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Ditch Your Excuses and Get Moving Because You CAN Do Brave Things.

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play

And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

I shake it off, I shake it off

Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break

And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake

Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

I shake it off, I shake it off

Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’

Thanks to my eight year old daughter I know more about Taylor Swift's music than I might have chosen to otherwise. When her song “Shake it off” came out I thought it was brilliant and encouraged my kids to take it on as a personal response to mean behaviour. I’ve always encouraged the kids to say: “stop it you are being a bully and I don’t like it” but this new song gave us a step two - I proposed that they sing (under their breath): “Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off” to themselves because mean words and behaviour suck and (metaphorically) shaking them off is hard. Great idea right? No. My children thought that my step two was ridiculous! My son proposed a dreadful song with lots of swearing in it by Lil Yachty (which led to a ban on unsupervised apple music listening) and my daughter proposed Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" and a more physical response. I think I might be a bad parent. I do still think that Taylor Swift is right though, haters are going to hate no matter what we do and it is not our job to please them. This means that when people tell me, “Oh I could never do your class I’m too [insert self deprecating comment here] I feel so sad because those people are missing out all because of an unfounded fear of what other people will think.

So, to those who think that they are too fat:

Yes, you might be the biggest person in the class. So? What’s the worst that will happen? Will someone make a rude comment or look at you in a judge-y way? If so, you need to remind yourself that you have as much right to be in that class as the next person. Exercise is movement that keeps us mentally and physically healthy and you deserve that time and space in class. If someone is mean then that is not your problem but theirs. Serena Williams has been constantly and consistently trolled for how she looks. She is a gladiator who has been world number 1 in singles tennis eight times over the last 15 years. She won the Australian Open in 2017 when she was 8 weeks pregnant for goodness sake. She is a hero to women everywhere. The people who are mean about how she looks can F#%* right off. How she looks should be irrelevant and would be if she were a man. Comments made about her reflect the small mindedness, the racism, the sexism and the hang ups of her critics. Remember Serena when someone is mean to you, be like her and be a role model and a leader for your tribe.

To the perfectionists who say I could never do your class I’d be so rubbish at it:

Well, yes you’re right. If it’s your first time you won’t be fantastic - no beginner is. That doesn’t matter, perhaps if it is quite intimidating you could choose to stay for the warm up for your first class and gradually stay longer as your confidence increases? You are in charge of your body, you don’t have to stay if it makes you feel bad. Just think how scared Madge Sayers was when she turned up to the world figure skating championships in 1902 and demanded the right to compete even if she was a woman. Despite public outcry and official complaints there were no explicit rules banning women from competing so she was not expelled - and she came second! Her success led to the creation of a Women’s (well, Ladies actually) Figure Skating Championship in 1906 and the inclusion of women in Figure Skating in the 1908 Olympic Games, which she won. I’m not asking you to be as brave as Madge, just channel her energy and tell yourself that you can do hard things. We have all been beginners and we remember how hard it was.

For those women returning to exercise who were once really good (even professional): Welcome! This is going to suck. You are going to learn a new lesson in humility and letting go of ego. To do this you need to be kind to yourself. I know. I have a cloud swing lesson once a week. By my past professional standards I am rubbish. I promise that I’m not being humble, you can ask my coach. National Centre For Circus Arts students occasionally watch my classes and I just breathe. Their opinions do not matter. My mental health and my love of swinging in the air matter. Of course those gorgeous young things are better than me, they train every day and it is or will be their job to be good at swinging. It is not my job. It is my hobby. I love it and I just have to hold on to that.

To the women (because it is only ever women) who tell me that they should be spending time with their family, and that they are being selfish:

I give you permission to have time for yourself. I give you permission to model to your kids the truth that movement matters. Movement is an investment in your longevity too, surely your husband and kids will appreciate that? And housework - well, is anyone ever on top of their housework? Please don’t prioritise doing three loads of washing or vacuuming over doing movements that you enjoy doing. I’ve said it before, I will say it forever, there is no study ever that has proved that housework as a form of exercise makes you happy. There are plenty of studies that tell you an exercise class or a run or even a walk trigger an endorphin release from the brain to minimise discomfort, block pain and create a feeling of mild euphoria. I’m sure that you see the value in your children exercising, well, you have a right to endorphin release too.

Lastly, to those people who tell me that they are too old to come to my classes: I tell them about Alexander a fellow in my Thursday class who is in his eighties. Or, you could channel Diana Nyad who was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage in 2013. She was 64. I’m not saying that 64 is old by the way. It isn’t necessarily the kind of thing I could see my parents doing though. Speaking of parents, here’s a picture of my Dad doing my Aerial Pilates class, isn't he brilliant?

Anyway, age isn’t an excuse in fact exercise is crucial for those with conditions associated with older populations such as osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes.

Excuses are barriers to exercise that come from a fear of judgement. Judgement by strangers. When you stop to think though - whose opinions genuinely matter to you? Would your life partner, your closest friends or your children tell you not to exercise because [insert your self deprecating comment here]? If they did, then you might need to disregard your children’s opinions and exclude them from your list. Adults who love you are not that mean. You can do brave things. Get moving.

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