THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR WORKOUTS
Leanne Spencer of Bodyshot Personal Training, based in south east London, eschews the New Year, New You hype for an everyday approach to health and wellbeing. As well as improving fitness, Leanne’s outdoor workouts can help manage anxiety and depression
Words by Victoria Purcell
The New Year is, surprisingly, not a highlight of personal trainer Leanne Spencer’s calendar: ‘January isn’t a big month for personal trainers,’ she says, ‘because people are generally under-exercised, overfed and skint because they last got paid in mid-December!’
That’s no problem for Leanne, who instils in her clients that health and fitness is a lifestyle choice, not a post-Christmas project: ‘It’s a frustration of mine that a lot of the hype around diet and exercise seems to come back to weight. If you look at women’s magazines it’s all about weight and bikini bodies, there’s no wonder a lot of young girls have issues around eating. I really rally against it.’
Leanne runs Bodyshot Personal Training, which offers outdoor workouts in Peckham, Dulwich, Herne Hill, Crystal Palace and surrounding areas. The company also offers yoga classes (look out for the new BoxingYoga classes in the New Year), nutritional advice and a specialist pre and post-natal service. There’s also Recovery Fitness, Bodyshot’s sister company, which uses diet and exercise to help people suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
‘The benefits of diet and exercise for mental health are well known among the medical community,’ says Leanne. ‘The personal training community is starting to see it, but it’s still underappreciated. Exercise encourages the production of serotonin and endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, and that has a very positive effect, particularly with cardio.
‘What you eat also has a profound effect on the brain chemistry, so we encourage our clients to keep a food diary and look at ways they can include extra ingredients that contain tryptophan, for example, which encourages the production of serotonin. When you marry the diet and the exercise together it can have quite a profound effect.’
Leanne made the decision to focus on outdoor training because she believes it’s valuable to get clients outdoors: ‘I think the benefits of being outside are all-encompassing,’ she says. ‘Fresh air is important, it helps you sleep, and it’s particularly important from a mental health perspective.’
I undertook one of Leanne’s tailored sessions on a drizzly Peckham Rye. It was varied and intense, incorporating jogging, sprints, boxing, those dreaded burpees and abdominal work. It was also, as my body reminded me for days afterwards, a very effective workout!