Tried and tested…TRX

I’ve been a bit slack recently on the fitness front. I’ve got all the regular excuses…cold, busy at work, change in seasons, attacked by a vicious cat, side effects of the antibiotics prescribed because of the cat bite… actually, all true. 

Anyway, this last week or two, I haven’t felt like donning my trainers and dragging myself out of bed at 5.30am (who doesn’t want to just hit snooze?).

Today, however, things changed. I was fed up of feeling like a slug and decided to make use of my increasingly expensive ClassPass habit*. I went to a TRX class at Ten Health. I wasn’t under any illusions. I knew it was going to be tough. The workout is strength training and uses your own body weight. We did everything from lunges to planks to one-legged burpees (as awful as they sound). There has been lots written on the benefits of TRX as a total body workout. As no expert, I can’t comment on the science. All I can say is this:

  1. I broke a sweat
  2. I’m more malcoordinated than I thought 
  3. One-legged burpees are not for me
  4. Plank seemed so much harder with your feet in stirrups
  5. After the class, I nearly fell down the stairs at the tube because my legs were shaking 
  6. I can’t wait to go back

I recently tried a barre class which I loved but the difference for me with TRX is that the TRX felt like a much more efficient way to workout. I felt like I worked out a lot harder. 

Time for a glass of wine…it is Sunday night after all. 

Have you tried TRX? Does it work long term?

Love 

Amber xx

*I have a confession. Having booked various early morning classes in the last 10 days, in an effort to force me to get out of bed, I have then been guilty of hitting snooze and, through bleary eyes, confirming that I did wish to cancel my class and incur the late cancellation fee. Better than the “no show” fee I guess. Sliver linings and all that. 

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Community yoga

On Monday night I went to a community yoga class at the new Planet Organic store at Tottenham Court Road. Julie Montagu was hosting the class and so I signed up as soon as I saw it advertised. That’s the great thing about Instagram and Twitter… You are immediately connected to a all these wonderful people and opportunities. 

It was my first community yoga class. For those not in the know, it is a free class where the store seeks to give something back to society. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it works out as financially viable for the stores. I spent a small fortune… Who doesn’t need three different types of nut butter? 

  
I’ve never been to Julie’s class before but I am a big fan of her cookbook, Superfoods (the kale, coconut and avocado salad is dreamy). 

  
The yoga class was good fun. To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered but felt bad about cancelling because I had signed up in advance. Anyway, I ended up loving it. It was classic vinyasa to a hip hop soundtrack. I kept wanting to sing along… when I wasn’t out of breath. I loved it so much that I’m researching her classes as we speak! I’m also looking at other community yoga classes. 

There was one downside of the whole night…I got home and I couldn’t sleep!  I can’t do exercise in the evenings. It must be the adrenaline because I was wide awake all night. Previously I have never had an issue with the pm session with Fresh Body Fit Mind but I normally do these early afternoon….I’ve learnt my lesson..early morning or late afternoon sessions only! 

Have any of you tried community yoga class? Can you exercise before bed? 

Love 

Amber xx

I am an emotional exerciser 

There. I’ve said it. 

I’m definitely an emotional eater. I’ve known that for a while. But I never thought my emtions could affect my ability to exercise so much. I guess, thinking about it, when you’ve had a bad day and reach for the chocolate you aren’t going to then want to leap into exercise. 

I’ve been doing Amanda Bisk’s Fresh Body, Fit Mind programme and completed weeks 1 to 3 with no problems (even fitting in exercise whilst away).  Then things started to go wrong. I did an Aerial Silks class (more about another time) and it absolutely killed me. I could barely move my upper body. Then I had an argument with my boyfriend. We’ve been together almost five years and hardly ever argue. This was a major argument which now, looking back, I can’t even really explain what it was about. All I know is I felt awful. Then I had a lot of stress to deal with at work. All three factors combined left me feeling physically sore and tired (I wasn’t sleeping) and emotionally drained. I just couldn’t face putting on my trainers. 

I felt so frustrated and disappointed in myself. I had been doing so well and I felt like I’d thrown it all away. 

Work is still not so great but I’m dealing with it. Things with my boyfriend are now fabulous. We were actually laughing about the argument at the weekend.  A weekend then spent celebrating his birthday meant too much alcohol and no exercise. 

Today I finally got my butt out of bed and did an AM circuit and I feel so much better in myself for doing it. Instead of starting Week 5, I am on Week 4. I could have just jumped straight to Week 5 but I felt I would only be cheating myself. It was hard work but feel great now. 

  
Does anyone else find their emotions affecting their ability to exercise? 

Love

Amber xx

The thing with alcohol 

I enjoy alcohol. I love having a glass of rose in the summer with a bbq or glass of Merlot next to the open fire in winter…you get the idea. I drink every week (not every day) apart from January when I always do Dry Jan. In London, most of my social engagements revolve around alcohol. 

I know drinking and exercise don’t really go hand in hand. At least for me. It’s so easy to put off going to that early morning spin class if you’ve been drinking the night before. I am not one of those people who can just sweat it out and instead I prefer to put my alarm on snooze and pull the duvet over my head. Weeks could pass where I have barely managed to get my butt down the gym. 

Doing Amanda Bisk’s Fresh Body, Fit Mind programme is different. Having a weekly plan makes it all too apparent when you have skipped something. So far, Week 3, and I’ve stuck to it. But today, the Test day, I know I won’t do it. Last night was my friend’s pre-wedding drinks party. Two double G&Ts and two large white wines. No dinner. So currently suffering slightly. 

However, here’s something I wasn’t counting on. Normally, I would order dominos or Nandos or devoure a whole bag of Doritos (obsessed) and chocolate and generally feel sorry for myself. Today, however, I don’t want that. I want to keep up the hard work. So instead I’m tucking into bagel with smoked salmon and avocado with coconut water. 

I won’t stop drinking. I know it will impact on my results but that’s life. 

Everything in moderation, right?

Love

Amber xx

Triangl 

If you’re like me you’ll have come across Triangl swimwear on beautiful girls on IG. It seems to be the bikini of choice favoured by models and some of the BBG girls who unsurprisingly want to show off their hard won gains. It has also had favourable features in UK fashion magazines. 

For those not in the know, it’s an Australian brand of swimwear that seeks to bridge the link between fashion and sports. 

There are a few different designs but the appeal is the simple style and bright colour combinations. I couldn’t resist. I bought Poppy in Flamingo Fling for USD 89.  I must admit it looked great when it arrived. 

  
I had worn it prancing around my bedroom and I couldn’t wait to try it out when abroad. I’ve now finally had the opportunity and I must admit it’s not quite what I expected. It looks great but you have to remember it’s made from neoprene. The stuff wetsuits are made from. Herein lies the problem. 

Wetsuits are designed to trap a thin layer of water between the skin and the suit to keep you warm. An extra layer of insulation. After wearing it on a very hot day, it starts to get a bit sweaty. Your sweat has nowhere to go and is trapped. The same happens after going for a swim, your skin that is covered by the bikini remains damp far longer than it would with a normal bikini. It’s a bit uncomfortable. The words ‘nappy rash’ come to mind. 

It also isn’t that practical if you’re sitting on a remote beach and nature calls. Sorry to be crass but you need to be a bit mindful when hoping to just swim off into the sea to deal with your needs because, as I said before, it is designed to trap liquid. Anyone who’s ever been diving, or near a dive shop, knows the stink of wetsuits where divers have had no choice but to relieve themselves at sea. Not an appealing smell for your expensive swimwear! I know from my own experience of diving that the material can snag which would ruin the look. 

So, in conclusion, I think the styles are great, the colour combinations are fantastic and I loved wearing it on the beach today. It’s just not that practical and, given the price, I’m not sure I would buy another. 

A final word of caution… Because it is imported from Australia, you have to pay UK import tax. I can’t remember exactly but I think it was around £20. I’d bought stuff from abroad before, so I knew about this, but I think you could be stung if you weren’t aware. 

Love 

Amber xx

What I’m loving about FBFM

I’m currently on holiday (WOOOOHOOOO!) and this is the first time I have ever done exercise abroad. Well, apart from a Yoga Retreat in May and the general splashing around in the sea I do. 

When I signed up for Amanda Bisk’s Fresh Body, Fit Mind programme, I was a bit apprehensive. One concern was that I had a couple of trips booked, this being one of them, and I was unsure as to how I would fit exercise in? I had never followed a fitness programme like this before and would I be able to do it on holiday? I can safely say, I have been able to fit it in without even thinking about it. I am currently on Week 2 and Days 1 and 3 involve circuit training. There is one morning circuit and one evening circuit. Each circuit only lasts 20 minutes and that’s the beauty of it. I can easily fit it in around my days. The other days we are encouraged to be active and I have been taking advantage of the pool and swimming some lengths. The only equipment you need is a good pair of trainers, a sports bra and a stop watch (I use my iPhone)! Easy. 

I thought I would exercise outside in the beautiful surroundings but I am such a sweaty mess that I am instead exercising inside with the AC turned up to the max! 

I am trying to eat healthily but I am not too worried about it; I am on holiday after all. If I want an ice cream, I will have one. I have found it’s relatively easy to order healthily when out for dinner and I have been sticking to fresh fish and vegetables or salad.  I am remembering to drink insane amounts of water. I drank 3 litres yesterday which I am not sure is entirely normal! It was very hot!

We are encouraged to think of a word for the week to help inspire us to achieve our goals. My word this week is ‘believe’. I know I am probably older than many other girls who are signed up to the programme (I am in my early 30s). I know that it will be harder for me to get fit now than it would have been 10 years ago.  However, I know that if I don’t try now, it will only ever get harder. So I chose ‘believe’ to encourage me to believe in myself. If you had told me a month ago that I would be exercising on this current trip, I would have laughed. However, here I am, sore muscles and all. 

Love 

Amber xx

Review of Get Bendy, Get Split and Get Inverted 

Someone recently asked me what I thought of Elle Fit Active’s online guides. I have to admit, I own all three: Get Bendy, Get Split and Get Inverted. 

The website has lots of different purchase options, so you can buy each individually or a bundle. 

Get Bendy:

This is the first guide that I bought. It contains 11 pages of photos with roughly six photos per page. This is a great place to start to help improve your flexibility. However, be aware that there are no instructions. It’s just a visual guide. The guide takes me around half an hour to complete. 

If you are looking to just improve your flexibility, then personally I think Amanda Bisk‘s stretching guide is slightly better. Whilst this isn’t a “yoga” guide it does provide a series of stretches for your whole body. The reason I think this has the edge over Get Bendy is that it has instructions (albeit brief) for each pose plus some of the photos have lines drawn on them to assist you with alignment. It also contains a short 10 minute guide to do if you’re short on time. The main guide takes me the best part of an hour if I hold all the stretches for a minute. 

I personally use the Amanda Bisk guide more than Get Bendy. 

Get Split:

I think this guide is fantastic. It is definitely my favourite of the three. There are 88 different photos of stretches in this guide. The difference with Get Bendy is that there are instructions on each page which I think is a real bonus. The guide is set out in different sections, so it covers stretches for the hamstrings, glutes, calves, ankles, hip flexors, quads and inner thighs. It then has photos of how to progress into the splits. 

This guide covers stretches I would never think to do and I am really looking forward to incorporating it into my workouts. 

Get Inverted:

If you have been to a few yoga classes then you will be familiar with some of the poses in this guide. It starts out with shoulder stands, then goes through how to get into Crow and Crane, then plow pose. It then sets out tripod headstand, headstand, forearmstand, forearm scorpion and handstand. Helpfully there are photos for the different stages and there are instructions. It also gives good tips for a friend assisting you. 

For me, I have been hoping to do a headstand for a while and I had previously accessed various tutorials online (Yoga Journal has some good step-by-step articles for free). As a result, the steps to tripod headstand didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t know. However, if you are completely new to this process, then I think the guide is helpful to have everything in one place. I think once I can do a tripod then I hope the guidance on forearm stands etc will be helpful. Here’s hoping! 

Anyone else used the guides? Any other guides you’d recommend?

Love 

Amber xx

Fresh Body, Fit Mind: Week 1 

I have just completed Week 1 of Amanda Bisk’s Fresh Body, Fit Mind programme. For those that aren’t in the know, Amanda Bisk is an Australian athlete who used to compete at an international level. I first came across her through her Instagram account (@amandabisk) because she is a very talented yogi! I have also purchased, and used with some regularity, her stretching guide (see previous post). 

About 10 days ago, I saw her advertise a new training programme, Fresh Body, Fit Mind. Now, I’m a bit of a sucker for an online guide. I have Kayla’s BBG, all of Elle Fit’s stretching guides and Jessica Ollie’s yoga guide. So I kind of knew that I would purchase it. 

  
Immediately on downloading it, I was impressed. The introduction clearly sets out how the guide works. In short: 6 days a week you exercise. The exercise is a combination of high intensity (HIT) circuit training, more ‘gentle’ exercise and one day a week as ‘your choice’. 1 rest day. 

The guide focuses on the HIT circuits. Week 1, you do three days of circuit training. And, crucially, you exercise morning and evening. The guide provides a plan for each AM and PM circuit. No two days are the same.  Although exercising twice a day sounds terrifying, it is only for 20 minutes which includes x2 one minute rest periods. So it is definitely achievable. The guide also incorporates weekly Test days where you measure your fitness and, hopefully, progress.  

The circuits are very clear and easy to follow (albeit not easy to execute!). There is also access to an online forum which includes a video of Amanda performing each exercise so you make sure you are doing it right. 

To be honest, I haven’t followed the low intensity exercise days to the plan but instead I have done a bit of my own thing such as long walks or a bit of yoga. 
I absolutely love it. I have found it so easy to incorporate into my daily routine. It is very structured (with suggested plan for each day) but also flexible (if you can’t workout twice a day you can combine into one longer workout). Already a community is building on Instagram and it’s so encouraging to follow others in the same boat as you. The programme is 12 weeks and I really hope my fitness will improve. 

Anyone else following the guide?

Love

Amber xx

Self-practice with a little help

I have a confession. 

After extolling the virtues of ClassPass, I have to admit that the last couple of weeks I have been incredibly lazy. 

The problem was I got to a stage where I felt I wasn’t improving. That I was always the worst in class. Some people would find that motivational but I guess I have just given up. Well not entirely. I have been doing a fair amount of stretching at home. I then discovered the Yoga Studio app (£2.99 in the App Store). One of the accounts I follow on IG had recommended it so I decided to give it a try. 

I absolutely love it. I struggle with self-practice in the sense that I worry I don’t hold the poses for long enough or always chicken out of doing the poses I hate (chair pose!). The app is the perfect compromise. 

There are numerous classes saved or you have the option of building your own. You can break the classes down by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced or master), by type (e.g. balance or flexibility) and duration (starting at 10 minutes and going up to an hour). 

  
I started off with doing a 10 minute session and found the time flew by and I have progressed from there. I aim to do one session a day – even if it is just 15 minutes. The longest I have done is 55 minutes; I did a few of the shorter (15 – 20 minutes) sessions back-to-back so that I could focus on what was important to me. It really is very flexible! 

It has a calendar so you can input sessions that you want to do that week but it also automatically lists what classes you’ve done in the past. There is also an encyclopaedia of all poses with a short description, including ability level, and benefits. 
I think it is still important to go to a teacher-led class, particularly if you are relatively new to yoga, to make sure your alignment is right. However, for the days when you can’t make it, it’s a godsend. 

The only downside I have found is that the calendar doesn’t sync from my iPhone to iPad. So when I have done class on the iPad, that is not listed in my iPhone’s calendar. 

Has anyone else tried the app? 

Love 

Amber xx

Medi-whaaaaat

Anyone else meditate? I have never really been successful. I went to a mediation class at my local yoga studio a couple of years ago. It was for around an hour and half way through all I could think of was how sore my legs were. I kept trying to make minuscule movements, as quietly as possible, to readjust. I probably ended up being more of a distraction than if I had just moved properly. 

I have been slightly more successful with yoga nidra but I normally end up falling asleep. 

I thought maybe the time is right to give it another go. I read about the Stop, Breathe and Think app and downloaded it last night on a whim. It started out great. You enter how you’re feeling mentally and physically and then it comes up with different options for you. 

  

For me, I picked a six minute session. It started off well (close your eyes, clear your mind and so on…). However, it started to unravel when she said ‘imagine you are stood on the world’s highest mountain’. So I started thinking about Mount Everest and how cold I would be. She then said to feel the earth under your feet. My mind didn’t like this bit-I mean, it would be snow and ice and I’d be hanging on to ropes for dear life!! I kind of lost the meditation at that stage…my mind just wouldn’t switch off! 

I have not given up though and I am to do a session every couple of days. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and tips. Any apps you find helpful?

Love

Amber xx