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Taking the fear out of fitness

‘Join a gym’

‘Join a gym’ various friends said as they headed out clutching their water bottles to join the leotard-clad hordes. ‘Join a gym’ said my doctor when my weight started piling on through sitting at a desk for ten hours a day.’ Join a gym’ said my grown-up offspring as they raced ahead of me when I laboured up the steps at Montmartre last month…

It’s not that I haven’t tried; well okay, maybe I haven’t. Even the thought of gyms I found really intimidating: loads of complicated machinery, the feeling that people will be watching you. I recall a Pilates class that after two abortive sessions I felt like a bumbling, awkward Mrs Blobby unable to make my limbs move to the required positions. Also in the dim and distant past I’ve bought gym memberships because they were on offer and then never went – a knot forming in my stomach each time I was asked ‘have you been to that gym yet?’.

So my new phrase became, ‘I don’t do gyms’. I convinced myself of this fact. I settled into my daily routine of sedentary desk work, followed by the horizontal approach with a book or the latest TV offering – unhappy with myself, but resigned

It was the weekend before Easter that I decided to take up an invitation from Glenda at Healthhas to see how they approach things differently. Even as I walked into the Hotel de France the temptation was to side step into Café Aroma for breakfast.  My heart was racing; it was like stepping into a House of Horror. When had I actually become afraid of going to a gym?

First step was the reception area

Okay I’m in the door:  Luxurious décor, welcoming smiles, so far so good. Then I sneak a peek into the members’ lounge – beautifully spacious, plush couches, a breakfast bar, people of all ages chatting, eating, reading – where were the fitness freaks ready to throw me looks of disdain? What was this place?

The lovely Healthhas owners Glenda Rivoallan and Nathalie Le Mottee introduced me to Isidro Da Mato, general manager, who must have seen the fear in my eyes as first he suggested we sit and talk through a few things. There are always questions that you will be asked when taking up any form of exercise, I gave the standard responses, admitting that I would love nothing more than to be able to jog up a slight incline without collapsing. As I flippantly rolled out my comfort phrase, ‘Actually, I don’t do gyms’ Isidro started asking in-depth questions about my past associations with gyms, and I mean ‘past’, right back to childhood. It was then I recalled a particular nasty incident at school where I was being chased on the wall bars and I fell with my foot hooked into a bar, tearing the ligaments in one knee, and damaging the other which took a severe knock. I spent many weeks in physio, going to school on crutches, being made fun of and, at the age of 12, vowing never to go to gym class again…  And so it happened, as I sat on the couch at Healthhas, I had my ‘light bulb’ moment.  I felt incredibly emotional as Isidro announced triumphantly, ‘… there it is, there’s your blockage.’

Only then did Isidro show me the facilities: a mind and body studio; a virtual indoor cycling studio; what I would call a ‘normal’ gym equipment room; a studio with amazing apparatus that uses kinetic energy to exercise naturally and, finally, the Milon Studio. The award-winning Milon concept guarantees results with only two workouts every 10 days or 35 minutes – I have always loved the word ‘guarantee’.

I promised Isidro that I would return later that week but first I was booked in to see Dr Sam Jackson, their resident health professional. I was incredibly impressed with how thorough Sam was, checking my cholesterol, my lungs, my joint flexibility and general fitness levels.

My next task was actually buying a pair of trainers. Yes, I have worn trainers in the past but more for their style factor than practicality, this had to be a pair of trainers with a job to do. I gave myself a pat on the back as I walked out of the store with them.

No-one believed I would actually go through with returning to Healthhas. Friends and work colleagues stated ‘SJ we’ve heard this all before.’ But I returned. Mandy was on reception that day and her friendly welcome immediately put me at ease, although I was full of trepidation as Isidro led me to the Milon suite – it was however  a different form of trepidation,  it was no longer a House of Horrors, it felt like a new beginning.

During my Milon induction each machine on the circuit was adjusted to my height and fitness levels to form a training plan just for me, with all the information stored on my own microchip card. You simply feed in your card, the machine adjusts, you are counted down, and then the clock starts. With 30 seconds intervals between machines this really is a circuit that takes just 35 minutes. Whether you are on a one minute machine or a four minute, you cannot go for any longer. Milon does not use traditional forms of weights or hydraulics, all the resistance is generated electronically, to your personal settings, so you’re not at risk of injury through inappropriate weights.

Milon expert on-hand

Each time you visit there is always a Milon expert keeping an eye on everyone: helping, advising, adjusting if necessary. It really is like having a personal coach on hand. To gain the most benefit you are told to take three to four days interval between Milon workouts – how good is that? In between you can of course take advantage of all the other Healthhas facilities, plus the Ayush Wellness Spa.

It doesn’t end there. I have been on countless diets, my weight has yo-yo’d for years. At Healthhas part of their 360 degree approach to wellness is an optional nutrition class. As Isidro explained in one of the classes I attended, ‘It’s all about balance, not deprivation. Deprivation causes longing. There’s always an emotion attached to food. If it’s an historic embedded emotion, you need to recognise it, be aware of it and change the emotion.

Jersey’s only virtual cycling studio

‘My deeper purpose is to get people to understand their eating habits, to stop the inner guilt conflict attached to food.  For optimum wellness forget the quick fix solution. You need to have a bigger goal, it’s all about longevity. An awareness of your body’s nutrition needs combined with the Milon circuit workout are the basic building blocks for long term health and wellness.’

So how am I doing? It’s still early days. I’ve been keeping to the Milon programme of two workouts every ten days and in between I’ve started swimming (the Ayush Spa pool is incredible), I’m looking healthier (positively glowing was one comment), flights of stairs are no longer such a challenge, and I can’t wait to cycle through the streets of Vegas in Healthhas’ MyRide studio (Jersey’s only virtual cycling studio). It’s the psychological change for me that’s been the most illuminating. I never even realised I had a fear until I was forced to acknowledge it.

By the way, it came as no surprise to learn that the futuristic Milon circuit with its micro-chip machines is designed and manufactured in Germany – vorsprung durch technik!