First, let me make a confession; I HATE going to the Gym and subjecting myself to fitness-machines...

Believe me, I've tried being a good girl a couple of years ago, and suscribed for my local Gym. The only reason I kept going, was that I didn't want to see my money wasted (I took a year long membership).

That, and the fact that I was severely addicted to 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' at that time in my life, and I only permitted myself to watch the series while I was sweating on the tredmill...


The Gym

When my year long fitness ordeal ended, I quit the Gym and installed a crosstrainer at home, in front of the TV.

It thought it was a clever idea at that time. Cheaper, easier to access, no need to dress up before exercising. But in the long run it didn't work out for me. 

I saw all the episodes of 'Buffy', then tried to get excited about a new series, but I didn't get enchanted by 'Charmed'... I got bored instead. Bored with this dull 'moving without getting forward' on the tredmill, bored with the TV-series, bored with my surroundings (the spare bedroom).

Nowadays, I completely abandoned my crosstrainer, I even left it with my ex-boyfriend...

My daily exercise routine consists of walking and cycling now, very simple and very cheap. I protect myself from osteoparosis, (winter)depression and vitamine-D deplation with walking outside for at least half an hour every day. If I have plenty of time, I walk to the beach, one of the big adventages of living in The Hague! When I only have 1,5 to 2 hours, I take my bicycle and ride to the beach (a 7 minutes ride), so I can get the maximum out of my actual beachtime.

I walk to the supermarket, to my friend's house for a cup of tea, I cycle to the city center. It's suprisingly easy to get plenty of low impact exercise this way!

Sunset stroll along the beach
Credit: Klaartje Loose

Unfortunately, daily brisk walking alone is not enough for a total workout.

In order to keep your heart and lungs young and as vital as could be, you need to sweat and be out of breathe about 3 times a week! 

Lucky me, I found a way to get all sweaty while doing something I really enjoy: for years now, I dance Cuban Salsa several times a week. Not only does it provide a great workout for me, on top of that I meet a lot of lovely people. I made really nice new friends on the dancefloor.

Instead of sitting in front of the TV or hanging in a bar on Saturday night, I now attend salsa parties on a weekly basis, too busy dancing to care for alcohol anyway... (talk about a win-win). And surveys proove it time after time: Dancing makes you Happy!

There is one exercise-challenge that I didn't solve yet; workout experts and personal trainers keep telling me that I should strengthen my muscles too, that cardio-exercise isn't enough.

I know they are right, I also know that I'm not registering to the gym anymore. Maybe I need to fall for another TV-series and start weight lifting at home while watching 'The Big Bang Theory' or 'Once upon a Time'....

7 tips to keep on moving, outside the gym:

  1. Instead of focussing on burning calories, focus on moving your body in a way you like! Maybe playing tennis is somewhat less effective than a specific workout in the gym, but if you like playing tennis you're much more likely to keep it up!
  2. Exercise together. Even a simple evening stroll is much more fun in good company.
  3. Make walking your daily routine -it's the easiest and cheapest training you can think of.
  4. Reward yourself; I, for example, bought myself nice dancing shoes after a while, I felt I deserved it. Don't wait with celebrating your successes until you can run the marathon, please! Small steps, that you manage to keep up with, are a good reason to be proud of yourself.
  5. Don't get harsh on yourself if you temporarily fall back into 'couch potato mode'. Try to find out why you lost your motivation and determination and just start over. Every day is a new opportunity to change your habits and your life!
  6. Measure your stamina, your growing strength. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of actual proof of increasing results.
  7. Find ways to play with your kids, and I'm not talking about Playstation games here!  Think about playing soccer, badminton, hide and seek, swimming, rollerskate or kite flying instead. On top of the extra exercise, you create a wonderful way to bond with your child...