Anne hadn't done any exercise for years until she made a New Year's resolution to “get her act together”.
Self-confessed couch potato Anne MacLaren hadn't done any exercise for 10 years until she made a New Year's resolution to "get her act together".
The north Londoner says the Strength and Flex workout plan was just what she was looking for to keep her motivated.
Where did you find out about Strength and Flex?
I did Couch to 5K, which I really enjoyed but I felt I needed something else to tone my arms and tummy. The running was good for my cardio but I felt my upper body wasn't getting enough exercise. I came across Strength and Flex on NHS Choices. I tried the level 1 podcast and I liked it, it was exactly what I was looking for.
How active are you?
One of my many New Year's resolutions was to get fit. I used to be a real couch potato. I had stopped exercising for 10 years. Now, I run three times a week; I'll do Strength and Flex two or three times a week and a Zumba class once a week.
Why did you decide to get more active?
A friend wanted us to do a 5K charity run together and I used that as an opportunity to get back into shape. I was aware that I had neglected my fitness for a while. I just thought: 'Wait a minute, I've got to get my act together'.
How often do you do Strength and Flex?
When I was working through the programme, I'd do each routine three times a week before moving up a level. I liked the way it gradually got tougher so I felt I made progress each week. Now I just use the no-intro version of level 5.
Where do you do Strength and Flex?
I've done a couple of sessions indoors when the weather was very bad, but I much prefer to go outside even when it is cold and damp. I like exercising in the fresh air. I've got a park nearby and there are benches and some railings, which you need for some of the exercises, like the pull-ups and bench dips.
Do you ever feel self-conscious in the park?
I still feel a bit self-conscious at times so I try to do it when I know the park is quiet. But I do see others in the park exercising so I don't really stand out. I'll do a session with a friend once a week. I'll listen to the podcast and I'll repeat the instructions to her as I hear them. We both know the exercises so well now that just a bit of prompting is enough. It's a good laugh and you forget about your surroundings!
Has your health improved since starting Strength and Flex?
I've noticed a massive change. I feel a lot more energetic and I'm on the go a lot more. My general health is better. I feel much more alive. I really enjoy exercising outside as it really lifts my mood. That's one of the great things about Strength and Flex and Couch to 5K.
What do you like about the Strength and Flex workout plan?
I like that it's in a podcast. I've got the series stored on my MP3 player. It means I can take it anywhere and fit in a workout whenever convenient. I don't need a gym or any equipment. I also like having a voice in my ear talking me through the exercises. I feel there's somebody encouraging me. It helps keep up the pace. It's really motivating and stops your mind wandering. It's a bit like having a personal trainer next to you, but a lot cheaper. And also the exercises are fun to do.
Did you find the Strength and Flex exercises challenging?
I found the squats and the bench dips a bit of a challenge at first. I used to get painful knees when I exercised before and I had weak arms. Fortunately, the change between levels is gradual, you never feel like there's a big leap between levels but you're always progressing. I now feel my knees and arms are stronger.