I’ve been following Bangs and a Bun since I started on the Internet three years ago, and whilst we don’t see eye to eye on everything, I’ve always found her an inspiring and interesting blogger. I’ve also been following her fitness journey, culminating in the Spikes and Heels blog and general ambassadress for badass and again, although this isn’t entirely my thang as it were, I admire what she is trying to do and all power to her for that. This post is inspired by some of the things she’s been talking about recently, about women’s fitness and the politics behind that.
My fitness might be a weird topic for me to write about, because I’m, well, not. I can’t run. I can’t throw or catch or jump or lift heavy things. I’m too scared of falling over to try more adventurous things like snowboarding or mountain climbing or riding bikes or in fact any activity which involves me not having both feet on the floor. I can swim, and I can dive and that’s literally about it.
But I love dancing, I love moving my body and I love feeling sweaty. I wish sometimes (quite a lot of the times) that I didn’t have this stupid all-consuming fear of falling over so that I could try more stuff but in the meantime, I want to be, well, fit!
My ‘blocker’ for getting involved in sport, however, wasn’t because I’m a girl, because I was taught ‘sport is for boys’ or any of the other assumptions of patriarchy that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Sport and Fitness seem to have as their remit. In my school, sport was just as important to the boys and the girls. The girl’s teams were highly competitive, had as much money and time and effort put into them. Our Head Girl was always the captain of one of the teams. Yes, we didn’t do all the same sports, we didn’t do football or rugby in class, but the school did have a women’s football team and we were encouraged to compete in all the same athletics and other sports like the long distance running that I utterly hated, but always got a 1 for effort in.
No, I wasn’t into sport because that was what boys did; I wasn’t into sport because that was what other people did.
In my school, we were set from Year Eight, and in Year Ten we were once again subdivided in those of us who got pink cards and those of us who didn’t. If you get a pink card, you did two extra GCSEs, got a shed load of extracurricular support (for which you read PRESSURE) and were invited to the talks about Oxbridge, for which it was presumed you would apply (ha!). PE didn’t really fit into the equation with all this and although being in the school play was overlooked as an oddity by my parent, wanting to spend precious hours that could have been spent reading running was definitely out.
My group of friends, for the most part in this group as we were all in class together, all felt the same. One of the lads was in the rugby team, but he was literally a genius and so could be. Not one of my girlfriends was interested in sport as a regular hobby because we didn’t have time to be.
Now, in my late twenties, I’m gutted about this. I wish I had been given the time as a child to appreciate that I wasn’t going to be one forever, and that maybe giving a shit about my fitness, rather than laughing off the fact I couldn’t run a mile in under ten minutes or that I couldn’t raise my leg above my hip (I was never a ‘flexible friend’) then I might not be in the position I am now, where most sport intimidates me to the degree I don’t want to get involved, not because I cannot, but because I dare not.
Sport isn’t for other people any more, and now I’m the one who is weird. Everyone runs, cycles, climbs and kicks. Everyone wants to be ‘badass’.
Back in February I was persuaded to join a gym with a couple of mates and I’ll admit it the fact you can do Zumba there was a major draw. Zumba might be written off, but I love it, I can fling myself about, get sweaty and feel like a tit, but I can do it! I’ve done bums and tums, which is ironically named seeing as I felt like I had neither by the end of it, just aching bags of meat strapped to my quaking bones. I’ve done Body Pump, which made me feel like the weakest most pathetic specimen ever to walk across the earth, and I’ve done Yoga, which I’m sure is brilliant but just made me feel even more graceless and gauche than normal. But Zumba makes me feel good. Zumba makes me feel confident in my body and Zumba makes me sweat. So I’m not going to apologise for posting this photo on here, it might not be a 5K run, or something equally terrifying like the other Operation Hideous pictures, but I’m proud of it, and of myself, for still going and getting over myself with exercise this year.
Me, after Zumba