Sometimes it feels as if modern life is just too fast and busy; places to go, people to see, diet menus to organise, healthy food to eat, races to run, workouts to sweat through… So it’s with a great sigh of relief that your favourite diet food delivery company learns that the best way to keep fit is to slow down…
Controlled, precise movements have been the focal point of Asian martial arts for millennia – and finally the West is catching on to the value of taking things down a notch or two. Here are our pick of “slow movement” work outs, and an outline of what they entail:
Super-slow weight-training: Does exactly what it says on the box. Weight training, but done very slowly, carefully, and with total control. Each repetition should take 20 seconds in all: ten second lifting, ten seconds lowering. Repeat until you experience complete muscle fatigue (between 10 and 12 repetitions in all, usually). Because the muscle is never resting, and never gets to rely on the weight’s momentum, it is doing all the work – to the point of exhaustion.
Barre: The Barre technique has launched dozens of studios and workout classes around the world, including the current favourite London Trend, Barrecore. Devised by an injured ballerina, Barre is based on the fundamentals of ballet training to strengthen, elongate, tone and firm. At the core of the technique is the employment of isometric movements – tiny, one-inch increments of muscles movement, designed to work out the smaller muscles, and engage a variety of muscles groups at once. Usually only the body’s resistance is used, although occasionally light weights can be held for additional resistance.
Body Sculpting: Sculpting classes focus on muscle toning and developing core strength, rather than on aerobic exercise. Unlike Barre classes, however, these classes do rely on the use of weights, dumbbells and exercise bands. To get the most out of a class, make sure your movements are slow and controlled – strength rather than speed will get you faster, better results.
Restorative Yoga: yoga is generally a slow, mindful form of exercise, however the trend has increasingly been to modify it so as to incorporate more athletic, aerobic movements. So we welcome the revival of restorative yoga – yoga focusing on the breath and the mind by practising stillness or gentle movement for extended periods of time. The aim is to calm the body and mind, but in holding poses and stretching the body, it offers physical as well as mental rewards too.