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Just An Everyday Athlete: Yes, you DO have time to exercise

April 9th 2014 / Grace Dent / 2 comments

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If Grace Dent can find time to get fit, so can you...

From 2005-2014, I didn’t have time to exercise properly. OK, I did bits. The odd half-arsed turbo bums’n’tums class. Ashtanga yoga, which I’d always quit as I find other people’s farting during the downward dog wholly unsettling. My problem was I was very, very busy. Just flat out. So much busier than everyone. Whoosh. Not a second.

I could get quite irate if challenged. Don’t you understand how busy I am just being me? Imagine if I didn’t deliver to the public all these whimsical, grammatically chaotic columns? Or have time to appear on television with hair resembling an agitated holly bush, taking a 'sideways swipe’ at current affairs? How would the world turn? And anyway, I walked from Holborn to Regent Street just yesterday - stopping at Pret for an artisan cheese baguette and a cranberry water - which must have burned, ooh, 1000 calories, so leave me be.

Obviously I had time to exercise. I knew this. I work all day and many evenings but I had time between 6am and 8am each morning, which was currently occupied lying in bed, cuddling a cat, knocking back instant coffee, reading the Mail online's Sidebar of Shame, sending back dress deliveries that mysteriously didn’t fit as there was too much arse and too little dress fabric. That was some special me-time. And I had to give it up.

When I enlisted Steve Mellor to begin HIIT training and he suggested 7am sessions - meaning a 5.30am alarm - I agreed purely as I knew that if we exercised in darkness there was less chance of the public seeing me in overly snug lycra vomiting in a hedge after lunges. Weirdly by April, I can’t imagine not filling my pre-work hours with HIIT. If a trainer works you hard for 45 minutes, that is essentially one episode of EastEnders plus fifteen minutes bitching about it on the internet. 45 minutes is exactly how long I can spend staring at bras in M+S without even buying one. 45 minutes is a quick session of perusing holiday cottages or wallpaper on the internet with no plans to use either. If you want to feel better and extend your life, you need to carve back that time.

I often say to Steve that doing a session at 7am removes a monkey from my shoulder that used to sit there nagging all day. The monkey was invisible, imaginary but quite chatty and would whisper approximately every twenty minutes that I was living quite a sedentary life, getting older, more stubborn, less willing to change and my bodily bits were moving, drooping, decaying and I was doing not one single thing about it. The monkey sat with me at mealtimes telling me that all of this energy I was consuming was going precisely nowhere aside from my arse-cheeks. I hated that bloody monkey. Carving out time between 5am-8am killed it.

When I wake up some mornings I try to imagine the determined fool that Steve is training before me. The one who got up even earlier. I try to visualise a dress in my wardrobe I want to wear to an event. I try to think about how high as a kite I’ll feel on the way back from the session, which after being pushed to the brink often feels like walking home from a club at 5am, glassy eyed and grinning.

The one downside is that I don’t read as much celebrity gossip so am currently learning about Daniella Westbrook’s new cage-fighting boyfriend or Kym Marsh’s divorce problems second-hand, but we all have to make sacrifices. There is time to exercise. You know yourself when that is, but admitting that and committing to it are the hardest steps of all. After that it’s rather marvellous.

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  • Clare Heaton
  • April 10th 2014

Can we see a photo to judge how effective this torture is?

  • Sarah Smith
  • April 9th 2014

So agree. Had my induction to the gym today, with a lovely young Jose - I'm 50 this year ffs, have fannied around for too long, time for action, will be borrowing some of your motivations.

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