This installment is all about summer fitness. Perhaps you spent all winter and spring preparing your beach body and are now looking for a fun way to maintain it. Or maybe you just know that exercise is an important investment in your long-term health and want to tend to that investment over the summer.
Whatever your motivation for staying fit this summer, almost everyone could use a little coaching when it comes to their exercise routine. We spoke to Alastair Greer, fitness expert, co-founder of City Athlete and president and CEO of WellBe Solutions, for his tips on staying fit during the summer months.
Exercise is an Investment
Like a sound financial investment, investing in your health is something that can have lasting benefits.
“Whenever I work with clients I tell them a consistent routine is so worthwhile for their longevity and health,” Greer says. “It doesn’t have to be this hour-long workout where you kill yourself trying to achieve something. It’s just adding these simple little activities into everyday life. I think whenever people realize that it’s very simple to do that, then they realize they actually enjoy it as well. But research tells us that being more physically active will extend your life. It’s really that simple.”
This Summer’s Fitness Trends
Greer says his favorite thing about keeping fit in the summer is that it’s easy to take your workouts outdoors. This option has given rise to a range of new fitness challenges.
“We’re seeing a lot of obstacle races,” Greer says. “Things like Spartan Race and Tough Mudder. They’re becoming incredibly popular. They’re attracting the class junkies — the people who love Soul Cycle and Flywheel — as well as the people who do half-marathons or triathlons. It just gives them a really exciting variety to the things they’ve been doing.”
Greer points out that the benefits of high-intensity interval training workouts (sometimes known as Tabata workouts) are also becoming more widely recognized. “After you finish the workout, you’re still burning calories three or four hours later,” Greer explains. “And in the long term, that changes your whole metabolism.”
Green suggests doing 20 seconds of an exercise at your maximum output, followed by 10 seconds of rest. “Traditionally this is done eight times,” he says. “It’s a four- or five-minute workout that can have good benefits.”
Greer’s also been playing with wearable fitness tools that can track your routine. Which ones does he think are worth the money? “I’m wearing a Flex now,” he says. “These devices are getting smaller and smaller. Nike+ has been playing around with sensors in your shoes. I think we’re just going see these things grow and grow in popularity.”
The Beach or Park Can Be Your Gym
A day at the beach or park with family or friends doesn’t mean you have to forgo your workout. In fact, Greer notes that there’s almost an endless number of exercises you can do in the great outdoors with little or no equipment.
“The beach and park have such a varied terrain,” he says. “It really gives you the opportunity to play with your surroundings. Use what you have around you. Don’t complicate it, don’t overthink the workout.”
He says that the sand at the beach can add some nice resistance to sprint intervals, making them a bit more challenging than what you’d experience on a treadmill or at the track. He goes on to note that hilly parks have similar benefits.
“Find a nice grassy hill,” he suggests. “Run intervals up the hill, going various distances and speeds, recover on the way down. Add a pushup on a hill, either facing uphill, which is easier, or facing down, which is more difficult. Use what you have around you: the benches, the gradients, the different kinds of horizontal poles. Just play with what you’ve got. Parks are like playgrounds.”
Train for Success
Having trouble motiving yourself to get fit this summer? Greer notes that hiring a trainer can be a valuable investment.
“There are huge benefits in letting a professional structure your workout,” he says. “It takes the thought out of it and lets you focus on the exercise and yourself instead of thinking about what’s next. It can push you to levels that you wouldn’t be able to attain yourself.”
But like any investment, Greer suggests doing bit of research before settling on a trainer.
“One of the important things is to check credentials,” he says. “Is your trainer insured? It’s probably a question you wouldn’t expect to ask but any good trainer will be public liability insured. And that in itself will give you a sort of peace of mind that this person is qualified and educated.”
Fitness on the Go
Traveling a lot this summer? Your exercise routine doesn’t have to fall by the wayside just because your European hotel doesn’t have a gym. “When you travel, you’re out of your element and out of your comfort zone,” he says. “You might not get the same quality of work out, but doing something is very important. Look at it as maintenance.”
Greer says he always packs resistance tubing and a jump rope when he travels, allowing him to have a great workout in his hotel room. “It’s a circuit of 5 exercises,” he says. “Do 20 reps of squats on your bed, 20 reps of rowing with the tubing, a plank series, 20 pushups, and jump rope for five minutes. Repeat this 3 times.”
What do you do differently in the summer to stay fit? How do you stay in shape when you’re traveling or spending the day outdoors?