Health kicks for the new year
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It's never been easier to pile on the pounds during the festivities. What with the Christmas markets selling oh-so-tempting Nutella crepes and tasty burgers, followed by plates of food eaten at the yuletide parties and the quick stops to grab a calorie-laden hot chocolate when on the hop. And this all happens before Christmas! Factor in the 5,000 or so calories consumed on Christmas Day and the colder, wetter weather that drives us indoors where we're less active, and it's hardly surprising to discover that we're carrying a few extra pounds around the waistline come January 1st!
As an antidote to all indulgences consumed over the festive season, many of us turn our sights towards healthy eating and fitness at this time of year. There's good reason for this, with a raft of physical, mental and social benefits being the reward.
Want to get started? Here's a little round-up of places to get fit this January...
Sign up to a fitness class
For something fun, Boogie Bounce at Honiton Leisure Centre, is an energetic hi-tempo class where participants work out on a mini trampoline in intervals of jumps and bounces using HIIT techniques. Hi-energy tunes get everyone in the mood for this fat-burning cardio exercise. For something for a bit more chilled and relaxed, the Honiton centre also hosts a 60 minute PiYo class that combines Pilates, yoga and controlled movement, but at a quicker pace to conventional practice.
People who want to make a party out of their exercise class should sign up to Danceacise at Axminster Leisure Centre. This 55 minute dance-filled session gives a total body workout and combines all elements of fitness. Plus, it's a great way to learn some new moves to show off on the dance floor.
Those looking for a heart-pumping challenge should head to Ottery St Mary Leisure Centre to embark on a Studio Cycling session. Essentially this is a 45 minute spinning class where gym goers pedal like mad on a stationary bike and burn hundreds of calories in the process.
For more details about exercise classes run by Leisure East Devon (LED), who operate the leisure centres in Axminster, Broadclyst, Colyton, Exmouth, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton and Sidmouth, visit www.ledleisure.co.uk/activities/Category/exercise-classes
Head to the gym
For some, the thought of signing on at a gym can seem a little daunting, with the fear of being judged and looking out of place as two key deterrents. To address this issue head-on, fitness enthusiasts Oliver Joseph and George Young opened several gyms in the area that, first and foremost, focus on being friendly, welcoming, and personable. Director George Young from Oliver Joseph Gyms said: "A personable, welcoming gym has always been our goal. We want to create a place where anyone of any age or ability can feel welcome and comfortable when they train." The state-of-the-art health and fitness suites are located just outside of Whimple, in Sidmouth High Street and Lyme Street in the centre of Axminster. In the gyms, instructors show a genuine interest in their members, finding out what makes each individual tick and developing bespoke fitness plans. For more, see www.oliverjoseph.co.uk
Take a dip...indoors
As the sea temperature plunges, even the hardiest of outdoor swimmers may want to dive into the warm waters at one of the swimming pools in Sidmouth, Exmouth and Honiton. Aside, from the routine lane swimming sessions, Aqua Fit remains a popular exercise class where waist-deep participants move to music and use the water as a form of resistance. For class times and dates see www.ledleisure.co.uk/activities/aqua-fit
Run for free
It is possible to get fit for free! The parkrun phenomenon has made a straightforward 5km run accessible, social, inclusive and achievable, even for those whose running legs have seen better days. The format of parkrun is simple - it's a 5km run that takes place in a variety of locations at 9am sharp every Saturday morning, all year round. The pre-run atmosphere is always exciting and there's absolutely no pressure to run in a quick time. Participants can walk, jog or run, and there's a choice to be timed or not.
The nearest parkruns are in Exmouth, Seaton and Killerton. The seafront course in Exmouth is totally flat so it's great for beginners. It starts and finishes outside Ocean and goes along the Esplanade between Orcombe Point and the Cavendish Hotel. Afterwards, several runners grab a post parkrun coffee in Ocean Exmouth.
The Seaton parkrun also takes in the amazing seascape of Lyme Bay with a route that covers two laps of the seafront. The run starts on the pebble beach east of Fisherman's Gap then heads west along the Esplanade to the turning point at Hideaway cafe before going back. After two loops of the course, parkrunners take a short dash across the pebble beach to finish. Post parkrun coffees are served in Pebbles, Marine Place, Seaton EX12 2LL.
A slightly more challenging parkrun covering an undulating, multi-terrain course is at Killerton. This scenic one-lap course is run entirely on National Trust land and follows grassy tracks and stoney trails across open parkland, through woodland and working farmland. It starts and finishes close to the visitor car park and Killerton's Stableblock Tea Room which opens at 9.30am especially for the parkrunners, where replenishments are served.
Parkrun is totally free - it's free to join and free to participate. People can register on the website where they will be issued with a barcode. To get a timed run this barcode should be scanned on the day, although this isn't compulsory. Visit www.parkrun.org.uk for more.
Need extra help?
For all-around better health, the One Small Step service is there to support adults in Devon. The free health service is funded by Devon County Council and gives residents access to online tools, resources, apps and self-help guides on how to maintain a healthy weight, get more active, cut down on alcohol and quit smoking. Trained practitioners can offer free one-to-one coaching sessions to help people achieve their goals. For more, visit https://onesmallstep.org.uk or call 01392 908139