Training in 2023 will be Hybrid

Pre Covid not many gym goers seriously thought about training at home.

Things like Les Mills on Demand and Peloton existed of course, but by and large people had physical gym memberships and went to gyms and classes week on week. The home based apps were considered by many an ‘added’ extra to a workout routine.

Lockdown changed that. We had little choice during that time to embrace online classes, training at home or outdoors and many people invested in fitness equipment.

For some of us it was only really a means to an end. I found training at home (beyond running which I did anyway) hard in terms of space and also in terms of maintaining focus. Some people found it liberating though. Saving time on travelling, finding it easier to fit in around work and child care, many people found they didn’t see the point in going back once gyms re opened.

Beyond that, whilst many people did still want to return to actual gyms, they found that new working patterns where they still worked from home, or did for at least half their week, it wasn’t necessarily practical to return to the gym (or at least not every day) especially when their gym was closer to their place of work.

So where do we stand coming into 2023, the year where we can probably say that habits, which at the start of 2022 were sill a bit up in the air, have settled?

Hybrid membership options need to be where gyms start to focus I think in order to retain memberships. Memberships where there are online offerings for days people want to train at home, or flexible memberships where people not planning to use the gym all week could opt to pay less for a reduced access (there’s already student memberships at university gyms and off peak memberships available in many places so it would just be tweaks in access required), maybe even more reasonable PAYG options.

Currently workouts are a bit like streaming platforms – depending on what you want to watch you might need Sky, Netflix, Disney and more to watch everything- if you want to train at home and in the gym you need a gym membership and in most cases also an online app for home workouts. If more gyms started to provide a more robust hybrid option where the online wasn’t an after thought (I’m sure there are some out there already on this wave length) they could look to solidify their membership base and overcome the shifts that are occurring in where and when and how people train.

What trends do you see coming in relation to training in 2023?

Project Fitter at 40- week 3

Week three of project fitter at 40 and I have focused this week on my diet. Having spent the last couple of weeks looking at where I’m at it’s been clear that for me the amount of calories I’m eating is just too high for me to see the type of results I’d like, so this has been my focus this week.

I’ve not looked to make dramatic changes, but I’ve increased my protein intake (to keep me feeling full), increased my fruit and veg intake and tried to remove the evening chocolate and cake snacking that in reality I know is my downfall.

I forgot to weight myself this morning so I don’t know how this has affected the scale but I feel a bit less bloated so I feel like this change is taking me in the right direction. I know my challenge though is going to be the weekend when I’m at home more and will feel the urge to snack more acutely than I would in the week.

Next week I’m going to continue to stick with my focus on my calorie intake but also look to tackle my morning routine.

I’m a snooze button pusher and it means I feel rushed in the morning and that can have a negative effect on my diet and training as I don’t have food prepared, time for breakfast or end up getting a taxi instead of walking to work. I feel like working on improving this will have a dramatic effect on how I feel overall.  It will also help me consistently hit 20,000 steps a day, something I used to do easily but recently have been hit and miss with.

Project 40

Project Fitter at 40 has begun.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care about being super slim or fast or the strongest person in the world.

I would like to feel healthier, better, more positive. I have some aims I’d like to complete this year for myself of course but I also want to just feel good, organised, relaxed ad comfortable in my own skin.

So my approach needs to be different to previously. I know what I could do if I wanted to see big results but I also know that part of feeling positive and good about myself means no sacrificing things for a result, enjoying the things I enjoy (and one of those is food).

This week I have:

  • Eaten pretty well, not in a deficit but I’ve had plenty of fruit and veg
  • Trained every day
  • Hit 20,000 steps plus 3 days
  • Worked out where my habits work and where I could do with changing habits a bit

Next week the plan is to focus on the areas I’ve identified for tweaks.

How Big Is Your Goal?

What does fitness success and progress look like to you?

Is it losing 2 stone? Running a marathon? Dropping 3 dress sizes?

Whatever it is one thing many of us are guilty of is not feeling like a success until we hit that goal. Goals are great motivators and having a strong reason why can be the difference between having a dream and making that dream a reality. What we need to remember though is to celebrate and feel good about all the other achievements along the way.

Because if you want to drop 2 stones in the process you’ll lose your first pound, first half a stone, a stone. When you are one pound lighter you might not be where you want to be yet but you’ve started and made a step towards that.

If you want to run a marathon at some point in training you’ll run 5km, 10km, a half marathon, Again these are all massive achievements in their on right and using them as reasons to celebrate can help keep you motivated towards reaching that ultimate goal.

I think the key is to keep in mind that your progress might not be perfect, instantaneous or linear but changes are all positive, whether they have a big or small impact. If for instance your doctor has said you need to lose weight for your health, they may well have an ideal weight in mind but as a starting point a reduction of any size is still better for your health than staying where you are. If you currently do no exercise three sessions a week may be the ideal but even if you only manage one you’ve still increased your activity 100%.

This goes beyond fitness too.

Having a chat with a fellow fitness professional the other day we touched upon the idea of success within our field. There’s the idea I think we all subconsciously have that there is one end point within our corner of the industry by which our success is measured, whereas in reality what we get value and a sense of purpose from is actually very different, and whilst it’s good to have things to aim for sometimes this can cause you to lose sight of achievements which actually mean a lot (even if there’s less public glory associated to them) and you can end up judging yourself harshly. The fact is there may be things we will never achieve but focusing on those suggests we’ve failed whereas in reality the impact we have made has made a difference.

For me the key is of course striving and setting the scary goals but also being kind enough to yourself to notice the small wins that happen along the way, because when you do reach that big goal that won’t be the end, you’ll find new goals or bigger goals so when you think about it, only ever looking forward can end up being tiring and leave you always feeling like you aren’t enough.

So it isn’t case of don’t aim big just don’t forget all the other wins in the mean time.

What should you look for in a PT?

What should you look for in a PT?

There’s lots of ways you can work with a PT now: one on one, small group, online programming, apps. Beyond cost, what do you look for when deciding who to go to?

Maybe it’s location, if you want to train in person that will be a big factor; but it could also be their specialisms, experience, how fit they look, how comfortable they make you feel, the recommendation from people you trust or their client testimonials.

All of these things are valid reasons, ultimately you’re picking someone to work with based on things that are important and relevant to you is key, and here’s where I think the most important factor in looking for someone to work with comes in.

Do they get ‘you’. Specifically can they understand your pain points, identify how they affect your fitness and help you work around them?

We all have some sort of pain points, whether you think it or not, Some may be more obvious than others.

If you deal with depression or anxiety, that’s going to have an effect on how you train. Shift worker, busy mum, student; all these things can affect your training and diet.

Whether your issue is with fitting in gym sessions in the first place, struggling to focus during sessions, struggling to pluck up the courage to go to the gym or anything else in between; what you want is a PT who can understand that issue and help you with that.

Because in reality getting a gym plan is useful. Having someone tell you what to do in the gym gives you focus. A good PT will programme your sessions to incorporate progression and work specifically towards your goals.

All of that is useless though if it doesn’t work around your pain points. A good coach doesn’t just give you the right exercises for you, they understand the obstacles you face and look at how you can overcome them. That has an effect on what they have you do.

That doesn’t mean they have to have lived your experience, of course that can help but it’s not essential, but they need to be willing to listen, pin point the issues their clients faced and think about how to incorporate solutions into workouts.

If you struggle to stick to workouts or get results, a plan and a coach who can help you work around yourself and the things that keep tripping you up might make a difference. It might not make fitness feel easy but it might make a difference to your results.

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday posts. Posts where people either:

a) Post a motivational quote telling you to just go and do something

b) Post what they’ve done that morning

Both of these can be motivating. That little kick in the form of a meme, seeing what others have done pushing you to getting up and going to do something themselves.

They can also be a bit pointless though. If your posting them to motivate yourself fair enough, and if it does the job super, but if it’s to motivate the reader I think they sometimes backfire.

I mean I’ve posted them before too, but in reality, for every person they do motivate there are people who will look and go so what, you’ve done that doesn’t mean I can, or even look at it and just feel bad that you’re doing amazing things whilst they can’t find the motivation.

Here’s what I think is a more motivating Monday Motivation type of post.

What do you need to do when you feel unmotivated?

You need to do something, any one thing to get started. Book a class, order a pair of trainers, go for a walk on your lunch break, go to the gym after work and do ANYTHING it doesn’t matter what, buy some fruit and veg on the way home from work, cook a simple nutritious dinner with enough left over for lunch tomorrow.

Doing that one thing, whatever it is, will make you feel a bit better, in control, organised. It will provide momentum to do another small thing and then another and there you have it, you start to see results or feel a bit better in yourself and before you even realise, you have your motivation.

Group Exercise Classes

My latest podcast delves into Group Fitness.

I talk about what group fitness really is, the negative spin it sometimes gets, wh I think people should give it a try, what the best group exercise for you is and some tips on how to make the most out of your group exercise experience.

Click Here To Listen

Water

We are almost all guilty of it.  We obsess over our training plans, diet, cheat meals, how many coffees we drink a day, how many units of alcohol we drink yet we frequently ignore our hydration levels.

I used to do this – I could tell you how many calories I’d consumed and burnt but it barely registered that not even a sip of water had passed my lips all day (unless you count 400 coffees and several glass of wine). 

But water is important for so many reasons:

  1. Helping increase energy and relieve fatigue
  2. Helping you think, focus and concentrate better, helping you be more alert
  3. Assisting with achieving your body goals
  4. Helping improve your complexion
  5. Aiding digestion
  6. Looking after your immune system / helping you get over colds etc.
  7. Reducing the likelihood of some types of headaches (where commonly caused by dehydration)
  8. Preventing / reducing the likeliness of cramps & sprains
  9. Improving your mood / general feeling of well being
  10. It saves you money – it’s the cheapest drink there is!

I found that, whilst I didn’t really notice many differences when I started to drink enough water, I DID notice that when I then drank less water I felt it!  If I’ve had a day where I drink less I feel lethargic, grumpy and hungry for salty foods.

So how much should you drink?

Ideally between 30-35 ml per kg of body weight

PLUS and additional 500 ml for every hour of exercise you do.

Example – I weigh 95kg and do on average 1 hours of training a day at present so I try and drink 3,350 ml – 3,825 ml (3.4-3.9 litres) a day, I normally average around 3.5 litres  

One word of warning:  You will go to the toilet A LOT when you first start drinking more water – maybe not something to coincide with a long road trip!

Training when ill

I’ve got a cold, I started to feel a bit run down Friday and Saturday morning my nose felt blocked up. I went out for a run Saturday lunchtime and by the time I got home I felt rough and spent the day on the sofa. Sunday I felt better but decided not to train instead going out for lunch but by the time I got home I knew it was man down, a full blown cold had hit. It’s not a total shock, I’ve had a bust and stressful few weeks and actually said a few times recently that I knew I was doing too much and was making myself sick. The fact of the matter is when we get stressed and over work ourselves we are more susceptible to picking up colds etc.

Once ill, people who train regularly often find it hard not to train when they are ill, even if rest may actually be more beneficial for them, I used to be the same, although now I’m a lot better at listening to my body and taking a break to recover.

So, should you train when ill?

It’s generally recommended that mild to moderate activity is usually OK if you have a cold (with no fever). In fact, exercise may even help you feel better in the short term, opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving congestion.

If your symptoms are all above the neck generally it’s considered safe to train. Symptoms above the neck include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and sore throats. You may still want to think about reducing the intensity and length of your workout, so maybe going for a walk instead of a run for example, or if you do want to run reducing the distance and going at a slower pace.

If symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, a hacking cough, an upset stomach, muscle ache) it is however recommended that you do not exercise and instead rest until the symptoms subside.

A Fever should make exercise a hard no, raising your body temperature further if you already have a fever, will not aid recovery and could make you feel worse, so if you show any signs of fever sit out of any exercise until your temperature is back to normal.

Of course you shouldn’t exercise with or around other people if you have any type of contagious illnesses, although if you feel OK you could always do a gentle home workout.

Exercise can help boost your body’s natural defenses against illness and infection, and regular moderate exercise 3-4 times a week (for around 30 minutes) has been shown to have numerous benefits to a person’s health.

It’s worth remembering though overtraining can actually lower immunity. That means if you are training intensely every day with no rest days, de load weeks or structure (i.e. you’re constantly trying to get a PB every session) you are not only at greater risk of injury but also may find yourself catching colds more often (group exercise instructors doing multiple classes a week you may also find yourself in the group!).

So ultimately, training when ill (as long as it not chest or fever based) won’t hurt if you feel well enough to do so, but resting and letting your body recover may well be more beneficial. For many of us exercise is as much for our mental health as physical and taking a break can make you feel a bit rubbish anyway, so when you already feel bad because you’re ill it’s even harder. Having said that, in order to be as healthy as we can we need to think, not only about actual training, but also how we look after our bodies overall, and sickness is in an indication that our body isn’t currently running at 100%, meaning taking time to look after it rather than trying to push through may actually be something to consider.

Why do people do this?

There’s lots of things I think you can see both sides of in both life and fitness and plenty of things you see within gyms which you might do differently but are still perfectly valid and can work for that person.

What I will never get in gyms is why people think it’s ok to judge other people and make unsolicited comment to them on that opinion.

Generally speaking, most of us would be upset if someone commented that we looked a bit bigger or smaller or had lost a bit of definition. Even the most confident person in a gym can go through periods they feel a little out of shape and having someone highlight it to them doesn’t really help. Realistically, even people who thrive off dissatisfaction cues or challenge as motivation comments about weight, shape and size can be unhelpful.

It occurred to me whilst writing that this might conflict a little with my last post, but I’m not talking about genuine concern for clients or patients that may arise, more the general opinions we have of other gym goers that are simply nothing to do with us.

As a general rule, unless the person has started a discussion about their body or is seeing you in some form of professional capacity where their health / body is the topic, keeping you opinions in your head is generally the best thing to do. You might have great advice about how you think they could grow those glutes, flatten their stomach, tone their arms whatever, but the confidence you’ll give them with that advice is unlikely to outweigh how they will feel when you point out things they were already a bit paranoid about anyway!