When the Christmas and New Year’s festivities have passed many of us want to get fit and lose some of the excess weight. Here are a few tips to get you started, without resorting to expensive gym membership

Those who own gyms all over the UK are among the few people who actually look forward to January. Gym membership always receives an annual boost just after the New Year’s celebrations, with people putting weight loss as one of their main resolutions. It’s equally true that many of these new gym members will slowly lose interest as the months pass, with some having signed up for a year’s membership that then becomes a waste of money. There are some much cheaper and easier ways to keep fit and lose weight, whatever your age, so here are a few ideas to get you started.

1 Food first
What you eat can actually be just as important as exercise when it comes to getting into shape. Rather than taking up a fad diet, it’s probably much better to take some simple steps, such as taking tea or coffee without any sugar, or replacing fizzy soft drinks with a glass of water or a home-made fruit juice, or cutting out bread, to help you lose weight. Perhaps even move from semi-skimmed milk to skimmed milk, if you use a lot of milk in your daily diet. Also, it may be better to have meals that are smaller and more often, plus set yourself the target of not eating after 6.00 or 7.00 in the evening, allowing yourself only fruit as a snack after this time.

2 Simple exercises
There are a lot of exercise regimes you can set yourself, without resorting to a gym. One good source of information is the NHS website (www.nhs.uk). Here you can download different workout plans, including a ‘10-minute home workout.’ If you want to lift small weights as part of your exercises, you can improvise with bags of sugar, or full jam jars, without needing to spend money on special training weights.

3 Set up an on-park fitness class
If you need the boost of an organised group to get you motivated, organisations such as Age UK (www.ageuk.org.uk) may run exercise classes in your area, which could be free, or for just a small charge. You’ll probably find it easy to keep up the exercise if you join a weekly class, with other people there to encourage you, rather like a weight loss class. And, in fact, you could also set up your own weight loss club on your park, if there are enough people who are interested.

4 Alternative exercises
Whatever your age, you may benefit from some alternative sources of exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi. You may find local classes in your local church hall or similar venue, or might be able to pay a one-off fee each week to attend classes at your local gym, without signing up for full gym membership.

5 Form your own exercise group
If you live on a park home site where there’s a good social atmosphere, why not start your own exercise classes, perhaps hiring out a local venue for one or two evenings each week? A quick chat among friends will probably find someone who knows a local keep-fit teacher or yoga teacher who could come and take the classes. Or, check out the internet, for sites like the NHS one, to find simple routines which everyone in the group can then follow.