One of my biggest goals for 2019 was to get back into a proper exercise and fitness routine. I used to be a total gym-bunny, and loved working out at least 4 days a week as well as going to yoga. I did this for several years while I was at uni, and was on and off with my training as I entered the working world.
As I was travelling for a lot of last year (for several months at a time) I completely fell out of the habit of exercising properly and regularly – there was always something to do in a new place that was more important than doing some squats. In all honesty, I became really unhappy with my body. I am naturally chunky and can put weight on at a drop of a hat – thanks family genes(!), and while I know I’m never going to get the body of all those Insta girls, I know I can get my body to a place where I’m okay with it and take it to a place where it can do cool stuff like run a few miles and lift heavy things.
Here’s a look into where I’m currently at fitness-wise and what my routine looks like:
A lot of fitness professionals will tell you that strength training is some of the most important training you can do. And they’re right in almost all cases. I love a bit of weights – there’s something so satisfying about lifting heavier weights over time and seeing your muscle tone come through. While I can’t deadlift or squat heavy yet, I will do one day.
I love a go on the elliptical – I switch on a podcast and zone out of the world – but you need to make sure your cardio is worthwhile. If it’s easy, you’re not going to see any benefits from it. When I’m on the elliptical, I’ll warm up on a low resistance, but then I’ll dial it up to a level where I have to be conscious about my movements and can feel my muscles working. This is the same on the bike too. When I’m running (which admittedly, I’m not great at and I’m not a lover of…yet…) just the physical act of solidly running for a kilometre or two is enough for me to break a sweat – so bad, I know – but if you’re already a runner, try switching up speeds and gradients to make it more interesting and put your body to the test.
Personal Training Sessions
For one of my Christmas presents, my mum paid for a few personal training sessions with my instructor Hannah. She started off my just testing to see what I could do, and then has been giving me a session every fortnight to test out new techniques and exercises and track my progress. She also made me three programs to follow – one for upper body, one for lower body, and one for cardio and core – based on the exercises she’d taught me in our previous sessions. I now use these programs during my workouts, and add in new exercises that I’ve learnt and try new techniques along the way. I love having a PT – it gives me something to look forward to and I always feel like I’ve had the workout of my life afterwards. I leave dripping with sweat, my legs shaking and my heart thumping.
While I have always liked going to the gym, I’ve been dancing since I was little and is something that’s always made me so incredibly happy. My mum started classes at a local dance school and luckily for me, they had a few spaces in one of the adult evening classes. I now go pretty much every Thursday, and use it as a chance to practice both my ballet technique and give my entire body a work out – including my brain.
An Average Week
While every week differs depending on work, I usually have a plan that I was switch around depending on my calendar. Even though I do have rest days, I walk at least one of my dogs every day, so there’s always some light cardio (I also do this on my training days, but I don’t normally count that as my workout unless it’s a hard hike!). Here’s an example of what an average week would look like for me:
Monday – Upper body day + cardio (1.5 hour)
Tuesday – Walk the dogs + light stretching at home
Wednesday – Lower body day + cardio (1.5 hour)
Thursday – Ballet in the evening (1 hour)
Friday – Cardio + abs (1 hour)
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Cardio + (1 hour)
Tips & Tricks
Don’t know where to start at the gym, or feel overwhelmed going into the weights section? Don’t worry, I did too, and I’m still a little scared of the weights section. You don’t have to go straight into deadlifts and hardcore weights though, and just working on your technique with light weights to begin with will do you the world of good. Here’s a few tips and tricks that I’ve found along the way:
- Ask the staff at the gym: a lot of the staff there, even if they aren’t personal trainers, will know a lot about fitness and how to use all the equipment. When you sign up, make sure to book an induction, where they’ll show you how to use all the equipment and where to find everything. Some gyms even offer a complimentary PT session when you sign up!
- Try a class (or two, or three): while I’m not a lover of classes, except for yoga and ballet, they can be a great way to start getting fit without the pressure of navigating your way around a gym. The trainers will guide you through everything and will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Whether it’s pilates, body pump or
- Enjoy it: If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t go. Don’/t stick out something that you hate, otherwise you’ll be wasting your time. If you don’t like the gym, don’t go! If you don’t like pounding the pavements, don’t run! No one’s going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Well, actually, they will, but don’t listen to them. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and stick with it.
- Establish a routine: It’s all well and good going to the gym 6 times a week for a fortnight, but not if you’re then going to skip for the next month. When we start a new exercise program, it’s easy to get excited and go super hard at the beginning, only to find yourself getting less and less enthusiastic, before quitting a month in. When I started back up, I often only did three sessions on top of my PT hour. Four times a week was enough to ease me back into it, but not too much that I got tired of it.