I’ve never been massively into exercise. I’m the kind of girl who would chop off her right arm to get out of PE and, besides from a few half-hearted sessions in the gym throughout my college years, I’ve been loathe to really get stuck in when it comes to fitness.
The reason for my gradual, and now extreme, fitness denial is that as I've aged, I've also become more insecure. I started comparing myself with other women. Women who were more athletic and just generally better at being sporty than I could ever be.
It sounds terrible, but over the years, these confidence issues and insecurities were enough to put me off exercise. And now I know that I'm not the only one who feels that way...
It wasn’t until I saw Sport England's #ThisGirlCan campaign that things fell into place. I realised that this silliness I'd been experiencing in my mind was actually a very real and mutual feeling among women.
So, after being invited to try the Prehab workout at the Grace Belgravia, I jumped at the chance to try it out.
You see, the workout is less about losing weight or training for, say, a marathon and is more about focusing on improving your body's weaknesses and protecting from future injuries. It sounded almost gentle, unlike bootcamps and your typical military-style 'drop and give me 20' sessions.
The workout begins like this: personal trainers analyse the way you move, focusing on your gait (how you walk) and squat technique, which they then offer detailed feedback on.
To assess your gait, the fitness gurus at The Grace record you while walking on a treadmill. At first I felt quite self-conscious as, hey, there's a guy recording my arse as I walk. But it only lasted for a few moments.
The point of the gait and squat analysis is to help trainers understand how the brain is controlling the body and how the joints and muscles communicate. It also indicates any imbalances and compensations in movement.
And, most importantly, it allows the PTs to build a training program that is specific for how my body moves. Spoiler alert: I don't move so well.
My results were pretty brutal, but totally unsurprising:
Gait analysis showed a prominent over pronation of the ankle (arch collapse). This causes a hip shift which in turn brings the foot close to the ground during the swing phase. You can also see there is a small stride, with little knee drive and as a result not much foot lift.
Overhead squat analysis showed an obvious shift to the right. With the right and ankle and knee collapsing in. This
affects the depth of the squat as you quickly run out of range at the ankle. The arms fall forward at the bottom of the squat.
From our analysis we see a couple of issues that affect both the squat and the gait. The stability of your hips and ankles indicates weakness of the gluteal muscles. Strengthening these muscles in particular, as well as improving general lower body strength, would be advantageous.
Arms falling forwards during the squat indicates tightness at the chest and anterior shoulder coupled with insufficient upper back strength.
It all sounds pretty scary, and my initial thoughts after reading this were: "I'm buggered." But, after letting it all sink in, I realised that it actually made perfect sense. For a newbie to fitness, it might not seem like the best use of money. But if you're really serious about exercising then this is a great plan to help you limit injury.
And, from the fitness-phobic's point of view, the last thing you want to do is be unable to exercise just as you're getting your mojo back. So, I guess it's a worthwhile session to embark on.
The Prehab workout isn't just about picking out your weaknesses either. Fitness experts also take you through a range of exercises to help strengthen particular areas of your body as well as muscles which you aren't necessarily aware of.
The final part of the workout involved a spin class, which pretty much finished me off. But it also proved that I can do it, if I put my mind to it.
Obviously sessions like this don't come cheap, but it's definitely worth having your movements analysed to get a better understanding of which parts of your body need strengthening.
Once you've got this information under your belt, you can work with a PT or figure out a fitness plan for yourself (yes I've googled 'exercises for gluteal muscles') to help strengthen the areas of your body that need it most.
I feel like the Prehab workout has prepared me for the next stage in my fitness journey. After all, if I start out by building the weakest areas of my body, surely this is going to benefit me when it comes to future fitness goals.
Despite feeling a little self-conscious and - quite frankly - scared to begin with, I came out feeling far better in myself.
The overall conclusion is that Prehab is my kind of workout and I look forward to building myself a stronger body with it.