GUEST POST: Overcome Exercise Shyness with Eight Tips

Getting into exercise can be intimidating … but it doesn’t have to be! Check out this guest post from Sharon Freeman on how to overcome exercise shyness, and get started on building a better you!


Women are shrinking violets when it comes to exercising outdoors.

According to British non-profit Mind, nine out of 10 women refrain from outdoor physical activity due to low self-esteem coupled with high self-consciousness. They tend to exercise late at night, if not pass up entirely.

Mind’s findings back up a report by Deadline News contending that more and more Scottish women are patronizing 24-hour gyms to exercise at ungodly hours when crowds are sparse.

Psychologists have long compared the effects of outdoor exercise to those of antidepressants, which are used in treatment of anxiety and mild or moderate depression. But it can be hard to drive this fact to women, especially those who are stubborn.

Surveying 1,450 women aged over 30, Mind estimates that two out of three women feel conscious about their body shape when exercising in public. Sixty-percent of respondents feel nervous about their bodily reactions to exercise e.g. blushing, sweating and farting, as well as how their movements look like to others.

To cope with such insecurities, more than half of respondents admitted to exercising late at night or in the early morning hours.  Nearly two-thirds prefer locations where they are least likely to meet people they know.

Hugh Mullan, who runs an all-day and all-night gym in Glasgow, was initially surprised by the late-night turnout in his facility. But he eventually figured this phenomenon.

“What we find is that a lot of women in particular are self-conscious and the idea of a 24-hour gym where they can come either early morning or late at night when it is quieter is definitely something that appeals to them,” he said.

The question is – are you one of these women? Do you feel shy exercising around other people? Conquer your fears with these tips:

1.    Try changing your mindset. Resolve to improve your health and practice ignoring your negative thoughts. Motivate yourself to exercise by thinking of family and friends, many of whom would want to see you live a long, happy, and disease-free life.
2.    Get some company. Exercise with a friend. He or she can give you moral support and help you commit to your goals. There is strength in the proverbial numbers.
3.    Enroll in a beginner’s program. To minimize feelings of embarrassment, take a class tailored to your fitness level.
4.    Practice at home. Do your moves in front of a mirror, if only to prove you don’t look stupid. Doing your moves before you hit the gym also serves two other purposes. First, you improve your form. Second, you can plan what workouts to perform at the gym. (The Internet, books and magazines are rife with free workout ideas.)
5.    Skip the gym entirely. The money you cough up for months-long membership fees and travelling to the facility might be better spent on home equipment. You can work out in your own time, at your own pace, and without a trainer to micromanage you.
6.    Don’t forget dumbbells. In addition to resistance equipment, dumbbells are important to activate stabiliser muscles, resulting in muscle mass gain and enhanced metabolism.  Start with light weights and work your way up; lifting heavy weights too soon only leads to torn muscles.
7.    Some exercises can be done at home anyway. Jumping jacks, crunches, and band pulls can all be done in the comfort of your home. They are the perfect cop-outs from exercising outside.
8.    Run inside. If you’re not ready to jog outside yet, try doing it indoors. The trick is to run in place as fast as you can for 10 minutes. But you can always invest in a treadmill for your home.



When you’re overweight or obese, you may feel being excluded by society because of your condition. But you aren’t. Mind’s survey underscores the fact that 90 percent of women, fat or thin, can empathise with you.

Even if other women don’t share your timidity, choose to ease yourself into a healthy attitude of not caring about what others think. With your health on the line, strive to move just a bit every day. For now, it is better that you’re exercising in the wee hours than not at all.

Just remember: Don’t look pretty to exercise, exercise to look pretty.



Sharon Freeman is a fitness specialist writing about companies like North Shore Health and Fitness

Welcome to the Calm Before the Storm…

The calm before the storm. That’s truly the perfect way to describe the gym in December.

I found myself in the gym on Thanksgiving morning, enjoying the relative emptiness of the place. I had no trouble doing exactly what I needed to do. My weights were available. I had plenty of space to stretch. I had my choice of treadmills. As I was enjoying my holiday morning workout, I found myself suddenly almost paralyzed with a thought: Enjoy it now. Cause it’s going to be chaos in one short month.

Here’s the thing … I am a huge proponent of fitness, as you all know. But, like every other year-round, it’s a lifestyle, not a temporary fix type, I HATE January and February in a gym. It’s crowded. It’s hard to find what you need (let’s be honest, in my gym, half the week is hard, so it’s even worse in the height of resolutions). There are a bunch of people looking around like deer in headlights … or, worse yet, doing something that has no resemblance to any sort of form that could ever be considered slightly okay, let alone good.

It’s funny, because the topic came up yesterday while I was on my way home from the gym (as I was talking to a certain Marine I’ve been spending some time with in the past couple months). Monday after Thanksgiving? Zoo. Preview for what is just around the corner. Today? Typical December Tuesday (meaning I got the treadmill of my choice, stretched without feeling like I was on top of someone, and didn’t have to go on a journey just to find a darn foam roller).

So, to all of my regular gym-goers … happy year end. Enjoy it while it lasts. The Resolutioners are just around the corner.

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving everyone! I wanted to write a quick little post about a few of the things that I am thankful for this year – one of them being you, my faithful readers 🙂 I would have never thought, when my girl Helen encouraged me to start a blog back in February 2012 that it would end up where it is today. I’ve been so fortunate to “meet” some amazing people, to share my stories, offer motivation, and combine two things that have been an important part of my adult life: fitness and writing. It’s been almost two years for this little blog that could, and if you’d asked me if I would have ever thought that I’d get more than 1,300 people liking what I had to say enough to click “follow,” I would have said no. I love that I’ve been able to communicate with you through your comments, and through Facebook and Twitter. For your support, I am truly grateful.

So … what else is on the list this year? I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to share what I love in person, too. I’ve developed a pretty strong following at XSport throughout the last three and a half years, and I love that these girls and guys give me the amazing opportunity to really be my best self for five (or more) hours each week. Yes, many of them think I’m crazy when I’m singing, or dancing around the room, or,  yes, playing “Tiger Rag” and doing cadence calls when I teach class on game day, but they keep coming back for more. And as a person who, though it may not look it (especially when I’m doing all these crazy things), feels like I’m constantly being judged or rejected, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you don’t just come to the gym for a workout – you come to see me. Many of you have become my friends throughout our time together, and I’m better having you in my life.

On that note, I’m also thankful that I was able to start subbing at a second gym this year, too! I didn’t realize until probably about a year ago that I lived directly across the street from a Sport&Health. But I’m glad I finally opened my eyes. The team over there is incredible, and the opportunities for growth and education have been amazing. It’s through my new-ish relationship with this club that I was able to attend the DCAC Conference over the summer, and to earn a second cycling certification (and at no cost!) – which are GREAT things for me, as I’m constantly on the hunt for something new.

But there are a few things I’m thankful outside of the blog and the studio, as well. I started a new “real” (and yeah, not quite as fun) job back in September, and it has been good for me. I’d grown stagnant in what I’d been doing previously, and as I’ve already mentioned, growth is important to me. I’m fortunate in the fact that guy I work directly with is great – and it helps that he’s a big runner, so he doesn’t think I’m crazy when I get into my fitness talk. Even more so, I’m fortunate to be bringing home a significantly bigger paycheck! Only downside to this one? The government shutdown cost me the time off I would have needed for the holidays. I picked Christmas over Thanksgiving, so I’m spending my first Thanksgiving ever away from my family this year. I didn’t expect it to bother me too much, but I have to admit … it hit me today that I am pretty bummed.

Which brings me one of the biggest ones: I’m thankful for my friends and family. I have a lot of great people in my life – people who have been there through the good times and the bad times. They’ve been there when I needed motivation to find what truly makes me happy, and to cheer me up when I was down (trust me … Helen, if you’re reading this … you’ve been my savior more times than I can count. I knew I’d miss you when we stopped spending 40+ hours a week sitting two feet away from each other, but I didn’t realize I’d miss you this much). I’ve been so fortunate to have great groups of friends throughout my lifetime, and I wish every day we all were closer together (is this a good time to bring up the Medina girls trip we’ve been talking about for, oh, 7 or 8 years now)? You’ve all helped shape me into who I am today. Though, honestly … many of you are probably still wondering how I got to be obsessed with fitness and football.

That said … thanks again to everyone who has been a big part of my life throughout the last year (or longer). Try to enjoy your Thanksgiving, cherish your family time (I wish I could be with mine), and please … don’t be afraid to eat a little pie (one slice won’t kill you. But don’t eat the whole thing, because you will hate yourself on Monday).

You’re Never “Too Old” – Just Ask My “Zumba Cheerleader”

I’ll admit to probably calling myself “old” far too often (I mean, I am about two months shy of my 29th birthday … and yes, I mean the 5th one). To discussing with some of the ladies in my classes my theory that once you hit 30, things start hurting that never hurt before. The recovery time is not as good as it once was. Yes, I’m definitely working out a lot harder than I was at 22. But I often feel it a little longer than I did once upon a time.

But being “old” is not the purpose of today’s post: it’s actually knowing that you’re never too old.

As you know, I spend a lot of time at the gym. Some days, I think there’s a real possibility I spend more awake time there than I do at home (unfortunately, “real” work and sleep take up the bulk of the rest of my days). I’ve seen a lot of people come a long way throughout the years, but there is one person who I find more inspirational than anyone else, even a lot of the people I’d consider at least to some extent personal success stories. No, this is about someone who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hold a little bit of a place in my heart.

I don’t know his name, but he’s easily close to my grandfather’s age. He’s taken the Zumba class before my Piloxing class for as long as I can remember … and I’ve been teaching that class for almost two years now. I lovingly refer to him as the “Zumba Cheerleader,” because his attitude, and his dedication and love for the class is infectious. He calls everyone “honey” as they leave the studio, announcing how many calories his heart rate monitor tallied during the class, wishing everyone a good night. And, in true sweet old man fashion, he’s always handing out candy on his way out the door (I kid you not, I ran into him in Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and the man had a piece of chocolate on him, which he tried to pawn off on me). It’s adorable.

My point? There is no such thing as “too old” to get started. It’s easier to start young, but like I’ve already said, I feel like something new on my body starts to ache every week. My Zumba Cheerleader has to be at least in his mid-70s … and he’s still shaking it with a bunch of girls who could be his granddaughters a couple times a week. I’ve also seen him on the cardio floor and in the weight room (he actually came up to me the other night and told me I was really strong – it was cute) – the man is seriously in the gym at least three or four days a week. And if he can do it, anyone can do it. You just have to find something you love and want it bad enough to make it a priority.

Apparently I Lived at the Gym this Weekend…

I have a confession to make: I MAY have spent close to eight hours in the gym between yesterday and today. No, it was not some kind of seminar or certification … it was literally classes, workouts and a couple unexpected things that popped up. Not that I’m complaining – I love being in the gym. But I know many of you are reading this wondering, what on EARTH can you possibly spend that much time doing?!?

Sunday mornings, I teach class from 9:30-11:45, and I always try to get there by 9:00 at the latest – just so I have a little time for a 15-20 minute warm-up on my own before class starts (you know, get those endorphins flowing so I’m at my crazy best by the time class kicks off). I’ve been stretched a little thin these last several weeks – I normally teach five classes a week, and during the last three weeks, it’s been more like eight – so I have to fit my weight workouts in when I can. Regardless of how much I’m teaching, I still try to get a good three weight workouts in a week – and with a GORGEOUS dress hanging in my closet, waiting to be worn this weekend (I was invited to the Marine Corps Ball), I have no interest in giving up a weight workout for lack of time. So post-class Sunday it was.

This morning, I had planned to meet one of my Piloxing girls, Kim, at 10:30 to run through some choreography and give her some tips as she prepares to audition to join our XSport Group Exercise staff (YAY!!). So what do I do? Show up at 9:30 (knowing we are planning on running choreography until noon), run 5k and get a little weight work in. Choreography practice went pretty well, and at the end, Kim invited me to join her for her noon training session. Since she invited, I was glad to join in on a little further torture. At about 1:15 (and nearly 1650 calories later), I was finally on  my way home. Totally worth it. No matter how hard of a workout I plan for myself, I always learn something new and push even harder when I have a trainer in my face. And lesson of the day? I really need to figure out the best way to use a foam roller, because HOLY CRAP. Apparently my IT band is insanely tight. And sadly, the one part of my body I thought was probably the tightest (my hamstrings – they’ve just felt locked up lately, and no matter how much I stretch, it seems to do nothing) was the one body part that didn’t cause me to need peeled off of the ceiling.

Here’s the thing: I had not planned to spend this much time working out this weekend (oh, yeah, I taught a class at Sport&Health on Saturday, too, so add in another hour of cardio and a light leg workout, and you have another two and a half hours to my clearly gym-centric long weekend). But the thing is … I know it’s an illness, but I loved every minute of it. I think it’s amazing how quickly the time can pass when you’re doing something you love (okay, not going to lie, the foam roller felt like it was never going to end. And I’m pretty sure the effects of it will hit me tomorrow more so than they already have). I may be pushing hard, and I may be truly working, but whether I’m teaching a class, or running, or lifting, or anything else physical that I decide to torture myself with, I love every single second of it. It’s not work. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.