Last Thursday was just one of those days. No particular reasons for it; just seemed to be cruising high and low all afternoon until I got home. Ordinarily I would have suggested a night in with a takeout to the hubster and most likely would’ve stewed until my frustration took me to bed for an early night. But that was the ‘old’ me – without wanting to jump the gun and being very aware that I do go through ‘new and improved’ phases, I think the new attitude is here to stay.
So instead of just vegging out in front of the telly and letting things simmer away I booked myself into a fitness class at the gym; a step class no less. You probably couldn’t put me further out of my comfort zone. I’m not fit; haven’t been for years since Luke and I stopped walking places for the fun of it. I am not body-confident either. I literally had no idea how I’d manage a step class when walking more than maybe 3 miles leaves me totally puffed-out.
I rocked up to the leisure centre a little earlier than I had planned and checked in with reception. They pointed me in the direction of the fitness studio and off I went to await my – to my mind – total humiliation. There was a circuits class happening in the main hall and I stood watching these ultra-toned men and women moving nimbly around the stations; even those doing strangely froggish squat jumps somehow looked sprightly. I felt anxious – I wanted to run away from this place that pushed my body-consciousness buttons to the max.
In the end, I stayed. And I’m glad I did – it turns out step class is great fun (and totally exhausting; but wasn’t that the point?!). The first ten minutes saw me obsessively watching my classmates – all gym bunnies – hopping off and on the step like they were born to do it. Pretty soon I realised that the whole time I was focussed on what they were doing I wasn’t paying enough attention to my own form; no wonder I felt clumsy in comparison!
Sure, I was silently pleading for it to be over before we’d even reached the half-way point. Sure, I felt absolutely ridiculous with my spare-tire stomach jiggling around. And sure, I had twice as many water breaks as any other stepper. But – I did it! I got through 60 minutes of high-intensity exercise and I felt amazing for doing it. So good that I am planning on making this a regular activity; especially given that historically Thursdays are my worst.
There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of exercise for mental conditions. For me personally it meant that I felt I’d done something productive with my day and that I’d worked out all the frustration in every bead of sweat that slid over my forehead. The science backs this up; when you move your muscles release hormones, not least of which are endorphins that act to reduce stress, ease anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
Exercise isn’t a panacea, but as a natural and holistic therapy it seems to work wonders. Now, someone be sure to remind me of that when the next class rolls around!