The world’s fitness professionals reveal the simple, effective shape-up tactics they use themselves and on their A-list clients
Secrets of the super fit
Tracy Anderson, who has trained Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, doesn't believe
in repetition or straining your muscles, as this can bulk you up. Alternate running, skipping and galloping through the park to work
different muscle groups. She also suggests cardio dance classes or
just go clubbing (without drinking alcohol!) - which are more fun than
regular exercise and work the muscle groups professional dancers use to
become long and lean.
Achieving a washboard stomach is all in the breathing. 'When doing
sit-ups, I blow out audibly as I curl up,' says Nick Mitchell, trainer
for supermodels such as Zoe Duchesne. 'This makes my stomach muscles
stronger.' Apparently, the less air in the lungs, the more forcible the
'Stretching aligns the muscle fibres to give a lengthened appearance,'
says Luke Meessmann, master trainer and manager of TenPilates Chiswick
in London (tenpilates.com), who trains Jemima Khan and Claudia Schiffer. 'This is most important post-exercise, not only for aesthetic purposes,
but to release lactic acid to help muscles recover correctly.'
'Don't work out on an empty stomach,' warns personal trainer Tim Baird. 'I eat light carbs, such as a bowl of cereal, a while before exercising.' You'll have more energy if you cut out processed food, too. Roberts also suggests drinking a glass of water ten minutes before a jog. 'This quickens hydration by pushing the water into the system more effectively.'
James Duigan, personal trainer to Elle Macpherson, recommends the energy
booster Pur-XP Glisodin to his high-profile clients at the
exclusive London gym Bodyism (www.bodyism.com). 'It's a potent
antioxidant that prevents lactic acid build-up when working out, which
helps you recover more quickly,' he says.
All the experts agree that bodies get used to the same cardio, so
suggest reaping benefits with interval training. 'The more you mix it
up, the more your body will respond and the more fat you'll burn,'
explains Duigan. Swap your cardio every six months to keep your body and
mind interested. 'Elle Macpherson is always doing something different -
spinning, Bikram yoga. Now she's into surfing,' he adds.
Research shows that listening to music during exercise can heighten
co-ordination and distract from feelings of fatigue. Plus it 'elevates
the neuro-transmitters dopamine and acetylcholine, which increase our
ability to focus,' says Mitchell. Anderson adds, 'I have 30 minutes of
music I love on my iPod, and I don't stop until the music does.' Keep
your favourite song for the end and when you're waning, it'll give you the
push you need.
As a mother who runs a large business, ex-personal trainer and Soap
& Glory and FitFlop founder Marcia Kilgore never finds time to get
to the gym, so she builds exercise into her routine. 'I wear FitFlops,
piggyback my two-year-old, take the stairs two at a time and give the
lift the shift,' she says. Meessmann also thrives on accidental
exercise. 'It's amazing how quick it is to walk between most tube or bus
stops, and beat the queue for the escalator by taking the stairs.'
You'll get that natural feel-good factor even after these simple steps.
'Racing creates an amazing rush,' says personal trainer Matt Roberts. 'Try to catch up with people who are 100m ahead, or run with someone
better than you to push yourself harder.' Invest in the Nike + iPod
Sport Kit, a device that attaches to your trainer and counts your
pace, distance and calories burned while you listen to your iPod.
To maximise your calorie burn, fitness trainer Gina Hemmings swears by
wearing a heart-rate monitor (from heartratemonitors.co.uk). 'It's the simplest way to stay in your intense, heart-pounding,
fat-burning zone rather than guessing if you're working at your best,'
she explains. 'A lot of the time, you may find you're just not giving
enough effort to make a real difference.'