This year, I paid for my annual gym membership up front. I was confident. Ambitious, even. I. Would. Go.
It began as any new partnership; we were obsessed with each other. But after eight months, my affection began to waiver. I slept in, told myself I was too cold, too tired, too (insert excuse here) and over time, I started falling out of love with my gym. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months and after a few pity dates, trying to keep the spark alive, we eventually broke up.
Since I’d paid for the darn thing up front, even the guilt wasn’t enough to get me through the doors. At first, it wasn’t such an issue but before long, I started to notice a real difference. Not only had I lost my definition—and found my wobbly bits—but I’d seen a change in my mental health too. I was stressed and easily irritated. Burnt toast, bitchy barista—you name it, everything annoyed me.
Something had to change. Unwilling to sign up to another gym (I wasn’t going to pay for two gyms when I wouldn’t even go to one), I had to improvise.
I’d been thinking about buying a bike for a while but like so many things, I’d put it off, unable to choose the perfect one (I’m a Libran, life is hard). But then, my boyfriend gave me one for my birthday (thank you programmatic advertising). He got me a Vintage 3-Speed from Chappelli Cycles and it became my baby. Literally, I love it more than life itself. It’s “British Racing Green,” fits in at Bondi Markets (aka goes with Birkenstocks and hessian bags #waronwaste) but will still get me from A to B with hills in-between.
My point being, I started to ride to work. My 35-minute commute became an hour bike ride (I just told you I’d stopped exercising, ok). I packed my things the night before, left early to beat the traffic and showered at the office. By the time I sat down at my desk, I’d already ticked off my exercise for the day (do you have any idea how good that feels? and with unprecedented levels of endorphins, I tackled my emails like I’d had three coffees. The first two hours became my most productive and the best bit, I was happier too. My morning routine had gone from waking with anxiety, checking my emails on my phone and sitting in traffic to getting up, out the door and enjoying my surroundings. I no longer arrived at work with road rage and a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Bike riding burns some serious calories but by turning it into incidental exercise, I felt like I wasn’t “working out” at all.
I recognised a pattern: I’d come home from work and once indoors—and within mere feet of the sofa—I wouldn’t want to leave to exercise. It was cold and I’m pathetic. So, I decided to workout at home. Even though my apartment is barely big enough to live in (I pay rent in Bondi, Sydney and eat noodles to survive), I managed to create a space to drop it like it’s hot … which it got, very quickly. I went to Kmart and bought ankle weights for AU$6.00 (they’re probably not the best ones you can get but I’m eating noodles, remember) and 2kg dumbbells and a resistance band. I got really good at creating my own workouts and finding them online. I used the Nike+ Training App, Youtube fitness channels, our huge library of workouts and I became Tracy Anderson’s number one fan (I’ve been told I look like Gwyn so maybe I could get a bod like her too, right?). While the cycling took care of cardio, this was my time for resistance. I did it a couple of times a week, sometimes just for 15 minutes—because anything is better than nothing—and eventually, my boyfriend stopped sending Snapchats to his friends.
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I used to sit at my desk all day, literally. Sometimes I got so busy I would look up from my computer to realise that six hours had passed. It wasn’t good. Then, I read The Sitting Epidemicby Daniel Angelini, founder of the MOVI Standing Desk and found out a few things…
Most adults spend 70% of their working day sitting (I was more like 80-90%). If we were to stand for just four hours of those, we could burn an extra 73,000 calories per year. Plus, our muscle activity is almost 2.5x higher when standing and our metabolic rate increases by 30%.
And so, I created a makeshift standing desk from some of my cookbooks (this is a small amount, I have a fetish) and started swapping between sitting with my laptop and standing with my monitor. I became more productive (research shows 53% more) and found it seriously helped to keep me in shape.
So, if you’re disillusioned with your gym or you just can’t afford the hefty membership anymore, why not get into cycling? It’s meant to be great for networking and I’m currently riding solo so the saddle’s open