Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Exercise Schmexercise

I’ve been thinking about posting about my slightly dysfunctional relationship with exercise for a while and a combination of seeing the Olympic Torch last Friday and recently returning to dancing on a Monday night clinched it.

Now I promise I'm writing this as a useless sportswoman and gym-phobic so don’t worry about me coming down all high and mighty on you!

So many people begin a bad relationship with physical activity at school, myself included (it's a bit of a bugbear). It could be because, like me, they’re a total klutz, so no matter how much enthusiasm they have for the ball to be thrown their way in the playground, likelihood is they’ll get scared and duck and it’ll go straight through their legs. Or it could be that the P.E uniform at school was the horrendous combination that is a huge pair of bright blue gym knickers to wear with a fairly see-through white polo shirt (yowch). It could also be that they weren’t one of the cool kids who made it onto a sports team so consequently they were an object of scorn to their peers and invisible to the P.E teachers. Or all of the above?

My personal way of coping was to have a permanent ‘Music Rehearsal’ during all sports activities from the age of 14 onwards. Potentially not the most positive way of dealing with the reality that is physical activity.

Bizarrely, as a person of exactly the background described above, God, rather ironically, led me to take a year out working at an Adventure Centre before university. “A-ha!” you say, “It turns out she’s more of an outdoor type who enjoys being left to her own devices and making great treks.” Nope, absolutely not,  pretty much everything there terrified me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of heights or of water, but more of my own ability. I get scared that I won’t be able to achieve what I set out to, or that I’ll hold everyone back and annoy them in the process. I’ve a feeling I’m not on my own in these sentiments either right?

Here's a big but.

But, what can you do, as an uncoordinated, unmotivated, unconfident, uncompetitive person, to get fit and healthy? Too many of us feel we are not fit enough to go to the gym, or cool enough to join a team, or bothered enough to leave the house. In my experience, the answer is, ‘Get over yourself’. OK, I’ll try and express it with a little bit more compassion, ‘Just do something’, whether it’s getting in the habit of going for a walk after tea, or joining a dance class, or finding a friend to go to the gym with. Everyone is capable of something, don’t worry about what other people are doing around you or what clothes you’re wearing or about turning up on your own, don’t worry if you have to take the pace down to a slow walk and glug back loads of water, just get yourself and keep yourself moving. The endorphin rush is worth it - yes, correct, those happy hormones found in chocolate.

For me, the something was going to classes at the gym. I felt that I needed someone to tell me what to do so that I knew I was doing something that was really working, but at least in a class I could hide in the middle of lots of other people. Now it turns out that I LOVE going. I get a real buzz from pushing that little bit harder when I think I’ve no energy left, from seeing the progress as things get easier and moves click in my brain so I can try the next step up. I especially love Step Aerobics, but that’s just because I’m a bit of a nutter!

The Olympic Flame is relaying right across our country, as a symbol that we are an Olympic nation, and sport is not just for the elite. And on a personal note, I want to enjoy my body because I believe it is marvellously made by an awesome God. Why not join in the action? ;)

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