You Can’t Out-Exercise Your Demons


Some people are more than likely not going to be happy with the reality of what I am about to say. They probably aren’t ready to hear it, or they are going through this and don’t want to hear it. That’s just the simple truth of it. Maybe I am talking to you or maybe I am talking to someone you know. I can’t make that decision for you.

What I do know is that I am most definitely reminding myself about the issue at hand. Because I do not want to go through it again.

Which, In saying that, leads me to the point that most of us aren’t prepared to ask ourselves the hard questions. People will tell you how to live your life but they won’t sit back and question their own shit. We are all trying to “help” everyone else without helping the person that matters. Themselves.

Listen to your flight attendants, put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others. We all know some people who are trying to fix others who aren’t even prepared to fix themselves.


Focusing on your own shit has become inspirational in a world that has everyone watching everyone else.

So, as a society, we are addicted to exercise. Still yet to find anyone addicted to recovery though.

Now that’s not everyone. Some people are doing so much they are making up for the ones that don’t. Even though we know it doesn’t really work that way, now does it? I get it though. A lot of us have grown to use the gym, training or running as an escape or a way to deal with particular issues, challenges or even personal demons – and I totally get that. It is crazy how on the surface everyone’s stories can be so different, yet underneath it all, they are practically all the same.

It is important for you to know that you have to stop doing that. You have to stop exercising your demons away.

I know you now hate me but I need to tell you that you can’t out-exercise your issues. It can clear your head, it can help you think straight post workout but you cannot out-exercise your demons.

Now if that is hard for you to hear then maybe you do need to hear it. Because NO ONE is talking about it.

If this hard to hear then you need to ask yourself; why?

Because when we simply exercise to deal with an issue, it feels good. When we don’t face the issue, exercise becomes a mechanism to cope with it. Keeping in mind that exercise is actually damaging your body. It is the recovery component that gives back to your body in order for you to improve. That is good nutrition, rest, saunas, yoga, sleep (probably the second biggest one), not having a shitty job and first and foremost – mentally dealing with the issue that is making you exercise and take action on it.

Now that we are using exercise (good) as a way of coping with the issue (bad) we continue to have a stimulus (from the issue) response (go exercise) relationship. This, this is where it gets ugly.


Before I go further, I want you to know that this has been me before. And, possibly maybe again in the future. You see, we learn from one of two different ways;

  1. An awareness
  2. An experience

And if you are not willing to mentally face the issue at hand, I promise you the world will serve you up an experience. We grow from personal reflection. Unfortunately as a human, we don’t grow from bashing it with exercise. All we are doing is just putting off  the inevitable.

So demons pop up more often, and as a result we exercise. And exercise. And we feel good. Why didn’t we exercise before? Now we MAY do some recovery work. A little bit of stretching here, a touch of mobility there. We don’t really get a kick from recovery practices though do we? It’s not really a part of our highlight reel on Instagram is it? So truth be told, as the exercise intensity and loading picks up, our recovery doesn’t.

You are now living in a physical debt with regards to your physical bank account.

Then you get a niggle. A pain in the knee. A click in the ankle. A tightness in the lowerback. And it sucks. But its ok. I can still exercise.

So we think.

So we push through the pain. Like you are supposed to, right? Because pushing through that pain doesn’t compare to the pain of facing our issue.

Trust me, I know its hard. And don’t pretend like you haven’t had a mental issue like this because we all have. Just please do not let it interfere with your relationship with exercise. You cannot out-exercise your demons.

The niggle turns into an injury.

The thought of stopping exercise is terrifying. So we don’t tell anyone that we have a niggle because they will tell us to slow down and stop.

If we do that, the issue will come closer to catching us.

So we keep running.

Or squatting.

Or anything. It doesn’t matter what vehicle you were using because really, deep down, you were running the whole time.

Then the injury gets worse.

What originally told you to slow down and face what’s inside is now forcing you to stop.


And there it is. The demon you were running from. Staring you in the face. You can no longer run.

What was initially the universes offer of an “awareness” has turned into an “experience”.


You cannot out-exercise your demons.


This doesn’t mean stop exercising. This means facing your demons head on. Find a support network and fight through this stuff. It will not go away until you do so.

Make sure your relationship with your gym, training or exercise isn’t dependent upon your demons. It’s not fuelled by them. Because if they are, then it’s only a matter of time before you meet again. Usually by this stage, you won’t have exercise to protect you and the relationship has been tarnished.

I don’t have an easy answer to this problem. What I do have is hope. I have tried to run away from my demons. It didn’t work. It wasn’t until I asked myself the hard questions and reminded myself that I am bigger than them that I started to make progress.

Progress both inside me, and inside the gym.

In that order.




  • Hayley

    Reply Reply September 3, 2015

    This is a fantastic article – I’ve had the experience myself, when I use to train a lot of martial arts.

    It definitely allowed me to avoid a LOT and train more. When I stopped, let’s just say I still experience the awareness now.

    Thanks for putting it into such a clear perspective and sharing it. It’s tough to read, I can only hope that the people who need to read it, get to see it.


    • Dave Nixon

      Reply Reply September 9, 2015

      Thanks Hayley. I am glad you could resonate with it as well! Stay healthy :)

  • Michelle

    Reply Reply February 3, 2016

    This article is SO true and really should be spread virally. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

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