29.1.13

NTC Supercharge Week Feb 4-10

So we know that Nike have hosted some EPIC events in 2012 such as the NTC Live Festival and it seems the next one is here in the form of Supercharge Week!
"In the week where over half of New Year's resolutions are broken, we will help Supercharge your commitment. Seven days of  custom Nike Training Club classes across London to inspire you and your friends to keep your goals on track.We will #makeitcount"
There's only one way to get involved; sign up at ntcsupercharge.com ...

I will be leading the earlybird NTC class on Wednesday 6th February at Nike Town London as well as the NTC Weekender Clapham Common class on Sunday 10th February!

Earlybird NTC is billed as: "Work out behind locked doors. Niketown London opens early just for you and your friends to take over the women's floor for a Nike Training Club experience. Created for women by world-class trainers, NTC is a fun filled, high-energy, full-body workout. Nike Master Trainers will put you through your paces, earning Nike Fuel for your class and the chance to win your very own Nike+ Fuelband."


That's me in the pink y'know :)

For the NTC Weekender "NTC heads outdoors. Grab your friends or housemates and join us in your local park for a high-energy fun-filled weekend workout. As well as experiencing the ultimate full body workout, you’ll earn Nike Fuel for your class and the chance to win your very own Nike+ Fuelband. At the end of the class, our Nike Master Trainers will take you for coffee at a local cafĂ© (on us!), and will be on hand to answer all your health and fitness questions."




So...no excuses! Join us to #makeitcount! And if you haven't done so already you can download the NTC app from the App Store or on Google Play at no cost!


Elle :) x

28.1.13

Saved by the 'Bell

In the summer of 2012 I went to a crossfit introductory session at my place of work. It was a very interesting session; one that made me not want to continue training with crossfit. During the session, I felt that the emphasis was on speed rather than technique. Performing one particular drill, kettlebell swing, I was forced to use a 8kg kettlebell and instructed to swing it over my head!

A kettlebell is a heavy cast-iron ball with a handle attached on the outside. As the handle of the kettlebell is attached on the outside of the bell, the centre of mass is constantly pulling away from you, unlike when exercising with a conventional dumbbell. This means that the body has to work harder to stabilise itself throughout any exercises performed. Kettlebells use a combination of lifts and swings to improve and develop sports performance, core strength and stability, muscular strength, power and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, motor skills, co-ordination and balance. 

I left that crossfit session uninjured, luckily, but I was in no doubt that if done properly, kettlebells could be a fantastic tool. So I enrolled on the first Kettlebells course run by YMCAfit on 25th January 2013 to find out more.

On the course we covered;

  • Understand the history and benefits of kettlebell training
  • Teach a dynamic flexibility warm up and mobilisation for multi planar joint exercises
  • Demonstrate and perform kettlebell exercises with strong technique.
  • Teach kettlebell exercises in a safe and effective manner, including modifications, progressions and regressions for technique
  • Plan and deliver a group exercise class as well as a one-to-one PT session
My pretty pink kettlebell ;)
I have had a 4kg kettlebell at home for about a year now but have never actually used it! I'm glad though as I would not have been using it with the right technique or to it's full capabilities! The first thing you are taught in kettlebell training is the kettlebell swing (pictured).


How to perform the kettlebell swing
So how'd you do it?!

The basis of this exercise comes from a "hip hitch" (not a squat). Hinge hips backwards and slightly bend  your knees. On your exhale, engage your glutes and dynamically drive your hips forward ("hip thrust"). 

Arms should remain outstretched, shoulders relaxed causing the kettlebell to raise up to shoulder height but seeming weightless at the same time. You shouldn't lift the kettlebell (n.b. if you can lift the kettlebell you need a heavier one!) 

Allow the kettlebell to fall naturally back towards the body.Once it is close to the body again, repeat this process. 

Muscles used: quadriceps, core, erector spinae, gluteals, hamstrings 

I'm keen to experiment with my kettlebell; it's focus is on dynamic, power and strength drills which are areas I rarely work on when training. I do think I will be using a heavier kettlebell though, maybe a 8kg or 9kg. 

Have you tried kettlebells before? What do you think about them?

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. 

24.1.13

#NikeFuel Missions completed!

I finally managed to complete all the NikeFuel Missions albeit on the easy level!


Mission 6: Easy: Earn 850 NikeFuel in 45 minutes. I got back in the game! I set this one up for when I was teaching NTC outdoors, in the snow on a Sunday morning! There was no doubt I would earn some NikeFuel as I would need to keep moving just to keep warm!

Mission 7: Easy. I used a run on Tuesday to complete the next stage of Nike Missions (check out my previous posts about these missions here and here)! I needed to earn 700 NikeFuel in 30 minutes; a mission I had failed a couple of times choosing the wrong activities! If anything would get me there, running would! 842 NikeFuel later and 7 missions in the bag, 1 to go!

Mission 8: Easy. Earn 1000 NikeFuel in 90 minutes. I set this to start 15 minutes before I taught my NTC class, meaning it would finish 15 minutes after the 60 minute class! I stayed active on my feet and gave 110% in all my demonstrations to earn 1062 NikeFuel! 

That's it...I am at The ARC and patiently waiting for my cover photo from NikeFuel! Meanwhile, it's back to Mission 1 to better my scores! ...the scores I have gotten don't even compare to the top of the leaderboard (pictured) but I'm only looking to better myself! ;)

The leaderboard at present
Join me and Play Now: http://nike.com/missions

Elle :) x

23.1.13

It's all about the TUNES!

Earlier this month, I smashed my first spinning class in a long, long time! I shared this post with everyone as per usual, but it started up a conversation which I had thought about, but never really discussed: The difference that music can make to your workout!

Here's what some of my friends said:
"I think the key is the instructor, if you have a really great one that works you hard and plays decent tunes you’ll love it, if not it can seem like a chore."
"Music for me is a big factor in whether I enjoy a spin class or not!"
"I suffer with the music....most times I don't do a class if the music is crap and also if the teacher isn't cutting it for me."
 "Music is important as it helps take your mind off the burn and visualise the road ahead."

So it got me to thinking...and I decided to share my most recent class NTC class mix with you!

Check out this 60 minute mix specially created for me by DJ Ca$h (self titled) Danielle Nike CD1! You can download it and use it for your workouts; it'll work especially well for when you're using the NTC app as you can set it up to play during the session! 

Also shared with me was this 3 hour running mix which you can download  by Stereo:Type - Songs in the key of f**k yeah! {Broken Link} 

Where do you get your workout tunes? What is your powersong?

AND....please come back to share your thoughts on Danielle Nike CD1!


Elle :) x

22.1.13

Perfect Form: Lunge

So far, I've been over the basics of a Squat, Push-up and Plank; all quintessential exercises that form the basis of more progressive exercises. Now it's time to nail those lunges...

Areas worked by lunges; red - primary, yellow - secondary

Lunges work your hips, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps and are often included in various yoga poses. A long lunge emphasizes the glutes whereas a short lunge emphasizes the quadriceps. You can do your lunges just using bodyweight, or make them more difficult by using dumbbells / barbell. 

So, how do you do it?!

1. Begin by standing with your feet hip width apart. Relax your shoulders keeping them away from your ears whilst opening your chest and focusing straight ahead of you.



2. Take a step forward on one leg, keeping both toes pointing forward. Bend your knees, and drop your hips down towards the ground; your front thigh should be parallel to the ground whilst your back knee is off the ground both at about a 90 degree angle.



3. Ensure that your front knee is directly above your ankle with both knees tracking forward. Keeping the weight in your heels,  push through your front leg to return to the starting position and repeat on your other side.

I suggest the following number of sets and repetitions:
Beginner: 1 set of 12 reps per leg
Intermediate / Advanced: 2 sets of 12 reps (or an alternative advanced version)

As with most exercises, there are plenty of variations out there; one of my favourite being Alternating Forward Lunge with Shoulder Press; check out the video :) 

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. 

21.1.13

Train to Run #1

We're 2 or 3 weeks into January and where a lot of people are falling foul to their New Years resolutions and goals, mine have somehow taken a turn for some serious commitment!

I'm specifically referring to my Goal 4; to run a sub 60 minute 10k. Listen here...


Once upon a time there was a woman; she loved running, it was her "me" time. She ran 3, sometimes even 4 times a week keeping going as long as her legs would take her racking up km's upon km's each week. On a Sunday morning, she'd skip the big breakfast and go for a long run...but did she know WHY? Did she know why she was running? Why she ran the distances she did? and WHY did she do her long run on a Sunday? ...I think the answer is because *insert women's magazine title here* told her to, but never really told her why...

These are questions I have been given the answer to...from Personal Trainer and Running Coach Gil Cramer of F.I.T Concepts. Coach G's goal for 2013 is to complete a 122km off road marathon...(that was not a typo...I did type 122km!). But hey, I'm benchmarking on my own past achievements and my personal goals!


So...1 1/2 hours and a grande soya latte later (FYI Coach G had a green tea)...I had the basis of a plan to conquer a 10k race in July (aiming for the British 10k) in under 60 minutes. I hadn't actually thought about which 10km race to do but Coach G said "you need a specific goal...and then a structured training programme leading straight to that goal to ensure you peak at the right time".

Coach G then told me "to start with you need to run the race distance each week". So 10km a week...this is achievable right?! ..."it can be 5 2km runs, or 3/3/4km over 3 days". Yep, I can do this...! *presses mute button on voice of self doubt*

Coach G also informed me that training to run isn't just about the running; "you need to have a good training programme of strength work and conditioning to supplement the running you do". We discussed and agreed that everything I already do (NTC, pole, yoga) is perfect!

There's me, satisfied I could do this...for me...when Coach G informs me that I need to make this commitment to him as well. *gulp*. He says "I need you to email me on a weekly basis, Sunday afternoons, updating me on your weeks training. But I don't just want to know how far you run, I need to know how you felt. This can all be taken into account for your next weeks training programme and schedule". Okkkkkaaaaaay!

So less talk...lets do this...This week, I'll be doing the 3/3/4km option starting today Monday 21st January 2013. A recent update to the NTC app included a 15 minute stretch sequence for runners (see picture). AND, if you live in London you can get a session in with Coach G free of charge through Nike Training Club. Currently Coach G leads the Train to Run sessions in Regents Park each and every Saturday morning! Click to Book a Live Class. You can also find Coach G on Twitter or Facebook!

You can keep up with my progress, and Coach G's advice right here on Keep it SimpElle...

Elle ;) x

18.1.13

Renewing myself with Zico

Who of us doesn't like / appreciate / need a freebie every now and again?! Especially in January when pay day seems so far away...

Well it's a New Year (blah blah blah!) and everyone seems to be trying to make a fresh start with their health and fitness! I'm all for encouraging everyone to keep going...past January and so are Zico it seems! They are encouraging Londoners to get out there and try new activities by keeping us informed of free sessions!

I went along to a Powerplate session at Powervibe just before Christmas and loved every minute of it! Since then, I also had a one to one Powerplate session with Movers and Shakers in Mayfair! This session was even better as the Personal Trainer really individualised the session to meet my goals of increasing upper body strength and core work. I felt great the next day when my arms, abs and everywhere else were sore! No pain...no gain...


Next on my hitlist...Tranquility Pilates Centre. I got a complimentary mat work class along with a Zico tshirt, bottle of original coconut water, resistance band, coupon and some information leaflets (pictured). The class was great; a full body workout which will help me towards that goal of body control. I won't need gravity nor momentum to help me get into poses for pole...one day ;) Strength and flexibility will be mine!

If you have never tried Pilates before, or just want to get your Pilates on in the comfort of your own home, I have been recommended the Your Pilates Trainer app (£2.49 on iTunes) by Lex (author of Hidden Nasties).


So now it's your turn...go 'renew yourself'... Thanks Zico!

Elle ;) x

15.1.13

Drill Pack 4 - Splits Stretch Routine

So you might be like me wanting to be more flexible; but do you know what flexibility actually is? Or how to stretch? Well, flexibility is commonly described as the range of movement around a particular joint or set of joints. Stretching is the process of placing particular parts of the body into a position that will lengthen the muscles and associated tissues, therefore increasing flexibility.

Back to business for my splits stretching then! I've made it one of my goals for 2013 so I need to dedicate some time to achieving this! Here are some of the drills I will use at home focusing on hips, quads and hamstrings, in addition to yoga classes, splits workshops and other stretching:

A few things to remember first:
- Warm up prior to stretching
- Stretch gently and slowly
- Stretch ONLY to the point of tension (it should NOT) be painful
- Breathe slowly and easily while stretching

Drill 1. KNEELING LUNGE
Beginner - 30 seconds on each side
Intermediate / Advanced - 1-3 minutes on each side

Kneel on one knee with your other leg in front of you, knee bent. Push your hips forward to feel the stretch on the back leg (quadriceps: upper front part of thigh). You can then increase the stretch by holding your back foot with your hand whilst deepening your lunge.



Drill 2. REVERSE LUNGE STRETCH
Beginner - 30 seconds on each side
Intermediate / Advanced - 1-3 minutes on each side

Kneel on one knee and place your other leg out straight in front of you with your heel on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you reach towards your toes.







Drill 3. SINGLE LEG STRETCH
Beginner - 30 seconds on each side
Intermediate / Advanced - 1-3 minutes on each side

Lie on your back and raise one leg, straight, and pull it towards your chest. Ensure that you place your hands either above or below your knee joint.




Drill 4. PIGEON STRETCH
Beginner - 30 seconds on each side
Intermediate / Advanced - 1-3 minutes on each side


Here are a few more stretches I found via Pinterest:


More Drill Packs:

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.

14.1.13

Hooping around in January...

After trying out Aerial Hoop at Flying Fantastic in November (I shared that story with you in All the hoopla about Aerial Hoop) I decided I would give it another go. I was hoping that I had built up some more upper body strength, core strength and flexibility after my Intermediate 1 pole course and generally just trying to!

As I've told you all about Aerial Hoop before I won't bore you with the details, but I thought I'd share with you some pictures of what I got up to! Thanks to Lex (author of Hidden Nasties), who came along with me and took these snaps!

This is me, just chilling! Actually I think I am trying to reposition myself into the man on the moon...as seen below...

Man (Elle) on the moon! 

Unnamed. Can't remember the name. Next time, I need to work on getting my leg straighter. This moved called for a little more flexibility than I currently have.

Unnamed. Loved doing this move. If there is one thing I can do it's arch my back! Thank you lordosis! 

Same pose as above, another angle! 

Mermaid. Final pose I tried for the evening. I was too scared to point my toes as I was only holding on with one had and the pressure of my feet pushing against the hoop! eeek! 

Elle ;) x

11.1.13

Training to Inspire: My final goal MMXIII

Almost forgot that I had one last goal to share with you all! ...Here is my fifth and final goal for 2013!


Why? Who know's what 2013 will actually bring...We can all plan for the future, but a contingency plan is always a bonus! Everything else I achieve over and beyond my specific goals I have set out here will definitely be welcome! I like to try new things, keep up with trends in the fitness industry and share my knowledge with those around me that want to hear! That's why I started Keep It SimpElle after all...

What? So, the plan is to try a new activity every month; complete a full body workout once per week; continue to share my experiences here on this blog and to ensure that I keep up with my continued professional development! 

I have a lot of exciting things planned already for the year including a Kettlebells course, Suspension Training course and Core Stability course! You know you will get to hear all about them right here...

Elle ;) x 

10.1.13

Sport'n Style: December 2012 / January 2013

I would never class myself as a fashionista; in fact I now use the inspiration of a Personal Shopper to dress myself! However, if Nike can duck out of sportswear and dip a toe into fashion then so can I ;)

Over the past couple of months I have made a few purchases, mostly because I needed items that were suitable for my trip to Lapland this Christmas, as well as a general wardrobe update. These are a few of my favourites...

My overall favourite purchase is my Nike Athletic Department Downtime Jacket - it's the perfect length, great fit and kept me warm even in -27 degrees Celsius! The hood was useful for extra warmth and guarded my face when it was snowing. Check me out skating around below in my jacket; I left a review on the Nike website too and gave it 5 stars..

"Fits loose enough to wear layers underneath but still keep a feminine shape without the need for a belt. Super warm, light, and soft." - Danielle J, London / Essex


Keeping my toes toasty in Lapland were the Fitflop BLIZZ Boot in bright white. I love the fitflop sandals (Summer Sunshine Toes) so it was time to try them out in a season appropriate style! It took a short while to get used to walking in them; as if walking in deep snow isn't hard enough you then have the Microwobble board testing you even more! I had no issues with cold or wet feet at any point! I gave these boots 4 stars in my review on the website mostly due to some sizing issues!


Come January now, I fell in love with a pair of Nike Dunk Sky High's. I first noticed them when they launched in the summer and have loved them ever since. I went for the black suede version for versatility; they come with purple laces and black laces. I'm wearing them right now as I type these very words and so far, so good! Super comfy and easy to walk in; even ran in them to catch my tube train this morning! Here are the benefits Nike list on the website:

BENEFITS
  • Suede or leather upper for a comfortable fit and durability
  • Lightweight EVA midsole for cushioning
  • Concealed wedge heel for style
  • Solid rubber outsole for durability and traction
  • Hidden 6.6cm wedge for a feminine yet sporty silhouette


So what are you wearing while you keep active during these winter months?! Or what has caught your eye?!

Elle :) x

8.1.13

Guest Post: Hidden Nasties...

Danielle – the author and owner of this blog – and I had a bad moment yesterday. The day before, I went to Wagamama, and ordered a bowl of Chicken Itame noodle soup. I like it, as it’s heavy on green veg and has a kick of curry to warm you up. I also ordered a side of Chilli Squid, which I shared.

Later that day, in-keeping with the portion control I use on a daily basis, I logged my meal into MyFitnessPal (if you don’t have this brilliant app, get it now). Chicken Itame came up as 850kcal. Thinking there had been an input error on MyFitnessPal, I went on to the Wagamama site and discovered that indeed, my meal was 850kcal, and with half a serving of Chilli Squid (half a serving is 246kcal), I’d consumed 1,096kcal in one meal. My 1,200kcal daily intake? Buggered.

I recalled my woes to Danielle yesterday, and looking more-than-slightly panicked, she searched for her last Wagamama meal from Friday night (Firecracker Chicken). It came in at a whopping 1,108kcal. Luckily, she didn't order a side.
Firecracker Chicken (image from Wagamama)
The irony is that earlier that day, I’d been waiting outside McDonalds, scrutinising the calorie content of their meals. Scoffing, sniggering and wearing a smug smile on my face, I felt safe in the knowledge that I would never wolf down 890kcal in one sitting with a Big Tasty® With Bacon, as I was clued up about nutrition. Clearly, as my Wagamama melt-down highlighted, I'm not as smart as I thought.

Our friend and foe, sugar
Food suppliers are one step ahead of all of us. I am well-rehearsed on the ‘secret’ behind low-fat foods (they’re either not that low-fat, just lower in fat compared to their full-fat counterpart, or they’re laden with sugar) and no added sugar foods (no added sugar doesn't mean low in sugar, just read the nutrition information on a packet of Haribo to understand this). But yet we all fall victim to savvy marketing and slick advertising.

The government have cottoned on to this, and have released an advert through their Change4Life campaign about “hidden nasties”. You can read more about it here. It aims to educate people on the hidden fats and sugars in popular foods. It talks about 17 cubes of sugar in soft drinks, and a wine-glass full of fat in pizza.

Let’s use the example of breakfast cereal. Frosties® are unhealthy, right? Yet a 30g portion of Honey Cheerios® with 125ml semi-skimmed milk is 171kcal but 16.4g sugar: That’s a mere 0.6g less than a bowl of Frosties® (172kcal, 17g sugar). Honey is the fourth ingredient on the list (2.8%), sandwiched between sugar and Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup (AKA: More Sugar). Nestle® has also branded the box with “Whole Grain Guaranteed!” and “tasty goodness”, and has used colours that we associate with health and freshness (greens, yellows and oranges).

In addition, have you ever eaten just 30g of cereal? Have you weighed 30g of cereal and seen what it looks like in your big ole’ cereal bowl? Like a meal for miniature people. We’re set up to fail; set up to overeat, over-consume and over-indulge.

So we’re starting a backlash. Don’t let hidden nasties fool you. Get educated by looking at nutrition information online before eating out, and don’t be afraid to ask for nutrition information at the restaurant. Most of them will happily supply it to you, as they’re scared you’re a mystery shopper and will give them a bad review if they don’t adhere to your request. Use apps such as MyFitnessPal on your smart phone to get on-the-spot nutrition advice. And be very careful what you order at Wagamama…


Written by Lex Rees (@Lexilicious21)

4.1.13

Training to Inspire: Goals 1 & 2

Specific goals get accomplished. Know what, why and by when. 

Yesterday I shared with you 2 of my goals for 2013; numbers 3 and 4! But before goals 3 and 4, comes 1 and 2! Here they are:


Why? My Pole Story is why! I completed the Intermediate 1 course in December 2012 and it's usual for the course to be repeated several times before progressing to Intermediate 2. So fingers crossed I find a course with dates and times that suit me!

What? So, the plan is to complete the Inter 1 and possibly Inter 2 course as well as practising at home once every 2 weeks. My goal number 3 (improve upper body and core strength), as well as number 2, below, will also contribute to me completing this goal successfully.


Why? Last year I set myself the challenge of training for splits. I made good progress but after an injury in April I failed to get motivated again. I won't bore you with the but's, so it's on my goal list again! I could also do with working on my shoulder flexibility; something I realised last year and also when I tried out golf for the first time! Stretching should be an integral part of our routine anyway so this is my goal!

What? So, the plan is to do a minimum of 10 minutes full body stretching every other day; attend yoga class once per week; complete my splits stretch routine every other day (I'll share this in a blog post soon); attend flexibility and stretch classes when possible and record my splits progress monthly with photographs. 


Elle :) x

P.S. Put your name and email in the form on the right for more cool fitness tips, tricks and secrets. Also leave me your thoughts, comments and questions below. :)

3.1.13

Training to Inspire: Goals 3 & 4

Specific goals get accomplished. Know what, why and by when. 

So yesterday I shared my overarching goal for 2013 related to the #makeitcount campaign. I promised to make it count by training to inspire so I'm starting by sharing these 2 goals...number 3 and number 4!


Why? As women, we generally have lesser upper body strength than our male counterparts! I think a lot of us ladies are scared of looking too muscular; however, this will never happen as it's not in our genetic make up! As an amateur poler I need that upper body strength to help me progress my tricks and continue to improve as this is an activity I would like to stay involved in.

What? So, the plan is to keep an eye on my progress - check on a monthly basis how many push ups and pull ups I can do; complete a core specific workout once per week and complete an upper body specific workout once per week.


Why? I think I ran my first 5k in 2009 which felt like a marathon to me then as the only running I had ever really done was as a 100m sprinter in my younger years. Since then, I aimed to run a 5k in under 30 minutes which I did in July 2011. After that, I signed up for my first 10k in July 2012, and my first half marathon in October 2012. Between all these races, my relationship with running has been on and off! I competed my half marathon in under 2:30 having never run the distance before. I feel though, that I need to go back to 10k and conquer that as I have only ever run that distance on 2 or 3 occasions. 

What? So, the plan is to run 10k at least once per month; interval training twice per month; take part in a 5k race; take part in a 10k race and continue to work my way through the green level on Nike+. 

So, not buts! What are your goals for 2013??


Elle ;) x

P.S. Put your name and email in the form on the right for more cool fitness tips, tricks and secrets. Also leave me your thoughts, comments and questions below. :)
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