Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zombie Fitness

I know the title might sound incongruous, but these topics are quite easily linked together. Anyone who has seen Zombieland will know that Rule No. 1 is Cardio!

I have an awesome app on my phone called Zombies, Run! I've only ever used it for road running, but I've started using it on the indoor track at my gym as well, which I'm really enjoying.

I've recently been injured and so unable to go to gym due to damaged muscles around my ribs from coughing (weird, I know right?) which besides being incredibly painful, was very irritating. You don't really realise how much you use that part of your body until every little thing you pick up hurts, including the tiny human that insists on being picked up continually.

This means no weights. No rowing machine. No swimming. Pretty much everything I was doing at the gym. It of course didn't help that I couldn't do cardio because I was coughing almost constantly.

Luckily I'm on the road to recovery (this has been a ROUGH winter people!) I may still have sore ribs but at least I'm not coughing any more, so I can't do any resistance training or weights, but I can now do cardio.

Rule No. 1 - Cardio!

And what better way than to run away from zombies than on an indoor climate controlled track? While I love running on the indoor track it can get a bit boring looking at the same landscape (or lack of in this case) continually, so this makes things quite significantly more fun. The story unfolds as you run, no matter what speed you're going although obviously you're encouraged to run most of the time.

Want to find out more about Zombies, Run? Check out the video below.

Runner 5? There's been a zombie attack - we need you to get in and rescue the survivors...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Squats - your best friend

One area of my body that I am always conscious of is my butt. Yeah, yeah I know I sound like every other woman here, but I began doing squats, at first without any weights and then later with weights, in order to feel good about my butt.

The great thing about squats however is that they actually help on many levels. Squatting helps tone many areas of the body, not just your legs, they are also beneficial to your core as well as your back, plus they help your body burn more fat. (Find out more info here)

An important point to note is good form, as you can do some damage if you try to do these with weights that are too heavy, but listening to your body (& your trainer if you have one) will go a long way to making sure you're doing 
them properly. 

There are a variety of different squat challenges out there, in fact they seem to be all the rage at the moment, but this is one that I particularly like because it's manageable and it incorporates rest days. It builds up from a mere 30 squats, all the way up to 200 in a mere 4 weeks. I've been doing it for about 3 weeks now, and I've really noticed the difference (although I'm not going to be posting a pic of my ass up on my blog!)

In a brief rundown (you should really visit the site for the full breakdown, everyone deserves acknowledgement and I wouldn't want to take away from her site in any way), it involves 5 different squat exercises:

The Narrow Squat:

The Narrow Squat with Back Kick:

The Basic Squat:

The Basic Squat with Side Leg Lift:

The Sumo Squat:

All of these combined will not only get your legs and butt ready for the approaching summer season, but should help your overall fitness. Luckily a squat challenge such as this also suitable for beginners, so no matter your fitness level you can't go wrong!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Sick

One of the most damaging things to a gym routine is being ill. For me anyway. Especially when you have a cough, because it hinders pretty much any form of cardio. And in my case I have a hacking, cough up body parts kind of cough which means the only exercise I'm currently capable of doing is something that doesn't get my heart and breathing rate up too much.

I've tried to compensate for this by walking a lot more, which might not get me huffing and puffing, but it also doesn't get me coughing for which I'm very grateful.

What are the real dangers of exercising when ill however? And when is it ok to do so?

I'm certainly no doctor, but from what I've read it seems that if your sickness is above the neck, so a runny nose, sore throat or something along those lines, then you can exercise at a lower intensity than usual, but you can still exercise if you feel ok.

If however you have a fever, coughing, vomiting or stomach cramps (anything below the neck) then you should rather be resting and not placing additional strain on your body.

The most important thing is to make sure you listen to your body!

Luckily my cough is now on its way out, which means it's back to the indoor running track for a real run, not a walk!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Indoor track

For the first time yesterday I incorporated a run on the indoor track at Planet Platinum. I can't say it's ever really appealed to me before but I felt like going for a run and I'm not a big fan of the treadmill as I like to actually move when I run. Weird perhaps considering I often make use of the stationary bike but nevertheless I much prefer to actually stretch my legs and cover some distance when running.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoy running on the track and it's something I'm going to start incorporating into my regular routine. The track is varied enough in direction that no one part of your body takes strain. It's nice and quiet and it's very easy to zone out and just concentrate on your breathing and your body without distraction.

Image Credits: Planet Platinum

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What do you do when you can't make it to the gym?

Let's face it, it's not always easy to get to the gym when we have a lot on the go. Of course you make time to fit it into your schedule, but sometimes life gets in the way. Whether that's a sick child (which is something I have experience with first hand!), or that urgent presentation that requires you work late, sometimes it's less about motivation and more about finding the time to physically get to the gym and work our for a decent period of time.

I personally try to work out for about an hour or so when I go to the gym. Sometimes that hour is quite simply not available unless I get out of bed before the sun is even up (which isn't that hard in Winter!).

While I prefer to go to the gym because everything is all there in one convenient location, if that option isn't available, how do you manage to maintain your fitness routine if you don't have home gym equipment?

Luckily for me I live in an area where I can go for a run, and if it's too late to do that, I manage to maintain some semblance of order by doing some home workout routines that tide me over until I can get back into the gym.

So I'm putting it out there - what do you prefer to do at home if you can't make it to gym? Are you a runner, whether on the treadmill or road? Do you have some small home weights? Do you swim? Perhaps you own an Xbox Kinect and prefer to get your fitness fix through one of the many motion oriented games out there? (I personally prefer Just Dance!)

Regardless I've discovered in the process that it's essential to mix up your routine, whether at home or in the gym, it's all about not getting bored doing the same old thing over and over again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Get back on the wagon

The hardest thing about going to gym, especially for people like myself who have only just started, is getting into the rhythm. and making sure you go consistently. Which I did for 2 weeks believe it or not. 4 days a week I was at the gym. You might have seen my post about hot yoga, but I also swam (I love swimming and it's a great workout!), did some cardio, rowing machine, circuit.

And then in a whirlwind rush I went to LA for E3, the world's most prominent video game trade show. This involved a great deal of walking so the exercise wasn't at a complete dead end, but there's a difference in setting time aside in your busy day to make the effort to go to gym. Coupled with the fact that I arrived back in South Africa to the fact that my two year old son had a serious chest and throat infection that literally developed overnight, means that I haven't been to gym in 2 weeks.

I never thought I would miss it, and yet here I am.

My son will always take preference over my gym habits, but now that he's on the mend, I'm trying to find the time to get back into my exercise regime, hopefully this time without interruption.

Hot Yoga class here I come!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hot Yoga

I used to do a lot of what is known as Hatha Yoga. I was at a class probably 3-4 times a week, and it was something I absolutely loved.

And then, with the demands of working in television production and presenting a TV show, that slowly decreased to once a week, and finally I stopped going. I just didn't have the time.

I was of course pleased to discover that Planet Platinum has a variety of yoga classes, one of which is "Hot" Yoga, of which there are a variety of styles, the most common known as Bikram.

I'm not going to get into a debate about all the different hot yoga styles, if it interests you, you'll find more than enough information here. The room is heated to just above your internal body temperature, which is 37 degrees Celsius, so you're doing yoga in a room that sits between 38-39 degrees. The purpose of this is to enable you to stretch further and push your body into the poses that you might not be able to do in a colder environment.

Of course, as I said I USED to do a lot of yoga. And not only did I throw myself back into it last night after about 3 years, but I threw myself into hot yoga WHICH I'VE NEVER DONE BEFORE.

And it was awesome, but damn I'm sore today! My arms protest every time I lift them above shoulder height, and I keep discovering muscles I'd forgotten I had that protest at the most arbitrary of moments.

Hot Yoga will push you just that little bit further so you'll really work your body. And you sweat! Don't think that just because you don't jump up and down that you won't need a bottle of water right next to you (I forgot mine at home and regretted it!) I had moment where my muscles were shaking and I was holding a pose far longer than I ever thought I would be able to.

I might be in pain today but it was totally worth it.

I will most definitely be going back again next week.