When was the last time you worked out? A new study by Nuffield Health has found that almost half of all women in the UK have done no vigorous exercise in the past 12 months, stating a lack of motivation as the primary reason. Despite a boom in at-home workout apps and athleisure during the pandemic, 38 per cent of women said their lockdown workouts have lapsed all together.
Research suggests that even just a two-week hiatus from exercise can lead to substantial loss in muscle mass and strength. So if you’re looking to get back into the gym, but the thought of 45 minutes on a treadmill feels like a fate worse than death, fear not.
Getting into shape does not mean starting every morning with 25 burpees. For many of us gentler activities like yoga, walking or barre are just as effective and easier to stick with. Elisa Grosso, a Movementum coach and personal trainer, says “going gradually is the key for somebody who hasn’t exercised since the pandemic.”
Still, it can be difficult to get excited about breaking a sweat, so here are some of the best classes, apps and gym gear to try to help make the process less painful.
New classes to try
Reformer Pilates at Psycle
The cult spin studio has launched a reformer pilates class, perfect for beginners. If you dream of washboard abs and lythe muscles, but a 6am HIIT class leaves you cold, then this is the class for you. Instructors inject sessions with the perfect balance of gentle encouragement and motivational soundbites to leave you feeling like a queen, regardless of your rep count.
Classes start from £25; psyclelondon.com
Movementum at the Mandarin Oriental
This 25-minute Regenerate class has been designed for easing back into fitness. The class is meant to be followed by a Movementum massage, which combines breath work, lymphatic drainage, stretching and massage to help supercharge the body’s return to peak performance. Obviously, a massage in the name of fitness is also a fantastic motivational carrot to get you planking again.
New packages to try
F45’s Ignite Six-Week Challenge
The popular team HIIT studio launches its next infamous six-week challenge on August 22 and it’s all targeted at people who’ve had a fitness lull towards the end of summer. Don’t worry about the gym-timidation you might have experienced at other studios across the city: F45’s instructors are famously welcoming and the community atmosphere at each outpost (and instructors’ enthusiasm for high-fives and learning your partner’s name) means you’ll make sweaty lunchtime pals in no time.
Challenges are included as part of an existing F45 membership, and membership prices vary depending on the studio but all details can be found on that studio’s website.
The Big 5x5 by 1Rebel
What’s that? 1Rebel classes for a tenner? Yes, the cult studio has slashed its prices, but the catch is you have to do five classes in five days to make the most of its £50 for five workouts deal. The upside is a week-long fitness blast to kickstart your autumn.
You can use the deal at any club and instructors recommend trying all five of its classes - Reshape, Ride, Reformer, Rig and Rumble - in a week for a full-body blast. It’s available until August 26 so move quickly.
The new gear
“We believe good things come to those who don’t waste,” is the motto of this sustainable athleisure brand. Girlfriend Collective are pioneers of “slow fashion” focusing on ethical manufacturing — but also, their skirt and crop top sets look so cute you’ll likely wear them as part of your everyday wardrobe.
From £35; available at girlfriend.com
Former ballet dancer and surfer Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves initially launched her eponymous line as a swimwear brand in 2009, and the asymmetric bikinis proved such a success that she has turned her hand to sportswear. The Marysia Sport collection combines the brand’s hallmark scalloped edge and bold colours to make you feel simultaneously supported and sexy.
From £175; available at matchesfashion.com
Anyone who has ever bought dumbbells knows a) they’re too big to store anywhere and b) they’re an eyesore. Kenko’s minimalist, wooden cylinders weights look like an art installation and will actually enhance the aesthetic of your living room if you can’t be bothered to put them away.
Set of Dumbbells in Maple from £162; available to buy from Kenko.com
Forget Peleton, Technogym has launched its own new-age standing bike for your home. With a 22-inch screen and immersive indoor experience, you might actually be pedalling in Dalston, but for 45 minutes you’ll be transported to the Dolomites. Beginners can create a customised plan for their fitness ability, but beware — it’s addictive. Before long you’ll be blowing your savings on lycra and signing up to the Tour de France.
From £2,990; Harrods.com
This nifty fitness app is designed to work like a “PT in your pocket”, so you’ll never have to google “10-minute ab workout” in the gym again. WeGLOW has over 600 exercises, more than 1,000 workouts and real-time classes for every fitness ability. For £15.99 a month, it’s cheaper than gym membership and comes with more than 450 recipe ideas to help kickstart your nutrition journey.
£15.99, download at weglow.app
Founded by Olympic champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, the Jennis app was designed for women to learn how to exercise during the different phases of their cycle. Many women don’t vary their workouts over the course of the month, despite the fact that our hormones fluctuate. Through “cycle-mapping”, women can train with their bodies and hormones as opposed to working against them.
Download at jennis.com
Wildsmith Skin Toning Body Serum
After a long sesh in the gym your body needs some TLC. Wildsmith’s toning body serum is the perfect post-shower tonic for weary muscles. Made with natural ingredients like mustard spout and chillies to aid the breakdown of lipids (fats) and enhance cellulite drainage, you’ll look as good as you smell.