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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Sweaty Betty 30 Day Sweat Challenge - Get Fit 4 Free Campaign Launch

Sweaty Betty GF4F 30 Day Sweat Challenge Launch

Sweaty Betty GF4F 30 Day Sweat Challenge Launch Jax Coco Coconut Water

Sweaty Betty GF4F 30 Day Sweat Challenge Launch Natalie Susan Hiitgirl

Sweaty Betty GF4F 30 Day Sweat Challenge Launch Dance Studio

Sweaty Betty's 30 Day Sweat Challenge is looming. A couple of weeks ago, in the studio of SB HQ where Britain's Healthiest Employees have their weekly lunchtime yoga sesh, I got a taster of the workouts that are going to be involved. I think I speak for everyone in attendance when I say that we could not wait to jump in a cold shower at the end; it was a sweaty one...

As always, at the centre of Sweaty Betty's Get Fit 4 Free campaigns are fun and effective workouts. This time round, the focus is on HIIT-style, full body workouts designed by Hiitgirl Susan Dyson. The short 30 minute Hiitgirl workouts are created with busy women in mind, so there are no excuses! You can read a little more about Susan Dyson on the Sweaty Betty blog, here. However, this month-long challenge involves far more than working up a sweat. The workouts will be supplemented with other fitness challenges as well as wellbeing tips and nutritional recipes.

There are so many fitness challenges going on at any one time, from squat and ab challenges, to yoga challenges, to other fitness channel initiatives, that I have never managed to pick one. However, I'm super excited for the SB 30 day sweat and I'm looking forward to sticking this one out. Remember to download your challenge calendar ready for the 1st September!

Here's a little teaser...

Sweaty Betty GF4F 30 Day Sweat Challenge Calendar

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Saluting the Summer Sunset with Lululemon

lululemon Hyde Park Summer Sunset Yoga Practise

lululemon Bike Hyde Park

Serpentine Pavilion Hyde Park lululemon Yoga Event

Serpentine Pavilion Hyde Park lululemon Yoga Event Night

Last Wednesday, after experiencing a bit of a train-travel nightmare on my way to London, my day only got better. After a lovely catch up with my friend Tash in Pret A Manger, discussing all things blogging, health and nutrition related, I headed to Hyde Park for an uplifting evening with lululemon. I once wrote one of my university assignments on lululemon, because I love their grassroots, community approach to marketing, and this stunning event was no exception!

Every year the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park commissions a temporary summer pavilion by an architect. This year's stunning serpentine pavilion by Chilean architect Smiljan Radix made the perfect location for a summer sunset yoga practise. More than 300 yogis turned up for a session with Celest Pereira, who, by the way, is the most incredible yoga instructor, as I think anyone who has ever experienced a practise with her and her contagiously bubbly personality will agree. You can read my interview with her here.

The session began with Celest lighting a candle to remember BKS Iyengar, the man who brought yoga to the West, who sadly passed away earlier that day aged 95. An hour's practise followed to the beautiful music of a live harpist, and the evening ended with Bellinis (my favourite! lululemon how did you know...) being served in the pavilion while we sang and danced along with a band, and enjoyed the wonderful company.

Thanks to lululemon for another fantastic event!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

What's in my Gymbag - Edition 2

What's In My Gymbag TowelMate Zip Pocket

What's in my Lululemon Gymbag

What's in my Lululemon Gymbag

I couldn't resist this gym bag from Lululemon when I saw it back in JuneIt was definitely an investment piece but now that I've had plenty of time to put it though its paces, I can honestly say that it was worth it. Firstly, it looks great and I feel confident wearing it on my arm. Secondly, it's incredibly functional. It has two attached handles, one detachable shoulder strap, and a removable strap for a yoga mat. It has easy access pockets on the outside of the bag, and inside, there are three large zip pockets, as well as a removable drawstring bag which is perfect for separating a change of clothes or swimwear. Although for a typical gym session it can feel a bit oversized, I'm travelling outside of my hometown more and more frequently to stop by fitness events, take courses and review classes, which means that I often need to take things that I wouldn't ordinarily carry with me, like a prepped meal, a change of clothes (or two!), cosmetics, and entertainment for the journey.

TowelMate Gym Towel

What's In My Gymbag

The contents of my gym bag never really changes that much. My gym isn't far from where I live so I never need to use their shower facilities, so it's really just the essentials!

+ Gym card

+ Keys

+ Sweaty Betty Pilates Socks - these are always in my bag ready for a yoga or body balance session and I could really do with a couple more pairs on rotation.

+ MyProtein Liquid Chalk - I swear by this stuff and don't think I'd survive a strength training session without it.

+ Gym class schedule, my workout plans and a pen

+ Hair brush and hair tie

+ Antibacterial hand gel - it's crucial to clean your hands after touching bacteria-ridden workout equipment. Where possible I wash my hands with soap and water but this is great on-the-go.

+ Towel - I love my new TowelMate fitness towel as it's also essential for keeping you protected against bacterial nasties. It has a side marked 'gym' for equipment (I use it mostly for covering benches and spin bike handle bars), and a side marked 'skin' for you, as well as a germ shield layer in the middle. It also has a handy zipper pocket to keep your essentials safe and close-by. Perfect!

+ iPod and headphones - I haven't been using these a lot lately because I need to get my hands on an arm strap for my iPod, and a pair of headphones that don't give me static shocks when I workout with them. While I do like my Apple earbuds, I have my eye on some yurbuds, which are more fit for purpose. I also use a Bobino cord wrap to keep wires neat and untangled.

+ Emergency snack - there have been times that I have lost energy, or even become light headed, during a workout, so now I always ensure there's something sugary on hand to perk me up. While I don't generally like processed junk food, I also believe in moderation and these miniature packs of Haribo do the job! Of course, if I'm out and about, I'll also have healthy options like an apple, some nuts and a snack bar.

+ iPad - I use this for the journeys that I mentioned above because it's full of podcasts that I've downloaded to keep me entertained. Right now I'm loving TEDTalks and Ben Coomber Radio.

+ Resistance band - just in case the ones at my gym are in use because I think these are great for performing activation exercises

Sweaty Betty Hydrate Water Bottle - missing from this picture is my trusty Sweaty Betty water bottle (because it was in the washing up bowl). It's my favourite because it holds a whopping 750ml, is made from non-toxic plastic, and looks awesome - I love the frosted finish.

What do you keep in your gym bag?

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Asics Running Lab - Unlock Your Potential

Asics Unlock Your Potential Running Lab

Asics Running Lab London

Most people know by now that I'm a total geek when it comes to things like nutrition and exercise science so I was really excited to visit the Asics Running Lab at their flagship store on Oxford Street. The Running Lab is designed to help runners enhance their performance by improving running ability and reducing injury risk. By undergoing tests that provide such incredible guidance as these, it's possible to unlock your potential and eliminate a lifetime of guesswork. 

Despite the fact that endurance sport is definitely not my forte, I was fascinated by everything that the evaluation had to offer. For distance runners, I see this as being an essential investment in your training. Whether you want to know your ideal marathon pace, how to improve your running technique, find the perfect pair of running shoes, or learn what other exercises to compliment your training with, the Asics Running Lab is your one stop shop. The Asics Running Ability Measurement focuses on many different factors across the four key areas of physique, strength, form and endurance. After a thorough introduction with the Lab's incredibly knowledgable and friendly manager, Andrew, the testing got underway...

Asics Running Lab Body Composition Tanita


Leg Alignment

This analysis calculates various leg and ankle angles and looks at the range of movement and flexibility in your lower limbs. These measurements are design to highlight areas that may be predisposed to injury, so that corrective exercises can be recommended.

Static Foot ID

An INFOOT 3D foot scanner uses 4 lasers and 8 cameras to calculate seven dimensions including foot length and arch height before making a comparison against the average for your gender and age. It also indicates whether your feet statically pronate. 
Note: pronation is the way that your foot rolls when you walk and run. Pronation may be neutral, your feet may underpronate (also called supination), or your foot may roll inwards excessively (called overpronation).

Body Composition

You've probably heard of a body composition analysis before; I've had a few that I have documented on this blog, although this body composition analysis was done with a monitor far superior to the one that I have previously used at my gym. As well as providing measurements such as body fat % and basal metabolic rate, the technology can even assess the distribution of muscle and fat between your trunk and limbs, which can be an indicator of imbalances.

Asics Running Lab Isokinetic Dynamometer


This was the part of the analysis that I was probably most eagerly anticipating having been fascinated by this piece of equipment on my trip to the GSK Human Performance Lab, and given that my general training is focused more on strength training compared to endurance sport. However, muscular strength is just as crucial for runners as running can exert a load of as much as two to three times your bodyweight on a single leg. Using an isokinetic dynamometer, leg strength is measured in extension (quadriceps) and flexion (hamstrings) to determine bilateral strength differences (the difference in strength between your legs), a flexion/extension strength ratio (the difference in strength between your quads and hamstrings), and your strength score based on elite level endurance runners (to give you something to aim for!).

Asics Running Lab Anaerobic Threshold Testing

Given that endurance is often cited as the most important factor in running ability, this is tested at the Asics Running Lab. The Running Ability Test measures endurance by testing respiratory metabolism, which involves wearing a delightful mask. Despite it having it's own climate inside (tropical and sweaty), the mask is actually relatively comfortable and thankfully less invasive than other endurance tests that involve testing blood lactate levels. The test uses various parameters to determine your anaerobic threshold, and estimates half and full marathon times taking both training and fatigue into account. From this, an ideal running pace is also recommended, which I found especially helpful as a bit of a running-newb.

Asics Running Lab Treadmill

Running Form and Motion

Now for the part that directly assesses your running technique. While on the treadmill for the aerobic endurance measurement the Asics team video you from three angles: front, back and side. With their highly trained eyes, they are able to identify inefficiencies in your run which could waste energy (such as excess vertical movement, aka. 'bounciness' - guilty!) or even cause injury. Moreover, a dynamic foot ID tracks step frequency and step length, as well as foot landing patterns and pronation type. Some Asics stores offer the gait analysis part of this test for free when you are buying a pair of running shoes at it allows them to assess which ones are most suitable for you and I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity.

Asics Running Lab Report

Full Running Lab Report

After that incredible experience, I received a personalised Asics package complete with:
+ a full-report collated by Andrew, which aids your interpretation of the measurements and makes useful training recommendations;
+ an Asics Running Science 70-page book, which includes further explanation of the testing as well as exercise guides, and;
+ a DVD of your running form assessment. I haven't plucked up the courage to watch mine yet... 

Overall, I had a brilliant afternoon at the Lab. The full Asics Running Lab measurement and analysis costs £200, which I think is amazing value not only for the access that you get to a fantastic facility and expert knowledge, but for the vast insight and understanding of your own body that you gain. Particularly if you are a distance runner, whether a novice or experienced, I've no doubt that you'd benefit from a session with Andrew.

If you'd like to have your own Asics Running Lab evaluation, get in touch by calling 020 7629 0154 or emailing