the hardest part about going to the gym

I’ve recently joined the gym. I’m fortunate enough to live a literal six minute walk away from it; which, let’s be honest, was one of the deciding factors in my choice.

Having done barely any exercise for the last 7 or so years I’m finding it quite difficult, however my friend and I have got a regime and we’re giving it a damn good go. I’ve been enjoying it so far, but we’ve only gone a handful of times. Hopefully this won’t be a quick flirtation but the start of an actual healthy relationship with health and fitness.

That being said, the worst part about going to the gym is the travelling. You may be wondering what’s so difficult when it’s only a few minutes away from me, so let me set the scene…

The hair that normally falls down to my bum has been awkwardly scraped up into a ponytail that probably won’t last the duration of the workout. For someone whose sole hairstyle is simply ‘down’, I feel exposed and self conscious.

Walking feels strange because I’ve had to swap my (comfortably) heavy Dr Martens for some incredibly light trainers. I feel like I’m walking on the moon. In fact I feel like a lemon in general walking around in my gym gear, but it’s only a quick sprint so I decided to brave it.

I get to the traffic lights, the gym is in sight, when lo and behold a Fiat Punto full of ‘lads’ drive by and yell something at me. Reflexively I stick my arm in the air as high and straight as possible, my middle finger extended. Wankers.

I continue on unscathed, meet my pal at the gym, struggle on the floor like a beached whale attempting ‘straight leg situps’ (amongst other things), and then set off home.

I manage to get about three minutes into my journey back when a car full of middle aged men start barking at me. After giving them the same treatment as the car of young lads – a swift middle finger – I whip my phone out to rant at my boyfriend about what happens when a woman attempts to occupy a public space. When, lo and behold, before I’ve even finished typing five words a car on the other side of the road crawls past whistling at me repeatedly.

You guys, I am sick to fucking death of this. Being catcalled twice on my six minute walk home from the gym is two times too many. Before I’d even started going, I’d thought long and hard about the repercussions of making the short journey in my gym gear. But I don’t want to have to walk to the gym in less ‘provocative’ clothing just because some people can’t control themselves. Because some people believe they have the right to pass judgement on my body as a result of me simply daring to venture outside.

My idea of less provocative is the shirt and jeans I’ve worn to work, rather than the t-shirt and gym leggings that I’ll be exercising in. But why should I have to carry a bag full of my gear, to spend ten minutes getting changed once I get there and again when I need to go back, when I could just walk there in my workout clothes and be ready to start immediately.

I shouldn’t have to be thinking about the repercussions of what I wear when I go outside. Anyway, we all know that it doesn’t actually matter what you wear – I’ve been called a slut whilst walking through the city of an afternoon wearing black jeans, a black hoodie and a rucksack. How that can denote to a perfect stranger that I’m a slut is beyond me.

The issue here isn’t what women wear, it’s the entitlement of some men commenting on women and their bodies. Although let me make something very clear, I know not every man does this. I am in no way claiming that all men do this; I am simply sharing my experiences of the men that have done this and how it makes me feel. Because boy does it make me pissed.

high intensity interval training

Today I went on my first run with my boyfriend. We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about starting to exercise and buying the necessary clothing and running shoes.

We were fortunate enough to both get pairs of the same Karrimor Run shoes, which are really good quality running shoes with ‘intelligent technology’ for £18 down from £80, because they’ve been discontinued. The lady in the shop told us that she has a pair herself and the decrease in price is crazy because they’re such a good pair of trainers – they were selling them for £60 a matter of weeks ago.

We knew we were approaching this with a tight budget and we’re really lucky that we’ve managed to get some good gear very cheap.

Feeling pretty positive from this high, I looked up running for beginners. I wasn’t aware that my partner had done some running a few years ago but didn’t end up feeling like he made any progress because he hadn’t been training, he had just gone out running for ten minutes a few times a week.

I felt like we needed some direction and found a website, http://www.runnersworld.co uk, which has a schedule for running for beginners.

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I’d done some high intensity interval training (HIIT) before in the form of jumping jacks for the workout and side stepping for the rest, so I knew the benefits of working out with high intensity for short bursts. He was slightly sceptical but did acknowledge that his running hadn’t gotten him anywhere before so this was worth a go.

He joked that with the intervals we’d have to be looking at our phones constantly so I went straight to the play store, searched for ‘running interval timers’ and there were loads. We both installed the first one, ‘HIIT Interval Training Timer’, and set it up with the timings for the first week in the schedule. I was sure to put a minute ‘prep time’ in so that I could force my phone, with the inch long headphone jack sticking out, into the unfeasibly tiny pocket on the back of my running leggings.

We got to the greenway, synchronised pressing start on the HIIT app, pressed play on our Spotify and got going. And we actually both really enjoyed it. Working in intervals is so much better because just as you start gasping for air the rest interval starts and you can catch your breath whilst walking, which is important as you’re also keeping your heart rate slightly elevated. It puts you good stead for the next running interval and really made a difference for me personally because I didn’t get to the helpless stage of thinking I was going to collapse and die, and that I can’t and won’t ever be able to work out well.

We both came back feeling good. My only problem though is that when I work out I feel like I should do it until I drop, and if I’m not dripping with sweat it wasn’t good enough or worth it. I’m trying to appreciate that doing HIIT training will result in working out more often and that it’s a much more sustainable method, and one that is better for your body.

I can’t wait to go out again on Thursday, but more importantly to keep this up for the long term. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, but it’s felt like a random, far off dream that I’ll never end up doing. But if I keep up HIIT training I feel like it’s something that can definitely happen some time in the future.