This is my annual post where I report back on the previous year’s fitness challenge – but this year there’s a twist! Stay tuned for the twist, friends!
OK, so my annual fitness challenge is very simple – every year I aim to go to the gym 150 times. I came up with the 150 target by multiplying three times a week by 50 weeks of the year. Yes I know there are actually 52 weeks in a year but in this challenge you get two weeks off for good behaviour.
I don’t set any parameters on what I actually do in the gym – I could just sit in the corner and read a book and that would still count. And I don’t count any non-gym exercise, so when I went for a run in the park or took up ballet (true story – don’t laugh – I really did do ballet for a year), that didn’t add in to the final scores on the doors. I like keeping it all to gym stuff, it’s simpler that way.
So here is the final total as inaccurately counted by my gym:
They made it 151 visits cos they reckoned I went twice in one day last January, which I didn’t. And here is the final total as counted by me in the much more accurate Ye Olde Filofax:
It’s been quite a mentally challenging and stressful year and I am really grateful to have my exercise habit to help me cope with this. Physically I haven’t had a day of illness, which has meant that I’ve hit my FitBit target of at least 12,000 steps a day every day in 2016. Or maybe it’s the other way round – I keep on the move and germs don’t have a chance to land.
As to what I’ve been doing at the gym, I find that switching it up is the thing that really helps me keep going. In the early part of the year I completed the Couch to 5K running challenge. Then I moved on to more strengthening exercises and took up Kettlebells, which I’m still enjoying a lot. Also once I got past the off-putting name of Fat Burner class I really enjoyed that and am carrying on with it. I took a break from BodyCombat then rejoined a regular Saturday morning class and it’s great fun.
If you are joining the January rush to the gym then this is the best advice I can give you – try every class or course they offer at least once, even the things you think you won’t like. Just give it a go. You need to find the activity you like enough to keep going back to. Once you find an activity you enjoy, showing up for it becomes infinitely easier. This is what makes it do-able, even when life is busy and you’re squeezed for time.
This is now the 8th year I’ve been doing this fitness challenge, and as I hit my late 40s I am so glad that I started it. I still don’t look like your typical gym bunny and I won’t be winning any races, that’s for sure. But this is all about health for me, both physical and mental. Being healthy is a gift and a blessing, and whilst we don’t all get a say in how healthy we are, but we can at least do something to stack the odds a little more in our favour. You might have seen news reports over the holidays about a middle aged health crisis that is apparently brewing in the UK. That’s not the future I want. I’m taking another path.
So what’s the twist?
The twist is that for next year, I’m asking you to join in too. Exercise is for normal people like you and me and is not just the preserve of the mega-muscled gym bunnies. Will you give it a go?
If 150 exercise sessions seems like an impossible goal, then find a number that works for you. It could be 100 (twice a week?) or 12 (once a month?). Set your own rules. There are some great options for exercising from home now which didn’t exist when I started doing this, so don’t feel you have to join a gym if you don’t want to.
The main thing is to have a specific number to aim for, and to keep track of it every month so you’ll know if you’re going off track. ‘Getting fit’ is too vague a goal to aim for, since fitness means something different for every person. This is why most people don’t achieve it – they’re aiming for something that is too vague to nail down in the first place. By setting a specific number, it’s easier to grab hold of because it’s more defined.