What is the best way YOU should exercise?

As am employer offering corporate perks, best practice would be that any fitness offerings are varied, ensuring all employees feel there is something they can align themselves.

Many businesses tackle this two-fold; 1) by offering a corporate gym membership scheme and 2) supporting this with in-office Yoga, Pilates, Boot-camp, or a running club. Very rarely will a company offer the full array of fitness offerings, for a number of reasons.

Other low-cost employer-led fitness solutions include the installation of gamification tools such as Stepjockey, or distribution of fitness tracker for the team.

FTSE100 employers through to boutique Hedge Funds often have bespoke gyms and studios built specifically for their employees. Fantastic!

That is enough about the platforms. What about you considering what the best method of exercise may be for yourself, to ensure optimal health and fitness. The chances are that each and every person sitting around the desk will reach their optimal fitness levels through different means and interests.

Do you feel old, tired, and broken? If so then maybe you need to reconsider your activity levels and favoured activities. Often we see that people chose the most convenient methods to get fit. I am sure we all know someone at work who has taken up running just to lose weight. To make a change, we must first recognise the need. Deciding to get running is great, but something else may be greater!

There is an expression ‘get fit to run, not, run to get fit’. Please take this with a pinch of salt (Himalayan sea salt by Jamie Oliver of course!) Running will do wonders for the vast majority of us, true. But it could leave you achy, tired and de-motivated. Guess what? There is a solution; try something else!

I believe Rocky Balboa once said (and let’s excuse his grammar!), “it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Why did I just quote Rocky, well many reasons, 1) I am a lifelong fitness fanatic, so by default I love Rocky films. 2) It is an excellent quote, in fact, I suggest playing the clip or sticking it on a playlist for working out. 3) I take it to mean this; keep trying your hardest, but keep moving forwards and finally 4). Many of the CEO’s and high-flying individuals I have trained in the course of my career love the Rocky films too.

If you are not moving forwards and seeing progress with your training, then pick yourself up and try something else. In fact, we often experience our greatest fitness improvements at the beginning of our new endeavors, so if you try Zumba for two months, quit and swap it for the local Kettlebell class, then so be it! I am sure after another two months you will be fitter, more coordinated and stronger than before you started Zumba. Mix it up, or not, it’s up to you, just keep moving forwards. The other great benefit of new experiences if of course is meeting new people, new friends.

Some guidelines that may help you in exercise selection:

  1. Start slow. If you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go immediately “all out.” Prevent injury and discomfort by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.
    Team or individual, game or sport! Consider what you’ve done historically, what did you enjoy as a child? What were you more natural at? If you played Rugby all your childhood through to early adulthood then perhaps find a master’s club or consider something similar. If you prefer solitary exercise, then put your headphones on and get jogging!
  2. Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks so that it becomes a habit, and force yourself to stick with it. That will be much easier if you find activities you enjoy! Better still if you can find a ‘workout-buddy’ who is a similar age and fitness level then your chances of success are likely to increase (assuming your partner shares your motivation).
  3. Stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
  4. Regularly reward yourself for successes, but do it in the right fashion, for example, if your quest is to lose weight then treating yourself to a pair of fancy gym shoes would be sensible. If your mission is to gain strength, then the obligatory monthly sports massage would double up as a reward (assuming you’ve earned it!).
  5. Recognise problems. Exercise should never hurt. It may often be uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t feel pain. Listen to your body. If you tend to experience discomfort after exercising for a while, try exercising for less time or consider a new method of exercise.
  6. Exercise mindfully. Zone in not out! Put your phone away (or on airplane mode if it’s your iPod!), pay attention to your body and what you’re doing. Focus on how your body feels as you exercise, the rhythm of your breathing, the way your muscles contract as you move. By doing this, you’ll enjoy your exercise more, stay focused, reduce stress, and achieve greater results. For many people the hour of exercise may well serve as the daily digital-detox.

I’ve slightly gone off piste (by the way, Cross-country Skiing is one of the most brutal and efficient exercise pursuits) with this blog.

Hold one one second, regarding Cross-country skiing, here is a picture of my new toy @concept 2. It’s a Ski Erg, a fantastic low impact piece of kit that allows you to get an amazing cardio workout while giving the feet a bit of a breather. I love it.

Employers, please take note. Please try and promote a balanced fitness offering. In-office Yoga is great, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Employees take note. If you are the Rugby playing weightlifter then perhaps a weekly in-office Yoga session will allow you to play on as a weekend Rugby player till later on in life!

Variety is the spice of life after all. Keep plugging away, mix it up, enjoy it. It goes without saying, but a corporation will benefit greatly from having a happy, healthy, motivated workforce. When considering what wellness options will be met with most enthusiasm, it is imperative to find out each employees’ goals and needs. Address these targets and reap the rewards.

Next time I will be tackling nutrition during the summer. Watch this space!

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