For me, the hardest part of exercising is getting myself to the exercise. Whether it’s a trip to the gym, a yoga class or taking a walk, it’s the starting that I find most difficult.
The reason for this is because I often spend my pre-exercise time fretting about doing the exercise. Am I too tired to do this today? Am I up to an intermediate class as I haven’t exercised in so long? Wouldn’t I rather go straight home after work, open a bottle of wine and pick up where I left off on Games of Thrones?
For the past year, I’ve been doing my teacher training in the Alexander Technique. Above all else, my instructor teaches the importance of being in the present moment. And lately, I’ve been using this idea to get myself to exercise.
Now, when my thoughts turn to what I‘ll be doing while exercising, I bring my mind back to the now, pre-exercise. I stop thinking about what I’ll be doing during the exercise, telling myself that I can worry about that while I’m actually there. Right now, all I need to think about is getting myself into my exercise clothes and filling up the water bottle.
Every time my mind turns to how hard class is going to be and how much I’d rather be snuggled up in bed, I come back to now, pre-exercise. This way, I’m only doing the exercise once, rather than the two times I was doing it: once in my head before I got to class and once during the class.
Applying this thinking has helped me get myself to exercise a lot more. Admittedly, there are times now when I am in the middle of class and holding a rather strenuous position that I’m kicking myself for attending – only joking!
In those moments, I bring myself back to now, and know that I only have to do this one thing in this one moment and then it’s over.
And after I’ve exercised, I get to enjoy the happy feeling of having done the exercise.
I’m not perfect. Sometimes when my brain strays into future-thinking, I allow it to stray and end up on the sofa instead of on the yoga matt. But that’s ok. On those occasions, when I become aware of how I’m feeling in the moment, I usually recognize that this was a day my body needed a rest and allow myself to take it without guilt.
You can apply this thinking to everything you do, every day. Breaking life into little present-moment chunks allows you to experience the here and now, without distraction or influence from what happened a moment ago or what might happen next.
It may get you to exercise class and so much more.