Keep Fit. Ever noticed how the phrase ‘Keep Fit’ sounds like a command? How Nike tells us to “Just Do It” and Adidas insists that “Impossible is Nothing”. I’m sure most people find these slogans inspiring but I tend to find them a bit bossy! Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a couch potato. As most of you know I own a demented golden Labrador called Chester who I have to chase daily over the park to retrieve him from bothering other dogs/members of the public and his most recent pastime of disrupting outdoor Boot Camp classes (they pull tyres along a park, what do they expect? It’s catnip for dogs!).
However, aside from my dog walking exercise regime I am also a member of a gym. When we moved recently, we decided it would be a nice ‘family’ endeavour to become members of our local leisure centre, we could take the kids swimming once a week and hubby and I could take it in turns to hit the treadmills and join in on the many exercise classes on offer. This little plan of ours started last September and we were very committed for about erm…. 2 weeks, but things have slipped a little over the last 5 months or so!
In my late teens, me and my mates donned our leg warmers to eagerly jump along to my Mum’s Jane Fonda Workout VHS. Anyone else remember Leslie singing her “Do It” song where Jane instructed us to ‘sing along to if we knew our breathing well enough’? Which was easier said then done when you are trying to follow her jumping jacks whilst whooping and high fiving each other!
Nowadays, I try to move out of the living room and into the gym itself. When we joined our new gym I avoided the induction on offer as I tend to have a weird goldfish memory when it comes to being shown gym equipment. By the time they have talked me through how to ‘work on my abs’ or ‘boost my biceps’ with what looks like Medieval torture equipment, I have completely forgotten where I should put my peg on the weights or how to adjust the seat. Then there is the intimidation of the masses, the other gym people who seem to look like they instinctively know what they’re doing whilst I’m desperately trying not to slide off the treadmill while jabbing at buttons to incline or speed up my pace. With every session I tried to be bold and brave the weights or Stairmaster but normally end up in my comfort zone of using an exercise bike whilst watching This Morning.
But it’s OK, I don’t need to go to the gym, I can do exercise classes instead, this will maximise my monthly direct debit membership that I really can’t afford. I started off gradually with a few Yoga and Pilates classes, stretching and meditating my way through the week. Then decided I ought to be increasing my workout beyond working on my wellbeing and actually shift some calories. Spinning looks too hard, particularly as you have to wheel the static bikes in and out of the classroom before and after the lesson! Body Pump involves aerobics and weights, I have dabbled in this class before in my 20s and remember the John Wayne walk I adopted from ripping my muscles and I’m just not that committed to gaining with pain just yet.
I drag hubby along to a Body Combat class one morning which is good but too exhausting for 9am on a Monday morning, jab jab, run round the room, kick, jab, run on the spot…. Phew! So I decide to drag my friend along to try out Zumba. What’s not to love, twerking and shimmying for an hour without judgement! It is fun, exhausting, challenging yes, but enjoyable. Me and my friend hide at the back, pretty much keeping up with the quite tricky dance moves, throwing in a bit of freestyling when I lose my place but generally feeling quite good. When Beyonce’s Crazy In Love starts pumping, I’m fairly certain I am now resembling one of her backing dances, until that is I catch a glimpse of myself in the surrounding mirrors and decide not to make any career changes just yet!
I love Yoga. It’s the one exercise class literally anyone can do. The best Yoga class I ever attended was with my Mum where I used to live. As it was during the working day at an Adult Education Centre it mainly consisted of retired folk with the odd youngish Mum like me attending. On my first lesson, it did seem to resemble a scene from Cocoon, lots of silver-haired folk who seemed strangely so much more agile and energetic than me. I had no idea how old anyone was as they looked so youthful and were so capable of every exercise that I was still trying to get to grips with. I have been to numerous Yoga classes over the years but none quite like this one, not only did we start with 30 minutes meditation but ended with at least 30 minutes of meditation. Two hours of Yoga and meditation, pure bliss and well worth clearing my work schedule each week for. I have found Yoga at my new gym but as soon as I settle down for my expected long stint of meditation, after 5 minutes the lights are back on and the next class is piling in.
However, today I discovered Hot Yoga. This is not a kind of cocktail or a spa treatment, but an actual exercise class. It is basically Yoga with the central heating on full, which I’m sure has some sort of scientific reasoning behind it, but just made me want to adopt the foetal position and sleep.
So, whether you’re a gym bunny who actually knows what to do with a medicine ball, a Zumba devotee who can get your Salsa on at any given moment, or you are closing your living room curtains so you can jump about to a Celeb fitness video, I have come to the conclusion that you must do what makes you happy as long as it makes a difference in the end. As Jane would say “Feel the Burn!”