Train Hard with Everyone Active

Who out there, male or female, found the gym intimidating when you first started training? Yup, thought so, my hand is raised too. Row upon row of cardio machines with complicated computer screens, torturous looking resistance apparatus with various attachments, and not to mention the grunts coming from the weight area. Yes, gyms can be an overwhelming space to walk in to, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s where Everyone Active comes in. Being one of the UK’s leading Sport and Leisure Management companies, their aim is to get as many people off their sofas and getting active as possible.

everyone active, gym, leisure centre, fitness

Whilst we’d all love to be able to afford regular 1-to-1 personal training sessions, Everyone Active understands that this isn’t plausible for everyone. That’s why, after an introductory session with one of their Personal Training experts, you’ll be free to train by yourself, at a time that suits, using a tailor-made programme, created just for you.

Once you become a member of one of Everyone Active’s 140 gyms around the UK, you’ll be able to book in for a gym induction and discuss with a PT your personal goals and targets. With their help, you’ll be set up with a training programme to follow every time you come to the gym. Whether it’s training for a race, shaping up for a holiday, or simply gaining strength, they’ll have a programme to suit you. What’s great about Everyone Active’s plans, is that you don’t have to worry about remembering that dog-eared slip of paper each time you come to the gym, or digging around in a filing cabinet for your plan, simply download the Everyone Active app, log in, and see you training plan for the day. Complete with pictures, videos and descriptions of what to on each exercise, you’re good to go, but if you’re in any doubt, someone is always on hand to point you in the right direction.

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Taking the fear out of going to the gym is so important for getting, and staying active. It’s so tempting to stick to those same few exercise you know and trust, but the body can get complacent, and that’s when plateaus start to occur. With Everyone Active’s app, you’ll not only find your own personalised plan, but you also have access to a library of videos, general training plans and group class bookings, to help you achieve your goals.

I’ve been checking out Everyone Active’s Central London location, the Marshall Street Leisure Centre recently, as you’ll have seen in my recent post about getting back to swimming. The gym, currently being refurbished, has everything you need to follow one of their programmes and trainers are nearby if you need them. As well as the 30m pool, there’s also a spa on site and separate changing rooms for wet and dry areas.

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Head over to Marshall Street’s page for information on pricing, and to learn more about what Everyone Active has to offer.

I have been gifted a membership to Marshall Street Leisure Centre in return for this post. All opinions my own, see Disclaimer for more information.

FITmas Gift Guide #5 Wearable Tech

Christmas is just around the corner! There are just a couple more to come in my series of gift ideas for the health and fitness lover in your life. Stuck for ideas for yourself? Maybe these posts will give you some ideas for your wish list too.

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Each new post will feature

Stocking Fillers <£25        Special Treats £25 – £75         Super Splurges £75+

There are so many devices to aid your fitness journey these days, and here are just a tiny selection of ideas for the fitness techie in your world.

FITmas gift guide, christmas, fitness

Pedometer

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The most simple way of keeping track of your every day steps or distance. Great for someone just beginning their fitness journey. This one Karrimor one from Sports Direct is a steal at £5.99

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Fitness Tracker

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This year, fitness trackers have fast risen through the ranks of the most must-have item in your gym bag. Misfit devices Flash and Shine (appx £50-£80 depending on type) track distance, activity, goal setting and links to a smartphone app. The more expensive Shine also tracks sleep. Depending on the accessory, it can be worn on the wrist, on clothing or as a necklace.

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Advanced Fitness Tracker

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Wearable tech, varies in price and technological specification. The Garmin Vivosmart includes all the usual specifications; sleep tracking, steps, calories, and at around £140 also send notifications from your smartphone to your wrist!

Be sure to check out my other FITmas Gift Guide posts!

Disclaimer: I have not been encouraged to feature ANY of the items shown throughout my FITmas Gift Guide. All opinions and gift ideas are my own.

Workout Wednesday – Speedflex

Happy Humpday! It’s Workout Wednesday time again and I want to share with you my most recent discovery in the fitness world…Speedflex.

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Tucked away behind the banks and law firms in the City of London, Speedflex is a dynamic workout aimed to burn more calories than ever before. High intensity but low impact, short sessions of 30 or 45 minutes are designed to suit anyone of any age or fitness ability.

When I was approached to try Speedflex out, I’ll admit to being a little apprehensive. The name Speedflex conjured up images in my mind of military style training, fast, intense and after a long week (well, month) or training and teaching, I wasn’t sure my delicate body would cope

My introduction to Speedflex was split into two sessions, one as an induction to the studio, machines and way of working, and another to try a full 45 minute training session. The first session also included a health assessment, which appealed to the side of me that loves biology and anatomy.

The Health Assessment.

As part of the Speedflex induction, a Level 1 Health Assessment is given. This uses state-of-the-art equipment to read muscle mass, target weight, BMI, percentage body fat and visceral fat.

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With a body fat percentage of 14% I’m just on the bottom end for women. Any lower and I risk disrupted menstrual cycles etc. but with 14% I’m actually pretty pleased, especially considering I’m not super lean. What was most pleasing is that my Visceral Fat Area, the fat that surrounds vital organs which can be dangerous if too high, is only 31.5cm2 which right at the bottom for my age. All the other measurements were normal with no red flags. Just goes to show that hard work really does pay off…I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been and a little smug too!!

Anyway, bragging aside. Having the body composition analysis does help put things into perspective and gives each client of Speedflex targets to work towards.

Speedflex Training.

Now, lots of workout trends claim the ‘burn more calories than ever’ accolade, but without having your own heart-rate monitor, you sort of have to take their word for it. Speedflex have thought of that, and heart-rate monitors are provided and assessed at the end of each session. No escaping there!

In a 45 minute session, I burnt 560 calories. The heart-rate monitors also show how long each person spends in their fat burning zone, and shows this on a big screen throughout. A great way to tap into people’s competitive sides and really get participants to push themselves.

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I reckon anyone could manage a Speedflex session. Even with my joint hypermobility, impact injuries to my lower legs and general fatigue (it was a really long month), I managed the full session with no problems…no problems in terms of pain I mean, it was certainly a hard workout!

I needn’t have been nervous for my first session. The team are friendly, helpful and attentive. The group environment is great, you can feel the camaraderie and I really enjoyed my session! Squats, military presses, rows and similar movements are executed on the resistance machines, followed by lunges, medicine ball work, or abdominal work on the floor.

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I guess I’d describe it to anyone as circuit training with a difference.

Now for the science….

Speedflex uses a specific set of resistance machines that use hydraulics to work the muscles in a concentric way, where the muscles are shortening but without the eccentric load when lengthening the muscles. Eccentric load is where the muscles are lengthening (eg. after a bicep curl) with the stress of holding a free weight for example, this tears muscle fibres and leads to that familiar post-workout soreness – DOMS.

Speedflex promotes little or no muscle soreness post-workout due to the resistance machines putting no eccentric load on the extension, and therefore the muscles can lengthen without tearing the muscle fibres. This gets explained fully in a video on the Speedflex website.

Did I feel any DOMS the day after? In my arms, well no actually! Just a little in my legs, and I was told that could be expected.

Overall a great workout!

Thanks to Entice Communications and Speedflex for my free trial. All opinions are my own, see disclaimer for more details.

Workout Wednesday – SynchroFitness

So just before my holiday you might have seen this rather amusing photo on my instagram and twitter feeds….synchrofitness, synchronised swimming, fitness

…..and now’s the time to explain all about it for this week’s Workout Wednesday post!

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Did you ever splash around in a swimming pool as a child, nearly drowning yourself pretending to be a synchronised swimmer? No? Just me then. Well a couple of weeks ago, a chance following on twitter lead me not only to discover a fantastic new workout, but to be one of the first people to take part in the training to be a SynchroFitness instructor!

What’s It All About?

Founded by an ex-dancer and a competitive synchronised swimmer, SynchroFitness is a fun, social and energising workout based around the techniques of synchronised swimming. Aimed at those who are bored of swimming endless lengths in the pool, SynchroFitness is a low impact, deep end workout that combines cardio and strength building exercises.

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Now, the ladies of SynchroFitness are dreaming big, really big. With just a few classes currently being held in Brighton, they are in the process of getting SynchroFitness accredited by SkillsActive and are prepared to roll it out across the UK and beyond! Think Zumba, but bigger!

What To Expect.

Classes start with a warm-up holding on to the side of the pool in order to lift the heart rate and get the muscles stretched and supple. Next are some basic synchro techniques performed in the deep end and finally there’s the routine. Stretched over a month, each synchro routine is broken down into moves and positions, taught separately and then joined together in formation to create a simple, yet fun group routine.

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Think you’d have no chance of getting the moves? Think again.

I went to the training as a good swimmer but with absolutely ZERO synchronised swimming experience and I loved it. The individual movements are simple and there are options if you don’t feel confident enough to go fully underwater or flip or roll.

So keep up-to-date on the SynchroFitness team on twitter or their website, and maybe one day soon you’ll be able to try it yourself, in London, with yours truly!!

Top 10 Dance College Essentials

September is here and it’s time for new students to be buying all their kit ready their first year of university. Scary and exciting times, make even more terrifying by that fact that I started uni TEN YEARS AGO!!

How on earth did that happen and where has the time gone?!

Dance College Essentials Featured

Heading to dance / performing arts / musical theatre college? Of course you’ll need the usual; pens, notebooks, dance history books and all the rest, but vocational courses, like dance or theatre, also need specialist equipment.

Here are top 10 ‘must haves’ for dance college.

1: Leotards a-plenty. Check if you are allowed wear colour or only black. I bought most of mine from Dance Direct, very suitable for a student budget. Bloch and Capezio are also favourites. You will need a lot. At least one a day, maybe more depending on the intensity of your training, then they need to go through the wash cycle. I’d say 7 should do it…at least. I think I had about 10.

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2: Tights! Pink, black, tan, convertible, footless, black fishnet, tan fishnet. OK the latter two aren’t so essential until show time but it won’t hurt to be prepared. You will not believe how easy it is to rip tights. Buy lots. If you have a locker, always keep spare in there for emergencies.

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3: Dance Shoes. Ballet shoes, jazz shoes, tap shoes, New Yorker heels (tan and/or black), pointe shoes (if applicable, don’t buy new, stick to your comfy broken in ones), foot thongs (more popular for jazz and contemporary these days), clean soled trainers (if hip hop or street jazz is included).

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4: Hair Styling Bits. Bun pins, bun nets, bobby pins, kirby grips, oodles of hair ties, hairspray for assessment time, head band for unruly fringes. You will need them all and lose them dozens of times.

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5: Cover Ups. Studios can be cold first thing on a December morning! Layering is key, simple cotton or knitted jumpers are useful for the beginning of class but bear in mind you’ll probably not be allowed to wear them after barre. Easy to pull on baggy trousers to wear for your non-dance classes are handy to not get too cold.

6: The Right Bag: You might get a locker which is great, if not, your bag needs to be big enough to carry all the kit needed for that day. This could include multiple shoes, singing folder, lecture notes, change of clothes and more. I should really recommend a backpack to keep your shoulders even, but these Sweaty Betty and Head bags are nice too!

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7: Healthy Snacks. I cannot say this enough, you NEED to fuel your body, especially when transitioning from dancing maybe two or three times a week to full-time training. Think protein bars, energy balls, granola, fruit.

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8: Make-Up. Now, believe it or not, some schools request make-up to be worn every day! I’m not a fan of that, but when it comes to shows you will need full stage make-up. Invest in good stage make-up that will be kinder to your skin and provide the best overall look. If you don’t have to wear it every day as a rule…don’t.

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9: SLEEP! I include this in my essentials because you will need it. As exciting has your new housemates, or halls of residence, or local club might be, remember that not all your student mates will have 9am ballet the following day. Be sensible and get a decent amount of rest for you body.

10: GOOD ATTITUDE! The impression you make at college will influence your future career in the performing world. Work hard, don’t skip that boring lecture with the annoying hippy teacher because everyone else does. Learn your songs, be in the right kit, on time, rested and ready to dance your socks off. ALL DAY.

You are about to live the dream of 1000s of other applicants that didn’t get accepted. Appreciate it and enjoy it!

Where are you off to? Anyone heading to London Studio Centre where I trained?

 

Workout Wednesdays – Ab Blast

It’s that time of week again and today’s Workout Wednesdays post is all about the abs!!

workout wednesdays, abs, workout, fitness

Now I will never claim that dozens of crunches and sit-ups will give you an amazing 6-pack…it won’t. Sorry, but that’s the truth! A combination clean diet, fat-burning cardio and core exercises will develop a 6-pack if that’s what you want, but in my experience, most ladies (and gents) would simply like a little more tone and strength.

What abdominal exercises alone will give you is core strength, and that in my eyes is essential for posture, eliminating lower back pain etc.

So today I’m sharing with you my favourite ab exercises. Not a crunch or sit-up in sight!

Flat Back

Spine neutral (not pressed to the floor, neither forcefully arched away from it), table top knees (90 degree angle).

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Single toe taps: Imagine you’re dipping your big toe in water, keep the angle of the knee the same and don’t let the back arch away from the floor. Alternate for 20 reps.

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Double toe taps: Take both feet towards the floor, but only go half way, never let the back change shape! Option to reach arms overhead at the same time. Repeat slowly for 15 reps.

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Head, Neck & Shoulder Curl

Try to get shoulder blades off the floor, table top knees.

Arm pulses: Reach arms off floor and press down to the floor at a steady rhythm. Repeat for 30 – 50 reps.fitness, abs, workout

Scissor kicks: Tough one this! Reach one leg to the ceiling and the other just hovering off the floor, change legs smoothly keeping shoulders lifted. Option to hold onto top leg or keep arms reaching away.

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Cycle: Everyone knows this one. Opposite knee to chest, hands behind head, and cycle away!!

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Deep Curl

Start upright, hold onto thighs and curl down until you can feel a little shake in your abs (use arm strength to help you), look at your belly button, actively scoop it in.

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Arm raises: Reach arms above the head and back down, feel how the higher you reach, the more the abs work!

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Twist: Hands to prayer and twist around as far as you can. Add an extra wrap around for 15 reps, repeat second side.

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Back To Flat Back

Back to your starting position but with both legs up to the ceiling, turned out (heels together, toes apart).

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Criss-cross: Bring one leg over the other and start to criss-cross at the knee or above. Criss-cross down x4, up x4. Repeat for 10 – 12 reps.

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And finish with a trusty 1 minute plank!

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All this should get the abs fired up. Any questions, as always, just ask!

I’m getting a new camera this week….yay! So I’m thinking of starting myself a youtube channel and filming these workouts. How would you like that?!