Fitness: Going it alone

In spite of all the advantages of
joining a gym or group fitness class, some people prefer to do it on their own.
Fortunately there are many options available that can assist you to make the
most out of any solo exercise programme.

Playing games

The breakout technology of the last
couple of years, Wii Fit has taken the home exercise market by storm. By
combining the fun of a video game console with the advantages of an exercise
programme, the combination has people hooked.

The system uses a balance board
linked to the Nintendo Wii games console. This senses movement on the board,
and can therefore check on the exercises you are doing. The programme offers
various exercise options, from yoga poses through strength training to

“There are all kinds of activities;
yoga, balance games, aerobic type games and so on. It also tracks your BMI and
weight,” says Debra McTaggart of Blockbuster.

Of course, once you are done, you
can always reward yourself with a slightly less strenuous game on the console.

However, Wii Fit and its follow-up,
Wii Fit Plus, are no longer the only games in town.

EA Sports Active includes a wide
variety of exercises and drills, even including a personal trainer to keep your
fitness on track. It uses the Wii controller combined with a leg-mounted motion
tracker to monitor your exercise routine.

The most revolutionary of the bunch
is ‘Your Shape’, which actually keeps an eye on your training through the use
of a video camera plugged into the games console. It can even help your form
during an exercise routine, giving you pointers based on what it ‘sees’. In the
initial phase of the programme it builds up a three dimensional image of your
body using the video camera, and then allows you to select a problem area that
you would like to focus on. It then tailors the exercise programme to suit your

All three ‘games’ have different

“It is a great way to exercise at
home – I have them all and love them!” says McTaggart.


Every popular exercise programme in
the world seems to have an associated DVD.

From yoga to aerobics or martial
arts based workouts, there is something for everyone. Although these DVDs can
certainly help keep you motivated, the lack of feedback on your form is a bit
of a drawback. However, that is a small price to pay for the ability to
exercise in the privacy of your home, whenever you want. It is important to
select a programme that suits your level of fitness. Something that is too hard
is likely to leave you disheartened, while a routine that is too easy will
limit the gains you can expect from following the routine.

Also keep in mind that boredom can
set in easily if the same routine is repeated over and over again, so try to
vary your routine somewhat.

Home gym equipment

Everyone knows someone who has some
form of home gym standing around. Some are used to great effect, while others
collect dust. As with a gym membership, the most important thing with a home
gym is that, unless you use it regularly, you are not going to see results.

Many home gym systems can be
adjusted easily to provide a wide selection of exercises for the entire body.
Many modern systems also eschew the old weight stacks for resistance based on
flexible rods or other forms of resistance, making the system easier to use.

Taking up a sport

Of course, one of the ways to get
fit and stay motivated is to take up an endurance sport like running, cycling,
swimming or any other sport like tennis or football.

Training for an endurance sport can
be done on your own schedule if you prefer to train alone, or as part of a
training group.

Keeping track

One of the most important elements
of building your fitness is being able to keep track of your training. Although
even a diary will do, there are much more advanced ways to do it.

Whatever the exercise you
participate in, using a heart rate monitor can provide an indication of just
how hard your heart is working. Once only the preserve of top-class athletes,
heart rate based training can help anyone train more effectively.

For those who would like to keep
track of their jogging, a GPS wrist watch is ideal, as it records distance by
using satellites, thereby allowing accurate recording of every training run.
Many also integrate a heart rate monitor, allowing you to measure not only time
and distance but also heart rate.