One of my aims for the New Year ( and I am sure I am not the only one! ) is to loose a few extra pounds and to tone up my body. I tend to struggle quite a lot with the whole diet thing. Don't get me wrong, I eat fairly healthily and make sure I have my five a day, an even proportion of carbs, protein, fruit and veg. My weakness is in the evening and the sugar pangs hit! Like I say, I am pretty healthy during the day but come evening time all of my hard work goes out of the window. What I have learnt therefore, is to rather than deprive myself, because I know that I would re-lapse, (and where's the fun in life if you can't eat some chocolate if you fancy it?!) is to work harder at the gym and achieve my goals by working out more, rather than constantly worrying about every calorie that I consume!
I have read many an article that states that one pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. So, if you want to loose a pound of fat a week you need to burn around 500 calories a day. With this in mind I have a set goal every time I go to the gym to burn at least 500 calories. I won't lie and say that I go everyday, because I definitely do not! But I feel like this is a nice achievable goal to set at each workout, and if I burn 3,500 calories over the course of two weeks, it is still a success in my eyes.
So I thought that I would share my 500 calorie workout to either provide ideas or to give some motivation to those of you that have a similar aim to loose a bit of weight or to tone up for 2015. I am in no way qualified as a fitness instructor, nor am I claiming to have expert gym knowledge. All I am saying is that I have been going to the gym for a while now and have found a routine that works well for me and my body. This routine is also just a guideline, for me as well. Most gyms and workout articles will tell you that the best way to work out is through variation. If you do the same routine, with the same time frames on the same levels at every workout it will stop being effective for your body, so always try to add some sort of variation every few workouts.
When I first get to the gym I usually head straight to the treadmill. I find that going here first gets my least favourite exercise (running) out of the way, and it also acts as a great warm up for the whole body. I alternate between work outs but I will usually spend 20 minutes on the treadmill either running for two minutes, walking for two ect ect. Alternatively I will walk for the entire 20 mins but alternate increasing speed and incline once a minuet  until I reach 6 km/hour at an incline of 5 and then I will start to decrease speed and incline, again alternatively once a minute. I find that either of these exercises increases heart rate, gets my blood pumping and works each section of my body for a nice start to the workout.

I usually will then head on over to the cross-trainer. This is by far my most favourite exercise machine to use. I find it so easy to burn calories, to get into a good rhythm with and I always feel like I could go on forever. I usually put the incline up to 15 (however different machines may vary so it is best to speak to a member of staff if you are struggling with changing this) and put it on level 6. I aim to burn about 10 cals a minute on this machine so it is a bit of a high tempo jobby on your IPod, but like I say, once you get into the flow it is easy to stick with it. I do limit myself to about 15 minutes on the cross-trainer, or if I'm feeling slightly more energetic I may pump it up to 20 minutes.

Next up is the step machine. Now, this machine took me a long while to get along with. I really had to push myself to use it because I found it so difficult to use when I first started, but I am so glad that I stuck with it and kept it as part of my routine. If you haven't used one before, it is basically like climbing a set of stairs but continuously, so it is a fantastic work out for your legs as it really works the bum, thigh and calf muscles. However, it is  bugger to get along with (for me anyway!) I found the sensation of being on the machine quite difficult as it will only move once you've transferred your weight from one foot to another, and you will need to have a little play with the settings to make sure they suit you (if you have the resistance too high you could find yourself doing vertical splits in the middle of the gym... not that this happened to me...!) I have found a nice balance with the resistance on level 6 with a tempo of about 85-90 steps a minute. I have actually really noticed a difference to my body after incorporating this into my workout routine, especially with my bum, it feels a lot more toned and firm. Another bonus to using this machine is that it burns calories so quickly! In just 10 minutes I usually burn abut 150 calories, crazy!

After the step machine I am usually feeling quite tired (and sweaty!) so I will pop on the bike for a non-strenuous 10 minute ride. I usually start to cool down at this point in my workout as I have already burnt the majority of my calories (400ish) and so I will try to burn around 60 calories on the bike which is a relaxed enough speed to cool my body temperature and rest my legs. I will then usually go on the rowing machine for another 10 minute non-strenuous exercise, just to top up my calories to the big 500! Below is a quick break down of my 500 calorie workout:
My 500 Calorie Cardio Workout Routine
20 mins Treadmill - (walking) = 100 cals
15 mins  Cross-trainer - Incline 15 level 6 = 150 cals
10 mins Step Machine - Level 6 = 150 cals
10 mins Bike - Level 4 = 60 cals
10 mins Rowing Machine - Level 2 = 40 cals
I would also recommend taking a large bottle of water with you to this type of cardio workout because it can be pretty intense moving your body continuously for over an hour. Make sure you rest in between machines and if you need to, lower the speed/incline/level if you are struggling or want a break but don't want to stop. Alternatively, if you find anything too easy, up the speed/incline/level to what suits you and your body. Again, I am in no way saying that this is the best workout, or the right thing to do in the gym, but I have found that this is a great way to workout for me and my body.
I hope this provided some help or inspiration for you or just killed ten minutes of your lunch break! Either way, please let me know, I would love to know your thoughts!