Recently I've been talking a lot about how to connect your fitness to a higher purpose, other than just to 'the way you look'. This could include being a more productive employee, lifting your creativity, being a fitter parent, or a more present partner.
And while I see more people joining the dots, the stumbling block in making fitness a lifelong habit, rather than a fad, is finding enjoyable activities you can do all year 'round. That's why you need to add seasoning to your training.
Periodising is a simple process of dividing the year into cycles, like the seasons of the year, that vary between light and heavy training loads. While high intensity (HIIT) sessions are great for improving aerobic fitness and body composition, it's beneficial to build in strategic recovery and regularly try something new.
Here's how I stay engaged in fitness and have 'disguised fun' with my training throughout the year:
Hot yoga, running
This past summer I also enrolled in something completely new – dragon boat racing.
Autumn provides an opportunity to evaluate what I've done throughout the year and set some new goals to stay fired up during the winter months. As the weather cools down I find myself doing more hot yoga classes and enjoying some 'easy' runs (where it's not all about smashing yourself) to ward off the chills.
Hot yoga is great for detoxifying, improving flexibility and adding mindfulness to an otherwise hectic schedule. Regular yoga or pilates are also great for core strength, which is essential for good posture and biomechanics for all forms of cardio, especially running. If you're considering training for a half or full marathon I'd advise you to add one core session and one yoga class into your routine to reduce risk of injury.
Snow sports and strength training
Each year I save up to take my children on a skiing trip. They love it and we all look forward to our time away together on the mountain.
While the kids have youth on their side, it's a good idea as a 'big kid' to prepare your body by upping the strength and mobility training (especially if you don't want to be hobbling around after your ski trip). I spend 4–6 weeks doing activities that increase lower body strength, power and agility. I add lateral lunges, single leg squats, and box jumps to improve lower body strength before hitting the slopes.
But if snow is not your thing, winter can be a great time to make strength gains in the gym. By increasing the weight you lift and building muscle, you will increase metabolism to help prevent those winter kilos from creeping up (and you're already in shape when summer rolls around).
Cycling or sport
While cycling is one of the activities I do all year round, the intensity and focus picks up each spring as we start get ready for the CBA CAN4Cancer charity ride in partnership with Tour de Cure. Each year we raise money to help treat and ultimately find a cure for cancer. As it's a 3-day challenge covering up to 350km, I consciously pick up my training volume and intensity to make sure I get through.
Spring is also a great time to start up outdoor activities like Cross Fit or a sport. Research shows exercising with others helps with motivation and accountability, so grab a friend and get training.
Swim, surf ski and dragon boat racing
Summer is all about water sports. The past few years I've added swimming as I love the freedom of immersing myself in the ocean. Last week we finished our inaugural 8-week block of the KPMG Performance Clinic Swim Squad and I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone each week, learning about technique, and doing an activity outside of my normal fitness comfort zone.
In summer I also aim for an early morning fitness session each week in Bondi. This involves meeting up with a variety of mates (Gatsby, Little Ted, Erro, and Day Spa Dave) and doing a variety of soft sand running, swimming, outdoor circuits and getting on the surf lifesaving paddle boards. We finish with a mandatory coffee looking out over the beach.
This past summer I also enrolled in something completely new – dragon boat racing. I really enjoyed training with work colleagues, learning the technique of a new sport and competing for the corporate games at Chinese New Year.
While I always vary my activities from season to season, there are some activities that stay as standard all year. This is essential for building a base of fitness, which you need regardless of what activity you choose.
For me it's a balanced program of cycling for cardio vascular fitness, weight training for strength, and yoga for flexibility. This ensures I have a solid base with the three main components of fitness, and allows me to then mix things up and minimising risk of injury.
How do you stay engaged in your own fitness program throughout the year? Let Andrew know in the comment section.
Workplace performance expert Andrew May is a Partner at KPMG Performance Clinic, a best-selling author and keynote speaker. He has spent the past 20 years helping business leaders and their teams improve performance, productivity and wellbeing.
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