These days I work long hours and it’s really hard for me to get out of the house in the evening, so how do I get fit? Well, I have a range of workouts that I do at home. I’ve blogged before about using a turbo trainer and doing yoga, so today I thought I’d share my little secret with you…
When I worked at Bournemouth University, I loved doing a lunchtime Step and Sculpt class. I know that Step Aerobics conjures up images of women in ’80s-style lycra, but it is still great fun, I promise.
Anyway… it’s important to get in some cardio and most of us don’t have the money and/or space to include loads of fitness equipment at home. I hate treadmills, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have room to fit one in my house and I couldn’t afford to buy a decent one. That’s where a short blast of step aerobics comes in handy. It doesn’t take up a huge amount of room, but it can really get your heart rate up quickly. Also, it gives you a chance to dance along to some of your favourite music.
If I have a spare hour, then I usually do a 5-10 minute warm-up, followed by 20 minutes of step aerobics, 20 minutes of strength work and then 10 minutes of cool down/stretching.
What do I need to get started?
Make sure that you’re wearing some comfortable clothing – it’s your choice whether it’s skintight lycra, a baggy tracksuit or something in between. You then need an aerobics step. These come at a range of price points:
You also need to get your funky playlist sorted out. It’s best to find music that has a tempo of 119-122bpm (unless you’re experienced and can cope with something really quick!) I’ve got a few playlists set up on my computer, but quite often, I’m lazy and I turn to Spotify. There are loads of playlists to choose from. Here are just a few examples:
Teach me some moves!
To begin with, all you need to do is:
- Start with both feet on the ground
- Place your right foot on the step (making sure that your whole foot is placed securely)
- Place your left foot on the step
- Put your right foot back on the ground
- Put your left foot back on the ground
That’s it – a simple step up/step down. Once you’ve mastered that, you can try starting with your left foot first. Here are a few other simple moves that you can learn before incorporating them into a routine:
Step and Kick
- Step on the step with your right foot.
- Bring your left foot up and kick your left leg straight out in front of you.
- Step back onto the floor with your left foot and then your right.
- Alternate legs for stepping and kicking.
Side to Side
- Turn to the side and step with your right foot onto the step.
- Bring your left foot onto the step.
- Step down on the other side of the step with your right foot and then your left.
- Step back onto the step with your left foot first, followed by your right, landing on the other side of the step.
Knee Lift Step
- Step on the step with your right foot.
- Bring left leg up but don’t step on the step. Lift left knee and then step back with left foot, followed by the right.
- Alternate stepping foot and lifting leg.
Step and Touch
Again facing the side instead of facing your step head on, step your right foot onto the step and only tap your left foot onto it before stepping back onto the floor, left foot followed by the right. You can also perform this move facing the step:
- Step up with your right foot and tap the step with your left.
- Step down with your left foot and then your right.
- Now step up with the left foot and tap the step with your right.
- Continue to alternate feet.
There are lots of more complicated steps you can learn, such as ‘Around the World‘ or ‘Grapevine‘, but these will be enough for a beginner. Practise these moves until you are comfortable starting with either foot.
It is really important that you maintain good posture throughout and that you take care when placing your feet on the step.
Talk to me about modifications
The level of difficulty that you choose will depend on your experience (and memory for steps). When you start using your arms you’ll be having a whole body workout with lower body and cardio. There are lots of modifications that you can make:
- use a higher step
- work out to music with a faster tempo
- include more arm movements
- add in hand weights.
Where can I find step routines?
How easy is that?!
Then it’s onto the strength/weights section of your workout…
Again, this is part of the workout requires minimal resources. I will be using my step, a set of dumbbells and a comfortable exercise mat. Some of the exercises will use the dumbbells, whereas others are just bodyweight exercises. As it’s a quick workout, I usually only do 10 different exercises.
- Squats – bodyweight or dumbbell
- Lunges – bodyweight or dumbbell
- Dumbbell Flyes
- Lat Raises
- Benchpress (using the step)
- Upright row
- Press Ups
- Abdominal curls
- Back extensions
The importance of ‘time under tension’ was drummed into me when I was training as a Fitness Instructor, so I only do 12-20 reps of each exercise. I make sure that my technique is as good as possible and do each move quite slowly.
I do a gentle stroll around (usually to the kitchen to top up on more water!) This is just to get my heart rate down. Then I move on to some static stretches. I hold each of these for 30-60s ensuring that I stretch both sides equally.
- Standing pec stretch
- Standing quad stretch
- Static hamstring stretch
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch and Latissimus dorsi
- Rectus abdominus stretch – sphinx pose
Hopefully, that answers the question of ‘How do I get fit?’
And finally… I’ve got a number of races planned for summer, but it’s always nice to be able to add something else into the mix… especially if it’s free. I recently received this email and have entered the Decathlon 5k in Southampton.
Is there a Decathlon 5k in your area?
How do you get fit?
The kit used in this post was provided by Decathlon. All opinions are my own.