Get Active Dayz™ and score!

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Have you joined Active Dayz™  and scored? 2016 did not start with a BANG, it started with movement, called Active Dayz™. Now, no matter how you move, you’ll score!

Here’s how your movement is taking shape:

Members have shattered the 1.3 million Active Dayz™ mark which is a 46% step-up on the device movement scale; broken down as follows:

  • more than 2.42 million steps taken – this equals 6 trips to the moon… what an astronomical step for humankind
  • more than 47 million calories burnt generating enough energy to keep all your activity tracking devices charged
  • more than 1 million visits to the gym

Here’s how your movement is helping you score: R15 million given back to our clients in Momentum Health Returns and Myriad fitness discounts through Active Dayz™.

Take the step now: buy and link a supported activity tracking device or app (to track your steps or calories), go to gym or log an event completed.

They say every great journey starts with a single step and now you can really make yours count.

Track your activity to keep moving

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Winter is on our doorstep and with it comes the temptation to stay indoors and comfort-eat. But the colder months are actually the best time to work on your body at gym. The bright lights, pleasant temperature and upbeat music at your nearest Virgin Active is bound to encourage you to move more than staying at home. Another thing that can motivate you to stay active is monitoring your physical activity.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (September, 2015) offers evidence that tracking your physical activity can motivate you to exercise more. Linda Arslanian, director of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains. “When you can see what your activity levels are, and you know that someone is checking them, there’s accountability, and you’re motivated to work harder because you want to comply.”

Vitality members can make use of the newly-launched Vitality Gym Tracker that does exactly that! This handy tool offers accurate statistics on your gym activity, which leads to accountability, which results in increased motivation.

Stay ahead of the game by tracking your gym use The Vitality Gym Tracker allows Virgin Active members to view and track gym visits. It will tell you:

    • The number of gym visits you recorded in the last rolling 12 months
    • The number of gym visits required to keep your maximum gym discount
    • The dates of your recorded gym visits
    • The number of Vitality points you were awarded for each gym visit

Vitality members can access Gym Tracker online To access the Vitality Gym Tracker, log in to www.discovery.co.za. Then click “View your visits” under your gym benefit information on your Vitality Dashboard. Confidentiality rules apply, so as a spouse or additional dependant, you will only be able to track your own gym visits. You won’t have access to anyone else’s on the policy.

Vitality members also have access to a Vitality support page for all queries related to fitness devices, apps and achieving Vitality fitness points. You can also view your Vitality status, and see how many Vitality points you have and access Vitality Active Rewards FAQs online.

So don’t lose heart this season. Any physical activity you do counts towards improving your health. Whether you want to clock some kilometres on a treadmill, sweat it out with weights or feel the beat with a Zumba session, you can find a way to burn calories at Virgin Active while having fun.

Discovery Vitality (Pty) Ltd is an authorised financial services provider. Registration number: 1999/007736/07.

How to bond with your child through play

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According to Mirror (2015), parents in the UK spend 34 minutes per day with their children without gadgets and routines getting in the way. Quality is more important than quantity!

Yes, there are a lot of barriers to an active lifestyle for children, such as safety, transport, lack of quality Physical Education at schools, lack of open spaces in urban settings, smaller erfs in residential areas, technology and working families. All these factors inhibit children from being physically active. Still, parents can instill a love of activity and help their children to side-step sedentary lifestyles and set healthy patterns that will last into adulthood. An active healthy lifestyle is extremely important and must start early.

There are easy and pleasurable ways to help your child live an active healthy lifestyle. Playing with your child is worth more than you can ever imagine. Parent-child play is a significant and profound bonding opportunity. It is your opportunity as the parent to move into your child’s world on your child’s terms.

Play is a natural, creative, unstructured, satisfying, exciting activity without any specific goal. It is an essential part of your child’s holistic development, using body and mind. Playing contributes to the physical, cognitive, emotional, social and sensory-motor development of your child. Children learn about themselves, their surroundings as well as interaction with others through activities such as: running, jumping, hopping and skipping.

Somewhere between our childhood and now, we became human doings instead of human beings and stopped playing.

A few examples of bonding with your child through play? Engage in fun, rejuvenating play with your child. Encourage them to start and lead activities and go on outings that stimulate their imagination.

Play simple games such as:

  • Hide and seek
  • Hop scotch
  • Ring around the Rosie
  • Skipping
  • Catching games

Remember that energy and enthusiasm is key.

“At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling – Shanti”

Written by Dr Eileen Africa & Heike Nolte, Stellenbosch Kinderkinetics, Department of Sport Science, Stellenbosch University.

Are you raising a champion child?

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There’s no map for sporting success. No formula, no set of inputs and actions that guarantees a destination of international sporting achievement. That’s why researchers who study these matters throw about terms like “non-linear and dynamic trajectory” and “complex multifactorial pathways”. What they mean is that predicting sporting success is nearly impossible because there are too many forks in the road, too many speed-bumps and too many cul-de-sacs that are poorly signposted.

As a parent, you are part of this journey, first as its driver (literally, if you’re taxiing your kids to practice every day!), then as a navigator. Your actions can go a long way to maximize the probability of success, however you define it.

On that subject, I’d suggest that ‘success’ should be defined as a young adult who continues to play sport and exercise, even if they are not doing it on television or at the Olympic Games. That’s because competitive sport is so elite – you’ve about the same chance of becoming a pro athlete as you do of randomly opening a phone book, closing your eyes and putting your finger on the name of someone who lives in the same street you do. So, perhaps the first important point is that your goal should be to foster a love for sport and exercise that will see your child become a fit, healthy individual, not necessarily a champion.

Critically, that attitude, if you can successfully cultivate it, actually increases the chances of elite sport success too. Conventional wisdom is that to get to the top, you have to sacrifice it all, pick a single sport and then pour all your energy into it from a very young age. Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters are the famous personifications of this mind-set – they specialized, aided and abetted by ambitious parents – and climbed to the summit of their sports.

The problem is, conventional wisdom often isn’t correct, nor wise. We deceive ourselves into thinking that Woods, or the Williams sisters, are the model to copy. The reality is that for every success achieved this way, there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of failures. Because you never see those failures, you’re vulnerable to a classic bias. Conventional wisdom is not only inefficient, it may be harmful – there’s good evidence now that the younger a child starts doing specialist training in one sport, and the more time they devote to sport when very young, the less likely they are to succeed, and perhaps more crucially given our earlier mention of ‘success’, the less likely they are to be active as adults.

So, your role as a parent is pretty clear – whether you want to raise a fit, well-adjusted person who plays sport and exercises, or whether you want to help raise the next AB de Villiers or Pat Lambie, the best thing you can do is to make sure your child starts a journey that doesn’t preordain them to become a statistic.

This is no easy feat, because all the opportunities to play sport at school are part of a system that itself faces the same challenges. Our school sports systems are extremely competitive, and the most competitive schools focus, perhaps understandably given their incentive, on short-term results rather than long-term development. The result is that everything your child encounters challenges his or her long-term success, and that’s the big challenge to overcome because it can prevent them getting access to the resources they need to keep the journey alive.

Take for instance the relative age effect. Children who are born in the first part of the year, January to March, are far more likely to make it into the top sports teams when they are juniors than those born in the final quarter. In rugby, for example, at the Under-20 World Cup, for every player who is born in the fourth quarter (October to December), there are two who are born in the first quarter.

In other words, if success is measured by the ability to make it into national sports teams, you are twice as likely to succeed if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to be born soon after the New Year. Why might this be? The answer is that when we are still children, before adolescence, the difference that ten or eleven months makes to our physical and mental ability is very significant. Two children aged ten will compete against one another in sport because of the way our school calendar works, but if one was born in January, and the other in November or December that same year, they are a year apart in age. All other things being equal, the older child, born in January, has a head start that counts for a lot on a sports field.

Then add to this the differences in the rate of development between children, what scientists often talk of as a mismatch between chronological age (what the calendar tells you) and biological age. Some children are precocious and develop more rapidly and these are the ones who excel when younger, becoming school sports stars on the back of their physical ‘head start’.

You, reading this, are likely to be wearing the ‘parent’ hat. Your challenge is figuring out how to keep your child’s sports or physical activity interests alive through school and into adulthood. Much of this is down to attitude, especially in young children. Are you encouraging participation for learning and enjoyment?

The way around this is to be creative and encouraging of attempts to get resources that will keep those as many children as possible, even those initially overlooked, viable for as long as possible. That is, don’t let the first decision be the final one. Biology and time might well converge at some point in the future when your child is ready to make the A-team and play at a higher level, so you must keep them going long enough to discover if this is the case.

How can you do this? Attitude, as I mentioned, is key. Encourage them to play, because structured training and competitions make up such a small part of a child’s sport participation that a person who keeps playing, even with friends, is keeping the gap as close as possible for as long as possible. There’s no doubt that we over-value structured training, which feeds pre-occupation with selecting teams and playing competitions. You can change that by valuing instead their play and enjoyment, not over-hyped and distorted competitions.

Equally, if you’re the parent of the child who does succeed, who is picked, you have to be careful that you don’t entrench conventional wisdom by over-committing to early success. Realize that a child is much more likely to drop out of a sport than they are to keep going, and you should see the risk of encouraging them to specialize in the way schools sometimes tend to. Play two, three, even four sports if possible. As long as they enjoy it, it’s beneficial, and it keeps their options open.

Also, be flexible to their shifting interests. If they want to explore and sample from a range of different sports, encourage it. A wide range of exposures to sport is the most valuable asset to foster. If it means encouraging them to join a club, go for individualized coaching, or go to the gym to get stronger, then don’t obstruct it. Rather optimize it. Look to invest in their passions and the best way to do this is to figure out ways to surround them with great people. Whatever it takes, try to match passion with people, and you’re making the best possible go at long-term success.

Ultimately, it’s passion you wish to foster. Nothing guarantees success, but what does guarantee failure is when exercise and sport becomes “work”. So, if we return to our definition of success, whether it means wearing green and gold, or simply being an active adult, it will be borne of passion. Or more precisely, success is the inevitable result when passion intersects with opportunity, and most critically, the right people.

Get the right people on board to complete the triangle of passion, opportunity, and most crucially, people.

Are you taking it too far?

July_wk5_0004_3.pngWillpower and determination is one thing but skipping meals, consuming too little calories, doubling up on workouts and having ice cubes as a snack is quite another. Weight loss goals should be realistic. And they should be sustainable over the long-term.

5 ways you could be sabotaging your long-term weight loss goals

  1. Eliminating entire food groups Like carbs. There are plenty of good carbs you can enjoy. Like whole grains and certain types of veggies. These will help keep your energy levels up for your workouts plus give you the nutrients you need to go about your daily activities. Dairy is another one people tend to forgo to lose weight. Eating the right kinds of dairy is actually a better strategy for weight loss than avoiding it altogether. To shed kilograms, you need a balance of all the essential food groups.
  2. Eating too few calories This is a major no-no. Firstly, you’ll have way less energy for your daily activities, never mind your workouts at the club. Being starved also increases your risk of a massive binge later, ultimately undoing all the “progress” that starving helped to achieve. It’s not worth it. We suggest never dipping below 1 200 calories. Anything less isn’t sustainable and it can also lead to things like nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, and fatigue.
  3. Weighing yourself every day. Don’t get us wrong. Tracking your progress is a good thing. It can seriously up your motivation when you see how well you’re doing. But obsessing over the number on the scale every single morning isn’t the way to go. It’s also not just about how much you weigh. It’s about how you feel and how your clothes are fitting. A lot of factors influence the number on your scale. Rather weigh yourself once a week, say, on a Friday morning.
  4. Working out twice a day and skipping rest days. Your muscles need time to rest and repair. This helps you progress plus it can prevent injury. When your muscles are overused and tired, you have more chance of hurting yourself. Overtraining can also affect your sleep, because your body is in a constant state of restlessness. And then there’s your mood. Workouts aren’t just physical. It’s a mental game too and if you’re overly tired this can wreak havoc on your emotion wellbeing.
  5. Not treating yourself. We’re talking about enjoying favourite, higher calorie foods. A regular “cheat meal” is a great way to not deprive yourself. As we’ve said before, deprivation can lead to binges later on.

Losing weight is tough. Don’t make it tougher by making these mistakes. Think of weight loss as more a marathon than a sprint. Going full-force at break-neck speed isn’t sustainable but taking it slow and steady will help you win the race.

 

Start losing weight today

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Not being able to pull your jeans up all the way is not a vibe. But we know losing weight isn’t easy either. It’s a constant struggle for many of us. That’s why we’re taking you back to the basics by creating a beginner’s guide to losing weight.

First: let’s talk calories

Losing weight is all about cutting down on calories. Or burning them off. Preferably both. It’s really as simple as that. Think calories in vs calories out. If you take in too much energy, it will get stored. End of story. You will pick up weight.

We’re not saying be a calorie-counting fanatic, but think of it like a budget. If you had a massive breakfast, keep it light at dinner. Big lunch? Skip the smoothie snack. Basically, just be aware of your overall consumption. Tracking is a great way to do this.

The goal is to drop kilograms without feeling like you’re starving all the time. The worst. To get there, you need to plan clean, healthy meals and combine that with a kick ass workout routine.

Tip: Don’t do too much too soon. Think small changes. How about more veggies at dinner? Skip the usual scoop of ice-cream after. Little things like that.

Don’t ditch all of the carbs

We’re all for saying goodbye to the bad ones, things like white breads, cooldrinks, biscuits and other refined foods. But the good ones are definitely worth keeping around for energy. Oats, quinoa, wholegrain bread, and sweet potato to name but a few. Your workouts take a lot out of you, so by eating foods that fuel you the right way, you can get so much more out of it. Plus, you’ll have more energy for everyday activities like playing with the kids, taking the stairs at work and taking the dogs for a walk.

Portion control

You don’t have to go crazy with the measuring cups and food scales. Just keep an eye on your portions. It’s so easy to overdo it when you’re hungry. If you want to measure your milk and weigh your portions to get an idea and learn, go for it. It doesn’t make you obsessive, it just makes you determined. So there.

Tip: Grab a big glass of water, and drink half of it before your meal. It’ll help you feel fuller faster, so that you won’t overeat.

Let balance be your mantra

When your body gets the nutrients it needs, it’s happy. You stop craving bad stuff and the extra kilograms should melt off in time. So, when meal planning and prepping, be sure to include protein to feed your muscles, fibre to squash the hunger and healthy carbs to keep your energy levels up.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be between 300 and 500 calories each, with two or three snacks in between at 100 calories each. You can totally change this up to suit your preferences. Just make sure you don’t go over your calorie count for the day.

In a nutshell: Find an eating plan that you can stick with long-term. Diets don’t work because they’re short-term. And remember: There is no one meal plan that will lead to weight loss in everyone. You have to find what works for you.

Moves to help you lose

VA_WALBROOK_1017.JPGWant to lose weight for real, but don’t know where to start? We’ve rounded up 5 calorie-torching workouts plus some tried-and-tested workout tips to help you shed extra kilograms.

When it comes to losing weight, the main thing to work on is consistency. The best weight loss workout routine is the one you stick to. But there are certain workouts that target calorie burn more fiercely than others.

Sprint intervals

To burn more calories during and after your workout, add sprint intervals to your treadmill session. Think high intensity for short bursts. Walk or jog for 30 seconds, then go for an all-out sprint for the next 30 seconds. You can change it up too, depending on your fitness level, just make sure that during your sprint interval, you are working as hard as you can. Intervals is also a great way to keep boredom at bay during your workout because you’re also concentrating on keeping time.

RIDE classes

Our RIDE classes offer a non-stop calorie-burning workout that’s good for your heart and great for your legs. Our instructors will make sure you work hard throughout the class by motivating you and keeping things interesting by adding hills and sprints. Classes are easy to book. Just download the myvirginactive app  for either iOS  or Android , and you’ll be able to check your club’s timetable for the next class and book your seat right there and then.

The rower

This piece of equipment is getting more and more popular because people are finally starting to realise that it is one of the best ways to burn loads of calories at the club. To get maximum results, we recommend intervals. Give it your all for 60 seconds, then take it down a notch for 30 seconds to catch your breath. If you’re not sure how to use this piece of equipment properly, just ask one of your club’s friendly staff members to show you how it’s done.

THE GRID

Push, pull, lunge, twist, bend and squat, and burn up to 500 calories in just 30 minutes! This functional fitness session is the perfect lunch time workout because it’s fast and it’s intense. Bring your gym buddy (or work colleague) and show those extra kilograms who’s boss.

The stepper

Whether you’re working up a sweat on the stepper at your club or running up steep steps in your neighbourhood, stair climbing is a great combo of cardio and strength training that equals seriously upped calorie burning potential. To up the ante, grab a 1 – 2 kg dumbbell in each hand to get your upper body working too.

Tip: Lift more, lose more. Don’t worry ladies, lifting heavier weights won’t make you bulky. Really. But it will make you burn more calories during and after your workout.

Don’t change everything at once

Mass eliminations and crazy twice-a-day workout routines aren’t sustainable or healthy and the main thing with weight loss is sticking to what you start. So, scrap that all-or-nothing approach. Focus on making small, sustainable changes. Go for 5 minutes longer. Add a kg to your barbell. Try a different group exercise class. Those are things that lead to long term success. And the more you start losing, the more you’ll feel inspired to make even better choices throughout your day.