This summer, (unbeknownst to myself until extremely recently) I have managed to dramatically improve my relationship with my body as well as enhance both my general physical and mental health.
I have finally discovered a *real* hobby which is charming, I have a passion for and yet have no intention of making my career (here is looking at you, writing). If you are religiously subjected to my Instagram Stories, then you will already know that swimming has dramatically improved my quality of life over the last couple months. I am literally obsessed.
My weight itself is something which has plagued me since I was fifteen. A poor relationship with food, taunts and tears from boys and mainstream media seen me discovering that *actually* I was not the slim, toned, gorgeous goddess that my friends and my role-models were portrayed as. I believed that I would never be fanciable, that I would never love myself because I did not have the same body composition as them.
At fifteen, I discovered that I would forever be plagued with roaring cellulite taking up the entirety of the back of my thighs (still true), that my hips would remain my main target area for immediate weight gain and that if anyone said anything which could possibly pertain somehow to my weight, I would freak out. I am now completely hypersensitive in every part of my life because of my negative relationship with my body.
While I shall remain hypersensitive for the foreseeable future, my self-loathing and hatred for my body is already ebbing away in bundles due to taking up swimming. Since joining the Virgin Active UK Gym at Salford Quays a couple months ago and plunging into the pool to only manage 15 lengths in my first session, my whole mindset has changed.
Now, I am not scared to post a photo of my body in a swimsuit or walk to the tram stop, through the Quays or to Sainsbury’s in a pair of short-shorts. I am not embarrassed by my non-existent butt and can actually see the beginnings of definition within my arms. I smashed out my personal best of 66 X 20m lengths yesterday and, while I am definitely not the best swimmer in the world, it has seriously ruffled my feathers and forced me to look at myself in a brilliant new light. Swimming really has changed my life. And the best thing is that I am only just getting started.
The Virgin Active UK Gym itself is partial to the credit of course. Its charming, relaxing atmosphere in the pool area; its friendly waves and heart goodbye’s from the lovely reception staff, and the idea that this is a safe spot to improve your wellbeing has all played a huge part. If you are looking for your new infatuation, then the Virgin Active Gym is the calling card. I could not recommend this place more.
If you are searching for something to combat your mind, take up your spare time, get yourself out of the house, heighten your general fitness, transform the way you think about exercise or just something so you can look in the mirror and go “hey, I like that!” – then honestly, I could not urge you to swim enough.
There is something about moving in the water that is so calm and so freeing, yet ridiculously exhilarating. I am in awe, and my body and mind love me for it. If you do anything today – take the plunge, grab your costume, and I will meet you for a dip in the pool. Coffee’s on me afterwards.