Exercise is a huge part of Jessica Ennis’s life, here she explains exactly how it benefits her and what to do when you’re struggling to feel motivated.
Exercise sounds like such a good idea in theory, doesn’t it? You know, jumping around to a Beyoncé-themed exercise class with your friends, treating yourself to some fancy new work-out gear, getting those endorphins and feeling pretty darn good about yourself, what’s not to like?
But we’re willing to hold our hands up here and admit that sometimes, just sometimes, we really can’t be bothered. And that’s when we could do with a bit of extra motivation.
The thing is it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that exercise is good for you. We can put two and two together and know that moving more is good for our hearts, fitness and minds. But sometimes, well, the offer of Netflixing with our partner/flat mate/cat seems so much more…relaxing.
But someone who knows this feeling, although you might not expect her to, is Jessica Ennis. Yup, as in Dame Jessica Ennis, the elite athlete and Olympic gold medalist. It turns out even sporting champions can get a serious case of can’t-be-bothered.
We asked Ennis about what motives her to get off the sofa when she doesn’t feel like it and how, exactly, exercise benefits her life.
According to Ennis, if you’re seeking the benefits of exercise, you don’t need to be hitting the gym for hours everyday. In fact, it’s all about doing what you’re comfortable with and what works best for you. Ennis says: “I think it’s very specific to you as an individual and what you can take positivity from. If you’re someone who just wants to go out on a gentle jog, do that. It doesn’t have to be fast paced and you don’t have to set yourself unrealistic targets to achieve something out of your reach.
“Even if it’s doing a few press ups before you go to bed, doing something to get that adrenaline and endorphins released around your body is the most important thing.”
Although Ennis has never experienced mental health issues, and uses a sports psychologist to help her prepare for particularly nerve-wracking situations like big races before she retired, she absolutely believes that exercise has a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
It’s about “having that time to switch off,” Ennis explains. “Having time to myself, which I think everyone needs, and is really important [for mental health].”
“It’s that energy and endorphin release that you have when you exercise, nothing can beat that feeling that you have when you finish a session and you’re knackered.”
She might be an elite athlete, but Ennis understands the feeling of wanting to sit down after a long day when exercising doesn’t look so appealing.
Accountability is what helps Ennis put in a quick session. (Which, she says, is all a workout needs to be.)
“Theres loads of times I cant be bothered,” she says.
“I generally do my workouts at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, and I just want to eat and sit down and do nothing but I always have that thing that makes me think I’ve got to do it. Like if someone said, ‘ah no don’t do it’, it would make me think ‘right, I’ve got to.’”
Jennis, the MBE-holder’s new fitness app, is based around short, easy-to-do session that can be tried out at home or at the gym. Many of the work outs are just 20 minutes long, which is all Ennis says you need.
“When you’ve not got a lot of time to fit in exercise, you know that you’ve got to just grab it. It isn’t going to last very long, you can hit your body quite hard in a really productive way and then you’re done in 20 minutes and that’s it.
“I absolutely don’t do longer than 25 minute session, if I go out on a run it will be more like half an hour, but all my circuits are short, sharp hits.”
If you fancy trying out the Jennis app for yourself and becoming privvy to all of her industry-learned techniques and knowledge, you can see what’s to come here.
Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.
So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair.
Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.
Recommended by Megan Murray
“How I went from totally unsporty to kickboxing black belt”
Exclusive: Jessica Ennis says this is the way to find confidence in the gym
An open letter to every plus-size swimmer who’s afraid of being mocked at the pool
Alice Liveing’s fitness podcast is back to keep you feeling motivated and strong in 2020