Switch Up Your Workout Routines with Virgin Active

Virgin Active Nova Yoga Class
Virgin Active Nova Yoga Class
Gyms aren't all treadmills and aerobic exercises. When I first started going to the gym I felt confused by all the machinery and was scared of doing something wrong and embarrassing myself, so for a while I stuck to the treadmill and cross trainer doing the same cardio workouts. One foot in front of the other, you can't go wrong, right? Maybe not, but you can definitely get bored of the doing the same workout routines over and over! If you're feeling bored, scared or like your gym membership is going to waste (I've been there, many times), why not try out exercise classes?

Fitness classes have come a long way since the days of Jane Fonda and Mr Motivator, new classes are constantly being thought up and developed. I was invited by Virgin Active gym to try out some of their newest classes; Nova, a mix of yoga and pilates and Zuu, a class focusing on primal movements. First up was Nova. I'd only gone to a few yoga and pilates classes beforehand, but I'd never been to a combination of both before. I was in for a treat.

My instructor for the class was Adrianna Sladeck and we started with some gentle stretching, perfect after the long day at work I'd had. Then we moved into a flow which became progressively harder (for me anyway, everyone else seemed OK!). My hamstrings were not forgiving in the downward dog and most definitely not in the one-legged, one-armed downward dog. I was actually sweating by the end of the class, something I've never done in a yoga or pilates class before, but I felt relaxed and a lot more flexible by the end of the class. I don't know my Crow from my Pigeon move, so I wasn't exactly sure of the technical benefits or reasoning behind Nova so I had to find out more. Gillian Reeves, National Exercise Manager at Virgin Active says that Nova challenges the muscles in your body in different ways, meaning your body works harder to keep up the pace. By getting your body to move in different directions, it maximises mobility which ultimately encourages agility making you less injury prone.

The next class I tried was ZUU, the new fitness class based on 'primal' movements. It's all about getting in touch with your inner animal. Forget walking, think hopping, donkey kicking and more, in fact there are over 100 unique moves. The class only lasted 15 minutes and it was in the middle of the gym floor. Whilst we were channeling our inner gorillas, big burly men over in the weights area were looking over at us to see what we were doing. It felt pretty badass. Let me tell you, I've never sweat so much in 15 minutes without touching a piece of gym equipment. (This blog post is making me sound like a very sweaty girl). The whole class we just used our body weight and mixed strength moves (squats) with cardio (donkey kicks), repeating each move as many times as we could for 30 seconds with 20 seconds rest. I've never enjoyed a class more, it's impossible not to smile whilst you're trying to act like an iguana! ZUU is a great way to do a HIIT workout and the best bit is that you can do it anywhere. I practised what I learned in my garden and living room.

I really enjoyed trying out Nova and ZUU and it showed me that not all exercises classes are the same and work out routines definitely do not have to be boring! What classes or workouts have you tried lately? Let me know!

ZUU and Nova are available at Virgin Active Gyms | memberships vary
*Photos from Virgin Active

The Body Coach 90 Day Challenge: My first impressions

Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, is the man taking social media by storm. His #leanin15 recipe videos on Instagram of tasty, filling meals that you can make in 15 minutes promise to get you lean. These aren't typical recipe videos though, Joe's sense of humour is what sets him apart. The transformation photos from clients of his were so impressive I just had to find out more. The Body Coach offers several different plans that promise to get you eating right and whip you into shape. After reading the breakdown of the 90 Day Shape, Shift & Sustain plan, I was hooked. However, I still believed I knew the best way to lose weight on my own so I didn't sign up. That was a month ago, but now I am signed up and officially a client.

Why I signed up to the 90 Day SSS Plan


One girl's body transformation picture in particular stood out to me and was the catalyst to me signing up. I look so much like her before picture and her picture after only 8 weeks was incredible. In fact, all of his clients get great results, the plan clearly works! As well as this, Joe is a shining example of what eating and training in the right way can do for your body, plus he's hot, which always helps with motivation (am I right ladies?!)! I always do better when I have a clear plan and although I had made my own detailed plan to follow, it was too easy for me to have off days and not follow it as closely as I should. A month later and I definitely did not look like any of the 4 week transformations that Joe achieves for his clients. I finally came to the decision to sign up, I was ready to invest in my health and I wanted results.

The Sign Up Process


After signing up via his website and submitting my payment, I was emailed a questionnaire to fill out. It was quite comprehensive, asking for my details, weight, health issues and concerns, how often I workout and to what intensity, food intolerances and a food diary to show him what you typically eat. Once submitted, as well as some dreadful before and after pictures (let's just forget about those, shall we?) I was informed my plan would arrive within 3-5 working days. I received mine after 3 days (super speedy) and am starting today, on Monday because well, that's the rule, isn't it?

My First Impressions of the Plan


The Body Coach tailors the plan according to your questionnaire answers. I really like this as my needs are not the same as someone twice my size, nor the same as someone with very different goals to me. I put in my questionnaire that I do not drink cow's milk, so any recipes that used milk (there were very few) Joe has replaced it with my milk of choice, almond milk.

Cycle One is about timing the consumption of carbs after workouts to refuel your body. There are high carb and low carb options for breakfast and main meals as well as snacks. The meal plan is very flexible, it is up to you to create a weekly meal plan using the recipes provided. There are 38 recipes in my plan, but others may have more or less depending on how many recipes meet their needs. I would have liked more recipes personally, more choice is always good. I have reservations about low carb, but this plan is more about macronutrient timing than it is low carb and that, I can agree with.

Training wise, Cycle One is purely HIIT, high intensity interval training. Cardio and I do not get along, I avoid it as much as I can, but there is no denying the benefits of cardio. I am going to jump in with both feet and run through my hatred. At first, I was disappointed that there were only 2 pages on the training. However the plan clearly breaks down the timing of the HIIT cardio which you can do on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or outside and The Body Coach also provides links to videos of HIIT workouts that you can do with no equipment (think burpees, squat jumps and mountain climbers). I was worried about doing the same workout over and over again 4-5 times a week, however with the video workouts there should be enough to keep me from getting bored. I can't deny, I will miss the weights area, but I will look forward to being reunited in Cycle Two.

So today is day one, I will keep you posted on my progress and how I'm getting on. If you have any questions about the plan, leave them in the comments below and I will answer them as best as I can. Please note, this is not a sponsored post, I decided to sign up and paid for the plan myself. Let me know if you've signed up to the 90 Day SSS Plan, I'd love to have someone to share this with :)

The Body Coach 90 Day SSS Plan | £147

Lust List: Adidas Energy Boost

adidas energy boost review 2014
adidas energy boost review 2014
adidas energy boost review 2014
adidas energy boost review 2014
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the launch party of the new range of adidas Energy Boost trainers at their flagship store in Bond Street. The trainers come in four colours, pink berry, frost mint, cool white and core black. They are an extension of the existing adidas Boost range with an improved mesh upper providing added comfort and flexibility as well as the Boost technology that adidas spent years developing and perfecting. The Boost sole is made up of lots of capsules that are fused together and is designed to store and give back energy, adding a 'boost' to your run. I tried on the trainers for the first time at the launch and whilst I wasn't about to start running around the packed store, I certainly noticed the springiness as soon as I put them on.

The sole literally looks like polystyrene, which is a bit off putting at first glance, but I looked past that and fell in love with the pink berry and frost mint colours. I even tried on both colours at the same time and tweeted and instagrammed a picture, asking for your opinions. When I had seen the trainers in pictures I was set on the mint pair, but in person I just couldn't turn my back on the pink. It seemed you guys couldn't decide either as I got equal votes for pink and mint!

The launch party was themed around giving ourselves a 'boost' in different areas of our day to day lives. There was a section on healthy and beauty where we could get a mini makeover, changing rooms where we could try on the trainers and any other adidas gear, as well as talks by healthy foodies Hemsley + Hemsley, life coach Beth Reacher and singer Foxes who has teamed up with adidas to promote this new range and share her tips on staying fit. Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley gave us all a delicious green smoothie which had a remarkable 17 ingredients in it, all healthy of course! Even green smoothie newbies were sipping away in fascination and enjoyment - I didn't want mine to end! They then sat us down to give us their nutrition tips to give us a boost to our daily diets. They recommend really chewing your food to let saliva do its job and ease digestion - bloat, be gone! They also said eggs are great for eating at breakfast to keep us satisfied and full. Also healthy fats are the way forward, avocados and coconut oil, I'm looking at you!

Next up Beth Reacher really honed in on the importance in taking 5 to yourself to bring more mindfulness and awareness to our lives and the present moment. She advocates switching off from technology and distractions to check in on ourselves which can help to avoid stress and encourage a positive outlook. Then singer Foxes took to the stage to tell us her top tips. She talked about how exercise and a healthy lifestyle are important to her whilst on tour to ensure she has the energy to perform. She also loves running because of the euphoric feeling it gives her. Perfect ambassador for the adidas Energy Boost trainers then!

I had fun at the launch and I have to admit, I hadn't really paid adidas any attention prior to the event! I spent quite a while browsing the rails of clothes that were dotted around the store and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed - adidas have some really nice clothes! And don't even get me started on the adidas by Stella McCartney collection - pure luxe. I will definitely be adding to my sportswear collection when payday hits...

adidas Energy Boost trainers | £120
*Photos from adidas

Breakfast with The Chia Company

The Chia Company Chia Pod

I love chia seeds. Since I discovered the little powerhouses I add them to almost everything, especially porridge, smoothies and healthy baked treats. I even made a blog post about the nutritional benefits of the little seeds. Sometimes (who am I kidding, most of the time) I am in a rush and I don't always have time to prepare breakfast, so when I was contacted by The Chia Company, I thought these would be just perfect for those days.

If you haven't heard of the Chia Pods yet, you really must get your hands on them! I first tried one at the Be:Fit London Exhibition back in February and fell in love. My favourite is the banana flavoured, which is made of sun ripened chia seeds, ripe bananas and pure coconut milk. No nasty ingredients, no added sugar - perfect! It's lovely and creamy, with crunchy chia seeds. I like to eat it for breakfast when I'm in a rush. The pod comes with a spoon so you can easily grab it from the fridge and go.

A newer addition to the range are the Oats + Chia packets. Again, another perfect breakfast option for on the go - all you need to do is add hot water and you have breakfast ready. I actually added almond milk and microwaved this (because I didn't read the instructions) and it made it look like mushy baby food, but I loved the taste. I was sent the Banana & Mango, Mixed Berry and Apple + Spice flavours. I was most excited by the Apple & Spice flavour, as that is my favourite combo! However, it was my least favourite, in fact I disliked it and wouldn't have it again. The Mixed Berry and Banana & Mango flavours however were absolutely delicious and I will definitely be buying these. They're perfect to keep in my drawer at work for when I forget to prepare breakfast in advance.

What are your favourite ways to use chia seeds? Have you tried these by The Chia Company? Let me know!

Chia + Oats | £5.00 for 5 packets*
Chia Pods | £2.49*
Chia Shots | 65p*


Workout Log: Day 11

workout plan leg day strength training
Today was leg day, my favourite! I increased my weights on leg press and barbell squat - woohoo! A year ago I was lifting much heavier weights on my legs but then inconsistency and a long break from the gym has brought my strength right down. I am working now to increase my weights so I'm happy with each workout that I do manage lift heavier. Here's to progress!


Strength

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5

Leg Press 12 x 63kg WU 12 x 63kg WU 8 x 76.5kg 8 x 76.5kg 8 x 76.5kg
Barbell Squat 8 x 20kg 8 x 40kg 8 x 40kg 8 x 40kg-
Barbell Lunge 8 x 20kg 8 x 20kg 8 x 20kg - -
Romanian Deadlift 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg - -
Dumbbell Step Up 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg - -
Calf Raises 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg - -

Key: WU means warm up set, where I do a lighter weight, higher reps to get blood flow to my muscles and get them ready for the working sets that follow. The rep count for Barbell Lunges and Calf Raises are per leg, as in 7 reps on each leg, 14 reps total.

Workout Log: Day 10

My gym buddy and I are pretty busy this week so we have fewer days to workout, which means we need to fit in more body parts in fewer days. That meant today was back, biceps and shoulder day. It also meant we could do fewer moves though, but at least we worked out - woop!


Strength

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5

Barbell Curl 12 x 10kg WU 12 x 10kg WU 8 x 15kg 8 x 15kg 8 x 15kg
One-Arm Dumbbell Back Row 12 x 6kg WU 12 x 6kg WU 8 x 9kg 8 x 10kg8 x 10kg
Lat Pulldown 8 x 32kg 8 x 29.6kg 8 x 29.6kg - -
Shoulder Press 8 x 4kg 8 x 4kg 8 x 4kg - -
Hammer Curl 10 x 6kg 10 x 6kg 10 x 6kg - -
Seated Row 8 x 18kg 8 x 23kg 8 x 23kg - -

Key: WU means warm up set, where I do a lighter weight, higher reps to get blood flow to my muscles and get them ready for the working sets that follow.

Workout Log: Day 9

workout log diary - HIIT Class
Today I woke up early to go to an early morning gym class before work. I am not a morning person, so it was a real struggle for me to get out of bed, but luckily I had a friend going to the same class so I couldn't let her down. I enjoyed being able to go straight home after work too as it meant I had more of an evening to myself and was able to get some blog stuff done :)

This morning's class was an interval one, we did 50 seconds of strength, 10 seconds rest, 50 seconds of cardio, 10 seconds rest and that was repeated non-stop for half an hour. We did a mix of burpees, running, push ups, planks, tricep dips, mountain climbers and much, much more. I'd worked up a real sweat by the end of it and it felt good to get my heart pumping so early in the morning.


Workout

Time

HIIT Class 30 mins





Workout Log: Day 8

Workout Log Diary - Leg Day
I spent the weekend in Brighton for a friend's birthday and whilst I was there I regretted doing leg day on the Friday - getting up the stairs from the beach was a struggle! However, today was leg day again and my aches and pains luckily faded as the day went on, so by the time I got to the gym I was ready to work hard again! Happy that I've increased my weights on leg press and barbell squats. Hopefully I can keep increasing!


Strength

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5

Leg Press 15 x 45kg WU 15 x 45kg WU 8 x 72kg 8 x 72kg 8 x 72kg
Barbell Squat 8 x 20kg 8 x 30kg 8 x 35kg 8 x 35kg-
Barbell Lunge 8 x 20kg 8 x 20kg 8 x 20kg - -
Romanian Deadlift 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg - -
Dumbbell Step Up 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg - -
Calf Raises 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg - -

Key: WU means warm up set, where I do a lighter weight, higher reps to get blood flow to my muscles and get them ready for the working sets that follow. The rep count for Barbell Lunges and Calf Raises are per leg, as in 7 reps on each leg, 14 reps total.

Workout Log: Day 5

Workout Log Diary - Leg Day
Today was leg day - my favourite day at the gym! My legs are my strongest body part, so I am able to push myself and feel really strong. However, a year ago I was lifting twice what I can lift now and due to stopping going to the gym and being inconsistent, I am now having to start over again. I quite like that though as I am able to quickly make progress and constantly push myself as I build my strength back up to what it once was!


Strength

Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5

Leg Press 15 x 45kg WU 15 x 45kg WU 8 x 63kg 10 x 63kg 8 x 72kg
Barbell Squat 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg --
Barbell Lunge 7 x 20kg 7 x 20kg 7 x 20kg - -
Romanian Deadlift 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg 10 x 25kg - -
Dumbbell Step Up 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg 8 x 12kg - -
Calf Raises 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg 15 x 10kg - -

Key: WU means warm up set, where I do a lighter weight, higher reps to get blood flow to my muscles and get them ready for the working sets that follow. The rep count for Barbell Lunges and Calf Raises are per leg, as in 7 reps on each leg, 14 reps total.

Workout Log: Day 4

workout log diary
Today's weather really didn't inspire me to want to go to the gym; constant downpours and torrential rain. In August!! All I wanted to do was go home, put on some fleecy pyjamas and snuggle up in front of the TV with a cup of hot chocolate. But alas, hot chocolate and telly won't make me fit! So off I went to my spin class.

I was really happy with how I did in today's class. I have a love/hate relationship with spinning. Usually I have to cheat my way through a class, pretending to turn up the resistance more than I actually do, just to get to the end. BUT, in today's class, I turned it up as much as the instructor said and really pushed myself. I think it's because of two reasons. One, I was sat at the front of the class, whereas usually I stay at the back and two, the instructor played really good music, I just zoned out and followed the beat. When it came to sprinting, the instructor put on this insane song that went so fast, I followed the beat and sprinted faster than I think I ever have!


Workout

Time

Spinning Class 45 mins
Nike Training Club App - Ab Burner 15 mins