Flex in the City

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When I first started blogging, I didn’t go to any events as a blogger. I just went as a punter, and a nervous one at that. I was pretty anxious about meeting new people, and quiet when I was alone. Blogging has changed me so much in this respect. I have to put myself out there, both online and in person, when going to events or meeting up with people I’ve met through my blog. I put myself out of my comfort zone to experience new things, meet new people and ultimately, make my life more exciting.

This weekend I tried something completely out of my comfort zone. I went along to a Flex in the City class run by Nicola (who turns out taught at my old gym, and I had taken her class before!). My Mum volunteered to come and take some snaps of the class, which was a double bonus for me.

I met up with Nicola outside the All Star Bowling lanes on Brick Lane (that made me want to go bowling soon!) and from there we headed to a nearby park to start stretching and warming up. I did warn her in advance just how unflexi I am but I think we were all a little surprised by the lack of mobility in my hip flexors! Probably not helped by the fact that I was working out in my jeans and coat- apparently the jeans help increase your grip on the poles especially over leggings! Another guy, Nick, joined us for the class- they’re open for up to 6 people per session.

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After a great warm up, we left the park to try out our first ‘flex’ on a lamppost. Nicola uses lamp posts a lot in her moves, using them to hang off, pretzel round and plank from. She made it look so easy balancing on the post, while I felt like a big heffalump clambering up. My upper body needs some working on!

I tried, and failed to hold myself off the ground on a different pole, however I did have a good go at ‘the pretzel’!

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We moved to a doorway (of someone’s house- luckily no-one opened the door!), where we bridged in the doorframe. I found this a little awkward with my head poking outside of the frame. Clearly I am NOT a bendy person, although I did find this a lot easier than holding myself up on the pole.

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Moving to a wider frame for the shot of the day;

 

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If you want to try a Flex in the City class with Nicola, she runs sessions every Sunday for £12. If you’re looking to try something a little different, and have a good laugh-probably at yourself- then I would give a Flex in the City class a go! Email her at nicola@nicolachergeismar.com

Training for your First Marathon

Tom is now in week 4 of his marathon training plan, it’s stuck up on the fridge, although apparently he doesn’t get the same satisfaction of crossing off a workout as I do, as the boxes remain unmarked until I remind him. I’ve had a couple of emails and messages about writing a post about training for your first marathon so here are my honest tips, reminders and advice, learnt the hard way over 4 training cycles!

Running Berlin Marathon

  • Don’t necessarily stick to your plan. Most plans aren’t tailor made, and a one size fits all policy won’t work with marathon training. If you’re plan says to run 8 miles but you’ve got a stinking cold and are feeling rubbish- don’t push through it and feel worse afterwards. I’m not saying skip training, but make sensible decisions when it comes to following the prescribed workouts.
  • Everyone will have an opinion- whether it’s on whether running marathons is bad for you, how much you should be training and so on. I personally love a 3-4 run training plan, whilst Tom’s coach has given him a 2 run a week plan. I am finding it really tough to bite my tongue when it comes to my opinion on my plan.
  • Listen to your body- if you feel a niggle somewhere, stretch, ice, see a physio etc, just don’t ignore it!
  • Rest days are just as important as run days!
  • Don’t just run, even if you’re a born runner, cross training, weights and stretching (yoga/pilates) are important tools in your marathon training. Don’t skip them! I personally used to do weights on my short run days then have a full day off after.
  • Recovery is vital, eat well, stretch, foam roll, relax- find what works for you. (I’ll be doing a whole post on this another time!)
  • Don’t obsess over your split times, enjoy some runs watch/app free and just enjoy the run.
  • Test your race day kit, especially your trainers. You’ll need a bit of time to break it in, but make sure they’re not so worn by the big day that they let you down. Similarly, if you can’t use headphones in your race, then practise without music. For the New York Marathon I trained mostly with a hydration pack, however they were banned during the race after the Boston bombings, so I had to switch to a handheld. I used my handheld on my longest run, 22 miles, to ensure it didn’t annoy me too much!
  • You will be hungry ALL THE TIME. It’s OK to eat lots as long as it’s lots of the good stuff, although I hear cake and a latte make a pretty great post run treat- protein, carbs, sugar and fat =recovery, right?
  • Look after your feet; take care of blisters, wear proper sports socks, dry your shoes, and don’t get an aggressive pedicure too close to marathon day! You need some of the hard callousy bits to protect you during the 26.2 miles!
  • You will only do one weekend run hungover, once is enough. It is awful.
  • Take loo paper on all of your long runs, you never know when you might get caught short! On that note, I always bring money and an oyster card too, and my phone for music/directions!
  • It’s hard to fit training into your probably already busy life, you will have to make some sacrifices but it will be worth it in the long run.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or if you have any posts that you’d like to see. I’m always open to suggestions :)

The Battle to Exercise

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There was another discussion this week about how busy I am, how I get up too early everyday to see Tom and have breakfast with him before work and he wishes this wasn’t the case. I completely understand that he’s annoyed that our morning interaction is me kissing him goodbye on the head in the pitch black (about 6.15am) while he grunts and rolls over. It’s not ideal. However I don’t know how to get around it. I like to exercise in the morning, and with an earlier start time at my new job, my workout has to finish by 8.15 latest. My marathon ban just adds to my own frustration when it comes to this argument.

Fighting over exercise isn’t something I’m new to.

I was told in an old job ‘no more lunchtime gym sessions’ as they would often run 5 mins over my hour lunchbreak (I would get in half an hour early to make up for this!). Working in a team where exercise wasn’t a priority made it tough to justify leaving on time to get to a class or taking my lunch hour to workout.

It’s a constant battle to exercise on holiday with both friends and family, where I’m told to just ‘relax’! This IS what I do to relax!! On a family holiday a few years, more than 3 members of my family spoke to me about their concern for my ‘unhealthy exercise habits’. I workout regularly, about 5 days a week for no more than an hour, take at least one full rest days and like to stay active. I’m fit, I’m healthy and I am an appropriate weight and BMI. I know long distance running can be harmful to your knees/body etc but I feel like I have a good balance of workouts, see a physio and generally try to look after myself as best I can. What I don’t understand is why people think it’s ok to criticise your exercise behaviour, yet no-one mentions the person who drinks too much, is overweight or smokes heavily?

On night’s out, I find myself giving excuses as to why I have to leave early or not drink too much. Usually it’s because I’m running the following morning, however this reason is met with groans and exclamations that it’s ‘so weird’ that I would get up early on a weekend morning to exercise. Why is it weird not to want to wake up with a hangover that leaves me confined to the sofa all day, achieving nothing on my two days off?

This comes as reports announce that the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week is ‘unrealistic’. Perhaps if people shift their viewpoint towards exercise and see it as a necessary addition to our day, and not only that but see that it can be a relaxing, enjoyable past time, rather than a punishment and a tool only for losing weight, then there wouldn’t be so many overweight, unfit and unhappy people in the UK!

Do you find yourself justifying why you’re working out or training for something? Have you ever had to battle to exercise? I’d love to know if I’m the only one :)

Photos taken last summer by Abi. 

The Gym Workshop with Birchbox

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I’m loving how everything in January is about fitness and health, it’s never too late to change your life! Birchbox are getting in on it too, teaming up with Women’s Health for this month’s beauty box delivery. To celebrate this union they hosted a fun workout with Lee at The Workshop Gym, tucked inside the delightful Bulgari Hotel.

Our workout was mat based, using just our body weight and the resistance bands that were in our boxes. We started by mobilising our bodies and stretching our hamstrings (my leg is very far from straight in the photo above!).

Stretching the resistance bands around our legs, just above our knees, we completed various exercises including squats, side planks leg lifts, glute bridge,s clamshells, and lateral band walks. We then put the bands around our wrists and planked. My muscles were burning throughout the workout, particularly my glutes!

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We worked in pairs for our final move; one person lay flat down in a glute bridge, the other person balanced on their partners knees and performed tricep dips!

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This class reminded me what a great workout you can get with very little space and equipment- NO EXCUSES!! I love this list of 33 Resistance Band Exercises from Greatist.

Birchbox, if you haven’t heard of them, are a monthly beauty box that gets delivered to your house and contains 5 sample size luxury goodies from both classic beauty brands as well as introducing new companies. You get the chance to try new products without committing to buying a full size (unless you love it!) When I got home I couldn’t wait to take a look at my box, and was thrilled to see a gorgeous Stila lipgloss, a workout challenge booklets (perfect to stash in the gym bag) plus some mini cooling lotion, Philip Kingsley conditioner, REN facewash and some Healgel rescue formula.

Find out more about Birchbox on their website.

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Project Awesome: Working out on the London Underground

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Yesterday morning when my 6am alarm went off I contemplated turning it off, rolling over and going back to sleep. And man am I glad I didn’t.

15 or so uber keen (slightly chilly) fellow Project Awesome goers were waiting at Earls Court station ready to bring some joy to the London Underground on Blue Monday, (officially the most depressing day of the year), led by the huggable, short short wearing Danny Bent.

We marched down the stairs before planking on the Eastbound Piccadilly line platform, much to the bewilderment of fellow commuters and the cameraman from London Live. Jumping onto a slightly busier than anticipated tube, we started to workout! Danny had the commuters pick a card from his deck which corresponded to a move.

Clubs= Knee raises on the bar

Spades = Squats

Diamonds= Lunges/tricep dips on seats

Hearts= Press Ups

Joker- HUG 3 PEOPLE

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I’m not going to lie, I was so embarrassed to start with and was dreading bumping in to someone I knew on their way to work, but once I started I got into it and stopped thinking about how disgusting the tube floor was as I completed my press ups.

At Covent Garden we bade farewell to the horrified passengers and walked/skipped/ran up the 193 steps at the station, can-can at the top and back down again. Our group split up at this point, with a few of us heading off to work, while the rest of the Project Awesome gang got back on the tube to make some more Londoners laugh/feel uncomfortable on their way to work.

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This group of people are so lovely, enthusiastic and positive and it is completely changing my outlook on life. They are teaching me to care less about what other people think, and to care more about smiling, staying active and seeing the good in things. I’m not sure I’ll ever get on board with the stranger hugs however!

Lose your inhibitions and join us- Wednesday’s at The Scoop, London Bridge or Fridays at Primrose Hill at 6.30am.

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