August 18, 2017

What NOT to say to a Beginning Exerciser by Nicole Bryan

What NOT to say to a Beginning Exerciser

When someone is beginning a new exercise program, it would seem obvious to most that they need encouragement, not judgment and criticism. However, if you’ve been a regular in the exercise world for awhile, you may have forgotten how much courage it takes to simply walk into a gym.

Here are a few things NOT to say to those you know going full steam ahead on their new exercise and healthy living program. And keep in mind- that yes in fact, your mother was right, if you can’t say something nice and supportive, its best to say nothing at all!

“Is that all you’re doing?” All fitness levels should be praised and rewarded with nice words. Be mindful of “absolute” words, like all and only. For example, “It’s only a 5K” and “All new exercisers fail” are not helpful words to say to someone, they are hurtful.

“That’s a really easy workout.” Who are you to say what’s easy or challenging for another person? A kayaking workout could be challenging for an Olympic athlete, and a karate class could come easily to a beginning exerciser. Every individual is just that, an individual.

“Have you lost any weight?” Go with the basic rule, don’t ask; let them tell you if they’d like. You’ll learn very quickly which exercisers like to share the details of their healthy lifestyle plan versus those who like to keep their progress private. A simple “You look great” is always an encouraging go-to.

“How are you going to fit that into your schedule?” Many times self-doubt is already high on the list of challenges when beginning a healthy lifestyle, so posing a question such as this isn’t productive. Try asking “how can I help you?” instead.

“You’re going to get hurt.” Not true! Not all new exercisers get hurt, and not all veteran exercisers avoid injury.

“But you’ve always quit in the past.” Maybe this time will be different. It is possible to attempt the same goal five times, only to succeed on the sixth attempt.

“You’re too old to start exercising.” There’s no such thing as too old to begin exercising in some capacity. There’s also no such thing as too short, too tall, too young, too inexperienced, too uncoordinated or too busy.

“Why do you want to do that?” It’s not up to you to ask why. It’s their goal, their undertaking, their decision.

“You’re not doing it right.” Let’s face it, we live in an information is everywhere world. If a new exerciser is being unsafe, the best thing to do is to mention your concerns to a staff member at the gym and allow them to professionally and compassionately address the situation.

As with learning any new skill, beginning an exercise program can be overwhelming and scary. Venturing into the fitness world can be intimating, so consider extending a little kindness and encouragement to new exercisers around you.

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