I’m wrecked. Shattered. Knackered. Every muscle in my entire body is aching. And that’s good, really good. If you want to get fit, if you want to get fitter, you have to keep challenging yourself. Bodies are smart – they adapt very quickly. If you stay doing the same exercise regime, week in, week out, your muscles will get used to it, you won’t progress. Anyhow, doing the same thing all the time is boring.
When my favourite classes closed down, initially I felt seriously pissed off. But when one door closes, another opens. You gotta keep trying new things, right? You gotta keep an open mind.
So I fetched up at Sizzling Step. Copied the others, getting out the gear. Stayed near the back so it wouldn't be too obvious I didn't know what I was doing.
'Hi,' I said brightly to the two twenty-somethings next to me.
'Hi,' they said.
'So, is this fun? I'm new.'
They looked at one another, slight frowns on their perfect foreheads.
'You haven't done it before?'
'Have you done any of Debbie's step classes before?'
That look again.
'Er, is something wrong?'
'Nooo. Just, it's a pretty advanced class.'
It started off so well. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Kick to the side, knee repeater...blah blah. Pussies. What where they on about?
'Okay, now we're all warmed up, let's GO!' said Debbie, cranking up the music.
Now I'm pretty coordinated and I'm relatively fit but bugger me sideways no way could I fathom this. They were sort of dancing over and around their damn steps, spinning like tops.
I sort of made it though but after class I had a chat with Debbie.
'It's not really my thing,' I said.
'Try Step and Sweat,' she said. 'You could do Zumba first so it would be a two-hour workout. You'd love it.'
'Good idea,' I said. Cos, see, everyone's different. You gotta try these things to find out if they're for you or not. And, if not, you don't give up, you just try something else.
So, goodbye Pilates and Zumba Tone; hello Zumba something else and Step and Sweat. Goodbye Wednesdays, hello Mondays. Two hours of full-on cardio and conditioning, with weights. Now I’m pretty strong, what will all the kettlebelling, so I plumped for the heaviest hand weights. It was only as we were well into the warm-up that I realized I was the only one with the heavy duty buggers. After about ten minutes, I realized why. But by then it was too late – I’d have broken my neck trying to navigate through a class of people bounding up and down steps waving weights around. So I stuck with it and… owwwwwww. I haven’t sweated like that since I started Zumba, over two years ago.
But it will get easier. It’s always tough at the beginning. You just have to push yourself through that initial resistance. Why do it? Because bodies are made to move, they’re designed to be active. Yeah, I know that the healthiest, fittest people can drop dead of a heart attack and that the biggest slobs can eat, drink and smoke their way to revoltingly robust old age but, hey, if you can exercise (and I accept that not everyone can) isn’t it crazy not to help your odds? The heart is a muscle – it needs to be given a workout on a regular basis. Our bones aren’t made for sitting around either and avoiding weight bearing exercise can leave you with the risk of osteoporosis in later life. I dunno – I don’t want to go round town in an invalid carriage and I don’t want to have a heart attack (way too many of those going on around me right now – way, way too many.
If you know you've got a health issue, you can get a GP referral for exercise. My pal Trish does them round here and has got all sorts of people exercising (and loving it) regardless of their age and health concerns.
If you want to lose weight exercise really is your friend. Muscle weighs heavier than fat but it also burns way more calories. I have watched people literally change shape at the classes I go to – one woman has lost seven stone so far. That's 98 pounds. She’s taken up running now. She finds it tough but, by heck, she’s sticking in there; she's doing it.
But, more than any of that, exercise makes me feel good. As long-term readers of this blog will know, I have a really unpleasant cur of a black dog that nips my heel. Adrian calls it ‘thinking too much’. Stupid name for a dog, if you ask me. But three things act like a choke chain on the brute – meditation, laughter and bloody hard exercise. Last few weeks…months actually…have been pretty tough – those three keep my nose above water.
Anyhow. Where was I? Oh yes, wimpering quietly in the corner wondering if I’ll make it through kettlebells in church tonight. Yes, we are probably the only kettlebell group in the country (if not the world) who swing our bells in the aisles. It’s pretty cool actually. Almost as cool as doing it down by the river on Sunday mornings, watched by ducks.
So. Please. If you possibly can, do exercise. You know I don't believe in telling people what to do but, honestly, I love you lot and I don’t want you upping and dying on me. Seriously, I may have to kill you if you do.
Find a class or an activity or a sport that appeals (even if only just a little bit). Or get out and do the running thingy with me. Honestly, it’s not that evil. We’re starting slow, remember – 90 seconds running, 30 seconds walking for now. Half an hour, three times a week. That’s all. Lecture over.