This month, it’s been interesting to look back over the last year through the lens of my yearly fitness challenge.
This is my yearly personal challenge in which I aim to go to the gym 150 times. That’s three times a week for 50 weeks of the year, with two weeks off for good behaviour. It sounds like a lot but really it’s not so much when you break it down.
I have been doing this every year for 15 years, starting when I was 39. So I started lateish, but it’s irrelevant where you start. What matters is the fact that you do start and keep moving.
The thinking behind doing this is that aiming to get fit is too vague a goal to be meaningful. But put a number on it and you’ve got something concrete to aim at. And then getting fit is just a byproduct of the journey. The more specific you are about a goal; the more you can see it, the easier it is to make it happen.
One big difference for my 2022 fitness challenge was that this was the first year in a while that the gym was actually open all year long. Previously, because of The Very Big, Bad Thing, gyms were shut for months at a time. This led to me exercising like a demon, going 4 or 5 times a week when I could go, then feeling a bit lost when I couldn’t.
In comparison, gym-going in 2022 felt like a leisurely stroll, and I hit my 150 target with plenty of time to spare.
That fitness challenge in numbers
As it turned out, this was a very good thing, because December was a total bust in terms of illness and LIFE getting in the way of my workout time.
The big luxury was in getting to have many more planned rest days. As I get older I’m finding that rest days are as important as workout days.
Not counted in this is a non-gym Hulafit class I started doing in March. That’s been really fun, and I’m carrying on hula hooping in 2023.
Another big highlight was re-discovering my love of BodyCombat (mixed martial arts aerobics). I have a class I go to on Fridays at 5pm and it’s THE BEST way to physically and mentally shake off the stresses of the working week.
I also got to immortalise my strength training in this piece I wrote for Woman and Home – “I started weightlifting in my 50s and now I’m fitter than ever.”
My home fitness equipment hasn’t got so much of a workout this year. I still have the dumbbells and other stuff I was using during The Great Unmentionable, but I don’t want to get rid of them because…well…you never know what’s around the corner, do you?
Avoiding the sniper
Speaking of which, I keep hearing people referring to being in your 50s as “The Sniper Years”, as in – anything could take you out at any moment. There’s a lot of truth in that. None of us is immune, and beneficial as it is, exercise is no magic bullet guaranteed to protect you from whatever is coming your way. But still, it helps. It all helps, both physcially and mentally. Get strong now so you can handle the storm tomorrow. And there is always a storm.
So this January I am back to gym life for another year. The thing that keeps me going (besides how good I feel when I’m doing it) is variety. My weeks will be a mix of Hulafit, weightlifting, Combat and whatever else I feel like doing. Onwards and upwards we go.