The Tree of Love

July 27, 2010

The Tree of Love

My relationship with exercise has become non-existent. We’re like bitter divorcees, arguing over who gets the settee. Prior to this month, I cannot remember the last time I ran. I no longer play football, my bike sits miserably chained to the railings in my backyard. Since I passed my driving test, even the short walk to work has stopped.

It wasn’t always like this. Throughout school I played sports. I ran, I mastered the ability of knocking long balls out of play on the football pitch, I played cricket and rode my bike. But I never thought of it as exercise. It was just what I did. It was fun.

When I left school, the networks that allowed these things to happen were broken up. My football team disbanded, the players scattered. University sports seemed like too much effort. The riding stopped. The thought of sport suddenly morphed into the thought of exercise – and that can be a difficult thought to get into. When your peers stop doing it, it’s easy for you to stop too.

Recently, I began to hear about fitness sessions taking place in parks. Groups would gather up and down the country to be cajoled into doing some exercise by “serving or former members of the armed forces with recognised fitness training qualifications“. These people, I thought, must be nuts. Then a friend told me she would attend and suggested I did too. Almost immediately I rejected the idea. Thankfully, she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

That evening I dragged myself kicking and screaming to Platt Fields. Three groups gathered, wearing bibs of different colours (a method I’d soon realise distinguished between different levels of fitness). We split up and the session began. I was not happy.

Then something strange began to happen. As I was put through a seemingly never-ending fitness class, I started to enjoy myself. It was hurting, I was tired and my breath smelt a bit like gas – yet I wanted more.

I’ve been back three times since and will continue to attend. This is my vow. On Tuesdays and Thursday, at 7pm, I’ll be in Platt Fields park, blowing like a choo-choo train. It’s getting a little easier each time I attend and I am noticing the benefits of actually doing some exercise (though not too easy, in case any instructors read this. I don’t want to have to run around The Tree of Love and back – a brutal punishment for anyone not taking things seriously).

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard. Start small and it is possible. To begin, do something – anything - once a week. Pick a schedule and stick to it but don’t commit to too much, too soon. It can be easy to procrastinate. However, like most things in life, sometime the best thing to do is to shut up and “just f***ing do it!

It’s nearly 7pm. I’ve got to go. The Tree of Love is calling.


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