Sunday, 29 March 2015

Rough edges

So guys, it's been a while.

Mainly I haven't been writing much because life has been so hectic and a bit overwhelming recently. Mainly in good ways but still overwhelming.

I haven't been writing and I haven't been doing much else either. My exercise habits go out of the window when I get busy which is probably the worst thing I could do for myself because without regular exercise I get all worked up, anxious and pissy about everything. I am a DELIGHT to live with when I'm not running my energy off.

It's funny because I don't typically think of the drivers behind my exercising as self-care and making myself feel good. Rather I've normally exercised for aesthetic reasons. I'm coming to the conclusion that I need to disassociate my desire to exercise from my desire to change myself. I mean, it's pretty useless anyway because I have been exercising fairly regularly for the past fifteen years and haven't changed a jot. I'm calling bullshit.

Rather than thinking that exercising is about controlling my body, I'm trying to teach myself to understand that it's really more about trying to control my mind. That might be teaching myself to dig deep and push through temporary discomfort or it might be letting myself get outside of my head for a little bit and concentrate on movement above anything else.

It's not easy to change a habit of a lifetime but I'm getting there slowly and as a result when I have managed to get out and do a bit of exercise, I've enjoyed it exponentially more than I normally do.

The other thing I haven't been doing of late is wearing make-up. It wasn't a conscious decision, rather it was probably a by product of the fact that I'm working a lot of shifts and at 5.30am the last thing I can be bothered doing is my face.

Then after a couple of mornings where I'd just scraped a bit of mascara on, I read this Man Repeller article and thought 'FUCK YEAH' and after that I pretty much gave up on wearing any make up on a day to day basis. Not even powder which, as a particularly shiny person, I've adopted an unhealthy addiction to. It's been tough at times because my skin still isn't looking its best thanks to the scars left behind by the skin infection I had at the tail end of last year so the desire to cover up is strong.

It's pretty pointless to think so much about it because nobody else really cares if I wear make-up or not but I guess it's just a little self experiment in teaching myself to be comfortable with who I am and resist the urge to smooth off the rough edges, of which there are many. In that respect, it's been kind of cool to do it. Also, I get an extra fifteen minutes in bed which is pretty sweet too.

Also, here are some celebrities sans make-up but not in the typical circle of doom fashion our media adores. Just portraits of people, looking like people.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

GT30 at DW Fitness. A Review.

Image from here 

DW Fitness got in touch with me to ask if I'd like to review a new class of theirs, GT30. I agreed, despite not really having a clue about what I was getting myself into, which you might have noticed is something I tend to do fairly often.

This is the first time I've reviewed a fitness class so, as ever, feedback is welcome. Also, I apologise for the lack of photographs. As it was my first time doing something like this, I was a little bit shy about explaining that I was a blogger and asking if I could take photos of the class. I'll do better next time. Promise. Of course I couldn't leave you without ANY photographs so I scoured the web to find a photograph of someone bearing an uncanny resemblance to me (long, tanned limbs - check, impressive abs - check, model beauty - check) doing some plyometric exercises. This should give you a pretty good idea of what I looked like during this class.

For those of you who do like to know what you're getting yourself into, GT30 is a bodyweight training class which lasts for about half an hour. That sounds like a reasonably short time for an exercise class and along with the fact that no weights were involved, I definitely underestimated how tough it would be.

The GT30 class involves doing bursts of bodyweight exercises in a circuit format. The full routine is carried out twice within the half hour. Typically, I struggle to think of body weight exercises over and above the usual push up/sit up ones but this class was really good for giving me some ideas. There were plenty of plyometric moves which really get the heart rate going.

Plyometric training involves teaching the muscle to move from an extension to a contraction in a rapid or explosive manner (paraphrased from the reputable source that is Wikipedia obviously). It's used a lot by athletes to improve performance and as you might expect it is DAMN TOUGH. The sort of exercises I'm talking about are squat jumps (squatting as low as possible then jumping from that position), Lateral jumps (jumping from side to side and landing in a one legged squat. Ouch) and of course the dreaded Burpee. I detest the person who created this exercise. I have nothing more to say on the matter.

There were lots of these exercises in the GT30 class and I definitely felt the burn in my legs the next day, so much so that I had to cut my Saturday workout a little short as my legs were still a bit wobbly. In addition to the plyometric exercises there were also lots of more traditional body weights exercises, most notably a lot of variations on the traditional push up. We did spider man push ups which were definitely not the easiest exercise to complete, largely because you can't do them on your knees which is typically how I like to do my push ups. Half-Assing since 87. 

It's quite hard to describe this exercise so I'll link to this video. This is a video of someone who is far more accomplished at this move than I expect I will ever be. Also, he's wearing socks with toes which creeps me out a little bit. Sorry if you feel the same as me about that. He's also topless though so it's a bit of a win some, lose some situation here.

The second variation on the push up in the class was one which is followed by a move through into a side plank on the upward phase. It should look a little something like this. That's a pretty tough move too, particularly when you need to do it repeatedly for thirty seconds.

It's safe to say that GT30 is not a class for the faint-hearted. It's tough going but also really quite good fun and the fact that it only lasts thirty minutes is a good thing in my eyes because I have a pretty short attention span and so tend to get a bit bored when exercise drags on.

I attended the DW gym in Dundee and there were only a couple of others in the class, which is a shame because it's a good class which probably deserves more of a crowd. My one bug bear is that the class takes part on the gym floor so you're jumping around doing all of these strange exercises in full view of everyone else in the gym. I think that might put off some people who would otherwise like to take part in a class like this.

If you're someone who would be put off by this, I feel your pain because initially I did feel a bit awkward about it, but actually I found that within a few minutes, I was really enjoying the class and I'd forgotten all about the people around me.

The instructor for the class I attended was called Fiona and she was great, really welcoming and helpful. Sometimes, I can get my form wrong when carrying out exercises, especially when it's a fast paced class and she was really good at picking up on the occasions that I did so and just reminding me to make my squat more narrow or to make my lunges deeper. She did this in a very pleasant way so I didn't feel like I was doing it wrong, she was just helping me to improve and get a better work out.

To conclude; I really enjoyed my experience of GT30 at DW Fitness Dundee. The instructor was really good and the class was a great way to get a tough workout in a short space of time. This type of class would be most suited to someone with a basic level of fitness who is looking to make some improvements to their performance. It's a good all round workout as it gives you a bit of strength training and cardio exercise all combined. The only downside for me was that it takes place on the gym floor but I wouldn't let that put me off taking part again as I think the benefits of the class probably outweigh my awkwardness about that.