GYM & TONEIC

Life update of late: July

boss-lady

I’m a boss lady! Biggest news in July is that I bought and registered a business…

Brooks Fitness Ltd

Something that I’d been thinking about before I’d even started my level 3 PT course, before I had my mad midlife crisis moment and quit my job at British Cycling. Me being me, I have a tendency to get way ahead of myself, caught up and carried away with the day dreams; in my head I’d created a bestselling fitness brand and business empire before I’d even got the qualifications!

To operate as a PT I need to set up for myself… I wanted to set up a business that had the potential for growth, that a number of services could be offered under, and that my family could be involved with; so naturally I went with the surname. Not exactly original, but using my surname means a few things…

Brooks Fitness - sisters that sweat together!
Brooks Fitness – sisters that sweat together!
  1. The Brooks name will live on; we’re a family dominated by women (strong women) #girlpower! If/when my sisters and I get married the name will cease to exist within my immediate family. Also I want the business to focus solely on women’s specific training and fitness; all that girl power needs to be utilised and maximised to its full potential!
  2. Brooks Fitness will be a sister duo affair, run by myself and my sister Ruth (pictured above, on the left), who is also a qualified PT (amongst other things). This is something we discussed doing before either of us had the qualifications, with us both having very similar ideas and values about how we would want to operate as a business and as personal trainers.
  3. It’s generic enough to be used against a number of different services that both of us, with a list of qualifications as long as our arms, could/can/will offer.
Forget Carlsberg... if Lanson did life-winning Wednesday's!
Forget Carlsberg… if Lanson did winning Wednesday’s!

So on a not so summery July weekday night Brooks Fitness Ltd was established, with a glass (bottle) of fizz in hand. Now there’s lots of business planning, plotting and scheming going on behind the scenes to get Brooks Fitness off the ground – watch this space!

What else have I been up to…

  • The blog content Gantt chart has been created – lots of ideas for things I want to blog about… if you’ve got any suggestions for content you’d like to see featured let me know and post below!
  • Bridesmaid duties; planning and sorting things for my sister Ruth’s hen do next weekend… she gets married on 26 August.
  • Instructing and teaching; I’m still working at various leisure facilities on a casual basis wherever I can, loving every minute of my time in the gym!

First day on the gym floor

the gym fat is burned

Yesterday I worked my first gym shift, back where it all began. Living back in Ramsbottom it seemed only right that the first place I work should be at Ramsbottom Pool and Fitness Centre, where I started out as a lifeguard many (many) moons ago!

To be honest I don’t think I ever fully left the leisure centre… once you work in that setting you’re part of it for life. You become family, with generations, siblings and partners working together, and customers that have been regulars for decades – it’s one big happy family. Both my sisters’ work for Bury Leisure, we all started out as lifeguards after swimming for the local club. I still remember harassing the centre manager (Phil) for casual hours way before I passed my lifeguard exams…

I have to admit I was nervous before my shift, despite knowing the people, set-up, procedures and so on. I helped implement a lot of the processes and membership offerings when I looked after the marketing of all three sports centres. Regardless, the gym floor is new territory for me, and putting theory into practice is where the real learning begins… like passing your driving test. I was eased into the role with just one induction booked in, but it was great to chat to customers, giving training tips and advice, getting used to new surroundings.

Lovely to work with familiar friendly faces and catch-up with so many customers from way back when. I’ve missed working on the front line, face-to-face with customers. I’m more certain that I’ve made the right move, coming out from behind the desk, retracing steps to pave new ones.

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Yesterday was the best day!

I want to inspire people quote

I passed my practical exam! It’s official, I can now say that I am a qualified Personal Trainer… even bigger YAY!

I’m writing this post today, because as soon as I passed my exam yesterday I came home and messaged my friends to see who was around for a much needed celebratory drink – G&T was calling! I had no time to write a post, as priority went on paying myself some long overdue TLC… in the form of dying my hair, shaving my legs and a host of other girlie grooming basics that I’d neglected to do for the last few weeks, having lived like a hermit with my head stuck in the study books… the crazy cavewoman look had to go!

I’m chuffed to bits, pleased as punch; all of the hours of studying and stressing paid off. The first and hardest part of my life changing plans is complete! Next up… put the qualifications to good use and bag myself instructing hours. Lots and lots more learning to do, every day will be learning day from here on in.

I can’t wait to start helping people to achieve their health and fitness goals, and see where this new career and fitness focus leads – exciting times indeed!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. 

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Today is a good day!

IMG_3170 (1)

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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Drink more water

H2O Symbol in Water --- Image by © Matthias Kulka/Corbis

About 60% of the human body is made of water. Keeping fluids balanced is vital to ensure it does its job effectively – transporting nutrients, aiding digestion, regulating temperature and so on. Lots of people let themselves get to the point of dehydration and don’t drink enough water, myself included up until late. I’ve now made a conscious effort to drink more, and you should too!

You are not a camel Nicola!
You are not a camel Nicola!

This post is dedicated to my friend Nicola (Botty), who in the 20+ years I’ve known her I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen her supping a pint of water… wine and gin on the other hand… Nicola has signed herself up to do a crazy challenge in June (she has a habit of doing this, without thinking/training). She’s taking on a marathon challenge, to run 6 marathons in 3 days! Yep – she’s insane! She’s never done a marathon and she’s not exactly followed a training plan, but she used to be a decent cross country runner back in the day, she’s clinging on to this. Still – 6 marathons, 3 days, it’s going to be brutal! I keep stressing the importance of drinking more water, needs must to complete this latest feat my friend!

Chanting ‘hell no H20’ when you’re out on the lash is all well and good – well it’s not, but we do! But when it comes to everyday life (sober) and exercising, we should be drinking water consistently throughout the day, more so when we train. Getting to the point of dehydration (gasping and glugging) is not good, not good at all.

There’s loads of benefits of drinking water, some of which include:

  • Healthier skin, teeth and bones.
  • Healthier joints – water keeps cartilage around our joints hydrated and supple.
  • Improved digestion – water helps to dissolve fats and soluble fiber, flushing waste products.
  • Increased metabolism – water boosts our bodies’ ability to burn fat.
  • Increased energy – water increases ability to perform and reduces fatigue.

The amount of water we should drink depends on a number of things, like activity level, but it’s recommended that we should be drinking between 2 – 4 litres per day.

Drinking water on its own can be boring, so why not add fruit – lemons, limes, mint, berries and so on. I’ve just ordered a fruit infuser bottle from eBay, can’t wait for it to arrive (sad I know, but it’s the little things).

Put the coffee down and drink more water Nicola!

Hell yeah let’s hydrate!

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Saying goodbye…

friendship-piglet-quote-winnie-the-pooh-Favim.com-1138425

Friday 22 April marked the end of an era, my last day at British Cycling – sob! To take a stride, step, stumble into the unknown.

I still can’t believe I’ve done what I’ve done… Leaving my job for no job, who does that?! I’ve always been employed, from being 15 years old waiting on in restaurants, up until Friday last week! I’ve always had something lined up…

In the words of the late great Luther King, ‘I have a dream’, which may sound stupid to some, but my dream is to live beside the sea (wherever that may be), working as a fitness instructor (amongst other things). I don’t want to do one thing anymore and I don’t want to sit behind a desk 9am-5pm. I want variety, I want adventure, and I want to get back to delivery of sport and fitness – supporting people to improve their health & wellbeing and in turn improve my own!

Saying goodbye to such an awesome team of people last week broke me (there were gin tears too, from my very boozy leaving do the night before!). It’s always tough to leave the people over a job. Don’t get me wrong the job was great, and I can hand on heart say I learnt more in that marketing role than any other, but it was the people that made my time there most memorable! Working with such talented and creative individuals, on so many amazing projects and events was a blast! I’ll miss everyone so much…

I’m a big believer in fate and that everything happens for a reason. I started out working in the fitness industry many moons ago and I could’ve carried on with that, missing out Uni and all the other jobs in-between. Done the level 3 PT and all these other fitness qualifications over my degree, but the journey you take, people you meet and experiences you have along the way are what makes you. I have no regrets up until now, and this is how I would like my life to carry on.

So here I am, writing this post, first day of unemployment…

Time to hit the books hard and pass my PT!

Every new day is a chance to change your life. 

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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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5 top tips to maintain your mojo

Austin-Powers-Mojo

Mid-January sees flocks of new faces hitting the gym, come early March it’s only the reliant regulars that remain. A cycle you see year in and out – great for sales targets, but that membership is an expensive piece of plastic in your wallet if unused.

Maintaining your mojo can be tough at times! We’re all human, have off days, weekend binges and fall off the bandwagon. The important thing is not to beat yourself up about it and throw the towel in.

Writing a list of New Year’s resolutions as long as your arm probably wasn’t the best idea, as was thinking you would tick them off in quick succession. Don’t despair, take stock and review your goals.

Here’s 5 top tips to get back on track…

  1. Tone it down

All too often people go from doing no exercise, to training every day. It’s New Year and you’re on fire – but it’s only a matter of time before you burn out. Tone it down, build it up gradually over time. Create a routine that fits in with your work/life schedule, this may mean making a few changes here and there, but it shouldn’t be so drastic that you can’t stick at it.

  1. Try something new

Mix it up, try different exercises, classes, sports and activities; the gym isn’t always the answer for everyone. Exercise should be fun and enjoyable! Try out as many different things as possible, until you find your mojo.

  1. Review your goals

Be honest… Are they realistic? Are they achievable? Do you actually want to do them, or did you get caught up and carried away with the new you notion? It’s OK to change track and review your goals – that’s life!

  1. Prep like a boss

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying this… This is my first to do to get back on track. Plan your weekly exercise sessions in advance, so you know what you’re doing on what day of the week. Create a workout log to track weights, reps/sets, distance and time, to show your progression.

  1. Ask the experts

Ask a fitness instructor for tips, guidance and support, that’s what they are there for. In many gym facilities you can get tailored exercise programmes or a PT session as part of your membership package – take advantage of this! They’ll talk you through and show you exercises suitable for your specific areas of focus, to meet your personal goals.

Got more top tips to get back on track? Share your suggestions in the comments link at the top of the page…

#MaintainYourMojo

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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.

spinning
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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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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