It’s February, the month where New Year’s Resolutions come to die. How has yours been going for you? In the spirit of February, I’m here today to talk about a fitness journey I’ve been managing to stay on, and what I’ve been learning about ethical living along the way.
Back at the beginning of the year Julia Buckley reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try her online gym. As a full time freelancer my schedule has never been more hectic, and the idea of something small to do every day at home was something I was definitely interested in trying, especially in a cold and grey January!
Julia is a trainer but she’s also very clearly a normal, relatable person. After growing tired of fads and lies in the diet and fitness industry, she created her online gym as a way to share her short and intense workouts which, when done consistently, are great for getting you fitter, stronger and healthier. At the start of the year she put up the ‘four-week breakthrough’ programme, designed to kick start you into a new year, and I’ve been both loving it, and actually finding it manageable.
Now let me just say, this is not a post about getting thinner. I’m not here to talk about your body image, or to berate you for not being smaller, we have enough of that in the mainstream media and I think it’s dangerous, and bad for our mental health, to be constantly criticising ourselves and looking for things that need to become better. There is no ideal shape or size, no matter what any magazine tries to tell you. If you can learn to embrace and love your body just how it is, that’s great. This journey for me has simply been about becoming healthier in general, because for me my health on the inside totally affects what’s on the outside.
I’m a dancer right, so I already have that going on. But dance class for me is always focused towards some sort of end goal: getting that leg just a bit higher, being able to turn better, getting my balance a bit better. How I use those classes is directly linked to my actual work and output, so I always have that in the back of my mind. I love dance, yes, but there’s always that knowledge, and therefore some kind of internal pressure that I put on myself. With Julia’s workouts, it’s not like that. They’re a time when I can focus solely on what I’m doing, just for the sake of doing it and feeling really good afterwards. In time I’ll see results, yes, and with the four week breakthrough it doesn’t actually take that long, but it’s not fully about that. It’s fitness, and sometimes it is hard to push through, but it’s also a time to really switch off from everything else that’s going on.
How does this link to ethical living? I hear you say. Well it’s hard not to notice that it feels like the world is kind of on fire right now. It seems as though every time I wake up some other ridiculous thing is happening. When you get to that place, ethical burnout becomes a real possible thing. The thought pattern looks something like this:
There’s so much going on, the problems are all too big, what’s the point in doing anything at all if it won’t make a difference? I’m giving up.
Trust me, I have had those thoughts myself. Because it is flipping hard. Choosing to live more ethically is also choosing to not ignore all of the problems in the world, as many people do. It is instead choosing to both acknowledge them and try to do something about it, that’s a big responsibility to take on. And me, as the person who’s trying to bring you information and help you understand, well I’m looking at everything all the time, because I want to equip anyone who’s passionate about any cause in that spectrum in some way. That is a lot to deal with.
I’ve talked in the past about how our mental health and self care is linked to our ability to live ethically and not get totally overwhelmed. We have to be in good place ourselves in order to work to look after others, otherwise we just get defeated. We have to be able to stand firm and strong and balance is a key part of achieving that; finding ways to switch off for a little while and care for our needs too. I’ve found that, because my physical health plays into my mental health, Julia’s fitness regime has been perfect for me. I can do her workouts and not have to think about how this affects my dance technique, which affects my choreography, which affects the social justice issues I’m trying to talk about. No, I can just be. I can just be a person doing a workout for 30 minutes, who’s gonna feel healthier and happier when she’s done. It’s so freeing, and it’s so achievable as opposed to trying to go to the gym in New Year’s resolution enthusiasm, only to give up a few weeks in.
When my workout is over, the world is still kind of on fire. But I’ve been able to take some time for me, and just to think about a task right in front of me, not a major global issue. Combine that with some other bits of self care like cooking, the occasional bath, going outside, and I’m good to go, I’m ready to face another day trying to tackle the seemingly impossible.
This blog ultimately runs on hope. If I thought all was lost, what would be the point in writing about this stuff? I’ll be writing another post in the week about how we can remain hopeful in the world we’re currently in, but my 30 minutes a day with Julia definitely helps me to switch off, reset, and gather the energy to keep fighting.
Thank you to Julia for letting me try out her gym!
Wearing – Adidas unitard, (purchased secondhand for £3!)
Until next time, stay magic y’all.