Keeping Fit With HIIT

In my last post I talked about my recent experiences with ballet fitness. The exercise which I’ve been doing a lot more of recently though is HIIT – high intensity interval training. HIIT is basically alternating really intense aerobic exercises with less intense recovery periods. It’s a more efficient way of exercising than running on a treadmill for example. One of the other benefits is that you can also burn calories for hours afterwards. 

I’m not overweight by anybody’s standards but I’ve been making an effort to ‘tone up’ and to incease my overall fitness level. At first I found it quite difficult but I quickly began to really enjoy the challenges of trying to attain my fitness goals. As I’ve mentioned before when talking about fitness, I don’t like gyms. They’re expensive and not always convenient to get to and dare I say it – I feel slightly foolish working out in front of other people! I don’t really know why but I just prefer to do it alone. I can’t even work out when my husband is at home and I wait until he has gone out to work! So instead of the gym, I’ve been working out with my trusty fitness app on my smart TV with a wonderful personal trainer called Leigh Linton. Leigh is incredibly fit and has a great personality that really motivates and inspires you to work hard and keep up with her. 

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I will get abs…

So my main goals at the moment are increasing fitness, body toning, a little bit of weight loss and if possible, maybe even get my abs back! A high intensity workout begins with an aerobic warmup with activities such as jogging – this is so important for getting your muscles ready for your forthcoming workout and for increasing your heart rate. Some of the exercises I’ve been doing include bicep and hamstring curls, hamstring bridges, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, press ups and tuck jumps. Variety is key. Exercises that are great for working and toning your abs include bicycle crunches as well as the normal crunches, deadbugs, sit ups and v sits. If you have a flat bum and want to tone that up, good exercises include lunges and jumping lunges, plies and squats. Another thing that many of us hate is the dreaded ‘bingo wings’ – tricep dips are a great exercise for toning them up. 

Burpees are a fantastic exercise for building strength and working loads of different muscle groups (a compound exercise) – they are really hard when you first begin but they do get easier as you increase your strength. You can also incorporate press ups into them. Another exercise that has gained notoriety is the plank which is great for building strength in your back and core. Variations you can do include one arm planks, one legged planks, side planks and ‘travelling’ in plank position.  

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Side planking

As well as warming up, at the end of a HIIT workout it’s important to stretch out your muscles and allow your heart rate to slow down. I’ve been mixing HIIT with slower, gentler exercise such as yoga and I’ve really been reaping the benefits. I sleep a lot better, have a lot more energy both physically and mentally and feel a lot more awake and alert. I use social media a lot and I see so many people that seem sceptical about fitness and working out and I think that’s a real shame. If you stick with it, push yourself and rise to the challenges, not only is it good for you but it is incredibly satisfying. If you’re like me and enjoy fitness, here’s a quote to help motivate you – ‘sweating is just your body crying fat’. I don’t know who originally said it but I think it’s great! 

Until next time, stay beautiful (and fit) x

Keeping Fit With Ballet

In recent years, there’s been quite a few different fitness crazes that myself and my friends have taken part in – spinning, zumba and pole fitness to name a few. But one which none of us (to my knowledge) have tried is ballet. Maybe some of us took classes when we were children but I don’t know anyone who has tried it again as an adult. I have a smart TV which has apps on it (just like a tablet or smartphone) and there are a number of apps which offer fitness classes with personal trainers which you can complete at home, most of which are of an excellent standard and offer a great way to keep fit if you don’t have time or just don’t want to take classes at a gym. 

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The traditional image of a ballerina. Ballet is now growing in popularity as an exercise that can be enjoyed by all

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of high intensity interval training which is a lot of fun but hard work! So I went scrolling through my fitness instructor app looking for an alternative and I came across a series of classes called ‘Ballet Tec’. As the name suggests, they are workouts inspired by ballet movements. I’ve tried dance based fitness classes in the past but I’ve struggled with some of them (I always end up getting completely out of time!) But ballet workouts are slower paced and consist of wonderfully named moves such as adages, beats, degages, grand battements, plies, port de bras, retires and barre work (at home you can use a dining chair). You also learn the basic positions which some of you may already be familiar with. I’ve also been practising conditioning exercises used by ballerinas.  

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Proving you can do ballet anywhere! 

As someone who has been practising more intense fitness recently, ballet has been a nice change. It is far slower paced than what I’m used to but still offers challenges. I have a fairly good level of general fitness but even I found some of the elements tricky, particularly the ones which require balance. Regular ballet would certainly improve this. A beautifully graceful form of exercise, as well as improving your balance, ballet can also help to develop your flexibility, posture, agility and coordination. Ballerinas are known for their long, lean muscles – a physique which many aspire to have so I can certainly see the appeal. It can also help to improve the strength of your core. 

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Regular ballet practice can improve your flexibility

Exercises such as ballet, yoga and pilates are also great at improving the connection between your mind and body. I find that when performing slower, more deliberate exercise, I tend to think a bit more about what I’m actually doing with my body than I do with more explosive exercise. The other good thing about ballet is that is doesn’t leave you looking like a sweaty racehorse at the end which is usually what my fitness regimen does to me! It’s suitable for young and old and you don’t need special clothing either, socks or bare feet are fine for a ballet workout. 

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Pointe shoes are not necessary for a ballet workout

I think for me personally, ballet on it’s own isn’t enough to push me physically and to achieve results quickly. But I think combined with other exercise, it’s a nice addition to any fitness programme. I think of exercise like food. To get the maximum benefits, it’s good to enjoy a variety. Any way of getting people up and moving though is good so if you’re new to fitness and would like to start off with something a little slower paced that will still work your muscles, then an adult beginner’s ballet class I think is definitely something worth looking in to. 

Adult ballet classes have been growing in popularity in recent years so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding one if you would like to go to a class with others. Otherwise, search on YouTube as there are beginner’s classes available to follow on there which you can do at home. Try it for yourself. 

Until next time, stay beautiful x

Keeping Fit At Home

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Gym balls are an affordable piece of equipment you can use at home

Many of us are guilty of having a spare room in our home which is quite frankly, used for junk. Boxes full of books that will never be read again, paperwork which should have been burnt years ago, towering piles of unwanted Christmas presents…is this a good use of space? No. My husband and I have two spare rooms, neither of which is used as a bedroom. One of the rooms is, I must confess, still a junk room (although the ‘junk’ I refer to I would rather call ‘stock’ as it is awaiting a forthcoming car boot sale). However, we are in the process of turning the other room into a gym.

Gym memberships are the norm for a lot of people nowadays. Having other people around you when you work out can serve as a motivation and many people enjoy the social interaction of meeting others at the gym. I however, prefer to work out alone. Despite the fact we are all there for the same reason, I cannot help but feel a little bit self conscious and inhibited when I enter a gym. And I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Hence the beauty of having a work out area in your home. Our home gym was originally conceived as a small double bedroom. In it, we currently have an exercise bike, stepping machine, cross trainer, twist board and weight rack. Despite the room’s small proportions, all of the equipment fits comfortably and in the future we aim to add more to it.

Compact, inexpensive fitness equipment is easily available so having a gym in your own home needn’t be the preserve of the wealthy or those with a large home. Even if you prefer a public gym, the benefits of having a gym or fitness area in your home are certainly worth considering. Sometimes we just don’t have the time or inclination to visit the gym but if you have the equipment you need at home, there is no excuse to skip your workout.

Now, where are my weights…