Fighting fit in February
January is well and truly over, hurrahhhh. But it’s still chilly. And windy. And raining. And our high-fiving inner fitness goddess that briefly came to play after the New Year just wants to be in her slippers eating Galaxy.
Here are some fitness ideas to keep you going for the rest of the year.
Pilates aims to improve core strength and your physical and mental wellbeing. It was invented by Joseph Pilates who was influenced by gymnastics, boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling (ooo err). You won’t be wrestling anyone to the ground FYI. The great thing about Pilates is it’s low impact if you’re not a fan of getting sweaty or have any injuries, and you can find classes to suit all abilities.
We tried Body Control Pilates, co-founded by Lynne Robinson, who is basically the Beyoncé of the Pilates world. We went to the London studio beginner/intermediate class, hidden in a basement which used to be a dairy supply company in the 1880s. Delightfully quaint and perfect to escape the hustle of London. The instructor really knew her stuff and we skipped out feeling zen-like and ready to take on the world… Or the tube at least. Try looking for a local class and get the moves down before you try a DVD. The 10 minute Pilates workout DVDs are good for busy bees and Lynne Robinson’s core workout is a good all-rounder.
Mix it up: Try reformer Pilates – Pilates with a reformer machine rather than a mat. It looks like a medieval torture device or err something from 50 Shades… Fortunately, it’s gentler than its appearance (phew!). It gives different spring options to up resistance and is versatile, so you don’t have to turn into a pretzel to get a decent stretch.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that originated 5000 years ago in India. It focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost your physical and mental wellbeing. There are loads of different types: Kundalini yoga is more spiritual, focussed on calming the mind and energising the body; Hatha is great for beginners as it develops flexibility and balance. If you can’t keep still, Vinyasa is fast paced and flows from one pose to the next.
Mix it up: Sweat it out at Bikram yoga, essentially yoga in the Sahara – over 40°C and humid. If you’re worried about melting like a chocolate teapot, try different types of ‘hot yoga’ that are less humid. The aim of all hot yoga is to warm the muscles, so you can be more flexible and pump the heart faster.
Hot Pod yoga is a Janes’ fave, rooted in Vinyasa yoga in toasty temperatures (around 36°C) in a cosy dark pod. The pods are inflatable and portable so can pop up anywhere. Despite it being hot, you can breathe easily and feel energised after. Just don’t forget your towel as it’s a very sweaty affair.
Box-fit is a killer cardio and strength workout, as well as being a great stress relief. It’s often circuit-based, involving high energy combinations and your best boxing and ninja kicking moves. Boxfit tones and helps you lose weight and is becoming more and more popular in the UK. For an added bonus, French plait your hair (a la Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby or Angelina as Lara Croft). This will get you feeling invincible and punching harder*. (*Ok, there’s no actual evidence of this, but hey you’ll look cool.)
Mix it up: ‘Shredding’ is the latest cool thing, and we’re not talking about the office thrill-ride type. It’s a workout that includes cardio and weightlifting exercises to help you burn fat and improve muscle definition. If you can’t find local classes to have someone whoop and scream at you, Jillian Michaels 30 day shred DVD is a good start.
Whatever you do, listen to your body and don’t push yourself to the point of hurting yourself. Hopefully you may feel like Wonder Woman, but you’re not, sos. It’s easy to pull and strain muscles you’re not used to using. To soothe sore muscles and sprains crack on some Biofreeze gel (sold in most pharmacies) which contains menthol and gives a nice cooling sensation and acts on pain fast.
What are your top winter fitness ideas? Share with us – @tweetjanes.