Friday, 8 January 2016

How to look as if you've just left the gym without ever leaving home

How to get fit?  To get that 'I've just left the gym' look? How shall we count the ways? could invest in a high spec expensive treadmill.  You could sign up for a year's membership at your local gym/spa (ouch).  You could vow to go to your pay-as-you-go local gym.  You could go to classes with lots of people you don't know at your local town/village hall.  Each and every one of these will work.....if you can keep it up.  Many people don't.

Or you can find out how to get fit without ever leaving home.  This way, with a modicum of kit, you can work out when you want to, wearing what you want to, for as little time or as long as you want to and you'll never need to pay a baby sitter if you get the timing right. 
Read on....but if you can only have one piece of equipment go for the Hard Core Mini Gym flat resistance bands which you can use absolutely anywhere.  Don't be tempted by the cheaper kind, these are seriously excellent.  Just read the reviews.
But firstly you have to do these...

1.   Decide you really want to get fit.  The want, the desire is what you’re looking for first….. you caught sight of yourself in the mirror, you can’t fit into your favourite LBD any more, you feel sluggish and tired at the drop of a hat. 
It's drummed into us that we need exercise to stay healthy and there's no doubt that it makes you feel happier and better about yourself, but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day, there are too many other things going on.  Or you quite simply hate the idea.   
As someone who started working out regularly a few years back I can tell you that a) you don't have to allocate a huge amount of time and b) it's worth every second.  
2.   Realise that it’s a long haul.  Most of the people I know who have ‘gone for it’ in a huge burst after New Year have faded by the end of January.  You are far more likely to succeed if you start off gradually, see and feel the benefits, and then it’s the want to see more that will drive you on, and then you become addicted.  Trust me…..I know these things.

3.   Make a small investment.  Buy some weights, a fitness ball, a mat, some resistance bands

Hand WeightsPersonally I wouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you to use tins or bottles of water instead of weights – get the real thing.  I would suggest that you start at 1kg and go up to 4kg (and then up from there).  A set of weights will last you forever.  They’re reasonably priced at John Lewis, and you can get them (and the rest) from Amazon as well.  I would also avoid the ‘Dumbell Sets’ as they’re fiddly and you could easily lose one bit.  I prefer individual hand weights.

When you buy a fitness ball bear in mind your height and don’t just go for the largest size.  You can do loads of exercises using one of these, they’re good for your core and stability.  Do weights exercises on the ball and you’re working not just your arms but your core as well so it’s a win win.

One important point – whatever exercise you do with weights, or a resistance ball, you need to tighten your core.  Read this to see how to do it properly.  This will not only enable you to do all of your exercises properly, but will also help avoid back problems.

Here are some YouTube videos you could watch plus advice on how to choose the right size ball.

How to choose the right size fitness ball
How to work your core on a fitness ball
Weights on the fitness ball
Lower body exercises with a fitness ball

Resistance bands are also great for so many exercises, and most sets will come with instructions as to how to use them.  Resistance bands come in different strengths.  Start light, and the minute you find it easy move up to the next level.
There are two types of resistance bands.  The ones with handles and tubular bands which are very good for using at home, and flat resistance bands which, provided you get premium quality bands like the ones I've shown here, are just as good and, better still, you can take them anywhere with you. They fold up into a little zipped pouch and arrive with a card of exercise ideas.

There is other equipment I would follow on with, but key to start with are these.

4.  Buy some seriously good trainers.  Even though you may not be wearing these out to a gym, and may not go out running in them, having trainers that you like and enjoy wearing, rather than digging out an old pair (which probably won’t have enough support anyway) will give you far more motivation.  You can frequently find some very good prices particularly end of season, at John Lewis for a wide variety of running and workout shoes.

5.   Get going.  And finally, as I’m sure you’re thinking ‘well it’s all very well she recommends all of this kit but what am I supposed to do with it?’  There are two ways in which you can get going.

Firstly go down to your local gym just for a trial session - most gyms will give you a free training session. Take advantage of these.  You don’t have to join and they will show you how to use the equipment, particularly form for hand weights and using the ball.

Go for a short run to warm up if you can.  Not a sprint.  Not a power walk.  Just 10 minutes if you can.  One minute walking one minute running otherwise.  It’s a great way to start.  Use the stop watch on your phone.  Or walk up and down your stairs a few time to get your heart going.

Buy one (or more) of these tried and tested fitness dvds.  All of which are broken down into short segments so you can do ten minutes at a time. 

Pilates Perfect Body
Target Toning
Pilates on the Ball

When you want something more challenging try one of Jillian Michaels’ workout videos

And if you want to work on your bum get the Brazil Butt Lift Secret Weapon Workout.  This is one of America’s favourites and a 20 minute (including stretching) workout of non stop squats and lunges but made easier with the sliding discs.  If you get this one forget about using a towel to slide your foot on (!).  Get the gliding discs here.

I think it’s well worth having a selection of dvds so you can interchange.  Then you can also build up your own routine bearing in mind what you want to work on on any particular day. 

Get going and don’t give up.  It’s worth it.  And the beauty of working out at home is that you not only save loads of money, but time as well.   And if you have just these few pieces of equipment and some DVDs you can do whatever you're in the mood for, and you'll find you have hundreds of exercises to choose from.

Updated November 2015