Exercise and I have always had a somewhat contentious relationship. I was the girl at school who was probably bordering on being overweight and absolutely hated any form of exercise – with the exception of gymnastics, because it required flexibility, not a strong cardio-vascular system.
This worked in my favour, as I have struggled with Asthma since I was a child, and the biggest challenge I faced was that it was exercise induced. I’m sure times have changed now, but when I was in school, there were no special provisions made for students who were really unfit or struggled with sport, it was just: off you go, work at the same level as everyone else, which definitely failed and set me on the path for a very difficult journey with exercise for many years.
From the age of about 20, I did try again with exercise, but I had no idea what I was doing, so it didn’t go well, and it’s safe to say that after a terrible session with a PT who pushed me too hard and brought on an Asthma attack, I was very unwilling to step foot in a gym again!
Making a change
Fast forward about 7 years, and I had gained a significant amount of weight, and I wanted to do something about it, so I signed back up to a gym and went to a spin for beginners class. I nearly died, but I loved it. The instructor was kind, and I had told her about my asthma, and she didn’t put any pressure on me to do more than I could manage. That instructor gave me confidence to continue on, and I kept attending beginner spin sessions, until little by little I was ready for a normal class. Even then I was scared, but I did it, and for the first time I genuinely enjoyed exercising.
Now, I would love to tell you it has been a dream since then, and regular exercise is just part of my life week in, week out. But it isn’t. Like many people, I had a change in routine, and I found myself not exercising all over again! It was probably another year and a half after my routine change before I started exercising again, this time it was mid pandemic, and I truly had nothing else to do, so I started doing couch to 5k. Now I need to add in something important: running is my nemesis. It always has been, but this time, I had confidence from my previous fitness journey, and I knew if I took it at my own pace (I resembled a snail) then I would be ok. And I was. About 9 months after I first laced up my running shoes, I ran a very slow 10k around central London. I’ve never been prouder of myself!
Of course, after achieving that goal I wasn’t quite so dedicated to my regime and it sort of went to pot again, but something changed. I was no longer happy not exercising at all. I had a really rough time at the end of last year, but I still went to the gym once a week for my PT session. My PT now is lovely by the way, nothing like the one from over a decade ago! I no longer exercise to achieve a huge goal, nor do I exercise as punishment for eating too much cake. I finally exercise because I like it, and I like the clarity of mind I get afterwards. I’ll never be one of the people who loves lifting really heavy weights, or does lots of bootcamps and other hardcore things, but I’m totally ok with that. I’m someone who exercises a couple of times a week because it makes me feel good and it’ll also continue to help me in the long term. And that’s definitely good enough for me!
So my advice for you: don’t worry about not measuring up to everyone else, put yourself first, find something you enjoy and give it a go. That’s all you need to do!
See you soon, I’m off to Pilates tonight – it’s one of my favourite classes when I manage to get there!