For lots of us with busy schedules, it often feels like we have to make a choice: go to the gym, or go out and socialise with friends.
And we all know how it goes: the longer you spend not exercising, the harder it is to get back into it, so given the choice between yoga and a cocktail (or three), you’ll be at the bar faster than you can say “Mojito.”
At least that’s how it was for Catherine. The 34-year-old mum from Milton Keynes used to be very active before she got pregnant with her daughter, Sophia, almost a year ago, but now struggles to find the time – and motivation – to work out.
“When I weigh up the options of going to the gym or going out and socialising with some friends, I’d rather put the money towards a drink or money towards some social time, to go and see them all or something instead of paying for a gym membership,” she says.
Catherine is determined to get #backontrack and to start fitting her favourite exercise of choice – yoga, as well as runs with her husband – into her daily routine.
“I miss being active, mainly because I think it’s very important for myself and my family, and for me to set that example for my children.
“Also for my health – I just feel tired most of the time. That just makes me feel really bad inside when I know how fit I used to be and how much activity I used to get into my day,” she says.
Personal trainer Alex Craine advises those getting back into exercise after a break to start with short and sharp training – he recommends high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions, which can be done in as little as 8 minutes and are easy to fit around your everyday schedule.
Even if you can only spare 10 minutes a day for training, every little bit helps, and blocking out the time each week will help you get into a routine as you gradually build up your fitness levels. For those out of practice, Alex advises keeping training sessions 48 hours apart, to give your body time to recover and minimise the chance of injury.
He also recommends turning exercise into a social event, especially for those who value their social lives, like Catherine. You can merge fitness and socialising by joining a local running club or group boot camp. CrossFit also has a strong community aspect, which helps keep participants motivated.
“The hardest part is getting into habits which you can stick to, therefore set specific nights/mornings where you know fitness won’t be interrupted by a social event,” says Alex.
For example, midweek evenings or weekend mornings are a good time to integrate exercise into your weekly routine to make it a regular habit.
“If you get involved with group exercise, it becomes much more enjoyable and you are much more motivated to go, so as not to let the others in the group down,” he says.