Is Exercise The New ‘Going Out’?

|Thinking of switching your one (or ten) Gin and Tonic for a spin class or weightlifting? So are a lot of people. Here’s why.

It’s Friday night and the lights are low. Strangers bodies are pushing against me, sweaty and breathless as they mouth the words to their favourite songs. And the music is loud, really loud – Kanye and Stormzy pulsing through the expensive sound system. Girls, in crop tops and outfits that cling to every curve, sway side to side.

The only thing missing is a G&T. But really, I couldn’t imagine anything worse right now. I’ve already thrown back two bottles of water and my head is banging. I’m at CycleBox – Scotland’s answer to our search for Soul Cycle and abs like Gigi Hadid – and I am crazy dehydrated.

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€œCome on girls,€ cries our spin instructor Gwen, who also goes by the name of the Smiling Assassin. €œYou can do this. Get. Your. Gears. UP!€ I’ve been spinning like a mad woman for twenty minutes now and my legs have turned to jelly. But just like a girl who doesn’t want to go home when the lights come on – I just keep going.

A few years ago, if you’d have told me I would be spending my Friday nights, switching out rosé in favour of RMP I would have told you to get on your bike. But now, I can’t get enough of these high-intensity workout classes. Soaring adrenaline, great tunes and the guarantee of no hangover? I’m sold. And it seems I’m not alone.

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€œA hangover just isn’t worth it anymore,€ a friend tells me over (decaf) coffee. €œYeah, the night out would be fun, but the morning after I’d have to deal with a negative bank balance, hangover shakes and an out of control carb craving. I was just over doing that to myself.€

Now she runs marathons and abstains from all alcohol. While I’m nowhere near that dedicated or extreme, I have to admit she’s onto something. Like most millennials, as my workload takes over my life, lost weekends are no longer feel as LOL as they used to. A recent report from revealed Brits are working an extra 68 days’ worth of overtime each year – and it’s having a serious detriment to our health. So it’s no wonder we’re using our spare time to redress the balance. Now, instead of sleeping till 3pm and quivering over the toilet bowl, I get up for a 9.30am workout and it feels like my weekend stretches out longer than a post-cleanse Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Sure, ‘wellness witches’ get a bad rep. But I’m not pretending I still don’t binge eat Oreos and guzzle wine, it’s just now I buy my biscuits on the way home from spin class. #Balance right?
All the things I loved about clubbing – the socialising, the ritual of getting ready – I now get from going to my workouts. Rather than painting my nails, I’m wrapping my wrists in boxing tape. At the end of class, we toast to our success with overpriced green juice instead of spenny Sambuca.

The girls compliment each other’s outfits just like we would in some fancy bar. In fact, most of our figure-hugging Lycra wouldn’t look out of place in a cocktail bar. Despite Lululemon leggings now costing more than a bodycon dress from Toppers, us girls aren’t afraid to splash out on gymwear.

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Everyone has their individual style – just like in the clubs. There are the glamazons with Instagrammable brows and falsies, the bare-faced beauties, the girls that spend ages on their hair. The only difference here is that here is that there is no competition. Rather than vying for the attention of the barman or competing with each other to score the fit guy on the dancefloor, we’re wholly focused on raising each other up. We’re not losing ourselves in a blur of tequila and kebab sauce – we’re fully in the moment, whooping and cheering and spurring each other on.

But at the end of the night, we’re still taking bathroom selfies with mascara running down our face. Some things never change.

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