I would love to say that I have been busy learning how to speak Japanese and bake bread sticks during lock down but in reality have been drinking too much and enjoying rubbish on Netflix (Tiger King and Selling Sunset are highlights of my binge watching). I salute anyone that has managed to be remotely productive.
So when Strive outdoor bootcamp posted about a free Facebook live Saturday morning class I thought I should probably do it.
I sprung out of bed an hour early so I could get in a morning protein shake and do a few sun salutations before the class, remembering to have a moment for mindfulness and focus on my objectives for the day….
Just kidding. I rolled out of bed at approximately 8.25am and shovelled down half a banana before deciding that wasn’t a good idea, ready for the 8.30am start.
Apart from the fact my flat is the same temperature as a sauna I really enjoyed the class. Thankfully no one can see you in virtual classes so if you look like you’ve showered with clothes on no one will ever know.
I wasn’t sure how a Facebook live event would work but doing the class in real time and having Dani able to read the comments and answer questions made it feel like you weren’t the only one participating.
The class was 3 rounds of different exercises. The rounds consisted of 3 exercises for 60 seconds with short brakes followed by 45 seconds of each exercise with no brake. It lasted 30 minutes which was enough for me at 8.30am. Dani provides modifications and has a lovely soothing voice that keeps you going when you are ready to give up. Also she wears nice leggings.
I would recommend this class as a genuinely accessible class for all fitness levels.
* Ok so this is not completely unbiased… I know Dani (founder of Strive outdoor boot camp) through LRG. For those of you who don’t know who she is, Dani is the queen of running. She is the founder, inspirational leader, and driving force behind the best running club in the world. A running club that I have no doubt, will one day achieve world domination – Lets Run Girls. (We are not a cult I promise)
Like I said, not completely unbiased.
However, this will be a honest account of how this goes over the month of May. The good bits and the struggles. I will not fib or gloss over anything, as my nose doesn’t need to get any bigger.
Now on to the review…
It was well documented during Red January that I have no core strength. I have recently been working on this by attempting leg raises on a pull up bar. This is sort of working. On the days I remember to do it. So in order to speed up the process of getting rock hard abs, I signed up for the Strive core challenge. Despite already having incredible core strength (did you see her T shirt challenge?!?), Keeva has also signed up. So, completing this everyday will be our May challenge.
Upon receiving my daily instruction email from Strive, I immediately noticed I had no idea what a fire hydrant was. However the exercises are helpfully demonstrated on YouTube so I was able to watch and understand how to correctly do the workout. Alas the fire hydrant did not involve any attractive firemen.
Thankfully unlike, other YouTube exercise videos, the modifications Dani provides are doable. Now, I can’t say that I looked quite as calm as Dani whilst doing the workout, there was a touch more swearing, but I made it through three repeats. There was only one instance of toppling backwards during the side planks.
I am both excited and dreading the rest of the months challenges.
Today’s workout was : 10 side planks, 20 bicycle abs, 10 Fire hydrants x 3. Here is the YouTube guidance:
Think you’ve mastered zoom meetings since lock down? Have you finally nailed the art of “smart causal” (shirt on top, pyjamas on the bottom)? Have you started to remember to mute your mic before shouting at the other half during a meeting? Have you finally realized that if you keep the video off no one no will know if you are making notes or making a sandwich?
Well my friends, step it up a level and try Zoom intervals. Yes, Zoom intervals.
At the start of April, I signed up for a Strava plan to improve speed and have happily ignored the emailed workouts every day since. So I thought being shouted at via video link might encourage me to actually complete an interval session.
The zoom session was provided by coaches from C&C running club. The format was as follows: warm up, warm up jog (10mins), 3 x 3 min reps, 3 x 2 min reps and 3 x 1 min reps with speed intensity gradually increasing and rest time decreasing. There was also a cool down jog and stretching. The coaches gave count downs towards the end of each rep, which stopped me clock watching, and provided helpful tips throughout on running form and how each rep should feel effort wise.
I must confess I know people who go to C&C and I have never braved it due to the fact the phrase “track session” still brings me out in a cold sweat . However, I can confirm Richard and Sarah are both lovely and not at all like my upper school PE teachers.
As zoom sessions go, this was one of the more intense sessions I have had this week. It was hard work physically, but it was certainly more fun than a 224 slide PowerPoint presentation (to be fair most things are). Also, unlike other zoom meetings, there was no danger of me accidentally revealing that I’ve got my Christmas pyjama bottoms on.
Its not always easy to self motivate. We’ve all been there, when its taken an exercise buddy to give us a swift boot out the door or we’ve done the pushing. A group of us who often run together and have spent may hours motivating each other during half marathon training were discussing our lack of solo run motivation in a group chat. And then came the genius idea that if we’re reliant on another person running again, it will motivate us. And how better than a relay!
In the current climate a traditional relay wasn’t really feasible, so we adapted it. Instead of a baton we tied ribbons at the exchange point, taking a picture to say you’d left it and a selfie to say you’d found it. We arranged routes between pairs that meant we covered short or long runs as needed.
Stage 1 Our friend Clare runs a ridiculous number of miles in a week. I (Keeva) on the other hand have been really struggling with the idea of doing a long run on my own. So for my part of the relay I needed something that would cover miles. Clare and I discussed it and to make sure we could both covered a good distance she decided Coton nature reserve would be the first baton (ribbon) passing (tying!) site. Clare kicked off the relay on Easter Sunday looping from north Cambridge on one of her shorter (11 mile!) weekend runs. From south Cambridge, it was around 4.5 miles for me to get to Coton so no matter what I was looking at a 9 mile round trip. It turned out to be the most gorgeous sunny morning. Running through an empty Cambridge and out into the country side was just fantastic, 9 miles was a (hot!) breeze and the boost I needed! Bonus being I could then go home & smuggly feast on the easter egg that had been taunting me for the last 40 days!
Stage 2 Addenbrooke’s road bridge, the home of the hill sprint! This had to be the spot where I dropped off Rubys baton as its the place she loves to torture me! The day after my long run, the relay gave me motivation for another, although a shorter recovery one this time.
Stage 3 I(Ruby) am so happy that we cooked up this plan as my motivation to run had tanked. After a particularly hard run, (I didn’t even go that far or fast) where I felt like I couldn’t breath, I had resigned myself to the fact I was going to be an overweight couch potato by the end of social isolation. I even Skyped a friend to tell her this. She then rationally pointed out one bad run doesn’t equal failure and I should stop drinking so much wine the night before running.
Once I had the ribbon my attitude completely changed. I had to take it far enough away that Hannah would have to search for it. I don’t know why but the simple fact I had this to do motivated me to run a fairly fast 10 km and it felt fantastic. (Celebrated with ice cream. Don’t want to completely give up on being a couch potatoe)
I chose a lovely spot for the ribbon, past the Stapleford Granary towards Babraham.
Stage 4 Always dangerous leaving the two people with the least sense of direction to pass the “baton” to each other. Luckily Hannah found the ribbon and dropped it off near the George Inn in Babraham, getting in a fantastic 8 mile ‘lunch’ run!
Stage 5 Leigh went for what she refers to as a run and the rest of us refer to as a super speedy sprint (she is a phenomenal machine!) to the George Inn relay point. Looping back to Abington, she placed the final ribbon in a tree across from the Three Tuns.
Need a bit of motivation? 3 of the ribbons are still in place, head out for some runs & find out which ones …feel free to take a picture at the spot & post it in the blog! And why not set your own ribbons to give others some motivation to run!
Having become a connoisseur of YouTube videos since social isolation I would like to take the opportunity to give some feedback.
Some of your modifications are, in fact, still incredibly hard. The fact the person in the video thinks they are easy is not a reflection of how the rest of us feel. Furthermore, shouting “you got this” does not in fact mean we have got it in anyway.
Please use language we can understand. I don’t know now, nor will I never know how to “magnetize my hips”.
Not all of us have access to a dance studio. Please be aware we must dodge sofas, tables, pets and other humans, when you are planning the workouts.
Whilst I applaud anyone who can be bothered to wear make up and blow dry their hair to exercise, not all humans who exercise look like the ones in your videos. Fit healthy people come in all shapes and sizes, and are often wearing pyjamas to workout at home. It would be great to see this reflected in your content going forward.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the above points. If you need anyone to be your token pyjama person I have recently become available pretty much all the time.
Imagine going to a Zumba class but no one teaches you the moves. If you think wow, that sounds like fun, then read on..
This workout is essentially four gorgeous women who can dance really well shouting helpful things such as “ shake your hips like your at carnival”. Having never been to Rio carnival I can only imagine how wrong I was getting this.
However, the workout does offer helpful modifications that appear at the bottom of the screen if you can’t do some of the moves. My favourite example of one of these was “don’t do the splits”.
If you plan on doing this workout, remove all mirrors (so you can’t see yourself) and shut the curtains (so the neighbours can’t see you). Also, if you have time, maybe learn to Latin dance first.
I’m not sure why I chose to do this. It seemed like a fun idea at the time. There are just no words to describe how terribly this went. There is a video though…
Safe to say Strictly won’t be calling anytime soon. Here is the actual work out …
Keeva set my challenge as 15 press ups. I thought this was doomed to fail, however, I can now almost do 15 press ups.
Now, I’m not saying I have mastered press ups, or the 12 I can do are in anyway impressive. I’m still now where near the floor and my arms feel as though there is a small earthquake happening… but I am making progress.
The great thing is If anyone asks me what I’ve been up to in social isolation I will now be able to add “doing press ups” to the list along with watching Netflix, drinking wine and eating.
I don’t want to brag but I can actually watch Netflix, do press ups and drink wine all at the same time. And people say I can’t multitask.
Now I am unable to run with my normal running buddies, I have recruited my very reluctant boyfriend to run with me. This has produced some mixed results. It has been made very clear to me, on all three 5km’s we have done, that he does not like running.
I’ve tried chitchat, and just randomly pointing at things to distract him. For example, “oh look you can see Trumpington” and “isn’t that a lovely tree”. I have also tried deeper philosophical questions about life and the universe. Nothing works.
We have now reached a compromise; he will continue to run with me on the condition he can take headphones.
Not sure if I’m offended, he doesn’t want to talk to me or relieved I don’t have to listen to the monologue on how terrible running is.
Here are some photos we took on our most recent 5km (just to be clear we stopped purely for the photos, not because he couldn’t handle the pace….)
Given all the recent hype around Joe Wick’s PE workouts, I thought I’d give one a try. After all, they’re for kids, so they should be easy right??
Turns out, wrong. It was actually surprisingly tough. Half an hour later and I actually felt like I’d had a really good workout – certainly comparable to any workout not designed for children. Though I have to admit I was very glad there was no-one around to watch me prancing round my living room pretending to be a bunny, or jumping to reach for shooting stars! (Especially as I did it with some enthusiasm – I claim it was to make the most out of the workout, but actually it was surprisingly fun to pretend to be a kid again)
Here is link from todays class …
After the half an hour was up, I was ready to call it a day when I noticed in the bar of ‘suggested videos’ on YouTube there were some more Joe Wicks workouts. Which included one that was only fifteen minutes long, and seemed to have been shot in the Californian sunshine, topless. Solely in the interests of providing the highest quality feedback on his online workouts (obviously), I decided that a sample size of one wasn’t good enough, and so I should probably try this one too. Just for information purposes here is Joe Wicks topless…
I can confirm that one was just as tough as the one for kids, but included fewer bunny ears and more tanned abs. So I guess the choice is yours on what you’d prefer.
Overall conclusion: adding bunny ears to squat jumps should be mandatory in all gym classes.
If you haven’t already read it, see our April challenge post where we set each other a task for the month!
Challenge Keeva! Press forearmstand So this may seem like a bit of a random challenge, but headstands are one of those things that have haunted me since I was an ‘aspiring’ child gymnast, obviously the reason I never quite made the Olympics 😉 I could always do headstands, even headsprings over a vault, but try a handstand & I fell over. So what better to challenge yourself to 30+ years later?!!
From a headstand I can do this challenge with little bother, lifting and lowering my legs with decent control and no kicking. But for some reason as soon as I go to arms or hands my brain stops talking to the rest of my body and the most I can do is kiss my knees – well blow them a kiss anyway! So I decided I had to start with the basics this week, getting stronger in my upper body & holding a forearm and handstand, preferably not just against a wall. And I’m so excited that last night I actually managed to properly hold a handstand!! I haven’t mastered any of this yet but being able to hold these freestanding for even just a few seconds is a big achievement for me, has only taken 30 odd years to get there, but hey, if I could talk to 8 year old me now!
The technical bit I did a bit of research (ie. youtube tutorials!) and selected out some of the main things I needed to work on.
Form Arms shoulder width, pushing down into arms & pushing shoulders away (so not hunched up). Engage the core (still struggling while upside down to get my brain to tell my core anything!) Clench the butt, thighs etc & point the toes! Breathe!
Strength ‘Repetition, repetition, repetition’ or ‘practice makes perfect’ …pick your mantra, its the only way to go! Ten mins per day for 7 days, doing a mix of armstands & headstands (wrists can get sore with too many handstands!) against a wall holding the form. Gradually getting a little adventurous, lifting one leg off the wall, then two, then generally falling over most days! Definitely as the days went on I could go a little longer with each progression.
Working on the push side of things (as my goal is not to have to kick into position) I found a horribly hard workout and stole an exercise from it. Basically sitting on the floor, legs out straight, lifting legs & pulsing for as long as can keep going. Rest & repeat. Hopefully this pays off in coming weeks!
#handstandshirtchallenge This challenge actually had perfect timing with another challenge going round, so Ruby being so nice forwarded it to me too…. well why not!