Do you exercise?

01 October 2015

Every spring I rediscover exercise. In seasons past I've taken up running, joined a gym and bought a tennis racquet. But this spring is different. This month, I will have clocked up a whole year of regular exercise. It feels like a triumph and a bit of a fluke too.

Today, two girlfriends and my brother generously share how much they exercise in any given week, why they do it, what keeps them motivated and the kinds of things that can get in the way:

It’s very off and on for me at the moment but as of the last week or so I'm going for a jog twice a week (the aim is three times, but that hasn’t happened yet), and I have been swimming once a week too. I do 50 laps. 

My lifestyle is also pretty physical as I’m not a sitting around doing nothing kind of person. Gardening is a very physical hobby involving lifting, digging, bending and I also try and do yoga a couple of times a week in the evening. Then there's the nine kilos of baby that I lug around with me - that's gotta count for something, right?

I hate getting started with exercise but I feel so good when I’m done. For me it’s my baby-free time, which is super precious and rare. I can take Eddie for a run with me in the pram but then I’m constantly thinking about him, so it’s not the same. If I get to go out without him it’s a lot easier and my head feels clearer afterwards. I get to reclaim my old identity that's not entirely tied up in being a mother. 

Gardening is my happy place and I feel pooped but energised and satisfied after a good gardening session and yoga, especially before bed because it means I sleep better and wake up less sore.

What if anything gets in the way of exercise? Eddie. Eddie. Lack of motivation. Eddie. The knowledge that it's gonna hurt to begin with.  The hassle of getting changed into exercise clothes.

My pre-baby clothes are a motivation. My husband Tim is a huge motivator and the knowledge that exercise will help the various ailments that I'm suffering - back and neck pain and restless legs. Oh, and the fact that my baby boy is only going to get heavier!


I’ve always been a really active person who played a lot of sport so when I first joined a gym I struggled to jump on a treadmill or bike and do my own thing. I was very much into the classes and loved the social aspect of it all. After awhile I became more confident and got to know my strengths and weaknesses, and I started putting together my own routines. 

Now my week consists of three circuit sessions, a LISS session (usually 45 minutes on the treadmill at a steady but not extreme pace) and a HIIT session (20 minutes high intensity intervals) in between my circuit days. I try to incorporate some strengthening classes a few times a week and on weekends I like to be outdoors and will either do a two hour horse riding lesson or organise a friendly game of soccer.

Since I’ve started going to the gym in the mornings I've had so much more energy for the rest of the day. I get a sense of achievement, not to mention it’s a great for de-stressing.  I really enjoy being active and getting 110% out of life and I feel that exercise helps me do that. 

I travel a lot for work which can be disruptive but I try to do as much exercise as possible. I actually leave for Europe tomorrow for just over a month and I found a great reformer pilates studio right near where I’ll be staying in London so I’m going to get to a class!  Put it this way, the sneakers and two sets of gym gear will be packed - how often they’ll get used is another story!

What I found extremely helpful in the early days of going to the gym was having a gym buddy. It was a lot harder not to go knowing your friend was going to be there - it’d be like not turning up for a coffee date! Now I’m very happy and confident going by myself and I guess the motivation is that I am probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my life.  I’m healthy, happy and I’ve got loads of energy which allows me to do all the things I love, and there are a LOT of things I love doing!

At the moment I don't really have a regimen. Some weeks, I don't exercise at all, while others I might do a couple days. I kinda just leave it up to my body to decide.

I used to exercise five to six days per week, mostly doing weights. This changed after my trip to Japan in 2013. Surrounded by people with a similar body type to my own, it dawned on me that I was doing exercises that were a by-product of my Aussie culture, rather than doing what was appropriate for my body. Let's just say it was like a badminton player training to play rugby.

These days I prefer to go for a walk or run or do some Qigong. Walking because I like the fresh air, running because it gets the heart pumping and has no joining fee, and Qigong because it's a great way to breathe deeply and stretch first thing in the morning. Sometimes the body just needs a good flush of blood through the system. Running, deep breathing, stretching - really it's just to oxygenate my body.

Sleep can sometimes get in the way of exercising. I prefer to exercise in the morning but I also like to sleep. I consider a good sleep just as important as exercise.

I go to the gym twice a week and do weights for 30 minutes and then intense cardio for 15 minutes and it always feels like a good workout. I’ve also started doing yoga one day a week and try to do it in between gym sessions because it's not so hard on my body.

I also try to walk as much as possible on the weekend, whether we're in Wagga Wagga or visiting a city. You don't have to worry about parking, it's a really lovely way to catch up with Tony, and I always end up seeing new things and taking lots of pictures.

At the moment, I exercise for mental health. There have been a lot of changes happening at work and Tony’s been away a bit too. I found that on the mornings I exercised, I felt really alert and in control of the day, and reacted better to the things happening around me. 

If I miss a gym session or yoga class because of work or travel, I just give myself a break instead of trying to make it up. Tony and I have been travelling heaps this year, we’re away almost every weekend and it's really motivated me to get all of my sessions done during the week.

When my alarm goes off in the morning it's little things that get me out of bed, like knowing that I’ll listen to my audio book at the gym or get a coffee after yoga. Good gym clothes have helped too. This winter I bought my first-ever down jacket so I could go from one doona to another :) 

My friend Angie also keeps me on track. We used to to the gym together in Sydney and now we Whatsapp each other to say things like - 'Gym done for the week,' along with the muscle emoji! But really, I exercise because I love to eat and no longer diet. I used to be quite weight-conscious but now I try to think - I’ve done my exercise for the week, I’m just going to enjoy my food.

Do you exercise? I so enjoyed hearing about different approaches and would love to know what kind of exercise you do and love. Or whether you do little and that works for you.

First photo by Maurizio Costanzo (CC BY 2.0)

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