My last post was about starting (or restarting) a fitness routine, in light of the New Year commencing. I hope you are well underway with whatever activity you’ve chosen to pursue; despite a few hiccoughs and an incredibly busy start to the year, I’m pleased to report that I am also on track. In fact, I am more active than ever, although not so much with the activities I had originally embarked on!
In January, the expiry date of my gym membership coincided with the start of a new job, giving me the opportunity to analyse how best to pursue my fitness goals with my new daily routine (doing both the gym and external classes was no longer an option). This meant I had to decide which I would rather give up: the gym or the exercise classes. It was a difficult decision, but one for which I am thankful as it allowed me to review my goals more specifically.
During my quest to build strength and push myself generally, I had noticed some prominent areas of weakness (other than being generally weak!) that were preventing me from getting the most out my sessions: my non-existent core strength, and my lack of flexibility and strength in my foundations (e.g. my ankles). Whilst I could definitely work on these in the gym, and had been doing so, I was starting to wonder if it was right for me.
When considering the best option for moving forward with my fitness regime, I broke down my key criteria as follows (in addition to finances and convenience of location):
- works on these specific areas of weakness whilst building overall strength and fitness;
- provides new challenges to overcome;
- keeps me consistent; and last but not least
- is fun!
After reviewing the classes I found that if I increased the number and variety of them then these would fulfil all of the above, especially as my gym routine had become a little stale. Quite simply, it was time for a change. So I decided not to renew my gym membership and instead invest in my subscription to the classes so I can attend an unlimited amount. I have expanded my horizons beyond that of Zumba and now do additional classes such as BoxHIIT, where I learn proper boxing technique with an intense workout, and Poundfit, where we have drumsticks to pound along to the music while performing deadly exercises such as squats – definitely not one to be underestimated I found out! The variety in my routine now is great for my cardiovascular fitness and strength (especially in my core) and I also attend a Pilates-style class called Purestretch which targets my flexibility.
I wanted to share this decision with you because I think sometimes we get so set in what we ‘should’ be doing based on comparing ourselves with others, rather than what works for us at that given time. I see lots of people posting on social media about certain activities such as lifting heavy weights, which I think is awesome and I love seeing their fitness journeys, but I find it leaves me feeling like my workouts aren’t good enough if I’m not doing that. It’s so hard not to compare yourself to other people, and something I am continuously working on because it’s such a toxic habit. As I mentioned in my very first post, if there is one thing I’ve learnt through all of this, it’s that it’s far more effective to do what works for you rather than what works for someone else, and that has certainly proven true with my own recent deviation from the gym.
Since starting the BoxHIIT classes in October last year I have noticed significant improvements in my upper body strength, which has continued to progress even without the weight training to supplement it. Furthermore, the specific aim of targeting my core strength and flexibility is paying off in the new Poundfit and Purestretch classes I attend – each week I find squats a little easier (a huge achievement considering I couldn't squat at all when I started this journey in January 2017), and I can stretch a little further. These small improvements may not seem like much, but they add up and are key to my long-term goals.
Consistency has played a huge part in these results, as the timetable gives me set days to dedicate to exercise, rather than postponing for a more convenient day that inevitably never comes around. I also really love the classes, testament to the fact that I leave the house at 7.30am on a Saturday to get to them, which for anyone who knows me knows that that is a REALLY big deal, as I could not be further from a morning person and almost never give up my weekend lie-in!
I really enjoyed going to the gym and pushing myself in weight training, and I hope that in the future I'll be able to combine the classes with gym sessions, but for now I couldn't be happier with my decision to change it up a bit.
So my point is, don’t be afraid of being or doing something different. If you want to run marathons, go ahead. If you want to dance, find a dance class. If you want to box, give it a try. And if you want to lift weights, go rock that gym. Don’t let others dictate what you should do based on a disability or what they consider to be most effective. Of course, get advice where you need, but make sure you do you.
PS. Apologies for the bad quality photos in this post, these have come from my phone over the last couple of months to highlight the activities and progress I've been seeing!
PPS. This community of fitness classes is called TransforMe based in Berkshire, UK. I am so grateful for their support in every class.