I signed up to the gym near my office when I started a new job when I was 30 but it was accepting the invitation of trying a personal training session that really got me on the road to enjoying exercise.
I hadn’t been very sporty at school and for some reason in my 20’s I didn’t feel the need to exercise. Heading into my 30’s was a bit of a turning point, I started seeing my metabolism slow down and my waistline growing but most of all I wanted to do something that made me feel better and countered the long hours I spent sitting at a desk in an office, in front of a computer.
Personal training sessions got me into doing exercise regularly. My sessions lasted 30 mins twice a week and I stuck with them for three years. Why? Well, they were different every time, alternating from interval training on the treadmill, using the weight machines properly and being able to do push ups made me realise that being strong and toned was something I really enjoyed. My personal trainer was a lovely guy who knew that I needed gradual development, if I thought I couldn’t do something or wasn’t enjoying it then I wasn’t going to continue. But I was now going to the gym regularly and I could see and feel the difference.
I continued to exercise during my pregnancy until I was 7 months gone, with my personal trainer adapting my excercise routiue so it was low impact. After 7 months the tiredness took over and just continued to do a lot of walking to keep my fitness up. Exercising really helped me have a good pregnancy, cope with sciatic pain and labour. I certainly found the endorphins produced during exercising helped me keep my energy levels up and my mood more positive.
After, having my baby I found it hard enough to just stay awake and struggle through the day, so I didn’t return to exercise until about nine months after the birth. Full marks to those who start after their six-week all clear from the doctor but I think it depends on your relationship with exercise, either it’s a part of who you are and second nature, or you have to work at it and find something that clicks for you. I started with some gentle yoga and then added some Zumba into my routine.
Yoga has been a revelation, conditioning not only my body but my mind. Just practising the breathing techniques has helped me sleep better at night. I listen more to my body while exercising and know when not to over stretch or go too hard. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and stress I feel like I’m getting a toolkit on how to cope with work, being a mum and juggling the many demands of modern life. For me, Yoga is the ultimate me time.
So, it’s funny that at the other end of the spectrum I really enjoy Zumba, which is high impact, noisy and sweaty but I love it just as much as Yoga but for a whole host of different reasons. I need to ‘feel the burn’ sometimes and really push myself to sweat so I feel like I’ve achieved something while exercising. Having a young son means nights out are rare, so Zumba helps me feel like I’m getting my dance fix. The Latin vibes transport me from the local community centre to feeling like I’m in a carnival or busting out a salsa on a ballroom dance floor somewhere. Pure escapism. Which is what exercise should feel like, right?