Enjoyable Exercise???

As Clemmie Beresford says here, exercise is vital to remaining healthy both mentally and physically, but, if you are not athletically inclined, maintaining a regular exercise routine can be daunting and can only add to the stresses of daily life. Clemmie Beresford discusses her discovery of Zumba and how it has come to revolutionise her experience of exercise, making staying fit a joy rather than a chore. 

Being someone who would much rather curl up in a large armchair with a good book than battle the bitter November weather cycling to the gym, I am by no means a sports enthusiast. Yet, realising the seemingly obvious fact that a healthy body equals a healthy mind, I have endeavored since coming to St Andrews to find a form of exercise that keeps me fit and healthy and, crucially, that I enjoy. This, despite the large number of clubs and options available has proved particularly tricky, but after nearly two years of miserably failing to find something I do not have to drag my heels to, I have discovered Zumba.

Although it’s been a craze for a number of years now, so you might say it is rather old-hat, I really cannot emphasise enough how it has revolutionised my fitness. I was originally a great skeptic; one who would balk at friends who went, envisioning them simply doing a few twirls and swirls to Latino music, not even breaking a sweat. So focused was I on this image that, when persuaded to reluctantly go to a session earlier this year, I did not even take my water bottle. It only took me a few minutes to realise how wrong my judgment was, and after half an hour I was seriously puffed and wishing I had come more prepared. 

Everything my friends had told me was indeed true, and far from simply having a jaunt, I was, in fact, really working out. Trust me, my legs could really feel it the following day! Squats, kicks, star jumps and leg lifts - they’re all there, and at great intensity to really work up a sweat and get your heart rate going.

Not only is Zumba physically challenging, but for me the most important thing about it is that I find it incredibly energising. I am no dancer and would not say I have natural rhythm but from the moment the music begins I lose all inhibition and just go for it. The dances are really upbeat, and we move away to the salsa, mambo and pop, throwing in some hip-hop moves too.

You cannot help but smile as you perform the salsa step, and what is fabulous is that no one cares if you do it slightly out of time, or miss the beat entirely - in fact pretty much everyone is in the same boat! All are drawn together in the music, and I really mean "all" as our class ranges in age between 18 and 70, which makes it incredibly diverse and communal. It also gets you out of the student psyche of "the bubble."

There is never a moment that I wish it could be over, which was such a familiar thought all that time I spent on the treadmill. I always come out with a smile, and am mentally so refreshed. Exercise really is vitally important to your everyday wellbeing, and I cannot stress enough what a difference it has made to mine. In the weeks leading up to exams I would really urge everyone to find something, even if it's once or twice a week, as it really can revolutionise your lifestyle and mental wellbeing.