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Fitness My story

Starting from Zero: Week 6

This week has been a real week of two halves. I worked last weekend so that always makes the week feel a bit strange but this week I had three days off in the week so I only worked Monday and Wednesday. However, I did manage to get quite a bit of activity in.

Monday

I was working a long day (from 8am – 6pm and then having to make dinner so I went for a 15 minute walk outside, just to get moving really.

Tuesday

Today I did run two of couch25k! I actually found it okay although I’m only running for a minute at a time at the moment so it’s not too challenging. I’m also enjoying it so the plan is to keep up with it.

Wednesday

I did a 15 minute walk at lunchtime. I was hoping to go for a longer walk but by the time I had made lunch and faffed around, this was all that I had time for.

In the evening I did Restorative Yoga #2 on the FIIT app, it’s 40 minutes long and I have to admit it was pretty relaxing!

Thursday

Today was my birthday. I was pretty determined not to get bored on my lockdown birthday and so I have to confess I did quite a lot of FIIT classes.

I started with morning mobility on the FIIT app with Gus Vaz Tostes, I have to say that this has been my favourite mobility class so far! I then did the 10 minute Pre Run Warm up With Adrienne Herbert. Following this, I went out for my run. This was the third run of week 1 of couch25k and I have to say that I loved it and felt ready to move on to week 2. When I got back I completed the Post Run Stretch #1 with Adrienne. In the evening I could feel myself getting a touch bored so I did the #5 Pilates Foundations with Lottie Murphy, I’m hoping that pilates will get my core nice and strong for all these runs that I’m doing.

Friday

I was off again today, I really fancied going for a run but I know that I have to be really careful not to over do it. So I decided to work on my running strength and completed Strength for Runners #1 with Sean Kazab. It’s only 25 minutes long so I didn’t think that it would be enough but it really was. It also got me super sweaty!

I also went for a very muddy 7.5k walk during the day. This took me about 90 minutes and some of the terrain was pretty slippy so I had to take my time. All in all it was a beautiful, chilled walk in nature – and it stayed dry while I was out which is always a welcome bonus.

In the evening I did the restorative yoga #2 on the FIIT app. I’ve decided that I really need to work on my flexibility and mobility if I want to run and not get injured so I’m trying to incorporate more yoga into my routine.

Saturday

This was run 1, week 2 of Couch25K. It was fun, I manage to complete all the running but I don’t like how out of breath I was getting! It’s going to take time to build up that cardio fitness though so I’m not going to worry about that too much. When I got back from my run I did the post run stretch with Adrienne. When I ran before I would always cool down but I certainly didn’t do a through cool-down routine like this. In fairness, I wasn’t a PT back then and I didn’t really know what I was going but I really think that a decent cool down routine should help to keep me injury free and in those trainers.

So my week was very bottom heavy but it was good so spend a few days off without the stress of work being able to concentrate on moving. How was your week?

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Fitness Fitness My story Uncategorized

Starting from Zero: Weeks 3-5

I don’t have any recent pictures of me that I can upload so I thought I’d add a lovely pic of this forest in Caerphilly – I love it up there.

Well I was meant to update weekly to hold myself to account….ooops! In truth it hasn’t been going well which is perhaps why I just didn’t get around to updating the blog.

Week 3

Well I started off well by doing a 25 minute Pilates Foundations class on the FIIT app but then I really wasn’t feeling well enough to train the next three days (bad headaches etc) so I didn’t. I probably should have at least tried to do a gentle yoga flow or some mobility work but I didn’t, couldn’t get motivated to do anything apart from a few walks so I’m not going to dwell on that now.

My next workout was Circuits #15 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app, this app really is my saviour when I’m forcing myself to train. If I had to write a workout then there are some times where I just wouldn’t do it.

Week 4

Week 4 went better! And that’s the thing with fitness, it’s a long-haul flight not an Easyjet short haul (other airlines are available), it’s all about what you do over time and consistency. Obviously, humans are conditioned to want the short-term fix and so we tend to go hard for a week and when we invariably fall off the wagon, because it is unsustainable, we give up completely.

Here’s how week 4 went:

Monday

Restorative Yoga #1 with Cat Meffan on the FIIT app. I’m loving the restorative yoga, it’s slower and you hold poses for longer which is good for me because I just can’t keep up with these fast paced yoga classes. It’s also relaxing and helps which recovery so when you are doing intense exercise (which is relative to your current fitness levels), it’s good to balance things out with something that calms the nervous system. The added bonus of course being that my flexibility is, frankly, poor so the yoga should help with that and will hopefully allow me to feel better in my body.

Tuesday

Tuesday was Pilates Foundations #5 with Lottie Murphy on the FIIT app. If you knew me a few years ago, you’d probably know that I used to go to pilates twice a week and that I credited it with growing half an inch in my 30’s. I used to think that it stretched my spine but in reality my posture was probably improved. I really want to get back into pilates again and with the lockdown the FIIT app is really helping with that. I know that I could get free workouts on YouTube but honestly, it takes ages to scroll through and find one that you think may be suitable. Unless you have a recommendation from somebody, you don’t know who the person is doing the class and whether they are qualified (and safe) to be doing it. At least with the FIIT app I know that the trainers have been vetted. Anyway, this was a 40 minute class and I then did the Mobility Foundations #1 class with Richie Norton which is 25 minutes long. I’ve been getting bored in the evenings if I have my dinner too early so I found that doing a longer session in the evening helps to pass the time. Plus, I think you’d really struggle to do too much mobility work.

Wednesday

I went a bit bonkers on this day I have to say because I did the 10 minute morning mobility #2 on the FIIT app in my 15 minute tea break – luckily I’m working from home! I wasn’t a fan of this one, I wasn’t overly keen on the trainer (I’m sure he’s a lovely guy but just not my motivation style) but I felt good for moving my body so early on and also smug haha!

After work I did the Circuits #5 class with Tyrone on the FIIT app, I love this class – I probably do it too much but sometimes you have to do what you know you enjoy! This is a 40 minute class and I then followed it with Mobility Flow #5 with Richie Norton which is a 25 minute lower body mobility session. This was good but there was one stretch where I couldn’t feel anything at all and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. It’s strange because my hips are so tight (so tight that an experienced PT that I worked with told me that he thinks that my slightly hunched shoulders may actually be caused by my tight hips).

Thursday

This was New Year’s Eve so I took my rest day, ate my body weight in cheese and watched a film. Cheese is good for recovery right?!

Friday

I started out the first day of 2021 with a 40 minute Pilates Foundations class (#5 is designed to be one that you can do daily) and the mobility foundations #1 class on the FIIT app all good fun and I was working all day so no long, bracing walks for me.

Saturday

I did take a long walk on Saturday! I rediscovered a trail near where I live and discovers that it goes up much further than I though. It is so beautiful, but unfortunately busier than I like (especially in these times) but it was fun to walk somewhere different! I walked over 7km and then did restorative yoga #2 with Cat on the FIIT app. I had planned on doing a strength/cardio workout but I was tired from the walk. Although this meant that I didn’t hit my 3 strength workouts in a week, I really if I’m doing it the next day instead. My body doesn’t know the difference between my training week running from Sunday to Saturday rather than Monday to Sunday!

Week 5

Well week 5 didn’t exactly go to plan! I did the circuits #15 class on the FIIT app that I had put off the day before on Sunday. I also did a 5km walk in the evening (on flatter terrain than Saturday) so I felt like I had a good week of moving my body. Monday I then followed up with a Pilates Foundations class. Apart from a few walks, I didn’t do anything until Saturday because again, I felt really unwell and could barely get off the sofa for three days and then felt wiped out on the Friday.

However, on Saturday, I did session 1 of week 1 of the couch to 5k plan! I’ve decided that I want to try and get back into running again and as long as I’m enjoying it I’ll do that. Obviously I’m pretty much starting from scratch despite having run (I think five) half marathons in the past because it’s been years since I would have classed myself as a runner. We’ll see how it goes – I’ll keep you updated! I ran at lunch time (I worked this weekend) and after work I followed the run with Full Body Stretch for Runners #1 with Adrienne Herbert on the FIIT app. I wanted to love this, I really did, but it was a bit fast moving for me and I didn’t enjoy it. That said, I can see the benefit so I am going to give it a few more tries before I give up on it. I followed this with a 40 minute restorative yoga session on FIIT so that I could get my zen fix!

Overall

Overall, not great honestly. On some of the days I was genuinely too unwell to exercise but on others I really should have tried something gentle. But to my credit, I haven’t thrown in the towel. There are always going to be times where we can’t train…life gets in the way, we get sick, we are travelling etc but the important thing is that we get back on it as soon as we can. You can’t really fail in this journey if you just keep trying.

I’d love to hear how consistent you have been with your training recently, have you missed any sessions? How are you dealing with it when you miss a session?

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Fitness My story

Starting from Zero: Week 2

Here is a picture of the Ocean because it makes me feel calm…and goodness knows we all need a bit of calm in our lives right now

Well what a 24 hours it has been in the UK. We were all looking forward to a nice Christmas with our loved ones only for millions of us to be told that it isn’t going to happen. In Wales we knew that we were going to go into lockdown as of December 28, but this has been brought forward to 12 am December 20 and we had a few hours notice.

I used my last few hours of freedom wisely and went to a shop to get the bits that we would need for a Christmas on our own and then packed up the car with the Christmas gifts and dropped them off to my family. People here are upset and frustrated at Christmas effectively being cancelled, but my approach is to just roll on through. It is really upsetting, especially as I spent last Christmas away from my family, but honestly with the year that I’ve had it’s like water off a ducks back. I’m just hoping that 2021 is the truly awesome year we deserve.

So fitness stuff…it’s actually going well. I’m still on track despite working long shifts this week 10.15 to 8.15. I’m chalking it up as a big success as I had to train before work and with finishing later, having to eat and then wind down the from the day the last thing I wanted to do was get up and train!

Anyway, here’s a summary of what I did:

Monday

Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app. It’s great, it’s sweaty, its strength and cardio which works for at the moment!

Tuesday

Yoga – lower body stretch with Cat Meffan on the FIIT app. I also did half of another yoga session with the same instructor but I had some technical difficulties so I finished up with this session. I really enjoyed it and felt better after a little stretch

Wednesday

Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app

Thursday

I realised that I hadn’t had a proper rest day for nine days (although yoga was a much gentler day). Rest is really important so I honoured my body and recovered

Friday

Pilates Foundations #3 with Lottie Murphy. Man this was tough! I lot of care work, pilates is not the easy option!

Saturday

You guessed it…..Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app. I’m going to start mixing these up so I progress but it’s a good class that I found challenging so I wanted to do this for a couple of weeks before moving on.

Basically, the goal that I have set myself is to do three full-body strength sessions and two pilates sessions per week. If I can throw in a yoga session into the week then even better. This week coming up may be a little bit of a challenge because it’s Christmas week which means I may be driving down to Evesham one day and won’t have time to train and there may be a few hangovers. I’m feeling better in myself for training though so I’m determined that I’ll keep it up to some degree.I do think that you have to be a bit flexible at times so I’m going to do what I can and not add training to the list of things to stress about!

Are you guys going to train on Christmas Day?

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Fitness My story

Starting from Zero: Week 1

Well I’m pretty happy with myself, I competed my first week of getting my fitness back. It was not easy by any stretch, I’ve been so tired this week and not sleeping well at all so it really was a challenge to motivate myself to workout. In fact on no less than four of the days I very nearly didn’t do the workouts but the idea of having to confess on here that I hadn’t done anything made me get my butt in gear!

Here is a breakdown of how my week went:

Sunday

Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app. This is a 40 minute strength session using body weight only. It is in the format of circuts so you get a decent conditioning work out in there too. It was tough, I sweated and was a bit sore the next day!

Monday

Pilates foundations #6 with Lottie Murphy on the FIIT app. This was a 25 minute full-body pilates workout. Unfortunately, it was very easy – too easy and I didn’t really feel the benefit of this. Because of this I followed it with Mobility Foundations #1 with Richie Norton also on the FIIT app. This was a 25 minute full body mobility session which I really enjoyed.

I also did a 30 minute walk at lunchtime.

Tuesday

Rest day – I’m not going to lie I was planning on doing the circuit I did on Sunday but I wasn’t feeling it so I took my rest day earlier than planned

Wednesday

Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app.

Thursday

Restorative yoga with Cat Meffan on the FIIT app. This was a 25 minute yoga class and I really enjoyed it, it was good to stretch out after Wednesday’s class. I also drove on the motorway for the first time today so I needed some chill time!

Friday

Pilates Foundations #8 with Lottie Murphy on the FIIT app. This was a 26 minute full body pilates class and it was great. I found it challenging enough to be beneficial but not so hard that I couldn’t keep up.

Saturday

Circuits #5 with Tyrone Brennand on the FIIT app.

As you can see I’m using the FIIT app. I think half of the battle is deciding what to do, especially when you are tired and you can think of reason why not to workout. I did a 14 day trial of the FIIT app and I’ve decided to keep it. I got a Black Friday deal for 50% off for the year so it seems worth it for £72. I’m not sure that I’ll be using it for the whole year as once I get my mojo back I’ll be more interested in setting goals and writing a program but it’ll be nice to dip into on those days where I just want to be told what to do and not think about it. It’s also great at the moment because figuring out what to do is an additional barrier at the moment and it’s extra mental energy. I’ll do a review of the FIIT app once I’ve used it a bit more if you guys think that would be helpful.

How did you get on with your week? Let me know what you did in the comments below.

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Fitness My story

Starting from Zero

Starting from scratch is intimidating. Scary even. But you will never achieve the goal that you want to achieve if you don’t start.

Perhaps you don’t know where to start. Perhaps it seems like such an unsurmountable challenge that you do not know where to begin. Maybe you want to lose 20kg, maybe you want to run a 5k in 20 minutes or you want to take on the Ironman. All are incredible achievements and may seem out of your reach, but these are all goals that have been achieved by ordinary people.

The key is just starting. Just start anywhere. Make that first move, not matter how small and just keep taking steps onwards. Break down that goal and take it step by step. Make a plan, or plan to fail as the old adage goes.

For me I am starting from zero with my fitness. For various reasons, I’ve lost a lot of strength, conditioning and muscle. I feel weak as a kitten and I get out of puff when run/walking short distances or doing a beginners workout.

So I’m starting again, I’m going to build myself back up from the ground up. Yes it’s going to be really hard and there will be set backs and days that I feel like I can’t do it but I’ve been fit before and I built that from scratch so I know that I can do it again. In fact, I’m in a better position than I was before because as a qualified personal trainer, I have more knowledge and I can hopefully make less mistakes this time than I did last time.

So this is my invitation to you. To join me on my journey and to achieve your goals with me. I’ll be documenting my journey, tell me about yours!

Tell me what your goals are and what first step are you going to make in achieving them? We can do this together!

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Fitness

How to Structure a Warm up

Not me. I really need to take some photos!

So I’ve had a few questions recently about warming up, whether it’s necessary and how to structure a warm up. In this blog I’m going to look at what a warm up is, whether you need one and how to structure one.

The purpose of a warm up is to prepare your body for the exercise session. Rather than jumping in at full intensity, you are easing your body and mind into the session and getting yourself ready for what is to come. As such, the focus of your warm up will depend on what the content of your main session is going to be.

A good warm up helps to prevent injury by loosening up the joints that you are going to use, raising your pulse and body temperature, and getting more blood to the muscles. I always think that a good warm up helps you to mentally prepare for the main session as it can be overwhelming skip straight to the main session.

So Who needs to Warm Up?

The short answer to this is everybody. Everybody needs to do some form of warm up although the type and duration of the warm up is going to vary from person to person.

One of the factors that will affect your warm up is your fitness level. The fitter you are, the quicker you can probably warm up and the reverse is true, so if you are unfit or new to exercise, then you should spend longer preparing your body for the session ahead.

Unfortunately, age is also a factor that affects the length of your warm up. Generally, the older you are, the longer that you should spend on your warm up. Older adults could take up to 20 minutes to warm up. Personally, I have noticed that now that I am in my mid 30’s a 1 minute warm up just isn’t going to cut it. In my teens I often used to get away with this (I used to take ages to get dressed so I always missed the warm up for hockey), but now I would suffer for it.

Other factors to consider are the temperature, if it is colder then it will take longer to warm up than if it is warmer, the intensity of the main session so the higher the intensity the longer the warm up needs to be (so minute HIIT sessions require a long warm up) and the content of your main session. If you are planning a leg day, then you should concentrate on warming up your lower body and it always takes me longer to warm up my lower body.

Structure

Despite what you may be thinking, you shouldn’t just launch straight into stretching. First of all, you should do some mobility work and any spinal mobility work should be performed first. Personally, I start any warm up with head rotations and then the pilates roll down. Other mobility exercises such as arm rotations maybe carried out while you are on the second part of the warm up: the pulse raiser.

The CV machines in the gym are ideal for the pulse raiser although you don’t have to use them. You should do some form of cardiovascular exercise that uses big muscle groups but that doesn’t need too much from you in terms of range of movement (i.e. you aren’t having to go into deep knee bends). You should start off slowly and then build up so that out of a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being you are a hot sweaty mess to can’t to anymore and 1 being that you are practically asleep, you are a 3-4. This section is going to take between 5-10 minutes depending on the factors above. Personally, I like to go on the cross-trainer for about 7 minutes as it uses your whole body and I increase the resistance every two minutes.

Only after you have raised your pulse should you stretch. Now there are different types of stretching but if you are reading this then I’m going to assume that you are not a high-level athlete where your ability to perform to your maximum in the training session is important. As such, you don’t have to worry about whether you should do dynamic stretches or static stretches (I might write a post on this another day), just stretch and hold those stretches for between 6-10 seconds. Bear in mind what you are going to be working that day, if you are doing a lower body session then concentrate on the lower body, if you are doing an upper body session then obviously concentrate on upper body.

Finally, and this is something that I did not realise until I did my gym instructor qualification, is that after your stretching you should get back on the CV equipment and raise your pulse again. Again, you should be gradually increasing your pulse again to get it back up to where it was at the end of your pulse raiser (this should only take between 3-5 minutes).

So there it is! At this point you will be ready to hit your session hard! I know that this seems like a lot and initially you would think that it would take you a lot of time but some of the steps can be combined, i.e. you could do the mobility work on the treadmill or bike, you could also do some of the stretches on there. As you get used to this it will get quicker and it is a component of your fitness regime that does require a bit of time.

How do you like to warm up? Do you find that this has changed over time?