Autumn is the perfect time to focus on fitness, to compensate for any summer indulgences and prepare your body for the strains (and pleasures!) of Christmas. That all sounds terribly virtuous and just a little bit dull, doesn't it? Fortunately, there is so much on offer in gyms across the country these days that getting fit doesn't have to be boring. Think outside the box a bit, and have a look at these whacky exercise ideas for inspiration...
Laughter yoga is a combination of deliberately induced laughter and yogic breathing (Pranayama). A yoga instructor helps participants to start laughing through various structured exercises and play. On a physiological level your body can't differentiate between spontaneous and induced laughter, so you get all the mental and physical benefits of a good belly laugh. Given that many people are at risk of suffering from low mood and anxiety as the daylight dwindles, this seems like an ideal form of exercise for this time of year.
Are our nightclubs becoming the new gyms? (Or is it the other way round?!) Anyone who's attended a Zumba class has probably been swept away by its energetic combination of fitness and entertainment, so a Zumba party seems like a logical progression. Loud music, pulsating lights, the heady atmosphere of dance culture – AND you're getting fit at the same time! The Pacha nightclub in London is starting to run Zumba party evenings and it's a trend that is bound to catch on across the country.
If you don't fancy attending a conventional gym, why not give Urban Gym a try? Participants use what is referred to as “street furniture” (think steps, railings, benches and so on) as exercise equipment. It's sociable, you get to see the sights of the city, and you get fit into the bargain!
Fancy using a hanging trapeze as part of your workout? Try this fusion of aerial circus art and Vinyasa yoga, where participants are suspended from the ceiling in silk hammocks! If the novelty factor alone isn't enough to intrigue you, consider that this approach eases compressed joints and creates a weightless alignment that makes all sorts of unusual poses possible.
But that's all too crazy!
Don’t think you're going to be hanging upside-down, running around urban streets, clubbing or laughing on cue in the interest of fitness anytime soon? Well, these ideas are merely suggestions to inspire you to think outside the box a bit when it comes to autumn fitness. You don't have to go to the extremes of wackiness to inject a bit of inspiration into your fitness routine. For a slightly more down-to-earth approach, consider these principles:
Focus on weight training
Now is the time to join a kettle bell class or get friendly with the weightlifting equipment in your gym. Not only will you achieve a sleeker silhouette (it is a myth that muscle training invariably bulks you up, though there are specific exercises that you can do if that is your goal) but muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so you'll be geared up for the indulgences of the Christmas season.
Go just a little alternative
Autumn is a good time to look after your mental and emotional health, so consider forms of exercise that take a holistic approach. Yoga is great – it doesn't have to involve laughing or hanging upside-down - as is Pilates. There are also more and more fusion exercise classes that combine elements of Yoga or Pilates with more conventional cardio or strength workouts. Have a look at your gym's timetable of classes to see what's on offer.
Make it sociable
Exercise with others to overcome the obstacles of low motivation. Find a fitness buddy and train together, or join a class or a team sport where the focus is as much on fun as fitness. The sociable element is especially important at this time of year when many of us would prefer to hide away from the world.
Find a passion
In the interests of your fitness, it would be best for this passion to involve a reasonable level of activity – think tap dance or horse-riding rather than stamp-collecting or calligraphy. The point is to find a leisure pursuit that might not be classed as a pure fitness activity but that is active enough to give you all the health benefits of a good workout while you're enjoying yourself. Leisure centres and further education colleges are great places to start looking for inspiration.
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose