My love of fitness is a fairly recent thing. For years I confused fitness with sport. And I’m a complete duffer at sport. I can’t run or catch a ball to save my life. At school I was so keen to avoid netball and lacrosse that I booked all my dental appointments to coincide with the Tuesday afternoon PE lesson. In my twenties and thirties I joined gyms and showed up to the occasional class but didn’t really see the point of it. Such was my lack of effort I certainly didn’t feel any buzz, or even the burn.
Looking back I can see I took my good health for granted but a brush with my own mortality changed everything. I got serious about getting stronger and fitter and that meant getting serious about exercise. Classes work for me. I like that I just show up and it happens. No worrying about how equipment works and no watching the clock. Boredom is kept at bay by mixing it up with Spin, Body Pump, Ashtanga yoga and PT sessions
But, in fitness as in life, it’s a case of different strokes for different folks. I caught up with two of the Style Council, Cathy and Michelle, to get the low down on their fitness stories …
I had an inkling that Cathy’s might differ from my own. I could totally see her as Goal Shooter. And I wasn’t wrong.
“I loved hockey, netball and athletics at school and have always been interested in fitness and health. I love hill walking too. Being outdoors makes me feel fresh, exhilarated and alive. So for me it makes it easier to keep exercise going because as soon as I step out of the door the adventure begins. And with every season it’s an ever changing picture.”
When Michelle got roped into walking the 3 Peaks it was the trigger she needed to start training.
“Before that I always liked the idea of being fit so much more than the work involved in it. We joined a great walking group and I started to feel my fitness improve. So when my daughter, Liz, suggested we share the cost of a trainer I jumped at at the chance. We began weight training and I ended up finding the sport I love.”
If you’ve ever seen Cathy’s gorgeous dog Bella, you’d expect her to be part of the story
“I’m out every morning with Bella, our Cocker Spaniel, for at least 30 minutes. We live across from Blackford Hill in Edinburgh and it’s her playground. So whatever time I have, however energetic I feel…or not, I can achieve my goals by walking to the top of the hill, climbing the 117 very steep steps, walking on the flat or going round the pond for a few laps. I even stop at benches for arm dips, stretches, lunges and whatever else I fancy that day!
“I don’t like the gym so I’m a great believer in looking for opportunities in everyday activities…. like always taking the stairs. My morning bathroom routine might include lunges while brushing my teeth, arm dips on the bath and press ups against the wall. I’ll even wear arm weights when drying my hair!”
Michelle works on her flexibility with regular Pilates and Ballet Barre sessions. And to the absolute admiration of Style Stuff she’s even taken up running.
So what makes it worth the time and effort? It’s simple. We love the way it makes us feel.
Cathy describes it as “me time, it’s calming, there’s an appreciation that comes from being outdoors in the big wide world. It’s good for the mind as well as the body – what’s not to like!”
Michelle just loves to feel strong. She’s a tad competitive too and gets a real boost from achieving a personal best – especially in power lifting!
And what about motivation on dark winter days? “Bella has no such issues so I just follow her lead” says Cathy. Michelle trains early morning so builds in good habits like getting her kit out the night before.
The Brownie motto – Be prepared – works for me too. But then I loved the Brownies. When I’m going to a class in the evening I change in the toilets at work and drive the 60 miles back to Newcastle in my gym gear. There’s no way I’ll bail out once I’m dressed for it!
And it wouldn’t be Style Stuff if there wasn’t some outfit chat …
Michelle describes her look as cheap and cheerful look comprising Primark, F&F, Nike and Adidas. Her big investment is good trainers. She’s top tipping Hygge headbands too. They keep your hair back, your ears warm and your headphones in!
Cathy’s go to brands for the great outdoors include – North Face, Arcteryx, Berghaus, Rohan and, a recent discovery, Lululemon.
I’m with you all the way on Lululemon, Cathy. Truly gorgeous gear. Even their bags are a work of art.
Moral of the story
Learn to love your fitness thing – and it will love you back!