As I write, I’ve got one eye on the Olympics. I’m watching gymnasts swing between the uneven bars; I’ve watched the incredible endurance of the road race; I’ve seen the power of the swimmers. These are athletes at the peak of their sport. I never really choose to watch sport, but I am loving these Olympics.
Let’s be honest, I am a million miles away from any similarities with these sports people. I’m not the most co-ordinated, and any confidence I had was thoroughly knocked out of me during Secondary School PE lessons. It was girls versus boys in what our teachers called “Crazy Basketball.” I used to sit on the benches at the side, shuffling down the line so that I didn’t have to play and face the humiliation of it all.
So I’ve never been particularly fit. I’ve never been strong, or agile, or supple. I have never enjoyed sport, and have actively avoided team games. Actually, that’s pretty easy when you’re an adult. But it does result in one fact:
I am unfit.
We all know how important it is to be fit and active. We’re told, day in, day out, how valuable it is for our physical and mental health. Fitness is an essential, a way of counteracting the lethargy of sedentary lifestyles. As a mum of two small children, it’s also incredibly hard to fit in to your life.
I want this as much as anyone. I do want to be fit and healthy. I’d love to describe myself as fit, strong and supple. I’m never going to be an Olympic gymnast, but I definitely could do better (which, incidentally, was always my school PE report).
I think I’m at the point where I’m ready to do something about that. Samuel will be 9 months old this week, and, like Drew Barrymore says, the weight takes 9 months to build up, and it takes as long to get it back. Yes, the weight is off, but I’m generally unfit, untoned and not very healthy. I’m guessing there’s lots of mums out there who feel the same.
But Marriott Gyms may well have the answer.
Marriott Gyms run a ‘Fit in Six’ programme over the summer. With the help of their personal trainers, they will help you get fit in six weeks. That’s pretty amazing!
To be honest, I didn’t even know that Preston Marriott, which is the closest to us, had a gym. It’s not a token few treadmills in a tiny room; it’s a really big space, including a 12m indoor heated pool, with jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, and over 30 classes running each week. It feels… a bit luxurious. Going in and looking round felt a bit like stepping back into my life pre-children for half an hour. It was lovely. There’s even a beauty salon.
So I’ve signed up, and had my assessment. Yes, this did involve putting on trainers and gym clothes, and running on a treadmill for 12 minutes, and being weighed and measured, but it was ok. My personal trainer, Adam, was really nice about it, explaining that these results are just a starting point, and the progress I make will be measured against that starting point.
The results aren’t great, to be honest. Although my weight and BMI are in the healthy range, my cardiovascular fitness isn’t good. It’s ‘Poor,’ in fact. My flexibility is ok, but my strength is pretty poor too, and I can hardly do any sit ups at all! The joy of having two 9lb+ babies means I have separated stomach muscles and almost no muscle strength, although my lovely sister, who is a physio, has assured me that it will come back.
So I will get my programme written for my by Adam, and then I have to work at it for 6 weeks. I’m planning to go three times a week. I know that’s a big ask for us: we have to get the kids in bed – thanks to a good bedtime routine, they are usually in bed for 7pm and asleep not long after – and Tim has to stay in to look after them. I’ll also have to juggle blogging, housework, church commitments and even preparation for going back to work. Like most people, finding the time will be my biggest challenge to getting fit.
But actually, going to the gym feels like a bit of a treat. Not a chore. Not an obligation. Perhaps it’s the novelty value, but getting out of the house for a child-free couple of hours feels like a real bonus at the moment. And perhaps I can move on from the embarrassment and humiliation of secondary school PE to feeling like exercise is something that is just for me.