Prehab – the humble warm-up gets a makeover

In some circles, “prehab” means preparing for overindulgence on a colossal scale – a mega-bender before a voluntary stint of detox. But the word has been co-opted by the fitness industry to describe one of the hot-to-trot workout trends of 2018: a session of sensible limbering up before you pig out on pullups and kettlebell reps – less risky than a blowout and a whole lot more relaxing.

Going bigger, faster, stronger and longer has been the way to exercise in recent years (think HIIT, CrossFit and endurance events), but this has led to a rash of injuries. “I don’t like to use the term ‘dangerous movement’, but it can be dangerous if you don’t prepare,” explains Firas Iskandarani, “functional fitness master trainer” at Gymbox, the London gym that has offered 30-minute prehab sessions for the past 18 months.

Women’s-only members gym Grace Belgravia also offers prehab. “It’s a fundamental part of our training,” says gym manager Duncan Vincent. “Our timetable is designed around preventive exercise to make the body as efficient as possible.”

Ten Pilates offers prehab, too, describing it as “too important to be the preserve of elite athletes and boutique providers. It’s about time the UK’s mainstream fitness companies got on board.”

James Duigan, known for training Rita Ora, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lara Stone at his Bodyism gym, will spend 20 minutes of an hour-long session preparing his clients for the burn, and includes a prehab circuit in his recent Blueprint for Health book.

What’s involved?

Expect a range of gentle exercises to improve your mobility, flexibility, posture and alignment. Be prepared to meet foam rollers (these guys can hurt), trigger point balls and resistance bands.

It’s a bit of stretching, then?

Sort of, but very special stretching that elite athletes swear by. “It’s not just like a warm-up,” says Vincent. “It preps the body and corrects imbalances depending on what you’re going on to do.”

Sounds great, but I’m too lazy to run a marathon afterwards.

Iskandarani says that while the majority of people who come to Gymbox’s prehab sessions then do a high-intensity class, many others go straight home and relax, happy they have spent 20 minutes doing something good for their body.

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