Glimmers of Life

Posts Tagged ‘exercise

When it comes to exercise there are loads of options out there, and in my quest for fitness (read: killer abs and a size 10 figure) I have tried quite a few. I think ultimately what I’m looking for is something that’s a balance between midless jumping around and yoga – where you feel like you’ve had a workout, i.e. actual sweat is produced but that you’ve learnt something too. Two weeks ago this led me to try Capoeira…

I had seen a poster or two for a Capoeira class in Hulme at the Zion Centre on a Thursday, but I never made it. Then I happened to pop into the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and there was a poster for a new class starting on Tuesdays at 7pm… so I thought I’d go along. Thinking about it now I didn’t really know anything about Capoeira before I went, there was some notion of Brazillian dance floating around in my sub conscious maybe?

But Capoeria is (and here’s the science bit) a combination of dance, ritual and martial arts that developed out of the Portugese trade of African slaves to Brazil the 16th century. In my two weeks of participating I’ve learnt that’s actually a sort of game where you use kicks and blocks in a flowing movement, and it helps you discover moves and muscles you didn’t know you had!

When going to a class, the first move you need to get your head round is the ‘ginga’, which is where you take one step to the side and then put your other leg behind while your arm comes out in front, then you repeat this moving from side to side. Get that and you’re well on your way – although if co-ordination is an issue then it’s not as simple as it sounds! You also need to prepare yourself for working at different levels, i.e. plenty of bending and squating that works those thighs and gluts.

Oh and you should also prepare yourself for revisiting some of those childhood moves you never thought you’d see again… especially sober.. such as the hand stand and the cartwheel – I’M NOT JOKING! When the instructor explained what he wanted me to do, flashbacks of junior school gymnastics and the fear that went with it (even though I did reach a BAGA 4) came rushing back; but when faced with the embarassment of not doing it I managed to rustle up some semblance of a cartwheel. The good news though is that it’s not a big deal – it’s not about straight legs and pointy toes but the movement from one position to the other so if your cartwheel looks more like a bunny hop – it’s OK.

After the first class I was warned about the muscle ache (and yes it did come despite the post class hot bath), but the sense I pride I had from doing a cartwheel (sorry to go on but it had been over 20 years since I last did one) and the fact that I was learning about a different culture all fuelled my next visit, and my fizzle of excitement for going again this week.

There are classes across Manchester, the three I know about are:

  • DanceHouse, Manchester City Centre (Oxford Road way) – Tuesday 7.30pm
  • Zion Arts Centre, Hulme – Thursday 6.30pm
  • Waterside Arts Centre, Sale (next to Sale Town Hall) – Tuesday 7pm

Try it and let me know how you got on! I would say that if you’re looking for a new challenge with your exercise regime then this is definately worth a try (usually first class is free) as it uses muscles you often don’t use in typical gym/dance classes. More active than karate, not as high impact as Zumba but easy to get into. It should get you into a mild sweat and feel like you’re working (possibly even toning) your muscles – I must be on my way to those killer abs...
(although I should say that this is just my opinion and I am no expert)


So I thought I would just share my experience of trying to lose weight after having my daughter. The reason I thought I’d share is because it’s not been as straight-forward as I thought it would be.

About two months ago I joined a gym. It was supposed to be a distraction while I found myself a hobby that was much more engaging, but as you may be able to tell from my previous post on the subject, I am hooked. It’s the feel good feeling… Or is it the feel good feeling of being able to eat several biscuits in a day but maintain my weight… I’m not sure. But I thought a by-product of more exercise would be a certain amount of weight loss.

I really am not one for diets. I think they’re pointless because you eat in an uncomfortable way for a while but then when the diet is finished you go back to your old ways – and you hear so many people say they’ve put on the any weight they lost dieting, so why start? My “diets” are based on one simple principle – eat less, exercise more get skinny.  So when I started with my “balanced” lifestyle (biscuits for exercise) I wasn’t expecting much. Then I thought if I just eat a bit less then I’ll lose weight – so I banished the biscuits. However this had no effect. So I started skipping lunch and having a bit of fruit instead. It had no effect. I just stayed the same. Then about 6 weeks in I had a breakthrough – I’d lost 2lbs – fantastic, just in time to spur me on. But then the next week I had my period and was horrified to discover that I seemed to have put on 5 lbs. Probably dodgy scales I assumed but when I went on the next day the reading was the same – I was gutted.

However all the while I was concentrating on my weight people were telling me I looked like I’d lost weight. I also felt as if my clothes were a little looser.

I kept going to the gym, working harder and eating less. I found that I was unnervingly delighted if I had been busy and worked through my usual eating breaks. Then I picked up a tummy bug from my daughter and when I weighed myself after that I’d lost 8lbs.

This is not the right way to lose weight. But the reason I am sharing is because I am surprised at how quickly I became obsessed. I wasn’t even that bothered about losing weight when I started at the gym, but then this insanity just sort of took hold. I really like food. Right or wrong I know I use it as a bit of a comfort – treating myself to “something nice” if I’ve done well, feel down or can find some other excuse. This meant that surviving for a whole day (til dinner) on two slices of toast was an alien experience, but I got such a kick out of it. What particularly worrying is that I can see myself doing it and I know it’s stupid but I just want to the boost.

This weekend I’ve enjoyed a take away and biscuits so no doubt I’ve already started to put the weight back on…

But this experience has taught me a few things…

1. I don’t need to consume as much food as I think I do.

2. That losing weight somehow doesn’t automatically mean a better figure.

3. The plank (the stationary press up type exercise) seems to have more impact on shaping my figure than losing weight.

4. That whether I’m losing weight or not I like exercise.

Not sure if this will help anyone but it’s something to think about.

p.s. tummy still wobbly so there’s still work to do!

My views on going to the gym have always been clear. I think it’s a waste of time and money. Surely there are enough things to do in your average UK town or city that can help you get fit or keep fit or whatever. In fact I’m sure even just round my house I could find enough items to lift, twist with and step up on to create a fantastic calorie burning workout.

But there’s one thing a gym has that I just can’t replicate at home and that’s a swimming pool. I recently started a new job and with that job came a discount for the local gym and already I’m hooked. It started with just a quick lunchtime fix, then I negotiated a night off the evening childcare routine with my partner so I could go after work. Then yesterday I had a late appointment, so I made dinner, fed my daughter and then went out for my appointment. Once that was done (seeing as I already had my pass for the night) I went to the gym again. If I count it all up I think I’ve been at least 7 times in the past two weeks.

What has most perplexed me however is that I’m not just going to swim. On my night off I started doing a couple of classes, and I’ve been tempted by the machines too (although I’ve not used them for a proper workout yet). I’m now beginning to wonder how I managed without going to the gym. I hate myself for it but the legal high (if not a little expensive) I get means that for now I’ll just have to live with it!