Mix It Up

JAIME COOKE, DIRECTOR OF FITNESS STUDIO SPN IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS, EXPLAINS WHY VARIETY IS THE KEY TO A FITTER BODY AND A HEALTHIER MIND

Marcin Bialas

I spin’, or ‘I do yoga’. Sound familiar? It’s often the case that when people ask what you do for exercise, you confidently reply with the workout that defines you. I don’t blame you; when you find a class that you totally love, why wouldn’t you sign up for it every week?

However, it’s important to remember that, without changing up your exercise, you’re likely to hit a plateau, and stop getting all of those amazing benefits from your workouts. We all want stronger, leaner, more flexible bodies, but what’s the perfect mix, and how can you ensure that you’re getting the ideal combination?

Your body is amazing, but ultimately you need to keep it guessing to get the best out of it. Say you spin twice a week – your body will adapt and adjust after just a few weeks, and will start to work at its peak every time you start to turn those wheels. Basically, your brain will learn what muscles to use and when, to ensure that it’s keeping everyone happy.

But don’t give your body the chance to get used to a routine; instead, mix it up:

  • Change the intensity – work out for short, energetic bursts, followed by short rests (HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is perfect for this)
  • Change the duration – if you’re used to running on the treadmill for an hour and do nothing else in the gym, try a 30-minute spin class
  • Change the volume – if you’ve told yourself that you only work out twice a week, be a devil and add an extra cheeky class

In an ideal world, I’d aim for three sessions of different exercise a week; even the process of signing up to a new class will get your brain whirring and wondering what to expect. But remember, if you know that cardio is your passion, don’t ignore those hand weights sitting in the corner; by adding some strength training, you’ll kick that fitness plateau into the distance.

Community spirit is very much alive, as research has shown that a group activity pushes you to achieve more, while working out with likeminded individuals has huge benefits. So, make sure that you include at least one group workout a week – it will inspire and motivate you to dig deeper and push harder, plus so many friendships are made in the studio.
Give yourself a break, though, as exercise shouldn’t be a chore, and you need to make sure that you’re listening to your body.

Also, fit in your workouts at the best time for you – if you’ve got bounds of energy first thing, book into classes in the morning, but if you’re better later in the day when your work is done and dusted, sign up for a high-energy class to give yourself a boost in the evening.

And of course, the ultimate question – what would be the perfect mix of exercise? For me, it would be a combination of spin, boxing and Pilates:

  • Spin, because of the adrenaline-pumping endorphin rush that I get every time I finish a class. The atmosphere, music and lighting all add up to a fantastic calorie-blasting cardio session
  • Boxing, because what’s not to like about improving your total body strength by punching and hitting your way through an hour-long class?It’s a great stress reliever too!
  • And Pilates, because core strength and stability are key to a healthy, strong body. It protects your body from injury and back pain, and improves your sports performance. Think of it as your regular MOT for the body.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to see your exercise routine in a different light. Remember, you don’t have to be defi ned by one workout, and keep it fun – variety is the spice of life, as they say!

See you on the bike, in the ring and on the mat!

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