Rebecca on Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks PE Class

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.

April Challenge Keeva! Week1

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!

April challenge!

On top of our day to day routines, we thought we’d take advantage of our new found ‘spare time’ and challenge eachother. We wanted this to be something that takes a bit of effort over time to achieve. So over the month of April we’re going to post a weekly blog to tell you a little about our progress …maybe even throw in a pic or video along the way!

Challenge Ruby!
In the course of the many athletic advantures Ruby & I get up to I finally discovered Ruby’s weak spots! She’s spent alot of time encouraging me with my running (…ie she runs ahead with the stick & I try to catch the carrot!), so I thought I’d return the favour and help her achieve a new goal (I’m nice like that!!).

After some netgotiations (Ruby said 10, I said 20…), I have challenged Ruby to be able to do 15 full body press ups in a row. Some may say ‘easy!’, but its a big switch from lower body workouts to upper body! So to help her out I will find some very useful tutorials for her to follow each week. To kick it off, heres the first tutorial to work on correct form.

Challenge Keeva!
Trying to find a challenge for Keeva is like trying to Challenge Anneka. Anything I could think of, I know she would easily complete within the designated time. Due to this, and the fact Keeva is far more motivated than I am to challenge herself, Keeva picked her own challenge for April. Although now I know she has picked push ups for me, I might be setting a 5 km goal time of 25 mins for the May challenge!

Pretty much the only thing Keeva struggled with in pole class was a press forearmstand (somewhere between a head and hand -stand! & no kicking into it allowed). So we shall see how she gets on without the pole for stability…

The idea behind this challenge is to be able to lift your legs in a controlled pike or straddle to full armstand & then lower down again. (Clearly Keeva’s challenges are on a different level to mine!) Again we will be drawing on the wisdom of Youtube for guidance. So the idea is to be able to do this eventually…

but maybe starting with a bit of the basics!…

The morning routine…

This is what happens when you try to exercise in my house, the hubby secretly films it while cooking his sausage breakfast & sends it to the family WhatsApp group!…

The hubbys contribution!

I guess there will be a few more moments like this to come! …he started it 😉

This week Tom from TK Total Fitness has been live streaming our normal workout sessions on Facebook to keep us all motivated. A little strange at first to be solo in my living room with Tom on the big screen, but actually the live broadcasts work pretty well. We all say hi at the start of the session so he knows whos joining in and even without being able to see you Tom seems to know the moment you’re waning and calls out your name in encouragement …don’t know why, but it helps!

The workout…

30 sec burpees / 30 sec rest (…or challenging number of burpees if you can’t manage 30 sec or want to go over it!)
Repeat x 6! …nice warm up lol

40 sec squat jumps / 20 sec rest
40 sec push ups / 20 sec rest
Repeat x 4

45 sec high knees / 15 sec rest
45 sec bent over reverse flies / 15 sec rest
Repeat x 4

50 sec split squats (weaker side) / 10 sec rest
50 sec split squats (other side) / 10 sec rest
Repeat x 4

And the bit we all love to hate…
– The Finisher –
40 sec shuffles / 20 sec rest (one foot forward, othe back & jump to switch legs ….then keep on jumping!)
40 sec lateral shuffles / 20 sec rest (step to side x2 & reach inside hand down to touch outside foot, repeat other direction) – or if you have a band, stick it round your knees & walk like a crab!
Repeat x 4!

So this is a little different from our usual workout as normally there would be weights & bands etc to use. To my surprise I still REALLY felt the body weight only workout the next day! To mix it up a little, Toms also going to start some group challenges! He’s running a free 1 week challenge if you want to give it a go, just join the facebook group here, starts Monday 6th April!

For those that like their gadgets, Tom also introduced MyZone to the classes a few months back which I’m finding even more useful now. Its essentially a heart rate monitor connected to an app which gives real time feed back during training sessions. You get MEPs (MyZone Effort Points) according to your exercise effort which accumulate over the course of a month, with the aim of reaching a minimum of the WHOs recommended physical activity level. The app also lets you connect with other MyZone users …I’ve fed back my improvement suggestions on that part of their app!

So for smart watch users you’ll have a good idea of how this works. Personalised heart rate zones are set up, initially based on age but then adapts to your heart rate data the more you use it …so the fitter you get the more you have to work essentially!! The added bonus here is the visual (especially when I’m too shattered to think!). Its really simple, the big grey box in the app picture below changes colour to give you a real time visual of the HR zone you’re in. I’m not overly competitive so if I’m feeling tired I will happily dial it down a notch, but when I’m on the verge of getting into another zone, well hello!

MyZone HR monitor
MyZone phone app – Grey box changes colour with zones & can choose to display HR, %effort, calories or MEPs as the main central number
My personalised HR zones after a few months of using it
One of this weeks workouts …#tryharder!

Lessons learnt from first week home workouts…
1 ) smell of sausages cooking does not go with exercising!
2) no spectators allowed! join in or get out 🙂

Living Room Circuits

It is not a secret I don’t really like exercise apart from running. However, it has become a necessity to do something else due to the fact I have eaten all the biscuits in the flat (and the ice cream and an entire carrot cake).

Today I set up living room circuits. I don’t have much space living in a flat, but this is really easy with minimal space and equipment. All you need is a pen*, some paper*, music and enthusiasm. A timer also helps.  

Warning: If you are already at the stage where you would happily go to prison for murder just to get some peace and quiet, I strongly suggest you lock your other half in the bathroom/garage/cupboard under the stairs whilst doing this workout. This will avoid “helpful” comments on your squat technique.

This was actually great fun.  I cheated and picked exercises that I know I like (no burpees thank you). Music wise, I went for Lady Gaga’s back catalogue. I set the timer to go off every 60 seconds and had a 2-minute rest break after completing each circuit. I only managed three and a half circuits, but it is better than eating another carrot cake!

Here are the “stations” I used:

Squats

Lunges

Plank

Tricep dips

Push ups (the knee version obviously) 

*for those of you wondering why I need pen and paper it’s to make signs. Otherwise I am guaranteed to forget which exercise I am meant to be doing.

(Attempt at) Weighted Belt Workout*

This is a weight belt. Looks more like a SWAT vest to me. It’s 15kg. If you think that’s “not that heavy” have you tried wearing one?

As instructed, I put it on and lay on the ground. My boyfriend then said “now do a Turkish Get Up.” As if that would be something I might know how to do.

Here is the YouTube video I watched whilst laying on the floor:

Firstly, there are far too many stages to this. I couldn’t even follow this without a weighted vest on. With the vest on, it did not go well either.  After several minutes of rolling around on the floor it became evident I was unable to stand up with the vest on.

I had to be helped off the floor like a geriatric member of SWAT. Do not try this if you are home alone. Or have unsympathetic house mates.

There was a lot of laughter from my boyfriend. I have decided I will not be using the weighted vest again.

*so this was more of a failure to exercise than actual exercise. My abbs did hurt afterwards but it was from laughter, not managing to do the Get Up. I think it still counts.

Its been a long week…

I’m sure everyone’s been a bit topsy turvy over the last week or so. We started trialling working from home a week ago – just had to check what day it was, that’s how its going! 🙂

I have a lot of new found respect for people that work from home. I fell out of routine pretty much immediately. Like, why bother getting up at 6 am to exercise, no traffic, no getting properly dressed (might put a jumper over my PJs for the morning meeting!). I can roll out of bed later and do something ….which of course didn’t happen! And when you don’t have to get up super early, well then, 1 more episode of whatever crap you’re binge watching on Netflix it is! (*other providers do exist, & I have indulged …including Disney+ just in case!!)

Also, snacks! I am essentially working in the kitchen, every time I stand up I end up looking in the fridge or cupboard. My only saving grace is its lent, and if I wasn’t full of catholic guilt before, by God we’re getting it with this one! …or maybe its divine intervention preventing a chocolate crisis to rival the loo roll!

So by last Wednesday I was definitely on way to becoming a couch potato! It was time to restore order with vengeance! In lieu of some missed classes earlier in the week & under varying social distancing requirements as the week progressed, I got my butt off the chair & started doing something! Here’s my round up!

After trying out a class for RedJanuary, Ruby & I decided to do a full course of Pole fit …& fit I am! Mirfit does thheee best & toughest warm up I think I’ve ever done, but I love the challenge! My legs may be a bit black & blue at times but the 6 pack is coming on nicely! and I just love watching the ladies that have been doing it for a while, the muscle control they have is spectacular! Unfortunately that will be the last time in a class for a bit, so instead I will be finding non-pole challenges to help me improve my moves!

The class got me started. Next up, a couple of social distancing runs …I have more problem trying to keep up than keeping 2 m between us! #RubygetsmePBs!

…a little social distancing cycle

…and then it was Monday again and time for a few recovery miles / snacking from home non eating break!

So, week one down and conquered, bring on the next!

YouTube Barre

Ruby’s Social distancing workout number 1

What is Barre? Good question. I’ve just done the video and I’m still no clearer. My best description is; cardio, followed by intense Pilates, with a few Ballet poses thrown in. Obviously I didn’t check what it was before diving straight into the video. The Ballet classes I took aged five were no help at all.

It wasn’t quite as painful as the Babyshark Abb Workout but it was right up there with it. I was struggling in under 5 minuets. If I had the choice to do it again, or run 10 miles I know which would chose . Hint .. it’s the ten mile run.

If you do plan to torture your legs with this video here are some top tips:

  • Move all breakables out of the way.
  • Do not leave drinks near by coffee tables.
  • Do not wear your unicorn slippers, you will be too hot.
  • Beware of low hanging light fixtures.
  • Put the wine in the fridge BEFORE you do this video.

Cambridge half marathon 2020

We might have mentioned it in January, today we did it! Cambridge half 2020 ✅

January was a busy month with lots of different activities, February was about getting the miles in (post skiing!) before the half. It was tough going this year, we both weren’t feeling on form in the lead up, but it was worth the effort!

This year there was a change of route which meant the first 5 and last 3 miles had us running in through the stunning grounds of Cambridge city centre & colleges. As if the scenery wasn’t enough, the streets were lined with fabulous people out to cheer everyone on. A loop in the middle through Grantchester where supporters lined the streets with oranges & jelly babies completed the 13.1miles!

For anyone who wants an honest account of what running a half can feel like this is Ruby’s post half report:

Night before half marathon: Don’t want to run. I don’t like running. Why have I signed up for this?
Morning of the half in the toilet queue (for about 4th paranoid trip that morning): I still don’t like running. But I’m here now so might as well drag myself round.
Start line: Yay all my friends are here, and I love running! What a beautiful day to go for a run!
Miles 1-5: Feeling good. How exciting with all the people cheering! What a great atmosphere.
Mile 5 ish: Wow look at all those real athletes running back on their final stage. I wish I was nearly finished too….  
Mile 6: I’ve set out too fast; I will just see how long I can keep it up. (Not very long as it turns out).
Miles 7: better slow down so I don’t have to crawl the final mile. I’m still in control, I’m adjusting pace, this is fine. It’s just a normal run. Totally fine. Can still do this in a reasonable time.  
Mile 8: I’m too hot.
Mile 9: I’m too hot and I’m thirsty.
Mile 10: Do I need a wee? Maybe ….
Mile 10 and a bit: I need to sit down. Now. This was a terrible idea.
Mile 11: I hate running. I hate everyone that has already finished. Even people cheering are starting to annoy me.  Stop telling me its “only” 2 miles left.
Mile 11 and a bit: Yum, Jelly babies. Wait…  How do I eat this and run without chocking?!  Those children are trying to sabotage my race! What if I choke and die? How far am I from an ambulance? How far is the finish?
Mile 12: Surely my watch is wrong. I must have done 15 miles by now.
Mile 12 and a bit: The finish is in sight! Final sprint?! Nope… ok it’s going to have to be a steady jog.
Mile 13: FINISHED. WHERE IS MY MEDAL?

I second what Ruby said, probably with a few more Whys?? thrown in! I’ve got to thank all the people along the route for their entertaining distractions! Including the lady hanging out her car window cheering & beeping the horn in great humour while she was stuck waiting for us to pass. The kids with the ‘hit here to power up’ posters around mile 6/7, all power boosts were graciously accepted! The guy playing drums on the lamppost, every distraction helps! And the owner of the poster ‘hands up if you peed your pants just a little’, at which stage anything that could bring on a giggle was appreciated! 🤣 And of course all the fabulous volunteers along the route!

Post half marathon we both went through the same process, as many do!…
Immediately after: that felt horrible, hated it
Few minutes later (endorphins time!): wow so glad I did it, everyones done so well! + 5 mins spent giving kudos to fellow runners on strava!
Half hour of so later: Food!!!
Back home after: email arrives in inbox with early registration for next next – sure why not!!

It takes so much effort to organise a half marathon. This year the organisers & volunteers did an amazing job, what a fab setup! Even brought the sun out ….with the occasional gust of wind!! Offical Cambridge half marathon 2020 video footage

Conquering a fear of dance based exercise

Ruby’s day 35? of REDJan

As I ran out of time to do Pumpfit in January I decided I should still give it a go. I watched Facebook videos first and almost scared myself out of going. The class didn’t look unmanageable, but the ability required to move to the beat put me off. 

As it happens I managed to keep up. Ok, mostly keep up. There were a few instances where I went left instead of right, and my arms went up instead of down, but mostly I think I got the hang of it. I went with a friend so if I did go the wrong way I knew the person who I was going to crash into (thanks Vanessa for coming!). 

The best bit about the class was it was FUN. I smiled the whole way through, even the hard bits (plank, glute bridges, abbs). As Pumpfit is danced based I would recommend it to any looking to improve their cardio fitness levels. 

Although I’m not keen on dance based exercise, due to a fear of doing it wrong, I would definitely go again . I still don’t think I’m suddenly going to take up Zumba but I will admit I enjoyed Pumpfit.

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