So, here’s a thing I was surprised to discover recently: I still weigh exactly the same as I did in February.
There was me, in the nurse’s office for what I had assumed was something completely unrelated, and asked to step onto the scales. I did that stupid female thing, you know: giggle-giggle, no don’t tell me. I knew the news would be objectively “bad”, but despite my being a smart girl who doesn’t care about the numbers I was curious to see what months of eating better and crushing it at the gym twice a week would look like on the scale.
“Was it what you were expecting?”
What, your pitying expression and having to jump in and cut you off before you can start about how my BMI is through the roof and I need to think about exercising more? Spare me.
All those years I appreciated the body positive movement while at the same time the little voice at the back of my head, spoon-fed society’s shit and the concern-trolling of those who claimed to have my best interests at heart, whispered that fat activists would claim health at every size, wouldn’t they? All those years, and it turned out that they were right: the numbers are shite.
The last time I found myself wrestling with these weighty (lol) issues, I got an amazing response. Among the emails, a message from Andy Graydon, personal trainer and owner of AG Fitness Training, a gym in the Spiers Locks/North Woodside area of Glasgow. Andy and I first spoke a couple of years ago: he’s very active on social media, and if you’re a fan of local blogs you’ve probably read a few reviews of his gym over the years. The timing of our first conversation wasn’t great and I was supposed to get back to him when I had successfully moved house – but, as so often happens, I never did.
But, this time around? His timing couldn’t have been better. Buoyed by a conversation with a personal trainer who assured me that he hadn’t “said the word endorphins in about three years” and who shared my cynicism about yoga and avocados, I was very happy to accept his offer of a month’s free membership of the gym.
Now, as somebody who spent years as a member of the Glasgow Club getting extremely poor value for money until I finally got around to cancelling the direct debit, I thought I knew what gym membership was all about. I was wrong. For starters, AG Fitness Training doesn’t even own a treadmill. Instead, the gym offers a combination of classes and one-on-one training sessions in a supportive, unintimidating environment. The compact size of the place and the community feel mean there’s no risk of being left to fend for yourself, moving equipment about with no idea whether it’s actually doing you any good – and the guys seem to share my sense of humour, meaning that even those of us who really hate exercise manage to accidentally have fun while we are up there.
Sometimes @lastyearsgirl_ is my favourite.
Does bootcamp – forgets water bottle.
Comes to pick up water bottle – forgets water bottle ????????????
— AGFitnessTraining (@AGFitTraining) November 30, 2016
Time once again running away from me, I managed only one “Ladies Who Lift” class with Andy’s colleague Juan before my free month ran out. But, while in New Orleans on holiday, I noticed the gym was advertising a 10-week bootcamp programme in the run-up to Christmas. With twice-weekly sessions, nutrition and styling advice and the promise of a makeover included in the price, I swallowed my fear and signed up.
As I write this, we’re two gym sessions away from the end of the bootcamp. And this sad fatty, who hates exercise (and early Saturday mornings) with every fibre of her being, has already signed up for the next term, which begins in January.
So what makes the AG Fitness Training bootcamp so worthwhile?
Well, for starters: there’s no weighing, and no measuring (although I’m sure, if you’re the kind of person who needs access to those things in order to track your progress, it would be available). Instead of fad diets or overpriced supplements, there was a no-nonsense nutrition seminar firmly based on science. Next Saturday, after our final workout, we have all of us been booked for treatments at the nearby Bon Vivant Salon, before we reunite at the gym for a festive photoshoot.
The exercises vary each week with no two sessions alike, and Andy and Juan seem to take a mischievous joy in coming up with activities disguised as games that will push you to your limit. Although there are 10 of us registered on the programme, with a wide range of fitness and ability levels, Andy in particular is very skilled at adjusting things as we go so that we are all accommodated. I can say that, hand on heart, as the person who is probably least able out of all of us – if we forget about that one time I pushed myself past my limit, spewed and had to go home early, anyway.
With our twice-weekly sessions, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, there is just enough of a structure that I have found it relatively easy to get into a routine – even if I have missed a few more Saturday sessions than is really ideal. I don’t really subscribe to the whole if you’ve paid for it, then you’ll go theory of gym memberships, but knowing that if I miss a session I only have myself to blame is a powerful motivator. As I don’t drive, the location of the gym isn’t ideal on those early mornings – although Debs, who I knew previously from Yelp, has become a really good friend over these past few weeks and I’m not just saying that because she has been giving me lifts home. I’ve gotten into a great routine around the Wednesday night sessions on these cold, clear nights though: with the gym being just over a mile from my work, the walk up there is a great wee warm-up.
But what I’ve loved most about bootcamp has been seeing my progress. There are exercises that, in my first couple of weeks, I simply couldn’t manage: a plank, for example, or an “inverted row” which involves you pulling up your own body weight on a bar. At that “Ladies Who Lift” session back in September, I could barely deadlift a 15kg bar: last week, during a strength class I had attended in place of Wednesday’s session as I was double booked, I surprised myself by deadlifting 32.5kg. Sure, it’s hardly World’s Strongest Woman, but I was so pleased with my achievement I sobbed tears of joy.
Fuck the numbers on the scale. If we’re going to make it about the numbers, give me reps and weights any day.
Fancy joining me on the January bootcamp from Wednesday, 10th January? Fill out the form, and Andy will be in touch.
Obligatory disclaimer: I attended one complimentary session at AG Fitness Training and enjoyed it so much I spent significant sums of my own money to attend the bootcamp. All opinions are therefore my own, uninfluenced and unbiased.