Photography by Glen Montgomery; Photography by Freepik.com
Yes, any exercise is better than no exercise, but if you’re not reaching your goals, maybe it’s time to switch things up…
There’s nothing more frustrating than working out really hard and not seeing the results you want. The thing is, different kinds of exercise affect the body differently. So if your goal is, say, to get fitter and run a faster ParkRun time, you shouldn’t be concentrating on moves that are more geared towards building strength and muscle. For this year’s #WHGetsFit winter fitness challenge, the Women’s Health staff have divided into teams, all doing different fitness activities at Virgin Active for 12 weeks to reach different goals. Find the activity that fits your fitness goal and join committing to 2-4 training sessions a week throughout winter.
Your Goal: Get Fit
Your Exercise: Swimming; Cycling
If you’re starting to exercise for the first time, it’s a good idea to build your fitness base with an accessible, low-impact activity. Spinning may sound hectic (and it can be!) but you don’t need fancy gear to do it and the adjustable bikes allow you to tailor the class to your own level of fitness. What’s more, “cycling increases your cardio fitness, muscle strength and endurance and joint mobility, while decreasing stress and body fat,” says Ceri Hannan, national product development manager at Virgin Active. Also great for beginners: Swimming improves your balance, coordination and posture and comes with low injury risk, says Hannan.
Your Goal: Get Toned & Strong
Your Exercise: Callisthenics; Strength Training; Pound
While the idea of lifting weights may appear too hardcore for you, don’t knock it just yet: Not only does weight lifting build a toned, sexy figure, it actually reduces the ageing process, says Hannan. “As we get older, the body naturally loses muscle mass and bone density – strength training addresses this,” he says. But if the idea of entering the weights area still seems daunting, bodyweight training (a.k.a. callisthenics) is a brilliant way to build strength and lean muscle without lifting a single piece of iron. Plus, you can start working towards cool moves like pull-ups. Pound is a class that has you using weighted drumsticks to work out while jamming along to seriously rocking tunes. If you’re looking to tone your lower half – particularly your tummy and thighs – it’ll get you there.
Your Goal: Lose Weight
Your Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training; Triathlon
If you already hit the gym fairly regularly, but you still have a muffin top bulging over your jeans, it’s time to change things up. “Weight loss may not be what springs to mind when you think of triathlon training, but the combination of swimming, cycling and running – known as cross-training – is a sure way to guzzle kilojoules. And it will make you fitter than you’ve ever been in your life,” says Hannan. You can do it all indoors in the gym, but if it still sounds too hectic, high-intensity interval training is known for fat loss. You keep burning kilojoules long after your workout has ended – as in, up to 12 hours later! Yowzer.
Your Goal: Get Flexible
Your Exercise: Yoga; Aerial Yoga
Don’t be fooled into thinking yoga is all deep breathing and zenning out. Getting into those poses will challenge your muscles and do wonders for your flexibility, even if you can’t touch your toes now. Take it next-level with aerial yoga. Pulling yourself up on the silks will give you additional upper body and core strength. Plus, hanging in them will help lengthen your spine and alleviate back problems.
Looking for more? Check out the hottest, fat-blasting workouts and video tutorials – and make this your fittest year ever!