Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and it is key in optimizing our physical and mental well-being. However, for any number of reasons, not everyone can perform certain exercises as they are traditionally prescribed. When this happens with you, yes, I’m looking at you! (because this will happen to anyone who moves their body – Olympic and professional athletes included) Exercise modifications are crucial to accommodate individual needs and limitations. Despite the importance of seeking modifications, most of us find it challenging to ask for them. Let’s explore the underlying reasons behind this difficulty and discover the importance of overcoming this hurdle to keep you fighting another day!
- Fear of Judgement
Comparison can be either very motivating or very crippling! It’s great when we are working hard because the person next to us is giving it their all. But if we let that comparison motivate us to avoid asking for help with an injury…it could take us out of the game! Sometimes we can worry that by asking for modifications, we will be perceived as weak or incapable. Shut down that inner voice and talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend about working through an injury. This fear and inner dialogue often keeps us from speaking up and seeking the necessary adaptations to make our workouts safe and effective. Remember, WE ALL need modifications sometimes and maybe even all the time. It’s important to remember, a modification isn’t less than, it’s an alternative!
- Lack of Awareness
Another obstacle to asking for exercise modifications is a lack of awareness or understanding of our own limitations. We may not realize that certain exercises are not suitable for our current fitness level, medical conditions, or injuries. Sometimes we push ourselves too hard, leading to discomfort, pain, or even injury. Without the knowledge or recognition of the need for modifications, we may continue to struggle unnecessarily, unaware that there are alternative exercises or adaptations that could be more suitable for their needs. At DSC, we are always ready with a modification!
- Perfectionism and Ego
The desire to appear perfect and maintain a sense of pride can hinder us from requesting exercise modifications. This has never happened to me, by the way. Some people, again not me, feel compelled to match the intensity and difficulty level set by others, and view may modifications as a sign of failure or inadequacy. I will admit that with age, this has become something I have learned is just plain harmful. It’s harmful self talk from a mental health perspective and it’s an injury waiting to happen. Don’t let the need to protect your ego outweigh the importance of adjusting exercises to prevent potential harm. Be kind to yourself! We are not perfect, right?
- Lack of Confidence or Assertiveness
For many of us, asking for exercise modifications can be challenging due to a lack of confidence or assertiveness. We may feel uncomfortable advocating for our needs or worry about disrupting the flow of a group class. This hesitancy can stem from a lack of familiarity with exercise protocols or feeling overwhelmed by the environment. It is literally our job to help you with an injury or limitation modification during the middle of a class. Keeping you safe and moving is our number one goal!
Overcoming the Hurdle
Let’s take a moment to recognize the importance of overcoming difficulties associated with asking for exercise modifications. Here are a few steps to help us navigate this challenge:
- Educate Yourself: Familiarize yourself with your own fitness goals, limitations, and any relevant medical conditions. This self-awareness will empower you to make informed decisions about exercise modifications and then share those with your DSC Coaches. We have protocols in place to make sure we check in with all of our members who have limitations or injuries.
- Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a one of your DSC Coaches (seeing a common theme here?) who can provide expert advice tailored to your needs. They can suggest appropriate modifications and help design a workout plan that accommodates your limitations.
- Create a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with supportive individuals who encourage and understand the significance of exercise modifications. Building a positive network, like the supportive #DSCFamily, can boost your confidence and provide a safe space to voice your concerns or ask for adaptations. Just take a look around and you will see members doing variations (modifications) all around you!
- Embrace Vulnerability: Remember that asking for exercise modifications is not a sign of weakness; it demonstrates strength and self-care. Embrace vulnerability as an opportunity for growth and improvement, both physically and mentally. Vulnerability is strength!!
Asking for exercise modifications should be viewed as an essential part of a healthy fitness journey. Overcoming the fear of judgment, becoming aware of our limitations, setting aside ego, and fostering confidence are crucial steps in ensuring our safety and progress. By taking these steps, we empower ourselves to create a personalized workout routine that aligns with our individual needs, making exercise a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone. Let’s embrace modifications as a tool for inclusivity and well-being on our path to a healthier lifestyle.