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However, over the past month, the idea of getting fit for winter is appealing to me more and more. With Christmas and my birthday steadily approaching, I thought I set myself a challenge to improve my fitness, horary. Now, this may seem strange or bonkers since Christmas is the time to indulge and let go, but the idea of having more energy, glowing skin and knowing that you are preparing your body for the long winter ahead is very enticing. So, for the past six weeks, I’ve been working out more regularly, including being one of the 300 women to complete the Stylist’s Strong Women’s 22.5 km hill hike from Rickmansworth in north London to Elstree & Borehamwood.
Doing meditative yoga at Indaba Yoga Studio, a renowned yoga school in Marylebone to country walks in Surrey Hills. You name it, I’m doing it and I’m already feeling better. I’ve upped my FitOn’s bitesize workouts at home, which I squeeze in before work and during my lunch breaks.
So obviously, I was excited to attend the Balance Festival, the UK’s leading food, fitness and wellness festival, from 12th – 14th November. The event boasted a line-up of renowned gyms including Barry’s Bootcamp, Third Space, Virgin and F45.
I bravely attempted my first F45 workout back in September for the launch of the Old Street branch, and I have to admit it was tough. Since I’m always up for a challenge, I accepted the invitation to take part in another F45 class at the festival…gulp.
F45 aims to burn up to 750 calories per 45-minute session by combining functional training with circuit and HIIT (high-intensity interval training).
The 45-minute classes involve a mixture of weights and cardio exercises, which you do at the ten stations dotted around the studio and there’s barely any time to rest in between each one.
The workouts are repeated over four rounds and designed to provide a functional full-body workout while improving energy levels, metabolic rate, strength, and endurance.
A series of F45TVs are mounted on the front wall of the studios to provide an organised, station-by-station diagram for each workout.
The DJ was present playing tunes — thanks to Queen Bey — which motivated me to keep on going followed by shouts of encouragement from the trainers.
I was exhausted after the first round, but not one to give up, I continued feeling a sense of camaraderie with the others working up a sweat.
Completing the final lap was extremely rewarding, which was heightened by a round of applause and hi-fives from the enthusiastic trainers.
Australian Olympian, Morgan Mitchell who competes in the 800 metres, is an ambassador for F45 and an advocate for getting fit for winter.
“Working out releases serotonin, also known as the ‘happiness hormone’, which naturally boosts your mental wellbeing and is an obvious benefit. In addition, exercise allows you to set aside time from your busy day to purely focus on yourself and is an excellent form of self-care.
“Often during the winter, as the days are shorter and a lot colder, people’s moods tend to be a bit down, so regular exercise can really help to combat the winter blues.”
Let’s face it, as the weather turns colder, curling up on the sofa with a bunch of snacks watching Netflix or Amazon Prime is hard to turn down.
Cory George, who has been the face of F45 since 2017, encourages people to buddy-up with others.
“As people tend to become a bit of a recluse in the winter due to the cold, people can also find themselves feeling a bit lonelier, which is why I would always suggest working out in a group-training environment like F45 Training. The community spirit and super fun workouts motivate people to keep up with their training regimes even in the winter, and the motivation from the trainers keeps them accountable so they don’t skip a workout and miss out on those feel-good endorphins!”
He believes setting achievable goals for yourself is vital to stay motivated, which he implements in his everyday life.
“My first tip is to create a purpose and a system for your daily training sessions, this will drive your confidence, empowerment and autonomy. Secondly, if your goals are unrealistic, it will reduce your confidence, and at the same time, if your goals are too easy, it may diminish your motivation over time.
Cory praises exercise for giving him the time to ‘focus on himself’ and lead a healthier life.
“Lastly, build a strong social support network around you that supports your goals, keeps you accountable and builds camaraderie that gives you the mental focus to persevere. Reflect on your positive achievements both daily and weekly, as this will enhance your sense of self-accomplishment and keep you in a positive frame of mind, affirmation is key for self-motivation!
“Relying on external factors to sustain a positive lifestyle is impossible, as they are out of our control. Instead, it’s important to focus on what we can control as individuals and set ourselves goals to make positive changes for ourselves, without having external motivators, so we don’t get held back by seasonal changes.”
Unlike most gym workouts, F45’s classes do not involve a cooling down or stretching period. I forgot to do this when I got home that night, which would explain why I was in agony for days afterwards.
Anthony Oxford is a personal trainer and coach for Les Mills UK, and emphasises the importance of stretching to aid recovery.
“Stretching immediately allows the body to cool down and also helps the heartbeat to return to a normal state at a controlled length of time. Lactic acid is released during an intense workout and can be eased with stretching, allowing muscle recovery and repair to happen sooner as it promotes blood circulation to the muscles.”
Les Mills’ whose mission is to ‘improve the fitness of everyone on planet Earth’, recently collaborated with Pullman Hotel to infuse fitness into staycations and short breaks. The fitness company also partnered with Reebok to create fitness wear, which the Pullman x Les Mills partnership is part of.
Anthony, who is also the Pullman Fitness Squad Ambassador in the UK, recommends certain foods to help rehydrate and replenish vitamins lost, such as water, bananas, leafy greens, citrus fruits, tomatoes, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts.
He says: “Even if your cravings tell you otherwise as fatty foods are harder to digest ultimately slowing down the recovery process.
We all know that the cold weather can be a major turn-off, so Anthony advises people to adapt their training to be done at home or find things that can be done indoors.
He added: “More often than people would realise or expect but some of my best workouts and sessions as a participant or as a coach happen when I am at my worst and it all factors around discipline. One of my favourite quotes by John C. Maxwell is ‘Motivation gets you started and discipline keeps you consistent.’”
“The key is setting long-term goals and breaking them down into smaller goals, remembering to keep them realistic.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, we all have bad days, although any workout is a good workout and will have some positives to take from it.”
Roll on winter…
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