Celeb fan: Victoria Beckham, mum to Brooklyn, 12, Romeo, 9, Cruz, 6, and Harper Seven, 5 months. Posh swapped her heels for trainers and has been pounding the pavement to get back in shape after her fourth pregnancy.
What’s it all about? Brisk walking at 5mph while also swinging your arms. Research has found that, mile for mile, power walking is as effective as running, but because it’s low impact, it has the added advantage of causing less strain on your body.
What the expert says… “Power walking is one of the few activities that really does work almost every part of your body from your posture to your muscle tone,” says Nina Barough, founder of breast cancer charity Walk the Walk (walkthewalk.org), which hosts power walking events. “It works wonders on defining the shape of your legs, lifting your bum and flattening your tummy by strengthening your core muscles.”
Feel the burn… If you walk fast enough, you should burn around 400 calories an hour. “By walking at least 45 minutes four times a week, at a pace that increases your heart rate, you could lose up to 18lbs in a year,” says Nina.
See results in… “You can expect to start seeing an improvement after just two weeks of walking a minimum of three times a week,” she adds.
Try this: Measure distance and steps with this compact, clip-onpedometer, £17, cotswoldoutdoor.com
Celeb fan: Latino lovely Jennifer Lopez, mum to twins Max and Emme, 3, enjoys shaking her famous booty at a Zumba class. “You’ve gotta do things that make you happy,” says J-Lo. “If that means once a week you’re going to go off without the kids and join a Zumba class, you’ve just got to do it.”
What’s it all about? A typical hour-long Zumba class mixes aerobics with Latin American dance moves, like salsa, mambo and rumba. It’s all set to a thumping soundtrack, offering a fun way to burn calories and tone up at the same time.
What the expert says… “It’s a really good entry-level exercise if you’re getting back into exercise,“ says David Petersen, health and fitness manager at Fitness First (fitnessfirst.co.uk). “The beauty of Zumba is that it gets you moving, improves coordination and it’s fun. The whole idea is you get that party-like atmosphere. There’s not a lot of verbal cueing from the instructor – instead, the class just follows along.”
Feel the burn… In an hour you can burn 400 to 500 calories – equivalent to a Big Mac. “But it depends on the intensity of the individual class,” says David.
See results in… “If you’re watching what you’re eating too, you’re certainly going to notice some changes by about six weeks,” he adds.
Try this: Alternate your cardio Zumba with a toning class. “One mistake people make is to find a class they like and only do that,” says David.
Celeb fan: King Kong star Naomi Watts, mum to Alexander, 4, and Samuel, 3, alternated between swimming laps a few days a week and up to an hour of strength exercises, like squats and push-ups, to get her pre-bump figure back.
What’s it all about? Swimming works many different muscle systems at once and is a great way to tone up and work your lungs at the same time. It’s gentle too, as up to 90% of the body’s weight is supported in the water.
What the expert says… David from Fitness First says: “One of the key benefits of swimming is that there’s very little stress on the joints, so it’s really good if you’re getting back into exercise and you’re carrying a little bit of extra weight or you’ve recently given birth. Also, it’s almost like meditation as you
go up and down the pool.
Feel the burn… Expect to burn around 200-350 calories during a 30-minute swim. Plus, half an hour in the pool is equivalent to 45-60 minutes of land-based exercise.
See results in… Around four to six weeks. “Again, a lot of it will come down to nutrition as well,” says David. “Don’t go for a fad diet and monitor your portion sizes.”
Try this: Sign up to SwimFit’s Shape Up and Tone plan at swimming.org. There are 32 different pool sessions to keep you motivated.
Celeb fan: Power Plate devotee Dannii Minogue tweeted a pic of herself with her trainer doing her first post-baby workout three months after having son Ethan, 17 months.
What’s it all about? It’s a machine that uses vibrations to stimulate your muscles to contract and relax. Your muscles generally contract once or twice a second, but standing on the vibrating plate causes muscles to contract more frequently, around 30-50 times a second.
What the expert says… Postnatal fitness expert Jenny Burrell (burrelleducation.com) explains the advantages: “Basically, you get more bang for your buck. You can get a full-body workout in 20 to 30 minutes, as opposed to going to the gym for an hour, and that includes cardio.” Power Plate is particularly effective for mums, too. “It’s whole body vibration, so even if you’re just doing squats, those muscle contractions are happening all over your body, including your pelvic floor,” says Jenny.
Feel the burn… You can expect to burn around 250 to 300 calories in a 25-minute session.
See results in… “Even after a few sessions, your muscles will feel tighter and much more toned,” says Jenny.
Try this: Visit powerplate.com/uk/locations to find your nearest gym or community leisure centre with a machine.
3 ways to boost your weight-loss
Trainer to the stars Ricardo Macedo (r-fitness.co.uk), who’s honed the figures of Patsy Kensit and Strictly Come Dancing’s Natalie Lowe, shares his tips.
1) Calculate your resting metabolic rate. This means the energy (calories) you use each day just to keep your body functioning. “It could be anywhere between 1,200 to 2,000 calories per day,” says Ricardo. “If you need 1,500 calories to survive every day, then you’ll put on weight if you eat more and don’t exercise. If you eat less, you’ll lose weight. It’s simple maths, but people think there’s a big secret behind it.” See a trainer or buy a set of scales that can calculate your rate.
2) Record your measurements. “Take measurements around your arms, legs and waist so you have a starting point,” advises Ricardo. “It’s really hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. A lot of people guide themselves through the scale, but muscle tends to be three times heavier than fat.” Exercise increases your muscle tissue and bone density, which is especially important for women to avoid osteoporosis later in life. “You’ll look thinner, but you won’t see much of a change on the scales.”
3) Find activities that you enjoy. “People tend to stick to exercise if they enjoy it,” says Ricardo. Enlist a friend to help keep you motivated, try a number of different exercises, and then combine cardio workouts with strength and toning ones. “Whether it’s yoga, Zumba, or interval training, mix them up and find a place where you feel comfortable,” advises Ricardo.