Exercise - what does it mean for you?

I had a healthy exercise regime until I left the mountains in 1999 (15 years ago, that is...). It's been going downhill (no pun intended) from then on.

I grew-up in a ski resort so for me, exercise primarily meant snow sports - well that and all the sports that my schools made me do out of season, of which I only enjoyed swimming and tennis (grass hockey was the pits). I competed in ski races, swimming competitions and backfilled for tennis tournaments (not embarrassing at all). I do not have a competitive nature so I always enjoyed the practise more than the race - working out harder, aka suffering, to win just never clicked with me. Also, I enjoyed the social elements of the sports I did, it was part of my daily life and I never questioned it.

In 1999 I moved to Barcelona, and more or less stopped exercising. Partying like I did when I was young did not have an impact on my physicality while in the mountains due to my lifestyle but as soon as I moved to a city and stopped exercising, my body began to change. Also, I was diagnosed with PCOS but that's a conversation for another post. I didn't make time to exercise, primarily because my friends at the time were either exactly like me (non-exercisers) or sport pros (I kid ye not - tennis, waterpolo and coaches) so no social sports and really, the only accessible option for exercising in the city was going to the gym, something I have always despised. But it didn't really bother me, I've never had the addicted relationship to sport others have so I never really seeked it out.

After Barcelona, I moved to Sydney where I would work out for a couple months then stop, then start again. Next was London, a massive city where I spent most of my life working or commuting so no real desire to take away from my social or sleep time to tread away in a gym, and because of the weather, there was never much outdoor activity to be done (no thanks, I don't want to run in the polluted rain). Then I moved to Milan, a much smaller city, I bought a bike and cycled everywhere to avoid the public transport commute, and decided to join the same gym some of my friends were going to - all of a sudden, the gym was a social event where I'd meet my friends, workout for a couple hours then we'd all go grab a bite to eat at a salad bar nearby! On Sundays, I took tennis lessons with my friends Silvia and Vale, it was a lot of fun as we made each other run around after balls (there's a joke there, somewhere). During my 3 years in Milan, I lost just over 1/3 of the weight I had put on since '99 and felt like I was on the right track. Then I moved to the States...

Huge dietary shock from mediterranean cuisine to Asian, Mexican, Diner fare, etc., finding out about GMOs and that cows are not fed grass (WTF), working like crazy, not enough time to cook or exercise as work was insane, so I gained back the weight. Seattleites are extreme about their sports, something we've established I am not. For a while I was doing yoga then I hurt my back so I quit. I then started seeing a personal trainer which was great while it lasted but I couldn't sustain it financially. So back to square one.  

What I realised is that because I am not 'sportistically' (inventing a word that should exist) inclined, every time I move, I destabilise any regime I have and struggle with recreating a healthy lifestyle rhythm. I see this here in Barcelona - figuring out where to shop, trying to eat healthily, walking is my only exercise, I'm starting to cycle again thanks to free bike scheme.

I'm in my thirties now so the bounce back gets harder each time. I need to just suck it up and commit to something. I am going to start slow and do 1-3 workouts per week at home; if I can find a clean affordable pool locally, I'll also start swimming. From there, I will join a tennis club in the Fall, then maybe checkout my local Cross-Fit gym. I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, here are some of the apps/online tools I have discovered for at home workouts:

  • The Nike Training Club app - amazing if you have workout ADD like I do! Plus it's free! First you chose what the target of your workout is (Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong or Get Focused) and then your level (Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced) - this opens up an extensive list of workouts to chose from, all assisted with photos and outlined steps, really easy to follow. 
  • The 'Do Anywhere Workout' by Equinox, the high end NYC gym (I've only showered there, long story) - as the name implicates, they have created a workout which you can easily do outside of the gym: at home when you don't have time to make it to the gym or when you're on a business trip for example. 
  • The '7-minute Workout' is a moderate intensity workout which The New York Times Magazine says that, "in 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science." Apparently, this workout must be unpleasant for it to be of any use. Will you give it a go? 

What's your exercise regime?