We all know that regular exercise in combination with a healthy, balanced diet, is one of the best ways to improve our body shape aid weight loss management. However, to maintain motivation to keep fit during the cold winter months is sometimes difficult; the key here is to find something that you enjoy. You don’t necessarily have to drag yourself to the gym, as in London there is an array of fitness options for all abilities that can actually be fun too…
British Military Fitness – Photograph by Lee Haywood
British Military Fitness (BMF): Yes, the name sounds serious and a bit scary, but this is the ultimate winter workout that will leave you with an endorphin-enriched feeling of smugness! Come wind, rain, snow, hail or shine, BMF is happening in a London park near you. Suitable for all abilities, participants are given different coloured bibs according to ability (blue=beginner, red=intermediate, green=fitness fanatic) and pushed to their peak by instructors who are serving, or former members of the armed forces. In essence, BMF is circuit training: an endless (1 hour!) cycle of sprints, press-ups, squat-thrusts, etc, focusing on cardiovascular fitness with core strength and upper body work. Tempted? You can give BMF a go for free. Simply go to the website to sign up for your free introductory session. Like many others, you may soon become hooked.
Zumba – Photograph by Gauri Ma
Zumba (Spanish slang for “to move fast and have fun”) is an aerobic fitness programme created in Colombia in the 1990s by Miami-based dancer and choreographer Beto Perez. It has now become a huge phenomenon worldwide, and is taught by some 20,000 instructors in 35 countries. The Zumba programme combines the following dance styles: Cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, cha-cha-cha, Reggaeton, samba, belly dancing, Bhangra, hip-hop and tango. Combining Latin and international music with dance, Zumba provides a full body workout, using every major muscle group in the body. There are classes going on daily all over London, you just need to ask in your local gym for details.
Looking for something a bit different, pole dancing is another craze that has hit the London exercise scene. Pole dancing training can improve posture, coordination and flexibility, build upper body strength, and help tone the waist and thighs! Fantastic for calorie-burning and to keep you on track of your weight loss management goals. During a typical pole dancing lesson, a beginner can expect to burn between 290 and 400 calories an hour. There are classes all over London – see the Poledancing School website for details.
Korfball – Photograph by Peter Power
More of a fan of team sports, and want to try something new? Korfball is an exciting mixed team sport, suitable for all ages and fitness abilities. The game can be described as a mix between basketball and netball, and is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. A korfball team consists of four men and four women. The game is set up so that there is no advantage to being male or female, tall or short, stocky or slim – all that matters is your ability to co-operate with your teammates to get through the opposition’s defence. Korfball can be played from beginner level just for fun, up to national league level. See the London Korfball Association website for details of clubs.
Diet Tips For Exercise
It is extremely important when you exercise regularly to eat well, and our diet delivery programmes are specifically tailored to your individual training needs. It is important to eat before exercise to ensure there are sufficient glycogen (fuel) stores in the muscles. However, the food must be fully digested before exercise begins. As a guideline follow the below tips:
- 1 hour before exercise – liquid or easily digestible solids e.g. vegetable juices, fresh fruit
- 2-3 hours before exercise – light snack e.g. bread, fruit, yoghurt, soup
- 3-4 hours before exercise – light meal
- Avoid fatty foods before exercise as these can be difficult to digest, causing abdominal discomfort
- Aim to eat a meal within 1-2 hours after exercise, to replenish glycogen stores and to give your body a source of protein for muscle repair. This meal should combine lean protein (such as chicken, fish, egg or pulses) with complex carbohydrates (such as wholegrain brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats) and vegetables.
- If a meal is not possible, consume a small snack, consisting of carbohydrate and protein, within 30 minutes of exercise. Ideas include:
- Fresh fruit with nuts/cheese/yoghurt
- Boiled egg with wholegrain crackers
- Hummus with oatcakes
- Fruit smoothie with yoghurt and oats
- Sliced fruit dipped in nut butter
- Stay well hydrated before, during and after exercise!
Have you tried any exercise classes we have mentioned above or any that you think we should try that are a bit different? We would love to know so please leave your comments below.