Saturday, 19 December 2009

Unnatural At Any Time, or How I Learnt to Ignore My Inner Body Clock and Sweat It Out At 5.30am

The first thing I would like to say is that I am not a fitness freak by any stretch of the imagination. I am most definitely not the girl who goes for a run for the fun of it. I have been that girl in the past, but I can just as easily take a full six months of not doing any exercise apart from long long walks around the city interrupted only by trips to changing rooms or cash register. So, I know what it's like to be fit and strong, and I like how that feels, but I also don't have to feel that way. Honestly, I wish I was. Maybe it would be a bit more motivational than "oh my god I'm going to be in a bikini in 4 weeks" which is at best inconsistent, and also completely unrealistic. Unless I moved to Florida. Maybe if I lived in Miami I would have motivation, but let's face it, when it's winter and you're huddled under a gazillion layers (hello 22F today!), then wondering about how your abs look is pretty low down the list of motivational factors. Staying warm = hot chocolate is much more realistic.
BUT! I am going to be in a bikini in 4 weeks, and I'd rather not look like a bowl of jello. So I signed up for NYC Adventure Boot Camp. My wallet felt it first - it is not a cheap thing to sign up for. And my whole body is feeling it now. Ouch ouch ouch in places I didn't know could hurt. It's sore to laugh and I can't move my arms above my head. But it is TOTALLY AWESOME. They have camps at a couple of times and locations in the city, and I go to a West Side camp at 5.30am three days a week. For a start, this is a completely unholy time to get up for anyone, and I am so not a morning person. I have to admit to having rolled over a couple of times and gone straight back to sleep. But when you do manage to haul your ass out of bed, find gym clothes, munch on an apple (very important or you might faint in class - I should know, I nearly did), get on the train, and make it to class, it is so worth it. It's an all girls camp, and in my class there are about seven of us early birds. Amazingly, we are all of a similar fitness level. This is awesome - so many times I have been the compete laggard in the fitness class dying at the bag. I always imagine boot camps to be these completely intimidating things where everybody can already do 50 push ups followed by 100 crunches, and this is so not like that. For the record, I think everyone came into the class being able to do about 10-15 girlie pushups - now we're all doing hard core guy-style ones.
The class is run by Zane, who is fantastic at keeping us moving, changing the exercises around enough so that we don't lose interest, making us try something new, and working us almost to the point of exhaustion, but not past the point that it's not fun. Okay, that last part isn't strictly true. I am not going to lie to you and say that boot camp is fun. It's not. It's hard hard work, and very painful. But it's fun in that we're all in it together, it's welcoming (no yelling, no humiliation, no punishments), and when the hour is up at the still ridiculous time of 6.30am, you really feel like you have achieved something. In terms of results, no, I don't think I am going to be bikini ready in just four weeks, especially since I have continued to maintain my cupcakes for dinner diet, but I love how I can feel myself getting fitter and stronger. There are exercises that just 2 weeks ago were flat out impossible for me (hello push ups!). Now, they are still damn painful, but at least I can get to the end of the exercise without ending up lying in a puddle of tears on my mat.
Do I think that 5.30am boot camp is sustainable? Hell no. I have a semblance of a social life, and going to bed every night at 10.30 just doesn't let that happen. But I do think it is a great way to kick start you into getting back into an exercise plan and at coaxing those long-forgotten muscles back out of hibernation. I do think it's also amazing for your self-confidence and self-esteem. Yes, I can do pull-ups. Yes, I will get better. Yes, I did wake up early and do this because I want to, because I CAN. That's powerful stuff right there.

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