I was chatting to a friend at the weekend. She's signed up for a trial at Easygym in Soho, and has noticed a pattern: "I couldn't get a machine first week of Jan. Now it's like a ghost-town". I laughed. It's an embarrassingly cliched New Year ritual - resolutions plus Lycra gifting at Christmas equals a gym-bound rush. Sudden aches in places you didn't know could ache plus non-immediate results equals an abrupt fall from the wagon. All pain no gain does not a gym bunny make.
I've tried various ways to cajole and bully my way into better shape and health over the years, and - though I used to cringe whenever my mother used the word - balance is key. Variety is the spice of life. Everything in moderation. You get the gist.
Yesterday, I tried Barry's bootcamp. Today I am sore. When I posted on my Instagram that I was going, there was a mixed response. Lots of nervous-smilie-faces, but also a flock of Barry-ites telling me I'd get the bug and basically never leave. My opinion was somewhere in the middle.
To me, Barry's is best alongside another form of (less intense) training. I'm not in this to destroy myself and my blow-dry on a daily basis, but sporadic Barry-ing is an awesome challenge. The split-class structure quickly ups your cardio endurance as well as muscular strength. Which is a posh way of saying you beast yourself on both treadmill and floor-work, consecutively. It's somewhere between a spin class and Cross Fit, and there's something about the dark room, close bodies and pumping tunes that promotes solidarity and camaraderie. It's a personal battle, but everyone around you is in the same pain.
For strength and resistance training, though, I prefer something a little more personal and form-focused. What's the point in bashing out fifty press-ups when you're doing them wrong? My bi-weekly one-on-ones ensure I don't cheat, and take the onus off me for deciding what speed / weight to go for. Lazy, I know. I've been seeing Kristy at Duo Chelsea for a couple of months and my silhouette is much tighter and more toned. It's never cardio, but I'm just as sweaty and my heart rate is just as elevated as if it was.
My general routine for cardio is running. I've always run. When I was at school, I competed (badly) at cross-country, and in the Army, I did steeplechase. When my ex was killed in Afghanistan, running was my therapy, so I did the London Marathon. Trouble is, without a goal I can find myself floundering. It's too easy to come up with a reason to skip 'just this one', especially when it's cold. So I've signed up for the Sierra Leone marathon in May for Street Child Africa. You can do it with me if you like - I want to find a fit fam to make it more fun.
Speaking of fun, there's a load of super light-hearted new work-outs, the sort that work you out a little more sly-ly. I've just been to Pineapple for a 90s dance class with Oasis to celebrate the launch of their first ever #athleisure range, and Frame are popping-up in Liberty for a series of classes all this month. And don't get me started on Boogie Bounce...
If ever there's a time to try a new way of working-out, it's January. Particularly if you've gone (and stayed) dry..