How Memories of School PE Nearly Put Me Off Fitness For Life – Jaqueline

‘What happened, you weren’t one of the sporty girls at school!’

Asked an old school friend when I reconnected with her recently.

She’s right, I didn’t like school PE. I grew up in the 70’s when PE meant thick navy blue knickers, aertex blouses and plimsolls. At secondary school we had to get changed in an outside concrete building and use a communal shower, which was always freezing. As if that wasn’t bad enough each week we’d have to go through the ritual humiliation of two team leaders selecting their favourites first, whilst waiting and praying you weren’t last to be picked.

It’s not so much that I wasn’t ‘sporty’, it’s that school did nothing to encourage or foster a love of being active and engaging in physical activity.

Whilst miraculously I did discover a love for all things physical, once I left school, not everyone does.

I came to fitness through my children. It was after I gave birth to my first son that I knew I had to look after my health and fitness. Faced with my new-born son, who was 100% dependent on me, I suddenly felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility and the need to take my own wellbeing seriously. I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day in the past 30 years since his birth that I haven’t had my children in the back of my mind when I am exercising.

Now every day, through the course of my work as a Personal Trainer, Fitness Tutor and Educator, and Nutritionist I meet women who have never really engaged with the fitness industry. They’ve labelled themselves as ‘not the sporty kind’, they think exercise is going to hurt as in ‘no pain no gain’, and sometimes they feel fitness isn’t for them. This is so sad, but also means I need to do a bit of myth busting!

Being a top athlete isn’t everyone’s destiny.

Being a sporting hero isn’t achievable for all of us.

But fitness is for everyone, all ages, all abilities and inclusive of gender, race and physical and mental limitations.

So when I work with women I also spend a lot of time digging a little deeper into their belief systems around fitness and exercise. Many women of my age group have similar bad memories of school PE and this has held them back, but there are many other reasons too.

Whatever the reasons we can tackle them, and reduce their hold on us once we get them out in the open. Then moving on we start to examine what our drivers are, what things are important to us, who our hearts beat for. This is important for identifying our goals. Most of my clients aren’t aiming for a gold medal, they simply want to feel healthy and to enjoy time with their families.

Being fit and active doesn’t have to mean going to a gym, a punishing class, or a boot camp. The most important thing is finding something you enjoy. It could be swimming, archery, badminton, Nordic walking or any one of a 101 other activities. The first step is literally taking a step, then another one, then a few more!

The biggest piece of advice I offer everyone is be consistent, day in day out, week after week, year on year.

‘What happened, you weren’t one of the sporty girls at school!’ she said.

I found my reason why, I told her.

Find your reason why, re visit it when you feel your motivation slipping, and be consistent.

I’ve been consistent for 57 years now, it seems to be working!

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