Shocker, most people aren’t really into fitness. I know, I am writing for a fitness magazine, but I was one of those people who were so far removed from the fitness realm it wasn’t even funny.
If my friends mentioned fitness or anything health related I would roll my eyes in disgust.
Do you have someone that does this to you when you get all hyped up about what you are squatting, or what your macros have changed to in order to get that six pack you have always wanted?
How do you get them motivated to become oriented to this lifestyle, anyway? I wasn’t asking as a rhetorical question, either, I am really asking, because I have yet to do this with some of my own friends who have seen me lose my weight and get into fitness.
Talking to them about this stuff is like talking to a wall. Seriously, I may even have a better convo with my bathroom drywall versus some of my very best friends.
Doesn’t everyone want to know how to better their health and bodies?
Spoiler alert - No. No, they don’t. Some are so intimidated because they don’t know how to start. Some are like I was - it was about as remote as finding a life mate on Zoosk who tells you he lives in a gated community... AKA Jail.
So, let's see here, what is the missing key?
It is getting people inspired to even want to go on a journey with you. It's not making them feel like they are jerks for not doing it sooner and it isn't about leading by example sans being ultra crazy about it as well.
8 Ways to Help Others Find a Fitness Path
1. Judgment free zone
Yes, you may chest bump in the gym with your buddy (if you're a girl, this may be a little disturbing, but whatever floats your boat) but in front of others, have a little humility. Stop being all fitness-ey and stuff.
If you go to the gym with these folks, don’t have them try to keep up with you - it's not about you. It's about them and helping them to find what floats their boat. Don’t tell them they suck at squats, give them encouragement. Help them to be excited about the process, excited about getting to the gym, even.
Don’t judge them if they are sore when you wouldn’t be. Don’t judge them if they want to do yoga versus rock climbing if that is what you're into. Everyone has their own thing, help them to find it.
2. Question their motives
Why do they want to be healthier? I know if someone had questioned me, I would have told them I don’t want to be healthier. I want to win money so that I could go buffet hopping in Vegas.
You will be surprised what others will tell you, and it may be a barrier for them. I couldn’t fathom losing weight and being healthy. It was so out of reach when I started that I felt it was never ever going to happen for me.
Hence all the eye-rolling I did when friends would talk up anything to do with health or wellness.
3. Be supportive
Yes, this means you.
Most friends suck when it comes to this because they want to tell someone how they did stuff. Impart all their shenanigans on others.
This is fine to tell your story because it may help, and it may not. They may be on a totally different path than you which means, that you need to shut up and listen to them. No. I mean really listen.
Listen to their fears, even if you feel they are lame and unfounded. Those fears are real to them.
4. Don't be swayed
By this I mean this - sometimes people say they want to get healthy, but maybe don't. So, your best girl wants to get healthy and you are driving to the gym together and she says, “I love Krispy Kreme. Let's just do that instead of the gym...”
You need to hold steadfast.
Be firm, but patient and tell her no, you want to go to the gym (even if that's a lie and you want a Krispy Kreme so bad you may die right on the spot). This is important because it is easy to get sidetracked and get caught up in the Thelma and Louise moment of doing something together that feels good versus going to the gym which is more a delayed reward.
5. Don’t give unsolicited advice
Too much advice can have your friend freaking out and discouraged. “So when you go to that machine, you don’t want to (insert advice)" ...Then proceed to talk to them ad nauseam about all the benefits of making muscle, blah blah blah.
This can overwhelm and discourage someone that has just started their fitness journey.
Being overwhelmed sucks - I have been there done that, and its hard to be around someone that overloads you with advice and doesn’t let you kind of work things out on your own.
6. Don't hound them
If they went to the gym with you two days ago, don't ask them a million times when they want to go next, and didn’t you just love it, wasn’t it just so fun? I can tell you, that going to the gym when I was 300 pounds was not only intimidating, but super painful, oh, and can I say more embarrassing than finding a sandwich in my pannus after lunch?
You can always ask how they liked it, and if they shrug and walk away, maybe they aren’t ready yet, and that is OK.
7. Don't ask too much
If they are excited to be at the gym or out running, please don't ask if they want to sign up for a Spartan Beast in a month with you. Sooo not cool.
Well, unless she is a frenemy, then maybe it could be a little cool...
You don't want to kill someone or make their excitement turn into horror because they broke their ankle doing things that they never trained for. I see a lot more of this than I would like to. Heck, I did this to myself, and it was not the brightest thing I did in my weight loss journey.
When you ask someone to do more even when they are excited about it, they may hurt themselves and then you also discourage their advancement and dampen their excitement pretty much all at the same time.
8. Roam in a pack
This may not pertain so much to men. For us females, when we start, we tend to start in a pack - from our menses to our workouts.
It is what it is.
Be there for your friend and don't leave them to talk to the hot guy at the Smith Machine. This will make your friend feel like you:
- A) don't care about them and...
- B) You're a gym douche.
That really is a thing. You don't want to be that girl at the gym that ditches her newbie friend for muscles. Just saying.
For your friends who are not the fitness freak you are, it may be frustrating for both you. You may want to cajole, bully, bug and pester your friends into becoming healthier because you are, but this may not help your case.
Being a supportive friend and helping them find what they may like would be a better way to go in the long run. Forcing someone to conform to what you want to do or giving them too much info can turn them off exercise and eating right.
If you want to continue to have a Thelma and Louise relationship with them, you need to be kind and helpful in your approach. Just think of all the fun things you can do-make protein cake together, run dirty in a 5 k or hit the iron like two crazy girls and chest bump and scream at each other just to see what your fellow gym goers will do...