personal training

Class Update

Just a quick reminder that, as usual, there are NO classes on Bank Holiday Monday.

Due to the team being away, there will also be NO Buggyfit class on Wimbledon Common on Tuesday.

We've got a full timetable for the rest of the week, so that you can burn-off some of the weekend excesses!

- Wed: 6.15am Wimbledon Park
- Thu: 6.15am South Park Gardens
- Thu: 9.30am South Park Gardens
- Thu: 11.00am Wimbledon Park
- Fri: 6.15am Wimbledon Park
- Sat: 7.45am South Park Gardens
- Sat: 9.00am South Park Gardens

Everyone is welcome to join us at all of these sessions. It's half term, so why not bring the kids along too?

See you in the park soon!

Heather and the HA fitness team x

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Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Kicking our way into Spring at Buggyfit in Wimbledon!

Who’s joining us at Buggyift in the sunshine on Thursday?

Meet us in South Park Gardens at 9.30am and then at 11.00am in Wimbledon Park.

Free trials to all newcommers! Just message us for all details first.

(Sunshine not guaranteed)

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Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Pre-Summer Reboot: Body Sculpting BootCamp (Southfields)

A total body conditioning BootCamp with a difference! Antonio will show you how to use your body as a tool to create lean muscle mass. Teaching you how to increase resistance to challenge, build and sculpt your muscles.

As there’s no fancy gym equipment, you’ll learn techniques and movements that you can take away with you. No excuses not to practice at home!

This BootCamp will be highly motivating and encouraging for people of all abilities. Each exercise can be adjusted to make you feel comfortable or push you to your limit!

Join us on this 6 week progressive course and feel strong and fit for the summer!

Time: 7.30-8.30pm

Where: St Barnabas Church, SW18 5EP

Cost: £54 for a block of 6 sessions. If you miss a session, you're welcome to make it up at one of our regular Fit In The Park or Buggyfit classes.

Head over to our BootCamp page to book your place or drop us a line for more info.

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Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Any one for Ping Pong?!

Social Night At SMASH
- Tickets Now Available!

Tickets are now available for our night of Ping Pong, Pizza and prosecco!

Join the HA fitness team for what promises to be a really, really fun night out at the SMASH bar in Wimbledon.

We're looking forward to seeing all of our clients from Fit In The Park, Buggyfit and our personal training sessions there.

  • When: From 8pm on Thursday 8th February
  • Where: SMASH Wimbledon, 82 The Broadway
  • How much: £15 per person which includes a drink, pizza and ping pong!

Book your tickets now. We can't wait to see you all there!

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Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Who's Coming To Our March BootCamps?

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It's meant to be the hottest day of the year so far today, wahoo!

This has got to be the best time of year to be outside exercising. You're surrounded by so many natural motivators. Fresh air to boost your energy levels. Sunny skies to lift your mood. And new colours bursting through to make you smile.

It's time to catch a little spring fever - join us!

We have 2 great BootCamps coming up in Wimbledon Park and South Park Gardens. We've also got a few places left on our Strengthen, Stretch & Restore Course which starts tomorrow night.

To get your full quota of exercise and sunshine, have a look at our Buggyfit and Fit In The Park class timetable. Which classes can you do this week? As always, you're welcome to drop-in on any of these timetabled sessions, but it does work out cheaper to buy one of our class passes online.

Happy Sunny Training,

Heather & the HA team x

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

RESOLUTION SOLUTION!

You can do it fitness

Many of us make fitness resolutions at the beginning of the year, but find that by the end of January the initial enthusiasm and passion begins to fade.

If this sounds like you, it's time to do something different. Get a fresh approach.

It's common to start the year full of ambition. Only to find that that life just gets in the way, and you feel like you're falling off the wagon. To make your resolutions last, the changes you make have to comfortably fit within your current lifestyle. What do you need to do to get results without too much upheaval?

You also need to honestly accept your current health and fitness levels. Do a sanity check on what actually needs fixing. Then, look positively at all of the things you can change, rather than negatively lingering over the problems you can't resolve.

Make a realistic plan that’s sustainable and achievable. Get some advice from friends or professionals to get you on the right track and stay motivated.

Why not sign-up for an HA fitness class pass or some personal training sessions to keep you motivated? We've also got some great BootCamps coming up! All the links for more info are below, or drop me a line.

Remember, if you change nothing, nothing will change.

Best wishes
Heather

Fit In The Park
Buggyfit Postnatal Fitness
BootCamps
Class Timetable
Personal Training

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Save The Date!!

*** Thursday 2nd February 2017 ***

HA fitness is celebrating 11 years in business - wahoo!!

We're planning a great night out at the Burger Shack in Wimbledon Village and we'd love to share it with all of our lovely clients.

So whether you're a Fit In The Parker, Buggyfit mum or PT client, put the date in your diary now. More details to follow...

Heather & the HA team x

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Christmas Gift Vouchers!

Christmas Fitness Vouchers

If you're currently searching Amazon for that perfect Christmas gift (with guaranteed delivery before the 24th Dec), look no further.

Buy your loved one an HA fitness voucher this Christmas. It's quick, easy & stress free.

Our vouchers can be as flexible as you'd like to make them. They can be purchased for any value & can be used as full or part payment for personal training, Buggyfit, Fit In The Park or BootCamps or a mixture of all of our HA fitness services.

So whether you need a gift for a regular exerciser, or someone who'll appreciate being nudged in the right direction, we can help.

Head over to our purchase page for some stress free shopping. Drop us a line with any queries (or to purchase personal training vouchers).

Best wishes
Heather x

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Give The Gift Of Fitness This Christmas!

We want to save you from frantic Amazon searches, big queues & crowded shops. Buy your loved one an HA fitness voucher this Christmas. It's quick, easy & stress free.

The vouchers can be as flexible as you'd like to make them. They can be purchased for any value & can be used as full or part payment for personal training, classes, bootcamps or a mixture of all of our HA fitness services.

Have you seen our new hoodies & technical t-shirts? We'd love to see all our clients wearing them in the park next year & they'd make a great pressie (easy to wrap too!).

So whether you need a gift for a regular exerciser, or someone who'll appreciate being nudged in the right direction, we can help.

Head over to our purchase page for some stress free shopping. Drop us a line if you need any help with sizes etc. Free delivery on all orders!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Cardio Before Christmas

December is a busy month. Let's admit it, workouts tend to get skipped & lots of yummy festive calories are consumed.

But with a little bit of planning & self-motivation it is possible to start the New Year feeling fit, not fat.

We're running our Wimbledon Fit In The Park & Buggyfit classes right up until Tuesday 22 December. We've got early morning classes, weekend sessions & indoor evening workouts to choose from. So act now. Don't put it off until January!

Check out our class to find a class that suits you.

Then join us in the park & let exercise be your festive stress reliever this December.

Heather x

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

It's time...

With the schools back, it's time to throw that "I just don't have the time" excuse out of the window. It's time to banish those extra pounds you put on over the summer months. It's time to meet us in the park & work hard. We're ready for you!

Want to have your say as to what goes on in our classes? Head over to our facebook page & share your ideas. We're currently taking votes on what happens at this Thursday's Buggyfit class with Kate!

The HA Team spent last week being ice bucketed, getting set for school & planning some tough workouts for you. As many of you know, we've also been discussing our timetable, looking to make improvements where we can (we'll be announcing the changes in the next few days). If you have any feedback, do get in touch.

Need A Bit Of A Push?

Why not book a one-off training boost with one of our Team at a reduced off-peak rate? We have a few day-time slots available this week. Get in touch today & we'll kick-start your training. Don't put it off for another day!

Heather

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Skip The Small Talk

Exercising with a group of like-minded people is proven to get better results than training on your own. Strength in numbers gives you a support network, friendly competition & more fun. You're also less likely to quit on a chilly day if you've got friends to meet & workout with.

Obviously you can enjoy these benefits at our Fit In The Park & Buggyfit classes (see below for the timetable), but if you're interested in something more tailored, why not try our Small Group Training sessions? Maybe you want to:

  • Conquer a 10K, marathon or triathlon
  • Build your core strength & improve your posture
  • Feel confident about your body after having a baby
  • Get ski-fit before you hit the slopes
  • Start exercising again (perhaps for first time in a long time)
  • Push yourself with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Small Group Training will give you a fantastic return on your investment. It's more cost effective than one-to-one training & yet has all the benefits of a tailored workout. You get what you want, when you want it including:

  • A systematic program focused on your goals
  • Workouts specifically designed to get results in a small group setting
  • Training at a time & place that suits you
  • Email & phone support

Less Talk, More Action!

Maybe you've chatted to friends/colleagues/random acquaintances about training together, but have never got around to organising anything. Now's the time to start making it work.

Drop us a line
& let us know what you're interested in & your potential group size. We'll then put a plan together for you including costs & availability.

Need Some More Friends?

Skip the small talk & let us do a bit of match-making for you. Tell us when you want to train, where & what you'd like to do. We'll try our best to team you up with some like-minded people.

Don't think too hard about it, just get in touch with your initial thoughts & let us do the rest.

Book Now & Save!

Book & pay for one-to-one or small group training before 24th December 2013, & we'll give you 1 hour of training absolutely free! This is only available for clients who have not had personal training with us during 2013.

Find out more & make your booking. We've got limited slots available on this offer, so don't put it off.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Well Done Claire & Dave Grima!

A huge congratulations to our incredibly fast trainer Claire & her husband Dave, who raced in the Amsterdam Marathon a couple of weeks ago.

Claire shot around the course in 2:49:18, & Dave slightly faster at 2:48:45. We're a bit miffed that this is the first time Claire has been beaten by her husband at this distance. But we're confident she'll leave him for dust next time!

Get in touch if you'd like some personal training sessions with Claire. Whether you want to beat your marathon PB, or run a 10k for the first time, Claire's your girl!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Bring it on!

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Give me a rainy day anytime! It's part of the thrill of outdoor training.

Admittedly, you have to dig deep & toughen up a bit. But once you get out the door, & put one foot in front of the other, you stop noticing the rain & start enjoying the challenge.

During our classes & personal training sessions, we try to keep you as snug as possible. We'll find a big tree to shelter under. We'll keep you off the wet ground & we'll work you so hard you won't feel the cold or notice the rain!

You'll probably end up doing something a bit different too. Take a look at the email we received last month from a Buggyfit mum:

Hi Heather,
 I just wanted to tell you what a lovely class we had with Kate in South Park this morning. It was pouring with rain most of the time & there were only five of us. But, as ever, she was cheerful & upbeat. We had a great time with weight balls & the ladder thingy, which we don't normally do with the bigger classes. She is a great instructor.
 Best wishes,
 Daniella Horwitz

Still unsure? Here our Top Tips for when it's really lashing it down:

1) Protect your phone by putting it in a zip lock food bag.

2) Avoid cotton clothes, which just soak up the water. Go for something synthetic & moisture wicking.

3) Unless it's really, really cold, don't overdress in head-to-toe waterproofs. You'll just overheat & sweat a lot. A lightweight jacket is usually sufficient.

4) Dry your trainers out by removing the inner soles & stuffing the shoe with newspaper to soak up some of the moisture. Don't, whatever you do, put them on the radiator or in the oven. It just makes them smell & they'll never really be the same again.

5) Fearlessly splashing through puddles like a big kid is a great way of taking your mind off your workout!

So next time it looks like rain, put your trainers on, grab your waterproof & embrace the elements with us. We promise you'll be buzzing with achievement & smugness by the end of the session!

Heather

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

It's Marathon Time Again

We wish all of our clients, friends & especially our HA fitness trainer, Claire Grima, a fantastic race on Sunday. We'll be cheering you on all the way & look forward to hearing your post-race stories next week.

Huge congratulations to our client, Mandy Brown, for running the Boston Marathon on Monday. It's really saddening that what should have been a day of triumph & festivities turned into something so horrific. Let's not allow it to change the way we enjoy & participate in big sporting events in the future.

Feeling inspired?

Running a marathon is an experience that's difficult to put into words. It's a mixture of passion, pleasure & pain. However there's something really inspiring about watching those runners pushing themselves to the limit to cross that finish line. Maybe it could be you next year?

If you're thinking about putting your name down for a race, doing a run for charity or simply want to improve your fitness levels, get in touch. We can motivate, advise & help you to achieve your goals, & have a bit of fun too!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Resolutions...seriously?

Well it's time to make those annual self-improvement promises again. But research shows that around 80% of people who make New Year's resolutions, fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day. So how are you going to make a success of it this year?

The key is to take your resolutions seriously. Plan ahead, stay committed and remain focused.

Easier said than done I know, so here are my top tips on how to succeed after the New Year's celebrations and hangovers have faded, reality sets in, and you need to squeeze back into those work clothes again.

  1. If you’ve got a long list of failed New Year’s resolutions hidden in your closet, then you need a fresh approach. Don’t pretend you’ll suddenly be a different person this year. If you want something different to happen in 2012, you need to do something different.
  2. Honestly accept your current starting point and do a sanity check on what actually needs fixing. Look positively at the things you can change, rather than negatively lingering over the things that make you unhappy or problems you can't resolve.
  3. Make changes that will comfortably fit within your current lifestyle. What do you need to do to get results without too much upheaval?
  4. Don’t leap blindly forwards with your ambitions. Make a realistic plan that’s sustainable and achievable. Get some advice from friends or professionals to get you on the right track and stay motivated. Why not sign-up for an HA fitness class pass or some personal training sessions?
  5. Finally, treating yourself to a new pair of trainers is a good motivational start, but make sure they don't look/smell new for too long!

Click below for some more HA fitness blog articles to help spur you into action for 2012:
 
New Year’s Resolutions…How to make and break them


Pleasure or Pain: What Drives You?

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Knowing Me Knowing You - Spotlight on Claire Grima

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As personal trainers, a crucial part of our job is getting to know all of our clients as quickly as possible – your individual goals, likes and dislikes, how to motivate each and every one of you, know when you're really pushing yourselves (and when you're not...) and of course to work safely, taking into account each individual’s injuries or health considerations.

We think we know you all pretty well these days, but as the HA fitness team has grown in recent months, we thought we'd turn the spotlight back on ourselves and help you get to know us a bit better. Starting with the newest member of our team, Claire Grima, we sent Kate Dorward out to find out more about Claire and what makes her tick.

Kate: Let's start with the big question...how on earth did you manage to run a marathon in 2 hours 49 mins, just 10 months after giving birth?

Claire: I did a lot of running before I fell pregnant so carried on running (not so intensively) until halfway through my pregnancy. At that point it felt like the right time to stop, although I must admit I really missed it! 

At my 6 week postnatal check I was delighted when the doctor said I could run again. I took it very steadily and had to stop for a couple of weeks with a sore back; a common postnatal problem related to a lack of core strength, but after a month or so I started to see big improvements which really motivated me. I did a half marathon when my baby was 4 months and was surprised how my speed had come back.  It was then I decided to go for the marathon again.

After 6 / 7 months I stopped breastfeeding so was able to train as intensively as I had for previous marathons. I'm still not quite sure how I managed a personal best! I think it was a combination of having a good run on the day, my husband doing the marathon with me (a bit of healthy competition is always motivational) and possibly just being a lot more active now with a baby, rather than sitting at an office desk. I never thought I would break the 2hr 50min mark, but as I got closer to the finish and I realised it might be possible it really spurred me on.

Kate: How do you find the time to exercise now you have a baby?

Claire: I am really lucky to have an understanding husband and an amazing mother-in-law who is always happy to help out and provide me with the time to run or get jobs done! I am also incredibly lucky to have a good baby, who has generally slept through since he was 6 months old.

Finding the time to exercise with a baby involves a lot of planning tag team with my husband. On a Sunday night we plan the week as to who runs on which night. He runs at lunch time or to work some days so I can run in the evenings, and when I was training for the marathon I tried to run a couple of times during the week with the buggy.

At the weekend we generally go after each other for a run, but sometimes a friend or family will babysit so we can run together.

It’s not always that easy to get going. Some nights I just don’t really feel like going out running, but my husband always encourages me and I know he is right - I always feel so much better if I go out  than if I planned to go and then didn't.

Kate: Running a marathon is clearly very ambitious and not the norm for most of us so soon after giving birth (I didn’t do any exercise until my daughter was 5 months and I didn’t run until she was about 9 months), but as a new mum, what advice can you give to other new mum's who want to get back in shape, but who struggle to fit gentle exercise into their schedule?

Claire: Exercising with friends and planning a time helps you to stick to it. Exercising with your baby is definitely a great thing to do. Brisk walking is such good exercise, especially pushing a buggy. I know going for coffees with other mums is an essential part of new mums’ lives, but to catch up over a good long walk as alternative will really help get your fitness back and actually help you feel revitalised.

I think if you are able to change your mind-set and make exercise a fixed part of your routine rather than something you do occasionally as and when you feel like it, then it will become habitual.

Kate: What kinds of exercise do you recommend for getting back into shape after pregnancy?

Claire: Buggyfit classes!! Other than that, brisk/power walking is definitely a good option as you can take your baby with you and pushing a buggy uphill can be pretty intensive, getting your heart rate going and burning fat. Gentle jogging is not for everyone, but once you are comfortable walking at a good pace it can help you take your fitness to the next level.

The one thing that is a must is core stability work. Carrying a baby for 9 months really takes its toll on your tummy and back muscles, and with all the carrying, contorting and lifting that is an integral part of a mummy’s life, the more you can do to strengthen your core the less likely you will get back and hip pain/injuries.

When starting any exercise programme it’s important to listen to your body. If you get too exhausted then both you and your baby will suffer. If you are breast feeding then it is crucial that you eat and drink enough to cope with the additional demands of exercise on an already busy life.

Kate: How did you get into fitness?

Claire: I have always enjoyed exercise and sport. At University I started rowing. This introduced me to fairly intensive training programmes, circuit and weight training. With rowing you really had to be committed because you were relied on by the rest of the crew.  It is also an endurance sport which has distinct parallels with long distance running.

I have always run to keep fit and entered my first half marathon in 2003, which I did ok in. I then did my first marathon in 2004 and have loved the challenge of beating my own times since then.

Kate: What or who inspires you?

Claire: My husband told me to put him!!

As a female runner, Paula Radcliffe is an obvious choice but Haile Gabrselassie (another long distance runner) is also amazing. I have a newspaper article on the back of our toilet door about him, which I have read many times and find very inspirational.

Kate: How do you keep motivated?

Claire: Coming back from having my baby I have found that my running times have improved in nearly all the distances I run (especially in the last 4 or 5 months) so that definitely encourages me. I find having a fixed goal works for me, so I make sure I have races lined up to keep me motivated.

For me the fear of losing fitness will always keep me on my toes.

Kate: How do you like to relax?

Claire: Like most of us I enjoy a glass of wine, watching a film or going for a walk in the countryside with some good company. I also love music and going to gigs. We were able to take our son to Glastonbury this year where he celebrated his first birthday.

My other favourite sport is snowboarding and we did manage to go this year with my then 8 month old, which was great.

I don’t only run for fitness. I find it’s good time out for myself and I always feel de-stressed after a good run. 

Kate: This is the question we all really want to know the answer too, with all that running and healthy lifestyle surely you must have a weakness or two?

Claire: I love chocolate and have a sweet tooth. If there is one thing I can’t resist it’s a lovely, gooey chocolate brownie!

Kate: Finally, what's your next big challenge?

Claire: It’s quite a challenge enough juggling my new job with being a mum!!  Because of that I don't have any really big challenges lined up at the moment, but watch this space...!

- - -

Look out for interviews with the rest of the HA Fitness team: Kate, Heather and Sheldon in our Knowing Me Knowing You series!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

How Can You Make Running More Fun?

Every runner needs some help to stay motivated from time to time. Here are a few ideas to help keep you on your toes and off the sofa!

1) Run Free

Ditch your schedule, route plan and stopwatch. Head out the door and, once you’re warmed up, literally run like a child. Don’t worry about form, how fast you’re running, where you’re going or how far. Just go for it. Let everything go. Feel the wind in your hair. Enjoy the exhilarating thrill of running fast. It feels good. Feels like you’re flying. Nothing can hold you back…

2) Head for the Hills

Hill training is great for creating “buns of steel”! Not only that but your whole body will get a good workout, including your arms and chest. It’s also enormously beneficial for building strength, endurance and speed.

Try not to approach a hill with a feeling of doom, though. Hills are only hard if you make them hard. Instead, see it as an opportunity to vary your pace and leg stride. Change down a gear and lessen your speed as the gradient increases.  Use your arms to help power you up to the summit.

When you get to the top, allow yourself to revel in that sense of elation. Hurrah you’ve made it! Let the endorphins flow!

Then, liberate your legs and arms as you enjoy some effortless speed on the way back down. This requires a different style and attitude. Relax your whole body, chill out and enjoy the ride!

3) Push the Boundaries

Be progressive. Challenge yourself on your regular run, be it 2 miles or 10. You can do it faster, can’t you?

Time it. Record it. Beat it!!!!!

4) Run to the Beat

Would you go on a long car journey without a radio or music?

Depending on the type of run, music can give you that extra boost when you hit a slump, take your mind off the pain or just put an extra spring in your step.

Invest some time into creating the right playlist for the type of run you’re doing. If you’re going for speedwork, try having a fast beat song, followed by a slower song. Run hard to the fast beat, and then recover listening to something more chilled out.

Make sure you stay safe. Never have headphones on after dark or in unpopulated areas, and be aware of your surroundings.

5) Cool Running Gadgets & Gismos

Although spending your hard-earned cash on the latest running gadget won’t necessarily transform you from a red-faced, wheezing jogger into a finely honed, lean-machine athlete, it can be a good way to help inspire and motivate you.  

Heart rate monitors are great for understanding how hard you’re running, help you track your progress, keep you running at the right intensity and stop you from under or over training.

GPS watches, such as the Garmin, can tell you how fast and how far you’re running including your elevation. They work in a similar way to the Sat Nav in your car. You can even impress your friends and family with how far you’ve run by downloading your routes onto Google Maps!

Similarly, you can use footpods, like those made by Polar, Nike and Suunto. These ingenious gadgets work by monitoring the movement of your foot and transmitting this data back to your watch. You’ll get all the information you need on your running distance, speed, cadence and much more!

Finally…

So now you know that hills don’t have to be horrendous, running like a child and testing yourself can be fun, and music can make your runs rock!  What's more, you no longer need to waste time measuring your routes using a bit of string and a map.  There are plenty of swanky toys on the market that’ll do a much better job, and offer far more entertainment! 

All you need to do now is get out running, and enjoy it!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Don’t Hibernate this Winter, Train Outside!

The weather at this time of year is often used as an excuse not to exercise outside; it’s too cold, too wet, too windy, and/or too dark. All excuses I’ve heard and, I have to admit, occasionally used myself. But all it takes is some planning and a bit of extra kit, and you’ll get a huge sense of satisfaction and generally feel great and smug for doing it.

Copious benefits to the mind, body and soul!

If you spend most of your time in an office, and go to work in a car, train or tube, then surely the last thing you’d want to do at the end of the day is to head off to another artificial people container for a workout?

Isn’t it time your body saw the light?

If you head outside, you’ll feel more energised and be more inclined to be active. There’s nothing like a battling against the elements to really focus the mind on what’s important, and help relieve you of the stresses of the day.

Unlike in the gym, you can take in different scenery everyday, providing diverse views and stimulus for your workouts. You’ll get to appreciate the change of seasons, see the colours and shapes of the landscape transforming, and get to meet some interesting people along the way!

Challenge yourself

Training outside can work your body in ways that a gym workout will never achieve. It asks more of your body as a whole. Different surfaces offer different challenges. Grass, gravel, mud, stones and tree roots all intensify the workout, increasing the demand on your core, and the muscles and ligaments that stabilize your body. Your balance, co-ordination and proprioceptive skills will rapidly improve, as you encourage your body to do more complex movements over difficult terrain.

The weather also adds an interesting challenge, and the wind can be both your friend and foe. If you push hard into the wind at the beginning of your run, it will give you a helping hand on the way back!

No more smelly changing rooms!

Outside training also means that you’re likely to come straight back home afterwards. You don’t have to worry about packing a gym bag, remembering change for the locker, forgetting to bring clean underwear, getting verrucas, and sharing grim changing rooms.

You can come back to the comfort of your own bathroom, use as many towels as you like, and not having a stranger’s bum in your face when you’re putting your socks on!

And if that hasn’t convinced you…

Think of all the germs that circulate in the air conditioning at a gym. You’ll be taking in big gulps of them during a tough workout! But when you’re outside, you can fill your lungs with lots of healthy, natural fresh air and get a rosy glow to your cheeks too!

And exercising outside is free!

I’m a Londoner, I live nowhere near the countryside!

Londoners should actually find it easier to access ‘The Great Outdoors’, than anyone else in England. In a recent study published by the Audit Commission*, 92 per cent of footpaths and rights of way in London that are in or lead to open spaces and countryside are considered ‘easy to use’, giving you good access to some amazing green spaces. The overall average for England was 76.3 percent, so no excuses!

*The Best Value Performance Indicator 2006-2007, Audit Commission Local Government Compendium

But what about the cold and rain?

Read my article on There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing! to find out how to protect yourself from the elements. And just think how nice that lovely warm shower will be when you get back, you’ll appreciate it so much more after a challenging run outside!

Safety comes before fashion at night

Make sure you wear bright coloured clothing or reflective gear if you go out in the dark and on a gloomy days. Florescent hats and gloves are a popular option, and are stocked by most running shops.

Share the pleasure & the pain

When it's dark, make your personal safety a priority and don't go out alone. Workout with a friend or trainer, or join an outside exercise class or running club. Stick to well lit, populated areas and be aware of what's happening around you. 

It's also more fun to train with other people, and you're more likely to push yourself further and less likely to wimp out when the weather is really bad!

Warm up first

Finally, you need to look after your body a bit more when you train outside. You're at greater risk of pulling muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly. Some people prefer to warm up inside first before they head out.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Train Like an Ancient Persian Warrior!

Have you got the balls?

Some bounce, some have handles and some have ropes attached to them. Modern medicine balls now come in an amazing array of sizes, colours and weights.

However, the original prototypes (produced some 3000 years ago) were not so attractive. Made out of animal bladders and stuffed with sand, they’re thought to have been used in training by Persian warriors, Hippocrates, and ancient Chinese martial arts masters, to name but a few. 

So why are they called medicine balls?

Moving forward into the 19th century, ball training became a popular workout feature in the gymnasiums. At this time, the words “health” and “medicine” were synonymous, and the term “medicine ball” is believed to originate from this period.

More recently, hi-tech gadgets and complex machines have taken over in our gyms. However, the humble medicine ball is now making a come back, as the benefits of functional training are seen as being increasingly important.

Time to take your medicine

Medicine ball training is really adaptable and can be used for beginners, weekend warriors and endurance athletes alike.

Using a few differently weighted balls, you can beef-up circuit training sessions and traditional exercises to create tough, stamina-building workouts. It's a really efficient way to develop your speed, strength, balance, and endurance.

They're also perfect for beginners and are a fun tool for those wanting just to get into shape and vary their workouts.  Medicine ball training uses your muscles in a similar way to when you're lifting objects in everyday life (eg children, shopping etc) so it is much more practical than using dumbbells.

Medicine balls can also be a really efficient form of sports specific training. With a bit of imagination, they can be used to simulate and help improve golf and tennis swings, swimming strokes, and football and basketball techniques. Runners can also train with the ball to push their core rotational muscles.

You can work your whole body or just target specific areas, and they're an ideal tool for improving your core power and stability. Practically everything you do with a medicine ball will work your core muscles to some extent. So whether you're lifting, throwing, squatting, crunching, pressing, or twisting with them, your abs should be fired-up too!

Ball practice

Start-off with some lightweight balls and keep the movements slow whilst you focus on your technique.  After a few training sessions, you can speed up the actions, but remember to maintain good control at all times.

Make sure you get proper instruction on technique as even lightweight medicine balls can cause injury.

So whether you're a beginner, seasoned exerciser needing some inspiration or training for the Tough Guy event, it's time you added some balls to your workouts!

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Posted by Heather Waghorn.