• Michelle Callahan

How to Overcome the 4 Most Common Obstacles to Exercise



Exercise is an important component to a healthy lifestyle. We all know it, so why is it so hard to stick with? I don't know about you, but when I exercise regularly I feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. I am also much better at eating healthy when I'm exercising. And I can do really well for a really long time, then life throws me a curve ball, I put exercise off and next thing you know I'm struggling to get back to an exercise routine. Has this ever happened to you? Or maybe you haven't exercised in the past, but want to make it part of your journey towards better health. But in your mind there are so many obstacles getting in the way of making that a reality. Facing obstacles is common when it comes to so many things in life, especially exercise, but it is possible to overcome those obstacles and make regular exercise a part of your healthy lifestyle. Let's look at the 4 most common obstacles and I'll give you my tips for overcoming those obstacles.


Obstacle 1: Time

We all have busy lives for one reason or another. It's easy to say, and truly believe, that we don't have time for exercise. The reality is that the time we invest in exercise will give us a huge return on our investment. When we exercise regularly we have increased energy so we can get more done in a day. I've heard people say many times, "I wish someone could give me more hours in my day.", and I'm telling you that exercise can do just that. Investing at least 30 minutes a day 5 times a week on exercise can give you the energy to get more done which translates to more productive hours in your day. So how do you overcome the time obstacle?

  • Workout with a friend - As humans, we have an innate desire to not let others down. Committing to working out with a friend will encourage you to make time because you told your friend you would. And your time is doing double-duty. Not only are you exercising, but you are getting in some friend time too!

  • Hire a personal trainer - Another thing most of us don't like to do is waste money. Investing in yourself is always a good investment. By hiring a personal trainer you are invested in making it to your workout sessions because you paid for them after all! A personal trainer can also help you make the most of your exercise time because it's their job to create efficient and effective workouts for you.

  • Schedule your workout sessions like you would doctor appointments - Take time on Sunday to look over your upcoming schedule for the week and schedule your workout sessions. Then get in the mindset that these are non-negotiable. Chances are good that you wouldn't cancel a doctor appointment because you didn't feel like going, so use that same mindset for your scheduled exercise sessions.

Obstacle 2: Accountability

  • Having some form of accountability is one of the most reliable indicators of successfully adhering to an exercise plan. If we feel accountable, we are more likely to stick to our exercise routine. Creating accountability for yourself can set you up for success. So how do you create accountability? It's similar to how you create time!

  • Choose a friend or family member to be your accountability partner- This goes back to that innate desire to not let others down. If you make the commitment to meet a friend or family member for a workout your chances of following through increases greatly. You don't want to let that person down, so chances are you'll be there. We typically don't like to go back on our word. Plus, you will likely enjoy the time spent with your accountability partner.

  • Hire a personal trainer - As I said with time, we don't like to waste money. By spending money on a personal trainer you are making an investment you don't want to waste. And your trainer will become your accountability partner. Not wanting to let someone down doesn't just apply to friends or family members. In fact, it may be even harder to let down someone we don't have an existing personal relationship with.

  • Obstacle 3: Knowing What to Do

  • I often hear people say that they don't know what they should be doing for exercise. They get overwhelmed with figuring out what cardio exercise to do, what strength training exercise to do and how to do flexibility/balance training? How do you fit it all in? What's the most important? How many repetitions and sets of weights do you do? Being overwhelmed by not knowing what to do is common, but there are a few ways to make it easier!

  • Take a group fitness class - Group fitness classes are a great way to get an effective workout in without having to think about what to do. The instructor does all the thinking for you. All you have to do is show up, put in your best effort and you'll walk away with a great workout that you didn't have to think about. And with all the different fitness classes out there, it's easy to find a few classes that you actually enjoy!

  • Hire a personal trainer - As a personal trainer, it's my job and passion to lead you through an effective and efficient workout so you don't have to think. One of the best things about working with a personal trainer is that you are going to get a workout tailored specifically to your goals. The trainer will figure out for you how many reps and what weight you should do and what cardio you should do so that you can meet your specific goals. All you have to do is be open and honest about your goals and show up to your sessions with a positive attitude and willingness to put in your best effort. The rest will be done for you.

  • Use the internet/social media - There are many places on the internet to find good workouts. You can use Fitness Blender on YouTube, follow reputable fitness professionals on Facebook or Instagram, or purchase an online fitness program like BeachBody on Demand. You can find a lot of great workouts online for cardio, strength and flexibility.

Obstacle 4: Expense

I'm a really frugal person. I spend a lot of effort trying to save money and find ways to make things more affordable. So much so that it drives my family and probably some of my friends crazy. But hey, I work hard for the money I have and I want to make the most of it. One thing I've heard a million times is that it's so expensive to be healthy. And while I won't necessarily disagree with that, I do want to point out 2 things. One, is that it's also really expensive to be unhealthy. The medical costs, the cost to your physical well-being and mental well-being far outweigh the cost of being healthy. You can either pay to be healthy now, or pay to be sick later. The second is that being healthy is an investment. It's an investment in you and it's an investment that will give you astronomical returns! Having said that, there are certainly ways to make being healthy, including exercising, more cost-effective.

  • Workout at home - For a small investment you can purchase some workout equipment that you can use at home. You can create an at-home "gym" with a yoga mat, resistance bands, mini bands, paper plates and couple sets of hand weights. And there are so many ways you can get a great workout in with just this equipment and your own body weight. And don't forget walking is almost free (you need to invest in a good pair of sneakers) and a great workout that you can eventually progress to running if you wanted to.

  • Find free or low cost resources for workouts - You can find free workout videos online (check YouTube), get free workouts from fitness professionals you can follow on social media or invest in a subscription to a fitness magazine like SELF or HEALTH. These magazines are really affordable and come with workouts in each edition.

  • Hire a personal trainer to create a one-time plan for you - If you want a more customized workout, this may be the option for you. I'm sure when you think about a personal trainer you think about meeting 3 times a week at the gym, but it doesn't have to be just that. As a personal trainer I create workout plans for people to do at home. There is a one-time fee (per plan) and it will give you a customized workout based on your goal at a really affordable cost.

It's easy to think of all the obstacles that get in the way of fitting exercise into our lives, but it's important to realize that for every obstacle there is a solution. The solution may be different for everyone, but there is a solution. One thing that is really helpful to successfully incorporating exercise in our life is acknowledging these obstacles and creating ways to overcome them. Write down your 3 biggest obstacles and how you are going to overcome them. Are you going to workout with a friend, hire a personal trainer, or get a walk in after dinner? Acknowledging life's obstacles and planning how to overcome those obstacles can go a long way in creating a successful, healthy life!

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