HIIT the gym: life after running

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For years and years running was pretty much the only exercise we did, with past forays into body attack classes and pathetic attempts on the occasional machine at the gym in between.

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But this year something weird has happened. After dragging ourselves onto the streets day after day for as long as we can remember, we just….. quit. I (Ali) was the first to go – after completing the Ron Hill 10k I started seeing Sy, a PT at my then-local gym The Fitness Bank in Oswaldtwistle who opened my eyes to the world of weights. Our weekly sessions led to 6am workouts most days and the baby weight loss plan really kicked in so much faster than it had running.

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Sy was kind enough to let me bring the baby along to training sessions and workouts which helped massively in getting me down to the gym in the first few months post-baby – no excuses.

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Top fitness tip: switching slippers for trainers is a good start

After just a few months I’d lost almost 2 stones and felt in much better shape than ever before at that weight – I’d been lighter before, but less toned so for once I was happy to stay at that weight and focus more on strength and toning.

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Chaz completed her second marathon in May and after persuading her to do it, Faye uttered the words many a marathon runner has said mid-race “once this is over with I am NEVER doing it again”. Spluttered in the heat of the moment, I know many runners pick themselves back up to run another day, but we’ve never been “natural” runners and we’ve always enjoyed the accomplishment more than the task in hand, so after a few months of secretly running for fear I’d tell her off (true), Chaz decided to quit the pavement pounding too.

So what on earth have we been doing to keep fit since then? Asked no one, but we’ll tell you anyway.

Kayla Itsines

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A few months ago Chaz kicked off the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide plan. I persuaded her to do the workouts at the gym so I could join in and we could chat in between reps about everyone we know. Incredibly, we stuck to the entire 12-week programme (more or less) and noticed real changes.

Australian Instagrammer Kayla is a PT responsible for amazing transformations whose BBG plan is based on three workouts a week – usually one legs, one arms/abs and one full body. There are two circuits of four exercises in each workout, both of which you do twice on a seven-minute timer until you drop. Foolishly, we embarked on it thinking “it’s only 28 minutes, how hard can it be?” The answer is “excruciatingly”. BUT it’s short enough to get it over with and carry on with your life so it appeals to people like us, who can’t be arsed spending long in the gym when there’s Netflix and wine.

After two or three years of marathon and ultra marathon training runs saw us out for up to four hours at a time, it was a real treat to be in and out of the gym in less than an hour, no matter how much we cursed Kayla and her lithe little beach body at the time.

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When it takes a Strictly sandwich for you to notice you actually have arm definition

Kayla’s resistance workouts feature lots of squats and lunges, many incorporating weights and bursts of cardio like skipping and burpees. It’s hard but it really works and we would highly recommend it.

At-home workouts

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Aeroplanes at Buggy Fitness with Jess, Katie and Sarah

Before starting the Kayla programme I did a few workouts at home from the likes of Emily Skye and Joe Wicks, as well as a killer plyometrics workout Sy challenged me to do after almost killing me in the gym.

There are loads of HIIT apps and videos available online and on social media nowadays, many free and most require little to no equipment. I picked up an aerobic step for £10 from Tesco then saw one for £3 in a charity shop the next day, such is life.

After going to Buggy Fitness classes during my maternity leave, I got loads of ideas on how to work out in the park too. Benches, steps and hills are your friend (frenemy?) in the world of exercise.

Classes

On my first day back at work after nine months’ maternity leave I challenged myself to find a gym nearby where I could do Kayla workouts, but what I found on recommendation from my friend Marie was even better.

FLS – which stands for fitter, leaner, stronger – is a personal training and group fitness centre at Time Technology Park in Altham, two minutes’ drive from my office with 30-minute lunchtime abs blast, HIIT and workout of the day classes perfect for a mid workday workout. After just a week of going, I’d already conquered our shared fear of the dreaded box jump so it’s onwards and upwards from here.

Never say never, but it seems like our days of being Kings on the run are well and truly behind us…. for now.

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