Since qualifying as a Personal Trainer there is one common theme I have come across with almost all of my clients. Nobody seemed to enjoy exercise growing up. It got me thinking about how we're introduced to exercise and fitness as kids and where it all goes wrong for us into adulthood.
When you're small, it is all about learning movement patterns. Rolling yourself over, lifting your head, crawling, pulling yourself up, standing, walking. Once a child starts to move, you can't stop them. Then when we're kids we play with our friends, games, running, skipping, jumping - anything to burn off some of that energy and help develop some of those early friendships in life.
In high school, I don't know about everyone else but this is where my love of fitness and exercise got all messed up. The PE kit made me feel self conscious and fat and my gym skirt gave me nightmares of exposing myself during netball. It suddenly wasn't fun anymore. It felt a bit like divide and concur... you fell into three categories.
1. Fiercely competitive
2. Really chuffing good at sports
3. Everybody else
I fell into bracket 3 really quite nicely. I mean, it wasn't that I wasn't good at anything but my anxiety that surrounded anything PE related meant I either didn't try or I tried and was mocked so badly I gave up. Running wasn't my bag, Netball never worked out well for my short legs, Hockey was a lot of shin bruising and not a lot of actual sport. In rounders I could throw... but anything else was questionable. Football - the only sport I actually was good at, my school didn't cater for. There was also the "Don't pass the ball to Emma" brigade, teenage girls are the worst!
It also makes you wonder why exercise and fitness as school was always sport related. I left school very much under the impression that fitness was sport. Which is bullsh*t.
I'm not saying that school is all of the issue, and now you see schools embracing class group workouts with Joe Wicks. Maybe the approach to exercise in school is changing, about time too. I do know that a lot of my own battles with fitness are hugely ingrained in my experience of physical education in school. I mean who didn't leave school with a load of issues?
So once we leave school, what happens?
Well for some of us. not a lot. Your confidence is pretty battered by participating in sports you think you're rubbish at so its difficult to know what the next step is. Without any real guidance some people fall into the gym, some people find all of that equally as intimidating as the high school changing rooms were. There's group classes, running clubs, local sport groups - all perfectly viable options.
For me, I didn't really go into any one thing and it took me until my 30's to feel like I found any kind of stride into my own fitness and wellbeing. I had gym memberships, never went. I talked myself into (and out of) running but found unless I had a running buddy it was never really consistent. I even had a brief fling with the Insanity workout, the calf pain was something else. I think there were two turning points in my own fitness journey, which I'd like to add, is still very much ongoing.
Firstly, qualifying as a personal trainer just helped me make sense of training. It helped me make the brain - body - movement connection and understand the why behind a lot of exercises I'd never fully understood. Secondly, approaching exercise as part of my overall health and wellbeing. This made me train smarter, pay more attention to my body and focus on different kinds of movement and how that made me feel.
Approaching fitness in this way, has changed everything for me.
For anybody who had a similarly naff education into fitness and exercise, my advice would be to concentrate on moving more and fueling your body. There is so much you can try out these days and if you really are stuck, find a local personal trainer (one you think you'll like - we're a mixed bunch) and let them help you find what movement, exercise and fitness regime will work for you.
I'd love to hear from anybody who's had a similar experience with their own fitness - get in touch.