Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Get fit for 2018 with Anne Kane

Anne Kane tells how she gets fit for the upcoming year - and how you can too!

I’ve lost count of the number of early January days in my life where I’ve looked in the mirror and thought about those over indulgent Christmas party nights or chocolate boxes left by colleagues next to the work kettle and wondered how many extra pounds they have put onto my waistline.  It’s a thought almost immediately followed by “time to hit the gym”. Last year, I changed that to “time to hit the swimming pool” and it has changed my perspective on what health and fitness routine works best for me.  

For women, we’re often too quick to dismiss swimming as an option – we don’t like getting our hair wet or there is too much faffing around. Then there is body image and we don’t even like acknowledging cellulite exists, let alone bearing it to the world in a swimsuit. Or there’s the time factor: with packed lunches to make, schools clothes to iron and work shifts to do, like most women I find there are not enough hours in the day and what suffers is time for me. Time to workout. Time to wash my hair. Time to zone out, time to socialise or whatever.

But here’s the thing – using the gym is actually costing me more time than using the pool.   To get the same workout in a gym, I would need to use multiple machines - because there is no gym equipment that gives your whole body a workout like swimming. I find I can achieve better results in less time – a thirty minute workout in the pool is equivalent to 45-60 minutes on land.  

I give myself an hour to go swimming, get a great workout and still have time to wash and dry my hair.  Or if I’m in a hurry, a swim cap protects me from most of the water and then I’m spending no more time sorting out my hair than would after getting up in the morning.   If I schedule it properly, I can fit in swimming before work.  I even manage to get an hour when my daughter goes to Brownies every week – which is much better for me than going to the nearby supermarket for a coffee.   

I love how the pool keeps my body cool and comfortable while I’m working out, whereas I’d leave the gym with a beetroot-face and sweat dripping into my eyes. Swimming boosts my endorphins and leaves me feeling on a bit of high, while at the same time it is calming and meditative. The juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory states is a great feeling. 

Another seemingly contradictory element of swimming is that it is both solitary and sociable.  While I love my hour of me time, I also love taking my kids swimming (I’d never dream of going to the gym for a family outing). Or if I don’t feel like powering up the pool on my own, I can sign up for an aquafit class with friends.

10 minutes of vigorous breaststroke can help you burn 60 calories; it’s 80 calories for backstroke, 100 calories for front crawl and an impressive 150 with the butterfly – and you’re working out multiple muscles at once.    

I’m always slightly envious of gym dwellers who love it; the ones who spend every minute they can there and derive great pleasure from it. That was never me but I have tried to get to love it over the years.  What changed last year was that I realised I already loved the pool and had done since swimming lessons when I was a little girl.  It was already a part of my life in a way the gym never would be and so making swimming a welcome part of my fitness routine has been easier than I though. 

My 2018 resolution is to keep swimming and get better at it by taking one of Scottish Swimming’s adult master classes in 2018 – if I can improve my technique I’ll be able to swim faster and increase the amount of lengths I complete in my allotted hour. 

I still look at my reflection in January and regret that extra serving of Christmas pudding, but I no longer regret the wasted gym membership fee of recent years.  My advice is take the plunge – you’ll not regret it.