I’m one of those people who you (if you don’t like to exercise) probably find really annoying, because I actually really like exercising. Of course I don’t like all kinds of exercise – for example I find running very boring – but I’ll try anything you throw at me at least once, and often find myself surprised that I like (sometimes even love) it. I’m guessing this has something to do with the fact that I was basically raised in the gym, with the weekends spent in the forest.
My mum started working as a group training instructor a few years before I was born and before I started going to kindergarten she would often bring me along if she had a class. Back then the gym didn’t have the babysitting facilities they have today, so I would be playing outside the hall while the receptionist kept an eye on me. (To this day if I go places with my mum I still meet people saying “I haven’t seen you since you where this small and were crawling around the gym!”. I’m almost 30 now.)
We often spent our weekends at different sporting events, be it football games, orienteering competitions, or other running competitions my mum was participating in. I played football (soccer to you Americans) and did horse-riding for ten years, but I also tried my hand at basketball, orienteering, and street-dance. Adding to that, we would go ice-skating on the frozen lakes and go skiing/snowboarding in the winters, and obviously had to try out a load of different sports during our school’s PE-lessons. So I guess it’s not that odd that I turned out a relatively sporty person.
The thing is that really liking exercise doesn’t always make it easier to continue doing it – unless you love running because then you don’t need much to be able to do it. So what happened in my case was that I moved to Italy to be a nanny and basically stopped exercising completely. There wasn’t a gym I knew of anywhere nearby and it was really difficult for me to make friends since the Italians barely spoke English and I didn’t speak Italian. So I got demotivated and fell into the trap of Italian fast-food; pasta, pizza and ice-cream. I gained about 5-6 kg (11-13 lbs) in weight and felt quite bad about it.
I then worked in two more families, worked in Sweden for a year, and went to uni. I became somewhat of a yoyo-dieter at this time, with shortish periods of feeling good about my weight and longer ones where I wasn’t satisfied. Apart from getting a lot of ‘everyday exercise’ from working in a shop (10-15,000 steps per day average) I didn’t do much exercise at this time, because it just wasn’t very convenient. I did get back into it the last two years at uni, because I lived near a hotel that had a good gym. But moving to London after uni then undid that for me. At first I managed quite well and I went to the gym several times a week, but once we were married (my goal I was working towards) and I was working longer hours all motivation just drained out of me. I’d managed to get down to my ‘happy weight’ for the wedding, but afterwards I gained it all back, and a few additional pounds. I think that was the heaviest I’ve ever been.
What’s difficult for me about going to the gym is not the being there but the getting there. Especially when it’s cold and dark out, or if I get home late. Once I’m at the gym and working out I always feel happy (well ok, sometimes the happy feeling doesn’t come until I’m done and no longer feel exhausted!). So now I’ve taken to going to the gym straight from work. I bring a backpack with my gym clothes and then either leave work and go straight there, or go to somewhere nearby and have a look around the shops – depending on the time and the location of the gym. It really helps a lot, because not stopping at home in between keeps me from crashing on the sofa and looking out thinking it’s too late/dark/cold/whatever. And I’m always happy, if tired, when I get home.
Since I got my membership here in Sweden at the end of May I’ve been to the gym 118 times – for 126 hours in total. That’s an average of one workout ever other day, or around 32 minutes per day. And that includes a ten day hiatus over summer and a week long one over Christmas. One of the things that helps as well is that my ‘new’ (can you call it new if it’s been almost eight months?) gym has a great selection of classes, which is what I prefer to do. Also, if you don’t cancel an hour before the class you get a ‘point’ in the system if you don’t show up, and if you get points you can’t book classes online for a while. When classes book up full within five minutes of being able to book, that’s quite a hassle.
So what’s keeping me at it now is partly that I don’t have anyone waiting for me at home – meaning I’d rather spend time doing things away from home so I don’t feel so lonely – and partly the fact that I’ve found a few classes that I want to do every week. My favourite is a 90 minute long hot yoga called Hot Mojo, which is performed in a room that is 38 degrees warm (Celsius) and has a minimum humidity level of 60%. Unfortunately there’s only one 90 minute class in the entire city and the instructor is on holiday at the moment, so for the next two weeks I have to make do with the 60 minute class.
This post has gone down a different road than what I was thinking when I started out, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you’re raised sporty and like to exercise, it’s not always easy to find the motivation to get there. We all need a little help now and then.