We all have that one thing that scares the hell out of us. We avoid it like the plague but in the back of our minds we’re thinking ‘maybe one day, I will do something about that’. You may be someone who hates spin classes – so has never taken a class. Or someone who just knows she would be horrible at yoga – but has never tried it. My fitness phobia? Ocean swimming.
The thing with most of these phobias is they manifest in your mind. The longer time goes on, the more you convince yourself that it is a genuine fear. The more you think about it, the more you can come up with all kinds of reasons why you can’t do it. But reality is, more often than not, that ‘can’t’ should be a ‘won’t’.
A lot of people see fear as a weakness but if you use it as a driver, it can give you motivation you never even knew was there.
Swimming was never a strong suit for me and a bad experience in the surf as a 12-year-old put me off for years. In fact, I hadn’t swam a lap since compulsory swimming lessons in primary school when I signed up for a triathlon with a pool swim just over two years ago. I have since completed that event three times (with longer distances each year). I set myself a single New Year’s Resolution this year… complete a triathlon with an ocean swim. The opportunity came up early than I expected, with a race that had an ‘enticer’ distance – including a 150m swim. I signed up before I could change my mind.
As the race approached, I had more than a few moments when I wondered what I had done and whether I had the courage to actually go through with it. Thankfully, when I got there on the day, the water was glassy so I had a quick ‘warm up’ swim and felt good, I felt in control. At least that was until I was swimming alongside 100 other people…
The truth is, I didn’t enjoy it – but I am immensely proud that I did it. I completed my first ocean swim and worked out that it was not my thing. But I would never have figured that out for sure if I hadn’t braved the water and jumped in, literally and figuratively. I faced my fitness fear and it is no longer a fear.
Confronting a fear or phobia, whether fitness related or not, is never going to be easy, I can attest to that. But it is an amazing feeling to know you have accomplished something you thought you could never do – no matter the reason why. So give that spin or yoga class a try, you might find it is just the thing to give your fitness routine a boost. You never know what you are missing out on if you don’t dive into the unknown every once in awhile. Trust me.