30.5.13

Summer Edits :)

Hey! Thanks for stopping by!

Just a short post to let you know what's coming up and to also ask if there's anything you'd like me to post about or if you have any questions!

I have the final post about my pole beginners course to write; that was an interesting week! I actually learned a lot! 


Then I'll be starting a little series on golf; I'm just a beginner so you can learn with me. It's not as easy as it looks and makes for a very good workout! 

There's lots more too...

I've also done some freshening up for the summer including the creation of a badge which you can add to your blog (it's over there on the right, under my picture); some new social media buttons so you can connect easily with me; a page specifically for pole if that's all you would like to read about; a scroll to the top button which is especially useful on the homepage....oh and maybe I'll let you discover the rest for yourself! 

Feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts! I love to hear from y'all! 

Hope the weather is treating you good too! I'm on the Lappish border with some unusually warm weather...there's even a beach here... 


Perfect for an outdoor workout! 

See you tomorrow?

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28.5.13

EssentElle's: The Gym Bag

So, I have a little project in mind which will be a collaboration with a good friend of mine. In order to do it though, I need a little help from you all...

I need to know about the gym bag you own...or the gym bag you would like to own! What do you carry in your gym bag?! 

Here's what's in mine right now...


I got the bag pictured as a prize in a Maxitone competition early last year. I love it because its compact, but has lots of space. It also has many different compartments where you can store things separately. My only bug bear with this bag at the moment is the fact that it doesn't have a long strap so I'm unable to wear it cross body when cycling to the gym. I have to clip it down on the back and hope that a. it doesn't fall off and b. the clip doesn't damage anything in the bag! ...So what's good / not so good about your gym bag?! ...what would you expect from a gym bag?! 

So, please leave me a comment below and let me know about your bag! Tell me anything...about the size, the colour, the shape, what you carry or even about your dream gym bag! 

Elle :) x

24.5.13

Butternut squash chilli with quinoa

Somewhere, in the not so distant past, I discovered quinoa  (pronounced keen-wah). It was identified somewhere as a superfood. Superfood?! ...but for good reason. Quinoa is by nature a seed, although it is cooked like a grain. Like grains, it is a good source of complex carbohydrates. However, it has a greater protein content than most grains, and unlike other grains, contains all the amino acids needed by us humans to build protein. Most actual grains usually lack one or two of these amino acids. 

Quinoa also contains useful amounts of manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorous as well as B vitamins and small amounts of the essential fats. The fibre in quinoa makes it useful for keeping intestines clean and preventing cardiovascular disease.

Quinoa has a real nutty texture, and can also be quite creamy which makes it versatile; it can be used in savoury and sweet dishes equally well and is easy to cook. 

There are LOTS of recipes out there that use quinoa, but this is currently my favourite go to recipe from BBC Good Food for a tasty, quick, and low fat dinner option. 

Butternut Squash Chilli with Quinoa 


Ingredients

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
1 butternut squash (about 1kg, peeled and cubed)
100g quinoa, soaked in cold water for 10 mins
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
400g tin red kidney beans 
small bunch coriander, chopped

Serves 4, ready in 30 minutes  

Method
  1. Cook the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft (about 7 minutes). Add the chilli powder, cook for a minute then add the squash, quinoa and tomatoes.
  2. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the squash and quinoa are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the beans and heat through. Stir in the coriander and serve in bowls.
per serving
306 kcalories, protein 13.9g, carbohydrate 53.4g, fat 5.6 g, saturated fat 0.7g, fibre 10.1g, salt 1.2 g

This recipe really couldn't be simpler! It's great for vegetarians, and even though I do eat meat, I don't miss it when I have this! 

If you give it a try, let me know what you think! 

Elle :) x

21.5.13

Pole Position: Back to Basics Week 2

As I am due back in class this evening, I thought I better get my skates on and write about last weeks sessions before I forget / lose enthusiasm / just cannot be bothered! So, it was back to beginners for the second and third sessions, in week 2. I was feeling more confident this week...the first time you go anywhere is always the hardest as well as the fact that once you progress you forget how to do some of the easier moves so I might as well be a beginner again anyway!

At one hour per session, it's straight to business. Warm up and BAM! In session 2, we covered the  Mermaid spin, Windmill, and pole sit. 

Mermaid spin looks a little like the sunwheel (pictured below) but with your front foot hooked around the pole at the ankle. 


My memory tells me that I had never done this spin before, so it was new to me too. My main focus when learning new moves at the moment is to practice equally on both sides. I cannot stress this enough! With my right side being dominant generally in life...my left side has suffered. I've then shied away from doing this on my left side because they never look as good, and never come as easily. So this is my opportunity to not turn into a one sided pony! 

Next up, windmill (pictured - image from thepolestudio.co.uk). Looks graceful...takes some flexibility to keep your legs straight and long as you windmill them from left -> right or vice versa. It's a great way to transition from one side of the pole to the other. 


Then, there it was. The pole sit. The move that shows you what pole pain is like. Never will your inner thighs feel the burn like this. 


I know it looks like no big deal (and excuse the fact I chopped off my head but it's a very old picture and we don't wanna see that!)...but the grip on the pole comes from your inner thighs. It's one of those things though, where, the more you do it, the less it hurts. There have been numerous times where I could pole sit, remove my hands, move my upper body, change my leg position and not even feel a thing (pictured)...got to work on that again! 


With one day to recover, we were back on it Thursday evening. Three more moves of which one again was new! We started off with what our teacher (Jasmine...pronounced Yasmine in Finland) called a Geisha spin. It was very elegant with knees together. I can't find a picture on-line  so you have to take my word for it about the elegance! 

The next one, I think I know it as a reverse swan spin. I love this position as it's so versatile. It can be done forwards, in reverse, as a lift, as a hold and even a slide all being equally beautiful! 


Our final move of the week; pole stand. One of my favourites. Simple, comfortable, relaxing and beautiful. As you become more confident, this will form the basis of other moves including climbing the pole. 



Now that I have got that all written down (it actually serves as a chance to focus and think about what I have learnt), I am ready to rock and pole this evening!! I have two more one hour sessions before the beginners course is over. I'm kinda gutted that there is no routine...it's always great to see the routine in week 1 and think 'jheeeez I am never gonna be able to do that' and then get that feeling of accomplishment in your final class when you perform the routine to the best of your ability! 

And I guess with time (currently) on my hands and access to a studio I have no excuses anymore! 

Yours in Pole, 

Elle :) x

15.5.13

Can a 7-Minute Workout Be Scientific?!

We've all heard the acronym HIT or HIIT thrown around in the exercise arena recently. This is because the science tells us that the benefits of High Intensity Training or High Intensity Interval training are the same as endurance training but can be achieved in a shorter time. Who isn't short of time these days?!

Interval training is all about mixing some very intense activity with short periods of recovery. Just like when we talked about the Tabata method of training. 

And what is classified as 'very intense'? ...if there was (which there is) a scale of 1-10 on which you define discomfort / how hard you are working, 'very intense' would be around 8. But it's just (approximately) 7 minutes, with 12 body weight exercises! ...no excuses though because all you need is a chair (or suitably safe ledge), a wall and you are good to go!

Each exercise is to be performed for 30 seconds but don't forget to push yourself! To see real benefits though, you need to repeat the circuit 2 or 3 times. It's recommended that you take 15 seconds or less (10 seconds for the sample session pictured-image from New York Times blog) between each exercise as recovery in order to maintain the appropriate intensity of the overall circuit. Perform the exercises in the order given as they are ordered that way for a reason based on intensity and the effect it'll have on your heart rate (decrease vs increase). It's also important to remember to keep good form and use correct technique when exercising. I have a few blog posts which cover some of the basics of the exercises included above:


So I don't wanna be like the daily fail here and say this will save your life...I'm just saying it's something to try. It may or may not work for you! I personally am a fan of circuit training, functional training and HIIT which all are components of what the original story is getting at! HIIT or HICT (Hight Intensity Circuit Training) as its being referred to here is also a fast and efficient way to lose excess body weight and fat. The resistance exercises contribute hugely to this (because we all know that resistance training burns more calories and fat in the long run!). But if you are new to exercise or unfamiliar with them, this may not be the best place to start. I'd suggest going to class based on these methods or perhaps buying in the time of a personal trainer to specifically help you out with what you need to know. Imagine that, you go to a PT and tell them what you what! 

So, give this a go...see what you think! You are probably already doing something similar...but this is a new combination...something you can add on to the start / middle / end of your usual workout to shake it up a bit! ...oh and before I go, the answer is yes! A 7-minute workout can be backed by science! 

I got all this information from an article in the ACSM's Health and Fitness Journal. If you are interested in reading the entire article then please click through and enjoy. 
HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum Results With Minimal InvestmentKlika, Brett C.S.C.S., B.S.; Jordan, Chris M.S., C.S.C.S., NSCA-CPT, ACSM HFS/APTACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal . 17(3):8–13, May/June 2013.doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb1e8
Elle ;) x
P.S Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

Hanging with NCG Street Pole some more...

Yes! As promised...some more pictures to share with you from the NCG Street Pole class which I wrote about earlier this month (check out the post here - Hanging with NCG Street Pole).

When I attended this session we were joined by Sophie of Pyklops who took the images below that I am sharing with you. There are lots more so if you would like to check them out, you can, via the Art by Pyklops Facebook page (all copyright is owned by Pyklops).








If you'd like to book yourself in for a class then check out the links in my previous post! 

Elle :) x

10.5.13

My Rocky Horror Show

When I was invited to go climbing one evening, I spent a few moments going through my past experiences in my mind. I couldn't remember clearly when or where I had been climbing, just possibilities. This lead me to the conclusion that I must've enjoyed it and / or I was capable of climbing. all based on the assumption that I had been before.

We arrived, and first things first, we had to change into sensible (non glamorous) climbing shoes. Don't judge me! 




This cave, as it was explained to me, was literally a cave. It had walls, at all angles, and lots of bright (what d'you call them?!) knobbly bits to use as grips for your hands and toes. There was no time to waste (and nothing else to do) so I jumped right on. Immediately it was evident that a) I needed upper body strength b) I might be somewhat afraid of heights c) I wasn't sure I had actually been climbing before on a wall! 


Under amateur instruction, I attempted to climb this wall; after all that was what I was here to do. I moved about 1 metre off the ground before I broke into an instant sweat. Another metre, I looked down and realised that the big crash mat was there for me to land on when I jumped, yes I said jumped, off the wall! I couldn't envisage this...and I instantly began to chuckle. The real belly chuckle where your core goes rock hard and sucks the strength out of your entire body meaning that my arms were likely to give way and I would fall, rather than jump, off the wall!! 




I kid you not, this was one heck of a work out especially for your upper body! You can build up strength over time, and then move onto the walls at an angle where you need to be able to hold your entire body weight and move your entire body weight. 


After an extensive rest period on the crash mats watching everyone else's attempts at this climbing malarky I decided to give the crazy bit of wall a go! Why not, eh?! 


I didn't get to the ceiling, but one day, you never know! 

I love mixing up my training. I've never been shy to say I don't particularly enjoy the gym so it's great to find activities that are enjoyable and challenge your body in the same way and in different ways! 

How do you keep your training fresh and interesting?! ...do you think you would give climbing a go?!

Elle :) x

8.5.13

Pole Position: Back to Basics

In a bid to find my new normal, I came across a gym that offers pole classes very near to where I live. I was asked to come along to the beginners pole course they run, to see if it is something I could teach. I had never thought about teaching pole before; I hadn't thought I was good enough...but then a couple of sayings come to mind - the best way to learn is to teach - a good athlete doesn't always make a good coach, and a good coach doesn't always make a good athlete.

So Day 1 of the beginners course, and I actually felt like a beginner as I was so nervous! ...A new city, a new studio, a new teacher, new people...new ways of learning! Yikes! ...but we must embrace change in order to evolve, right?!

I cycled up to the studio which is located in a basement in the city centre. My first thought, was, oh, the poles are white?! ...random, I know, but every pole I had ever seen was chrome or plated with a gold metal (which may be brass?). I looked this up just now, and the poles they use here (at Gym Everybody) are Finnish made called Fit Pole. Interesting. 

Picture from Fit Pole gallery - example of a studio that uses the white poles
Class started as class has ever started, with a warm up including joint mobilisation. This was followed by some conditioning work focusing on the core, of full sit ups, crunches, oblique crunches and 'supermans'. 

Then it was down to business - beginner business anyway. We covered how to stand (on your toes), step around and reverse step around. 

How to grip the pole
How to stand
Step around. Keeping your outside leg straight, swing it out to the side and step all the way around the pole, pivoting on your inside foot at the same time. Allow your knee to bend slightly as you turn. (http://m.wikihow.com/Learn-Pole-Dancing) 


With class being 60 minutes long, we had time to learn just 1 spin - 
the fireman spin...(Image from http://www.squidoo.com/poledancemoves)


Any beginners course that doesn't start with this move may quite possibly 
be questionable! 

As expected, class finished with some stretching...the usual suspects. 
After having been to Body Balance in the am, some cycling, and 
pole class, I had a quick go at my (right) splits and they weren't too bad! 

So, hopefully pole will be a great way to meet some people here in 
Finland as well as help me to achieve my goals for 2013. This course
lasts for another 2 weeks (2 x 1 hour classes each week) which is 
new for me! I'm used to having a full week to recover but hopefully 
I will manage as the moves are not as intense! 

I'll be sure to share the rest of my beginners journey here with you!
 ...and if you haven't tried pole yet, what are you waiting for?! 

Elle ;) x

7.5.13

Yoga and I

Just a few short years ago, I believed that yoga was not a workout. I didn't understand it so I couldn't understand the benefits at all. If I remember rightly, my first yoga class was Bikram. Looking back, this was probably not the easiest way to begin yoga but it definitely showed me that yoga was no walk in the park!

I then began a weekly Hatha Yoga class at my workplace and within no time at all I could feel a difference. I had less back pain, my flexibility increased and it was a great way to let go of some of the stresses of daily life. 

I've experimented and tried other yoga classes too...including anti-gravity yoga and now yoga has a firm place in my exercise routine. Yoga embodies everything I want to be be - supple, strong, graceful

yoga is...

I recently moved from the UK to Finland and have been struggling to find a routine. One thing that has been a constant since moving is my attendance at a Body Balance class. Body Balance is a mix of yoga, Pilates and tai chi. The current routine includes one of my favourite yoga poses...crow. I was determined to master this last year and I did. Today in class though, she took it to another level; the pose was similar to crow but with straight legs...a little like this image below...but with legs parallel to the ground...

pose

I couldn't do it! ...so now, it's on my list to be conquered! 

...whilst in London a couple of weeks ago I attended a couple of different yoga classes. The first was at FRAME Shoreditch; it seemed that everyone was a regular attendee and the entire class pushed themselves throughout. For the first time ever, we did "binds" where you twist your arms all round your legs and body then bind your hands together to complete a pose. I was amazed, and pretty sure I couldn't do this! ...The next week, in NTC Yoga class though, we did the binds again and I managed it! It wasn't easy but I know that with time and practice I will progress. 

I am keen to add yoga into my routine more often. It's great for running, pole and general health; all areas where I can benefit. 

I'll also be sharing a review soon of the Nike Studio Wraps (pictured). 

studio wraps

I've used them a couple of times so far for yoga, stretch and will be trying them out in pole soon. 

Before I leave you, I want to share this video with you (erm, which I forgot to include when I first published!!)...it's my inspiration...



Are you thinking of trying yoga or already practice?! How have you been finding it? What is your favourite pose or what pose is challenging for you?!

Elle :) x

3.5.13

Training to Inspire: April Recap

Hello May! Hello Spring...like, finally! I am glad to see the back of April - it was a month of highs and lows...a month that I can definitely improve on! Difficulties are no reason to give up though - they are reason to try harder!

There was March... #BOOM!



This was my April...

Goal 1: Completed March 2013

Goal 2:
I managed to attend a yoga (style) class once per week; this included a NTC yoga class with Leah Kim, Yin Yang Yoga at FRAME Shoreditch, and two Body Balance classes. I also attended one Bend it Like Barbie (stretch) class at FRAME Shoreditch where we did whole body deep stretching including some splits stretching. I now need to compliment all of this with more stretching at home.

Goal 3:
My upper body has been getting a workout for sure this month including two Body Pump classes where I thought my arms might just drop off! Change won't come if we don't challenge ourselves though! My core and upper body got a good workout from the NCG Street Pole class too...nothing like pole to build up strength, endurance and flexibility! I then had a go at the Nike Training Club (NTC) abs and butt workout on the app; a 30 minute routine which I completed in a little corner of the gym with a few dumbbells. Add to this some CrossFit style training in the gym focusing on upper body including squat to press, upright row and wide row. ...I hope I see some progress next time I get to have a go on a pull up bar...fingers crossed...

Goal 4:
This is definitely the goal that has suffered this month but at the same time I achieved it! I ran an official time of 58:18 at the Energizer Night Run! It was hard work but it felt fantastic. I won't say this goal is completed as there is still room for improvement...yet, I have barely run this month. I won't even waste your time explaining why (includes low iron levels, moving country...)...the point is, it's a new month, and I need to get back on track sooner rather than later...


I have my next 10km race booked for July so there is time to put the groundwork in...literally!

Goal 5:
New activities in April included NCG Street Pole, cross country skiing and cycling now that I have my own bike! Body Pump, Body Attack and Hot Pilates were new for me too actually! I attended a NTC class taught by the lovely Tana whilst in London too to make sure I got in that full body workout (in addition to Body Attack)...her moves were to die for...but had me feeling great the next day!


Have you checked out my features on Naturally, Leah where I guest blogged about Warm Up / Cool Down for running (link), and on FitBlogger where I wrote a little bit about my inspiration for Keep it simpElle?!

Last but not least, I've been thinking about if for a while; I would LOVE to do my yoga teacher training. A few months ago I expressed this to my yoga teacher Nicolette, but I told her I didn't think I was ready. She gave me THE best response ever and said "the training is what will make you ready"....there is no doubt about it that I will have this as one of my goals in the very near future...I need to find the right course, the finance, and time :)

So onwards and upwards...

I hope you've been working hard towards achieving your 2013 goals too! Inspire me...what have you done so far?! and what is still to come?!

Elle ;) x

2.5.13

Hanging with NCG Street Pole

We all know that I am a big fan of pole fitness huh?! Surely you have read my pole story by now?! ...well, when I came across this new class which launched in London, there was no way that I could resist! Street Pole you say?!

I had one free Thursday in London on my last visit, and the weather threatened to put heed to my plans to attend this class. It rained, as it does in London, but then the sun came out and I was reading to brave the outdoors. Class took place in and around some gardens just off Brick Lane taught by Nicola of NCG Street Pole.

We began with a warm up and some conditioning work inside the gardens. The aim was to get our bodies used to some of the positions on the ground before we took them to the air...

We then moved outside of the gardens where I got acquainted with the railings, a street post and a lamppost (you will never look at a post the same once you start poling). The first move we attempted were some heel lifts...which then translated in to the "pencil" (pictured).




I had mastered similar moves in my regular pole class and was keen to do as much as I could as I wouldn't be in London again for a while. Another move we did, one of my favourites, the "star" (pictured). This began as side leg lifts before we took it from the ground to the air...


This next move, below, is known as the "scissor chop".


We covered a lot in this class, including transitioning from ground to pole...pole to standing...and pole to ground...but I'm not gonna give the whole game away...you just NEED to try this for yourself!

As with regular pole class, the gains are tremendous! Its a great workout for the core, upper body and can help to improve flexibility. What is different though, is the history and background. In regular pole, the dance is very balletic so includes a lot of pointed toes and grace. The NCG Street Pole classes have a hip hop influence which you can see and feel in the different moves. At £8 per session, it wont break the bank but will keep your fitness regime varied and interesting...You can book via the new website Fitness Freak too where you can find and book a ton of classes. They say variety is the spice of life...

So go check it out...

Hopefully I will have some more photos to share with you soon...

Yours in Pole,

Elle :) x
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