Change is difficult. Learning new things is hard, but is the most valuable thing we can do as human beings.
Alexander the Great valued learning so highly, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge than to his father, Philip, for life.
The gym can be an intimidating place. It is filled with strange equipment and people who know what they’re doing. If you’re just starting out, you may be uncomfortable with your physique and feel surrounded by fit, strong people waiting to mock you.
The mental challenges of starting a new weight training program are endless. My friend Fred sent me a note after starting.
Why do people l look at me like I am from another planet? My age? My [grey] hair? The fact that I have my team’s gear on? I am doing simple basic exercises and people look at me like I am hanging from the ceiling by my feet…it is actually comical. I just involved in my lift and tuned them out.
What Fred was experiencing is totally natural for a man or woman venturing out of their comfort zone. People don’t want to be perceived as weak or inexperienced. Being vulnerable and needing to ask for assistance is hard. We tend to feel exposed and easily embarrassed under these circumstances.
If we let those negative feelings dictate our lives, we’d never learn a new language, pick up a golf club or, in this case, try to get stronger.
Fred pushed through his first few workouts and sent me a follow up.
I realized that it wasn’t the people looking at me during these workouts…..it was ME looking at me…..questioning what in the world was I doing….my inner voice was testing me, it was asking me questions about me and how I saw myself.
If you’re considering making a big change or starting a new program, my suggestion is to seek out a mentor. The truth of the matter is people love to be the experts, and they love helping others. One of the most fulfilling experiences known to man is guiding another as they navigate a tough road or assisting a newbie as they learn a foreign skill.
We all experience nervousness and fear around change and the unknown. My challenge to you is to be aware of those fears, confront them and move beyond them. That’s the true definition of courage. Only then can you grow and change.