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I trained with legendary British Olympic athletes to find out the secret to getting fit

3 MIN READ • 24th June 2024

Travel and wellness writer, Sarah Highfield, travelled to Turkey for a fitness retreat with iconic British Olympians and found out their top workout tips

With Olympics fever incoming and the world’s finest athletes soon to be gracing our screens, it could not be a better time to shake up our own fitness regimes. Want to know their secret to getting fit? I joined a group of iconic British Olympic athletes at the newly launched Anda Barut Hotel in Didim, Turkey, for a weekend of health, fitness, and wellbeing. Excitingly, all the big household names were there including Daley Thompson, Colin Jackson, Denise Lewis, Rebecca Adlington, Jamie Baulch and Paula Radcliffe

I must confess, in recent months, my own fitness regime has not been much to shout about, so I was eager to train with the athletes and perfectly positioned to grill them on easy and achievable ways to keep fit and healthy.

The Olympian secret to getting and staying fit

When faced with some of the world’s most decorated athletes, naturally I was full of questions. Importantly, I probed the athletes on how your everyday person who has a job, children, not much time, or all three of these, could sustainably keep fit and healthy.

Interestingly… they all told me the same two things:

  1. Little and often

Double Olympic decathlon champion, Daley Thompson, told me his top motto for exercise is: “Little and often.” Daley recommended: “Do a little each day and you will keep healthy.”

Exercising in small bursts consistently is far better than one long session, once in a blue moon. Training this way is effective for many reasons including making exercise easier to fit around your life and commitments, therefore ensuring you can maintain your fitness routine. 

What’s more, exercise boosts your brain health, mood, and sense of wellbeing; it also reduces your stress levels and lowers your blood pressure, thus receiving these exercise benefits more frequently is better for you. 

Finally, remember that all of your small exercise sessions add up to big gains towards your fitness and overall health.

  • Train with a companion

Olympic 400m silver medallist, Jamie Baulch, advised: “Training with a friend is a great way to stay motivated. Alternatively, exercising with a PT or someone similar who you can check-in with and will keep you accountable is also very helpful.”

All of the athletes agreed that training with a like-minded friend or family member makes exercise more enjoyable and easier to maintain. They recommended finding out which of your friends or family members are into keeping fit, and then train with them so that it becomes a social activity and it is easier to stick to. 

Olympic 110m hurdler silver medallist, Colin Jackson, added: “Finding a good training partner who is like-minded is the best way to keep accountable.  Train with someone who motivates you on days you have less energy and vice-versa.”

A few more fitness tips to keep in mind

Beyond being consistent and exercising with a companion, other motivational tips from the athletes included maintaining a healthy diet, recognising that fitness is part of your self-care routine, and making time for rest. 

Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, highlighted: “Keeping fit and maintaining your health should be a part of your self-care routine, so try to make it a priority and do something healthy each day.”

Th final secret to getting fit tip shared was to be flexible with your scheduling; life is busy, so do not feel guilty if you miss a session. 

Denise continued: “Like many women, I am very busy with both work and family.  I schedule exercise sessions in my calendar, but do not beat myself up if I miss or need to move them. Being flexible with my exercise makes it possible to fit in with my life and maintainable.”

About Sarah Highfield

Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is a travel and wellness writer. Follow her travels on Instagram: @SarahHighfield

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