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Noa Shaw on Overcoming the Fear of Exercise

The author and SoulCycle instructor shares how conquering the fear of exercise and of asking for help has helped him achieve fitness, both physical and spiritual, and sobriety.


Guideposts Video: Inspiring True Stories   Good afternoon, Guideposts magazine. This is Noah Shaw. I am a senior instructor at Soul Cycle, also the author of the recently published book, Stop Thinking Thoughts That Scare You. I often get a lot of people, as my clients and people will call me; as a life coach. I’ve worked with a lot of people who were scared of exercising, scared of going to a gym, whether it be overweight, or they’re older and hadn’t been in a gym in, like, decades, and I would say the easiest access, and one of the best things you can do, is just walk. Just walk. If you can make…if you can do five minutes the first day, and maybe double that to 10 minutes the second day, it’s like, you just keep adding a couple minutes until you’re walking like 30 to 45 minutes or an hour day, like, whatever it is, whatever you can do to get your blood flowing, get your circulation flowing, get your heart beating, that’s good. And if that’s where you’re going to stay, if you’re just going to become a walker, it’s amazing. If you start to walk and you’re like, I want more, then you sign up at a gym and you can walk on a treadmill and be around other people. You’ll find the energy of other people becomes a little infectious. The biggest reason that anybody hesitates or pauses or is unable to get going and creates within themselves that feeling of being stuck, that’s universal. Everywhere I go, everybody I talk to that “being stuck” idea is fear. So what is our job is to break that pause, to break that fear-based anxiety. And if you read my book, there are many techniques. You know, one is just being present and being present and being grateful. Once I start counting what I have and sort of appreciating how beautiful my life actually is, not the fear-based set of circumstances that I can create. See, if I go on Instagram and I start comparing myself to other people, I have a terrible life. But if I stop once a day in the morning, which I do every day, and I write a gratitude list, it breaks that cycle. You can’t be angry, sad, or fearful with a grateful heart. Any barrier I’ve ever faced in my life I’ve changed with one simple act: asking for help, in one way or the other. I was a drug addict, an alcoholic. I asked for help from the Alcoholics Anonymous. I was very obese and about to die; I asked for help from fitness instructors. There are people, no matter what you’re going through, there are people who’ve gone through that. And if you reach out and ask for help, they’ll help me find the person that can answer my questions. And that’s how it starts. We break that cycle. How does exercise help you in a physical, spiritual, mental way? Well, I believe that that as lives and we build our lives in all three aspects. And I often talk about this in my class, that it was like a three-legged stool, that I know a bunch of people who are super fit, like six-pack abs and emotional and spiritually they’re empty. So that chair doesn’t work; I have to work on all three. But when you allow your heart to open and you start working on yourself, physically, and the endorphins start to kick in, that will emotionally charge you, if you allow your mind to empty and you allow yourself to just focus on what’s in front of you, like that task that you, whether it be lifting weights or running, if you just focus on that, that’s where spirituality comes through. We have to sort of like empty our minds for the spiritual aspect of our lives to grow, because those thoughts, they just clog us up. So if I’m running and you’re just like one foot in front of the other, and you can find that whether it’s on a cycle or it’s lifting weights, if you just allow yourself to be present, you’ll start to heal.  

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