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Your retro exercise regime starts here!

Publish date: 04/04/2014

Throwback ThursdaysIn an age where fitness choices and fads seem to be growing exponentially, it can make sense to get back to exercise basics. We investigate whether classic exercises can give you just as many benefits as modern-day fitness regimes and invite you to tweet your experiences as we launch #throwbackthursday!

Exercise options

Over the last 20-plus years the UK’s gym culture has changed beyond recognition. What was once the preserve of beefy men lifting weights is now the social hub for people from all walks of life, with a variety of options for working out.

We now have budget gyms, sport specific gyms, gyms that double up as clubs, gyms that offer health checks and boutique personal training studios.

Add to that apps, new studio classes, bootcamps, dance workouts, ‘fusions’, magazines, books and DVDs, and it would seem that things have never been better and getting fit never easier.

But even with all these choices, is it improving public health, fitness and education?

According to a survey by Sustrans, a UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for everyday journeys, revealed that two in five people are still unaware of how much exercise to do.

And a recent report developed by ukactive, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes active lifestyles,  into the scale of physical inactivity shows that over 12.5 million people in England alone fail to raise their heart rate for more than 30 minutes in a 28-day period, costing the nation more than £8.2 billion every year.

Going back to basics

It’s time we got back to basics and find out what workouts work and what don’t. Discover which have stood the test of time and form the foundation of many of the new workouts, and which can make a real difference when it comes to getting and staying fit and healthy for life.

Do body weight training

A recent fitness trends survey by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranked body weight training at number two for 2014. Ironically, with all the options available to us, body weight training uses minimal equipment and forms the basis of workouts such as Tabata.

‘Basic compound and functional moves, such as squats, lunges, press ups, set you up for everyday life, and at the same time, work to increase your metabolic rate,’ says Kim Ingleby, award-winning mind body expert. ‘Plan 10-minute body weight workouts, like the plank, a press up routine or some leg exercises every day,’ she adds.

Try intervals

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. It forms the basis of such exercises as Tabata, Cross Fit, and at home workouts like the popular Insanity. It also jumps straight in at the top of this year’s ACSM list. But is it really new? Isn’t it what makes up a military or bootcamp workout? 

‘It has been around in the form of circuits and sport training for a long time,’ confirms Kim Ingleby. ‘It’s very effective,’ she adds.

Working out to music

Jane Fonda knew she was onto something when she started the aerobics craze back in the 1980s. ‘There is lots of research to show that music motivates and inspires people to train more intensely and effectively,’ says Kim Ingleby. 

In 2014 exercise to music comes in the form of branded, pre-choreographed classes such as Les Mill’s Group Fitness and Team Training Programmes, and the super popular Zumba replacing the freestyle aerobics instructor of the 1980s. But the core principle remains the same: music motivates.

Workout at home

The success of celebrity leaders such as Davina McCall, who continues to dominate exercise DVD sales with her easy to follow workouts, shows that working out at home remains a popular choice. It’s ideal for busy mums, or beginners too shy to go to the gym – and it’s a great option for anyone on a budget. 

Get outside

A basic piece of advice you have got from your grandmother is to get outside and get some fresh air to stay fit and healthy. You’ve heard it before, walking is a simple effective exercise that anyone can do, and it can halve your risk of stroke or heart disease. Running, rollerblading and cycling likewise are simple to do and very effective. 


Do you prefer undertaking classic fitness regimes or prefer all what modern exercise has to offer? If you haven’t tried retro exercises, why not give them a go and tweet us how you get on.

To support this, we are launching #throwbackthursday – giving you and others the chance to try out classic exercises. To get you in the mood, why not put on some legwarmers and give it go!

Check out some more suggested retro exercises that can be found at our retro games and activities article.



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