We all like to feel great during the summer, and as exercise has been shown to boost our mental health, it makes sense to get up and get active.
Whether you’re a first timer or a fitness fanatic, there’s something for everyone to get involved in during the summer, whether that’s a chilled walk in a park or a game of footy with friends. Simon Avis, who has worked as a personal trainer for 11 years, says that in summer “the priority for most people is on toning up the body, which can actually be detrimental.” People expect rapid turnaround, but actually, he says, good fitness and wellbeing is all about getting a longer term plan in place.
Simon Avis adds that you need to be careful not to go all out if you haven’t exercised for a while. “You’re inviting burnout so be careful not to overdo it.”
If you’re a woman, you’ll all remember the long summer netball matches at school played on gravel courts which left your knees raw if you tripped. But say goodbye to all that because netball is cool again. England Netball has announced its biggest summer of celebrating the sport (and it’s very much not just for girls too). Virgin Active opened a number of its spaces to host netball games earlier this week for the ‘biggest netball open day ever’, in a bid with English Netball to inspire players after the Netball World Cup. Head to the England Netball site to find out where you can keep playing netball casually or in a league.
If there’s one thing that anyone can do this summer, it’s to take advantage of the sun, get a vitamin D boost and go for a walk. Walking, even if you do it slowly, can increase cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Plus, if you take your walk to a local park, forest-bathing (or walking through trees) can help us feel more mindful and breathe more easily. Plus, researchers have found that if you walk for 30 minutes a day, your diabetes risk will plummet, you’ll sleep more easily and feel more alert during the day.
It can be tricky to motivate yourself for a run. To pull on your trainers, plan a route and head out can feel like effort, which is why joining a running club can make the whole situation easier. Running clubs are perfect for getting outside. Meet at the club, get motivated, and run the stresses of the day out. Your runs will often be accompanied by motivational fitness instructors who’ll encourage you to power on, and not give up partway around the course.
Ok, so the equipment gives off more of a torture vibe than you might expect from the gym, but don’t be fooled. Reformer Pilates is here to work you out, and it works you out hard. The ‘bed’ operates by using pulleys, which work your core and your arms, easing you into exercise. It’s ideal for summer as it’s not high impact – it’s all about your breathing, keeping the same position for a long time, and it’s great for joints and posture.
Find Reformer Pilates at Virgin Active’s Islington Angel, Kensington, Mansion House and Mayfair clubs.
A class that’ll get you fighting fit, this is for those of you who want to feel the burn and get rid of any lingering anxiety in time for summer. Punch 50 is tough: it’s 12 rounds, three minutes with the boxing bag and three minutes ‘on the floor’. On the floor is a mixture of things – TRX rows, planks and medicine balls. The whole routine switches between cardio and bodyweight exercises, which runs for a huge 50 minutes. If you’re new to punch, there are amateur rounds to fire you up, but professional rounds to get you trained. Virgin Active guarantees that you’ll blow off a lot of steam with Punch 50.
The best thing about summer is that it’s a lot easier to swim outside than in, well...winter. Swimming outdoors is brilliant for your mental health, and ideal for low impact fitness. Plus, it’s great to do with friends, so you can swim and chat, letting yourself have a release from the stresses of everyday life. There are plenty of lidos around the country – try Saltdean near Brighton, or head to the Lakes for a dip outside.