Only 2 years ago I was a self confessed gym junkie. At this time I was going to the gym 6 mornings a week, doing 1 or 2 classes at a time. I would take my young son to the creche, even if he was unwell. Hell, I would exercise if I was unwell, or had an injury, or if I was completely exhausted. I would sometimes do a class in the morning and go back that night and do another! I was also doing PT once a week and group PT too. I didn’t realize that I was trashing my body. The gym industry didn’t just support me in this, it completely encouraged it! But I was not supporting my body with the nutrients it needed, and generally treating my body with a complete lack of respect.
During this time I was plucked from the group fitness floor and asked to be an instructor. It was something I had never considered, but saw it as a massive achievement for me to complete by Les Mills Bodystep training, and start instructing classes. (In hind site, it was the best thing for me that this didn’t lead to a permanent class, as it would have immersed me even more in the sometimes poisonous gym world) Although I was achieving a big personal goal of mine which was to be an instructor, at this time I was suffering with injury, sickness and I was not getting any fitter or stronger, in fact I was going backwards.
I was totally not listening to my body, which was crying out for help in the form of injuries and exhaustion. There is only so long you can trash your body before it finally says, enough is enough. For me, it was in the form of Glandular Fever. I finally had to stop.
When I tell it like that, it seems like a sudden thing, but in reality it was something that was changing and evolving over about 6 months. During this time I discovered yoga, and with the guidance and influence of my teacher, started to listen to my body and start to eat better.
It was a gradual process that lead me to my current life of a few yoga classes a week and one PT session. And maybe a Pump class now and then. Instead of exercising to the point of almost vomiting or passing out, I come to exercise to nourish my body and work on wellness. I am a completely different person than I was. Now, I eat with respect for my body.
A part of this change also has to be put down to my life outside of the gym. I surround myself with only positive people, which has meant that people have left my life in the past couple of years, and I am fine with that. I do a lot of yoga, meditate daily and stretch. I have had the courage to quit my job and go back to study and have changed my career path to do what truly makes me happy each day. At 35 years old, I am fitter, stronger and happier than I have ever been.
A big part of this has been my friend, mentor and PT, Ashlee Cummins. You can find her and her inspiring take on exercise at https://www.facebook.com/MindfulHealthFitnessashcummins It is a refreshing way of looking at your exercise, from someone who was, for many years, ‘brainwashed’ by the gym environment too. And I don’t say that as a derogatory comment to Ash, we all were!
Here is one of Ash’s workouts featured on Claire Baker’s website (Certified Health Coach) http://thisislifeblood.com/the-anywhere-anytime-body-delight-program/comment-page-1/#comment-1945
If you have a gut feeling that what you are doing is actually doing you harm, take a moment to have a think about it. Don’t blindly accept and follow the claims and ideas laid out by your local gym. Exercise should not be about punishing your body for ‘eating that cake’ or taking out your frustrations about your bad day at work. Take the focus out of the amount of calories you have burned, instead listen to how your body feels during and after your workout, and measure the results with your clothes, NOT the scales!
And if you are reading this and thinking, ‘she sounds like a wimp’ don’t be fooled. I still work very hard and suffer many uncomfortable moments in my workouts! I have just achieved a goal of mine to do a yoga pose called Salumba Sirsasana (supported headstand) off the wall, and that shows me that my core and upper body are stronger than ever. My mind is also in the right place 🙂