The downside of no excuse fitness

I’ve already covered why I’m not a big fan of fitspirations, but I wanted to take some time to address one specific message that I’ve seen floating around the Internet as of late. The idea of no excuse fitness or that the only thing stopping you from “fitness” is your “excuses.”

For example, this one popped up on my Facebook. It got over 20 likes, presumably by other fitness professionals and a couple shares.


Now, I know the person who posted this. She works in fitness. I’m reasonably sure she meant no harm in posting this, but I cringed when I read it.

Here’s why.

To suggest that it is merely excuses that stops people from being proactive about fitness is to suggest that fitness is easy and if you can’t find time for it, then you’re unambitious and lazy.

I just don’t think this is true.

Creating more time to move and exercise means giving something else up. It means time away from your kids. It means time away from planning and preparing meals. It means time away from work and social commitments.

I’m not saying that it isn’t worth it, but these are legitimate commitments. Most of us operate under a lot of stress. We have deadlines, overbooked schedules and people who rely on us. Missing a workout isn’t necessarily a symptom of laziness. It’s often a symptom of having competing priorities that inhibit your ability to make time for the gym.

I can say this from firsthand experience. My time is valuable and scarce. I run a business. I do a ton of content-based work on the side and I have a boyfriend who I only see on weekends. I’m not complaining. The intensity of my life is self-inflicted and mostly welcome. However, under the stress of deadlines, unfinished taxes, unanswered emails and social commitments, I see how easy it is to let your fitness fall by the wayside.

So, I make it a point to move. Exercise and health are important to me, but it does require giving something up. I pay for a weekly Pilates private, because when left to my own devices, I will take that extra hour to write. My blog posts always go up later than intended. I wake up extra early so I can sneak in an extra walk. If I can’t make it to the gym, I walk the extra mile or two to the grocery store, the coffee shop or a work meeting.

And those weird 15 minute gaps between random appointments? I walk around the block then too. It’s not exactly a workout, but it’s better than sitting in my car answering emails from my phone.

As fitness professionals, we need to stop using shame tactics as a form of motivation to exercise. We need to have empathy for our clients and our class participants.

I believe that movement is imperative to health and we need to make it a priority if we want longevity, but I don’t believe that people fail to move simply because of “excuses.” It’s more likely that they’re overwhelmed and need someone to help them figure out how to create time where there appears to be none.

On a final note, what does it mean to be fit anyways? The fitness industry would have us believe that until we’re nothing but visible muscles and bones, we’re fitness failures.

I don’t believe that either.

Define fitness on your own terms. It’s perfectly okay to have an extrinsic goal, but consider journey. Look at what you’re able to do, not just what you look like.

If it turns out that looking a certain way requires excessive sacrifices that you don’t want to make, then don’t and don’t feel bad about it! Not going for visible abs doesn’t mean that you’re making excuses. It just means you have other (perhaps arguably more meaningful) priorities.

Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interest at heart and isn’t worth listening to.

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