Home > RED January – Active Sussex’s challenge to exercise every day

RED January – Active Sussex’s challenge to exercise every day

Blonde girl standing on a yoga mat doing a yoga warrier two yoga pose
Alex Bunce tries out yoga to get active

RED January - follow the Active Sussex team as they take on the challenge to exercise every day

This year five members of the Active Sussex team decided to take part in RED January – a nationwide movement that runs every January aimed at empowering people to get active every day. Being physically active benefits mental health and those who take part in RED January help raise funds for the mental health charity Sport in Mind. Follow our blog to see how the team get on and be inspired to get active yourself!


Alex Bunce:

My RED January experience: I have definitely found it hard trying to fit in some form of exercise every day, but I have really enjoyed the challenge and I feel so much fitter than before. What I have noticed is how much more alert I am in the afternoon if I have exercised at lunchtime – it certainly helps wake up my brain. I have also found it quite theraputic and found it has benefitted my mental health. Following this, I am certainly going to aim to exercise at least four times a week and try to keep up the star jumps and lunges when cooking dinner!

My diary:

Jan 1 – I think this is going to be harder than I thought… I did sign up to a nearby gym, but it was such a cold, wet and miserable day that in the end I just taught my daughters some yoga stretches (I am envious of my 18-month-old’s ability to do a perfect downward dog) and then rounded off the day star jumping 50 times and performing 50 high knee exercises in my kitchen while cooking dinner.

Jan 2 – As a family, we went for a walk this afternoon around Swanbourne Lake in Arundel. It was a fairly slow walk as my 18-month-old did not always want to sit in the pushchair, although my blood was definitely pumping when we decided to deviate from the lake and climb a nearby hill with both my daughters deciding they wanted to sit in the double buggy for that section. In the evening I made it out to the nearby gym where I attended a dance fit class. It was hilarious, as I am not a coordinated person. In my mind’s eye I am like a graceful swan….in reality I was flailing my arms about, but having a laugh while I completed the half hour class. Looking forward to doing that class again next week!

Jan 3 – I had thought about going for a walk/run outside at lunch as I have downloaded the free BBC Couch to 5K app. However, I am definitely a fair weather girl so it was back off to the gym after I put my young children to bed where I did the 30 minute programme on a treadmill. I listened to my music and I was able to zone out and enjoy the small amount of ‘me time’. 

Jan 4 – Went for a walk today with my sister-in-law and our children. Then in the evening, as my husband was out I watched TV while doing a little hand weight session. I bought these light 1.5kg hand weights many years ago when I was on a health kick and only remembered I had them when my eagle-eyed three-year-old spotted them tucked neatly away underneath my bedside table.

Jan 5 – Attended a Hotpod yoga session tonight. The classes are held within a purple hotpod (imagine a large inflatable tent, which fits approximately 18 people) and the temperature is brought up to 37 degrees celsius. The heat warms your muscles and helps with your flexibility as you run through the Vinyasa Flow. The music and the blend of bergamot, lavender and orange gives it a very tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. I was sweaty afterwards, but felt invigorated from the workout.

Jan 6 – As I had been out a few nights this week I decided to exercise at home. I had heard a lot about Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and found out she was running a free 30-day yoga programme. Her sessions seem to run for about 30 minutes at a time, so easy to fit in either at lunchtime, before cooking dinner, or just before bedtime. If you head to our Active At Home section on our website and then the Active on Demand section which will lead you to plenty of exercises you can do at home. There are also links to many of Adriene’s free yoga sessions.

Jan 7 – I always knew the weekends would be the trickiest. Usually I take my three-year-old to a gymnastics class in the morning, but it does not start back for another week so I found myself cooking dinner while doing 100 star jumps and 50 high knee exercises before lifting my light weights as part of an arm workout. 

Jan 8 – I had hoped to get to the gym today, but time just ran out. A friend had recommended I look up the ‘Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down’ challenge on YouTube. There were a few workouts you could do with this, but I chose the squat challenge and I definitely felt it! I then did 100 star jumps while cooking dinner followed by a session of lunges.

Jan 9 – I managed to get to the gym early ahead of my dance fit class so ran on the treadmill for five minutes before jumping onto the rowing machine for a five minute workout. After my half hour dance fit class I was buzzing!

Jan 10 – Went along to the gym during my lunchbreak and managed to complete a couch to 5k run. In the end I did approx 3km within 30 minutes so was quite pleased with that.

Jan 11 – I had plans to go to Hotpod Yoga in the evening, but the weather was dreadful and I just wanted to hibernate. Luckily, in the day I found myself running around London while trying to keep a hospital appointment for my daughter so I built up quite a sweat racing past the Houses of Parliament. I count that as my day’s exercise!

Jan 12 – As it was another miserable day weather wise and as the rain was making me feel rather lethargic I decided to head back to the gym to do the second couch to 5k session of the week. This time I ran that bit faster on the treadmill and managed to walk/run 3.72km in 30 minutes. Really pleased as I feel I am nearing my goal of covering 5k in 30 minutes. It also woke me up and made me much more productive.

Jan 13 – As it was a busy day my exercise for today was 100 star jumps while watching TV, followed by some stretches.

Jan 14 – After taking my three-year-old daughter to gymnastics we set off to softplay where I chased my two young daughters around the course for an hour. I have a feeling I am going to ache in places I did not know existed….There were points I wondered if I would need rescuing as I squeezed through rollers, slid down slides and clambered up stairs.

Jan 15 – I set off to the gym in the morning where I completed my third Couch to 5K run of the week. I felt such a sense of achievement afterwards.

Jan 16 – I had planned to go to hot yoga tonight but I was a minute too late so could not get in. Instead I did the Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down squat challenge at home, followed by some yoga stretches and a short session of light weights.

Jan 17 – Speed walking was my exercise of choice today as I rushed around Brighton for meetings.

Jan 18-22 – These last five days have been particuly tricky, after an old back injury reared its ugly head. With this in mind I have been focusing on stretches, gentle yoga, handweights, and walking. Looking forward to getting back to the gym this week now the pain has subsided.

Jan 23 – I attended a flexi-stretch class today, which was basically yoga moves without the yoga ethos. It felt good being back at the gym today and gently stretching my body.

Jan 24 – I decided to go for a 4k walk and run on the treadmill as part of the couch to 5k challenge and it felt amazing. I was buzzing afterwards and I was really pleased that within the 30 minutes I had run 16 minutes (three minute run, a five minute run, a three minute run, and then a five minute run). I would never have thought I could run a full five minutes before! And I did not feel too tired.

Jan 25 – Today I did 100 star jumps while making dinner.

Jan 26 – At lunchtime I popped along to the gym where I did my second run of the week. I did not feel quite as energetic as Tuesday so only managed 14 minutes run in the half hour but to make up for it I ran faster so still managed to cover 4k.

Jan 27 – After a busy day I managed to squeeze in 100 star jumps before going to bed.

Jan 28 – It was back to softplay today – I never realised how much of my free time would be spent crawling softplay courses before I had children. I was quite pleased when another parents commented on how agile I was!

Jan 30 – I will put my hands up and admit I forgot to do any form of exercise yesterday, but today I not only went to a dance fit class, but I also used the Stairmaster for five minutes and then went on a short ten minute run to make up for it.

Jan 31 – I cannot believe it is the last day of the challenge. To mark the end I did 50 star jumps.

Sweaty woman after a run on a treadmill
Alex after her 30 minute Couch to 5k session
Proof Alex completed 3.72km in 30 minutes
Proof Alex completed 3.72km in 30 minutes

Nick Chellel:

How I have found RED January: 
I have enjoyed RED January and have managed to do some form of exercise every day. It has really helped on the days where I would usually do nothing or when you don’t have the motivation so you make an excuse not to do something. No matter how much you are not in the mood or can’t find the motivation, you always feel better afterwards for doing it!
I have walked 30 minutes with Ada and Bonnie twice a day and have done at least one longer walk at the weekend. I have aimed to walk along the seafront on the sunnier days either before work or after work, which has been lovely and really sets me up for the day/is a nice way to unwind at the end of the day. As a family we really enjoy taking the girls out for a longer walk at weekends, whether that’s along the seafront or somewhere on the South Downs like Devils Dyke.
I have managed to stick with doing one yoga or stretching exercise per week, I enjoyed doing the free workout videos from Yoga with Adriene and the Body Weight Warrior. I have seen improvements with my flexibility already, which is helpful when it comes to playing with Ada and clearing up after her! I’m really keen to continue this beyond January and increase it to twice per week. I have also managed to stick to doing one 3 mile+ run per week. I am now running faster and further each time I go and getting PBs on my Strava.
I really enjoy doing home HIIT workouts, usually Joe Wicks workouts, because they are quick but you get a proper sweat on. It really helps that they are free and easy to fit in around work, childcare and other commitments. I have done 2-3 of these per week.
On the whole I feel much better physically and mentally, which has helped shake off the January blues, so I want to continue this throughout 2023 where possible…. although it may be harder with a new baby joining the family in May!
I wanted to do a 1km swim per week but only managed to do that 2/4 weeks. I enjoy swimming once I am there but can find it hard to find the motivation and the time to do it.

My diary:

Jan 9 – I have been out for a 30 minute walk twice per day with my daughter Ada and dog Bonnie, but I do that every day anyway, once in the morning before work and once after work. On Saturday or Sunday we do one big walk, which we did on Saturday this weekend.

 I’ve committed to doing one 1km swim per week (the first I did on Thursday last week) and one home yoga session (which I did on Friday). As football was cancelled at the weekend due to the weather, I went for a three mile run along the seafront yesterday. I haven’t been running for ages so that was quite tough and definitely feeling it in the legs today!

 I have found it enjoyable trying to stick to a new routine of exercise and despite some dodgy weather, I always feel loads better mentally after doing it – even when I’m drenched! Sometimes I do wish I had a rain cover like Ada does over her pram so I could stay snug and dry!

Middle age white man with a black dog and a baby girl in a pram on the seafront
Nick with his daughter and dog
Middle age white man with a black dog and a baby girl in a pram in the countryside
Nick on one of his weekend walks
Disco lights in a big hall with lots of women dancing
Gemma took part in a 'Mumrave' class
Woman holding a badminton racket
Gemma back at badminton

Gemma Finlay-Gray:

My achievements: I’ve just about managed to do something everyday, but I won’t lie it has been hard when you are busy with work, child care and other priorities to carve out that time. So walking and stretching/yoga has been the easiest way to fit a small amount of movement into my day. I walk to drop off and pick up Coen from nursery nearly everyday, which means I can get at least a minimum 20 minutes walk in and then sometimes I go a different way on the way back home to reach 30 minutes. Our walks also sometimes include, hopscotch, stopping to do some star jumps and running to catch up with him scooting!!!
My challenges: I was hoping to go for a run now and then and even head to a parkrun but this hasn’t happened. I don’t actually enjoy running so I’m really good at making excuses and not going, so on the flip side of that I have motivated myself to give myself time and do more of the exercise that I do like (that I would normally do), such as dance fit classes and going to more badminton sessions.
However, sessions like these do cost money, and long term I’m not sure if that’s as sustainable, so as the weather starts to change I’m looking forward to trying some regular sea swimming and you never know I may find another way to get myself back out running – the audio book club run session with friends idea we discussed sounds like it could be a good thing to try!

My diary:

My goal is to try and do something every day, from badminton to dance, but it will mainly be walking and stretching/yoga in between. I’ve managed it …just (bar January 1).

Mumrave – I may have not been out raving on NYE, but not to worry Mumrave is the ideal opportunity to let your hair down and dance (and sweat) like nobody’s watching!!

Back to badminton – Brushed off the racket and headed along to a new club as my normal club night wasn’t on due to the Bank Holiday.

Bear hunt walk – Went for a lovely 45 minute walk in Stanmer Park, on the hunt for bears with my little one!

The weekend of 14-15 January saw me take part in a County Badminton Tournament for the first time since having my little one. Having stopped playing in 2018 due to pregnancy symptoms and the covid halting a return, it’s been great to be back playing more regularly this season. I set myself a goal to compete at county level again and was honoured to be picked for the Masters O40’s team. We had some tough matches but played well, but more importantly had lots of fun!

You can follow more updates from Gemma on her RED January page – https://join.redjanuary.com/fundraisers/gemmafinlay-gray/red-january

Mum and son walking in woods
Gemma on a bear hunt walk with her young son
Eight women and men in blue and white jackets smiling at the camera on a badminton court
Gemma with her badminton teammates

Sadie Mason MBE:

My RED January aim was to walk outdoors for 30 minutes each day – but the weather has been shocking, so I’ve signed myself up to do a four week indoor bike challenge, which is at least 30 minutes/day. I’ve duly completed this so far, with the exception of one day (but made up for it by adding 15 minutes to two other days).

I also played basketball for a couple of hours last Wednesday night at Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton – first time in four weeks, as I’m recovering from a foot injury.


 Sarah Wheatley:

My RED January experience: I signed up to RED January thinking I would be able to do it! I couldn’t. I had a bad back for the first couple of weeks which I had to have three treatments on and it is also my busiest month (or one of).

However, on a positive note although I didn’t fulfil the criteria of exercise every day I have been a lot more active than I have been in the last year or so. I have committed to going to an exercise class each week – Clubbercise – which is brilliant . I do this with my friends and my sister so I am bring more sociable as well. You don’t even feel like your doing exercise and it’s great. I went on at least one walk a week as well.

After this busy month Florence (my daughter) and I are going to join the local gym to get more active. We are determined to get fitter and healthier. Each time I did exercise I felt great. So the challenges were being so inactive it’s hard to just switch to being fully active again, bad back, work commitments, and children.

My diary:

Jan 9: Sadly, I haven’t done that well so far due to a back injury and being in a bit of pain. However, it’s feeling a bit better so I am booked in to go to Clubbercise tonight in Patcham which I am quite excited for, and will endeavour to start properly from today. My FitBit is on charge!

A large group of women wearing sportswear, holding glow sticks with the instructor wearing neon clothes and lying on the floor posing in front of the class
Sarah with her Clubbercise class
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