Taking a break from a regular fitness routine over the colder months can often seem like a reward for the year’s tough work building up muscle and tone.
When December arrives many choose to stretch out on the sofa and throw caution, and healthier options, to the wind.
However, this attitude can drag on as the weather warms up, with research showing that a hiatus from training can often make those extra few pounds that creep on over the festive break harder to shift once January arrives.
Dominic Bowser, a personal trainer at Benton-based Sound Mind and Body is working hard alongside his team to make sure clients avoid getting stuck in a fitness rut over the festive period.
“It can be tough to keep that momentum going during the Christmas period,” he said. “Friends and families gather for large meals, boxes of chocolates are opened and shared, and it seems like temptation is waiting around every corner.
“Winter is the most important time to keep fitness routines on track to help stave off illness. Exercise is a key tool to boost mood, raise energy levels, release stress and help you sleep better. The benefits are numerous and the importance of regular exercise shouldn’t be underestimated.
“We often find that certain clients come to us asking for ways to keep fit and active when the weather outside is unforgiving. We have discovered that the best way to maintain their drive and to help them focus is to remind them of the end goal.
“Summer bodies are worked for all year round, and developing tailored plans that adjust to a client’s individual needs over the colder months can really help them visualise the light at the end of the dark winter days.”
Weight gain is a common phenomenon across the country over the festive period. According to the British Dietetic Association (BDA) people gain an average of two kilograms over Christmas, which Dominic notes isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.
“Putting on weight over the winter months for those who are underweight is necessary to help battle illnesses,” he said.
“The common cold could make people who are below the recommended weight for their height and age become seriously ill, so it can be vital to put on a bit of extra weight in winter months for warmth. However, this should always be done in a controlled and healthy way.
“Issues start when people overload on unhealthy food and do not regularly exercise that it becomes a problem to their health and wellbeing. Christmas jumpers can only hide so much for so long, and when January hits New Year’s resolutions will be difficult to start as people realise it’s tough to break that relaxed mindset.”
While motivation is a key factor in avoiding a health hiatus, it can be tough to push past the barrier.
“Don’t give the cold weather the cold shoulder, but instead use it to your advantage,” said Dominic. “We encourage our clients to get active and make the most of what this weather has to offer.
“Colder conditions are perfect for trying new winter sports, like taking friends and family ice skating. It’ll put you straight into the festive spirit and you won’t even feel like you’re exercising.
“If you enjoy outdoor exercise most of the year, the icy air at this time of year makes our bodies work harder to keep warm, provided you are properly dressed for the occasion. Wrap up tightly against winter winds and wrap a scarf around your mouth and nose if the cold air is too bitter. It’ll protect your delicate lung tissue and can be loosened as you run.”
As fitness and nutritious food go hand-in-hand, Sound Mind and Body personal trainer yoga teacher and new mum, Gemma Ramage, now stocks the gym with wraps, snacks and granola pots for clients to enjoy before and after winter workouts, and has so far received a great response.
She said: “Nutrition has always been my passion, and after becoming a mum I decided to turn this hobby into something more permanent. I definitely have the best work/life balance ever.
“It started by bringing healthy wraps and protein balls into the gym. I dropped them in one Tuesday morning and by Tuesday afternoon I had a call saying they had all flown off the shelves.
“Clients love the wholesome food our gym provides. Christmas is always a tough time to stay on track with health and fitness but we’re working alongside all our members to keep their goals in sight by offering easy meal options they can take home with them.”
To find out more about Sound Mind and Body visit www.soundmindandbody.co.uk or give the team a call on (0191) 280 9274.