GYM HOPPING WITH ESQUARED

There’s plenty of articles floating around at the moment about what people think the 2018 fitness trends are going to be but from what I can see, I think it’s going to be all about convenience.

As fitness has become mainstream (everyone and their nan knows what a burpee is), convenience is the name of the game. People like to be able to fit a workout into their day whether they’re working, chilling out, travelling or staying with friends. With a traditional gym membership this kind of working out isn’t possible and with a lot of the other options on the market, it’s only possible to go to classes. But what happens if it’s leg day and you need to get under that barbell and squat?!

Well, there’s options like PayAsUGym but I tried one out called Esquared. It’s an app that you top up with credit to spend at gyms. You can book into any classes that the gyms offer or you can book a slot on the gym floor to do your own workout.

 

 

The app, once downloaded, is easy enough to use although there’s a lot of options for central London so you need to zoom right into the map to get any visibility of what’s around you. At the moment it’s largely based in zones 1-2 in London. The closest gym floor slot to where I live now in Hertfordshire is about 8 miles away, a perfect distance on the bike to get my cardio in too!

I tried the app out by booking into Energie Fitness in Bethnal Green just before Christmas and before I moved house. It just takes a couple of clicks to book your session once you’re topped up with credit. When I turned up the guy at reception was clued up on the app, buzzed us through the gate and gave us a short tour of the gym. Once we’d warmed up I put together a 25 minute circuit with all the fun equipment they had there and finished with a good stretch. That 2-hour session cost £8 worth of credit, much cheaper than a lot of day passes for gyms.

IMG_2128

 

Would I use Esquared past the trial? Well, the short answer is yes but probably not as the sole provider of my fitness access. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I think convenience is important so I would combine Esquared with something like the 5 class option on Classpass, especially as the credit on Esquared doesn’t seem to expire. I’d also be more likely to use it if they extended their reach out beyond London.

Have you tried out something similar to Esquared? What did you think?

 

 

I was paid for my time to write this blogpost & provided with credit on Esquared but all opinions are my own

KIT LIST: WHAT I’M TAKING TO CYCLE FROM LONDON TO PARIS

The one conversation that Elle, Mollie and I have had the most throughout this whole training period is what kit we’ll be taking with us. Yes, we all wear a lot of lycra anyway but none of us have done a multi-day cycle trip before so it’s taken a while to settle on this final kit list. Settle in, it’s a long one…

First off, what am I actually going to wear? Well, if I’m honest, as little as possible. I’m a sweaty person anyway and cycling up hills makes me sweat probably more than any other form of exercise. Therefore, my outfit of choice each day will be a pair of bib shorts and a sports bra so I can stay as breezy as possible.

IMG_9725

DHB Bib shorts

I prefer bib shorts to regular shorts because there’s no pesky waist band digging in but the problem comes when you need to go to the loo because everything has to come off, including your jersey, so you can get the straps down. The DHB bib shorts are a halterneck design which means that with a bit of flexibility you don’t actually have to remove your jersey to go to the loo. For a lazy person like me that’s the dream. However, the chamois (the pad that goes between your legs and saves your lady garden), isn’t as padded as I would like so I’ll probably be saving these for the first or second day while I’m still fresh.

Decathlon B’TWIN bib shorts *

These are my favourite piece of kit because not only do they look cool but the chamois is perfectly padded and the bib part of the shorts provides a little bit more coverage and therefore protection from the sun if you’re not wearing a jersey. If these came in a halter neck bib like the DHB ones they’d by a 10/10, as it is they’re a 9.5/10.

Decathlon B’TWIN sleeveless jersey *

As I said, I’m not a fan of wearing too many clothes when it’s hot and I’m exercising so I was on the lookout for a sleeveless jersey (also, optimal tanning opportunity). This one from B’TWIN is super thin with the standard pockets in the back including a zipped pocket. The only issue is that it rides up because I have quite a high waist. I’m sure if I went up a size to a large I wouldn’t have the same issue.

Decathlon B’TWIN rainproof jacket *

I’ve got everything crossed that we don’t meet any rain but you never know! This jacket is so light and will fold up into nothing so it’s the perfect ‘just in case’ jacket.

Altura Peloton jersey *

I love the brightness of this jersey and when you’re wearing it it’s light, soft and comfortable. Again, the pockets are great with a zipped one for essentials and it stays down over my waist, which is a bonus.

Shock Absorber sports bra  *

Being on the smaller-side up top I’ve never really bothered with a proper sports bra before, just picking up crop top style bras that I like the print of. This shock absorber bra has a zip-up the front which is a godsend when you’re sweaty and tired, no more struggling out of a sweaty bra! It fits really well (I’m a 36C), cradles my boobs well and looks great too.

Nike Indy sports bra

This is the kind of sports bra that I normally wear as it’s non-padded, non-underwired and doesn’t get in the way of anything. It’s comfortable enough to wear all day and will dry overnight if I want to wash it.

1000 Mile Breeze Lite socks *

I’ve never paid much attention to socks when cycling but I’ve realized that on the longer rides, you need something comfortable that will prevent blisters and keep the swat wicking away from your feet. These double-layered socks, whilst designed for running, do a great job and have really looked after my feet on some of the longer training rides.

Shimano WM64 SPD shoes

I have a love-hate relationship with these clip-in shoes. In training I’ve fallen off my bike because of them three times, each time because I’ve been going so slow that when I go to stop I can’t get my foot out in time before I start to topple over. The falls aren’t spectacular but they are embarrassing. On the plus side they’re helping me work on my hill climbing technique by teaching me the pedaling movement of wiping gum off the bottom of your shoe, rather than just pushing down all the time.

Decathlon B’TWIN 500 road cycling helmet *

The ideal scenario with a bike helmet is that it’s light enough and fits well enough that you aren’t aware of it. I’ve found that in the BTWIN helmet. Worn with a cycling cap underneath to pick up al the sweat it’s perfect.

IMG_9646

Now, what about all the other stuff? Well, luggage-wise I’m just going to take my old Berghaus rucksack that was a hand-me-down from my husband because on our final day in Paris I want something that’s easy to carry around. For the cycling days it’s going to be strapped onto my pannier rack using a variety of bungee cords. I have a little bag under my saddle for spare inner tubes and my allan keys.

Science in Sport water bottles

I’ll have two of these on my bike and they carry 800ml each which is perfect for me. I tend to get through a lot of liquid on the bike so I need as much as possible with me. I’ll refill these as and when I can. I’ll also be taking a BRITA fill&go bottle * for the evenings as it makes any water taste deliciously filtered.

Restrap handlebar bag

As my main bag won’t be that accessible while I’m riding I’ve also opted for a small handlebar bag to contain the essentials. I’ll be keeping bits of food and my phone charger in there so it’s all to hand. The design of this one is really smart and it’s also fully waterproof with an inner sealable pocket. Hopefully I won’t need to test that feature out.

Quadlock phone holder *

I’m forever getting lost when cycling round London so the idea of cycling to Paris without a sat nav was slightly nerve-wracking. The Quadlock holder simply straps on to your handlebars with a couple of bands, you put the case onto your phone and the two click together. Simple! It’s been really useful to navigate around London, check the time and see what my husband is thinking for dinner. While we’ll be mostly navigating to Paris using a Garmin bike computer, my phone in the Quadlock will be a good back up.

 

As well as all the stuff above I’ll also be carrying underwear (although not for when I’m actually cycling because the girls have taught me that cycling commando is 100% the way to go), spare socks and the bare minimum of toiletries including a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, face moisturizer, and nurofen. I’m also packing a pair of 3/4 length leggings and a t-shirt for the evenings and our day in Paris as well as a t-shirt to sleep in because the girls don’t need to see the girls. I’m keeping tech to a minimum and will only be taking my phone along with a portable charger and a plug in charger for overnight. Unfortunately my proper camera is just too heavy and bulky to take.

Last, and possibly most importantly, I’ll be taking Ride suncream *, the ultra water-proof and sweat-proof suncream that will last a lot longer than a conventional one. I’ve tried this out on training rides and it really does stay on all day and protect from sunburn! Just don’t do what I did one ride and forget to put any on at all… That hurt. A lot.

IMG_9524

That’s about it for kit so well done for reading this far! I’ve got a separate post on how I’m planning on fuelling the ride, which will be up in the next couple of days.

If you want to follow our trip you can check out my Instagram where I should be posting on Stories fairly regularly from the road.

 

All items marked with a * were provided for free in return for a review, thank you to all of the brands for supporting us on this amazing trip

 

HOW I LEARNT TO SWIM HAPPY

Last week was my final session of one-on-one swimming lessons with Swimming Nature and I’m so sad it’s over! You can read all about my first lesson here.

I went into these sessions knowing that I’m a fairly confident swimmer and I’m very comfortable in the water so I was excited to work on my technique and have my first swimming lessons as an adult.

IMG_9818

In my second lesson we worked further on my front crawl technique by trying to slow down my arms, the result of which is that I felt a lot less panicked when swimming front crawl. I’ve mentioned before that I felt I could swim breakstroke for hours and now my front crawl is approaching the same calmness and sustainability as breastroke. Mark also tweaked my breasktroke technique, encouraging me to look at Adam Peaty’s body position in the water to find a more streamlined way of moving. The best part of that session was learning how to tumble turn properly! I’ve only ever done them on my own before as a kid so it was great to be taught the proper technique using Fergus the toy monkey (not as weird as that sounds, trust me).

IMG_9805

In the third session we continued working on my arm position for front crawl to get the coveted ‘high elbow’ which creates an efficient and beautiful stroke. I’m not sure I felt so beautiful as I swam but I could definitely feel the advantage in the efficiency. We tested it by timing the tempo of my stroke (2.6 seconds per cycle) and then playing with the speed of the length by just adjusting the technique and body position. My front crawl length time dropped from 21 seconds down to 16 seconds, a huge difference!

My final session was focused on learning the butterfly stroke, something that I’ve never been taught before. Mark broke it down to its parts before we put it all together and suddenly it didn’t seem quite so scary or difficult. My butterfly certainly needs a lot of work but the basics are there. We finished off by swimming a medley, one length each of butterfly, back stroke, breastroke and front crawl. I finished on a massive high feeling really proud with how much I’ve learned and how much happier I feel in my front crawl.

IMG_9819

I would highly recommend Swimming Nature and specifically Mark at Fitness First Highbury for the simple teaching methods, confidence-boosting feedback and in-water demonstrations that I haven’t seen other places offering. The focus with Swimming Nature is learning how to swim beautifully and while I’m not sure my strokes are beautiful quite yet, I definitely feel happy doing them. I came away from each session feeling positive and full of energy and if there’s one suggestion I’d make, it’s that if you book a session, splash out (sorry) for the full 60 minute session. 30 minutes flies by too quickly and I was left wanting more each time.

Prices for the 60 minute one-on-one sessions are £64 which is on a par with personal training sessions, essentially what you’re getting but just in the water!

You can find out more info on Swimming Nature and book sessions here

SOPHIE LEARNS TO SWIM

I’ve spoken on my blog before about how much I love being in the water but I know that my technique needs a bit of love, as is evident when I get to the end of a few lengths of front crawl and I feel like I’ve run a marathon. So when Swimming Nature got in touch to ask if I wanted to try out a series of 4 swimming lessons with them I jumped at the chance.

Swimming Nature set themselves apart because the classes are small, either one-on-one or two pupils to one instructor and the instructor is often in the pool with the pupils helping them through the lesson. They teach kids how to swim without any doggy paddle or arm bands which is amazing. I turned up early for my first lesson and saw this in action. I couldn’t help but smile as tiny kids were learning how to do tumble turns and swim backstroke whilst being supported in the water by fun and energetic coaches.

When it was my turn thankfully the lane emptied and it was just me and Mark, my instructor. He asked me a bit about my swimming history which includes a few triathlons with very slow swimming legs. I then showed him what I could do in the water with a few lengths of each stroke. I was very flattered when he asked if I’d swum breastroke for a club in the past but it did confirm what I suspected, I feel like I can swim breastroke for hours because my technique happens to be efficient and strong. No idea how that happened as I haven’t had any lessons since I was a kid!

My freestyle, or front crawl, on the other hand needed a bit of love. Mark videoed me while I was swimming which was fascinating to watch because the struggles that I feel while doing freestyle showed up clearly on the video.

My style is very flat in that there’s not much rotation of my body as I use each arm. Whilst some swimmer sod have more of a flat shape in the water it’s generally suggested that you’re more aerodynamic (hydrodynamic maybe?) if your whole body turns as your arms move. It’s tricky to explain in words but I’m hoping that by the end of my course of lessons I’ll be able to do a comparison video.

We mainly worked on breathing to get me more used to taking breaths on my non-dominant side, something I can do but prefer not to as the other side is stronger. Like anything, the more I thought about it and focused on what Mark was telling me at the end of each length, the smoother my stroke felt. It’s amazing how much more focused I was on what each part of my body was doing within 30 minutes.

I came out of the pool with my mind buzzing and instructions to try and practice before my next lesson although I’m not sure that’s actually going to happen between work, training to cycle to Paris and life. I’ve booked some swimming sessions into my diary already for the coming weeks though so hopefully I’ll be able to practice a bit more after the other lessons.

I can’t wait for the next lesson already!

GETTING A BIKE FIT

I’m coming up to the big 3-0 this year and while I thought that the Olympic distance at the London Triathlon was going to be my celebration it hasn’t quite turned out like that. With a sore back and having to take everything back to basics I think trying to get round an Olympic distance tri is going to be out of reach this year unfortunately.

Luckily the opportunity for a different kind of challenge has appeared, one which I’m very excited about, and one which requires many hours in the bike saddle. Ever since I got my road bike a few years ago I’ve had a few niggles when riding long distances so what better time is there than now to get my bike fitted?

I found Foundation online after struggling to find a bike fitter in London. It seems that they’re in short supply and the other ones that are out there are either extortionately expensive and/or designed for pro-cyclists. Wei from Foundation will also come to wherever you are so you don’t have to trek across London with your bike.

After chatting on the phone and filling out an extensive pre-fit questionnaire Wei turned up on his bike with a huge bag of kit including a turbo and plenty of tools and spare parts. You don’t need a huge amount of space which is lucky as I live in a one-bedroom flat, just enough space to set up a turbo and to set up a few monitoring tools.

Very quickly Wei set up the turbo and got my bike ready to go by taking photos of the current set up and checking that everything was aligned correctly. Before jumping on the bike he had a look at my body mechanics, searching for any asymmetry and to see how my body moved. Apart from a very slight discrepancy between the length of my legs everything seemed to be pretty even which was a good start.

My new clip-in shoes were next for scrutiny. It turned out that I hadn’t done such a bad job setting them up (despite having no clue what I was doing) and they just needed a slight adjustment to make sure the cleats were in the right place so I could recruit equal power from my quads and hamstrings.

Once I was on the bike we started with the height of the saddle which apparently is most often the thing that people get wrong. Wei adjusted the saddle a few millimetres at a time going up and down from where it was and getting me to cycle fast at each height. It was amazing how much difference a few millimetres could make until I hit the sweet spot and the power through each pedal felt even and the whole pedal stroke felt smooth. Wei also tested my balance by asking me to come down into what was essentially a squat position (which is where we should be on a bike) and taking my hands off the bars but staying in the same position. If the saddle is correct then that position should be easy to hold without needing to shift in the saddle. We ended up with the saddle a few millimetres higher than where it had been.

The next was the handlebars and we played around with the distance between the saddle and bars as well as the height and angle of them. I’d been getting pain through my right shoulder on longer rides which looked like it was from the angle of the handlebars being wrong and the saddle being too low. We tilted the handlebars up a bit so I wasn’t reaching down for them and suddenly the pressure that I’d been feeling through my wrists disappeared. Wei fitted a new stem for my handlebars as the one I had on there wasn’t so adjustable and with a few more tests to double-check that everything was correct the fit was done!

Overall it took about 3 hours and it was so thorough and measured that I feel confident that this is now going to be the most comfortable bike I’ve ever had. Wei knows his stuff and is very good at explaining everything which is important for me. I like to learn about things as I go! He’s a triathlon coach and used to run cycle tours as well as working as a bike mechanic so you’re definitely in good hands. The hardest part about it was getting used to the feeling of riding on a turbo which I’ve never done before.

As a follow up I received a file containing all the pre-fit photos in case I wanted to revert to any settings and  a spreadsheet containing all of the new measurements. All fits come with a follow-up session within 6 months to check the fit and see if any more adjustments are needed.

I’ve done a couple of short cycles with the new fit and the bike feels great. This weekend will be the first longer test so keep an eye on my Instagram to see how it goes.

 

 

BEING A DAWNBREAKER & TRYING PARKOUR

Every so often I get the opportunity to try something new that fills me with excitement (and just a tiny bit of nerves) and last weekend was one of them. I was invited by Up&Go UK to the start of their dawn breakers series to celebrate what you can do when you can grab your breakfast to go.

I’ve never done parkour before so when I saw that we’d be trying it I was far too excited, I’ve always wanted to give it a go. We went to the Chainstore Gym which is in a little wharf directly over the river from the O2 arena (or Millennium Dome if you remember when it was called that). With lovely views over the river and a cute little cafe it was a gem in a confusing area of dual carriageways.

After an introduction to Up&Go and parkour we got stuck into a warm-up consisting of stretches, movement and learning how to jump with soft landings on the balls of our feet. We then moved into some of the fundamental moves of parkour such as how to vault over and through boxes and rails in all sorts of different ways.

All of these moves got strung together at the end for a ‘route’ or ‘flow’ which was totally exhilarating! You almost forget that it’s a workout until you’re dripping in sweat because you’re constantly looking for the next obstacle. The hardest thing for me to get into my brain was not to put my knees down on any surface. Apparently the secret to Parkour is to use areas of your body that have plenty of padding and shock-absorption i.e. your feet, hands, bum and back if needed.

We then headed outside to try some wall runs (yes, literally trying to run up a 9 foot wall) and learn some new vaults over some raised railings.  After a good stretch and some photo opps I headed for lunch with Carly (Project Hot B*tch) and we compared our bruises, scrapes and scratches whilst absolutely buzzing about what we’d just learnt.

The idea of Up&Go is that it’s a carbohydrate-filled (from wholegrain oat flour) breakfast drink to fuel your morning workout if you don’t have time to make something. With just over 200 calories per 330ml carton it’s definitely a pre-breakfast snack to keep you going until after a workout but with 28.5g of carbs it’s perfect to fuel your muscles. The 12.8g of protein from skimmed milk is also a useful boost for your muscles to help maintain them during your workout. It comes in 3 flavours, banana & honey, chocolate and vanilla (my fave because it tastes like custard) so there’s something for everyone. You can try them at Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys, Asda, Co-op, WH Smith, One Stop and Ocado.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event for free but all opinions are my own as always

GOING FOR A DIP

It’s been a funny one with my attitude towards swimming recently because I’ve always been a water baby but I’ve been psyching myself out with how much work I’ve got to do before my triathlon in the summer.

I learnt to swim when I was really young and I’ve always loved being in swimming pools although deep open water has proved tricky. Two summers ago a week of triathlon training in the South of France helped kick that fear to the kerb and I’ve since learned to scuba dive which has helped even more. So the fear has nothing to do with being in the water, it’s all about how much work I’ve got to do on my technique and how I need to work on my cardio fitness, my least favourite thing to do.

Last week I took all of the pressure off and just took myself for a swim. The aim was to complete 20 lengths (1,000 metres) at a leisurely pace, all at breast stroke. Once I actually got into the water and out of the freezing air it was simple. One stroke at a time, count down the lengths and before I knew it I was done. I could have carried on but I decided to quit while I was ahead and still feeling fresh.

IMG_7774

Normally when I get out of the water I have to jump around on one foot to get all the water out of my ears, a problem I’ve always had. Family holidays used to end with me screaming in pain from ear infections after spending every day underwater perfecting my handstands and dolphin impression.

However, this time I tried SwimSeal, a product that protects the ear canal with a waterproof coating. It acts like the natural earwax that protects our ears on an everyday basis. After exposure to water that earwax can be washed away, which leaves the ear open for water to get in. SwimSeal stays put for 2-3 hours unlike the earwax so the protection is long-lasting.

I put a few drops in each ear before I got in the pool and although a bit leaked out down onto my neck my ears didn’t feel greasy at all after the swim. It contains tea tree oil, which makes it smell lovely as well as giving it an antiseptic quality to make sure no bacteria get into the ears. I didn’t have to do any one-footed jumping this time and my ears feel as good as always.

I’m going to keep using Swim Seal throughout my triathlon training because ear infections? I ain’t got time for that.

Disclaimer: I was sent a bottle of Swim Seal to try out but as always all opinions are my own

 

 

A VERVERIDER+ WIRELESS LIFE

With all of this discussion about the headphone jack being removed from the latest iPhone there’s been a big surge on wireless audio technology so when I was contacted to see if I wanted to try out some wireless headphones I jumped at the chance.

The VerveRider+ is a somewhat sci-fi looking rig that promises comfort, stability and amazing sound that you can wear out in the rain, on the treadmill or during a hiit workout.

img_4536

I’ve got to admit, I’m not much of a music listener because I like to be aware of the world around me but when the mood takes me I can get lost in a podcast or playlist as much as the next person, especially when I’m on public transport or on a long walk/run.

I first tried out the headphones on a long cycle on the closed road track at the Lee Valley Velodrome which was semi-successful. I was out on the bike for 90 minutes and the joy of that track is that there’s no traffic. There were only 2 other bikes on the mile-long circuit, meaning I could plug in and just cycle.

It was semi-successful because when the ear buds stayed in the sound quality was great, any outdoor noise was blocked and you couldn’t feel the ‘collar’ at all. However, I’ve always struggled with this type of in-ear bud earphones because I have tiny ears and they usually don’t fit. They fall out, they let a lot of other noise in and they often hurt. The same happened with these buds although to be honest, it was my fault for not trying them before I got on my bike. I switched the buds to the smaller size for my next trial.

img_4780

I next tried them during a session of lifting followed by some boxing-style hiit and they performed amazingly. It was a revelation being able to lift and listen to music without having my phone in my bra and getting tangled between the barbell and headphone cord. With the smaller buds the fit was so much better and they didn’t fall out at all. The seal between the buds and my ear meant that no other noise got in and I found myself much more focused, smashing through my sets. I finished the session with some tabata-style sets of boxing and roundhouse kicks on the bag which got me super-sweaty and there was a lot of moving around and impact. The buds didn’t move an inch and I didn’t even notice the collar. The best bit is that I got a phone call during this that with a press of one button I could answer and then continue working out as I spoke (or more like panted). The noise quality on the call was crystal clear, much better than talking on the phone.

I then tried them out on a day when I was on and off public transport all day and again, they performed really well although I did get a few odd looks from commuters for the collar. It was here that I really noticed the magnets in the buds because before I’ve definitely had the fear of buds falling out and dangling on the floor. This time, the buds stick directly to the collar using magnets so to get them back in your ears is a really easy job. I only charged them for a few hours when I took them out of the box for the first time and didn’t have to recharge them as apparently they have 12 hours of battery life from a single charge.

Trying to take sneaky headphone selfies whilst on a busy train platform

Trying to take sneaky headphone selfies whilst on a busy train platform

For me, they’re still not as comfortable as over ear headphones but I do have freakishly small ear holes. The wireless features are brilliant and have benefits even if I do still have a headphone jack in my phone.

The RRP is £79.99 so they’re not cheap but the quality is good, the sound is brilliant and the wireless factor is a big bonus. You can find out more about them here

I was given the headphones for free in return for a review, all views are my own.

ME IN TLC

Since becoming a personal trainer it’s very rare that I’m ever wearing something that isn’t activewear, especially Monday to Friday so I’m having to beef up my collection of lycra (well that’s my excuse anyway). When TLC Sport got in touch to see if I wanted to review some of the luxury activewear I jumped at the chance.

I picked out the 360 Reflective Print Running Leggings and the Yoga Long Knitted Sleeve Panel Top because of the neon yellow and I love the reflective print on the leggings for early mornings and dark evenings.

The fabric on both the leggings and top is soft and light and feels gorgeous which made me a little bit nervous for the warmth potential because through autumn and winter I tend to go for thicker fabrics, especially on the bottom as I get very cold thighs and bum.

img_6320

The fit is snug so I went for a medium in the top and bottoms whereas I would normally go for a S/M in Nike (for example) on the bottom and an S on the top. Getting the leggings on they felt a bit tight but once they’re on there’s no chance that they’d fall down and they don’t feel uncomfortable. The top is also a bit tighter than I would normally wear, especially as on the site it’s described as ‘slightly loose-fitting’. I’d have to go up at least one more size to get it loose-fitting but the fit is fine for me to wear as a base-layer. The neck line on the top is little bit too high for me and I felt a bit constricted round the throat but the knitted panels feel great down the back of the top and the long sleeves with thumb holes are perfect for keeping my hands warm.

img_6330

 

During a weights and hiit session the leggings passed the all-important squat test and there was no thinning of the fabric over my bottom. I felt supported but definitely not hindered by the fabric and the sweat was wicked away instantly. As predicted when I wore them out for an early morning session with a client in the park they didn’t keep my legs warm but to be fair, they’re not designed to to perform that function! I would wear them underneath another pair of leggings in future for outdoor sessions but as long as you’re working out then they’ll keep you warm enough.

img_5453

My only other observation on the leggings is that for my relatively short legs, they’re not the most flattering leggings I’ve tried on because of where the mesh and yellow panels cut, just above the knee. Single colour leggings or an all-over print tend to work best for me but everyone’s legs are different.

img_5439

The top, although designed for yoga, works well as a base layer and feels lovely on. It would be great for a running top in winter as although it’s not reflective like the panel on the leggings the colour is bright enough to be seen.

TLC Sport have got a huge range of activewear on their website so get on there and have a look. The best bit is that there’s currently a sale on!

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a pair of leggings and a top in return for a review but all views are my own.

THE EAST LONDON JUICE CO

As part of (one of) my real-world jobs I manage social media accounts and websites for a few different companies and one of the brands that I was lucky enough to come across during one of these jobs was The East London Juice Co. I’d tried their delicious juices before when they had a pop-up shop in Boxpark in Shoreditch but hadn’t been by since they moved to their permanent home in the Ace Hotel, just down the road from Boxpark.

They’re not just another organic cold-pressed juice company, they look to offer more of a holistic approach to health to offset the stresses of life in a big city, have a read about their philosophy on their website. I can personally vouch for the mango jerky (careful, it’s spicy!), the cinnamon bananas (these taste like banana chai tea), the Immunity smoothie (think melted strawberry nice cream) and the stunning bath salts.

img_5782

img_5781

img_5784

img_5776

img_5778

img_5793

img_5795

img_5802

img_5810

img_5807

img_5815

WALKING THE SHINE WALK

11 years ago I decided that it would a be a good idea to walk 13.1 miles through London at night with my best friend, her sister, her mum and her mum’s friends. In our bras. With no training. Having got back from 6 months of travelling 5 days earlier.

207930_1003871749780_2371_n

In hindsight the no training thing was a bit of an issue because the next day I was totally incapacitated. I was so sore that I could hardly walk. It also didn’t help that the toilets around the route were out of order and I was busting from about 1.5 hours in.

When Sole got in touch to see if I’d be interested in taking on the half or full marathon course of this year’s Shine Walk to raise money for Cancer Research UK I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see if my legs might fare better now that I’m ‘into fitness’.

Sole sent me over some socks, Response footbeds and sports flip flops to get me going with my training. The socks are my favourite pair of socks I’ve ever worn and I know how weird that sounds but seriously, they’re so silky smooth and light that you hardly feel like you have them on at all. I’ve been wearing the flip flops around the house and to take the dog out for short walks although they’re not the sexiest of footwear so I’m not sure I’d wear them out. However they are great for supporting the feet after a hard training session especially as they start to mould to your feet the more you wear them.

img_3833

 

The Response footbeds were interesting because for most exercise I like to wear my Saucony Omni’s to support my over-pronating feet but I do have a couple of pairs of Nike Free’s for when I need to dress up but I secretly just still want to be in sports gear. If I wear these for too long I do get pain in my knees and feet from over-pronating so I fitted the footbeds into a pair of these. You simply heat them up in the oven and then stand on them in your shoes so that they can mould to your feet. They take a little bit of getting used to but once they’re moulded they make the shoes really comfortable.

The event itself was brilliant and much easier than last time thank goodness! We set off from Southwark Park after a hype-up by none other than Anthea Turner (love a bit of Anth) and the group split up pretty quickly into similar walking paces. A couple of the early mile-markers seemed a little bit odd with mile 2 feeling like it took forever before we passed the marker on Tower Bridge.

img_4899

The key to these kind of long-distance events is keeping the brain occupied and I had that in the delightful company of Becca (From Strength To Strength). We talked all things nutrition, weightlifting, fitness, travelling, James Bond and countless other things while we ticked off the miles.

Before we knew it we had passed through the final pit-stop (which were incredible with different chocolate biscuits at each one) and marched the final 2.5 miles to the finish. There was a fair bit of pain in my feet and hips at the end but walking on concrete for 4 hours will do that to you.

img_4902

The organisation of the event, the route, the marshals and the medal at the end were brilliant and it was great to see people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking part in what is not just a stroll down the river. The best part is that as a team we raised nearly £2000 for Cancer Research UK.

HOW TO DETOX THE FITOLOGY WAY

New year, new start, new you.

Sound familiar? It’s all I’m hearing and seeing on social media at the moment and this is probably the first year that I’m not jumping on that bandwagon. Especially after my attempt at a juice cleanse earlier this year saw me fall asleep at my desk and give up after one day…

For me, the new year is exciting because it marks 6 months until my wedding in June but apart from that it’s just the beginning of another month and I’m cracking on with my consistent training and nutrition.

That said,  I am going to do a detox but the Fitology way.

 

Digital detox

Over Christmas I had a few comments from loved ones about how much time I spend on my phone and while a lot of my business is online I am aware that I’m spending too much time starting at a screen. I’m consciously trying to cut this down by reading a book before bed rather than checking Instagram and only using it for essentials rather than just mindlessly consuming content

IMG_9560

 

Biatch detox

I’ve noticed how quick we are to judge people and it’s a quality in myself that I don’t like. I’m putting a filter between my brain and mouth and retraining myself to see the best in people even more than I already do. After going through my own personal journey and being judged at every step it’s not something that I want to be a part of

 

Organisation detox

At the beginning of each week I want to set goals of what to achieve each day to keep my brain on track. As things get busier with my PT business I need to be even more on top of everything so that nothing gets dropped. I hope this will also help to keep my brain from spiralling into stress when my to-do list is as long as my arm

 

Sleep detox

When things are busy my sleep suffers because my brain is whirring all night. I’ve been trying out the Himalayan bath salts from Westlab in my nightly baths to help calm my mind, remove some of the toxins from my body and top up my levels of minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron (there’s over 80 in these salts!). It’s also sorted out some dry patches of skin on my lower legs from shaving and helped me to drop off to sleep like a baby which is important when I’m up at 05:30 every day!

IMG_0067

So there you have it, that’s how I’ll be detoxing this January, the Fitology way.

Are you detoxing? If so, how’re you doing it?

 

Disclaimer: I was sent these salts by Westlab in return for a review but all opinions are my own as always

MyProtein – Product Reviews

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you might have seen that I’m following a high-protein diet at the moment to help my muscles recover from all of the heavy weight-training that I’m doing. With just over 6 months until I tie the knot I’m beasting my body into shape.

With 143g of protein to consume each day plain chicken breasts get boring very quickly so I turned to my friends at MyProtein (or click here if you’re in the US) for some help.

A huge hamper of goodies arrived so I’ll take you through it product by product.

IMG_9361

1) Protein crisps

These are probably the standout product because they satisfy my craving for crisps, which is WAY bigger than my craving for sweet things. At 100 calories per pack with 11g protein, 5g carbs and 3g fat they’re perfect for hitting those mid-afternoon cravings for something crispy and savoury. I tried them in the sweet chilli & sour cream flavour and they get a huge thumbs up from me

2) Protein pasta

Now this I was a little sceptical about because I’ve always been a great believer in having a bowl of pasta if you want a bowl of pasta, none of this zero-calorie noodle stuff. Each 30g portion comes in a little bag which you throw into a pan of boiling water, bag and all. I know, weird right? I went with it and it actually cooks perfectly in its little bag! By itself the pasta has a slightly more wholemeal/vegetabley taste than normal pasta because of the pea & soy proteins but in a sauce you won’t notice the difference as the texture is really good. I tend to use one 30g bag with some added greens for bulk mixed with a tin of tuna and some homemade pesto sauce. It’s a good option for days when you just don’t have the macros for proper pasta. Each 30g provides 18g protein, 6.3g carbs and 0.6g fat for 103kcals

This was 2 servings (60g) - WAY too much for one person

This was 2 servings (60g) – WAY too much for one person

3) Protein wafers

If you’re a lover of those wafers you used to get at kids’ parties you’re going to love these…. I tried the vanilla ones because I’m not a massive chocolate fan and they were actually really good! There’s none of the typical ‘protein’ taste but they are incredibly sweet. I can manage half a wafer at a time before my sweet tooth is more than satisfied so keep them for when you really need a sugary hit. Each 42g pack (2 wafers) provides 15g protein, 13g carbs and 9g fat for 195kcals.

4) Protein brownies

Now these I wasn’t so much of a fan of. I can normally give or take brownies, I definitely wouldn’t pick one in a cake shop but sometimes you just need that chocolate hit so I gave them a go. The protein taste is quite evident in these which put me off a bit and there was just too much chocolate for me to handle. I’ve heard that they’re really nice if you microwave them for 30 seconds and I imagine they would go well with a bit of citrus-flavoured yogurt to cut through the richness. They provide 23g protein, 27g carbs & 9.7g fat for 287kcals.

5) Protein cookies

I felt about these pretty much the same as I felt about the brownies but that might be because the only flavour that I fancied when I put in the order was double chocolate. Whoops. However they now do oats & raisin white chocolate & almond, both of which are much more up my street so I’ll give them another go. They went down exceedingly well with my other half though so don’t take my lack of sweet tooth as a judgement on the product! They provide a whopping 38g protein, 20g carbs and 10g fat for 320kcals (probably best on a reefed day or if you’re bulking…)

6) Protein pancake mix

These are amazing… Seriously, you need to try them right now. I’m used to making my own protein pancakes with mashed banana, eggs and protein powder but these blow those ones out of the water. I tried the maple syrup flavour and they’re so easy to make. Just measure out 50g of the powder, mix with water, let it stand for 10 minutes and then cook in a pan with a little bit of butter. The texture is great, the taste isn’t synthetic and the fluffy insides really make you feel like you’re treating yourself. Even more so if you serve them with blueberries and ice cream as I did one night for dinner… They provide 34g protein, 6g carbs & 3.2g fat for 191kcals

IMG_9480

What’s your favourite high-protein product?

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with these products for free in return for a review. All opinions are my own as always.

Hi-PRO HIGH PROTEIN CHICKEN SATAY RECIPE

You know those emails that pop into your inbox and you open purely because you’re on autopilot? Well luckily for me I did…

The lovely people at Hi-PRO Nutrition said possibly the best words anyone could ever say to me…. ‘Do you want to try our new high-protein peanut butter?’. Various phrases involving bears and woods came to mind but in essence I said yes and eagerly awaited my delivery.

IMG_9175

There are plenty of protein nut butters out there on the market but what marks Hi-PRO out as different is that the extra protein in there comes from peanut flour and whole peanuts rather than added whey which means the taste is entirely peanuts. I’m not a fan of the flavoured nut butters either really because I just like the taste of the roasted nuts too much.

Hi-PRO is 33% protein providing 5.1g of protein per serving of 15g along with 7.4g of fat and 0.9g of carbs. Compared to other products on the market the protein is 1g higher and the carbs are 1g lower per serving making it perfect for people who are following a high-protein diet. Every gram counts people!

Seeing as I’m eating an awful lot of protein at the moment in a quest to build up my baby muscles this is music to my ears but rather than just spread it on toast (or eat it out of the jar with a spoon, who am I kidding…) I wanted to create something savoury with it.

Cue my favourite dish, chicken satay. It’s a really simple recipe, can be on the table within 20 minutes of starting cooking and packs a hefty protein punch. Oh and it’s totally tasty. What more could you want?

If you want to find out more head over to the Hi-PRO website or check them out on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Recipe serves 1 person

IMG_9240

Ingredients:

1 x tbsp Hi-PRO peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 x tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 x tbsp water

1 x tsp minced ginger

1 x tsp minced garlic

1 x tsp sesame oil

1 x chopped chilli (deseeded if you don’t want it too hot)

1 x chicken breast chopped into bite-sized pieces

Method:

In an oven-proof dish combine all of the ingredients apart from the chicken until it forms a paste. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Add the chicken, cover with the marinade, leave in fridge for 15 minutes to soak up the flavours. Put chicken in oven for 15-20 minutes. When the chicken is piping hot all the way through and not pink inside your dinner is ready!

To serve:

Transfer into a bowl or plate and garnish with sliced spring onion and a squeeze of spring onion. I served mine with steamed brown basmati rice and steamed cavalo nero and broccoli but you could have white rice, noodles or a vegetable stir fry on the side

IMG_9265

In case you’re interested the macros for just the satay chicken made to this recipe are:

Calories – 426

Protein – 59

Carbs – 6

Fat – 18

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with the products and paid to create this recipe but all opinions are my own

MY AUTUMN KIT LUST LIST

Here in London the weather is starting to turn from summer to autumn and my thoughts are starting to shift towards those early morning workouts and PT sessions. I’m not great in the cold so I like to make sure that I’m fully prepped for frost, snow, rain and PT sessions run in the dark before sunrise.

This is my Autumn kit lust list of everything that I would love to have to see me through the next few months of workouts.

Slide11) North Face Nuptse 2 Gilet £130 – I prefer gilets to jackets when I’m training clients or myself outside, particularly for the beginning of the sessions because they allow you full movement while keeping your midsection toasty warm. This North Face one is light, stylish and packed full of goose down

2)  Sweaty Betty Utrasana Half-zip Hoody £115 – it’s just as important to stay warm after your workout as during so keep this hoody in your bag to throw on after your sweat session and let your muscles cool down slowly

3) Helly Hansen Active Flow Graphic Base layer £40 – base layers are essential for keeping warm and this one is moisture-wicking which is perfect because half of staying warm is staying dry

4) Nike Dri-FIT Training Bralette £35 – perfect for us ladies who are endowed with small boobs and don’t need a huge amount of support. Also, I love the high neck as it’s different to most other sports bras out there

5) Under Armour HeatGear Shorts £25 – I don’t know about you but I always get a cold bum and thighs and they stay cold for ages, even after I come inside. These base layer shorts will be essential for keeping my extremities warm!

6) Nike Pro Midnight Floral Tights £90 – The pattern on these is amazing, I can’t stop looking at them! The other Nike Pro tights that I’ve had were very comfortable, not see-through and great for wicking away moisture during workouts

7) Asics GEL-DS Trainer 20 £107 – While I have to run in Saucony trainers thanks to my over-pronating flat feet, these Asics trainers are perfect for gym training. They’re still supportive, very comfortable and look awesome. Also, I heart neon

Now who wants to buy me a belated birthday present…?

 

REVIEW – THE JOYS OF MYPROTEIN

You know those shops where you see something in the window then walk in and see a million other things that you want, like an Aladdin’s cave? Well MyProtein is a bit like that but online. Which makes it even more dangerous because you can shop in your pyjamas.

When I was offered some products to review I was spoilt for choice but this is what I went for:

1) Cookies ‘n’ cream diet whey

2) Energels (tropical flavour)

3) Capri leggings (not on the site anymore but these are pretty similar)

4) Gym barrel bag

5) Slim shaker

My top pick has got to be the protein and not just because it’s cookies ‘n’ cream flavour (my favourite ice cream). It’s perfect for a high-protein breakfast which is when I tend to mostly use protein powders, especially if I want a light breakfast that I can train on soon after.

My go-to breakfast is a protein smoothie made with 1/2 banana, handful frozen berries, 2 tsp ground flaxeed, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 scoop protein powder, ice and almond milk.

IMG_8312

The powder contains green tea extract, Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Essential Fatty Acids as well as instant oats to give you a low-GI boost of carbohydrates. For someone who’s looking to lean out rather than build serious bulk this is a great protein because the Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) helps the body to utilise fat for energy while the green tea extract gives you a boost of caffeine and feel-good energy. Plus, it tastes really very nice which helps.

I used the Energels during my triathlon training and the event itself and they did a great job at just keeping my legs moving when normally they would have given up. The flavour is ok and would be better if they were cold but an hour into a race that’s not going to happen. The carbohydrates in the gels replace all of the glycogen in your muscles that are used up during exercise, allowing you to keep going. They also contain electrolytes, a vital component for those long events. I picked the ones without caffeine because I’ve heard way too many bad stories about what happens if you take too many caffeine gels….

IMG_7977-2


The shaker is a perfect size for drinking BCAAs during my workouts to make sure that my muscles don’t break down when I’m going hard and the barrel bag is a great size to chuck all of my training gear in to take to client sessions. The only thing I’d say about the bag is that the zip is a little bit dodgy and doesn’t always close properly!

IMG_8473

And so, onto the leggings. This is a tricky one because they’re probably the most flattering leggings I’ve ever put on. The grey colour and soft fabric is good at accentuating every muscle and curve which led to some interesting and unwelcome comments in the supermarket.

IMG_8447

Hello hamstrings starting to appear…

That said, my problem with the leggings is that not only are they a bit see-through but if you’re in the middle of a serious sweat session, everyone is going to know about it. After a hiit session, teaching a class and then a heavy leg session the sweat was showing in all of the areas you don’t want it to. Crotch, knees and bum. Yep, not cool.

Excuse the graphic nature of this shot but you can see the label through the leggings! Enough said...

Excuse the graphic nature of this shot but you can see the black label through the leggings! Enough said…

Overall I’d say that MyProtein is really excellent for supplements and nutrition but I’m not completely convinced by some of their other products. Try them out for yourself and let me know how you get on!

PS. if you’re in the US try this link for specific USD prices and products: us.myprotein.com

Disclaimer: I was sent these products to review for free but all opinions are my own as always!