As far as fit bodies go, they don’t come any more honed than that of Australian personal trainer and yoga teacher Shona Vertue.
A former classical dancer and elite gymnast who moved to London in 2014, Vertue’s entire life has been steeped in studying human movement. Celebrities who have reaped the rewards of training with Vertue include David Beckham, who credits her with changing his perspective on yoga.
You don’t have to travel to London or be a high profile sports player to access Vertue’s vast bank of fitness knowledge these days – in recent weeks she launched The Vertue Method, a 28-day ‘reset’ plan that promises a stronger, fitter and healthier you, conveniently wrapped up in a 270-page soft cover book.
The plan is grounded in three pillars: lifting (resistance training), lengthening (yoga and stretching) and nourishing (both the body with food and the mind with meditation and rest).
It’s a conversational read that might have you chuckling more than once. If it doesn’t have you rushing off immediately to pick up a barbell, you will find that you’ve retained little nuggets of information that are likely to influence your decisions around exercise and eating without you even realising it.
While this isn’t a particularly tricky or challenging plan, it is a considered plan that requires you to pay lots of attention to what you’re doing when you’re working out. And while I’m happy to report that caffeine and dairy are in, alcohol is out.
Vertue places great emphasis on resistance training. While those with a gym membership will find it the easiest to carry out the exercise plans, the book also contains plenty of exercises you can do outdoors and with minimal equipment. A stickler for form, Vertue gives a helpful step-by-step guide (with pictures) to carrying out each resistance exercise.
One form of working out that Vertue is not a fan of is High Intensity Interval Training. While it might seem like the easy solution when you realise you haven’t worked out all winter and summer is now just around the corner, Vertue says it’s not the best approach to training.
“I’m not saying never do HIIT but I definitely do not recommend more than two HIIT sessions per week because it is very taxing on the nervous system, which can cause elevated levels of cortisol the stress hormone, making it hard for your body to stay healthy,” says Vertue.
“If you’re aim is health, then it may not necessarily be the best exercise because you’re also neglecting strength and flexibility as well as the benefits of steady state cardio, which is easy on the nervous system, while still improving cardiovascular fitness.
“The other issue that I have with HIIT is that because it’s quick by design, there is often not a lot of emphasis put on form or execution, depending on the exercise type of course.”
If you’re used to doing two HIIT sessions and then calling it a day on your exercise for the rest of the week, you may baulk at the suggestion of working out six out of seven days, even if it is for just 30 minutes each time. In response to proclamations about being time poor and busy, Vertue says:
“Regardless of their profile, my clients are all very busy in one way or another – they range from entrepreneurs, to artists to doctors and lawyers – but trust me, the busiest people I know are the working mums. The Vertue Method was created exactly with them in mind. It can be practiced from home in your own time after kids are in bed! All you need is a kettle bell, band and yoga mat.
“We find time for the things that are a priority and I hope to help people view fitness as a priority for long term health so they find that 30 minutes a day to take care of themselves.”