Last week, I went to my first-ever fitness class.
I don't know if this is a bit surprising - fitness is a huge part of my life - but I'm very much a solo-exerciser and even though I've always loved the idea of fitness classes, I've mentioned before that I've never really had a proper gym membership so I've always stuck to running and a spectrum of workout DVDs.

I am truly terrible at cross-training though. I'm a bit all-or-nothing when it comes to fitness. I'm either ALL THE WORKOUT DVDS or ALL THE RUNNING and even though Wednesday morning is my official cross-training day, I quite often skip it (I KNOW I KNOW) in favour of sleeping or running. (But usually sleeping...)

But a few weeks ago Get the Label got in touch about their #StayFitDontQuit campaign, which is all about maintaining motivation for fitness and health after the summer. I really love the idea of this campaign because I hate the concept of a "bikini body" and "getting fit for summer". Bleurgh. To me, fitness a year-long, life-long process. I don't run to look a certain way, I run to push myself, to challenge myself and to get faster and stronger. I don't just run for the sake of running - I run because I'm always training, always working towards my next goal. I think fitness is about fun but also about balance. I think fitness should be about finding something you truly enjoy and making that a part of your every day life, not forcing yourself to slog away at the gym when you hate it. So this campaign is perfect for me because it's not about just being motivated to exercise because you're going on a beach holiday and want to look good on the photos for Facebook, even if you've hated every minute of the time in the gym you felt you needed to look a certain way, but about staying fit and happy long term. I also interpret the "don't quit" as meaning, hey, don't be too hard on yourself - there is no giving up, it's all about long-term gains. Enjoy that meal out with your friends or that takeaway pizza or that scoop of delicious ice cream. You can't quit because there's nothing "to" quit.

Anyway, I digress. 

Get the Label signed me up for a month of Bikram Yoga classes at Bikram Yoga Manchester and got me all kitted out:
leggings - c/o Get the Label
trainers - c/o Get the Label

And sent me off of my merry way.
Now, real talk. I had never been to a proper yoga class before, yet alone a Bikram yoga class. Okay I went to yoga a few times back in about 2003 in a church hall but all I remember was constantly falling asleep at the end when they told you to relax. I swear I read the page "your first class" on the Bikram Manchester page at least 15 times before the class, but I was nervous and excited and all kinds of scared.
Because Bikram Yoga is 90 minutes long, I had to go after work, which is a bit weird for me because I normally exercise in the morning. Their only morning class was 6.45am but I start work at 8am, so I went to the 5.30pm class. The website said to arrive 20-30 minutes before your first class, so I started work early so I could finish early and get there in plenty of time.

When I got there, I met Aliza, who was actually teaching my class, and we spoke for about 15 minutes while I filled out my forms. She explained how the class was going to work, what to expect and she loaned me a towel. She was absolutely lovely and I instantly felt at-ease. Once I'd taken off my shoes and gotten changed I decided to go into the studio to get myself used to the heat a bit.

WHOOSH the heat hits you like getting off an aeroplane in Spain. In the first five minutes I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through the class. Aliza had explained that it doesn't matter if you want to take lots of breaks so long as you stay in the room.

Lots of people were lying on the floor on their mats so I decided to do that for a bit. And then I felt a bit weird and uncomfortable so I sat up.

When Aliza came in she was wearing a microphone and explained that she wouldn't actually be doing the poses, but simply talking us through them. She also introduced myself and another newbie to the rest of the class before we got started.

I have to admit, during the warm up I thought, this isn't for me. I was struggling to get used to breathing only through my nose (breathing through your mouth can make you feel strange in the heat) and Aliza had to remind me once or twice to close my mouth. I've always found yoga dull and boring and throughout the warm up I just thought "nah, I'll do this once and that will be it."

But once the class got started I was honestly surprised.

I am incredibly inflexible, but I found I was able to do all of the poses, and Aliza explained some progressions for the novice members, but encouraged beginners to stick to the first pose. While I was tired a few times throughout the poses, I didn't need to lie down and have a break once! Even in a class of 30+ Aliza was very encouraging to myself and the other newbie and came over a few times to tell me I was doing okay!

By the last 10-15 minutes I was feeling pretty worn out, so I was relieved when the 90 minute class was over.

Oh and I was disgusting.

TMI, but I don't really sweat lots when I exercise, but I was absolutely gross. Which I found more funny than anything else.

I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I really did feel great afterwards!

The next day I was sore - too sore to run - but it was I've-had-a-great-workout sore, not oh-my-god-I-can't-move sore.

Would I do it again? I definitely want to go again during these 30 days, but while I enjoyed Bikram, it doesn't really fit in with my running plan - it's too expensive to only go to a class once a week or so, and I was too sore the next day to run which was a bit counter-productive (but I'm sure if you go often that goes away!). Plus I think personally, I would get bored after a few classes as they follow the same structure each time, and I like a bit more variety. However, I would definitely recommend trying it for 30 days - they encourage you to go every day for 30 days but with a race only 5 weeks away that wasn't realistic for me! 

It was really great to try something new when it comes to fitness, and I would definitely do it again in the future. Thanks, Get the Label!


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