How I fell in love with exercise


At school I hated exercise. Every week I had a note with a different excuse ranging from period pain, a bad ankle, sore thumb, bad hair day. There was nothing worse than playing baseball. I have a genuine fear of balls flying towards me. My lack of enthusiasm for physical exercise was remembered when I bumped into my secondary school teacher 10 years later and she said ‘I remember you, you were the girl who never done P.E’ Fast forward 12 years and I absolutely love exercise. Although I will admit I still don’t like balls flying towards me and I still avoid wall ball at my gym classes like the plague. I fell in love with fitness because it makes me feel good. As Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde

“Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!”

It also helped me build my confidence up after having my first child. I was so self-conscious of my post baby body, I never took any mother and baby photos until maybe Nancy’s first birthday, I just couldn’t. I also fell in love with exercise because it gave me new found energy. I could throw my daughter up in the air as good as my other half, I could run around soft play with feeling breathless and I knew I was looking after myself so I could look after her.

I attend a local independent gym, Elite Fitness run by Simon and Lyndsey about 3 or 4 times a week. I have to say I love going to an independent gym. It feels like a family. You tend to see the same faces at classes so you end up knowing them by name, chatting to them and that really helps motivate you. You also know all the gym instructors and they know you. They are aware of your injuries or your weaknesses and can really help you and push your fitness to the next level. For me it’s my shoulders that tend to rise to my ears when I try and dead lift. It’s an improvement as 18 months ago I couldn’t even hold a plank for 10 seconds or lift 2kg. What’s also great about a local gym is walking in and being greeted with a ‘hey Kelly, how are you?’ It’s such a homely feeling and it helps prevent the dread of walking into a gym full of gym bunnies who make bench pressing 160kg look like lifting up a guinea pig.

So what do I do in the gym? Well I like to flip between MetCon and Hot Yoga. Met Con is metabolic conditioning, it involves high intensity training and a lot of sweat! You tend to work your butt off for a few seconds or minutes, have a quick rest and then back on it again. You could be doing monkey bars for 30 seconds, kettle bell swings for another 30 seconds, rowing machine for another 30 seconds, TRX for another 30 seconds and then box jumps for another 30 seconds. Sounds easy? The sweat comes from short breaks so you just have chance to catch your breathe before you are back on it again. If you are a regular at the gym I recommend trying MetCon or CrossFit to really challenge your body and your strength as it is amazing what your body can do. Last year I struggled to swing 6kg, last week I pulled my own body weight on a sledge. It is also great for building muscle and shredding fat. This for me was the exercise that got me to shred my final half a stone. You know at the end of diet where you just can’t loose that that last bit of fat? Well this is what you want to be doing sugar pie! 

My second fitness passion is yoga. I adore yoga for my mental and psychical health. I think a lot of people initially are put off yoga because they can’t touch their toes. But you honestly don’t need to touch your toes, and after a day at a desk it often take a me 60 minutes to warm my spine up to be able to touch my toes. Yoga is fantastic for your spiritual and mental well being and it can really calm the mind after a manic day. Yoga can also really help you to tone. Within six months of doing yoga religiously 2-3 times a week and just yoga, I shifted a stone! I didn’t think I would loose any weight but slowly my Mum Tum decreased and I started to build strength and tone. If you dread the thought of a gym and lifting weights, or if you suffer from injuries which may not allow you to attend a gym then please, please, try a local yoga class. The benefits are fantastic.

Now I know full well finding time to go the gym is bloody hard! I leave the house at 7.30am, get home for 5.45pm and have just over an hour to feed, bath and read a story to my little girl before class, I then come home from class and I have to meal prep lunch and dinner for the next day and tidy up any housework that I didn’t have time to do. I can honestly say I probably don’t stop. But it is worth it. I think exercise is really important for the body and the mind, especially for me.

So my top tips for gym motivation:

– GO! Even for half hour. Sometimes I can’t get to the gym until 8pm. But I blitz the running machine, throw some kettle bells in the air, do some abs and bam I burnt off those chocolate digestives.

– Find a class or routine that you enjoy.

– Keep track of your progress. Take pictures, it’s horrible at first but it’s so good when you see results.

– Switch up your routine. Try new machines, try a heavier weight even for five reps. Push yourself!

– Make friends. Have a chat, have a laugh, it really helps get you there when you didn’t want to go.

– Take a break when you need a break. One week away won’t undo months of hard graft.

I have lost a total of four stone in the last three years. I have lost the weight slowly to ensure that I can maintain the weight I am now. I couldn’t have done it just by healthy eating. Especially because I can never refuse a chocolate biscuit, but honestly exercise is the key. I also think loosing the weight slowly is really important. I didn’t crash diet, I took my time. I made home cooked nutritious meals and I watched my calories. I took my time, I enjoyed cake when I needed to get through the day after a sleepless night and I kept going. And it worked!

Kelly Yasmin Bayley