The Ancient Greek city of Sparta was famous for its dedication to physical excellence. Strength, agility, speed and endurance were prized attributes of the Spartan citizen and most people, including women, were given some form of physical fitness training from childhood.
As you probably know, Spartan fitness education was in a category of its own and running a marathon after a day wrestling oxen in the local mud-pit was their equivalent of going to the pub after work.
Bandaids, plastic water bottles and personal trainers would have been shipped to Athens if they’d been invented– and don’t even mention insurance (they were way too tough for that). Yes indeed, this impeccably hardy lot were an admirable species and it’s a pity they’re defunct. Or are they?
Do not be fooled when you encounter the tall, svelte and stylish Fiona Kristoffersen, for underneath the demure exterior is a woman who could jump in a time machine and land in a Spartan mud-pit without missing a beat.
Fiona kindly agreed to write about her love of fitness (and the many creative ways we can all get fit) for Midlifexpress.
I’ve always believed it’s healthy to be yourself and to give your best.
I was once a slightly overweight couch potato until I discovered fitness training. It completely turned my life around.
Being fit is a great thing, especially because it involves setting new goals and accomplishing personal challenges. Some people may push themselves to extremes, but it’s what keeps them going. I love setting goals and trying new fitness classes at my gym. It keeps me motivated.
A typical week’s workout includes Grit (a super-intense and invigorating 30 minute cardio/weight class done to music — where you have to be careful not to throw-up), body attack, body combat, boxing and boot camps. This sounds like it consumes all my time, but it’s definitely not the case. I’d spend an hour a day training and, as there are 24 of them, it doesn’t hurt me at all.
There’s always something crazy and exciting to have a crack at. I especially enjoy the mud obstacle course — a team challenge that’s more about helping each other overcome obstacles than winning. I would describe it as an army training activity and it includes:
- Crawling in mud under barbed-wire
- Running through 10,000 volts of live electrical wires (while being hosed)
- Net climbing
- Running through fire and smoke
- Climbing ropes
- Running up steep and slippery hills
- Crawling through stinking, underground pipes in complete darkness
- Jumping off high platforms into a lake and swimming to the other side
- Climbing greasy monkey bars
- Diving into ice and then wading through it
- Plank walking
- Wall climbing
I love all this; it’s fulfilling and rewarding and it’s a great day spent with your mates. These obstacle courses are relatively new, but word is getting around and I can’t believe the huge number of women of all ages, sizes and fitness levels who enter the challenges. It’s exciting and uplifting to see everyone giving it a go — always smiling and receiving a reward at the end.
This all sounds a lot. However, I’m human and I have my ‘off’ days where I want to do nothing at all and eat cake. My body tells me when it needs to rest. My advice to others is to listen to your body and know when it’s had enough. I’ve learnt a lot about my body over the years and how to distinguish between the ‘good’ pain and the ‘bad’ pain. The great thing about rest is knowing that it will allow me to get straight back into training and be more motivated when I do.
I currently have an injury that prevents me running (apparently it’s from over-use — as if!) But this doesn’t stop me from doing other things: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, I say.
I want to age gracefully and keep my cheeky nature. I hope I’ll still be a fitness ‘goer’ when I’m old as keeping active and healthy is important at any age.
One thing’s for sure: If you come looking for me when I’m one hundred, I’ll be on the mud obstacle course, running through 10,000 volts of electricity. I’ll leave the lawn bowls to everyone else.
Editor’s addendum: Sparta, you wouldn’t know what hit you.
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