Uncle Sam says “I want you-r abs!”
Attention Fitness People, Attention! The US-UK Special Relationship has become even more special. No no no no, do not run away; you are not going to be subjected to some boring endorsed political announcement here.
Actually, what is really getting our muscles twitching (literally) and mind excited is the latest “Made in USA” fitness offering coming to our lovely city and it is going to put our body through its paces!
The London scene has already taken into its stride some successful fitness expansion from across the pond such as Equinox and Barry’s Bootcamp, and this latest arrival from the US of A is making some really good noise around here! Here it is peeps, we have tried out:
OK, we’ve been scratching our heads to describe the workout without being over-complicated and we came up with this simple explanation: at Studio Lagree, you will be doing Reformer Pilates on Steroids.
You see, Studio Lagree uses high quality and cutting edge M3 Megaformer™ , which are beefed up platform machines (same principle as “standard” reformer Pilates but more ballsy) where a system of springs and pulleys will provide resistance and varying levels of difficulty in the workout. The platform itself has a series of numbered markers which are used as guidelines by the instructor so that you know where to put your upper and lower body.
So it’s time to queue the music and get on with it!
The studio itself is very chic and there are 12 Megaformers™ which means that the class never feels overcrowded but there is also nowhere to hide! The atmosphere is very studious but also focused as this is a workout where your brains have to be switched on...big time!
So we are kicking off with a warm up but then the game is ON!
The Motto of the workout is to be slow in the movements but very fast in the transitions, as a result there is no pause and your body will be subjected to constant muscle tension. There are instances where the resistance is increased and you are working against the machine.... that’s when you feel the burrrrrn!
This is when we need to give a Top Tip peeps: drop the standard socks... you will need some underfoot grip (Yoga socks or Nike Studio wraps are good options). Otherwise, you can end up like Sonia did when her sock got stuck with one of the Velcro-straps and there was no pretty way of coming out of this situation: it’s fair to say that no artistic marks were granted.
To the sound of upbeat music the instructor will go through a methodical testing of your body. Session are always different but in principle you will go from the right lower body, move to the right upper body, then full body move, followed with left upper body, to finish with left lower body.
Do not be mistaken: your deeper muscles will be working over time! The instructor constantly walks the floor and is always attentive to your posture for optimal alignment. After that, it is up to you to stay stubborn and rise to the challenge to the best of your ability.
The levers are her to make it harder: the maximum we used were 2 yellow and 1 red (it will make sense when you are going to be attend the class) but we didn’t want to imagine if you put more load...
You will be front lunging, side lunging, picking, bicep-curling, side crunching (a move nicely called Mermaid), leg-curling planking, pressing... It is a packed agenda and that is why the transitions need to be fast so that the class time is 100% dedicated to your muscle burrrrn.
By the time it is over:
1-you will be spent. You won’t be out of breath as if you did some Insanity class but your muscle will be aching by the constant man/woman versus machine battle
2- you will have sweated bucket-loads. We dare you to come out of this class dry!
3-you will be begging for a good stretch
Second Top Tip peep (we are full of tips today, what’s going on!): beware of the walk downstairs to the changing rooms; your legs will be shaky.
Once the tension is released the Megaformer™ gives great assistance at the cool down providing extra stretch
Website: http://www.studiolagreeuk.com/ it’s a very sexy website
Sweat factor: 4 out of 5 you will need to wipe your Megaformer™ at the end
Strength factor: 4 out of 5 one the resistance is on, it is ON
Stretch factor: 3.5 out of 5 it’s good to limber up before a session to get maximum output
Money factor: 3 out of 5 past the introductory offer it is not a cheap offering compared to the “standard” £20 spent in boutiques gyms. You can book through Pay As You Gym or Class Pass. All it is all it is a spend worth doing on an extended regular basis
6 weeks into that New Year resolutions to get fit and that motivation is starting to flag a bit.
The same cycling – weight – Treadmill – weight combo is starting to get boring... and that diet: Curse you “Kale 3 ways”!
Ok, there is not much we can do about the world supply of kale, but we came across a great proposal to spice up your gym routine and bring back some zing to that resolution!
Think about: Pay As You Gym
We already hear you: “I’ve signed to an 18 month membership at my local gym”... Fair point.
Counter: it is most likely that the local gym will have the same schedule offering over those 18 months
Bring in: diversity and Pay As you Gym!
So what’s the drill?
It's a no fuss - no contract, exciting pass that gives you access to multiple venues in your location of choice. You can either buy a one visit only pass or an unlimited pass.
We have been lucky to use their unlimited pass for 3 months, giving us access to a lot of gyms, classes, studios and pools across London.
Over this period of time we did a lot of sport:
- Assault-course training at Basefit
- Velocity (indoor cycling) and Resistance (TRX) training at Core Collective
- Reformer pilates at Core Kensignton
- Mega-reformer workout at Studio Lagree
- EMS training at Exerceo
- FitmiBody in Old Street
- Bikram Yoga Clapham Junction and Waterloo
And so on....
You still can’t see the point?
At Strength and Stretches, Lucile and Sonia we have different commitments to fitness:
- Lucile doesn’t have a gym membership. She's a "happy go lucky", and let’s find out what’s out there.
With Pay As You Gym she managed to spread her wings and had access to so many venues... the sky was the limit and she wished she had more time to try so much more.
Eventually, she settled with an action plan that fitted into her lifestyle:
“this week I want to do twice cardio and once core”. Ping! Let’s find some studios to do: indoor cycling, boxing training and reformer pilates!
“next week, there is that cheeky birthday party, I have to ease on the workout”. Ping! Let’s find some HIIT training (to deal with the little black dress) and Yoga (to sooth the post-hangover-workout).
That diversity of workouts has been so beneficial for her. We entered together a 5km with Kevin Hart and her run was so strong and she had a high tempo throughout
- Sonia has a membership at Gymbox. Great gym and vibe but there are some workouts which are still a struggle and some workouts where to get to the next level of intensity will require a miracle.
With Pay As you Gym she managed to select studios offering specialised focus training. So it was all about targeted strength with a lot of TRX sessions across London but also core strength with reformer pilates for stability and abs.
Getting back to basics really complemented the workouts at Gymbox and she ended up using 16kg+ Kettlebells and crush some unassisted chin-ups (OK, it is 3 in a row for the moment but it’s a work in progress peeps!). Also in cardio drills press ups are mostly on toes (watch out boys!)
The great thing with Pay As You Gym, is that it is a no contract concept.
So it can be used to overcome that February-Plateau phase and then you resume the usual routing; or you can choose to roll forward your Pass and carry on the fun!
Peeps, this is definitely not a sales pitch! Whether you are the Lucile-type or the Sonia-type, using Pay As You Gym has ripped tangible benefits for the both of us.
So if you don’t know what to do with yourself fitness-wise, give Pay As you Gym a try and open your fitness horizon.
We thought we had a fair stab at the Pay As You Gym offering until we were proven wrong at the Mash-Up workout event Urban Movement in Shoreditch in one morning we went on to do
- Yoga (nice flow to ease in)
- Pilates (wakey-wakey little abs!)
- Capoeira (Gosh! I forgot I did capoeira for 2 years when I was kid)
- Boxing Training (Jab-cross galore)
- Twerking (you thought you experienced thigh burn before? Wait until you try out twerking)
- HIIT (to squeeze the last once of energy)
PayasUgym is a company that gives back, all the proceeds of Urban Movement went to Sports Relief, what's not to like?!
The only drawback is that there just isn't enough time in the week to try all the amazing workouts on offer! So let’s get going and “Try Eveything”!
Cick here for 50% off your first pass!
It is now scientifically proven: you can have limitless fun during a workout!
And the revelation came in the form of REBOUNCE, a trampoline-based workout. Oh! Some of you are already rolling their eyes: “I have seen those stuffs on QVC channel”. Don’t be fooled my friends!
This is rebouncing workout Version 2.0: repackaged into a fitness format, injected with nitro-speed, pumped up with positive energy and infused with funky moves. Before the class starts, a few words of caution from the guru Missie (more about her later):
- Ladies, wear a good bra!
- Empty your bladder, the gravity effect can put some pressure (gravity did punish Sonia at the end of the class- Ouch!)
Missie welcomes us to the class, it is simply impossible that someone out there can top her positivity and energy: if you had a bad day at work, Missie is your salvation. It’s that simple. She is a self-taught dancer with a range of experiences in the industry including teaching, choreography, live events and music videos. It shows in the moves you got to perform.
Lights on - the beat’s on and BOOM! The class starts with 160 speedy abs crunches! I bet you didn’t see that coming QVC-viewers!!
At S&S we like to think ourselves as decently fit, but those 160 fast crunches were surreal and Missie just ate them like candy-floss. Interestingly, as you are lying down on the rebounder to crunch, you find yourself in a better posture avoiding any arching of the lower back. You do need a strong core to keep your balance while you’re bouncing about.
Result: optimal abs crunches = Bikini Body!
After our abs got their blasting it is the turn of the legs and booty. Missie breaks down the basic moves: twist, bounce left, bounce right, hopscotch... If you can’t follow just enjoy the vibe and bounce the stress away.
Let’s put the record straight before we go further.
Lucile is the dancer of S&S and she took on the class like a fish to water. Sonia is more strength work and Muay Thai training, meaning a bad version of Travolta in Saturday Night Fever when it comes to dancing. So if you were born with 2 left feet like Sonia, Rebounce is still a valid workout for you; that's the beauty of it.Then came the moment of reckoning: The Twerk Off!!!
Think about it like a Fast-Feet Tabata with the intensity multiplied by 5 through the bouncing effect of the trampoline. The pace becomes lightening fast living (your Jell-O is left with no chance), and at the end of the sequence, your booty is on FIRE!
160 abs crunches + Twerk Off = Bikini Body with an A+
The class carries on with few more choreographies of varied complexities, so you got to switch on your inner dancer. Again, if you cannot keep up, just Bounce-Away. For the more confident ones out there you can even add some freestyle moves: let's go crazy! The class ends and we were both drenched (and for Sonia feeling an urgent need for the ladies)...and our faces were achy as we laughed so much!
The verdict: A Bikini-body-blasting workout packed with dynamite positivity... that got to beat any QVC sales-pitch.
Missie, we salute you!
- Stamina factor: 4/5 the class is pretty much non-stop! Your core and buttocks are going to be engaged at all time
- Sweat factor: 4/5 at the end of the class it is as if you walked out of a sauna
- Skill factor: 2 to 4/5 depending if you have good coordination or 2 left feet
www.rebouncelondon.com Missies teaches at Fitness First Clapham Junction and Putney
Launch of Tighten and Tone workout
Yes peeps, you probably have heard about it in the Tweetosphere: again Nike flexed its powerful muscles to treat us with not 1 but 2 Fitness events in London!
Tuesday Sucker-Punch at the Tobacco Dock:
All we knew was to converge to the Tobacco Dock for the exclusive launch of Ellie Goulding’s Tighten & Tone NT+C workout. We knew in the run up to the event, there was a daily digital workout featuring Ellie that Lucile has been following and she really had a great time.
In a past post we reported how we were left wanting for more with a NT+C session after NTC week, but in this program Nike & Ellie out-did themselves. Seriously.
The build-up was there, the clues even more telling as on arrival the sheet size of the venue and the crowd you had a hunch that Nike was planning big... AGAIN! But, Strength&Stretches we like to keep a card up our sleeve too and we chose to bring along a friend who NEVER attended a Nike Event, who NEVER did a NTC session and NEVER ran the NTC App (yes, those people do exist).
So, bring on the ever-smiling Olivia!
The event kicks off with some serious blow: an exclusive acoustic concert with Ellie Goulding is all her splendour! Olivia is mouth open.
There is no auto-tuning, no in-ear monitor, one guitar, one keyboard, backing singers and the girl is 100% LIVE ! The concert: you just had to be there to truly get the magic of it. The crowd was simply mesmerised by Ellie’s performance. She was so friendly and humble: it’s a treat to hear her sing to us- 300 girls in their workout gear…
Of course we took plenty of pictures for you lucky people- Check the diaporama! The concert is over and the second blow is given: we are doing the Tighten & Tone session! It is a 15min sesh from the NTC app with high-intensity moves. The NTC trainers are out with us to help on our form and “La” Goulding is joining on stage to work-out as well. I think Olivia’s mind has just blown.
Nike trainer Faisal leads the class with Ellie on his side! What a great team they are! We start with a hip stretcher which is probably my favourite warm up move and boy S&S can keep a strong posture.
BAM!! Mountain Climber, dynamic lunges, V-seat with scissor kicks, shoulder press-up... The drills keep on coming, Olivia is right in the mix: sweat and smile that’s how we like!
Olivia rolled in with the punches all the way! Commenting on the event she said: “I had a great time at NTC! I met some really cool energetic and positive people Overall though the atmosphere was rocking – and Ellie Goulding’s performance was a 10/10. I will definitely go to more NTC events.”
Finally, stretching comes as a salvation.
- Sweat Level: 3.5/5 – I was sweaty like I would be sweaty on a spring day after going for a jog
- Toughness: 3.5/5 – The workout was a little repetitive and although I wasn’t gasping for breath I definitely built up a sweat and had some serious inner thigh burn the next morning!
- Skill Level: 3/5 – It was hard at times. As an NTC beginner it would have been nice to take a bit more time over the some of the harder moves (my plank is more like a bendy ruler) – but because the event was so big I understand that this wasn’t possible.
- Strength level: 3/5 You didn’t need that much strength to be successful.
Thursday Uppercut at 1Rebel:
Now that was some great opportunity Nike offered us here! Since beginning of the year, you might have heard about the boom of “boutique gyms” with the latest instalment being 1Rebel. It’s based in the City of London (round the corner from Shushi Samba for the people in the know) and it offers a pay-as-you-go formula for two types of classes: indoor cycling (RIDE) and treadmill/weight work out (RESHAPE).
We were planning to try out 1Rebel for a while but Nike just made our wish come true with organising a special ride session!
Sonia tries RIDE: Like any reputable indoor cycling class, wearing cycling shoes is a must: it makes your ride more efficient and effective (you push and pull, rather than just pushing down on the pedals), and avoids you getting the dreaded numb toes. So it is off with the trainers and in with the cycling shoes!
In the meantime, Lucile heads to the RESHAPE session downstairs. So we are inadvertently trying out 2 events for the price of 1!
The room is filling up and what strikes me is that it is a large attendance (over 60 bikes are taken). Interestingly when I’ve done spin classes at my gym or attended Boom Cycle of Psycle, I’ve always ended up in groups of 40-max. But who know maybe it is a completely different approach: I’m sensing a surprise here....
The class kick starts the bikes are decent (although Schwinn bikes give the best experience by far) and respond well to resistance change. Music is good and the teacher upbeat: she plays with the music volume and light-effects, which makes the class entertaining. I am definitely sweating and adding weight work is a great combination to cycling. The class is over in no time and I had good fun.
Downstairs, Lucile is pushing herself through hills and sprints as well as some weight work. There are 3 sessions of 7minutes on the treadmill and 7 minutes with weights. This makes the 45 minutes-long class go very quickly. The exercises are challenging
As a new kid on the block, 1Rebel definitely holds a great formula with superb facilities (where else do you find heated benches in the changing rooms?) that will please a lot of people. But we felt as the boutique gym scene is so dynamic, 1Rebel needs to give some tough love to its crowd and crank up the intensity! Maybe because it was a special event, special treatment was given to the class. But we all know, Nike events are about playing hard and give it 100%. From our view it is a promising start, but let’s meet up again in 6 months’ time 1Rebel crowd!
Strength Factor: 1.5 / 5 Decent RIDE + RESHAPE sessions and the weight track was nice, but I would love to have a relentless class next time
Skill Factor: 1 / 5 You just have to get used to using cycling shoes. Don’t fall off the treadmill!
Sweat Factor: 3.5 / 5 Nothing better than a cycling session for some sweat action!
The only one word that makes athletes and gym-goers alike shake in their trainers.
And that is today's offering on NT+C Week-Digital Edition.
In order to pull through the challenge, I am tagging along with members of Crewkbsistas (#crewkbsistas): Egle and Anna, fitness divas who go all the way. The Location: YMCA in Central London. It is a no frills gym but offers a wide range of classes, impressive swimming pool and huge space to run around.
I have done many Tabata sessions where I walked away pretty much wiped-out: it is physically tough and you have to push through the muscle burn and pounding heartbeat.
But it requires a lot of mental strength too:
- Your body wants you to stop and I’ve caught myself "pacing" for the sole purpose
of making it to the 8th round.
- But this is not Tabata.
- You have to be focused and trust yourself that you will actually come back from
that Point-Of-No-Return you fear to get to.
For me, going with a teacher or a group of people who play hard and work harder is the clue for a successful Tabata. Hence the Crewkbsistas.
The session starts with choosing your weapon: the medicine ball. And because I am with tough girls, anything below 5kg is unthinkable. 6kg and 8kg it is then!
Very quickly, we realise that this is more of a Get Strong-type of Tabata rather than a Get Lean version with high-knee runs and burpees galore.
In those 12 minutes we had squats, lunges, press-ups, crunches using the balls. We definitely focused ourselves on posture and form, but half-way through opted to the 8kg ball to add on the difficulty.
It is a decent 12min session is you are a novice to Tabata and need to get a feel for intensity.
But from my part, I’ve survived Tabata drills from Hell dispensed by Sonja Moses and Greg Sellar at NTC, so this NT+C app session felt on the easy-side.
On the mental focus side, I hyped myself up so hard that maybe I expected session which would test me all the way to the confines of my soul.
All in all, taking NTC week on the Digital field is a great idea to work-out and expand your fitness network. It brings the #ntcweek vibe closer to home. I love this concept. But if like me, you felt you needed more after this 12min Tabata, my pick from the NT+C app library:
- Sonja Moses fight training.
- Carmelita Jeter's High Intensity Power Workout.
- Strength Factor - 2.5/5 Mainly because I felt I needed to grab a 8kg medicine ball half-way through to feel the session.
- Sweat Factor - 2/5 I’ve done Tabatas where I was blinded by my own sweat, it was not the case this time unfortunately. - Skill Factor – 2/5 The movements explained are quite straightforward but you have to discipline yourself to keep a good form.
NTC week 2015 is drawing to a close... ALMOST! Nike has once again surpassed itself with an offering of feel good and imaginative activities, spanning from spinning at the Gherkin, to Boxfit at Equinox, to Paddleboarding at the Olympic Pool... But, as we thought it was over, Nike throws a final killer blow with a surprise event on Saturday 24th February.
So there we were, not knowing what to expect, arriving at One Mayfair on a chilly but sunny staurday morning. We walked in to this amazing old church to find hundreds of girls pumped up and ready to exercise. As we walked in we could hear DJ Neev rocking tune after tune. This created an amazing atmosphere and the energy was incredible, rising to the beautiful ceilings brought to life by a light show. I cannot praise enough the trainers Sonja Moses, Tameka Small, Rory Knight, Tee, Fizzle and Georgie which made the hour-long workout challenging and yet so much fun. The team work exercises made me push myself and I ended the workout exhausted yet empowered.
Surprises was a key word for the day! GB Olympian and European champion Perri Shakes-Drayton came for a workout and it was an absolute honour to meet her - I was completely starstruck! She was so approachable and friendly whilst working out with us, cracking jokes and encouraging us. I felt really priviledged to meet one of the role models of our generation.
After two hours of intensive NTC workout, with challenging drills mixing up strength and balance, we needed to refuel. A selection of healthy lunch options was availble, including Fittatas, vegan salads and Juices. The church hall was then transformed into a beautiful yoga space with candles and soft music. From our front row mats, it felt so good to breathe, focus and stretch during the Yoga sequence.
Nike managed to bring together girls sharing a common passion for fitness and fun! Training with hundreds of girls cheering each other is definitely a great way to feel strong and empowered and I hadn't enjoyed a Nike event as much since they took over the Old Billingsgate in 2012 for the NTC Live Festival (cheeky appearance from Lucile at 0:06 and 1:26!)
NT+C week and Day 4 takes us to an outdoor evening at the London City Powerleage for a kick about.
Getting ready in the heated changing rooms, it is time to brace myself and face the Artic conditions.
- Nike Tech Fleece, check!
- wind-breaker, check!
- two pairs of socks, check!
- gloves, check!
Michael from the Nike Academy (@NikeAcademy) kicks off (no pun intended) the session with an eagerly awaited warm up of kicking the ball around and, for me, a fair amount of chasing behind the ball.
Amongst the group of up-beat ladies, I bump into Valentina, NTC regular and amazingly the female answer to Cristiano Ronaldo! My rusty kicking skills were definitely no match but the session was all about group energy on the pitch rather than trying to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. That's good enough for me.
Michael proceeded to short exercises involving basic ball control, passing and body placement skills; before the difficulty goes up a notch with some pass-interception games. With a lot of concentration and keeping my left and right feet in check, I manage to keep it together.
Finally the moment of truth comes: a short 7-a-side match! Cunningly, I am hedging my bets by tagging along with buddy-Valentina and a group of ladies sporting the Nike FC247 5-a-side specific football boots: they got to be pros... fingers-crossed I won't make a fool of myself.
The nerves wear off and I am in the game! First attempt at scoring and I narrowly miss. Am I getting competitive here? I must say my teammates' skills are great and Valentina's dribbling and passing are getting her some comments of approval. In no time another scoring opportunity presents itself to me again: control of the ball, my right foot is ready and the ball is in! I want to shout GOOOOAAAAAL, but let's face it: it was probably more luck than a Thierry Henry-style strike.
The game is already over, high-5s all around, huge smiles on everybody's face and the weather conditions are all forgotten.
All in all, I had a great time. Michael's approach of progressive exercises from basic skills to full-on match allowed everybody to build confidence and feel included in the game. At the end, the Nike coordinators allowed Valentina and myself to join the second football session at 7.30. Be ready ladies, here I come!
- Strength Factor - 2/5 Running required but no need of brutal power
- Sweat Factor - 1/5 Mainly due to the Siberian conditions
- Skill Factor - 4/5 Footwork, body placement and coordination are necessary to enjoy the experience
The Low Down:
- Nike Academy is a male-specific full-time, pro-level training program run by Nike https://www.facebook.com/NikeAcademy?ref=br_tf
- if you and your girl-friends fancy a kick about, get in touchLondon City PowerLeague https://www.powerleague.co.uk/5-a-side/london/london-city Prices go from £73 for a 40min 5-a-side session to £107 for 7-a-side
I attended an early morning spin class at the top Floor of Harrods. I felt very privileged going behind the scene when the shop was still closed to the public and seeing the boxes being moved around!
The spin class was led by the founder of GloFaster Simon Weatherall. GloFaster is a new brand of sportswear that connects with your device to monitor your performance. It uses simple light signals to let you know whether you are at the right heart rate, power output, distance or time zone for your training routine. They will flash if you're behind time or target, and stay on when you are 'in the zone'.
Simon’s energy was contagious and he made us, the five participants, push our limits! Uphills, sprints- we could have well been on the road to the Tour de France! We ended the class with some stretches, sweaty but happy! To read our interview with Simon, click here!
- Strength Factor - 2/5 You can adapt the resistance so it's up to you
- Sweat Factor - 5/5 Very intense class, bring your water
- Skill Factor - 1/5 Just need to be ready to push your limits!
The Low Down:
- Only a pop up event- we want more!
We know that New Year’s resolutions can be tough to follow… And luckily brands know that and are on track to help us stick to our resolutions. To help you choose what’s best for YOU, we have put ourselves through surprising workouts…
Nike is launching its NTC week on 18th January. It is the third year that we’re attending and we’re super excited! NTC week was initially set up to keep women on track with their New Year’s finess resolutions. The first year we attended consisted in extra morning NTC classes at Niketow. Last year was a real step-up with classes such as Barrecore, hoolahoop, Barry's Bootcamp... This year NTC week is being taken to another level with Spinning at the Gherkin, Paddle boarding or Fitboxing.
NTC week is for you if you want to experience massive scale fitness events and exercises with hundreds of girls .
The Sweaty Betty “Fly Flex Flow” is part of Sweaty Betty biannual #GetFit4Free campaign aimed at empowering women through fitness. Classes are available in their stores all over London and the UK. The #GetFit4Free campaign is fantastic and offers many opportunities to try different styles of workout such as ballet or HIIT. What is also great is their online resources which allows you to watch video and perform the workout in the comfort of your own home!
Finally, Harrods is celebrating the New Year with free fitness classes and demos on the 5th floor as part of their New Year New You campaign. Happy New You by Harrod is for you if you want very intimate sessions, discover new gear and learn about new workout. You will receive personal attention and leave a lot more knowledgeable.