Wednesday 27th September, National Fitness Day. A day in the fitness calendar that is marked to encourage the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and physical activity within the UK.
Across the country there will be many activities taking place for everyone – from the fitness fanatics right down to those that prefer mild physical activity. Either way, the aim is to engage all kinds of audiences and to get people moving. Many companies, on this day, offer free trials and classes as a way to introduce those who may not be quite sure, to try before they buy.
Fitness Squad UK are just an example of one of these companies. Offering a free boot camp sessions on Wednesday 27th September, at all their locations. Take advantage of any free sessions from these guys and the many other companies who offer there services for the day. You may find something that suits you.
And as it is celebrating a day of fitness, I thought it would be fitting to look back at my own journey over the last three years. To reflect on the activities that shaped the person I am today.
After years of saying I wanted to have pole dancing lessons I finally took the plunge three years ago. Finding a friendly, local service minutes from my house I quickly picked up the moves and gradually found my confidence building. For many years there has been a stigma around the pole training industry, with it not being recognised as “fitness” but something smutty. However, during my time at classes I found myself finding the stigma lessening as people came to accept that hoisting yourself up the pole and arranging yourself in numerous positions took work. It took strength and determination, and left you with a hell of a lot of bruises. Sadly, as I started to take too much on with other areas of fitness something had to give. I was training for half marathon, which meant I had less time to focus on pole training. So my classes stopped.
However, I hope in time to get back into pole training as there is nothing quite like achieving a move that you just did not think was possible.
Back when I joined the outdoor boot camp sessions in my area it was known as Regiment Fitness – now re-branded as Fitness Squad UK the principles are still the same. Outdoor boot camp sessions, where you can only expect to get fitter and at times, covered in mud. I quickly found my fitness picking up the minute I joined. And not only that, I discovered how much I loved exercising outdoors and to top it off I found an amazing group of friends in my local area – who to this day I still keep in touch with. It didn’t matter if you were slowest, the fastest or the laziest – there was a place for you at boot camp.
It was due to joining these guys that that I got the confidence and ability to complete all the challenges I have achieved to date. I would never had dreamed I would have been able to run 10k comfortably, let alone a whole marathon. I would never I have thought I would enjoy rolling in mud at an OCR race. Boot camp did this. It gave me everything in my power to be the person I am three years later.
Although I am no longer a member due to changes in circumstances I still think fondly of the training sessions and all the people I have met along the way. Many of them are life long friends and still join me on my many adventures today.
Fit4OCR is the ultimate adult playground. A fantastic facility that enables you to take time to master many obstacles. During my time with them (and there have only been a few sessions) I have learnt the art of mastering monkey bars, I have climbed walls and most recently started to work the ninja rings – ninja warrior here I come.
It is a fantastic place that is not just limited to adult sessions. Kids are welcome too, and I envy their lack of fear when they are in session, showing up the adults like me.
I never have a bad session with these guys. Each time I go I develop a new skill, I take that extra step to master a new obstacle or keep working at an old one.
I think its about time to book in another session!
One of my favourite fitness activities is spinning. It is something I that has been part of my schedule for at least ten years and something that will never get old. There is nothing like a good old session that leaves you dripping with sweat and that euphoric feeling once completed. It is an activity that complements all other areas of training. During the lead up to the London Marathon it was an activity that was built into the training plan, simply because it does wonders for all areas of fitness and gives you that little break from pounding the pavement.
If you can get over that feeling after the first session, that feeling that you have chaffed butt cheeks, then keep going – as with everything it only becomes more enjoyable the more you do it.
Whether it is Body Pump, Body Attack or Body Combat you are going to get a good work out with Les Mills classes. I have taken part in all three over the last ten years. My favourite today – Body Combat. When I was first made redundant Body Combat was the one class I went to to let out aggression. With a routine that offers shadow and kick boxing each class provides the ultimate, high intensity work out. Try one of these classes, there is bound to be one that suits you.
Yoga is an activity that has only come to me in the last eight months. I always shied away from it. I felt that it was a pointless exercise, I would rather take a class that saw me dripping with sweat and got my heart pumping. However, in the final months before the London Marathon, when my body was aching constantly I gave it a go. And I was transformed. As much as we need the high intensity work outs, we need to stretch out and recharge too. And yoga helped me with that. I am not particularly good at it, I am in no way bendy. But it helps ease those achy muscles and relaxes my tired mind.
Another activity that has been the cornerstone of my fitness for over ten years is running. When I started I thought I was going to die – I could not run a half a mile without stopping. But with perseverance and determination I got better. I kept running. If I said to myself all that time ago I would run a marathon one day I would have laughed. But I did. I am finding it difficult to run currently – loosing my mojo this summer has put a mental block in my mind. But it is one activity I know needs constant coaxing. I know it will come back to me, and I never stop trying.
Finally, when all else fails. When I cannot stomach the thought of a high intensity work out or even the thought of lying in the studio stretching – I walk. I used to enjoy lunch time walks in the local parks close to work. And closer to home there is nothing like a long river or country walk to ease your mind. Walking will play a huge part to my regime over the coming months as I take on the Isle of Wight challenge.
I have spent a lot of time over the last ten years dedicating time to fitness. If I had all the time in the world I would complete all these activities, and no doubt more, as much as possible. My problem – time. There is not enough time in the world to do everything you want to do. So I do what I can, when I can.
So, if you are not active get active. Find something that works for you. There is time in the day, even if it is just a 30 minute walk. Stop making excuses and move!
If you are already active, keep challenging yourself. Keep finding activities that get your heart racing, that makes you feel that adrenaline kicking in.
I know I will.