I’m one of those people that LOVES going to the gym. I get moody and crabby when I’m not working out regularly (just ask my family). Stair machines and treadmills bore me, but fun, demanding, gym classes with good music are a joy to my soul. It is an hour where I get to focus on absolutely nothing but myself and the Lisa-shaped space that I occupy in this world. Exercise pushes me to live in the moment, to work through stress and anxiety, and gives me a healthy hit of endorphins to ensure I keep going back for more. In the past few years, I’ve become a devotee of Les Mills gym classes. They’re a New Zealand based fitness company that have become global; apparently they have more than 90,000 instructors worldwide, and 6 million people attend a Les Mills fitness class every week. What I love about Les Mills is that every three months the music and the workout completely change, so it always remains challenging and entertaining for me. The other thing I love is their inclusive ethos to embrace wherever you are fitness-wise, ANY level of fitness, and to improve from there. I mostly do three types of classes:
The first is a Body Pump class, which is a weights class (good for bone density, toning, strength training, and a little cardio). If I’ve not been to gym for a while, I do low weights and gradually increase them as I strengthen. Body Pump is a high repetition / low weights class. Like Pilates, you work each muscle group to exhaustion. You get strong quickly doing Body Pump, and after just three or four classes I can see and feel a big difference in my body. My legs go from being sausagey and squashy to having good definition and shape (weighted squats and lunges do that!).
The second class I do is Body Attack, which is a pure cardio class. It is basically an hour of running and moving around like a 7 year old to good music. Among other things, you do jumping jacks, star jumps, burpees, and running in circles. The class is arranged so that each music track (there are 10, plus a cool-down track) gives you high intensity peaks as well as recovery times interspersed throughout, so it is manageable… and really fun!
The third class I do is Body Combat, which uses watered down moves from capoeira, boxing, and other varieties of self defence. Like all Les Mills classes, it is set to good music and the intensity level varies throughout the class. The muscles you use in Body Combat are very different to the ones you use in Body Pump or Body Attack, so it is a nice thing to throw into the mix.
What I love about these classes is that like yoga, everyone works at their own level, with no judgement. In my most recent Body Attack class, there was a girl who was 13 and a lady in her 70’s. If you have a bad knee (I do) or a bad shoulder or some other weakness, the instructor will give you options for certain exercises so that you don’t aggravate an existing condition. And! As soon as you really get comfortable with a routine and a set of music, there is a ‘New Release’ and it all changes, so you are never bored doing the same routines all the time. I NEED this novelty in my workouts. I also need the motivation of an instructor or a personal trainer, and I enjoy the camaraderie of other people getting through the class with me… and sometimes the competitive push of keeping up with someone else in the class! Like anything, you might have to try out a few instructors before you find one that you really gel with. My gym offers these classes with several different instructors, and I definitely have my preferences. Like going to a doctor or a hairdresser, you have to try a few until you find one that suits you. If you’d like to try a class, have a look on their website, and see if anything is available in your area (I swear I’m not paid to promote them, I just love them and think they’re the best in their niche).
Since I go to the gym four or five days a week, I spend a lot of time wearing gym gear. I have to work gym into the rest of my day, which means I have to go pick up my son from school directly after a gym class, or have to run errands just before a gym class all whilst wearing gym clothes. Now, I’m NOT a fan of this whole ‘Athleisure’ thing. You know, people who wear gym clothes everywhere but never break a sweat? I’m not even a fan of doing errands in gym gear, but some days I don’t have much of a choice. The nice people at Farfetch asked me to put together my ideal gym outfit. I’ve assembled what would be perfect for me; not too shlumpy for my errands, and yet not too impractical for a workout. I started with the shoes, because the single most important thing in your gym kit is your shoes; if your feet hurt, you won’t enjoy anything. I love the Sequinist colouring of these Adidas ones!
Then, I added everything else. For me, a jacket that has pockets and has a high collar for post-workout chills is a must. It also has to cover my ass while I’m running errands! I’ve included a fitted tank top to do my classes (I hate loose fabric while exercising), and afterwards, a nice dry slogan tee to change into so I’m not sweaty and cold. Basic black leggings for me, because ones with tricksy colours, stripes, or patterns are too annoying to coordinate when I’m in a rush. The pièce de resistance is this fun Anya Hindmarch bag to carry my gym stuff in. It all looks gym appropriate, and not out of place at the school gates or the supermarket either.
I’m going to include a larger photo of the jacket, because although it is expensive it is gorgeous. I adore the mesh stand-up collar and the patent leather pocket details. A jacket like this almost makes me understand the point of athleisure, but I’m still not going to give my wardrobe a big Alexander-Wang-over. What do you wear to the gym? Are you stylish or can’t-be-bothered?
Sweatshirt: DSquared2 at Farfetch