Changing My Mind: How I Overcame Childhood Fears Around Exercise and Fitness (Part Two)

If you’ve read Part One of this article, you’ll have an understanding of how I started to embrace exercise and fitness from 2002 but never fully grasped my body’s potential. In 2017, that really started to change.


At the start of 2017, I moved to Jersey for work. This was a tipping point for me. I was pretty much the heaviest, and therefore the unhealthiest, I’d ever been. But I used this “new start” as an opportunity to focus on my fitness. A lot of the focus was on tabata and supersets. It was also the first time I’d started any type of running (albeit on a treadmill rather than outside). I also placed more emphasis than ever on nutrition. Click here to read more about what I learnt while I lived in Jersey.

At the start of 2019, I moved back to the Midlands, again for work. I signed up at the local gym and was determined to continue with the progress I’d made in Jersey. Again, I signed up with a PT called Labh, who did great work with me using free weights. (He also leads spin classes!)

I also started running. Bizarrely, one night in May 2019, I’d met up with a couple of mates at the pub. On my way home, I had a totally unexpected urge to run. And so I did. While tipsy. Very weird. But the next day, after work, I went for my first even run. My flatmate accompanied me and filmed this delightful (!) video.

I’ve now even done a few ParkRuns and a couple of 10ks, including this one during a visit to Jersey last summer.

However, being based back in the Midlands has meant much more social activity than when I was in Jersey. Yep, you guessed it. Lots more unhealthy food and drink. Over the course of the year, the pounds started to pile back on and I started to undo what I had done the two years before.

Towards the end of the year, my friend Deepak introduced me to F45, a gym that focuses on high intensity workouts. Walking into that gym was incredibly daunting – the only time I’d ever worked out with other people was in a spin class so I was really apprehensive. But the two-week trial was great and so I signed up for the F45 Challenge in 2020.

What I love about F45 is the community spirit. Other users and the trainers are all super supportive. Immediately, that broke a barrier in my mind and I found myself starting to relax and therefore trying out exercises I would previously never have attempted.

For example, this year is the first time I’ve ever attempted pull-ups and box jumps. I’ve got better at both. But previously, I would’ve been too worried about being judged. And now, even if I were to be judged, I don’t care because I know how hard I’m trying! Since the lockdown, I’ve been doing their home workouts and I’m doing exercises that I never imagined I could. Don’t get me wrong, there are many I struggle with but I’m getting better and that’s great to see.

The morale of this rather long-winded (sorry) post?

Your mind can overcome barriers if you’re willing to try. If you can change the way you think and approach exercise and fitness, you can make a difference.

Swap “I can’t” for “let me give it a try” and see what happens. (Obviously, do seek medical advice before trying out anything – I’m no expert!)

I can’t imagine a world without exercise now. What’s been key is making sure the work I’m doing is fun. HIIT workouts and spin, in particular, are engaging but also push me. I also focus more on resistance work than I’ve ever done before (slightly harder with home workouts because I don’t own weights, though).

I’ve also a lot more focused on my nutrition. It is a major part of the fitness journey. Read more about that here.

Personal training and eating healthily do come at a price – literally. Between 2011 and 2016, I made major cutbacks in my life to be able to afford personal training. I appreciate not everyone can afford it (I barely could) but it helped me better understand the power of my body, even breaking down thoughts like “Doing a burpee will not mean you crack the floor”. Healthier foods also tend to cost more than your quick-fix meal ingredients. But so far, it has all been worth it.

If 15-year-old Nim was reading this, he wouldn’t believe the road ahead. It’s been bumpy, for sure, but on a positive trajectory overall. Now, I just have to hope it stays that way!

Published by njfitnessjourney

A man on a fitness mission!

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