I am 40 in a few months and I feel that I have pretty much found harmony in my life as I approach this milestone, however there are a couple of ambitions I have yet to fulfill to mark the occasion. One of them is to get fit, not just to lose weight (though being in a size 12 dress for my birthday would be nice) but I have never been at the real peak of fitness and realised that I would actually quite like to be for lots of reasons.
I spent my twenties and quite a bit of my thirties drinking wine, smoking fags and puffing my inhaler; Yes, I had brief flings with the gym, popped for a swim every now and then but I never had proper continuous gym commitment. I first slightly committed in 2011 and dropped a stone straight away – I then dramatically cut out processed food, fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine for 3 weeks (sometimes known as the candida diet) and dropped another stone in 3 weeks – but I was boring during this time and the side effects of giving up all that so drastically weren’t too pleasant.
I always envied and disliked gym bunnies that did classes, mainly because the thought of doing a class gave me the absolute fear and the people that did them seemed so perky and pompous. They were just going about their business – but you know that feeling when you are scared of something that you feel everyone else embraces easily?
My Butlins audition many years previous had ensured that I stayed well away from anything of the sort. The cross trainer was my limit at the gym as my co-ordination skills really aren’t the best – dancing to ‘Shake your tail feather‘ in front of a theatre of hundreds whilst on stage with teeny, tiny trained dancers (all of whom got trampled on by me in shimmying in the wrong direction) was enough to put me off any kind of group movement activity for life. Even when I became a redcoat (despite the shocking audition) I still managed to do the YMCA dance back to front every night of the week much to the kids delight!
A couple of months ago I started attending spin classes at my local leisure centre; lovely little low key place with pool, gym and lots of classes. I often ride my bike so spinning was quite easy for me and it takes place in the dark – easy to hide! I loved it and even found myself joining in on a Sunday morning at 9am – unheard of.
I found myself starting to get curious about the other classes that people came out of looking exhausted but euphoric and with the encouragement of my friend who is also a newbie I plucked up the courage to try body conditioning. I had been doing body balance once a week so it seemed no harm to try something else non aerobic.
I warned the male instructor that I had no coordination – he gave a little laugh and said I would be fine there was only a dancey bit at the start – side step and grapevine, little did he know this was the least of my worries. As the music pumped away and everyone started bouncing around, hop, skipping and jumping – all I could hear in my ears was ‘shake your tail feather’ but it soon passed. As I looked around the room, there were no tiny dancers just a mixture of women of all ages and sizes just having a great time and getting fit.
I wasn’t even the only one skipping in the wrong the direction – I was actually side stepping in time with the beat; with a reassuring look from the lovely and sympathetic instructor I felt empowered. I may not have been clapping and moving my feet in time together but I was laughing and toning at the same time! How was this possible?
When the squats and lunge section began, I did feel relieved that the warm up was over as standing on the spot is always favorable, despite the pain in the legs.
The feeling after a class is quite strange – sometimes after I almost want to weep. I realise that feeling is caused by adrenalin but also relief that I got through a class.
After all these years avoiding any kind of activity like this – I found myself wanting more of the same. I am about to do my 4th body conditioning class this week and my friend is convinced I have mastered the grapevine now – I’m going to be on Strictly at this rate.
The support of the instructor is paramount to having a successful workout class, I am so grateful that my first class of this kind was taken by someone soothing; he gave me reassuring looks at regular intervals and my friend didn’t even laugh when I trod on her toes. All really helpful in moving forward I feel!
So if the thought of a gym session, workout or anything fitness wise scares you – think of me in my 40th year with the co-ordination of a drunk dad at a wedding, embracing every second with a smile on my face!