Over the Easter break, it’s all too easy to over-indulge in lots of yummy chocolate and traditional roast dinners. But instead of feeling guilty, why not get into the great outdoors and work up a calorie-busting sweat by trying Joanna Hall’s unique walking technique, Walkactive?
You may already spend a fair amount of time on your feet – commuting, shopping, chasing after children or walking the dog. But wouldn’t it be revolutionary if you used every single step to lose inches, tone up and slim down? With Walkactive, that’s exactly what you can do. You may be thinking, ‘Hang on a minute! I walk a lot already – and it makes no difference. The only thing that would change my body is boot camp or marathon running.’ Well, it’s understandable that you think that way. Right now, instead of using every muscle in your body really effectively as you walk, you are probably relying on a few ‘old favourites’ to do the hard work. With Walkactive you work your whole body, from the deep internal connective tissues outwards.
Here’s a short taster of Joanna’s method (you’ll find all the details of how to do the technique, along with lots of instructional photos, in Joanna Hall’s Walkactive Programme).
Technique 1: your feet
As you start to put one foot in front of the other, notice each of your feet’s component parts. Every time you put a foot down, observe your heel, foot arch, ball of the foot and the toes. Roll through each foot as you walk, in a fluid action. Feel how your foot starts to become more ‘active’ than ‘passive’. When your foot is passive, it hits the ground in one go as a single unit. When it’s active, the different parts touch down as you roll through from heel to toe. Think of your foot becoming more pliable as you gently roll through it. As your foot starts to become more active, you’ll begin to notice that your ankle joint moves more too – you’ll start to feel the front of your ankle opening up as you roll through your foot. This ‘open’ ankle is a really important. It will help to lengthen your leg muscles, streamline your thighs and kick-start the contraction of the muscles in your bottom. Make sure you don’t bring your foot off the floor in a rush: feel the peel!
Technique 2: your hips
Try to envisage a tray extending out from your hip bones, with two glasses of water on it. As you walk, try to lift up and out of your hips so that the glasses of water are also lifted up evenly, but remain full. If you pull your stomach in too tight and start to clench your bottom, then your pelvis will tilt too far and those glasses of water will spill. If your imaginary glasses of water start to spill, it means your posture is wrong. Now you need to focus on your abdominal muscles as you lift and stabilise your hips. As you walk forward, lifting your hips and keeping the imaginary tray steady, try to draw your stomach in and also, very importantly, up. This is not the same as simply sucking your tummy in. As you perform this inward and upward movement, you should feel as if your spine has grown a little taller.
Technique 3: your neck and shoulders
You can apply this technique generally in your day-to-day life – not just when you are walking, but when you’re standing and sitting, too. Keeping your feet active and your hips lifted, think about the distance between your ear lobes and shoulders. You’re going to try and increase this distance. Imagine you have long, dangly earrings hanging from each ear lobe. As you walk, you are trying to make sure the earrings don’t touch your shoulders. Now imagine your shoulders gently falling down your back (don’t force them), and your neck gently lengthening. This opens your shoulders and chest area and encourages your spine to align itself correctly, right up through your body.
Technique 4: your arms
As you master the technique for the feet, hips and neck and shoulders, you might notice that your arms are swinging gently forward and backward with each step. This is how your body is meant to move – do let your arms move naturally, but try to envisage each arm as a natural pendulum, moving forward and backward as you take each step. As your pendulum arms gently swing to and fro, introduce a slight bend at your elbow. Try to focus on the backward movement, rather than the forward one – on drawing your elbow back and letting it swing naturally forward again. See if you can swing back further than you swing forward. The more your elbows draw back like this, the more the front of your shoulders will open up. This correct arm movement will also improve your posture, giving you that instant energetic, slimmer, taller look.
‘As a mother of four I’ve always been a regular exerciser. I’ve tried anything and everything, from military fitness, to yoga to gym sessions four times a week. But I’ve never seen results like this before. My stomach is flatter, my waist trimmer, my bottom has lifted, my legs have slimmed down and my clothes fit me like never before. My husband says I haven’t looked this good since our wedding. I’m always telling people to try Walkactive. It’s doable, it’s fun – and it really works.’
Jessica, aged forty-eight – Walkactive Club member