Fat & Happy With It
My fall back words whenever I ended up talking about weight issues with anyone. It was a great way of getting people to stop going on about people (me) being overweight. Problem is I said it so often that I came to believe it myself. I was not an active person. Helping at Scouts kept me on the go a bit but only at the pace of the slowest young person. Work can mean lots of travel and standing round in factories or spending weeks tied to a desk writing reports and documents. Lunches are at my desk or in my car and I am on first name terms with the staff at 3 different branches of Gregg’s! “Fat and Happy”, Yes but I started to notice that I was having trouble keeping up with my kids and their active lifestyles.
Everything came to a head about 6 years ago and I decided I needed to do something about it. For the first time in my 42 years of life, I decided I would exercise! I decided I would try running, the idea of being indoors in a gym just did not appeal. Exercise is not really the right word for what I did during my “Couch to 5K” though, uncontrollable sweating, hyperventilating, puffing and panting and loads of cursing is probably more appropriate.
I then tried outdoor boot-camp for a while and I loved it. Thanks to Mikey Coates, I set myself a goal of completing “The Tough Guy” challenge which comprised of 9 country miles with 30 obstacles including 50m high net climbs, swimming through ice, running through fire and dodging (or not) electricity, all on the last Sunday of January. I loved every minute of the nearly 4 hours it took me to complete it apart from the bits where I was cold, tired, out of breath or in pain.
Having that goal of the Tough Guy made me push myself more than I would have otherwise. After Tough Guy, boot-camp finished and I just drifted back to my old ways. Jump forward 4 years to Summer 2017. I was now 47, fat and facing fifty! My blood pressure was now 150/100 and the doctor wanted to stick me on drugs to lower it. Not really wanting to take the constant drug route I thought I would take a good look at my diet. Changing the diet dropped me from 17 ½ stone to 16 stone but kind of stopped there. Chatting with friends at work I realised I would need to diet and the dreaded “exercise” word again!
After the prepping for Tough guy, I decided that running was not really for me, too much tendency for me to just ‘Stop and walk to the next lamppost, or 2, or 3 or 4, or…..’ or “skip this evening’s run because its nice weather and too hot to run”, etc. I started walking a lot more and last year, I took on my works “100 day step challenge” and ended up averaging 18,000 steps a day but despite the kilometres I was clocking up, the weight was not really shifting.
Just before Christmas, a friend from work jokingly said to me “You love a bit of dance music don’t you Ed, why not try Clubbercise?” as she had done it a year or so previously and really enjoyed it before she took time out due to illness. I told her that if she would come with me, I would try it out, just for a laugh. Trish called my bluff and next thing you know, we have both signed up for a hours rave in a school gym!! Not a problem I thought, just do it once, say ‘it’s not for me really’ and bail out gracefully if I don’t like it.
I knew that the first session was going to be a really big scary step for me; I would be the tub of testosterone laden lard, sweating in the corner of the darkened hall whilst loads of super fit women leapt around the room clad in fluorescent lycra, hardly even breathing and not shedding a single bead of sweat between them. I have no co-ordination, my school music teacher told my mother I was the equivalent of a “Musical Dyslexic” who “couldn’t hold a rhythm if his life depended on it”. I also have the reputation amongst my friends as the guy who never dances, EVER and yet here I was, hiding at the back of the class but trying to follow the feet of the person in front of me!
After that first hour, I was a sweaty wreck crumpled in the corner of the hall realising A) just how unfit I was, B) that there were times I was almost in sync with person in front of me, C) I really did enjoy the music, & D) everyone who spoke to me was so damn nice and friendly. Anna told me how well I had done and that it was obvious how much effort I was putting in. This Clubbercise was not something I was going to be able to bail on so easily because I actually enjoyed it. I turned up the following week, armed with my glow sticks, a bottle of water and a towel, ready to try again. This time I kind of remembered some of the steps and I honestly felt like I was more in time, more often! Chatting with a couple of the ladies afterwards, they convinced me that I should try Rave Tone as this involved ‘Yoga inspired moves’ which may suit me as it is not quite so energetic.
Not wanting to go on my own, I tried to convince my daughter, Becky, to come to Rave Tone (or even Clubbercise) but she would have none of it so I had to convince Trish from work to come with me to Rave Tone as well, after all, I couldn’t go on my own could I! Rave Tone reminded me that I have muscles I do not use very often and taught me that I have muscles I did not know existed! ‘Yoga inspired’ maybe but relaxing, Not!
Checking in on my Blood Pressure however, I found that it was heading in the right direction, 140 over 85 and my weight was 15 stone 8lb. Honestly, Rave Tone was not as fun and bouncy as Clubbercise but I really felt that this could actually be good for my body and hey, it was only one hour a week anyway so I felt I should continue to do both sessions.
After a trip away with work and few skipped lessons because of it, I returned having actually missed the classes and I realised I could still remember some of the Clubbercise moves. My body had also missed Rave Tone but in a good way! One of the ladies, Natasha tried talking me into trying BASSbox, boxing moves to music she said. I wondered how daft would I be to try to do an hour of Rave Tone followed by an hour of BASSbox but decided to give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen. I even managed to convince Terry (a recent addition to the Clubbercise gang, another bloke!!) to come along and try the boxing with me.
Becky still did not want to try Clubbercise (even though I thought she would love it) or the BASSbox or the Rave Tone but she had heard about Hype Dance Fit that she liked the sound of. I couldn’t think of anything worse! However, a deal was struck with her, I would take her to Clubbercise, she would take me to Hype Dance Fit and see which one was better, whichever won, we would do together!
On my first visit to Hype Dance I really felt like Will or Simon from the Inbetweeners Movie trying to cross the dance floor to ‘We Speak No Americano’, not even close to being in time, moving like a rusted robot and wishing it was dark so no one could watch what a massacre I was making of the whole thing! Kirsty was very patient with me and kept changing her stance so I could follow her feet; I think she quickly realised I could not listen to her instructions, work out Left from Right AND move the legs and arms in time to the music but I could sort of follow feet 😊
I left thinking this really was not for me however Becky loved it and looked like she’d been doing it for years. She decided that ”WE” would be doing it again next week but this time on the Tuesday with Anna. Upholding her part of the deal she came to Clubbercise and enjoyed it but not as much as Hype Dance Fit. After the next session I would make my decision as to which one I would do.
Tuesdays Hype Dance Fit left me looking like I’d been swimming and forgotten to dry off, feeling like I’d just run a marathon but thinking, actually that was a dammed good work out and not so bad really. Becky then decided that from now on “WE” would both be doing Clubbercise on a Monday, Hype Dance Fit on a Tuesday and Dance Hype Fit on a Thursday, and as I am there anyway, I could also do Bassbox on a Thursday as well! And that is where I am right now.
As I checked in with myself today to finish off this blog, my weight is 15 stone 4 and my Blood Pressure is 123 / 75, I can twist and turn like I have not been able to for probably 25 years or more, I seem to have picked up some sort of rhythm and Hype Dance Fit is probably my favourite hour of my 5 or so hours of AMF crew sessions each week.
So, what have I learned from all of this?
Trying to lose weight by diet or exercise only partially works. A bit of both is needed, not as a quick fix but as a change of lifestyle.
You are never too old to start. 40 odd years of abuse and laziness and I feel better about myself now than I have in years.
If I’m not enjoying it, I’m not doing it. I want to go to these sessions because I enjoy them. The fact they are doing me good is a bonus!
No matter how tired you are, a session will pick you up. Even after a long day at work (so tired that I often fall asleep in meetings), one of these sessions and I am buzzing with energy!!!!!!
Nobody is there to judge me. It’s not what I look like that people comment on, it’s the effort I am putting in and differences in me they see that count.
The thought of skipping out on one of Anna or Kirsty’s sessions never crosses my mind, now I will leave work early to ensure I am ready and raring to go. I try to plan things so I can always attend but if I can’t for some reason, not a problem, just pick it up next time.
If you made it this far, well done for your perseverance and Thank You for reading.