Journey to the Games: 13.3 with Gemma

In a matter of weeks, I have gone from knowing nothing about CrossFit to being an avid follower of Gemma's journey and others that I come across on Facebook and Twitter. Part of me is intrigued by what look like very difficult / technical moves which I would like to attempt, and another part of me wants to run screaming for the hills at the thought of it! Lets catch up with Gemma and Workout 13.3 as well as finding out what's in store next week with 13.4!

...First up...lets get acquainted with these moves...

What is a double under?
A double under is a popular exercise done on a jump rope in which the rope makes two passes per jump instead of just one. It is significantly more effective than a single rope pass in that it allows for higher work capacity.

What is a muscle up?
The muscle-up is a basic gymnastic skill, done on gymnastics rings or a pullup bar, where one executes a powerful pullup followed by a transition directly into a dip.

13.3 was released on the Thursday; Gemma used this day as a rest day as well as an opportunity to plan a strategy! The rest of her weekend looked like this:

Friday 22nd
Muscle up progression, kip practice and double unders for time, as quickly as possible

Gemma's broken rope- that's how hard she worked it!
Saturday 23rd
After teaching a very cold Burgess Park Nike Training Club class, I spent the afternoon preparing for the workout, foam rolling, muscle up progression and gained some very bruised arms. As they say, no pain, no gain!!!

Sunday 24th
1st attempt with a 16lb ball not ideal got through 121 wall balls
2nd attempt with a 14lb ball completed all 150 and moved onto the double unders and got to 90 but only had seconds to go with no muscle ups.
After I made mycompetition submission I tried again just to push myself and I managed 3 muscle ups at the end. Even though this didn't count, it gives me self satisfaction and more determination for 13.4!

This workout doesn't look hard compared to the others but throwing a ball the size of a baby 9ft in the air 150 times tests your arm strength.

You can follow Gemma's progress via twitter (@GoodtoTone) or Facebook. She'll be sharing tips and video techniques to help you master pull ups, kip pull ups and the muscle up.

Before we leave you...here's a preview of what's lined up for workout 13.4:

Until next week...

Elle ;)


Pole Position: Intermediate 2 (weeks 5 & 6)

Well, isn't time flying by! Week 5 came and went in a flash! It was also into my third week of a hand cream amnesty! ...I think I have used hand cream on a daily basis (multiple times) for as long as I remember; this is a habit I picked up from my mum and I think once you start, it's difficult to stop! I've been having trouble every since I started pole, with my grip and sweaty hands. I try my best not to rely on grip products but sometimes I just need the extra help so I can get on with mastering the moves!

This week, we learnt the final part of the Intermediate 2 routine. At just 3 minutes long it sounds doable...I remember when I saw the full routine for the first time at the end of Intermediate 1 and it seemed too far out of my reach. ...Don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere near making this routine look amazing but I've done myself proud! ...I definitely understand why people repeat these courses numerous times!

This week, my performance was mediocre...some moves I did well, some not so well! So I didn't want to blog about a mediocre week; I saved it up to share with my final week!

Yes!! My final week! ...Just myself and the Ecole de Pole Instructor, Karen! 1 hour and 30 minutes of me poling! ...Don't ask me where the other girls were, although I myself struggled to find the motivation to leave my house at 7pm on a cold snowy Monday evening! But I did! And it was a great decision!

Karen shook things up a bit from the usual and we had a more active warm up with a few balances such as the crow pose, including the version at an angle which really works your obliques.

Crow Pose
We then worked through the moves at a relaxed pace; pole is really hard work y'know! Karen has a great eye for detail and technique; she explained to me that the correct technique not only makes it easier to execute the moves but also maintains safety! good point huh?!
I got to get some good practice of my headstands, and then handstands. I've found in my older years that it's mostly fear holding me back as I used to do handstands without thinking in my younger years! We practised close to a wall at first, but then when I moved away fear tried to get the better of me! Karen showed me some bunny hops which are also a great way of practising getting into a handstand!

Karen then helped me to master both the outside and inside leg hangs! and we ran through some more moves from the Intermediate 2 routine before we had a good stretch at the end including splits.

Hangback,into handstand, box split dismount
As may remember (or hopefully not)...conquering the splits is one of my goals for 2013. We used the stretches in my Splits Stretch Routine and then stretched in splits. Karen also encouraged me to remove my hands from the ground which allowed me to go deeper into splits. This was the first time in a while I had properly attempted the splits and it gave me hope...

So, when I'm back in April, I plan on attending the Poled Up class which is a strength training / workout class to condition and strengthen my body for pole! I also plan on attending the Extreme Stretching and Contortion class with Pixie Le Knot; this will help to lengthen my muscles and improve my flexibility.

There you go! Intermediate 2 is done...but my journey is really only just beginning!

Yours in Pole,

Elle :) x 


Sport'n Style: March 2013

We are now officially in Spring, but here in London it is still snowing and chilly! However it means that the sales have started in preparation for the new ranges due in next month. So there is no better time than now to pick up a bargain! I picked up a hoodie from the Nike Store which is great in this cold weather...I have had my eye on the grey with pink but my wardrobe consists of a lot of grey with pink so I went for turquoise!

My sale pick
The next addition to my sportswear wardrobe are a pair of flyknits! I first tried these out at the Flyknit Experience a few weeks ago. The pair I have are a slightly more versatile colour way than the neon pink and yellow version I trialled on the run! For a running shoe, they are very light and suited to runners with a neutral stride. I personally need a more supportive shoe but these are perfect for shorter runs and will probably give my foot a good workout helping to make them stronger in the long term!

And finally...I have upgraded from a black matt fuelband and am now rocking the white ICE version! What is a fuelband?! As @NikeUK said: This is your Nike+ FuelBand. The philosophy is simple. Move more. Earn more. Life is a sport. #makeitcount.

What's new in your wardrobe? Or what have you got your eye on?!

Elle ;)


Journey to the Games: 13.2 with Gemma

Yesterday, 13.3 was released...but first we catch up with Gemma (@GoodtoTone) to find out how she got on with 13.2...

Here is Gemma's overview of her week in training:

Workout 13.2 released 14th March;
10 minutes - AMRAP (As many round as possible)
- 5 Shoulder over head at 35KG
- 10 Deadlifts at 35KG
- 15 box jumps @ 20 inches

14th March;
Today I made my first attempt at CrossFit Performance 360 with James Taylor; I managed 212 but spent too much time worrying about my technique so knew I had more to give.

15th March;
Lots of teaching and Personal Training sessions, in addition to 2 classes using my arms which was not ideal as I knew lifting heavy over head would be my weakness in this week's workout.

16th March
Attempt 2 was at Virgin Active; all of us have bad sessions and this was one of mine. I struggled at round 5 and knew I wasn't going to be able to beat my attempt 1 score. I gave myself a 2 minute rest so that my body wouldn't fully lose the heart rate training zone and cool down. Made a second attempt but failed, my arms were tired and I struggled at the push. I knew this week I hadn't planned my strategy well enough and would have to be happy with my first attempt score.

18th March
Rest Day, ordered some CrossFit socks to stop my shins getting bruised and cut.

19th March
Heavy lifting day, 140KG leg press, 90KG deadlift, skipping practise and body squats.

20th March
Train like an Olympian at Gym Box Farringdon with Hendricks Fitness. Mobility and stretching in the afternoon. Waited up until midnight to see 13.3 released, we are seeing a workout they used in last year's games but it will test the strength and indeed the leader board. Stay tuned to hear about 13.3 - what a WOD!!!

Check out what's in store for 13.3 in the image below...

If you're interested in "lifting" take a look at the chart below to get an idea of how may reps / sets you should be doing depending on your end goal.

Taken from YMCAfit blog
Stayed tuned to follow Gemma on her Journey to the CrossFit Games...

Elle ;) x


Progress Your Plank

As promised in my Perfect Form: Plank post back in September I would post an update with some progressions as there was a lot to cover just on the basic plank position! To start, I have 3 new progressions for you...plank with leg lift, slow mountain climbers and my all time favourite, 90 degree abs.

Beginner - 30 secs, alternating legs
Intermediate / Advanced - 1 minute, alternating legs

Start in a forearm plank position, elbows directly under shoulders, flat back and weight over shoulders. Lift one foot off the ground, no higher than hip height. Bring the foot back down to the starting position and repeat on the other leg, alternating for the designated time.

Beginner - 15 secs on each leg
Intermediate / Advanced - 30 secs on each leg

Start in plank position with hands directly under shoulders. Bring one knee towards your chest then drive back to the start position. Repeat on the other side. Ensure you contract through your abdominals when you bring your knee towards your chest.

To make this more challenging you can do one leg at a time, and not place your foot back on the ground. Also the slower you go, the more challenging it becomes. Therefore, if you go faster, you will decrease the challenge in this drill.

Drill 3. 90 DEGREE ABS
Beginner - 30 secs, alternating sides
Intermediate / Advanced - 60 - 90 secs, alternating sides

Begin in plank position with hands directly under shoulders and feet together. Drive one knee towards your chest, swivel your hips and kick that leg out to the side while straightening the leg. Return your knee towards your chest and back to start position. Repeat on the other side.

If you need to reduce the challenge of this drill you can either a) tap your foot down when you rotate and kick your leg out or b) rotate without kicking and straightening your leg then when you feel confident and strong enough you can add that in.

So, give these a go and let me know what you think! You will also find these drills included in workouts on the Nike Training Club app which is available on iphone (or ipod) and android.

Elle :) x


Smoothie does it...Avocado

Working late and travelling a lot means that sometimes it's difficult to fit in a decent meal at a decent time. Sometimes I just need something to fill me up until I can get my hands on a nutritional meal...

This is one option...an avocado smoothie. It's quick, simple and good for you!

To make 1 serving you will need:

Half a medium avocado
400mls almond milk
Agave nectar (2 tsp)
Ice cubes

Peel the avocado and place in cup. I use a protein shaker as it allows me measure the milk in the same cup. Add the milk; maybe start with 300mls to test the consistency and add to suit your preference. Add the agave nectar and blitz with a hand blender. Ad some ice cubes, give it a shake and enjoy!

Here is the nutritional information for the quantities listed above:

Do you have any other easy smoothie recipes?!

Elle :) x


Journey to the Games: 13.1 with Gemma

One week ago...the CrossFit Opens began...Did you know?! I didn't...but I know someone who knows all about it...

Meet Gemma (@GoodtoTone). We'll be following her journey through the Opens and towards THE Games!

Meet Gemma
This is what Gemma told me about herself and why she has chosen to take part in this competition:

"As a child and teenager I used to sprint for Kent and England; I was a competitive Judo champion competing in various competitions around England earning myself a brown belt before I was 16 years old, so sport has always been a big part of my life. My passion for training and sprinting developed into completing many Triathlon's whereas more recently I have developed a passion for Olympic Lifting and have entered the CrossFit Games to push my fitness level to the max. Please join me on this 5 week CrossFit journey and learn more about lifting and CrossFit."

CrossFit is described as 'constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement'. Workouts are typically 20 minutes or less and require intense, all-out physical exertion. CrossFit uses sprinting, rowing, skipping, rope climbing, weightlifting and body weight exercises. You complete a 'Workout of the Day' (WOD) and it is scored based on reps in a time allowance.

Gemma says: "I do CrossFit to push myself to my physical limit each time I work out; Nike Training Club helps me prepare for a CrossFit workout as it helps use the strength functional movements to prepare my body. The 15 minute cardio killer also helps prepare my cardio skills ready for a high intensity session. As a Nike Trainer you will see me deliver in my class a variation of high intensity drills mixed with body weight functional exercises, such as 'Squats or lunges' and also including strength exercises to help build that core and stabilise the body."

Gemma practising the snatch
The first workout (13.1) was released 7th March;

For women...

17 minutes -
- 40 burpees / 30 snatches at 20KG
- 30 burpees / 30 snatches at 35KG
- 20 burpees / 30 snatches at 45KG
- 10 burpees / 30 snatches at 55KG

Gemma prepared for this first by snatch practising with an unweighted bar progressing to a 20kg bar and completing burpees until fatigue, achieving 140 ( I did double check this and YES! Gemma did 140 burpees!!).Check out the video below of Gemma's attempts...

9th March
Attempt 1 at GymBox Farringdon - managed a score of 123

10th March
Attempt 2 at Virgin Active - managed a score of 141 putting me 837 on the leader board out of 110,000

11th March
Rest Day

12th March
Mobility and strength training

13th March
A selection of CrossFit exercises, getting ready for Workout 13.2 which is released on Thursday 14th March.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing how Gemma does and learning more about this form of training! I may even give a WOD a go...

Stayed tuned for 13.2...

Elle ;) x


Pole Position: Intermediate 2 (Weeks 3 & 4)

In Intermediate 1 (also 5 weeks long) I suffered from "the dip" in my learning curve in the final week. Lucky for me (every cloud has a silver lining), this has happened on my second week of Intermediate 2. I felt like Wonder Woman last week...this week, I was more akin to say...a teletubbie! I didn't recover well from week 1 suffering with DOMS in my arms and upper body for a full 5 - 6 days after. Added to a busy run schedule I think I just wasn't ready to go all Wonder Woman again!

Wonder Woman vs Teletubbie
So I won't bore you with Week 3...and I'll get on with Week 4 where Wonder Woman (or at least her second cousin once removed) returned! Week 4 was slap bang in the middle of the return of winter for London; snow and dropping temperatures meant that just two of us turned up for class this week. A blessing in disguise really as it was conditioning week with lots of sit ups, press ups, pole pull ups and the works! We spent a good amount of time on each move with our instructors (Karen) full attention focusing on technique and getting our positions right.

The move I have pictured here is known as "Statue". To me, it defies the laws of physics! I'm holding on with one leg and one hand...and not breathing! With the time, and focus on on technique, I was able to get a grip of some of the most complicated moves (for me anyway) such as the one handed Sun Wheel and reverse grab.
Statue pose
This week, we worked out that my fear was holding me back! I would start a move,and then not trust my strength to keep me in position. I can remember being in my primary school playground and not giving handstands a second thought...or swinging head first, upside down on the climbing frame! Karen suggested I try out the Contortion class where you practice things like handstands, splits and other physics defying moves!
Also, as my pole at home is currently down, I asked Karen for ways to practice certain moves without a pole. For our box split dismounts I can practice my handstands and box splits using just a wall. Like doing an upside down crunch with legs extended...legs down, and back up before I lose control.

So, two more weeks left to conquer this...

Yours in Pole,

Elle ;) x


Flying, Knitting & Waffles...

What do you get when you put these three things together?! ...The Nike Flyknit Experience at Somerset House. I signed up for their lunchtime run billed as a 5km run around the streets of London with the added extra of trialling a pair of their new Flyknit Lunar 1+ running shoes.

Firstly, let me tell you that this run ended with waffles...the same way that Nike started with waffles! A humble waffle maker is where the inspiration first came from for innovative shoes. Bill Bowerman came up with the idea for the 1974 waffle trainer whilst having waffles for breakfast. He headed to his lab where he poured his materials into the waffle iron...the rest is history!

So I rocked up at midday almost fully kitted out! Nike kindly lent us all a pair of Flyknit Lunar 1's to run in which they also steamed fitted to our feet! I did check if the guy who steamed the shoes and helped me put them on came with the shoes but sadly he was just an added extra for the Flyknit Experience!

Getting my shoes out of the steamer
We warmed up in the courtyard of Somerset House before hitting the streets of London! We stopped along the way to do various exercises such as squats, step ups and even tackle some deadly staircases! Some of our pit stops came with a dude and his boombox too...playing the Rocky theme tune on our home straight! We took in all the regular London sights such as the River Thames, Millennium Bridge, The London Eye and the South Bank. The most interesting was Graffiti Tunnel; I never knew this existed and it's located a short walk from my old office! ...There is always so much to discover in London!

Squats outside Somerset House

Music to help us tackle the stairs on the bridge
Graffiti Art in Graffiti tunnel
The shoes were a comfy fit! Lightweight, and bright in my favourite colour, pink! The shoes and our obligatory Flyknit T-shirt meant we stood out...In Nike's words...
"The Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ features an innovative upper, constructed entirely of tightly woven polyester yarn that varies in density: more open in targeted areas that need greater flexibility or ventilation and tighter in areas that demand support.This ultra-light (just 8 oz. in a men’s size 10) shoe combines revolutionary second skin fit and ultra-soft Lunarlon cushioning to give you the perfect run — every stitch, every stride."
Our run route on Nike+
Back at Somerset House, refreshments in the form of Vita Coco, water, fruit and the aforementioned waffles awaited us...but now the waffles don't seem so strange after all...

The Flyknit Experience Dome at Somerset House


Me in Flyknit Lunar 1's pre run
Elle ;) x

For information on future Nike events check out the Nike Running, Nike Running UK and Nike Training Club UK Facebook pages :)


How Elle got her groove back...

For weeks, or probably months, I have had all the best intentions to attend a class taught by Alicja (who happened to be my instructor for Boom! Cycle in January). This week, I finally made it down to her Ragga Dance class at Fitness First Highbury.

Now, I love dancing; I even studied dance for a short time during my teens at The Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts and regularly attended classes in my spare time at Pineapple Dance Studios once I left school. But that was a long time ago...a good decade ago in fact!

Now I was faced with the situation of a Ragga Dance class; I've never done choreographed Ragga before and it's been a decade since I had to learn choreography for anything! ...I needed to get my groove back!

We got started in the studio with a dance specific warm up, and I ended up at the end by the big glass wall where everyone in the entire gym could see us! In the end I had to focus so intently on the moves that I forgot about the wall entirely! I was totally inspired by Alicja and all the other participants who were all too busy keeping up to notice if / when I put a foot wrong! Alicja broke down the routine well, enabling us to learn it quickly through repetition. By the end of the class, I had a good idea of the routine...I just need a little more practice (and maybe a brandy to loosen up?!)...

Check out this video of us all at the end of the 60 minute class...

I will definitely be back again...it was too much fun to miss out on...

Elle :) x

N.B Class is held on Saturdays at 4.15pm, costs £5 for non members and last about 60 minutes. Lockers are available in exchange for a deposit or i.d card. To find out more about Alicja or her classes you can join her group on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.


Pole Position: Intermediate 2 (Week 1/2)

I made one of my goals for 2013 to either repeat the Intermediate 1 pole course or progress to the Intermediate 2 course. After weeks of looking for dates that suited me, I finally found an Intermediate 2 course starting on Monday 25th February for 5 weeks.

My 2013 goal
I arrived at the course eager to meet the other ladies who I would be sharing this experience with; I quickly realised that they had already met....last week..in what was actually week 1! I had started in week 2, which suited me anyway, as I was out of town the previous Monday.

Having missed a whole week, it was clear I had a lot of catching up to do! After our warm up, the first thing we practised was a shoulder mount! This is another, more advanced way of getting on (and off, I presume) the pole!

Leen Isabel of Pole Dance Adventures understands my quest to perfect the shoulder mount
The progressions were obvious and huge! In Intermediate 1, we learnt how to invert from standing; now we had to climb the pole and invert from holding yourself to the side of the pole with no floor to push off or hold you! I surprised myself though and managed to do it! Evidence that my upper body work so far in 2013 is paying off! Yay!
Sun wheel spin is one handed in Intermediate 2
My favourite move of the class was the box split dismount! Lets use some imagination and visualisation here whilst I try to describe this...I'm upside down on the pole, I slide down into a handstand, release my feet from the pole and bring my feet towards my groin with my knees out to the side, open legs into a box split and slowly bring them down (straight) to the ground whilst still in the handstand. Yes! I know! ...it looks awesome, and I actually did it!

The bit that always scares me when practising these moves is the fact that i know they are part of the routine that we learn! Add some choreography, link moves and a good tune ("Dirty Laundry" by Bitter:Sweet) and we have ourselves the start of the Intermediate 2 course :)

Elle :) x
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