Battleropes and TiYRs – my new gym toys

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I have exciting news – no, not the reason I keep vanishing without posting for days at a time, that’s still secret – instead I would like to announce that recently

I have broken into a sweat at the gym.

I’m aware that this may not sound that exciting, after all, that’s supposed to be the point of going to said establishment, but because I tend to be bored and sulking on the treadmill and hate the exercise bike it never really happens. Now however my gym has introduced some new toys. I’m a member of Virgin Active and they’ve launched something called the Fitness 5 which are five new things to chuck, lift and jump on. The five are….

Battleropes – weighted ropes you wiggle

TiYRs – that’s not a typo, it’s a trademark

Bulgarian Bags – weighted bags you throw about kind of like a kettlebell

The TRX Rip Trainer – big stick you whip kind of like a hockey stick

Plyo Boxes – spongey boxes you jump on and off

They did have press launch on all this recently but I was ‘working on the secret project’ and so couldn’t go, and so I admit, I did spend a little bit of time staring at the toys and wondering what you do with them, Note to Virgin Active – you need something stuck on the wall to show people!

But then I remembered you have this thing now called the internet and has all sorts of information on it – and so, I looked up some moves . Admittedly 90 percent of them had gone out of head by the time I had my trainers on. Two had stuck though and so off I went to wiggle my battleropes and step up and down on the TiYR.

Thirty seconds into battlerope wiggling I was struggling so I swapped to stepping up and down on the TiYR. By the time my 30 seconds was up there I was out of breath, another session on the battleropes and I had sweat dripping off my nose – this continued repeating until I’d done each move five times by which time I had to get on the rowing machine for a rest.

I’ve tried the workout twice now and it’s a killer – by the end of the fifth set of battlerope wiggling my arms can barely lift the things.  It’s fun though and I’m actually looking forward to going to the gym to do it – so, just in case you want to try it yourself – here’s a handy, if a little frantic, instruction video that shows you what to do with the ropes. According to this what I do is called ‘Power Doubles’ no I don’t feel so bad that I can only do 30 seconds of them at a time – that sounds really hard!

 

If you keep watching you’ll also see a load of suggested TiYR moves and, the eagle eyed amongst you will notice stepping up and down on it isn’t one of them. I did check with TiYR makers Escape and they told me so long as you aren’t wearing heels or anything it’s okay to stand on it.

So, here’s how….step up on the TiYR with one foot, step up with the other foot, step back down the same way. Repeat as fast as you can until sweat drips off your nose. You could also use the Plyo box for this, but in my gym they’re not as close to the battleropes as the TiYR.

I did try some of the TiYR moves in the video above – this thing weighs 60kg and so they rely on you having a teeny tiny bit more upper body strength than I have! Also, it’s really loud when you flip it and people stare at you which is a bit embarrassing when you then can’t flip it again! There’s also a move on the Escape website that sees you stand in the middle of the TiYR and do a deadlift like move lifting up up by its handles. That saw me standing in the middle of the TiYR in a squat position, pulling on the handles while nothing happened.

It is however a really good bit of kit to do press ups on if you’re upper body strength is lacking – it takes a lot of pressure off your shoulder (particularly helpful if you may have damaged your shoulder a while ago and not done anything about it yet – if you know anyone that might apply to of course.)

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I haven’t tried the bags or the Rip trainer yet. I did however have a go on the Plyo boxes. The idea of these is that you jump onto them helping work explosive type fibres in your legs that create power – well don’t ask me what happens to my legs but it seems I have a complete and utter inability to land with both feet at the same time. Instead something in my brain makes me do this odd little hop thing where one foot lands and the other kind of skips along behind it – imagine if a gamboling lamb decided to jump on a box  – whilst still gamboling – that’s kind of the look I’m achieving. I’ll just add that to the list of things I need to work on.

A jetpack that makes me run faster. Where do I sign?

I’m aware that it has a very serious, potentially life saving purpose in reality – but seriously, this device created for American soldiers helps you run faster with less effort and aims, eventually, to help soldiers cover a mile in four minutes. I just did a 10km in an hour and seven minutes and that hurt like heck, I need all the speed boosting I can get.

 

I do have a feeling that people might notice I was wearing it though – what with the large pipes sticking out of my back and all, but still….I could just tell everyone it was part of my costume for the Avengers Half Marathon which is two month’s today (alternates between excited squealing and out and out panic). That’d work right?

You’ll find the proper story here with all the science and intelligent information. In the meantime, I’m sending The Boyfriend out the garage with three insides of toilet rolls and some wire to see what he can come up with.

Everything But The Cow. Protein + Fruit = drink

I’m now less than a month away from the Bournemouth Half marathon and even though I’m a bit (oh alright, horrifically) behind with my weekday training, I’m at the very least forcing myself to get out and do my long runs at weekends. This does however mean that at some points over the last few weeks I have gone out and ran for two hours with virtually no other runs in the week – not surprisingly, I return from these runs feeling, well……..broken.

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This weekend as I returned home with a crooked neck and naffed up knees I met the postman who had a large box for me. In said box was a  protein drink called Everything But The Cow. Their USPs are that they don’t contain any dairy products and they’re the first protein drink to also add real fruit – rather than fruit powders like most others do. They claim they’re perfect for snacks or post workout recovery – considering how shattered I felt at that moment in time, I jumped on that little phrase.

I had three flavours to choose from and, at this point I tried the banana and kiwi one. A mix of banana puree, kiwi juice and soy protein it was more liquidy than I thought it was going to be and had a bit of sharp powdery taste (to be fair considering it’s soy protein I’d expect it to be a bit bitter), but actually it wasn’t too bad. I do prefer my protein shakes more creamy though.  It wasn’t too sweet but it did give enough of a sweet taste to pep me up – enough to head downstairs and get some actual lunch at least.

Over the last few days I’ve also tried the other two varieties – Strawberry and Raspberry and Orange and Mango – of the three Orange and Mango suits the formula best. The orange kind of works well with that soy bitteryness. Of the three flavours it was my favourite.

In terms of the numbers, each 330ml bottle contains 7g of protein, between 111 and 165 calories and no fat, dairy or sugar (though they do sweeten with honey – which accounts for my rapid post exhaustion energy injection). They’re not bad although I don’t think they’ll replace my Strong shakes for breakfast – just a bit too sweet and, yes I say it again, powdery. Still if you don’t eat dairy and want a protein boost give them a try. They’re on sale now at Holland & Barrett. Or find out all about them here at their website

I’ve also tried a pumpkin protein powder recently. I need to taste it a couple more times but I’ll update you on that one too soon. It’s got chia in it to and from the one taste test so far it’s VERY filling.

 

 

 

What Type of Runner Are You?

I decided on yesterday’s run that there are two types of runner – I’m not talking about fast or slow, I’m talking about people who can run in shorts that look like the ones below and those who can’t.

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It turns out I am most definitely in the ‘can’t’ camp. I bought the shorts from Aldi months ago as I liked the colour but hadn’t actually got round to wearing them. Yesterday though was a dire situation in the ‘gym kit’ drawer, everything else was in the washing bin and it was them or nothing. As that didn’t seem a sensible option I figured it was them.

I put them on and actually they look really nice. Because they’re cut up at the sides I look like I’ve got endless legs and because they’re flared and hide the erm, larger, bits at the top of my leg quite well I also look like I have long, shapely, muscley legs – I am like the Taylor Swift of the running world in these shorts. And they are purple. I am pleased with my purchase and head out the door.

About fifteen jaunty little steps down the road and I’ve got my hand clutched to my butt. And all that’s going through my head is “I can feel a breeze, why can I feel a breeze. Am I flashing the old ladies at the bus stop? That’s not nice for them. I hope they aren’t shocked.  Oh, god. An old lady might die of shock because I haven’t done the washing for a fortnight. I’m going to hell.”

Much clutching and butt feeling while I ran a few more steps ascertained that no I wasn’t flashing anyone – and I was wearing my special triathlon running knickers under them anyway so even if the bottom of the shorts was flailing like a flag in the breeze I wouldn’t have flashed too much – but still I have never felt so bare on a run. Because they’re so high cut on the sides (curse you Taylor Swift running legs), they get a bit flippy as you move and feel like they’re exposing everything. I wasn’t happy but as it was wear them or go home I had to head off down the road. I did spend much of the run though fiddling with them and my top to try and stop the breezy sensation.

So even though these are actually more flattering that my normal cycling shorts, and make me feel like a real runner, I’ll stick to my normal black lycra numbers I think. So, what type of runner are you? A shorty shorter or a cycling shorter?

 

The Training Diary I Love

Well that shows how little I’ve been posting recently – it’s time to talk about my Healthista page again;  this month I’ve been talking about all sorts of exciting things including posh pot noodles from Itsu, some new sports called Teqball and Ovasinax, a trend called Psychogeography, why breakfast might not be the best meal of the day and more – but before you click over there to find out about those things, check out the below – my absolutely favourite thing I talk about on there.

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It’s the new Daily Greatness Training Journal I’ve acquired – the pink one above. Subtitled  12 Weeks To a Rocking Fit Body & Mind not only does it let you mark down how well (or otherwise in my case) you’re doing with your workouts – it also gives you heaps of motivational quotes; questions to ask yourself and things to check. Here’s are four of my favourites…..

The Quote: I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy; I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

Kind of relevant right now as I’m really having to force myself to do my training for the half marathon I’m running in a month. I’m behind and it’s going to hurt if I don’t pick up my weekday runs.

The Question: What did I enjoy about today?

Often we focus too much on the negative – find a nice thing every day and you will be happier. Find a nice thing about your workout and you will go back.

The Most True Comment: The difference between the body you have and the body you want is the choices you make.

Yep, it is -said the girl who had the jalfrezi platter and a Coors in the pub last night.

The Thing I Need to Work On: Who are your five closest friends?

No, this isn’t a sad, I’m so lonely plea; instead it’s asking about friends that are supposed to motivate me to train and right now I don’t have any in the same town as me. In fact my closest running allies are in New Zealand and the USA – you can’t meet up with them on the weekend. I need to think about fixing this one.

In a nutshell, I love this journal – just don’t spend so long filling it in that you don’t actually get to do your training! If you want one for your very own, you’ll find them at dailygreatness.co

Oh, and I still can’t tell why I’ve been lacking the time to run/post/wash my hair – but soon, I promise.

Happy Blogirthday To Me

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WordPress tells me it’s the third birthday of Health-e-Helen today. Anyone have a low carb cake I can test?

It’s not the only reason for cake around here – I do also have another reason to celebrate right now which I’ll tell you about as soon as I’m allowed. It’s quite exciting but it’s also the reason it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. As soon as I can reveal all you’ll be the first to know.

In the meantime, just enjoy the silence (which is a blatant play on words giving me an excuse to post the video to one of my favourite ever songs below)  I’ll be back filling your feed with news of upcoming must dos like flipping tyres and lunching on posh pot noodles as soon as I can.

Cyclists: It’s Time To Get Glo-ing

I am sitting in my office in the middle of the afternoon with the lights on. Despite the fact that it’s mid August one of the Weather Gods is having some kind of hissy fit and sending all manner of misery down on my garden. This, combined with the fact that I took a jumper out with me the other night reminds me that colder darker days are on their way.

Normally this causes a huge sulk on my part but, instead I’m looking on the bright side and realising I finally get to write a post I’ve been planning for AGES on ways to brighten up your bike ready for the darker evenings. See glo-cycling (as I’m naming it) is a thing. You can’t sniff near a crowdsurfing site at the moment without finding something that’ll make people more visible as they pedal. This week alone the news broke that London based designer Will Verity has created a cycling jacket that flashes as cars get near it. Look..

It’s not for sale yet, but that doesn’t mean you cant get your glo on in other ways. Check out the shiny things below……

1) Nite Ize Spoke Lights – how pretty do these make your bike look? But they also make you easier to spot. Priced from £6.95 for one wheel at glow.co.uk

From glow.co.uk

From glow.co.uk

2) Brainy Bike Lights: I’ve written about these before but they are awesome so they deserve a second mention. They are lights with little cyclist figures on them and studies show that motorists spot them faster than normal white or red bike lights because of it. £45.00 for two. Brainybikelights.com.

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3) Useeme wristbands: These  flashing wristbands create an indicator like effect at the end of your arms making it easier for motorists to see when you’re going to turn. After a successful Indiegogo campaign, they’re launching properly in October but you can sign up for early bird special offers on the price now at useeme.eu.

Oooh, flashy

Oooh, flashy

4) Glow in the Dark Bike Handle Tape: Also from glow.co.uk, it makes the front of your bike as visible as the back. £16.99.

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Happy pedalling people. Remember – Be Safe. Be Seen. Oops sorry, just turned into a public service announcement there for a second. Erm, I meant Get Glo-ing people.

 

5 Fun Ideas At Fitpro Live

The other weekend I went to the Fitpro exhibition at the Excel in London. It was a strange morning as I was on my high fat diet plan and at that point had not quite kicked into burning fat for fuel as such even walking round the handful of stands they had there was exhausting – there was no way I could do any of the classes on offer. This was a bit of a problem as what I didn’t realise about FitPro is you’re supposed to go for two whole days and jump about trying stuff. The other disadvantage of this was, because everyone else was jumping about trying stuff, it was really, really loud in there and so I couldn’t hear half of what the exhibitors I did get to chat to were saying to me. As such I didn’t come away with as many new stories as I thought I was going to but I did spot a few new fun things there. Here’s my fave five….

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1) Bosu Classes

You know Bosu Balls – they’re those half balls that sit in the corner of your gym that no-one really uses. Well that’s probably going to change as it seems a wave of Bosu classes are coming. I watched one called Double Up, Double Down which saw people doing squats and various other seriously wobbly moves as part of an organised class and it looked pretty tough. The day before there had also been a class called 3D-Extreme which has already launched in the US but is now enroute to us here in Blighty. This one combines the same wobbly moves but with an element of teamwork. Seriously check it out below – there’s a lot of concentration going on. I reckon you burn about 1000 calories in brain power just trying to workout how the heck you’re going to stay upright while jumping on these things.

 

2) Resistance Running

I caught a glimpse of this as part of a class being run by top US trainer Todd Durkin. The idea is simple, you are attached round the waist to another runner who tries to hold you back as you run against them. This strengthens your legs and increases fitness as you have to work harder to move.  I know it’s not super new but I’d never seen it used in a class environment before only outside on things like bootcamps. Durkin was using it as a part of a circuit training plan, using short very short distances (no more than 15m I would guesstimate) – and apparently short distances are the best way to do this approach. I can see lots of other trainers starting to integrate it into classes accordingly. I was trying to get a picture from Fitpro of this but it hasn’t turned up (and this post is seriously late enough), so here,  have my graphic representation of what it looks like until it does!

I missed my calling as an artist. I'm aware of that.

I missed my calling as an artist. I’m aware of that.

 

3) Clubbercise

I’ve had my eye on this for a while but it seems they’re about to go fully nationwide now. Choreographed rave classes complete with glow sticks, lasers and disco lighting – done in a dark room so no-one can see me going the wrong way or just giving up on the choreography and doing my best ‘big fish, little fish, cardboard box’ and waving my glow sticks like a I just don’t care. It sounds awesome – look………

You’ll find details of classes – including the pop up classes theyre running soon at clubbercise.com. I admit I’m tempted by the one on August 31st.

 

4) Powerblocks

Ever bought a full set of dumbells? Pain in the butt to keep round the house aren’t they. This snazzy little gizmo though is a square block that you lift in the same way as a dumbell, but it has a pin system allowing you to make it heavier or lighter – one lifty thing, loads of different weights, one small area needed to put them in. Excellent. Find them for home use at fitness-mad.com

 

5) Natural Sports Food Bars

I didn’t get to eat these at the show but they gave me a couple to try and I can state that really nice they are too. A tasty mix of coconut, nuts and berries, their USP is that they are a high protein, low GI, low sugar,  ketogenic snack bar.  Racking up about 156 calories each and with 5g of protein they’re really tasty. They also do a high-protein, low-carb food delivery service that looks very interesting. See more at naturalsportsfood.com

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So there you have it – my fave things at Fitpro. Which sounds most fun to you?

Rebecca Adlington’s Retreat – and more.

No I haven’t vanished, my weekends have kind of been taken up with a combination of long runs and a big work project which means less time for the fun bits of life like blogging, but hey, I’m back now. Admittedly, I’m back to tell you to head over to my healthista.com page where you can find out about seven of the hottest bits of fitness, nutrition and body news this month, but hey ho!. So, what’s on there you ask….

Bodhimaya - there's a juice with my name on!

Bodhimaya – there’s a juice with my name on!

Well I admit there is details on Healthy Nibbles – the UK’s first healthy snack vending machine – I really need to get out of this obsession with vending machines. I’ve decided it’s some kind of Freudian thing as my dad used to mend vending machines (that, or fruit machines, I can’t quite remember, I was only tiny).

There’s my new favourite treat – Indulge bars – nutty, seedy, chocolately creations that  live  up to their name.

Some stuff on pilates/yoga hybrid PiYo and a new rooftop yoga venue-  both of which tick the box marked ‘New Workout Craze Alert’

Science explains the possible reason why Park Run makes me eat everything in sight

And finally there’s details of Bodhimaya which is set to be THE retreat of the summer after athlete Rebecca Adlington visited them recently to get some nutrition tips before her wedding – and if they can teach an Olympian stuff about eating healthily I’m interested. Look, they even have a juice waiting for me above…….

So if your interest is peaked, then head on over to healthista.com and check out the Bodyologist section. Then come back here tomorrow for an update on the four funnest things I spotted at Fitpro Live this year. I told you I was back.

 

 

The 5 Best Bits of Running Advice I’ve Been Given

Today was my first long run in two weeks (high fat/virtually zero carb eating does not mix well with long distance running), I knew it was going to be tough but I had to do 6-7 miles according to my training plan. I decided to run the same route as I ran two weeks ago – but backwards. This meant I had one steady uphill for about 2 miles, then a long steady downhill, then one sharp hill for about 500 metres and lots more downhill – rather than what felt like about 5 miles of slow steady climbing with a big downhill in the middle. As I was heading up said sharp hill  desperate to stop I heard the voice of one of my running buddies from days gone by in New Zealand, a lovely lady called  Karen Justice.

Always run up the hills – you can recover going down them

There she was like a running angel speaking in my ears. Either that or I was having some kind of carb deprivation induced auditory hallucination. But anyway, theory is that running uphill strengthens you mentally and physically so if you can do it, you should – it’s something I always try and do, particularly on the short sharp hills.

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This got me thinking of other tips I’ve picked up over the years from various runners, coaches etc and I came up with four more I always remember. They are…

Time on your feet is what counts – Arian Vitali, running buddy

Even if you have to walk sometimes, you’re still getting the miles in

The night before, the night before a race is the most important sleep – Gary Regtien, founder of the RatRace Auckland.

I always, always go to bed early that night now and never stress if I wake up on the hour, every hour the night before. Because I don’t stress, I fall straight back to sleep again and get a good night’s rest anyway

Unless you want to be out there all day, you have to work on your speed – Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer

Admittedly, this one I haven’t managed to integrate into my own training yet and I am out there all day – but I do think it’s something I need to integrate – soon!

Dead Last Finish beats Did Not Finish which greatly trumps Did Not Start – motto of the WISH Team

Yep, proved that one the other week!

I’ll also add one more of my own

Sprint the last 100-200 metres (or even just the last ten) of every long training run

 If I can do that I know I’ve got more left. That gives me the confidence to up my mileage next week.

Admittedly this week that didn’t happen – me and The Wall, we met today at about six miles. My last one and a bit were torture and a mix of running and walking. Next week I’ll have more in the tank and will be back to my ‘sprint’ finish. 

 

So what’s the best tips you’ve been given or want to share?