I sometimes get comments along the lines of "oh you never put on weight" or "you're so lucky, you don't need to worry about getting fat" and whilst I seldom respond, the same thing usually runs through my mind - sure I'm lucky to have a healthy, fully able body and maybe genetics have been kind to me - but truth is, I like exercise - I think it's fun.
I probably take after my Mum - she's a 6 year old trapped in a 65 year olds body - leave her unsupervised in a park for 5 minutes and you'll find her 10 feet up in a tree, and even though she's never been super sporty (or even particularly co-ordinated - sorry Mum) she can still do a cartwheel and go skiing for a week without complaining of sore legs and a bad back.
She's my inspiration, and while I may not have to worry too much about gaining weight, we all have to worry about whether our bodies are going to continue to support our lifestyles and allow us to continue doing all the things we rely on them to do every day as we get older. I exercise 4 or 5 times a week because I like to challenge myself, take my mind off work and it makes me feel good - sure I want my jeans fit but, more importantly, I want to be as agile as my mum is at 65.
Funnily enough I didn't actually have the healthiest start in life and during my stint in intensive care as a newborn, the docs told my parents that if I was lucky enough to survive I wouldn't be very sporty.... HAHAHAHA! Fast forward a few years to my brother asking Mum and Dad to swap me for a slightly less hyper active sister! During my years as a fairly average but totally obsessed gymnast, I remember begging my Dad to install a sprung floor in my bedroom, and offering to dig the hole if he agreed to sink a trampoline into our garden (he declined both offers, go figure.) I was on almost every sports team at school and tried every extra-curricular activity going. I just like being active - my husband calls me "busy" and says I'd find entertainment on a desert island, lining up the coconuts and teaching the fish how to swim in straight lines - I struggle to sit still and do nothing.
And I still love sports - kitesurfing, tennis, skiing, hiking - but when you're working full time at a job which keeps you in a swivel chair for at least 8 hours a day, you don't have as much time to climb trees and bounce on trampolines as you did when you were a kid to burn off energy - so how do you stay in shape?
I like to run and I also try to go to CrossFit Lite twice a week which I can highly recommend - I love the variety each workout offers and coincidently the gym I go to just published a blog post all about keeping fit to live a great life, after I'd already planned to write this post - but I've also discovered some free Apps and websites recently that make fitness more accessible than ever.
1. Nike Training App - A friend put me onto this only a couple of weeks ago and I'm a massive fan. Free to download it's full of workouts ranging from 5 minutes to an hour. Chose from 130 pre-programmed strength, endurance and mobility focused sessions tailored to beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. It's super easy to use - download the workout you want to try and just follow video demo's of each drill on screen or listen to the audio cues. It will also sync with your iTunes so you can workout to your favourite music!
2. Sworkit - This is the first fitness app I downloaded on my iPad, long before I even had a smart phone and the explosion of online fitness so it's pretty basic but the workouts are simple and effective. Some of the exercises get a bit repetitive but if you only have 10 minutes and you're looking for a quick way to get your heart rate pumping and your muscles working, this is it. Think star jumps, planks and lunges - circuit training without having to use your brain.
3. Boho Beautiful - Warning: This chick will have you struggling to chose between quitting your job and moving to Bali, or becoming a full time yogi, but if you can refrain from either, she might just succeed in injecting a little bit of balance into your life in 25 minutes or less. Her videos are truly beautiful but the routines are no-nonesense and pack a punch if you're looking for a core or flexibility workout.
4. Fitness Blender - ok so these guys can get a little bit irritating but their full length workout videos are free and are guaranteed get you out of breath and feeling the burn from the comfort and safety of your own home. There's hundreds of videos to chose from and you can filter your search in a similar fashion to the Nike Fitness App so there's something for everyone.
5. Popsugar - these videos will promise to have you looking like a Victoria Secret model with a 6-pack in 10 minutes, but if you can look past the questionable claims, the workouts are actually pretty decent and good fun! Imagine you're in a the call on me video and just have a go! There's LOADS to chose from and they often feature celebs and their trainers so it's kinda like a trashy magazine crossed with an exercise class - what's not to love?!
And if you're just not that into sports and getting sweaty and out of breath, just go outside! Take a walk, stretch your legs and get some air in your lungs. There are so many health benefits to walking and so much to be gained from getting some fresh air it's the easiest way to add a little bit of fitness to your every day life - and EVERYONE can make time! In the time that you've taken to read this post (thanks by the way) you could have done at least 50 star jumps!
You just have to find a way to make fitness fun and fit it into your day. Grab a group of friends for a sense of camaraderie, try a new class or learn a new sport. It will make you happier, I guarantee it, and in the long term, your 65 year old self will thank you for it. Even if you just start with a minute a day. Start.