I wanted to share a recent visit to Gymbox Farringdon, where I was invited to hit up the method laundry Challenge for their “Give it a Spin” class! It’s a purpose-built Spin Cycle class, crafted by method (a planet-friendly household brand which massively appeals to my inner eco-warrior) using a series of fragrances which motivate you to work out even harder! Now, there are countless mega-gyms, niche studios and pop-up classes proliferating all around London, and I’m always thrilled to try new ones and share them here. This class, at this gym, did not disappoint! If you haven’t been to this Gymbox, it’s well worth a visit; it’s unlike any other gym in that it feels as if you’ve entered an underground rave. With a DJ in a cage blasting forth tech house upon the cavernous gym floor, exercise revelers are propelled by the energy, and therefore they really go for it. That in turn, is hugely motivating. There’s no need to wait for any of the squat racks or benches because there are so many of them all over the place. There’s a huge section of monkey bars, pull-up bars – it’s literally an adult’s playground! Click MORE to see all about the class, to enter my competition to win AN ENTIRE YEAR’S free laundry detergent plus a Monreal gym bag, and to discover the delicious scents!
I’m still splashing away in the pool, learning to swim the front crawl for the fabulous cause that is Sainsbury’s Sport Relief, kicking off on March the 23rd 2014 at the epic Olympic pool. Anyone can take part and if swimming isn’t your cup of tea there’s also the cycle / marathon . You’ll be getting fit for 2014 (the classic resolution) whilst raising money for some of the poorest in the world. Why not sign up?! Check it out HERE!
You might notice that whilst I’m rattling on about swimming, I’m not in a pool in these pictures (shot outside the newly re-opened Kenwood House, just at the top of London’s Bishops Avenue, aka Billionaires Row). Yes, it’s hard to swim through air, but this post is actually about training the small stabiliser muscles that comprise the shoulder; it’s usually these smaller ones that are susceptible to strains in the pool, and are often neglected when you train in the gym. To build them up and prevent injury, there are a few simple exercises you can do with just a trusty resistance band…
As per my previous post here, the Sport Relief Swimathon March 2014 is just around the corner and I’m burning off my early dose of mince pies in the pool – whilst raising cash for an awesome cause! ‘HOW ARE YOU GETTING ON WITH THAT, FAYA?’ I hear you ask? Well, one minor setback is that I can’t swim… the front crawl (which is the mandatory stroke)! Thankfully, Charlie to the rescue! She’s a fantastic and painfully-tough swimming coach who also happens to be a sports therapist working with Watford Football Club, & will be coaching me all the way into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic pool.
This post contains a ‘Progress Report’ from week 1, as well as the BENEFITS OF SWIMMING, as I see it. As the months go on, I’ll be blogging about my aquatic experiences & fitness tips/tricks along the way, as well as running through the stretching routines, land training, injury-prevention exercises, nutrition, etc. (more…)
I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been asked to take part in the first ever ‘Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games’ next year, running from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. I think it’s such an awesome way to combine fitness with a very charitable cause, and represents a great goal or milestone date to aim for (which I always find a massive help with my fitness targets!)
The three fundraising events they’ve got scheduled are 1) the Mile, 2) the Swimathon and 3) the Cycle. You can run, swim and/or cycle your way to raising cash at around a thousand venues up and down the country. The Swimathon (my chosen event) takes place in the landmark Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, (THE venue of the London 2012 Olympics) where I’ll be swimming for a good cause – so ecstatic!
PROBLEM: Since I can only swim the breaststroke and not the required crawl, (oh dear!) the swimathon is going to be a huge challenge! But I’ve always wanted to learn and this is the perfect opportunity. Let the training commence! The great thing about this charity is it doesn’t matter how sporty or fit you are, there’s something for everyone to choose from and whatever event you pick every mile counts, because the money raised will be used by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both in the UK and around the world.
So why not sign up!?! It’s half price until mid Jan, and after the indulgent festivites around the corner – I’m talking about Christmas and New Year’s eve celebrations – surely this event comes at the perfect time to add some energy and focus back into your workout routine. Getting into a healthy cycle, knowing that every run, every swim and/or ride is for a tremendously important cause, that’s part of the fun on this one!
March is just over 4 months away so I’m starting my training now and hopefully by the time I need to jump in the Olympic Pool I’ll be able not only to crawl but also complete the full length in a decent time. I’ll keep you updated through the blog, Twitter and Instagram on how I’m getting on and what I’m learning through my training. HERE I GO! 🙂
One of my favourite feelings in the world is collapsing into my bed, physically and mentally exhausted, knowing that I have a long, deep, deserving sleep ahead of me. But that’s not just lazy indulgence, as a good night’s sleep isn’t a passive activity, but rather, I think it’s just as actively valuable as regular exercise and quality nutrition. A good night’s sleep can improve overall health and make every aspect of the following day more productive. This post is my take on why and how sleep matters in your healthy lifestyle.
1) “WHY SHOULD I ???”
Getting the right quality and amount of sleep:
– Enhances muscular recovery by speeding-up protein synthesis,
– Restores and maintains mental alertness (by discharging the brain’s accumulated daily Adenosine build-ups),
– Releases Human Growth Hormone – 60% to 70% of daily HGH secretion takes place when you’re in early sleep, following which the deepest sleep cycles often occur! Poor quality sleep can negatively impact human growth hormone levels.
– Restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenishes immune cells; and circulates human growth hormone around the resting body.
– Vastly improves the quality of interaction with other people!
2) MY “SLEEP TIGHT” ETHOS…
‘Get more sleep’ is easily said, but I know a lot people who simply can’t fall asleep, and toss and turn for hours on end. For a while, that was me too, stuck in a catch 22 of feeling too tired during the day, going to bed too late and waking up too early in the morning, only to do it all over again. One way I tackled this was by working out on a regular basis which is proven not only to help you fall asleep, but also to improve the quality of that sleep. Every body is different, so it takes time to figure out what works best for you; I personally prefer a heavy workout early in the morning, a productive day, then a light ‘exercise’ in the late evening (e.g. a power walk which gives my body the final reminder of just how tired it really is!). I wouldn’t recommend doing an intense workout before bed as that energises the body instead of calming it. Afterwards, a relaxing warm bath (I add this lavender bath oil to unwind muscle fatigue) and a mint tea (try to avoid any caffeine or alcohol before sleep, as they’re stimulants). Other things that may help is avoiding oversleeping as it will interrupt your circadian system (‘body clock’), which in turn will set you off later when you need to fall asleep. I’d stay away from sleeping pills as much as possible as they cause the body to develop a dependency, and they don’t get to the root of the real problem anyway, but just mask the symptoms. There are stories of politicians surviving on 4 hours sleep a night, but frankly, that’s unhealthy for anyone in the long run. I’ve always felt 7 hours to be a minimum in order to maximise wellbeing during the day, and I regularly aim for 8 hours. Also a room that’s dark and not too hot helps too. Investing in the largest & highest-quality mattress the room will take can be life-changing, and even fun little apps like the Sleep Cycle alarm clock can help you sleep smarter too!
3) “…AND WHAT IF I DON’T ???”
Not getting enough / high-quality sleep:
– Weakens the immune system,
– Renders you less energetic which will lower the quality/intensity of a workout,
– Affects the concentration of sugar levels in your blood – they’re likely to become elevated, which can lead to development of a pre-diabetic condition,
– Slows the metabolism, leaving it harder to maintain or lose weight,
– Induces a sluggish sense,
– Can increase appetite (certainly does with me!),
– Makes you moody and loose the motivation to workout or do anything!
Hope that helps you to rest up, sleep well, and train harder!
1) WHY CYCLE ?
Cycling is one of my favourite ways to travel around as it not only gets me there, but I can do some bonus cardio training in the process. It burns calories (c. 120calories per mile), elevates the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, eases the risk of cardiovascular disease and it’s pretty soft on the environment too! Compared to running, which puts a lot of strain on the body (especially the knees), cycling is very low impact exercise and is kinder to your joints. It builds stamina and strength, with fewer injuries along the way. If you’re worried about losing precious muscle mass because of the cv, cycling actually develops muscle, especially in the lower body as power is generated by the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, which will fuel additional calorie burn even after the journey has ended. It will also stimulate the production of HGH (human growth hormone), and remember, muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so this is exercise that keeps giving!
2) THE BIKE ?
In the pic above, I’m on what I think is the Ferrari of bicycles; the sleek, curvaceous, sexy ‘Pinarello’ FPQuattro. This exceptionally serious road bike is built for speed, it’s ultra lightweight (the frame weighs a feather-light 1.1kg!), and has a carbon chassis honed in a wind tunnel to perfect the aerodynamics! I don’t own it, I was merely lent it for the day, but this is my idea of a dream bike!
3) THE ROUTE ?
These days there are so many gadgets to kit out your bicycle with. There’s the low-tech mudguards / mirrors / bags / bells / comfort-saddles… but I like the more high-tech functional stuff. The Garmin GPS is my way of keeping track of my routes. I think it has enhanced my cycling performance by making my training far more productive; it enables measurement of the heart rate, power, speed, altitude and even position in London’s cafes to remarkable accuracy. Not only will you know where you are but also exactly how far you’ve been or need to go; and you can race your ghost if it’s a regular route, which encourages progress! The GPS is route-tailored meaning it will select the right route for your specific training, e.g. endurance, long distance, hill rides etc. So in essence, I think it helps you to cycle smarter!
And once at home after a long relaxing, hot shower you can sit down with a cup of tea, download and analyse the data on your computer, and figure out exactly how to improve your performance for next time. You can even create an online profile and connect with the social media world to share and receive info, courses and routines etc. They’re not cheap, but I think they’ve revolutionised my cycling experience, and my ability to get a good workout from it!
4) THE COMMUNITY ?
Just as there are running clubs, so too are there cycling clubs! In the same way my motivation is boosted by doing a group class at the gym, it’s the same with cycling; find a cycle group in your local area and go for a trial session. Training in a group will improve your cycling giving you the tools and focus you need whether you’re looking to train in the lead up to an event/race or just for general fitness. I find it’s nice to have a deadline or goal in mind, so why not discover charity bike rides! A friend (and cycling-novice!) took part in her very first charity ride last year – London to Paris – and she absolutely loved it, describing ‘a massive sense of camaraderie’, and ‘feel good you just can’t beat!’ She did add it was a very intense 4days and added that you must, must prepare well ahead of time.
It’s dangerous on the roads, so maybe join an ‘advanced road safety’ group which teaches you how to stay safe in the mental London traffic! It also explains bike maintanence which is crucial for trips and newbees.
Cycle buddy links cyclists up with other cyclists in the same area for training rides or mountain biking. The website encourages you to log your ride to share routes and training experiences.
Happy cycling! Faya x