I was at the gym yesterday doing a Grid class – have you ever done one? They are the shizzle! They combine high intensity toning and cardio exercises for 20 seconds per exercise in rounds of 6. The first 3 rounds you’re like yeah man, I Am The Terminator. By the last 2 rounds you’re begging for mercy and trying to look like you meant it when you fell out your side plank onto your face.
I happened to be in the class with only 3 other girls – a new mom working off her baby weight, a complete beginner who had never done a class in her life, and her friend who fell somewhere in the middle. The beginner dropped out after 2 rounds, her friend after 3. The new mom was struggling, but she and I made it to the end for a satisfying high five.
And it got me thinking, there’s a lot of unrealistic expectation around exercise. If you’re not staring at posters in the gym of these perfect figured, totally-not-sweaty models telling you to get #allin for your #workout, you’re mesmerised by the magazine ad where the skinny blonde white girl is selling you yoga, a practice developed and perfected by ancient Indian dudes. If they would just make an eye rolling key…
The bullshit surrounding fitness today is astonishing, and it’s making us feel really bad. You can’t go to a Zumba class unless you’ve had dance training because you’ll look like a drunk chicken playing hopscotch. You can’t run on the treadmill if you’re not a size 10 because people are going to stare at your jiggling fat rolls. You can’t do yoga if you don’t look like Miranda Kerr doing a backbend, and you certainly can’t lift weights if you haven’t inflated your muscles with a helium balloon pump beforehand.
We’re all afraid of what people think and we don’t want to be judged, or worse, laughed at. It’s natural, and the crap about perfect bodies and flawless exercise displays that are shoved in our faces everyday certainly doesn’t help matters.
So in honour of this unattainable level of perfection, here are my 10 Commandments of Exercise to remind you that it’s ok to be you when you hit the gym…
1. Thou shalt not starve thyself
Exercise? I thought you said extra fries!
Your body needs fuel – do not go on a hunger strike 2 days before Pilates. You’ll be hangry (hungry and angry), grumpy, and you still won’t look like Miranda Kerr.
2. Thou shalt feel f’king amazing
Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel like you can conquer the world. So go do that spin class and then go write that presentation in your sweaty socks.
3. Thou shalt not post thy workout on facebook
“I forgot to post on facebook that I was going to gym…now this whole workout is a waste of time.” You know who you are! Cut it out – no one cares, and we don’t need you passive-aggressively making the rest of us feel bad.
4. Thou shalt not have long debates with thyself about whether or not to go to the gym today
If Mohammed won’t come to mountain….then Mohammed won’t get fit. All that time you’re spending arguing, you could be spending doing sit ups. Stop thinking, just do it. YOU are in control.
5. Thou shalt rock thy exercise outfit of choice
So you want to work out in hotpants and a sports bra? Go for it. But make sure you take that mascara off and get ugly sweaty while you do it. Ain’t nobody got time for model castings in the gym.
6. Thou shalt be kind to thyself
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the body or fitness level that you’re aiming for. Don’t beat yourself up – you are already good enough. Just keep on going and results will come.
7. Thou shalt pick thyself up after a bad day
When life knocks you down, do a burpee! Maybe it’s not your day in the gym…or maybe you went for a run and it was more like a waddle. It’s ok. It might not be your day, or even your weekend. But it can still be your month, and it’s definitely your year.
8. Thou shalt set goals
Run like Ryan Gosling is waiting for you at the finish line – or maybe it’s cookies. Whatever you need to imagine, make it real and then chase it, CHASE IT LIKE YOU’RE A MANIAC STALKER WHO MUST HAVE THE OBJECT OF YOUR DESIRE…ok, too far. Tone it down a touch, you freak.
9. Thou shalt embrace thy uniqueness
“You are what you eat. That’s funny, I don’t think I’ve eaten any sexy beasts today.” Don’t try to be anyone else – you’re awesome as you are. Plus it makes you stand out from a crowded world where too many people are all trying to be someone else – and how boring and depressing is that.
10. Thou shalt reward thyself
You knew this was coming….work that class like a 9 to 5, run like a swarm of bees is behind you, and when it’s all over take a deep breath, pop that cork and pour yourself a glass of wine. Because no set of commandments is complete without one.