Why Jane Fonda had it wrong. And I’m not talking fluoro spandex!

For those that can remember (or from what you’ve heard if you are too young or choose not to remember) the 80’s sure had impact!

It delivered us icons like Madonna, Bon Jovi, Neighbours, Miami Vice, Thriller, the power ballad, the saxophone solo, big hair and even bigger shoulder pads. Remember those iconic movies? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ghostbusters, Top Gun, Footloose, Goonies? I could go on for ages.  The 80’s were big, loud, proud and consumeristic.

Some of these things have stood the test of time. Some not so much (thank goodness!).


I love 80s

Jane Fonda is an icon. She got people up and moving. She had some memorable, if not questionable, fluoro spandex clothing, fabulous leg warmers (because we’ve all suffered from cold ankles while working out, right?) and a pretty catchy phrase “No Pain, No Gain”.  While the leg warmers have come and gone a few times, the phrase has stayed. It has been used again and again at gyms and in big business for motivating people to put in big effort if they want to see big results.


No Pain, No Gain


Now while I don’t dispute Ms Fonda was fit, healthy and did some motivating good to get people up off the couch and moving in the comfort of their own homes, I disagree with her catch phrase. And here is why.



Pain vs discomfort

Emotional and physical pain is very different to emotional and physical discomfort.

If we stay in our comfort zone and don’t change our actions, then we can’t expect to see different results. It is called a comfort zone for a reason. It’s comfortable. We already feel quite snug and feel secure in that nice little place. Any new change (whether it is changing what we eat, learning to get up earlier in the morning, our kids learning to put on a uniform and go to school every day, learning to drive for the first time, whatever) takes effort and concentration. If it is a new thing to learn, it is going to be outside our comfort zone and into our discomfort or growth zone.

I believe that if you push to hard and fast, it can be actually painful and you end up in the terror zone where you either shut down or fall apart.  If you were to go from being a total recluse, shut off from the world, to speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd of thousands of people in one day, it’s more likely to create terror and result in a mammoth freeze or a very fast run rather than lead to some healthy social growth.

Similarly, physical pain is not the same as physical discomfort. When we stretch a tight muscle, we can feel that “good stretch” feeling which is quite different from the painful feeling of a sudden muscle tear.

People often talk to me about a “good” massage and how they think it has to hurt or be painful to have any benefit.


If it is actually truly painful, it is NOT doing you any good. If it is truly painful, there is a possibility the technique is causing damage rather than helping the muscle loosen or lengthen again. Some techniques will create a level discomfort, but that level should always be within YOUR own specific tolerance level to provide YOU with the benefits YOU need. Some massage techniques can even bring huge benefits and are so gentle they can be beneficial without any feeling of discomfort at all!

A good massage therapist will work with you; where you and your body are today to make sure your treatment is beneficial to you and not doing you damage.

Will your treatment sometimes be uncomfortable? If you’ve given me the OK, then yes. If you are not OK with that, then we look at other options. Personally, some days I appreciate a firm treatment, and other days I just need a lighter touch both physically and emotionally. And I appreciate a therapist that can change things up to meet my needs while recognising that my needs change.

So, sorry Jane, but I am never going to be a fan of “No Pain, No Gain”. I am a fan of “if nothing changes then nothing changes” and even “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you want something to change, you will need to take action. Sometimes what should seem like the smallest action can feel oh so hard. Even impossible. Until you’ve done it. And then you realise it wasn’t so bad, that you’ve got this, and you realise you have moved closer to reaching your goals.

And that, unlike 80’s fluoro spandex, is something to be proud of every single time.

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