I teach a group Pilates class so I see this quite a bit. "Exerciser A" comes into class and is pretty fit. They work out sporadically now, but in the past, they worked out a lot. In fact they used to be in great shape, but it's been awhile now and they are looking to get back into things. They take a look around them and think " No problem- If that person can do this, I can certainly do it." Despite my encouragement at the beginning of class on taking things at your own pace, they go at it full force ( maybe that is their own pace - I don't know ) but , what I do know is that most of the time, these people end up with sore, strained muscles the next day or even worse, an injury that takes weeks to recover. This is a classic case of ‘exercise ego'.
Group exercise classes are prime environments for exercise egos. An exercise ego is the voice in the back of your head that says or " I did this before when I was working out 10 years ago, I can still do it now" Exercise egos are the things that land you with strained muscles, and torn ligaments. They are exactly the thing that leads to injury so that you have to take weeks off before you return. Injury is not empowering.
Why do we feel the pressure to ‘keep up' with the person exercising next to us? I'm suggesting slacking off here, or not exercising hard enough to produce results, but if there is one thing I wish for people to understand is that wherever you are in your exercise program -It's o.k. If you are just starting out and not very strong, that's o.k! If you have been exercising and not as strong as the person next to you, that is o.k.! Honor your body and respect yourself enough to not get hurt. More than likely, you did not get that way overnight. There is no magic bullet. There is no overnight success. It takes time to build a good foundation for exercise, but a good foundation is one that will last a lifetime. Love yourself enough to be o.k. with wherever you are.