I finished work on the Friday before Christmas keen to get back into running every second day during the holidays, partly to get in training for the Great Winter Run round Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. However on the first Monday, I was thoroughly enjoying myself running through the woods near home when I went over my ankle on a steep and muddy downhill stretch. Fortunately it was just a sprain and with a bit of TLC has gradually been getting better. My plan for 2014 had been to do a "proper" race once a month but the ankle injury meant that GWR was not an option.
So I was faced with looking for something else to do in January to work off the Christmas cake and the rest. I've a friend I've been encouraging to get into C25k but winter running isn't her thing. However there are Edinburgh Leisure centres near us and they have a great deal whereby with a £25 membership for a year you get 25% (roughly £1.80) off classes and priority booking. So between us we hatched a plan to try a few of the classes.
First up was aquafit. This entailed a certain amount of what they used to call physical jerks in the water and progressing up the pool and back using a bicycling technique significantly less efficient than any recognised swimming stroke. Verdict - moderately difficult, reasonably hard work, overall 6/10.
Next came Zumba. . There is obviously a certain amount of technique and camaraderie in Zumba which was lost on me. Indeed my friend is still getting laughs from telling people how when all the class was going left, I was going right and at one point I completely over balanced and nearly fell on her. At this stage I need to say I am hopelessly un-coordinated, have no sense of rhythm and in my defense I was also still nursing a sore ankle. Verdict - more dance than exercise, not actually all that aerobic, overall - 4/10.
My pal was away the next week but undaunted I went for circuits at the local centre. I've done circuits many years ago and there was a reasonable mix of cardiac and strength work. In this variant, it was more strength i.e. torture. Even the warm up entailed run across the gym, lie on the floor and do a few press ups, get up and run again. Every second station in the circuit seemed to be some form of press-up. Now I can barely do one ordinary press-up yet alone variants involving waving arms and legs in the air so that wasn't a great success. I quite enjoyed bouncing a 5kg medicine ball. One station involved walking with weights in each hand and going down on one knee at each step - like a sort of John Cleese silly walk. The final "cool down" was a crocodile walk across the gym. Unlike the other classes which finished with a polite round of applause in this one we all shook hands presumably in recognition of having survived the experience together. Verdict - too much time spent grovelling on the floor for my liking especially without mats, more strength than aerobic, not for me - 2/10.
We then discovered there was an Aquazumba option. This would suit my friend who has had problems with her knees and ankles and would mean it was less obvious when I was out of sync with everyone else. It turned out this was the 22 fat ladies class and even the instructor was showing off her bingo wings. All credit to the folk who were using this to get onto an exercise regime but we reckoned 3 of us could have fitted into some of their cossies! It really wasn't very strenuous. Verdict - fine as an introduction to gentle exercise - 1/10.
We've got a friend who is keen on spin as it is less impact on the joints than running so a class called rpm looked worth a go. Basically it's cycling to music which sets the beat you should be matching (or not in my case!) . Quite a bit of the time you are off the saddle as if going up a steep hill. You have a lever which adjust the resistance you are pushing against so you are in control of how hard you make it. It took me a while to get into it. The off the saddle actually is easier with quite a stiff setting. I think I could have had the bike set up better as I keep bashing my bum on the seat when I was supposed to be off it. It certainly was aerobic and the sweat was dripping off me. Part of the routine is to spray and wipe down the bikes at the end. Verdict - aerobic, at least as good a running on a treadmill, might try it again - 8/10.
So that's been my exercise smorgasbord for January. I've also managed to do 3 Parkruns, including today which for once this year was cold and clear. I've signed up for a trail run at the end of February which I'm looking forward to.
There would have been a time not so long ago when I wouldn't have felt fit enough to even think about doing some of these things. I'll never be a natural athlete but with C25k I'm fitter than I've been for years. I've discovered I enjoy running, ideally outdoors and exploring. Roll on longer days and a bit of sunshine!