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I’ve talked about yoga quite a few times already, but yoga isn’t all I do to keep fit and healthy. I’m quite a fitness junkie really, have always been: During my childhood I tried different sorts of sports from gymnastics over swimming to horse riding and Equestrian vaulting. The latter I’ve practiced for many years even on a competitive level. Plus, I did ballet for a few years, and with a father being a triathlete I started running quite early, too.

Having grown up this way, exercise is something very natural for me. I don’t have to force myself into the gym or outside for a run on a rainy day. I know that I will feel good after the exercise, so I don’t even think about whether I feel like working out or not.

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I aim for five to six workout sessions per week, and if you wonder if I ever feel like I would rather stay in bed an hour longer or skip a session, the true answer is: No, not really. I enjoy each part of my workout routine, knowing it will make me healthy, fit, strong and happy. If I feel low in energy, an hour of monotonous running will lift my energy levels back up again. On other days, if I feel full of energy, a quick HIIT session is the perfect way to make use of all this energy, and feel even more energetic after.

My advise to you is to try different sorts of exercise before you start creating a routine: Do you enjoy being outside? Then clearly signing up for a gym is useless. Do you want to build muscles? Then body pump sessions in the gym might be your thing. Are you looking for a natural way to increase stamina and tone your body? Then the swimming pool is your best friend!

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My own workout routine is a mixture of cardio, strength training, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and power yoga. All together, the sessions increase stamina, improve muscle strength, burn fat and increase my flexibility. Plus, they make me feel great! I love the variety in my workout routine and have chosen the sessions to both challenge and treat myself. That way it will always stay fun!

Read below how a typical week of my workout routine looks like, and hopefully be inspired to give one or the other kind a try yourself! The beginning might mean some conquest and be even a bit painful at times, but once you get into your routine, it will start to be fun. It really will!

Love,
Lea Lou

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Monday: 75 minutes dynamic vinyasa yoga (yogasana), or HIIT
My yoga studio is in Peckham, Yogarise inside the Bussey Building, and on Mondays the very amazing Erin Prichard does a 75-minute strong and dynamic vinyasa class in the morning. I love to start into the week mindfully, but energetic and challenging at the same time, and Erin’s classes mean a lot of sweat and “zen“ at the same time!
If you’re new to yoga, vinyasa flow probably isn’t ideal, I would advise you start with some Hatha or Ashtanga classes first.

If I can’t make time for yoga, then a 30-minute HIIT session is great on Monday mornings, too, read more on HIIT below.

Tuesday: 60 minutes swimming
I guess you could say I have a swimming background: My entire family swims! My mum hits the pool twice a week, my sister even works part-time as a lifeguard, and my dad might not be the greatest fan of swimming, but for his triathlon training he more or less has to do it anyway. Me, I love swimming! I can totally switch off my brain underneath the water, losing myself in the monotonous movements. I swim between 2.5 and 2.8 km every time I go (which are 50 – 56 lanes in a 50-m-pool (or 100 – 112 lanes in a 25-m-pool)), starting with breaststroke, then do a good amount of backstroke as I feel it is great against back tensions, and then do the crawl for around 1 km, followed by a few more lanes of breast- and backstroke to cool down. 

Wednesday: 75 minutes rocket yoga
Rocket yoga is my favourite! It builds on the original Ashtanga, but focuses on inversions like headstands, forearm stands and handstands. It is very strong and dynamic, hence, again, if you are new to yoga, I believe a few more basic classes are good to become familiar with it.

Thursday: 60 minutes body pump
It took me a while to get over my fear of signing up for a gym. All that testosterone seemed so intimidating! Funnily though, now that I’m a regular in my gym, I noticed nobody actually cares about what machines you use and, more importantly, how you look like using them.
I regularly go to a body pump class, which is a full body workout and uses moderate weights with lots of repetitions. Throughout the class we work on all major muscles with bars, hand weights, steps and our own body weight. Depending on the weights you use, it will make you leave the room shaky, at least that’s what it does to me! There’s loud, fun and motivating music, too, so I absolutely love it.

Friday: Rest, or 60 minutes running
I often take Friday off from my workout routine, or, if the weather is nice and I have energy, I will do a long run through the park. I love being outside, and running feels a bit like therapy to me, I like to reflect on the things happening or think things through when I run, so it really doesn’t feel much like an exercise.

Saturday: 20 minutes HIIT (+ 10 minutes warm-up and cool-down)
I admit, a HIIT session seems like a tough thing to do. And it’s true, with a number of intense exercises repeated a few times, it will leave you gasp for air. The good news is though: It’s finished quickly! Think five minutes to warm up and five minutes to cool down, so the hardest part is done within just 20 minutes. I do my HIIT exercise outside (if it doesn’t rain, otherwise I do it at home or in the gym), running to a nearby park, where I then do two to three rounds of jumps (e.g. 20), squats and high jumps (e.g. 20), high knees (e.g. 50), skater lunges (e.g. 30), sprints (50 m), mountain climbers (e.g. 30), burpees and push-ups (e.g. 10) and “normal“ burpees (e.g.10). Between every exercise I slowly run for 20 – 30 seconds, then do the next set of exercise, and, once I’m done with one round, I do another one and repeat some of the exercises even a third time. If you’re new to HIIT, there are many videos available on Youtube which help you get into it.
HIIT is great if you are short in time, but look for an effective workout. Throughout the high intensity exercises the anaerobic metabolism predominates, which is effective for long-term fat loss. Don’t allow your body to rest too much during the low intensity phases (the slow run), to push that anaerobic level a little more every time.

Sunday: Rest
Have you heard of the Instagram hashtag #sundaysareforcake? So, that is what I do on Sundays! Have your cake, and eat it, too. 🙂

Photos: Lydia del Valle

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Hi, I'm Lea Lou, food photographer, recipe artist, yoga teacher, mum-to-be – and always smiling. Have fun on my blog!

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