Be more mindful
If you are feeling anxious, notice it, and take a deep and cleansing breath. Place your hands on your body and repeat: ‘Notice your mind. Feel your body.’ “It really does work”, says Taryn Toomey, founder of the popular NYC’s cathartic exercise The Class. Or try three rounds of deep breathing. “If I need to bring my A-Game I practice yogic Kapalabhati breathing or Breath of Fire (steady repetition of forceful exhalations followed by slightly slower inhalations) – this helps to re-oxygenate my blood. As a last minute boost I play my favourite song of the moment super loud and I feel I can tackle anything the day throws at me”.
Switch your caffeine fix
Taking a hit of caffeine can help boost your morning routine and your workout by stimulating the adrenal glands and improving your endurance – but don’t automatically reach for an espresso shot before heading to the gym; “A cup of matcha green tea 60 minutes before any workout will not only boost your performance, but the potent antioxidants found in the tea gives you more mental clarity”, explains London trainer Steve Mellor. “Start with half a spoon and build up, as too much can cause heartburn”.
Understand the importance of rest
Recovery is often the most overlooked aspect of exercise and as important as training itself. “When we over train due to frequency, volume and intensity we become fatigued, suffer from muscle and joint soreness and are more likely to suffer from injuries”, says A-list trainer (and IKIGAI Global Thought Leader) James Duigan. Duigan has even been known to swap in a massage or a mindfulness session in place of a training session with some overzealous clients. There is a direct correlation between how well you recover and how hard you can train repeatedly. “It’s while we are sleeping that the physiological changes to our bodies are happening”, says Duigan. “We release the growth hormones that build and repair our bodies tissues, ligaments, muscles and organs. You want to be at your optimum for every session, so I encourage my clients to train at around an 85% threshold only dipping into their absolute maximal threshold every so often”.
Less can sometimes be more
It’s all too easy to pick up the heaviest weights in the studio or class and think that it will be the quickest way to a more toned and streamlined shape. But the key to sexy, elongated and feminine muscles without bulking up? Keep the reps high and the weights low says LA Trainer Tracey Anderson. “Use between 1 and 3 kilos – any higher and you are going to build a lot of muscle”, she says. “And remember the most muscles you activate at this low weight, the better the results are going to be, so if you’ve got ankle weights strap ‘em on”, says Anderson.
Use a visual motivator
Feeling a little unmotivated? Getting mentally ready for a gym session is half the battle; treat fitness as a marathon, not a race. Keep your focus on the long and not short-term, you need to build a strong foundation in order to succeed and planning is key. “To help reinforce any intentions try scheduling in your workouts each week like you would a doctor’s appointment. One client I train has a habit of writing down her training days and then drawing a red X through the days that she completes”, says Luke Istomin, the man behind the covetable bodies of Australia’s elite, Nicole Kidman, Miranda Kerr and Hugh Jackman.
Keep challenging yourself
As we get better at an exercise that was once metabolically taxing, we use less energy. “To change your body you need to change up your workouts”, explains LA Super Trainer Lacey Stone. “Variety is key; weight training is the best to change the shape of your body and cardio changes the size”. Research has shown that the higher the intensity (think spinning and HIIT) the more calories you burn, not only while exercising, but after you leave the gym when your body benefits from an “after-burn” mode. Try working out on an empty stomach in the morning, your body will go directly into the fat stores for energy. “While you may be able to burn more fat as fuel, you won’t be able to work as intensely or for as long, so it’s often a trade-off”.
“I truly believe if you keep your exercise practice fun, adaptable and, most importantly, regular, this will lead to the best results”, says London based Kx Trainer Gideon Remfry, who is also an IKIGAI Global Thought Leader. “I often return back to B.K.S Iyengar’s simple philosophy in my approach to fitness and in training and through empowering my clients; ‘transformation is sustained chance, and it is achieved through practice’. When you have time and energy, commit more, and when stress is high and time is short, practice shorter but with more concentrated and mindful movements. Either way, make sure it happens consistently”, says Remfrey. Keep your focus on the long-term and not short-term, you need to build a strong foundation in order to succeed and planning is key. And stay positive; “Having that inner voice saying ‘yes, you can’, rather than ‘no, you can’t’, is the most powerful and inspiring tool that you can have”.