Eating well for less has become second nature to me these days. Exercise, movement, on the other hand; sure running is free but I do pay for remote coaching, would struggle without my running watch, usually have one eye on my trainers with the other on a new pair that I’m after. Then there are the races; yep, you pay for a banana and a shiny medal! It doesn’t end with running, I’m been in a long term relationship with my gym, and they were not my first! Oh, and I almost forgot hot yoga; well the classes at my gym are just room temperature.
Lockdown meant a freeze to my gym membership, no paying for other classes on top of that, a realisation of how much I can spend on my ‘well-being’, the savings to be had, the joy of jumping rope in my garden, that contrary to my own beliefs I do enjoy working out at home, it gave me the nudge to run at a free local track, social runs with friends, and made me appreciate just how privileged I am that I can invest so much into moving my body.
Unfortunately, it’s not as accessible to all. A lack of disposable income is just one barrier, prices of gyms, sports centres, can vary depending on areas. There can be a disparity between the availability of sports centres, recreational facilities geographically. There is travel to be considered; driving, and available parking plays a huge part in my choice of gym. Then there is confidence, self-esteem; it can be nerve wracking taking part in something new, walking into spaces filled with strangers, those we see as meeting an ideal, the hashtag fitspo perpetuated by social media.
On-line classes, activities, have certainly made working out more accessible to many during lockdown, with free content being available, reduced prices, convenience of being at home, avoiding large groups.
Vybe365, a dance wellbeing company, is seeking to breakdance, sorry I meant break barriers; well break barriers through dance, by offering accessible classes. They began in community spaces, pre-COVID, offering the first 50 classes for free. This offer continued into the virtual world, with plans to return to physical spaces in the future, but keep prices affordable; classes average at £5.
Not only do they want classes to be affordable, and encourage people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, but they are designed to welcome ‘introverted personalities’, those with little dance experience, all abilities, ages – including children, and background. Their website highlights that they “work to close the gap between physical and mental health, by building safe, judgement-free spaces where we can celebrate our successes, share our challenges, give practical solutions, and learn from one another”. Basically good vybes, 365 days of the year!
I ventured out to my garden to give Body Vybe, with founder Bev, a go on a sunny Wednesday evening. I’m used to instructors asking whether I have any injuries, this was the first time that I had been asked to share the favourite part of my body. My arms came to mind; I love upper body workouts, seeing muscle definition, and being able to reach into those reduced food crates! It dawned on me however, that I can be as equally critical of my arms, and just how conflicting our relationships with our bodies can be.
I let go of this as Bev encouraged us to use that body part during the warm-up, be it flick your hair or shake your booty. I channelled my inner Madonna, think Material Girl, Vogue, yes I’m an 80s baby, as I strutted around. We then moved into the choreography, with Bev routinely, excuse the pun, checking in with us. It was straight forward, pretty easy to follow, although I don’t think I’m going to be on Strictly any time soon, the move that didn’t falter was my smile; I grinned throughout.
It was refreshing to be amongst women of all ages, just trying something out and having fun. Also, Bev’s playfulness and body confidence was contagious. There was no “one more rep”, “push harder”, “no pain no gain”. We ended with a mindfulness practice where we were encouraged to think about how our bodies serve us, had carried us throughout the day. My legs came to mind, and I thought about how grateful I was to be able to put one foot in of the other, be it when running, or this endurance race we call life.
Check them out at: