I know that doing strength work is important. I know that I need to do it regularly but if I’m completely honest, I’ve failed. I alway struggle to keep myself motivated to do it. I’ve tried various ways of incorporating strength work it into my fitness routines and daily schedules but it’s never lasted more than a few weeks. I think mainly because I find it dull. How do you make strength work fun? I finally seem to have found something that suits me and I wanted to share it with you.
I’m 48 now and I’ve been doing so much work around the topic of the menopause. From the research and work I’ve done – writing, being a guest on podcasts and social media posts, I’m feeling really knowledgeable and empowered to cope with my own menopause. I’m pretty sure I have some peri-menopausal symptoms. One of the things I know is essential is strength work. I know my muscle mass will now be decreasing (you can read my blog on this). I know that I don’t actually feel as strong as I used to. I know that if I take action now I can make a huge difference to my future. I’m also aware that I’m gaining some fat around my middle, despite not changing any of my diet or fitness norms and I don’t like it.
It was time to take action. Going to a gym is not an option. I’ve tried it so many times in the past and it doesn’t work for me. It’s a time factor. I live in a rural village and in the time it takes to get to a gym I could have done the work out. I work full-time and the evenings are precious times with my family. I know there are a couple of strength classes in a near-by village hall but again I don’t want to give up my evening and can’t commit to the same time every week. I’m usually ferrying the kids to their activities in the evening. It has to be done at home. It has to be available whenever I get a small window to do it.
I’m pretty focused and very disciplined with my time. I have to be as a freelance home worker. I’m good at sticking to run training plans and motivating myself to run. But when it comes to strength work, I appear to be very weak willed! I tried working out with my son as he is incredibly motivated. This was fine to start with but his work-out times never seemed to suit me and this plan soon dissolved. I tried writing my weights and reps in a little note book and aiming to do a bit each day but it soon went by the wayside. What to do?
Lockdown really showed me that online classes suit me. I was leading and participating in them regularly with 261 Fearless and my online ballet class. It also changed the norm in our house. Suddenly it became entirely normal for me to be in the bedroom doing a yoga class, my daughter having a ballet lesson in the kitchen and my husband on his turbo trainer on Zwift in the TV room. Thank you to B4RN for the incredible broadband! New habits and new acceptable behaviours began.
I decided that an online strength class was the way forward. And I’m loving it. I chose Fiit. This isn’t a sponsored post or an ad. I just thought it looked good and ticked the boxes I wanted. I did the 14 day free trial and then signed up. I meant business so I signed up for the year which works out as £10 per month. I’ve been doing it for 5 weeks now – religiously. I haven’t missed a class and have even done a few extra ones. I started with a four week power plan. Four classes a week, one is a stretch class. Some are 25 minutes and others are 40 minutes and there are a few different coaches that lead the classes. All you need is dumbbells of a couple of different weights. I either do it on my phone or mirror it onto the big TV. There’s good instruction, good music and great variety in the exercises, each coach seems to have their favourites. They really encourage you to work hard and I always sweat a lot. I have an apple watch which links up to the app and shows my heart rate and calories burned – not that I really pay attention to it. You can also get a different chest strap heart rate monitor that will show you your reps if you want. There’s a challenge section in each work out when you try to do as many reps as you can in the time allotted. I can imagine if you are competitive or are really tracking your progress closely that you might want to see this. It’s enough for me to just know I’m trying my best. There are lots of other studios you can visit too so I’ve also done some Pilates for runners. I’ve yet to explore the yoga, barre and cardio studios but I will definitely try them at some point.
Can I notice any difference? Yes I can. I’m definitely starting to see some muscle definition. I think at the start I wasn’t pushing myself enough with the weight so in the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to increase that. I’m definitely more toned around my middle and have got the belly fat more under control. I’m weak in my upper body and am a long way off proper press ups but I’m getting better. In terms of my running, yes, I think it is helping. My core is stronger and I’m sure this will help my running technique. I also feel I have more power in my legs. When I want to turn up the speed dial a bit, I do feel there is more there. I’ve been focusing on frequent, shorter runs recently so I’m not sure what effect it has had on endurance. Time will tell.
Most important of all, I know that it is doing me good inside. The best results from it are yet to come. I’m feeling proud that I’m embracing this time in my life and taking positive action to future proof my body. I’m doing it for me. Feeling strong is very empowering. I’ll give you another update in a month or two!
I’d love to know what strength work you do and how you make it fit into your weekly routines. Do you enjoy it? What works for you?