Tiff Chen’s relationship with exercise changed when her sister gave her a bicycle for Christmas.
The 34-year-old, who lives in Naarm/Melbourne, was new to Australia and wanted to explore the city without the expense of public transport.
“It turned out to be amazing — life-changing, actually,” she says.
Exercise hadn’t previously been a part of her life, but Tiff says cycling gave her the freedom to “ride the back alleys, stop and start” as she pleased.
As a child, she learned to ride her neighbor’s bike, but she never had her own bike to practice on. So building trust took time.
She was working in the hospitality industry at the time, but Tiff is now a social worker and needs her car for work. She drives recreationally on weekends.
“It’s great for fitness and getting around with friends.”
It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise, especially if you don’t do it regularly.
The good news is that it is possible to improve your fitness and health without having to slog for hours each day.
And finding something you actually like is possible, as Tiff and two other women we spoke to share.
Amber Manto avoided exercise “like the plague”.
“If I ran for the bus I would be bloated,” says the 39-year-old who lives in Bondi, Sydney.
She had done a few different forms of activity, including joining a gym, but nothing stuck.
Five years ago, however, she decided that her mid-30s was the time to get serious.
So she attended a pole dancing class – something she had always wanted to try.
“I’ve never had a studio near me. And it can be very expensive,” says Amber.
After one lesson she was hooked.
Amber realized she enjoyed playing sports where she was part of a group, but not a team.
She especially loved tracking her progress.
“There are stages for pole dancing; learning a new trick or flattening out your splits,” she says.
“There’s always something you’re working toward that isn’t motivated by weight or health.”
She adds that getting fit has been a “nice byproduct.”
Stay with it
Jane Howard took up running during the pandemic and, like Amber, says it’s been encouraging to see her progress.
The 34-year-old from Adelaide loved dancing and swimming as a child, but “hated” and avoided exercise in her 20s.
“I definitely would have said it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t interested.”
During the peak of COVID-19, Jane says her mental health took a “dip” and she struggled with insomnia.
Her doctor recommended exercising outside at night to tire her body.
“I would just go for brisk walks, and then I’m not quite sure what the decision process was, but I decided to try the Couch to 5k app,” explains Jane.
Couch to 5k are generally free or low-cost coaching plans designed to help people who want to start running.
The programs are available online, or as apps or podcasts.
“I was absolutely horrible. I thought, ‘How could anyone possibly do this?'” Jane says of the beginning.
“But I stuck with it. I remember the first time I ran for 8 minutes, it was just the most amazing thing.
“It’s such a sense of accomplishment.”
Jane’s insomnia improved, although she needed the help of medication for a short time.
She sticks to the habit, running about three times a week these days, and says that while she’s “not very good,” that’s okay.
“I love it. I never expected to say that.”
Try new things
Amber’s advice to anyone who finds it hard to hold onto something: keep trying new things.
“Think about the elements you enjoy. Is it being part of a group? Or seeing progress?” she says.
Jane says if running interests you, start small.
“Maybe instead of driving to the local shop, you could take a walk – or the pub,” she suggests.
“The longest I’ve ever walked in my life was 6 kilometers and that was towards the pub.”
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Posted Jul 22, 202322 Jul 2023Sat Jul 22, 2023 at 9:00 PM, updated Jul 21, 202321 Jul 2023Fri Jul 21, 2023 at 6:09 am
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