Having produced 4 children, weathered the perimenopause and survived the menopause my body was feeling rather worn and definitely underperforming

So here is my story ….

By Sue Oates

Add this to a sense of becoming an invisible middle aged woman and you have a combination which can be truly damaging to one’s self-esteem.

Fortunately I was invited along to a boot camp and I went along for a laugh. I definitely laughed! Huffing and puffing around the field, always last to complete a task. Completely unable to perform a plank and as for sit ups I couldn’t even get my shoulders off the ground. I couldn’t even get up off the ground without rolling over on to my knees.

But it was fun and people were supportive.

I enjoyed it so much and my body seemed to respond well to exercise so at the end of the six weeks I went along to the gym sessions.

I started my strength training journey. I learnt that I could do so much more than I thought I could. I was able to improve my core strength, posture, balance and recover muscle tone that my body had lost. It wasn’t long before I realised that I was no longer getting the dreary old aches and pains that come from lack of activity. I had replaced them with the pain of tight muscles as a result of positive exercise, that struggle to walk downstairs in the morning or lower yourself into a seat. But a bit of perseverance and my muscles grew stronger and I could increase the strength exercises without the pain. Definitely winning.

I began to feel strong and in control of my body. I felt fit both mentally and physically. Lock down happened and I walked for miles and miles to keep the fitness levels up. Online exercises kept up the strength training. I was ready for a challenge. It was time to do something I had always wanted to do – a triathlon. My one barrier to this was a fear of the open water and this needed to be addressed.

I had heard about Spring Lakes and the Open water swimming tasters so along I went somewhat nervously but willing.

And into my life came Her Spirit and all the wonderful women involved in the Her Spirit community. Needless to say I received buckets full of encouragement and support from everyone I met. Not only did I overcome my fear of the open water but I learnt to swim freestyle, in the lake too.

It wasn’t long before I was signed up for a Super Sprint Triathlon in Leeds to take place in June 2022.

Without the strength training I had done previously I would not have had the courage or confidence to even consider this challenge. It had made my body strong enough to start training for the event.

But my idea of training was, do a bit of swimming, do a lot of running and do loads more cycling. However I got a bit smarter and listened to the Her Spirit coaches. I decided to follow the training plans on the app. These included not only discipline specific training and nutritional advice but also strength training. I learnt about the importance of maintaining a regular pattern of strength training to support your joints and reduce the risk of injury and to increase flexibility and movement. And I learnt how important it is to a strong core in order to undertake the activities involved in a triathlon.

I have had a brilliant year and achieved more than I ever thought I could. But one of the most important things I have learnt is that strength training is a good starting point for getting into fitness. It can be done through the apps and with very little equipment. One of my favourites uses just a towel. You don’t need to do it in a group and you can do it at a time and place to suit you. But most importantly it underpins further active challenges. Strength training helps you to take on the next challenge and to push yourself as far as you want to.

Feeling strong has increased my self confidence, enhanced my physical wellbeing and supported my mental health through some difficult times over the last couple of years.

I need to fall in love with Yoga now.

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