Waiting to Get Your Ducks in a Row?

A few of you may be thinking it is quite a strange title for an article.

Stick with me and all will be explained.

First off, for those of you that don’t know – ‘Getting your ducks in a row’ – basically means when someone wants to wait for the right conditions – before proceeding with a new idea, such as losing some weight or joining the gym.

I think this approach is often taken with regards to exercise and nutrition.

People are waiting for the right time to join the gym.

Getting all of the preparation done is a MUST before they are willing to start.

Waiting for so long, something else happens or takes their attention away – and ultimately never getting around to starting.

I suppose its a type of procrastination.

You tell yourself you’re going to do it, but spend so long thinking about it and preparing for it, IT doesn’t happen.

Is it a good strategy?

I personally think waiting to get you’re duck in a row is NOT a good strategy for most of us.

I think sometimes I have waited because I have been afraid to go through the discomfort of the session or the effort of going.

The thought is always worse, why is that?

I was sometimes happier to do what I usually do, rather than get out of my comfort zone, I was afraid, and I would make up excuses.

I can’t speak for everyone but I think FEAR has a lot to answer for, for me anyway.

Fear apparently makes us freeze and not take any action, I can only agree with that.

Many people fail in their attempts to start eating healthy and exercising because they wait until their ducks are all in a row – and never end up getting anywhere.

I hate to tell you there is NO right time.

It’s best to get started now and stop thinking about it.

By waiting you are just making the task more difficult when you do start.

There is no perfect time to start exercising, your ducks are very rarely all in a row you just need to bite the bullet and start.

Many people just procrastinate for a week or two before beginning exercise. They will do things such as buy a pair of trainers online and wait 10 days for them to arrive.

In these ten days you could have bought the trainers in the shop, joined a gym and trained 3-4 times!

I’m not saying that preparation isn’t important and that everyone should go in all guns blazing regardless of their physical and mental condition but I am just trying to say to people  – get on with it – stop waiting around for the perfect time and make some positive changes to your life.

Small is good.

Did you ever hear the saying “something is better than nothing”?

Most of us are the type of people who procrastinate – it’s only natural – I do it myself.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know from experience, people can probably do a lot more than they think they can.

I see people who write themselves offTOO SOON.

This is for those people.

(The last thing I want to encourage is people to be wreck less, so before you make any changes check with your GP.)

In this article I will share my experiences to make your experiences better.

I will discuss some of the reasons why doing something is better than doing nothing and give some tips and solutions to get you going.

I Can’t Afford to Exercise or Get a Gym Membership

This is probably one of the most popular reasons someone waits.

I can’t accept that gym memberships “are expensive” because these days they are not.

A gym membership is one of the best value for money purchases you can make.  (Some are as little as £10 per month)

Think of it like this – even if you pay a whopping £30 per month – that’s £7.50 per week, to have full access to the facility.

Lets say you go three times that’s £2.50 per visit.

For £2.50 you get – to park your car for free, be greeted by a receptionist, change in a nice changing room, do your workout and have a sauna and a shower – all for £2.50.

Where else in society do you get anything close to that sort of value for £2.50? (there is only one place I know, and that’s the library, there is great value there too 😉 ).

Pizza £10

Sandwich, drink and crisps £5

Chinese £15

Coffee £5

New clothes to go out £50

Night out £75-100

You get my point, we waste so much of our money on negatively affecting our progress, and then say that we can’t afford to exercise, it’s all a matter of what people think is important.

Some of the young people I used to work with would do stuff like – spend over £100 on a Saturday night in town, (I can’t say anything I have spent twice that on a weekend drinking) and then question the cost of the gym membership the following week, saying stuff like “the gym is too expensive” which is absolute BS.

Be honest with yourself.

The probable truth is something like (even if you want to admit it) – the gym is not too expensive – you’re like me and everyone else – you don’t really like exercise – you wouldn’t go to the gym if they paid you.

Exercise may have some costs.  My question is – Can you afford NOT to exercise?

Solution – Exercise at home or outside, keep it simple.  If you can’t afford gym membership, and are on low income, get a passport to leisure, this greatly reduces the cost.  Also speak to your GP about being referred for exercise (at a reduced cost, more on this below).

I Don’t Have the Time or Energy

I have mentioned in countless articles just how beneficial short workouts are.

People say they are busy – but they are not.

They are just tired and haven’t the energy to do anything more than watch TV series’ and mess around on their i-pad or on facebook.

This used to be me and some of my clients, I would watch three-four hours of TV a night, and it’s an easy habit to slip back into again.  (Some of these TV series are amazing, have you see Breaking Bad yet? ;-))

Personally, I know some VERY busy people (with families and businesses and more) and guess what – they all find time to train.

Even if they are ten minutes long and you can get 3-5 in a week then you will see massive improvements.

As far as I’m concerned there is no reason for normal people to be spending hours in the gym, there is a lot of science and evidence to back this up as well.

I know with a job and family, time can be tight but I do believe that people can find 10-30 minutes spare on 2- 3 days a week. As I said in the first point you don’t need to join a gym, you can exercise at home or outdoors.

If you have seen any of my workout routines like the one below then you will see that they are done at home in about 10 minutes (usually when my son is busy playing or sleeping.)

Solution – Try doing short workouts at home.  Try doing 10 squats every time you go into the kitchen to do something.

Exercise is proven to give people more energy. Initially you may feel tired during and after your workout, but this will pass after a short while.

A regular exercise routine will give you more energy throughout the day and help you to sleep better.

Many people will say to someone who is always on the move, always going to the gym, ‘Where do you get your energy from?’…

…Well it’s from going to the gym!

Solution – Do short 10-20-30 minute sessions to start off and build up the duration and intensity over time, don’t rush.

I Don’t Know What to Do

This is a popular response.

If you are unsure of how to exercise then just – ASK FOR HELP – have a look on my blog or ask an instructor at the gym(you will get varying degrees of success with this in my experience).

If you wanted me to recommend a GOOD gym with GOOD instructors – who will HELP YOU(especially if you are a beginner), I would recommend – Life Gym (Llansamlet), Gower College Gym (Tycoch, Sketty), and The Fitness Studio (Gorseinon).  I must not forget, Penlan Leisure Centre, which is also very good for the gym and classes, my wife likes it up there.

Solution – Ask for help.  Try starting off by going with a friend or joining a group, you may have to try a few to get one which suits you and has a good instructor who will be able to deal with beginners.

I Have the Children to Look After

If they are old enough bring them with you!  Some places have child care facilities.

It will be a great activity for them. You might not enjoy the workout too much but the children certainly will!  Anything from playing football with them, to running around in the garden, it all helps.

Solution – Do short workouts at home, take the kids with you or just take some time for yourself (you deserve it if your a parent ;-)).

My Knees are Bad 

So many people stop exercising because of their knees, and in my experience, sometimes they stop prematurely.

Over the years I have helped many people who thought their knees were – past it.

With knees, no matter how bad they are – doing nothing is no a good idea.  If you can walk on the flat, get in and out of a chair and walk up and down stairs (if you are in pain or not) – trust me, you can do some sort of exercise which will help.

I spoke to one of my ladies who is in her 60’s, who for some time has been having varying degrees of pain in her knees, while exercising and while doing everyday activities.  I was amazed to hear she had never seen a doctor or a physio about her knees and had just “written them off” as being that way – all by herself.

So she now has a physio referral and we will see if she has prematurely given up on her knees or if she is right.

Another chap who I’m also working with at present, came to me and was suffering knee pain, he was running three times a week.

I stopped him running in the first instance – which he was not happy with at all.  After he had seen our physio, Chris Miller, we worked through some rehab exercises for 8-10 weeks, strengthening his hamstrings and buttocks.

Now he is running again, but pain free.

Lastly a lady who I know reads my articles, Irene.  Irene had terrible knee pain, to the point we could not do any squats or lunges.  After a 12 week programme of 30 minute sessions, twice a week, we re-visited the exercises she initially couldn’t do. To her amazement, she was able to do a squat and a deep lunge without any trouble.

These examples are typical of many of you who may have bad knees.

With injuries it can be a bit more difficult than just not having motivation and looking for any excuse, but there still maybe ways around this.

If some people waited to be 100% injury free – they would never get to the gym.

If you have bad knees then depending on the severity you may not be able to run, cycle or squat that well.

Solution – If you are okay with getting in and out of a chair without pain, then I would recommend trying exercises such as the box squat (you can find more information on squatting here) and the glute bridge.  For cardio try using the ARM BIKE.

These exercises will put less strain on the knee joints and after time should hopefully help to build your knees back up to be able to perform normal squats and other exercises.

Plus bad knees don’t affect your upper body so there are still tonnes of exercises you can do.

Solution – See an exercise specialist if you have any medical conditions.  You can also try exercise on referral, the Swansea scheme is called “positive steps”, the Carmarthenshire one is called “Vitality”, and Neath & Port talbot have one too, but I can’t think of the name, just mention it to your GP, they should know all about it.

(You will need to “qualify” for the exercise referral, you will need 2 or 3 of the following conditions(which is not hard in today’s world).Overweight, Inactive, Depressed, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Athritis and Athsma.)

I Have a Bad Back

Some peoples backs are so bad, the only solution is just managing the pain with medication, this is the end of the road for some, next it’s a wheelchair or a stick, if this is you, you need specialist help.  Ignore what I say below as it doesn’t apply to you.

If you have a bad back like mine (infrequent pain and some stiffness) and it affects your ability to do any cardio work or weight bearing activity then try the arm bike in the gym.

Most gyms have them.

This will put less pressure on your back as you are able to sit up straight, you will get a good cardio workout from it and also will be good for the muscles in your upper body.

As you probably know your back won’t get any better in the long term by not exercising, and resting it by sitting down or lying in bed.

Walking can be very good for back problems.

Solution – Again, shorter sessions, try the arm bike and focus on what you CAN do (step ups, walking), and do more of that.  Im personally a big fan of yoga for preventing lower back pain.  Plus remember, on a good day you will probably be able to do more.  Try to work around things.

Your guide is simple – if it hurts – dont do it.  If its pain free – do it.  Build up slowly.

I’m Too Old

You’re not!  I currently train and massage people in their 70’s and early 80’s.

Exercise is linked with so many benefits which help to offset the negatives that come with aging.

You may not be able to exercise quite like before, or have never exercised in the first place, but there is still a lot you can do which will dramatically increase your quality of life.  (Wider choice of entertainment and activities because your fitter, being able to holiday where you want, better enjoyment of walking and cycling in your free time.)

There is a 93 year old woman who comes to one of the gyms I use, who does a full stretching routine, treadmill work, cycling and she lifts some weights.

Britain is in the worst state for obesity it has ever been.

Lack of exercise and an abundance of unhealthy eating are the main reasons behind this. I’m trying to do my bit to make more people stand up and realise that if they don’t make these changes then they will not live a long healthy life.

Are you STILL waiting to get your ducks in a row? Don’t wait – get started now.

Leave a comment below with your experiences.

Seriously, I want to know what you have to say.

Take care,


PS –  Hear what Lawrence had to say. Lawrence came to me with a long standing lower back problem about a month ago.  Read the actual email he sent me recently below.


From: Laurence
Sent: 05 May 2013 14:07
To: Richard Clarke
Subject: RE: Legs Programme

Hi Rich,

Just a quick update on how the programme is going. I’ve given it a go for 3 weeks now and its going really well! For the first time in months i’ve actually been able to train legs properly! i had one bad day where i wasnt able to do anything without quite intense pain (even the simple stretches) but that was a one off and since then i’ve been able to do all the exercises pain free. I still get the ache pain after a while, which i dont mind as it isnt the sharp one causing the problems but it seems that this then leads to the sharp pain reoccurring (probably because my form compromises). As long as i hold my core tight i seem to have no problems with the exercises so im going to continue with them but then just ensure i stop before i feel too tired to maintain the correct form.

So all in all, thanks very much you’ve sorted me out with this one. Exactly what i needed. I suppose only time will tell now if my back is actually improving. Maybe another sports massage at some point like you mentioned before would be a good idea too.

Cheers mate,



2 thoughts on “Waiting to Get Your Ducks in a Row?”

  1. do you know that is one of the most honest and normal articles i have read in a long time .many times i am put off by over inflated claims , i feel truly inspired by the ducks in a row thingy ,thinking yes thats me that is , and yes you are right make time for exercise or make time for illness .keep up the good work .also is it true that muscle is heavier than fat , because weight loss isnt always so important to see the difference on the scales
    regards john

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for your kind words, im glad you benefited from reading the article and it resonated with you. Muscle is much denser than fat, and athletes and sporty people wont be as light on the scales but may be smaller in measurements (their neck, waist, hips etc). Body fat to muscle levels are more important than overall weight.

      Take care, and thanks for taking two minutes to leave a comment


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