Exorcising the ghosts of your exercise past

For some of us, schoolyard days are a very distant memory. And, when it comes to PE class, possibly a nightmare. If the words ‘cross country’, ‘dodgeball’ and ‘oval’ still send shivers down your spine, it’s natural that you might be hesitant to dip your toe into the fitness world as an adult. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little work, determination and a more grown-up appreciation of the benefits of exercise for mind and body, you can chase away your ‘bad at sport’ demons. 

Fernwood PT Lucinda Burr knows this story well. When she joined the gym, she was accompanied by the ghosts of her exercise past. Not a sporty child, she used to beg her mum for notes to get her out of cross country and spent swimming carnivals hiding out in the toilets so she wouldn’t have to participate. 

Fear of failing

A quest to improve her heath in her 20s led Burr to the gym, where she timidly stuck to walking on the treadmill for the first week. 

“I was too scared that if I tried anything else, I’d do it wrong, and a big siren would go off and everybody would laugh at me,” she says. “It took me even longer to try a class, because I was afraid it would be like high school PE.”

Soon, the gym was her favourite place to be and she became a personal trainer. Burr has been with Fernwood Carindale for nine years, and was a 2017 PT of the Year finalist. She comes across many members who share similar stories to hers. 

“If you’re feeling like you’re too unfit or too uncoordinated to try a class, I guarantee there are other women feeling exactly the same. We’re all just there to get our workout done, have a bit of fun and create some friendships along the way,” Burr says.

“As trainers, when we see new faces in our classes, we’re just really happy that you’re there giving it a go,” she says. “No-one cares if you’re a bit out of time or if everyone turns right and you turn left.”

Want to ditch your exercise demons?

Here are Lucinda Burr’s tips:

  • Just give it a crack. The more you participate, the more our mindset will change. 
  • This might sound a bit naff, but try it: visualise yourself as fit and healthy. With that image in your mind, start to make it a reality. 
  • Work with a personal trainer, especially if you’re feeling nervous or intimidated walking into a gym.
  • Don’t worry! No-one expects you to nail the choreography in your first ever Step class. 
  • Start small and challenge yourself as your confidence grows. I’ve watched hundreds of women transform themselves from ‘dying’ when they walk up the stairs, to running 10+ kms – I am one of those women myself!

Words by Samantha Allemann

ben wild