Mari, The Plumstead Centre
Hi Mari, tell us a bit more about your fitness journey
I’m Mari, I'm 42 and I've been a member of Better for about two and a half years. I started my fitness journey to be a better example to my children, to have a new hobby, and to improve my general fitness and health.
What stopped you from participating in physical activity before?
I used to swim a lot as a child, and I stopped when I was a teenager. When I moved, I had no friends, and it wasn't a cool hobby to go swimming. Then between that time and two and a half years ago, I didn't do anything. The only form of exercise I got was walking to the shops. Exercise and activities that I could enjoy never crossed my mind.
However, since I have had my children, they love trampolining in the garden, they like running around in the park, and I would always sit on the bench and watch. I felt that I was missing out and couldn't participate because I felt that I wasn't fit enough, or I would look silly. Then I tried an activity and absolutely loved it.
Can you remember your first time at the gym?
My very first time at the gym was on a Thursday. I remember I went to work, then I had a gym induction booked for the evening. I was so excited but nervous and worried about what it would be like - are they going to make me run on the treadmill for 60 minutes and see if I'm still alive after?
What types of workouts do you do?
At the gym, I tend to do cardio and weights. At home, I do kettlebell exercises. In addition, I walk, hike, and attend boot camps on the weekends, plus activities with the children.
How does exercise make you feel?
Exercise makes me feel motivated, energized and accomplished. It keeps me consistent because I know the feel-good factor that I get from it and the social aspect that comes with it. It de-stresses me and helps me a lot mentally. It's me time and something that is mine. I really value and enjoy that. I think self-care is hugely important to me and should be for everybody.
Aside from the ‘feel-good’ factor, how have you stayed consistent?
I remind myself why I started. I read a lot of fitness stuff, and I post it on social media. Talking to like-minded people helps too.
Seeing results has been quite important to me - when I look at photos from the past, that's motivation for me to be consistent and to see results makes me feel better.
What does fitness mean to you?
To me, fitness means to be strong, mentally and physically, it gives me strength. It has completely changed my life and is now part of my life. I’ve embarked on new adventures and have done things in the last two and a half years that I never thought I would do. I've made friends that I would have never met if I had not started. It has built up my self-confidence and what my body and mind are capable of doing. For me it is a big mental space - it’s my time. I'm not a mum, partner, or an employee.
What does health mean to you?
Health means to me, being able to enjoy life. I really value the family time that I have now and the different activities that I can do with the children. Seeing the enjoyment that my children get from participating in activities has been an entirely new world to me. It has motivated them to have a more active life too. So, health has become a lifestyle now.
How has your active lifestyle impacted your children’s lives?
My children often say, “mum can we come to the gym”. I say “no because it’s my time”. They have seen the change in me physically and mentally. Before, I would happily stay at home and bake, which is still nice, but now I will book a trampoline session when nobody wants to go out. Everybody wants to relax, and now all of a sudden they have to go and jump for 90 minutes with mum. I love it!
What advice would you give someone looking to get active?
For confidence, it is helpful to go with somebody at the start. Start with 15-20 minutes either in the morning, at night or during lunch breaks.
I incorporate fitness into my social events - you can go bowling, trampoline parks, soft play, mini golf, swimming, etc.
You can observe a class or go and visit a gym to see what the atmosphere is like and the type of people that come through the doors. That’s how I knew Better was my place - when I saw the members, I felt that I could easily fit in and I wouldn’t stand out. I always say to my friends and family everybody started somewhere.