“Wake up in the Woods” was the title of the exercise session on offer. It sounded good so my Mother and I decided to do it.

We were staying at the AlpenMed LAMM hotel in Seefeld in Austria for a week of relaxation, pampering and gentle exercise. Austria has some of the highest quality wellness hotels in Europe and they are hugely popular with the locals, as well as the neighbouring Germans, Swiss and Italians.  The Brits have yet to catch on.

The AlpenMed has a resident GP, qualified therapists and fitness professionals, a gym, a huge luxury swimming pool, a cryo-chamber that attracts athletes from across Europe, plus fantastic mountain countryside that’s great for skiing, hiking … and gentle morning aerobics.

So it was with that in mind that my Mother and I found ourselves on a hill above the hotel looking across the valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains, blue sky and sunshine above, sparkling snow underfoot – and Jesus and his disciples as our audience.

The disciples are in fact a circle of standing stones facing inward to a large carved rock in the centre, representing Christ – and providing a handy support for our 45 degree press ups.

As we bent, stretched and bounced on the spot we soaked up the stunning views around us – if all aerobic sessions had vistas like this I’d be happy to exercise every day. Maybe gyms should ditch the mirrors that remind you how flabby and sweaty you are, and replace them with a backdrop of Tirolean mountains, pine forests and fluffy clouds. I’m sure it would be more inspiring.

Exercising outside, in the fresh air, surrounded by nature made me ponder that perhaps the reason so many people join a gym but fail to use the facilities is because we have got our priorities wrong. Yes it’s important to exercise, but for many people exercising for exercise sake is, quite frankly, dull. But a stroll in the countryside, climbing a hill, playing rounders or cricket, going for a walk in the park and using obstacles as exercise accessories (jumping over logs, using a wall for a semi vertical press up, running up the steps) or taking the dog for a run are perhaps what we should focus on first and getting fit would follow along naturally.

I like how much better I feel when I exercise regularly, I just don’t like the actual exercise that much. Or so I thought. What my aerobics with Jesus taught me was that it’s the boredom I don’t like, not the exercise. So if I can find a way to make my mind enjoy the experience, then my body will happily come along too. For me, it’s being outside in nature. What is it for you?



Chantal Cooke

About the Author:

Chantal Cooke is an award winning journalist and broadcaster with a passion for the planet. In 2002 she co-founded the award winning radio station PASSION for the PLANET and in 2009 Chantal was awarded London Leader in Sustainability status. Chantal also runs a successful communications agency – Panpathic Communications.




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