Virgin Active surveyed 2,000 people and uncovered the top 10 bucket list activities that the British public will seek to achieve in 2016. To help Brits get fit for their challenges ahead, Virgin Active’s Fitness Experience Trainers have developed workouts that will make sure people are able to tick the activities off their lists.

winter workout

Whether your goal is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or swim The English Channel, “They’ve Got a Workout for That”.

1) Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the ultimate bucket list challenge. No matter how fit you are, it requires a different type of training to enable you to deal with the altitude, stamina and intense impact your body will face when climbing the 4,877 metres.

Chris Bradley, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer recommends the following exercises to target these specific areas:

“Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and reaching the summit relies on your legs being able to maintain lengthy periods of climbing. Try two long distance cycle sessions (indoor or outdoor) per week, in order to work on your endurance.  Make sure you’re adding in resistance (or a hill) to work on building lower body strength.

Whilst altitude is difficult to prepare for and each person reacts differently, why not try Virgin Active’s Altitude Studio at Walbrook, where you can train at 3000m to get a feel for it.”

2) Walking the Great Wall of China

Walking the Great Wall of China from one end to the other takes approximately 18 months to complete. However, whilst the tourist route is shorter, it’s still no easy task. Steep paths, lengthy distances and challenging conditions make the adventure a strenuous one.

Chris Bradley, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer recommends the following workout to improve stamina and leg strength, essential for this activity:

“High Intensity Interval Training is perfect for building the stamina and strength needed when preparing to walk the Great Wall of China. Your training session should focus on 30 second run intervals, followed by 30 second walk intervals on and off for 10 minutes to prepare for the challenge ahead”.

3) Skiing in the Alps ski

Skiing can be an amazing experience, however without preparation skiing can lead to serious injury and therefore ensuring you have good mobility and strength is fundamental.

Adam John, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer provides the following advice to prepare your body for the slopes:

“Because your feet are fixed when skiing, it’s very important that your hips and upper body are mobile, in order to give your joints and connective tissues support. Mobility exercises are therefore key, along with leg strengthening exercises.

Try three rounds of 12-15 squats and lunge repetitions followed by 30 second TRX straps rows and 30 second box jumps. Break up each round with a 45 second rest in between”.

4) Running a 10k

Running a 10k will give you the foundations to complete greater distances in the future. However, that is not to say a 10k is an easy challenge. It still requires specific training and a good level of cardio ability to succeed.

Adam John, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer recommends the following to increase your stamina and make you race ready:

“High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the perfect type of training to help build up your stamina. Try eight rounds of consecutive 20seconds on/10 seconds off sprint work.

Follow this with strength work, focusing on your core and lower body to help cope with the distance. Try 12-15 kettlebell swings, burpees and push ups for this”.

5) Swimming with Dolphins

No matter what type of swimming you do, keeping afloat in the water requires a good level of overall body strength. Swimming with dolphins might seem like a relaxed activity, but for those looking to swim for a lengthy period of time, preparation is key.

Chris Bradley Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer recommends completing compound movements a couple of times a week to help you become a strong swimmer:

“Completing the following training session a couple of times a week will begin to improve muscles vital for swimming. Start with three sets of squats, lunges, pull ups and bench press, lifting around 75% of your one rep max.  Try and complete 12 repetitions of each. Follow this with three rounds of 20-30 second TRX Strap plank holds”. 

6) Running a Marathon 20160111_-®BrakeThrough Media_A10O0801

The Marathon is a bucket list favourite and the ultimate endurance challenge for many first timers. Whilst stamina and strength is vital, preparation is key.

Adam John, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer recommends the following:

“It will normally take 10 to 12 weeks to become race ready. Beginners should be looking to run around 3 to 4 times per week, including recovery runs whilst advanced runners should look at running around 5 to 6 times per week.

Whilst running is the obvious training choice, strength work is also key. Exercises that work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves are vital for strengthening your lower body.

Alongside all of this, always incorporate stability and flexibility work into your routine to help strengthen the joints around the knee, ankle and hip.

Try this circuit training alongside your core running to improve your strength and flexibility”.

Begin with two set of 60 seconds per exercise -TiYR flip, TRX rows, kettlebell swings, and alternate lunges. 

7) Learning to Ballroom Dance

Dancing has seen a rise in popularity in the last few years and is a fantastic way to keep fit.

Ben Finning Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer suggests the following circuit training to prepare you for the dance floor:

“Dancing requires a good core and good flexibility as well as body strength. Circuit training will enable you to focus on these areas whilst helping you build up your stamina.

Try two, 150 second rounds of constant exercise. Start with 60 second TiYR flips, followed by 60 second alternate lunges with a twist, finishing with 30 second TRX kneeling rollouts. Alternatively why not try Yoga or one of Virgin Active’s dance classes to get you dance floor ready”.

8) Attempting an Obstacle Race artic

Obstacle races offer participants a different type of challenge, testing your body from head to toe. Strength, agility, power and flexibility are all traits needed for climbing over walls, crawling under barbed wire and running long distances.

Ben Finning Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer suggests the following circuit training to be able to undertake such challenges:

“To be able to deal with the range of different obstacles that your body will have to undertake, challenge yourself with three circuits of 60 second lateral box jumps, 60 second TiYR Flips, 30 second TRX single leg alternate cone hops, finishing with 60 second sideway ladder drills.

Sets should be split by a 60 second rest break before completing the circuit again. Alternatively why not try one of Virgin Active’s Grid classes.”

9) Cycling from London to Paris 

Riding the 250 miles between London and Paris requires strong legs, good cardiovascular endurance and a strong core, essential for cyclist stabilization.

Adam John, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer provides a number of top tips to get your training started:

“In order to strengthen your legs and core it’s important for cyclists to focus on singular movements to really get strength and power behind you.

Your week should be split into bike work and gym work. Begin by riding 2-3 times a week for 30-40mins at a steady pace. If you prefer to ride indoors, Virgin Active have Wattbikes that most resemble a real bike.

Between cycling sessions, gym sessions are key to build strength and stability. Chanel

Complete 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of squats and lunges several times a week to build muscle in your legs. This should be followed by three sets of 20-30 seconds in the plank position, three times a week to help strengthen your core”. 

10) Swimming the Channel

Swimming is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and relies a lot on upper body strength, good lung capacity and a good range of movement in the hips, especially when swimming long distances.

Chris Bradley, Virgin Active Fitness Experience Trainer states:

“Swimming the 21 miles across the channel relies on a strong level of fitness and strength. To improve your endurance try 4 repetitions of 100m front crawls at a slower consistent pace, breathing every third stroke. Ensure when your head is in the water you are continuously breathing out.

For upper body strength try high Intensity Interval training. Try the following circuit as many times as possible in 10 minutes, to help build this essential strength.”


5x unilateral floor press with ball

5x wide grip pull ups

5x unilateral bench row

5x shoulder press from floor