We’re still not doing enough – apparently!

Women are 36 per cent less likely than men to be physically active.

MAW
Are we stretching ourselves enough?

That’s according to new research by the British Heart Foundation which claims this lack of physical inactivity in both sexes is likely to cause as many deaths as smoking.

And the study goes on to say a third of British people are at risk of heart disease because of a lack of exercise.

Now if you look at the date my last blog post you’ll see I’m guilty of a lack of blogging activity!

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Feline fine  – I have no exercise statistics for cats

My observations would simply be that if you don’t really like exercise then it’s hardly going to be a regular part of your life (just like the “strict diet” we’ve all announced we’re going on at some stage and which usually lasts the best part of one morning).

We are told two million Brits are apparently not meeting government targets of how physically active we should be.

Government targets? Yes, apparently they do exist for fitness. (Take a look at the NHS-recommended ones here.)

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Nobody LIKES burpees

The idea of the government telling us to get fit and healthy (almost Orwellian!) – once inspired me to write an article for BBC News on how MPs get fit. Do they practice what their employers preach?

Of course I’m going to come back to why it’s women who are taking significantly less exercise.

I don’t see a marked lack of females when I do my Guerrilla training. If anything the men are outnumbered, especially in the morning classes and at weekends.

So what’s happening?

After all, this report has highlighted the fact that even “active” people are at risk if they don’t do vigorous exercise.

Does-your-hair-interfere-with-your-exercise-routine
No it’s  the other way round

Now while I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually enjoys doing things like star jumps and burpees – it’s stuff like that that can really make the difference – and, as many women will testify, gives them more body confidence when they hit the town or get into their bikinis!

Of course it goes beyond worrying about your appearance – Thank God – and I’d like to think we’re past the idea of exercise being unladylike or unfeminine.

Women’s sport is getting more coverage – just look at the Oxford/Cambridge boat race coverage at the weekend.

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We know, we know

But then I’m looking more at exercise being a lifestyle thing rather than something competitive.

Adele’s gone on the record saying she hates exercise.

And speaking as somebody who heartily loathed P.E. and sports days at school, I don’t think anybody should be forced into it.

So I’m wondering – could this element of feeling one is being coerced be the reason one GP-referral programme of council-funded fitness classes was recently axed?

South Tyneside Council said only 17% of participants completed it and less than 10% became more active.

But whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with gender!

 

 

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Guerrillas in the Mist

I should be grateful my bone has healed!
I should be grateful my bone has healed!

A breather after a block of non-stop working means my exercise activities are totally unrestricted – and I’m loving it.

And as my Guerrillas instructor shouts commands to do burpees that send me scrambling to the floor, or boob-joggling star-jumps, I know I should be grateful.

I no longer hobble. I’m there – in the moment.

It’s worth enduring the rain (the “mist” in the title!) to get there.

That once-broken fifth metatarsal reminds me it’s there – I practically see it shining UV fluorescent green through the side of my shoe, through my skin.

Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?
Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?

My yoga instructor once told me this “reminder” is the bone’s way of protecting me!

All the same, it’s surreal. It now survives high impact exercises – not only Guerrillas – but running too.

I had to replace my mobile phone recently due to wear and tear – that option simply isn’t as readily available when it’s one of your feet.

Good job the body heals as well as it does!

My battle against vile, flabby, passive femininity – my War on Soft – is making satisfactory progress to date.

Leave the wings where they belong
Leave the wings where they belong

However my latest concern is – now the bingo wings are on their way out courtesy of my upper-body work – am I going to bulk-up?

After all I don’t want to end looking like a gorilla!

“(Women) should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels”, says exercise physiologist and author Dr Jason Karp.

Like, phew!

Another WordPress blog CrossFit Journal has offered some reassurance this won’t happen.

Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly 'bulky'
Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly ‘bulky’

With my short, stocky statue I fear I could go that way – but if I’ve being realistic, I’ve got a very long way to go before that happens, if indeed it does.

For a start, at the moment I can’t even pull myself up whether it’s on rings dangling from the ceiling or on a bar above my head – my arms simply aren’t strong enough to carry my full body weight.

That’ll change, of course!

I'll be able to do this - one day!
I’ll be able to do this – one day!

And the majority of people in today’s class were female (don’t ask me why but the male-dominated ones tend to be more in the evenings) – and I’d say most of them don’t want to bulk-up either!

Frankly, as someone who prides themselves on being unfeminine and unladylike I’m shocked at my typically girly fear of becoming muscular, especially when I know how irrational it is, given my existing knowledge.

I reckon I need to start balancing out the cardio and reintroducing long runs.

It’s all a work in progress – but I’m on it!

My war on Soft

“Hi, is that Soft? Look – we need to talk. You and I are finished.”

soft - marshallowI detest my soft, flabbiness. Guerrilla Training is so right for me – because I know that softness will one day be gone.

And yes, I know that setting fitness goals should not be based on body shame.

It’s just that I’m a work in progress.

Meanwhile I can grunt, pump, swear and generally bash my way out of the more passive aspects of femininity – and that’s just fine by me!

I hate burpees but I hate soft even more!
I hate burpees but I hate Soft even more!

Well do I remember recoiling in self-disgust whenever a bloke I got off with remarked “You’re so soft!”

In Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Kate’s humiliation is complete when, having been “broken” by her husband, he then makes her tell her fellow women why they should be subordinate to men.

Her speech includes the following:

Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth

But that our soft conditions and our hearts

Should well agree with our external parts?

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
UPDATE: I still don’t want to look like this

Of course, this Shrew will not be tamed – and thinking about the above all this helps as I’m wondering “Why in God’s name am I doing these repeated burpees if the last time I tried I nearly threw up?”

Now maybe thinking about Shakespeare when I’m working out is slightly weird – so let’s include that practical Bible of my youth – good old Cosmopolitan.

In a magazine so dedicated to empowering woman, I found it somewhat bemusing to chance upon an article written by a man who really didn’t mind the fact his girlfriend had plump thighs.

In fact I’m wondering if – after the article was published – he still had a girlfriend!

Yep, it works for me!
Yup, it works for me

He luxuriated in the opulence of this poor individual’s cellulite – referring to her upper legs as “two teddy bears” he could snuggle up to in bed, and pondering over why woman’s thighs were not included as an enjoyable non-leafy snack.

So again – armed with my “no man’s going to enjoy my fat” mantra – I spring, jump, hop, star-jump – you name it – as vigorously as I can!

So now you’ve seen inside my mind as I’m working-out – and it’s not very pretty, is it?

All I will say in my defence is that my broken metatarsal – and subsequent ban from the exercise that suited me – did put me that bit nearer becoming the bingo-winged, large-breasted, soft-flabbed creature I dreaded becoming.

I can sooo relate to this
I can sooo relate to this – but I know it’ll be worth it!

I’m looking forward to running my hands down my un-teddy-bear-like thighs and feeling the solid muscle.

And I can’t wait for upper arms that don’t wobble like jelly.

Soft – you and I are so over!

The change won’t happen overnight but it will happen – now the control’s returned.

Now it’s up to me to reclaim the fitness I deserve.