The Big D

We’re into sports and we’re into fitness, but we’re also into well-being and mental health is an enormously important part of that. The Big D is a new blog by a close friend who shares his experiences of depression. We think it’s fantastically well written and opens up an important conversation that we should all be comfortable having. Give it a read and let us know your thoughts!

The big D

The big “D”. Depression. Maybe not what you thought… naughty!

There, I’ve written it. I’ve also just said it.

I’ve become more and more thoughtful about how my mind is actually processing day to day life. I’m also ashamed to admit that I built up such a stigma about mental health and being depressed, that it has taken me over 4 years to admit it. Quite simply put, I was a stubborn sod, who refused the admit that a person like me would actually have depression. What do I, have to be depressed about!?

Thinking about it though, my brain was actually quite clever. It’s stamped out, spun around negativity and refused to accept that I’m not myself – what ever that is! It’s clever because I know I want to be happy and my first way of dealing with unhappy feelings is to refuse to acknowledge they’re there.

I…

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REVIEW: Hot Yoga with Everyone Active

We’re on a bit of a yoga roll right now. Off the back of our recent trip to Yoga Hive, Everyone Active invited us to try out the latest addition to their Leisure Centre offering – Hot Yoga!

Katie
Tucked away in a little side road just off Carnaby Street, away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus, aka my least favourite place, Marshall Street Leisure Centre offers a welcome calmness in a stunning art deco building. I am still fairly bad at being blasé when it comes to taking “blogger photos”, so there are fewer pictures than usual. Plus, I was a bit busy actually doing stuff like sweating my butt off in yoga to take too many photos of it and I thought it would have been a bit rude to everyone else there. But that’s for another day…

Hitting up some hot yoga @everyoneactive on this grey and drizzly Wednesday morning. Beautiful building!

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So, enough about the building and the beautiful swimming pool, and back to the reason why we were there – to get our sweat on with some hot yoga, the perfect way to ease into a Wednesday morning. Continue reading

Guest Post: Recovering from major sports injury

We’ve been doing a fair bit of yoga recently, which along with our own personal, physical niggles, has gotten us to thinking seriously about recovery, and moreover what happens when you sustain an injury that puts you out of action for an extended period of time?

Our good friend and all-round sporting badass, Stacey Coffin, recently had to deal with just that. We asked her to share her experience of  tearing her anterior cruciate ligament earlier this year,  how she’s dealing with it and what advice she has for anyone going through something similar.

Stacey
When my boyfriend and I were sitting on the couch a few days into January and began talking about our goals and resolutions for the year, tearing my right knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) 4 weeks later did not fit into the plan. I play a fair amount of sport, mainly touch rugby 4-5 times per week, which is not a sport you are likely to manage without an ACL. Continue reading

What did you just say??

So, I am finally on the bandwagon of reading Eat Sweat Play about a year later than most people, and it’s making me think all the things about everything and I could probably write a post on each chapter (!)

 

….finally on the bandwagon! 👌🏼#eatsweatplay #womeninsport

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Firstly and quickly (because this opens up an entirely new kettle of fish) something that reminded me of an earlier piece I wrote, was Tammi Grey-Thompson questioning why children are allowed to skive PE if they don’t like it, but this wouldn’t be accepted in any other subject. THIS IS SO TRUE. You have to do maths, so you do it. Why isn’t PE afforded the same level of respect?

Secondly – read the book!

However, neither of these points are the subject of this post, so here we go.

I was sitting having lunch a few weeks ago when I overheard a little girl with her grandmother – the girl was probably around 4 or 5, and she asked her “Granny, why aren’t you going to have a scone as well” – and the response was “I’m not going to have a scone because it will make me fat”

Cue smoke coming out of my ears. NO WONDER there is a continual struggle with eating, body image and this general health fad if we are hearing that kind of comment from such a young age. A throwaway sentence that can kick start a lifetime of worry. That’s now a simple link between what should be the enjoyment of something delicious and “the fat dread”.

The problem is, it’s a hard habit to break. I call your bluff if you are evangelical about this and say you have never uttered something similar. But at the age of 5, that’s a fairly strong association between food and being fat starting to be imprinted in your mind. Kids aren’t on my horizon in the super immediate future (wondering how much I can wind up my boyfriend here) but it’s really making me think about how I talk about myself, my body and my eating habits to others around me. I want to raise children who understand the difference between food you should eat a lot of vs food that should be more occasional – but not to see it all as “bad” food.

Similarly, as someone who loves to exercise for the sheer fun of it –  the buzz, the views, the mental strength, the camaraderie, the challenge, the competition, the sense of achievement…THAT’S what I want anyone growing up with me to see it as. Exercise isn’t purely a weight management tool, and if you see it that way, you’ll never appreciate all its intricacies. I was raised on cycling on holiday and horse riding and playing badminton with no net and running round the garden just because – and I never want that to change. It’s about fun, enjoyment and the trillions of other benefits, and shouldn’t feel like a constant chore just to justify what you put in your mouth.

I mean, it’s harder than you think – I’d question anyone who says they have never finished a decent ride, run or gym session thinking about pizza and how it’s now that bit more justifiable, but it’s all about balance. See the below picture for example – this was mid way between two fairly tough mountain bike loops last week, but it wasn’t just “because I have exercised I can eat this” it was more “I AM REALLY HUNGRY AND NEED SOMETHING TO KEEP ME GOING”. So I ate it and got on with it. And to be fair, even if I hadn’t been cycling, I probably would have eaten it anyway because it sounded yum. And I’m past caring about it.


So, I implore you – next time you have an inkling of the thought “I’m not going to have it because it will make me fat” – don’t verbalise it in exactly those words. Even “I’m just trying to eat a bit more healthily right now” or “because my body doesn’t do as well as it should if i eat too much cake” or simply “I just don’t fancy it”.

I don’t care if you’re saying it near a 5 year old, a 12 year old or a 59 year old – take some time to think about your words. Eating disorders in any shape or form are often below the surface and you probably have zero idea how your throwaway comment will impact anyone in the vicinity. It’s the same as commenting on what someone else is eating, or if they’ve made a request to order something slightly off menu – 99% of the time it’s really none of your business.

Yes, eating too many scones will make you fat. Eventually. But one scone won’t (and hey, there are worse ways to die than death by scones)

If you’ve got children – ever had to tackle these kinds of subjects? Am I (in my current childless state) picking out something way more easy in theory than in practice?

REVIEW: Yoga Hive – Where Art & Vinyasa Flow Collide

As you will probably have seen on Instagram, we recently attended a Vinyasa Flow session with Robyn from yogahive , which took place at the Curious Duke gallery near Old Street/Barbican. As “people who don’t do much yoga but understand it is really important”, we jumped at the opportunity!

Kate

I know that I should stretch more. I should stretch more before I work out. I should stretch more after I work out. I should stretch first thing in the morning and I should stretch to aid recovery. And yet, I don’t. I always manage to convince myself that somehow it’s a waste of time, and that attitude only changes when I tweak something and berate myself for not having warmed up properly. So, when Katie and I were asked by the lovely (and pretty inspiring!) Robyn at Yoga Hive to pop along to check out a class in their amazing gallery space, I was delighted to have the excuse to give yoga a try again. Continue reading

5 reasons to play mixed sport this summer

I am a BIG fan of mixed sports teams, particularly of the social format. I’m currently playing mixed netball and touch rugby and to be fair, I probably actually enjoy it more when it’s mixed than if it was ladies only. Particularly netball, where, although I love the pressure and competition,  I put far too much on myself and lose the ability to enjoy it.

I can imagine some people haven’t always had the best experiences with mixed sport and it drags back to awkward PE lessons, but if you’ve got a bunch of decent people who aren’t idiots or ridiculously sexist in their thoughts about gender performance in sport (with bias in either direction), it usually makes for pleasant entertainment. So please don’t be afraid of giving it a go because of prior assumptions.

Go Mammoth, O2 Touch and Try Tag Rugby are all decent places to start – whether you have a team already, want to join as an individual, want to play something you’re good at or something you’ve never done before, you’ll find a league somewhere!

1. Less pressure. There is typically one half of your team who has not played this game at school. Sometimes, neither half has! This generally means you have a fighting chance of not being completely incompetent in comparison! There’s something about the balance between the genders as well that makes the pressure to do well still there, but it’s a bit less imposing. I can’t explain why. We’re also old enough and big enough now to not make a huge fuss about having to play sports with *shock* members of the opposite sex without being melodramatic about it and making assumptions about their capacity due to their gender. Yes, you will still see some teams who are ridiculously poor at using their women but I’ve noticed it less and less – and the more people play mixed sport, the better it’s going to get.

2. You usually get to either a) learn a new sport you haven’t played much before or b) teach others a sport you know how to play quite well. Helping others is a sure fire way to improve your game, and there are so many transferable skills between different sports that it will help you across the board. Playing touch was a key driver of my short-lived (although still active) 7s career, and that’s partly because of the encouragement I got from both females and males on my team that I had the ability to step up and do it.

3. You will laugh a lot. If you’ve ever seen a confused face as someone tries to get their head around the fact that they can’t run with the ball, you’ll know what I mean. Or a 15s player trying to understand that they can’t just hit hard lines and run straight at people who are about a foot shorter and several stones lighter than them when playing touch. Extra points for flair and style. Mixed leagues are also much more likely to be social – so although there will be an element of competition there (no matter what people say), it is much more about enjoyment and fun.

4. You’ll learn you can hold your own and it will up your game – if your opposing player is suddenly a good few inches taller than you’re used to – and probably about 5 times more accidentally physical (see point about laughing), you’ll jump higher, run faster, dodge with a bit more purpose and think more about what you’re doing. And get a sweet satisfaction when your opponent is visibility irritated about it. However, sometimes people are not that good despite obvious physical advantages…but this is the same in any sport.

5. It will probably end in the pub. And if you pick a good league (hint, O2 Touch), you often can get some free chips and nachos. Or garlic bread. Which is dreamy (#cleaneating) You’ll get a bunch of new friends with a similar interest to you, therefore always have ringers available for any other sports team you ever need and you’ll probably end up playing at least one season!

What are your thoughts on mixed sports? The way forwards or a painful reminder of PE lessons?

REVIEW: Body Conditioning @ Everyone Active

Disclaimer: Not going to lie – this has been sat in my drafts for no reason other than I have a memory like a sieve… but it is still as relevant as ever as Body Conditioning is a still a staple of the Castle Centre’s group exercise timetable.

Everyone Active have recently taken over the running of several leisure centres in Westminster and Southwark. They’ve also invested a fair bit of cash in refurbishing and creating brand new timetables, and they are clearly pretty pleased with the way things are going so far. So pleased that they have staked their reputation on it by inviting a bunch of fitness bloggers, such as ourselves, to check them out and review them. In this review, I’m sharing my experience of the Body Conditioning class at The Castle Centre. For more info on the leisure centre itself, check out the my thoughts on it here.

Delighted at the prospect of trying out a few new classes on the house, I trotted off to Elephant & Castle one Monday evening after work to have a go at the Body Conditioning class. Described on the Everyone Active website as “A challenging workout designed to improve your cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and physical endurance, delivering all round benefits to every part of the body. Suitable and adaptable to all levels of fitness from” I thought, that doesn’t really tell me very much, but it certainly sounds suitably challenging.

The biggest clue I got on the content before it started was that it was populated solely by women with the exception of one guy, who admittedly left after 15mins. Our instructor, Galena, cranked the poppy music up high and enthusiastically hollered at us to get started – the first combination of moves we did included a ‘grapevine’. Lightbulb moment: this is an old school aerobics class.

The participants were certainly representative of all different levels of fitness and form, which was great to see, but I was a little disappointed when it became clear that there wasn’t going to be variations on the moves to make them harder (or easier). Despite this, I certainly got out of breath and swe-e-aty! Which is as good an indicator of a decent cardio as any in my book, but I wouldn’t say it truly delivered a ‘challenging’ workout, as promised.

If you are looking for a fun way to get a bit of cardio into your weekly routine and mix it up a bit by doing something a bit silly I would thoroughly recommend this class – it is high-camp and freaking fabulous. I’m not usually a fan of dance-based classes, because frankly I’m terrible at them, but this class gave me a workout for my brain as well as my body, and I really enjoyed the old-school aerobics moves – after all if they ain’t broke, don’t fix ’em!

For more class reviews in the London area, check out the Reviews section under ‘What we write about’ in the header above.

Trails are the new pavements – and here’s why!

If you know me in real life, you’ll know I’ve recently moved back out of London to enjoy spending lots of time with my parents (aka saving money) I’ve written about this before (my parents are close to London so it’s super easy for me to default back here if I need to) but something I’ve really noticed is how much more I’m enjoying my running – and part of that is purely due to the lack of traffic, lack of pollution and ability to be in a field within 5 minutes and not have to deal with traffic. In short, TRAILS!

I mean I’m hardly claiming that the Chilterns are some sort of trail Mecca relative to the rest of the world, but they’re the best I’ve got right now. It frustrates me how much of a big deal is made out of trail running being something you really need to ‘prepare’ for – unless it’s mega muddy you don’t need special shoes, you don’t really need to spend hours on ankle mobility exercises and if you’ve got a bad sense of direction, stick to well marked paths and don’t get lost in the woods…

So I’ve basically got 10 reasons why trail running is great- and yes, this was partially an excuse for me to dig out lots of photos that I love!

1. The views. I mean as much as London has nice landmarks, it’s still a city with big grey buildings and boring stuff. I know what I would prefer to cast my eyes over! (N.B. you can see here that I go to France a lot…)

Vedrignans, France

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Tour Madeloc, Port-Vendres, France

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Route de la Corniche, Ciboure, France

2. The quiet. You can escape everything. No traffic, no music, no other people. It’s the perfect place to chill out. Obviously it’s also much safer to run on trails with no distractions, but to be perfectly honest, you shouldn’t need them.

3. Who you share them with. Seriously, if you run in London you know no one ever says hello and it’s eyes down, run on. Out in the sticks (!) everyone is so much more friendly – whether it’s walkers, runners, cyclists or horse riders I guarantee you’ll get at least a nod! (Or a wave if you meet Clapham Chasers in the Pyrenees as per picture below…) Or, you won’t see anyone for miles – which is equally enjoyable…

4. What you share them with. I was out before 6 on Wednesday morning and heard woodpeckers, saw buzzards and red kites and startled a whole herd of deer (including an albino one!) Much better than some skanky fox making a mess of bin bags. Or someone staggering home from Infernos.

5. It’s tough. Trails are naturally harder to run on – there’s more absorption of your power so you won’t be as fast as you would on road – and you’ve got to be careful around where you step, so it’s not easy. Your balance gets better, your eyesight becomes more focused and your brain is more switched on. Can’t argue with that. I mean, it’s not ideal for speed work but it will improve your overall strength no end.

6. Hills are good for you! Seriously. After having a long spell where Battersea Bridge was one of the biggest hills I ran over, I really struggled with inclines but it’s coming back to me pretty quickly. There is something incredibly rewarding about getting to the top and thinking “wow, I got up that all by myself”

7. When you get to proper trails, you get to take a backpack and SNACKS and sometimes you can walk up the hills. Dreamy. It makes you look like you are pretty serious as well.

8. Well you don’t have to worry about cars running you over or stopping at traffic lights…

9. The ground is far better for you than constant pavement pounding. Especially if you’re coming back from injury, you’ll find a softer trail run works wonders when you’ve been hammering it a bit too hard on an unforgiving surface. I often find that some of my niggles are markedly less niggely on softer terrain.

10. Mud! You can slide through it, try and scoot round it, lose a shoe in it (me three weeks ago) – but whatever your take, ploughing through mud and puddles feels remarkedly fun and childlike (same for kicking leaves). Trainers wash, socks wash, you can have a shower – just go for it!

So there you go – trails are fab and if you’ve got the opportunity, go for it and don’t worry! Even when you’re in London, get off the pavements, run on the grass in the Royal Parks, try Hampstead Heath or Wimbledon Common. The North and South Downs are also both pretty handy via a train from Clapham Junction!

Do you do much trail running? What’s your favourite part about it?

Planning your race calendar

I love a plan. OK, I mean like, really love a plan. Particularly for training and races and meals. I’m a control freak and the amount of notebooks I’ve filled writing what I’m doing that week is ridiculous! (Note, this definitely does not mean I always do what is in my plan. I have good intentions that are usually over ambitious and assume I can manage on about 3 hours sleep a night whilst training 17 times a week. I still haven’t quite realised that this isn’t physically possible)

Last week I sat down to try and plan my race calendar for the rest of the year and thought I would give a few tips that might help…

1. Have a vague idea of what you want to do this year. For example, I’ve gone for shorter stuff, duathlons, i’m not fussed about marathon this year, a couple of tris and MAYBE an autumn half (so not really shorter stuff, basically just not a marathon)

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2. Have a vague idea of how willing you are to travel and spend money, i.e. I don’t really want to be spending upwards of £80 on a triathlon and I really begrudge spending anything over £30 on a run-only event unless it’s a marathon or a real ‘must-do’. I might do a destination event if I see something that really piques my interest, but haven’t spotted anywhere in particular.

3. Long list the potential events. This is the fun bit! Get a piece of paper and use all means of finding races (mainly Google) and WRITE THEM ALL DOWN. Use points 1 and 2 to help or hinder your selection.

4. Read a bit about each one and then manage to find even more races that you hadn’t spotted. Add them to the long list in really small writing at the very bottom. Decide that parkrun “doesn’t really count” so you don’t need to properly plan it.

5. Do a second hash of your priorities. Age group qualifiers? PB races? Terrain? Distance from home? Just FUN? What do you want to get out of a race this year? No, what do you actually want, make a decision woman.

6. Then probably remember that you have to have a social life and do things like attend weddings, go to work and see your family so I would use this to cross out anything you definitely definitely can’t do or make your excuses to people now. (Your long list now should be suitably long with maybe couple of items crossed off) Be slightly mysterious to anyone who is trying to make plans with you for later in the year until you’ve worked this out.

7. Then realise you can’t enter 3 events on the same day. Get rid of a few more. But whilst doing this, find a few more events you weren’t aware of and add them back in as replacements. Also then decide this is the year you really want to try and time trial your way through a 3,000m but also want to do a 100m race because you miss school athletics but genuinely don’t know if you are any good at sprinting any more. Then worry that you will look a bit ridiculous and would like some moral support. Phone a friend and bribe them to enter.

Race planning goals

8. Now match your medium-long list to your priorities and realise that they’ve probably changed again. Decide on which events you actually want to do and think about entering them (basically make a “definite, maybe and definitely not” or “A race-B race-C race” type list that won’t kill you from over-training or over-racing)

9. Work out that 7 of your events have already closed for entries so you can’t do those. Feel sad because it is one of your favourite races. Switch in some other events from the maybe list. Tip – find out when each of the entries close and if they are likely to sell out so that you can stagger race costs and not have to justify it all in one go to anyone who may not understand.

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10. Actually enter the events and write them in your diary. Feel smug.

11. And a bonus #11 – then try and write/find a training plan that remotely can suit multiple events without completely killing you!

How do you plan your diary? Am I the only one who gets over-enthusiastic?

Building dat booty: Curvebuilding with Corpao Fitness

his post is for gym bunnies and non-gym bunnies alike and it’s about a very serious subject guys. A very serious subject indeed. So, buckle up because we are about to talk about the booty. The glutes. Dat ass. The wagon. The rump. The derriere. The junk in the trunk, yo. You catch my drift.

One of the nice side effects of being one of those people that plays a bit of sport and does the odd (or indeed more frequent) bit of training, is that your physique starts to shape up. Sure, we’re not all instagrammable fitness models (in fact the last thing I posted on our joint Insta account was a picture of my toe after my toenail fell off… true story: I had to shave my toe before I took the photo lest it was deemed just TOO gross by Katie, or indeed any of our lovely followers. But I digress.), but there is no harm at all in being bloody proud of the body you have worked hard for or when you achieve a particular goal you’ve set for yourself.

One of the things I’m working on at the moment, with the help of my long-suffering and eternally patient boyfriend, is squats – I have another post in the pipeline to talk about this some more – but one of the things I have read a lot about in relation to this recently is that squats alone does not a cracking booty make. Rather, if your goal is to work on the shape and lift of your butt, you need to complement those squats with other targeted exercises.

Continue reading