Ask The Expert

Get In Shape For Summer

We asked Helle Hammonds of GymClass for her expert fitness advice to getting the summer body we all crave in time for the July/August holiday season and how to keep it once our hard work in the gym has paid off.

With summer only 8 weeks away, changing your body in time for your summer holiday completely depends on your level to start with. Although saying this, now is a good amount of time to build a healthy lifestyle and make some noticeable changes in time for donning that bikini!

HIIT & Resistance Training

First thing to focus on is frequency of workouts, which need to be scheduled in 3 to 5 times a week. One of the most important things to see the changes is being on point with your nutrition. At this point people need to think about the intensity of the workout too, making sure they are burning as much fat as possible in time for their summer reveal. I recommend they do this with a mix of HIIT and resistance training. The HIIT part will look after the fat burning and fitness building and the resistance will tone, sculpt and build core strength. After this 8 week summer body blitz it’s important to remember how good you have felt making exercise a priority and fuelling your body with good nutrients, once back from your summer holiday to get back into this routine. Living like a healthy person makes you look and feel like a healthy person. It’s a constant journey and although you can see good results in a short period of time, it’s about constancy and commitment in the long run which will give you long lasting sustainably results.

The Best Exercises For Best Results

I like to do a lot of full body exercises and exercises that focus on areas of the body, for example, upper body, rather than focusing on one specific individual muscle at a time as I find it gets our clients better results as they burn fat at the same time as building lean muscle.

My favourite exercises for sculpting legs and giving you a pert bottom are split lunges, sumo squats and curtsey lunges. It is very important that people focus their mind to use their body and perform each rep properly. For example, with split lunges I encourage our clients to ensure they split their legs wide enough, take time over each rep, kiss the floor with their back knee every rep, and make sure they think about engaging their glutes throughout the movement and squeeze at the top. I very often see clients, particularly girls, picking up very light weights but I always encourage each client to challenge themselves and use the heaviest weights they can to get maximum results.

For busting those hard to tone bingo wings my favourite moves are tricep dips, or I prefer wide grip pull ups as these tone triceps, biceps and the whole of the upper back, targeting what some people refer to as ‘back fat’! However, pull ups must be performed with correct form.

I don’t often so isolated core moves because I have found that the best way to work the core is through full body moves, such as squats with overhead press, heavy dumbbell commando. By doing these moves with a challenging weight, focusing on tightening the core muscles to create a stable centre the entire time, it will create a foundation of real supportive core strength much more so than specific ab exercises like sit ups. I also like to do moves like running high knees, really focusing on using the core to get the knees really high, this will create great core muscles and burn fat simultaneously. It’s important to the layer of fat so you can see the great abs your working hard to build!

The Story of GymClass

I originally worked in fashion as a stylist. I was a single working mum who struggled with self-image, eating issues and general lack of self-confidence. It was only when I started doing weight training and HIIT, and noticed changes in my body that these self-doubts started to disappear. One of the biggest changes I noticed was the change in my mental attitude towards myself. This huge shift made me realise my calling in life – I wanted to help as many people as possible feel good about themselves and their life, through fitness.

At GymClass we place emphasis on three things that make it a place people come back to time and time again, and make the results keep coming:

1. The workout – the workout is research driven and planned by me personally. It is constantly changing so no two workouts are ever the same. This keeps the body and mind guessing, and the results coming. As soon as your body gets used to a workout that’s when you reach a plateau and stop seeing results, at GymClass this never happens! At GymClass we also include things that people wouldn’t usually do in group classes like pull ups, heavy weights, battle roles, and the prowler. We put emphasis on form so our trainers ensure everyone performs the exercise correctly so our clients get the most out of every rep! The workouts are time efficient but effective.

2. Sense of community – at GymClass we want to break down the barriers of fitness. We offer a friendly, welcoming atmosphere so people don’t feel afraid coming to the gym, and feel part of a community. Our clients come to the gym when they’re feeling great but also when they’re not feeling so good. We ensure their experience is the best from the moment they walk in then give them the best workout, so they always leave feeling better than when they arrived!

3. Super tough – GymClass workouts are super tough for everyone from beginner to advanced which produces ongoing results whatever level you’re at. Exercises can be adapted depending on your level and our expert trainers are on hand to make sure every client pushes themselves to the maximum during every workout.

Nutrition – what are you doing wrong?

Although it sounds simple I think people usually have one of two problems when it comes to nutrition – they either don’t eat enough so are malnourished, aren’t fuelling their workouts properly, or refuelling properly after, OR they eat too much, overestimating how much they burn during workouts or thinking because they worked out they can eat anything they want. My advice is be honest with yourself on what you are doing wrong. If it helps, keep a food diary for a couple of days to see what you’re eating when and this can help see areas that could be improve.

Although it works for some people with very specific goals, I do not encourage clients to track macros or use apps like MyFitnessPal as I think this can lead to disordered and unhealthy behaviours around food. Listen to your body and how you feel and work out what works for you. I am an advocate of fasting overnight for 14-12 hours, and I usually train fasted but that’s a personal choice. Although its important to be mindful of what you eat in order to reach your desired goals, I also believe in having some fun! Just make sure you are sensible with it – I might have a burger at the weekend but I’ll share it with someone. Often my daughter Suzie and I will order a burger and salad and have half each.

Another mistake I notice people sometimes make is going to ‘clean’ or reducing too much thereby setting themselves unrealistic restrictions. This so often leads to failure and inability to sustain it long term, so I would suggested it is very important to find the balance that works for you that you can stick to long term so you keep seeing results.

About Helle Hammonds

Helle Hammonds, aged 38, was born and bred in Cheshire, before moving to London when she had her daughter, Suzi, now 21 years old. Helle previously worked in fashion as a stylist. She then changed careers and worked as a trainer for some of the best fitness businesses in London, including GymBox, City Athletic, and Barry’s Bootcamp, building strong experience and expertise before setting up GymClass in 2014.

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