Taking the fun out of fitness

Personal training. Spinning. Bootcamps. HITT training. Weights or no weights. Running vs. jogging. Pilates vs. yoga. Zumba. Walking the dog. Nordic walking … the list is endless. As someone who is immersed the fitness industry on a daily basis, both as a service provider and a writer, I’m forever bemused by the internal wranglings of fitness professionals over what is best, what is optimum and what is just a waste of time. In their opinion.

The thing is, if you are exercising to train in the Commonwealth Games or to rehabilitate a broken back, then the type of training that you do is REALLY important. But if you start a personal training programme and your trainer insists you do X,Y and Z for optimum effect and you hate X,Y and Z, then no matter how clever your trainer is or how keen you are, you won’t stick to it. Would it not be better for you to do a bit of X and Y but then a whole lot more of the stuff you love?

Here’s what I think (for what it’s worth). Enjoyment, community, stress release and fun are THE most important factors when it comes to exercise for most people. Yes, if you have a specific goal in mind like marathon training or weight loss, then you might have to factor in a little more of the optimal training stuff but please not to the detriment of what makes exercise enjoyable for you. When I recently interviewed the man who pioneered fitness clubs in the UK. Ken Heathcote (who was also the founder of fitness industry qualifications) he said social HAD to come first, functional after.

So if someone tries to tell you otherwise … I’d suggest you tell them to optimise their opinions to someone who cares.

Now here are a few people who knew how to laugh at themselves: Acorn Antiques does health and fitness.

Ken Heathcote, Father of Fitness, on creating fitness moments of magic.
Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

I hated P.E. too

Forget about the misery of school P.E., fall back in love with sports just for fun and fitness.
The study published on Wednesday on behalf of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation confirmed what most of us have known since puberty, that school PE puts many girls off sport, for life!
I also wasn’t a fan of school sports. I could never see the ball in rounders due to long-sightedness. My shot would inevitably end the rally in tennis. My highest netball ranking was playing wing defense for the B team in primary school. My finest javelin throw was about six metres.  But I do remember always trying hard and once getting an A for effort on my school report.
I now run, lift weights, play golf and am getting better at tennis.  When I won a prize for longest drive at my first golf day I cried. When I miss a shot in tennis in spite of tremendous effort I laugh. Hard!
But what I’ve learned coming back to sports as a grown up is that I just need a little more coaching than some.  I can actually sprint pretty well but was never taught anything than just running fast at school.  In fact when hubby got me sprinting for the first time I felt like a gazelle, ‘so that’s what these solid legs are for,’ I thought.
I can’t throw, so it’s taken me forever to get to an acceptable (for me) golfing standard and my tennis serve is pretty special to behold but the key to all of this is that I love it!  I love being outside and I love playing sports, even though I’m not great at it.  I do it for fun and this, for me is something which was fundamentally lacking in my school sports experience.
I now encourage women to get active for a living.  I write about health and fitness, I teach fitness, predominantly Pilates and I married a fit husband. My motivation for doing this is not about massive fat loss, it’s about getting more people active and above all encouraging anyone that contacts me or steps through the class room door.
So forget about P.E.  No one is going to make you step outside in gym knickers and an under-sized T-shirt.  Try something new … you might just like it.