Roll & relieve: benefits of using a foam roller

Foam roller meme

I’m not going to lie, the first time I used a foam roller in the gym I thought my back was going to snap. The love/hate I had for my PT reached new levels that day – it was a sure sign that my muscles were tight as hell and using one was long overdue.  

Despite initially regarding them as an instrument of torture, I sucked it up and continued to use it before and after workouts as advised.  I’m now a complete convert come preacher, and cannot recommend using one enough – to everyone and anyone who’ll listen. So much so, I bought my dad one for Christmas (he was less than impressed), but he’ll thank me one day!

Feeling ‘the burn’ after a workout is like a badge of honour, a sign you’ve trained hard and are getting stronger. However, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can hinder your training and increase risk of injury. I’ve learnt this the hard way over the years with numerous injuries (torn intercostal muscle THE worst!), because I didn’t stretch sufficiently or do any form of active recovery.

Self-myofascial release (self-massage) with a foam roller relieves tight muscles by smoothing out the knots and encouraging blood flow to the area, returning them to normal function. It hurts! But works… it’s uncomfortable but bearable and gets easier over time.  Rolling daily or 3/4 times per week could save you a fortune in physio fees if/when your muscles finally give in!

Here’s a few exercises I do…

Hamstring roll – I regularly find myself walking like John Wayne, I do this most days. To roll your hamstrings, place the roller beneath your thigh and roll from your lower bum to your knee.

Hamstring roll

Glute roll  the biggest muscle group in the body, I’m trying to make mine much bigger! To roll your glutes, sit on the roller and rest one foot on the opposite knee. Place your weight onto the side with the resting foot and roll back and forth.

Glute roll

Quad roll – to roll your quads, start in a plank position with the roller below your upper thigh. Place weight on one side of your body, then roll forwards so that the foam roller moves towards your knee.

Quad roll

Back roll – I find this most satisfying, my back is always in knots from the gym, bad posture and sitting at my desk. To roll your back, lie on your back and place the roller below your shoulders, then roll towards your ribs and lower back, back and forth.

Back roll

My foam roller cost around £15 from eBay, they come in all shapes and sizes but ultimately they all do the same thing – a great investment.

foam roller

Happy rolling!

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Kettlebell course

On Wednesday 17 February I kettlebelled and conquered! On Thursday 18 February I questioned whether I was suffering from a severe case of DOMS or dying – filled with dread for the day after, the day after!


OK… so I may be overdramatising a tad, but after a full day of swinging, squating, cleans, press and snatch, lifting a pen felt like lifting a ten tonne weight!

Enough with the self-pity and back to the course – it was great! Delivered by Premier Training International  in Leeds, I attended with my sister, Ruth. We booked the course back in December and got lucky with half price enrolment fees, so the one day course only cost £64.50.

There were 13 of us on the course in total, a mix of men and women, some younger and slightly older than me. Before the course, I had preconceptions that everyone on it would be way more experienced and knowledgeable than me, me being a newbie qualified level 2 Fitness Instructor, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was refreshing and motivating to meet a group of people that were on such similar paths – retraining, upskilling, looking to change and enhance their careers, using their personal experiences and passion for fitness to take it to the next level – just like me! What’s more, people doing these courses are generally ‘people persons’, that love to meet new people and find out all your ins and outs, which I suppose is a good thing if you’re looking to instruct – again just like me!

The day started with round the room introductions, followed by a brief history of the Russian kettlebell and the benefits of using them as a training tool. Then we got straight into the practical, no messing around. Another preconception of mine was that it would be mostly theoretical, how wrong I was! We warmed up with a number of dynamic stretches then got started with kettlebell lifts. Throughout the day we practiced a number of lifts and progressions for each lift – adding travel, rotations, lunges and squats. Learning correct technique, teaching points and muscle groups being worked, splitting off into small groups to practice instructing lifts on each other.

Lifts practiced included:

  • Swings
  • Cleans and press
  • Snatch
  • Windmill
  • Snatch to windmill
  • Turkish get-up – I won’t be practicing/teaching this in a hurry!

From 9am-5pm we were throwing shapes with kettlebells, I started out with a 12kg weight and by the end of the day I could barely lift 4kg – despite my feeble end state, I’m thrilled to share that we all passed with flying colours!

I’m very much looking forward to learning more, introducing more kettlebell exercises into my own workouts, planning routines and of course instructing. They’re such a great piece of equipment, with so many exercises you can do for a full-body workout.

The only downside of the day… I committed my first and worst blog faux-pas – I didn’t take any pictures! Kicking myself, it was a great course, with such an awesome group of people and I didn’t capture the moment. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I was there and did complete it – I won’t forget again!

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Gin tasting World Record – sign me up!

Photo by Nic Taylor

My second gin jaunt of 2016 was to take part in a gin tasting Guinness World Records attempt – how cool is that! No sooner than I’d heard whispers (been tagged a hundred times in a Facebook post) about the gin tasting record attempt, happening at The Botanist bar chain, I was in touch to ask for an invite.

Me being me (cheeky), I had to try my luck and ask to be involved, I couldn’t not! Not every day you get to be part of something like this, and I’m no stranger to setting Guinness World Records, this being the second title to my name, not one to gloat *cough*, I’ll share that story another time.


The Botanist (New World Trading Company), have a number of record titles under their belt too. For ale tasting and having the largest collection of rums commercially available, but this was for gin, glorious gin. They drank their way into the record books once again, by hosting the world’s biggest gin-tasting night to celebrate their new perfect serve gin list. The attempt saw 100 people at each of the nine sites, from London to Glasgow try three gins from sponsors – Tanqueray 10, Whitley Neill and Caorunn.


My plus one, fellow gin-fanatic and fashion blogger, Dawn, and I propped-up the Deansgate bar – taking the attempt and tasting with utmost seriousness of course (before the celebrations kicked in!). Every tasting is an education – new gins tried and tested, learning about the botanicals and most fitting accompaniments (increasing my gin-snobbery). My favourite on the night was Caorunn, served with tonic and apple slices – delish!

Following the attempt a celebratory party was thrown, which we were more than happy to get involved with, loving the live music, nibbles, gin cocktails, and yet more gin tasting… we had a ball!

Feedback from gin jaunt number two – awesome night, awesome atmosphere, awesome company, awesome!

In case you wondered…
The other Guinness World Records title I have to my name is for the most mechanical energy produced by pedalling on static bicycles in one hour – 4,821.40 watts! Which I coordinated and took part in, alongside 120 awesome women for British Cycling’s Breeze – proud!

GWR 1 cut

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Workouts: WC 25 January

workout log

Here’s my week of workouts. There’s a saying, ‘your fitness is 100% mental, your body won’t go where your mind doesn’t push it‘. I found this to be completely true this week, every session was a slog! I had pressure and stresses going on in my work and personal life that I couldn’t switch off from, despite my best efforts. I worked out, but I didn’t feel on form – it was frustrating knowing I could’ve done more/better.

Monday – gym


  • Exercise bike 5 mins
  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch


  • 3 x 10 back squats 17.5kg
  • 3 x 10 Romanian deadlift 17.5kg
  • 3 x 8 abductor 50kg
  • 3 x 8 adductor 50kg
  • 3 x 8 lat pull-down 30kg
  • 3 x 10 chest press dual pully 10kg
  • 3 x 8 bent arm pull over 8kg
  • 2 x 8 leg press / calf raise 60kg
  • 2 x 8 bicep curl barbell 15kg
  • 2 x 8 tricep press 8kg
  • 2 x 10 glute lunges
  • 2 x 10 sumo squats


  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch
  • Cross trainer 5 mins

Wednesday – gym


  • Treadmill 5km
  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch


  • Cross trainer 1km (0.5km lower body only)

3 rounds

  • 15 x ab crunch
  • 15 x ab crunch extended legs
  • 10 x leg raises
  • 10 x flutter kicks
  • 15 x glute bridge
  • 10 x sit-ups medicine ball 5kg
  • 10 x ab rotation medicine ball 5kg
  • 3 x 10 back extensions


  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch
  • Foam roller

Thursday – Yoga

My first class of 2016; the first of many! Surprising how strenuous it was, made me realise how tight my muscles are, and how inflexible I am. I had major yoga envy – people young and old so much more advanced than me, but I will get there.

It was a great class with a good mix of ages, abilities and almost equal number of men to women, which was good to see.

Instructor and class info: Tamara Yoga

Friday – gym


  • Exercise bike 5 mins
  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch


  • 3 x 10 bicep curl barbell 15kg
  • 3 x 10 Romanian deadlift 15kg
  • 3 x 10 leg press / calf raise 60kg
  • 3 x 10 tricep press 9kg
  • 3 x 10 adductor 55kg
  • 3 x 10 abductor 50kg
  • 3 x 10 low row 35kg
  • 3 x 10 chest press 20kg


  • Dynamic stretches: squat to overhead arm swing, posterior step with overhead reach, standing dynamic pectoral stretch
  • Foam roller

Sunday – home workout

5 rounds

  • 10 x sumo squats
  • 10 x glute lunges
  • 20 x mountain climbers

4 rounds

  • 15 x ab crunch
  • 15 x ab crunch extended legs
  • 10 x leg raises
  • 10 x scissor kicks
  • 15 x glute bridge
  • 10 x sit-ups kettlebell 5kg
  • 20 x ab rotation kettlebell 5kg

Cool down…

  • Stretches
  • Foam roller

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