Posted by andrepetr77
21st Aug 2018

My wife works for a boutique gym in Notting Hill, which is quite unlike any other gym I have come across before. You know the types – the ones that the younger generation visit in flocks of about 3-4, posing in front of mirrors and taking selfies of their twig-like arms after having done around 4 repetitions of a bicep curl on a 5 kilogram weight. Yep. Those ones. The ones where no-one talks to each other and through a cacophony of dance and techno music they don’t think anyone else can hear, grunt out repetitions of weights like mating season in Epping Forest. Those are the types of gyms I’m used to seeing.

It almost seems nowadays that its become a fashion statement, much like owning the latest iPhone, car, house, or whatever else those great marketing deities can throw at us. Gyms are no different. By and large, they, like many others are out to bleed us dry financially as most of us stare at yet another transaction escaping our bank account each month for something we probably made it to around 2 times a week? Hey, I’m not a pessimist I’m just saying...:)

I have recently been converted (much by my financial circumstances and moreso because of my rapidly declining levels of fitness and the fact that I’m about to start working with a little boy at an International School who likes to run around a bit) to the home exercise gym. Around 3 times a week I grunt out repetitions of 4 sets of 12 on my puny little 4 kilogram weights which feel more like 10 kilograms, then follow up with boosting Santander Cycles’ coffers with a half hour/hour’s worth of riding through Hyde Park and back. Boy, what a difference.

Not only do I feel far less anxiety about another 33.95 performing The Great Escape from my bank account monthly, but I get to do it in the comfort of our bedroom and then utilise the convenience of the bike station (2 in fact) around the corner from home! It’s funny how life’s circumstances can teach us the most simple things in life and if I decide to go for a swim, I know I can for only 4.20 at the local Better GLL in Kensington, which is a 15 minute walk away.

In an age where things such as time and money are so important and where we’re always looking for the fastest and most convenient way to do things, it’s ironic that so often we forget the simplest things which are staring us in the face. Researching some simple daily exercises on the internet and spending around 10-15 at Sports Direct or somewhere that sells dumbbells to dumb bells like me, can go a long way to alleviating the anxiety of wasted dosh at the sweat factory, as well as ridding you of those flocks of mini-narcissists who invade gyms across London, all the while staring into their phones and taking more time than a senior citizen in a electric powered buggy to finish at an exercise station before migrating to the next one.

All of these things can have an extremely positive effect on one’s mental health too let me tell you LOL!
A while ago now, a friend of mine and a fellow mental health activist wrote a book about foods which are designed to improve mood and optimise overall mental health and well-being. Now, personal trainers all espouse the virtues of a good diet as well as exercise to obtain maximum physical health, as well as to eat right for your body – but what Rachel’s book reminded me of so starkly was how important eating for mental health is also! One of the quotes Rachel mentions in her Introduction to the book speaks about things such as how fluctuating blood sugar can affect our adrenal glands and subsequently cause bouts of anxiety, whilst other evidence and advice warns of the effects of particular foods on our nerves, brain and digestion, which ultimately also affect our moods. Since then, both schools of thought in philosophical as well as meditation circles have come to re-realise that all disease begins in the gut.

The former owner and director of Bodyism (a chain of boutique gyms who has worked with some of the most famous and renowned public figures kicking around), James Duigan, is also a believer in holistic exercise and nutrition for mental, physical and spiritual health. In the introduction to his book, he echoes Rachel’s sentiments about unrealistic dieting and exercise regimens and the dangers of them, specifically saying that most end up having the adverse effect to what they intend to achieve – that is to say, resulting in weight gain and making one sick and miserable. Most importantly, he says that any change in your body happens in your mind first.

This is where exercising BODY MIND AND SPIRIT becomes so very important. Just because, like me, you may not have the finances or the ‘time’ to dedicate to yourself in the sense that you can’t afford a gym membership or you feel like a failure because you can’t, doesn’t cut it. We often prioritise many things over what we should and our health is the first thing we should be prioritising – in whatever way we can. Exercise doesn’t just mean pumping iron – it’s also learning how to meditate and strengthen ourselves from within, whilst simultaneously fuelling ourselves to slowly but surely work our way to optimum holistic health and as James said, being healthy and happy. Taking up or rediscovering a new/old hobby can also help us to exercise our minds into a more positive frame. Start small. After all, the old saying does go ‘From little things, big things grow’. Till next time.

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