Originating from deepest Russia as a tool farmers to weigh-up their crops (and get ripped in the process), the humble kettle bell has been around since the 1700s. These days, I’d argue that they’re capable of delivering a versatile and explosive full-body workout, which builds power and burns fat. The position and thickness of the handles (hanging directly under the wrists) unevenly distributes the weight, which means you need more strength in your grip, better co-ordination & more core engagement, as the weight is far more difficult to control. It also develops muscles through the arms, the shoulders and the other stabiliser muscles too. Dumbbells, as a comparison, are centred and therefore nicely balanced – kettle bells are inherently unstable, as their handles stick out comically from one side of the sphere & act like an additional pivot point control. Here’s a breakdown of one of my faves, the kettle bell swing…
Dear Santa, I’ve been really healthy (almost) all year and I intend to be next year as well; after a festive wander through Harrods, here are my 18 top fitness gift ideas that’ll certainly help keep me on track through 2014; including some clothes, trainers, workout equipment, healthy food & drink and other gym knick-knacks. The sort of thing any fitness freak like me would love to open in just a fortnight’s time! 😉 Faya x (more…)
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! 🙂
In this post I’ve attempted my very first YouTube video recipe! It’s on a healthy avocado snack-ette, the perfect dip for entertaining!
Avocado is packed with healthy fats and a good amount of dietary fiber too (27g per 100g). I often overhear someone at the gym discussing a wacky diet they’re trying out, whether it’s juicing for weeks, not eating for two days, or a trusty online purchase which ‘guarantees’ you’ll ‘lose over a stone in less than 4 weeks’… Often these ‘diets’ involve cutting out an entire food group, and any plan that claims this is a good idea sets alarm bells ringing for me! Often the food group they’ll cut is the much-demonised ‘fat’. Good fats work wonders for your skin, hair, training results and general well being. You don’t need to skip fat to lose weight – the body needs them for a range of functions;
1) Benefits of Fat:
– Growth, repair, and development of tissue, including muscle cells.
– Allows the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and without fats in the diet, you can become deficient in these (vits A,D,E,K)
– Provides energy, (1 gram of fat will provide 9 calories of energy)
– Cushions organs and insulates nerve cells
– Facilitates your body’s thermoregulation (temperature control)
2) Which types are good / bad?
– ‘Trans fatty acids’ (aka ‘trans fats’) are ones to avoid. They are not natural, but rather, are artificially produced through a process called ‘hydrogenation’, of converting liquid fat to solid fat. They’re often found in margarines, cakes, biscuits and junk food in general, and are proven to increase your risk of coronary heart disease.
– ‘Saturated fats’ can be found in animal produce – butter, cream, eggs, meat etc. They’re a good fat, however too much saturated fat can affect the body’s blood cholesterol levels, which over time can fur the arteries, leading to coronary heart disease. Once that happens, there’s little that can be done to reverse the effects, so it’s best to moderate saturated fat intake where possible.
– ‘Monounsaturated fat’ is a “good fat.” It can be found in olive oil, nuts, avocado and some seeds. It can lower your blood cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.
– ‘Polyunsaturated fat’ is another good fat, and mainly derives from plants, vegetable oil, nuts and oily fish.
– ‘Essential Fatty Acids’, are ‘awesome fats’, being comprised of such health buzz-words as ‘Omega 3’ (found in foods like wild salmon, edamame, walnuts and flax seed), and ‘Omega 6’ (found in vegetable oil, black beans and wild rice).
With that in mind, watch this video to make my recipe Guacamole, with metabolism-boosting chilli, healthy avocado monounsaturated fats (+ omega 3 & 6), and vitamin C / antioxidant properties of Celery! Faya x
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Alot of my clients don’t (at first) think they need to stretch. Some don’t see the value. Some think they should be lifting something instead, or running somewhere. Some think they’ll (embarrassingly) never be able to reach their toes! BUT by stretching for a few minutes, you will see and feel the benefits. Here are just 6 (of many) reasons why I consider it vitally important to stretch, in no particular order!
1) Reduces your risk of injury drastically, and keeps you mobile as your body matures.
2) Improves your flexibility, by increasing the range of motion of a joint by stretching out the surrounding soft tissue (i.e. muscles tendons & ligaments)
3) Speeds muscle recovery – after an intense workout, the muscles remain in a partially-contracted state, and by not stretching afterwards, you will feel stiff and sore for longer. Stretching relaxes, elongates and softens the muscles which is important for both strength and endurance training.
4) Creates correct muscle balance – failing to stretch regularly after workouts can lead to problems with posture, & muscle imbalance. Consider someone who sits at a desk for 10 hours everyday, some of his / her muscles will naturally become tighter, others weaker. For example, the hip flexors will be in a mildly contracted state whilst seated, and after a while the hip flexor can tilt the pelvis forward, causing the spine to round, which leads to pack pain. So even if you’re not working out, stretching out the pelvis, hip flexor, back, neck and shoulders for a few minutes every day, will help your body stay conditioned.
5) Improves balance – by increasing the range of motion in joints, it gives the body one fewer reason to impede itself and fall over, as stretching encourages uninhibited movement.
6) Muscular growth – The fascia (fibrous tissue) surrounding muscles is said to limit the amount of space muscles have to grow. By stretching a muscle under a resistance, you can encourage further muscular growth (hypertrophy). Be aware though, Extreme Fascial Stretching (for muscle growth) is very stressful to muscular tissue and can cause injury if not practised properly.
TYPES OF STRETCHING ?
1) PRE WORKOUT ? Dynamic Stretching – always warm up for c. 5 minutes before stretching, making sure the muscles are actively prepared, and then perform dynamic stretches, which effectively means ‘stretching whilst moving’. These stretches should only be held for 3-10 seconds each. Some examples are walking lunges, lunging and reaching, power skipping, knee hugs, quad walks etc.
2) POST WORKOUT ? Static Stretching – these are slow and constant, and each stretch is usually held for 10-30 seconds, during which you’ll consider them mildly uncomfortable. Sometimes they’ll be passive, as someone stretches you out whilst your body relaxes. You should avoid bouncing whilst holding your static stretch, as it can risk tearing muscular fibre. These stretches aren’t designed to make you sweat, rather to lengthen/relax the muscle spindles.
Stretch safe, here are some pics of me having a stretch! Faya x