World Workouts – Globally Inspired Fitness Trends

Anyone ready for a holiday yet? Pretty much as soon as Christmas is done the holiday adverts seem to start up on the telly and the dark cold nights soon get us longing for a bit of sun. So with holiday destinations in mind this week I’ve been looking at global fitness. From American Football Style Cheerleading to Turkish Belly dancing, the world of fitness has been taking inspiration from other countries and cultures for a long time.
In terms of having a “stay-cation” – High Intensity Interval Training classes started in the UK. Although HIIT itself isn’t something new, Metafit started the trend of putting it into a group exercise class. 30 minutes of body-weighted exercises with short work & rest periods you push yourself to the max. Cross-Fit came soon after mixing in weighted exercises like squat presses and medicine ball wall throws to push your limits even further.
Moving toward Europe, Parkour or Freerunning has it’s origins in France. And while it may have started with individuals jumping, somersaulting and running across rooftops, walls and railings you can now find indoor parkour courses and classes at various indoor sites around the UK and for those less brave but like the idea of bouncing around you could try one of the new trampoline parks springing up or  Boogie Bounce which is a choreographed aerobic class performed on trampettes.
Actually talking of obstacle courses…..  while the US and Asia may have globally popularised extreme obstacle courses on TV shows like Ninja Warrior and Takeshi’s castle. It was Europe that brought it to the general public with the Tough Guy Challenge (which has been going for 30 years!!!), Tough Mudder and The Spartan Races. Working as a team against obstacles like ice water baths, commando crawls in the dark and tear gas as well as flaming hoops spread over a 10 mile course tests your mental and physical endurance to the extreme.
Travelling further afield and bringing a lot of summer vibes Zumba classes take their inspiration from latin dance moves from countries like Spain and Brazil. Zumba now comes in a variety of formats from aqua classes in the pool, to using a step or even maraca style weights.
India has inspired a number of fitness classes – the most obvious being Yoga in it’s many variations – improving our balance, core strength and flexibility as well as being a great stress reliever. One of the latest Yoga trends is aerial Yoga, where the positions are performed on a material loop suspended from the ceiling.
While we’re in India – remember those extravagant dance routines from Bollywood films? Both BollyX and Bombay Jam are dance fitness classes that take their moves straight from the movies.
Asia is of course the home of martial arts – karate, taekwondo, muay thai, kung fu and tai chi are just 6. Each have their own styles and you can find beginner classes all over.  One class that aims to combine martial arts in a non-impact and fun environment is BodyCombat where you can kick, punch and kata your way to better fitness.
So where are you heading for a holiday? Maybe you could be inspired by your next class or have a look at the link below to see what other countries do to work out 🙂

Old Dog/New Tricks? Is it too late to make a big change?

I remember when I turned 40 some of my older friends would tell me not to worry as 40 was the new 30, much like people seem to do these with any of the big birthdays – 60 is the new 50… and so on….
Originally I just laughed it off however studies (by Professor Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov) have shown that compared to previous generations, in terms of  our health and the number of years we may have left on earth, there is some truth in it. In fact, it could be an understatement and actually 50 may be the new 30!
The nature of our work, our environment and advances in medicine mean that we’re living way longer than previous generations.
When it comes to our work, despite the fact that we’re expected to continue working well into our sixties and beyond, the workplace is still firmly fixated on hiring fresh faced youths and though in your 30’s you might still seen as having some potential left and making moves into management – by your forties they’re not so keen! In my previous work it seemed the older you were, if you weren’t going into management you were moved sideways or even downward, from customer facing, into back office and administration roles which were not as “high profile” and would be “less stressful”!!
It’s usually around this age that you start to take stock and wonder if you took the right path. You might be thinking although you started as a go-getter, somehow work and family have overtaken you life, and now you’re never gonna get it.  Maybe you’re worried this could be your last chance at chasing your dream – so how difficult or easy could it be to make a big change?
It’s also around this time that we notice the effects of age on our bodies and it’s true that our bodies do in theory start to decline. From the age of 40, our eyesight starts to worsen, our bodies store fat more easily, bones start to lose density and we begin to lose our muscle definition. Let alone the fact that those little wrinkles also start to deepen – and that’s just the start!
Reality sucks and the problem is that it IS harder to start again once you’re over 40 the slight silver liner being that it’s easier at 40 than at 50!
So if you’re at that point and have that dream career in mind or really want to do something about those extra inches that seem to be creeping on – it can be done – there’s plenty of examples of people that have been able to make that change (me included) but the time to do something about it is NOW!
If you’re after a particular career look at the skills needed and see how close you match, if not think about how you could gain those skills?  what would the affect be on your family and finances? could you start at the bottom of the ladder and cope with a reduced income? and really think about what it is that you’re trying to get away from. Is it really the current job your unhappy with or is it the company? For a lot of people, they get trapped within an organisation and simply switching companies is the change they needed. Or maybe it’s not the job at all….. and is something else.
When it comes to your health – again your 40’s are a great place to restart a fitness programme – yes it will take longer to build muscle and/or lose weight – but so long as you know this – then why not? By starting now you are adding a lot more years to your life than if you leave it until your retirement and means you can actually enjoy that retirement for a lot longer. Training with weights will help keep those bones stronger for longer and will help to keep or build muscle definition and a good cardio workout will help keep that heart ticking.
When I turned 40 I was a smoker, putting on weight, my psoriasis was getting worse and after 17 years in finance was really unhappy and stressed at work! Reviewing my situation – it seemed that everything seemed to stem from the stress at work and needed something new. It was one of the older instructors at my local gym that suggested a career in fitness and I did my homework and got really excited at the prospect. Thankfully I did a lot of planning, did my inital qualifications as a nightclass, and focused on getting healthy – stopping smoking, eating right and starting a proper training regime. Then once qualified reduced my hours in my old job, whilst working casually in the gym, which then gave me the experience to find a permanent job. Since then I’ve done further qualifications, and slowly built up my number of clients, classes and hours. It’s not easy! It’s a lot of work and was initally a huge reduction in income, but looking back over the last 3 years from where I was to where I am now – I am so pleased I made the decision to change and have never been fitter or happier.
Age really shouldn’t be a barrier – don’t feel that you are too old – it may be difficult as we get older but I see people in the gym that are just starting at the age of 65, and there’s one older gentleman that comes in every single day for a run on the treadmill a short weights programme and just celebrated his 92nd birthday!
If you had a chance at your dream job – what would it be and would you take that chance? Let me know!

Two Much? Why sometimes it’s better to workout alone.

What do you prefer?