Most of us have experienced periods during our lives where we've become body conscious. These issues may have occurred for a number of reasons but rest assured we all have them, particularly when it comes to playing sport.
Over a 10-year coaching career in swimming I've trained people of all shapes and sizes, and what has become clear to me is that we all have issues we struggle with on a daily basis. This is particularly evident in certain sports where people are confronted with situations or environments where they feel totally uncomfortable and self-conscious.
One of the sports that creates the biggest barrier for participation is swimming – understandably so, given it requires you to take most of your clothes off! But as a coach, it's distressing to see, because it means that there are many people who are missing out on an amazing sport that can enrich your lives in so many ways.
Once you overcome the barrier of taking that first session then it opens up a whole new world to you, one that's nowhere near as intimidating as you originally thought. In fact, it's actually more liberating than anything else!
This blog post is here to help potential wannabe swimmers take the plunge and overcome any barriers you may have to this fantastic sport and life skill. This list takes into account advice from many confident swimmers who all had to overcome individual barriers to swimming themselves in the past to put together ten top tips to get you in the pool.
Top 10 Tips for the Body Conscious
1. Remember that nobody has any interest in what you are doing or what you look like, they are far too concerned with what they are doing!
2. Find a friend/work colleague who is interested in swimming and ask if you can join them for a swim. Having someone there with you will make you feel far less self-conscious when entering the pool for the first time.
3. Speak to your local pool to find out when the pool is least busy. All pools have peak times, so if you're concerned choose a time when there will be fewer swimmers.
4. If you are worried about your swimming technique then book in for a one-on-one training session with a swimming coach. A good coach will help you overcome any fears you may have and give you guidance on what areas of your stroke you need to focus on.
5. If swimming is too intimidating to start off with then you could always try a pool class like aqua aerobics to build up your confidence first. You will also get to know people here and have great fun at the same time.
6. Make sure you have the right kit – it's always good for self confidence to look the part! Goggles and a swimming costume are the essentials so it's worth investing in a new pair.
7. Book onto a swimming course at your local pool. This will help improve both swim technique and water confidence.
8. Find an event to train for, such as the British Gas Great Swim Series. There is nothing more motivating to get you back in the pool than knowing you have something to train for.
9. If swimming a long distance in open water seems too daunting then set yourself a goal of swimming anywhere from 25m to 400m unaided as a first step. Once you achieve these targets then reset these goals to take you to the next level.
10. Remember that coaches, trainers and the vast majority of people have much more respect for somebody who attempts to exercise than somebody that doesn't. When I see someone who is overweight in the swimming pool, jogging or in the gym my first thought isn't, “Look how big or small they are”, it's “Good on you for showing the determination to make a change”.
This blog was written By Julian Nagi – British Gas Swim Coach/Ambassador
Fancy taking the plunge and getting in the pool? You don't have to jump straight in the deep end, head to www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming for information on how you can get involved.