Anxiety & Exercise
What I recall the most about my youth is feeling uncomfortable. I worried. A lot. I often would choose to stay home whenever I could; I didn’t like being in public where people could see me and judge me and, heaven forbid, dislike me. This went beyond my introversion; it was social anxiety. They are not one in the same. A nice explanation can be found here: https://themighty.com/2018/10/difference-between-introvert-and-social-anxiety/
Experiencing anxiety occasionally is normal. Most people feel anxious before an exam, job interview, or first date. For a chunk of the population these feelings become a constant in their lives. The feelings are intense, irrational, and may cause avoidance of situations out of fear of being embarrassed or judged. Anxiety disorders affect over 18% of the population annually, and may be rising according to some sources. These include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and phobias, among others.
I had an intense fear of being criticized or judged especially when having to do something in front of others. It is probably no surprise that I passionately HATED gym/physical education in high school and college. I avoided sports and most social physical activity for much of my teen and young adult years because I felt judged and rejected for not doing it well enough.
It is ironic that consistent physical activity may have helped me. Studies have shown that exercise is often associated with reduced anxiety. The exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood; neither is the ideal type and "dose" of exercise for greatest benefit. Many of us used to think of exercise only in terms of physical effort. Increased heart rate, building muscles, sweating, etc. It was what you did to lose weight. But a growing body of evidence is showing that exercise plays a fundamental role in brain health and mental health as well. That being said, heading into a busy gym is not likely the immediate solution for someone who has social anxiety. And when you are new to exercise, the uncertainty of what you are doing combined with the unfamiliar environment can result in elevated heart rate and sweating before even stepping on a treadmill or touching a dumbbell.
What can you do?
If approved/recommended by your health professional, incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Whether you suffer from anxiety or not, exercise is great for your body and your brain! It can feel daunting to get started but it doesn't have to be complicated or very time-consuming.
-Walk outdoors. All it takes is a quick google search to find studies and articles touting the mental health benefits of walking outside. If the weather and temperatures permit, try walking for 15 to 20 minutes most days per week.
-Find a workout you enjoy that can be done in the privacy of your home. Start slowly. Don't discount short sessions. Even 10 minutes at a time is a great place to start. What matters the most is what you can do consistently and how you feel when you are done. Build up to 3 to 5 sessions for 30 to 45 minutes each.
-Find a friend who will exercise with you. Having the support of someone you trust can make it easier to go to a fitness facility or try something new. Adding the social aspect to exercise can make it easier to be consistent, help you challenge yourself more often and build confidence to workout on your own.
-Seek guidance from a fitness professional. If you are new to exercise, have specific fitness goals, or physical limitations, a personal trainer can help you get started and make sure you are working out at appropriate intensities and performing exercises correctly to get the most benefit.
I no longer experience the same level of anxiety as I did years ago. Exposure to anxiety-inducing situations, talking to others, and writing in a journal were all a part of the process. But I am positive that developing a consistent exercise habit played a BIG role in helping me overcome the higher levels of anxiety that I used to experience. For that reason, one of my missions as a personal trainer is to make fitness approachable, especially to those who feel uncomfortable at the gym or anxious about starting. Anxiety or not, women deserve a supportive environment and a comfortable space to move and challenge their bodies.
If someone told me years ago that I would be voluntarily putting on a microphone and teaching Jazzercise classes from a stage or working one-on-one with women in the fitness field, I would never have believed it. Anxiety doesn't have to prevent you from doing what you want to do. It may be a part of the story but it doesn't have to define it. Fortunately, mental health is more openly discussed these days and resources are available online and locally. If you suffer from anxiety to the point that it affects your daily life, talk to your doctor or start here https://adaa.org/finding-help
“You’re a personal trainer?” “Yes, I am.”
When you hear the word female personal trainer, and you are on social media at all, you probably envision a fit, fairly muscular woman. You may see gleaming six pack abs and video or photo evidence of her glutes as she squats down in front of the camera. That’s what I envision too, thanks to Instagram! The Reuna Fitness Instagram feed on the other hand is sorely lacking in booty pics and not a single ab in sight, much less a six pack. Some may wonder, “Is this woman a personal trainer at all?”
I know, right?
I admit, I’m not the best at creating alluring content at this point….it’s a work in progress. Even so, you won’t be seeing my abs (or lack thereof) or a close up shot of my posterior any time soon (um, never). Those images simply don't align with me or my message.
I am a fitness professional regardless of what one may glean from my social media content. American College of Sports Medicine CPT, Girls Gone Strong Pre & Postnatal Coaching Certification, Precision Nutrition Coaching Level 1, AND certified Jazzercise Instructor. That’s part of the equation.
What else makes me a personal trainer? I am invested in helping women new to exercise establish a strong foundation that allows them to continue those healthy habits into the future. I am one of many voices helping to shift the focus from weight & aesthetics to function and how she feels. Weight loss/maintenance or achieving a more toned appearance will likely always be the number one reason women hire a personal trainer or start a new program. I understand because I have those motivations as well. But I will strive to highlight the many other reasons to invest time and money into personal fitness. We all deserve to move and strengthen our bodies, improve health and mobility, and enter a room with confidence. This CAN and should be separated from the number on the scale or on the tag on our jeans.
I will always start off with a free initial consultation because my training style and what I offer may not align with a client’s goals and desires. I feel very strongly about the importance of exercise and movement for ALL women and it is crucial to find the right fit for long term success.
What’s “Reuna”? (RAY-oh-na)
Two reasons I chose this word:
1) Pretty much every other fitness and health related word out there is already in use.
2) Reuna is Finnish; it means edge or margin. This word fits my introverted side. I prefer the edges rather than being out in the middle. The edge is my comfort zone. We all know about that comfort zone. It’s nice and lovely but it’s not good to stay there too long...not if you want to change or grow or do any of those fabulous things we do as human beings. Interesting fact: Reúna in Spanish means get together. I love the juxtaposition. One reminds me of my introverted tendencies and speaks to the discomfort needed to become who I want to be and the other reminds me of the importance of connection and the significance of relationships in health & fitness endeavors.
So there's a re-introduction of sorts since it’s a new year.
If you thought about working with me one-on-one, or would like to create a small group for training, now is the time to get that consultation and discuss your options. 2019 is the year of more for Reuna Fitness LLC and I hope you will be a part of it!