I think I’ve started and quit gym regimes as many times as I tried and failed to quit smoking.
I don’t know about you but incorporating gym visits into my life has been a big, big challenge. And of course going isn’t enough. You can’t just sit around watching MTV Debase Yourself. You actually have to, you know, work out and stuff.
I was really active as a kid. I loved athletics and would run everywhere. When my mum sent me to post a letter I used to try and run there and back so quickly that should think that I couldn’t have possibly have been.
I loved school sports days. Well, I like the ones we had at secondary school. At primary school, the whole non-competitive events thing made literally no sense to me. What was the point, to feel good about myself? No. I wanted to be the fastest kid in my year. And I was for a while, well, except Mark Norcott who I never quite managed to beat. I was a regular Forrest Gump (but black and a girl… and not American)
I went to an all-girls secondary school where there seemed to be two camps towards sports. Girls who couldn’t do anything because they seemed to be on a year-long period and lesbians. Lesbians were girls who happened to like sports. You didn’t have to be gay to get called a lesbo in my school. Doing your homework or liking sport was more than enough.
There was one particularly bleak sports day where the classes had to compete against each other and in my class I think I may have been one of three ‘lesbians’ so I ended up putting my name down for about five running events. I calculated that if I completed them all I’d have run about 3600metres.
By the end of that day I learned one important thing. 1000metres is a fuck of a long way when you’re 13. My technique was basically to run as fast as I could til I was exhausted then walk until I saw someone was catching up to me. I continued this for the 3 and a bit laps of the track. It must have looked ridiculous. Needless to say I didn’t win as I’m not built for this type of activity. I was a sprinter and at one point there was even some loose talk about me joining an athletics club but, ironically, despite my love of running, I was a very lazy kid and I couldn’t be arsed to make the 2 mile journey to the Terrance McMillan stadium so I didn’t bother.
After leaving school I replaced my entire exercise schedule with drinking and partying and it wasn’t until I started dating this guy who actually liked working out that I got back into it… in a big way. I started going to the gym, took tennis lessons, even learned to dive. Though the relationship didn’t work, I was glad I met him because I realized quite how lazy I’d become. At the weekends, I wouldn’t get up until about 1, would have a fry up, go back to bed then get up later just to get ready to go out partying. That was pretty much every weekend.
From then on, I fell in and out love with working out. I’ve done aerobics classes, I’ve ‘spun’, even took up capoeira at one point but the problem I’ve always had is that eventually, be it after one month or three months, the frequency of my work outs dwindles until they become non-existent. I get disheartened by not being able to see any weight loss.
This is my first mistake of course. Muscle weights more than fat so it’s possible I wouldn’t see any drop in my weight for some time.
But the biggest problem is, I don’t think of it as being part of my life long term. I see it as something I do to get a particular result. i.e. the body I want. The problem is, when I don’t feel like I’m getting the results I give up. I am, more than a little impatient.
I started to wonder if the first change I had to make was my attitude and start to think about what can be incorporated long term, something that’s sustainable, easy to do and isn’t about giving myself a hard time.
The challenges for me are I get bored really easily. I go running but find it bloody tedious. The gym is also super boring because it’s just doing the same movements over and over and it feels like dead time.
The capoeira was great but I had to travel a long way for the classes so it sometimes took up half a day to attend a class.
And I HATE yoga. If there was an Oscar for most boring exercise and I was the entire voting committee, you wouldn’t even need to open the envelope.
And I don’t have a lot of time. My last gym was a drive away which is RIDUCULOUS but if I’d run there I’d have been exhausted before I’d arrived and I don’t know if I mentioned but jogging is BORING.
So I tried a personal trainer. BORING. I want to work out when I wanted to not because I’d made an appointment… and she talked to much. Lovely lady but blimey.
So then I start to read articles about how doing long cardio vascular work outs, like running and cycling aren’t particularly great for weight loss and body sculpting and that actually, short bursts of anaerobic exercise, the type you do in boot camp or circuit training are infinitely more effective. Tell me more….
I start to do a little digging and found more articles that supported the claim. After a little net surfing I came across a program online that only required a 20 minutes routine, 6 days a week for great results.
So I start the program. I manage about two weeks before I was utterly bored again. Damn it.
At the start of this year I reluctantly started back at the gym hoping that being in LA would inspire me to continue but not even glitzy Hollywood with it’s gorgeous people and it’s kale obsession could stem the tide of bodywork boredom.
So last week, I came up with a new plan incorporating all the things I need, i.e convenient, fun, not location-specific, short - I’ve decided to create my own, made up program.
Here’s the key. To get me to just do it, as Nike have always insisted, I’m going to start working out every day adding one minute to my routine every week – starting with one minute.
I’ll do the exercise at home and it’ll be high intensity (this is supposed to be the most effective). Every week, I’ll add one minute until I’m up to 20 minutes.
Here’s my logic, even the most resistant person can’t grumble about doing 1 minute a day. We can all find time for that. And 2 minutes, that’s not even a commercial break.
And hopefully by the time I get to 20 minutes, I’ll have been doing it for 5 months and it’ll have become totally habitual.
I’m taking my inspiration from all those infomercials, gym classes and circuit training I’ve done in the past and the one minute workouts are proving to be really fun. Basically, all I have to do is a few jumping jacks or squat thrusts in the living room. Who can’t managed that? I’m not even bothering to get changed!
Obviously when the workout gets to 5 minutes I’ll have to start giving it some thought and plan but that’s weeks away. Even after just a week of doing it, I no longer feel guilty for not doing any exercise. A minute is a minute. Yesterday I watched TV and did 60 seconds of pushups. Easy.
The important thing is to be doing something. Even if it’s taking the stairs rather than the lift, taking time to think about your body and giving it some exercise is not only beneficial physically but mentally and emotionally too. All the evidence is there and taking a few minutes a day to be really active, accumulatively over time. It’s bound to make a difference.
This could be the way forward. Watch out for the DVD and book!