• Katherine Thornalley

Finding My Fit

Updated: Jun 22, 2018

Out with the old, in with the new

Sex, drugs and ... well... cheesy dance music at the one and only nightclub that Cirencester had on offer occupied my spare time up until the age of 21. I had always dreamed of visiting Tanzania and when a job opportunity arose setting up a preschool in a village, I hopped on the first flight that was conveniently possible to get out there. Upon reflection ten years later on, I can see that it changed me in so many ways. Some for the good, some for the bad.

Fitness had never been an interest of mine. However, after living on a diet of rice, chapatis and extremely sugary tea I started to notice some *ahem* developments to my waistline. There was talk of a fancy new gym opening next to the school that I was teaching in, jam packed with all of the latest high tech equipment. I bought a cheap moped so that I could travel to the gym after work, she was my pride and joy reaching top speeds of 30 kms per hour! Upon arrival at this gym, there was one thing that instantly leapt to my attention. It wasn't the fact that I was the only white person, it wasn't the fact that I was the only woman, it wasn't the fact that the shower and toilet were in the same cubicle (I know what you're thinking. Ingenious! Not when this had to be shared with fifty other male gym members!), it wasn't even the fact that the 'latest, high tech equipment' seemed to have somehow time travelled straight from the 1970's.... it was how welcoming and friendly everyone was.

Breaking out of the comfort zone

The gentleman who took the classes at the gym was extremely muscular and very easy on the eye. He was also a bit of an asshole. His step routines were always very complicated but a lot of fun. If you stepped out of time he would move his step next to yours to exaggerate his movements whilst shouting "don't let me down!" Some of his other 'inspirational' shoutings included "No pain, no gain!" "Feel that burn!" and my personal favourite, which he always said in his native tongue "if this skinny white girl can do it then why can't you?!" Not everyone's cup of tea of course, but my goodness did I grow to love it. Putting my heart and soul into these workouts all the while in an extremely testosterone filled gym became my happy place.

The importance of your get fit community

I grew to love that terrible smell of sweat, the fraying carpets, the cracked windows, the loud Spanish soaps that they would play on their TV all day long, but most of all, the community. Everyone chatted, everyone lifted each other up and congratulated each other on their achievements. The community of fit is so important. Ten years on, I am not sure if the gym still stands. But they changed my life in a way that they will never know.

Finding the fit community back in England

The keep fit community is so important, especially as a new mum. This is the time that you feel most vulnerable and out of control. Lets be honest, being a mum is hard at the best of times without the pressure of feeling like we have to bounce back! I have been to several local gyms, all of which seem to have adopted the mentality, head down, focus, oh my god you made eye contact? quick! look away! None of the traits of my dear gym back in Tanzania.... Until, I stumbled across a gym and fitness centre local to where I live. What was different? SO many things. Everyone knew each other, everyone spurred each other on and (now this is my favourite part) one of the chaps who is a part of the class goes around high fiving everyone post workout! Who doesn't want that?!

Tell me, do you feel the same as I do? Would you rather go to a gym and focus on the task in hand and not make eye contact? Or do you like to feel involved as a community? Oh no! Whilst writing this, my husband has just reminded me that I AM that annoying person that you bump into in the supermarket and I WILL catch your eye and start asking how life is since we last saw each other 15 years ago at school.... Sorry guyssss!


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