If you’re not very fit at the moment…
We get it – the gym can be an intimidating place if you feel as though you can’t lift weights or can barely run for two minutes without getting out of breath. But there are other options. Kate Burdett, head of training at Raw Pilates in London, says Pilates is the perfect exercise for those who are just starting out as it can be easily tailored to individual needs. “Pilates is a great form of exercise for fitness beginners as its low impact nature will ensure your body isn’t put under as much stress as other classes, but don’t think this means that you won’t work as hard!” she says. “Rather than racing through movement motions, Pilates makes you take things slow, teaching you to control and build muscles which will ultimately lead to improved fitness levels, fat loss and body tone. Improving core strength, increasing flexibility and reducing injury risk are all essential for fitness beginners and these are all key elements in Pilates.”
If you can’t get a babysitter…
Try: Working out at home
As David Wiener, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics, says, having kids is definitely not an excuse to skip a workout or give up on exercise altogether. “There are plenty of brilliant and affordable options if you can’t make it to the gym and it is entirely possible to get a good workout from the comfort of your own home,” he explains. “Simply bodyweight exercises are very effective whatever your goal, and they can help build muscle, shed fat and increase your fitness levels in a short amount of time – which is perfect if you’ve only got a small window when your kids are napping, or if you’re tired at the end of a long day. Simple exercises like squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, burpees and step ups can form a great HIIT circuit workout which will get your heart pumping. You could also incorporate household items, such as chairs, tin cans and bottles, to increase the difficulty of moves. Don’t forget there are some great, inexpensive or free apps you can download, which will demonstrate a variety of home workouts. These are a great way to make sure you’re challenging yourself and many of them include videos which teach you how to execute movements correctly.”
We love: Download a free fitness app like Freeletics, NTC Nike+ Training Club, 7-Minute workout, Qinetic or Sworkit, or subscribe to a workout plan such as Sweat with Kayla or Results with Lucy. Youtube is also a great place to start for free workout videos.
If you like working hard…
Try: A cycling or spin class
If you like to work yourself to the max, sign up for a spin class immediately. “Cycling and spin classes provide a high-intensity full body workout that shreds fat, burns calories and tones and strengthens muscles at the same time,” explains Rachele Louise Carr, lead Cycle instructor at Another_Space. “They’re designed to raise your heart rate with perfectly timed recovery periods so you are in your optimum training zone throughout the whole class.”
Want to get the most out of your workout? “Having the right posture and positioning will maximise the benefits of your workout, engaging your legs, core and glutes,” Rachele advises. “For the best cycling technique, direct your energy towards tightening your core and ensure your weight is back as you hover over the seat. If you want to reach your full potential during the workout then don’t slack on upping the resistance either. Cycle classes offer low impact exercise that is easy on the joints but without enough resistance, you can wear out joints and potentially cause injury or discomfort when bouncing up and down in the saddle.”
If you’re always stuck for time…
Try: Running in your lunchbreak
We know, working out in your lunchbreak rarely feels do-able, especially if you’re in the middle of a manic day and have an endless list of things that need doing. However, we guarantee you’ll feel better for it and will soon see improvements in your fitness levels too. For PT Jack Mousley of Oynx Fitness (who are part of the Red Bull AWOL Campaign encouraging people to get active on their lunch), a quick run at lunchtime is the ideal way to boost your wellbeing. Plus, it could even help you boss your to-do list in the afternoon. “Running is a great workout for the whole body and it can also help relieve stress, improve your sleep, decrease depression, boost self-esteem and increase creativity in the workplace,” he explains. “Aim to keep yourself moving for 30 minutes, but if you find you need to stop fairly regularly, ease your pace off. Track how far you run in the time and try to increase your distance each go, or try to keep yourself moving for longer. Once you get fitter you can start to vary your training to include intervals, hill running or even short sprints.”
We love: Running through St James Park, Brockwell Park, Primrose Hill, Victoria Park, Battersea Park and along the riverside at South Bank. Use an app like Strava, Map My Run or Pacer to help keep track of how far you’re going.
If you get bored easily…
Does it sometimes feel like there are so many more exciting things you could be doing, rather than heading to the gym? If so, signing up to a HIIT class could be for you. Jenny Francis, trainer at F45 in Islington is a big fan of this type of exercise and says the reason it’s so beneficial is because it’s designed to get your heart rate into its ‘peak’ zone. “Working out to your maximum capability, for short bursts, with brief periods of rest in between shocks the body and burns more fat in less time - and for hours afterwards too,” she explains. “The beauty of HIIT isn't just that your body becomes a calorie-burning machine, but also you don't need to spend hours on a treadmill to get the same results. For those who get bored easily, this is the dream workout for that exact reason - along with the fact that HIIT can incorporate such a vast array of different exercises. Classes like F45 have different moves in every single class, from burpees and box jumps, to rowing machines and kettle bell swings, meaning you never do the same workout twice."
If you can’t stand the gym…
Let’s face it, gyms aren’t for everyone. Whether it’s because you hate working out in front of people, don’t want to pay a membership fee or just get bored of the same treadmills and weights machines, you don’t have to let a dislike of gyms get in the way of your healthy lifestyle. According to PT Faye Edwards, for a really great full-body workout you simply need to take a dip. “Swimming is a great activity to keep fit and active,” she says. “It’s a workout where you will use every muscle simultaneously, and as there’s no other activity that uses your lung capacity in the same way, it’s also a brilliant way to improve your respiratory fitness. It’s fantastic for those who may suffer with injuries or need rehabilitation from previous injuries or those who are beginners to fitness, as with no impact it’s a safe way to get a good workout without any stress on the joints.” Create a plan for your session before heading to the pool, and try to incorporate as many different swimming styles as possible in order to work lots of different muscles. You can also use interval training in your swim workout and reap some of the benefits of HIIT.
We love: The swimming pools at Golden Lane, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and Balham Leisure Centre. And now the weather is getting hotter, why not enjoy a dip at one of the city’s outside pools? Visit Oasis Sports Centre, Tooting Bec Lido, Brockwell Lido or Parliament Hill Lido.
If you like working out with friends…
Try: A fun fitness class
If you’re someone who revels in multitasking, the thought of working out while catching up with a friend may certainly float your boat. And, as well as being a great way to keep up to date with the latest news and gossip, research suggests that exercising with others can be more motivating and may even improve your fitness performance and stamina.
For PTs Sam and Ash, the founders of SMASH London, signing up to a good fitness class is ideal if you like exercising with friends, or are looking to expand your social circle. “We recommend trying as many classes as possible to find something that suits everyone involved,” they say. “There are lots of inspiring new classes appearing all the time so it’s worth getting to as many as you can and seeing which inspire you most. Whether you prefer HIIT training, dancing, boxing or hula hooping, there will be something that will get you sweating and smiling in no time. And the great thing about working out with a friend is that you have someone to celebrate with after. Why not google ‘fun fitness classes’ and see what comes up in your area? From aerobics to aerial acrobatics, you’ll be surprised at just how fun fitness can be – especially when you get to share it with others.”
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