On your bike! Mixing things up to stay active

Date: 21 September 2020   Author: Energise Me

Occupational therapist Kosiwa had never seen herself as a gym person but she was growing to love it. Then lockdown hit. With a stressful job and a need for release, there was only one thing for it: learn to ride a bike!

Kosiwa out on a walk

I’m an occupational therapist. I used to work in mental health, which has always been my passion. Now I work with older adults, specialising mainly in physical health. It was a bit of a jump, but I wanted to challenge myself.

I’ve always had quite a stressful job so exercise is a nice release. Doing something active at the end of the day breaks it up and then I can come home and chill out. I feel positive afterwards. It releases the endorphins and I think ‘yeah I’m really proud I’ve done that’.

It releases the endorphins and I think ‘yeah I’m really proud I’ve done that’.

Becoming 'a gym person'

Lockdown has challenged us all in different ways. For me personally, one of the things I was enjoying before lockdown was going to the gym. I’ve never been a gym person. I enjoyed exercise but going to the gym was a bit scary for me. Being in a setting where everyone – or you think everyone – knows what they’re doing is daunting. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

But I decided I needed to do something so I joined the gym anyway. For at least 9 months all I did was go to classes. I didn’t feel confident accessing the weights and cardio areas. I would walk to the studio, do my class, and go. That was it until my friend joined in January and we started going together.

Going with my friend made me so much more confident. I started learning about new machines and things that I never would have done previously. I got into a nice routine and was going a few times a week after work. Then lockdown hit and COVID came along and ruined my pattern.

For at least 9 months all I did was go to classes. I didn’t feel confident accessing the weights and cardio areas. I would walk to the studio, do my class, and go.

Getting back on a bike

When gyms shut, it encouraged me to do more things outside in nature. I only live about a 5-minute drive from the New Forest national park so I learnt to ride a bike. It was so scary!

I had a bike when I was younger; my dad always says to me “you know how to ride a bike”. But I just didn’t. A few years ago, I learnt how to ride when I was at uni. My friend taught me but it was just up and down the garden so it didn’t feel like proper bike riding to me.

My husband has always had a bike and rides to and from work. We got this second-hand bike from one of his friends and he planned for us to go to the forest. When I said, “yeah but I can’t ride a bike”, he said of course you can! He didn’t realise that I really couldn’t ride a bike so he took me out and taught me.

For the first day, for at least 2 hours, I was just doing laps of my little area around all the flats and houses where we live. Then eventually I built up the distance and I did my first solo bike ride in June. I don’t think I’ve been out since but I know how to do it now!

Kosiwa, standing with her bike

I had a bike when I was younger; my dad always says to me “you know how to ride a bike”. But I just didn’t.

Mixing it up

Mixing it up stops me getting bored. As well as cycling, I’ve been going on nice walks to the forest. We even bought a kayak. We went on a day trip to Lulworth Cove and saw someone out in the distance on a kayak. My husband decided he wanted one, so that was his impulse buy! I used to love watersports when I was younger but I hadn’t kayaked for years.

I guess I’ve always enjoyed sport but not always necessarily been actively engaged in it. I’ve found different things at different stages. At school I loved my netball and athletics. But, like a lot of people, when I hit my teenage years I kind of stopped doing all that and got into hanging out with friends. I did go on long walks and some of my friends thought it was a bit weird. I’d be on the phone or listening to music and I loved walking. That was my exercise then.

At uni, apart from zumba, I didn’t take part in any sports societies or anything like that. When I left, I started running and then stopped. I started again during lockdown and have stopped again. I’m not a keen runner!

But now I’ve found my love of the gym. The gym has reopened and it’s good to be back.

Kosiwa with a kayak on the beach

Kosiwa's tips for getting started

Find a buddy – having a few training sessions with a buddy can really help you grow in confidence. Then you’ll be able to do things by yourself.

Ease yourself in – through the classes I was able to learn a lot of exercises and get to know the trainers and staff, which made me more comfortable in the gym.

Get involved with social media challenges and campaigns – I got involved with #AHPsactive on Twitter. It’s a month-long social media campaign to inspire healthcare professionals to take part in physical activity over August. Seeing what other people are doing to be active sort of spurs you on.

Don’t compare yourself – It’s so easy to compare and think I’ve been going to the gym for this long and I’m not this size. At the end of the day, we’re all in our own lanes – same as in everyday life. We’re all progressing at our own speed. It’s your own progress. Just monitor that and keep doing what makes you happy and healthy.

We’re all progressing at our own speed. It’s your own progress. Just monitor that and keep doing what makes you happy and healthy.

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