Most people I meet don’t exactly love exercise. They might love the way they feel after a workout and the results they get if they’re consistent but they don’t exactly enjoy the process. The reason why people don’t enjoy exercise is simply because it doesn’t feel very good. The only reason why most people exercise is for the results and the fact that they rarely manage to be consistent for long enough to get any real results, or to maintain them long term, means that they feel even less motivated to exercise – what is the point? So if you want to get fit and stop giving up before you see the results, it’s pretty clear that you need to learn to enjoy exercise.

Here are 5 reasons why you don’t enjoy exercise and how to fix them with Feel Good Fitness

1. You’re trying to do too much, too soon

This is the biggest mistake beginners make and the number one reason why exercise is not enjoyable. You are pushing yourself too much, too soon. When you exercise only to achieve physical results such as weight loss or improved fitness, you want to get there as fast as possible because you expect that the results will make you feel good – that’s the reward for your hard work. Often women also don’t like the way their bodies are right now, whether it’s how they look or feel, and want to get away from that place as fast as possible in order to feel better so they work hard, too hard, and it’s painful. This is what leads to failure before you’ve achieved any results.

Many fitness programmes and trainers also do not really understand beginners and what it feels like to be totally unfit. They seem to think that exercise is unpleasant because you’re unfit and the way to make it enjoyable is to get fitter. Many people, including fitness professionals, even believe that exercise is meant to be unpleasant but it’s worth it because of the results you get – the results will make you feel good.


This is easy to fix – just slow down. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Start where you are, not where you think you should be or where some expert says you should start. So forget about CrossFit or marathon training, or even a 5k for now and just aim to do something to start moving.

What feels doable? What feels good? A 10 minute walk every day is better than nothing. Once you enjoy that, make it 15 minutes, then 20 minutes and so on. In a year’s time you’ll be running a 5k regularly and you’ll enjoy it so much it won’t be a problem to keep it up.

2. You’re doing the wrong thing

Instead of considering what you enjoy and what your body needs, maybe you started an exercise class or a routine because of the results it promised such as fast weight loss or because it’s the latest thing everyone is talking about on Instagram. This happens easily when your main motivation is transforming your body and you choose a routine based on the results it promises – usually, the faster results the better!


Forget about the results you want to achieve for a while and just consider what you enjoy. If you had to move your body right now, what would feel good? Start there. Walking is always a great way to start but so is cycling, salsa dancing or sea swimming. Yoga is fantastic, too, start with an easy class and work your way up to a more challenging class and you’ll be strong and toned in no time – there’s really no need to start weight lifting – you’ll get much better results doing something like yoga as long as you enjoy it. I speak from experience!

3. You’re not listening to your body

You are not respecting your body’s needs and boundaries by doing too much too soon, for example, or forcing it workout hard when it needs rest. For example, just today I met up with my circuit training group (read my 4 week training progress report here) and I was feeling low on energy because I got my period yesterday so instead of doing my usual workout, I took it easy and did some mobility exercises and stretches instead. When you give your body what it needs, you’ll enjoy working out, you’re less likely to get injured and you’ll get better results faster.

Sometimes you might not be pushing yourself enough for it to feel really good – this happens less often but it does happen, especially when people first start Feel Good Fitness. If, for example, you’re not really enjoying walking, it’s not making you feel good, you’re probably not walking fast enough for your body to release endorphins.


Ask yourself what kind of movement or activity would you enjoy.

Before you do any exercise, check in with your body – How does it feel today? What does it need? What would make it feel good today?

While you’re exercising keep checking in with your body – how does it feel? what does it need? Slow down, take a break or increase your speed/intensity based on how your body feels.

4. You have strong negative beliefs about exercise

Most people, including those who exercise regularly, have very strong negative beliefs about exercise that were developed early on in childhood. We learn at school that exercise is something we have to do because it’s good for us. We’re rarely given a choice in how we move our bodies and instead are forced to do exercise or play team sports we do not enjoy. According to many studies, PE puts girls off exercise for life. For example:

Half of girls put off exercise by PE at school

PE lessons are the reason I hated exercise as an adult

Why you hate the gym now might be tied to your old gym class

I hated PE at school


Start by examining your beliefs and experiences. What was your experience as a child? How was exercise introduced to you? How was PE? What did you learn about exercise as a child? What are your key beliefs about exercise (and your body)?

Question your beliefs. A great way to do this is using the 4 questions from The Work by Byron Katie – Is it true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true? How do I react/what happens when I believe that it’s true? and Who would I be without this belief?

Develop new beliefs. This is done through experience. If you want to start believing that exercise is enjoyable, then you have to make it enjoyable first. So using the tips above, make sure you do something that feels good, such as walking at a pace that’s enjoyable. Then, while you’re walking, first just notice what your head is saying, it’s probably going to be very negative. Now bring your awareness to your body, what does your body say? Does it agree with the thoughts in your head? In other words, is what my mind is saying what I’m experiencing right now? If it is, then adjust your pace/intensity or take a break. If it’s not then focus on your body and your experience in this present moment and ignore what your mind is saying, it’s just recycling old thoughts and beliefs, don’t let it ruin this experience for you.

5. You have an unhealthy relationship with exercise

Thanks to diet culture, most of us have an unhealthy relationship with exercise, this includes people who enjoy exercise as well as most fitness and health professionals Some of the tell tale signs of an unhealthy relationship with exercise are

  • You see exercise as a weight loss/management tool
  • You exercise to look better/change the way your body looks
  • Your main focus and motivation is the long term results from exercise (weight loss, fitness, health)
  • You feel you have to exercise
  • You often feel guilty for not exercising and/or pressure to start exercising
  • You track everything – steps, calories, reps – and feel bad if you don’t hit your targets
  • You often follow strict programmes because of the results they promise


Think about your relationship with exercise carefully. Can you relate to any of the signs above? Your relationship with exercise is related to your relationship with your body, so think about that as well. If your body was a person, what would you relationship be like? What would you say to your body about exercise/ your fitness level? What would it say to you?

To heal your relationship with your body, you need to let go of diet mentality and develop a healthier mindset and relationship with your body. You need to learn to listen to your body and start being kind to it. Two posts that will help you with this are: Do you have a diet mindset? and Develop a Feel Good Mindset.

If you want to learn to exercise in a way that feels good, join my next 5 week WalkFit programme or contact me about coaching.