Summer is just around the corner. It's time to wave goodbye to heavy jackets and say hello to festival wellies, sun dresses, one-piece swimsuits, and lazy evenings with friends. In prep for the warmer weather, we've asked fitness experts across the UK for their top 'beach body' tips.
Just what are their secrets for getting in shape? Here’s what they said.
1. Have fun. Forget cabbage diets and dull hours of trudging on a treadmill. Experts stressed the importance of liking your workout. ‘If you’re doing something you actually enjoy, you’ll stick to it,’ says Will Brereton, UK Manager of Beachbody Live. It seems obvious, but how many times have you slogged yourself off to a grim fitness routine? Focus instead on fun.
2. Embrace variety. How do you find that fun workout? Charlotte Roach, founder of fitness-focused group Rabble, recommends trying a range of things until you find what works for you. The mix is also good for your general fitness. ‘Often women will focus purely on endurance work or flexibility, but this is only useful to a point,’ she says. ‘It’s important to include variety in the workout in order to cover all components of fitness.’
3. Start with small changes. Don’t try to become a super athlete over night. Bonnie Parsons, Director of Seen on Screen Fitness, suggests starting with little swaps. Try a fresh-pressed all natural juice rather than a cappuccino, or pick an apple over chocolate. ‘I’ve just started having cappuccinos with almond milk, which is particularly nice,’ she adds.
4. Set a personalised goal, starting today. Storm Trentham, founder of DBA Sports, notes this is the best way to get in shape. Your goal could be anything from toning up, to entering Race for Life, to squatting 50k. ‘If you wake up not knowing what you’re going to do at the gym, then inevitably you will choose something easy. The summer will be here in no time – so make sure you set your goals now!’
5. Be smart with your time. ‘A common mistake is that you have to spend a lot of time on exercise to workout. But studies show that with high intensity training, you can do 15-minutes and burn a lot of calories,’ says Will. ‘You can workout for half an hour – but you need to work very hard for that time.’
6. Try to do something most days. If starting from a non-exercise background, ease yourself into your fitness regime. Try to exercise a couple times a week. On ‘days off’, Will suggests grabbing a bike or going for a long walk. ‘Do something that requires mobility but isn’t training hard. Don’t just sit down and pig out.’
7. Travel smart. Don’t let your summer holiday mess up your fitness efforts. ‘Carry a resistance band so there are no excuses,’ recommends Anya Lahiri, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp. Resistance bands are ‘lightweight and effective, so they can be thrown in your suitcase or handbag for an on-the-go all round workout. You can use bands for every muscle group.’
8. Tone your triceps. Even if you don’t have access to a gym, you can get your arms summer dress-ready with one of Bonnie Parsons’ favourite moves: the tricep dip (you know, those narrow, shoulder-width dips you can do using a chair or a bench). ‘You can do it with girls in the office, wherever you are. It takes two minutes. Squeeze your stomach while while you do it to build your core.’
9. Or incorporate a few toning exercises. ‘There’s no secret to achieving a lean, sculpted body,’ explains Vicki Anstey, founder of ballet-based workout Barreworks. ‘It takes regular practice of the right kinds of exercises.’ She recommends holding plank position to tone your abs. ‘For the best bikini-bottom on the beach try kick-ups.’
10. Target your abs with weights. ‘Lift heavier weights to sculpt those abs,’ says Anya. ‘There’s nothing like jackknives or weighted crunches to get bikini-ready definition in your abs. Heavier weights will change your body and target those stubborn bits at the bottom of your belly.’
11. Or just try weights in general. ‘A lot of women worry that weights will bulk their muscles up. Weight training actually does the opposite when done correctly,’ says Simone Dailey, a fitness professional. ‘Weights can build lean muscle mass, helping cut out body fat, leaving you smaller, leaner, and lighter.’
12. Eat smart. It’s not enough to exercise, notes Olga Allon, Studio Director of Hot Bikram Yoga. ‘You have to consider diet.’ Olga suggests starting the day with protein; having clean low-releasing carbs like sweet potatoes, with protein and fibre for lunch; and finishing with protein and veg for dinner. ‘It’s all about doing it slowly to build it into your regular routine,’ she notes. ‘Don’t try too many changes too quickly.’
13. Try a bit of meditation. This can take your daily workout to the next level, notes Nick Higgins, co-founder of HotPod Yoga. It’s about ‘being able to watch your thoughts and letting them go, rather than becoming attached to possible thoughts of ‘I’m too fat’.’ Through meditation, you can focus more on ‘exercising your body and mind’ while striving to reach your goals.
14. Be sure to leave that desk. ‘Don’t sit for long periods at a time,’ adds Nick. ‘We as a society sit for such long periods.’ He suggests cycling or walking to work – particularly tempting as the weather improves.
15. Treat your post-exercise skin like a peach. This is an insider tip Bonnie’s makeup-artist sister has shared with her. ‘After a workout, a lot of people think they have to scrub the sweat away.’ But this can lead to dry skin and breakouts. ‘My sister suggests treating your skin like a peach,’ and not doing anything that would bruise the fruit. Also remember the sunscreen.
16. And finally, don’t give up. Change won’t happen overnight. ‘Getting into shape is not a race. It’s a lifestyle. The biggest mistake is when people cut out too many food groups and train too hard too quickly. This kills their motivation,’ notes Simone. Focus on setting small goals, and be patient with yourself.