This blog needs to come with a health warning…it is about exercise! It would seem that exercise is a bit like marmite, you either love it, or you hate it. There are so many reasons I hear people say that they don’t want to exercise, but the three most common reasons appear to be time, financial impact and a general dislike for it (I shall call that motivation). I have been blessed (maybe not everyone feels that way about my blessing) with an actual real enjoyment in exercise. I love a variety of different things, both with a social aspect and an individual vibe. This blog isn’t about getting you to love exercise (that would be like telling me to start loving being late (I hate being late and that’s not going to change)), I’m afraid that’s something I can’t do, but it is about challenging you to confront your views and feelings (however strong in the negative) in regards to the three predominant barriers stated above.
Let’s start with time. Oh time, where art thou every day of my life? However much or little we tend to fill our days with there is “never” enough time to do everything we would like to do. Why does a day only have 24 hours in it? Surely 36 or 48 would be better. I think I can pretty much guarantee that it wouldn’t make any difference. There are a few little things we have done as a family to ensure we have enough time for exercise, so it doesn’t become a “pressure” or get in the way. One thing I should say before I go on, is you must find what works for you. What I’ll be chatting about will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea.
My husband, Dafydd, and I used to do a lot of exercise together. This was good hanging out time for us and obviously made it more sociable. However, then little Poppi came along and so exercising together was no longer possible. So now, instead of being a peloton and working together at the same time, we are now a relay team and work together one after the other. Often, I’ll go first (for a run, to the gym) and Daf will follow. Fortunately, again, I am a morning person, so I’m up, out and back so that by the time Daf is returning we’re not starting our day mid-morning, but perhaps having breakfast all together around 8/8.30 am. I think because this has always been the way, Poppi just gets it. She happily has a little snack and will then play with whichever parent is not out exercising and then she gets her turn later in the day. So, tag teaming and early mornings are two ways we manage time and exercising with kids (a by-product of having no time).
Another way we manage time is exercising as a family. On holiday we’ll set up a boot camp and Poppi will, sometimes, get involved. She can happily have a go with the resistance bands (see below) and loves running around like a crazy thing so will join in with that too (don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t always go to plan – but surely that is part of the challenge). Poppi likes to come with me to a local boot camp too. A couple of other kids go as well, and she has good fun playing with them, splashing in puddles or playing in the park right next to the field. I’ll be honest, this can occasionally be an interrupted workout, but not so much that it’s not worth it.
I mentioned the resistance bands above. I’ll make it clear from the start that this is not a sales plug (but I do have resistance bands to buy so do comment if you’d like to purchase any), but they are so versatile and make exercise (after the initial purpose) totally free. They pack easily into a suitcase so can even go on holiday with you too!!! They can be used indoors and outdoors so no excuses when it’s cold and wet! A couple of years ago we went to a beautiful mountain village in Italy, so no gym or properly sized swimming pool in sight (or even nearby). However, there was the opportunity for some of the most beautiful runs to warm up (if not a little hilly (but that’s all good training) followed by a short series of resistance band exercises. (I’m not going to go into the different types of training in this blog…that can wait till another day.) Exercise doesn’t have to be a gym membership. It can be whatever you want it to be and cost as much or as little as you want it to. The trick is finding something you love and that’s what makes it worth it.
That’s the real key to motivation as well; finding something you love. A dear friend of mine used to hate exercise and anything that went with it. But, one day, she decided to go running and discovered that she loves it. It wasn’t easy to begin with and it still isn’t easy now (that’s another thing – exercise isn’t easy, and neither should it be. When it’s easy, that’s when it becomes boring. When it’s tough, that’s when it becomes a challenge). However, she has found different running buddies and they motivate each other. My lovely friend now runs three times a week and absolutely enjoys it.
The social aspect of exercise is a great one. That doesn’t mean you have to be part of a team sport. That is one area of exercise I am not so fond of. It’s probably something I need to work on, but I hate the thought of letting people down and always worry that my performance wouldn’t be up to the standard of my team. All the exercise I do is my own personal goals and achievements. Therefore, the only person I can let down is myself (which, let’s face it, maybe the worst, but at least I can work on that!). However, that doesn’t mean I go at it alone. In fact, one of the most ‘on your own’ sports you can do has become a team event at my local pool. A regular swimmer has a big birthday coming up and wanted to do something memorable. So, she decided she’d like to swim the distance of the English Channel in lengths and raise money for charity. Knowing this was something she couldn’t do alone she asked around and soon built up a whole team of us. So, on Good Friday this year, we will be swimming the channel (click the link to sponsor us). Click to sponsor us.
Finally, I think a motivator to exercise is the challenge it brings with it (hence why I signed up to swim 5k for the channel swim – much less and I wouldn’t really have a challenge (I’m only swimming that far though because swimming is my thing)). I’m all for keeping life exciting and dread to think what will happen the day it gets boring. So, I challenge you to challenge yourselves to pick up a challenge! Not a New Years Resolution kind of challenge, but one that you can stick at. Maybe that’s the challenge.