Ok, ok, so I know that exercise is supposed to be good for you. It should be something that we should all attempt to be doing, in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and prolong our lives. And besides, exercise makes you feel great, right?
Well in my case, that’d be WRONG. So wrong that it hurts. Me and exercise just do not get on. At all. Ever.
Let me give you a bit of background. I’m in my mid-30s and have always had desk jobs. I’m well aware that it ain’t all that healthy (or productive) to spend 8 hours stationary at my job, then return home to remain stationary on the couch, before ending up – you guessed it – stationary in bed, day in and day out. So at least a decade or more ago, I decided that I needed to get into some sort of physical regime a few times a week.
I was never a fan of P.E. at school and did all I could to get out of it, but I figured that in adulthood, it’d be better. There would be so much more choice than back in my schooldays. I was bound to find something that I enjoyed, right?
Despite my hatred for the dreaded E, I’ve come to view it as sort of, a necessary evil. Something that I HAVE to do. There’s so many things I’d really rather not do in life but you kinda have to do them. Like flossing. Getting up early for work. Remaining calm and not exploding with rage at the self checkout when you get your 12th “unexpected item in the bagging area” message. Those sorts of things.
In no particular order, I’m gonna tell you some stories and some reasons as to why I despise the dreaded E.
So what happens when you can’t seem to find one that you love to do? Name it and it’s very likely that I’ve tried it and hated it.
I’ve done a fair amount of Zumba, Clubbercise and step classes – not together of course. But Lord, am I uncoordinated. The amount of times I went the wrong way and almost tripped over the step or even my own feet was just embarrassing.
Spin classes. You ever done Spin? Two words – Bruised. Foof. Afterwards I felt as if someone had repeatedly kicked me in my nether regions and oh the pain and shaking in your legs too. I was like Bambi learning to take his first steps on the ice.
I perservered with spin and did a class or two a week for around two and a half months before finally admitting defeat.
Yoga. I know that practice makes perfect and that I was hardly going to be a big bendy, flexible goddess after one session. But what I didn’t know, was just how much it’d make me want to trump.
I found myself being unable to concentrate for the majority of the classes as I was so pre-occupied with trying not to break wind in a room full of 15 strangers. Somebody let rip during a class one time. I couldn’t work out who it was but the second-hand embarrassment I felt almost fully disrupted my downward dog. I know it’s a normal bodily function and I should probably just get over it, but it just isn’t something that I’m prepared to chance.
One time I joined a strength and conditioning gym. Here we did group classes with usually 2 or 3 Trainers at hand to guide us through the lifts, ensure we had the right technique etc.
My first class was a total disaster. Our first task after warming up was weighted squats, using a barbell. We were instructed to do 5 sets of 12 and to go at our own pace. Only put as much weight onto the bar that you feel comfortable with, they said. I was sharing a squat rack with 2 other ladies. One of them went first and said “I may just try the bar first with no weights on”. She did a couple of reps and felt pretty good so added a 5 plate onto each end of the bar to do the rest. She did her 12 reps then it was my turn. “I’ll just try it with the bar first too” I thought to myself. I had absolutely no idea that just the bar on its own weighed TWENTY KILOS. Holy cow.
Some people may snigger at that but for me, that’s bloody heavy. I pretty much couldn’t even get it out of the rack and onto my shoulders. One of the Trainers came over to see what the issue was. “Erm… it’s a bit heavy for me”. Luckily he was quite sympathetic and took me to one side, gave me a smaller bar, which weighed 10 kilos and advised me to do my reps with that. “Okie dokie” I replied. Well, what can I say? I still found it to be really heavy and it also seemed to be pressing down really hard into this bone at the top of my spine. I found it so painful! So, seeing that I was still struggling, the Trainer comes to see me again.
“Well, what it is… it’s erm… it’s still quite heavy and you know that bone there?” – pointing to said bone – “yeah well, it’s pressing down on that dead hard and well… yeah it’s really hurting…and…it’s heavy and…” Christ Almighty, I felt like a complete arsehole. By now, the trainer was looking at me like I had two heads. “We don’t have any smaller bars” he said, perplexed. After what seemed like an age, he came back to me with a 10 kilo dumbell and advised me to hold it in front of me and do the squats that way. It was still too bloody heavy and I’d lost the will to live at this point. I struggled and I mean STRUGGLED through 3 sets of 12 before packing it in as my legs felt as if they’d snap.
I did 3 sessions a week at this gym for a whole year and ok I’ll admit it, I DID get better. My personal best for a squat ended up being 42.5kg. And ok, I only managed 2 reps at that weight but still, what an improvement compared to day one! I have to say though, that in all that time, I never grew to love working out with weights. The atmosphere in the gym itself was great and the Trainers themselves were lovely and supportive but nope, I still didn’t enjoy the exercises themselves. I had to cancel my membership in the end as it became too expensive for me, plus it was a fair distance away from where I lived.
It was at this gym that I learned the delights of DOMS. That’s Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, dear readers. Don’t get me wrong, I’d experienced pain after exercising many times before but never on this level. It was obviously the addition of the weights that did it. Sweet Jesus, it bloody hurt. “It” being EVERYTHING and EVERYWHERE. There were days I had to shuffle down the stairs on my bum as my legs just refused to bend without causing me a world of pain. Some people actually love DOMS as apparently that means all the exercise is working. I think these people are called maniacs.
Speaking of DOMS, another thing you may hear about exercise is how fantastic it makes you feel cos of that good ol’ endorphin release. Endorphins are chemicals within your body which are apparently released during physical activity and allegedly make you feel amazing. I use the term “allegedly” as I firmly believe that they simply do not exist. At least not in my cynical, weary, exercising hating body that is. I’ve done a bit of research on this and found a number of articles online which do actually appear to back me up though, hurrah! One being this one from The New York Times.
After pretty much hating any form of indoor physical exercise, I thought maybe I should try something outdoors instead. Be at one with nature and all that jazz. So I signed up to take part in my local Park Run. These are organised events every Saturday morning and do exactly as the name suggests – you go for a run in your local park. The courses are 5 kilometres long. I’ve so far done 6 of these and – please at least pretend to be a bit surprised – haven’t enjoyed any of them. The best thing is afterwards when the website lists the results of each runner. You get to see where you finished and how long its taken you. The other thing these results give you is the age range of all the runners. Can’t tell you what an ego boost it was to see that I’d finished only 4 seconds in front of Beryl in the 60-64 category…
After leaving the aforementioned strength and conditioning gym, I signed up to a regular gym nearer to home. (Not for the first, or even ninth time I might add). This one has a bit of a dodgy sound system and at times it completely cuts out. Cue being able to hear everything. One time it was at least 15 minutes before the music was restored. The amount of grunting and sex noises I heard from the dozens of sweaty men surrounding me made me want to chop my own ears off. It’s just very offputting isn’t it?
Then there’s all the girls who come in to work out wearing their very long hair down and a face full of make-up. And once they’ve finished, they still look pristine. HOW? It’s something that will forever baffle me as I always finish up looking like a cherry tomato in the throes of drowning in its own perspiration.
One last thing… why must ALL gym leggings be so damn see through? Do I want everybody to see my underwear? That’ll be a firm no. Aside from see-through-ness, I kept seeing all these girls on “fitspo” Instagram accounts wearing leggings by Gym Shark. They bigged them up so much that I decided to get a pair, which were swiftly returned. Reason being: I have never before worn a piece of clothing which so spectacularly emphasised my lady bits. Nevermind Gym Shark, they should rename themselves Gym Camel(toe). They were absolutely obscene!
And here endeth my sermon on my deep-rooted hatred of all things physical. If any of you have any tips at all on how I can begin to start enjoying the dreaded E, please leave them below!