15 things they should tell you on your first Group Ex training course:

15 things they should tell you on your first Group Ex training course:

  1. Someone will always think the music is too loud. The person next to them will probably think it’s too quiet.
  2. Regulars will have their spot – everyone who does classes has a spot – and if they change spot one day it will probably throw you off kilter so much so you forget how to teach.
  3. Your hair washing standards will drop dramatically. Before teaching “I wash my hair every time I exercise.” Now, “I washed my hair 15 classes ago and it is now held together by dry shampoo – and I’ll still get another 2 classes out of it yet .”
  4. You will never have an empty washing basket. Ever again. Never. It’s not possible
  5. Every song you ever hear from here on in, you will either have choreography in your head you want to do to it, or you will try to fit your own choreography to it.
  6. The air conditioning will nearly always be broken- get used to it.
  7. If the air con is working the mic will probably not work.
  8. If the mic is working you probably won’t have enough weight plates… or clips… or steps.
  9. Gyms don’t like it if your classes are under subscribed. But they also get annoyed if you let too many people in!
  10. You will now need to carry every size battery and type of aux lead known to man with you at all times and will be that weird person that when someone say I don’t suppose anyone has a AAA battery you can produce 20 from the bottom of your handbag – even though your actually in the pub at the time.
  11. Music systems are confusing.
  12. You will never again be able to provide directions as left and right become meaningless due to the fact you’re not quite sure if you are referring to instructor left of real life left anymore in any given situation.
  13. The person who teaches the class before you can make or break your spirit – don’t be the person who runs over by 20 minutes every week and leaves a pool of sweat on the instructor spot for the next instructor to find… or the one that adjusts every knob on the stereo and hides the mic!
  14. You will end up being in 100 different local cover groups and everytime someone posts you will see the same request 89 times across these various groups.
  15. And you probably won’t be able to cover – mainly because the person has forgotten to mention where the cover is need… or at what time.

Shopping Locally

I love fruit.  I don’t think there is a single type of fruit I don’t enjoy and it’s one of those foods that makes me feel better when I eat it (I know some fruits can be naturally quite high in sugar but, right or wrong, I work on the basis that unprocessed foods are probably ok for you in moderation).

I try to buy a variety of different types of fruit each week and then have at least two different types each day- so I’m getting variety and a range of different nutrients and tend to have it as a mid morning snack.

This can be expensive!

This blog isn’t about the scandal that is fast / processed food being cheaper than the stuff that’s naturally good for you, or a lecture about how, if you value your health, paying more for food is an investment.

It’s about local markets.

I’m probaby a bit late to the game with this one- you may already buy your fruit from local market stalls.  I live in Manchester City Centre (in the UK) and don’t drive and there aren’t lots of lcoal markets so I’ve always relied on supermarket fruit- which tends to have a short shelf life and if you want a nice variety is not cheap.

I recently discovered the fruit and veg stall in Picadully Gardens on a Staurday (I think there is also a fruit stall in the indoors Arndale Market too aong with a fish monger and butchers- all of which I’ve yet to try but I will).  I’ve been going weekly for a fews now and last Staurday I got a punnet of strawberries, punnet of blueberries, punnet of blackberries, box of grapes and tub of apricots for a fiver.  That’s good value- plus it doesn’t go off really quickly so I can make it last the whole week and the Blackbrries were HUGE and really juicy.

It’s actually also really nice to get served by the same people every week rather than using the self scanner at Asda!

I need to shop locally more often and fully intend to test the value for money of the other market stalls inside the Arndale over the coming weeks.  If you don’t already, I can highly recommend finding your local market and giving them a go, because eating well can be expensive – so if helping out local business also helps your own wallet it’s a win all round.

On another fruit related note –  it’s been bought to my attention that I may eat Kiwis strangely. 

I eat them with the skin on!

Now I’ve been led to believe this provides more fibre and vitamin C than eating the flesh alone but apparently it creeps some people out!

I can’t be the only person to do this?    

You Control You

I feel like my posts this week have been quite deep so I thought I may as well keep to the theme (don’t worry next week I’ll write about falling falt on my face doing box jumps or something).

I feel like I’ve changed and progressed a lot in the last twelve months and most of that has come from a change in mindset.  I’ve written about this previously in various forms but essentially I’ve just started doing little things, considering certain questions I hadn’t thought about before which has led to me taking more control of my outlook and emotions.

  • What are my aims- for this week, month, year, five years, 10 years?
  • Why do I want to do these things?
  • What is my purpose for doing what I do? What purpose will doing these things serve and will it get me closer to my aims?
  • What do I need to focus on right now to get to where I want to be?
  • How can I use my goals to motivate me to do things right now?

By starting to think about these things and structuring my life around these questions I feel like I’ve started to gain more control.  Even if things are not perf6ect right now there is a purpose for what I am currently doing which fosters a more positive outlook that before.

There are lots of things that happen in life I can’t control of course but I can control me and my reaction to those things and turn those reactions back to focusing on my why and purpose.  This is so much easier said than done and I often have blips where it doesn’t quite happen immediately but building mental fortitude takes time.

Have a read of this email which pretty neatly sums up where you can start with thinking about your why:

Why?: https://mailchi.mp/08cb9784151a/free-workout-316403

Fat Shaming – a Real Life Story

A couple weeks ago I was walking down the street at lunch time (on my way to buy an icecream… errrr… I mean an apple …) and a man called me fatty.  Literally. A stranger.  Just called me fat.

Now I’m not skinny but I’m not fat by any means. I’m quite strong and reasonably defined – but not overweight.

I am also apparently quite thin skinned because this throw away comment really ate away at me all day and knocked my confidence a lot.

I’d not had the best week food wise (and was on my way to get icecream) so it fed into all my negative perceptions of myself, because I already felt a little bit out of sorts.

I mulled it over several times in my head and with people before I felt better about it.  I wanted to write about it at the time but to be honest it actually knocked my confidence too much to commit it to paper.

A few weeks later and with some perspective, I want to make two observations about this comment.

First, for your own mental wellbeing learning when not to give a shit matters.  I lost so much of my day being upset about the opinion of someone I’ve never met.  More to the point it wasn’t even an accurate comment because I’m not fat – would I have been so upset if he’d have said today is Tuesday (when it was in fact Thursday), an equally inaccurate comment? Of course not.   Even more importantly – if I was fat his opinion on the subject still wouldn’t matter.

I’m healthy and fit – what anyone else thinks of my choices surrounding my body or lifestyle are irrelevant as long as I am happy with what I’m doing.

Second, setting aside point 1, we should all be careful with our words.  I’m almost positive that man thought nothing more of that throw away line.  I mean yes, it was unnecessary and mean, but he probably never gave it a second thought.  Yet it affected me for hours- knocked my confidence, bought up insecurities.  If he had thought about that would he have still said it? Perhaps… but I think he was probably just a dick to be honest.

What we say without thinking and see as insignificant may mean more to and affect the person we are talking to in a much bigger way.  That doesn’t mean we should never speak our mind- sometimes people get too easily offended- and we can’t be held responsible for how others interpret our words and their meaning.  But.  If we know something could be taken negatively (calling someone fat for instance- a pretty sure bet) and there isn’t an actual need to say it – why do it?  Even if you think it’s not a big deal- it could be to the person you are talking to.  It’s just spiteful.  Be a nice person not a prat.

So the next time someone decides to shout an insult at me in the street (I’m sure it will happen some people are just idiots) I shall ignore them and be happier for it knowing I’m more in control of my own feelings that I was just a few weeks ago.

So really the man did me a favour.

Body Pump Aim 1 Take Out: the content is more interesting than the title I promise

This weekend I re-did my Body Pump Aim 1.

If you aren’t a Les Mills instructor – Aim 1 is effectively a one day upskill where we look to improve our own technique and our coaching. We also teach a track twice during the day and get feedback.

Normally one of the UK trainer team takes the course and there are around 5-15 people in attendance. This one was a bit different because the Creative Director for the programme, Kylie Gates, had travelled over from New Zealand to lead the day along with several UK trainers and there was over 100 people in attendance who has travelled to Woking (Surrey apparently!) from all over the country.

There are so many things from the day I could write about so I may revisit the day in more depth again in future blogs when I’ve had more time to process the information, but I wanted to touch briefly on a few of the things I took from the day.

Body Pumper or not these things apply to everyday life.

Own your Strengths

We tend to be very quick to look to our faults. When we review our performance in most things in life we look to what we could have done better or where we need improvement. That self awareness is great for self improvement but we also need to look at what we do well, the skills where we own it, our strengths; because when we work towards these strengths we can get the best results possible.

This isn’t being vain and thinking we are better than others or have no faults, just being aware of what we do contribute and do well. I have recently been working with someone who’s strength are very different to mine – I would say we are both aware of each others strengths and we work accordingly – as a result we get more done and we get it done well.

Know you purpose

Why do you do whatever you do? What do you want to get out of it? What do you contribute to the world?

When you know this it can shape how you approach your work and your interactions with people. Until recently I didn’t really know – I kind of just bobbed along. Now I have a clear vision of what I would like to do ultimately and why I want to do it.

Placing that at the centre of how you interact with others can both enhance your relationships, create meaningful connections with people and make it easier to start working towards your goals.

Be present

We generally aren’t great at hearing. There is a difference between listening to someone and hearing what they are saying, making an effort to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from.

One of my pet hates is when someone asks you a question then ignores the answer. Either interact with my response or don’t ask to start with – because asking me a question but not listening to the answer makes me feel irrelevant to you. Whether it is a personal or professional relationship, nobody likes to feel irrelevant.

Yet we all do it to varying degrees – we are busy and feel like we don’t have time to focus on the person we are talking to. When you say it like that it actually sounds as crap as it can make people feel!

We did an exercise where we had to listen to our partner speak for 60 seconds without responding or interjecting – do you know how hard that is!?

I’m taking away from the day that I need to get better at this – if I’m talking to someone they are to be my focus and I need to be present in that conversation rather than mentally multitasking. One thing I noted from talking to Kylie was that when she spoke to you it felt like she was focused on that conversation – like it was important- and that makes you feel more positive. I want people to feel more positive from talking to me.

When you have passion for what you do it’s easy to find your ‘people’

This is possibly the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written (I’ve almost made myself throw up a little) but it’s actually very true.

When the tickets for this event were put on sale I wanted to go but was aware that the distance from Manchester meant it would be expensive. A friend of a friend who also teaches Pump was in the same position – we had come across each other in Facebook groups but never met – so we decided to share a hotel room to reduce the costs.

Some people thought the idea of sharing a room with, effectively, a stranger was weird, and I think we would both admit that we were a little nervous beforehand. In the end it didn’t feel strange at all. We slipped easily into conversation and it felt like we had known each other for ages.

It shows that when you share the same interests and goals with people, it’s easier to feel comfortable with them and like you belong.

No Bake Paleo Cookies

I wrote a while back about eating a paleo based diet 80% of the time.

I also like cake.

These two things don’t naturally sit together.

So when I came accross some sweet paleo recipies I decided I needed to give them a go.

Last week i tried to make paleo cookies.

Not too much mess!

And… they were a success!

They tasted like cookie dough and satisfied my sweet tooth … and were huge (a bit sticky but i think that was me measuring the ingredients wrong).

Plus because I added protein powder they were also a high protein snack which is a win when you are trying to hit your protein for the day.

Ready to chill

So I’m just going to leave the link to the recipie here because I can’t lay claim for inventing these!


If you are trying to follow a paleo plan I can highly reccommend giving them a try!

The finished product

Today’s Workout

Just because it was a good one…

Bent Over Rows

9/7/5/3/5/7/9 with 30/35/40/45/45/40/40kg

Chest Press

9/7/5/3/5/7/9 with 30/35/40/45/45/40/40kg

Pull Ups (assisted) followed by Thrusters

21/15/9 with (30kg up to 35kg for 9)

5 Front Squats / 10 Thrusters / 20 Back Squats

x 5 with 30kg

Thank you to @rickylong42 for the workout. You can get ideas for workouts in his Facebook Training Room https://www.facebook.com/groups/243767835762478/

No Jazzy Title, Just an Honest One Today

I’ve struggled to train recently. I’ve also struggled to hit a calorie deficit in the last few weeks, having some really good days food wise and then some days where I’m dramatically overeating all the wrong stuff. This has coincided with not feeling 100% myself.

I don’t know why – nothing has happened to make me feel down and there hasn’t been any reason for my training or food intake to be affected. Often I find the two go hand in hand though – so if my training or diet isn’t great I will feel a bit low and when I feel a bit low I’ll eat my bodyweight in chocolate and train less.

I’ve realised that I, like most people I imagine, get myself caught in self – destructive cycles where if one thing isn’t perfect it feels like nothing is right, and in turn I let myself sabotage other areas of my life. I get a downer on myself where I feel like everything I do is substandard. The last few weeks I’ve questioned myself on so many things that to others may seem ridiculous and been upset about things I should have brushed off.

One thing I’m getting better at though is recognising this in myself, because this is when you can step back, get some perspective and draw a line.

  • Realistically I’ve still trained 2-3 times every week for the past few weeks, as well as teaching and running a half marathon – so I’ve not really been lazy.
  • I’ve finished the last two weeks in a calorie surplus which isn’t great, but I’ve hit my protein goals and I’m not overweight so I’ve not done any lasting damage.
  • I’ve been a bit down but I know I’ve had some stressful situations to deal with plus been poorly so this isn’t the start of something terrible, I’ve just let myself get a bit stressed.

What I’ve started to try and do when this happens is train – no pressure- just go to the gym and do something (and enjoy it) and then eat nice but fresh food that isn’t processed and sugar filled. Normally I’ll start to feel more positive quickly just from this little system.

Three points from this:

  • A week or so ago was Mental Health Week and there were lots of great posts- but people struggle all year round so don’t be afraid to speak up at other times if you feel like everything is getting to be just a bit much.
  • Sometimes depression doesn’t affect you all in. Sometimes you are perfectly fine and functioning just not feeling 100%. This doesn’t mean it’s any less important to recognise and deal with it – and being aware of how you feel and how you can improve your mood can sometimes help you catch yourself.
  • For me – physical wellness and mental wellness are closely linked. Small habits make a big difference to my mind-set.

Gym Pet Peeves…

In no particular order…

  1. People who hog EVERY SINGLE DUMBBELL for their workout and almost faint with panic if you ask to share.
  2. People who make dramatic noises whilst lifting. I get the impulsive random noises as you struggle to reach the end of the set. It’s the grunting like Monica Seles everytime they do a rep I don’t get.
  3. People who come to the gym in normal clothes. Does anyone realy think it’s ok to exercise in jeans, shirts and loafers? Apparently so.
  4. People who get dressed in the shower- yes there is a queue so, no, spending 20 minutes moisterising and putting on your tights when you could do that in the changing room itself is not good etiquite.
  5. When people try to come into the studio during a class to do their own workout – why would you think this is ok, I’ve never understood?
  6. People who make fun of or act superior to others in the gym. I don’t get why people do this- we all started somewhere and it takes literally no effort to just be nice (or say nothing at all). Women should feel welcome in the weights area, everyone should feel comfortable in the dance studio – there should be no off limit areas for anyone (ok maybe men shouldn’t go into the ladies changing rooms…).
  7. Gym’s which do not know about the products they offer and the benefits. In an ideal world all staff would have a basic idea of what classes are on and what they are about so they can accurately inform members. We do not live in an ideal world.
  8. Fitness professionals who present other classes or methods of training in a negative light. You may well think that yoga is pointless and that’s your opinion – but as a member of staff (freelance or not) don’t tell the members that. It’s just basic professionalism. You can give your opinion but position it so it doesn’t trash another professional.
  9. There are never enough free weights.
  10. Not enough gyms have running tracks.
  11. Ladies only areas in gyms. 1. If there were men only areas we would cry sexism. 2. They are always crap, with random bits of equipment they class as ‘girly’.
  12. Gym cafes which only sell junk food.

Love, Hate, Running and Me

I hate running.

And yet for someone who hates running I sign up to a lot of runs.

So it’s a lie to say I hate running really I suppose.

I like running. I’m just slow.

I can run for long periods of time at a steady pace.  I’m never going to get a sub 2 hour half marathon time but I’ve completed a number of half marathons, a number of 5 and 10k runs and one marathon.

What I really mean when I say I hate running is I hate training for runs.

I like going out for a road run- but for 15- 20 minutes, perhaps half an hour.

I like being in the fresh air, feeling the sun on my face on a nice day or the fresh feeling on a cold or wet day.

For me this type of running is less about keeping fit and more like therapy.  A time to either think, or to clear my thoughts, to stick on some cheesy music and just be present and take in my surroundings.  I tend to run down a cycle route close to my flat and like to people watch and look at the graffiti in the tunnels as I run.  If I stay in a hotel I always try and go for a morning run because I like running in different surroundings – sometimes pretty, other times less so.

So when I try and add training for an event into my schedule I struggle.  In part this is because my teaching schedule makes long regular runs hard to fit in without overtraining.  But it’s also because adding in set distances and set aims detracts from the enjoyment I get from running and I start to put it off.

So inevitably I go into every race I sign up to bemoaning my own lack of preparation and knowing it’s going to be a tough slog.

Normally once I get started I’m good.

This is because I also enjoy organised races. It’s  a mixture of the different to normal route, support from the crowd, the atmosphere, getting a goodie bag at the end.

Whilst short training runs fulfil my need for a mental break from life, organised runs leave me with a sense of achievement and push me to do the longer distances I know I’m capable of but rarely push myself to do in training (as someone once said to me I’m a bit of a match day player- I need that pressure to make me perform).

Yesterday I took part in the Great Manchester Run – I did the half marathon distance. The last four years I’ve done the 10K but last year they added in a longer distance so I decided to step up for my fifth year at this event.

My longest run in the run up to the event had been a 10K the week before. I taught five classes the day before so had definitely not rested my legs.  My diet had not been top notch during the week and I hadn’t hydrated well.  On the day it was HOT!

I ran at a steady pace and completed the course in 2 hours 21 minutes.  Given the heat I was really pleased with this time and felt pretty good throughout the run – even managing to run through a stich at around 5 miles.  At times I hated it, at other times it felt good.  The sprint across the finish line felt brilliant and although my immediate reaction at finishing was never again I know deep down that these type of events provide value to my life and I get something out of them.

I also know however that my training is never likely to be more than the odd 20 minutes run when I feel like running.  But I have decided that this is probably OK.  I know I can run up to 13 miles at a steady pace when I choose to, my general level of fitness allows this, and as long as I accept that I’m not about to set a world record my preferred training runs and my enjoyment of structured running events can coincide quite happily together.

Whatever training you enjoy doing – find a way to fit it into your life so it suits you.  That may mean readjusting your outlook on it or changing your goals, but if this means you enjoy it when you do it then it will add so much more to your training regime and make sure you continue to enjoy what you do.