"You should try it!"

Acquiring the drive to exercise is tough. Exercising alone? Much harder.

Before starting a wellness business, I spent a large part of my life inside various arenas of physical fitness. 

From football, to training for CrossFit, to strenuous labor to make ends meet, my life’s story has been riddled with physically demanding experiences.

And what did I take away from each one? Success requires community. No people, no sustainable forward progress. Without community, we’re bound for failure.

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate teamwork in the middle of grueling practices, workouts, and work days—even though I’m a self-proclaimed purebred of an introvert.

Listen very carefully: Needing others is not a weakness. It is a confession of your original design.

Let’s go back to the beginning—you know, that whole Adam and Eve thing. Why do you suppose humanity called for two, and not one?

We need each other. Even the greatest athletes in the world will quit if there are no people to share the victories with.

But seriously. Michael Phelps never would’ve trained the way he did if nobody cared.

Rather than simply adhering to the simple knowledge that we need others, let’s take action. 

How do we gain good company in our attempt to live healthier, more meaningful lives?

I’ve seen lots of failed attempts at getting people together to workout. Apparently, it takes a little more than body shaming and lofty promises to win people over.

If you’ve ever navigated the “Will you do this with me?” conversation, you probably know just how polarizing, and even damaging it can be to the person you’re addressing.

For this reason, I’ve decided to jot down a few of the major “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of inviting others into your fitness journey that I’ve picked up over the years. 

1. Don’t just assume they enjoy exercise.

Odds are, they aren’t particularly fond of taking multiple hours out of their week to sweat, strain, and grunt in front of a bunch of strangers. In fact, the thought of failure might paralyze them before you finish your “Will you do this with me?” pitch.

With this in mind, always approach others with the understanding that they may genuinely struggle with the fear of being judged.

Try leading with something like, “I’ve noticed how hard you work at your job. You seem to be really driven. Would you like to set some exercise goals with me?” 

They need to know you actually care about them and value their work ethic before agreeing to take on an uncomfortable challenge, like, say, Outdoor Boot Camp in the middle of Summer.

2. Do assume they have a busy schedule.

How many adults have you ever met that replied with “I’m super bored” when asked “How are you?” I’m willing to bet a very small number. Nine times out of ten, people are gasping for more rest time amidst their busy lives.

This is where you get to be their breath of fresh air: Listen to them.

Ask them about their week. Ask them about their lack of sleep. Ask them about their hard times. Show them you care. And don’t pretend. Really listen—you might gain more respect for them, and an even greater desire to enjoy recreation with them through fitness to help ease their hectic struggles.

Then share your personal experience. Share the benefits of scraping together a couple hours every week for personal health. Tell them about the disappearance of your lower back pain once you started doing a weightlifting class. Talk to them about the better sleep you get on the days you train. Extend them the invitation to join you—and let them set the day and time of the session.

Remember, one positive experience with exercise is far more effective than one hundred negative ones. Kindly ask them to try one workout, not twenty, and trust that they’ll unearth the same treasure you did when you first began.

3. Don’t superimpose your goals onto theirs.

Just because you want to have giant biceps, doesn’t mean Helen does. 

Talking too much about the physical changes you hope to see in your body may very well deter someone from joining in the fun for fear of their body shifting into something they don’t feel too fond of.

What they need to know is that the coaches of, let’s say, the Weight Loss Group, want everyone to experience success—based on what success looks like to them. Good coaches understand that each person has different aspirations, and will tailor the workouts accordingly. 

4. Do accept “no” for an answer.

It’s okay. Don’t forget why you're asking them to accompany you in the first place: You care for them. 

Even if you’re faced with a no, you should still check in with that person to see how they’re doing on a regular basis. Frequently sharing healthy recipes and the workouts you do may, over time, inspire them to do it when the timing is right.

And they, too, will come to understand that acquiring the drive to exercise is tough. And doing it alone? Much harder.

Pretty soon, they’ll be asking their friends to workout with them.

After all, needing others is not a weakness. 

It is a confession of the original design.

-Luke


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