During the summer months, working out is a breeze – bike rides in the sunshine, long walks after work, and outdoor exercise classes. It’s bliss. So why, when nature starts to show the signs of autumn, do we retreat to the comfort of our sofas? Believe it or not, there’s a legit scientific reason behind our lack of energy: data shows that we’re lacking in vitamin D during the colder months (due to the absence of the sun), which we need to supply oxygen and deliver blood to our muscles, thus helping to build strength and combat fatigue. Eager to break this cycle? Refresh your exercise routine with this advice from our panel of experts.
1. Set realistic goals
Now that gyms have been given the green light to welcome members back, it can be tempting to go full throttle into your workout routine. James Griffiths, personal trainer and owner of Wild Training (wildtraining.co.uk), wants you to concentrate on what you can do now: “Focus on your physical abilities and train to improve them. If you’re improving your fitness levels, your body shape will change.” As well as harness physical benefits, your mind will love this approach. “It’s easy to go from zero to hero when you’re getting back into working out,” says Danielle Coleman, master trainer at P.volve (pvolve.com). “However, if you ease back into working out, your body won’t be left feeling sore, and your mind can readjust to having more movement in your day-to-day life.”
2. Choose a workout you love
Life is too short to do burpee tuck jumps or bicep curls just because it suits other people. “You wouldn’t catch me in a Crossfit gym because it’s not a style of training I enjoy,” Aimee Long, personal trainer and founder of Beautiful Body Method (@aimeevictorialong), confesses. “So I find something I love which I can stick to.” The secret to this might be outside of the gym walls. “Rock climbing, mountain biking and SUP boarding are some of the fastest-growing sports out there,” says James. “Try a new activity, garner results, and you will discover that having fun with your fitness is all the motivation you need.” Find out why our Final Say star, Deliciously Ella, only focuses on the activities that she really enjoys on page 114.
3. Think of new goals
There’s a reason why former cover star Joe Wicks (AKA The Body Coach) calls scales ‘the sad step’! Though it’s hard not to focus on the numbers, David Weiner, training specialist at Freeletics (freeletics.com), says that doing so could leave us feeling disappointed if we don’t reach a certain weight or size. “A big reason we stop exercising is because we’re not seeing results on the scales, but this isn’t the only way to measure our achievements.” The best way to start? “Begin by changing your mindset – focus on how exercise makes you feel. It’s one of the best ways to get your daily dose of serotonin and can have great effects on your stress levels.”
4. Reward yourself
Don’t get us wrong, planning your workouts is really important to ensuring you stick to a new routine. Take Chris’ method, for example, Barry’s London trainer (barrys.com) and SIXPAD ambassador – he’s a firm believer in the old saying ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’. “I book all the classes I’m going to do for the week on a Sunday afternoon and then it’s locked in,” he adds. To avoid putting off your sweat session, Aimee suggests using indulgent incentives to help strengthen your love for exercise. “Schedule in days off where you can go out for your favourite meal, enjoy a hobby or see friends and family. When your training starts to become a bit of a chore you will start to resent it, so it’s always nice to reward yourself for how far you have come.”
5. Filter your content
Social media platforms have a clever way of tailoring your explore page to the reveal posts they think you’ll like. You might not think that the people you see virtually can affect your relationship with exercise, let alone your mental health, so pay attention to the accounts you follow. “Find accounts and content that inspire you to have a healthy and realistic relationship with your body,” says Danielle. Two of our favourite accounts for body positivity are @effyourbeautystandards and @pandorapaloma_.
6. Create good habits
Exercise is just one cog on the machine that makes up your healthy lifestyle. “Good sleep, healthy food and hydration are just a small number of a long list of good habits that all culminate in a healthy lifestyle,” explains Chris. He stresses the importance of having a good routine and the need for consistency in order to achieve this. “Having a good routine breeds healthy habits and getting into that positive cycle makes you want more good things for yourself, helping other parts of your life fall into place.”
7. Grab a workout buddy
Whether it’s a long journey, Netflix marathon or spa weekend, some things are better done with a friend. The same goes for working out, and this is a great way to get back into your regular routine. “Friends can bring new ideas to the table, make exercise more enjoyable and motivate you to keep up the good work,” says David. “Plus, they provide you with the chance to socialise while you burn calories.” Your colleagues can be a source of inspiration, too. We’ve all got a colleague who’s done a workout before turning on their computer, and pairing up with them could be a good option if you’re tight on time after work. “You might not be working out from the office together right now but you could meet up for a class, or even a run round the park,” suggests Chris. “As for the colleague who’s in the pub every afternoon straight from work – avoid that person, at least until Friday!” Weights first, then wine. Noted.