I attended my very first Zumba class two months ago. Zumba was something I had always wanted to try, but I was terrified at the prospect of it. It was the classic “ everyone will know what they’re doing except you and you’re doing to look like a bumbling idiot”.
I decided to try this particular Zumba class for the only reason that it was virtual: all of our cameras were turned off for the duration of the class. I could stumble and fumble and no one would be the wiser.
The class was a blast!
This experience made me realize two things:
- Trying a new activity (fitness or otherwise) takes a lot of courage – you’re outside of your comfort zone, and by definition that’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be.
- Trying a new activity is a total mental game – especially if you’re not sporty or very fit. We create all sorts of scenarios in our heads and dissuade ourselves from trying something new.
So if you’re like me, and the idea of jumping in to a new fitness experience has you running for the woods, here are some tips and tricks to make it a bit easier.
Challenge your own biases & expectations
I had good reason to be terrified of an in-person Zumba class.
My hubby and I attended an aerobics class at the community center some time ago. It was obvious that we were noobies – everyone else knew the steps except us. Several times we almost bumped into other people. One of the participants even came to us after class to tell us to keep at it – we’ll get better after a while! We were that bad, hey?
Our brains have good reason to conjure images from the past in order to discern how a future experience might go – they’re trying to protect us! Brains also like shortcuts – why bother spending time and energy if we already know how an experience is going to turn out?
But is that assumption really true? Or is it just that – an assumption? An expectation?
Here are some ways to get around that:
- Attend a virtual class instead of in-person – you get a feel for the activity and no one will see you fumbling around
- Do the new activity with a friend – that way you’ll have a support buddy there to cheer you on!
- Celebrate your courage – trying something new requires a tremendous amount of courage! Congratulate yourself for giving it a shot – because many people don’t!
Related: Fitness lessons: What exercising teaches you about life
Don’t like it? Good!
When you walk into a new setting or experience there’s always the possibility that you won’t like it. Here’s the thing though – you are an adult and you are allowed to not like things!
I tried belly dancing not too long ago too – I was attracted to it because it sounded like a great core workout. Instead, we focused too much on technique, the pace felt too slow, the room was too cold, and I had to walk barefoot (and even lie down!!!) on a floor that REALLY needed a sweep. The whole experience ensured that I would not be returning.
I’m not dismissing belly dancing as something I would never try again – but that particular class didn’t work out for me.
Do I feel bummed out about it? Of course – after all I invested time and energy researching it, going there, feeling excited about it, putting myself outside of my comfort zone, and being part of the class.
However, I don’t see the experience as a complete waste – now I know what a belly dancing class is all about, and I’ve crossed an item off my list that I wanted to try. Belly dancing may not be my thing and that’s fine – because at least now I know!
If you’re reluctant to try an activity because you may not like it, remember:
- You’re allowed to not like things
- At least you gave it a shot, and now you know
- It was a courageous thing to do – way to live outside of your comfort zone!
Do you enjoy the learning experience?
We all want to be good at things – like naturally good at things. It feels good to walk into a setting, try a new activity, and bam! You’re acing it right off the bat! You feel like a rock star!
Chances are though, when you try a new activity you’re probably not going to be that good at it.
After all, it’s new.
Instead of getting hung up on your natural abilities (or lack thereof) what other aspects of the activity do you enjoy? Here are some ideas:
- How do you like people you are with?
- How is the energy of the instructor?
- Do you feel comfortable in setting in which the activity is taking place?
- Does this count as having “me time”?
- Do you find the technique you’re learning interesting?
- Are you seeing little improvements in yourself and your abilities?
With Zumba, the first aspect that got me hooked was the music! It just made me want to dance. Even though I didn’t know the steps, I was excited to learn how to dance to really catchy songs, most of which I already knew. The instructor made a great first impression too – I loved her energy!
Then, about one month in, I realized I had memorized the moves to one of the songs! I was completely shocked, and it was such a cool feeling of success!
Bottom line is, if you’re trying an activity for the first time, don’t expect stellar results. Instead, focus on learning aspects that you enjoy – they might be the catalyst to keep you coming back again and again.
Trying a new activity puts you outside of your comfort zone. It may be a complete disaster, or you may discover a new love! I absolutely love Zumba. At the same time I probably won’t be getting into belly dancing anytime soon. Both were worth a shot though. Discovering activities that may or may not speak to you is part of the adventure of life. Fitness is diverse and goes way beyond the “gym” – so work out your courage muscle and discover it!
Let’s work together
I love working with people who are ready and committed to making long term changes in their lives.
- Are curious about their body and want to learn its inner workings
- Are willing to commit the patience and time it will take to see long-lasting results
- Want to build strength and stamina so they can do whatever life things they want to be doing
Does that sound like you?