There was a point, in last night’s Blaze class, when I lost confidence in myself. If you’ve been following this fitness journey, you’ll know that particular class uses heart rate to encourage greater effort, via a special wearable piece of tech. It then broadcasts said effort onto a screen where you’re placed beside everybody else in the class. All the instructors will also tell you it’s not a competition with anybody else except yourself.

The truth however is anything but.

Last night, at a crucial moment when I was flat out on a treadmill, looking up to the screen above showed everybody else in the max (red) heart-rate zone, with me in green. The mental v physical disconnect hit like a punch. By the end of the class, I was in floods of tears: fortunately for me, there were people there who not only helped me, but reminded that everything is relative, including the level of effort.

I underestimated the amount of work I’ve done this week. If I add up all the active minutes in the last four days (using Fitbit as my guide) it isn’t 225 minutes, but 353, and this does not include Tuesday where the watch was very intentionally not recording. So yeah, maybe I should factor that in when it gets to Thursday. Also, I did a Synergy Gym class before the Blaze one, and probably didn’t manage my energy output that well whilst doing so.


Most sessions, my brain’s awake enough to see past the lie of ‘if you’re not in the red zone you can be working harder’ but a month’s worth of mental stress could not be dodged last night. The visual was, quite frankly, just too powerful to ignore. It’s the underlying problem with these classes that’s always existed, but nobody ever talks about. If you allow the red to fool you, everything can and does fall apart.

This morning, truth is far easier to rationalise.

There is nothing wrong with competition: it’s a healthy, normal part of sport. The concept’s there to give you an idea of how other people’s fitness compares with yours, but it is up to you to factor in the variables: weight, age, ability can’t be quantified as colour on a screen. Except I’ve seen what people do when they get tired in this class: they forget which lane they’re in. They forget what exercise they’re doing and just run on autopilot.

The numbers and colours affect mental ability in many different ways. Today, I used that as a basis for a poem. Stepping back, looking objectively at what happened, it is clear that my brain fell for the lie: this isn’t about effort expended, but a longer term view of the journey this is a step within. I wish my club did more work on mental health within it’s auspice and didn’t just assume members have that covered.

I suspect they’d not consider it important because it won’t turn a profit.

P.S.: This is also the problem.