I would always pass up the opportunity to play badminton with my friends or make up any excuse to not go to the gym. I soon realized that my lack of activity had impacted my self-confidence and, most importantly, my mental wellbeing, therefore, I decided that enough was enough and to take my health into my own hands.
I started off just doing small amounts of exercise: I began running around the estate and joining friends playing football and badminton socially.
At first, the thought of running outside in front of people I knew and them judging me almost put me off it all together. I thought I couldn’t do it properly or people might laugh. But the more I exercised the less I cared about what others thought of me.
I even kept it up during my A Levels: I just had to plan it out in my revision timetable and it was something I actually looked forward to as it was a huge stress reliever and made me feel so much better after a day stuck inside revising.
Gyms are really expensive and hard to justify paying for if you don’t use them all the time, especially when trying to fit it in around work. A great way I have found to train for free is to use the public outdoor gym in a nearby park. I started going there with my family to do circuit training and we motivated each other to get out there, use the equipment properly and train even in the freezing British weather.
Exercise doesn’t just have physical benefits, but also helps mentally as well. I feel so much more motivated after a session and it helps me feel more positive when pursuing activities, and far more confident in my abilities.
My advice, and what I think is most important, is to not compare yourself to other people and to not let other people’s judgements of you to stand in the way. I used to be worried about people looking at me when I ran in public or worked out at the outdoor gym but now I don’t even think about it. I am no fitness guru, but my advice to women who are considering taking up exercise would be to start small and to not expect results straight away; do a little jog every now and again and maybe pick up a few weights if you can and you’ll start to feel better about yourself’.
If you’ve been inspired by Asha’s story, find out how you can get started exercising outdoors.