Fit to be tied about fitness

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Since when did the pastime of the modern woman become an explosion on a scrabble board?

Zumba. Boxercise. Spin. Batuka (yes, really).

It’s a multi million pound industry. Fitness and fun. The two things together.

But in my mind, the concepts couldn’t be further apart.

I’m instantly stressed at the prospect of keeping fit. Something which is supposed to energise and invigorate and ultimately make me less of a heart attack risk has the very opposite effect. The thought of it sends my blood pressure through the roof.

I’ve never been much of a one for group activity. At school, I was always terrified at the mere mention of the word sport in case it meant me actually having to participate. On occasion, I did don a pair of tracksuit bottoms but would usually end up at one end of the basketball court looking sheepish - terrified my face might be flattened with one weighty throw.

Now, in my slightly more mature thirties, I’m still not one for groups. They’re up there with my attitudes towards Harry Potter. If you’re into all that, good for you, but it’s definitely not for me.

My attitude to leisure hasn’t changed either. At primary school I can remember writing about my hobbies. I remember at a point saying that I liked reading and watching television.

“Is that it?” a teacher questioned.

“Well, erm...yes,” I replied.

I was 14 at the time. I was probably expected to be playing camogie and running cross country but I didn’t want to and I didn’t need to.

The long and short of it is that still - at 31 - my favourite pastimes are reading and watching tv. But the more I see around me the more it seems you almost have to apologise for not running a 5k during your lunchbreak and nipping in for a quick Zumba class on the way home.

We’re living in an era when everything we do, even in our spare time, must have a purpose.

Your hobby must apparently be something which also contributes towards your good health.

If details of your day on facebook don’t include a visit to the gym followed by a toning Pilates session then your nine to five hasn’t been entirely well spent.

If you just say that you’re tuning in to watch Coronation Street you immediately have to follow it by saying that you should be doing something more constructive but that all the same you’re determined not to feel guilty. Why would you? It’s okay after working a shift and coming home to make dinner and tidy the house to just want to relax. It’s perfectly acceptable not to want to do anything else.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to want to put in some intense training but it’s not the case for everybody.

That’s why I wish those of us who choose to relax in the non strenuous comfort of our sofas shouldn’t have to constantly defend ourselves.

For now, the height of my group related activities are shopping and having lunch with a few friends - when I get the chance.

And because those activities are usually fitted in around a full time job, a ten month-old, a new house to look after, and a 35 minute drive to and from the office everyday, I’m pretty sure that in the middle of it all, I’m doing enough to fend off obesity.

So, the bad news for anyone looking to increase their membership is that I won’t be signing up for anything fitness or dance related in the near future.

I’ll be going straight home after work to put my feet up with a book in front of the fire or watch something half decent on tv before collapsing into bed at 11pm - and I won’t be feeling guilty about any of it!