Reality bites...

Quite often, the ladies I train come to me and tell me that they have seen fantastic results in the form of feeling great, a change in their body shape, but no real weight loss. I am always quick to assure them that this is likely to be due to the fact that they have increased their muscle mass and with muscle weighing more than fat a static weight is not unusual.

It's funny though how accepting that information myself, as a Trainer, is hard to swallow.

The test laboratory
I have always kept an eye on my weight, not a close eye but I always know where I am. Since leaving University my weight has been around 61 - 62.5kg as a normal range. I'm a (UK) dress size 10 and happy! On Monday, I donated my body in the name of science as I normally do every quarter, to testing for the FitFlop. Part of the testing involves taking your weight and height. Well, this was interesting! My weight came out at 65.7kg! Somewhere...I gained 3 - 4kg...and I don't know where. I still fit in my clothes and I just ran a half marathon so my thoughts are that it's muscle!?! Currently, I teach 3 classes per week and usually have another 1 or 2, plus train myself once or twice a week. Compare this to a year ago when I taught 1 class per week and probably trained twice myself.

Although I can accept that part of it is muscle mass, I think I have lost some focus over the past year. As Personal Trainers, sometimes we forget to set our own SMART goals because we are so motivated to help others reach their goals...

I racked my mind to remember if I had set myself any goals and I found a little note on my office pin board which I believe I wrote around this same time, 2011. I think these goals are still important and very relevant to me, however, I should have made them SMART. So, there is no better time than now to review them, and refocus before Christmas, ready for 2013. I will also be looking at my nutrition as I feel I have picked up a few bad habits  such as oatcakes (nutritious) with nutella; not planning my meals for the week, so just having a bowl of pasta with a ready made sauce and probably having portion sizes that are too large!

So what's my plan? 

1. Start planning my meals on a weekly basis
If you don't already plan your meals for the week here is a printable meal planner from Life in Yellow (found via Pinterest) that you can use to keep organised!

2. Review and set my SMART goals 

3. Use David Kirsch's NYBD for 2 weeks starting 5th December

4. Achieve my goals!

So what were your goals for 2012? Did you achieve them? What about 2013, have you thought about that?! Share your ups and downs with me here...

Elle ;) x


Pole Position; Intermediate 1 (Week 2)

Week 2 came around as quick as you could say "Pole Fitness". The bonus was that my upper body had recovered well; the bad news...I pulled a muscle in my neck which was really REALLY sore! That and a sore finger which I have had for the past 2 weeks! It seems to me that an athlete never has a well week!
Swan Lift
A lot of things became apparent this week:

1. Nothing was easy. I asked my teacher Christina if we were expected to pull off a flawless dance routine at the end of the 5 weeks. I felt reassured when she informed me that everyone repeats the course 2 or 3 times before they move onto Intermediate 2. Phew!

2. Practising between classes may help me progress faster. Christina also suggested Vinyasa Yoga and lots of press up / abdominal exercises. Check out my Core Exercise Drill Pack for some ideas :)

3. It hurt. A LOT. I remember this being the case previously, but it takes a few weeks to acclimatise to the pain and it seems I am not yet there. Pole also brings about many bruises in many places (see diagram below)
Pole bruises

4. Hard work = sweat. Sweat = no grip on the pole. No grip on the pole = hard to do anything! I'm an avid user of hand cream which I think does not help. I have been told that my hands will sweat less as time goes on, and I try very hard not to rely on grip products.  

5. Things to work on this week include going from standing into an inverted straddle, my endurance and pole sit (sitting on pole using thighs only to hold on; sounds easy but it's quite painful!)

I have a copy of the routine so I can practice in between classes and I see that next week we will be moving onto the next part of the routine which includes handstands!

What can I say other than, onwards...and upwards ;)

Elle :) x

Check out Week 1 of the Intermediate course and My Pole Story before Intermediate 1...


Friends in high places ;)

Working in an office often means that I work through my lunch break and eat at my desk. We all know this is unhealthy and yet we continue to do it. So when I got an offer to spend my lunch break in the great outdoors trying out suspension training, I couldn't say no!

First up, what is suspension training?! Wikipedia describes it as
"...an approach to fitness training that uses a system of ropes and webbing called a "suspension trainer" to allow the user to work against their own body weight. These (exercises) are done with the aim of developing strength, balance, flexibility, and joint stability simultaneously."
Setting up on the swings
Off Lex and I went to the kids playground at Imperial War Museum and strapped up to the swings. It was drizzling, but it was bright and not particularly cold. We did a short warm up; some light jogging, fast feet, high knees etc before getting down to the tough stuff! This is what we managed to fit in before the swings got taken over by miniature people...
Suspended lunge

Assisted squat jumps
Upper body:
Bicep curls, Overhead tricep extension, Pec flye

Lower body:
Assisted split jumps, Assisted squat jumps, Suspended lunge

Suspended froggers, Suspended side knee tucks

With arms already tired from my hoop, pole and NTC antics, this took me to shaking point! The core exercises were definitely targeting the right areas but my arms were too tired to hold me up for too many reps!

I'm looking forward (slightly masochistic!) to the pain I will be in the next day though! I just keep telling myself, sore today...STRONG tomorrow...

So, what's for lunch?! You can even combine a walk or cycle to your favourite lunchtime restaurant for some healthier options!

Elle ;) x


Pole Position; Intermediate 1 (Week 1)

Eighteen months since finishing the preceding Elementary course, I was back  for Intermediate 1 where we would learn inversions (going upside down) and inevitably be taught an even more complicated dance routine to link all of our new found pole skills and tricks together. I was not wrong!

Inverted V
I was a little apprehensive as my upper body was still sore from the last weeks' training, and I was unsure if my upper body and core strength had improved since my last pole course. There was no time to worry though as we jumped straight in! After a warm up, we completed some conditioning exercises such as pull ups on the pole and scissor kicks. We practised our "hangback" starting on the floor to get a feel for the position, then progressed onto the pole and added crunches to work our abdominal muscles.

We soon got down to business and moved onto a basic inversion. I had taught myself to do this at home quite a while ago so I wasn't sure if I remembered how! I managed it a few times with no problem before I got tired and we had to move onto something else.

After learning a few more new moves, we put them all together into the start of the Intermediate 1 jazz dance routine which was choreographed to "We Are Young" by Fun. (see video below). I now have a week to recover, and maybe get some practice in at home before I do it all over again...and more...!

Elle ;) x

Check out My Pole Story before Intermediate 1...


The marvels that Monday brings...

No surprise that it is Monday morning all over again; somehow the weekends just seem to whiz by!

This Monday though, will be the reveal of which Nike Training Club (NTC) class has won the Fuel Challenge. The competition was to see which class could rack up the most Nike Fuel in their session. I had the pleasure of teaching 4 of the classes in the competition - Westfield London, Stratford, and 2 Clapham Common classes. Keep an eye out on the NTC FB page for the results...

Fuel results at Clapham (Sunday) 2341 #NikeFuel
This weekend, I also got to try out some new kit for training outdoors. One new addition to my collection were a pair of Nike Legend Tight Fit Pants in grey heather. I'm pretty sure that at one point or another we (ladies) have all made the mistake of wearing grey leggings to work out, only to feel slightly embarrassed when sweat patches occur in unsightly places. Needless to say I was a little sceptical about wearing these! However, they fit just as great as my previous pair in black even though the material feels like it has more elasticity and the only marks on them at the end of the session were from me rubbing my muddy hands down my thighs! What kit have you got to keep you warm when running or training outdoors?

Guess which one is me?! ;)
Then, remember my Aerial Hoop class on Wednesday night last week?? (If not, you can read all about it here). Well! To this day, I still have considerable muscle soreness in my upper body! But I know that once I am fully recovered, I will be stronger! No time to waste though; I am off to start the next chapter of my Pole Story tonight with my first class of the 5 week intermediate course. My bag is all packed; shorts, sports bra, t-shirt, and the highest heels I could find! ...wish me luck! I still think pole is one of the best forms of exercise out there! What is your favourite piece of equipment? or favourite class that gets you the results you want?

Come back soon to find out how week 1 of my pole course goes...and also if I lead a class to victory in the Fuel Challenge...

Elle ;) x


All the hoopla about Aerial Hoop

It's the morning after the night before and I can confirm that I have not run off with the circus! But I did finally make it to try out an Aerial Hoop class! I'm feeling a little tender, but not in the usual places. The joints of my fingers ache, my palms are sore, and the back of my knees feel like they would be bruised (if I were the type that bruises easily). Don't think for a minute though that I didn't enjoy all 1 hour and 15 minutes of this class! It took me back to my primary school days; the memories of swinging round and round on the climbing frame! It was somewhat easier in those days though as I was fearless and also half the weight I am now! Naturally!

Aerial Hoop by Flying Fantastic at Gymbox, Farringdon

The aerial hoop (also known as the lyraaerial ring or cerceau) is a circular steel apparatus (resembling a hula hoop) suspended from the ceiling, on which artists may perform aerial acrobatics.

The Before 
First things first, the class is for both beginners and intermediate so no circus experience is required! I was unsure what to wear so I opted for some capri leggings, sports bra and long sleeved top. Socks are optional, and shoes are not necessary.

The During
Picture from Hoop Monster
A thorough warm up was followed with one heck of a session! The first skill I learnt was getting onto the hoop. Sounds easy? Hmmm. It consisted of hanging from the hoop, bringing my knees to my chest, rolling over into a pike position (as pictured but on the lower end of the hoop), THEN lifting my legs up and over the hoop so it was between my knees. From there, you grab the hoop with both arms, pull your upper body up while you straighten your legs and slide into a seated position. THERE!

That made me sweat! ...I realised this was all much harder than it looked. It was a great upper body workout though which is an area I need to work on.

Man on the moon
We did plenty more moves, which all began with the above just to get on the hoop. One of my favourites was called 'man on the moon'; it looked and felt very elegant.

The After
I have detailed the short term effects in the introduction to this review and I fear that DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) will set in fully tomorrow. The long term effects though are much more desirable! It's a great upper body workout with lots of arm, shoulder and core strength involved. Check out the Drill Packs for Arms & Shoulders and your Core to get a head-start. It will also improve your flexibility over time, and your control. There was no cardio element to this class but I still worked up a sweat.

And then some...
Drop in classes cost £18, however you can make a saving if you book a course. Check out the Flying Fantastic website for all the information!

If you wait for the perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done! Get out there, try new things and you will reach your goals!

Elle :) x


Paella; but not as you know it!

In my younger days, my food repertoire was very limited. I didn't eat vegetables (with the exception of sweetcorn) and I especially didn't eat fishy things. Since then, I have come a long way. I eat a much more healthy and varied diet as well as introducing new foods. The fish thing, I'm getting there... I tried king prawns a few years ago and am happy to cook them these days :)

So here is a favourite recipe of mine! It's great for midweek, and you can store and take to lunch the next day...

Paella Fried Rice (BBC Good Food)
serves 4, ready in 15 minutes


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 small chorizo sausages, cut into slices
  • onion , sliced
  • garlic clove , chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 600g cooked plain rice
  • 200g frozen cooked prawns
  • 100g frozen peas
  • lemon wedges, to serve

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan. Tip in the chorizo, onion and garlic, then cook for a couple of mins until softened. Stir through turmeric, followed by the rice, prawns and peas and 150ml boiling water.
  2. Keep stirring until everything is warmed through and the water has been absorbed. Serve with lemon wedges.
Nutrition per serving:
347 kcalories, protein 20g, carbohydrate 50g, fat 9 g, saturated fat 2g, fibre 2g, sugar 3g, salt 1.19 g

I always throw in a bit more chorizo as I love the flavour. There is no reason you couldn't add other vegetables to get more of your 5-a-day.

If you add this to your menu this week, or next, leave a comment and let me know what you think! Also, if you don't already plan your meals for the week here is a printable meal planner from Life in Yellow (found via Pinterest) that you can use to keep organised!

Elle :) x


Rise of the Exergame!

Who remembers when dance mats hit arcades?! I was one of many kids keen to spend my money playing tis game and trying to show off some skills ;) Today, these types of games have come as far as our very own living rooms; in my case, in the form of a Wii.

I bought my Wii console because I wanted the Wii fit game and the Wii fit board so I needed the Wii. Such games have now become known as 'exergames'; computer games which use your body and movement to control what goes on. Since buying my Wii, I added Zumba Fit, Mario Kart, Wii Sports, Just Dance and Zumba Fit 2 to my collection. The problem is, if I'm honest, that's exactly what they are! A collection...gathering dust in my living room. After the novelty wore off of the chick on YouTube hula hooping in her knickers, I became less interested and inspired by these games. The only ones that actually work me to a level that I would deem exercise are Zumba Fit 1 and 2.

This month though, saw the launch of Nike+ Training for the Xbox Kinect. I'm intrigued to try it but I unfortunately don't have an Xbox at this moment in time. But my real interest is in whether or not these exergames actually provide any significant benefits to our health and fitness...here is the evidence that has been found...

Summary (The British Heart Foundation, 2012)

x Most exergames are considered to be a light-to-  
moderate intensity activity for both adults and  
children. In older adults, most games are likely to  
be a light intensity activity.

x  Exergames provide an alternative to sedentary  
behaviours, but they only contribute a small amount  
to daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

x  More high quality research is needed to assess  
exergaming’s potential for providing long term  
changes to levels of physical activity and sedentary  

x  When designing interventions that incorporate  
exergaming, guidelines on frequency and duration  
of usage should be given to participants.  

At the end of the day, I'd say don't give up your gym membership just yet! But these are definitely great options to keep family, friends and kids active and entertained at home!

Elle :)

Something for the weekend: Ying & Yang Yoga, FRAME Barre

After spending a week recovering from my first half marathon, I decided a yoga session was just what I needed to stretch out my legs and get me back in tip top condition. Naturally, being one of my favourite studios, I checked out the FRAME timetable and found an 11.30am class last Saturday morning that I felt would work for me. They also had a barre class scheduled to start directly after so I thought “why not!”

I haven’t been to yoga in quite a while; I had a little stint with Bikram in July this year and have been ‘too busy’ to make it to my regular Tuesday lunchtime class at work. This was evident, as downward dog was more a chore than a relaxing pose mid flow. Class was great overall though, we did plenty of hip opening moves and I got excited when we did preparatory work on handstands. I even got to show off my crow pose; I somehow have managed to master this one with barely any practice!

Next up, Barre class. At this point, I wondered what I was thinking doing two classes back to back but there was no way I was going to give up now! Barre class follows a pretty standard structure; we started by warming up our feet and ankles, did some leg work incorporating dumbbells for upper body, some jumps, abdominal work and stretching. The next couple of days, I could feel the effects of the class though! My calves, abs and arms / shoulders were telling me they got a good workout!

I took a leisurely stroll home after this, got snuggled upon the sofa and the rest is history…

How will you stay active this coming weekend?!

Elle ;) x
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