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Posted on October 7, 2016

Being Ill and Exercise

exercise

being sick and exercise

Ugh, guys. I’m frustrated.

On Monday I posted that I had been ill with a water infection. After taking myself to the Drs and getting a course of anti-biotics, I hadn’t worked out all week.

On Monday evening, I had a sudden feeling of being punched in the back. All evening I was in pain and started to feel sick.

I felt the same the next morning so booked a Dr’s appointment. My water infection had spread to my kidneys. I had to take time off work as I was struggling to stand up and walk.

All I wanted to do was have a great week of working out, to make up for the previous week.

Now it’s Friday and I’ve not done anything. While I’ve been back to work, I’m still 100% and I’m stuck between that guilt of not working out, but also not wanting too much myself too hard and make myself iller.

I could do some light exercise. But my body still hurts.

It’s an internal conflict that’s been bothering me and I’m feeling frustrated.

The way I view myself is greatly improved with exercise. Even if there is no physical change in my body – a trip to the gym or a 5-mile run can have me feeling amazing.

Instead, I just feel rather sluggish and frumpy.

How do you guys cope when you’re ill?

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Posted on September 30, 2016

The world’s strongest vs. most shredded vs. average bodies

exercise

bodybuilders vs strongmen

Around March, I started watching a lot of fitness YouTubers. Mostly female power lifters and girls who compete in bikini competitions.  That’s when I started getting interested in weight training myself.

I started to notice a difference in physique between the two. Power lifters focusing more on how much they can lift, while also trying to stay within their desired weight class and bikini competitors having a larger focus on cutting to show more muscle, tracking calories and exercising to target muscle growth or burn calories to shred those last few lbs before show day.

So when MaxiNutrition supplied me with this study about how the classic physique of a competitor at bodybuilding events such as Mr Olympica compares to that of a competitor taking part in the World’s Strongest Man competition vs the average body, I was more than happy to write a bit about it.

There are many amazing men and women who push their bodies to the limits. I’ve seen this documented in YouTube videos of people prepping for these competitions, the training, the diet and tracking macros.

It’s interesting to see in this research the difference between the three.

body builders weight lifters

The world’s greatest bodybuilders.

The winners of Mr. Olympia are ranked by the number of times they’ve won the overall category,  showing how dominant they are in their respective weight class.

The average age of the contestants when first winning Mr Olmypica was 31 and the most common country of origin was the USA.

The average weight of the contestants was 105kg with a height of 5ft 9.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the youngest Mr. Olmypia winner at 23! He was also the tallest at 6ft 2.

The oldest was Christ Dickerson at 43 and the shortest was Franco Columbu at 5ft 5.

The heaviest contest weight of a competitor was Ronnie Coleman at 136kg and the lightest was Frank Zane at 84kg.

The world’s strongest men.

The World’s Strongest Man is a mixed event strongman competition and there are large varieties in body shape and size. Some of the average stats are interesting!

The most common country of origin was again the USA but closely followed by the UK.

The average age when first winning was 30 with an average weight of 150.5kg and height of 6ft 3.

The youngest ever winner was Jón Páll Sigmarsson at 24. The oldest and also tallest was Ted van der Parre at 37 and 6ft 9. The shortest was Gary Taylor at 6ft.

The heaviest was Brian Shaw at 195kg and the lightest was Jouko Ahola, who weighed 125kg.

Strong vs. shredded

As you can see, according to the average, the World’s Strongest Man wins a year earlier than Mr. Olympia.  The World’s Strongest Man is also 45.5kg heavier than Mr. Olympia and 5 inches taller and most winners from both come from the US.

Versus the average man

This data is taken from the Office for National Statistics.

It states that the average UK male weighs 83.6kg and is 5ft 9.

Now check those averages against the ones above. Especially the weight averages!

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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?

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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

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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?

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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?

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Posted on May 29, 2016

What to expect from a step class

exercise

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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?

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