The Decathlon Blogger Community

When I’ve heard friends and bloggers talk about Decathlon, and when I’ve briefly popped into, or passed a store, I’ve assumed its for outdoorsy people and runners. How wrong I was! When I finally looked into the company, I found that not only is their company ethos ‘Making Sport Accessible For The Many’ but they stretch far beyond hiking and running. A multi-brand empire, they cater for all things gym, cycling, swimming, running, trekking and much more. So when I was then invited to be part of Decathlon’s Blogger Community, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the company, and also spread the word about what Decathlon has to offer.

As an introduction to the brand, and as a meet up for the Decathlon bloggers, I recently headed to their Canada Water HQ for an evening of sport and trivia. Aside from having a catch up with some of my favourite blogging buddies, and meeting new ones too, it was a chance for me to explore the Decathlon enterprise.

And what an enterprise it is! With stores in 40+ countries across the world, and 33 (and growing) in the UK, Decathlon has big ambitions for the future. Championing quality brands such as Domyos – for fitness, Quechua – for outdoors and camping, Tribord – for anything water based, and more, their strive for excellence and a wide range of options. As I mentioned before, their company ethos is all about making sport accessible, but they’re also innovative, having won numerous awards for their own products. These include Best Tent and Best Road Bike to name but a few.

The evening itself was a team circuit training session and sport quiz. Did we get competitive?? I’d be lying if I said no, but we’re all sporting people in one way shape or form, so perhaps that was to be expected. Fun times aside, the Decathlon Bloggers Community is as varied as the company itself (famously there are 350 different sports played among their staff), from me the yogi/PT, to marathon and ultra marathon bloggers, active travel and everything in between, check out the rest of the crew on Decathlon’s website.

Stay tuned as I share more about the brand and their products in the future. Thanks Decathlon for including me in your growing community, I can’t wait to get more involved!!

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Be Who You Want To Be At Moreno Boxing

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’s only one thing I’ve found that literally gives me jelly arms, and that’s boxing. I’ve done a few classes at some of London’s boutique boxing style studios, and I really enjoy not only the workouts, but the obvious stress release that hitting a punch bag can give you. I’d heard of Moreno Boxing before, since Carlos Moreno opened his first studio close to where I used to live in Dalston, but as his enterprise grows, a new location has opened up in Clapham. Last week, I was invited, along with some of my favourite blogger buddies, to try his signature classes.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Carlos Moreno

Former amateur boxing champion, Carlos Moreno, founded Moreno Boxing in 2015, when he saw a gap in the market where people could get fit, learn boxing the proper, technical way, without the need or desire to enter into any kind of fight or competition. Focusing on teaching real technique instead of ‘boxercise’ style moves, as well as strength training and cardio, Moreno Boxing soon became the stand out studio for boxing training with clients quickly seeing results and achieving their goals.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Carlos hand picks his trainers and keeps it simple with just two classes on offer at both locations; Technical Intensive Boxing (TIB) and Intensive Boxing Cross Training (IBXT). Us bloggers had the privilege of trying out both classes at last week’s event, and boy did we work hard!!

Technical Intensive Boxing

Armed with pads and gloves, Carlos took us through the proper technical way to jab, cross, hook and upper cut. This class breaks down the movement piece by piece, including how to defend and how the legs help to, excuse the pun, pack a real punch!! Then, working in pairs, we built up some punch sequences, developing our co-ordination, strength, power and agility.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

I loved this class more than I expected to. Learning the proper way to punch, and safely receive a punch on the pads inspired me to look into training further, and incorporating pad work into what I offer as a Personal Trainer.

Intensive Boxing Cross Training

Aimed to compliment the TIB class, IBXT combines classic boxing drills with crossfit style sessions incorporating kettlebells, battle ropes, barbells and much more. A class aimed to not only improve strength but cardio and endurance as well, it’s a super tough workout that trains the whole body.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

Due to injury, I didn’t take part in this class, but wow, did it look like a killer session. I’ve no doubt that anyone attending these classes regularly would see amazing changes in their fitness levels.

The Studios

Equipped with everything you need for a great sessions, Moreno Boxing has a ‘no-frills’ approach to its studios. The new Clapham location has a full-sized boxing ring, crossfit rig and state of the art, water filled punch bags. Both locations provide gloves and pads, and you can purchase hands wraps as well.

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

boxing, moreno boxing, carlos moreno, fitness

All in all, I was very impressed with what Moreno Boxing has to offer. Just chat to Carlos for a minute or two and you can see how passionate he is about his sport and sharing his skills and knowledge with everyone around him. If you’ve never tried boxing before, then give it a go. If nothing else, you’ll have the immense satisfaction of release the day’s stresses against an innocent punch bag, and leave knowing you’ve had one amazing workout.

Thanks to Eliza and Healthy Living London for organising a great event. It was so great to catch up with some of my favourite blogging buddies over healthy treats from The Urban Kitchen and Borrow My // Blender, as well as have a great workout.

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British 10k – A Spectator’s Point of View

Being a fitness blogger that doesn’t run, it’s not very often that I’m invited to take part in races, so when a lovely email came along from Virgin Sport British 10K, my first instinct was to decline politely as always, explaining that my joint condition doesn’t allow for high impact activities such as running. Then I got to thinking, my boyfriend is a very keen runner, having run half marathons and 10Ks in the past, and I’ve never actually been to watch a major race in London, so I suggested that he run in my place, and I write about my experiences as a race spectator…so that’s what we did!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

A Word on the Race

Now, even though I’m writing from a spectator’s point of view, it’d be a bit silly of to not mention Cyrus’s experience at all! So here’s a little insight into his race, and how we found the whole process from start to finish line.

Pre-race, Cyrus’s had a rather early wake-up call, being in one of the earliest start pens. We headed into a very empty Central London, spotting other runners on the tube, race numbers at the ready, bleary-eyed supporters clutching coffee cups as they gave up their Sunday mornings to watch their loved ones run around Westminster (I was one of them too).

As we got closer to the bag drop area, things started to get busier, but everything was clearly sign posted, with specific areas for dropping belongings relating to race number. As I understand from other bloggers who have done these races, the long toilet queues are inevitable, but staff were on hand to helpfully move people to other queues that were shorter, and everyone seemed fairly jovial despite the early start.

During the race, Cyrus reported a decent number of water stations, essential considering it was 25 degrees and getting warmer by 9am, and a clearly marked route taking in some of the great London scenery.

virgin sport, british 10k, running

From the Sidelines

After dropping Cyrus off at blogger hospitality, I made my way to the main spectator area at Trafalgar Square. An hour or so before the race was due to start, it was still largely empty save the entertainment sound check, a couple of early bird charity cheering stations being set up, and one or two faithful family members setting up camp with coffee and bacon sandwiches….yep, that was me too!

Virgin Sport had set up Fan Zones, with a nifty little route between each location to make seeing the runners at different stages easier for spectators – or ‘spectathletes’ as they like to call them. Complete with live music and entertainment, they made the day a fun-filled event for the whole family.

virgin sport, british 10k, running

My biggest fear, despite being right at the front of the fence, was that I’d miss seeing my other half running past. I had no idea how spread out runners would be, how the tracking would work, or even his exact starting time. The Virgin Sport App allowed me to select Cyrus’s race number, and those of some other blogging buddies I knew were running, and supposedly follow them on the app using their trackers. Unfortunately, both myself, and the girl I’d got chatting with next to me who was trying to track her husband, couldn’t connect properly to the trackers. They didn’t seem to activate properly until 5k, we were standing at 4k!

Whether our internet was a little sluggish, or the trackers were having trouble activating, all of the people I were following were reporting as ‘Waiting to Start’ and suddenly kicked to life around the 5k mark. We were waiting at 4k, and luckily I managed to sport Cyrus, purely by watching race numbers that were in the same starting pen letter as him, and by roughly knowing which pacer he’d be running with. After that, his tracker worked perfectly, allowing me to follow where he was on the route, and meet him after the finish line.

Despite this little glitch, being a spectathlete was great! Once the runners started going past, the crowds increased, cheering was abundant and everyone was having fun. Virgin Sport made it easy to negotiate the closed London roads with a special route for the spectathletes to follow. Getting back to the bag drop was simple, and the day was done!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

Many thanks to Virgin Sport for allowing Cyrus to take my place, and for a super fun race day. We were lucky that the weather played ball and provided us with a gorgeous, sunny morning and Cyrus ran a very respectable 46.55 minutes!! With his very cool new bling around his neck, we headed for a well deserved roast dinner and then home for a little nap. All in all, a Sunday well spent!

virgin sport, british 10k, running

If you’re thinking about entering a Virgin Sport event, go for it! And if you’re a spectator, do go along and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s very exciting when your loved one runs past. I was so excited to cheer for Cyrus, I forgot to take a photo!! Luckily, a free race photo captured his race perfectly.

Thank you Virgin Sport!

My boyfriend received a complimentary place in the British 10k in return for this post. All views my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.

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4 of my Favourite Super Smoothies

I love a good smoothie, and will happily have one for breakfast, as a post-workout refuel, or as a liquid afternoon snack. Smoothies can help you increase your daily intake of fruit or vegetables, allow for a light meal on the go (note: light meal, I don’t use smoothies as a meal replacement apart from breakfast) and also help with hydration levels. Having recently spent an evening with John Lewis Retail, talking all things blender related, I thought I’d share some smoothie facts, and some my favourite recipes, with you all.

smoothies, health, nutrition

Did you know that the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables has increased? It is now advised that adults should consume 2 portions of fruit, and a whopping 7 portions of vegetables per day. If this sounds like a little too much for your dinner plate, then smoothies are the way to go. Increasing the amount of vegetables as opposed to fruits helps to control sugar intake and the effects of acidic fruit on the teeth and stomach acid / gut health. The liquid element of a smoothie also helps with hydration especially if, like me, you’re not so good with drinking plain water. Just a 2% decrease in hydration level can affect performance in work or exercise, and stimulants such as tea or coffee only exacerbate the dehydration in the body.

smoothies, health, nutrition

When Should I Have My Smoothie?

There are many schools of thought as to when the optimum time should be to pre-fuel, or re-fuel before or after exercise. I am going by what I learnt while studying for my nutrition diploma, but there are other feeding methods out there!

Pre-workout: at least an hour before exercise, with essential fatty acids for energy.

Simple Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • Oat / almond / coconut / dairy milk to desired consistency

 

Green Elixir

  • 1 handful kale
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 cup pineapple, cubed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Splash honey & superfood powder (optional)
  • Coconut water to desired consistency

 

smoothies, health nutrition

Post-workout: within 30 minutes of a workout, with a form of carbohydrate to replenish the glycogen storage without causing a spike in insulin levels. Depending on the type of exercise, protein can be added however, protein should only be used if the workout was high intensity or strength training!

Banana Boost

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
  • Oat / almond / coconut / dairy milk to desired consistency

 

Berry Blast

  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful raspberries
  • 1 handful blackberries
  • 1 mango
  • 1 large handful kale
  • Coconut water to desired consistency
  • (1 scoop vanilla protein powder if required)

 

smoothies, health, nutrition

These are my personal favourites, but the choices are endless. A good rule of thumb when experimenting with smoothies is 1/3 fruit, 2/3 vegetables, but it really depends on your personal preference. If I fancy something sweet, I’ll crank up the berries and save the veggies for another day. As long as you’re balanced in your approach (as with life in general), a little extra sugar occasionally won’t be the end of the world.

There are plenty of pre-made smoothie kits available now, my favourites are from Pack’d as they include a little sachet of super food powered to boost your smoothie. New smoothie company, Pure Smoothie Box, can even send you a box of ingredients straight to your door, all portioned out with recipes ready for your week ahead.

smoothies, health, nutrition

Pure Smoothie Box

So why not experiment with some smoothies next time you have the 3pm energy slump….or tell me your current favourite smoothie, and I’ll give it a try myself!

Becoming a Personal Trainer – Choosing a Course

You’ve made the decision, the fitness industry is for you. But you don’t just want any old job, you want to be on the front line when it comes to helping people to be the best version of themselves they can be. What next? You might ask. The answer is quite simple. Get qualified. Over the next couple of months, I want to not only take you through my journey to becoming a PT, but also shed some light on what can be a confusing sector to break in to.

The fitness industry is full to bursting when it comes to training options. A simple online search reveals a plethora of courses for you to make your way as a fitness instructor or trainer. The first thing to do is to decide exactly what it is you want to be doing, or at least what you want to be working towards.

natasha wynn, personal training, PT

Fitness Instructor – exercise to music, indoor cycling, aqua fitness.

Personal Trainer – Gym Based – taking clients within a gym or leisure centre.

Personal Trainer – Independent – training clients in parks, in their homes, or in your own space.

Personal Trainer – Specialised – taking referrals from medical professionals for special population groups (obesity, pre/post natal, cancer rehab, lower back pain).

Once you’ve chosen your role, it’s time to train. I cannot stress the importance of training enough! I will reiterate this on numerous occasions over this series… A good instagram following does not equal a good qualification! Getting a Fitness Qualification of some sort allows you to become registered with REPs (more in a later post), get appropriate public liability insurance, and gives you credibility in a world saturated with ‘experts’.

When choosing your training company, always get recommendations, from your PT if you have one, from the trainers lurking at your gym, and yes, perhaps from the fitness blogger who has a proven client base and all the right training themselves. Once you’ve collected names of companies, do some decent research into each one. Some great questions to be asking are:

  • How the course is run? Full time intensive? Part time? Distance?
  • Who is it run by? What are their credentials?
  • What’s their pass rate, are there job opportunities for graduates?
  • Which Training Provider is the course is accredited to (YMCA Awards, ActiveIQ, City & Guilds etc.)
  • If it’s distance learning, how long are you expected to take to complete the course? Are there cut off dates, or extension fees?
  • How much any face-to-face practical training is there?

natasha wynn, personal training, PT

Once you’ve got all this research, you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you. Everyone has their base-lines, perhaps for you it’s price, or how long the course takes. Sometimes, it’s simply a feel for the people you’ve been talking to.

I decided that I wanted to work towards my Level 3 Personal Training, and so would have to combine Level 2 and 3 together. Price was a big thing for me, as I’m very much on a budget, but didn’t want to compromise on quality of training. The Fitness Circle was one of the most affordable courses I came across, incredibly flexible with time, and run by an ex-professional dancer. Not only did we have that in common, but after dancing, Debra Bell went on to study for a degree in Sport Science, ensuring she had all the knowledge possible to changer her career. All these things lead me to choose them for my training, and I’m very glad I did!

natasha wynn, personal training, PT

It took me a long time to get to my final decision on who to train with, it’s a lot of money, and not a decision that should be rushed. My advice is to take your time, research, and ask lots and lots of questions. In my next post learn more about The Fitness Circle, and how I found the training with them as I get closer to my assessments and exams!

The Hypermobile Yogi – Classes

Inspired by an article on Yoga International (shared by yoga teacher Adam Husler), I’ve decided to take a moment to show how having Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) affects me as a yogi. It’s been a long while since I shared ‘My Hypermobile Life’ with you all, and I’m going to try to not repeat myself too much, but as each year (and injury) goes by, I get a better understanding of how my complicated body works…or doesn’t as the case may be. I’m going to break my yoga experiences down into 3 posts; Asanas. Classes. Recovery.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t lock your elbow. Don’t sink into your hip. Don’t overly twist your neck.

Class Planning

Through chatting to my own clients, most people’s approach to classes and working out is; Sunday night – plan and book classes for the week, go to class, get a sweat on, go home. It may sound ridiculous, but I have to consider a whole lot more before deciding whether to go to class or not.

Firstly, is my body ok? I listen intently to my body and pay close attention to niggles, aches and pains. With JHS, I suffer with chronic pain at times, so I’m used to being in pain, what I have to pay attention to is new pain, and decipher whether that’s something simple like ‘I’ve popped my shoulder out while asleep’ – yep, that happens – or something more sinister. Saying that however, I’d probably still go to class!

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t turn your elbows backwards. Don’t just drop your chest. Don’t pop your shoulders.

Secondly is what kind of class my body needs. People with JHS suffer with chronic pain, heart palpitations (I also have a heart condition, or two), low blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems and depression. This is due to the body producing more adrenaline to compensate for the extra elasticity in the blood vessels. If I want to go to class, I have to decide whether it’s a fast paced, dynamic practice, a hot yoga session, or a slower, deeper, more technical class. On a day where I simply want to curl up and stay in bed…I’ll book into one of my favourite teachers’ classes and make myself go, regardless of the style, and I’ll just practice cautiously. I never regret going to yoga!

Other Classes

In terms of non-yoga classes, that’s a whole other ball game! High impact classes are almost a no-go for me, and other classes such as boxing, aerial or ballet have to be considered according to what else has been happening that week. Sometimes, I simply opt for a gym session where I can tailor my workout to what I need.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobility

Don’t crunch your lower back. Don’t drop your neck back. Don’t pop your shoulders.

During class, other than controlling my joints during each asana, it’s essential to consider the transitions between each posture. Sometimes, if I stand up from the sofa too fast, I get that head rush feeling, imagine how intense that can get in a hot yoga room, returning from a deep backbend. Add to that the likelihood that I might have crunched down on my neck in said backbend, that’s a recipe for passing out. Slow and steady wins the race, and even in super-charged Rocket Yoga, it’s important to take an extra breath of stillness when needed.

Keeping all that in mind, my decision to go to yoga is often made the morning of the class. I’d love to pre-plan my weeks to include classes, as most often I take the same classes each week, but I can’t predict how my body will feel. Quite often in the past, I have been overambitious with my body, and have had to cancel last minute.

yoga, yogabloggers, hypermobiltiy

Breathe!

Once I’ve done class, it becomes about recovery and making sure I don’t hurt the next day. Through nutrition and taking care of myself with adequate rest, it’s time to listen to my body and think about when my next class will be. My next post will focus on A Hypermobile Yogi – The Recovery.

All Images: Will Patrick