I wanted to start my blog by telling you all about how fitness is great for you, your physical and mental wellbeing, your general state of mind; and that whether you run, cycle or walk; being active is great for the mind, body and soul!
However, you do not really need me to tell you that! We all understand that being active has many benefits to our overall health and happiness.
What I really wanted to share with you is how fitness really has changed my life and I hope that anyone reading this feels inspired and motivated to go out and do something active! I should probably add a little note that states “I am not a qualified fitness instructor”, and neither am I anywhere close to being qualified in anything fitness related. However, what I can be sure of; is how it can make you feel and I hope that you feel the same when you are next out doing something active.
5 years ago, I ran the Brighton Marathon; yes that’s 26.2 miles which I can tell you is a long way to run, however at the time of signing up to the marathon I had only just found my love of running 5km to shift the odd chocolate biscuit. Many would describe this venture as a huge achievement and of course it is one I am proud of but for me; it was about pushing my body to do something which I honestly thought would not be possible. After, I could run 5 km, I could run 10km and after this ½ a marathon and the world’s your oyster they said! What started as something to do for fun (and to keep fit); then became my world for approximately 9 months with strict training schedules, strict food plans, no Friday night wine and lots of sports massages! Race day came and went and with that medal around my neck I was not only relieved, but I had achieved those 26.2 miles myself! I was determined and nothing could stop me!
What came after this time however, surprised me!
After a few days of recovery; I decided to head out for a run, as I had done many times before. However, I found putting my trainers on to be very difficult and not for any physical reason. I just did not want to run and in fact; every time I tried to force myself to go out for one; I just couldn’t face it! Emotionally I felt like I had hit a barrier; with hurdles that I just could not get over. Running had become my life and suddenly I felt like it had been taken away from me which made me feel deflated, sad and anxious because I loved staying fit and being active and I couldn’t see a way forward with anything else on the fitness front due to the anxiety.
Some weeks later, I caught up with an old friend; and after proudly announcing that I had completed the marathon; she asked me how my fitness regime was going now and so I explained that I now had no routine and no fitness plan! Luckily, after a long catch up; she had answers and solutions for me moving forward for my fitness. A weight had been lifted but I had no idea what was to come and how I would feel!
I joined a group of ladies at the Barbell Bridge Road Club. I am not sure I even knew what a barbell was at the time; and I had never seen a kettle bell or spent any time anywhere close to a squat rack before.
After weeks of learning about weight training and circuits; and basic HIIT exercises my love and joy for fitness had returned. Not only was I excited to put my gym kit back on, but I was learning and reaping the rewards from this form of exercise. My body shape changed (in a positive way) and my positive mind set had returned; with once again achieving things that I did not think would be possible.
COVID 19 put a sudden stop to us visiting this particular gym back in March; however, during the pandemic; my friends and I have not stopped exercising. Instead, we work out in our own homes, as we all have a little bit of dedicated gym space; and we have created our own circuits in order to stay fit during the lock down, but also to stay connected and to help support each other.
We have found creative ways of making weights (comfort bottles) and while one person will play the music, others provide the jokes that get us through the workouts. Exercise can be done at any time, with or without equipment and anywhere. We have adapted well over the last few months all working around each of our own commitments at home and at work.
I have loved every 40 minute session and seeing my 5 friends faces on the computer screen each day has helped to motivate me to stay positive, relieve any anxiety and of course to stay active which brings me so much joy.
Since, we have all been able to meet up again albeit socially distanced; we have loved trying new sports and sharing new experiences. We have spent the summer open water swimming in a local lake, we completed a 5am sea swim, have been paddle boarding, rock climbing and enjoyed games of frisbee in the park and have also re-introduced last summers activity of double Dutch skipping!
Words cannot describe how fortunate I am to have such great fitness friends; but their love and enthusiasm for fitness just ignites mine even more.
This blog is for you; but equally it is about my journey and for my 5 sisters of fitness.
I hope that this inspires you to go out to do something active; start small and work your way up. Even walking clears the mind and can transform your day and lighten your mood! I hope it brings you joy and happiness and I truly believe that anything is possible when you put your mind to it on a fitness level; you just have to believe it and magic happens. I hope you make new friends on the way; and that you may feel you can share your exercise experience with others too!
Anna Simpson is Head of Events for a stately home in Surrey. She kindly shared her fitness story with the hope of inspiring others to enjoy exercise for their wellbeing. If you would like to feature on our blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org