Browsing Category

exercise

Posted on September 13, 2016

Alternative ways to keep fit

exercise

Alternative adventure activities to give a try to keep fit

Sometimes doing the same thing over and over again can be boring. Things such as going to the gym or running the same 5-mile route can get a bit stale.

Mixing up your workout routine by trying something new can be a lot of fun. There’s nothing better than doing something new and exciting that doesn’t really feel like exercise!

Here are some ideas of things you can do:

Alternative adventure activities to give a try to keep fit

Learn to ski or snowboard.

I had so much fun when I learnt to snowboard at Xscape. I also burned around 2000 calories in a 3-hour session according to my heart rate monitor. It’s hard work without even realising. Even holding onto the chair left to get to the top of the slope is taxing on the arms!

There are a few fake snow slopes or dry slopes around the UK. It’s expensive but a lot of fun.

See my posts on having snowboarding lessons

Rollerskate.

I loved rollerskating and rollerblading as a child. We used to go everywhere on them. Every so often, I see people skating around Kirkstall Abbey and I kind of get jealous! It’s something I’d love to try again.

Check out these proline skates if you want to get started! 

Pole dancing. 

Pole dancing looks hard. You have to be strong to hold yourself in all those different positions and for the past few years, it’s become a popular way of keeping fit.

Outdoor boot camps. 

I may or not regret this, but I’m to a boot camp tomorrow evening. A variety of different tasks with instruction is a great way to step away from your usual routine. It’s also a great way to make friends!

Geocaching. 

Geocaching is something I’ve been dying to try. You simply download an app which tells you where geocaches are hidden and you can find them, log that you’ve found it in a book inside and look at the treasure.

It’s basically a massive treasure hunt that can get you walking for hours.

See here for more details

How do you mix up your workout routine?

Untitled3 copy

Posted on August 26, 2016

Staying active at work

exercise

stay active at work

My favourite thing about my job is that I’m on my feet a lot. Working in retail does that to you. Some days I’m on my feet for almost the full shift, walking back and forth. I can walk up to 10k steps at work, which is around 5 miles.

I dream of an office job though, but then I always think how rubbish it must be to be stuck at a desk all day.

When I’m not working, I’m blogging. So I spent the full day at my desk – like now. I’ve been here since 9:30am and it’s currently 3pm. Though I love spending my days off online, I can’t help but feel sluggish.

I’ve teamed up with Furniture at Work, who have sent me over the infograph below detailing some office yoga moves you can do to have a good stretch and feel better at work.

Before the infographic, though, I want to share some of my tips to beating that sluggish feeling you get from being sat on your arse all day!

  • Take the stairs, not the lift, where possible.
  • Keep getting up often, even if it’s just to walk around the office and get a cup of water.
  • Eat light, healthy food such as fruit and salad instead of snacking on dense, fatty food to beat that sluggish feeling.
  • Water yourself well.
  • Take yourself outside – even if it’s a 10-minute walk on your dinner break to come back feeling energised.
  • Join a gym and commit to going, even if it’s just 3 short 30-minute workouts after work.
  • Pack your gym bag the night before and take it with you to work, it’s easier to go straight from work rather than going home to have to leave the house again!
  • Try a morning workout before you hit the office to see if it works for you.
  • Search YouTube for 10 minute HIIT workouts!
  • See if your work has a cycle to work scheme.

Furniture_at_work_office_yoga_infographic

Untitled3 copy

Posted on July 8, 2016

My favourite YouTubers for Fitness Inspiration

exercise

fitnenssnsn

I love watching YouTube videos. I usually watch them while I’m getting ready in a morning, while eating and at the gym. I like to surround myself with positive, inspiring videos that ensure I’m motivated to make the right choices every day.

I just wanted to share with you some of my favourite YouTubers that I’ve been watching lately.

Danna Richards.

Danna is pretty new to veganism and to doing fitness videos. She’s a musician, which is what her main channel on YouTube is about. She’s recently gone through a fitness transformation where she’s lost 20lbs, turned vegan and has been working really hard at the gym and on herself, both mentally and physically. Her videos are cute and she always makes me happy!

Naturally Stefanie.

I started watching her videos when searching for new vegans. She was doing a vegan bulk at the time to gain muscle and I went back and watched every video! I love watching her workouts, too.

Chelsea Lifts

Chelsea was doing her Diet Diary series when I found discovered her. She is one determined young woman, not only when it comes to fitness, but when it comes to running her business.

She has shoulders to die for.

Meg Squats.

I adore meg. She is a powerlifter and is a total joker. I always laugh at her videos, that girls is hilarious but is really honest with how she feels around her workouts. If she fails a lift and feels shit, she’s totally cool with talking to the camera about how that makes her feel.

Amanda Bucci.

Amanda isn’t the type of person I thought I’d ever watch on YouTube. First glance, she looks like a shallow fitness bimbo. Because she’s stunning. And has a perfect body. I guess what I mean is, I  judged her. Doom. But she’s such a sweet girl. She recently hurt her arm in a car accident and has had the last few weeks with her hand in a pot. This was during bikini prep – a complete disaster.

But you know what? Amanda carried on. She spoke to her coach, to her doctors and made workouts work around her injury. Such determination when it would have been a perfect excuse to go easy for a while!

So that’s my favourite YouTubers for fitness. Who are yours?

Untitled3 copy

Posted on June 17, 2016

Thinking about getting a personal trainer?

exercise

personal trainer

This has been something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that over the past 3 or 4 months I’ve been on a bit of a journey. A journey that’s taken me off the cardio wagon and I’ve been starting to lift weights. I feel like I’ve got a good base strength now I’ve been hitting it hard, but now I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall.

I need a bit of a switch up as I’m getting bored. I want to try new things, I’ve been brave and tried bench and squats recently, but I’m a bit worried about my form. Or lack of form.

My gym has many trainers working there, and when I see them working with someone, I kind of get a bit jealous. I find myself looking over in their direction to see what they’re doing. To see if they’re doing anything I can copy and add into my own routine.

I feel like a just need a bit of guidances to make sure I’m doing the right things. I’ve only just started getting into lifting and I want to build some muscle. But because I’m new, I need advice on how to do it.

personal trainer

So if you’re thinking of getting yourself a PT, here are some of the benefits:

  • A PT can help you with your goals, we need to train different if our goals are different, for example someone who wants to have visible muscles will have a different program to someone who wants to lift heavy, who will also have a different program to someone who is training for a marathon, powerlifting comp or bikini show.
  • You can get your workout personalised, not only for your goals but for your body type, your health, weaknesses and any injuries you might have.
  • Having a new plan can help with your motivation. Starting something new always inspires me to keep going.
  • You’re committed to an appointment, so there’s no going back. It’s a great way to inspire you to stay on plan if you’re not good at self-motivation.
  • You’ll be shown how to do the moves properly – I know I struggle with depth squats and my back often curves when lifting. These are habits you can’t often change until someone stops you and corrects you.

I watch a lot of YouTubers that do fitness videos, many of them offer online coaching, which is a personalised plans, check-ins, video chats and 24 hours e-mail support. This seems to be something that’s on the increase and it’s great for those that can’t be as flexible with set times every week. Most of these are based in America, though I have recently come across one that offers face to face training as well as online coaching based in London. Right Path Fitness is the website, with several personal trainers with a variety of experience and expertise, they offer personal training, training in small groups and online coaching.

It’s worth a browse of their site if it’s something you’re thinking about, like me!

Have you ever had a PT? Is it something you would recommend?

Untitled3 copy

 

Posted on May 29, 2016

What to expect from a step class

exercise

2016-04-16_1460828204

The first time I did step class, I couldn’t walk without pain for 3 days.

Yeah, suckers! From the outside, step class, or step aerobics. looks pretty easy. Just a bunch of ladies stepping up and down a box.

Can we just take a second here to think about spin class – that generally has a rep of killing people? My legs weren’t sore at all the day after spin class – the total opposite of step.

I was actually really surprised at the pain, as I was already doing a lot work on the stair climber – as well as spinning along with running, cross trainer and training legs. I didn’t think they would hurt much at all, as it’s not often I feel pain from working out.

Don’t let that put you off though – I burn a massive 300 calories per 30 minute session according to my polar watch and I’ve been to every single step class I’ve been free to attend since.

I thought spin was my favourite thing, but no. Step. I’d step every day if there was a class.

PicMonkey Collage

So the step class attend is at my Pure Gym. There’s two instructors that run them and they both do them slightly different.

The male instructor works more to tracks – so we will do different moves, then when there’s a new song, we’ll change.

The female instructor tends to do a routine, where we add a new move on each time. I prefer this version because you can memorise that moves to know what’s coming, kind of like learning a dance. It just feels more in sync and like you can get into the groove.

I do find the male instructors workout a bit more intense, but I often feel like I struggle with my co-ordination of the moves as it’s a tad more disjointed and there are a lot of moves in one class, rather than a few moves being built upon in a progression.

Saying that, I do like attending both versions as it’s good to have a variety.

The step blocks we use can be set to three different heights – I’d recommend starting on the lowest and see how you get on. I use mine on the medium height – I did do one class on the highest height in the male instructors class and found it hard to keep up, so decided to stick to medium for now.

It’s pretty much none stop throughout the 30 minutes, so have a drink by you on the floor and take whenever you need a drink. I usually have sips when we’re  marching or just doing the basic up and down step.

You’ll be copying the instructor who will guide you through various moves. The most basic up and down step, then moves such as stepping to the side and doing a knee kick, or kicking your foot to your bum. Some times these repeat three times.

Other moves include stepping over the box, tapping the box, doing kicks and more.

There are times in some of my classes where people have gotten too tired and flagged behind – if this is you, just do the basic up and down step or march on the spot until you feel you’re able to join back in. Nobody is really caring or watching as we’re all too busy concentrating on what move we’re doing and what’s next!

It’s a hard workout, but a lot of fun and it really gets my heart bit pumping!

Have you ever been to a step class?

Untitled3 copy

Posted on May 21, 2016

How to step out of your comfort zone with exercise

exercise

How to step out of your comfort zone with exercise

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone a little lately with fitness and exercise.

It was scary, but you know what? It has made me feel so much more confident in the gym, it’s given me determination and it’s made me feel proud to have done something that originally would have scared me.

Looking back, I know I what was scaring me now.

It was the unknown.

Scared of looking stupid, scared of having to talk to strangers, scared of not knowing if I could get through a task or class without getting too tired.

It first started with running almost 3 years ago.

I wanted to start running and exercising, but the whole thing seemed really silly.

People will see me. People on the street. People in cars. They will see me and I’ll look like an idiot. Then I’ll get out of breath and stop and look like even more of an idiot. 

I decided to just go for it. It wasn’t half bad, you know. After a few runs, I loved it. I didn’t even notice those around me and if I did, I used it as motivation to keep going or to pick up my pace.

Then I stopped caring about if I needed to stop, or if another runner over took me. I would tell myself it didn’t matter. After all,  they didn’t know how long I had ran for. They might be doing a fast paced 2 miles for all I knew, then there’s me, who could have been training for a marathon slogging out 18 miles at a slower pace for all they knew. If they even cared. Which they probably didn’t.

How to step out of your comfort zone with exercise

Next came the gym. I never thought I’d sign up for a gym on my own and go. It happened when I was given an opportunity to have a free pass for a few weeks for the #FitnessRevolution challenge. I had to go and sign up on my own.

It was scary at first, but I’m glad I did it as I loved going to the gym and doing a different variety of workouts. I was previously working out at home or running, so this helped me mix things up a bit.

When my free membership was over, I still wanted to go to the gym, so I signed up for one near by. That closed this summer, so I quickly signed up to the brand new Pure Gym that was opening right down the road from me.

My next major defeat was going to a class at the gym.

I used to always see the classes going on and want to be a part of it, but I was scared that everyone would know each other and I’d be the odd one out, or I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the class, or I wouldn’t know what I was doing and again, everyone would think I was an idiot. I sucked it up and finally went to my first spin class. I loved it so much I went back again and again, then I tried a step class and a pump class.

So here are some of my tips for stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to fitness.

  • Just go for it, with an open mind. It’s not as scary as you think and people aren’t judging you!
  • There are many resources online – read up on the activity you want to do.
  • Search YouTube for a visual of what you’re wanting to do, especially if it’s a class so you can see what type of moves you will be doing.
  • Know your limits – again for classes, it’s a great idea to have an idea of your strength and how much you can lift so you don’t crash and burn.
  • Do it as early in the day as possible so you have less time to over think it and back out.
  • Take a friend for comfort.
  • Look up articles on how to be more confident and step out of your comfort zone. Even if you think you know the advice already, but just struggle to apply it, the pep talk is always good!
  • Imagine the benefits of doing the thing you’re afraid of.
  • Think of how great you will feel at the end.

While I’m still a bit nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone in some ways, I am much more likely to do it now. After doing so a lot over the last year, it’s taught me that it’s never as a bad as it seems!

Untitled3 copy

 

Posted on May 15, 2016

How your bed could be affecting your training

exercise

How your bed could be affecting your training?

If you’re a fitness fanatic, the chances are you take your training seriously. Whether you love to swim, cycle, run or dance, you’re probably already aware of how important it is that you feel your best in order to stick to your regime. However, did you know that your bed could be having an effect on your training schedule? To find out how your sleep setup could be interfering with your workouts, keep reading.

The problem

It’s no secret that in order to keep up with your training schedule, you need to feel energised and motivated, whether you’re hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. So unless you’re getting the sleep you need, it’s likely your fitness regime is going to suffer. If you’re struggling to get a decent amount of shuteye, it could be that your bed is to blame. For example, a lumpy, sagging mattress is bad news for your back, making it harder for you to drift off and leaving you feeling stiff and achy when you wake up. If your body is sore, you may find it difficult to reach your fitness goals, and your training could soon fall to the wayside.

could your bed be affecting your training

The solution

The good news is, there are a number of ways you can prevent your bed from harming your fitness. To completely overhaul your setup, you could invest in an entirely new model. Switching your bed, including the mattress, for one that is firm and supportive should help you get the slumber you need. To take your bed setup to the next level, you could even go for one that has an inbuilt massage function. For example, the models from http://adjustablebeds.co.uk/ use unique NHC Cyclo-Therapy technology to ease muscle aches and joint pain. The vibrating motion could help you fall asleep quickly and you’ll be able to enjoy maximum comfort all night long. Also, if you get injured while training, this massage technology could speed up your recovery. It has been shown to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles and increase joint mobility.

Moreover, you could also treat yourself to some luxuriously soft sheets and plump pillows to turn your bed into a relaxing place where you can rest, recharge and prepare yourself for another successful day of fitness training.

If you think your bed could be hindering your chances of sticking to your regime, now is the time to take action. By making a few changes in your bedroom, you should find that you feel healthy, refreshed and energised enough to take on even the most gruelling workout session.

Untitled3 copy

This post is a collab.

Posted on May 8, 2016

What to expect from a pump class

exercise/ review

What to expect from a pump class

A few weeks ago, after attending my first ever spin class and loving it, I decided to go to a pump class at my gym.

My gym is a PureGym, so I’m unsure how much pump classes will differ from gym to gym and trainer to trainer.

The pump classes at my gym are described as:

A total body workout using barbells, weights and steps. Each part of the class is designed to target a different muscle group so you’ll get a great overall body workout to some great music.

I was really nervous about going at first. One of the things I like about spin is that you can lower in intensity if you want to – but what if I’m in the middle of an over head press and my weights are too heavy and I have to stop? WILL EVERYONE LAUGH AT ME.

You know, sometimes you have to put your pride aside and remember it’s being there that counts. There is always the possibility that some knobs might think you’re weak, but who cares about thoughts inside of a human that you don’t even know? NOT ME.

Most people won’t even notice. Or if they do, don’t care.

Anyway, let’s move on.

What to expect from a pump class

At the start of pump class, you get your own equipment ready. As it was my first time, I just copied what other people did and got the same as them, which was:

  • Workout mat
  • A step
  • A barbell
  • Weights (2x 5kg, 2x 2.5kg, 1.25kg)

Most people were setting up their bar with the two 5kg plates, some added more, so I picked the same as the majority of the people in the class.

When the class started, the instructor showed us the basic moves we would be doing with the barbell, which were:

  • over head press
  • squat
  • lunches
  • bent over row
  • chest press

So if you’re unsure what weight you would use – it would be a good idea to go to the gym before hand and do those exercises with the weights on your own so you can see how much you can lift.

I’d recommend going for a lower weight than you would use if you were doing sets of 8-12 as you’ll be using the barbell for the length of a track at times. I know I can’t do over head presses for over 2 minutes using the weights I would normally!

So the way it works is you left the weights to the beat of the music and change how fast and slow you move the weight.

For example, in over head press, you might go straight up and down, then the instructor may ask you do go up in 2, so you would lift it half way, then all the way, the back down half way, then all the way. We sometimes did it in 4’s, too.

This is the same for the squats, chest presses (laid on the step) and the rows.

With the lunges, we would take turns from going from one leg to the other, to pulsing on one leg.

The instructor does sometimes mention you might need to lower your weight at certain times as you might be able to squat more than you an chest press, for example.

There was a time when I lowered mine and other people did, too.

Also with the squats and lunges, the instructor stated that if you need to put the weights down and carry on with no weights, that’s better than just stopping so a few people did that..

The class lasted 45 minutes and it seemed to go fast, even though at times it was painful to hold the weights for so long, especially in the squats which I’m really bad at!

Overall, I’m glad I went because it’s good to see what moves you can use with the barbell, especially as I’m a bit self conscious about doing lunges and squats because I feel my form is bad so it’s a great way of being shown how it’s done. If you form is bad, the instructor comes around and gives you some pointers.

For me, though, I much prefer lifting heavier weights for a shower periods than lighter for a long period of time. Though the class did get my heart rate up and I burnt lots of calories according to my heart rate monitor.

Whether this class is for you is totally dependant on your goals. It’s more for weight loss, toning, muscle strengthening and endurance than it is for building muscle, I think.

What to expect from a pump class

Have you ever been to a pump class? What did you think?

Untitled3 copy

Posted on May 1, 2016

What to expect from a spin class.

cycling/ exercise

What to expect from a spin class.

I’ve always wanted to go to classes, but the thought of it filled my stomach will butterflies.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to set up that bike, or that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and that everyone else would be all pro and I’d be there all red faced, struggling and looking like a dick.

But surprise surprise, I didn’t need to worry about it. But if you are worried about it, here are a few tips I have for your first spin class and what you should expect.

What to expect from a spin class.

Before going to your spin class, it might be useful to look up how to set your bike up. I watched a YouTube video that showed you how to do it.

Remember to arrive 5-10 minutes before the class starts to set up your bike. At my gym, a lot of people are already on their bikes spinning away when I get there. On your first time spinning, you want to make sure you have enough time so you don’t feel stressed out.

The basics are that the seat should come to your hips. There’s generally a knob under the saddle that will like you move the seat up or down.

You can also move the seat and handle bars forward and backwards, as well as the height of the bars. I generally leave the bar height as it as and just move the handlebars a bit closer to me so I can rest on them easily during sprints.

When you get on your bike, try standing up and pedalling and see how it feels then adjust the seat and handlebars accordingly.

When the gym class starts, the instructor will guide you through a warmup and then into the spin. Each instructor at my gym does different routines. No one class has ever been the same for me. I like that.

On your bike display, you’ll see a counter for RPM. The instructor will often ask you to keep the RPM at a certain speed – like 100, then trying to keep it above 130 for a 30 second sprint.

As well as the speed, there is the resistance, too. The resistance is how hard it is to pedal. Some instructors will tell you to turn the resistance up half a turn, a full turn, etc – or they might refer to it as a percent – 100% being the hardest for you and ask you to turn it up to 80%, for example.

My spin classes are usually split into rounds that last the track of a song – you up the speed or intensity at the chorus. Some rounds are gradually increasing the resistance while trying to keep RPMs the same, others go into a mad sprint, others have you move the resistance up to the point you can barely move the pedals, then stand up and hammer it out.

It’s really great that you have control of the resistance – if you feel like it’s too much, just ease off a bit. If the RPMs are too hard for you to keep up with, just slow it down a little. Nobody is going to shout at you!

I’ve totally been guilty of turning the resistance to lighter instead of heavier!

You know your own limits and as long as you are pushing yourself, it’s fine to just turn the resistance half a turn when the instructor has asked you to turn it up a full turn!

In my classes, there are all types of people. There was a guy next to me yesterday who seemed to be just spinning fast on a low resistance, not turning it up or not getting out of his seat. I assume he had a knee injury or something. Nobody cared what he was doing, just like nobody is going to be watching or judging you! There’s people of all shapes, sizes, abilities and some hammer it out, some get tired and slow down and it’s fine.

There is one instructor at my class that stops half way through and makes us get off the bike and do things like pushups, star jumps and burpees. It’s fine, but a bit annoying as there’s not always space unless you’re on the back row. Now I’m always on the back row 😉

PicMonkey Collage

So if you’re worried about a spin class – don’t be.

Just turn up, get on your bike and go. Nobody is judging you or looking at you, we all just want to get fit and reach our goals! Just go, even if you don’t absolutely hammer it out the first time – you can at least know what to expect for your next class.

I burn about 350 – 400 calories when I go to a 30 minutes class. I love it because I sometimes struggle to push myself to do a lot of cardio on my own. With a class, you have no choice!

Have you ever done spin class?

Untitled3

Posted on April 13, 2016

Don’t let your allergies get in the way of working out outside!

exercise

allergy awareness week

It’s allergy awareness week very soon. Between April 25th and 1st May, to be exact.

Suffering from allergies and hay fever can really put a stop to your workouts if you’re not managing them properly. I get very mild hay fever, it doesn’t bother me most of the time and it never actually started until my early 20’s. I noticed it when the grass would get cut on the grounds of my university living halls. Since then, I only seem to get it on very high pollen days, it doesn’t bother me too much but I’ve seen plenty of people who get terrible allergies and hay fever.

I wanted to put together a few tips to help reduce the symptoms – particularly hay fever. It’s not often we get nice weather here in the UK, so we really should make the most of it and get active in the sunshine. Running, hikes, bike riding, even messing around with your friends in the local park playing some sports. Everyone should be able to enjoy days like that!

allergy awareness week

Monitor pollen forecasts daily

If you’ve struggled with allergies all your life, you probably know how much is too much for you to handle. On high pollen count downs, you might want to consider staying indoors if you know it’s going to bother you.

Have a trip to the coast!

Did you know that the sea breeze blows pollen inwards? Well that sounds like a great excuse to get yourself to the coast and do some exercise on the beach or coastal areas.

Sunglasses

Wear wrap around sunglasses to help protect your eyes from pollen.

Use a nasal barrier balm.

These can put a barrier between pollen and your nose to prevent a reaction.

Medicate.

Take natural supplements that can help, such as Bio-Pycnogenol from Pharma Nord to help your body cope with high pollen days. These tablets not only help with hay fever, but other things such as  supporting heart and circulation, skin care, joint health, plus glucose control and menstrual discomfort.

Clean yourself.

Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes when you get back to stop the pollen irritating your further.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get active outside today!

Untitled3

*This post is in association with Pharma Nord. All views are my own. 

Back to top