I’d like to start by laying out a plain and simple truth that I’m sure many of you will relate to.

ME GOING INTO LOCKDOWN: "I’m going to do yoga every day, a burst of HIIT cardio and use my hour to get in 6000 steps. I will eat healthily and I will leave lockdown like a new woman."

REALITY TWO WEEKS IN: Bending only to reach the treat bag (this is a lockdown introduced phenomenon in my house), chocolate for breakfast, walking round the North Inch every second day in a bid to kid myself I’m active. Stashing crisps in my dressing gown pocket so the kids and Roy can’t find them. Possibly leaving lockdown a single woman.

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About 7 years ago, just after my 40th birthday, I wrote a blog for Live Active Leisure that saw me try every single class they ran over the course of a year. It was published every Friday, with new activities tried out every week. It was probably the fittest I have ever been in my adult life; I carried on well after the blog finished because I felt so great.  My skin glowed, I slept well and I was in the zone where a good blast at the gym could spin my stresses away. 

What happened I hear you ask? Well, I fell and sprained my ankle and never quite got back into the way of it. It really is that simple.  I’m not a natural exerciser; I was never into sports as a kid and I do think that this contributes hugely towards your attitude to activity once you’re an adult. For that reason, I always made sure my son was active.  Pre lockdown he was training for the Etape Cycling event so this reasoning has stood the test of time. 

But as I approach middle age – I am enjoying the very last day of being 47 as I write – I have become more and more in tune with my body and all of its creaks and groans.  I can’t sit all day at a desk, or lounge for an afternoon on the sofa. I feel stiff, I am sore, and my middle is beginning to resemble a giant, squidgy doughnut.  2020 was going to be the year I got fit. In fact, 24 months from now I plan to hit 50 with such energy and gusto that I’ll make Jen An’s mag cover look like an ad for a Saga holiday. (Too far??)

And then came lockdown.

And now, my neat rows of LAL venue timetables all taped to the back of the kitchen cupboard door, and my plans to hit spin, body pump and the gym once a week each, have gone.  I am despondent. I need Carolyn and Kirsty to shout inspirationally at me; I want Colin telling me to turn up the speed on my treadmill. I can’t do this alone!!

None of this is helped as I walk round the North Inch, socially distancing myself from people effortlessly jogging with their greyhounds. Nor am I feeling remotely focused having spent my first three mornings figuring out the meaning of furloughed and wondering if two 13 year old girls can be schooled by You-Tube alone.

Imagine my relief then when Kelly Parker, LAL’s marketing manager, called me to ask if I fancied doing something similar to my Fit At Forty blog? Only this time I was invited to follow the videos and tips that the instructors were doing remotely from home, writing up an honest review for those people, like me, who are not in the hard-core gym crew. "YES! YES!" I shouted. "Sign me up, give me focus, I need to be motivated!"

And now here I am. Two weeks into lockdown and all I’ve done so far is marvel at how fit the instructors are – did you see Kirsty’s Mrs Hinch inspired video on Facebook? - and write seven paragraphs that haven’t actually involved me actually lifting a leg or breaking a sweat.   I am procrastinating – the curse of all us out-of-shape-but-I-actually-do-know-better people.   I need to stop planning an hour’s worth of cardio a day, the outfit I will wear while doing it and where in my house I have space, and start by doing just one thing. 

That’s a definite. Probably tomorrow.

Today I’ll read something about how to stop procrastinating about exercise.  In fact, didn’t I write something about that once?

Tomorrow Comes: Saturday 4th April

ME TO ME: “Just do something woman. It doesn’t need to be climbing Kinnoull Hill on your stairs just yet.”

I am feeling the weight – both mentally and physically – of two weeks of lockdown this morning. Today is the day I get moving.  I pull my tips from yesterday’s internet search into focus and start.

  • Set Achievable Goals – I’m going to have a go at Kirsty’s Mrs Hinch video in the house
  • Exercise for a Minimum Amount of Time – 15 mins
  • Exercise With a Friend – For me this was Roy laughing at me while trying to take photos to document my efforts for this blog
  • Reward Yourself – treat bag at the ready!

I watch the Kirsty video for what feels like 27 times. The girls tell me I must move from the breakfast bar if I’m to actually achieve anything. Dusters at the ready folks!

Did you see that end screen? How Did You Get On?

Well here is my very honest answer to that!

  1. I skipped the lunges entirely – I have a Morton’s neuroma in my foot and these aggravate it. I also skipped the press ups in the squat to press sequence (exercise 3) as I have zero upper body strength right now after 6 months of a shoulder injury. BUT doing 6 ½ out of 8 is infinitely better than 0 out of 8!  And it has also helped me focus my mind on the type of exercises I could be doing to help improve that.

    TAKEAWAY: Remember that you can make decisions for yourself based on your own health and wellbeing. Be mindful of the fact that when you're starting out you need to go gently to prevent injury.
  1. I never made 5 rounds of each. I did 2. In non-scientific terms, I was burst! I attempted 30 seconds for each exercise but if I’m truthful there was also periods of me trying just to stay balanced and breathing.

    TAKEAWAY: I am not an instructor who does this for a living and the chances are, neither are you. If you are just getting back into exercise then give yourself a break. You simply won’t be as fit as Kirsty –well not right now you won’t! Who knows what’s to come? If you are more experienced and a bit fitter to start, you may find just the switch from gym to bedroom throws you a little. Take your time and ease into things.
  1. I found it really hard. I couldn’t get the plank jacks at all so I did do them moving one leg at a time, and slightly slower. I know from years of writing up techniques and training manuals with the Fitness team that these are all ‘dynamic’ exercises. This means they move and stretch your muscles at the same time as giving you a great cardio session. You are WORKING!

    TAKEAWAY: Try to get the technique right first, then build up to your 30 seconds – then build up to your 5 reps.  Remember that in a gym good instructor will always give you lower impact options and you can apply this same principle to your At Home workouts. 

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This isn’t a competition – this is you doing something good for yourself and it has to work for YOU! If you can finish up sweating a little and slightly out of breath then well done – you’ve hit that magic zone that the experts recommend you get to. See the NHS website for full details on what your daily and weekly recommendations are >> 

For me, I am sweating, red faced and drinking water from the tap - but oh my days do I feel good?!  That buzz from a proper blast of endorphins is just the thing to boost your energy and get you going. My body is also less tight than it has been in weeks - I have that 'nicely stretched' feeling.

Why did I dilly-dally over this? Was a step outside the comfort zone of Rodney gym and a Body Pump class really so difficult?  And then I have to admit to myself that yes, yes it was.

Not because the task in itself is difficult, but because in amongst all of this – lockdown, living in a household of sx, home schooling, a drop in business – it felt like yet another big change.  I don’t do fitness by video. I’m not a virtual sort of a gal. I like real life people pushing me on. I like to be motivated by an expert.

But the truth is this; we’re going to be without our favourite venues and instructors - IRL as the kids would say - for some time and we need to find a way to keep our mental and physical wellbeing in check. I spent 15 minutes with a familiar face - thanks Kirsty! - and felt so fantastic I bounded down my stairs and onto the Inch for my hour’s walk. 

I’ve started. And that folks, is a huge step in the right direction. 

Check out our new At Home section on the website here >>> 

OR Follow the Live Active Leisure Facebook page here >>>

REMEMBER be kind to yourself, and tag your pics #WeLiveActive to join the At Home action!

Nicola Martin owns Red String, a communications and marketing agency based in Perth. She has has worked with Live Active Leisure for the past 8 years, happily paying for her DD membership every month. She uses Live Active Rodney and Bells Sports Centre for classes and the gym.  She has embraced lockdown with a full house: her partner Roy, grown up son Cain and his girlfriend Caoimhe, and twin 13 year old nieces, Hollie and Jenna.