So you think you can train like an Olympic athlete?

“So you’ve done this before, right?” asks U-Fit Fitness trainer Michael Partridge.

I shake my head.

“You must have tried spin?” Michael inquires, looking a bit more hopeful.

Again, I shake my head.

“Right then, just try your best,” the trainer tells me, looking slightly concerned.

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Despite being a cycling virgin, I tried out a high intensity cycling class

With 2016 being the year of the Olympics and one of my New Year’s resolutions to be to really step up my fitness game, I decided to try an Olympic training standard HITT watt bike class at U-Fit Fitness.

Trainer Michael has raced all over the world and worked with many coaches who taught him an extremely high standard of training.

He has a British Silver Sprint medal and experience with the British sprint squad, making him the ideal person to teach this high intensity cycling class.

Developed with British Cycling for training World and Olympic Champions, this 30 minute blast claims to give you the chance to train like an athlete.

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Trainer Michael has won a British Silver Sprint medal

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.

This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time, making this class a much more intense version of regular spin classes.

High- intensity interval training is a training technique in which you give one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise

The class began with us cycling for 1k with low resistance as fast as we possibly could, we one minute break in between each of the five sets that Michael instructed us to do.

Being a bit of a cycling virgin I thought that the class setting would enable me to be a bit sneaky and not quite cycle as fast as Michael wanted us to do.

However, there was no such luck.

All of the bikes are plugged into a central computer, and the speeds that everyone is cycling at and the distance that you have left to cycle are displayed on a screen in front of the bikes for the whole class to see, leaving no room for cheating!

Although at first I hated everyone seeing how fast I was cycling, I eventually began to find this extremely motivating and it pushed me to work harder.

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After cycling 5k, everyone in the class is glistening with sweat, and one woman is even face down on her bike.

But the class wasn’t over just yet.

After a brief rest, Michael told us to crank up the gears on our bikes and do five sprints, encouraging us to cycle as fast as we possibly can for six second.

Surprisingly, this was the part of the class that I enjoyed the most, as I really thrived on the idea that I only had six seconds to do my best.

Getting off my bikes, my legs feel like jelly, and everyone around me looks exhausted.

“Be careful down the stairs now! You’ll be struggling to walk for a bit,” a man advises me.

He was definitely right.

After all of the feeling had returned in my legs, every single muscle ached for a good two days after.

However, I think that this just shows that the class really worked my legs and pushed my limits.

Although the session only lasted for half an hour, it is definitely one of the most intense classes I have ever gone to.

After all of the feeling had returned in my legs, every single muscle ached for a good two days after.

I probably wouldn’t recommend this class if you’re looking for a fun way to lose your Christmas weight, but if you’re into cycling or really want to push yourself this is definitely the class for you.

 

 

Clubbing without the comedown

The beginning of the new year is often a time for many of us to assess our life choices and set new goals.

For a lot of us, that could mean going out less, and taking care of our bodies more.

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New Year’s resolutions of healthy eating can cause many people to become bored and frustrated

But what if you’re not completely ready to exchange your party lifestyle for a life of juicing and jogging?

Then you should try Clubbercise, a club-inspired workout class designed to help you hit a natural high.

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Work up a sweat to classic 90s dance tracks at a Clubbercise class

The class consists of easy to follow routines set to an uplifting soundtrack of 90s classics and current house and dance music.

Classes are taught in a darkened room with disco lights, creating a nightclub atmosphere!

Clubbercise classes are perfect for people of all fitness abilities and are the perfect way to get in shape without feeling like you’re missing out on any of the fun!

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Get you glow sticks at the ready for the night club themed exercise class

 

Hannah has been going to Clubbercise classes for a year.

“I love the atmosphere in the classes, they’re so much fun! It feels like a night out with my friends but without the calorific drinks and the hangover the next day.”

Clubbercise classes are taught at Rhiwbina Recreational Club every Wednesday evening.

Call 029 2069 3583 for more information!

 

The foods you’ll be going crazy for in 2016

2015 saw the rise of foods like kale and quinoa, and even the humble avocado became a staple in the diet of every spiralizer wielding health food fan.

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Instagram was filled with pictures of people enjoying avocado in 2015

But with the last Quality Street eaten and the inevitable return to work looming over us, what are the health foods that you will be eating in 2016?

Cauliflower rice

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Cauliflower rice can be a healthier alternative to carbohydrates

Whilst many people only ever eat cauliflower when it is covered in a creamy sauce and mountains of cheese, 2016 will see us find a completely guilt free way to enjoy this tasty vegetable.

Gluten free and lower in calories than rice, pasta or potatoes, cauliflower rice is considered to be a healthier alternative to carbs.

Many food experts have been enjoying this carbohydrate substitute for many years, including Jamie Oliver, who started eating cauliflower rice after adopting a grain free diet in 2001.

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Chef Jamie Oliver has been a fan of cauliflower rice for many years

Join Jamie and try making one of these cauliflower rice recipes for dinner tonight!

Kimchi

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Kimchi is the national dish of Korea and contains many health benefits

Kimchi  is traditional Korean cuisine. It is made of pickled cabbage, which is then seasoned with a range of spices.

As well as being so delicious that is has been made Korea’s national dish, Kimchi has many health benefits.

It is low in calories, high in fibre and is packed with a range of vitamins and nutrients.

Kimchi also promotes digestion, lower cholesterol, boosts the immune system and even contains anti-ageing properties.

With all these amazing health benefits, it seems inevitable that Kimchi will become the new super food of 2016.

Celeriac

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Celeriac is making a comeback

Similarly to cauliflower, this classic vegetable is making a comeback in 2016.

Whilst its knobbly exterior may not be aesthetically pleasing (it’s probably not one for your Instagram page!), it’s many health benefits will make it a firm favourite on your dinner plate in no time.

Celeriac is low in calories and high in anti-oxidants, vitamin K and vitamin C.

You can mash, roast or turn celeriac into a soup, making it extremely versatile and easy to prepare.

The classic vegetable is extremely affordable as it is now in season, making now the perfect opportunity to enjoy its unique nutty taste!

Watch this video to learn how to make some tasty celeriac soup

Maqui

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Cast aside your acai berries, maqui berries are the new superfruit of 2016

By now you’ll probably have heard about the benefits of acai berries. But make room in your fridge for the new superfruit of 2016, the maqui berry.

The maqui is a dark purple berry that grows in the wild throughout parts of southern Chile.

They are filled with antioxidants and are believed to help people maintain a healthy weight due to their suppression of blood glucose, preventing the formation of new fat cells.

Buy some maqui powder and discover the benefits for yourself.

What new foods will you be trying in 2016? Tweet me or comment below to let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions

With Christmas over and the New Year looming, many of us will be thinking about the fitness goals that we would like to achieve.

But how should you make these goals, and how can you stick to them?

This helpful article from Women’s Health will answer all your questions on setting goals and how to stick to them.

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Other foolproof ways to stick to your fitness goals:

Write down your goals

Writing down a list of your fitness goals helps you to clearly plan and realise what you want to achieve. Keep this list in a place that you can see them to remind yourself of them when you’re lacking in motivation.

Tell friends and family about your goals

This can help them remind you and motivate you of what you would like to achieve, and they can offer you vital support.

Buy new workout clothes

Even the most fitness phobic among us can’t help but feel ready to hit the gym when they’re clad in some funky leggings or the latest trainers. Buy some affordable workout gear from Missguided or splash out on the latest sportswear from Nike.

Fitness gadgets

Use fitness gadgets such as My Fitness Pal  or even buy a Fitbit to help keep track of your goals and engage with other people in the fitness community.

Boogie Bounce

 

My thighs are burning as I bounce up and down.

Sweating and out of breath, every muscle in my body aches, and I’m pretty sure I’m exercising muscles that I didn’t even know existed.

“Now let me see those high knees!” shouts the instructor.

I grudgingly oblige, lifting my sore legs as far as they can go, trying to enjoy my first experience on a trampoline since I was a child.

A ten minute trampoline workout is the fitness equivalent of running a mile

Boogie Bounce is an all over aerobic work out which claims to torch calories.

It is claimed that just a ten minute trampoline workout is the fitness equivalent of running a mile.

The hour long class also includes a short conditioning session which further tightens up those wobbly bums, tums and thighs.

Whilst this high energy fitness class has been around for approximately 18 years, it has recently had a surge in popularity, with new classes popping up all over the UK.

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Trampoline is a safer alternative to jogging, which can put strain on the joints

Trampolining is also considered to be an alternative to jogging, as unlike pounding the pavements, bouncing on a trampoline is considered to be a low impact sport, which means that your joints will be protected whilst exercising your muscles.

It is also believed that the repetitive bouncing movement helps build up the skeleton and improves bone mineral content- perfect for preventing brittle bone disease or osteoporosis.

The repetitive bouncing movement helps build up the skeleton and improves bone mineral content.

To discover what all the fuss is about, I decided to attend a class at Coleshill Social Club in Birmingham.

The majority of the class was spent bouncing on the mini trampolines, maximising the calories burnt during the session.

As well as simply bouncing up and down, the class saw us doing mini star jumps, doing small jumps backwards and forwards, hamstring curls and Russian twists.

It was the Russian twists which proved to be a real killer, with every single person in the room wincing in pain as the instructor cheerfully informed us that we had to do them for a whole minute!

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Boogie Bounce sees participants take on a variety of exercises, all whilst bouncing up and down on a mini trampoline

The end of the class saw us stretch our aching bodies on the floor for a 20 minute conditioning session.

This was a really great way to end the class as it enabled our bodies to cool down whilst trying to enhance our flexibility.

Although I found it quite hard, the class overall was really fun, and a great alternative to regular fitness classes.

My legs and abs ached for a good few days after, proving that the class gives you a really good work out!

Fancy bouncing your way back into fitness?

Check out the details of classes. 

Have you ever been to a Boogie Bounce class?  Tweet me or comment below!

Watch the video below to discover more about Boogie Bounce

Roll up, roll up! There’s a new fitness craze in town!

Loud, pumping music fills the room that contains about a dozen trapezes hanging from the low ceiling. The girls seamlessly switch from slowly swinging from the trapeze by their hands to being upside down, their long legs wrapped around the bar.

Whilst this might not sound like your average exercise session, these girls are actually in the middle of a TrapFit class.

TrapFit is a low flying aerial trapeze fitness class. It requires intense strength work, cardio movement and deep stretching.

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Originating from Hollywood, the home of fitness fads, TrapFit has spread to other countries.

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The class begins with 20 minutes of warm up – safely on the ground, followed by another 20 minutes of warm up using a very heavy aluminium and rubber bar, before exercises begin on the trapeze itself.

Although the circus themed fitness class may seem like a lot of fun, experts warn that it is an extremely intense full body work out, and should only be undertaken by those who are already relatively fit.

Have you ever tried TrapFit? Tweet me or message me on Facebook.

Watch the video below to find out more about TrapFit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hate boring yoga? I’ve got the purrfect solution for you!

Hatha, Bikram, Trantra. These are all types of yoga that I’m familiar with. But cat yoga?

When I first read about cat yoga in this article I was intrigued. Most of the cats I’ve ever encountered aren’t shy about using their teeth and claws, so how could this work in a yoga class?

We hope to be as flexible as this little guy one day!
We hope to be as flexible as this little guy one day!

Cat yoga appears to be gathering force in the UK, with various studios offering a session with our favourite feline friends.

The leading establishment in this new trend is Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium.

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium in Shoreditch, London, initially began as a cat cafe, and has recently began to hold cat yoga sessions every Wednesday.

Fancy doing yoga covered by these cuties?
Fancy doing yoga covered by these cuties?

Whilst regular yoga is known for its relaxing benefits, it is believed that yoga sessions with cats will allow for further relaxation.

Having been assured that all the cats are well trained, I really want to try this out!

Have any of you tried cat yoga? Tweet me or message me on Facebook!

Cat yoga at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is £15 a session.

 

 

 

Interview with Fitness Fan’s Hayley Madigan

This week I speak to health and fitness expert Hayley Madigan, director of popular blog Fitness Fan.

After graduating from the University of Chichester in 2011 with a BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Science, Hayley started work as a personal trainer at Fitness First in Portsmouth.

She now works as a PE teacher alongside training for various fitness challenges, and also helps to run Fitness Fan.

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Hayley Madigan is director of the blog Fitness Fan

What do you think have been the most prominent fitness crazes of 2015, and have you personally tried any of them?

I believe that there have been many fitness crazes of 2015 but ones that have enjoyed trying out and highly rate are:

  • Tabata style training (20 seconds work – 10 seconds rest – repeat 8 times – short and sweet!)
  • PHA Training – Peripheral Heart Action Training – Lower body exercises straight into upper body exercises and repeat.
  • HIIT Training – Short bursts of maximal effort followed by short recovery periods
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Hayley was the WNBF Bikini Overall Champ 2015

What do you think have been the most prominent health food crazes of 2015, and have you personally tried any of them?

I love reading about popular health food crazes and also giving them a try for myself, this year I believe the ‘IIFYM’ diet has been huge!

I now personally follow this diet and I have had amazing results; it stands for ‘If it fits your macros’ and is a simple guide for any individual.

“This year I believe we have gone supplement mad!

It allows you the freedom of being able to eat anything you like as long as it fits your prescribed daily macros – macros are the amount of carbs, fats and protein in grams that you can consume on a daily basis.

Everyone’s macros are different because we all have different requirements due to our genetic make-up, metabolism speed as well as overall goal that we wish to reach.

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This year has seen an increase in the number of people using protein supplements

Additionally, this year I believe we have gone supplement mad! By supplements I am referring to protein powders, protein treats – bars, cookies, brownies, etc, and other protein enhanced products.

I am definitely one for enjoying the odd few supplements daily! It has massively helped with cravings as well as increasing my protein content. I am loving Whey Hey protein ice cream and Dr Zak’s Protein Bread at the moment.

“I love lifting weights and believe all women should do the same as the benefits are incredible!”

What is your favourite way to keep fit?

Strength training by weight lifting – I love lifting weights and believe all women should do the same as the benefits are incredible!

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Hayley says that weight lifting is one of her favourite ways to keep fit

What does your training for Tough Mudder UK involve?

When I was training for Tough Mudder UK I was completing long endurance running as well as HIIT training sessions with a few bodyweight circuit classes as well as a few upper body strength training.

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Hayley underwent gruelling training for Tough Mudder UK

Tough mudder requires a lot of bodyweight strength by requiring you to pull yourself up and over obstacles and hang from high heights. Not only do you need great upper body strength, Tough Mudder requires a good endurance ability as most courses are over 12 miles in length.

What first inspired you to get involved in health and fitness?

I have always kept myself fit and healthy especially from a young age as I loved every sport and was very competitive.

I played football for my local ladies team and after turning 18 I got into weight lifting and strength training.

As I went to University studying a Sports and Exercise Science degree I learnt more and more about the benefits of training and leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Hayley is at home in the gym

However, it wasn’t until I was 25 years old (and at the beginning of 2015) where I began to consciously choose healthy food options and started to notice my body change for the better by tracking the food I ate.

“I have always kept myself fit and healthy especially from a young age as I loved every sport and was very competitive”

From May 2015 I went on a prep diet in preparation for my first ever natural bodybuilding bikini category competition.

I have never looked back and love the life I lead now as a newly crowd WNBF World Champion and Professional athlete.

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Apart from competing in Tough Mudder UK, what are your other future fitness goals?

My future goals are to continue competing with the WNBF (Worlds Natural Bodybuilding Federation) as a Pro Bikini competitor and become an established professional athlete by gaining sponsorship as well as being able to work in the industry that I love.

Who else would you like to see me interview? Tweet me or message me on Facebook.

Back to basics boot camp

“Knees up! Higher! Move those arms faster! Don’t stop!”

Those are the words ringing in my ears as I’m half way through my  boot camp session. I can hear my heart pounding in my ears, I’m sweating from pores I didn’t know existed and I just want to sit down.

But no one likes a quitter, so instead I power on with the high knees set I’ve been instructed to do, gritting my teeth and silently praying for the fire alarm in the gym to go off so that the class can end.

Last week saw me sweat it out at hot yoga. Wanting to try something a bit more fast paced, this week I decided to go to a boot camp class at UFit Fitness in Cardiff.

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Before my boot camp class at UFit Fitness with some of the equipment Gerraint uses in his sessions

A fitness boot camp is a type of physical training program conducted by gyms, personal trainers and former military personnel. These programs are designed to build strength and fitness through a variety of intense group intervals over a one hour period of time.

“A fitness boot camp is a type of physical training program conducted by gyms, personal trainers and former military personnel”

Originally popular in the US, they were brought over to the UK in 1999 and have been growing in popularity ever since.

The class was run by the enthusiastic and encouraging Gerraint Webb. With a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and work with the Army’s Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps under his belt, Gerraint definitely knows how to run a boot camp session.

My first experience of boot camp seemed to speed by, with Gerraint keeping us working non-stop for nearly the whole hour.

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Gerraint had us doing a variety of exercises, including press ups

This non-stop workout is apparently the core of a boot camp class. “Boot camp is a fast paced class, which leads to high calorie burn and a more intense workout”, says Gerraint.

Rather than just focusing on one muscle set, boot camp saw us exercise various parts of our body in short, sharp bursts.

This included press ups, sit ups with weight plates, lunges and (my most dreaded exercise!) burpees.

“Boot camp is a fast paced class, which leads to high calorie burn and a more intense workout”

“It is this full body work out that is so unique to boot camp”, Gerraint informs me. He continues,”Whilst it can be hard, it is working all the muscles in the body that creates excellent results.”

But why would anyone choose to try such an intense workout?

After my body’s initial shock to the fast paced nature of the session, I actually started to enjoy the challenge, and really thrived off the enthusiasm of the others in the class.

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Feeling extremely broken after being put through my paces by Gerraint at boot camp

It is the group element that Gerraint believes lies in the success of boot camp classes.

“This is an extremely popular class, and there are quite a few regulars who come every week”, Gerraint tells me, gesturing to a pair of very out of breath women stood next to us.

“I love the quick speed that the session is run at. Although it can get quite tough I always enjoy myself”

“I reckon that it’s the social aspect that keeps people coming, there’s definitely a nice atmosphere in the group”, he says, a smile spreading across his face.

“This is my favourite class, I come nearly every week with my friend”, a young woman called Adele confides in me, affirming Gerraint’s sentiments. “I love the quick speed that the session is run at. Although it can get quite tough I always enjoy myself”, she continues.

Having popped my boot camp cherry, I can definitely see why it has amassed such a loyal following. Once I got over the initial shock of being shouted at I really started to feel focused and I even enjoyed the tough love feel of the instructor.

Have you ever been to a boot camp class? Tweet me or let me know on Facebook!

Boot camp is £5 at Ufit Fitness in Cardiff.

Check the timetable for the details of classes.

 

 

Midweek Mention

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With the internet filled with health and fitness bloggers, it’s hard to know which ones to follow.

This week I’m really digging That Squat Bot.

Run by Manchester based Sarah Harradine, this blog focuses on all elements of living a fit and healthy lifestyle.

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Try one of Sarah’s fantastic recipes, such as these tasty protein bars, or be inspired by her post on the art of moderation.

Keen on keeping active, Sarah also shares her insightful tips on running and yoga.

Follow That Squat Bot on Twitter