Last week I had my first session with Jen Peglar at SIX3NINE. I was really excited before my session – Danny had matched us as Jen has a good understanding of disordered eating and I went to the session feeling as if I could be honest and open about my goals and weaknesses.

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I met Jen at the studio at 7pm and we went through my food diary for the week, my fitness background, my history of injuries and my body composition analysis. As I had hoped, I felt as if I could be completely honest with her. I told her about my history of disordered eating and the concerns I have about recording and monitoring my food intake. Jen said that my food intake looked good, and set some very loose guidelines for the food I should be aiming to eat. I’m on around 1700 calories a day, with a macronutrient split of 50% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 20% fat. I am used to eating more fat and fewer carbs, so the past few days have been an adjustment period and I will have to wait it out to see how this works for me. I do love carbs though.

Next, we discussed my workout. I gave Jen the full run down of my injuries and she instantly understood that I just didn’t want to feel broken any more. I couldn’t express it any better and I was pleased I didn’t have to try and elaborate! My main aim is to get stronger with the aim of getting back to running properly (and being faster than before when I do!) and so Jen has recommended a mix of strength and endurance training to achieve this. She has also told me that realistically I do not need to train more than 3-4 times a week; I spend a lot of time beating myself up about not exercising every day, but really with a city law career, a blog and a social life, I do not have time to do any more. Music to my ears!

Then we worked out. The fun bit (I’m lying, it was all fun). It was great to have some dictate my session to me, as when I’m on my own I can pause between exercises in the gym for a bit while I decide what to do next, and sometimes avoid the more painful but ultimately beneficial exercises! Jen looked at my gait, and suggested that my knee problems could be to do with my over pronation. It looks as if I over-pronate a whole lot more than I thought! Jen immediately asked if I got sore calf muscles. YES, I really really do, and it had never occurred to me that this might have something to do with my over-pronation. After a few adjustments and some massage on the bottoms of my feet I already felt like a new person from the feet down. I will definitely be getting a lacrosse ball to massage the bottoms of my feet with – it made such a difference.

We finished off the session with a killer legs workout – kettlebell squats, kettlebell deadlifts and hamstring curls on a gym ball. Deadlifts are one gym move that I always worry I am doing wrong, so it was great to get some tuition on form, including how to spot when your form is slipping. I definitely feel a lot more confident about tackling them on my own now.

Before I knew it, the session was over! I had a great first session and left feeling really motivated and inspired about working towards my goals. This is the complete opposite of how I’d been feeling prior to starting with SIX3NINE – what a turnaround in just two sessions. I can’t wait for this week’s session! I will remember to get some photos this time too…

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In case you hadn’t noticed me moaning about it perpetually, I have picked up some annoying horrible little bastard injuries in the past year or so. It started with breaking my elbow back at the Jenson Button triathlon last year – it’s never really recovered and proper upper body work (pulls up, tricep dips, press ups) have been put on the back burner in an effort to give it time to heal.

Post triathlon bandaging

Post triathlon bandaging

Next up was a pretty aggressive shoulder dislocation playing netball in Dubai at the beginning of the year. Turns out ambulances/hospitals in Dubai aren’t too well equipped to deal with shoulder dislocations, or at least the ones dealing with me weren’t. It ended up being over two hours (without pain relief) before they finally reduced my shoulder (they also, for some strange reason, decided to put me under general anaesthetic to do this, but that’s another tale). All that time with the joint out of place has caused me no end of pain and problems in my neck and shoulders, which has further reduced my ability to exercise properly.

Then, in April, my knee gave in during the London Marathon, and hasn’t really been playing ball since. My friend Simon suspected a tight lateral quad muscle and prescribed me lots of hot water bottle and massage love for my quads.

I think it’s difficult to overstate the effect that injury can have on your confidence. Exercise has always been my release; something to do to fix myself in body and in mind. There’s nothing more depressing than not being able to do that. Heading out for a run only to limp home a few short miles later feels humiliating. Hitting the gym and having your arm collapse under you during a shoulder press is depressing. Losing strength and fitness and then having to face up to feeling like you’ve never run a mile in your life is pretty soul destroying. I started to find running embarrassing – I felt useless, fat and lazy – and I started avoiding it. Same went for the gym. All at sea and with no idea of how to even start making a comeback. I am a huge champion for healthy body image and have started feeling uncomfortable in my own skin – it can’t go on like this.

So, when SIX3NINE got in touch and asked if I wanted to train with them with the aim of getting back to full fighting form, I felt like they were my guardian angels. As if the world had taken pity on me and thought “I’m going to have to step in here”. SIX3NINE is a personal training gym in Covent Garden hidden behind a discreet grey door near Drury Lane. I was met at the ungodly hour of 7am by the practice manager Dan. I explained all of the above and more (the time my ankle gave way during a routine on the trampoline when I was 14, my daily diet, my exercise routine, my goals…) before having a full medical grade body composition analysis.

Entrance

Entrance

The analysis revealed what I pretty much knew – I had lost quite a lot of my muscle mass (my legs were still showing as ‘developed’ though – quads for days) and my body fat percentage has increased. Although I don’t have any specific aesthetic goals, I would like to get leaner again so that I feel comfortable in my body and also a bit lighter on my feet. It’s no secret that getting leaner is key to getting faster.

Dan recommended I train with Jen, one of the PTs at the gym who has experience with endurance sports (triathlons to be precise) and also experience with eating disorders. I am so impressed to have been assigned a PT with a proper understanding of this subject and feel really optimistic about getting realistic advice about training and eating given my disordered eating background. I’m due to have my first session with Jen this Thursday and I really can’t wait to get started.

I’ll be posting regularly about my time training with Jen and (hopefully) my return to proper training – it is long overdue! I can’t wait.

Spectacular studio floor!

Spectacular studio floor!

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Something I am really passionate about is incorporating health and fitness in to every day living, and I love that all sorts of companies are getting on board and finding ways to make being healthy an every day occurrence. When LG kindly offered me the opportunity to review their new all signing all dancing G3 handset from a health and fitness perspective, I was keen to find out whether it could genuinely help to lead a healthier lifestyle or whether the ‘fitness’ additions were just a marketing gimmick. (Obviously, I know very little about phones from a technical point of view, so if you’re interested in that I’d recommend checking out TechCrunch.)

I took the G3 for a proper test run when using it as my sole phone on my month long road trip through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and think it’s absolutely brilliant.

 

The G3 comes with its own proprietary health software, ‘LG Health’. It is basically an inbuilt activity tracker that acts as a background pedometer, but will also track running, cycling, hiking and even inline skating. When you set it up it asks for your height, weight etc and sets up your health profile. I was slightly perturbed that it immediately told me I should lose 8kg (EIGHT) and would prefer if the focus was on health and activity rather than weight loss. I appreciate that a lot of people do use tools like this for weight management though, I would just rather that wasn’t the default. Maybe it could ask what your goals are?

Photo courtesy of Three

Photo courtesy of Three

The phone will set you a target number of steps a day and when you hit it you’ll get a notification congratulating you. It was pretty satisfying to get that little achievement every day and I hated days when I didn’t hit my target, so I guess this way a pretty motivating tool integrated in something that people generally carry and look at all the time – their phone. If it’s integrated in to something you use generally then it’s not a hassle to use (as an external fitness tracker could be) and so I think uptake in the use of it will be much better. When we’d had a particularly big day I liked being able to see with one swipe how far I’d walked – we covered nearly 8km wandering around Disneyland!

I went running with the running app and found it very easy to use. I took it out at the same time as my TomTom Runner to check the accuracy of the measurements and found them pretty much the same, which I thought was impressive. The size of it makes it less convenient to run around with – it’s very thin, and an arm strap for it would be quite big, but I usually take some kind of backpack on longer runs anyway so didn’t find it a problem. Less convenient for shorter runs though, or if you don’t want to take a whole running pack out with you.

I was impressed with the battery life too. My phone is an archaic iPhone 4 and the battery is truly shocking. I could use the G3 a lot during the day (taking photos, checking messages etc. with the fitness tracker always running in the background) and it would still last 2 whole days without the need for a charge. I could use the running tracker without fear of it killing the battery for the rest of the day, which should be a given but was surprisingly refreshing!

The screen on the G3 is huge and so it’s really great for fitness apps. If I wanted to go through an NTC routine while I was away it would be displayed on the big, bright, Quad HD screen which made it really easy to watch and follow (apparently it is the highest resolution screen on the market). I think it would also work well for YouTube videos if you use those as part of your routine.

There’s also a huge range of apps on Android to make the most of your handset – I downloaded the adidas miCoach app and Nike Training Club for my journey (as well as Minion Rush, obviously) and loved using them with the big vivid display.

If you’re the kind of runner who loves to document their running with photos, the G3 camera is great. It’s got a super special laser auto focus (yes, LASERS) that digitally focuses photos, which means that photos on the move are clearer and sharper than they may otherwise be. The photos it takes are beautiful. Here are some photos from the roadtrip:

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Running the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

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Some extreme hill reps on the Enchanted Rock

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Beauty in the Painted Desert, Arizona

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With my Santa Cruz cruiser from Santa Cruise!

They kick the butt of photos I take with my iPhone.

I am pretty clumsy, especially when out and about, and will admit to dropping the G3 a few times. The screen and casing have both held up well and don’t show any signs of damage, which I was impressed with given how thin the phone is and the large expanse of screen glass.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty great phone for an active lifestyle. It seems pretty resilient, has some cool healthy features and has a battery that’ll last all day, even if you’re out ruling the world and kicking butt from sunrise to sunset. My own misgiving would probably be the size, but the size is actually pretty average for a lot of the newer smartphones, so I guess I wouldn’t let it put you off!

Thanks so much to LG for giving me the chance to review their G3 handset. All opinions are my own (as always!).

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I was away for the whole of September travelling the southern states of North America (more on that to come!) and the lovely Sophie of This Blog is Sophie’s Blog offered to cover some blog bits while I was away! Unfortunately my internet access was less than ideal whilst away and my blog email also got hacked so September was a dead zone for the blog in the end anyway, but (better late than never) I’ll still be filling you in on some happenings in September. First up – a comprehensive review of the new cycle bootcamp Edge Cycle!

I’ve been neglecting my resolution to try out new classes every 2 weeks so when I was given the opportunity to try out a new spin studio in London I jumped at the chance. Enter, Edge Cycle.

It’s aim is to offer a combination of indoor cycling and bootcamp-style group workouts, which it does from its beautiful brand new studio in Holborn. I signed up for the 7:30 class, which felt VERY early when I met my friend Kate of Form Fitness at 7:00 in London Fields. After a swift cycle over to Holborn we arrived at Edge Cycle and signed in.

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I put on my first ever pair of cleats and jumped onto the practice bike in reception to get used to clicking in and out of the pedals.

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I was a bit excited. Also, look how fast my legs were going, they’re so blurry…

We went into the studio and were called to the front row by the instructor, Jono, via the weights rack where we picked up sets of 3kg. They felt pretty heavy and we hadn’t even started anything yet!

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The bikes were lovely and new with a fresh towel sitting on the handlebars. We took to our saddles and started warming up.

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As soon as the clock ticked over to 07:30 Jono turned the lights down, pumped the music up and got us going. The first 20-25 minutes were spent going through a series of hill climbs, sprints and shoulder presses whilst cycling. At this point, the weight got even heavier…

Just as I thought I was going to have to slow down we jumped off the bikes onto the mats and went through a set of squats, lunges, planks, press ups and crunches. Whilst I love all of this stuff I found it very difficult in the cleats, especially the lunges and jump squats, so next time I’d probably stick with my trainers.

We then climbed back on the bikes for a last sprint, last hill climb and some conditioning work on the bikes. Then, before I knew it, we were cooling down.

I would have preferred a bit more encouragement as we went through the class as I felt a bit isolated, especially when I was struggling, but Jono was confident and kept me guessing as to what was coming next. It meant that just as it was becoming too difficult we switched to something else and it became manageable again. I also would have liked a few more sprints as that’s when I get into the zone.

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I was absolutely dripping in sweat after that 45 minute class but I was totally buzzing and that buzz lasted all day!

The showers, while small an rather public (no shyness allowed!) were clean with lovely toiletries and hairdryers. They even have hairbands in the Edge Cycle colours at the front desk if you’ve forgotten yours which is a great touch.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my first class. It was a brilliant all-round workout in a great new studio and I’ll be back very soon…

What? Edge Cycle Bootcamp

Where? 2 Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7RA

When? Check out the timetable

How much? £15 a class bought on a class-by-class basis, price decreases if you buy multi-passes

Thanks to Sophie at Pretty Fit and Entice Communications for the opportunity to review Edge Cycle! 

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Reformers look like torture machines and I guess, in a way, they are. I think there’s a tendency to think that pilates is girly (and, by stereotypical definition, easy) but let me tell you that my experiences over at Bootcamp Pilates are neither of these things. Every class I have taken has varied between ‘challenging’ and ‘excruciatingly difficult’ and I have left stronger and leaner with every class. I’ve also noticed amazing improvements to my posture. Basically, I am an absolute covert.

Unfortunately the bike isn't mine.

Unfortunately the bike isn’t mine.

I’ve been attending the Bootcamp Pilates studio in Old Street (the only one not in West London, with the other studios being in Notting Hill, Fulham and Richmond) and it’s a lovely little place nestled just off City Road. It’s a basement studio but still full of natural light, with a high ceiling – it’s a lovely space. I’ll admit the changing rooms are less than ideal – the showers I have had there have had weak water pressure and it feels a little dingy, but it does the job. Nothing swish though.

One thing I have always noticed about the classes is that the music is good. Different instructors have different styles, but I am a particular fan of the eclectic mixes played by Ivo Ducros. There’s always a warm up with the pilates ring before getting in to the class itself, and every teacher I have had has checked whether anyone has any injuries. As someone with a dodgy dislocating shoulder and recent issues with my knees, it’s become increasingly important for me to get modifications for exercises that may aggravate my injuries (or cause an embarrassing dislocation mid shoulder press) and it’s a pet peeve of mine when trainers don’t check for injuries.

I also loved that in every class I’ve taken there’s been at least one man, who has clearly been finding it really difficult! It’s great to see men experiencing the benefits of a class like reformer pilates and hopefully more will follow in their footsteps!

I have taken classes with three different instructors, each of whom had a very different style.

I’ve found that classes with Ivo Ducros are the most difficult – the moves are varied and challenging and he sets a good pace for the class. His classes are also always different, which was refreshing for a repeat attendee! As I said above, I also really like his music choices and he pays attention to every student in the class, which can often not be the case in group exercise.

I went to two classes with James Woodhouse and found him a very approachable and encouraging trainer. I found his classes the easiest of those I attended (so probably a good introduction to the reformer if you’re a beginner) and he made a point of coming to tell me I’d done well in the class on both occasions, which I really appreciated. He also very willingly gave me adaptions where my shoulder was problematic which was (again) very appreciated.

I attended one class with Karmen Pirh and personally found I didn’t get along with her style. My first contact with her was when she came over and told me my footbar was in the wrong position (it was my fourth class, and no-one else had mentioned it!) which made me feel stupid and got the class off on the wrong foot. She describes herself on the Bootcamp Pilates website as “strict yet patient…with only a tiny sense of humour!” and I probably couldn’t have said it better myself. The class was difficult but not really challenging (repeating the same exercise until the respective body part had all but fallen off) and I found it a bit boring. It was sold out though, so maybe I just got the wrong first impression!

I have only tried the classic hour reformer pilates classes, but Bootcamp Pilates also offering HIIT, HIIP (high intensity interval pilates!) and a running club, and they seem to foster a lovely sense of community at their studio. Reception staff are friendly (they extended by 5 class pass by a week without charge as I hadn’t had time to use all my classes) and often seen in the classes alongside the students, which I really liked. Classes are £19 (off-peak) or £27 (peak), which is very expensive in my book, but bulk bookings and class passes get progressively cheaper the more you book. They also have an introductory offer of 2 off-peak classes for £12, which is a bargain! A great way to check out the studios and give the workout a try.

I absolutely loved my classes with Bootcamp Pilates and, as the snappy title of this post suggests, I would practice it very regularly indeed were the prices not so prohibitive! Well worth a try – maybe I’ll catch you at the Old Street studio next time I treat myself!

Have you tried Reformer Pilates? What’s your favourite studio?

Bootcamp Pilates very kindly gave me this five class pass without charge for review purposes, but all opinions are my own!

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