Willen Lake, Milton Keynes is the setting of the most picturesque, back to nature, and fun packed variety form of exercise there is in the UK at the moment. Facing a stunning lake and lush small wooden forests you our surrounded by the beauty of nature and its long-standing inhabitants of Swans, ducks, swooping birds and general wild life. This outdoor venue hosts all year-round Gym FitMK which offers a variety of classes that are different in many ways to the usual indoor version. The workouts incorporate all elements of the surroundings where tree stumps can be used as weight lifts and a bench or another member can be leaned on for press ups!
When I attended my first ‘taster’ session I was struck by the enormous camaraderie and welcoming nature of the trainers and members who were happy to engage, support encourage and give advice making you feel automatically one of the team. The first warm up session had me in spontaneous bouts of giggles as we were instructed to run around and see how many pairs of knees you could tag, while avoiding being tapped by another member; which was certainly one way to forget any first-time nerves! The following warm up routine was to jog to the first lamp post along the lake which in itself is a much more fun and directive goal than just running around a normal studio gym room or floor. I have to admit I struggled to catch up with the running group but was pleasantly surprised when a member came back to run beside me and shout warm words of motivation. The elevated levels of enthusiasm and incidental joy are infectious infused by the novelty of being outdoors and enjoying the atmospheric natural surroundings.
Not surprisingly I was completely hooked due to all of the above and also the surprise element that you never know what exercises you will be doing and what part of the lake it may involve! Over 50% of the sessions you choose a separate partner to help you with your sit-ups, leg strengthening, arm lifting and stretch exercises to name a few. This is what makes the whole experience a completely different way to engage people and make them actually look forward to any type of strenusous exercise while building up a healthy support system. The trainers are trail blazers in making exercise not so much competitive but inclusive, thoroughly enjoyable and a break from the norm with the addional side effect of team building and improved personal morale. The environment also really brings you back to life without realsing how much you had missed mother nature and the infusion of crucial Vitamin D as an extra bonus.
Children are also welcomed to the family classes who have as much fun as the adults and are encouraged to join in with the workouts and exercise along with their parents.
The other reason this Fitness company stands out is that recent studies have concluded that exposure to the natural environment is rapidly becoming something we must build in to our lives while once it was intrinsic to our daily routine. Connection with nature and ultimately with our 'inner' nature is essential in alleviating day to day stress and creating equilibrium between mind and body. Eco therapy is now the new ‘buzz word’ and talking point around healthy living following the growing upsurge in computer, tablet and continuous phone use which is no longer related to making calls but playing with new apps and add-ons. Recommendations emerging from Health Professionals and Employers alike is that there is a rationale for daily outdoor breaks to seek and improve universal accessibility for all employees. Researchers also found that three or more hours a week of vigorous exercise—such as running, jogging, or any cardiovascular activity can not only reduce the risk of heart attack by 22% and found those studied had higher levels of vitamin D as well as higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. “The fact that vitamin D plays a role in the relationship between exercise and risk of heart disease is a new finding,” lead author Andrea Chomistek, a researcher in HSPH’s (Harvard School of public health) nutrition department, told USA Today.
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has also stated that Vitamin D is becoming less and less part of our lives with possible links between vitamin D deficiency and non-musculoskeletal conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately Vitamin D cannot be made naturally by the body, however you can produce adequate amounts of vitamin D within 20-30 minutes of sun exposure on your hands, arms and face every day without using sunscreen which dramatically inhibits UV ray penetration necessary for Vitamin D production. The government says it has issued new vitamin D recommendations "to ensure that most the UK population has satisfactory vitamin D blood levels throughout the year to protect musculoskeletal health".
In conclusion, I would highly recommend FitMK if you live or work around North Buckinghamshire, and if not, I would encourage everyone to go outside more and exercise in whatever capacity they enjoy for a more fulfilling and healthy lifestyle.