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Exercise is not a punishment!

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

I’m all for exercise being a challenge both physically and mentally, of course it’s great to get a sweat on and get out of breath, but I worry when I hear people talking about exercise in begrudging terms as a burden or something to punish themselves with.

The psychology of fitness is really interesting. I know I always bang on about finding what you love, what makes you feel alive and proud of yourself – this will help you to get fitter and stay fitter for longer. The aim is to get to a state where not exercising feels uncomfortable! So if putting your running gear on fills you with dread, stop doing it! Maybe try a team sport or dancing instead. If you force yourself out on a bike ride, stop doing it! Go for a swim or try a ball sport instead. You get my point?!

Exercise should not be driven by guilt or shame - it’s not about working off over-indulgences or punishing ourselves for eating a take-away meal. And neither should we exercise to ‘earn’ bad food or a bottle of wine.

What about thinking about fitness itself as a reward – your body and mind deserve to be exercised! Give yourself the opportunity to get stronger, fitter and achieve things you didn’t think possible. Making exercise an enjoyable and consistent part of your life is a huge step forward.

Rather than seeing exercise as a necessary evil, try to approach your fitness with a light-hearted energy and don’t take it too seriously. If you find it difficult to get away from this ‘obligatory’ approach to fitness, try something different. There is a type of exercise out there that makes everyone happy and fulfilled. The right type of exercise will make you feel great!

Nobody can stick with fitness as an obligation for long – you’ll fall off the wagon and be forcing yourself to get back on over and over again. Equally, using exercise as a punishment doesn’t last for long, it’s just the wrong motivation.

I don’t subscribe to the ‘exercise should make you vomit or it isn’t good enough’ theory either. I went on a course earlier this year where we were encouraged us to use the hashtag #ididntdie after our training!! If you love that kind of intensity, that’s fine but I believe that a workout you can sustain over time and you have fun doing will be far more beneficial in the long run.

If you’d like to come and try a different class, meet new people and challenge yourself to dance or plank or spin wildly with a glowstick – check out all our classes at

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