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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cunningham

Anxiety Around Training

Anxiety Around Training

There’s 2 things I fear in life, and they’re really real..

1.Being in one of those public toilets with the automatic doors, and having them open up after the time out, whilst i’m still doing my business… 😱

2. Changing an infants nappy and they sneeze, (this actually happened with Harper when she was only a few weeks old and has scared me for life). 😷

Aside from these 2 things, I also experience some anxiety around training with other people. It’s been there as long as I can remember, school athletics, swimming carnivals and then more intensely with pre season football training. It’s for this reason I believe I’ve become more inclined to train solo. I find I work just as hard, but without the anxiety.

Every now and then I will participate in one of our Boot Camp sessions here at TFS and I experience plenty of anxiety prior to these sessions.

And after having a few conversations with people this past week I know I’m not alone.

I know for a fact many people experience anxiety around training, particularly when coming back from a big break, training at a different time, new session or with a different group, and some people experience it every time they come to training.


I’m sure there are many of reasons, but one of the main reasons I have put it down to is;

High expectations of ourselves.

Particularly those that have had a long lay off from regular training, tend to put huge expectation on themselves to be just as fit and strong or still keep up with the same people. Or just trying to meet a perceived expectation that’s been set on them maybe from their coach or peers. This is similar to having a fear of failure, but I believe you wouldn’t have a fear of failing if your expectations weren’t set as high.

I think as a trainer participating there’s an added expectation that you must be fit, faster and stronger than everyone, because you’re the trainer! Right?? however boot camp training is often quite different to what I (or other trainers) may do regularly. And we to have areas for improvement, exercises or movements to work on etc. but there’s certainly more perceived pressure.

So why do we set such high expectations on ourselves? Many reasons, but often it stems back to early childhood and the feeling of needing to meet the expectations of some authority figure, (Mum, Dad, coaches, teachers, older siblings etc) people who we look(ed) up to, craving their attention/love and the need to impress them, or meet their expectations.

Having high expectations of yourself can be a great thing at times to help you push to new levels or perform better, however if it’s too extreme or too often it can be debilitating.

Being in this state is much like a stressed state or flight or fight response. If this is occurring too often, it can put a lot of stress on your adrenals, your stress coping mechanisms and can cause burn out or more specifically metabolic disorders like chronic fatigue.

This is why training at a high intensity, or ‘smashing’ your training day in day out is actually counter productive, particularly for those who don’t have great central nervous systems (a poor ability to deal with too much to stress) to begin with.

So its a matter of lowering those expectations (unless its needed for a specific performance outcome) a little and focus on something less demanding or something that wont encourage that same stress response. Training is always going to create some kind of stress response, but there’s no need to create more of this if it’s not needed.

So just go into your training session with a different focus, like just working on the technique of a particular movement, maybe increasing your weight on 1 exercise or maybe just focus on good quality reps of all your movements.

And remembering you’re there for yourself, you’re doing to for you! Not to please others or meet some unrealistic expectation.

Particularly here at TFS, it doesn’t matter if you’re first or last, so long as you’re focusing on improving on what you did yesterday or last week, that’s all that matters. And the great thing is, many members who have been here for years all know what it’s like to be at the beginning, and that’s why they’re so supportive.

Finally I think it’s important to remember this:

Progress = happiness

Always striving for the big goals and expectations can be draining, so break it down, let it go, focus on what you’re doing right now, focus on your next workout, set, rep, or next meal choice.

Progress is progress no matter how big or small, learn to focus more on this than what you’re not doing and be kind to yourself.

Much Love!

- Coach Brad

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