URBANFITNESS London features on Channel5 programme – ‘Get a Holiday Body, lose a stone in four-weeks’

Jordan

Why you should vary your workout routine?!

Picture the scene…You find an exercise routine that you enjoy and are able to do, it takes time and dedication and begins to help you achieve your goal of weight loss! Initially, you notice that you’re shedding pounds and the exercise routine pays off. However, after a few months, you start to stagnate at the same weight, even if you do the same amount of exercise and you stick to your diet plan! The reason for this is simple and something that isn’t considered by many. With repetition of the same type of workout, your body simply adjusts to the exercise routine and ultimately consumes less energy.

So you should absolutely consider varying your exercise routines for two fundamental reasons. Firstly to prevent the boredom associated with doing the same workout and secondly to avoid reaching a plateau in performance and subsequently results. A plateau is a time where you are no longer progressing in your workouts. Furthermore, if you change up the exercise routine, your body (and mind) will be continually challenged, burning more calories and in turn resulting in more successful weight loss if that is your end goal!

I’d be the first to admit that I have my favorite go to work out style, which is hypertrophy training. Hypertrophy training is a type of strength training to maximize the fastest route to muscle growth. However, I have learnt that stepping out of your comfort zone always proves to be beneficial and recently varying my routines to involve other training styles. I now include some aspects of the ever popular ‘functional training.’ This can help correct bad posture and any muscular imbalances you may have. Furthermore, another benefit of functional training is stability; every session includes flexibility, core stability, balance and strength training to keep your body challenged.

There are several ways you can spice up your current workout routine, one of which is the intensity of your workouts. For instance, if you walk or run, try incorporating some intervals of jogging or sprinting or adding more hill work to your routine. You can also cross train and perform different activities to provide your body with a new challenge. A nice alternative for resistance-training exercises involves changing the sequence in which you perform the exercises.  For example, if you perform bench press then a back exercise like a seated row, try during the next set to perform the seated row exercise first? By fatiguing the muscles in a new order, you are requiring them to adapt to a new training style and therefore shocking the muscle into developing further!

Alternating exercises is an effective way to make your routine more fun and interesting.  Changing the exercises can be as simple as doing barbell bench press one week and dumbbell bench press the next. Another effective way is changing up the sets & repetition’s you do each week. If muscle growth is the desired goal, then routines with exercises in the 1-3 rep range are not best as this is primarily used for strength training. However, if you always perform 3 sets & 8-12 reps on each muscle group and reach a plateau try doing 4 sets and 6-8 reps.

Personally, I change up my routine every 4-5 weeks. I tend to set certain weeks as low repetition ‘muscle growth’ weeks and other weeks as high intensity high repetition to ‘shock’ my muscles. After 4-5 weeks, I then change up the exercises. I replace primary muscle movements (e.g. barbell shoulder press) with secondary muscle movements (e.g. alternative dumbbell shoulder press). This ensures my muscles adapt and assists with continued development. It’s also put simply far more interesting!

So with all that in mind if any of you need some help in freshening up your gym routine we are all here to help so just stop one of us in the club and ask away!

Yours in training

Jordan

Rhys

Mental health is just as important as physical wellbeing!

“There’s always room for improvement!” I’ve come to learn is a phrase often said without fully understanding the message we are conveying to others. When it comes to setting out a programme and stating your plan of action to get there, there is no substitute for hard work and commitment but the question should be asked…At what point does your ambition and focus become detrimental to your mental wellbeing?

I’ve always been intrigued with the mind over matter theory from a young age and at this current time I still do believe there is a time and a place where it’s needed, otherwise champions would not be crowned champions and 2nd place would become 1st. I can speak from my own experience that at some point you may become your own worst enemy. During my third year of university I was juggling Olympic weightlifting training which is gruelling in isolation at the best of times, then combining this with daily mixed martial arts classes, work (who else is going to pay for the peanut butter every month) and of course university studies while attempting to also keep up a social life. Although I’m very proud of my work ethic and aspirations deep down knowing I always gave it my all whilst there, I believe there is still a fine line between working hard for what you want and running yourself into the ground in turn forgetting a key aspect of fitness is to give yourself a break and switch off. Fitness is a fascinating and necessary part of my life and I wouldn’t be anywhere today without the help its given me, but at some point you need to realise that the process of what you’re doing to achieve what you want is just as important if not more than the result.

Fitness is about achieving health both physically and mentally, allowing the skills you pick up along the way to then carry over to your daily life regime, helping and seeking to improve. There is a common mistake made with being ‘hellbent’ on achieving an aesthetically pleasing physique whether that be for themselves or for others. However when you’re gruelling yourself to stay under the calorie count for weeks on end there comes a point in time when you need to unwind and understand taking a night off will allow you to stay fresh.

This isn’t to say you get a daily free pass to slack and forget why you started your regime in the beginning but to give you a reminder that a healthy balanced lifestyle and your mental wellbeing is your priority. My ‘take home’ message would be to keep your goals small when climbing the ladder and your aspirations high, whether you like it or not you still have 23 hours left of the day that requires a focused and proactive you.

Best wishes – Rhys

Mark

This might come in handy after Christmas dinner!

So what do you know about boxing?

Have you ever tried it? Do you know anybody that has ever taken part in it? These are the questions I ask people when they start their journey in learning how to box. I can then build an understanding of why they have decided to attempt it.

Boxing is without doubt one of the toughest sports in the world today! A Boxer is pushed to their limits both physically and mentally. When people don’t understand something, sometimes the stereotypical human natural response is to see it in a negative light.

For example, I’ve been told by certain individuals “Oh boxing, that’s a thug’s sport for thick people” ……pretty harsh I know!

If only people took the time to actually understand what boxing is and realised that it is one of the hardest skill sets to learn. The intricacy and delicacy of boxing is something beautiful to watch when you observe a boxer at the peak of their powers.

When I heard this individual tell me their opinion of boxing, I won’t lie, it annoyed me. Therefore, I challenged this person to do a course of 1-1 pad work sessions with me 2x per week. It was apparent from the very 1st session that they felt humbled by how hard it actually was. From that day forward they changed their outlook on boxing and without doubt felt some remorse that they had judged the sport without actually understanding it.

Let’s be honest we can all be guilty of that! However it takes a bigger person to still step forward and try it.

For the novice boxer understanding how to deliver ‘strikes’ can be quite tricky. A punch is like a kinetic chain, a surge of energy running through a series of links. If you ask most people how do you punch? The common response is “throw it from the shoulder or arm”. However, the punch actually starts at your feet! You take energy from the ground and deliver the punch firstly in the lower extremities whilst the energy travels through the hips, torso, shoulder and then ends in the arm/fist. The body when used correctly is very powerful, so you can imagine the force that can be exerted when delivering a punch in this way.

Movement is therefore absolutely key, in sessions my clients learn how to use mobility and flexibility drills to complement their technique during pad work sessions.

For example, if a person is to tight around their knees, hips, torso and shoulders this will of course have a negative effect on their ability to move effectively and in turn hinder their punching style. By using different mobility and flexibility drills we can open up each range of movement where there may have been ‘tightness.’ I call this ‘soft work’ because if we looked at it from an outside perpsective, you would probably think what has this got to do with boxing! Again, it’s about understanding why…. Simple analogies like this aid understanding.

Think about when a builder constructs a house. The painting, tiling, flooring and exterior is not completed first. The foundations of the property must be built so that the likes of the flooring and tiling of a room can be done later. Simple analysis like this helps my clients to understand that their body needs to complete these small drills to aid their overall boxing technique.

There are many different styles in boxing and theories of thought, it really is the ‘sweet science.’ Boxing is simply amazing when you begin to appreciate and understand it more. The benefits are endless, it’s superb for common goals such as getting leaner and fitter but above all it’s different to the norm.

Learning to box using pad wok and bag work is very tough but it’s so rewarding! In the sessions, you will learn how to box correctly within a fitness environment, I can’t stress enough how fun and rewarding it really is.

I dare you to try something different! If so, get in touch, oh and watch this space for some fresh additions to our class timetable alongside this theme.

Yours in all things fitness & boxing.

Mark ‘10’ Kisz

Oh and here’s a ‘Pro’ tip for free…If the ‘in-laws’ annoy you over the Christmas meal some ‘heavy bag work’ is the perfect antidote!

Ruadhan

Women with Power!

Edging out the competition, generating power, increasing performance and looking good doing it?!

When someone asks you what you train to increase your speed, power and stability, what do you tell them? For a few of us it will be sprints on a treadmill, for others it will be pause squats. For very few there will be Olympic lifting.

So let’s look at that, in Olympic lifting you have to get the bar from A to B as fast as you can, then control it either overhead or on your shoulders. Performing cleans and snatches gives you benefits in strength, power, accuracy, flexibility, speed, coordination, agility and balance to name but a few.

The Great British hockey team have recently achieved great success in Rio becoming the female Olympic champions. Unbeaten in all their games on their way to the final, every one of those athletes have been training more than ever in the gym. Lifting heavy weights to get faster, stronger and more stable.

Having had a 5 year sabbatical from playing competitive hockey at what was an International standard…coming back to playing was a bit daunting. I thought I would have lost all my speed, endurance and skill. However, where my skill has dropped, my speed and endurance has actually increased. I’m now humbly hopeful that the old adage of ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’ is true in my case as the skills I possessed with stick in hand are slowly returning to make me a better all round player!

This is I know is due to my Olympic lifting and weight training in general. Which all started back in Wales about 3 years ago! I used a personal trainer with a small group to help me get stronger and my body a bit firmer. The results from lifting weights were almost immediately visible, after 12 weeks I was where I wanted to be but I had absolutely got the bug and just wanted to lift heavier and heavier. Fast forward to today where I am now the personal trainer helping others achieve that same goal. There is so much that we can all benefit from re strength training and the understanding that Olympic lifting is ultimately the basis for ALL sport. At URBANFITNESS London we are one of the few facilities in the city that actively promote this ’train 2 train’ approach. The entire team and I are passionate about this message and especially when it comes to women so please come and chat to us about what it can do for you, whether its a firmer physique or athletic performance, lifting is simply one of the most positive activities you can do to see quick and impressive results.

Power to the people!….Ruadhan

 

 

Bobby

257 calories to go!

Like many people with an Apple Watch, I’ve become obsessed with “closing the rings” on the fitness app. So much so that it’s become my new favourite watch face. For anyone not in the know, “closing the rings” is the equivalent of completing a certain number of steps, burning a certain number of calories or even standing a certain number of times throughout the day. “Closing the rings” has become a major part of my day.

Full disclosure, I’m a massive Apple fanboy.

 

The rise of tech in fitness has been phenomenal. Long gone are the days of bulky, uncomfortable heart rate monitors strapped to your chest. Now fitness trackers have become the norm. They’re a statement, a fashion accessory and a tool for fitness all-in-one. You’ve probably seen a colleague proudly sporting one or you may have one yourself.

But do they make a difference?

 

According to a recent study by John Jakicic in the Journal of the American Medical Association, fitness wearables may not lead to increased weight loss. In the study, Jakicic hypothesised that wearables would be helpful in promoting weight loss. However, the study found that the opposite was true. In the study, 470 people who were overweight were split into two groups over two years. One was assigned a low-calorie diet, increased physical activity and counselling. The other group were prescribed the same, but were given wearable technology six months in. The people in the first group used a website to self-monitor their diet and exercise whilst the second group used the wearable device.

Surprisingly, the group using the wearables lost significantly less weight than those who used the website. On average, they lost 7.7lbs compared to 13lbs for the non-wearables group. One possible theory for the result is that when the wearables group saw their physical activity throughout the day, they felt a false sense of security and would then eat more. The wearables may also be discouraging for people unaccustomed to exercise as they may see the goal as too far away to be achievable.

This is only one study, but it does pose an interesting question.

In my experience, anything that encourages people to move and be active can only be a good thing. There are still question marks over how accurate they are and whether this amount of obsession with tracking is necessarily a good thing, but I certainly won’t be taking my Apple Watch off anytime soon.

In fact, fitness has become the main focus of the Apple Watch. If you saw the most recent Apple keynote, you will have noticed that all of the new features of the Apple Watch Series 2 are entirely focussed on improving the device as a fitness tracker. There are of course many different wearables available on the market and I’m particularly looking forward to getting my hands on the new Fitbits.

I’m also excited to see how wearables can be integrate into group exercise and the future developments in this area. Stay tuned…

Wearables aren’t just limited to the average fitness enthusiast, however. They’ve become a staple in many professional sports. In fact, one incredibly successful team attributed their recent success to their use of tech within the analysis of the game. They are the Golden State Warriors.

They were the first team to use on-court cameras to track the passing and shooting of all their players. They also use wearables during practice sessions to monitor their heart rates, movement and stamina. The Golden State Warriors are constantly pushing the boundaries on how tech can be used inside and outside the sport to keep the team winning and progressing.

How can we apply these advances to our own training? It’s too soon to say. It is however, a very exciting time for tech within fitness.

…249 Calories to go…

Bobby

URBANFITNESS London

“I just don’t have the time!”

Something I hear in so many conversations about physical activity is “I know its good for me but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I just don’t have the time!” Of course there is a common, apparent easy response which is “you should make time!” Anything that can benefit you physically, mentally, socially and therefore in turn economically has to be worth pursuing. However if you look at any study/ survey around what people use as their ‘barriers’ to exercise and activity the age old problem of ‘time‘ is given in the majority of cases. In fact I’m sure many of you reading this may feel the same, you’d like to do more but in the end you ‘just can’t find the time‘ to be active. Well, in the spirit of an URBANFITNESS London evidence based approach to cut through what I firmly believe is an absolute myth and to be frank B.S. regarding time for exercise and activity lets look at an example…Also as in all things in life you should look at yourself first before guiding others so let’s analyse and critique myself as to be fair I’m a very real example of this process.

Before I start, the caveat to this example is it applies to everyone and all activities/ sports. So here goes…some of you may or may not know, I’m a passionate racing cyclist and with what can only be described as an absolute suffer, ‘hurt-locker,’ constant pain threshold sport comes the commitment to be as fit as possible in order to compete at whatever level. I know this and many times ‘hitting the wall’ (physically not literally…although literally does happen occasionally) during a race only serves to ensure I push myself harder to be better next time. There is an old adage in cycling that no matter how good or quick you think you are there is always somebody much faster and therefore better and that is absolutely true. However in order to constantly try and improve race fitness, comes the need to train and in turn time to do this. Cycling as a sport requires more time than most to train so again others I know who cycle maybe less than I always complain “they don’t have the time!”

Its no surprise to me as I started to focus more on structuring my training last season, drop weight and race more people including friends and family said the likes of “Ah but J you are always on your bike and you have the time so no wonder you are doing better!” So I thought actually let’s look at what the actual facts are, as in most things in life people base decisions, opinions and ultimately choice (see last months blog from Will) on complete myths when you actually peel back the layers and look at the evidence. Therefore lets do just that and then we can all compare and understand what ‘time to exercise’ actually means…For this I need a simple Rachel Riley esq piece of maths:

Available hours in the week = 168 (7days x 24hrs)

Hours asleep = 56 (7days x 8hrs which is one hour over what research has shown as the optimal 7hrs sleep per night, so I’m giving you all a lie-in every day!)

Hours at work = 50 (5days x 10hrs which is over the standard working week and includes travel to/ from work time)

Hours remaining to do whatever you want = 62

Hours that JW spends training on his bike/ in the gym each week = 10 (I’d like it to be more as 15 would certainly improve my performance but 10 is sufficient for the level I compete at)

Therefore % of actual free time spent training = 16%

My conclusion… don’t tell me that I’m always ‘on my bike’ or training ‘in the gym’ as I’m not, 16% of my free time is by no means a great deal. As you can see, here is a very real example that sleep, work, family time, TV time, socialising with friends etc should not get in the way of your exercise and activity, it simply shouldn’t and anybody who tells you/ me different is kidding themselves. To put this in an even simpler context the UK government recommends you spend just a minimum of 2.5hrs (150 mins) being active each week alongside 2 strength based sessions which involve all of the major muscle groups. In the above example that is just 4% of my available free time! Wow that’s easy…what’s even easier is if I get off the tube one stop earlier each day in order to walk to and from work, plus get down to the gym at least twice a week I am more than covered and then starting to really build a solid base of activity to take care of myself.

In summary what I am saying is that ‘finding the time’ is a myth, you are actually choosing NOT to exercise and therefore you can positively effect that by choosing TO exercise. The simple fact is ‘we all have the time to improve and extend our lives’ and that is what exercise and activity brings…so no excuses or poor choices get out there/ down to us at Sugar House and have fun!

Jonathan W

Will

The magic beans of training and choice?!

All, if not most of us have tried a fad diet, multiple different training routines and various pieces of ‘wonder kit’ yet we are all still looking for that quick fix…all in one magic bean.

The ‘fence’ in this situation is that there is no quick fix all in one magic bean, sorry guys! The hurdle however, is that it can all start to work if you simply master the choices you make.

We make hundreds of choices every day. Some we procrastinate over for days if not months at a time. Others, more often than not we make in a split second, usually because “so and so did it first.”

A snap poorly judged choice is a wasted opportunity to better yourself and that’s the end goal we all share and have in common. After all we are all trying to better ourselves somehow, in one form or another, be that spiritually, mentally or physically. This can’t be argued with as it’s absolutely the reason why you joined our club.

So what are choices when you stop for a second and actually think about them? The dictionary can define this process as:

‘An act of choosing between two or more possibilities and the right or ability to choose.’

Summed up, choices are actually a luxury, if you have a choice you have options and when you have options there are multiple gains to be made. However you must learn to stay cool and not feel under pressure to make a snap decision. Positive choices made are an opportunity to better yourself, to pass go and collect £200 worth of winning at life!

Marginal gains make choices work

When you apply the theory of marginal gains to your choice selection re an active and healthy lifestyle the process becomes much simpler and makes absolute sense.

Marginal gains works from making lots of smaller incremental increases to make a greater overall change or increase.

Therefore, if you can make one good diet choice, a good lifestyle choice and one good behavioural choice every day that’s a small % daily increase in your general wellbeing which in turn will make you feeling better increasing your concentration and allow you to work harder. The benefits from this can then become endless.

Example.

A good dietary choice can be as simple as only having the Mars bar as your treat when Game of Thrones is on and leave the family size bar of Cadburys, tub of Ben and Jerry’s and Cinema styled toffee popcorn for another time, that’s a diet % increase.

Add a behavioural choice such as choosing to rebel against your inner child and going to bed an hour earlier, rather than waiting till you fall asleep on the sofa. That’s a positive % increase and a better quality of sleep.

Choose to get off two stops before your scheduled tube station and do the unthinkable in London, walk to your destination! That can add 30 minutes+ to your daily step count each day and again that’s a % increase in your daily well-being.

Make the small changes and let the small rewards accumulate into a big improvement each month, every month. The results as we are seeing with many of our members who are embracing this approach can be amazing.

A little food for thought I hope where can you make small changes and easy beneficial choices. So in summary here are my magic beans of mastering choices.

Magic bean No 1: Take time and make thoughtful choices!

Magic bean No 2: ‘Weigh-up’ up the personal gains. What do you gain from your choice and what do you lose from not choosing the other(s)?

Magic bean No 3: Never make food choices when you are hungry

Magic bean No 4: Are you going to regret your choice? Aim never to regret even if you have to be sensible and boring from time to time.

Magic bean No 5: Don’t let others make your choices for you! THEY ARE YOURS, for YOU to benefit from so please tell Sally to go and make her own choices.

Magic bean No 6: Make ONE food choice a day that just makes you happy and that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be unhealthy, it’s your choice at the end of the day! This means be realistic and go for small changes that last.

The basic truth then is you will invariably live longer! Wow, that’s powerful stuff….

Will

Ladies who lift? Hell-yeah!

Today I woke up with sore back muscles and then I thought, oh yea that’s right, I did deadlifting and weighted rows yesterday (which by the way, the soreness only lasted an hour and is quite a normal physical response.)

Being a dancer I have been very active my whole life. From the ages of 17-23 I was dancing or doing yoga and pilates 6-7 hours a day, 5 days a week. I was brought up with the belief system that ‘body weight exercises are all a women needs’ and ‘heavy lifting weights are for big grunting males only’. How wrong was I?

I have been in a gym 3-4 days a week since I can remember but until recently had never stepped onto a squat rack. I think in all honesty I was scared of them. Being quite petite and small I was scared of looking weak and being judged. I was also wrongly assuming that lifting heavy weights would build bulk and muscle blockages, something a dancer can never have.  Well for all of you women out there that still believe this, I’ll tell you that muscle growth is directly related to testosterone levels. Men have far more testosterone than women which means no matter how strong we are and how much we can lift, becoming a female Hercules just isn’t factual. We can definitely build strength, power and muscle definition, but without an external input of testosterone we will not sway towards a masculine type figure.

When I was kid I danced everyday, before and after school. A minimum of three hours a day was considered the ‘norm’ if you wanted to make dancing a career. In doing this I was putting my body through enormous amounts of exercise without creating the foundations to work effectively and efficiently. It is no wonder so many dancers get injured at a young age as the correct muscular activations and connections haven’t yet been developed.

As a female with a small frame I was told that compound full body exercises (whole body movements as opposed to for example your single joint bicep curl) were the best and only way to build strength and endurance whilst staying slim. However, on top of this belief, a major underlying issue that kept me from trying weightlifting was that I felt intimidated by all the big males that often take over the gym floor. I would prance into the gym with my pink sports bra and ponytail and feel like everyone was staring at me if I even went close to a resistance machine. Of course this was all in my head and no one at all was judging me, but I was scared of the unknown. Looking back now I should have simply asked a fitness coach for help. All I really needed was knowledge and confidence in my strength to feel comfortable.

Although I threw myself into many different forms of exercise I never took myself to the supposed ‘heavy lifting’ area of the gym. In actual fact, my friends and I would hit the gym, do 20 minutes cardio followed by some sit ups and press ups, then stretch for another 20 minutes and claim that we were doing great workouts. We would focus on only body weight compound exercises (using up to 4kg dumbbells max, if any) and even then we didn’t push ourselves as hard as we could.  In many ways full body compound exercises are amazing and a necessity for physical development, but standing alone they are not all that women need. We actually need to be training just like men, with a balance of cardiovascular training, flexibility, endurance and strength, including weight training. This is because, in order for our bodies to change and adapt we need to put it under aspects of stress. One effective way of doing this is to add an external weight to the body whilst performing exercise (of course correct form when executing your exercises is an absolute must if you want to develop). Whether you want to feel stronger or burn calories the muscular adaptation that occurs after weight lifting will help you achieve your goal. Sounds simple right? But I only just came to this realization!

After starting working at URBANFITNESS London and doing more of my own anatomy studies I began to question my previous fears and beliefs about women lifting weight. Was all that I believed about females doing heavy weights a myth? The answer is most definitely YES.

I have been kindly introduced to the proper techniques of barbell squats, deadlifts, chest and overhead presses etc by some of our amazing coaches. Learning how to weight lift made me realize not only how strong I already am, but how strong I can become. Don’t get me wrong, by no means have I become a weight lifting junkie. I am a Pilates teacher and a dancer who has found weight lifting to be the perfect complement to my current training routines. I can feel the muscles of my core and upper back supporting the joints more, which actually enhances my dance and pilates practice. Being a ‘petite’ women my whole life it’s inspiring to think that I can achieve the strength goals I have had but until now have not been able to reach. Chin ups and hand-stand press ups here I come!

See you in the gym – Alice x

Zak

Life is like a box of chocolates…I should know, I ate most of them!

Did you know, research shows that members who participate in gym only activities are 56% more likely to struggle to maintain activity adherence compared to those who include group exercise classes as part of their routine? These statistics come from The Retention People (TRP) and I for one have had my mind changed in the perception of group exercise and how it can really provide that extra bit of ‘umph’ during your journey through fitness.

I absolutely pride myself on being an advocate and ambassador of maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle with every gym or fitness facility that I have worked for, as this passion stems from quite a unique start in life!

My journey through fitness began aged 15 when my Mum encouraged me to start doing something for myself. I had always been a keen swimmer and rugby player, but food had gotten the better of me which led to a 38-inch waist aged 12-13 (definitely not a healthy weight to maintain at such a young age). I was cushioned with the standard ‘you’re just big boned’ and ‘you just need to grow into yourself’ by my grandparents (who were the feeders in this relationship) and for a period of time I believed them, the majority of my family were overweight so I only really knew it that way.

How wrong they were!

I must admit, as I got taller my weight ‘spread out’ should we say, but this by no way meant that I was fit, healthy and able to maintain a lifestyle that I wish for my children to have in the future. I am not saying that we all need to eat a perfect diet and be alcohol free having trained for 2 hours a day, because unless that is your lifestyle and you are absolutely devoted to it then it isn’t sustainable. I enjoy my lifestyle with a healthy blend of indulgence at the weekend and actively participating in exercise for the enjoyment that it brings and the enjoyment that it instils in other people.

Aged 15 I took my first steps into a gym and the rest is history, but not my perception of group exercise.

My experience in teaching group exercise only started in 2014 when I took up a post as the Assistant Health & Fitness Manager at The University of Nottingham and considering I had been in the industry since 2010 (including my time studying at Loughborough) I deemed myself a ‘late bloomer’ in the field of group teaching. It had never been something that I thought I would be good at, I had always enjoyed training by myself, headphones on and escaping to what I thought was the most efficient and enjoyable way of training.

Two years on and how things have changed.

My daily routine now includes teaching a couple of classes, chatting to the members within them and enjoying educating people on fitness. For those of you who have attended any of my freestyle spin classes, you certainly know that I have a dreadful taste in music. However hopefully you agree my weekly integration of girl band remixes, Michael Jackson or whatever themed week we decide would be enjoyable certainly has people smiling (or at least that’s what you tell me!).

I feel very fortunate to manage a group exercise timetable with some of the best instructors in the UK, all of which are a pleasure to work with and learn from. We as a club have an incredible member base who are more than willing to learn, listen and try new things within the club. My aim is to have 50% of our members actively participating in group exercise and from my experience at the ‘Les Mills’ LIVE Event at the Excel Arena last month, there is no reason for this not to be achievable.

I was hugely inspired by the sheer volume of people on their fitness journey at the event, men and women, those just starting and those who had been on their journey for years. The likes of the ‘Les Mills’ event provides a platform for instructors to come together to go on that journey with health club members and to see that in action was a real pleasure. I only hope that I can continue to learn and instil the same passion and energy that was present in those huge rooms throughout all of my classes in the future.

To sum up, I had never been a fan of group exercise, participating or teaching but things change and people change and my view has been completely reversed. Young males are the least likely to try group exercise classes and as one of those myself, I urge each and everyone of you to go online, book a class and give it go.

My advice, try it. What have you got to lose? As you can see from the pictures above I lost inches, lots of them!

We’ll be holding a Group Exercise Launch night over the next couple of weeks, showcasing all of the classes that we have to offer for you to ‘dip in’ and ‘dip out’ of and I hope to see you there!

Best wishes always – Zak