3 benefits of being an exercise beginner (and then 3 reasons it sucks, but why you should embrace it anyway)
3 beginner perks
(and then 3 reasons it’s sucks to be a beginner but why you should embrace it anyway).
We have all been beginners at some point. It’s just a little easier on the ego when you’re a child - this is why I always remind people that I was a child gymnast and certain movements come relatively easy to me.
However that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what it’s like to be a beginner. In fact I’ll tell you a secret - I’m so reprehensibly, embarrassingly, terrified of riding a bicycle. I hypothesise that it was a combination of;
1. The fact that I learned to ride a bike while my parents fought in family court (angry divorces aren’t fun for anyone and consequently left me with bad associations with bicycle riding)
2. The many humiliating moments I had following that, falling off bikes as a teenager.
These memories are now buried deep in my subconscious and it will take a pretty great psychologist (possibly even archaeologist) to excavate them out of my amygdala* so that I can ride carefree.
Anyway; I could have just said that I was shit at riding bikes and knew how it felt to be a beginner but I didn’t. I went deep, maybe too deep. Yet, I feel like we are close enough that I can drop you with that kind of baggage right?
If not, lemme know.
So, back to being a beginner. I get it and it does suck, for many reasons, that I will discuss.
However let’s look at the good news first;
3 benefits of being an exercise beginner
Everything is new - There is a level of excitement that accompanies virginity (and not in the sexual sense - although, that too, but in the other sense of the word - inexperience). You will never have that same level of excitement in training ever again. Embrace it and make it last as long as you can. The curiosity that often emerges from a beginner and/or newbie is hard to come by when you’ve been practicing over and over again, and it’s that curiosity that actually speeds up the learning process by keeping it fun and intriguing.
You actually progress at a faster rate - When it comes to fitness and specific neuromuscular adaptations to imposed demands (aka. stressing the body with exercise), you will see very fast improvements. Having a young training age** can work on your side if you really aim to make significant and structured strength developments. This is another reason I encourage all beginners to get onto a plan.
You’re open minded - The humility that comes from being a beginner is beneficial because it is often accompanied with a slightly more open mind. When we’re new to something, we acknowledge that inexperience and put our trust wholeheartedly into the hands of an expert (hopefully the ‘expert’ is actually an ‘expert’). This enthusiasm and trust is so important for information application and retention. Keeping it open is the hardest part.
3 things that suck about being a beginner but why you should get on with it anyway:
Ego gets a beating - There’s no way around this really. It sucks to feel like you’re not good at something however we all had to start somewhere. When it come to exercise, your ego can get in the way of your results because it can make the process of exercise so goddam painful by tormenting you with uncomfortable and self-judgemental thoughts that will make you want to quit before you even begin seeing results. Try to push past this - I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MEN WHO AVOID YOGA AND/OR MOBILITY WORK BECAUSE THEY DON’T LIKE TO FEEL LIKE THEY CANT DO SOMETHING.
Easily taken advantage of - Yep - this happens all the time, especially on the gram. Avoid this by learning to educate yourself on your body and how it works. We need to expect more of ourselves in terms of our general knowledge of the body and the way it works. Learn the basics of strength training, fat loss, anatomy etc. It’s not like it’s a niche interest, like Chess or Vintage Cars - IT’S YOU'R BODY, YOU HAVE ONE AND WILL HAVE ONE UNTIL YOU DIE. WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO UNDERSTAND IT?!?!
Fear of failure - Failing feels terrible. No matter how many Rumi or Gary Vaynerchuck quotes we read about how ‘There is no such thing as failure’ - it doesn’t feel like that when you’re actually in the act of failing. However Rumi and Gary Vee are right - there is no such thing as failure. Every mistake you make on your journey towards getting exercise right, is going to teach you invaluable lessons. It’s silly to walk away from all that potential and priceless wisdom failure has to offer, because you’re scared of that initial, ego testing feeling of failure itself.
I hope this blog helped with those feelings - I do understand how awkward it can feel to be starting out - but it’s really important that you continue in spite of those reasons.
*the part of the brain that regulates fear based emotions
** Your training age is the amount of time spent training (lol, no shit Sherlock), the most important part of this number however is the context. You could have been running for 10 years, but strength training for only 10 months. You training age varies according to the type of training you’re referring to.