We all have those summer fitness goals, but there’s a good chance that winter might have set you back a bit. That said, we were keen to find out how to make the most out of spring to get fit for our favourite season of the year – summer! And who better to give us a heads up than qualified Pilates teacher and fitness instructor Leah Simmons. Check out the chat we had with Leah below and get yourself motivated for warmer days, just around the corner.
Q&A WITH LEAH SIMMONS
1. What tips do you have on how to get motivated and not skip working out?
Motivation starts and ends with you. There is no magic pill that will one day make you all of a sudden feel like working out. A lot of us go to bed with the best of intentions to get to the gym in the morning, only to hit the snooze. Why? Personally I believe it comes down to people having too vague definitions of their fitness goals. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve! Do you want to improve your fitness? Build muscle? Increase your endurance? Whatever it is, make sure you enlist the help of a trained professional to get you there. Plan your workouts over a week and then you can tick them off as you go!
2. What helps get you through tough workouts?
Knowing that after I’ve finished, I’ve just pushed myself through another mental and physical barrier. The mind plays an important role in pushing you through a tough workouts. Ask yourself why this particular workout is tough and what it means for your goals. Train your mind to push through to your goals and your body will follow.
3. Optimal time to workout?
There really is no “optimal” time for a workout. My workouts can take anywhere from 15mins to 2hrs! If I’m doing a strength session (squats or deadlifts), it might take me an hour to work up to my 1 rep max and then back down to do my work sets. If I’m doing a HIIT session I might have it done and dusted in 15mins! What I would say is if you train “efficiently” then no matter how long it takes, you will always get something out of it.
4. Cardio vs strength. What’s the ideal balance?
Personally I don’t do any specific cardio training. I get enough of a cardiovascular from the rest I do! I think a lot of people think they need to do cardio to “lose weight” when, (in my opinion) if you combine strength/circuit training with good nutrition you will actually get a better weight loss result. Strength training also has the added benefit of being great for red blood cell production, it regulates hormone secretion and it also increases bone density. For me I would say combining strength and mobility training (pilates/fascial release) would be the optimal blend.
5. Moving onto nutrition, what are your hard and fast rules about general diet?
Again I can only speak for what works for me, but one thing I absolutely DO NOT DO is cut out entire food groups. I believe that your body needs a good balance of ALL macronutrients – PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATES, FAT AND FIBRE. As a rule, I generally follow a largely plant-based diet (I tend to eat for my blood type which is A+), I limit my alcohol intake, I don’t eat refined sugars or processed foods and I make sure I drink at least 2L of water per day. I know it sounds clichéd but it works for me. Contrary to a lot of people in the fitness industry I’m also not a “foodie”. I actually loathe cooking, so keeping it simple is good for me. I tend to eat the same things day in day out… I know right… BORING!
6. What should we be eating post workout?
You definitely want to get a dose of protein after a workout.In terms of how much… well it depends on a lot of different factors – your weight, your goals etc. You want to make sure you are eating enough too! Often people (especially women) are not actually eating enough while they are training. This can have negative effects on your end goal. If you want some sound advice, then seek the help of a nutritionist or dietician.
7. What else is key to setting yourself up for summer body success?
Giving yourself enough time to achieve it! Leaving it until two weeks before you need to get into your bikini will only end up stressing you out (which can actually make you put ON weight) summer bodies are made in winter (or spring) and you need a consistent training regime for at least three months prior to summer kicking in to see the results. Be realistic about your goals as well. Get a trainer, train with a friend, do things you ENJOY!
8. Beach bag essentials?
SUNSCREEN! Unfortunately I never did listen to my mother enough about wearing it but I am now obsessive about putting it on. I also wear a hat – you can’t be too careful about the aging effects of the sun! A hot bathing suit never goes astray either – my faves are from FELLA, Fae Swim, Midnight Swim and Matteau. A good pair of denim shorts live in my bag (usually from One Teaspoon) and a great shirt to throw on (Double Rainbouu are THE BEST) I also love using huge sarongs to lay on and I always have something to read and something to listen to with me.