Episode 71: Challenge your assumptions – "I cannot stick to my workouts. Exercise is NOT for me."

“Exercise is not for me.” This is what hundreds of people believe about themselves.

You see, several people start exercising every month. They feel excited for their new beginning. They have a new shiny exercise plan that dictates 3 or 4 hours of exercise every week. The aspiring exercisers start implementing it immediately.

They do wonderfully during their first week.

Same for their second week of exercise.

In the 3d week though they do not make it to all of their workouts. They skip one.

In his 4th week, they skip 2 workouts.


Sooner or later, beginner exercisers finds themselves filled with doubt:

“Am I cut out for exercise? I keep skipping my workouts. I am not sure if I have enough time for this, or, I don’t know, maybe I am just not motivated enough.

Whatever the reasons, I think I cannot keep up with my new schedule. I will quit. It seems that exercise is not for me.”


People quit exercise all the time. Lots of them conclude that exercise is just not for them. The result?

  1. They miss the benefits of exercise, such as feeling better with themselves, looking better, having more energy, enjoying better health.
  2. They may feel guilty, and be less self-confident because they “failed” once again.
  3. They believe that “exercise is not for them”. This lowers their chances of trying to start exercise again in the future. Suddenly, a silly conclusion like “exercise is not for me” may have dramatic effects on a person’s long-term health and vitality...

My question to you is…Can you recognize the faults in this kind of thinking?

Let me explain.

It’s normal for an exercise beginner to skip workouts.

Let me rephrase that: “Someone that starts exercising should expect that they will be skipping workouts.”

Let me rephrase that once again: “Exercise beginners should not expect to stick to their workout plan 100%. They will be skipping workouts. This is what exercise beginners do.”

Plus, it’s not just the exercise beginners who skip workouts. It’s also the experienced exercisers!

According to the Fitness Reloaded Report on Exercise Habits, 30% of the people who have exercised for 5 years or longer, skip their workout once a week or more. That is 1/3 of the people who have already made exercise a habit! That is a lot!

What is interesting though is that exercise beginners skip their workouts more than the experienced exercisers. About 30% of the experienced exercisers skip a workout on a weekly basis, but that number goes up to 65% for people who are just getting started with exercise. Thus, the percentage of exercise beginners who skip workouts on a weekly basis is more than double than the one of the experienced exercisers.

Need proof? Look at the graph on the right derived from the Fitness Reloaded Report. Notice how skipping workouts once a week or more (the blue line) decreases with exercise experience.

For some reason, people expect that suddenly going from 0 hrs of exercise a week to 3 or 4 hours is easy. However, it’s not. This is why people skip workouts!

Actually, there are two major reasons for that:

  1. The 3 hours you are planning to devote to exercise are already used for something else. You may e.g., be reading newspapers at that time. Well, we are creatures of habit. To divert energy from newspaper reading to exercising, you need to be breaking the newspaper reading habit and create the exercising habit. Easy? Not really. Every time it’s workout time, you will feel the urge to read newspapers. You will be looking for your reading glasses rather than your athletic shoes. That will be your default mode. Changing that is hard.
  2. Unpredictable events happen all the time! You may be more than happy to stick to your schedule, alas, your relatives are visiting this week and you have to get them from the airport and take them sightseeing. Buy-buy workout.

Are you a beginner exerciser? Are you skipping your workouts?

Instead of feeling demotivated this is how you should think about it:

“I am skipping workouts because I am an exercise beginner. If I didn’t skip any that would mean I would be not exercising at all.

However, I am exercising and with every workout I am getting one step closer to being in shape and one step away from ill health!”

Or, alternatively:

“I am skipping workouts because I am an exercise beginner. It is normal for me to do so. I know that if I stick to exercise, even if I only make it to one of my workouts every week, I will be improving as time passes.

I know I am cut out for exercising – I just need to get used to my new routine.”

Do you have any experiences where you falsely concluded that you should quit exercise just because you were skipping workouts?

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  1. Hi Maria,

    I have made a goal to work out 5 times per week. It is the second week now and I have not skipped a single work out! And why should I? I feel healthier, fitter and happier! Thanks for your motivation!

  2. It’s funny that it is the same for golfers. They make plenty of excuses for why they think they are bad but they don’t want to take the first step of improving by taking lessons or practicing on their weaknesses. Fitness can be detrimental to a persons health if they start out too intense doing p90x and then they associate that negative experience with exercise. Your right on point about starting small with low intensity and creating a consistent exercise routine to help you enjoy exercise more and then progress in intensity.

    Keep up the good posts! I am going through Corbett’s course right now and looking forward to implementing his principles. I might create a Manifesto for Sports Performance=)