National Fitness Day comes but once a year! Its a chance to highlight the role fitness plays in our mental and physical wellbeing and raise awareness to encourage us all to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.
So - time to review your fit life, try something new or push yourself out of your comfort zone?
We asked the experts for their advice about approaching a new discipline:
“Smart training is key for those taking first steps. Don’t run before you can walk. My favourite saying is to get fit to run - as opposed to run to get fit. By this, I mean doing adequate run specific strength work to support the miles on road. Also start with gradual incremental increases in volume using the walk run approach.”
“As part of your warm-up, ensure you are hydrated, and well fuelled as a pre-requisite. If you are hungry or dehydrated this will seriously impact your performance and output on the bike.
Once on the bike, it’s important you listen to the instructor who will lead you through the warmup segment of the workout, it’s imperative you don’t burn yourself out from the get go and that you slowly get your blood flowing and start to visualise what you want to accomplish in the 45 mins (I find visualisation really works for me and many aspects of my life). This is the time to focus on posture and positioning on the bike, so you have a nice foundation for the rest of the session.
My advice on taking the class for the first time would be breathe, be present to the feeling, and have fun! Every time, it gets a little easier and remember that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Trust the process and the best part? It really works.”
“The one piece of advice I would give to someone new to my class is just be open to everything about the class from start to finish. I think as soon as we are out of our comfort zone, we do a position we don't recognise or we feel self conscious we begin to close off from everything but our inner monologue and then we watch the clock. This is when it's not fun anymore. If you can remain open minded even if you don't really think you’re getting it then your receptors are switched on and you'll learn something new each time you come and it will be fun.
If you can get to your mat at least 5 minutes before the class begins then focus on mobilising all the largest joints in the body through circular motions and oil them up before the amount of repetitions we are about to do and this will help to prevent injury. Have a moment to close your eyes and breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth to connect your mind and body, let go of the days tension and encourage deeper abdominal breathing rather than a shallow breath.”
“If you are coming from a road running and performance background the first thing I’d suggest is: leave your watch at home and just run easy. Develop a sense for adventure. Explore your local parks and woodlands, off the beaten track, or in this case of course: off road. If you want to give it a go by yourself first, the easiest way to transition is to run on the dirt tracks or grass in your local park, discovering off road without going into very long or technical runs just yet. Getting used to different terrain, literally finding your feet.
Then join a group, run community or friends and just enjoy being on the move outside. Let them show you great new places to run without needing to worry about routes, getting lost, getting back home or feeling anxious about running on your own out there. Bit by bit you build more confidence and strength, you learn to control your footing on more challenging terrain like mud, single tracks in forests, on rocks and so on. You might even start to fall in love with running hills.”
FITNESS AT HOME
“The personal trainer in me still comes out to say that following a programme remotely means that you probably haven’t been assessed first. My recommendation would always be to do a couple of sessions with a responsible expert who can check your movement, posture and ability and who can point you in the right direction for which tutorial videos or programmes will work for you.”
And finally, if fitness is totally new to you, a word on how to start your own journey towards a healthier lifestyle:
“Break it right down. Have a rule that if you want to come back home after 3 minutes running, you can. You never will, but its all about starting somewhere. Would advise against having huge goals (like running a marathon or climbing a mountain) yet. Just get regular exercise into your lifestyle. Find a way to accommodate it without derailing your whole life because that’s not sustainable. Running or cycling to/from work is a great way to weave exercise into your day. I loved doing barre classes all those years ago because they didn’t make me sweat, so I could go straight to work, or out in the evening with a quick change of clothes.”