Get FIIT, stay FIIT, look FIT: How I found my 'IIT'.
The hardest part about working out is showing up, am I right or am I right? Exercise – you either love it or hate or like me you love it once you get about 20 minutes into it. My very bumpy relationship with exercise remains just that to this day even when I don’t exercise for a while it is still a huge part of my life. Let me elaborate.
When I was young (from about 8 years old) I exercised every single day, it wasn't an unhealthy obsession or anything like that– my mum loved Tae Bo, the epic kickboxing and martial arts style workout created by Billy Blanks. She had every video and we both worked out with Billy every night – to me it wasn’t even exercise, it was fun and being introduced to it at such a young age set me up for life.
Things changed as I got older, an eating disorder (no it wasn’t because of exercise) and a hell of a lot of weight gain changed my relationship with exercise dramatically. Long story short I went from healthy workouts a few times a week to exercising 4 hours a day to then doing nothing for weeks. Now years later my love-hate situation with exercise has improved but the start-up is still hard. What I have learnt throughout my experiences is that exercise much like my taste for food - it changes. Cardio was always my workout – if I didn’t work out hard enough, sweat enough then I saw no point in doing it thankfully experiences and research has made me realise that cardio is not the only option out there.
Exercise is not what it used to be, no more is it women clad in leotards jumping on and off exercise boxes, working out in 2018 is anything but ordinary, from candle flow yoga class (you hold poses up to a minute and use props, like straps and blocks) with mood lighting. To Surfset Classic - a machine that looks like a real surfboard and wobbles as if on water and comes tricked out with bungees at its nose that allow you to "paddle" with resistance, whatever you’re into there is something for everyone.
It’s no surprise that one exercise class doesn’t fit all and it’s a mixture of different aspects that make a great work out and, in a world, where trends change as quickly as the weather exercise trends are no different. What’s on the agenda for 2018 I hear you ask? Well, I came across some interesting ones worth mentioning.
LIIT – the friendlier sister to HIIT – no it's not what you’re thinking - LIIT doesn’t stand for Long Island Ice Tea but Low-Intensity Interval Training, and it was one of the new summer fitness trends in the US, which means it’s now about to arrive here. LIIT training will still burn the same calories as a solid HIIT session but will take an extra 30-40 minutes to complete, and can be as easy as taking a walk. While there are still some high-intensity intervals it's nowhere near the HIIT version.
Virtual reality fitness - yes it's taking over the world! Think Matrix level of reality without having to leave your living room. The Omni by Virtuix is a 360° small treadmill that connects to a game and allows you to run, pivot, jump and crouch while wearing sneakers that interact with sensors on the treadmill.
Self – limiting movement – Despite the misleading name Self-Limiting Movement is designed to push your limits and strengthen you from the inside out. The basis of this fitness trend is to complete a combination of exercises which are almost impossible without the correct form, such as single-leg deadlift, goblet lunge and pull-ups. The aim is to improve skeletal and muscular posture so yes, it is bloody painful but oh so worth it for that supermodel walk and chiselled thighs.
Let’s not forget the aftercare – stretch and flex classes are becoming huge, experts say that to really keep the muscles lengthen you must hold stretches for at least a minute and never ever stretch without being warmed up first! There nothing like pulling a groin muscle. (Trust me I know) If you want to go fancy there’s cryotherapy and infrared saunas – not new but vastly improved. Infrared saunas work to detoxify, cleanse and heal the body using special infrared lighting that heats the body from the inside out. Cryotherapy, which works by surrounding the body with a super cold -150°C mist for 1-3 minutes. It works by decreasing cell growth (cellular metabolism), inflammation and pain whilst increasing cell survival.
My habits tend to be a bit simpler – ballet and barre class mixed with ballet/barre HIIT (notice a theme?) a couple times a week, pure cardio no longer does it for me, intense deep muscle work whilst wearing pretty pink ballet shoes is what feels good for me and its gone a long way in not only repairing the relationship with my body but also exercise itself. The benefits of exercise have long been said to improve conditions from depression to back pain as well as staying healthy. Some unexpected ones are Preventing cognitive decline - While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help protect the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45, working out regularly especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. Boosts brainpower - Those buff lab rats might be smarter than we think. Various studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance.
Relieve anxiety – the warm and fuzzy chemicals that are released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety disorders calm down. Exercise can reduce anxiety sensitivity. And you thought intervals were just a torture devise!
Ultimately what I’ve learnt and what I want to share with you is that when exercise is used in the right way it goes a long way in contributing to all-round wellness, it’s not about just burning calories and fat, it’s not a punishment for eating nor should it be a chore. Exercise is truly a state of mind.