Month: August 2016

Smokin’ Hot in the Smokin’ Heat: Top Tips to Beat the Summer Sun

Smokin’ Hot in the Smokin’ Heat: Top Tips to Beat the Summer Sun

I know that I’ve been absolutely taking over this blog with summer-related posts at the moment, whether I’m talking about holidays, or workouts – or refreshing recipes.

But with summer flashing by quicker and quicker every year, I definitely think I need to make the most of it before it’s time for me to be reaching into my wardrobe and pulling out that winter coat.

I absolutely love the hot weather. I can easily spend hours sunbathing, and even being up and active in the sweltering heat doesn’t really phase me that much.

My boyfriend is a different story altogether. It’s as if he’s been specifically designed to withstand the freezing cold, which is fine for 90% of the time in England, but presents a few issues on those rare occasions that the sun decides to make a welcome appearance.

Working Out in the Summer Sun

As someone who is extremely competitive, full of energy and cannot stand taking even a single day off training, he absolutely hates that slow, lethargic feeling that comes on when London starts to overheat.

When your life and career revolve around the gym, there’s no way you’ll stop working out just because it’s a few degrees hotter outside – but you also can’t just plough on without taking your surroundings into consideration. Here are a few really important things to keep in mind if you’re training for a smoking hot body in a sweaty, sticky city:

1) Drink plenty of Water

It sounds so unbelievably obvious, but the amount of people who say to me that they know they don’t drink enough water just goes to show that we still need to be reminded of just how important it is to stay hydrated. We should be drinking between 2-3 litres of water per day (2 for women, 3 for men, give or take). This helps to regulate the body temperature and maintain the balance of bodily fluids – which is particularly important when exercising and in high temperatures simply because the amount of fluid lost from the body through sweat is increased.

It's important to drink lots of water

2) Warm up

The number one rule of a safe session is to warm up effectively, but it’s easy to forget to give yourself a proper warm up when you’re sweating before you even make it to the gym floor. However, just because you feel hot on the outside, doesn’t mean that your muscles are sufficiently warm to cope with the stress placed on them during a workout. Remember to mobilise your joints and get some blood going to your muscles every time you train.

3) Cool Down

You might feel like there’s no point cooling down if it’s super hot outside anyway, but cool downs are possibly the most important part of a safe workout. Your body needs that time of light exercise and stretching to bring down the heart rate, regain control of the body temperature and break down the Lactic Acid that has built up throughout the session. Make the most of your muscles being extra warm to do some developmental stretches and increase that flexibility.

Keep Stretching

4) Eat

It’s easy to lose a bit of an appetite when it’s sweltering hot, but your muscles will seriously struggle if you don’t replenish them with nutrients after you’ve been exercising. Eat enough, regularly. If it’s going to be some time before your next meal, have some lightly salted snacks like crackers, nuts or popcorn to replenish the salt lost in your sweat.  

5) Get up early (or stay up late)

No particular health benefits as such, but if you train early in the morning or later in the evening then you’ll avoid the hottest part of the day. Plus, if you get it out the way at 6am you can spend the afternoon and evening basking on some nice roof terrace bar somewhere…

6) Accept the heat.

Training in the heat is tough, without question. People don’t pay extortionate amounts of money for things like Bikram Yoga because it’s a walk in a park, but because it’s a challenge, and a difficult one at that. Don’t put yourself down if you struggle doing something that normally isn’t an issue – chances are you’re not going as fast or lifting as much, but because of the conditions, you’re actually working just as hard.

Leg Press

7) Keep it Snappy

It can be difficult to sustain long periods of exercise in the heat – try doing short bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by a short rest period. This will still get your heart rate up and your muscles pumping but won’t completely drain or fatigue you.

8) Fruit

Most fruits have an extremely high percentage of water, so it’s a great snack option to help rehydrate you following your workout. It’ll also give you a boost of energy from natural sugars and help to replenish your stores of essential vitamins and minerals. Make a tasty smoothie, prepare a handy fruit salad or just grab an apple as you dash out of the door.

watermelon

9) Take it outside

Being outside when it’s sunny is one of life’s little pleasures, so make the most of the weather and train somewhere other than your gym. Go on a cycle ride around the park, and grab a resistance band for some outdoor strength training. There’s also loads of handy calisthenics parks in London (try Battersea Park, or Clapham Common) but they do get very busy the moment the weather starts to improve.

Holiday Workouts

10) Be Smart

Exercise common sense – a good workout is supposed to burn, but if you are physically burning then it’s probably time to stop and go inside. Summer is a great time to experiment with new things outside of your regular routine – so if you feel yourself getting lightheaded then why don’t you skip the gym a couple of times and go swimming or try out an outdoor yoga class instead?

Going on Holiday but running out of time to get your beach body on point? Read my latest guest post on the AMAZING Lattes n Lipstick for a step by step pre-summer one-week workout.

Have a great weekend!

The Wonders of Watermelon for your Workout

The Wonders of Watermelon for your Workout

I’ve been really into Watermelon lately – it’s one of those things that’s so perfectly refreshing during summer, but doesn’t quite feel right at any other time of the year.

With its vibrant colours and juicy sweetness, it’s just perfect for a summertime snack – even when you’re sat at a desk at work you can pretend that you’re on a sun lounger somewhere nice and hot.  

Apparently, I was a bit behind the times a few weeks ago when I wrote about Coconut Water as ‘the next big thing’ in the world of pointless health crazes – the next next big thing, or so it seems, is the Watermelon fad, which is starting to peek out from the shelves in places like Wholefoods and Planet Organic, as well as various gyms and offices.

Needless to say I was quite appalled that the 330ml bottles of “100% Never from Concentrate Melon Water” were being sold for £3 a pop when I could easily just go next-door to the supermarket and buy whole thing bigger than my head for less than a pound.

It won’t surprise me if this really takes off though. There’s nothing quite like a fancy, fun bottle of some completely natural, fat-free, full of antioxidant liquid to make a gym-bunny health freak feel good about themselves as they strut out of the gym.

(Please don’t take offence at the above comment. I’m including myself in that target audience).

Watermelon

 

Anyhow, Watermelon does have a huge range of health benefits- other than its zero % fat content- that makes it an idea pre and post workout treat:

  1. One watermelon contains approximately 3-4 grams of l-citrulline, an amino acid that has been found to help relieve muscle soreness.
  2. It is also an excellent source of the antioxidant Lycopene, which is thought to be a great anti-inflammatory.
  3. Watermelon contains Magnesium, as well as Vitamins A and B6 – all essential to help the body produce natural energy.
  4. Packed full of Potassium, Watermelon is great to help reduce muscle cramps.
  5. With an (unsurprisingly) high water content, and full of natural sugars, watermelon is an ideal way to rehydrate after your workout.

 

Whether you believe in its powers, or whether you’re just craving a thirst-quenching drink for your lunch break, this is one of my favourite, super-healthy smoothie recipes to help you get your watermelon fix.

Watermelon Smoothie

Super-Healthy Watermelon Smoothie

Ingredients

Makes about 3-4 generous servings

⅓ – ½ Watermelon

400 ml Green Tea with Ginger (or Ginger Tea)

1 Peach

1 Lemon or Lime

1 Small Handful of Kale

1 Handful Ice

150 grams frozen blueberries

 

Method

Blend until smooth. Make sure to cut the stone out of the peach, and chop everything roughly, according to how powerful your blender is. You don’t have to include the lemon, but I personally love the sourness – I tend to blitz it whole, rind and all. I also find that the Green Tea adds a nice refreshing base that isn’t too sweet – it’d just be weird to mix milk with watermelon after all. Enjoy!

closeup sliced watermelon

Review: The Ballet National de Marseille

Review: The Ballet National de Marseille

Who: The Ballet National de Marseille

What: Body. Dance. Nation. City.

When: Friday 5th/ Saturday 6th August 2016

Where: The Royal Festival Hall in The Southbank Centre

 

Everyone had one of those teachers at school. The ones who had such a decisive and compelling presence that they could instantly silence even the rowdiest classroom without a single word.

Imagine the same, except instead of a classroom it’s a packed auditorium, approximately 2000 raucous audience members simultaneously falling silent at the presence of a single dancer onstage, putting his fingers to his lips and unequivocally demanding our attention.

No announcements, no dimming lights, no tidal wave of “shhh” throughout the audience – just immediate silence called upon by a single man, immediately underpinning the importance and power of the individual body – a recurring theme throughout the Ballet National de Marseille’s signature work: Body. Dance. Nation. City.

The Ballet National de Marseille
Photo Credits: A. Poiana

The design elements of the piece were stubbornly simple: a bare stage surrounded by three chained curtains, behind which the dancers could wait for their entrance, seen yet unseen, as if through a mirror. Every now and then, bright yellowish lights would create dark shadows behind the performers, enlarging their silhouettes to such gigantic proportions that they seemed inhuman.

Tight, flesh-coloured suits and masks added to this alien effect and created an anonymity amongst the group.

The overall effect was that the dancers took over the stage completely, as though they were hundreds and thousands of bodies, all moving as one, instead of just 17.

I am often sceptical of contemporary dance, having seen and studied a few too many performances in my time as a dance student that seemed to consist of meaningless running, grabbing the air and falling to the floor. But the focus and unanimity with which Le Corps du Ballet National de Marseille -not only danced but breathed- meant that I could cope with, and even enjoy the rare moments of pointless twisting to helicopter sounds- which turned out to build up to some incredible technique and effortlessly flawless classical movements.  

As a self-confessed ballet geek I was instantly delighted by the snippets of Giselle, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, which flashed on and off between blurs of rock, reggae and hip-hop like a temperamental radio being tuned. Meanwhile the dancers offered the precision and technique of classical ballet with the wild, raw energy of urban breakdancers.

The Ballet National de Marseille
Photo Credits: A. Poiana

Throughout the piece, there was an exciting discontent between the group and the individual, which was embodied by regimented bourrées and tendus, a nod to the foundations laid by classical dance, contrasting with huge jumps and turns of soloists that propelled them across the stage, as their movements became increasingly aggressive. It was a resonant visual representation of the body in revolt, a powerful battle between tradition and revolution.

I am ashamed to say that I don’t know about French history in quite enough detail to give a confident historical analysis of the piece, but when La Marseillaise was whistled halfway through the performance the haunting echoes felt much more like a spooky omen, than a patriotic call to arms.

Despite my own ignorance, however, with imagery that spoke of “bodies in revolt”, “the one versus the many” and “breaking away from tradition”, it is easy to see that Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten’s artistic vision has come – for the British as well as the French-  at a very appropriate point in time.

Ballet National de Marseille
Photo Credits: A. Poiana

Although I felt myself over-analysing Body. Dance. Nation. City. at several points when I should have just been enjoying the skill of clearly talented, hardworking artists, the 70 minute performance passed in a flash. I would gladly see more of their work in future.