I am a Swimming Convert
Before I swam I would mainly do running as my cardio. I am going to keep it going as part of my routine but now, even when I’m on holiday I will jump into the pool. I feel the gains have been amazing for my body, I’m more toned, my metabolism has increased and I am much fitter.
When I started I was really nervous
Now I feel great after a swim session and excited when I get into the pool. I worked on my breathing, my strokes and practiced the drills over and over so I became stronger and more confident.
I follow a program
The key is for it to be varied so although swim around 1,500m every 45-minute session sometimes I only do legs or arms or I’ll use paddles, flippers or floats – anything that will improve my fitness and technique.
Take a breath every seven strokes
This is the drill I feel benefited me the most. Now when I go back to taking a breath every three strokes I feel so much more in control.
I feel lean and light
That is always good advantage for a beach volleyball player because you have to jump and dive around. So the lighter you are the better, as long as you are still strong too.
It’s good for your posture
The constant low resistance is like doing lots of low weight repetitions, you can feel your core strengthening.
It’s important to try new things
So often exercise can feel like a chore or sometimes you don’t really feel like doing it so I like to keep things interesting. If you are feeling demotivated with a part of your routine, your cardio for instance, then try something else so you have another option. When I go to my spin classes now, I have a new lease of life.
See what type of exercise agrees with your body – the same applies to your diet
Over the years I have definitely learnt what my body does and does not like and food too. For example, coconut water is too sugary for me before a workout and bloats me so I prefer to drink water with a pinch of salt. I always cook with Virgin Coconut oil too, it is lighter and healthier for you.
Google your local club if you want to play volleyball
Once you find out where they are make sure you go along. It is a really inclusive and welcoming sport. There are courts popping up everywhere in London because they are using the sand for the Olympics to create them.
Zara’s daily regimen
I try to have porridge or oat bran for breakfast with some raspberries and a little bit of unsweetened almond milk. I eat the same thing everyday.
Lunch is a lot of cottage cheese, jacket potatoes or fresh tuna. I need energy to train so I like a high protein diet because I feel like it agrees with my body and it gives me everything I need without feeling bloated or too full up.
Usually lots of nuts, mainly almonds and brazil nuts or rice cakes with marmite and peanut butter together, or if I feel like something really sweet I will have honey on a Ryvita.
For dinner I tend to have higher protein and fewer carbs than I do for breakfast and lunch. So fish, like a tuna steak or chicken with vegetables. I don’t tend to have a dinner without protein.
I train about four or five times a week
Apart from the volleyball I try and keep things quite varied, that’s why I enjoy yoga and Pilates and running too.
I do Hatha yoga
Either at a gym near where I live in Dorset or sometimes I will just do it in my room at home as well – I like to have a stretch out in my own space. I use a great yoga app called the Yoga Studio (yogastudio.com).
G4AS nutritionist Libby Limon says:
“It is great that Zara is focused on getting a good balance of macronutrients in terms of lean quality proteins including fish and poultry, complex carbohydrates such as oats and rye, and healthy fats from nuts. However intense training also creates increased oxidative stress and therefore the need for antioxidants to support the immune system and prevent injury. I would recommend increasing vegetable and fruit intake to 8-10 portions per day to meet this need. Additionally, green tea, ginger and turmeric are potent antioxidants especially helpful in protecting against joint injuries in the short and long term.”