River Ness 10K – WF's race report

Our Art Director Nicola took to the Highlands to see if she could spot Nessie on race day!

Having signed up to do the Loch Ness marathon earlier in the year, I was excited about the prospect of running through the beautiful views of Loch Ness. However, unfortunately during my training I acquired an injury – plantar fasciitis – and was advised by my physio not to run at all. You can imagine how gutted I was.

Fortunately, my physio agreed that I would be able to manage a 10K, so although I was extremely disappointed, I signed up to the River Ness 10K instead and focused on my rehab and race prep.

On the road 

Traveling up to Inverness was super easy with convenient flights from London. On arrival I was met by the stunning, rolling hills of Scotland. After carb-loading at a friendly pizza restaurant (essential carb-loading, obvs), I headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Race day 

Following a hearty Scottish breakfast I headed to the start line, which was a 10-minute shuttle bus ride away. The weather was perfect running conditions – mild and grey. I met various other runners, all excited about the race.

Once we were off there was an initial gradient to a roundabout and then a sweet downhill, which went along the River Ness among the woodland. It was magical. The downhill lasted till around the 7K mark as we began to head into Inverness.

The locals were out in support with plenty of welcomed cheer. The atmosphere was great, with runners pushing on to complete their PB or raising money for charity.

Once in Inverness the course went over the bridge and then to the finish line. The crowd became stronger with their encouragement as the finish got nearer. I gave it everything I had on the day and finished with a respectable 55.22.

This is a fun and picturesque 10K and I will undoubtedly be back to spot Nessy and do the marathon! Now where’s my training plan?!

For the Loch Ness Marathon and River Ness 10K 2018 entries, visit lochnessmarathon.com

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Win the chance to join Team Triaction 2

We’re just like you – we want our kit to work as hard as us, while making a serious style statement.

When it comes to sports bras, we’re after a perfect fit, great support for our cup size and on-trend styles and colour ways. 

It might be underwear but it’s key to a good workout. Making sure your assets are well-supported before you embark on any workout is vital – whatever your size.

Don’t just take our word for it – the whole Triaction range is even bounce-control certified by the world-renowned research group in breast health at the University of Portsmouth.

Stand together – Team Triaction

As an active woman you’re part of a tribe. Whether you stretch or spin, run or dance every week you join millions of other women across Europe who are as passionate about being fit and active as you are.

This summer Triumph created Team Triaction – a group of five inspiring women across Europe who are passionate about being active and motivating others. 

Fitness instructor, author and Instagram star Alice Liveing headed up Team Triaction for the UK and shared her personal journey into health and fitness with us. While globally, Team Triaction is led by an online sensation, Anna Victoria, international fitness blogger and founder of the ‘Fit Body Guide’. Earlier this year we saw the team take on new sporting challenges and show us their best moves in our bounce control tested sports bras.

Your chance to win

To celebrate the success of Team Triaction, Triumph is now in search of women across Europe of all shapes, ages and backgrounds to join them and get involved as part of Team Triaction 2. 

To be in with a chance to join us, all you have to do is upload a photo of yourself to Instagram working out in your favourite way using #TeamTraction2.

If chosen, you’ll win an expert fitting, a range of Triaction sports bras and your own PT session, together with the opportunity to meet Anna Victoria. 

Enter now!

Go to Instagram and upload with the hashtag #TeamTriaction2

Entries end on 14 September 2017.

No compromise

If you work out as much as we do, you’ll be in need of a new bra (or two!) this autumn. Triumph’s new AW17 collection has you covered. 

Brand new this season and featuring the vibrant city camouflage print is the Dynamic Lite Bra and the Boost Lite push-up bra. The new Magic Motion Bra with the soft-touch Magic Wire™ Air innovation is available in the seasonal peacock blue colour.

The Boost Lite push-up sports bra enhances women’s natural curves with lightly padded, breathable spacer cups. Available in classic black and a vibrant print, this stylish sports bra features versatile adjustable straps, exceptional support, moisture control, extreme lightness and outstanding comfort – the perfect choice for high intensity activities:

Magic Motion push-up bra gives the bust extra lift whilst offering 65% certified bounce control; designed to enhance and support women’s natural curves as they work out in style. As with all Magic Motion bras, this features the Magic Wire innovation for extra comfort. Smart fabric ensures optimum dryness and perforated cups make it breathable, the ideal choice for all body shapes and sizes.

Enter now!

Go to Instagram and upload with the hashtag #TeamTriaction2

Entries end on 14 September 2017.

WIN: A Muay Thai training holiday!

Want to up your fitness and boost your boxing skills? What better way to do it than to travel to the very heart of where the ancient martial art of Muay Thai began for an intense seven-day training holiday! Whether you’re a complete beginner or want to hone your skills, the trainers at Tiger Muay Thai will make sure you reach your goals. Located in the Chalong Area of Phuket, Thailand, Tiger Muay Thai is the biggest and most highly-regarded Muay Thai fitness training camp in the world. Think outdoor boxing rings and gyms, hugely experienced trainers and authentic Muay Thai ceremonies all topped off with a backdrop of the beautiful Phuket coastline. Tiger Muay Thai caters for people from all walks of life, including complete beginners and even children.

THE PRIZE

Don’t go running off to book your tickets just yet, though! We’ve partnered with Muay Thai Holidays to offer one lucky H&F reader an all-inclusive package holiday at Tiger Muay Thai. You’ll get return flights from London to Phuket with Thai Airways, airport transfers, seven nights’ accommodation in a single bungalow, fresh and delicious meals prepped and cooked at the Tiger Grill daily, a Muay Thai training vest and hoodie, plus extensive training in three different levels of Muay Thai, mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, yoga, CrossFit and many more disciplines. This holiday will be sure to push you to your limits!

Click here for more details and to enter!

Closing date: October 31, 2017.

FULL TERMS & CONDITIONS 

Departure dates between January 1 and June 30, 2018. Subject to availability.

On completing and submitting this competition, you will automatically be entered into a draw for one of these prizes. No correspondence will be entered into and the winners will be notified by post or email within 28 days of the closing date. The competition is not open to employees of Dennis Publishing or participating companies. No cash alternative will be offered. The prize (s) described are available at the date of publication. Events may occur that render the promotion or the awarding of the prize impossible due to reasons beyond Dennis Publishing’s (publisher of the relevant magazine) control, which may at its discretion vary or amend the promotion and the reader agrees that no liability shall be attached to Dennis Publishing as a result thereof. Proof of emailing will not be accepted as proof of delivery and no responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, delayed, mislaid or for any technical failure or for any event which may cause the competition to be disrupted or corrupted. In order to determine an outright winner or winners to a competition, the Editor reserves the right to request entrants to take part in an eliminating contest (or ‘tie breaker’). Where for any reason there are more winners than prizes on offer, the Editor reserves the right to conduct a simple draw to determine the winner or winners of the prizes. Unless otherwise stated, entry to all competitions is restricted to entrants of 18 years of age or over. Names of winners will be available on receipt of a request enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope to: Competitions Manager, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland St, London W1T 4JD. If the winner of a competition is unable to take up a prize for any reason, the Editor reserves the right to award it to an alternative winner, in which case the first winner chosen will not be eligible for any share of the prize whatsoever. The Editor’s decision is final and it is a condition of entry to any competition that the entrant agrees to be bound by these rules whether they be published or not, and that the decisions of the Editor and judges on any matter whatsoever arising out of or connected with the competition are final. No purchase of the magazine is necessary and no more than one entry per household. Competitions open to UK residents only, unless otherwise stated.

Upgrade your lunch break workout

 

Making it to the end of the working day is so much harder if you don’t take a break. A study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports shows that even a 30-minute lunchtime stroll can significantly boost a person’s ability to handle stress at work. But why not ramp up the intensity of your workout and amplify results? ‘It sounds obvious, but don’t use the time to just go through the motions,’ says Georgia Gray, Fitness First personal trainer. ‘Be focused. Get the most out of every rep. Don’t text during your rest periods. Basically, just work hard.’ Heading to the gym this lunch hour? Follow these smart strategies to get more from your session.

GET WITH THE PROGRAMME

Guilty of wandering around the gym aimlessly? What you need is a game plan for workout success. ‘Know exactly what you’re going to the gym to do,’ advises Gray. ‘Not only will you be more motivated to beat your weight or rep targets, but you’ll also save the time you’d normally spend thinking about what bit of kit to use next.’ If you’re not sure what sort of plan you should be following, speak to one of the gym instructors and ask if you can book a gym induction, during which they should provide you with an exercise plan. Get in there and just do it. Got it?

WORKOUT WITH LESS

Modern gyms may be fitness-lovers’ playgrounds – with battle ropes, tyres, sleds and plenty of exciting new-fangled kit – but it’s important not to simply ‘play around’ with the latest equipment. In fact, New Balance ambassador Shona Vertue thinks it’s best to use as little equipment as possible. ‘There’s nothing worse than getting to a packed gym only to spend half your time waiting for kit. Standing in line won’t burn calories! If you’re using the gym at a peak time, such as during the lunch hour, find an empty corner, grab a kettlebell or resistance band and do a circuit. That way, you’ll spend your lunch hour working out rather than waiting it out,’ she says.

MAXIMISE ON MOVES

When time is short, compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once are the key to strength rewards. ‘Revolve your session around big, compound moves such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, chest presses, bent-over rows, chin-ups and dips,’ says Gray. ‘These moves require oodles of energy and are great for fat loss. A lot of my clients love the adductor (inner-thigh) machine, but a squat will work the adductors, rest of the lower body, core and lower back.’ In short, these moves offer more bang for your exercise buck.

GIVE IT A REST

Sure, rest periods are important. They give your body a chance to restore, recover and replenish, meaning you can hit the next set just as hard as the last one. But, by cleverly selecting exercises that work different muscle groups, you can skimp on rest, give worked muscles a chance to recoup and keep up the intensity. ‘Switch between upper- and lower-body movements,’ says Vertue. ‘For example, perform 10 squats, then immediately [without rest] do 10 push-ups. By going from a lower- to an upper-body exercise, your body is quickly shunting blood from the legs (from the squat) to the arms (for the push-up). This takes quite a bit of energy and will burn lots of calories.’

CURB THE CARDIO

Love spending the entire hour on the treadmill? Bad news – unless you’re training for an endurance event, spending that long on a cardio machine isn’t the best use of your time. What you need to do is to up the intensity and decrease the time of your aerobic session to supercharge cardiovascular results. ‘There are lots of ways to increase the intensity of your workout,’ says Allyn Condon, personal trainer at The Gym Bristol. ‘You could vary the sets [try doing hill intervals, for example] or increase the speed of your movements to improve your overall performance and get more from your workout.’ Do this and you’ll free up time to spend using the other kit as well.

DROP IT LOW

If you’re still plugging through the 3 x 12 reps session that the gym instructor gave you a year ago, it’s time to mix up your weights workout. ‘Your body needs progressive overload to make progress,’ says Gray. And this means taxing your muscles more this week than you did last week. ‘If you’re coming in and going through the motions, you’ll struggle to see results. Try doing dropsets, which involves completing an exercise at a certain weight before dropping the weight slightly and performing the same exercise. This is a great way to push the body to failure [when it can’t physically do that move anymore, which leads to strength gains].’

TRACK YOUR TIME

If you’re motivated by competition, one of the most effective ways to gain strength and improve your fitness results is to compete with yourself by tracking your workouts. ‘When you’re not sticking to a plan, you really will struggle to see results,’ warns Gray. ‘To get the most out of any workout – whether it’s long or short – you need to be recording what you’re doing and aiming to improve on that [by running a bit faster, lifting more weight or clocking more reps, for example] week-on-week.’ Yes, it’s time to invest in that workout diary you’ve been promising yourself.

Get fit on social media

If you’re among the one in four people who pay for a gym membership but hasn’t exercised for six months (go on, own up) or one of the 36 per cent who have recently cancelled their membership, it’s time to look beyond the gym for shape-up motivation. And this summer, you can find inspiration at your fingertips from a bounty of new social media fitness campaigns, guaranteed to get you moving. Already a great platform for exchanging workout tips and motivation, social media is now buzzing with more structured fitness campaigns tailored to your goals, whether you want to discover a new sport, up your running mileage or get off the couch and ready for the beach.

‘The great thing about online campaigns is that they’re here to inspire you whenever you’re ready to be inspired,’ says Chris Scott of London Sport, an organisation aiming to get one million Londoners more active by 2020, partly using social media campaigns. ‘They can be a way to fire you up to do more of what you’re already doing but they can also be the trigger to get you moving when you need a little nudge, perhaps while you’re crashed out on the sofa. Having a chance to be inspired into activity at those times is a great opportunity to shift you out of that passive mentality and into a process of getting active.’

So if you’re ready to be moved – and ready to move – here are the hottest, most inspiring campaigns to check out right now. On your marks, get set, google…

#LDNMOVESME

WHAT: #LDNMovesMe is a three-month digital initiative designed to inspire Londoners to celebrate and share the ways they get active, whether it’s an early-morning yoga class, a bike ride to the office, an after-work HIIT class or a weekend walk. It’s easy to join in and inspire other city-dwellers to get moving – just throw out a picture of your workout on social media and tag it with #LDNMovesMe. Then discover new ideas by checking what others are up to. ‘Whatever activity means to you, the #LDNMovesMe campaign is there to motivate you to do more of what you love,’ explains freerunning legend François ‘Forrest’ Mahop. The goal: ‘to build a community of Londoners who are healthier, happier, and more inspired to participate,’ explains Peter Fitzboydon, Chief Executive of London Sport. NEED TO KNOW: Make it a good post – the best content will be shared on the campaign’s microsite: ldnmovesme.com where you can also find more workout ideas.

#MAKE1KWET

WHAT: Runners – improve your stride by getting in the pool! This programme from Speedo aims to show you how swapping 5K on your feet for 1K in the water will help you become a fitter and stronger runner by reaping the benefits (improved endurance, core and upper-body strength) of a full-body workout through swimming. Designed by former ITU triathlete and duathlete Annie Emmerson, the MAKE 1K WET programme features 1K swim-training plans, from beginner to advanced, catering for people who are running anything from 5K to marathons. ‘Runners are mileage-driven, so it’s a great way to showcase that you can achieve as much through swimming as running,’ says Emmerson. Download a three-month plan from the Make1KWet hub at speedo.com to your smartphone. As you progress, share your results, tagging your tweets #Make1KWet. NEED TO KNOW: A recent international study of people who swim and run found that more than 85 per cent said swimming helps enhance their running performance.

#LETSRUNIT

WHAT: Short on shape-up time? Get fit on your way to work with this campaign designed to inspire you to switch your commute (by train, bus or car) with running or walking to work, helping you keep fit, save money and even get there faster. Enter your start and finish points and mode of transport of your commute on the landing page, which calculates the distance and time of the journey then creates a run/walk. Download the Racefully iphone app beforehand, and you can race against your commute. ‘It’s a fun and affordable way to add fitness into your life, plus helping the environment and saving money are big motivators,’ says Racefully co-founder David Naylor. Share your runs by using #LetsRunIt. NEED TO KNOW: You could also win a lightweight commuter’s backpack by iamrunbox worth £134. To be in with a chance, share your run to Facebook or Twitter and tag it #LetsRunIt.

#MADETOMOVE

WHAT: Sponsored by Lucozade Sport, this drive to get to get 1 million people moving more by 2020 kicked into action in October 2016 with Made to Move Sessions, a series of streamed workout classes hosted by influential sport and fitness ambassadors including IBF Heavyweight World Champion boxer Anthony Joshua and PT and social media influencer Emily Skye, available here. ‘This is a perfect platform to give everyone the access and knowledge they need to be fit and heathy,’ says Skye. NEED TO KNOW: Lucozade Sport has launched a Made to Move app as part of the campaign. Users can track their movement across a range of activities and are rewarded with giveaways and prize draws. ‘Just 5,000 steps could make you a prize winner,’ says Claire Higgins, Senior Brand Manager at Lucozade Sport. So, move more, win more!

#THISGIRLCAN

WHAT: Sport England’s famous campaign to help overcome the fear of judgement that stops many women and girls from doing sport has evolved for 2017. Having encouraged 2.8 million 14- to 40-year-old women to do some or more activity, the advertising campaign features real women participating in their sports. You can look for activities – from archery to Zumba – to try in your area and get advice on getting involved in sport here. NEED TO KNOW: Inspire other women by making your own This Girl Can poster using the app at app.thisgirlcan.co.uk/#register and uploading it to social media. This Girl Can Workplace Tour will be taking yoga yurts to workplaces in the west of England, while other areas will have individual hashtags to help their communities boost participation.

This summer's best outdoor workouts

Ever feel like you spend most of the year cooped up indoors? Now’s the time to make the most of the longer, brighter days and warmer temperatures by getting outside and active whenever you can.

The health and wellbeing benefits of outdoor exercise, particularly close to nature, are well documented. Experts have coined terms such as ‘ecotherapy’ and ‘forest bathing’ to describe its antidepressant, heart-rate lowering and stress-relieving effects. And a large-scale 2013 review, published in the journal Extreme Physiology & Medicine, concluded that outdoor, natural environments help increase physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion. In other words, we do more but suffer less, thanks to physiological benefits such as stress reduction, restored mental fatigue, improved mood and self-esteem and perceived health.

So why not press pause on the gym and try something different this summer? ‘Take the pressure off yourself to get to that Spin class or pre-work HIIT session – sometimes a hike through the woods or a dip in the sea is what you really need,’ says Sophie Everard, fitness coach and Keen footwear ambassador.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you, whether you’re at home or holidaying… 

1. Head to the park

Launched in 2014, Our Parks is an organisation that works with councils to offer free or low-cost outdoor group exercise classes in local parks and community spaces. Sign up for Bootcamp; Box Fit; or Abs, bums and thighs, for example. This year, it’s partnering with Merrell, the rugged outdoor footwear brand, to expand the classes around Greater London and into the surrounding counties, and get 100,000 ‘parkers’ exercising for free each week by 2018. Find your nearest class at ourparks.org.uk

2. Go wild in the wet

Our favourite place to make a splash and act like big kids is the amazing outdoor New Forest Water Park that’s like Total Wipeout meets Ninja Warrior. It uses large floating sports apparatus called WiBit and users can burn up to 500 calories an hour larking around on them. There’s also 5-Pylon cable wakeboarding, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. If you aren’t local, make it a short break and camp there too; visit newforestwaterpark.co.uk

3. Salute the sun

Take your yoga practice outdoors and salute the sun in person. It doesn’t have to be an outdoor class; just take your mat into the garden and work through some poses, listening to the birds and feeling the breeze on your skin. Increasing numbers of teachers and studios are offering outdoor options in summer time. Or Londoners could book a lesson with a local teacher via the Yogi2me app and ask them to meet you at a local beauty spot (from £65; yogi2me.com). 

4. Meditate in the fresh air

Visit China and you’ll see adults and children alike practising Qi Gong – an ancient form of moving meditation – in the parks, gardens and open countryside. With its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, Qi Gong exercises are designed to stimulate and move the ‘Qi’ (Chi) energy in every organ and meridian in the body. ‘It’s a fantastic way to fully connect with and be at one with nature, so we often practise it outdoors,’ says Qi Gong and Taoist Master David James Lees. Find a local teacher at qigonginstitute.org/directory or, for David’s drop-in sessions in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, visit wuweiwisdom.com/meditation-classes

5. Make like a monkey

If you haven’t yet tried Go Ape, the treetop adventure course, do your fun side a favour and book in. ‘A typical session burns over 500 calories and you’ll keep your heart rate at 50 to 60 per cent of its max, so it’s a great fat burner,’ says personal trainer Ben Boulter. But it’s the mood-boosting endorphins we love the most – just try swinging through trees without a huge grin on your face. Find your nearest of 31 locations at goape.co.uk

6. Enter an OCR

Summer is arguably the best time to take on an obstacle-course race or ‘OCR’, when you won’t get so chilly charging through rivers and plunging into mud baths. Get a team together and take on a 10- to 12-mile Tough Mudder or half (5 miles) – find an event at toughmudder.co.uk. For a more scenic, ‘wild run’ through forest, lakes and trails – with a few obstacles thrown in, too – get in training for the award-winning Wolf Run in Warwickshire this September. Visit thewolfrun.com/autumnwolf

7. Try Coasteering

Coasteering is a seaside adventure sport that originated 100 years ago, when climbers began to traverse rocky sea cliffs. You wear a wetsuit, trainers, helmet and buoyancy jacket, and explore the coast at sea level. This might mean swimming in sea caves, climbing natural rock arches, wave dodging or flinging yourself off sheer rock faces. If you’re feeling brave, book a coasteering weekend in beautiful Pembrokeshire, where you’ll be guided through this exhilarating sport by top-class instructors and also have the chance to go on a coastal hike or try surfing or sea kayaking. Weekend breaks cost from £219 including all food, instruction and accommodation; visit preseliventure.co.uk

8. Find beauty in running

Forget racing – next time you fancy a run, leave your watch at home and take in some culture, instead. There are lots of sculpture parks across the country, many of them free. Yorkshire Sculpture Park has pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Anthony Gormley. Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland has a stunning forest and lake trail, studded with outdoor art. Other locations include Grizedale Forest Park in Cumbria, the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail in Gloucestershire, Crosby Beach in Merseyside, the New Art Centre in Wiltshire and Surrey’s Pride of the Valley Sculpture Park. 

9. Go electric

Think an electric bike’s cheating? See it as a training aid, instead. Electric mountain biking is one of the fastest growing types of cycling, with women taking the hills by storm. By giving you more oompf, EMTBs make trails more accessible, enabling you to go further and faster. We like the Haibike sDuro HardLife 4.0, £2,000. Find your local dealer at haibike.com/en-US/INT/dealer – many offer outdoor events in summer where you can give the bikes a try, such as Bedgebury Forest (quenchuk.co.uk/bedgebury). 

10. Jump on board

With British waters now warming up and so many surf schools now accessible to us, learning to surf has never been more readily available nor more popular,’ says Everard – who teaches the sport as part of her Mad To Live retreats (madtoliveblog.com). ‘It’s an incredible sport that involves endurance, power, strength, agility and balance, and what I love most about it is the multitude of physical and psychological benefits that being connected to the ocean brings.’ Find a coach or surf school at surfingengland.org/

11. Take a TRX 

Don’t have an Our Parks venue (see no1) near you? No problem – get a full-body DIY workout with a TRX Go, which is the lightest in its range of suspension trainers. It comes in a small carry pouch, with two suggested 20-minute workouts, and takes less than 60 seconds to set up. ‘Loop your TRX over a tree branch or a goal post and you’ve got an outdoor gym for a full-body workout right there,’ says TRX Senior Master Trainer Matt Gleed. ‘Suspension Training develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously, all by leveraging gravity and your own body weight. Use it for planks, lunges, biceps curls, triceps dips – or any of the 100-plus exercises detailed online.’ TRX Go, £109, trxtraining.co.uk

12. Perfect your topspin forehand

Have a knock-up at your local ‘walk on and play’ free public court. You can even join in a free, weekly coach-led session – all thanks to Tennis For Free, a community-led sports charity that hopes to get more people active and interested in the sport. Find a court or class at tennisforfree.com

13. Swim outdoors

You don’t have to brave the sea or lakes if it feels too daunting – there are plenty of outdoor pools and lidos around the UK where you can enjoy fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine as you swim. Find out more, and get inspiration for wild swimming in nature, at outdoorswimmingsociety.com. Got the bug? Get in training for Macmillan’s All Out Swim charity events – 2K or 5K cold-water swims taking place in outdoor pools this September and October. Visit macmillan.org.uk/alloutswim

14. Get geocaching

This global game takes treasure hunts to the next level. Think Pokemon Go but for real, or orienteering with more rewards. Geocaches are hidden all over the world by fellow players, usually in a location of special interest or beauty. They normally take the form of a small waterproof box containing a few low-value knick-knacks, a logbook and pen. The geocacher then uses their GPS to record the coordinates of their cache and logs its existence online. All you need to play is a smart phone or GPS device. Download the Geocaching app (geocaching.com), then choose a cache (like the ‘treasure’) near you and navigate your way there. There are 2 million geocaches worldwide, all in different formats. Once you find it, you sign the logbook, and you can take something from the cache and leave something of equal or greater value in return. Then you log your find online and put the cache back for the next person to find. Visit gagb.org.uk

Outdoor workouts

Ever feel like you spend most of the year cooped up indoors? Now’s the time to make the most of the longer, brighter days and warmer temperatures by getting outside and active whenever you can.

The health and wellbeing benefits of outdoor exercise, particularly close to nature, are well documented. Experts have coined terms such as ‘ecotherapy’ and ‘forest bathing’ to describe its antidepressant, heart-rate lowering and stress-relieving effects. And a large-scale 2013 review, published in the journal Extreme Physiology & Medicine, concluded that outdoor, natural environments help increase physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion. In other words, we do more but suffer less, thanks to physiological benefits such as stress reduction, restored mental fatigue, improved mood and self-esteem and perceived health.

So why not press pause on the gym and try something different this summer? ‘Take the pressure off yourself to get to that Spin class or pre-work HIIT session – sometimes a hike through the woods or a dip in the sea is what you really need,’ says Sophie Everard, fitness coach and Keen footwear ambassador.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you, whether you’re at home or holidaying… 

Head to the park

Launched in 2014, Our Parks is an organisation that works with councils to offer free or low-cost outdoor group exercise classes in local parks and community spaces. Sign up for Bootcamp; Box Fit; or Abs, bums and thighs, for example. This year, it’s partnering with Merrell, the rugged outdoor footwear brand, to expand the classes around Greater London and into the surrounding counties, and get 100,000 ‘parkers’ exercising for free each week by 2018. Find your nearest class at ourparks.org.uk

Go wild in the wet

Our favourite place to make a splash and act like big kids is the amazing outdoor New Forest Water Park that’s like Total Wipeout meets Ninja Warrior. It uses large floating sports apparatus called WiBit and users can burn up to 500 calories an hour larking around on them. There’s also 5-Pylon cable wakeboarding, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. If you aren’t local, make it a short break and camp there too; visit newforestwaterpark.co.uk

Salute the sun

Take your yoga practice outdoors and salute the sun in person. It doesn’t have to be an outdoor class; just take your mat into the garden and work through some poses, listening to the birds and feeling the breeze on your skin. Increasing numbers of teachers and studios are offering outdoor options in summer time. Or Londoners could book a lesson with a local teacher via the Yogi2me app and ask them to meet you at a local beauty spot (from £65; yogi2me.com). 

Meditate in the fresh air

Visit China and you’ll see adults and children alike practising Qi Gong – an ancient form of moving meditation – in the parks, gardens and open countryside. With its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, Qi Gong exercises are designed to stimulate and move the ‘Qi’ (Chi) energy in every organ and meridian in the body. ‘It’s a fantastic way to fully connect with and be at one with nature, so we often practise it outdoors,’ says Qi Gong and Taoist Master David James Lees. Find a local teacher at qigonginstitute.org/directory or, for David’s drop-in sessions in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, visit wuweiwisdom.com/meditation-classes

Make like a monkey

If you haven’t yet tried Go Ape, the treetop adventure course, do your fun side a favour and book in. ‘A typical session burns over 500 calories and you’ll keep your heart rate at 50 to 60 per cent of its max, so it’s a great fat burner,’ says personal trainer Ben Boulter. But it’s the mood-boosting endorphins we love the most – just try swinging through trees without a huge grin on your face. Find your nearest of 31 locations at goape.co.uk

Enter an OCR

Summer is arguably the best time to take on an obstacle-course race or ‘OCR’, when you won’t get so chilly charging through rivers and plunging into mud baths. Get a team together and take on a 10- to 12-mile Tough Mudder or half (5 miles) – find an event at toughmudder.co.uk. For a more scenic, ‘wild run’ through forest, lakes and trails – with a few obstacles thrown in, too – get in training for the award-winning Wolf Run in Warwickshire this September. Visit thewolfrun.com/autumnwolf

Try Coasteering

Coasteering is a seaside adventure sport that originated 100 years ago, when climbers began to traverse rocky sea cliffs. You wear a wetsuit, trainers, helmet and buoyancy jacket, and explore the coast at sea level. This might mean swimming in sea caves, climbing natural rock arches, wave dodging or flinging yourself off sheer rock faces. If you’re feeling brave, book a coasteering weekend in beautiful Pembrokeshire, where you’ll be guided through this exhilarating sport by top-class instructors and also have the chance to go on a coastal hike or try surfing or sea kayaking. Weekend breaks cost from £219 including all food, instruction and accommodation; visit preseliventure.co.uk

Find beauty in running

Forget racing – next time you fancy a run, leave your watch at home and take in some culture, instead. There are lots of sculpture parks across the country, many of them free. Yorkshire Sculpture Park has pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Anthony Gormley. Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland has a stunning forest and lake trail, studded with outdoor art. Other locations include Grizedale Forest Park in Cumbria, the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail in Gloucestershire, Crosby Beach in Merseyside, the New Art Centre in Wiltshire and Surrey’s Pride of the Valley Sculpture Park. 

Go electric

Think an electric bike’s cheating? See it as a training aid, instead. Electric mountain biking is one of the fastest growing types of cycling, with women taking the hills by storm. By giving you more oompf, EMTBs make trails more accessible, enabling you to go further and faster. We like the Haibike sDuro HardLife 4.0, £2,000. Find your local dealer at haibike.com/en-US/INT/dealer – many offer outdoor events in summer where you can give the bikes a try, such as Bedgebury Forest (quenchuk.co.uk/bedgebury). 

Jump on board

With British waters now warming up and so many surf schools now accessible to us, learning to surf has never been more readily available nor more popular,’ says Everard – who teaches the sport as part of her Mad To Live retreats (madtoliveblog.com). ‘It’s an incredible sport that involves endurance, power, strength, agility and balance, and what I love most about it is the multitude of physical and psychological benefits that being connected to the ocean brings.’ Find a coach or surf school at surfingengland.org/

Take a trx

Don’t have an Our Parks venue (see no1) near you? No problem – get a full-body DIY workout with a TRX Go, which is the lightest in its range of suspension trainers. It comes in a small carry pouch, with two suggested 20-minute workouts, and takes less than 60 seconds to set up. ‘Loop your TRX over a tree branch or a goal post and you’ve got an outdoor gym for a full-body workout right there,’ says TRX Senior Master Trainer Matt Gleed. ‘Suspension Training develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously, all by leveraging gravity and your own body weight. Use it for planks, lunges, biceps curls, triceps dips – or any of the 100-plus exercises detailed online.’ TRX Go, £109, trxtraining.co.uk

Perfect your topspin forehand

Have a knock-up at your local ‘walk on and play’ free public court. You can even join in a free, weekly coach-led session – all thanks to Tennis For Free, a community-led sports charity that hopes to get more people active and interested in the sport. Find a court or class at tennisforfree.com

Swim outdoors

You don’t have to brave the sea or lakes if it feels too daunting – there are plenty of outdoor pools and lidos around the UK where you can enjoy fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine as you swim. Find out more, and get inspiration for wild swimming in nature, at outdoorswimmingsociety.com. Got the bug? Get in training for Macmillan’s All Out Swim charity events – 2K or 5K cold-water swims taking place in outdoor pools this September and October. Visit macmillan.org.uk/alloutswim

Get geocaching

This global game takes treasure hunts to the next level. Think Pokemon Go but for real, or orienteering with more rewards. Geocaches are hidden all over the world by fellow players, usually in a location of special interest or beauty. They normally take the form of a small waterproof box containing a few low-value knick-knacks, a logbook and pen. The geocacher then uses their GPS to record the coordinates of their cache and logs its existence online. All you need to play is a smart phone or GPS device. Download the Geocaching app (geocaching.com), then choose a cache (like the ‘treasure’) near you and navigate your way there. There are 2 million geocaches worldwide, all in different formats. Once you find it, you sign the logbook, and you can take something from the cache and leave something of equal or greater value in return. Then you log your find online and put the cache back for the next person to find. Visit gagb.org.uk

Tennis tips from the top

Feeling inspired by Wimbledon? H&F’s Emma Lewis catches up with tennis gurus Patrick Mouratoglou and Martina Hingis to let you in on the hottest tips so you can hit the court with confidence.

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach and owner of Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Cannes in the south of France (mouratoglou.com) has these tactics tips.

  • Think about hitting your balls higher over the net – use topspin (brush the ball with an upwards motion as you hit your shot) to help keep the ball in the court, as using topspin helps it dip back down.
  • Keep hitting the ball cross-court (ie diagonally) most of the time, as this gives you the biggest space in which to hit the ball.
  • Try to make your opponent move east to west and north to south within the court when you get the chance.
  • If you try to control the ball too much, it’s the best way to miss; but you can point your non-racquet hand to where you want the ball to go and hit the ball in that direction.
  • Don’t forget your sunglasses if you’re playing in the sun – they’ll keep your eyes more comfortable and less tired and lift the quality of your view. 

    Martina Hingis, recent Wimbledon mixed doubles winner with partner Jamie Murray, helps us improve our technique.

    • Create circles with your racquet as you swing – bring it up and back before you hit the ball, then follow through up and over your shoulder.
    • Hit the ball when it’s just in front of your body to create more power [than if you hit it when it’s beside your body].
    • In a two-handed backhand, make sure your left hand takes the strain – your right hand is just helping to guide the racquet (or vice versa if you’re left handed).
    • Hold the racquet quite loosely when you serve (think 3-4 out of 10 in terms of pressure) so you can snap your wrist at the end of the movement.

       And a few doubles tips:

      • If you’re playing doubles, imagine you and your partner are joined at the hip by an invisible piece of string – if they move, you move with them.
      • If a ball’s hit down the middle of the court, the player whose forehand side it is should hit the ball.
      • Don’t turn to look behind you when you’re in front and the ball is hit towards your partner – you won’t have time to react to the ball if it comes to you next.

        Patrick Mouratoglou and Martina Hingis are ambassadors for polarised Hawaiian sunglasses brand Maui Jim, official eyewear supplier of the ATP World Tour; uk.mauijim.com.

Rowing machine workout

Hands up if you find the rowing machine a little daunting? 

We don’t blame you. Taking on a rowing machine may seem far more complicated than running on a treadmill or cycling on an exercise bike, which is why so many people steer clear of this effective piece of gym equipment. However, if you actively avoid using a rowing machine at the gym, perhaps it’s time to give it a second chance. Rowing can have fantastic physical benefits, and you’re missing out!

Mastering the moves for this machine will lead to weight loss, better fitness and increased upper and lower-body strength – all without the harsh impact that some cardio exercise can have on joints. 

‘Indoor rowing is a complete form of exercise,’ explains Olympic rowing coach and Concept2 fitness expert Terry O’Neill (concept2.co.uk). ‘Rowing is a combination of cardiovascular and strength conditioning, making it a great addition to any fitness regime or training programme – for people of all ages with a wide variety of goals.’ 

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an Olympian rower, there’s definitely a way to make rowing a key player in your workouts.

Full-body workout

One of the main reasons that people opt for a workout on the rower to get their cardio fix is because – unlike the treadmill, stepper and stationary bike – it offers plenty of added value. Using correct technique harnesses the power of both the upper and lower body, so your bum, thighs and calves will get a real push as well as your arms and shoulders. Rowing also requires solid activation from your core and back to maintain good form (particularly in the upper back) with each and every stroke, which means that a good session on the rower can hit almost every muscle, offering total-body conditioning. Plus, the cardiovascular movement of rowing gives your heart and lungs a great workout, too. 

‘Indoor rowing is great for toning up, as it involves more muscle groups over a wide range of movement, with little pressure on the joints,’ says Terry. ‘No matter why you choose to row, the rowing machine will offer just the right level of resistance for your goals, as well as an infinite variety of workouts.’

Fuss-free intensity

If you think rowing is just for steady-state fitness, think again. The rowing machine is great for both endurance and interval training. ‘Because the rowing machine activates a large muscle mass, it helps you achieve better cardio results in less time,’ Terry explains. ‘It can also provide excellent anaerobic workouts complementary to explosive power sport training. Plus, indoor rowing is a great endurance exercise that really helps to boost both your heart and lung functions.’

If you’ve ever tried high-intensity interval sprints on the treadmill, you’ll know how annoying it is having to repeatedly press buttons while you’re trying to run to adjust the speed of the belt. One of the great things about the rowing machine is that you can control the speed simply by increasing or decreasing your own work rate, although the resistance can be slightly tricky to adjust once you’ve got going. While some people may enjoy longer, steady-state sessions on the rower, those looking for a heart-pumping interval session can get on with focusing on their technique without having to keep pushing buttons, as they would on the treadmill.

Of course, the crucial element here is technique – the better your form is, the more efficient your workout will be. Use the steps below to perfect your stroke and practise rowing at a comfortable pace until you’re ready to up your speed. 

The rowing masterclass

Use these simple step-by-step instructions to get to grips with perfect rowing technique. Remember to avoid letting your shoulders round or your lower back arch beyond its neutral position. Ready, set, row!

• Keeping your legs straight, lean back slightly with the handle close to your body and your forearms parallel to the floor.

• Extend your arms fully, rocking your body forward slightly and keeping your arms extended.

• Slide your lower body forward from the hips until your knees are above your feet, keeping your arms extended.

• Push down on your feet to drive your body back, straightening your legs and leaning your body back slightly as you do so.

• Pull the handle back past your knees towards your body to return to the starting position. Repeat.