Tis the silly season for exercise, but why not try something new this year? Sustainable training approaches.
The days are getting longer and the occasional sunny day brightens our mood, bringing us out of our winter hibernation. The fitness industry loves this time of year, and rubs its hands in glee at the anticipated annual tradition of new clientele signing up for memberships, inspired by the weather and the lure of the beach over summer. However, the motivation for this is sadly driven by our culture’s obsession with weight and looks, and people start exercising to try to change the way they look instead of exercising to enhance their health and wellbeing for the long term.
I remember my very first job in a gym nearly 20 (eek!) years ago and we would be swamped every spring by people signing up in droves, hoping to transform their bodies. There was a constant theme, the goals were always “to tone up” or lose weight, sadly, rarely to get fit or to feel better. All too often, the new client would eagerly come to the gym 5-6 days a week for a fortnight, then inevitably, this would drop to 3-4 days a week for the next couple of weeks, then once a fortnight, then not at all. The fitness industry knows this, and fitness businesses are experts at exploiting people’s penchant for short term fixes. Short term 8-12 week programmes that promise the world appear every spring, selling typical dreams of fitness or fat loss or the bikini body that so few bodies are actually genetically able to safely maintain in the long term, healthily.
So I would like to suggest an alternative plan for you this spring. If you are someone who tends to exercise less in winter, and find that you usually start new and exciting exercise adventures each year before summer, striving for that elusive new and improved body, please consider this: you will feel healthier, have more energy, sleep better, be stronger & fitter with a little bit of regular exercise in your week. What I mean by this is a gradual approach, doing the amount and type of exercise that you can continue to do throughout spring, summer, autumn and maybe even winter! Revolutionary.
If you’ve had a break from exercise over winter, is a high intensity, shock to the system type of training really a good idea? Our enthusiasm to get fit quickly is often at a mismatch with our level of physical conditioning after time off over winter. You might be keen and motivated, but muscles need to be eased back into movement over several weeks. Otherwise you can pull up super sore for days afterward, which can put a dampener on someone wanting to continue, and can be a contributing factor for people dropping out of exercise. The cycle of exercise/no exercise then persists, and this can exacerbate negative relationships someone can have with their body and exercise, with feelings of guilt, shame & hopelessness an unfortunate yet preventable outcome.
The gradual, sustainable approach to exercise isn’t sexy marketing, and there is no promise of a new bikini body. However, a slow, gradual approach to a new exercise programme is more effective and sustainable. You should also be gently guided by well trained, ethical fitness professionals who actually want to help you improve your health and not just make money out of you exercising briefly each year.
The team of university trained, highly educated Performance Coaches at Absolute Health & Performance will work with you, creating a unique, safe and appropriate training approach that fits in with your lifestyle and commitments. We understand that life is busy and full, so we will help you to find a sustainable way to introduce and maintain some physical activity in your world, whatever your long term goals are, and regardless of the time of year.
Written by Performance Coach Liz Hewett