Believe it or not, I used to hate PE with all my heart. Sport always felt like something that just wasn’t for me – I wasn’t flexible, I wasn’t fast, I sucked at ball games due to my inexplicable fear of falling balls (this is still true to this day). Always a little chubby, I accepted my life as a non-athlete and went on about my life. Until the nurse told me I’d better shed a couple of pounds, just to be on the safe side – after all, it’s no good being slightly overweight when you’re only 18. So I started running. And got addicted to the endorphin high that hits you after two miles. Not long after, I picked up a yoga book in a local Waterstones, and soon the 10-minute morning sun salutation had grown to a full hour of synchronised breathing and stretching after my morning run. At university, I joined the gym, and since last September, I’ve become addicted to weight lifting. And ladies, it surely does not make you manly and bulky! I have never felt fitter or happier, so when a friend asked if I wanted to do Tough Mudder with her, I didn’t hesitate to sign up for it.
And this is where we start, as nobody will find anyone’s teenage struggles either entertaining or interesting – trust me. Each month, I will share the ups and downs of my training with you: which products I have discovered that have made me able to move my legs the day after a tough training session. How on some winter mornings, the bed just feels like a better place to be than the cold, great outdoors. And how each month I can sprint up the stairs to my flat quicker and with less effort than previously. Hope you enjoy the ride!
So last month, my American friend Courtney talked me into trying such a peculiar phenomenon called indoor cycling classes. As someone who loves cycling, I for some reason never found it appealing sweating in a small room with a bunch of strangers, having an instructor shout at you on the top of their voice. I would much rather take my bike and go for a wee ride around town, maybe stop for a cup of tea before heading back home. Cycling, for me, has always been first and foremost about commuting, moving from A to C via B. But Courtney sounded so enthusiastic, I could hear myself agreeing to do a lunchtime class with her the next day. The studio was tiny, but surprisingly less-daunting than I thought it would be. The instructor was a lovely woman, emphasising to do as much or as little as you felt like you were capable of. And once the bass was booming in the room, I took all my previous prejudice back – I loved it! Bouncing up and down and pushing yourself for 40 minutes made me walk out of the studio with a big, cheesy grin on my face. And after a few weeks of attending, I started noticing my running improving, too. It’s amazing how quickly your body gets accustomed to a new form of exercise. Sure, for the first week or two I was walking around like a penguin, making the kids at work giggle, but now my body has adapted and accepted the extra 60 minutes of exercise a week. I actually have more energy – and a bigger appetite! – and fully embrace our sweaty lunchtime dates.
It is funny how cross-training, rather than breaking your body, makes it function better. I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves this month: try out something you’ve always loathed. In my case it was spinning classes, but you might have always found yoga a little weird, the weight machines at the gym daunting or maybe you’ve never been one to take a plunge at the poolside. Whatever it is, let go of the prejudices, maybe ask a friend to come along for mental support. But try open your mind and give it a go – you might find that the sport you always thought you would hate is actually not that bad in the end.