Just three and a half months after having my baby, Edward, I was back motivating others to clean up their larders and livers. Four times a week we meet up in the woods or in a scruffy car park to blast away some cobwebs.

We exchange reports of various de-tox symptoms – of headaches, spots and tiredness.

I give them a quick pep talk full of motivation and information, tell them what foods can be re-introduced this week and remind them once again why they’re doing it.

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It isn’t a sympathetic approach for those with excuses – you sign up, line up and clean up. And they do. Yet it has always surprised me how popular this approach is.

As most of us well know the fitness industry goes through fads and phases. After the 80’s and lots of aerobics teachers blowing their cartilages away, as often happens, things got a bit soft.

Mats, exercises, contraindications were pushed forward along with very supportive bouncy trainers.  Much of the ‘punishment’ got removed from fitness and the new generation of trainers were products of countless new courses and qualifications.

But there was always one left in the gym who just carried on doing things his or her way regardless.

Despite the sniggering and eye rolling from those who’d been in the industry for five minutes, they would plough on unfazed, trusting in the empirical, tried and tested.

I rather liked that approach:

an old timer doing what he or she learned half a century ago. It worked then, why shouldn’t it work now?

I watched a documentary about boxers training in the 1950’s and 60’s recently. It struck me that with all the advances in Sports Science over 50 years, fundamentally nothing has changed.

What they did then is basically what they do now –  it is just all a bit shinier and more smartly presented these days!

Since many of us enjoyed childhoods that might have involved being sent running around the copse wearing baggy sports knickers in flat plimsolls, it might just be that what we know is what we like. We are creatures of habit and conditioning after all.

Admitting to that might not always be comfortable though. Our association with such basic ‘physical jerks’ that they are good for us probably do last a lifetime and a few hardships and being bossed about a bit are naturally accepted and acceptable deep within us.

The only difference now is that I don’t insist on such ill-suited attire and footwear!

But the philosophy is the same, I’ve got them in the woods and as one lady remarked with a huge smile, ‘Now I can’t get out of here, I have to stay!’ And they like that.

For the first time in their day, someone else is taking care of them, controlling their following 45 minutes, thinking of them and for them. All they need to do, is just do it. As we learned on expeditions a good leader is hugely important but good followers are vital.

Joey Bull_2

There are exercises today that are frowned on and have been consigned to the ‘banned’ file.

But who is to say that the exercises we perform now, that are so very correct, won’t be residing in that same file in 10 or 15 years?

Just recently a report was published saying that trainers (footwear) are responsible for many bothersome strains. So the conclusion was that we should go about in barefoot.

If it wasn’t for a chance of a ring pull or thistle piercing, I’d go for that and then compensate the daytime earthy look with 4 inch heels in the evening.

I’ve always been an advocate of short and intensive. And today, with their pretty faces and bellies faced down on the tarmac (OK, I do let them use a mat) we did ‘lying down sprint starts’.

I’m not sure when they will use these in life, especially as many are over the age of being called up for national service.

But by the giggling and fumbling over their mats, something was reminiscent of lying in the school sportsfield finding everything just very funny and energising.

Which is good as not having wine and toxins for four weeks isn’t funny, but once again, they’ve enjoyed the rule aspect of it all. And above all, enjoyed the effects of better condition in mind and body.

It has been a big step forward for all us. Not least of all myself. Life and its purpose was thrown into a vortex of turmoil and questions after baby Edward died.

And as if that wasn’t enough there was a messy caesarian to recover from. I asked myself, ‘How did health and fitness make the slightest difference now in my life?’ But it does.

It can’t change fate but it can change a perspective, improve morale and therefore change perception. It can open up a prettier view of the roads between the broken bridges.

And that is what we were doing just a few weeks on, in damp dirty woodland or with our noses close to the car park tarmac, finding the world funny and funny from our new perspective.

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