Principle #3 of Joyful Movement: Just Say No to Punishment | Advice from a Personal Trainer in Ontario

by | Feb 6, 2023

Have you ever been hard on yourself for not dedicating enough time to exercise or felt guilty when a workout didn’t seem intense enough?  Have you given in to the pressure of society telling you that your workouts should “hurt”; otherwise they don’t count? If any of this rings true for you, then the third principle of Joyful Movement is here to help: just say no to punishment.

Be sure to check out principle #1  and Principle #2 in this blog post series if you haven’t already!


As a personal trainer in Ontario, I know it might sound counterintuitive, but when we choose gentle compassion and understanding toward our bodies instead of punishing ourselves – magic begins to happen! In today’s blog post, we will explore how just saying no to punishment can help us create a healthier relationship with movement and nourish our minds and souls along the way.

Prefer to listen?  Check out this episode of The Joyful Movement Show.

The Problem with “No Pain, No Gain” Mentality

As a Personal Trainer in Ontario- I believed for a really long time in the whole no pain, no gain mentality. That the only way to get fit is to push ourselves to the brink five or six days a week, no ifs, ands, or buts. We’re told we need to be stronger than our excuses and that nothing good in life comes easily. Here’s the thing- I know that these things are said with good intentions. For those of us in the fitness industry, we say them to try to inspire you, to motivate you, to keep going and help you reach your goals- but it’s not working. 

I used to see people giving up on their goals or hurting themselves, or just avoiding exercise altogether. And I think that a big part of the reason why is we think exercise has to be impossibly hard, or it’s not worth doing. After the initial excitement of a new routine, who really wants to do something that feels like torture? The answer- no one. 

“A big part of the reason why people don’t exercise is because they think it has to be impossibly hard or it’s not worth doing.”

Kim Hagle – Radiant Vitality


The Difference Between Pushing Yourself and Punishing Yourself

Don’t assume I am telling you not to ever push yourself or challenge yourself. The truth of the matter is, that the road to improved fitness is paved with moderate to vigorous effort-BUT it doesn’t always need to be punishing. Moderate intensity and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can still lead you towards achieving desired improvement in anaerobic performance – without having that “I’m gonna die” feeling! The key is- exercise doesn’t have to be high intensity everyday.  

In fact, working hard every day without time to recover actually will cause a decrease in overall fitness over time. We call this over-training. As a personal trainer in Ontario, I really emphasize the need for balance between my clients’ hard efforts and adequate recovery- this is the only way your body will be able to integrate all the work you did and make the necessary adaptations.

Size inclusive personal trainer in Ontario explains joyful movement

Signs You Are Over-Training

There are a few ways to assess if you are overtraining and experiencing pain– and not the good hurt post-workout. They include:


  1. The Toilet Test: When you sit down on the toilet, do you dread having to get back up?
  2. Simple tasks like walking upstairs or rasing your arms to brush your hair, physically hurts. 
  3. You needed to take Tylenol or Advil to manage the pain and soreness. 

If any of those three things have happened, you’ve crossed the line from a good hurt to pain. Your body’s telling you that you pushed too hard and did something you were not ready for. In addition, if during your workout you feel any sharp shooting pains in your joints, stress on the knees, pulling in your back, pinching in the shoulders, difficulty breathing or chest pain- these have no place ion your workout! Even if you are a professional athlete, pushing through pain will not only slow your progress, but you are risking a major injury.

The Key to Joyful Movement and Saying NO to Punishment

Pain and punishment are not motivating. As a personal trainer in Ontario, I know that negative feelings are caused by negative thoughts and they lead to negative action and negative results. It’s a vicious cycle, which will only end in you either hurting yourself or giving up. Either way you won’t be happy with the outcome. 

Here are some ways that you can start to have more fun with movement:

  1. Change Your Thoughts: Negative thoughts, create negative results. If your predominant thought is along the line of no pain, no gain, try something like progress over perfection, or nourish don’t punish. These mantras can be a powerful tool in changing how you feel about exercise. 
  2. Disconnect exercise from weight loss. Remind yourself that movement is a form of self-care, not a tool of self-deprecation. If you need a reminder or more encouragement on this topic- check out episode #3 of my podcast.
  3. If something hurts, stop. Ask for modifications or a different movement completely. If you have more than a little Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, you need to listen to your body and have adequate recovery time. 
  4. Don’t feel pressured from a coach or peer. If someone is pushing you beyond a fun challenge, it’s okay to ignore them. 

Practice Mindful Movement.  Do a body scan before your movement session and set your intention and desired intensity level before your start and stick to it.

5 ways to experience joyful movement from a size inclusive personal trainer in Huron County

So next time you’re tempted to “push through the pain” or skip your recovery days, remember the third principle of Joyful Movement – just say no to punishment. Keep an eye out for my future posts about the rest of the Principles of Joyful Movement. 


Creating a healthy relationship with your body, food, and exercise is key to sustainable health and fitness goals. If you need help creating a Joyful Movement plan that works for you, check out my coaching programs.   I’d be more than happy to chat with you about how we can work together to help you reach your goals in a sustainable way.