Michael Ashcroft

August 22, 2021 11:57

I’ve exercised a lot somehow

Many things have changed since I left the world of work to set up as a solopreneur (I’m trying to get comfortable using that word unironically). I have shoulder-length hair, I struggle to introduce myself in a pithy way, and, I’m in the best physical condition of my life.

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

Since this is a bit of a novelty for me, it’s worth exploring how this happened, so here are two things that came together to get me fit. 

One factor behind this change is time; I have more of it and it’s more flexible, just like me. This means I can exercise whenever I feel like it. And it turns out I often feel like exercising, it’s just that the times I happen to feel like exercising don’t align with the expectations of a conventional full-time office job. 

Since I now have much more control over how I structure my days, I can go to the gym at 11am on a Monday, when it also happens to be empty, or I can go for a long walk at 3pm on a Wednesday. This is so much more appealing than trying to summon the motivation to go to the gym at 7.30pm on a weekday after a commute back from a day of sitting in an office, with everyone else who is similarly unhappy to be there.

There’s now a paradoxical sense of exercising because I want to, not because I feel I should. In fact, this was one of my biggest motivators for leaving the conventional work structure. 

Exercise always felt like a thing I had to squeeze in around the edges of my life to mitigate some of the damage of a lots-of-sitting, high-cortisol lifestyle. Moving my body is now something I want to do as a form of self-love, to see how amazing I can look and feel, and to be able to live my life in glorious high definition. 

Twitter source (it's a good thread)

But flexible time is not the only factor. I have a secret weapon, and that secret weapon is a Jeff. I never thought I needed a Jeff before, but, resources permitting, I would now recommend everyone get a Jeff.

Jeff is my physiotherapist. I have a history of unpleasant knee instability (more on that here) and I started working with Jeff after my latest knee surgery in early 2020. Jeff knows a lot about how the body is supposed to work, assessed all the ways in which my body didn’t work like that, and devised a programme that would let me improve. Even without seeing each other for months, because COVID, weekly Zoom sessions and an app meant I could do everything on my own.

I can’t stress enough how much of a difference this made, but it wasn’t because I was spending lots of money on Jeff. I’ve spent lots of money on other things that I didn’t commit to, after all.

No, it worked because Jeff coded all of my exercises into his app. Each day has something for me to do, all the sets and reps and whatever are already waiting for me. I just have to open the app and do what Jeff says. 

Not only that, but Jeff clearly understands what I should and, more importantly, what I shouldn’t be doing. I’ve always been put off by the idea of working with ‘some personal trainer at the gym’, since they don’t know much about my injuries, and being yelled at to ‘get one more rep in’ is not remotely what I need.

Jeff on his own wasn’t enough, though. I started working with him before I left my job, and I did maybe half of the workouts he put in the app. I now spend maybe two hours most days just on various mobility routines, targeted stretches, gym sessions and a ‘bulletproof knees’ routine. Ain’t nobody got time for that when you have a job, particularly when you use your free time to build your escape route

So that’s how I’ve managed to exercise a lot: change my lifestyle drastically to give me the time and space to prioritise my health and get ongoing help from a trusted expert. Not exactly an easy path, I know, but for me it was absolutely worth the struggle.

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I publish a newsletter called Thinking Out Loud, which chronicles my journey as an online maker of things, but it's also is where I talk about whatever I'm interested in at the time.​ There are about 1500 of us now, come play!