After marvelling at the incredible feats of strength, speed and skill as demonstrated by Team GB - particularly our female athletes - over the past two weeks, I thought I'd tell you about my own 'journey' to semi-fitness. And while this tale isn't quite as inspiring as that of Nicola Adams or Mary King, here it is...
A few years ago I prided myself, perversely, on my laziness - a thoroughly unpleasant, contrary attitude, I know. I'd sneer obnoxiously (in my head) at 'losers' trooping dutifully off to the gym in their lunch hour, or heading out of the office in exercise clothes with the clear intention of jogging home. In my mind I was above such banal activities - I was an intellectual! I had better things to do! They were gym bores with no personality etc.
Then all of a sudden I realised that I'd been left behind - everyone else had hopped on the exercise bandwagon and I was still sat at my desk mindlessly gawping at the Daily Mail online or flumped on the sofa watching Columbo. Chic intellectual or saddo slob? I'll leave it to you to decide. Everyone else had got the memo that doing exercise was cool and fun and good for you, except me. Oops.
Then I was offered the chance to trial a weeklong boot camp at Frame - the dance/fitness studio in Shoreditch that's frequented by hipsters, yoga mummies and high flying city women (I've marvelled at them expertly blow drying their hair and briskly snapping suspenders in the changing room before heading off, cycle helmet under arm to a breakfast meeting - wow).
And because it was free and I'm stingy, I figured I might as well give it a go. Those first Powerplates and Rebound classes (aerobics on a tiny trampoline) were tough; exerting a body that has never attempted anything more strenuous than a breathless trot for the bus meant I was on the verge of puking at the end of most sessions. Sexy!
My free week was up and guess what? I became a fully paid up member of the exercise gang. Two and a half years later and I can get through a 45-minute class without stopping, all the while smiling patronisingly at those 'noobs' who can't follow the routines. Ha! Amateurs! Actually, talking of amateurs, it was a year before I bothered buying a proper sports bra and realised how much easier exercise was when wearing one - moron.
Then I recklessly agreed to do the 10k Race For Life to with a buddy whose parent is battling cancer. I didn't start training until about six weeks before the race; Rebecca and I jogged round Regents Park one lunch hour and while I HATE running and always will, it wasn't quite as hideous as I expected it to be. I did a few more leisurely practice jogs with the lovely Nike+ app lady soothingly counting down the kilometres in my ears, race day came and I got round the course in a pretty respectable 1.09. Hurrah for me!
And this is what I've learned about my attitude to exercise: I can only do it if I'm wearing cool gear - I started out in a crap t-shirt bra, tatty Dio tee & TKMaxx tracksuit bottoms and eventually upgraded to a Sweaty Betty vest and sports bra, Vevie leggings and NEON Nike trainers and DAMN I feel cool. Call me shallow ('you're shallow!') but prancing round the park in my fancy duds makes me feel like an athlete, so I attempt to behave like one and keep on running. (listening to Beyonce, Gaga and Dizzee Rascal helps.)
And sorry, that stuff about the 'endorphins' that 'kick in' at some point while jogging sounds suspiciously like a big fat euphemism for the immense feeling of SMUGNESS you get after completing a jog (I refuse to call it 'running' - I can out-march most people 'running' down my road). I think feeling smug after completing a work out is a perfectly valid reason for exercise. I don't enjoy the process, but I like knowing I can do it and it's doing me some good.
So yeah, exercise: I kind of still hate it, but I know it's good for my long term health and while I'm not sporting Jessica Ennis-style abs (God I love her) or anything, this ol' carcass of mine got me round a 10k course and looks a bit better than it did a couple of years ago. Yes, smugness and vanity are my motivators for keeping fit and I'm cool with that.
So tell me - do you sport? What works for you and why? And what's your favourite workout tune? I'll make an xoJane exercise playlist!