When a client tells me they don’t exercise, I get very exercised. The first thing I think is, ‘How can you do that to yourself?’ I don’t say it but I think it. I try to contain my impatience because I know the reasons for not exercising can be complicated. So I try to suggest ways they might begin doing something. ‘Try to find something you enjoy,’ I usually begin, ‘that way you’re more likely to stick with it.’
The most feeble excuse when I ask the client why they don’t exercise is ‘time’. What? No time in the whole week to go for three 30-minute brisk walks? That’s enough to change the metabolism of the body and improve mental health. Exercise doesn’t have to be long boring hours in a gym – though I know plenty of people who love spending hours in the gym. You may not think you are someone who can run 5 kilometres but try downloading the BBC app ‘Couch to 5 k’ – it’s a great app and shows that anyone can get to running 5 kilometres AND enjoy it. Boxing is another great exercise, so is skipping, so is swimming, so is dancing! It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you're moving!
I had a new client at my Stoke Newington studio this week who looked at me astonished when I asked him what exercise he did. ‘Exercise? What’s that?’ I treated him for back ache and shoulder neck problems and at the end of the treatment he asked me if there was anything he could do about these problems. Yes, I said, overcome your contempt for exercise. I don’t think he’ll be back.
I now have a new tactic to get my non-exercising clients moving. I tell them I won’t see them again unless they start exercising. Simple. I know it sounds a bit mean but actually I’ve had great success with this tactic. A client who came to see me a few months ago wanted a second session and I said I’d be happy to see him again once he had started exercising. He thought I was joking first but when he realised I wasn’t he took me up on the challenge. The next time he wanted to come, I asked him if he was doing any exercise. ‘I am,’ he said and it was obvious he was really chuffed about it. Now this client comes to see me regularly and each time he comes he tells me what exercise he’s doing and how much better he feels. Put simply, exercise is great for physical and mental health. Just do it.