It’s well and truly that time of year again. Social invitations and cheese platters abound, and long summer days have us reaching for a cold glass of rosé come 5 o’clock (rather than reaching for a new PB in the gym). Ahhh, Christmas. Our dear friend and worst enemy.
If you’re looking to balance the summer’s festivities with exercises that don’t involve pounding the pavement or being stuck on a machine for hours on end, we have some good news for you: our beloved Bay of Plenty offers a huge variety of health and fitness options to help you look and feel your best while lazing around these holidays (preferably on a large recliner in the sun, cocktail in hand). Below are our top three workouts to try this summer:
What? Rather than blasting a specific muscle group at a time as you do with conventional weight training, functional fitness focuses on improving the body as a whole to ensure it acts like a well-oiled machine not only in the gym but at home, at work and in any other situation life throws at you.
According to Reece Spee, owner of Spee Training in the Mount, functional training is about practising, adapting, correcting and strengthening movement patterns that cross over into our day to day life. “This type of training gives you confidence to be adventurous and daring with your sports and hobbies, as opposed to a gym equipment environment that restricts your natural flow and movement. Group training is also a great way to meet new, like-minded people.”
Why? The key benefits of functional training include posture and awareness, injury prevention, co-ordination, flexibility and conditioning. It’s also great for those who may have hit a weight-loss plateau, or for those who are time-poor (high intensity training means your workouts don’t need to be long in order to see great results, win-win!).
Keen? If you don’t have a training background, Reece says it’s important to ease your way in to functional training. “A 30min daily walk and simple body weight movements like squats, lunges, push-ups and basic planks is a good place to start. However, it’s important to get your technique right – your local functional fitness facility will be able to guide you on your journey to becoming functionally fit. It’s important to remember that fitter, faster, stronger isn’t a destination – it’s a way of life!”
What? The last few years have seen thousands of Kiwis swap treadmills for yoga mats, and it’s not hard to see why. From fast and sweaty Vinyasa to slow and relaxing Yin, yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practise that can be done anywhere, anytime, and boasts a raft of health benefits (from reduced stress to reduced waistline).
Stephanie Olver, owner of Mount Yoga – the only hot studio in the Bay – says ‘hot yoga’ is also soaring in popularity with people of all ages and abilities.
Why? Before you start sweating at the thought of doing yoga in a 35-degree heated room, it’s important to note that the benefits of yoga extend far beyond flexibility. “Time in a pose allows you to get present and observe your thoughts rather than being caught up in them – this is what keeps people coming back long after they’re able to touch their toes.”
Inflexible and uncoordinated? No worries! Steph says yoga is for anyone game enough to give it a go. “Very few people are naturally flexible – the reason we do yoga is to gain flexibility, strength and ease of movement, along with all the mental benefits. Each style of yoga we offer is quite different (Bikram, Hot Pilates, Ashtanga Rocket, Vinyasa and Yin yoga), so there’s definitely a style for everyone.”
Keen? Trying a few poses at home, like lying on the floor with your legs up the wall for 10 minutes, is a great way to introduce yourself to yoga. “Do some simple stretches while you’re watching TV so it doesn’t feel like a chore. If you are keen to try a class, it’s a good idea to call the studio where your local classes are run to ensure you pick the right class for your level of experience. Once you’re there, just enjoy the opportunity to be present and switch off from the outside world – you’ll feel amazing for it.”
A modern take on water aerobics
What? This one is for the adventurous-yet-injury-prone – the ‘Longe-Côte’ (walk along the coast) was born in 2007 in the North of France and is now booming across the globe, including here in New Zealand.
The Longe-Côte coast walk is recognised as ‘true ocean therapy’ and consists of wading in the sea, parallel to the beach, sometimes with a paddle or an oar. The resistance of water (of varying depth, from waist to mid-chest) helps to work and tone different parts of the body. Bay locals can now try this new activity for themselves throughout the year during 60-minute sessions in groups of 5-10 people on Mount Maunganui beach. Trés bon!
Why? From improving the cardiovascular system and endurance levels to supporting blood flow, this discipline is a fun and exhilarating new way to earn your protein shake.
Omanu lifeguard and Founder of Mount Maunganui Longe-Côte, the lovely (and very French) Nicolas Fromont, says the activity is easy on the joints (great for those who want to exercise without the joint damage associated with running), supports weight loss and combats stress, fatigue and asthma. “Salt, sand and surf is also great for your overall health and wellbeing, whether you’re looking to achieve leisure-based or athletic-based goals.”
Keen? Why wouldn’t you be – all you need is a wetsuit! If you want to get acquainted with the idea alone first, head to your nearest beach and practise wading through the water at different depths, throwing in a few arm movements and lunges to warm up. Once you’re feeling comfortable in the water, grab a mate and book in for a session with Nicolas.
Summer is the perfect time to kickstart your 2018 health and fitness goals, but it’s also a time to enjoy yourself – so drink the wine, eat the chocolate and try to move your body every day. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, so whether you’re power walking in the ocean, hitting the gym, getting bendy in the studio or conquering Mauao, there’s certainly worse places to break a sweat, right?!