Wellness: Getting The Most Out Of Your Workout

Wellness Wednesday

At Visual Therapy, we’re all about Mind, Body, and Soul. As we work with clients to line up their optimal wardrobes and help them to be the best version of themselves, we’re huge believers that it’s not the dress, but what’s in the dress that matters. And even though clothes can help you feel like a movie star, there’s something that needs to be taken care of first on a deeper level. Welcome to “Wellness Wednesday”: our weekly feature to bring you tips for a healthy, whole and fulfilled life. 


You and your friend might be going to the same spin class, but the results you each get will be different. Why? In a recent issue of Net-A-Porter’s online magazine, The Edit, Danielle Fox explains how external factors such as your genes and daily habits could affect the efficiency of your workout and provides various ways you can get the most out of your time at the gym.

Get to know your body at cellular level – it’s easier than you think. “Genetics are the primary factor in determining where body fat comes from, what training you’re suited to, your risk of injury and speed of recovery,” says British Olympic 400m runner Andrew Steele, who used a DNAFit genetic test to adapt his training (dnafit.com). A DNA swab is taken from inside your cheek and tested against 45 gene variants including blood pressure, nutrition and endurance. Your results – delivered in 14 days– are decoded by an expert who offers solutions, from changing your diet to exercise plans. To take it a step further, kick-start a more targeted regime at The BodyHoliday in St Lucia. The 5-day BodyScience program uses DNA testing to tailor an Ayurvedic diet and fitness plan, to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and fitness level.

“You can train daily, but you won’t see change if you don’t know what you’re aiming for,” says personal trainer Luke Istomin, who works with Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Miranda Kerr. Planning is key: “Just like a financial plan, record your starting point [your vital statistics], budget [how much time you have to train], and goals [your dream weight],” says Istomin. Next, schedule your workouts as you would with any other appointment – a visual motivator like a date in your diary will help reinforce your aims, making you less likely to cancel a session. And stay positive: “An inner voice saying ‘Yes, you can’, instead of, ‘No, you can’t’, is the most powerful tool you can have,” advises Istomin.

‘Eat less, train more’ might sound good on paper, but if you’re eating the wrong foods, you not only deplete your body of nutrients, but energy levels will plummet. “We often suggest to our clients that they should actually eat more to lose body fat,” says Jean-Claude Vacassin, founder of training gym W10 Performance in London (w10performancegym.com). “It seems counterintuitive, but a lack of nutrients can hold you back – you need to fuel performance.”

So what should we eat pre-workout? “Carbs fuel muscle, protein builds it,” explains Rhian Stephenson, nutritionist at Psycle gym in London (psyclelondon.com). “A lot of people assume they should have a high-protein snack before training, but it can cause indigestion. Simple carbs – think pineapple, grapes and dates – are best pre-workout. One date is enough for a 45-minute session.”

Efficiency is the enemy of fat loss. As we get better at an exercise that was once metabolically taxing, we use less energy. “To change your body, you need to change up your workouts,” explains Hollywood trainer Lacey Stone, who has worked with Amanda Seyfried. “Variety is key: weight training is best for changing your shape, cardio changes the size.” Research shows that the higher the intensity, the more calories you burn, not only while exercising, but after you leave the gym when your body benefits from an ‘after-burn’ mode.

Screen shot 2015-04-15 at 11.01.36 AM

“Don’t do long runs if you hate them,” says Andrea DeBellis, founder of Dubai’s female-only fitness destination, the Nyla Method (nylamethod.com). “The more interesting your exercise is, the less stressed you’ll be.” Stress has a negative impact on the body, leading to higher levels of cortisol, which causes us to hold onto weight. DeBellis also advises to cut out “sugar, alcohol and bad carbs, and eat as naturally as you can.”

Recovery is the most overlooked aspect of exercise, but is just as important as training itself. “When we over-train, we can become fatigued, suffer muscle soreness, and are more likely to injure ourselves,” says Luke Istomin. “I encourage my clients to train at around an 85 percent threshold, only dipping into their absolute maximum every so often.” Prioritizing sleep is crucial as this is when major physiological changes happen: your body releases the human growth hormones (HGH) that build and repair body tissue, ligaments and muscles. “Try to get to bed around 10pm,” says DeBellis. “HGH release is highest during the first part of the night, so going to bed early can really improve your results.”

This post was originally published by The Edit.