I drop out of almost everything that isn’t a legal requirement. However, there’s a lot to be said for group exercise and fitness classes, so for the past few months I’ve forced commitment to several types of fitness class all for the purpose of this post (and, you know, my health).
Today I’m sharing a little bit about the classes which captured my heart and encouraged me to persist when the going got tough.
Anyone looking to adopt a fitness regime and finding it difficult should keep reading…
1. Barre Technique
Barre is a ballet-inspired strength training discipline centered around a ballet barre (who’d have thought?). My first experiences involved comparing myself to flexible, slender women with an intimidating range of movement whilst I sweated and ached until I thought I might die. That might not seem like a great way to spend a night, but the class became one of my favourites.
Why? Because I quickly saw results – my body shape changed dramatically within a few weeks, and my flexibility and core strength was improving within days. My leg strength and flexibility is amazing to me now. I also found it an immense challenge, because I’m not particularly coordinated or graceful – there’s something difficult but hilarious about seeing myself plié alongside several dainty ladies. Sort of like that French and Saunders skit.
When I signed up for my boxing class I was expecting a couple of dinnerlady-types who were using it to supplement slimming world, and smugly assumed I’d be well above their fitness level. To put it bluntly, I signed up because I thought I’d get a confidence boost from their lack of skill.
My first lesson taught me I could not have been more wrong – I had inadvertently signed up at a proper boxing gym with proper boxers. The trainer was terrifying, motivating and friendly in equal measure, and I found myself determined to perform well – not just because I didn’t want to be embarrassed in a gym full of pros – but because I was enjoying pushing myself. Until the trainer pushed me to my limits – then further – I had no idea what I was capable of. Now I do, and every week I go back and see how much further I can go.
It’s a mission of defiance, curiosity and pride – and apparently that’s very appealing to me.
Boxing has taught me that mental endurance is twice as important as physical ability,
I’m not sure if cycling classes are a thing, but I’m referring to group-cycles (like Skyride) – originally I was absolutely 100% against any type of athleticism which facilitated comparing myself to the performance of others. I don’t need to know I’m the slowest person on the road, thanks.
However, a few years ago I joined a few group cycles (with a sulky face) and really enjoyed the camaraderie – cyclists are friends, it seems, the world over. They are supportive and chatty, and they’re very helpful (thank you everyone who has ever stopped and helped me repair a puncture). I love to cycle solo too, but I always find I push myself further with groups in all situations. Again, I suppose it’s a pride thing!
Again, not really a “class” as such, but certainly a group activity on occasion. I hated running when I started – it was like dancing with the devil for 30 minutes, 4 times a week, and I often wanted to quit altogether. You can read about my love story with running in a coming post, but basically I just had to get to know it better.
Through group runs I discovered an incredibly supportive and encouraging community of sprinters, joggers and trotters that I found myself just wanting to know. If that meant doing a bit of exercise, then fair enough. It also massively helped that it’s an activity I could do which my mum enjoyed – and whenever you have a chance to do parent-child activity you absolutely take advantage of it. I didn’t quit running at first because I couldn’t – I was training for a race – but I didn’t quit after the race for so many reasons it’s hard to count. It relieves stress, boosts energy, promotes family bonding, supports charities, gives you awesome legs and a billion other things. Why would I give that up?
So, there you have it. 4 fitness “classes” that this quitter didn’t quit. In fact, 4 classes that I actually get excited about attending. Classes which have changed my body and mind.
I’d highly recommend any and all of these workouts – but it massively depends on your trainers, facilities and personality. The truth is, you have to just try stuff out – nobody is really a quitter, but there are people who haven’t found their niche yet.
Do you have a favourite fitness class? How about a least favourite?
What have you quit at?