Alternative Advent calendar puts fitness first
Worried about staying slim this festive season? It might be time to ditch the chocolate calendar and open up YouTube - because a pair of German fitness coaches have come up with the perfect route to a "guilt-free" Christmas.
For most of us, Advent calendars mean two things: one, that Christmas is on the horizon; and two, that we get to eat chocolate before breakfast for the next 24 days.
But for Vanessa Schäfer and Thomas Esser, a chocolate-filled calendar just didn't quite cut it.
This December, the two Cologne-based fitness coaches are launching an online "Sporty Advent Calendar" – with the aim of getting us all in shape before the big day.
To try and "counteract weight gain" over the festive period, Schäfer and Esser will treat followers to a series of 24 separate fitness moves each day during Advent.
Every day, the two coaches will upload a five- to ten-minute YouTube clip demonstrating the exercise, before posting the link on their promotional Facebook event.
"First, we'll explain the exercise and its health benefits, and then we'll demonstrate the elements," 30-year-old Esser told Köln Xtra.
Each user can then repeat the moves to their heart's content, depending on their fitness level and how much time they have to spare.
So what can we expect from this 24-day plan?
The moves are going to be fairly easy, with zero specialist equipment needed – meaning everyone can take part.
"All you need for these exercises is your own body," Schafer, 23, told Köln Xtra.
"So you can do it anywhere: in your bedroom, in a hotel, on the balcony..."
It'll start off simple, Esser explained - with single moves such as push-ups at the beginning and more complicated routines later on.
"The exercises build on each other," he said.
The Facebook event already has over 200 members, with numbers increasing by the day.
"We're amazed that so many people we don't even know want to take part," Schäfer said.
But "a 24-day fitness programme is probably more manageable for most people than something lasting several weeks or months," she explained.
So is it worth ditching the chocolate calendar this year and signing up for this Advent fitness blast instead?
We're not sure: maybe we'll do both.
Written by Hannah Butler