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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Amida Spa at Chelsea Harbour Club + Alpha H Facial - Review

Relax Legs Pool Amida Spa Chelsea Harbour Club

I love the concept of spas as a wellbeing experience; to help you relax and unwind, and to groom you with treatments for healthy skin, body and mind. However, especially as I’m not much of a water baby, I can find it quite tiring spending a lazy day on a humid poolside.

With a hectic work and training schedule though, a few hours and an amazing treatment at the Amida Spa, part of Chelsea Harbour Club, was exactly what I needed to revive myself.

Amida Spa Pool Chelsea Harbour Club

The Spa

I’d never visited any Amida Spas before as they are exclusive to Harbour Clubs and selected David Lloyd Clubs. Amida Spa at Chelsea Harbour Club is complete with a spa pool with heated loungers, saunas and steam rooms, and an aroma room, as well as showers and ice to invigorate you following a thermal experience. The spa also features a hydrotherapy pool, but this was undergoing renovation during my visit.

My favourite part of the spa was the gorgeous therapy and treatment area. As well as a corridor full of cosy, private treatment rooms, there is a light and airy reception area showcasing some divine products, as well as a nail bar and pedicure area.

Amida Spa Treatment Chelsea Harbour Club

The Treatment

While I was visiting the spa, I was treated to an Alpha H Intensive Brightening Facial*. When I had particularly problematic skin I had started using Alpha H Liquid Gold, which I found to work like a dream and it became one of my all-time favourite skincare products. So, knowing that Alpha H products are of a really high quality and were well-suited to my skin, I was excited to experience more of what their products had to offer.

The treatment is described as “a potent corrective treatment which uses fruit acids, enzymes and anti-oxidants to restore radiance, elasticity and luminosity to sun damaged and hyper pigmented skin.” As I’m still suffering from some hyperpigmentation caused by bad acne over the past couple of years, this was perfect for me.

Step one of the treatment was all about relaxation; deep breathing and the inhalation of beautiful essential oils, which was really calming.

Following this, Alpha H products were used to cleanse and exfoliate my skin. I remember thinking how amazing they smelt; so clean, delicate and fresh. Usually at this stage, a glycolic acid peel would also be applied to the skin, but as I had some indication of skin sensitivity, my therapist mindfully decided it wouldn’t be best suited for me.

Next, a mask was applied. Over this, my therapist layered clingfilm and a warm towel to help to open my pores, allowing the mask to work as deeply and effectively as possible. It was a really weird sensation initially but highly beneficial. While the face mask was taking effect, I experienced a relaxing arm and hand massage. I didn’t realise until I had a hand massage that my hands were so tense or could benefit so much from such a simple treatment. It felt amazing!

Finally, my treatment was completed by removal of the mask, and application of intensely moisturising serums and creams.

My therapist did a brilliant job of explaining the treatment to me before starting, and provided thorough skincare practice and product recommendations following the treatment, which I found extremely valuable and loved how it made the experience even more personalised.

Next on my treatment wishlist is the 'Alpha-H Body Beautiful' Body Treatment.

Chelsea Harbour Club Fitness

The Club

I couldn’t visit the Harbour Club without getting a feel for the place, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Club was like a maze; deceptively large with many floors, doors and corridors to navigate and impressive facilities at every turn.

First, I took a peek at some of the 13 indoor tennis courts, which are what attract many of the club’s visitors, not least because, upon joining, all Members receive a complementary tennis assessment and are given a Harbour Club tennis rating to place them at the correct level for the club's coaching programme, leagues and tournaments. Impressive!

Of course, I was particularly keen to check out the fitness suite. Spread over 2 levels, one floor is dedicated to an extensive range of cardiovascular equipment, and another is kitted out with a variety of free and fixed weight equipment. Although it was under refurbishment during my visit, I was particularly impressed with this ultra-functional studio and would love to squeeze in a session with one of their 30-strong team of trainers at some point.

There are a great range of classes on offer in their sleek-looking class studios, which also includes a designated spinning studio and a dynamic pilates studio, impressively equipped with specialist equipment including reformers. It's must visit for anyone looking for a balanced workout to sculpt a strong and supple physique.

The Verdict

While I personally wouldn’t spend a day pool-side at a spa, combining a day of treatments and training at the Spa and Harbour Club would be my idea of heaven. The friendly and knowledgable staff provided an amazing service and I look forward to visiting again, especially to check out some of the freshly refurbished facilities.

Have you visited any Amida Spas, or had a chance to experience the amazing facilities at the Harbour Club?

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection Launch at Psycle London + Review

Natalie The Blonde Ethos at Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection Launch
**
Following the unveiling of the Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll collection at London Fashion Week back in September, I was invited down to Psycle London for a sweaty morning spin with Sweaty Betty before seeing the 9-piece capsule collection for myself.

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection 

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Capsule Collection

My day-to-day outfits reflect my huge love of sports luxe clothing, and I was really excited, and immediately captured, by the Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll capsule collection.

As well as looking super elegant, in part due to the soft colour palette, a sporty edginess has been achieved with reflective touches and high performance fabrics and features. Even from a distance, technical and functional aspects of the designs were obvious, from zipped pockets to headphone loops. All of the pieces possess the premium quality that I would expect from the collaboration of such inspiring brands.

The stunningly beautiful pieces are available to buy from February 2015, and I’m especially eager to get my hands on the Muiura tee and the Nui layered tank. 

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection

Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll Collection Muiura Tee

Psycle London Review

I’d popped into Psycle London on Mortimer Street before but had never had the chance to stop by for one of their bike-based workouts until now. I couldn’t have imaged how much I had been missing out!

From my previous drop in, I knew that the facilities are amazing (even the changing rooms are super sleek-looking and have towels and other essentials provided) and that the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, but now that I’ve had the chance to get a taste of the classes, I can 100% recommend this fitness destination.

Natalie Faya Fitness Blonde at Psycle London
**

The Workout

Cleated shoes are worn by everyone in all classes, which increases the connection between the leg and the bike. Along with spending most of the time out of the saddle and in the hover position, the increased connection really helped to get my hamstrings and glutes working more than they have in any other studio cycling class I’ve been to - exactly what I love!

What I didn’t expect though was to get such a shoulder workout from a bike-based class. After variations of handlebar press ups, as well as an upper-body focused track using handheld weights, my arms were pretty sore!

Our instructor, Rhian, was amazing and her enviable physique (including ultra-sculpted arms!) kept me motivated throughout the session. She looked incredible modelling some pieces from the SB x Richard Nicoll collection.

Psycle London Review Rhian Instructor wearing Sweaty Betty x Richard Nicoll
**

The Music

With my exercise background mainly revolving around dance, I love working out to music. While lots of studio cycling classes have music playing, I’ve yet to experience any classes that really use the rhythm in the way that Psycle do. They compose playlists, not just with BPM in mind, but to influence the mood and energy levels of the class, which definitely helps you to forget how hard you’re working!

In fact, the playlists are such an iconic part of the workouts at Psycle that some of them have been made available on Spotify.

On their website, Psycle say that “with the lights turned down, the music turned up and everyone working together, an energy is created that inspires people to workout to the best of their ability” - I definitely can’t argue with that! I can't wait to book onto another class.

Sweaty Betty Richard Nicoll Psycle London

If you're a Sweaty Betty fan, you might also be excited to know that ‘The 12 Sweaty Days of Christmas’ competition is back for another year as of 1st December. Everyday, on the Sweaty Betty Facebook page, there will be prizes to be won, from spa breaks to SB gear to personal training sessions. Get involved!

Wearing: Dedicate Luxe Vest* - Sweaty Betty, Leggings - Vie Active
**Photo credit: Sweaty Betty/Natalie Watts

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Inner Me Supplement Review - #InnerMeDiaries Challenge

I recently look part in the #InnerMeDiaries challenge; a six week programme of pill-popping throughout which I documented my results. I was armed with pencils, scorecards and the Inner Me supplements of my choice; Beautify Me* and Energise Me*.

Inner Me Diaries Supplement Challenge

About Inner Me

After Inner Me’s founder, Nikki Cooper, was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28, she began taking supplements to boost her nervous system, mitochondria, and general wellbeing. However, Nikki also noticed other benefits such as dewy skin and glossy hair. This spurred Nikki on to collaborate with nutritionists and pharmacists to create a complete wellbeing package for women.

What I personally like about Inner Me is the strong branding, including an informative website (includding 'Inner Menus’ and recipes to complement the products) and particularly pretty packaging, which is clearly designed with ease of use in mind. Especially during the challenge, I found it really useful that the days of the week were printed on the blister packs, and that the packets were discreet enough to pop in my handbag, so that I could ensure I didn’t miss a dose.

Inner Me Diaries Supplement Packaging

The Inner Me Products

Inner Me Beautify Me

The first product that I opted for was the Beautify Me Pro Skin supplement, which is described as the 'ultimate beauty supplement for skin, hair and nails’ - exactly what I needed. I was particularly interested to understand the properties of each of the individual ingredients in the supplements so would have loved to have seen a more comprehensive breakdown on the website.

Mainly though, I was pleased that Biotin and Selenium were included in this supplement, as they're well known for their contribution to the maintenance of normal hair and nails. The blend also contains Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) which contains sulphur, a popular ingredient in dermatology and one that I’ve found really effective in Ren’s ClearCalm3 skincare range. It is also a component of collagen and keratin, which most people know play a huge part in healthy skin, hair and nails.

Other key ingredients are Silica (from bamboo), Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamin C, as well as Marine Chondroitin and Marine Collagen. However, as there are no RDAs for the latter two especially, it’s difficult to know whether these doses are likely to be effective. Compared to other supplements of Marine Collagen, for example, 100mg seems quite low.

Aside from this, the only down side to this product is that the selenium doesn’t have the most desirable scent, but after the quick job of swallowing the capsules, it isn’t something you need to think about again for another 24 hours!

Inner Me Supplement Beautify Me Pro Skin

Inner Me Energise Me

Secondly, the Energise Me supplement is blend of vitamins and minerals designed to support energy metabolism, as well as overall wellbeing. Notably, this supplement contains 100% of your RDA of vitamins D, a range of B vitamins, which are crucial in the process of turning food into fuel within your body (as is Coenzyme Q10, although the dosage in this supplement is at the lower end of the recommended dose), and Chromium, which aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

The blend also contains Magnesium and Creatine Monohydrate which are both important in energy metabolism. However, the doses of both of these ingredients is fairly low (the magnesium accounts for just 16% of your RDA, and the creatine is less than 10% of the dose that I would take as a separate supplement) and so having now learnt about the benefits of these supplements, I would definitely consider taking them in higher doses independently of the Energise Me capsules, especially given the frequency with which I exercise and weight train.

Inner Me Supplement Energise Me

The Results

As I mentioned, I kept a record of how I was feeling throughout the #InnerMeDiaries challenge. In terms of my skin, hair and nails, I noticed some slight improvements over the course of the challenge. My nails were a stronger and, despite a little breakout, my skin has been incredibly soft and recovered quickly. In terms of energy, I have been feeling great. My sleep cycle has been better than ever in terms of waking up early (I’ve always been a stubborn night owl) and being more productive during the day.

How much these results can be attributed to the supplements alone, I can’t say; during the six weeks I also returned to university, had immersed myself in a new training and nutrition programme, and had got into some good new skincare habits. However, I do know that I’d rather be taking these essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients than not taking them. And, as I’ve already mentioned, I love taking them in the blends created by Inner Me and experiencing the other little delights, such as the stylish packaging, that come along with them.

Inner Me Supplements for Health Wellbeing and Vitalty

Discount Code: Buy Beautify Me or Energise Me and Get One Free

If you’d like to try either (or both!) of these Inner Me supplements for yourself, by using one of the codes below you can double the amount of supplements that you can benefit from, by buying one pack and getting one free! I highly recommend giving them a go. Remember to opt for Beautify Me for a treat to your skin, hair and nails, or Energise Me if you are in need of an energy boost! Unlike some supplement combinations, these are safe to take together, so why not take advantage of this exclusive offer and trial them both.

BlondieBM (when purchasing Beautify Me)
BlondieEM (when purchasing Energise Me)
To use these discounts, simply enter the code at the checkout.

Have you tried any Inner Me supplements? Are you considering your own #InnerMeDiaries challenge?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Healthy Lunches: Essential Ingredients from Holland and Barrett

Holland and Barrett Healthy Lunches Meal Prep Ingredients

Holland and Barrett Coconut Oil Organic Honey

Holland and Barrett Himalayan Pink Salt Spices

Holland and Barrett Beauty Sweeties Healthy Snacks

I’ve been back at university for a few weeks now and the time has absolutely flown by. I was up to my eyeballs with assignments by the second week but, despite being incredibly busy, I have always made time to prepare food to ensure that I get all of the nutrients that I need and don’t end up skipping meals or binging on sugar to get me through my workload.

I know that a lot of people’s lunchboxes are stuffed with highly-processed convenience foods – a cheese sandwich, packet of crisps, a chocolate bar and fizzy drink are common sights – but I believe that lunches (and all meals, for that matter) should be made with real, fresh, whole foods.

A balanced meal

Eating well makes such a difference to how I feel (and look!) so I ensure that all of my lunches contain:
  • A good amount of lean protein to keep me feeling full and to meet my daily requirements. My favourites are chicken, turkey and tuna. 
  • Healthy sources of carbohydrates such as sweet potato and rice. I love baking a batch of sweet potato wedges but if you have a microwave at work, it’s easy to zap a jacket sweet potato in 4-6 minutes. 
  • Healthy fats from a variety of sources such as good quality oils used for cooking and dressings, nuts and seeds.
  • Lots of fresh, nourishing fruit and vegetables. 


Kitchen cupboard essential ingredients

I like to keep my lunches simple so that they are easy to whip up, store and carry with me. However, I also want my food to be as tasty and varied as possible, so there are some items that I always have in my kitchen cupboards:
  • Nuts and seeds that I can sprinkle on any meal, and especially salads, for an extra nutrient boost. My favourites include walnuts and chia seeds.
  • Coconut oil to cook with.
  • Herbs and spices will last a really long time and add endless variety of flavour to your food. A good cajun spice mix (although I often make my own) and ground ginger are my favourites.
  • Good quality salt. Believe me, this makes all the difference to sweet potato wedges! I love to keep some pink salt in my kitchen cupboard and not just because it looks pretty. The different hues of Himalayan salt indicates its rich and varied mineral content.
  • Desiccated coconut for healthy and easy to eat on-the-go chicken nuggets. Just dip diced chicken in egg and roll in seasoned coconut 'crumbs' before baking. Delicious!
  • Honey is another great way to add flavour to prepped foods. I like glazing chicken with honey, mustard and sesame seeds for a sweet and sticky treat! It's also a great way to naturally sweeten  sauces.
  • Nut butters are always handy to have on hand for a snack. I stick to Meridian's natural nut butters as I know they have no added nasties.
  • Something for a sweet tooth. I’m never restrictive with my diet, I just try to pick the healthiest options that I can. I tend to opt for a couple of squares of dark chocolate when I have a craving. I also recommend Beauty Sweeties, which I previously reviewed here.

Make time to meal prep


I know it can seem like a big leap to go from throwing pre-packaged foods into a bag to preparing things from scratch, but setting aside a little time once or twice a week to do it can easily become habit. Often I’ll head to my local supermarket around 11am on a Sunday morning, spend half an hour whizzing round and grabbing everything on my list, and then I’ll come home and spend an hour or so preparing everything. It makes me feel so productive and healthy, and I've noticed that overall, it saves me a lot of time and money.

I highly recommend stocking up your store cupboard with a range of flavoursome and inspiring ingredients to make preparing and eating your meals extra easy and enjoyable. Thank you to my friends at Holland and Barrett for supplying me with the essential ingredients* that I featured in this post.

There are lots of examples of what a typical lunch for me looks like over on my Instagram.

Do you prepare your meals in advance? What are your store cupboard essentials?