Finding a fitness regime that works for you can be difficult. Everyone has different needs and different personalities and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people are loners and may find that solitary pursuits such as Gym, Yoga or Pilates would suit them, social butterflies will enjoy dance classes and team sports while those of a competitive nature will be drawn towards Tennis, Squash or Fencing while the dare-devils among us will thrive on surfing, mountain climbing or extreme ironing. (I kid, although extreme ironers are welcome to call me)
The benefits of being fit are numerous and include reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer. (It also reduces the risk of dying early…although there’s no guarantee you won’t get eaten by a lion if you decide to go running in the Kruger National Park!) It reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and helps built and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
Although getting fit and losing weight often go hand in hand they are not mutually exclusive. I am much bigger than my younger sisters but can out walk them around the mall and the zoo but then I have found a fitness regime that works for me although finding it was not easy.
My first attempt at getting fit was taking up running. I went out and bought fancy aerodynamic running-shoes and a sports bra to make my breasts perky. I woke up at the crack of dawn, warmed up like they do in the movies and started to jog gently down my quiet suburban street. Two minutes later I was huffing and puffing like Thomas the Tank Engine and all the dogs in the neighbourhood were barking. The suburban street was not so quiet any more. Then the heavens opened and I was drenched. I limped home with a spaniel nipping at my blistered heels to find that I had lost my remote for the gate and had to ring the bell for my still-sleeping family to let me in. They were not impressed. I have not run again.
Then I thought I’d take up rebounding. So I bought a rebounder. You know, one of those mini-trampoline things that bouncy American women with perky breasts (I seem to have a fixation with that!) jump up and down on getting lean and fit in the process. I jumped till my boobs perked up and hit me in the face. It’s now the most expensive cat-bed I ever bought.
Then some-one recommended Yoga. They said it calms and centres you and brings you inner bliss. All it brought me was a twisted tendon and derisive laughter from my family when they found me trying to stand on my head. I don’t recommend it. It makes the blood rush to your head and feel as you’ve taken acid. (Not that I would know about that!) I have since mastered the art of Yoga (although not the art of standing on my head!) and quite enjoy it. It does calm and centre you as well as making you more supple and, done right can give you boundless energy and helps you sleep better. It’s not really recommended for those wanting to lose weight and tone up fast, unless you’re going to attend an Ashtanga or Bikram yoga class. Bikram yoga, held in a room which is heated well over 40 degrees is not recommended for asthmatics. (Trust me on this!)
Then there was the Bun-trainer which had a very unfortunate name. Mostly because as I used it I would chant,
“Chelsea bun, Cream Bun, Hot cross Bun.
“Chelsea bun, Cream Bun, Hot cross Bun”
and by the time the session was over, the first thing I would do is go out and find the nearest Chelsea Bun, Cream Bun or Hot Cross bun.
The fittest I ever got was between the years 2008-2011, when my niece was between the ages of two and five. Having a toddler around is the best method of getting fit. Catching fairies, chasing imaginary pirates and killing tree monsters is all marvellous exercise, not to mention chasing her in shopping centres. If you ever saw a crazy woman with wild hair running after the world’s fastest toddler screaming “DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS!” that was me. Unfortunately she grew up and now walks sedately with all the poise of Grace Kelly so my running, screaming days are over.
Then my brother-in-law bought my sister a treadmill. Unluckily for her it didn't fit anywhere in their house, so it had to find a place in ours ….and it called me. Every night the treadmill would call my name. One morning I stepped on it gingerly, pushed buttons and found a moderate pace that suited me. The next morning I did it again. Now I treadmill at least three times a week. Sometimes, not often, attempting a light jog. Mostly it’s a power walk with Rammstein (or Arch Enemy, The Dropkick Murphys or Gogol Bordello) screaming in my ears from my ipod. Very therapeutic. Very energising. I also am in no danger of dying anytime soon, except when my laces come undone, trip me up and I land flat on my face.
I can really recommend getting fit. Not only does it give you energy, tone you up and help shed those unwanted kilos it’s also a good way of de-stressing and once you've found something you enjoy, you’ll keep doing it.
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