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If you think about it, most gyms look a lot like the battle of Thermopylae. You have a few freakishly buff guys who are there because they simply love to be there outnumbered by people that are exercising against their own will for all intents and purposes. If you’re one of the former, then you can stop reading this and avoid wasting the next couple minutes of your life right now. If you’re the latter, then you might want to consider finding a way to reprogram yourself so that going to the gym doesn’t feel like slave labor.
One of the most effective ways to rewrite your subconscious mind into enjoying exercise are though guided imagery and hypnosis (sorry ladies, but having Leonardo Dicaprio implant the idea in your dreams isn’t an option yet). Guided imagery is basically like hypnosis as that it sends you into a trance like state of focused relaxation, except it focuses more on using your senses to fool your mind into believing that you’re actually in the environment that you’re imagining. Assuming that the reason going to the gym triggers your anxiety is because of the pain from the exercise, the type of guided imagery that would be the most effective would probably be end state imagery.
For example, once you get yourself into a state of total focused relaxation (usually with a recording of yourself reading a script) you could visualize yourself working out, focusing on the sound and rank smell of the people around you. Try to focus on your kinesthetic sense, since it is the most dominant one. Imagine the feel of the metal dumbbells, or your feet skipping across the treadmill. Once you’ve established the scenario around you, picture yourself enjoying it. Assure yourself that you are exercising, and are having fun doing it. Guided imagery takes practice and usually many repetitions, but once it has worked, your subconscious will have rewritten the previous negative association between pain and exercise with a newer, positive one.
Another easier, and more expensive method is to see a hypnotherapist. They’ll be able to do the same thing with you, but instead of placing you in a scenario, they’ll implant the idea a lot less naturally by simply suggesting it to you. Although people are much more open to suggestions when they are hypnotized, implanting an idea via hypnosis doesn’t stick as well and makes the subject susceptible to constructing false memories. For this reason, hypnosis remains a controversial form of therapy.
There’s more than one way to screw in a lightbulb, but these two are simply the ones that have proven to be the most effective. So next time you’re thinking about wasting your money on a goofy ab belt or shaker weight, try using the money on guided imagery or hypnosis.