‘we’re not spring chickens anymore, you know’ – the importance of fitness.
The other day, I was grabbing coffee with a friend when talk turned to fitness. My friend has recently joined a gym and was chatting about some of the facilities.
I piped up that I had let my gym membership lapse after I moved cities, because I didn’t know where would be most convenient for me, following the relocation. We chatted about our favourite classes, our favourite regimes, and what gym wear was most comfortable.
And somewhere in the corner of my mind, I could see a tiny, 16-year-old version of me, shaking her head in disgust and whispering ‘sell-out!’.
You see, I have never been a fitness-crazed person, and I never, (I repeat: NEVER) would have thought I’d be able to spend a good 20 minutes talking about the gym and why I like it so much.
My teenage self would be horrified to discover that as a 20-something, I actually enjoy group fitness, and like the feeling of being out of breath and very stretched after a good round of RPM.
As a teenager, I hated P.E. with a passion, the notion of group sports made me want to cry, and I would have thought it incredibly uncool to talk about fitness in public. Maybe it was borne out of a sense of self-consciousness, or maybe it was just that fitness didn’t fit in with my cultivated, Daria-eque, I-don’t-give-a-shit image, but either way, there was nothing less interesting to me than exercise.
There is a certain kind of fitness-freak that I hope to never be – you know, the kind that obsessively calorie-counts, and bossily tells other people how they should exercise more and stop eating carbs or whatever. But the fact is, most people who go the gym, or regularly exercise are not annoying – they are just people who care about their health.
It isn’t until you get a bit older, start managing your own finances, living on your own and feeding yourself that you start really caring about your health and fitness. For a start, if you have an injury, or are unwell, you’ll be paying for it. The amount of times I’ve been the physio recently for injuries that could have been avoided with regular weight-bearing exercise and stretching is pathetic – and each visit is at least $75, unless you have private health cover.
But beyond that, once you start nearing your mid-twenties, your body starts to gradually lose some of the resilience of your youth. You might find that excess weight doesn’t drop off you like it once used to; or that an all-nighter makes you feel like death for the entire next day. I know that I can’t leap like a gazelle from bed at 6am anymore like I once did, and if I choose to eat an entire packet of Doritos, you’ll be able to tell the next day.
However, when I was going to the gym regularly, and exercising consistently while eating fairly healthy food, I had so much more vitality. I was more alert, more energetic, I could even climb stairs without puffing!
I will never be the fittest person in the room – I have asthma that prevents me from running without collapsing (definitely a result of not being very stringent with my medicine…), I have knee and elbow problems, and I’m generally just not naturally athletic.
But being mildly more health conscious has made me feel so much more capable physically than I ever did before.
So, to my 16-year-old self, who thinks it’s supremely uncool to care about fitness, you have no idea.
Sometimes a few hours at the fitness centre of your choice – be it a gym, your lounge room, or the pavement as you take a walk – is just what you need!