New Year’s resolutions: how to maintain your fitness routine in 2020
Ask the experts: gym instructors from Barry’s Bootcamp, 1Rebel, Boom Cycle and Third Space on how to create achievable fitness goals and workout regimes in 2020
We interviewed instructors from four top gyms to find out…
What are the most common mistakes we make when setting ourselves fitness-related New Year resolutions?
For LJ Holmes, an instructor and personal trainer at boutique spin studio Boom Cycle, it comes down to being unrealistic and setting impossible expectations. 'Every year, I see so many people start January with all guns blazing when it comes to their fitness, only to crash and burn by February,' she reveals. 'Lasting results with fitness come with consistency. Sure, if you go on a crash diet and hit the gym six times a week, you probably will lose weight – but is that sustainable long term? Probably not.'
Lara McCab, a trainer at high-intensity studio 1Rebel, agrees. 'The key mistake people often make is setting goals that are too ambitious, or not setting an actual action plan,' she says. 'Understanding where we are and what we want to achieve in the coming year can really help us to set out goals.'
A spin class at Boom Cycle
'Whatever you do it has to be sustainable,' adds Sandy Macaskill, co-founder of Barry’s Bootcamp UK. 'It’s so easy to revert to your normal way of life if you try to change too much and do something too dramatic.'
For Seb James, a nutritionist and personal trainer at luxe gym chain Third Space, the problem is two-fold, and comes down to going it alone and going too hard too soon. 'The majority of people outsource specialist tasks – financial advice, medical advice, car repair – so why would they expect to be able to undergo something as complex as their health without seeking advice from an expert?' he asks.
How should we approach our ‘new year, new me’ fitness regime instead?
'Think about what you can realistically stick to for months instead of weeks,' suggests Holmes. 'If something can fit in with your existing routine, and is something you actually like doing, then it’s much more likely to become a habit rather than a fad,' she adds. 'For example, if you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness but find treadmill running boring and monotonous, why not try a cardio class like spinning or boxing, where the routines are varied? Finding something that you actually enjoy doing makes fitness feel a lot more accessible.'
For McCab, it’s about establishing a plan of action in advance. 'An action plan will make it a lot easier to stick to and will help you make the mindset shift needed to stick to changes in the long term,' she explains. 'It’s about knowing what goals are important to you and more importantly, why. We all have different reasons and aims as to why we work out, so make sure those reasons stay front and centre. Finding your "why" will help to find your will.'
Macaskill suggests that rather than setting yourself multiple aims and challenges, having just one goal, at first, will allow you to focus your intentions. 'Instead of trying to change everything at once – such as no booze, adopting a better diet and working out suddenly – pick one thing and go from there,' she says.
James, meanwhile, recommends working with a professional in the early days to help get you on track with your fitness goals. 'Having a fitness professional to help you through this whole journey not only gives you a support system but also a sounding board, and someone to change the approach if one way doesn’t work,' he says. 'Getting hold of a professional will also help you avoid adopting a restrictive lifestyle [over-exercising and under-eating] because they can advise you on realistic aims.'
How regularly should you work out if you've previously been doing very little exercise?
Macaskill, Holmes and McCab are all in agreement that when starting out or reestablishing an exercise routine, working out two or three times a week is plenty. 'One of the great aspects of a Barry’s class is you take it at your own pace, so three classes a week is not only completely achievable, you’ll start seeing a difference with both your physical and mental fitness quite quickly,' says Macaskill.
Meanwhile, McCab is convinced that the more you exercise, the more you’ll want to exercise – if you allow enough time for your body to recover properly. 'You’ll soon find yourself addicted to the burst of happiness and energy you feel after giving your all for 45 minutes,' she says, cautioning: 'It’s always been recommended that we do some activity daily but this doesn’t have to be another gym session. Active rest and taking care of yourself in all realms is vital as part of your new regime. Adjustments can take time and it’s not a race.'
A class at 1Rebel
Holmes, too, believes days off between workouts are essential at the beginning of your fitness journey. 'I’d recommend leaving a clear day of rest in between each session so, for example, training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to give the body a chance to fully recover and muscles to repair before the next session,' she says. 'Training while you’re still aching after your last workout can result in poor form, which can put you at risk of injury, not to mention not being able to work as hard because the muscles have not fully recovered.'
Once the post-class aches become less intense, and you feel like you can start to push yourself more in the sessions themselves, then I’d recommend taking it up to four times a week,' she adds. 'But still allow enough recovery in between sessions to really feel the benefits and improve your fitness.'
What should we be doing alongside exercise in order to stay healthy?
'Prioritise sleep and stay hydrated,' says Holmes. 'Fancy supplements and protein shakes are all well and good, but the really important things to get right are the basics – resting and drinking water,' she says. 'Your body actually gets stronger when you sleep, not when you train, so not getting enough quality sleep can really hold back making improvements to your fitness. Not drinking enough water can lead to muscle cramps, poor post-workout recovery, and lack of energy during the session, as cells need water to create energy.'
Running machines at Third Space
For McCab, adopting a good diet is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 'Eating right will aid body repair and deficiency replacement after a session,' she says. But while McCab also recommends protein shakes and magnesium supplements which are 'great for muscle repair', James is not convinced. 'In the grand scheme of things, supplements are low on the list of priorities,' he says. 'If you are worried about any possible deficiencies, pay a visit to a nutritionist who can run you through a nutrition and lifestyle analysis in order to seek out an appropriate course.'
Macaskill, meanwhile, advises keeping any dietary changes small at first. 'Don’t try to start doing loads of different things,' she says. 'Keep it simple, like having a protein shake after class.'
Which classes do the fitness instructors recommend for beginners?
Barry’s Bootcamp and Boom Cycle each specialise in a particular type of exercise – a ‘high-intensity interval workout’ and spin class respectively – which the instructors insist are accessible to everyone thanks to the fact you can take them at your own pace. But gyms like 1Rebel and Third Space offer a range of different classes, so which should you try?
'Personally, I love Rumble,' reveals McCab. 'It’s a full-body workout where you can learn a new skill and discipline. It really brings your focus to where your body’s at and what it needs,' she says. 'That said, all classes at 1Rebel give beginner inductions and modifications suitable for all. Finding the class you resonate with and enjoy most is going to help with the initial period.'
Over at Third Space, gym newbies can also take advantage of classes scaled back for beginners. 'The great thing about Third Space is that there are a whole host of classes,' says James. 'Start small with one of our high-intensity classes a week, like Sweat X, then throw in some medium-intensity classes like Lift, as well as some of our mind and body offering in the form of yoga or Pilates,' he advises. 'Sweat X combines both running intervals on treadmills and floor work, which can consist of lifting dumbbells or kettlebells under the instructor’s guidance, or a full circuit on one of our rigs. With time, you will get fitter, your effort will increase, you will run faster, lift heavier and look better every day.'