A personal view on the difficulties of being active
Posted: Wed, 10 Jul 2019 18:59
I wear Northamptonshire Sport on my hoody, I turn up and help run events like the 5K series. I stand there encouraging and admiring the effort those runners are putting in, especially those towards the back of the field who are doing for it themselves. They aren't there to win any trophies, they are there for their own personal goals and they are lapping me time and time again. That is because, I may wear sport on my work clothes, but I am also a 40 year old, married father of two who is overweight and classed as inactive.
As a swimming instructor I use to be fairly active at work. Two hours teaching in the pool, no problem, but it was never enough to get my heart rate up. My job has changed slightly over the years and now I often tend to find myself sitting in front of a laptop or in meetings. Then, like most people I get home from work and catch up with my kids and Mrs J, a team effort to cook dinner and to clear up afterwards. By this time it's getting on for 7.30 or later, I might even have taxi duties for the kids still to go and the thought of going out and getting active, well quite frankly I can't be bothered. If I try and get active before dinner I miss that time with my kids.
A good part of our remit from Sport England is to help people who are currently inactive to get up and get moving. But I sit in meetings thinking I am part of our 'target' group. I sit there thinking I should do more. I sit there think when am I going to fit it in? The thought of trying to fit in 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) is just terrifying.
Going back quite a few years ago to my time at school, I hated PE. I was (and still am) absolutely rubbish at all sports. That experience of PE put me off doing anything outside of school, but somehow I ended up working part time in a sports centre, which led to being a lifeguard and swimming instructor. All the time hiding that feeling inside that I was rubbish at sport. When I joined N Sport I had those same feelings as I did at school, I wasn't good enough at sport to be part of the 'sports gods' that are Northamptonshire Sport. But that is when I realised that I didn't need to be good at sport and physical activity to enjoy it. The fun came from just giving it a go and trying new things and realising that even the N Sport superstars weren't good at everything. Last week even our super fit Director came in for a meeting having just taken a tumble off his bike.
One of the best things I have done recently was not playing as part of an N Sport team in a charity dodgeball competition (which we lost). It was playing on the trampolines after. Trying to do back bounces, trying to see who could to the most swivel hips, even the synchronised routine. It was full of laughter when it didn't go right and celebration when it did. There was no pressure to perform, but there was lots of heavy breathing. The following day some of us ached some of us didn't.
When I think back to the competitions I have entered with my colleagues (kayaking, swimming, baseball etc), one thing is fairly consistent. We have a laugh and we don't perform well at all. I wish I could I could say it was because we think it's a good thing to let the other teams win – definitely not the case. We have two tongue in cheek mottos when we enter things, the first 'we're not here to make friends' changes very quickly to 'we make sport happen, doesn't mean we're good at it'. We have never pretended to be the best at sports but we really do have that appreciation that physical activity can be
a really good laugh.
There have been brief periods over the years when I was fitter than others. The time cycled everywhere because I didn't have a car. That occasion I thought it would a good idea to run 10k for charity. But it never lasts and I revert back to being inactive. I have to change my life style. I don't want to have a six pack and bulging muscles (it is too much like hard work to maintain), but I want to be fitter, I don't want to be puffing like a steam train because I did a fast walk up the hill into the office. With that in mind I am going to make a commitment to make small changes and get out more often. The 150 minutes is too daunting so I'm going to forget that for now and aim there in the future.
I encourage you to try and find the fun in just getting out and trying new things. Find that thing you enjoy doing, increase your heart rate a bit and have a laugh doing it. The opportunities are out there, it is easy to feel that you that you aren't good enough. That the couch to 5K is just way out of your league. The hardest thing is to take the first step and remember not all of us in the Northamptonshire Sport red tops are good at sport either.