Saturday, November 24, 2018

Ask the Adaptive Athlete: How To Conquer Your Gym Anxiety and Begin Working Out

The weather is cold, so we all have to move our workouts inside. For many that means either working out in our living rooms or going to a nearby gym. While neither of these options sound inviting, they are what we are left with.  Fear of the gym, performance anxiety in front of many people, is a real phenomenon for all people. Gym anxiety is further compounded for people with a facial difference, different anatomical structure, in wheel chairs, with artificial limbs, and other physical differences. So what to do?

Change Your Mind and the Body Will Follow

Holding an experimental mindset will help you walk into the gym. Thinking "let me try this machine out for a couple of minutes" versus, "I must use this machine for x amount of reps and x amount of sets or I am a complete failure at life." could mean the difference between regular attendance at the gym and never returning. If our minds are flexible, then our body will follow. 

Move the Body Into Action 

Pick up a weight, 2 lbs, 5 lbs, whatever, and see how it feels in your hand. Try a basic bicep curl, or a shoulder press. Ask yourself, "how does that feel?" If you didn't like it walk over to something else, like the TRX functional training, or the mats to do some stretching or basic, body weight exercises. The stretching and body weight stuff can even happen at home! Be open minded. think of the gym as you once thought of your elementary school playground. Try the slide, swings, or just hang out and watch as others do. You can learn a lot by watching someone.

Your Body, Your Form

File this article published in Self Magazine under "one-size-does-not-fit all."  For those with  Treacher Collins and Apert Syndrome that may feel daunted by the gym because your form is not "right," we see you and hear you. And now, someone has written about it, too.

Check in With a Professional 
People probably wonder how they could approach the gym if they have different bone and joint structure than others. Everyone is built differently. While there are general best practices for how you should lift weights, run, etc., they may not be correct for your body. Check in with a physical therapist or personal trainer in order to learn how your body works best. While you are at it...(here's the disclaimer): Talk with your doctor before you begin any exercise routine. If you are interested in running, get gait analysis done, or try the different cardio machines to see which is the best fit for you!

Assess and Ask Questions
If you can't afford a personal trainer, feel free to ask me any questions that might come up at [email protected]. Also, just slowly take on that experimental mindset and explore the gym like you once explored the playground. See how you feel during the chosen exercise, does it hurt? Are you sore? Reassess in the hours following a workout and in the days after to ensure you do not injure yourself. 

Don't worry if the exercises and lifts that you are performing do not look like those done by others around you at the gym. You need only to do what is right and safe for your body.

Adapt To Perform Youtube Page

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