Month: April 2017

The Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: All you need to know.

The Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: All you need to know.

I feel like coffee has been getting a bit of bad press in the fitness world recently. Some of my clients have actually been apologising to me for having their morning brew, under the impression that unless it has some sort of antioxidant or protein added, then coffee is basically the devil.

Sure, if you live off coffee alone, that’s not ideal. Also if you know your body doesn’t deal well with coffee or caffeine then it’s best to limit your quantities. Not to mention that if you drink Starbucks syrup sugary milk and call it coffee, then no, healthy it is not.

Nonetheless, a coffee a day (or maybe two), without a tonne of sugar and cream is not the work of the devil. Balance is key!

Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: Alll you need to know

Still, the trendy thing of the moment is the superfood coffee. You can barely turn a corner in east central London without bumping into a matcha latte.

However like most trendy things in central London, it costs an arm, a leg and a slice of your soul for even the smallest espresso cup of matcha. I simply haven’t had the bank balance to deviate all that much from my standard brew (short, strong and either black or just a dash of milk).

Because realistically, who wants to spend 3.50 on a pretty pink coffee that may or may not end up tasting like a jar of picked beetroot? Gross.

This is why for me, the most brilliant thing about the London Coffee Festival in Brick Lane at the weekend was the fact that I could try as many free samples of fancy superfood coffee as I liked. It gave me a chance to actually decide what might be worth spending money on in future. Not to mention I could even take the time to ask the brand owners about these supposed health benefits.

Here are my conclusions:

Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: Alll you need to know

The Beetroot Latte

Health Benefits:

“Our beetroot lattes are full of potassium and folic acid” said the rep from Joe and the Juice, whose barista friend was churning out espresso size beetroot lattes with stunning pink designs like it was nothing. “And we’ve also added a bunch of immune-boosting antioxidants for good measure”. Right. Supposedly he didn’t meant that they actually added it to the beetroot themselves, by hand. To be fair, beets are supposed to be excellent sources of energy and they’re good for circulation too.

Taste:

Quite genuinely, better than I thought. I’m not a massive fan of beetroot, although it’s growing on me, and it was pretty subtle in the drink. No sharpness, no bitterness. No  vinegary pickleness (thank god). It was just a bit weird.

Would I use it to replace coffee:

No. But I would probably try one again, in a month or so.

The Matcha Latte

Health Benefits:

Matcha is essentially very pure green tea, with all the antioxidants that go alongside it. It is said to boost your metabolism, making it an excellent fat burner. There’s still caffeine in there, along with countless vitamins and minerals, meaning it’s good for a much needed energy boost. It’s also thought to improve mood and memory amongst other things.

Taste:

Slightly green tea-y. Mostly, I find that matcha lattes just taste like whatever milk you choose to make it with, followed by a slightly earthy aftertaste. I don’t mind it, but I know a lot of people who hate it and I can see why. Obviously it’s creamier than just green tea… but I’d still rather just have a tea bag and some water.

Would I use it to replace coffee:

No, but I do love the colour.

Tumeric latte & Tumeric tea

Health Benefits:

Well, endless, apparently. Tumeric is the latest and greatest health food. Haven’t you seen? It’s everywhere at the moment. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which also supports digestion, brain cell recovery, memory and liver function. Not to mention its antioxidant properties destroy free-radicals, helping your complexion stay fresh and young.

Taste:

So the latte, which was mixed with almond milk, wasn’t altogether bad. It was like a chai latte, so slightly cinnamony. It was spicier though, with a strong savoury kick at the end. I feel like there was a lot of sugar in it (natural or otherwise) to create that initial chai-y sweetness, which surely can’t be that ‘healthy!’. The tea was like drinking watered down curry. I LOVE Tumeric, but I’d rather mix it into my food (it goes great with lentils) than drink it out a cup. Can you imagine trying to wash that smell and colour out a to-go reusable cup?

Would I use it to replace coffee:

Definitely not.

Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: Alll you need to know

Bizarre Coffee Health Trends of 2017: Alll you need to know

Class Review: Loyals at F45 Kingston

Class Review: Loyals at F45 Kingston

“You’ll love it” said my friend Yas, as we drove into the small car park around the back of F45 Kingston, which sits unsuspectingly, in a disused warehouse off the main road. “You can’t go and then leave NOT feeling like you’ve worked really, really hard”.

“Great”, I thought to myself.

I had butterflies, big time. I can’t be the only one that gets super nervous when joining in a new class or gym. It’s like being the new girl at school! I’m a confident person, but rather hyper-competitive (to say the least) so I always feel like I have to go flat-out when I do any sort of group-training. Plus, there’s extra pressure now that I’m a PT and class instructor myself – as if I’d somehow be letting my career down if I didn’t keep up!

Not to mention that F45 has a bit of a reputation for over on social media. I think so anyway. It pops up in my Instagram feed at least 4 or 5 times a day. Photos of people with washboard abs, dripping with sweat with captions that say things like “I survived F45 Varsity!”

I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into.

Luckily, F45 is perfect proof that it’s the people, more than anything else, that make for a really exhilarating workout. The lovely thing about the Kingston branch is that it has got a big community feel, which I guess you might not get in the central London commuter zones. Everyone seemed to know everyone – but not in an intimidating way- far from it. There’s a sense of camaraderie and everyone motivates each other. There were no barriers and certainly no hostility. I felt welcomed and included from the moment I stepped in the door.

From there on in, the butterflies faded away and I felt mostly excited, with just a smidge of “oh shit, what’s going to happen”.

F45 Kingston - Class Review - Loyals

The idea behind F45 is simple. Functional, 45 minute classes. There are around 20-30 different classes in total, I think, each of which is made up of different circuits. The exercise types, the amount of sets, work time, rest period etc are adapted per class to create fun, unique (and flipping exhausting) workouts.

The class I did was called Loyals (all the different classes have names like that: Panthers, Varsity, Hollywood, Romans).

A mix of resistance work and cardio, Loyals was made up of 6 exercise ‘pods’, 3 exercises per pod. Complete each exercise in the pod for x amount of time, back to back, followed by 10 seconds’ rest. Repeat. And Repeat. And Repeat. 60 seconds’ rest then you switch ‘pods’ and do the same with that one.

Ok, so maybe not uber simple. I think that there may be a tendency to overcomplicate things sometimes. One ‘exercise’ from the circuit drills would sometimes actually be four or five exercises sandwiched on top of one another. (Usually a burpee sandwich. Yum). Side steps-into-burpee-into-press up-into-row. The result being, of course that you could only physically get one or two reps out before the 30 seconds was up. It’s great fun but maybe those burpee sandwiches should be saved for sets of a longer duration. Still, you get the hang of it pretty quickly. You just have to throw yourself in, and not be worried about going wrong once or twice.

The teacher, Darren, was fab. Just the right balance of shouty and motivational. He was circling the studio constantly, and his eagle eyes could see if you were slacking or if your technique needed correcting. That’s really crucial, I think, as lots of the exercises in the circuits did require a certain amount of prior knowledge.

The brilliant thing is that for 45 minutes you get completely sucked into this world of circuit drills. For the first time all week I wasn’t thinking about this client or that email or that invoice because both my body and my brain were completely preoccupied, giving everything I had into whatever drill I was supposed to be doing. You can push yourself really hard because everyone around you is doing the same and you just get on with it, gradually getting more sweaty and red-faced.

I left feeling shattered, satisfied and, quite rightly, like I’d worked really, really hard.

F45 Kingston - Class Review - Loyals

Leg Day: Common Mistakes that PT’s ALWAYS see (and how to avoid them!)

Leg Day: Common Mistakes that PT’s ALWAYS see (and how to avoid them!)

Ahh leg day. The one workout that everybody loves to hate. (And maybe just secretly loves?) Leg day has made a bit of a name for itself in the fitness world.

I had a killer leg day session at the weekend. It’s been a little while since I’ve trained them due to an unfortunate incident with an escalator, which left me with a slightly bloody and swollen knee. It was great to get back into it, even though I really felt the different after just doing copious amounts of upper body for two weeks!

In last month’s Fit Bride Bootcamp, I shared one of the leg day workouts that I’ve been doing with Staci. It’s perfect for beginners, or people who are just starting out lifting weights. It includes all the basic but really effective exercises for a good leg session. That’s the great thing about leg day- you really don’t need to over complicate things! You can feel the burn even just sticking to the most simple exercises.

The important thing with these exercises is that they need to be performed with correct technique. I realise that I didn’t go into this is great detail in the last post, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share some useful tips and key teaching points to go with it. Hopefully these will help you get the most from your leg day workout.

To be honest I could pretty much write an essay about the correct technique of each of the below exercises. It’s extensive! But that would leave you with a pretty long winded post to read. Instead, I’ve listed some of the basic exercises that are often used when training legs – as well as the most common teaching points that I always find myself repeating to my clients.

Most Common Leg Day Mistakes (and how to avoid them!) Technical Tips and Tricks for an effective leg day workout.

Squats

Teaching Point 1: Push BACK onto the heels

I ALWAYs need to remind my clients of this – whether they’re beginners or not! When you’re squatting, your bodyweight should be pushed back onto the heels and NOT over the toes. Ensure your weight is driven into your heels by pushing backwards as far as you can (without falling over!) This helps the glutes to kick in and keeps that all-important line between the ankle and the knee.

Teaching Point 2: No knocking knees!

In order to get greater depth in the squat, most people have to have their legs fairly wide apart (a couple of inches wider than hip width). This makes it all too easy for the knees to fall inwards. Remember to squeeze the glutes and push the knees OUT so that they stay in line.

Teaching Point 3: Don’t let the back drop

It’s easy to let the back fall reaaaallly far forwards in order to go lower into your squat. Try to resist. The squat is a big compound movement and it’s not just the legs that are workout. The back muscles must also work hard to keep a straight spine and a nice, lifted chest.

Deadlifts

Teaching Point 1: Don’t round the back

A big difference between a squat and a deadlift is that you do have to lean forwards slightly more in a deadlift than you do in a squat. The key is that you do so with a straight spine. To bend forwards with a straight spine, think about hinging at the hips, rather than rounding in the upper back and letting the shoulders pull forwards. If you think about keeping the shoulder blades squeezed together, that should help.

Teaching Point 2: ABS ABS ABS

Most people don’t think about it, but deadlifts are a KILLER core exercise. If you get uncomfortable twinges in the lower spine whilst lifting a heavy weight, it could be because you aren’t using your abs to support yourself. Tighten the ab muscles throughout the exercises. Think about wearing a really wide, tight belt and pushing out against it with your stomach muscles. This should help to support the lower spine.

Teaching Point 3: Drive up through the heels

Just like in the squat (and lunges too), most of the power of the movement in a deadlift comes from shifting your bodyweight into your heels. Think as if they’re screwed into the ground and use them to drive yourself up, nice and powerful.

Lunges

Teaching Point 1: Equal Bend in the Legs

Ensure that your bodyweight is equally placed in between both legs. You may be stepping forwards or backwards with the legs in order to get into position, but the lunge is fundamentally an up and down movement. Both the front and the back leg should be equally bent, ideally into 90 degrees each.

Teaching Point 2: Knees and Ankles in line

It’s useful to do lunges side on to the mirror. That way you can look at yourself and double check that when you’re at the bottom of the lunge, the front knee is in line with the ankle. It shouldn’t be travelling too far over the toes, which a lot of people are often guilty of. Again, think about having the weight in the heel, (rather than the toes) and this should help keep it nicely in line.

Step Ups

Teaching Point 1: Heels. Again.

See a theme coming along? In a step up, if you think about driving the heel of the raised leg down into the step, this will help to engage the glutes. When the leg is raised, take a moment to ensure that the knee is nicely in line with the ankle and not knocking in, or falling out.

Teaching Point 2: Don’t Spring!

It’s tempting to cheat doing step-ups by using momentum, rather than muscle. Try not to “spring” off the bottom leg and instead really use your legs, glutes and core to push yourself up.

Cable Kick Backs

Teaching Point 1: Don’t drop the chest or overarch the back

Doing cable kick-backs, it’s tempting to completely drop the chest in order to lift the leg higher behind you. Try and keep the chest high, without crunching the lower spine. It’s all about that abdominal engagement. Use the back muscles to keep the chest up and squeeze the abs to support the lower spine. You’ll feel it more in the hamstrings and glutes that way.

Teaching Point 2: Muscle, not momentum

This is another one where it’s tempting to get it over with as quickly as possibly by using momentum to go really fast. This is not effective. Kick backs are all about power on the kick back, and control on the way down.

 

I hope these all make sense! As ever, if you have any questions, just get in touch and I’ll be happy to help out 🙂

Want more leg day? Check out my lower body TRX burner!

Most Common Leg Day Mistakes (and how to avoid them!) Technical Tips and Tricks for an effective leg day workout.

Most Common Leg Day Mistakes (and how to avoid them!) Technical Tips and Tricks for an effective leg day workout.