I am a creature of habit. Once I get into an exercise routine I like and works well for my schedule, I tend to stick to it. For years, my primary cardio activity has been running. I regularly change up the distance, speed and route to keep my workouts challenging. I like that I’m good at running (I’m not fast, but I’m consistent) and it’s something I enjoy. But I also know that variety is important.
My husband had been bugging me to try a new fitness class at his martial arts studio. After months of making excuses (“I don’t have time”, “I don’t think I’d like it”, etc.) I decided to give it a chance. Within the first few classes, it was easy to see the areas where I was very fit, and the areas where I clearly was not. I like feeling strong and fit. I like it for myself, I like it as a positive example for my kids, and I also feel a certain amount of pressure to be fit because of my job. I think I hesitated to try something new because I was afraid it would show me (and everyone around me) my weaknesses.
I can do high knee runs all day long, but when it was time to get on the floor and do sit-ups, that was a totally different story. One of the exercises during my second class had us lying on the floor with a partner above. I was supposed to reach up (into a full sit-up position) and touch their hand, then return to the starting position. I’m not a fan of sit-ups, so I never incorporate them into my own workouts. But for the sake of the class, I wanted to try everything they were suggesting. We were supposed to do 30, and I couldn’t do one. Not one single sit-up. What’s worse is that as everyone else finished their set, they started to turn toward me to cheer me on. It was a great gesture, but at that moment I just wanted to run and hide instead of trying to push through an exercise that I knew I couldn’t complete.
After the class, I walked in the house and my husband asked “What’s wrong?” I burst into tears and said “I’m so embarrassed that I couldn’t finish the workout! Please don’t ever tell them I’m a trainer!” I know that I was being irrational, and it’s normal that I’m a regular person who can’t do everything. But in that moment, I was disappointed in myself.
I started thinking about all of the members I work with every day who say they are embarrassed to go to the gym or don’t want to take a walk around the neighborhood for fear that others will see how unfit they are. For a few minutes during that class, I knew how they felt. It’s hard to come out of your comfort zone, no matter what the reason. But regardless of your current fitness level or your goals, it’s a good idea. Doing something new has shown me the areas I need to work on, so even though I continue to struggle, that class has become a regular part of my workout schedule.
Have you ever had to step out of your comfort zone and try something new? Were you glad you did it? Why or why not?