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On my soapbox

I'm on my soapbox (hang on while I do a couple of sets of tricep dips will you?). I'm sick of competitive clean eating, £600 designer running pants and the unhealthy industry that's propping up our modern concept of 'wellness'. Stretch, limber, RANT!

OK, it’s time to clamber back onto my soapbox. Actually, can you just bear with me while I do three sets of tricep dips off it first? As is the drill in January, I’m using this relatively quiet time of year, undistracted by mulled wine and stilton, to ramp up my health and fitness. Eating a bit less, moving a bit more, trying to jiggle into my lycra leggings that I’m sure didn’t feel like tighter than clingfilm this time last year.

My beef is this. The rise of ‘wellness’ as a commodity to be stuffed down our throats like a spirulina energy ball with a gojo berry chaser. Healthy living is no longer about that old chestnut of, you know, living healthily, it’s now about the gadgets, kudos and one-upmanship that surrounds the idea. Never mind owning a Hermes handbag, the pursuit of wellness has become a dead-cert signifier of wealth and style.

Case in point –  there’s a new pop-up (of course) fitness space (these kind of places are always ‘spaces’)  in Notting Hill (naturally) which promises to ‘bring in the outside world’. It’s basically a gym with loads of greenery dumped in it – vertical gardens, pot plants, turf where mats would be, plus workout bars made of branches. The idea is to make gym-goers more connected with nature, and aid mental wellness as well as physical health.The same fitness gains you’d get from, oh I dunno, going for a jog in the actual outside? An activity that is as free as it is straight-forward.

The biofit gym. Bring your own secateurs

I’ve also heard word of a new restaurant in London with a gym bolted on; the idea being you have a workout before sitting down to lunch or dinner. Why would anyone want to do this? Who wants to sweat it out on a treadmill before their hors d’oeuvre? It’s best suited to those who want to show off their calorie stats in a readymade Instagram boast.

And that’s the nub of what bothers me about health and fitness 2017 style. It’s the endless showing off and splashing of cash involved – the pursuit of ever-fancier weird and wonderful (OK, just weird) ways to get your endorphin kicks and tone your thighs. It’s the snazzy fitness trackers that tell all your Facebook friends every time you move your legs (did a workout even happen if it fails to record it? And what if no one ‘likes’ it?). It’s the rise of Amanda Chantal Bacon, the LA  ‘wellness boutique’ owner who sells £50 health ‘dusts’ to pimp your smoothie and makes Gwyneth Paltrow look positively sane. Go on, google her for a laugh.

It’s scarily competitive ‘clean eating’, and the ever more extreme personal fitness challenges – really just for fitness? It’s the £600 Fendi running leggings and sweatshirt set on Net-a-Porter (my top tip: H&M sportswear). Each to their own, of course, and if all the trappings and gizmos spur you on, then that’s great. But equally, there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics. That might be doing a £5 yoga class in your village hall or digging out your ancient home workout DVD. Or going running down country paths and whizzing through the fields in the winter sunshine, leaving your phone and gadgets behind and not telling a soul about it.

What do you reckon? Let me know in the comment box below. If you don’t agree, just let me know and I’ll clamber back off the soapbox and go and hide in it until the coast is clear.

Sue x!

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    6 comments on “On my soapbox”

    • Denise Wiltshire February 3, 2017

      Hi Sue
      It seems to me that most things these days are “the cost of everything and the value of nothing” and we appear to be going backwards rather than progressing. What use is there in going to a “green” gym when, as you rightly say, people don’t get the benefits of the countryside such as all those wonderful chemicals that trees give off (now proven), not to mention the proper psychological advantages. What a rip-off!
      We have made things far too complicated and expensive for our own good and that lovely old phrase, “keep it simple” works for me!
      With thanks for all you do to keep us updated with Muddy.
      Best wishes, Denise

    • Clare February 3, 2017

      I agree with lots that you say, but MOST OF ALL I simply HATE the picture at the top of the long-legged model (yes, I have short legs, but they work) apparently slaving on a gym machine WEARING THOSE LUDICROUS SHOES. Why do we have to see this, one of the many times a day when one is forced to remind oneself that one is actually an okay person doing her best most of the time?

      • suetucker February 4, 2017

        Hi – that’s the point of the image – she DOES look totally ludicrous!

      • Teresa Smith February 6, 2017

        And that image is SO photoshopped, especially around the thigh/leotard area, and the angle of her head and her supremely unrealistic hair is so false – makes you wonder what they were trying to achieve with that photo! It really makes your point. So, let’s see Kate Humble or Julia Bradbury looking natural and doing outdoorsy things if we want to promote an image of Muddy women keeping fit.

    • Rosie February 6, 2017

      Don’t get me started! I call it the ‘Tyranny of Health’, that same arrogant attitude that makes lycra clad goons think it’s OK to hold everyone up cycling two abreast, because ‘we’re getting fit’ so there, and the gym goers who think it’s OK to park ANYWHERE and inconvenience everyone else in the car park shared with the local school. Yes, but we’re fit and you’re not, so we’re obviously more important and superior. Oh, and is that a cappuccino and CAKE I’m sneerily looking at you consuming while I hold my pomegranate smoothie? Oh no, you’ve got me started now! Grrrr

    • Natasha Howells February 10, 2017

      I totally agree with what you say. Being a fitness professional in the industry can be a nightmare, I just want people to get fit and healthy but also enjoy it and have fun. Thete is so much conflicting advice out there that some people get intimidated or confused and just end up doing nothing. There are a lot of fads out there. My advise is find something you enjoy, with fun people, exercise regularly and have a good balanced diet and a good relationship with food.


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