So this fitness game – it’s a bit of a passion of mine.
For me, being physically active and leading a fit and (somewhat) healthy lifestyle (ok let’s leave the prosecco, red wine, cheese, chocolate out of it…) has given me the focus and commitment to take on challenges that I never thought I could actually have accomplished.
To give you a bit of background, as a child, I always loved sports despite somewhat lacklustre performances. One of the residing benchwarmers for any school team sport – hockey, netball, tennis, you name it – I always seemed to be the kid that was impatiently side-stepping when those lucky ringleaders (*damn those born with sporting prowess*) would choose the teams, waiting to be inevitably picked last – as Rachel from Friends would say “you pick me? you don’t pick me! you’re stuck with me!” – but gosh darn it I didn’t bloody give up – *why you fool why* – I’ll tell you why, because I loved it. I loved being a team player, I loved the feeling of accomplishment being the underdog that scores the goal or passes to the person that scores the goal (mostly the latter), I loved the sense of belonging, I loved having commitment and motivation (my Mum especially loved driving me to all those away matches in the middle of bumblef*ck), but most of all I loved the pride (nothing beats my Mum sat on the sidelines cheering me on, followed by a trip to our favourite pizza local as a treat, whether we’d had an absolute shocker (6-love, 6-love…that was less of the cheering on the sidelines, more of the *oh god just let this be over and this teenage Navratilova desist whooping my poor daughter’s ungainly behind*) or we’d won emphatically (gooooo team, ok so she only played for 5 minutes and got a hard-wooden-hockey-stick-shaped whack to the chops, but they only went and bloody won!).
I was one of those kids that grown ups would say “ah bless her she’s a tryer isn’t she!” loosely translated as “bless her, she’s pretty rubbish, bit awkward that she doesn’t just give up?” But yet here we are, that gawky uncoordinated klutz of a “tryer”, competed in a flipping marathon, gained fitness training certificates, and is only bloody well teaching other people how to exercise (with coordinated moves and everything!), who would have guessed it.
In this life, it takes a lifetime of knocks and blows and picking yourself up from those disappointing doldrums of failure to learn what to give up on and what to persevere with. Keeping fit has always been something that firmly sits in the second camp for me. There are obviously many health and physical benefits to being active in life – lest I harp on about the reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, reduced levels of cholesterol, in heart conditions, diabetes, cancer…alright bore off health police…but it’s not just about lengthening your time on planet earth and increasing the quality of life whilst on it. Taking part in sports and generally being active will give you the skill set as a child and growing up to be able to interact socially with others, to learn how to be competitive but in a healthy way, how to focus your mind and energy on one goal, how to support others but also to make sure you’re reaching your own personal goals, to learn coordination and to develop key motor skills. This is why I am so passionate about my Active Tots classes. I believe it’s important to start developing these skills at an early age. And who better to teach them than their world’s biggest rock star role models – that’s us parental folkage by the way. One of the biggest thrills for me since I have taken on fitness as a full time career was when I walked in to a room after I had been practising Pound for the millionth time on my poor suffering family members and Theo was pretending to me, teaching them how to “hold in the core” and “bang the sticks like this”…it fills my heart to know that he can see me doing something where I thrive, something that I love, and something that is most importantly making his Mummy happy. He can see that being active, healthy and fit is not just a way of life that I’m choosing, it’s a state of mind. I’m happier when I’m helping others feel better about themselves, when I’m teaching them new techniques, when I see how proud they are of the goals that they’ve achieved, and when I myself am learning new skills and growing every day as an individual.
We all know the stats of growing child obesity and how giving them an active and healthy start in life is so important…god will you just bore off health brigade…but children will learn so much more if they watch you keeping fit and can even join in. Staying active can be about doing something you enjoy and love, and that will shine through and transmit when you share it with the ones you love.
We tend to separate fitness as alone time, when you totter off to the gym, hoisting one nappy free, raisin free, crayon free ADULT backpack over your shoulder, softly sighing “freedom!” as you quietly shut the front door before any little people catch wind that you’ve abandoned them. Don’t get me wrong those are some of my most beloved moments in life. But my point is why can’t fitness be something we can also share with them – if we love it, enjoy it and are proud of ourselves for shifting arse from sofa to treadmill, why not show our children that being fit is something they can love, enjoy and be proud of too…you don’t need to be Jessica Ennis to teach your kids sports, you just need a willingness and positive attitude towards keeping active. Dare I say, can we be the fitness Jamie Olivers of this world, and prise them off the iPads and Nintendo DS’s. Excuse the ensuing cheesy-as-that-piece-of-stilton-lingering-at-the-back-of-the-fridge closing statement but let’s make a shiny, bright, healthy and happy future for the next generation and get in this fitness game together!