  1. Actually DO the exercises! The only way to get better is to practice the movement itself.
  2. Stay out of my own head. I hype myself up ahead of time and tell myself I won’t achieve. Instead, I need to remind myself what I am capable of before I already talk myself out of success.
  3. Ask other trainers for guidance or form review. It always helps to have another set of eyes on you while exercising. Although we know how to teach and perform exercises, as trainers it still helps to have someone else coaching you. 

Besides the three specific exercises listed above, I would love to better acquaint myself with boxing, yoga, and the integration of kettle bells into my workouts. These are a few things I have less experience in altogether and hope that I can learn the proper movement techniques and how I can best utilize them for my body.

What are your least favourite and dreaded exercises and why? Take time to make an action plan to accomplish them. Remember the smaller successes and moving parts can build up to greater success of the larger exercise as a whole.  Be mindful to not forget about the stuff the does make you feel confident too! Take them and see how you can enhance them too - maybe lift more weight, develop a deeper range of motion, try a new variation? Focus on your strengths and spend time on your areas of improvement. Keep climbing to be your strongest you!

Be fierce.  Be strong.  Be vibrant.


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