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Member guest blog: exercising in winter

As winter sadly sets in, we’re doubling down on our wellbeing at Co-Women. Our Co-Founder, personal trainer Becky Hughes, is here to share her top tips for how to maintain your fitness despite the increasing darkness…

Many of us struggle to fit exercise into our busy lives at the best of times, and as the sunrise happens even later in the day, and darkness descends earlier, it can seem even trickier and less appealing than usual. Having the capacity to exercise is a privilege, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this problem, so I’m going to come at this from the perspective of you simply needing some strategies to coax yourself along to a planned session, rather than revamping your whole routine. Let’s go!

Preparation is key I say this all the time, but that’s because it’s one of the simplest and cost-free things you can do to help yourself. Establish what you need for your session – clothing, food and drink, spare outfit if you’re going straight from exercise to something else, keys… all of it – and then make sure it’s ready the night before. This means that, when your alarm goes off at the crack of pre-dawn, there’s no thinking or panicking required. It’s a case of putting your clothes on, grabbing the items you’d already prepared, and setting off to honour your commitment.

Planning is part of preparation If you train independently, make sure that you have a session plan in place before you make your way to the gym or training space. There’s nothing like a busy gym floor to make even the best of us panic and forget every sensible exercise we know. So again, figuring it out ahead of time will take the pressure off.

If you’re signed up to a class, have a PT session booked, or are using a programme a trainer has given you, this is something you won’t have to do. Though, for the latter, you will need access to said programme, so make sure you take it with you! I sit down and plan my own training once per week – which days and times I’ll train, and write each session out so that I’m working towards whatever my goal is and training all body parts equally.

Accountability can help, but be careful! Lots of people like to either train with a friend or just have an accountability buddy at the end of the phone. Not to sound fully negative, but unless you’re paying this person, don’t expect them to always be there! And even if you are paying, it’s good to cultivate some independence. Start relying on yourself as well as others. It can be helpful to have another person to train with, and to be expecting you to show up. Try also expecting it from yourself just as much.

Rest matters Training breaks scare people because they think they’ll forget everything they’ve learned, lose the habit, and be back at square one. It might be hard to get back into the habit, but you can take comfort in knowing that you’ve done it once, and do it again.

Taking time out is important in order for our bodies to fully recover, and again, it’s about planning. I find that party season is an ideal time to take my foot off the gas – with nights out and lots of socialising going on, it’s not always practical to fit training in too. Though sometimes, it can also be a sanctuary from all of that! As I said before: map it out in advance, stick to your plan (unless you’re really ill!), and execute it, taking time to be proud of yourself for accomplishing what you set out to do.

And finally: it’s a season Cold comfort on those dark days deep in January, but things DO change again! One of my favourite days is always that sweet one sometime in March, when I step out of the gym at the end of my morning session and the sun is finally rising. Roll on summer…

If you’d like Becky’s help with your training, she’s based in Horsham, and coaches a limited number of people remotely. You can find out more via her website

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