On exercise and motherhood

Today I am suffering with some rather stiff legs having done an exercise class yesterday which at one point involved being on the floor in a plank one minute and then morphing into an impression of a Gekko the next !  

Suffice to say a couple of months ago if you’d told me I would be spending time in a room of Lycra clad ladies grunting and impersonating small reptiles twice a week, I would have been sceptical !

Exercise and myself are not the most comfortable of partners – don’t get me wrong, I have always been pretty active, I don’t lie about all day eating pies but neither do I go out running every day or update Facebook incessantly with every gym workout.

I suppose what I mean is I’ve never really stuck to a formal exercise regime.  I’ve tried the approach where you join the gym and pay the money “to make you go” – I worked in London so I took out membership of a fancy gym … this never worked for me .. It’s the physical equivalent of getting all heathy and buying a ton of fresh fruit and as Eddie Izzard says you get home, you put it all in a nice bowl “and you watch it rot”.  I watched the money leave my account each month whilst eschewing the gym in favour of post-work glasses of Pinot Grigio.

In the past I’ve done 5k runs, Ashtanga Yoga, trained for two Himalayan treks via stepping machines and treadmills and tried numerous classes – aerobics, step aerobics, power aerobics.  I’ve attempted dance based exercise only to discover I have the coordination of a drunk octopus and spend much of the class sitting giggling at the back.

I’ve tried forms of yoga other than Ashtanga yoga – they don’t work for me. One class was run by an extremely vague woman in a taffeta turban who wanted us all to imagine we were the colour orange – cue more giggling and being told off and asked to take the class seriously.  Another was all about gentle stretching and relaxing and feeling contented – well I don’t go to exercise classes to relax –  I go to work hard and feel like I’ve done something.  If I want to stretch and relax and feel contented then I can lie on my sofa with a nice glass of wine in my hand and Game of Thrones on the T.V.

I think we often have a compulsion to get fit, lose weight and feel better – but without question this feeling increases as you get older and particularly after you have had a child – wanting to get back your pre-baby body can be a bit of an obsession.  After my daughter was born I got a 3-wheeler buggy that I could ” go jogging with”.  I went.  I went at least 3 or 4 times.  Then she got too big for the buggy.  Obviously I couldn’t take it out without her in it and look like a crazy woman with an imaginary baby.  On reflection I could have just jogged anyway ………. but somehow it didn’t happen.

I also took the buggy to “Buggy fit” classes for a time.  Note to exercise instructors this is a great idea – anywhere that you can exercise and take your baby and not pay for childcare is a winner.  I did the class with lots of other mums and we all had coffee and cake and gossiped afterwards.  It wasn’t long before we all realised we could see each other for the coffee and the cake and the gossip part without having to run about with the buggies and do sit-ups …. so that was that.

So I’ve dabbled in odd classes here and there since but my “baby” is now 8 I couldn’t continue to blame her for the extra pounds and wobbly bits.   Something needed to be done  – I’ve tried things – I’ve done them for a while but I’ve never really stuck at it .. I guess the main thing is I’ve never really enjoyed it !  [The exception is Ashtanga but it’s next to impossible to find classes].  So I set about trying to find something that I would enjoy but where I would work hard.  As a self-employed parent I have a lot of guilt around “Me Time” – horrid expression – and believed if I was going to take time out of my working day then I needed something that felt like I was really exercising.

So on the recommendation of lots of people I tried some fabulous classes with a local business called Bodyforce.  I’ve tried Boxercise with them, and Bodyshock (the class mentioned above which is full of high intensity work and weights and lots of squats and Abs) – the first time I did it I’m not sure my body was shocked as much as resigned to give in and die – but its getting more manageable.  I have yet to try Caveman Conditioning a really popular outdoor class but have done some similar exercises in the Metabolic Meltdown class where tyres are humped across fields, weights dragged with ropes through the mud, and various other forms of (enjoyable) torture.

It’s early days but a few weeks in I’ve been attending regularly – the Instructor is fabulous and funny, the other attendees are a great bunch, we work hard, sweat a lot, do endless squats and other evil things but laugh a great deal.  I don’t know if they are all mums – some may actually have lives – and some are even men.  But generally its a female class (at least in the mornings).

I don’t know if it’s the frequent laughs; I don’t know if it’s the pain, which in a twisted way is enjoyable; I don’t know if it’s the group camaraderie or the fact I feel so good and full of energy for the rest of the day –  but I’m sticking with it and feeling pretty pleased with myself.   I will be out later this evening and I like to think I’ve earned some pretty good Prosecco points this week.

Alternatively perhaps I just have a perverse wish to hone my lizard impersonation !

Bodyforce Olney

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