Internet Workout Review

I am probably being a bit premature with this review, as I have barely scratched the surface of what’s out there. But without doubt so far, my favourite internet workout sessions are ones billed as low impact, all standing, no equipment cardio.

I am truly amazed at how absolutely knackering these sessions can be. Who knew that lifting your arms above your heart was a great way of getting your heart beating harder and faster? After a 30 minute workout led by the woman I have nicknamed “Sergeant Major”, I am drenched in sweat and feel as if I have had a hard run up some steep hills, all without lifting my feet off the floor.

This feet-on-the-floor feature is particularly appealing to me because five years ago I slipped down the stairs and broke my ankle in two places. Unfortunately, it turns out that I have a condition whereby my bones are a bit too enthusiastic about healing themselves and grow a lot of extra, unnecessary bone around any break. As is quite usual in cases of broken ankles, I had surgery to insert a metal plate to fix the bone, but I have grown a lot of excess bone all around the joint and, quite frankly there are times when it hurts. When I started doing “proper” aerobics, my ankle really didn’t like it and made its displeasure felt quite acutely. It is not exactly thrilled by the low impact stuff either, but I am ignoring the pain and hoping that in the end it will actually do it some good to be stretched and worked a bit.

Back to the Sergeant Major. She is without doubt the toughest and most humourless of all the instructors I’ve watched. She tries to be a bit jolly, but you can see it doesn’t come naturally. And she is an absolute maniac when it comes to exercise. She goes hard and fast and is never out of breath. The only indication that she is exercising at all are the dark patches of sweat that eventually appear on her t-shirt.

I like this. A lot of these clearly super-fit instructors make a big fuss about how out of breath they are and how tired they are. I suppose it is to make you feel better about how terrible you feel – we are all in this together sort of thing. But please, I know those gym bunnies are a gazillion times fitter than I will ever be and it is a bit patronising to pretend otherwise. Even the “fatties” (I use inverted commas because they are seldom actually properly fat) who are hired to demonstrate the lower intensity moves are obviously as fit as can be and can do all the routines pretty easily.

I am not complaining, because I am glad that they are acknowledging and demonstrating that exercise like this is suitable for all shapes and sizes and ages. But I still like the absolute honesty of the Sergeant Major who has the most stunningly perfectly toned body you have ever seen and doesn’t pretend that she is anything but ultra-fit.

Here are some of my favourite sessions so far:

This is Fat Fella’s favourite workout:

 

Please note: I am not advertising these sites or endorsing them from any sort of professional perspective. I have merely copied and pasted the URLs of videos that I have enjoyed and I make absolutely no claims about them or their efficacy.

 

Tragedy

One thing I know: nobody knows what is going to happen next.

This post was going to be a review of some of the YouTube exercise videos that I have been bouncing around to recently. I have been amazed by the wide variety that exist.

You have your ageing gracefully “older lady” in her elegant home and 1980s Olivia Newton-John-style workout gear, bobbing gently about waving her arms and barely breaking a sweat.

Then there is the hapless woman in what looks like an underground cell doing seemingly random aerobics moves for nearly an hour with odd people walking in and out of the room (and in front of the camera) at intervals. She gives no warning when she is about to change moves, and doesn’t talk much, just grimly pounds on with no clock or timer displayed so you have no idea how much longer the agony will last.

Of course, there are the super slick ones with bright studios and every sort of timing device imaginable. The presenters on these ones tend to be quite chatty and have fellow exercisers who show different intensity moves. They are all obviously encouraged by the producers to “interact” with one another in a jolly and encouraging and “aren’t we all just having a ball?” way. This is almost as painful to watch as the exercises are to complete.

Almost all of them take great pains to insist that you should “go at your own pace”. Clearly (and understandably) trying to avoid lawsuits from the families of over-enthusiastic chubby bouncers who drop in their tracks while participating in their routines.

Lots of them purport to “really care” about you, the exerciser, and try different ways to encourage and inspire you to keep going and get fit and healthy. Some of them I even believe. They really do seem to be on a mission to bring a healthy lifestyle to the sluggish masses. I was working out to one of these the other day, and in amongst all the psycho-babble, he said some things that really struck home. Not necessarily because they were so profound, but because of something else that has happened in our lives recently and which is the reason I wrote that very first sentence.

A good friend of ours – a 50-something father of two with a larger-than-life, bubbly, positive personality, full of intelligence and enthusiasm and good humour – had a terrible skateboarding accident four weeks ago. He is still alive, but only just. He bashed his head and his poor brain started bleeding. He is still in ICU but, as of a few days ago, is breathing on his own again. He is not yet fully conscious and there is no way of knowing what long-term effects this terrible injury will have.

Nobody knows what is going to happen next. Not to our lovely friend, and not to any of us.

It was with this tragedy in mind that I really listened to and took notice of what the exercise man was saying. He was talking about how wonderful our bodies are to do all the things they do – how strong and able. Even just being able to stand up and move around is a precious gift. He was urging us to be grateful and to look after what we have. Needless to say, this has done my motivation for continuing with the new exercise regime the world of good.

And I am loving it. I am feeling fitter and stronger and even a bit more bendy, which is brilliant. It’s not always easy to get started, but I am always pleased once I have. In fact, I am writing this fully kitted out in exercise gear, ready to head over to the sitting room and do some serious leaping about.

You should be a fly on the wall. It is quite a sight, I can tell you. Captain Shoelace sometimes wanders in to have a giggle before I boot him out. But even his smirking won’t put me off. I will try to remember how lucky I am to be able to do it, and hope with all my heart that my dear friend will be up and bouncing about some day soon.

PS After my last post whining about not being able to write, the lovely Fat Fella has set me up with a nice speedy laptop, connected to our home network, and all functioning beautifully.

No more excuses.

Excuses

Hoo boy, this lockdown is finally getting to me.

While I generally love having Fat Fella at home, it does mean that I don’t have access to the “big, fast computer” because obviously he needs it for work. This makes perfect sense, but I really miss it. It means that I haven’t been doing any writing at all for months and months. Not that I would have been doing much if I did have access, because I am a lazy slapper, but you know what it’s like – we always want most what we can’t have. Anyway, if I was serious about writing, I could easily have made a plan – we have so many other electronic devices that could be fit for purpose — but obviously I’m not, because I haven’t.

I have also put on a lot of weight, which is making me feel miserable and fed up with myself. While there has been no obvious reduction in my daily exercise routine – I still walk the dog 5-6 times a week – all those endless, unnoticed little daily physical activities, such as getting in and out of the car or carrying shopping and running errands, have just evaporated like smoke. Initially, I thought I might actually lose weight because I was doing a lot of gardening and house tidying and so on. But clearly, I was also eating and drinking a lot more. My extra-tight clothes and scary bathroom scales do not lie.

dig Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay
Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

Recently, in an effort to get moving again, Fat Fella and I have been doing daily low-impact aerobics sessions in our sitting room. These are great. I have tried all sorts of different ones and so far am finding the PopSugar ones on YouTube to be really good. We haven’t been at it regularly for long enough for it to have had much of an impact, but hopefully it has improved our health and fitness a little already.

aerobics Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

It is no joke that we fatties are more at risk of dying from Covid-19. Suddenly all my blustering “I’ll be fat if I want to,” or “Being fat is not a crime,” or “I enjoy my life, what’s the harm?” is ringing a bit hollow. Of course, I have always known that being fat is an unhealthy and even life-threatening choice, but the current situation really brings it home to one with a bit of a thump.

That’s a good thing in many ways, but also hard to do much about, because it is the current situation that is making me feel low and lethargic and not inclined to diet or exercise in the first place.

And yes, the previous paragraph is merely a pathetic excuse. I know it. As with the writing, the healthy lifestyle could happen if I wanted it enough. Maybe I just don’t…

19: Shoelace and Oats

I have been having a bit of a rotten time lately. It seems my “mojo” has died a horrible death. I just can’t seem to get myself motivated. Not only am I not doing a lot of things that I really wish I were (my cleanerobics are now slotherobics – slow and not very efficient), but I am doing some things that I really wish I weren’t (eating a whole slab of chocolate – blush).

Having given it some thought, I have come up with a few reasons for this sad state of affairs. Firstly, we are having a tough time with Captain Shoelace. Life with him has never been straightforward, but at the moment he is causing both Fat Fella and me a lot of sleepless nights. Like most people, when I don’t get enough sleep, I get grumpy and miserable. I feel sorry for myself. I feel the need for a treat to cheer myself up. I feel that eating a slab of chocolate will do the trick. Of course, deep down, my sensible self knows that this isn’t true. It knows that eating a slab of chocolate is actually going to leave me feeling a lot more grumpy and miserable. But my sleep-deprived brain won’t listen to my sensible self. It just goes right ahead and gets what it wants for a bit of a short-term boost.

Sleep deprivation also results in discombobulation and disorganisation, which in turn leads to the second reason my “mojo” has expired. I have not been eating my oats for breakfast. Instead of scoffing that satisfying, cholesterol-reducing bowl of loveliness every morning, I have been going off for my dog walk on an empty stomach, returning home ravenously hungry and then eating far too much lunch, far too early. This leaves me starving again by about 5pm and needing something to tide me over until dinner. Bad habits are hard to break and good ones (like eating a healthy breakfast) seem as fragile as tissue paper.

The final nail in “mojo’s” coffin is the fact that I have not been losing any bloody weight. Even before the chocolate/no breakfast/ too much snacking incidents, that number on the scales would not budge. Running up and down stairs, swimming for kilometres, dancing while dusting – none of them made a blind bit of difference to the size of my lardie arse. I know I shouldn’t need the boost that losing weight gives me, and that I should be satisfied with better health, but I jolly well do, and I really am not.

Where does this leave me? Can “mojo” be resurrected? I suspect that some of the reasons for its demise are more intractable than others. For example, I think it would be frowned upon were I to attempt to get rid of Shoelace along with the sleepless nights he causes. But I can start eating breakfast again and in fact, that’s what I have been doing for the past few days. And yes, it has improved my mood to the extent that I have been able to write this. Another major plus is that I have carried on swimming and am really loving it. I feel stronger and fitter each time I swim, and if that doesn’t breathe new life into ole “mojo”, nothing will.

 

17: Diving In

I am so grateful to the person who asked how my swim went in the comments last week. It meant that I was simply too embarrassed to confess that I had chickened out after all, and I just had to dive in after all.

My initial plan had been to go swimming on Wednesday morning, but I managed to come up with an excuse not to go then. Then a friend offered me a ticket to the preview of the Anthony Gormley exhibition at The Royal Academy on Thursday. Well, obviously I couldn’t turn that down, could I? Surely my mental health and emotional fulfilment is just as important as my physical state? Fridays are not an option for me swimming-wise (certain immovable appointments filling practically the whole day) so that just left the weekend. Thanks to that comment, though, no amount of wriggling would get me off the hook, so away I went on Sunday evening for a swim. Fat Fella and Jelly Bean came along, too.

swimmer-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
No, sadly not my fabulous toned upper arms. Maybe one day? — Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I have to say, it wasn’t great. That new swimming costume might hide a bit of my worst excesses, but I was still painfully embarrassed appearing poolside with every lump and bump on show. The pool, which Fat Fella said was always quiet on Sunday evenings, was in fact rather busy. I dived in and remembered just how much I hate swimming in public pools. They taste revolting and I am so conscious of all those bodily fluids swishing about in them. Yuk! I find they are also usually too warm, which makes them seem that much more unsanitary.

On the plus side, I got a really good workout despite having to dodge divebombing teenagers and dogpaddling tots. I swam 50 lengths (that’s 1.25 km/over three quarters of a mile). Surprise, surprise I was a bit fitter than I thought! I love the way the water supports my body while swimming, so I don’t feel that I am battering my joints. Swimming also remains the one physical activity that I can do pretty well and don’t need to feel any embarrassment about my performance, even though I am a fatty. Plus, there’s none of that hot and sweaty flopping about that comes with running, for example.

You will be glad to hear, though, that the heat and sweatiness of running did not put me off going for another dog stumble/jog yesterday morning. I have found a route that is quite discreet – no one to witness the sweaty flopping – and includes lots of hills and stairs that keep my heart rate up, while giving me a chance to “rest” as I walk instead of run up them. For my other dog walks last week when I was not officially “jogging”, I managed to speed things up overall and got a lot warmer and puffier than usual.

trail-Image by serenasampson from Pixabay
No need to bother with a stair climber in the gym when you have the real thing to run up. — Image by serenasampson from Pixabay

The “cleanerobics” were also a success What a great full body workout they are. Weights (hauling the vacuum cleaner and buckets of water up and down stairs), stretching (dusting the cobwebs on my very high ceilings), upper body work (vigorous floor scrubbing), and abdominals (bending, pushing and pulling). Again, after three hours I was a sweaty mess, but felt fantastic.

Tomorrow, I am going to a “proper” training pool – a 50 m pool, which is colder, cleaner and with fewer people mucking about. Hopefully this will make up for the fact that being a fatty in that context is much rarer and thus much more self-conscious making. But I shall be brave, suck in my gut and dive in as quickly as possible. Wish me luck, please.

swimming-Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay