Carole, from Southampton, had always had her reasons for not joining a bootcamp. She had preconceived ideas of what it would be like. But when lockdown forced providers to go virtual Carole saw an opportunity to take the leap from home. Now she wishes she had started sooner.
Scared of joining a gym:
I had wanted to improve my fitness for a long time. But I was scared of joining a gym, bootcamp or signing up to a class. I thought everyone would be fit and skinny, I didn’t want to go on my own and wasn’t sure if I was going to be ‘good enough’.
I had a minor knee injury that had been ongoing and, despite being told strengthening my muscles and activity would help my knee, I was scared I would aggravate it. Worrying this would impact on my day-to-day activities. My daughter encouraged me to try any class, and if I needed help that the instructor should be able to support me with alternative exercises and would answer any of my questions. But I was still hesitant for all the above reasons and more!
I wouldn’t say I wasn’t active, but I wasn’t ‘fit’ active. I think that there is a difference, I love walking around National Trust sights, and travelling and keeping busy. But what I had neglected was my fitness. When lockdown happened I, like so many of us, was at home on my own and relying on technology to speak to people. This meant I was more sedentary and not moving as much as I would have previously.
I wasn’t out and about getting my normal activity in, and this had a real impact on my mental health. There wasn’t a community outside of family and work that I could ‘join’ and at the start of lockdown I really didn’t think I would find any type of virtual community. I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be, I struggled with low mood and the uncertainty of what was happening.
“Surprisingly, I found myself wanting to join in the bootcamp then and there.”
Taking the virtual leap:
Luckily for me, I have Facebook. Despite reservations, I thought maybe virtual sessions that I could enjoy at home might be a good starting place. A local Bootcamp (the fact they were local was a big positive) had moved their sessions online and for free! What was the harm in tuning in to listen and watch a session?
Surprisingly, I found myself wanting to join in the bootcamp then and there. It felt relaxed, the instructors were greeting and interacting with people as they signed in, and the comments were super encouraging and supportive, from other participants and instructors. I liked what I saw and the atmosphere that they created.
They provided regressions and advanced exercises, they told me to work at my own pace and that whatever I was able to achieve was enough! So, I committed to the next online session and the one after that! They had also uploaded their videos to YouTube so if I missed a session or liked a session enough to do it again, I could easily access them!
I won’t lie, I found some of it challenging. But I could see the instructor working hard, sweating, also out of breath and they kept telling me that it was OK to feel like it is hard, but that it was OK to also take it at a pace I was comfortable at.
Building a routine:
This became my new routine, and I loved having that structure in place. I felt my mood lift at the thought of doing a session. Afterwards, I was always invigorated by what I had achieved. Although someone else was telling me what to do, I felt in control of my workout. I could take a break, pause and work at my own pace/intensity.
I felt good tuning into a fitness session. My mood started to improve, and I felt more confident in myself and I was supported.
“The other members are just real people of different ages and sizes and fitness levels with their own goals to achieve. They are all so supportive. ”
Taking the next leap:
As lockdown was coming to an end, they advised people of a start date back at the parks. Despite initial nerves, the confidence I had gained during lockdown meant I messaged ahead to let them know I would be coming. Again, the response made me feel welcome and like I was already part of the team.
When I arrived, I realised the other members are just real people of different ages and sizes and fitness levels with their own goals to achieve. They are all so supportive.
They welcomed me, motivated me and praised me. I thought I might feel pressure to do more in person, but they assured everyone that they can work at their own pace and do what feels right for them on that day.
Some people were there for the chat. Lockdown had been lonely for a lot of people. Others wanted a serious workout but were still there to motivate me. I found a community that pushed me, cheered me on and helped me feel good about myself and what I was achieving. Somehow it works, all the mixed abilities and people. It felt like everyone was leaving having accomplished what they came for. I know I get more from it than I believed I would and have even found a few running partners!
Reflecting on my journey:
At the start of lockdown, if you had told me I would be running, I would have laughed! I have met some incredible people and once you get to know them you realise you aren’t the only one struggling, mentally and physically.
You realise that everyone is having to learn to cope and overcome their own demons – and this one-hour session helps everyone forget about those problems. It’s not about work, or stresses, family or a to-do list; you are there to focus on yourself.
Now I love going and wish I’d started before.