Overcoming 5 Common Workout Obstacles

Raise your hand if you made a New Year’s Resolution and/or goal related to getting your fitness back on track. It’s so much easier said than done, right? I know what you’re thinking. But, Diana, you don’t get it because you’re all crazy about Zumba and you’re a Zumba instructor…so, yea, you don’t understand. Trust me, it hasn’t always been this way.


I struggled hard during and post-college to get into shape. Between eating poorly (hello, fast food!) and rarely working out, I wasn’t in my healthiest state. I won’t go into the full story, but it took me about 4 years after graduating (almost 8 years after stopping training as an ice skater) to find something that worked. I tried common workouts like walking, running, and using cardio machines at the gym. They all felt too much like work, and I was very unmotivated to continue. I went on a brief yoga stint (loved it!) until I hurt my wrist. And then, in 2007, I finally found Zumba. What clicked for me was that Zumba reminded me a bit of skating. I love how I don’t really feel like I’m working out when I do Zumba. Instead of focusing on the workout, I focused on the choreography and other (more fun) distractions. After taking classes for about 3 years, I became an instructor in 2010, and I’ve been having a blast ever since.

I don’t consider myself a fitness/exercise expert, which is why I rarely blog about fitness. But, I was browsing through my latest Real Simple when I stumbled upon an article called The Workout Whisperer by Dimity McDowell. In the article McDowell gives solutions to common exercise obstacles. I found myself reading each headline and then thinking about the advice I would give. Then, I’d read what McDowell wrote. I thought it was interesting that I thought of some different ideas from what she wrote, so I thought I’d share those thoughts with you. I won’t give away her article, so be sure to check out the February 2013 Real Simple to read it – she has some great tips! I just thought I’d offer some of the tips I thought of while reading McDowell’s article. And, I’d love to hear from you guys, so please feel free to chime in with tips of your own in a comment.


Overcoming 5 Common Workout Obstacles

Workout Obstacle #1: I don’t have time

This is an excuse I am most guilty of using…in life, not just in fitness. At least, it was until I read a cool article (can’t remember where) that set me straight by saying that we all get the same 24 hours in the day. You have the time, you’re just using it on different things. Now, you guys know I have a crazy schedule. I pretty much always have. And there was a time when exercise wasn’t part of it. Now, it is. It wasn’t easy, but eventually, I squeezed it in. And now that I’m an instructor, it’s become an important component of my life.

If you think you don’t have time, I’d suggest doing a couple things (individually, or a combination):

  1. Make small changes. I used to use some common tricks you’ve probably already of like parking far away (when it’s safe), taking the stairs, etc. Take a short break (in the afternoon or use part of your lunch break) to go for a short (15 minute) walk. Walk the dog. Every little bit helps.
  2. Change your schedule, but start small. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they go all in and try to go from working out 0 days a week to working out 7 days a week. I guess that works for some people, and if it works for you, go for it! I recommend a more gradual approach. Try scheduling something for 1 day per week. When that’s going well, add another in. Find a schedule that works for you.

Bottom line – if something is important to you, and I think exercise should be, you need to make time for it. Start small and see where you go from there. By starting smaller, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And when you feel successful, you feel encouraged to continue and to grow.

Workout Obstacle #2: I’m excruciatingly bored

The answer is obvious. Do Zumba. Everyone loves it. No, I’m kidding. Many people do enjoy Zumba, but it isn’t for everyone. The key is to find something that motivates you and something you enjoy.

Here are some categories I’ve noticed:

  1. Love to do things solo? Taking up running or walking may be better for you. Consider signing up for a race (maybe a 1-miler or 5k) so you have a goal to work towards. Maybe download a yoga podcast.
  2. Do you feel motivated by a group? Try a group fitness class. The energy can be so fun and encouraging.
  3. Do you need need someone constantly pushing you and keeping you on track? Maybe hire a personal trainer?
  4. Do you love competition? Why not join an adult league of something? Try tennis, basketball, soccer, or one of the many other teams out there. There are many recreational leagues, so you don’t have to be a prior high school star. In fact, I’d always wanted to play tennis, so when I was on assignment for work, I found a local tennis club and started doing group lessons and playing recreational games after work. It was great for de-stressing and kept me social and not cooped up in my hotel room.
  5. Do you like to be distracted by learning or doing something rather than thinking about your workout? Because of my skating background, this one fits me the most. This is also why I love Zumba so much. Part of the reason I don’t feel like I’m working out is because I’m thinking of other things – how to do a particular move, how the choreo goes, etc. If this is you, try Zumba, Masala Bhangra, or another dance fitness class.
  6. Would you love something that would also help you de-stress? Try yoga. I always felt like I had a great workout after yoga, but I also felt more at peace and like I really de-stressed after a long day of work.

Bottom line – I used to incorrectly think that a workout had to be a struggle. It doesn’t. I look forward to my workout (almost) every time I go. Like 99% of the time. I believe there’s a great workout for everyone out there. You just have to find it. And you may have to try a few different things before you figure out what works for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll have fun in the process?

Workout Obstacle #3: My workout buddy dropped out

I love the idea of workout buddies. But, it’s good to not be 100% dependent on them. Life happens – that doesn’t mean your workout doesn’t have to. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make your workout part of schedule. When you get into a routine, it’s easier to keep it up, regardless of whether or not your friend will be there.
  2. Find another workout buddy or two. If there are other people around (and it’s not just the two of you on a lone running trail), get to know some of the other people doing your workout. I’ve met many of my current friends through Zumba. Who knows, maybe you’ll make new friends, too? If nothing else, you’ll have others who can help motivate you to workout.
  3. Join a group. There are many running, cycling, etc. groups out there. If you think the group is expecting you, you’ll be more likely to go.
  4. Tell the instructor when you’re planning to come to class. I love to hear when someone says they’re excited to come to my class in a couple days. And if you tell the instructor you’re coming, you’ll be less likely to back out.
  5. Enlist your SO. Ask your significant other to help you stay on track. My husband was very encouraging when I wasn’t into the full swing of working out. He’d remind me of what a good time I have and help give me that extra push I needed.

Bottom line – you’re a big boy/girl. Workout buddies are fabulous, but try to not be 100% dependent on them. Find others who can help keep you accountable, if you really need the extra motivation.

Workout Obstacle #4: It’s too cold/hot/rainy/snowy

I have one hashtag for you – #firstworldproblems. Okay, just giving you a hard time. But, seriously, i get it. I’ll admit, every once in awhile, it will be a rainy and gross day outside, and I think to myself…oh no…I have to teach today. But, you know what? I fight the weather and teach my class, and I have a flippin blast. I get to see my friends and regulars, meet new people, and dance my a$$ off. I remind myself of this every time I doubt whether I should go to Zumba and I go anyways, I always have a blast. I saw a funny graphic the other day that said something like, “I really regret doing that workout said no one ever.” Oh wait, I found it here. I made my own version of the graphic to share with you guys:


Bottom line – remind yourself how good you feel after your workout, and that despite the weather, you’ll feel that positive energy again if you go. I’ve done that before, and it’s worked well (even before I was an instructor). Also, see the tips in obstacle #3 to hold yourself accountable. And if you don’t feel fabulous after you workout, please see obstacle #2.

Workout Obstacle #5: I’m not seeing results

This is the obstacle I’m least comfortable discussing, mostly because I don’t have any education or training on the human body, etc. I will say that most of the people in my classes have seen gradual progress. And it can take time to see progress in certain areas more so than others. I know I got really focused on losing weight in my stomach area, and that was an area that went last for me.

Bottom line – change takes time. Be patient, and you will see results. Side note – I would especially love to hear from any personal trainers, etc. on ways people can measure success or when to expect results.


Charlotte friends – are you purging your closet but you’re too busy to take the clothes to the consignment shop? Check out my Green Jeans giveaway by clicking here – this could be the solution you’re looking for!


Oh, and here’s a preview of something coming your way next week. Stayed tuned for details! Remember, you can get free The Chic Life updates delivered to you via email or RSS feed by clicking here.

Click here to view more of my Fitness-related blog posts.


Reader question: What are some workout obstacles you’ve overcome? How did you do it? And feel free to chime in with your comments, advice, and tips on the obstacles discussed in this post.

8 thoughts on “Overcoming 5 Common Workout Obstacles”

  1. All of the above! At least at various points in my weight loss journey. Even with the baby, I have PLENTY of time in the evenings to do something. Anything. Instead, I chill with the baby (usually on the couch), and when she naps, I spend my time “relaxing” and playing on the internet.

    We have a dog that needs walked daily, if not two times. I should definitely offer to do that job more (currently the husband does it). I still have a gym membership I’m not using. My complaint is that it’s too much of a hassle to go because of traffic or the logistics of leaving the baby behind.

    I really miss hip-hop. The guy that teaches it now has his own studio, but it’s on the other end of town…so I don’t go. I never got into Zumba, unfortunately, but I love hip-hop for all the reasons you love Zumba- it doesn’t feel like a workout.

    And of course my main reason now is that my feet are too big post-baby for my running shoes. And the shoes I need are $110. Not really in the budget this month.

    So in the meantime, I need to just get over my laziness and pop in a DVD. Yoga, Jillian Michaels, whatever!

    • Aww I hear ya. When I got a new job, it put my yogi another 40 minutes away. I tried going a couple times, but it didn’t work. Eventually, I found Zumba, though, so that was great! 🙂 The dog walks could be a great start! 🙂


Leave a Comment