Most people are always looking for an excuse to stop exercising

March 28, 2022

As fitness business owners, we need to accept that a lot of our clients and members are constantly looking for excuses to stop exercising.

Now for many of us, this is really hard to understand. We know how good exercise is. We personally experience the improvements in our own physical and mental health on a daily basis.

But projecting our own set of values on our clients just doesn’t work. So we need to meet them where they are, and understand the reasons behind their desire to escape.

Let’s look at some examples.

“I have a headache, I can’t exercise today.”

“COVID is in the community, I need to stay home.”

“I have a shoulder injury, I need to cancel my gym membership.”

“Work is busy this week, I need to pause my PT sessions until things settle down.”

Now of course, these are all valid reasons… in their eyes. Our clients all know that exercise is good for them – that’s not the issue. The issue is that some of them may not actually enjoy exercise that much. And even if they did, it’s just another thing they have to do. And in our busy busy lives, sometimes we just want one less thing on our calendar.

Back to the topic at hand – our clients are always looking for an excuse to stop. And they’re looking for this excuse because if the reason is strong enough, they won’t feel bad about stopping.

By stopping exercise due to a shoulder injury or a busy work week, they are able to justify stopping. They are able to convince themselves that the reason they’re stopping is due to some external event (injury, lack of time etc) rather than an internal shortcoming (like a lack of accountability or willpower or discipline).

Basically, by blaming an external event (which they perceive as beyond their control), they are preserving their own sense of self… ‘It’s not MY fault’. And by doing this, they feel better about themselves.

So what can we do?

Two things:

1) Remove all the reasons people may have for stopping. Identify each reason, and put plans in place so that doesn’t become a valid reason (in their minds). Don’t give them something that allows them to feel good about stopping.

2) Sell an experience. This is your product. People will always have days where they ‘just don’t feeling like it’ and that’s ok. But provide such an amazing experience in your business that people are less likely to look for justification to stop.

Ultimately, Fitness Professionals are in a powerful position to make peoples’ lives better.

By understand the psychology of why people stop, we can help support them to healthy long term habits.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

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