Fit in my 40s: ‘I have the forward hunch of a sedentary worker’

Photograph of woman balancing medicine ball on her shoulders

am back at Nyambe’s personal training studio. “Everybody is in training for the life that they lead,” he says. “If you and Mo Farah had a sitting-down-for-eight-hours competition, you would win.”

In case you’ve forgotten; my anterior chain (the front) is tight, my posterior chain is weak, and this is down to my posture, the forward hunch of the sedentary worker. Most likely you have it, too. Today we’re figuring out a 20-minute workout I can do at home. Everything at the front needs stretching, and everything at the back needs strengthening. This is how it goes.

One: go outside and stand on the kerb. Keep the ball of your foot on the pavement, and press your heel down towards the road. Then do the same but with your knee bent, for the tibialis anterior at the front. Stretch for about a minute each side.

Two: think of that stretch joggers do in parks, holding one foot behind themselves, only do it kneeling down, back to a wall, using the wall to squish your foot towards your bum instead of your hand. Put the other foot flat on the floor as far away as you can, your knee bent.

Three and four: do a half-bridge pose (head, shoulders and feet on the floor, lifting your hips so that everything else is off the floor). To make this work your hamstring, put your feet up on a semi-deflated exercise ball (if you have one). Lower and lift your hips five times, then rest. Do this set three times in total. Now do it again, without the ball. This is for your glutes, which is what fitness people say when they mean arse.

Five: in a table pose (knees and hands on the floor), drag your belly button towards your spine. Hold. This is for your core and it is peculiarly hard.

Six: to do the cobra, for the shoulder and back muscles, lie on your front, hands flat on the floor by your head, elbows bent and tucked in by your sides, then lift your head and shoulders. You will look nothing like a cobra. Hold, lower and repeat.

Seven: roll up a towel, put it on the floor, lie on it on your back with the towel under your shoulder blades horizontally, arms outstretched as if you’re telling a chugger you don’t have any change. Hold.

Eight: end on a mini circuit. Two suicide push-ups, three burpees, repeated five times. A suicide push-up is when you start in a plank position, on your elbows, then move to your hands in a full plank pose, then back again. It is exactly as bad as it sounds. A burpee is where you start standing up, put your hands on the floor, jump your feet back to a plank pose, then jump them in again before bouncing upright.

All this takes about an hour to learn, and 20 minutes to do. I’m meant to do it every day. I always finish feeling elated, weary, with a sense that something just happened between me and Mo Farah – and that I won.