FRONT ROOM FITNESS

In the current economic climate everyone’s feeling the pinch and discovering that something’s got to give to lighten the load, but don’t let your fitness regime drop off your to-do list.

Go it alone, save some pennies and beat the crunch by creating your own home workout. As part of the Sports Council for Wales’ efforts to get the nation shaping up on a shoestring, its resident fitness expert, Martin Evans, shows us how you can exercise anywhere, at any time and more often than not – for free!

Saving time and money aren’t the only plus points of opting for a workout in the comfort of your own home. Working up a sweat in public isn’t always the most attractive prospect; by working out at home you banish the embarrassment and can concentrate on getting yourself in shape. We all have a different fitness personality and the thought of working out in a room full of seasoned gym-goers can be intimidating for even the most technology confident of people.

So, if gyms don’t float your boat then a home workout could be the choice for you. Set yourself a plan that can be done from your front room, the garden, or even in your hotel room while you’re on holiday – and get active at your convenience.

First things first. Even though you’re opting to create a plan to suit you and to save some pennies, you need to ensure that your regime is structured in order to get the most out of it – you don’t want to spend hours exercising to discover that you’re not feeling the results.

The best way to prevent ‘it’s not working so I won’t bother’ attitude is to mix up your routine and aim to cover the main fitness areas - cardiovascular, resistance training and flexibility – by covering these three elements, you’ll be giving your body a good all round workout.

It’s all in the preparation so spend some time planning your workouts before launching straight in.

· Keep a workout schedule – take the time to sit down and discover exactly what it is you want to achieve and create a plan that echoes your needs. Mix it up to target all areas and prevent your workout from becoming monotonous.

· Designate a room or space for your workouts – de-clutter your spare room or garage and give yourself a decent area big enough to manoeuvre in. Not only will your exercises be more effective but you can train your brain to mentally prepare for exercise when entering your designated space. If room is tight then setting aside a specific time for each session, where you can push back the furniture and get stuck in, can be just as effective.

· Make some small but cost effective investments – arming yourself with some basic fitness equipment will make a noticeable difference to your regime. You don’t have to spend a fortune and most items will set you back less than £10. A skipping rope, resistance band, hand weights and stability ball can all come in handy and intensify your exercises.

Super saver – utilise what you can already get your hands on around the home – baked bean cans or 500ml bottles of water can work just as well as hand weights.

So you’re now fully prepared to go it alone, but how can you get your heart pumping and get an effective cardio workout without a treadmill or cross trainer?

Exercise DVDs

One of the easiest ways to work up a sweat while working out at home is to follow a fitness DVD. Borrow one from your local library to cut costs or invest in a selection and alternate the workouts – you’ll never get bored of working out at home again. You can find anything from boxercise to dance options. Pick one that looks fun and get started.

Skippy does it!

A skipping rope is one of the least expensive pieces of workout equipment you’ll ever buy. You can pick one up for a fraction or even borrow one from your children. To get a great cardio workout, simply find a space and skip for 20 to 30 minutes. For effective interval training, skip 100 jumps as fast as you can, then slow down to a more comfortable pace, barely lifting your feet enough to let the rope through and repeat.

Get stepping

You don’t need a class full of fellow steppers and an instructor to indulge in a good step workout – you can do it yourself without any specialised equipment. Utilise the bottom step of your stairs for more than just the ‘naughty step’ for the little ones – step up using your right leg first 12 times, then switch to lead with your left leg. Mix it up a bit by stepping side to side. Alternatively, use a sturdy box or crate.

Do it the military way

Circuit training is arguably one of the best ways to get fighting fit – if it’s good enough for the army, its good enough for you.

The beauty of a circuit routine is that you can pick and choose the exercises that work best for you with little or no equipment required and combine a mixture of cardio, resistance training and flexibility.

Make the most of your outdoor space; set out some markers and do a series of sprints to get the heart pumping. If space is tight, then make star jumps, box jumps and burpies a core part of your routine.

You need to build lean muscle to burn fat and speed up your metabolism so include press ups, sits ups, squats, lunges and dips into your circuit and do three lots of 12 repetitions of each to really feel the burn.

You could even add a power walk around the block!

So you’ve planned your workout and picked your exercises, all that’s left to do is grab a towel and bottle of water and get moving.

Join Shape Up on a Shoestring on Facebook for demonstrations of some of the exercises above, and to get more hints and tips on how you can be shaping up on a shoestring.

Always make sure that you consult your GP before undertaking any new form of exercise and remember, best results will always be achieved alongside a balanced diet.

Next week...Are you struggling to keep on track with your fitness regime? Need an extra push to keep yourself going? The Sports Council for Wales has lined up some of the best in sporting business to give us their top tips on how to stay motivated – come rain or shine!