Ease into exercise routine, gurus advise

Steven Oosthuizen, 27, from Richmond Hill uses the exercise equipment in St. Georges Park everyday to keep fit
Picture: Werner Hills

Make New Year’s resolutions attainable, and preferably with friends

If you make one fitness resolution for 2018, it should be to be gentle on yourself. This is the word from fitness gurus during a week when many people make ambitious but practically unattainable New Year’s promises to themselves.

Happy Body owner Tanya Wyatt said there were some really interesting new options for people who wanted to get fit this year.

“I think something like ballet fitness classes are really interesting. People are getting bored. The dance type exercises really engage people and has them using their brain as well.

“Exercises like these also benefit the brain by generating new neurons and keeping the brain younger.

“It is what pole-dancing does for me. You really have to focus. I think that is a huge benefit.”

She said it would also be a beneficial resolution to stop treating high fat, low carb as a diet and start treating it as a lifestyle.

“People had great success with this diet but many are ultra-strict about it.

“This is a recipe for disaster. It would be more gentle and easier to moderate and have some of the forbidden food some of the time.

“Speaking for myself, I would be very sad if I had to live in a world without cheesecake,” she said, laughing.

Wyatt said for someone who had never gone to gym before, suddenly wanting to go every day would not work. “Rather build up gradually.

“But more than anything, make a resolution to be gentle with yourself.”

Following a worldwide survey, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) predicted the following major trends in fitness:

  • A rise in the popularity of group workouts; ý Fitness for older people; ý More and different yoga classes. Some of the wackier of these trends include “goat yoga” and yoga inspired by penguins.

In its annual trend report, the ACSM quoted one recent study that showed those who worked out in a group benefited from lower stress levels and had bigger improvements in mental, physical and emotional quality of life than those who worked out alone, even though they worked out for twice as long.

Wyatt – who also conducts exercise classes for small groups – said she agreed that more and more people wanted to feel they were part of a community. “I see it in our classes.

“It creates camaraderie and accountability.

“It is this connectedness that brings them to class even if they don’t feel like it. So they don’t let their classmates down,” Wyatt said.

Virgin Active South Africa’s national product development manager Ceri Hannan said New Year’s resolutions were usually a “wild overreach” and as a result were abandoned before they really got going.

“Just get real and set yourself some oh-so-easily attainable goals for the year ahead on the journey towards being a healthier person.

“Just start with a few small steps and in 2019 you can take it up a notch with a more ambitious programme,” she said.

Hannan said there were some baby steps to take beforehand to help:

  • Note your weight. Don’t panic, this is not a message telling you to lose weight. Just note it. Step on the scale once a month and keep a record. Clear awareness of your weight will help motivate you to exercise more;
  • Start recording your steps every day with a wearable fitness device. Once you start counting, you won’t stop walking in the drive to reach the next 1 000 step level!
  • Take the stairs. A simple daily measure is to ignore the lift or the escalator and burn some calories on a short climb;
  • Stretch. Staying flexible is a key factor in good health;
  • Build a core. Breathe deeply. It seems rather basic but few of us breathe properly. Twice a day, focus entirely on your breathing for a couple of minutes.

Carika Young, who runs Young Yoga Studio in Walmer, said yoga was definitely a beneficial exercise to take up, even for children.

“We do yoga with children from three to 12. I teach it in a way that kids will understand. We tell stories and we have fun. We dance and play music and we go a bit crazy.”

Combining her yoga practice with a postgraduate degree in psychology, Young said she had incredible success with all children, including special needs kids.

“We also have classes for families. I even have one family of six who come here for a private yoga session.

“The changes we see are incredible. It changes core and balance. It helps kids cope with anxiety and stress. You can definitely see a difference. The children improve their focus.

“But mostly yoga helps all of us to focus on being our best,” she said.

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