2016 was a year of ups and downs for me when it came to fitness. I ended 2015 with an operation to remove some pretty severe endometriosis which actually left me in more pain after the op than before.
For six months straight I was in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was never not taking painkillers, argh! And a year later, I am still having to back out of some workouts due to extreme abdominal pain.
It’s meant that I’ve gone backwards in terms of my fitness this year.
For example, before my op, I was running 8-10kms around my local lake a couple of times a week. I won’t say ‘with ease’ (hello, heavy-breathing, sweaty tomato face) but I did it without stopping. Now, if I do 5km without stopping, it’s a mammoth triumph (and only achieved once or twice in 2016).
Throw in a couple of knee injuries along the way, and things didn’t go quite according to plan in 2016. I had to pull out of The March Charge this year (well, I did it walking instead of running as I still wanted to raise money). And The Mothers Day Classic was a struggle – let’s just say I strapped my knee up like the ancient mummy that I am and didn’t ‘run for time’ 😉
It’s not all bad news, though. I’ve done some awesome workouts this year and discovered new fitness havens that perhaps I wouldn’t have if I’d been running around the lake.
Also, I had my ClassPass – my ticket to all new kinds of fit fun.
Thankfully, the last month or so has seen marked improvements health wise, and I’m super hopeful for a cracking year of training ahead.
Want some inspo for your 2017 of sweat?
Here are my 7 favourite workouts of 2016, my endorphin-rushing highs that make the lows practically vanish from memory.
1. Outdoor Group Training
My absolute favourite way to train is outdoors.
Even better by the ocean.
With a group of awesome ladies.
Back in 2015, this was a weekly Saturday morning date with my girls from CrossFit Athletic. When their Female FIT program was disbandoned, it broke my heart a little bit.
In early 2016, I got to continue the fun for a while with Project Livewell. I’m realising how much I’m missing it, so next year, I’m going to find another group of outdoor junkies and go sweat with them in the sunshine.
2. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Talk about an intense workout. At CREW Boutique Rowing Studio, my heart rate hit its highest level EVER and I was utterly spent after the 45 minute session.
Rowing burns more calories and uses more muscles than many other HIIT workouts. And if the idea of being on a rower for more than a few minutes terrifies you, don’t worry, the actual rowing is interspersed with other exercises, using body weight, dumbbells, etc.
If you’re in Sydney, get yourself to CREW stat.
3. Spin Classes
Two or three times a week, I’m at my local gym, Energize, taking a 6am class with one fierce instructor! She is so good that her classes were the catalyst for my early morning fitness routine. I don’t get out of bed at 5 something am for just anyone, it has to be worth it.
Each class is different, whether we’re doing tabata, endurance or explosive style training. The music is pumping, the energy levels are high. And it’s seriously, like SERIOUSLY hard, a brilliant workout.
So I was pretty excited to hear that Scenic Cycle were opening a studio in Manly. At Scenic Cycle, you get a spin class with a difference. Two big screens in front of you take you on a virtual tour of somewhere amazing on this planet.
Sometimes you can choose a class based on music rather than destination – I did a Daft Punk vs Chemical Brothers class last week and it was epic.
Everything about parkrun is brilliant.
It’s a free local 5km run, every Saturday morning, all around the world.
You run in a local park, guided by volunteers and never having to cross a road, so it’s super safe.
It’s timed, so you can compete against yourself week in, week out. They even send you an email with your stats the same day.
parkrun is super friendly and inclusive – I’m regularly overtaken by octogenarians, children, dogs and prams – the fact everyone’s there and having a go is so heartwarming that it makes up for being left for dust by them all, haha.
5. Yoga with a difference
OK, so I’m no good at yoga. I wish I was a ‘proper yogi’ but I’m just not. I’m not that supple, my balance is wobbly and strength somewhat lacking. You won’t find me on Instagram doing headstands and crow pose unfortunately.
However, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the practice, and reap the benefits, whether they be spiritual, mental or physical.
I really love the studios that are doing something different. For example, yoga outdoors by the ocean at Surfside Yoga, yoga with a loud funky beat (and huge screens) at Urban Yoga, fusion yoga at LUXE or mmmmmmm the most amazing experience of the hum at Humming Puppy.
Try one of these, or look out some alternative yoga studios near you to see if they can spark a new or renewed love of slowing down and getting centred.
6. HIIT that keeps you honest
The workouts, the studio… but most of all, the point of difference here is that you wear a heart rate strap during the session so you can see up on the screen how hard you are actually working. No slacking off, fitties!
The idea is you get yourself up to the ‘red zone’ – 85% of your max working heart rate and above, so that your fitness continues to peak.
If you’re not local to this Northern Beaches gem, then have a search to see if any other local health clubs use the MYZONE (or other) heart rate tracker belts to keep you honest too.
7. Epic Events like Nike NTC, BUF Girls Live and Wanderlust
There’s something pretty special about getting together with hundreds, or even thousands of people to enjoy the highs of health and fitness.
Whether it’s a full octane workout with smiling assassin Kirsty Godso on the main stage of the Nike NTC tour, or the high energy HIIT buzz from Australia’s adrenalin superstars the BUF Girls, those positive vibes and deep squats are a brilliant way to burn calories and have an awesome live experience at the same time.
If you prefer things a little more chilled, check out festivals like Wanderlust. The mass meditation we did on the beach at Bondi was such a powerful moment in time, I’ll never forget it.
Keep your eye out for big events like these, grab your girl gang and book yourselves in.
I’m already looking forward to the Flow Athletic Spin at Home Nightclub in February for starters…
There you have it, the workouts and events that kept my heart racing and blood pumping during 2016.
Here’s to more of the same in 2017 – I can’t wait to rediscover my full fitness and find new ways to get myself into a hot sweaty mess.
Happy New Year everyone, may it be your best yet.