My relationship with exercise has not always been a match made in heaven. In my youth I found sports day an event that was more like regular public humiliation,rather than a FUN day. I defiantly was never gifted in any sport, in fact my lack of coordination and my level of clumsiness, made even the egg and spoon race a thing of dread. Many of our ‘ Games’ lessons were of medieval torture levels, where we were made to play in shorts and a t-shirt in arctic conditions (a very northern tradition) on a field called the Glen!
Now the Glen was a little exposed to say the least and I found no joy in this activity, nor did it seem any fun kind of GAME as advertised (imagine being stood on the top of a hill whilst someone blows you with –10 wind and ice water and you get the drift).
I did the usual thing in P.E, of pretending to forget my kit, this would then set off the chain of events- me being sent by the P.E teacher to the lost property area. I would then have to emerge wearing a humiliating combo of some stinking 1970s trainers, shorts 3 sizes to small and a chewing gum white T-shirt. This only added to my growing dislike of any kind of exercise class.
Over the years my friends have dragged me to the odd body pump, step, legs bums and tums and to be honest none of them floated my boat. After I had my two boy’s vanity and the fact I was a greedy pig and put on 4 stone plus with them both, led me back to the hell hole that I found the gym and I persevered with the classes until I had shed the excess blubber.
The years following this, I used a series of ridiculous diets, starvation modes and a hefty cigarette/caffeine addiction to maintain my weight. I would regularly try and get myself to scarily thin sizes. I was also a hairdresser at the time and hairdressers, did not generally enjoy exercise back in the day (Sharkey is the black sheep in this) .We would have the odd dalliance in a fashionable new craze but in general we didn’t like to sweat, were not fans of lycra and didn’t particularly like going out in daylight. We preferred Marlborough lights, diet coke and hours on the dancefloor in fancy clubs, to a fitness class in the fight to achieve a size 8. The change in attitude by today’s younger generation and the changing ideal for women body shapes, I am happy to say, is heading more towards being strong and healthy rather than emaciated.
Over the last couple of years I have discovered Yoga. Yoga is tough its takes patience, control and dedication. Dedication I have in spades and unfortunately I am totally lacking in the others. I have always been quite bendy and through hairdressing have also suffered from a terribly bad back, so I thought Yoga would be the perfect solution. However I struggle with the relaxation part. The bendy bit I love, the getting myself into headstands etc. I thrive on, it brings out my competitive side, which is NOT apparently what yoga is about! I spent an hour on my head once ,trying to do handstands better than my husband, it put my neck out and gave me a week full of migraines, he now refuses to go with me. He says I’m not very spiritual and that’s a lie, I love lots of spirits just not the yogi kind…..
Another class I LOVE is PIYO a fusion of Pilates, Yoga and HIT. it’s fast paced fun and run by the fabulous and inspiring Wonder Woman that is Michelle Griffiths. Now if you love a sweaty, fat burning muscle building class give it a try you wont regret it. Getting to my late thirties and early 40’s and after having my third child at a late age, I realized I would have to start to be a little more serious about my exercise. I no longer, thankfully find the gym intimidating but I think that is more age related. I’ve found one of the great things that comes with age is starting to not care so much about what other people think. Which is a good thing, as I have had more than my fair share of embarrassing incidents in the gym (in fact my life is a long list of humiliations and embarrassing moments) . I’ve been trapped in machines, fallen off running machines and hung on for grim death until I removed all the skin on my thighs, I’ve had my leggings on inside out and back to front so the see-through bits were in inappropriate places. I’ve also nearly taken out a whole room like dominoes, in a TRX class the list goes on……
Changes had to be made though, I also needed sort out my diet and unhealthy relationship with food. Now we are lucky in Rossendale, we have a lot of amazing PT’s . We may not have that many hi-tech gyms in our area but the trainers are of a very high calibre and I have been lucky enough to be trained by many of them . The said PT,s have all been fantastic and have all brought me great results and helped to change my attitude to the gym along the way.
About 12 months ago I was recommended by a friend, to my current and brilliant Pt Paul Barton at RIVERSIDE in RAWTENSTALL. Paul is a machine, he practices what he preaches, he takes no prisoners , he knows his stuff and he expects results. This has been a turning point for me in my training. Paul is very strict on my form in every exercise, he will not let me chat my way into having a break and he doesn’t let me off if I complain, it’s difficult. No pain no gain kid. I have been taught that if I lift weights correctly, train consistently and keep pushing myself I get results and at 50 I am stronger than I have ever been. You see, as I have got to this ripe old age, I have realized that it’s not so much about how I look these days (although I do still dream of looking like Elle Mcpherson) it’s about being strong, heathy and fit and maintaining that over the years to come. Paul has also addressed my hideous relationship with food, that I think is often a problem with women of my generation and although not perfect, We are getting there and I now eat way more than I have ever done and 80-90% is of that food is healthy.
The knock-on effect I found from my gym visits and generally exercising more has been the very noticeable change in my moods. I struggle with my mind, I have a very dark side and I can let it swallow me whole sometimes. My mind is often scrambled, I lack concentration, I panic and can jump from subject to subject in rapid succession, I suffer from hideous anxiety (so crippling I couldn’t drive out of what I used to call the Bermuda triangle, and I couldn’t/wouldn’t answer a phone for years but that’s for another time). Exercise however has become my saviour, my escape, my timeout, my little endorphin rush. A walk, a jog, a session in the gym can bring out the sunshine and set me up for the day. So, although I don’t always enjoy the thought of dragging my sorry ass out of bed, I know it will be worth it mentally.
So, I have set myself some goals for the future and I try not to compete with others (which is hard as I am very competitive, ask my family about Monopoly) and I will continue to try my best. I cannot say I enjoy it a lot of the time but if you don’t use it you lose it and as I didn’t have it to begin with, I’ve got some catching up to do.
Exercise is a huge part of my life. I have exercised throughout my whole life, starting from around the age of 17. I continued to exercise whilst looking after my children, and back in the day would find a gym that would entertain them whilst I built up a sweat or even sat them by the side of me in a car chair (health and safety wouldn’t allow that now haha).
I personally, never exercised whilst pregnant, but when I suffered post-natal depression after having one of my kids it was the one thing that really helped me overcome the struggles. I love to mix up my exercise routine by including different types of workouts. I currently train twice a week with a PT who incorporates cardio and strength training and do an additional boxing and HIIT class. I attend Function in Fitness gym ran by Aaron Jarosz. I also have a membership at a Exercise for Less, a budget gym that is £10 a month. However, I really struggle just going to a gym and organising a routine that will work for me. I tend to just pick up a couple of weights and do an exercise I know from my PT, but they aren’t structured and I don’t feel like I see any results. This is why I have a PT, I need some organisation and motivation in my life.I started to go to Exercise for Less with my daughters who structure a routine for me but this would be an additional workout to my workouts with Aaron, and would normally be when I’m feeling down. One thing that prohibits me from going to Exercise for Less more is that it is around 20 minutes away, this might not sound like much for some, and even I used to travel around 30-40 minutes to attend a PT session in Prestwich, but now I really love having a gym more local.
Also, I enjoy the occasional run. Last year I trained with my daughter to complete a half marathon. We did it, but not without difficulty. We trained through some terrible weather and ran for long periods of time. The training was tough on my body, running at least 4 times a week.
This meant that I couldn’t also attend the gym, my body just couldn’t cope, there was A LOT of aches and pains. Although I enjoyed it, and raised money for Alzheimer’s Society, a charity close to my heart (one of the main reasons that kept me going) it was nice to get back to the gym and start lifting weights again. I try to maintain running whenever I can, especially because it is a good exercise when I’m short of time, and just need to get away from things. It clears my head from stress and family life.
Throughout my life I have struggled with depression and I personally feel exercise is a medicine in its own right. I have been to the doctors, I have tried different things but the buzz and adrenaline I get from working out lifts the black cloud above my head. This is one of the main reasons I exercise, but of course I want to feel healthy, keep fit, and feel firm haha!
Sometimes I dont ‘always feel like exercising and I do struggle with motivating myself to get to the gym especially that 8am PT, after working all day, or having a bad night’s sleep but knowing the feeling I get within minutes of being there, is worth getting out of bed for. I have tried lots of different exercises, one exercise I would love to try is spinning but I struggle with lower back pain and my posture isn’t great so I struggle with this exercise.
I HATE deadlifts, but that might be because I’m not very good at them and frightened of hurting my back. However, I realise they are such a good full body exercise that I push myself to do them. Aaron has been really good at making sure my technique is spot on so I don’t injure myself, and this has enabled me to lift heavier than ever.
As I have gotten older, I have realised my body needs different exercises. When I was younger I just did lots of cardio, which I do prefer to get a good sweat on because I really feel like I have had a good work out. This is one reason why I struggle with exercise such as yoga and Pilates, because I just like to jump around. Though I am looking into giving meditation a go to help combat stress, I will let you know how I get on with that haha.
I still really enjoy cardio, but I mix it with a lot more weights and I have noticed I get better results this way. I have never realised I could get so sweaty from just lifting weights and still get that buzz.
I have set a few goals for this year, these being a lot different to the goals I used to set myself. No longer is it to lose 3lbs but to do 5 chin ups. I’m on good track to reach this goal because the other day I managed two, unassisted chin ups without even realising.
A bit more information on my diet now. Back in the day, I did the Hairdresser diet, living off Marlboro lights and coffee. I have now giving up this diet for good, and have stopped smoking for 6 years now.
I went through a period of my life where I thought the less you eat the thinner you got but realised if you want to exercise as much as I do, you need to eat to fuel your body. It’s still a struggle not to skip meals, I always seem to have an excuse, for example I’m too busy, but I know that I will struggle at the gym if I do not eat. I now try to eat 3 meals a day and have noticed a change in my body shape with eating more. I don’t necessary eat healthy all the time but I try my best to. If I want something I will, and I usually want a beer Saturday nights and bacon butty Sunday morning. They are my weaknesses.
Now, being over 40 my goals have changed. I no longer desire to lose weight and look skinny but want to be happy and healthy.