WHY I CAN’T WAIT FOR MY TRIATHLON TO BE OVER

This triathlon has been a long time coming, in fact it’s been in the works since I completed my very first sprint triathlon 3 years ago. I decided to sign up for it as my big challenge for 2015 because I like to have a new challenge every year. I mean, why not? Challenging yourself to the point of near exhaustion is fun right? Right…

Actually, it IS fun and actually, I’m really looking forward to the event in 10 days so that I can see how far I’ve come. I like to challenge myself because I like the feeling of achievement and triumph when I’ve silenced my own doubts.

At the same time I’m coming to realise that actually I don’t love doing triathlons. No, that’s not right. I love doing triathlons, I’m just not so keen on endurance training. There, I said it. I find it difficult to push myself, I find it boring and I miss doing cardio for fun.

Continue Reading…

Debunking Fitness Myths

As a Personal Trainer and a fitness blogger I can see a lot of pressure in the industry to look and act a certain way which can be rather stressful and damaging for some people. 

The world of perfect abs, long legs and sweat-free faces on Instagram portrays an image of fitness that is fun, easy and full of happiness. It can be all of these things but it can also be tiring, tough, demoralising and grump-inducing when you’re getting up and it’s still dark outside. Plus, no one actually looks perfect if they’re working out properly! 

Here are some of the top misconceptions of the fitness industry:

1) Selfies show the truth 

Even I have been guilty of only posting the most flattering selfies but don’t trust what you see. There are various things you can do to create the perfect selfie:

All I did in the 3 minutes between the two photos was to turn off the overhead light, put on underwear that fit better, twist my body slightly to the side to show off my best angle, flex and, of course, add a filter. So don’t pay much attention to those ‘before and after’ shots!

2) To be healthy and fit you have to have a six-pack

Having a six-pack just means that your body fat percentage is low enough to be able to see your abs. Also, the shape of your abs is totally dependent on your genetics, some people can get a six-pack, some can’t. For the majority of people the lifestyle you have to live to achieve and maintain them would stop them living a normal life free from counting every single calorie. Also, ladies, having such a low body fat percentage might stop your periods. Surely that can’t be good for you…

I prefer a bit of definition and that’s about it for me!

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3) Personal Trainers & fitness bloggers live like saints

Anyone who knows me will know that this just isn’t true. I love to eat anything and everything. Pizza is probably my favourite food and although I don’t really have a sweet tooth I can eat sweet n’ salt popcorn or ice cream for days. I may not drink that much but that’s because I don’t like the taste of most alcohol! However give me a margarita (or 3) and I’m a happy girl… It’s all about living a balanced lifestyle. Indulge when you want to but get to know your body and understand what it wants and when. 

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4) Exercise is easy

Exercise is not easy. And if it is easy then you’re not pushing yourself. And if you’re not pushing yourself then you won’t make any progress and reach your goals. Even if your goal is just to clear your head you need to put in a bit of effort to achieve that. The real side of fitness is early mornings, freezing hands and ears in winter, ridiculous sports bra tans in summer, stinging sweat in your eyes, not bothering to wash your hair because you’re only going to get sweaty again tomorrow, permanent hand callouses, blistered feet and stiff muscles. But all of this adds up to feeling alive, proud and on top of the world.

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5) You have to able to run really fast

Nope. Have you seen me run? It’s not pretty, it’s not fast but I get the job done. If you run you are a runner, if you lift you are a lifter, if you spin you are a spinner, it doesn’t matter how fast, how heavy or how much you do it. Just get out there and give it a go, you’ll amaze yourself.

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Challenge Yourself

Life is a battle. We’re constantly fighting against other people growing up, at school, in social situations and in family life. It’s always about getting more attention, being better and just generally winning. 

Well I’m here to say STOP. It’s time to start looking at yourself, not at other people. We’re all different and however much we strive and work to look, act or be like someone else it’s not going to happen. 

I had a totally epiphany as I was slogging my way round the triathlon course a couple of weeks ago with a bloody great grin on my face. Every person on that course (apart from one man who was 3 times my age) overtook me and with each one that flew past my smile got bigger and bigger. 

I was racing for me, against my previous personal best and no one else. I was the last woman to finish that triathlon and to be honest that only made me prouder that I’d gone in there for myself, conquered some demons and given it everything. 

Here are some of the methods that I’ve used to challenge myself and not compare myself to others:

– Take comparison photos of yourself if your goal is a physical change. Use ‘instababes’ as motivation rather than goals

– Note down PBs if your goal is a strength or speed change

– Fall in love with yourself. I know it sounds cheesy but rather than beating yourself up about your weaknesses try and identify your strengths. Then champion your strengths and be proud

– Surround yourself with positive people who will celebrate your victories, however small

– Listen to your body and don’t push yourself past what you can do at that point. Rest when you need to, reduce weights or resistance and eat that piece of cake if your body needs it…

How do you make sure that you’re challenging yourself rather than comparing yourself?

Race Report: The Gauntlet Games

A 10k race? With gladiators? And obstacles? Hell yes, was my response. Get me there now.

Which is how a group of 5 over-excited intrepid Gauntlet Girls came to be in Trent Park, North London early on a Saturday morning.

This isn’t going to be a regular race report because quite frankly it wasn’t a regular race. For a start there was no timing at all which meant that everyone could take it at their own sweet pace. Oh and there were also lots of things and people to slow you down on course.

We’d opted for the 10k version which meant that we did 3km of obstacles before turning off for a 5km trail run and joining back up with the course for a last 2km of obstacles, although it felt shorter than a full 10k. I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking but here is a summary of my feelings about the race:

– long queues to pick up race numbers & race t-shirts suck

– half-naked men are great until they’re pelting balls at your legs

– laughing until my stomach hurts is great

– trail running is way more interesting than road running

– water mixed with poster paint is really slimy and then really sticky

– water is cold. Like, really cold

– wet trainers are gross to run for an hour in

– a wet lycra-clad bottom results in a very satisfying noise when slapped

– races with friends are infinitely more fun

– I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN

Warming up:

Getting friendly with the gladiators:

Never trust an Aussie and a PT armed with sticks:

Water is cold part I:

Water is cold part II:

Foam gets in your ears:

Apparently my go-to obstacle race face is this:

Charlie’s Angels eat your hearts out:

Never forget to stretch:

In summary, we heart The Gauntlet Games.

How To Exercise When You Don’t Want To

Let’s face it, if we all just exercised when we wanted to then we’d sweat maybe once or twice each week, which is fine if you’re not working towards anything but if you have goals (whether physical, mental, challenge-based etc.) then chances are you’re going to need to be training more than this.

It’s not just the volume of training that’s important (or not, depending on what you’re working towards) but it’s the quality and diversity. Some of it is going to hurt, some of it is going to be within your comfort zones and other bits are going to be plain boring.

Continue Reading…

Triathlon Training Update

You know that feeling when you book in a dentist appointment a couple of months in advance and then put it to the back of your mind because you’re actually really dreading it….? Yeah, that. But with a triathlon…

With just over a week to go before this year’s first triathlon I thought I should give you an update into my very disorganised preparation.

1) Swimming

This is still the part of the triathlon that’s scaring me, not because I’m a bad swimmer but because swimming in a wetsuit in open water is a whole new ball game. It’s the bit that screwed me last time, taking twice as long as I’d hoped.

I’m also still swimming breaststroke 90% of the time which is fine in a lovely pool like the Olympic Aquatics Centre but it’s pretty heavy on the legs which is not ideal when you have a bike and a run phase coming up next.

I’ve swum no more than 3 or 4 times in the run up to this triathlon between 1km – 1.7km but not in open water and not in a wetsuit. Whoops. Continue Reading…

It’s time to step off the scales

We’re a nation of scale-obsessed weight watchers and I’m saying that it’s time to stop.

From a young age I’ve also been scale-obsessed and I’ve seen the numbers on the scale going up and down as a direct contributor to my happiness. At the start of my fitness journey I jumped on those scales every Monday morning without fail and recorded the numbers. Every week for over a year. I even took photos.

Until I realised that it’s not about those numbers. It’s about how you look and feel.

I know that I’m getting stronger, fitter and leaner but I was getting frustrated that the numbers on the scales weren’t going down. And then my belt reached the last hole. And my abs started to pop out again. What was happening?  Continue Reading…

Summer Kit Lust List

With the warmer weather and that lovely sun starting to make an appearance my mind has turned to summer workout gear so that I can work on that runtan (because everyone loves sports bra tan marks right?)

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Continue Reading…

A love letter to my stretch marks

Dear stretch marks,

Firstly, I’m sorry. For as long as I can remember you’ve been in my life and for most of that time I’ve hated you. You used to remind me of how much weight I put on going through puberty and how uncomfortable I was in my own body. I used to slather on cocoa butter and starve myself to try and get rid of you but nothing worked.

I always thought that if I lost loads of weight and turned myself into one of those willowy girls then you would disappear and I would look like a model. That’s how warped my brain was back then. Think about it: my brain was telling me that if I lost weight then I would magically have a body shape that was so far away from what I naturally might have. And then I would be happy. Um… really?

Continue Reading…

The danger of low-calorie diets

Hands up who has been on a low-calorie diet
to lose weight?

Yep me too.

And who has lost weight pretty quickly
while on it and then put it all on again afterwards?

And again, me too.

Having been through every fad diet out
there I’m now preaching the benefits of doing a bit more research and learning
what your body needs before you start depriving it of anything. Continue Reading…

Review of ClassPass London

My name is Sophie and I’m a ClassPass addict. 

Rewind back a month to the launch of ClassPass in London and I was a bit ambivalent to what they were offering. For a monthly fee you can go to unlimited classes at nearly 200 studios around London. The only limitation that I could see was that you’re restricted to 3 visits per studio each month (visits to different locations of the same studio, like Boom Cycle,all count as one studio). It sounded alright and I thought at best it would be worth a try for a month.

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And now here I am at the end of the month and I’ve loved it. Here’s why:

– I get bored if I take the same classes every week so variety helps me to stay motivated

– I enjoy group classes for the social aspect and they push me more than I might if I was working out by myself

– Even though I’m a Personal Trainer I still sometimes like to let someone else do the thinking for me and put together a workout

– I work from home 2 days each week so I can squeeze in lunchtime classes on those days which widens the choices of classes

– I’ve tried new studios and classes that I wouldn’t go to before because the price put me off

– It’s ridiculous value…

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Putting the work in at Moreno Boxing, Dalston

To put it into numbers:

Number of classes I did: 14

Cost of classes if I’d paid individually for each one: £176*

Cost for 1 month of ClassPass: £89/month

Cost for 3 months of ClassPass: £69/month

Cost for 6 months of ClassPass: £59/month

*This is the worst-case scenario i.e. not taking into account membership discounts at the studios (which I don’t have anyway) or introductory offers

So if you sign up for the 6 month ClassPass membership you’re effectively getting over 30% off every class if you use it very regularly.

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The torture chamber Pilates studio at Tempo Pilates, Netil house

There are a couple of things that would improve ClassPass in my opinion:

– More early-morning classes that aren’t yoga

– A wider geographical spread of studios because as an East London-ite there aren’t a huge choice of places out in Hackney

– Not being limited to 3 classes per studio each month (although I understand why they’ve done this)

– Not having to pay for all 6 months up front when you choose this option, it’s a lot of money to stump up all at once

– Being able to choose spin bikes when booking a class – I have to spin without my glasses on and if I’m not in the first couple of rows then I can’t really see the instructor! 

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This was the sweaty pain at the end of a boxing class, i’m loving it really.

I’m planning on signing up for the full 6 months because I can see the value in it and I really enjoy the classes that are on offer. Who’s signing up with me? 

I was given a month’s free trial of ClassPass but all views are my own

Things Personal Trainers say

So you’ve taken the big step and got a
personal trainer. Congratulations! You’ve booked in your first session, you’ve
told everyone how hot you’re going to be in approximately 2.5 weeks time and
you bought a load of expensive lycra that will DEFINITELY mean you can bench
press like 100lbs.

It’s time for that first session and your
trainer is about to send lots and lots of buzzwords and jargon your way. The
problem is how do you know
you’ve found a good trainer? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Things PTs will/should never say:

–      
‘Yes, it’s a really good idea
to do a juice cleanse and then come for a session. A little bit of dizziness is
fine’

–      
‘No problem we can take it easy
today and have 5 minute rests between each rep because you’re a bit tired’

–      
‘Just do everything as fast as
you can it doesn’t matter that your form is all over the place’

–      
‘Oh well if it’s tough we
better stop, let’s just do things that are easy and won’t make you sweat’

–      
‘I can make you lose 10lbs in a
week. Easy’

–      
‘It’s totally true, just by
signing up to the gym you’ll get fitter, you don’t ever actually have to go’

–      
‘Oh you’ve got a cold? That’s
ok, come for your session anyway and spread your germs all over the equipment’

–      
‘I love your new Nike Air Max,
they’re perfect for running and lifting’

–      
‘Definitely go for an
extra-large stuffed crust with double pepperoni after your session, you’ve
deserved it’

–      
‘Our 1 hour each week will
make all the difference. Eat whatever you want and sit around for the rest of
the week, we’ll have you bikini-body ready in no time at all’

–      
‘The 15 minutes that we spend
chatting at the beginning of every session counts towards getting those abs’

Can I suggest that if you hear your trainer
say any of these you get the hell out of there and find a professional?

HIIT vs LISS cardio

You might have seen a previous post that I did about the benefits of cardiovascular training which is a great place to start because anything that raises your heart rate is going to be beneficial to your cardiovascular system. 

There’s so much more to cardiovascular training however and I’m going to discuss the biggest 2 right here for you, you lucky people. 

You might have heard people talking about HIIT (high intensity interval training) but have you heard about LISS (low intensity steady state)? 

Chances are you might not have heard about it but you’ve more than likely done it before. When you’ve decided that the 3 doughnuts you’ve eaten today were a bit much and you’re going to go to the gym and jog on a treadmill? LISS. When you dare to bare your pale skin for a gentle session at the pool for the first time this year? LISS. When you decide that you’re going to be healthy and go for a long walk ending up in a not-so-healthy pub lunch? LISS. Basically, if you can hold a conversation whilst training, you’re doing LISS.

The benefits of this kind of training is that because you’re normally working at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate, you’re comfortably within the ‘fat-burning zone’ which means that you’re burning a higher percentage of fat within the energy that you’re using. 

Think of it like a cake. At this stage, the energy that you’re burning is the size of a cupcake (stick with me, don’t get distracted by the thought of cupcakes) and a majority of that is fat. 

LISS is therefore good for:

– Unfit or elderly people who want to lose weight but need a low-impact form of exercise to protect their bodies

– People who have the time to go out walking for a couple of hours or jog for an hour, it’s pretty time-consuming!

– Endurance athletes (marathon runners, triathletes etc.) who need to get their bodies used to working at low-intesity for long periods of time

– Anyone who wants to unplug for a while, force themselves to not look at a screen and enjoy the great outdoors

There’s one big flaw with LISS though. Whatever your goals are your body will need to keep adapting otherwise your progress will plateau. If you just do LISS you will reach that plateau quite quickly as the body finds it easy to adapt to and then gets very comfortable. 

Have you heard that story about the person who went to the gym 3 times a week, did the same workout each time including a 20 minute run on the treadmill and 15 minutes on the stationary bike? Do you remember when they stopped going after a few months because they stopped losing weight? They should have done some HIIT. 

Which bring us to HIIT (funnily enough). HIIT covers any kind of cardio exercise that combines periods of near-maximum work with periods of recovery. It can be applied to most forms of cardio including running, cycling, swimming, skipping, boxing etc. and includes things like tabata and circuit training. For example, you could warm up, then sprint for 30 seconds followed by a recovery period at a jog for 1 minute and then you could repeat that as many times as you like before you cool down/pass out.

HIIT will bring your heart rate up into the moderate/intense training zone meaning that you’ll be improving your aerobic fitness and overall performance. In these zones you’ll be burning a higher proportion of carbohydrates than fat but don’t be fooled, you’re still burning plenty of fat. 

Let’s go back to the cake idea (focus now…). With HIIT the cake is now Bruce Bogtrotter-sized (if you don’t get this reference then shame on you, go and read Matilda right now).

The amount of calories from burning carbohydrates and fat is much higher than what you’ll burn through LISS meaning that you’ll probably burn more fat overall. It’s a smaller percentage of the cake but the cake is so much bigger with HIIT. Makes sense? 

Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:

– Great for time-poor people, you can squeeze a brilliant workout into whatever time you have available, even as little as 7 minutes if necessary, and keep your heart rate up

– It keeps the body adapting because your heart rate is going up and down with periods of work and recovery and your body doesn’t know what’s coming next

– The ‘after burn’ effect or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) from HIIT keeps your metabolism high after exercise meaning that you continue to burn calories when you’re lying in your post-gym bubble bath. Result

– HIIT allows you to keep any muscle mass (within reason) as it uses muscles to their maximum capacity, keeping them working. Think about a sprinter’s physique vs a marathon runner

– The explosive nature of HIIT will help you to increase the strength in your muscles which in turn could improve your endurance performance – a good point to remind endurance athletes of the importance of cross-training

It might seem like I’m leaning towards HIIT as the preferable form of cardio but actually, I believe that both LISS and HIIT have their roles in fitness depending on the individual and their goal. Ideally, a combination of both would help to improve overall cardiovascular fitness and health and to reach personal goals. 

Try including a few sprints next time you go running and reap the benefits! 

My Life’s Happiness as told through the medium of denim

I’ve read lots of posts recently about health, happiness, fitness, love and peace. But I don’t want to talk about any of those things, I want to talk about jeans. Yes, of the denim variety and no, that wasn’t a spelling mistake for ‘genes’.

I put on a great new pair of jeans this morning and it got me thinking, there’s so many points in my life that have been punctuated by jeans. Denim as a material is pretty unforgiving, it doesn’t pretend that it fits and it will always let you know if it’s too tight or loose. 

When I was a kid I wanted to spend every day in jeans, the older the better. Rips, soft denim, never-washed, shorts or full-length, they were the best, perfect for climbing trees, riding bikes and digging holes in the garden. 

Good god, so much 90′s sass in one so young… 

The problem came when puberty hit and I no longer fitted into boys’ clothes which I loved to wear. Jeans suddenly became restrictive and something to highlight parts of my body that were growing in all kinds of wrong directions. 

I tried to ignore the course of nature by buying baggy mens’ jeans, trying to hide all of the bits that I didn’t like. Top tip: baggy clothes will just make you look bigger. Sorry 14 year-old self… 

It’s worth nothing that it wasn’t like I was blossoming into some curvaceous beauty, I just had puppy fat which always made me feel big and rather lumbering. Just great when you’re growing up. 

It was only when I hit about 17 that I realised that perhaps all wasn’t lost.

Throughout university I took great delight in those times when my jeans were hanging off me, only serving to reinforce my unhealthy habits and disordered eating. Equally there were times when I couldn’t get my jeans up over my thighs which created a vicious circle of bad habits. 

Continuing the trend of jeans being a barometer of my feelings towards my body I wore particular pairs into holes when they fitted and felt comfortable because I thought they made me look skinny and cool. Note to self – skinny does not = cool…

About 3 years later, in the midst of a job that I hated and a particular obsession with McFlurrys, I stopped wearing jeans altogether. They didn’t fit, they reminded me of how much weight I’d put on and everyone else looked better in them than me. 

And then I discovered leggings. All-forgiving comfortable leggings. I wore them every single day for about 2 years, in denial about how unhappy I was with my body shape. I refused to believe that I’d gone up 2 or 3 dress sizes so I just ignored the problem. 

And then suddenly, enough was enough. I started to get fit and over the last 18 months that’s what I’ve been doing. 

Ever so slowly jeans have started to reappear in my wardrobe, cautiously and subtly. The first day that I went out in a pair of jeans again was a big step, one that was so surprising that I celebrated it in my head. 

And finally, today, I put on a new pair of jeans that I never thought would work, a pair of dark denim, super skinny, HIGH-WAISTED jeans. And they look good. I think. And as I strutted to work I realised how crazy it is how influential jeans have been throughout my life in how I see myself and my body image. 

Excuse the lack of face but today was not a good hair day… 

Surely it’s about more than this but I still can’t help myself from feeling all of these feels today. Strange but there we go. 

Review of Moreno Boxing Lunchtime Classes

I’ve been interested in boxing since the lovely Kate of Form Fitness introduced me to it in her weekly classes. Even back then I always felt better after sweating and punching for an hour, it does wonders for the brain!

Fast forward 18 months and I’ve started going to weekly sessions with Carlos Moreno from Moreno Boxing. His new studio is conveniently opposite my office meaning that there’s no excuse to get down there during a lunch break.

I mean, it’s literally about 50 yards from my desk….

Carlos is an internationally competitive boxer and currently holds the Portuguese national champion title as well as numerous others. What more could you want from a trainer?

Each class starts with a warm up consisting of skipping (which I can confirm that I’m getting better at luckily), shadow boxing, lunging, footwork and some dynamic stretching.

Then onto the boxing. Firstly, technique, which is something that I need to work on as although my offensive movements aren’t too bad, I have no defence at all, as Carlos showed me by pointing out exactly where he could punch me. Not that he did but lesson learned anyway.

We then did some 3 minute rounds (I have no idea how many, I got into the zone and lost track) of sparring, mixing up punching and defensive manoeuvres which equated to a serious cardio workout. The sweat was real.

Trying to concentrate on lots of new things all at the same time can be a bit daunting but it’s brilliant for clearing your head of all other worries as you focus 100% on where the next punch might be coming from and where there might be a chink in the armour that you can take advantage of.

Then followed 3 minute rounds on the punchbags, alternating ‘freestyle’ minutes with all-out 1-2s to keep the heart rate up.

My face says it all…

Each session is then ended with taking the gloves off and getting stuck into something a bit different, whether it’s TRX, circuits or something else to mix it up. Yesterday we did a circuit of heavy deadlifts, battle ropes and sit ups with a ball to isolate the core. With 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest this circuit was a killer.

To finish everything off you can look forward to a series of planks, just in case you haven’t had enough.

This is exactly the kind of class that I love because it’s tough, works you hard but also dedicates some time to technique. There’s nothing as satisfying as that thwack when your glove connects with a pad correctly. You also know that you’ve worked hard because the next day everything is that right amount of sore.

Details

What? Moreno Boxing Lunchtime Sessions

Where? 1 Bailey Place, Dalston, London, N16 8BA

When? Check out the timetable here

How much? Classes are normally £12 but you can get your first class for just £6. Or for those on ClassPass, they’re included in your monthly fee! If you’re interested, sign up here for £50 off a month’s membership, total bargain!

The Benefits of Cardio Training

Welcome to the 2nd in my series of demystifying exercise posts. This time I’m focusing on cardio, mostly because people say ‘I’ve eaten a pizza but it’s ok because I’m going for a jog later’. I hate to burst your bubble but it’s worth WAY more than just burning a few calories. 

When people talk about ‘cardio’ they basically mean anything that works your cardiovascular system (heart + lungs). You could argue that this includes just about everything that we do on a daily basis but I’m focusing on specific activities that we do to strengthen the cardiovascular system. 

I’m also lumping various cardio training systems together for this post, look out for future posts to delve deeper into specific systems (e.g. high intensity interval training (HIIT), low intensity steady state (LISS) etc.)

Here are my top reasons why you should be cardio training if you’re not already:

1) Weight control – Cardio training raises your heart rate significantly from resting which means that you will need to use energy to keep going. Once you have used the readily-available supplies of glucose within the muscles, your body will begin to burn fat throughout the session and for some time afterwards

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2) Increased body efficiency – Through consistent cardio training the body adapts to increase blood flow to muscles and remove waste (CO2 & lactic acid) more efficiently meaning that your endurance increases. You know that burning feeling that makes you stop? It will go away with commitment, I promise

3) Better heart health – One of the adaptations from cardio training is increased stroke volume in your heart i.e. your heart can pump more blood around your body with each beat. This can have the effect of lowering your resting heart rate and potentially decreasing your blood pressure, putting less strain on your heart

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FYI, there are battle ropes in there somewhere, I’m just making them move faster than the human eye (ok, faster than the shutter on my iPhone camera…)

4) Happy brain – As well as the release of endorphins that any exercise triggers in our brains, there is something about getting out and about and unplugging for a while. Whether you’re running, hiking, swimming, cycling, spinning, dancing or whatever form your cardio training is taking, use the opportunity to unplug from technology, chat with friends or just spend some time with your own thoughts 

5) Unclog those arteries – Cardio training can decrease levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the bad cholesterol whilst increasing levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), the good cholesterol. This is important as you age to keep your cholesterol within the healthy range

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So what are you waiting for?! Just get out there and raise your heart rate!

ClassPass Hits London

The lovely folks at ClassPass in the US have launched their service in the UK today, starting with London. Watch out, they’re about the revolutionise the way that we exercise… 

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So here’s the basics:

Concept – You pay a fee each month (like a gym membership) but you can go to unlimited classes at over 175 different studios that are signed up. You can go to up to 3 classes at each studio in the month but apart from that, there’s no limitations! You can even put your membership on hold for £19/month and still go to 1 class in that month.

Cost – £89 for one month (or £79 if you sign up now on the link below!), £69 for 3 months or £59 for 6 months, which is a TOTAL bargain if you really take advantage of all of the classes

Which studios are signed up – Psycle (spin), Triyoga (yoga), Boom Cycle (spin), Moreno Boxing (boxing), Frame (all sorts), TenPilates (Pilates) and LOADS more 

Where to sign up – http://classpass.com/buynow?utm_source=tpblog&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=lon&utm_content=5287

What I’ve signed up to (so far) – Boom Cycle, Moreno Boxing, Edge Cycle, Stretch London

If the brilliant launch event at Barry’s Bootcamp last night was anything to go by then ClassPass have got their stuff together and there’s going to be a whole lot of energy spent in London in the coming weeks! 

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Could you tell we were a little bit nervous about the prospect of a Barry’s class? 

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The view from treadmill 18. Oh god did I hate that treadmill after about 10 minutes… 

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But these incredibly tasty protein smoothies put the smiles right back on our sweaty faces.

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The best bit about ClassPass is being able to work out with your friends without the problems of guest passes to gyms or lack of funds. Just pay once and off you go! As much as you want!! 

Who’s with me? 

Disclaimer: I was given a free month’s membership to ClassPass but don’t worry, I’ll be signing up for a full membership as soon as it runs out,  these views are my own and I think it’s a great idea. Affiliate links included.

It’s Time For A Spring Clean

The 1st of March is technically spring although I don’t believe it because it’s still FREEZING. But the crocuses are coming out in the parks and it’s now light by about 6:30am which makes those early morning training sessions all the more bearable. 

My brain has start to motor forward to summer and those lovely warm mornings when we can run with the sun on our backs and lazy evening swim sessions. Remember that summer bodies are made in winter, it’s not a quick fix that you can do when you realise that you’ve got to be in a bikini in 3 weeks. Put in the work now and you’ll reap the benefits when you look fit as f*ck in summer. 

Start with your mind, it’s time to blow out the cobwebs of winter:

– Go out for a walk or if you’re not fortunate enough to live in the countryside then jump on a train until it looks green out of the window. Take a load of snacks and water, plot a route that sounds manageable and off you go. It’s great exercise for the brain as well as the body

– Try reading a new book that you might not have picked up before, it’ll wake your brain up if you’ve spent the winter hibernating with Game of Thrones or Mad Men. Try Us by David Nicholls, The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins or Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese, all books that I’ve enjoyed recently

– Sign up for a challenge, physical or otherwise. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish or learn to roller skate? Now’s your time to push yourself with the longer days and promise of sunshine!

Now for the body:

– Try and cut out refined sugar for 30 days. I know, it’s a toughie but you’ll feel the benefits very quickly. Things like biscuits, chocolate and cake are out but if you start looking into it there are healthier alternatives. There’s still some sugar in things like agave nectar, coconut sugar or raw honey but they go through less of a process than white or brown sugar so there’s less chemicals hitting your system. Give it a go!

– If you’re a caffeine fiend now is the time to start cutting down. By removing stimulants you’ll learn to listen to your body more and read your ups and downs. After a few days any headaches and cravings will disappear, especially when you realise how much more balanced and level you feel

– Step up your high intensity cardio (alongside your weight sessions) to torch any hibernation body fat, now is the time to start ‘leaning out’ before bikini season. By starting early and slowly your summer body will be much easier to maintain throughout the season of BBQs and ice cream

Who else is doing some spring-cleaning? 

The Yes Woman

10 years ago my best friend and I embarked on a ‘life-changing’ trip to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. I say ‘life-changing’ because it was in a way, but not in an ‘I lived off air and good vibes in an ashram and now I know my soul’ kind of way. We basically partied and had fun for 6 months and learnt to say ‘yes’ (within reason) to lots of cool things. We were inspired by reading The Yes Man by Danny Wallace who said yes to everything in his life and even ended up getting his book about the experience made into a film. A lot of the crazy and memorable experiences we had were down to that book, thanks Danny Wallace.

Apparently underground tubing and caving requires some fetching balaclavas in New Zealand… 

Anyway, I was inspired to do this again recently as a way of keeping myself busy and man, has it worked… 

I’ve got a couple of incredible opportunities coming up in the next few months that I would never have been a part of had I not taken a deep breath and said ‘yes’. I can’t tell you what they are yet but I think it’s fair to say that they will take me hugely out of my comfort zone but also give me a massive boost. 

This isn’t meant to be an overly-emotional post but I just wanted to share the excitement that can come with taking a chance and having the confidence to put yourself out there. I’ve spent long enough closing myself off and not having the balls to give things a go so from now on I’m saying yes. 

Give it a go.

Fitness Trends for 2015

2014 was the year that fitness became mainstream. 

No longer is it strange to hear people say ‘oh, I can’t go for dinner, I’ve got Pilates’ or ‘let’s catch up at spinning’. Juicing, whether at home or bought, is more acceptable and quinoa is now a staple of a lot of people’s diets. AND they know how to pronounce it correctly. 

So what does 2015 hold for us then? 

1) CrossFit-style workouts

While not everyone feels brave enough to step into a Box (yep, that’s what CrossFit gyms are actually called), the high intensity circuit-style workouts are finding their way into ‘normal’ gyms. Anything that combines explosive movement, weightlifting and a lot of reps (read: sweat) will have you building muscle and burning fat like a pro. Embrace it but make sure you pay lots of attention to technique especially with the weightlifting. Oh, and don’t become a CrossFit douchebag… 

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2) One-stop shop gyms

A gym or fitness studio is no longer just a sweaty room that smells a bit like that time you left your PE kit at school over the Easter holidays and had to put it on again afterwards… Gyms now have spas, like Equinox so you can get a facial after boxing, and plenty more are offering pre and post-workout nutrition like 1Rebel, a new gym in Liverpool Street, London, that provides a complimentary cold pressed juice or healthy salad with lunchtime classes. As fitness is becoming a part of our busy lives, gyms that can offer something extra have that edge.

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3) Cross-training

No, I don’t mean that weird ski-type machine in the gym. I mean training in ways that aren’t necessarily directly connected to your chosen discipline. More and more runners are getting into yoga and strength training to improve their technique and keep their muscles in optimum shape. For sports players it’s no longer about spending hours kicking or hitting a ball, they now might be as familiar with a cadillac in the Pilates studio as they are with a footwork drill. Unless you’re an Olympic athlete then cross-training WILL be beneficial, step out of your comfort zone and give something else a go this year.

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 4) Fitness trackers

Athletes have been using heart rate monitors to track their intensity levels for years but the mainstream market is catching on. A lot of fitness trackers were introduced to the market in 2014 but 2015 is going to be the year that they go mainstream. There’s plenty out there on the market (eg. the Misfit Flash, the Fitbit Charge and various watches like the Samsung Gear and the Withings Activité) so do your research and find out which would suit your needs best. It could help to motivate you through the rest of the winter for that summer body!

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5) Fitness is for life, not just for beach season

Fitness isn’t just about being skinny or having that 6-pack any more, it’s about long-term health and strength, inner and outer. You’ll hear more and more people talking about wanting to be strong not skinny (myself included) and feeling ‘better’ rather than ‘thinner’. It’s about finding a sustainable diet and level of exercise that isn’t restrictive or obsessive, something you can enjoy with friends and family and that compliments your life but doesn’t take it over. Sounds pretty good right?

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