Sunday, March 4, 2012

Barriers

This past Thursday I met one of my new 70.3 athletes at his pool to watch him swim. Since I always swim at the Y, I have never really explored other swimming opportunities that are close by.

As it turns out, I met him at the local high school which is about 5 minutes from my house (the Y is about 20), but on my way there I was a little, shall we say, worried, because I had never been to that pool before.

I wasn't exactly sure where to park.

I didn't know exactly which door to go in.

I wasn't sure if there was a locker room.

I was a little bit worried that the other swimmers wouldn't look kindly to me just jumping in to coach someone (although my athlete assured me all was fine.)

I ended up getting there super early and waited around to meet my athlete. I had parked in just the right spot. I went in the exact right door. And the pool was easy to find, just like he said it would be. There was a locker room that someone showed me, and I was welcomed by all the other swimmers with smiles and handshakes.

Why was I worried? The thing is, I feel pretty comfortable going into situations like this and I was still a little bit anxious. I am happy that I have discovered another place to swim that is cheap and a closer option than my Y. I never would have found this out if I didn't actually go!

So what is my point with all of this? It just got me to thinking about how a lot of people don't try new things because of barriers. What if I go to a new gym and don't know where the workout room is? What if I am uncomfortable changing in the locker room? What if I go in the wrong door of the pool? None of these are small concerns and if you match them with a person who has never done any of these things, to a person who has maybe never set foot into a gym, they become huge barriers, both physical and mental, that require great fortitude to cross.

I think I have a tendency to pass quick judgment on people who do not exercise for whatever reason. The fact of the matter is, I have no idea what their barriers are. A better thing for me (and all of us who are comfortable with these barriers) is to find a way to help them tear them down. Smile at the new person in the gym. Ask the lost looking person if they are looking for something. Help the first-timer figure out how to get the treadmill started.

Let's start tearing down barriers.

10 comments :

  1. I love this. It is so true. We do a thing at the hospital called a "root cause analysis". It is asking why to get to the root of a problem....this is like that. I love the way you think!

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  2. This is such a great post, Kelly. The unfortunate part is that people can still be really unwelcoming in certain gym environments. I never experienced this in all my years of training in TaeKwon Do, but I recently joined a CrossFit gym and the women in particular can be very standoffish and unhelpful. Let's face it -- the workouts are difficult and you wouldn't be there if you didn't want to push yourself. Yet, people are still constantly judging each other. I would admire a person who rose above that and who reached out to everyone, regardless of skill level. You've inspired me to make sure I am that person. You never know the positive effect it could have on someone else. Thanks! :-)

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  3. Exactly coach! we don't know what other people's barriers are!
    You're starting to think like me :)
    It reminds me of something I wrote a few months ago, in which I mentionned that "dreadful" motivation concept http://skinnypants1.blogspot.com/2011/03/about-concept-of-motivation.html

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  4. Having been through that exact same scenario as the 258 lb. guy trying to sign up at his local gym...it's a completely intimidating experience. But I had to make that decision as to whether being uncomfortable socially with going in was going to outweigh my desire to start exercising. I chose exercise. I also had that person who saw me being kinda lost and went, "Hey, let's start building off of my plan here, and you can adapt it to your needs." That's the summer I dropped 80 lbs.

    I guess that's why I look to earn my coaching certifications; to be able to help those who are looking for it, to let them reach their goals, to go after their dreams, whatever it may be.

    Oh, and going to a new pool? ALWAYS intimidating. Great post!

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  5. With a recent job change, I've tried a LOT of new pools in the past year. The first few times....no, EVERY time was intimidating. I feel like I go back to my very timid self as a child, and not wanting to be made fun of. Barriers are a big part of taking the first step, and everyone has one that is unique to them. But when we finally break through, it feels so good!

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  6. it is certainly tough to step outside of your comfort zone. But it's usually rewarding when you do.

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  7. Barriers are tough to overcome. I think of the barriers that I have broken down for myself and I want to help other break them too. When I feel myself "judging" or wondering why someone doesn't exercise or why they are strolling instead of speekwalking, I think about their story and try to imagine where they have come from.

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  8. So very true! We often set ourselves up in fail mode instead of succeed mode. Positive speaking and thinking is key!

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  9. Excellent points. I love trying new things and meeting new people. I wasn't born with the shy gene, for good or bad.

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  10. Awesome! It's so important to remember that we all started out in the same place at one point in time. I get frustrated when people are so mean to "resolutioners". As athletes we should be supportive that they are making an effort to better themselves...if the New Year is what it takes for them to get started, then we should encourage them to stick with it ;)

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Woo-hoo!! I want to hear from you!

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