Instagram workouts will not be a component of my ‘fitness journey’
Taking up running is a lot of work – you need the apps, the gear and the self-confidence
I was all set with a playlist and a Couch to 5K app at the ready to coach me through my earphones. Photograph: iStock
My good friend, who I used to rely on to meet me for coffees laced with chocolate and caramel, has recently taken up running and it has made me want to follow suit. If it was anyone else I’d probably shrug it off and think, “good for you,” but she has inspired me to think if she can do it, maybe I can too.
Instead of jumping straight in, I adopted an academic level of research into her routine – where she runs, what she eats beforehand and, somehow most importantly, what she wears. Perhaps there’s an element of “dress for the fitness level you want, not the fitness level you have”.
I copied her order on a discount sportswear site and have spent the equivalent of a week’s food budget on the same pair of must-have leggings; they are high-waisted, sweat-wicking, bum-sculpting, squat-proof, and they even have a pocket for your phone. If this isn’t the garment to fully equip me for pounding the pavements, I don’t know what is.
It’s as though I feel the need to copy her exactly to achieve the same success.
Then it dawned on me. Although I am generally someone who avoids social media, I have nonetheless succumbed to “influencer culture” IRL (in real life). I have bought products in the hope they will give me the same determination and, ultimately, results that my friend has achieved. And my capitalism-moulded brain brought me straight to an online checkout in an attempt to reach that goal.
Alas, perhaps I am just another victim of capitalism’s evil genius and have internalised the consumerism I have tried to avoid. The realisation made me feel guilty, but at the same time, I do need the right clothes if I’m going to give running a good go, don’t I?
My willingness to part with cash in the stupor of relatable inspiration made me think that maybe brands are missing a trick by having ex-Love Island contestants – often photographed in abandoned car parks wearing neutral-toned loungewear with a mini Louis Vuitton bag – with unattainable lifestyles promoting their wares.
I pressed play on the app and the dulcet tones of a robotic American-sounding man told me to walk or lightly jog for a five-minute warm-up
Sure, in theory, people would like to copy the poolside, kombucha-drinking trendiness of the average influencer, but for the more cynical average Josephine, we’re much more likely to spend money to emulate someone we can relate to. Is that Jeff Bezos calling? I think I’ve cracked ecommerce.
My friend also introduced me to a further domain I was wary of entering – the Instagram workout class. The particular class she recommended was boxercise, hosted by a popular Dublin fitness influencer. I found the video and was greeted by a sun-kissed young woman, sporting six-pack abs and drinking a green liquid.
It wasn’t long into the preamble when I experienced the same panicked feeling I always get when I go to the gym and in my head I hear the imagined thoughts of the seasoned gym-goers: “You don’t belong here! Get back to the library, pasty-face!” It was jarring to experience that overwhelming rush of self-inflicted inadequacy from the comfort of my own home. Suffice it to say, Instagram workouts will not be a key component of my fitness “journey”.
The first day I mustered the courage to go on a run, it did not go exactly to plan. I was all set with a playlist and a Couch to 5K app at the ready to coach me through my earphones. I walked to a secluded track so I might have some privacy, all the while amused by the incongruousness of Cardi B rapping in my ear while the smell of sheep sh*te permeated the air. I am a firm believer that the genius of explicit female rap can only truly be appreciated after 2am in a nightclub or when forcing your body to run even when you are in no apparent danger.
I pressed play on the app and the dulcet tones of a robotic American-sounding man told me to walk or lightly jog for a five-minute warm-up. Full of energy, I thought that would be no bother. Next, robot man told me to start running for a minute. I lasted about 20 seconds before I started seeing spots; my stomach was heaving. I persevered and followed along as much as I could to the app’s instructions but it was not an enjoyable experience.
It did, however, spark a determination in me that I never want it to be that difficult again, which means I’ll have to keep going. Hopefully my multi-purpose leggings will enhance the experience; after day one, I’ll take all the help I can get.