parent opinion

HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: 'I've just started going to bootcamp. Last week, I stormed off in tears.'

You are shit. You are old. You are pathetic. You are weak. You are lazy. 

Why are you here? Who do you think you are? Can't you see how ridiculous you look? Don't you know you're embarrassing yourself? 

Welcome to the inside of my head on Wednesday morning. Drenched in sweat, breathing hard, heart pounding. Crying.

Watch: The horoscopes working out. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

I've started exercising again. I know, how boring. You know how it goes: How do you know when someone has got "back into their fitness"? They'll tell you. 

And so it is. Here I am, with my Kmart active wear and my smug, "No, I can't tonight, I have to get up and go to training." 

Well, I wasn't so smug on Wednesday morning.

I've joined a boot camp. It's been a couple of months and I love it. The people who meet down at my local beach every morning are a motley crew of all ages and abilities. But they all have something in common: They are all better at it than me.

This is the cold, hard reality of getting "back into your fitness". If you've been away having babies, if you've been away on a cheese-testing sabbatical, or recovering from injury, or you've been busy caring for other people who need you at those times you once were able to run, skip, stretch, kick, bat, whatever... well, re-entry can be steep. 

And on Wednesday, my red face slammed right into that vertical learning curve. 

Listen to Holly on Mamamia Out Loud, where she talks about her bootcamp session in Best and Worst. Post continues below.

It was a hard session. A new trainer. A big group. There were burpees. And skipping. And push-ups. And sprints. There was no rest, no recovery. It was hardcore, by design.

After the fourth time the skipping rope tripped me up, I started swearing. 


After I was lapped for the fifth time by my fitter, stronger, faster friends, a dark mood settled around my shoulders. 

By the time I collapsed into my sixth round of terrible push-ups, I was hating myself. Avoiding eye-contact with anyone at all, a script of self-loathing playing on a loop around my over-heating head.

It was clear I didn't belong. 

At 6am on a weekday, the beach is full of exercisers. The ones I could see that morning all looked, to me, like they belonged. They were long-limbed and toned. Their active-wear matched. There were crop-tops and swinging pony-tails and abs for days. 

It was like the black cloud of my self-defeat had blurred out everyone who didn't look like they'd stepped directly from the grid of a fitspo hashtag. There was pathetic me, and there were all these... winners.

Here's the thing. I'm not getting up at 5.30am three times a week in a misguided belief I might one day look like JLo.

I don't want to have a "banging body" or a "bikini body". 

I don't want to be "fab at 40/50 or never mind, the headlines never go higher than that". 

I didn't want a "baby body" or a "post-baby body". 

What I want is a body that can do the things it's always been able to do. I want to get out of a chair without grunting. I want my back not to hurt. I want to walk up hills without stopping. I want to lower my risk of heart disease, my blood pressure, osteoporosis. I want more energy.

And I want to live a while longer. A long while longer. My kids need their mum. 

And I want the endorphins. It's been a rough year, you might have noticed. 

I am not proud to say that when that session ended on Wednesday, I stormed off.

My 'storm' looked like me not saying goodbye, not thanking the trainer, not waiting for my friend who I always, always walk to her car. I stormed. 

And I walked in my front door and started yelling at everyone. A crazed, sweaty woman screaming about teeth-cleaning and lost shoes and why do I even bother packing lunch for you people, when you never f-ing eat it anyway.

 It wasn't a good morning. 

And then Thursday morning came. And my alarm went off at 5.30. And I thought, No. And I pressed Snooze. 

And then I thought again. And I thought NO. I am not going to be intimidated out of doing something that's good for me by the fact I am bad at it. 


I snuck to the bathroom in the dark and I strapped on my giant sports bra and I decided that exercise wasn't just for beautiful people. It wasn't just for the ones who didn't sweat and gasp and curse and fart and stumble. It wasn't just for the ones with the crop tops and the neon leggings and the swingy ponies. 

And I went to the beach, and I trained. And I was terrible. 

But I was there. 

And that toxic script in my head kept trying to restart, and I kept shutting it down. And falling on my face. 

If that's you, too. At the back of the class, in the baggy T-shirt and the battered old trainers, failing to count "reps", looking for the lightest weight, trying to locate your decimated core. Back of the pack, the colour of a tomato, eyeballs sweating, knees hurting. Keep going. 

You're there. You're back. You're bloody beautiful.

Feature Image: Instagram.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter For Humans With Kids, where Holly Wainwright shares her parenting nails and fails, and stories from the glorious mess that is family life.