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…

COOLING OFF WITH AQUAPHYSICAL

When the lovely Lucy and Rachel from the Privee Project invited me down to the launch of Aquaphysical on the hottest day in the UK for 9 years I jumped at the chance, obviously.

I mean, exercising on big inflatable boards in the Serpentine Lido with the potential for ‘accidentally’ falling into the refreshing water sounds pretty good right? Also, it gave me a good push to fit in a fartlek cycle training session (ie cycling through London from Hackney to Knightsbridge in rush hour. Shout out to the 2 taxis that nearly ended me. Nice one).

All I knew about Aquaphysical before the event was a few images on Instagram which showed what looked like floating mattresses in a swimming pool with people standing on top of them. When I turned up at the lido it was actually way cooler than that.

IMG_7603

 

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!

image

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. 

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

Race Report: Eton Dorney Sprint Triathlon

So yesterday I conquered my 2nd sprint triathlon and it couldn’t have been more different to the first one that I did back in 2012. I’d signed up for that one to lose some weight and get moving again, which I did until I went into denial 6 weeks before the event and stopped training. Needless to say that I struggled through the race and genuinely thought that I was going to die in the middle of the swim.

This time I raced around with a massive grin on my face because I loved it. I loved everything about it. But more on that at the end. 

Let’s start with a tutorial on how (not) to put on a wetsuit:

Step 1 – after you’ve lubed up with Bodyglide, start with the feet

Step 2 – once the crotch of the wetsuit is vaguely near your own crotch start shimmying the top of it upwards and over your lubed up wrists

Step 3 – Don’t use your nails to pull the wetsuit up because you’ll make holes in it. And those holes will leak water during the swim and it will be cold. Anyway, get it over your shoulders by wriggling like hell

Step 4 – well done, you’ve got it on. Now stop sweating from all of the effort and go and do a triathlon

Onto the race report. 

After racking my bike and laying out my bike and run kit I waddled down to the lake with a couple of other nervous triathletes and I promptly slipped straight onto my arse on the ramp and had to choke back a tear from the pain. Great start. 

The swim was slow and cold but delightful! I tried out a bit of front crawl before I realised that it was not going to work and I settled into a comfortable breaststroke while I watched the rest of my wave stretch out in front of me. 

Accompanied by the amazing kayak marshals I plodded my way round the swim course enjoying the beautifully clear and fresh waters. 

When I eventually made it out of the water everything was shaking from the adrenaline. I fumbled out of my wetsuit and shoved my socks and trainers onto wet feet. At this stage I was struggling to keep my legs going in a straight line but I knew that once I was on my bike I could settle down.

The course at Eton Dorney is very flat so I put my head down for 4 laps of the 5km course. There was a headwind cycling up the right-hand side which I really felt in my legs but then as soon as I came round the top of the lake the wind dropped off and I flew down the other side. 

3 laps in and I chewed on half a coconut and macadamia Bounce energy ball washed down with water to keep me going. At this point there were lots of people flying past me and with every one I smiled a little bit more because this was my race and no one else’s. 

I turned off into transition knowing that the worst was over and I just had a little run to do and then I could sit down. My legs felt tired as I ran out of transition so I took the opportunity to walk through the water station before setting off up the side of the lake for 2 laps of a very straight, very boring run route. 

At this point I was really feeling the tiredness and my legs had switched to autopilot, which was especially tough because there was no support (apart from my superstar number 1 cheerleader amazing Mum). Everyone was cheering for their own runners and no one else which was so at odds with my experience of Run Dem Crew. Having cheered at a few races now and run one race being cheered by the crew I fully appreciate the power of Cheer Dem and it was sorely missed here. 

I slogged through the run and tried to gear up for my customary sprint finish. Unfortunately my legs only responded for a split second before I had to resort to my arms to carry me over the line. 

As I crossed the line I stopped instantly and tried to catch my breath. I simply didn’t have anything left which made me very proud. I’d left everything on the course and couldn’t have given it anything else. In fact, Mum you nearly got me by telling me how proud you were of me. Remember when I had my head down on the barrier? Yep, choking back a triumphant tear. 

As I said in my last post my main aim of the race was to enjoy it and I did. I loved it. I loved feeling strong and fit, I loved being part of something amazing and I loved seeing how far I’d come since the last one. 

I also managed to come in comfortably under 2 hours for a massive 21 minute personal best. I knocked 1 minute off my swim (yes, this needs some serious work), 6 minutes off my bike and a massive 10 minutes off my run as well as a huge 4 minutes off my transition times. 

With 9 weeks to go before I take on the Olympic distance triathlon at the London Triathlon I can now see my weaknesses and I’ll be signing up for some swimming lessons next week. Can’t wait to ramp up the training! 

I Live To Eat

I had an interesting discussion while running last night with Run Dem Crew about how someone’s friend had asked her incredulously why she was eating a Kitkat when she was a RUNNER. A runner of all things! Like it would be ok if she was a javelin thrower… 

My response was ‘as a Personal Trainer I reckon you’re fine’. Yes, I don’t advocate eating chocolate every day but as a pre-run snack it’s not the worst. It’s a quick energy fix which will go straight to your muscles to be used while you’re running. As an afternoon pick-me-up whilst sedentary at your desk it’s probably not the best. 

Anyway, it led me to think about how much rubbish there is out there about eating but also how important it is to figure out for yourself the way of eating that suits you best.  

Over the last couple of years I’ve tried all sorts of ways of eating (I’m hesitant to call them diets) and I’ve settled on the way that suits me best. Here is my typical day’s worth of food:

Breakfast

– Heavy workout day: porridge with rye flakes, flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut oil, scoop of protein powder and berries

image

– Rest day: green smoothie with banana, frozen berries, almond milk, spinach, cucumber, flaxseed, chia seeds and lemon juice

image

Snack

– Apple

Lunch

– Salad (spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, spring onion), steamed greens, baked sweet potato and mixed bean salad (red kidney beans, lentils, olive oil, lemon juice, onion) or baked chicken breast/tuna/turkey breast

image

Snack

– 3 x gluten free oat cakes, sliced apple and a tablespoon of organic peanut butter 

image

Dinner

– Thai green chicken curry made with loads of vegetables and herbs, 1 chicken breast, full fat coconut milk and served with 50g basmati rice

image

So yes, I eat 4-5 times a day and drink 2 litres of water because that works for me. It means that I never feel hungry, I always have energy for workouts (even if I have to dig deep to find that energy…) and my body feels fuelled with good wholesome food. It can be tricky to fit around workouts because I don’t like to exercise on a full stomach but with a bit of planning and meal prepping it’s possible. 

What works for you? 

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…

The 10 stages of every run

Every run starts and ends the same. You start running and then you stop running. It’s what’s in between that’s the ‘fun’ part…

However long my runs are I always seem to go through the exact same thought patterns and it becomes a mental as well as a physical challenge to keep going. I thought I’d share them with you because let’s face it, running is ridiculous.

Stage 1: Right, I’m going to step out of the door and this is going to be great even though I don’t want to go because it’s cold and rainy and stuff.

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?)

image

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.

image

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…

image

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.

image

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! 

image

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! 

Boxing in Base Layers

Base layers for me have always been something that you see athletes wearing (or my brother when it’s really cold outside and he’s playing football…) so I’ve never really given them much thought. 

Until now…

I was invited along to a special boxing session at my new favourite place, Moreno Boxing, to try out some new compression base layers from the guys at Glenmuir. 

image

First impressions were that they were really soft and silky, very light to wear and totally not restrictive which I always thought base layers would be. Although they are clearly designed to be worn underneath other workout gear because OMG VPL. 

The session started with some skipping, dynamic stretches and then we got stuck into some technique practice with footwork, boxing stance and punching. 

image

Then in partners we practiced responding to other people’s movements by played some tag, trying to tap the other person on the shoulder which is a pretty tough cardio workout as well as testing out our footwork. At this stage the sweat started to appear and I was impressed with how comfortable the base layers were as they kept me dry. 

image

We finished up by throwing some combinations in pairs, practicing all of the moves that we’d learned in the session. My only complaint was that at this point the top started to ride up slightly and because I had boxing gloves on I couldn’t pull it down! 

The part of compression base layers I’m really interested in is how they can help with recovery by increasing blood flow to the area through an increase in pressure on the skin. They can also help with decreasing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and to be honest, anything that can get me out of bed the day after a workout without wincing is good with me! 

image

Watch this space as I’ll be testing the clothing in my triathlon training to see how it helps with recovery in tired muscles… 

Disclaimer: I was given the Glenmuir base layers by the very lovely people at Trace Publicity but all of these views are my own

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!