DALLAS — Picture yourself as a cartoon character, looking earnestly at a whistle-necked, clipboard-carrying fitness professional. Your mouth is open, spewing into a text balloon the reasons you simply can’t exercise that day.
She has to focus her eyes on your forehead so they won’t start rolling. That’s because she has heard protestations galore — yours, and countless variations on the theme.
Here are some of the most common excuses, lame-brained and otherwise, and ways trainers suggest you talk yourself out of them.
Whine No. 1: I don’t have time.
The trainer’s comeback: Make time.
“Wake up a little earlier than normal a few days per week and get it done,” says Jeremy Allen, a certified personal trainer at Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center. “If you plan ahead, you can find the time.”
Katie Brumley, fitness coordinator at Landry, says fitness takes less time than you might think. A half-hour will suffice. If that’s too big a chunk, break it up.
She suggests two ways to use that time:
Circuit training: Alternate one minute of cardiovascular activity — running stairs or jumping rope, for example — with one minute of body-weight activity such as squats or push-ups.
Interval training: Incorporate high-intensity bouts into your regular workout. Mix jogging with walking, for example, or sprinting with jogging.
Whine No. 2: I’m too tired.
The trainer’s comeback: You won’t be for long.
“Studies show that regular exercise can improve mood, boost energy levels and enhance your sense of well-being,” Brumley says.
If you schedule your workout as you do other parts of your life, eventually it will become a habit. So tie your shoes, adjust your cap and get going. You look the part, so you might as well live it.
Whine No. 3: I’m not fat, so I don’t need to exercise.
The trainer’s comeback: Yes, you do.
This excuse “makes me cringe,” says Mallory Mansour Dubuclet, owner and head trainer at Positively Fit Lake Highlands. “Weight loss is primarily about diet; exercise is about internal health and fitness.”
Studies show life expectancy is not necessarily correlated with low body weight, she says, “but is definitely connected to cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.”
Whine No. 4: I don’t know where to start.
The trainer’s comeback: At the very beginning.
Educate yourself, says Kerry Little, Dallas running coordinator for Luke’s Locker. Ask fit friends, who might have been waiting for you to join them.
Brumley suggests starting with exercise videos put out by credible sources. Working with a personal trainer can help you identify areas of weakness and help you develop them so you won’t get injured.
“Many gyms offer complementary orientations to the equipment, where a fitness professional will show you how to adjust and properly use the machines,” she says.
Whine No. 5: My (name of body part) hurts.
The trainer’s comeback: Avoid the movement that brought on the pain.
Dubuclet acknowledges that some people are in constant pain with such limiting conditions as knee or shoulder trouble, or plantar fasciitis.
“I try to remind them that they are still blessed with the ability to move,” she says, “and should consult a personal trainer for alternative ideas, or to strengthen the areas around the injured body part.”
Whine No. 6: I can’t afford a gym membership.
The trainer’s comeback: Rethink your priorities.
When Allen hears that excuse, he asks, “Are there expenses you can cut? Going out to eat? Drinking?”
“The answer is usually yes,” he says. “You can usually cut out one bad habit in order to make a gym membership affordable. You can also exercise at home.”
Whine No. 7: I don’t want to mess up my hair
The trainer’s comeback: Mussed hair is easier tended than a messed-up body.
“If you’re comparing the importance between a hairdo and a healthy lifestyle, you need to prioritize better,” Allen says. “Bring toiletries and a change of clothes to your workout. Planning is key.”
Or work out when you have more time afterward to primp a little.
Whine No. 8: I’m too embarrassed to work out at a gym (or join a class or running group).
The trainer’s comeback: People are more concerned with how they look, not you.
Brumley says clients often think they have to look good to even step foot inside a gym. She assures them that most people are at the gym for the same reasons — to take care of themselves, not be critical of others.
Adds Little: “We are all wrapped up in our own worlds, so get over thinking others may notice and do something to make them notice!”
Whine No. 9: I’m too old.
The trainer’s comeback: Probably not.
“If you can breathe,” says Jill Murawski, instructor at Fit Yoga in Richardson, Texas, “you can do yoga.”
Says Gwen Flood, adjunct physical education professor at Richland College. “You’re never too old and you’re never too old to start.”
She teaches emeritus classes for older adults and tells those students what she also stresses to her younger ones: “The key is to never stop moving, really and truly. Ever. There’s always something you can do. You can modify any exercise.”