If I really wanted to, I could fill an entire blog post using only words that convey what’s most unlikeable about exercise. Some of those words would be: sweaty, uncomfortable, painful, exerting, time-consuming and depriving-me-of-quality-couch-potato-time.
But I’m not going to do that, despite what I just wrote – and yes, despite the fact that what I just wrote is also very true. Because, as usual in life, there’s two sides to truth – and there’s two sides to exercise. Alas, for most of us, a few brief glimpses of the former is usually enough to prevent us from ever experiencing the latter. That in itself is a problem, not least because getting past the initial discomfort makes a goodly part of those initial problems go away. Then you get to the exciting point where – much to my continued surprise, exercise actually becomes rather pleasant.
I knew I’d reached the start of that point during my training over the last week, where I was doing some backward lunges. This requires me to step one foot backwards, and dip my backward knee, forcing my forward thigh and glute (or bum muscle for those not in the “know”) to take the full brunt of my not-inconsiderable weight. The fact that it can actually take that weight is itself, somewhat stunning to me (it never ceases to amaze me just how strong my body really is). Coupled with the fact that I have a substantial injury to my right knee, to date, doing these lunges has been both genuinely painful and a bit precarious.
But after only 1 and a half weeks of doing this kind of exercise, I noticed that my thighs were suddenly completely equal to the task. I didn’t wobble, or lose my balance, I didn’t strain my knee (the exercise shouldn’t affect the knee at all if done properly) and I managed to dip lower than ever before while still able to regain the standing position with ease. All through the exercise, my thigh felt really strong, really powerful and, if truth be told, quite quite wonderful.
Yes, wonderful. It’s not a word we often use when thinking about exercise – but that’s exactly what if felt like. Flexing and using those muscles like that felt fantastic – not just in my head, but in the muscle itself. And I was surprised.
Like everyone, I look at photos of slim, fit women running through glorious parks (notice how they never sweat) where the sun is shining and their workout gear is always pristine and colour co-ordinated. I view such pictures with envy, wishing I had a body like that, or I was as fit or stylish or had a park that was always sunny. But it had never occurred to me before to wonder what if felt like, physically, to be able to run like that, to feel that fit.
Until now. Now I do wonder, and I have to ask – if that’s how good it felt just doing those lunges, what other surprises do I have to look forward to?
Are you fit? Do you like what your muscles feel like when you exercise them?