With gyms and swimming pools closed, team sports banned and our movements restricted, many people have had to find new ways of keeping fit, such as walking or cycling. Keen runner Nancy Dowling reflects on how her exercise regime has changed over the past year, to include online Pilates and aerobics, as well as taking a dip in her local river.

This second ‘big’ lockdown has slightly altered my attitude to exercise. The first time round, I regularly ran with my son’s dog on the lanes near my house. The roads were quiet, the weather was good and we watched spring emerge with hope and enthusiasm. I didn't go very far…just a few miles but it was enough to keep the running juices flowing.

I also used my bike a lot, mostly as a means of transport for short trips. Again, there was so little traffic it was just delightful.

Vicki Saunders and her online Zoom Pilates was just amazing. My husband joined in and we did the classes up to 4 times per week.

Vicki Saunders Runs ZOOM Pilates Classes

The more relaxed regime in the summer and autumn meant trips down to the Dart and elsewhere for a sea swim plus coast path walking. That was heavenly. Running wasn’t any fun at all because the traffic was so heavy and unfortunately there are a few drivers who just do not slow down for anything or anyone. It is sad, dangerous and disappointing. I always wear high viz clothing so there is no excuse.

Now that we are back in the present lockdown, the traffic is still the same: quite heavy and largely too fast. I have tried different times of the day but it makes no odds. This has taken the pleasure away from running, apart from doing ‘sticky ribs’.

This is something we used to do in the Crediton Running Network. It involves running along a street or road and then turning off and doing a mini out and back down a side street or, in my case, down a lane or even the entrance to a farm or house as long as the lane in question is long enough. Getting off the main road in this way is just great.  Suddenly it is quiet, I can let my well behaved canine companion off the lead for a bit and I can breathe more easily and hear the bird song.

Luckily, for me, Vicki also does ‘Body Blast’ classes which are aerobic and involve strength work, sweating and heavy breathing!  But no traffic.  It’s a good alternative to running…not so good for the dog but she gets plenty of walks off road. This time round I have started doing these classes in addition to the Pilates. They’re a real lifesaver.

Vicki's classes are a lifesaver

Of course we could all do our own thing and exercise to our heart's content but somehow we often don’t and need a teacher to guide, lead and inspire us. Vicki does all of that brilliantly and with humour. She has loads of people taking part. Our daughter who lives in Canada does one of the classes which suits her time zone. We get to see her which is a plus. Vicki is keeping a large number of people fit, happy, socially engaged and probably grounded. She deserves recognition for this.

Online exercise saves driving

Zoom is such a good tool. It’s not perfect and many silly things go wrong one way or the other but in general I am so grateful. Doing the classes that way also saves a ton of driving which is good news for the air we breathe.

Nancy in the river

Because I like to immerse myself in the sea, I have felt quite frustrated at not being able to make the drive to the coast.  It can hardly be called essential. So I have gingerly, carefully ventured into the river at the bottom of my garden. It’s been very interesting. I wear my off-road shoes because it’s hard to see what’s on the bottom. I keep my mouth firmly shut because one never knows what’s in the water. We are lucky to be surrounded by organic farms and there shouldn’t be any raw sewage anywhere nearby but…I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly before having a very welcome hot drink.

The water feels colder than the sea and even though it isn’t very deep, just that bit of immersion into the cold water seems to do me a great deal of good.

For more information about Vicki Saunders online classes send her an email.

Mar 26, 2021
Health and Wellbeing

More from 

Health and Wellbeing


View All