It’s time to crank open ye olde Filofax and kick around the dust of what was last year’s gym challenge.
(For younglings a Filofax is a kind of ringbinder notebook that used to be a sign that you were a bit of a dick in the 1980s. Now it’s just a sign that you’re old and quite niche in your stationery choices).
This challenge rotates around the fact that aiming to get fit is a very vague goal. What does it even mean? Your version of fitness is unique to you; there’s no one size fits all definition. And a vague goal is impossible to achieve. You might as well aim to catch a greased pig.
So what I aim for is a specific number of visits to the gym. I note each one in my diary and keep a running total every month. Normally my goal is 150 visits per year (3 times a week for 50 weeks; two weeks off for good behaviour).
Last year I hit 200 gym visits, fuelled by the fear of turning fifty.
This year, well, see for yourself:
I know, what the hell happened in March? Flicking back through my Filofax, I can see that it was either getting engaged or joining a crochet club that did it. Either way, something put the wind up my sails.
I feel I should confess that I also went to the gym on my wedding day in August. Ah feck it, why do I feel embarrassed about that? It was a half hour stretching class which left me feeling very relaxed. I’m glad I did it. The rest of the day was kind of busy.
Will you take up the challenge?
If you are taking up a fitness or gym challenge for 2020, then my advice is to start by treating it as a voyage of discovery. The key to keeping up with exercise is to find an activity that you enjoy, and how do you know if you enjoy it when you’ve never tried it before?
Spend the first couple of months having a go at any kind of exercise that’s available to you: gym classes, YouTube videos, running round the park, cycling on a borrowed bike, dancing, working out with a friend, personal trainers.
All of it.
Try it all.
Even the classes with the scary names.
Give it a go.
Keep an open mind and be prepared to be surprised about what you enjoy enough to want to do again.
And then when you do enjoy something enough to want to do it again, do that. Here are some tips from the NHS about how to get fit for free.
Right now I am all about the weightlifting (read more about that here). At 51 I know my bone density, muscle tone and metabolism are all decreasing, but I can slow the slide by working out with weights. Three benefits for one exercise seems to be a pretty good use of time, I think.
Wherever your fitness journey takes you next I wish you well. Because the journey is all there is. There’s no destination. You don’t one day get fit and then you’re done. Well, unless you really are done and none of us is quite ready for that yet, are we?