GYM & TONEIC

Today is a good day!

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The impossible became possible! I passed my level 3 PT theory exams… YAY!

Chuffed to bits and so relieved, I can breathe again… well until Saturday, when I do my practical.

The pressure I’ve felt in the lead up is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, as everything in my ‘dream’ future is riding on this… I quit my job for this!

Stress, anxiety, fear, doubt, major doubt; is the toxic cocktail of emotions I’ve been swimming in for the last few weeks and months, since handing my notice in. Questioning my sanity, capabilities, life decisions (all of my life decisions to date for that matter…). I’ve looked like a walking corpse! So much so that my tutor/examiner said as much today, as I stood grey complexion, shaking like a leaf, waiting to go into the exam room.

I’m not a scientific thinker, I was crap at science at school, and the anatomy is bloody complex! So this has been no easy feat, no ‘winging it’ on this occasion. I’ve had to read everything hundreds of times for it to go in and ‘get it’, and I still don’t fully get it. I’m going to be studying and learning constantly from here on in… but I’m excited about that!

So that’s my good news for the day… fingers, toes and anything else that can be crossed, crossed for my practical exam on Saturday.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear!

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Endorphins: the best high you’ll ever have!

Credit: BBC http://bbc.in/1ZkGxrd

Endorphins – the legal high that’s backed and most definitely won’t be getting banned any time soon! Want to get high, euphoric, feel good AMAZING, de-stress, IMPROVE your health, fitness and general wellbeing? EXERCISE is the answer! It’s the miracle drug we’ve always had, but all too often people fail to take the recommended dose, and the effects of that can be fatal.

We know this… it’s not new news. So why is it that so many people are still missing out on this awesome high?

When you exercise your body releases endorphins ‘happy hormones’, morphine-based pain-relievers that are essentially like heroin… but so much BETTER… as an endorphin molecule is a hundred times more powerful! Note: I’ve never tried heroin! But that’s what the health experts say. When you take morphine, you feel dreamy and pain-free, this is what endorphins do too and that’s why people get addicted to exercise.

5 benefits of exercise

  • Relieves stress – healthy body, healthy mind. Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, a big motivator for me personally at the minute. It can also reduce risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Reduces risk of major illnesses – such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers by up to 50% and lowers your risk of early death by up to 30% (ref NHS).
  • Boosts self-esteem – get high on those happy hormones! Exercise boosts self-esteem and confidence, who doesn’t want to look and most importantly FEEL good.
  • Improves sleep – a biggie for me as I LOVE sleep. In my mind there’s nothing worse than a bad night’s sleep, I should be avoided at all costs if sleep deprived.
  • Increases energy levels – increasing your heart rate and working up a sweat will increase your energy levels. Activity fuels more activity!

There’s literally hundreds more!

Laziness fuels more laziness

It’s time to quit with the excuses… lack of time isn’t good enough! Make time, make the effort and you’ll reap the rewards. You are the one holding you back; you will be the one that suffers as a consequence.

Baby steps can lead to big changes!

What benefits do you get from exercise?

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Life: next chapter, new focus!

Quotes of encouragement and support shared by awesome friends and colleagues!

Last week I made some pretty big (scary) decisions about my future/career, with a bold and crazy move made to commit to it. I handed my notice in at work, signed up to do level 3 PT and asked my long suffering mum and dad if it was OK to move back home for a brief spell (I promise it will be brief mum!).  

At 31 taking steps backwards isn’t ideal, but needs must in order to move forwards in the direction I want to go. I don’t think I’m having a midlife crisis; it’s too early for that yet… surely!?

Going full circle…

Towards the back end of 2015 I decided I wanted to get back into leisure and instructing, a setting in which I started working life at the tender age of 16, as a leisure attendant and swimming instructor. I missed working with people and the buzz of a leisure centre environment; sitting behind a desk 9am-5pm wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I decided to do a level 2 Gym Instructing qualification, with intentions of picking up casual hours around my full-time job. This was the start of it… I did a few more qualifications at the beginning of this year, Kettlebell and Studio Cycle Instructor training, and decided I wanted to learn and do more. To get my foot in the door fully I needed to do my level 3 PT, and to become the best instructor I can be I need to focus on fitness full-time! Something had to give…

I’ve worked in sport most of my career, either delivering or promoting it. After studying a marketing management degree at University, I took on a marketing role at the leisure centres where I started out. Before moving on to British Cycling where I am now (well for the next four weeks), and have had the odd job in-between, but I’ve always come back to sport. It’s what I’m passionate about, it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I want to do for a living, with emphasis now being on the doing and delivering!

I start my level 3 PT this week, with Planetwes Training and following successful completion and pass (PMA), well that’s the unknown bit… stick around and see how it pans out.

Hugh Laurie

If not now, when?!

I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I’d done something different or given something a go when I had the opportunity. As it stands I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, a window of opportunity to make a change, so I’m doing it!

I’m lucky and thankful to have such supportive and encouraging friends and family, who give great advice and words of wisdom. Best advice my parents have given me growing up ‘try your best, that’s all you can do’ and ‘do what makes you happy’. Simple advice, but these words have stuck with me.

Scary and exciting times ahead… all positive vibes and words of encouragement most welcome.

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Studio Cycle Instructor Training

Spin course

Second course of 2016, second success – I passed YAY!

On Wednesday 2 March I headed back over the Yorkshire moors to take part in studio cycle instructor training, another one day course delivered by Premier Training International. I booked it at the same time as the kettlebell course and took advantage of half price fees, getting two qualifications for the price of one – winner!

There were 11 of us on the course in total, ten women and one man (he held his own), a good mix of ages, backgrounds and experience levels. Despite my misconceptions being dispelled on the kettlebell course, I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive beforehand thinking I would be the newbie novice that knows nothing. This wasn’t the case at all, yes there were people with more experience, but equally there many on a similar path to me – retraining, upskilling and making changes to their career. In doing both courses I’ve found this to be really motivating and inspiring, meeting such lovely groups of people.

The day started with round the room introductions, an overview of studio cycling and the benefits, we then moved into the spin studio to go over cycle set-up. We were shown all of the elements of the bike and told how to set someone up correctly (most important part of any class), each taking it in turns to instruct bike set-up in small groups.

Throughout the day we discussed positioning of hands and body on the bike, pedal strokes, cadence (resistance), riding techniques and how to structure a session. We took part in a full spin class delivered by Jamie our course tutor; she showed us how to structure a full session, including warm-up, cadence building, main session with different riding techniques and a cool-down. Before it was over to us, to devise and instruct a 10 minute class as part of our final assessment.

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Me (sweaty one at the front) being assessed delivering a class.

Doing these qualifications has given me an even greater appreciation of fitness professionals, and the level of effort, thought and planning that goes into structuring and delivering a quality exercise class.

The qualification (course and certificate) is only the first step… it’s like learning to drive, you don’t learn until you’ve passed your test and you’re on the road. I’ve got the qualifications, now comes the hard part – devising routines, planning and structuring sessions and of course getting my foot in the door, bagging instructing hours!

To anyone thinking about doing a fitness course, go for it! Don’t doubt or question your ability, if you’re passionate about it, motivated and determined to do it, you will do it! There are people from all walks of life that you’ll meet on these courses, many that are in the same position as you. I’ve really enjoyed all the courses I’ve completed and I’m excited about the doors they will open. I’ve no more courses booked at the minute, but I’m already considering my next… watch this space!

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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!

DOMS

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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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

Warm-up…

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

Main…

  • 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

Cool-down…

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

Wednesday – gym

Warm-up…

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

Main…

  • 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

Cool-down…

  • 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

Warm-up…

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

Main…

  • 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

Cool-down…

  • 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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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.

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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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