I Used To Be A Heavy Lifter. Here's Why I Switched To Lighter Weights & Fitness Classes

January 25, 2023


Most of us fall victim to the consumerism that is the ever growing fitness industry. Whether that is the latest activewear, the best pump-your-glutes workout or what a celeb is doing to stay so lean. I am just as guilty as the next person but I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. For many years I have ebbed and flowed with fitness, following the new trends or changing my workouts to achieve a look just like that of the person I aspire to look/ be like. My most recent venture to this was fitness classes. 

I started my fitness journey with mainly resistance training. I was (like many others) frankly jealous of influencers such as Tammy Hembrow. To then find out that all I needed to do to accomplish her brilliant physique was weight lift, I had to give it a try! Now, just as a disclaimer I am in no way against resistance training and heavy lifting. However, I think this form of training has been misinterpreted into mainstream media, convincing everyone that if you don’t lift super heavy weights 5–6 times a week, you will forever be plagued with pancake bum and flabby arms. I loved my time lifting heavy but I found my body was so drained and heavy all the time! I wasn’t even seeing the results I wanted so I had many moments of self-doubt and thought about quitting it all together.

I know this article is supposed to be about fitness classes so I promise I’ll get there soon! Flash forward about 5 years after I began lifting and I came across an instagram account of an influencer I used to follow who was originally your classic gymshark athlete/ bum-posing weightlifter. She had lost a lot of weight and was talking about holistic health. She talked a lot about hormone health and how she quit weight lifting and decided to start going to lighter resistance fitness classes instead. She also talks a lot about nutrition and especially nutrition in the fitness industry, but we will save that for another article. She seemed very much calmer in herself, and just looked like the real definition of healthy, all-around health. Everything she said felt relatable and got me excited for fitness and nutrition again. It made me really want to change it all up and start fresh. I am a fitness professional myself and have always wanted to teach an array of classes too but needed to see what classes were out there and if in fact they were for me.

For some unknown reason whenever I used to think about fitness classes I got anxious. I thought that if I were no good at them then I must be a failure at fitness, and would think how could I have trained for this long and still be rubbish at it! I was scared at the idea of seeing myself in multiple mirrors training with others to whom I may compare myself. I was even worried that workouts might not be hard enough and that I would have to do a whole other workout straight afterward. Some people may not understand these anxieties and just think, “just go to a damn class you’re just making excuses!” But when you get brought into an industry of constant comparison, self-control and rigid routine, it is very hard to get out of that mindset.

I remember when I was at university I joined a gym near my flat. The gym offered a boxing class and I really wanted to go to it as I absolutely love boxing, I think it’s an amazing form of fitness. I booked myself in every week, sometimes even twice a week. I would reach the door of the class, get there early and then, the time would come for the class to nearly begin and…I would leave! I’d go into the gym instead and train. I did this on and off for a year! Thinking back to it now I feel absolutely ridiculous. Anxiety, especially body anxiety and fitness related, is so tough and brain-consuming, it means you miss out on something that could be so fun and amazing. 

A couple years down the line I got my level 2 and 3 in fitness and personal training and worked in a gym. This time I was determined to go to the classes as I was really starting to struggle with the heavy weightlifting and was actually starting to dread my workouts. And once again I’d book myself onto a class and just couldn’t make it in! I even started teaching a HIIT class and I was perfectly comfortable and confident teaching that. My brain had just decided for me that I was never going to go out of my comfort zone. 

So here I am now, I left my gym job as I was beginning to look for new ventures within the industry. Being unemployed finally gave me time to have some self-care. I decided to look up some fitness classes one more time and give it a go. In context my workout routine has completely changed. I now do at-home Pilates workouts and at-home boxing, but again these are all home comforts. I thought if I’m starting a new page in terms of career development then maybe it’s time to just MAKE myself more confident! I took the plunge, booked myself onto a reformer pilates class and drove myself there before my brain could say no. I will tell you something…Best. Decision. EVER.Fitness_class_enjoyment

I loved it! I loved the atmosphere, I loved the people, I loved the way the instructors make you feel confident even if your form isn’t quite right. It felt like that adrenaline rush I’d been missing, so I decided to try out other classes. I did boxing, spin, and even legs, bums and tums. All as equally amazing! I feel like a new person, I feel confident, I feel happy and I even feel like the stress of exercise and anxiety has melted from my body. I’m now in the best shape I’ve ever been. 

This isn’t me saying that fitness classes will just make you lean and toned and you should do them all the time. But instead the moral of my ‘not-so-short’ story is to take that risk. Things like fitness classes and exercise in general should be fun. It becomes a very isolated hobby so being around like-minded people is just so wholesome and humbling. It’s a form of self-care that I think maybe gets missed a lot. I felt so scared to go somewhere, on my own, not know anyone and then have to exercise in front of them. It’s a funny concept really, but at the end of the day they’re all probably feeling a similar way, but that is why you motivate each other. And if fitness classes aren’t for you then take this mindset to anything, go do something on your own because you want to do it, doesn’t matter what anyone else will think or see, JUST DO IT!

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Photo: Unsplash

Clemency Drew
Clemency has been vegan for going on 5 years now and she has never looked back! She loves animals and our planet and wishes to savor them in any way she can. She is also a massive fitness freak who is set on proving to people that you can be vegan and planet-friendly while also being into fitness and achieving goals.


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