Flying, flexing and flowing with Sweaty Betty

‘Get your outdoor gear on girls and we’ll start with the run.’ Running outside in February – words you don’t want to hear when it’s snowing and you’re dressed for an indoor weight class. My trainers (fresh from the box on their second outing outside) and my vest top scream unprepared; too late to make a run for it (literally) how could I ask to skip the outside bit without sounding like a princess?

When it comes to the gym, I often prefer to fly solo. No one looks their best after spinning for forty minutes, so save the chat for when I’ve had time to do my eyebrows. Signing up to ‘Fly, Flex and Flow’ with Sweaty Betty, I naively assumed I would do the 60 minute class in solitude and be on the District Line by 7.15; in reality, it was the opposite. I had stumbled into ‘a community’ of girls who arrive each week bonded over a love of exercise. My wardrobe blunder breaking the ice, a hoodie was borrowed, the route was determined and off we ran.

Rewind a week and the idea of sporting a reflective vest and jogging through Fulham on a Tuesday evening would have filled me with dread. Yet without sounding like a Spice Girls song, pounding the pavements as a group really does change everything. Despite the cold, mud and occasional dog mess, you soon forget to care as you discuss the percy pigs or five bens cookies you need to work off. Star jumps on the common may warrant the odd look or two from commuters, but when there’s safety in numbers topped with a dusting of girl power, who cares?

For three absolutely free evenings, I joined the team and tried HIIT training in the park, lifting weights and cooling down with yoga. Thrown in at the deep end, my introduction to high intensity interval training was far less traumatic than I imagined. Growing up in a family of Marathon runners, my choice of treadmill over track is considered a crime. For me, plugging in my iPod, setting a steady pace and avoiding the English weather always seems more appealing at 7am, however after jogging and sprinting for 30 minutes I soon realised what the hype was about.

Reminding me how sociable a workout can be and how good it feels to run outside (although I’ll never admit it), I got home from each class exhausted, aching but smiling. Reverting back to my five year old self I got muddy, I didn’t care what I looked like and sounded terrifyingly like my Mother as I told myself ‘it will all come out in the wash.’ A big thank you to Sweaty Betty, the lovely Rachel and the girls who looked equally as glamorous in building site yellow – see you soon for bootcamp.

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