You’re stuck and you feel trapped?


Get off the sofa and turn into a ‘fitter’

Old friends make you do the strangest things, and so it was that I found myself catching a friend after a fish dinner at a beach cafe in West Wittering as she fell off the other friend’s stationary exercise bike between closings in her guest room. The falling friend is a potter and does not classify as an athlete, like me. She shrieked as the pedals began to go faster than her legs, and her eyes widened, and then she dropped to the side.

I should add that a word I coined myself is “exerciser”

It explains what I am not and what I am now trying to become, to shake off the things I don’t want in my life (pandemic-related anxiety, worry about finishing my new book).

About an athlete.

Thanks to a bright spot that explained why I left sports, it’s going pretty well.

It’s because I don’t have an affinity for sports – how can I say it politely?

Women with cartoon biceps, ripped men jogging topless, make me anxious.

I have an affinity for people sitting around thinking I shouldn’t have another one, but yes, please, so in the early hours of the morning, my old school muckers and I ended up on a stationary saddle.

A mail carrier is the buddy who owns the stationary exercise bike.

She runs on her slim legs all day, comes in, walks on the beach with her two dogs and then gets on an exercise bike. What’re you doing? It’s the strength, she says, of the cardio. She feels anxious without it.

I got an email a couple of days later from road cyclist Peter Kennaugh, the Olympic champion, like you.

Currently, he himself did not contact me; the former British champion teamed up with Bang & Olufsen and Canyon Bikes, and using the Zwift app, I was offered a workout on an indoor bike.

In the run-up to Lockdown 0.2, it coincided with a calm, barely audible agitation that had buzzed and now resembled a whirring blender with no off switch in sight.

And so I said yes.

The pleasure of not having to leave the house was fantastic and, as part of a spontaneously hatched six-week experiment, I decided to borrow the bike for an extended time. The objective? To see if exercise will move me away from feelings of discomfort and overwhelm, as well as razor sharp and able to prioritize the things I enjoy, to be inspired again. According to the late motivational psychologist Charles Snyder, to feel optimistic, you have to have ambitions and believe you have what it takes to accomplish them. By setting targets, health is accomplished, and I, like so many of us, wanted to get back my default sense of trust that the pandemic did its best to kill.

I also signed up for weekly personal training and dynamic Pilates on the digital fitness platform Ponzu Fit, and got some Crossrope for myself. So the indoor bike stayed.

I was going to get a new pelvic floor, too, but I couldn’t find one online.

My Ponzu trainer Claudine Camp says, “Yes, Genevieve, you can do it!” or Pilates coach Susan Altay smiles as she counts down from a torturous leg lock. Forty-two days later, I’m now squatting for the UK.

On a single leg, I lowered myself on and off the sofa (yes, fine, using the armrest as a cheating support).

During attempted push-ups and plank holds, I’ve sniffed enough dust to fill a vacuum cleaner, and I’ve done star jumps with unmuscular abandon – worrying about my WFH neighbor at his window table across the street too late.

Thanks to booking those online workout classes where you are directed by coaches, I’ve been doing EFH at least four times a week.

My normal non-exercise excuses don’t fly while anyone is waiting for you – no time to get to a class, too much work on my plate. The secret to keeping me going in the new year with exercise is changing my habits, says midlife fitness and attitude coach James Davis of Our subconscious mind also rejects new habits because it wants to keep us locked in the familiar (not exercising).

So, first commit to a new routine, plan it, and at least start, even if you don’t feel like it.
“What got me back on the bike during his virtual training session was something that Peter Kennaugh said, “It doesn’t matter if you just do 30 or 40 mi.


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