Earlier this year, I had a revelation. It came about in unfortunate circumstances – I had to pull out of the Reading Half Marathon after sustaining a knee injury which tooks months of physio to heal – proof, if needed, that you should NEVER just ‘run through’ pain.
Anyway, the knees were so bad that I could barely walk down the street to get food at lunch time, and any kind of cardio was out of the question. Even non-weight bearing stuff such as swimming and cycling was impossible, which was a stressful experience for someone who has always tried to maintain a good level of fitness.
To calm my non-gym-going guilt, I decided it was time to face the weights section – a part of the gym I’ve always avoided because it seemed such a ‘man’s’ zone. Seriously, I’m yet to join a gym where the weights aren’t dominated by a collection of hulking, grunting, sweaty men, which doesn’t exactly make it feel very female-friendly.
Anyway, I asked the gym instructor to acquaint me with all the intimidating looking machines and free weights, in the hope that even if I couldn’t do any cardio, I could at least maintain some kind of muscle tone. I was amazed when after a few weeks of doing my new weights workout – around 40 minutes at a time with a mix of legs, arms and stomach – I felt a lot more toned than I had doing hours of cardio beforehand.
This enforced break from cardio has really changed my outlook on the gym. Even though I can now go running again – and am training for the Bristol Half Marathon in a few weeks – my gym visits now are almost entirely focused on weights, lunges, sit ups etc. I find it a lot more enjoyable than just pummelling away on the cross trainer, and it’s definitely had a more positive effect on my body. Even if you are a big cardio fan, I would really recommend mixing it up a bit – and don’t be scared of all those posey blokes!