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Silent workouts are the key to feeling in control

By Nicky Marr

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Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster. Picture: Callum Mackay.

Every morning just before Mr Marr’s alarm goes off, I peel back the covers and sneak out of bed. On the floor beside my slippers is the pile of clothes I laid out the night before. I tuck them under my arm as I tiptoe for the door.

Once on the landing I head for the bathroom where I hurry to get dressed. Then I creep down the stairs in the half-dark for my morning assignation. He’ll be waiting for me in the living room, topless, tattooed, and ready to get sweaty.

He’s called Bully Juice. He must be 25 years younger than me, and it’s fair to say that he’s a man who knows how to look after himself. So, there’s a certain shiver of anticipation as I move the coffee table out of the way to create space for what’s to come next. I watch him flex his muscles as I tie my laces. And then we’re on. For the next half hour – or 40 minutes if I feel up to it – I give my body and soul to this man. He always makes me feel better.

I can’t remember where I first heard of Bully Juice’s workout channel on YouTube, but from the day I first clicked on it, I’ve been hooked. Bully (not his real name) serves with the American Air Force and combines active duties with creating workout videos. I may not be his target market (there’s focus on something called ‘gains’) but with over a million subscribers, he clearly has wide appeal. After my first workout I committed to completing 30 in 30 days. I made it to 50, finishing on Christmas Eve.

Bully Juice.
Bully Juice.

The beauty is in the variety of videos. Some are as short as five minutes, the longest is 40. You can follow his free 30-day plan or make it up as you go, targeting the bits of your body that need attention, or – in my case – the muscles that aren’t too sore from the last few days.

But the very best bit? Unless it’s a specific video where he’s explaining technique or talking about sensible food choices, Bully Juice is totally silent. Occasionally there’s a thumbs up from him, but that’s it for motivational stuff. I don’t mind telling you that those are the moments I live for.

The real strength of Bully Juice, and indeed of any of the tens of thousands of free workouts available online, is that the content is right there on demand, and our freezing Highland weather is irrelevant. All I have to do is get out of bed, unroll my workout mat, choose the video, and get started. The music and the clock are my focus. Remember, there’s no inane chatter. As I jump, lift, push, plank, squat, lunge and stretch my way into the day, my mind is blank. It’s almost meditative. Me, the movement, the music, the man.

OK – time for a reality check. I’m not a machine, nor am I obsessive. When I say this happens “every day”, in fact I probably work out on three, maybe four mornings a week. Sometimes I come downstairs, change my mind, and come straight back to bed with two mugs of tea. Some mornings I struggle to get out of bed at all. And there’s usually one day in every fortnight when I take my workout clothes off again at bedtime, having failed to break sweat all day. At least I was optimistic enough to put them on that morning!

And when I say I sneak downstairs without waking Mr Marr, that doesn’t always happen either. Sometimes he joins me in my workout, which I both love and hate. I love that the competitor in me pushes me to work harder. I hate that he breaks the meditative silence. Maybe one day I’ll pluck up the courage to tell him…

I don’t always enjoy the workouts, but I love the feeling I get once I’ve done them. Overall, I feel fitter and stronger and mentally I feel calmer and less stressed. Starting the day well, even if it is just through working up a sweat in the living room, makes me feel as though I’ve achieved something, and that can often be the catalyst for a better day.

We might not be able to control a lot of what’s happening in the world right now, but I can control whether or not I work out. And right now, that’s good enough.

Read more from Nicky Marr here.

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