Psychology of Getting out of Your Comfort Zone


For some people fitting in exercise is more about building a habit and making time.  However, for others the barriers are more psychological.  Whether they had bad experiences in gym class or always felt bad when sweating, they truly dread physical activity.

There is a psychology to doing things outside of what makes you feel comfortable.  Your comfort zone is a state where you feel at ease, in-control and experience low anxiety.  Behaviors are set and there is no sense of risk.  Leaving your comfort zone can produce panic and angst, but it is the only way to change a constant, e.g. your waistline.

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

The Learning Zone

When I meet clients for the first time, many are very nervous about working out.   It takes them out of their Comfort Zone and, unfortunately, many jump straight into the Panic Zone. My job is to get them into the Learning Zone, where growth occurs. I love fitness, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that being in a gym, running, biking or other strenuous activities is scary to some folks.  I can totally empathize with this as I feel the same way about arts and crafts.  I am the least crafty person you will ever meet and the thought of game of Pictionary sends chills down my spine.   I remember offering to help cut out snowflakes with some other Moms when my children were little.  My snowflakes were super lame and looked like a 5 yr old did them.  The other ladies had beautiful and intricate designs.  The good news for me is that science has not linked longevity to crafting ability, unfortunately for my clients; there is a direct correlation between fitness and longevity.  Though I can dodge my “fear” of crafts and it won’t affect my physical and mental well-being, it is pretty much a unanimous consensus that physical activity is a requirement for a long and healthy life. However, if I embrace my fear of crafts I will probably add value to my cognitive function, which I will discuss later.

Why Are People Uncomfortable Exercising

Fear of Looking Ridiculous

If you, or someone you know, is afraid of looking ridiculous, but Plankingseriously wants to start an exercise regime that requires skill, e.g.: weight lifting, Yoga, Pilates, etc., the best bet is to go to a private studio and hire a trainer for some one-on-one sessions.  Once you have the basics, you can try small group settings or larger group exercise classes.

Anxiety About Perspiring and Redness

I have no problem becoming a sweaty, red-faced mess, but this look can be embarrassing for some people.  Try to focus on what your body can do: run faster, lift more, etc., and less about how it looks.

Woman Exercising

Bring it On!

There are also ladies who pay lots of money for weaves, blow-outs, peels, etc. and they don’t want to ruin them.  If you get a weekly blow-out, save your sweatiest workout for the day before.  If you have peels, just avoid heavy workouts right after, then return to normal. Wearing your hair up and with a hairband around your hairline will wick a lot of sweat.  Dry shampoo is a savior.

Intensity Anxiety

Many new exercises believe that exercise intensity has to be EXTREME.  This is total nonsense and a great way to break down your body.

Intense Exercise

Beast Mode

Around 150 years ago, people would have been astounded that their ancestors would be hitting a gym to exercise.  They got plenty of movement throughout the day. Ideally we should strive to move at relative low intensities throughout the day, with brief bouts of intense activity. For example, walk kids to school, do your own house-cleaning, yard-work, etc.   Hit the cycle class a few times a week.  If someone does like to exercise daily (and I most certainly do), make sure to add easy Flow Yoga or meditative Tai Chi classes into the mix.

Learning Zone Benefits

Researchers believe the secret to active aging is to challenge your mind and body.  Having a positive attitude, a strong social network and a purpose are keys.  I suggest you visit the Learning Zone often and continue to grow your mind, body and spirit as you age.  Personally, I’ve discovered the joys of “Adult Coloring Books”.

Stay vital my friends!