It’s dark out, probably raining, and you’re trying to find a reason why you should climb out of your fleecy PJs to get to the gym. You’re probably a bit hungover from Christmas drinks too and the thought of squats is making you feel queasy.
Yes, it's the time of year when exercise becomes a struggle, and our good habits start to slip. Mostly because mince pies are much more delicious than spirulina bites and there’s Quality Street everywhere we look...
So how do you keep up your fitness mojo over the festive season? 'Tis the season to mix up your workouts and make them more enjoyable, embrace the festive incentives and plan them around your Christmas social schedule. Run for the reward of a mince pie, and if you know you’re out that night, hit the gym in your lunch break instead. Keep up the good work now, and January won't seem so glum. Here’s how we’ll be tackling the festive season...
Sign up for a race
Struggling to find the motivation to pull on your running shoes in the morning? Sign up for a race that takes place early next year so that you know you need to get out and train. Winter Run is the perfect goal. When you know you’ve got a 10km at the end of January, the fear gets you out on the pavement. This year, it’s happening in London, Liverpool, and Manchester, so no excuses.
Give yourself an incentive
Craving Pret’s Christmas sandwich? Us too. And the trimmings. But make sure you work for it. Try making a pact not to indulge in a festive latte unless you’ve sweated out a class in your lunch break first. 'Give yourself mini goals, so that you are still able to reward yourself with the odd Christmas treat. Don’t base exercises on your mood and what’s easy, as this will only de-motivate you and prevent you from achieving your workout goals', explains Clint Kelly, a trainer at London studio, SIX3NINE. We’re all for having your Christmas cake and eating it too, but with all the temptations at this time of year, it’s important to strike the right balance and keep your eye on the prize.
Plan non-drinking days with a friend and hit the gym together
We know it’s hard at this time of year, but it’s important to make non-drinking days... and stick to them. So team up with a friend, say no to the booze together, and vow to go to a class together the next morning. 'Friends don't let friends miss gym sessions!' says Carl Martin, Personal Trainer Manager at Equinox. 'Find someone who has similar fitness levels and hold each other accountable. Training with a partner also doubles the accountability and keeps you motivated as you both bounce of each other’s energy and spur each other on.'
Go hard and go fast
When everyone’s out being merry and having festive fun, the last thing you want to be doing is spending all evening in the gym. Instead, go hard and fast, then you can still join everyone later. Get to the gym as quick as possible after work, put on some serious power tunes, and GO. 'Spend 20 minutes doing exercises that give you the most bang for your buck, such as HIIT training, sprint intervals and resistance training — squats, deadlifts, and bench presses', suggests Carl Martin at Equinox. Likewise, try to get out to a quick class in your lunch break. Try ZUU, Virgin Active’s fast class, which powers your body with primal movements inspired by the animal kingdom. It’s just a 20 minute class, but you’ll crawl and lunge your way through it, sweat-soaked as you work your whole body; strengthen muscles, boost cardio endurance and develop agility and flexibility.
Get involved in studios’ Christmas incentives
Gyms and studios are doing a great job of helping us keep up our fitness levels up over the Christmas season. Fitness First is doing 12 Days of Fitness, which means members can bring a friend train with them for free for 12 days (from December 1). Core Collective is offering 30 days unlimited use for £195 over the holiday season. And 1Rebel is running 'The 12 Days of ChristmASS', whereby it’s encouraging people to go hard and faithful, and commit to 12 butt related classes, full of squats and lunges throughout December. 1Rebel is also running Couples Therapy, encouraging couples to work out together in order to feel revived together over the festive period.
Get good gym gear
If all you’ve got at home is your summer running shorts and t-shirt, no wonder the idea of exercise is paining you. Revel in the joys of buying beautiful new winter gear, then get out and christen it. We’re favouring Nike’s cropped hoodies, Vie Active compression tights, and Lorna Jane zip-front sports bras. Don't forget to add a batch of new kit to your Christmas list (hey, Santa...), to motivate you through the new year.
Finally, remember to keep your eye on the prize. As Gentry Long, Managing Director of Equinox Fitness Clubs reminds us, 'Remember that summer bodies are made in winter'. That beach holiday you’ve got booked in June? Work hard now, feel great then.
Words by Alice Tate