As we settle back into work after a well-deserved festive break, many of us are looking forward to resetting and redefining our priorities for the months ahead
January is the perfect time to kick start your health, wellbeing, and fitness regime. The past two years in particular have not only given us time to reflect on our priorities but have helped us realise the importance of making longer term changes to our health and fitness habits which work best with our lifestyles, rather than relying on short-lived bursts of willpower, which can be difficult to maintain.
Zoe Mead, manager at BLAZE Studio Birmingham, shares her thoughts on setting sustainable fitness goals, and why HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a great way to ensure a healthy future for 2022 and beyond.
Zoe says: “When people first embark on their health and fitness journey there is often an aspiration to see an immediate impact on their fitness levels and body shape. However, we usually don’t start to see any noticeable differences for up to a month.
PLAYING THE LONG GAME
“This apparent mismatch between increased exercise time and limited instant results can have an adverse effect on motivation levels in the early stages of an exercise regime, causing many people to feel deflated and to give up.
“Instead of quick fixes or ‘four-week programmes’, it’s important to remember that maximum, long-term success comes from taking small, achievable steps and gradually building up your strength and stamina over a sustained period. This means setting yourself simple goals and investing time in establishing regular, sustainable exercise patterns that you can realistically fit around your lifestyle and, therefore, maintain throughout the year.
“Long-term change involves adapting daily behaviours and introducing habits that are intentionally repeated until they become part of a new routine. The good news is that this change is within our grasp – it is well known that an action usually takes around 28 days to develop into an established habit.
“Although this embedding process may feel daunting, it’s important not to over-complicate training and instead, keep your goals in sharp focus. Engage in a physical activity that you actually enjoy and that you can manage to do around two to three times a week.
‘HIIT’ THE GROUND RUNNING
Zoe adds: “As a quick and time-efficient way to workout, HIIT is a great way to break through motivation barriers. Releasing a burst of feel-good endorphins and lasting no more than 45 minutes, HIIT is fun and fast-paced – and because it requires both concentration and precision, your brain can forget everyday stress factors as you strengthen your body. This kind of workout is popular because it not only increases your metabolism and burns a greater number of calories for up to 36 hours after a class, but it also combines combat and mixed martial arts with cardio and strength training, targeting multiple muscle groups.
“Ensure the goals and challenges that you set for yourself will fit into your current routine – this makes them easier to maintain in the longer-term. Add training into your diary and prioritise it in the same way as a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment. If you have an exceptionally busy schedule and work long days, don’t schedule impractical workout times, such as late-night sessions, as this is unrealistic and will quickly result in you feeling fed up or burnt out.
“Ultimately, the biggest, and perhaps most immediate, benefit of establishing good exercise habits is the impact on mental health. All physical activity has the potential to enhance wellbeing, improve sleep and boost energy for a more positive mood. Most HIIT classes also offer a community for optimum support, with motivational instructors and an immersive, nightclub vibe so that you can let go of any outdoor stresses and enjoy your fitness journey.”