Exercise is a tricky one. I exercise and I enjoy it. I’m fairly fit now, but it’s not always been the case….
As a child I danced, but when I stopped, the weight started to creep on.
I think most people want to be a little slimmer or more toned and so did I. The problem I had is that I really liked food. Giving up cake was never an option. So over the years I’ve dabbled with a fair few exercise regimens.
There was the phase where I joined the gym. It was a chore. I disliked the communal changing rooms, the pumping music, and the mirrors. What’s with all the mirrors?
The only thing I liked about the gym was the toasties, and the fact I could snigger at the Zen like yoga teacher.
I tried to follow the whole ‘fake it till you make it’ ethos and pretended to get into it.
One evening the gym was bustling and I found my way on to the only free treadmill. I started at a walk, then picked the pace up ‘till I was doing a fancy little trot (because I can’t run). ‘
Yeah!’ I thought. ‘I’m looking good’.
Suddenly I felt something working their way down my trouser leg. Before I could do anything ,a pair of renegade pants broke free, sped down the treadmill and flew on to the mirrored wall behind me. They slid into an inelegant heap on the floor, next to the busy water cooler.
I nonchalantly stopped the treadmill, picked up the pants (realising I had nowhere to put them) and made a swift exit.
After that, I didn’t really want to venture back. The valuable lesson I learned was to give your laundry a good shake when you get it out of the dryer.
I swam for a while, but the local swimming baths are full of floating plasters and the threat of verrucas. Normally a small child would dive bomb on my head. The sight of some of the people in there meant that David and I were well aware we were probably swimming in an elaborate testicle soup. We stopped going before we succumbed to dysentery.
I tried step classes. I managed three. I was genuinely convinced that it could only end in a snapped ankle. Not the up-down, up-down I was expecting. It was a mental foray of skippy moves. Leaping over this big grey hulk of plastic like a bleedin’ leprechaun.
When spinning became a thing I was rather hoping it would involve twirling around in circles with a 90’s Head bag, much like I did at school, but no. Spinning involved going on a bike and literally going nowhere…except maybe to Hell.
A short stout man who looked much like Dominic Littlewood barked orders at you from the front, which I chose to ignore. ‘Take it up a notch’…nope. ‘Stand up’…..nope.
At the end of the hour I thought I was going to pass out. `
As I stood, tactfully telling my friend I probably wouldn’t be joining her again, the Dom-a-like strode up to me looking triumphant. ‘Enjoy it did ya?’ he laughed. Before I could respond with a non-offensive reply, he grabbed my hips, wobbled them like they were some kind of pink blancmange and proclaimed ‘You’ll soon get rid of this’.
Stunned and still wobbling slightly, I backed off.
On a positive note, my friend fully understood why I didn’t want to return.
Cheeky bugger. I was thinner than he was!
Several more failed gym attempts, bike rides that ended with me being in a ditch of nettles and soul destroying classes. I decided to stop trying.
By this point David and I had decided to try for a baby. This wasn’t straightforward, as a genetic disorder meant we’d need a rare kind of IVF called PGD. There’s a whole different blog for this, and now isn’t the time. The first attempt failed and we had to go for a debrief at Guys Hospital. The doctor said ‘All I can suggest, is you get as fit and healthy as you can, and be happy’.
I remember driving home with David saying ‘what can I do? What do I enjoy that will keep me fit?’ and out of nowhere David stated the obvious ‘You used to dance right?’ Of course I used to dance!
Starting dancing again was one of the best things I had ever done for myself.
Why do we give up childhood hobbies? Life gets in the way of what is fun and before you know it, you’re robot just getting by.
Dancing helps me get my identity back. When I am there, I am Paula, not just Harriet’s Mum, or Dave’s wife or ‘That librarian, who won’t let me eat crisps’.
I’ve met some lovely people and I enjoy every second. It can be hard, I can wake up aching all over, but it’s totally worth the pain.
I’ve been turning up for over six years now, so I think it’s a stayer. Also it made me fit, healthy and happy which meant my second round of IVF worked.
At Christmas I received a Fitbit, which was a bloody good job as I’d been hinting for one for quite some time.
I decided in a fit of enthusiasm to start jogging. After thirty seconds pounding the icy streets, I had to slow to a walk. ‘No worries’ I thought. ‘I’ll build up’.
Still buoyant I purchased some fancy trainers online.
The next time I ran, I realised I wasn’t enjoying it at all and that I should only run if it’s away from an angry dog or towards an ice cream van.
If anyone wants to buy some fancy running trainers they’re yours for £20 as new.
Six months on and I still wear my Fitbit. It nags me to walk more and I have upped my steppage because of it. I also monitor my workouts at dancing and Zumba. I can totally see why I dropped two stone when I first started going. I suppose that’s the obvious trick to exercise isn’t it. Do something you enjoy in the first place and it’s not even like work. So if you are thinking of starting some new fitness thing, think back to your childhood. Go dancing or ice skating, play netball or just skip around. It’s a whole lot better than losing your pants at the gym.