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How I came to be ‘working out’ in a gym. First, let me say that I believe that practicing Yoga can be an all-encompassing journey to enhanced health and fitness. It is certainly not just an exercise regime and does not only focus on flexibility. With appropriate practice, it also maintains and improves strength, stamina, mental and general health and can promote spiritual awareness. Having said that, there are other approaches to enhancing wellness that are great to engage with. I love dance, swimming, Pilates and long countryside treks but I’m not a great fan of going to the gym or running on treadmills. In fact, in recent years I’ve adjusted my personal Yoga practice to a slower, softer and more mindful and restorative approach compared to what I did 30 years ago. This I believe is fine because we are all individuals and our bodies change as we age. Ayurveda is very clear on this matter and women, in particular, will notice the differences that come about pre and post-menopause. I may however have neglected some aspects of an all-round program as I’ve recently discovered that I do not have the strength that I used to have or would like to have. Why, I wondered when flying did I fear that my suitcase was going to be overweight, hardly being able to lift it, only to find at the airport it was in fact 10 kilos less than I’d imagined. …………………………………………….. During my recent time in London, I came across the Fit20 program being run from premises in Chiswick, West London and other locations. I decided to try it out for a limited period of time and here is my review. It is a franchised training model, originating from the Netherlands. Sessions last for 20 mins and you attend once a week. They are one to one with a trainer in a small spotlessly clean trademark lime green and white gym. Only six pieces of equipment which you work through each session. My trainer was Attila who was very encouraging, upbeat and got me putting in maximum effort each time. I can’t say that I really enjoyed the work, finding it rather ‘soulless’ but then it was only for 20 mins and Atilla was always very positive and made me feel it was all going very well and that progress was definitely taking place. Each week, the weights were increased but the time taken to reach maximum endurance often shortened. So what is the theory and benefits of this system ? Muscles are made up of various fibres that are switched on at different times depending on how much strength and power is required. Fit20 training is designed to use all fibre types in order. The progression being determined by working very slowly so that when the point comes where you think, “I can’t do this anymore”, the next type switches on. This apparently rarely happens in other forms of exercise. Mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells) produces more ATP, the body’s emergency currency, resulting in more energy. There is in this process an improved tolerance of lactic acid which can cause muscle pains and the shortness of the sessions means that the lactic acid does not accumulate. By training in this way, muscles contract faster and with more power, there is improved oxygen transport, supply of nutrients and excretion of waste products.

The description of the Fit20 program continues to explain how muscles also have a role in endocrine (hormone excreting) activity. Myokines are the means by which muscles can influence the brain, liver and body fat metabolism. The latter by decreasing insulin in the blood and increasing it in receptor cells, thus counteracting inflammation and attacking pathogens. The myokine BDNF is said to protect neurons in the brain and helps to prevent neurological disorders, whereas Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 stimulates bone formation and helps to protect the heart. Muscles can also release a protein HSP which accelerates recovery after exercise and protects against injury. The theory is that with Fit20, “you are improving your muscles and your muscles are improving you”. The training is designed to increase the amount of oxygen being pumped by the muscle cells, aerobic (oxygen using) metabolism in the cells improves resulting in more stamina. The claims made for the benefits of this type of slow muscle training are many more and include: anti-aging; improved glucose metabolism; increased energy, strength and stamina, faster reflexes, anaerobic metabolism; normalising blood pressure; increased libido and immunity plus enhancing the ability to relax and sleep well.

Wow! and my aim was only to gain a little more physical strength. The fact is that exercise and using our muscles, is important for our overall health. As the saying goes,’ if you don’t use it you lose it.’ My personal circumstances ruled that I could only sign up for a limited period of attendance for this training. I attended 10 weekly sessions ( It is suggested that you will notice positive benefits after around 20 sessions) Attila coaxed me to engage with slow, maximum effort on the equipment and a certain amount of mindfulness came into practice. After the sessions, sometimes I experienced a little shakiness for a few minutes but then felt alert and energised. I did not suffer from any muscle fatigue or stiffness.

According to the chart provide when I completed my course, my strength ability on the Chest Press had improved by 51%; Leg Press 20 %; Back Extension 19%; Abdominals 18%; Lateral Pull 21%

Perhaps there is a little more tone in my upper arm and thighs but that may be my wishful thinking. Obviously, if I don’t use it I’ll use it and the suitcase test is yet to be applied. Perhaps I’ll be paying for excess weight on my next airline travel. for a tryout session.

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