Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Supplicity: Supplements Made Simple

With an increasing number of us being more conscientious when it comes to our health nutrition has definitely been on the front pages recently. However, the advice is confusing at best and all too often completely conflicting. We are constantly being told what to eat, and even more so what not to eat! Coupled with the heightened prevalence of allergies and intolerances this can lead to a somewhat restricted diet, even when disregarding the research that tells us our food is actually getting less nutritious by the decade (you can read more about it here) due to soil depletion, pesticide use and (dare I say it) GM! I personally have tried to decrease processed foods in my diet and eat organic produce, but my intolerances to dairy, gluten and eggs can make some meals repetitive and I always worry that I may be missing vital nutrients by cutting down on certain food groups (such as grains).

In an ideal world I know the optimal way to get nutrients is through a balanced and varied diet, but who lives in an ideal world? I certainly am guilty of burning the candle at both ends – working too much, not getting enough sleep, having too many glasses of wine… therefore I am very grateful to get a little help along the way!

Good quality supplements can be a great help as they ensure you get a top up of vital nutrients that your body needs. I always think that even if I am eating well it never hurts to make sure! However, the supplement market is so big that, just like nutrition, it can be very confusing to pick out what you need. I have bought many bottles of vitamins over the years that either stay at home, or on my desk at work, but as I am always on the go I find it hard to keep a routine and make sure I am being consistent.

Therefore, I was really excited when Supplicity contacted me to try out some of their supplements. The range is created by London-based brothers-in-law - a doctor and a health and fitness professional. They have designed Supplicity to make supplements super easy to use and fit into a busy lifestyle with little commitment required by splitting your bespoke supplements into labelled daily strips, which you can easily travel with!

I chose the Mojo* daily essential energy box, which contains B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Zinc, Omega-3 and Korean Ginseng (used for thousands of years to enhance cognition and stamina). The carefully selected vitamins and micronutrients have been blended to create a daily supplement that aims to leave you feeling energized, stronger and recharged. I felt that in these cold months my energy was definitely lacking and rather than rely on caffeine I wanted a more healthy alternative.

The Mojo box arrived through my letter box and has been the easiest thing to add to my daily routine. As the 3 supplements for each day are labelled in individual strips I can easily pop them in my bag in the morning or take a couple of strips with me when I go away without having to lug multiple bottles from work to home or fuss about with plastic containers. It also helps me to keep on track if I miss a day! I take mine after breakfast as recommended and have definitely felt the difference.

Each Supplicity box contains a 28 day plan with plans starting from £18 a month and your first month is free! Let me know what you think of this plan and if you are interested in trying them out for yourself!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Fitness: Psycle Review

In my quest to keep fitness fun and exciting I am always looking for new classes to try out so last week I popped into Psycle to see what all the hype was about! First of all I must mention that I am not a spinning pro. I attended a few sessions at Cyclebeat two years ago and the odd spinning class at my gym, but I have never been a hardcore spinner as I was concerned about overdeveloping one muscle group and just building my (already sizeable… thanks mama) thighs. Psycle, however is a totally different approach to the spinning sensation!
The Psycle workout is specifically designed to strengthen the body's core and tone key body parts whilst burning maximum calories. Light hand weights are used to tone the upper body whilst movement out of the saddle increases the engagement of core muscles and raises the heart rate. Everyone is given cleated shoes to wear, which promises to increase the connection between the leg and the bike, engaging the hamstrings and glute muscles resulting in lean, toned legs - and no big thighs (hooray)!

The music in the class is also a major element. I always listen to music when I workout so I loved it when the lights were turned down and the tunes turned up as it really helped to just get lost in the music and forget how hard you were working. The playlists are tailored for each different class making sure they are suitable for the time of day and week. As my session was on a Thursday night it was very much a club soundtrack - pushing us faster and faster into the weekend.

One of the things that makes Psycle stand out from other spinning classes is there is no competitive element or performance measurement. There isn’t even a resistance gage on the bikes! At Cyclebeat there is a leader board that plays to everyone’s competitive natures and the instructor gives recommendations of resistances for different tracks, but at Psycle novices and conditioned athletes can ride side by side, getting what they personally need from their workout experience. I would say that I fall somewhere in the middle… there are certain things I am not competitive about, but when it comes to sports I think a little competition is very healthy, especially when competing with yourself! Therefore, I do like to know my resistance and wear a heartbeat monitor to see how hard I have worked and try to use this to push myself further next time. Others may be happy feeling like they have done their best and not worrying about the stats and Psycle works perfectly in this case!

I really enjoyed my first Psycle class, despite the simple fact that I found it so much harder than I thought I would! Most of the 45 min class was spent out of the saddle with a lot of pumping in the arms, which was not something I was used to. It really helped to work my arms, shoulders and core and I truly felt like I had an allover body workout afterwards. As I normally do weights and a bit of cardio the repetitive pulsing and holding a lot of weight on my arms for longer periods was definitely a challenge. However, the music really helped with my endurance and I found that as long as I stayed with the beat it was easy enough to follow! The instructors (I had Becky) are super enthusiastic and really motivational, which was another big help!
The studio itself was great. The changing rooms were clean, with good sized lockers and lovely ila products. Though if I’m completely honest as mine was a full capacity evening class I could have done with a little more bench space to get myself sorted, so it’s worth arriving a few minutes early if you can. I loved the fact that the cleats are provided as it saves you lugging around trainers all day and I felt so much more secure on the bike (especially with all the movement out of the saddle) knowing that my feet were not going to slide off. The cycle studio is crammed full of bikes and does look a little intimidating, but with the lights down low it’s easy to forget about everyone else. Despite everyone working away the studio still felt cool and air conditioned and even had a fresh scent (lemon grass maybe), which definitely made a change from my normal gym and I very much appreciated! Though this may have been aided by the class being 90% ladies too…

Overall, I really enjoyed the Psycle experience and would recommend it for anyone looking to add variety and fun to their workout. My silly heart rate monitor decided to die half way through, but I estimate I burned at least 500kcal in the 45 minutes session.

Have you ever been to a Psycle class? Are you a fan of spinning! I would love to know your thoughts!!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fitness: 1Rebel Review

After hearing a lot of buzz around the opening of 1Rebel I was not one to shy away from the challenge. I was compelled to try out the new fitness revolution for the modern age, especially with one of the studios so close to my office. I was excited to see that when you sign up online 1Rebel offers you a complimentary 1st session to try their service. As I already pay a hefty gym membership I really appreciate offers like this as it lets me review the experience before having to commit, which is perfect as the whole thought process behind 1Rebel is a modern approach with no subscription or membership fees. All you do is choose a package (a number of sessions) and use these up as you wish (though of course the more sessions you purchase the more cost effective it is).

I opted for a 30 minutes lunchtime full body Reshape session. Although these sessions are short (given all the classes are the same price) they do come with an added benefit of a Roots and Bulbs lunch or juice, which is ideal for me when popping out of the office!

I attended the 1Rebel studio on St Mary Axe (almost opposite the Gherkin) and after being given a large towel and chilled bottle of water on arrival descended to the changing rooms and studios underground. The changing rooms are among the best I have seen – smart, roomy lockers with no keys needed (and definitely no £1 coins in sight), modern brass accents, plenty of mirrors, GhD appliances and clean showers with a good range of complimentary products. I was impressed!

The Reshape class studio is split into work benches (with weights underneath) and treadmills (these were fantastic and so easy to use). We only had 4 people in our class so we had one each, but the idea is when classes are full people alternate between benches and treadmills. I understand that space in the City is at a premium, but even with so few people I could imagine the studio getting pretty full. For me personally the mat space between the benches was a little small. I wouldn’t like to be doing inchworms face to face with anyone so I would have preferred a little more room (though I appreciate I have been somewhat spoiled by my home gym where I usually have a whole area to myself). 

With one instructor keeping an eye on people using various equipment (and in club style darkness) I think it may be easy to get lost in a full class, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for complete beginners. If you are just starting your fitness journey and need to learn basic exercises with good form I think this class may be confusing as it is very fast paced. However, as I had done all the exercises before I felt pretty confident – it was still a challenge, but having learned the correct way to do them my main test was to repeat or hold for the right amount of time. As we had a small class we had plenty of attention and encouragement from the super energetic Melissa, but I guess it just depends on the popularity of your session!

Throughout the class we switched from various programmes on the treadmill (warm up jog, run, sprint, incline sprint and dynamic mode of pushing the treadmill yourself to pick up speed) to plyo work such as squat jumps, weights such as bench press and lunges with dumbbells, cardio building burpees and core strengthening dynamic planks and leg raises. The class was mainly HIIT with short rest periods so my heart rate was up throughout the full 30 minutes - burning 350 calories. Melissa was fantastic at giving us tips or encouraging us to run that bit faster or hold that plank a few seconds longer and the loud music and club atmosphere kept it fun!

After a quick shower and change I grabbed my complimentary Roots and Bulbs lunch and was back in the office with a nutritious meal, a rush of endorphins and more than a slight flush to my cheeks!

As someone who works out regularly I think these classes are great fun and a fantastic way to get a quick workout in during the day, especially if I have evening plans. I find that exercise is absolutely the best stress relief and even after 30 minutes you feel the difference. 1Rebel has fabulous facilities and a super convenient location if you work in the City and I would definitely recommend checking it out whether you are looking to shape and tone up for the summer, or fit in some exercise around your busy day without giving up your evenings or having to get up at the crack of dawn. There is also a Rebel Ride class if you are a fan of spinning. There’s nothing to lose as the first session is free!

There are various offers available at this introductory stage if you want to purchase sessions

If you mention my name you can get a 20% discount off either a 10, 25 or 50 pack on the website using the code IWANTMORE. Alternatively there is a special offer where you can get 20% off 50 sessions and £200 worth of Charli Cohen sports-luxe range with the code 50shades.

Let me know if you try it and what you think of 1Rebel. You never know... I may be on the treadmill next to you next lunchtime!
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