#MixItUp for Variety and Balance

5 Mar 2020 13:50PM by Joseph Cummins

New year, new goals. If you’re yearning for a more balanced life and want to shake up your health and fitness regime, read on for tips from Virgin Active trainers on how to be a better version of yourself.

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Find the time to exercise

Carve out some time in your diary – even if it’s only 30 minutes – and treat it as a non-negotiable date with yourself. Be time efficient and train smart, not long. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts can burn more calories in 20-30 minutes than regular exercise for an hour. Even if you do 10-minute routines three times a day, it’s better than nothing.

Hannah Davies, Virgin Active Master Personal Trainer

Track your food

Forget diets – weight loss happens when you achieve a calorie deficit, i.e. when you move more than what you eat. To get the best results, you need to make yourself accountable and that means tracking your food. Download a free app like MyFitnessPal and track your food intake every single day. Once you have a rough idea of how much you eat in a day, then you calculate the amount of activity you need to offset your calorie intake. A good start if you want to burn more calories is to try to do 10,000 steps a day.

Jake McCarthy, Virgin Active Rockstar Instructor

Live a healthier lifestyle

The four golden rules of a healthier lifestyle are eating a balanced diet, keeping hydrated, sleeping and staying active. You can keep active in smaller everyday ways such as taking the stairs, walking up escalators or getting off a bus stop earlier. Do more activities with friends. Instead of going to the pub, why not go for a walk or play some football with your kids? Challenge your colleagues to a step challenge: see who can do the most steps across a week – make it fun!

Zsuzsanna Vinczeller, Virgin Active Rockstar Instructor 

Want to bulk up?

Bulking up in essence means having more muscle and more muscle means having great strength. What you need is a strength training regimen. For example:

  • Move some heavy weights at varying speeds.

  • Use time under tension to build strength.

  • Use speed to build explosive power.

  • Employing both of the above will hit both slow-twitch fibres and fast-twitch fibres in your body.

  • Use compound movements in your training and keep adapting the weight.

Jake McCarthy, Virgin Active Rockstar Instructor

Work on your flexibility

Tight muscles can be fixed – all you need is time and patience. Don’t skimp on stretching – you need to spend just as much time manipulating these tight muscles as you do on exercise. When you stretch, the ideal position is when you feel discomfort in the muscle, but not pain. Hold that position and feel the muscle go from its initial response (protecting it from pain) to softening and relaxation. Find a rhythm with your breathing. Inhale for 8 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. This breathing will help calm you and help settle you further into your stretching position. Try a Yoga or Reformer Pilates class to not only improve your flexibility but also strengthen your muscles in a lengthened state.

Paolo Gimenez, Virgin Active Grid Master Trainer


No pain, all gain

The right warm-up and correct movements can help you avoid injuries. Tailor the movements in your warm-up to what you’ll be doing in your session. For example, if you are going to be working your shoulders, hips or back with weight exercises, then repeat these movements with no weights before moving on to the actual weight session. Prepare and prime the body so that it’s ready to lift and move. Then during your workout, focus on the quality of your movements. Ensure you’re doing the movement correctly before adding weights. Once you have finished your workout, perform some static stretches on the muscles you have used in your session.

Jake McCarthy, Virgin Active Rockstar Instructor

Open your mind

If you don’t have the means for travelling to far-flung places, seek out as many people as you can who have grown up in different countries, whose first language is different to your own, who practise a different religion or are part of a different socio-economic group. You will discover the most eye-opening realities about the world and it will make you examine your own culture in ways you could never have imagined.

Claire O’Mahoney, National Group Manager


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