What is stopping people from joining the gym? How to overcome your own blockages?

It seems that the majority of people know that exercising is very beneficial to your well-being, as exercising releases the serotonin hormone also called the mood stabilizer, it improves sleep, reduces stress, gives us more energy and boosts our self-esteem. We know this on the cognitive level. Our logical mind understands that going to the gym is good for us. 

So, what is stopping people to go to the gym despite this knowledge? Why so many people are afraid to go to the gym? Or don’t go to the gym when they struggle with their self-esteem, suffer from low mood, and find it hard to accept the way they look? 

In this article, I will give you answers to the above and tips on how to overcome your fear and help you change your mindset about the gym and exercising. 

The Brain and past trauma

First what you need to understand is that the knowledge about the benefits of exercising is connected with the left side of the brain. The left brain is all about knowledge, logic, organisations etc. However, that side of the brain is not really accessible to us before the age of 12 years old. 

What that means is that in the earliest ages of our lives, we are operating mainly from the right side of the brain, which is all about images, objects, creativity, emotions, and perceptions based on feelings. 

If someone who was bullied, experienced trauma, abuse, and neglect, or didn’t have their emotional needs met, that impacted their perceptions of themselves, which caused them to have distorted thoughts about themselves. As an effect they suffer from low self-esteem, don’t see their self-worth, lack confidence, have depressive moods, believing that they are not good enough or lovable. However, those beliefs are registered in the right brain. 

For our brain to function properly, the right brain and the left brain need to cooperate and connect with each other. Only then we can connect our logic with our emotions. When the brain is working properly, we can make fast actions based on logical facts, and feel good about that decision for example: “exercise is good for my well-being, so I am going to the gym”, 

If, however, you experienced some kind of trauma, you will need more than just the facts to decide to join the gym. You will have to first decide that you deserve to feel worthy. You have to decide that you can take control of your well-being and that you can look after yourself. Also, you will have to permit yourself to feel good enough, and you are going to take the first steps to do so. 


Another very important aspect that might be impacting your decision about exercising or joining the gym, is your own self-concept. Self-concept is really your own perceptions of yourself. It is everything that you are telling yourself about yourself. Self-concept is your beliefs about yourself, and the story you are telling yourself about yourself. Self-concept is based on the relationship you have with yourself. 

Only you can hear your own thoughts, and every day you are having an internal conversation with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, that is the truth. (Everybody does it). So, if until today you didn’t pay attention to what were you telling yourself, or how you were treating yourself, start doing it now. 

Many people tend to be very judgmental, demanding and criticising of themselves. They think that by doing so they will try to improve or motivate themselves, but really what it really does is just self-sabotaging behaviour, which doesn’t help at all. 

Because when you are so judgmental of yourself, your inner self, is just too afraid to make mistakes and sees no point because you already see yourself as a failure. 

Self-sabotage will never encourage you to do something good for yourself. Self-sabotage will never empower you to take actions that are good for you. And self-sabotage will take away your motivation, courage, and inner strength. 

So how to stop this self-destructive behaviour? 

You can do a few things here to change it. First, you have to pay attention to what you are telling yourself, and if those thoughts are not supportive of yourself, you just tell yourself that you no longer choose to believe those thoughts, now you are choosing to think good, positive thoughts about yourself. Secondly, you start changing your relationship with yourself, you have to become your own best friend. If the things you are telling yourself, you wouldn’t tell your friend, then you should NOT be telling these things to yourself either. And thirdly, change the story you are telling yourself about yourself. 

For example: If you are telling yourself that you are a lazy person and that you never accomplish anything, then you got to change that story about yourself. You have to create a different story. “I always make decisions to support my growth and well-being”, “I am motivated to do things that are good for me”, etc. 

Comfort zone

Lastly, we will discuss the comfort zone. Let’s be honest here, we all hate to feel uncomfortable, and the thought of change or stepping into the unknown terrifies us! We will do anything to avoid it! And that is exactly what prevents us from growing as human beings. The truth is that life is a journey, and the purpose of this journey is for you to expand, and grow. If you constantly keep yourself in your comfort zone, life itself will throw a lot of challenges onto you.

So, it’s better if you do push yourself a little out of your comfort zone, and understand that feeling uncomfortable is bearable, and feeling uncomfortable about something new NEVER last forever, because, with time, the new is no longer new. And as a result, the new is now part of your comfort zone. That is how you evolve and grow, by expanding your comfort zone. 

Expand your comfort zone

So again, if we know this (as you do, because I didn’t surprise you here), why we do not want to expand our comfort zone if logically we know that in the long run, it is good for us? 

Now, this happens, because of your ego mind. If you are allowing your ego to take control over your life then you will never allow yourself to try something new. Your ego’s job is to keep you safe and well, but if your self-worth is distorted, or you don’t have much self-awareness, then your ego will be very active (too active). (It’s a normal psychological process). You might have an idea of going to the gym, but then if you sit with this thought for a bit longer, and do not take control of that idea and actually go, your ego mind will then give you all possible excuses of why you should NOT go. Because your ego mind will try to convince you that going to the gym is not a good thing because your ego mind NEVER wants you to feel uncomfortable. 


Let me give you an example: How many times have you said to yourself that you will start a gym tomorrow, and start exercising? But the minute you had this idea, you heard in your head: “Yeah, but tomorrow is only Wednesday, and I am going out on Friday so probably it will be better if I wait until Monday”; “It’s a good idea but not for me, I don’t like the way I look, I probably should lose some weight before I join the gym”; “I was never good at exercising so I will only make a fool out of myself”; “I don’t have the money now”; “It a bad moment”; “It’s not too warm yet, I will do it closer to the summer”…. The list of excuses goes on! 

My, advice? Stop fighting with yourself! Stop telling yourself excuses and start doing what deep down you know is right for you. You are a very creative person, so your ego has access to endless reasons why you should not do something, but it is all based on fear of the unknown. Get your mind to support you, rather than discourage you! Start to tell yourself all the reasons why you should join the gym, and then get up and do it. 

Don’t wait for too long, don’t contemplate the idea. Search for a gym that is close to you, more convenient, has good reviews etc. 

Stop acting like your worst enemy and become more supportive and kinder to yourself! Your soul needs it! It’s time that you will take control of your life, and start looking after yourself more! Become your own priority! You deserve it! You are worthy of it! 

With Love,

Sylwia Kuchenna

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