Putting the fun back into fitness.

A month ago I wrote about my change in fitness routine from an expensive Gym membership to a free and more free-form based program (you can read that post here).

I thought I would get you up to date with how that is all going so far.

So my current routine has 4 components:

  1. Running (jogging).
  2. High-intensity interval training (or HIIT)
  3. Cycling
  4. Yoga

Running.

I generally run (and when I say run, I mean joggle at variable speeds) around the streets near my house or around the local lake. Once a week I run a track around a nearby mountain ( and by mountain I mean big hill).

Im really happy with the way this is going. I used to run a lot when I was younger and have now re-discovered the sheer joy of jogging along a nature trail or track at dusk.

Compared to my first encounters where I quickly realised I had been neglecting my aerobic fitness, I can slowly feel my endurance and ‘running legs’ improving. I am doing about 3-5 kilometres per session, which is not much in the running world. But it is a base on which to build.
And importantly, I am enjoying it.

HIIT

Twice a week I do HIIT. This is the quickest and least fun of all my exercise routines. It is REALLY hard work and as its name suggests…highly intense.

High-intensity interval training is currently very popular as a method to maximise VO2 max (maximal aerobic capacity – an accurate measure of fitness and aerobic endurance) with quite a few studies now supporting its effectiveness.

There are many different flavours of HIIT, all of them requiring repeating cycles of short bursts of very high intensity activity followed by a rest period.

The system I use is called the Tabata Regimen. It uses 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest which repeats for 8 cycles.
I then rest 2 minutes before repeating the process with a different exercise. In total I do 3 different exercise types in each session. Sounds easy.

That’s a total of 14 lung screaming, vomit inducing minutes and you are done.

Timer1
Screenshot of the Seconds Interval Timer app.

Currently I do not use any equipment for this, so each excessive set consists of things like burpees, star jumps, sprints etc. Here are some videos of the sort of stuff I am talking about.

To help with this I use an app called Seconds Interval Timer on my iPhone. It has a nice big display and can be set up so my entire routine is marked out with a voice prompt at each change point.

Cycling

We are just transitioning out of winter here at the moment and so I have pulled my bike out of hibernation, lubed up the chain and started riding places. Simple as that.

My goal with cycling is not to become a lycra wearing, leg shaving road racer, but simply to use my bike much more frequently as a mode of transport and enjoyment.

Yoga

As I get older I can feel myself getting all stiff and corrugated. In particular I notice the tightness and lack of suppleness in my hamstrings and my lower & upper back.

So. I have been doing 30 min yoga every 3rd day or so. As the point here is to develop a free, and easily accessible anywhere fitness program I have not joined any classes. I admit this is not ideal as Yoga really requires attention to detail in form and technique. I imagine the hands on feedback you get in class from an instructor is super important.

DownDog.png
Screen shot from the Down Dog App.

Instead (after doing some research online to find a quality app) I use an app called Down Dog which has both free and pro (subscription) options. For me the free version offers plenty of content. I really like the encouraging voice of the teacher, and there is a decent accompanying music soundtrack that changes even when you to the same routine over.

So I roll out my yoga mat, place my iPad on the floor in front of me and follow along (as Juno does his best to distract me by jumping all over me and humping my downward dog).

So far, so good.

So that is it for my new fitness program.
I would say that I am probably spending more time overall engaged in fitness activities than I did when using my gym membership.

I can definitely say that I am enjoying it more and I feel far more energised and mentally switched on than I did before.

You might notice that there is not a lot of resistance training involved here and that it is aerobic-centric. I will be looking at ways to incorporate more resistance training in the near future (probably using one of the free outside fitness stations that are popping up all over the place).

I will write an update in another month of how things are progressing.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi Ian, I totally agree with your no gym approach. I believe if you do stuff you enjoy doing (at least most of the time) you will keep it up, and you can “mix and match” to how you feel on a given day. I’ve been doing yoga for over 20 years but I don’t seem to be disciplined enough to practise on my own very often! I know I sound like every other fitness zealot when I say you must find a teacher…but you must. A good yoga teacher is about way more than form and technique. They will explain which muscles you are using, which muscles shouldn’t be working, and can provide adaptations if you can’t manage the classic pose. Based on my own experience, I would steer away from a gym yoga class (sorry if I offend anyone) and go for a small local place. In Melbourne I would recommend the neighbourhood houses. Low key, often pay as you go, with teachers that are used to dealing with all sorts of abilities. Having said all that, I am going to give the app a go. My yoga teacher tells me that the poses you hate are probably the ones you should do most, which creates problems with self directed practise! Thanks for a thought provoking post.
    Leanne

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  2. Wow Ian. Fantastic work. You are covering all bases with this workout. As u know i am a huge fan of tabata.
    U might want to try a Parkrun or two.
    If u dont know what Parkrun is check it out. It is a weekly 5k timed event done all over the world every Saturday at around 8am. And its free. .. started in uk. You could become a parkrun tourist and visit different ones every week ( some people actually take holidays to do different ones)
    You can walk , jog take dogs… it is a hugely friendly phenomenon. . U might even get quite competitive.
    And as far as resistance training goes i use resistance bands for some different exercises ie lat pulls (row like exercise ) and tricep extensions… options again endless and can be done at home too . Having a pole helps to wrap it around.
    Carry on the good work btw
    Amanda

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