We often go for the traditional approach to exercise and stick to the tried and tested methods. We jog, run, cycle, weight train and so on, but have you ever thought of trying something new?
Fitness crazes are something we are used to seeing come and go because people can’t help but invent new ways to do things. A lot of sports just modify themselves slightly and create a craze that sticks. Spinning, for example, has become a massive hit and a great way to keep fit.
So what else is there as an alternative for those who want to shape it up?
Hula hooping is a great way to get fit as it raises your heart rate, improves your cardiovascular performance, and will strengthen and tone your core, arms, legs, and back. If you'd like to know more about hula hooping, check out our ambassador Emma Barrett who does hula hooping full-time!
Pole fitness classes have gained a lot of popularity recently as a new way to get in shape. They are a fun and social way of getting fit as well as strong as it is very hard work! Pole fitness will improve your balance and coordination as well as your cardiovascular fitness and it's a great way to spend the evening with your friends. Pole fitness is suitable for both men and women.
If normal yoga isn't enough for you, then you may want to try aerial yoga. By supporting your body weight on an aerial sling, you will be able to achieve yoga poses and deep stretches in a more relaxed way. One of the primary features of using a yoga hammock is its ability to take pressure off the spine and joints as you practice stretches and positions with the support of the sling.
Ballet dancing is classically a great way to keep in shape but it takes a lot of discipline and a lifetime of practice. A ballet barre is a straight bar attached to the wall which ballerinas use to support them while they practice and hold demanding isometric movements. Isometric holds are exercises that you do while not moving (think of the plank.) A modern barre workout is one that has been adapted to suit modern gyms and uses weights and yoga poses to help you achieve a better posture and more toned physique.
Trampolining is another gym-based workout that is gaining a lot of popularity. Using mini-trampettes, these classes are high intensity and fast-paced meaning you are bound to work up a sweat! This is a fairly specialised workout so your local commercial gym may not offer it, but if you go on the look out you will be able to find a gym nearby that offers this type of class. Check out this video of a trampolining class in action!
Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable and it is worth exploring some alternatives whenever you can. The body gets used to the same type of training very quickly, so if you do the same thing at the gym every day you will stop noticing any changes in your fitness and physique.
Have you set yourself a New Year's Resolution?
Sundried conducted a survey with a reach of 4,000 people and found that 43% of people expect to give up their goal after just one month.
Research shows that 95% of New Year's Resolutions are fitness related, but after just 3 months, only 10% of people think their resolution will last.
So why do we give up so easily and how can we make sure our goals not only last, but are met?
10 Reasons we give up on our New Year’s Resolutions
1. Going Solo
Many of us set our fitness goals and then try to achieve them alone. We won’t tell anyone what we’re working towards in fear of failure. In fact, we need to think more - strength in numbers, by sharing our goals with others we are more likely to succeed for two reasons.
- You have someone to answer to. Sharing a goal suggests you’re truly serious about wanting to make it happen, as you wouldn’t want to be seen as a failure.
- A problem shared is a problem halved - training with someone towards your goal, be it a friend or a PT adds twice the motivation and can help to ensure you don’t let yourself, or your partner down.
2. Too High Expectations
It’s important to set a New Year's Resolution which is realistic, you can’t be expecting a Christmas miracle to conquer your New Year’s resolution for you. If you want to lose weight, put a number on it that's achievable, rather than leaving it open-ended or expecting the world in just a few months. You can do this by truly analysing your goal, taking a good hard look at yourself and weighing up whether your fitness goal is realistic. It may mean downsizing your goal for now, but keeping it as a goal to work towards in the future, as part of your bigger picture.
3. Giving up too easily
January is a tough old month, it’s cold, it’s dark, everyone’s got hangovers and it's another 11 months before next Christmas, talk about January blues...because of this, it seems to take less of an excuse for us to give up on our goals. We need to hang on in there! Having a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals once the excitement wears off can help you to stay focused. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you're far more likely to set and achieve another because you know you really can do it, you’ve proved it!
4. Not Enough Time
As with any goal, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make it work and so for many fitness goals, this can be the reason we fail. Setting slots in advance for exercise or breaking routines into 5-minute goals and targets can help to knock your goal down into more manageable time frames. Fitness doesn’t take hours and hours, it just takes good planning. For example, we created EHOH, every hour on the hour, where we exercise for a few minutes at a time to combat the negative effects of having a sedentary office job. Prioritise your goal as of importance to you and you’re sure to find time to work at it.
5. Not Enough Money
A new goal usually comes at a cost, whether it’s a new gym membership or new kit, money can be a deciding factor in you achieving your goal. Whilst sometimes the initial start up, ie. buying the kit and joining a gym, does cost a lot, you can take advantage of January deals and you have to see it as an investment in yourself. Choose activewear which is designed to last in the long run to save money down the line. Paying for a gym membership to help you achieve your goal can also work as extra motivation to make sure you get there, as nobody likes to waste money!
6. No Plan
A man who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. This is a saying I stand by 100%, if I don’t have prepped meals I’ll snack off plan, or starve and binge, neither are great. If you set off on a journey you’d never been on before without a sat nav, how would you make it without checking the route in advance? Planning and preparation prevents a poor performance. Whilst you can hire a Personal Trainer to work as your ‘sat nav’ guiding you to fitness, or so to speak, you’ll still need to plan when you’re going to train with them. A goal without a plan is just a wish, you need to put your words into actions to achieve your goal.
7. No Motivation
Motivation might be what gets your started, but it fades so you need to use that initial motivation to create habits that will keep your goal continuing to happen, even once the initial buzz is a thing of the past.
8. No Self-Belief
Sometimes we could really do with someone reminding us there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’. This is a big contender when it comes to fitness goals, as you have to believe you can do it to really try. We also don’t compliment ourselves enough for the progress we make along the way even if we haven’t hit our goal, if progress has been made, it should be appreciated and proves that it can be done. Don’t think you can do it? Prove yourself wrong!
9. Social Situations
Ooo go on just one more, and one turned into four. Over Christmas the chances are you’ve had a fair few social situations where you’ve promised yourself you won’t drink, you’ll pick the salad or you’ll call it a night before midnight and then comes 3am and you’re drunk singing with a kebab in your hand. We’ve all been there and in the most part - you can blame your friends. Peer pressure is a huge factor in breaking your resolutions, because nobody wants to feel left out and social situations at this time of year in particular always revolve around drinking and eating far more than we should. Instead of turning into a social recluse, why not manage your social events, pick healthy options and drive - that way you have your excuse for not drinking.
10. You Forget
You made your resolution drunk at 12.01am New Year's day and woke up on January the second completely oblivious. Perhaps a drunken resolution is destined to fail.
“Celebrate being overweight? Have I read that right?”
Yes, indeed you have. It is not every day when you can celebrate being overweight. In fact, you may not think it is ever appropriate. But you would if, like 61.7% of adults in the UK, you started with a BMI classified as obese.
Recruit X was part of that statistic. On November 15th 2015 he had a dangerously high visceral fat level of 14. That level of fat around your organs can cause a multitude of health complications, from diabetes to liver dysfunction. Recruit X also weighed 106.8 kg, classing his BMI as obese.
Recruit X decided it was time to make a change. With the help of Sundried and a dedicated attitude towards his new fitness regime, in just over 4 weeks, we are celebrating. Recruit X moved out of the obese BMI bracket to the overweight bracket.
That’s not to say it was an easy journey. Credit where credit's due, when we started just over 4 weeks ago, Recruit X found it a struggle to run 2km. He suffered from very laboured breathing and had to slow down continuously, but he did not give up. A challenge was set 1 month from starting off the Cliff Lift Steps in Southend. (If you are in Southend the Cliff Lift Steps is a great challenge). 10 Flights until freedom, it’s a tough route to climb; we knew an increase in effort was required. Recruit X gave it all he’d got
So just after 4 weeks, Recruit X had lost 10kg, moved down an entire BMI bracket, knocked his visceral fat from 14 to 11, and started to find his training easier. Everything is looking up (or down depending on how you look at it!).
Unfortunately we have chucked Christmas into the mix and the next run will determine how many steps backwards we are looking at, but we like a challenge!
We are forever being told to get fit. Once we get fit, stay fit. Once we stay fit, stay fit a little longer. The journey to fitness is never-ending, so thank goodness neither is Sundried’s motivation to keep you inspired!
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question has surely passed most people's lips at some point, if not your lips then it’s probably at least crossed your mind. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, it’s in our nature, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can however predict general patterns, though it is important to consider everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Typically rather than “fit” I look for results, as fit is (in the most part) subjective. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it take a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s your diet or training. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. #Fitspo posts everywhere will have you believe that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
Try to find a way of measuring your fitness to keep you going along the way. There are two main ways you can measure your fitness, V02 max or time trials for particular exercises. The type of test you opt for will depend greatly on what facilities you have available to you and what your goal is.
Testing VO2 Max
Your V02 max is how much Oxygen your body can uptake during exercise.
Alternatively smart watches such as the Forerunner 235 calculate your V02 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. See our review of its
Wattbike also calculate your v02 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test v02 max, as they are accessible to all. Example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise such as burpees in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, The director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, in highly-trained athletes, V02 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
V02 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a use it or lose it scenario.
Blair and his team of scientist posed the question “Can you be fit and fat?”. For eight years Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body-composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than did unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
This leads us nicely onto my next question… what is fit?
What is Fit?
According to google:
Fit - Adjective - In good health, especially because of regular physical exercise.
Whilst over on The Urban Dictionary, it’s “The British version of Hot. "Dude that girl is fit!".
For all our sakes, let's explore the first definition shall we?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems.
Any activity which increases your heart rate for a lengthy duration of time will help to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardiorespiratory endurance in a number of ways, the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time, additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardiorespiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight, against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength, luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long can you keep going before your muscle tire.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Body composition is another measure used to judge fitness levels, although as you’ve read above (link to can you be fit and fat). Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make you, you. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate around BMI as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat.
The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long tedious process and for 9/10 of us unaccessible.
Whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it gives the user a good idea of their body make up.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons.
Flexibility is increased by various activities, all designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilized to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and bouncing. Some bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit” focus on any of the areas above which are weaker, we have a tendency to focus on what we’re good at, simply because things are more enjoyable when you are good at them, however to get the highest levels of fitness you need to practise on the areas where you weakest.
Unless you are already strong in all these areas… then you must be Superman.
If you work in The City and you have a 60-minute lunch break, you can squeeze in a 30-minute run and still have time to eat lunch if you are efficient in your planning and schedule. It may mean you end up running on cobbles or in your work carpark, but using your environment can add new challenges to your running. If you can sign up a colleague to join you then it may double your chances of ‘getting out there’. The chances are you are not alone in wanting to break up the daily grind with a bit of physical activity. You will end up feeling energised and ready to take on the afternoon’s activities.
The benefits of group running are massive. Having a running partner gives you automatic accountability. If you know a friend is waiting for you in the morning, you are much more likely to get up and go, rather than stay in your warm bed. It doesn't stop there either. A partner can stop you from losing pace or shortening your workout.
Peer pressure is usually something we are taught to avoid. Yet in this sort of situation, positive peer pressure can have additional benefits. When you run with others you put more effort in, meaning you push yourself a little harder. You hit a new pace in a group without even realising it. Running in pairs or a group can also give you access to different techniques through sharing knowledge.
Most runners begin as solo runners because the fear of running with other people can be overwhelming. They may feel intimidated by the ability of the group versus their own. If you are thinking about it, start small. Pair up with a friend who is also just starting out (or at the same level) to start with. Talk to each other about what you want and what your comfortable pace is. If they run at a different speed to you, work out something that works for you both.
It is all about striking a balance. There are advantages to running alone, and the same is to be said for group running. And in reality, it makes sense to do both. If you are slower, partnering with some one who is faster will help you increase your pace. Just as a group runner, can break away from a group to achieve their own goals.
Joining a group isn't something to fear, but something to aspire too. You will make new friends, increase your speed and improve your technique.