It is now over a year since I have been regularly going to the gym. I’ve never been one for sport, preferring to milk a bout of glandular fever in high school for two years of absence from PE because they forgot that I was excused for a couple of months to go and do art instead. In more recent years, since starting my Masters degree, I’ve started becoming conscious that “walking everywhere” may well be a lot more exercise than some people do, but it’s probably not enough to balance out my lager consumption – in the grand scheme of things.
I half heartedly went to the uni gym during the year of my Masters, and it wasn’t too bad. But I didn’t know what I was doing and I can’t remember putting much effort into it. A year or two later, with husband moved down with me and new career kicking off, I joined my local Council leisure centre. I liked this because they had a pool and I’ve always loved swimming. Aqua aerobics became a new favourite and something I miss nowadays. We moved house, I moved gyms and for some reason, it all tailed off again. By this stage I had got down from being a size 12 (my largest) back to near enough a 10. And I thought as I’d aged, my body had changed shape and that was pretty much where I was going to be. Not so!
Last December, I joined a women’s only gym and really found my feet with it all. I managed to get in to the habit of going 3 or 4 times a week, until it became second nature. Within a few months it stopped being a case of convincing myself to go to the gym and it just being that thing that I did after work. I discovered Zumba, and LOVED it. The Latino rhythms remind me so much of dodgy clubs in South America, I just can’t get enough of it (insert plea for review copies of Zumba-based computer games here). From Zumba, I expanded into Latin Fit – a similar concept, but based on a non-stop dance routine that is built up over several songs. I also discovered that actually I quite enjoy Legs, Bums and Tums classes. I also found out that one of the fundamental principles of the Universe is that all LBT teachers are complete sadists.
Then the real revelation came this summer, when I won a year’s free personal training on the Zaggora facebook page. By this point I was doing some form of exercise four or five times a week, most weeks and so avidly entering competitions for new kit and the like, so this was the real Holy Grail of a win. I’ve learned so much about exercising, how my body works, what I can achieve and it’s really impacted on my health and also how effective my exercise is when I’m on my own.
…And here I am!
I may not have changed weight in the last year, but weight and burning calories has stopped being the aim. I can’t remember the last time I looked on the calorie read out on the treadmill. And perhaps more importantly, a year ago I would not have dreamed about using a treadmill for anything other than a light, but uphill walk. Now I have seen my body change shape. I have returned to the size 6 and 8 clothes of my teenage years and I have developed GUNS! Yes, guns. It rocks, and I have literally never cared about such things before. I’m not obsessed though – I’ll flex them for you, but I’ve never kissed them. I do not consider Jodie Marsh a role model. Now I am all about the tone, because I know that my body is happy with the overall weight I am, it just needed a rethink about the distribution of muscle and fat…. And all of this exercise has been the overriding factor, I think, in quitting smoking, which continues to go well.
And why am I boxing clever? Because over my last two personal training sessions I have been learning to box! I’m a lover, not a fighter – but I love it! It destresses me after work and so long as no-one’s trying to punch me back then I’m having a good time. As I said to my trainer today “punching things is fun”.*
* Only punch things that you are legally allowed to punch. Only punch things when you are wearing amusing big red shiny gloves. If you’re not accustomed to punching things, get some advice from a professional, and by that I do not mean the chav Scouser who is lying in a bloodied heap at the back of the pub – he doesn’t have the relevant certification.