In defence of… uh…


I was going to write In Defence of My Gym. But somewhere between my brain and my fingertips, a question arose: why does my gym need defending?

Actually, why does anything need defending?

OK. Defensiveness can be a good catalyst for writing. Angry from Mayfair here! But seriously, I’ve noticed that this is often the tone of my writing. Though I’m not sure I like that fact.

And yet. I think it has something to teach me.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

When I think about the gym example, I think of all the blocks I had to signing up. It was this time last year and I’d just read Christiane Northrup’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. I heard the call: if I was to step off the hereditary fast track to diabetes and breast cancer, I really needed to exercise (as part of a series of lifestyle changes). I eased as much of my distorted body image/fat shaming/control freak baggage as I could manage back onto the family carousel and decided to quietly make a choice for me.

The challenge was to find something that was near to my home, not too expensive and easy to incorporate into my family’s routine. Oh, and enjoyable. It should have been easy. The only choice that ticked all of these boxes was a local gym for women.

But I resisted.

Shouldn’t I be enrolling in Five Rhythms dance classes? Or belly dancing? Or African beats? Or, at the very least, something in a small group, something outdoors? Jogging was free, forgoodnesssakes, why didn’t I “just” do that?

Then I got over myself and visited the aforementioned gym. It had been renovated since I was last a member (in the year 2000!). It was light and had a friendly vibe. The demographic of the neighbourhood had changed and the gym now attracted a diverse range of women of every age, ethnicity and body shape imaginable.

I took the membership information home and my husband agreed it was good investment, especially seeing as I’d have more energy as a result. Over the next two days, I found a new pair of runners at a local cut-price outlet, two new sports bras and some suitable leggings. I could scarcely believe how quickly and painlessly it was all coming together.

On the evening of my first trial group fitness class, I wove my way seamlessly through the traffic, including a U-turn in the middle of a major road and found a parking spot right outside the front door. The instructor had an enormous smile on her face and a wicked sense of humour. She also busted out some sexy sweat-inducing moves and had a damn awesome playlist.

It was Zumba. I was sold.

A year on and I’m still there. I go to boxing and Zumba and meet with a personal trainer once a week. I love the instructors. I love the gals at the front desk. I love the vibe of the place. I love how everyone is friendly and encouraging without being intrusive or demanding. I love how, when I had to suspend my membership in December under horrible circumstances, the staff were empathic and supportive and offered to help in any way they could. I love how much stronger I feel in my core and more energy I have since I returned in late January.

In the end, I didn’t need something earthy, primal or overtly body affirming. I didn’t need something new age, freeform or creative. I certainly didn’t need something that sounded cool.

I just needed the best choice for me.

And then to get out of my way so I could choose it.

And now that I’ve made my choice and it continues to work for me… I think I shall lay the defence to rest.