Since hitting my 40s I've come to crave the endorphins that come from thirty minutes or so of moving around vigorously. I like to run, jump around, break a sweat - the usual fat-burning stuff. Though, I'm not so fond of the kind of workout that involves a lot of grunting and heavy lifting. Not only is it intimidating lining up at the squat rack with a bunch of bodybuilding blokes, there's risk of injury if one doesn't know what they're doing. And I don't. Plus, weight training just looks hard. And dare I say, a bit boring.
Having said all that, once you are firmly in your forth decade there are other matters to consider such as balance, posture and muscle loss. While I'm relatively fit for a female my age, in the last 18 months I've fallen over at least three times when jogging and pulled the ligaments in my left ankle twice. As my job is deskbound, my posture is pretty shocking and though I manage to maintain a healthy weight, no amount of HIIT classes will firm up the wobbly bits. In other words, strength training is necessary for optimizing health as you get older – plus, it's really the only route to toning up. And, let's be honest it's also rather gratifying to be able to lift a piece of heavy furniture when required.
With muscle strengthening and posture correcting as my goal, I booked in a session with Dalton Wong, A-list trainer and founder of twentytwotraining.com. He's the man Jennifer Lawrence, Alice Eve and Game of Thrones heart throb, Kit Harington, call to whip them into shape before filming. Yet, while he's an expert at honing and toning celebrity limbs, Dalton wants his resistance training method to be accessible to everyone, and so he's created a clever at- home workout programme that requires no more than a fancy elastic band for equipment.
The Dalton Wong Mini Band Workout includes a choice of three bands (beginner, intermediate and advanced) as well as a brilliant instruction booklet of workout programmes that focus on 5 key areas: Posture, fat burning, hips & bum, core and upper body. The idea is that you mix and match any combination of exercises depending on your goals and the time you have.
"After the age of 35, your muscle mass deteriorates a little every year, therefore it's important to take up strength training to maintain lean muscle mass and keep your metabolism from slowing down." Dalton admits that some women can be put off by heavy weights, therefore he's designed an easy alternative that doesn't involve weight lifting. "Resistance band training is the perfect alternative to lifting weights - it strengthens the muscles as well as improving posture and stability without bulking up."
A favourite with fitness influencers, professional athletes are including resistance band moves before training sessions to activate the muscles and prevent injury. While models love the lean, naturally toned aesthetic that they give. "Resistance bands will give you a better version of the body you naturally have, which is what many of my female clients want," explains Dalton.
But it's not all about looks, resistance bands improve balance and joint stability as well as correcting posture, which is hugely beneficial for women over 40 when bone and muscle strength can weaken. "Resistance work strengthens the muscles around the ankles and knees to support the bones. Plus, it forces you to focus and balance which improves stability," explains Dalton.
During my 45 minute mini-band workout with Dalton, he took me through a few moves from each section. At the end of the session, my muscles felt sore – in a good way. And, surprisingly I had built up a sweat too. Yet, he assures me that it's not necessary to commit to a large chunk of time to see results. "If you've only got 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes in the evening, that is enough to improve your posture and tone up. You can always build from there."
Perhaps the best bit of Dalton's mini band workout is its portability. Slim enough to slip in your carry-on, I have found this a god send when I want to do a 'little something' on holiday without being the saddo in the hotel gym when everyone else is at the bar with a cocktail. "If you're away for a two-week holiday and you want to keep fit while you're away, pick four moves and repeat the circuit one to three times - 15 minutes is enough to get in a good workout."
To buy The Dalton Wong Mini-Band workout, £48 ($92), go to www.twentytwotraining.com.