Updated: Jun 12, 2019
An important question I want to ask my clients at different stages of our training together. At the start, goals may be focussed on weight loss, muscle tone, working towards an event. But longer-term, I want people I work with to understand that making exercise part of your weekly routine gives you more than just that.
For me, exercise has always been a huge part of my life. When I told my family and friends that I was looking to change careers, no-one seemed particularly surprised by what I’d chosen to do. If anything they commented on how well suited this job was for me given my passion for fitness.
And as I tell many of my clients and others I speak to, exercise for me is about more than defining the way I look. Don’t get me wrong, feeling toned and slim can be the benefits of regularly training, but for me getting outside, raising my heart rate, lifting weights, it feels like more than that.
Exercise benefits the mind. It gives me time out, it helps me escape the every day grind of life at work or at home. But it also gives me time to process information, decisions, choices, as I get lost in my thoughts when out on my bike or running.
For me exercise can sometimes be a challenge. Those who know me well will know that I’m a tad competitive. Mainly with myself more than anyone else. I used to set myself challenges – running marathons, cycling long distances, competing in sports tournaments. I love the sense of achievement you can feel from sport.
But the real turning point for me was when exercise helped my recovery from cancer treatment. Chemotherapy hit me hard, it made me sick, tired, lethargic. I put on weight, I lost muscle, I lost control of my body. When I finished my treatment in August 2018, my body was destroyed. I was the lowest I have ever been physically and mentally.
But in September I started to run, slowly. I walked the parkrun, slowly building up to a gentle jog. Then in October I joined a small group circuit class. I was cautious at first doing low impact exercises. But my strength improved from week to week, I got more confident and I pushed myself further. By March 2019 I was nearly back to where I was as the ‘healthy’ me before.
I still get tired and some days I struggle more than others. But I find if I get out of bed and do something in the morning, whether it’s walk Freddie to nursery, or go for a gentle jog, I feel instantly like I can face the day with more energy than if I hadn’t done anything.
So for me, exercise saved me. It got ME back. Exercise is my go to when energy levels are low or my mental health is a bit wobbly. It’s more than just a quick fix, it’s part of my lifestyle.
Now tell me, what does exercise really mean to you?