I am lucky enough to be working for a fantastic company that has a great team, culture and great managers that support us not only professionally but personally. Twelve months ago, my boss organised group personal training sessions for anyone in our office that was interested in joining. Having not exercised for a number of years and knowing I would never sign myself up to do it alone, I thought I would give it a go. I think everyone in our office was in complete shock that I said yes!
Training was organised to take place during our lunch hour, which was hard enough and I went to war with myself, making all of the excuses such as being too busy, can’t afford the time etc. I’ll never forget one of my work colleagues and great friend took me shopping the day before (I wasn’t very well prepared at all) to buy sneakers and some gym gear. I can’t remember the last time I walked into Rebel Sport or Lorna Jane to shop or had even stopped outside the stores to window shop! I was so scared because it was change…..something completely different! My friend made me feel so comfortable that by the end, it actually wasn’t the worst shopping experience of my life. The one thing I did know was that I wanted to commit to it and wanted to feel better in myself. Little did I know how much of an impact it would have on my life, including my job.
The next day, we all walked down as a group to the botanical gardens for our first group personal training session. I was terrified and already exhausted just from the walk. The fact that I was in lycra in front of my colleagues made me feel I wanted to walk straight back to the office and sit at my computer. That would have been the easier option; certainly the safer one.
The first thing we were asked to do was run. I almost cried. Our team at work are quite fit and energetic, and are all ages so I certainly felt awkward to say the least. But somehow I got through the session. It wasn’t as bad as what I thought it would be. I had this feeling of uncomfortable awkwardness for many weeks, but just kept pushing through. I am pretty competitive by nature and don’t like to fail, therefore really tried hard to keep up. Over time, this feeling dissipated and I actually started to look forward to the sessions.
At the same time, I really concentrated on eating well and at regular times. I didn’t even know meal prep was a thing until I started to talk to my colleagues about what they eat, and slowly started to change my life and break old habits.
One of my other colleagues joined Pilates Reformer so I asked her if I could join with her.
Pretty soon it became part of my weekly routine and I could certainly notice the changes and benefits, both personally and professionally. My friends and colleagues started to notice and were complimenting me (the first reaction was shock and confusion) and I started to feel much happier and calmer.
It has been a great experience to be able to talk to my co-workers about the exercise, how we are feeling (mostly sore) and get to know each other more on a personal level as well and have fun.
I remember my boss saying how he could see a direct correlation between when I started to exercise and an increase in my productivity. I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time, could handle stress better, became more resilient and churned through my work quicker and much more effectively in less time. Probably the biggest advantage of regular exercise though is that I feel like I smile more and am happier within myself. It has made me a better person and a better leader within our business.
These sessions, along with the healthy eating over time became my ‘new normal’. So much so that towards the end of last year, I felt like I could exercise more. I joined F45 in December and am about to start an 8 week challenge. Who would have ever thought!
For me, exercise was a way to challenge myself and get out of old habits. The benefits for my productivity, general well-being and health have been amazing. I never thought it would be something I would enjoy or embrace, but by getting out of my comfort zone and persisting with it, I was able to discover something new that I love while having a range of other benefits.
Even if exercise isn’t for you, try and find something that you can do to become more productive. Breaking those old habits is hard, but it is possible to change! Take small steps, but be persistent, and surround yourself with supportive people who will help you.