Zumba dancers exercising and working out

We all know how important regular workouts are – and keeping these workouts varied not only increases fitness, it also keeps us motivated and mentally engaged. Fitness writer Lucy Fry finds out how to boost your fitness mojo, with five workout swaps to make it happen.

If you find yourself going through the motions with your exercise, dreading the thought of yet another workout, then it’s high time for an exercise shake-up. Mentally, we get the most out of exercise when we vary our routines. Physically, our muscles need the challenge of different workouts. But as many of us have a fitness focus we are reluctant to move away from targeted training programmes. 

“Moving your body in different ways is great for overall fitness,” says Vitality fitness coach and personal trainer Jamie Monk, “but if you have a clear focus – say, gaining strength – you can keep training structured and still find ways of mixing things up within one area.” If you’re bored of lifting weights in the gym, take a BodyPump or Olympic Weightlifting class. If you always run on the roads, try running on some grassy hills! If you’re training for fat-loss or for short periods of time only, then stick with high intensity but try doing a couple of mini-workouts in Tabata form. “Just make sure your weekly routine includes both cardiovascular and strength training, as well as looking after your musculoskeletal health, with activities such as foam-rolling, stretching, yoga, or Pilates,” advises Monk. 

Want some inspiration? Here are five focused workout swaps that will help give your motivation a reboot. 

For your core… 

Swap yoga or Pilates for Barre

As fans of yoga and Pilates know, nourishing your core strength, balance and flexibility (all with only your own bodyweight) will help keep you supple, calm and prevent injury. Adding Barre to the mix will only enhance your yoga or Pilates practice, making difficult poses look easy and tough abdominal exercises simple! Barre is based around ballet training, so you hold on to a side bar while you take the smaller stabiliser muscles in your bottom and legs on a challenging adventure. 

For strength…

Swap weightlifting for calisthenics

Swapping barbells or dumbbells for calisthenics will strengthen and humble you. This impressive discipline involves intense stretching, hanging and swinging from bars and rings and mastering bodyweight ninja moves like the handstand press-up. Lifting weights can often be done with stronger muscles that take over and cover up weaknesses in smaller, less well-developed areas. But calisthenics helps weightlifters to be strong and flexible all over, resulting in stronger performance.

For fat-burning…

Swap HIIT for AMRAP or Tabata

If you like High Intensity Interval Training (known for its fat-burning prowess), try an AMRAP or – most intense of all – Tabata. Developed in Japan with Olympic athletes in mind, Tabata is a 4-minute whirlwind that involves 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times. What’s often missed is the extreme intensity; Tabata should leave you feeling like you’ve been through a lightning bolt, backwards! Warm up and cool down for 10 minutes at least. 

For cardiovascular fitness…

Swap running for rebounding

Running is tough on the joints and can easily cause overuse injuries. Supplementing a weekly session (or two) with rebounding can work wonders for your strength and mood. You’ll also maintain the base fitness required for steady runs! This low-impact cardiovascular exercise involves bouncing on a mini-trampoline in fun, choreographed sequences. The instability of the rebounder encourages core muscles to strengthen and bouncing boosts circulation. This helps to flush out the toxins left over from those runs.  

For overall fitness…

Swap spinning for Zumba

Both Zumba, the Latin dance-class craze, and spinning involve sweat, company, loud funky music, a strong beat and lots of self-expression. They complement each other well; Zumba’s lower-intensity bodyweight moves will boost mind and body, providing a great antidote to spinning, and will help you shake off the stiffness caused by a hard indoor cycling class.

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