Trying to Keep Up-Is it Keeping You Behind?

People tell me they’re afraid to join a group exercise program because they’re afraid they “can’t keep up.” Especially since our program is called

Boot Camp.

If you compare yourself to others, you may always feel you’re not good enough and therefore not even try.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy since a person can never get better at something that he or she never tries.

I tell these people that they’re in good company because so many other people feel exactly the same way! I’ve heard this 1000s of times at this point.

We expect that new people won’t keep up!  Our existing students have been doing these exercises; therefore they should be faster and better. Many students were out of shape and not exercising before starting and have improved their fitness level.

If all new people could keep up that means our existing students haven’t improved since their first day. New people not keeping up are a sign that you can improve like the other students have. And you will after you work hard like they have!

Everyone can and should go at their own pace.  What other people do is irrelevant.  If you have 30 seconds to do push-ups do as many as you can in that time.  Other people may be doing more but that doesn’t lessen your workout or theirs. No one is holding anyone back.

We structure our program so that if we do an exercise with a set number of exercises then whoever gets done first can do more of these exercises or another routine.  Therefore a “slower” person would never be holding anyone back. “Keeping up” is unnecessary in terms of the flow of the workout.

People have various paces for the 1 mile.  Some people run.  Some people walk.  Some people walk/run.  Therefore people will come in at different times.

Invariably a student will come to me afterwards and say, “I was last.” This is usually in a very dejected tone as if he or she failed. Somehow being last has a very emotional reaction with many people.  I’ve never had anyone mention being 2nd-to-last or 3rd-to-last. It’s just last place that seems to evoke a strong reaction.

Unless there is a tie, there will always be someone first and there will be someone last.  This is just a fact.  It’s the interpretation and the emotion around this fact that gives this meaning.

You can have the fastest time of your life, but if everyone is faster than you, then you will be last.  Or you could have the slowest time of your life and be first if everyone is slower than you.  In what situation would you feel better about how you did? Do you compare yourself to others or to your potential?

I hear people tell me the opposite as well.  They say that trying to keep up has helped them challenge themselves more than what they do on their own.  If you feel that trying to keep up with others motivates you, then use this as a positive influence!

There will always be someone stronger, faster or younger than us. Let’s put this into perspective. There is always someone in last place in the Olympics at every event and these are the best athletes in the world!

My hope is that people compare themselves to their potential, not to others.

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One Response

  1. Leah

    Leah August 18, 2015 at 3:45 pm | | Reply

    Great commentary about letting go of judgment. Also, I think a lot of people will be surprised by how much they CAN do that they didn’t think they could!


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