The ultimate test of will power!

The girls

My first gin jaunt of 2016, and guess what… I couldn’t touch a drop! With just 3 days left of dry January, one of my oldest, nearest and dearest friends, Becky, decides to throw a gin tasting shindig for all the girls on 29 January – thanks Becky!

She asked everyone, bar me (still sulking!), to do their research and bring a different bottle of gin, along with the appropriate accompaniments and a tapas style dish – because we’re ‘sensible’ in our old age and know that drinking on an empty stomach never ends well!

Gin night at Bexs

The gins brought and supped were:

  • Hoxton gin with cranberry juice – a gin with an exotic twist, distilled with coconut and grapefruit. There was a lot of surprise and delight with this gin, the first one supped and was a big hit!
  • Edgerton pink gin with Seville orange and pomegranate pressé – a gin blended with fifteen exotic ingredients including pomegranate. Presented in pink, to make the girls wink! Another big hit.
  • Opihr gin with ginger ale – a spiced gin, distilled with peppers, cumin, coriander and oranges. This gin was one of my personal favourites over Christmas, it didn’t go down so well with the group.
  • Masons Yorkshire gin with tonic – a gin blended with secret botanicals, there were no grumbles here.
  • Edinburgh gin with tonic – two types were supped, rhubarb and ginger and elderflower, lots of gin appreciation for both.
  • A home-brewed plum gin with tonic, brewed by my friend’s hubby – this went down like a lead balloon, I think the word ‘paint stripper’ was used! One of the commandos managed to ride it out and drink the full glass, a true gin warrior. The others sniffed and turned up their noses. The vile taste was found all the more funny with the misspelled labelling of plum ‘plumb’, brilliant! Perhaps there was some truth in the misspelling and it was in fact plumbed, as opposed to distilled – giving it it’s industrial flavouring, in which case it was on point!
  • Greenalls wild berry gin with tonic and fresh berries – a gin distilled with blackberries and raspberries. It went down well – let’s face it, anything would after plumb gin!
  • A few sipping gins were then thrown in for good measure…

I can only look at the positives from this torture…

  • I’ve not consumed the boozy calories.
  • I’m not hungover.
  • They’ve done the legwork; I can just go straight in and try the preferred gins.
  • I’m thankful to have a big group of friends that love gin as much as me; who I’m sure will happily do this again – when I can join in!
  • I didn’t crack and break dry January; if I’m going to transform my physique and fitness, will power is what I need a lot of – being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing!
  • I got to spend time with my fabulous friends – I will take my revenge and get them all back at some point!

I hope they’re all hungover to hell today!

I’m off to treat myself to a Thai massage for having the will power of a warrior and completing yet another dry Jan! Relax, de-stress and loosen up my aching muscles… just what I need.

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Sisters need support!

Bra gate

This is probably one of my biggest bugbears when it comes to exercise – bra-gate! I cannot understand why/how so many women don’t wear a decent sports bra when working out.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of the biggest supporters of women in sport, encouraging more women to get involved is what I do! I’m all for #girlpower, curves, real women doing their thing.

As a big girl myself (34E), I know that struggle – I double up! Regardless of size, sport and exercise you do, a decent sports bra (that fits properly) is a must.

Yes breathing may be restricted, and you feel like your soul is being squeezed; but your boobs and back will thank you for it. When I’m in the gym, all too often I find myself staring at unruly bouncing boobs, grimacing with sympathy pain.

Benefits of the sports bra…

  • Minimise movement; unruly bounce is uncomfortable, distracting and hurts like hell.
  • Maintain shape; there are no muscles in the breast, only ligaments. Excessive movement puts strain on the ligaments causing them to stretch – no amount of ‘firming cream’ is going to rectify that.
  • Manage temperature; most decent sports bras are made of moisture wicking, breathable material, to regulate temperature and draw sweat away. You’re going to get boob sweat, that’s unavoidable.

I’ve tried a number of sports bras over the years, the best I’ve found to date are by Shock Absorber. Great bras, but you do need to be hypermobile (double-jointed) to get them on. I’ll often double up, and wear a crop-top style sports bra on top. Decent sports bras aren’t exactly cheap, you’ll pay around £20-£40 for one – but it’s money well spent!

Don’t be Katie…!


Always open to recommendations on decent bras, so ladies send them my way…


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Fail to prepare – prepare to fail!

Fail to prepare

It’s that simple… the Scouts know!

We’re almost in February, and it’s only this last week that I’ve started to feel like I’m back in the game. The first week and a bit… was spent trying to remember what it is I do for a living, and getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button 10 times each morning – the struggle was real!

Just as work was a slog, so was the gym! I was there in body, but definitely not in mind. Having two weeks off set me back to square one – I felt sluggish, weak and wobbly!

To top that, I wasn’t organised – I failed to prepare on numerous occasions, leaving myself more than annoyed.


My week of gym fails…

  • I forgot my headphones; smallest item to forget, biggest annoyance!
  • I forgot my drinks bottle; I own hundreds!
  • I forgot my sports bra; the most essential bit of kit – I didn’t go on the treadmill that day!
  • I packed the most random, mismatched gym outfits; that’s what you get when you pack your bag half asleep.

Moral of the story…

Pack your gym bag the night before – check it twice!

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The Naked Truth!

The naked truth

OK, so not quite naked… but baring some of my wobbly bits! This is my ‘before’ pic, as I embark on my transformation. I took these pics a few weeks ago, at the beginning of January in prep for my blog going live, which took a little while longer than intended – if truth be told I was stalling!

My before pic

One word to sum-up how I look and feel in this is – BLOATED! I wouldn’t say that I’m overweight, there’s just more wobble going on than there was a few weeks ago (I can’t suck it in!). I’m far from beach-body ready, despite desperately needing some vitamin sea and colour!

I took two weeks off work over the Christmas period and didn’t go to the gym. I exercised a couple of times, did a few HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions at home. But that wasn’t nearly enough to compensate for the food and booze I was shoveling down my neck, without a second thought!

I didn’t weigh myself before Christmas, but recon I put on around half a stone… I can look at food and put on weight. At the time I took these pics my weight and measurements were as follows:

Dress size: 12

Weight: 66kg

Upper arms: 11cm
Stomach: 36cm

I don’t weigh myself regularly and I don’t get hung up on what the scales say anymore, as such I don’t have a goal weight in mind! I’m going off look and feel – I want to lose fat and gain muscle (size and definition). So some of the measurements above may go up / may go down, I’ll keep you posted. It’s often said that muscle weighs more than fat, but that’s not strictly true – one pound of fat equals the same in weight as one pound of muscle. Muscle density is different to fat, it takes up less room in your body and changes your body composition – I’m determined to make noticeable changes to mine.

Problem areas…  

  • Love handles; first place I store fat, last place I lose it
  • Face; my cheeks get chubbier, one of the first tell-tale signs I’ve put on a few lbs
  • Stomach; I’ve got a wobbly one pack at the minute

Areas of focus…

  • Booty; I want more junk in my trunk – just a quarter of what Khloé Kardashian’s got will do! Glute exercises will be a big feature in my workouts.
  • Upper arms; I want to put on a good gun show.
  • Stomach and core strength; I want to increase my core strength and define my abs (they are there somewhere). Yoga will greatly improve my strength and flexibility, and as luck would have it classes have just be added to the timetable at my gym.  

There are so many inspirational women, with fantastic physiques in the fitness industry that I’d love to look like. I follow loads of health and fitness blogs and social media accounts – Michelle Lewin, Emily Skye, Kayla Itsines to name a few. But keeping it closer to home, fellow Lancashire lass and Bury girl Gemma Atkinson is a great role model, in fantastic shape. For me, strong looks much better than skinny!

I’ll keep you updated on my progress, all tips, suggestions and words of encouragement welcome…

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2016: Gym, gin and general life goals


Forget gold digger, this year I plan to be a goal digger! Setting goals is a great way to motivate yourself, to give you focus and direction, as well as an aim to train. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they’re realistic, achievable and timely to keep on track. Here’s my 2016 gym, gin and general life goals…

Gym goals…

Shape up. I want to lose fat, build muscle and tone up. I want to be stronger, fitter and sculpted (the buzz word in fitness for defined). I don’t have a goal weight and don’t really get hung up on what the scales say. It’s more about how I look and feel, for me strong is sexy/healthy, skinny isn’t attractive or appealing in the slightest. I’ve noted my weight and measurements at the start of the year, I’ll show and share my progress over the coming weeks and months. Check out The Naked Truth.

Start Yoga. Something I’ve said I’ll do for the last few years. I’ve been to a few classes, but never stuck at it on a regular basis. I’m well aware of the many health benefits, and need to improve my core strength, flexibility and balance – I am going to start and I am going to stick at it!

Enter some challenge events. This is still tbc at the minute, but I’m thinking a distance/open water swim challenge or a triathlon…

Complete Kettlebell and Studio Cycle Instructor qualifications. I’ve already signed myself up for these one day courses in February and March, two of my favourite fitness classes, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Start Gym Instructing. Putting my recent qualification in to practice. I’m going to look to do this on a casual basis initially, around my full-time job and see where it leads.

Gin goals…

Every year I do dry January – borderline necessity after the booze fest that is Deathcember! So the gin jaunts will be from February onwards…

No endorsements intended! All escapades are my own sourcing, links just for info.

Get involved at Manchester Gin Festival. A date that’s already in my diary, I’m going to the Gin Festival in March with a good friend, Dawn, my gin twin and fellow shoeaholic. Taking place at the beautiful Victoria Baths, we’ll be treated to masterclasses, live music, great grub and 100 different gins – sure we can do 50 each Dawn!

Pay the Old Bell Inn a visit. Situated in Saddleworth, this hotel, restaurant and bar holds a Guinness World Record title for the most amount of gins commercially stocked – a whopping 600 different gins! I heard about this place just before Christmas. I’ll be booking in for a week… and detoxing for the rest of the year!

Join the gin journey. A chauffeur driven gin jaunt around Manchester, that takes you to 5 bars, to try 5 gin cocktails, have fun and meet fellow gin lovers along the way. Led by the gin commandos at

I’m sure more gin jaunts will be added to the list as the year goes on.

General life goals…

Manage my money better. I have no idea where it goes and what I spend it on most months, but I’m always counting down the hours till payday, AND class my overdraft as part of my salary and credit card as free money. Not good, not good at all!

Read more. I really enjoy reading, but go through phases of reading loads and then not at all. I annoy myself, I’m really impatient and inquisitive by nature, when I start reading something I want to know what happens (yesterday), so I’ll devour a book in a matter of days, reading so much I give myself eye strain. Patience is a virtue, to be learnt!

Meat free Monday. Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. There’s not much I won’t eat and I’m an alright cook, but I want to increase my veggie culinary repertoire, improve my health and do a bit to reduce my carbon footprint.

Writing my goals down and sharing them with the world is like writing them in blood – time to stop talking about them, pull my finger out and start doing! Like starting this blog, something I talked about doing for months, telling friends and family all about my ideas, plans and goals, but not doing the doing.

I’ll update on my progress over the coming months and if I’m slacking feel free to give me a telling. All good read, veggie recipe and gin jaunt suggestions welcome too…

Time for less talk, more action! 

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Cover image V2 FINAL


Hi! I’m Kate, a 31 year old Lancashire lass on a mission to shape up; improve my physique and fitness, and develop my knowledge and understanding of the fitness industry. I’ve followed hundreds of exercise programmes, tried countless diets and fluctuated in weight, dress size and shape over the years. However, 2016 is my year! I’m adamant that this is the year I get in the best shape of my life and make big changes to my lifestyle and career.

The blog

Gym & Toneic is an online space to show and share my exercise and social escapades. As the name suggests, I’m a big fan of the gym and of gin, in equal measures. Thus why I don’t look like a buff beauty (yet…). I’m using this blog to document my fitness journey, as a means to motivate myself and hopefully others too, and share my gin drinking jaunts with fellow gin lovers – it’ll be more about lifting weights than cocktails this year though!

Gym love

I’ve been a frequent gym goer since college, and generally workout at least 3 days per week – endorphins make me happy! I’ve worked in various roles in sport and leisure most of my working career, and have a number of instructing qualifications under my belt. I decided to take my passion for the gym to the next level at the back end of 2015, and qualified as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor, and I’ve signed myself up for a few more courses over the coming year. By no means do I know it all… I’m newly qualified and finding my feet, studying to develop my knowledge and broaden my horizons – every day is a learning day!

Gin love

I developed a taste for gin in my late twenties; cider supping on the swings is but a distant (hazy) memory. It’s my drink of choice, refreshing, easy on the palate and waistline! I’ve been to a few gin tasting events in Manchester and have subsequently turned into a bit of a gin snob. Before I order a G&T at a bar, I check out the gin selection and ask what they’ve got to accompany it, and if the reply is simply ‘lemon and lime’, I’m less than impressed…

Bloom gin is my personal favourite, light and fruity, best served in a glass the size of your head with fresh strawberries, and supped in the sun! Over the winter months I took a liking to Opihr, a spiced gin, served with ginger ale and an orange slice. I’m very much looking forward to finding new favourites in 2016… watch this space!

Other loves in life

  • Animal print; leopard, snake, zebra you name it. If it’s tacky and looks like something Kat Slater would wear, I’ll probably love it! Big fan of purple too.
  • Chips, cheese and gravy; a hometown delicacy #Btown. Don’t get me started on gravy, cannot beat good gravy.
  • The beach; sun, sea and a stunning sunset – my idea of heaven!
  • Friends; cheesy I know but I’m a social soul, I love spending time with friends old and new, making memories – good friends are your forever.
  • Laughing; you know when you laugh so hard and loud you can’t breathe, I love that. Life shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
  • Quotes; fitspo, friends, fun times – I do love a good quote. My all-time favourite #fitspo quote has to be, ‘sweat like a pig, to look like a fox’. I plan to sweat a lot this year!
  • Tom Hardy; that guy is too hot for his own good!
  • Shoes; my name is Kate Brooks and I’m a shoeaholic.
  • Tattoos; I’ve got 3 so far, I’m always thinking about my next. The hypnotic buzz of the needle, unknown pain factor, and adrenaline rush that leaves you craving more.
  • Sleep; I’m a 10 hour girl and not much of a morning person – I’ll never be in the early birds exercise club. Approach with caution before 10am!

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