MY ROCKY RELATIONSHIP WITH EXERCISE
Finding a way to keep semi-fit as an adult has proven difficult for me over the years and many of you guys, unfortunately, have had to witness my moaning and pre-workout jitters on Instagram stories. It wasn’t something I ever had to think about as a teen, not only was I a naturally slim person but I genuinely loved sport and did enough of it for fun that keeping fit wasn’t a concern at all. Then I went to Uni. I think that’s where most of us start to become quite aware of our health and fitness levels, well towards the end of Uni I guess. After spending three years drinking a lot, eating microwaved meals, having late nights and joining gyms but never actually stepping inside one, I realised I couldn’t run for the bus without feeling like I was going to pass out.
Aside from the odd tennis match with my dad during the summer, playing sport for fun stopped being a thing as an adult. I didn’t have a school team and joining an adult team seemed far too competitive and serious, so kicking a football around at a picnic was about as sporty as it got. My career became my main focus and although I tried to join a few gyms I found them terrifying and as someone who’s always suffered from a bad back, I’d always end up doing more damage than good. But having a very healthy, fit boyfriend meant he was constantly working out, running to work, cycling in races and I just became more and more aware of my lack of any fitness routine.
I started pilates and actually really liked it; for someone like me who’s partial to a back spasm, it’s controlled but still really hard and toning on your body. It’s not cheap and reformer pilates, the one with the machines, is even more expensive, but totally worth it. I find that floor work is better if you’re more experienced whereas reformer is better if you don’t really know what you’re doing, it’s also a bit more fun! Pilates ticked the toning box for me but I wouldn’t say it got my heart racing and for someone as unfit as me, a bit of cardio is pretty important. My only motivation for working out, because I hate it so much, is to keep my heart healthy, to live a longer life and to just look after myself.
Going the gym didn’t work for me, so I started to see a personal trainer. I always thought they were just for really fancy, rich people, but actually a PT works so well for someone like me. Having someone there to encourage you, plan the session and give you one-on-one attention to make sure you’re doing it right is worth paying extra for. All of the PTs I’ve used in the past have worked for themselves, not a gym, and so they’ve been more affordable and more flexible with where you can do the sessions. If they’re not having to pay for a gym, they can charge less and you can work out in the park or at home. I’ve found that traditional gym equipment hasn’t been necessary because we’ve either used my own body weight, hand-held weights or got creative with balls, tree trunks… all kinds of things!
SHOP MY OUTFIT
For me it’s important to keep it fun, because my lack of motivation means my brain thinks why would I do this if it wasn’t fun. I’ve found that using a female PT has changed everything; she totally gets me and my body, she’s sympathetic during the time of the month and we chat and have fun throughout the session, which helps. We usually do HITT workouts and keep them snappy, not focusing on one thing for too long. I love skipping and I’m actually pretty good at it, so we use that as my warm up instead of running which I’m terrible at and always causes me shin pain. Most of what we do is things I can do alone, like jump squats, lunging, burpees, sit ups but trust me if I didn’t have someone there forcing me to do it, I wouldn’t. I’ve also recently started working out with a friend, which makes it even more fun and a reason to look forward to it. We don’t make it a competition, instead we work together, for example, working towards X amount of sit ups by splitting them however we like between us, cheering the other one on when it’s their turn. Music is so important for me whilst working out too and a good playlist (often some kind of throwback playlist) can completely transform my mood, having me singing between workouts instead of moaning… well, occasionally.
But let’s be honest, I still hate working out, and I think for some people it’s just about accepting not everyone loves exercise but that it’s just one of those things we have to do. The other day when I complained during a plank that “my body just feels so heavy” my PT (who’s a friend so can get away with it) quite rightly said “well Lily, that’s why we’re here”. I’m insanely jealous of people who enjoy working out, it’s like preferring salad to burgers! But for those of you who have to really force yourself and hold back the fear tears, I’m with you, and even if you only work out once a week like me, well then at least you’re doing something! My new plan is not to try and be the girl who loves working out, I don’t want to forever be on a quest that has no happy ending, I just want to make sure I’m always doing something active. Something regular that I don’t completely loathe, but that keeps my body moving, healthy and my heart beating strong.
Girls who hate exercise, we can do this together… ps, I just cancelled my PT session today because I’m too tired after attending the Baftas last night. WHOOPS!
Photos by Lydia Collins
Outfit from Sweaty Betty