"I sleep better, feel great and my energy levels have gone through the roof": the only exercise that finally worked (2023)

"Exercises you struggle with on a Monday will feel easy on Sunday."

Emma Kennedy on the ripped abs revolution

I have always been an active person interested in life, people and the news, but after having a bad reaction to my second covid shot, I developed shingles in the eye nerves. It burdened me for six months and left me with such severe asthma that I had to learn to breathe again with a pulmonary physiotherapist. My everyday life crumbled to dust, I found myself not interested in anything. I was overweight, listless and broken, all vitality gone. But at the end of 2021, I allowed myself to believe that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I had learned to control my hunger for air, the feeling of shortness of breath that asthmatics experience, and now perhaps with a little encouragement I could start the journey back to wellness. My physio advised me to start an exercise program. It had to be full, he told me, and I had to really commit to it.

Christmases past have come and gone, and I met my wife in a Cornish barn: she scrolled through her phone, I watched the wind blowing across a meadow. "Look at this," she said, holding the phone up from her. They were transformed images from a training program called Six Pack Revolution. They were overwhelming. Sometimes things land in your lap just when you need them, and without a second thought, I signed up for the January wave.

The six pack revolutionis a 75-day diet and exercise program that gradually increases your physical condition. It was founded by Scott Harrison, a former glazing entrepreneur who one day decided to do something to soften the "Dad Bod" of him. You are assigned to a group on Facebook and then supported by trainers who support you as you move. There are zooms throughout Scott. Fans include Rylan Clark and Sara Cox.

For me it was perfect to start from absolute zero. First, you know there is a goal to cross; Second, exercise should be increased in manageable increments: In week one, you'll be required to do 10 push-ups, 10 glute exercises, and a set of abdominal exercises. The second week it increases to 20 and so on. These are called daily and you should do them six days a week. I chose the Signature program (£139) but it has more difficult courses for people with a good level of fitness. You'll need a battle rope - buy one in the Six Pack for £89.99 (or find it cheaper elsewhere, give it a try)mirafit.de).

You can't do 10 push-ups on the first day; at the end of the week you can. At the start of the second week, you can't do 20 push-ups; at the end of the week you can. This pattern repeats for 11 weeks until you get 110 in the last 7 days. These daily exercises don't take a lot of time—you can do them in 10 minutes at first (expect 20 toward the end). . The key is to hold on to it. For me, doing my daily chores before breakfast has worked the best. The great and motivating aspect of the program is that you can see and feel an immediate improvement. Exercises you struggle with on a Monday will feel easy on Sunday, and each week brings new exercises. It never goes stale.

On top of that, every Wednesday and Saturday you will have physical challenges that you only have to do once, but you can do as many times as you want. The challenges are circuit-based, high-intensity interval training (hiit) and last around 20 minutes each. Most of the exercises are done with the battle rope: there are a lot of squats and the body is used for strength training. It turns out that all you need to tone up is yourself. Offer. You can easily do everything at home - I did the show in my living room.

"I sleep better, feel great and my energy levels have gone through the roof": the only exercise that finally worked (1)

There is no weight on the Six Pack Revolution. Instead, you take pictures of yourself weekly, you have to show your stomach. At first it's the worst thing you can imagine. I looked at my photo from day one and cried. My six-month illness had left me bloated and unhealthy. I looked absolutely miserable. No way, I thought, I won't let anyone see this photo. And then, week after week, you dressed smaller and smaller: I shrank before my eyes, a waist began to show, my shorts hung differently, a smile appeared, I looked radiant, happy and healthy again. Now I show everyone my photos from day one and day 75. I showed them to a taxi driver a couple of weeks ago. Then he tweeted me to tell me that he had signed up.

The nutrition program is perfectly manageable: it asks you to eat six meals a day. A typical day might include eggs and asparagus for breakfast, cottage cheese over rice cakes at mid-morning, fried sea bass with garlic and chili for lunch, chicken shish kebab with baba ganoush in the afternoon, sweet potato jacket with chicken for dinner and iced banoffee for the evening snack. There are tons of recipes to choose from. You can compose your own menu. If you stick it like glue, you will see phenomenal results. You will receive menu boards. Fill one out at the beginning of each week and stick to it. Disclaimer: I didn't stick to it like glue (couldn't eat it all, you won't go hungry) and still had great results. It comes down to no alcohol, chicken and fish as the main sources of protein, and no bad starchy white carbs. There is also the option of using food supplements to replace breakfast and lunch.

I am sleeping better, feel amazing and my energy levels have skyrocketed. I can not recommend it highly enough. It has brought me back to life and the best part is that it is very easy to follow once you get used to it once you finish the program. On weekends I do six packs for five days and whatever I like.

“You have to be a psychopath not to find violent conflict intimidating. But it's also fun

Marcel Theroux on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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"I sleep better, feel great and my energy levels have gone through the roof": the only exercise that finally worked (2)

He had wanted to try Brazilian jiu-jitsu for a long time before he finally had the courage to try it. My first encounter with him was when I took my eight year old son to a weekly class. Essentially, BJJ is a ground fighting system: grappling techniques to control and subdue an opponent. It's related to judo, but modern judo stops pretty quickly when the contestants hit the ground. In BJJ, getting down to earth is just the beginning. Once there, the contestants use an extraordinary variety of holds, joint locks, arm locks, leg locks, and chokes to subdue the opponent.

It attracted me for several reasons. I loved how three dimensional it was. There was something wonderfully free about the way the children were encouraged to move: rolling, stumbling, fidgeting on the mats. It made me think about how strict we are as adults. I was also intrigued by its suitability as a combat system. I have always been interested in boxing and Chinese martial arts and have competed in both. There are things that you only understand if you try them.

There are no strikes in BJJ, and practitioners are taught that if an opponent touches their hand to indicate submission, they must stop immediately. This makes it possible to train very bloodily without getting hurt. The BJJ term for sparring - rolling - emphasizes this playful aspect. When the kids in my son's class were training, they looked like kittens playing.

I watched him participate for about a year before finally taking a deep breath and stepping onto the mat in 2018, just before my 50th birthday. I was pretty scared. For a 49-year-old, he was in good shape. I swam the lido, did a boxercise lesson or two, and continued my tai chi exercises for balance and flexibility, but you don't see many people my age doing backflips, let alone trying to get out of the back. fight the naked strangler.

My son's instructors, Pedro Garcia and Benny SooTho, also taught adult classes at their club, GFTeam. I loved the movement - it reminded me a bit of elementary school sports. I didn't fight that day. I sat and watched very intimidated as everyone fought back. It seemed extremely intense. Suddenly, all that swinging motion is put to the service of putting yourself in a dominant position, locking your opponent's limbs or neck until you signal defeat with a few touches, or, if you don't have a free hand, say "punch." ". .

No matter how controlled the combat, and no matter how kind and caring your trainer, there's no getting around the fact that BJJ is essentially violent conflict with another human being. You'd have to be a psychopath not to find that intimidating. But he is also fascinating. How would you deal with someone sitting on your chest trying to take your breath away? Or stretch out your arm so that it breaks when you don't touch your opponent's hand? How long do you think you could hold out? At what point do you give up?

I rolled in class the following week and it was like getting hit by a smooth train in my pajamas. I had no idea how to keep my opponents away from me. I turned around and submitted almost immediately. In the first few weeks I sometimes had to stop sparring. But then I would regret not having filmed. It felt like walking into a restaurant and just having an appetizer. It turned out that the only thing worse than getting on the mat and being repeatedly subdued was not doing it.

Four years later, I'm still intimidated by combat and sometimes a little scared of classes, especially when I've missed a few and rusted out. But the reason I keep going is simple: after every class, even or maybe especially the ones where everyone I've ever shot has crushed me, I get a rush of endorphins. I feel extraordinarily calm, happy and stress free. I gained strength and flexibility and lost weight. And I enjoy the company of people facing the same challenges. We put our well-being in the hands of others and this builds trust and mutual respect. It takes a lot of courage to cross the threshold of a martial arts studio and get involved.

I have no idea how long my body will last, but it was a transformative experience. I am in better physical shape than I have been in many years, but the most fascinating changes are mental. This gradual increase in intensity, from walking into the gym to choosing to train, has expanded my idea of ​​what I am capable of. The process familiarizes you with your courage.

This year, one of my teammates convinced me to enter a competition. Not too long ago I would never have considered it. When I figured the application deadline had passed, my teammate Heath told me to email the organizers. I couldn't bring myself to say that he was too scared, so I did and they pushed me inside. I've been in brackets with people my age and weight, but it was still scary. As it turned out, I won both of my fights.

I then competed again in November and lost my only match on points. That hurt me because I had improved and I was still beaten. As a result, I began to think of cellars I hadn't looked at, an opening I hadn't used. It presented me with another challenge: How can I improve my decision making under pressure? Our lead instructor, Pedro, who has a second degree black belt, is still competing, winning some, losing some, and seems happy with every result. That seems very enlightening to me.

Another of the great joys of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being able to train with my son who is now 14 years old. We are the oldest and the youngest in the class. Of course it is a challenge to show up there again and again, to surrender to the process and not obsess over an outcome, to eat wins and losses equally with gusto, to endure discomfort and as a teacher to accept losses over and over again. not a trial. But it's also, and this may sound strange, a lot of fun.
GFTeam are withde.gfteamofficial.com. For information on other clubs, seeukbjja.org/find-a-club/

"I fell in love with getting stronger"

Monique Roffey on strength training

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"I sleep better, feel great and my energy levels have gone through the roof": the only exercise that finally worked (3)

In May 2021 I signed up for a gym. While many gained weight during lockdown, I lost 20lbs from running every night, not eating socially, and taking hiit classes online twice a week. But I really wanted to get in shape.physical fitnessit has its swing; the fitter you get, the more you want from him. She had seen plenty of "strength training" clips on Insta of women of all ages lifting weights, and I knew instinctively that there was something to this.

Although I had never lifted weights before, I knew it improved bone density, muscle mass, and general well-being. In 2018, a broken foot led to a bone scan that revealed osteopenia (less severe than osteoporosis), which is common in women my age, and I was hoping it would help.

I joined a local co-ed gym and hired a male personal trainer. Joining a real weight room is intimidating. It looks like a torture chamber. It's actually one. Racks, benches, inscrutable contraptions, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, all industrial looking, ropes and pulleys and buckets with clamps, resistance bands and even sandbags. I felt small (those gyms are full of tall, muscular men) and the men were incredibly flirtatious, even with my 57-year-old teacher's butt. I was shocked. To me? Not great; not where I was feeling vulnerable and trying to get in shape in private. And so I found it in November 2021fuerteher, a women-only gym near where I live.

Located under an old railway arch, StrongHer was founded by women (Tig Hodson and Sam Prynn) for women, and their goal is simple: empower women. The arch is illuminated and catchy music is playing at full volume. It's like walking into a nightclub, even at 9am on a Sunday.

I tried a few high-energy weightlifting circuit classes, but soon realized that all I really wanted to do was train one-on-one. I reached out to Abi Skipper after attending one of her courses. She is 20 years younger than me and I loved her huge laugh and positive energy from her. Finding StrongHer and meeting Abi, who would become my personal trainer, is one of those great moments of transition.

After hiring Abi (personal trainers at StrongHer are £50-£80 an hour) I went down in the evenings when it was quiet. During my private sessions, I could see the other women come in: women in hijabs, younger women, and other women my age, all quietly swaying and unwrapping their dumbbells.

I fell in love with the process of making my body stronger and more flexible. You don't have to "heavy lift" for this. The most I've ever deadlifted (lifting a weight directly off the floor) is 100 pounds; I have done squats with 30 kg maximum. I do bench press 20 kg. During that time I discovered an old injury to my left quadriceps and one of the best physiotherapists in town healed it for me.

I have learned that getting stronger is fun and rewarding. And that strength training releases the feel-good hormone serotonin. Train consistently and you'll feel good in the long run. From the outside, the formation may appear quite insignificant, even a bit superficial. But believe me, lifting weights strengthens the soul. It is also an emotional training. And it's not about the dreaded mundane goal of women to lose weight.

Since joining StrongHer, I have not lost any weight and still look thinner or maybe just different. When you train for strength, you know what? you get stronger My body was flabby before weight training and had lost its lines and shape. At eighteen months, my arms are toned, my legs are more agile, strong and shapely, and my butt has never looked better. And yet I'm not that light. I am a size 14. I have gained muscle mass and bone density. Also, in October of this year, I found a great nutritionist, Ellie Geldard, through Abi.

I've tried many apps throughout my fitness journey, from Fitbit Versa Lite for step tracking to Glucose Monitor Veri. They have all helped me "track" habits without the tedious task of tracking calories.

I'll never look like this thoughnicole kidman, I don't want to. Strength training, especially in a women-only gym, is a feminist choice; It's political. My coach is a woman, the rest of the team are women, we set our own pace and encourage each other. We make each other happy. Win, win.
For more information on women-only gyms, visitwomenshealthmag.com

'I realized that I wasn't going to die that day. And that I could run if I wanted to. Am I late?'

Christian Donlan on the couch during 5k

"I sleep better, feel great and my energy levels have gone through the roof": the only exercise that finally worked (4)
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I have always envied runners. For years I saw them scattered across the sea, mounted on the top deck of a Brighton-bound bus. Corridors fascinate me. I envied her happy solitude and his metronomic grace as his arms traced clean rhythms in the air. I envied their approach: they found the time in the daily mix of work and family to be out here with the sky and the sea breeze. One day, I told myself, I will join them.

A strange ambition, actually. I have never been the most active person; I never played sports or learned to swim. Then almost a decade ago I had multiple sclerosis. MS is a disease in which the lining of cells in the central nervous system is damaged, interrupting the transmission of messages. It causes symptoms ranging from mild confusion to paralysis and can affect almost any part of the body, but often leads to balance problems and muscle spasticity. It is not an ideal situation for a runner, although I must add that there are great athletes who have MS asSprinter in Kadeena Coxy400 meter hurdler Lina Nielsen.

I was 35 years old when I was diagnosed. I stumbled from GP to specialist, from MRI to neurology. But I was lucky. With careful treatment, progress slowed. MS wasn't over, but it became something I could exist with. In the midst of the symptoms, I had felt broken and alive; Coming out of this, I wanted to make the best of what came next.

So I woke up one spring morning last year, in my late forties, with hundreds of middle-aged worries weighing me down, and was surprised to find that none of them had anything to do with MS. I realized that I would not die that day. And I realized that I could run if I wanted to. I've arrived late

A runner needs a goal. I had a simple vision of my future self-adjusting shoes, I left the house, I chose a direction and I ran. No marathons, just a half hour walk which I read puts you in 5k territory.

I downloaded them on a cool April morning.Bis sofa 5KDepartment This takes you from no running to running for 30-minute blocks in nine weeks: three runs per week, with walking intervals in between. It worked, I concluded. My brother and my colleagues had done it.

Using the app I downloaded, I changed into a worn-out pair of Converse that I was pretty sure weren't made for running, a T-shirt, and a pair of sweatpants I bought for a Halloween party. I went to a park, the ground creaked from the spray.

The first Couch-to-5K session is short: 60 seconds of running, followed by 90 seconds of walking, repeated seven times. I told myself it was nothing, though I could feel the panic building. Would the MS come back and crush me? I tried to clear my head. After warming up, I put my wife's headphones back on and started running.

I laughed out loud at first. In those first terrified seconds, my body felt shaky and absurd. There is no future for this, I thought as my legs moved ominously. Was that MS or was he sitting around for years? I ran for 20 seconds and felt like an idiot. Someone will stop me, I thought. Can you be arrested just for doing something so obviously out of character? But then I got to my first corner and turned around.

The shaky sensation didn't go away, but I suddenly understood that it wasn't something I was familiar with with MS. It was the movement, the speed and the stomping of the feet. I ran, feeding each moment with the next. The next 40 seconds flew by and I was annoyed that I had to take a break afterwards. This first session was easy, then complicated. By the sixth break I was exhausted but determined to finish the race.

The joy of coming home, the gossipy happiness I felt for the rest of the day as I mumbled mindlessly while my daughter did her homework, was something I wasn't ready for. And the feeling came back after the next few races, absurd at first, then exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

I learned a lot in those first sessions. I got used to the friendly, conspiratorial voice of writer Sanjeev Kohli in my ear, telling me when to run and when to cycle through the app. I learned the times when I had the park to myself. Also, I started to see careers in the form of two halves.

For the first half I was happy and collected, groping my way through a Jimmy Stewart world, nodding at mailmen and smiling at angry doggies. In the second half he was sweaty and stumbling, an escaped convict pursued by cops with bloodhounds through Moore. The task was to extend the first half indefinitely.

Moving on, I grabbed another app, Strava, which tracks runs and gives me a snapshot of how many small distances I suddenly ran each week: 1.5 miles, 1.7 miles. The app turned each run into a visual trail, overlaying my unpredictable paths with the landscape I traversed as if it were seeing my body writing.

But there were other loops. I had visual migraines, arcs of tinkling gold lines that felt like a tear had formed in my vision. Familiar since my diagnosis, his regularity was new. As I ran, I became more stable and confident, waiting for them to come on.


I also began to feel the contours of MS within me. It wasn't pain, although the spasticity could squeeze my calves so tightly it felt like nasty little stones stuck to my legs. It was more of a feeling that he was walking within a limit. It could go as fast, but not faster. Perhaps he would find that he could go that far and no further. Was this border real? I could not tell

After three weeks my knees started to hurt. My wife suggested that the Converse had to go. I bought my first running shoes. It felt like a breakthrough: my bad knees had nothing to do with MS. That was just part of running.

I had discovered that I loved running, I loved the exhaustion of my companions and the thud of my feet hitting the ground. The knee pain disappeared and I felt the special cooperation of the exercises: a union of all my parts. If I hadn't drunk enough water earlier, my throat would tell me. If I neglected my breathing, my lungs would tell me. Sometimes my body also sent warnings. If my balance was bad, I would wobble and stumble. Time to back off and let MS have a temporary victory.

After the races, I came home full of ideas: flavor combinations, books to read, old friends to call. He wanted to know about the oil painting, the names of the birds he had seen and the trees he had passed through. At its best, running is like borrowing someone else's brain.

By the end of week five, I was getting to a run I just couldn't do: 20 minutes, no intervals. The joy was inside me, the energy was not; I had defeated my willpower. Here the weeks began to stretch into months. From week five I went back to week four, then to week three.

I was soon stuck turning to weeks three and six. Later, in a repeat of week five, Kohli told me, "You can call me Sanj now." Almost cried. He had known me for five weeks, so it seemed appropriate. But I've known him for 20 weeks.

I hated not being in tune with Sanj. He congratulated me for running, but he didn't know when I stopped and decided to walk. As he staggered me around dejectedly, I would hear him say, "You're doing great!" or "I'm proud of you!". My heart would break a little since I lied to Sanj.

To get out of a bind, I borrowed a trick I used with MS. Faced with strange new symptoms, I recorded them in a notebook. So I started journaling and looking for a simple formula for success. “W3D3, energy bars, water, music, no podcasts. Well more or less)."

Between the reps and the intervals, I saw something important. The wobbly tower of worry that loomed over me every morning: couldn't I tackle it in the same incremental way? It wasn't the complete solution to the problem, but at least it was a start. A friend had told me that mixing running and walking is sometimes called jeffing, named for Jeff Galloway, one of the running coaches who popularized it. Today I go through many things in life.

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And then it happened. In forty weeks I ran 5 km non-stop on a clear winter morning. A colleague had recommended parkrun, the 5K races that take place every Saturday at 9am. m. around the world. It was a revelation. All of us together. encouragement and kindness. I was full of energy again.

I would like to say that I barely noticed my first full 5k, but I was looking forward to it. For weeks, I would stalk those 30 minutes, use my journal to find the point where I was getting tired, and then work on how to get past it. Mantras, the right soundtrack - I used all the tricks. Success felt fantastic. I actually felt a bit nauseous, but then it felt fantastic. I staggered away and thought: done. I have graduated.

Of course not. Every race is different. Although he had mastered parkrunning for a day, running solo still required jeffing. Parkrun still does it most Saturdays too. But even in a shaky career, I can look around and reflect on how much I didn't know when I started. The qualities of birds. What to do with a stitch. What 10 minutes feels like when you pay attention to each breath. It seems unbelievable to me to even think of running 5K non-stop even if I can't do it reliably.

And it seems incredible to me to think that I have had MS in my life for almost 10 years. I still fall into the bad habit of thinking that illness is binary: you were healthy, now you're sick. But the disease changes, and I can see that when I look at it through the lens of running. My first years with MS consisted of accepting the rhythms it imposed on me. In the past few months, I have been confident enough to back off.

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I started the Couch to 5K in April 2021 and rode the 5K in February 2022, which is an interesting reaction to a nine week program. I often marvel at the joy I've found in something I'm not particularly good at. Fighting a 5k, fighting multiple sclerosis or being 40 or just being myself has allowed running to become a real habit. 5K non-stop may be a rarity, but I'll do it forever. In every way, I will run as long as I can.


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