To start with, lets throw it back to primary school. When I was younger I was a little ball of energy, I was really active and up for trying out all sorts of different sports. I played korfball, netball, loved dancing and was always hanging upside down off some kind of climbing frame. However I still had a slightly skewed view on exercise, in that I hated doing any of those things competitively. I used to get special treatment in PE lessons, joining in with the drills and the parts of the lessons where we learnt how to play but as soon as things developed into a game situation I’d have to sit it out. I’m not sure that I really knew why the competitive element made me feel so uncomfortable, at the time. Yet looking back now I know that I was having a crisis of confidence, even at 10 years old. Even though I liked sport, I didn’t think that I was good enough to be competing with other people and I didn’t want to lose, or look silly while I was doing it.
Moving onto secondary school, I grew boobs and everything got 10x worse. My confidence dropped even more and so did my feelings towards exercise. I started to dread my PE lessons, and would schedule my private singing and drumming lessons back to back in the hour that I knew I had PE so I could avoid it (sorry Mum and Dad!) It also didn’t help that on the rare occasion that I did join in with the lessons, my teacher would refer to me as ‘the sloth’, but I realise now that that wasn’t my issue, it was just shite teaching. Bear in mind that at this point I had been taking Ballet classes outside of school since I was 3 years old and I truly loved them. I felt strong and graceful when I danced, and most importantly I felt good about myself! So it definitely wasn’t the case that I was an exercise-phobe, just hated it in the capacity of school. In my head, it had always been somewhat equated with negative things. It meant me feeling uncomfortable, me feeling judged, and me feeling low in myself.
So after I left school I moved away for uni and I stopped dancing. I kinda lost any love of exercise that I had, and that brings us to now!
Working in an office five days a week has caused me to become a bit of a couch potato. Some days I feel like all I do is work, and I’m lamenting the loss of my hobbies. I am at the stage now where I desperately want to challenge myself to try something new and I actually want to foster some kind of positive relationship with exercise. So I’ve decided to take up running… A sentence I never thought I’d write on this blog!
However, having never run before I had none of the gear and no idea, so I had to bite the bullet and go and buy some running shoes. After thinking and talking about it for weeks I had built up so much negative energy towards it, that even this was a big step for me, let alone actually getting outside and running. My Dad has always been a keen runner and ran the marathon when was young(er) so was very encouraging of me but didn’t quite understand why I felt so nervy about it. I definitely think it’s a male/female thing and says a lot about how women feel about themselves, but that’s an entirely different post altogether.
My Dad had told me that you could get insoles moulded to your feet to make sure that you’re getting the support you need, which sounded great to me! But then he dropped the bombshell that to do so you have to run on a treadmill so that they can slow it down and watch how your feet land etc etc… *dun dun dun…* I had literally never set foot on a treadmill before and the thought of being judged for that stirred up all of those familiar negative feelings inside me. However in the spirit of this girl can I knew I had to force myself to do it because once I had the shoes I’d have much more motivation to get cracking.
It’ll probably sound stupid to most of you reading this, but taking this first step has been hugely important for me. We went to The Sweat Shop at Bluewater and after all the worry it was actually a fantastic experience. It’s made me feel so much more positively towards starting off on this exercise journey! The staff (Claire & Dave) were brilliant and put me completely at ease. There were no hard and fast sales tactics at all, they really took the time to understand what it was I wanted to achieve and were encouraging and insightful throughout. It’s definitely not a quick process by any means, we were in the shop for two hours, but it’s well worth it! I think the main thing to remember is that the people who work in these shops genuinely want to help you and will never judge you for making that first step, in fact they’ll think it’s great! However if you do feel worried about it, I’d suggest going towards the end of the day when the shop is quieter, or first thing in the morning during the week if you can.
I went for my first walk/run yesterday and felt really good! I know it’s not going to be an easy process, but I guess I just wanted to let you all know that if I can do it, feeling as low as I felt towards exercise, then you can too!
For those of you that are interested, here are the shoes I went for. They’re Adidas Boosts and literally feel like you’re walking on clouds.
I thought it could be interesting to check in with regular posts about how I’m getting on with all this, so let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in reading?
And if any of you are runners, please please please share your wisdom with me!
Lots of love,