Why I Had A Medichecks Blood Test (And What I Discovered)

July 6, 2018

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve done a few years competitive bodybuilding. In fact, I “prepped” (trained and dieted for) competitive bodybuilding shows in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, doing several shows a year.

That’s a lot for the human body to take.

Two years on from my last comp, and I still sometimes feel a bit tired. I have no idea if all the dieting has left me with any wonkiness as regards hormones, digestion, or nutrient levels.

I haven’t dieted for ages, but I know it can take a long time for things to return to normal. Especially when you’re a 40+ drug-free female. If I tell you that I used to have just one period a year (in my competing years), you’ll get an idea of what the body goes through.

All this is to say that I’ve been idly curious about how my body is doing, now I’m settling into a post-competitive-bodybuilding phase of life. Not curious enough to go to the GP or anything. But when my friends at Medichecks had an offer on their Well Woman Ultravit test, I decided to go for it.

The Medichecks Well Woman Ultravit test looks at health markers for red and white blood cells, liver health, kidney function, bone health, gout, iron status, and diabetes, measures of iron storage, thyroid function and key vitamins and hormones. Also ferritin, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, thyroid function and magnesium, female hormones FSH, LH and oestradiol, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Things I Was Worried/Curious/Catastrophising About

  • tiredness. I’m sometimes so tired, and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it. But then again, I stay up far too late watching Netflix, I scroll Facebook on my phone in bed, and generally do all those things I tell other people to do when I write content for clients.
  • gout (bloody gout!) I’ve had a painful big toe for about 2 years. I just can’t work out what’s wrong with it. I went to the GP when it was really bad, and he told me it was “probably gout” – which made me feel like Henry VIII or something. I don’t think it’s gout, but the GP said it “probably” was so… y’know.
  • menopause. For a few months, I convinced myself I was in the early stages of menopause. This was based on the sum total of zero. But I’m 40, and I know the pre-menopause “things starting to wind down” phase can start up to 10 years before menopause. So, anyway, I was curious about that.
  • general hormone levels. I’ve always assumed my hormone levels are bomb-diggity, because I seem to be able to put on muscle easily, and my hair grows fast, stuff like that. But it would be interesting to know for sure.
  • nutrient deficiencies. I haven’t dieted in any way since I last prepped for a show, and I eat a pretty varied diet. But there’s always a chance I’m missing something, or that my years of harsh bodybuilding dieting is still affecting me.
  • I am a generally nosy/curious person.

How It Works

The test I had needed a venous blood sample (blood drawn by a medical professional). Some you can do yourself with a fingertip pinprick test at home. All I had to do was go along to one of the partner clinics (a local hospital in my case), wait for a bit, get the nurse to take my blood, and pop the test in the post. The actual blood part took about 2 minutes. It didn’t hurt. I felt absolutely fine after.

The Results

Medichecks get your results to you very quickly – I think it was 24 or 48 hours after I posted the test. It’s all confidential and done online so you can log in and view all the results. They give recommendations and explain all the results clearly.

You get a comprehensive PDF, but there’s no point me putting screenshots here as it’s all very detailed and medical!

Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with me at all. No gout. No menopause. No wonky hormones or gaping holes in my nutrition. Just low iron (as explained below).

Unfortunately, this means I have no excuse for my “tiredness” other than watching Netflix too late into the night. (But the new season of GLOW has just started!)

Expert Comment

My friend and yours, all-round legend Dr Emil “Goliath” Hodzovic actually works for Medichecks. Emil is a medical Doctor (BSc Sports & Exercise Science, MBBCh Medicine & ISSN Applied Nutrition Student if you please) and a coach. He didn’t do my test, but I asked him to comment on the results from the point of view of someone who trains, has competed, and also knows the medical side of things.

Over to Emil:

Your creatinine is raised and actually a little high. This could easily be through muscle mass, having done a big workout, or dehydration (or use of creatine). But it is probably worth confirming that is usually normal for you. (FYI – eGFR above 60 is acceptable).

eGFR looks at the rate of filtration in the kidneys and uses creatinine as a marker. The factors above cause increased production rather than decreased kidney function but below a certain level, it’s worth making sure there is nothing else going on.

Your aspartate transferase is up a bit. This is entirely unsurprising in someone who exercises. Likewise with CK – creatine kinase.

Your transferrin is low and, actually, your ferritin is at the lower end of normal. This is definitely worth addressing via dietary changes and/or iron supplements. You are not anaemic yet (your Hb is normal) but I imagine if you continued it would likely go that way.

Your HDL and cholesterol ratio (Total Chol to HDL) are both great, reflecting both good genetics, exercise, and likely a good lifestyle.

Your magnesium levels are great, which suggests you are getting some from your diet as people who train hard can be deficient

Your thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone, and sex hormones are great.

Your Vit b12 is a bit raised. But this isn’t surprising as many supplements and energy drinks contain it, plus you are not vegan any more (!) so you’re getting plenty from diet too

And your Vitamin D is also great. This is another area where people can easily be deficient.

Your levels suggest possible supplementation (or just a lot of sunshine and being outdoors with all your dog walking!)

Thanks Emil. Not much for me to do really – except pay attention to my iron levels. I am terrible with supplements, by which I mean I just don’t remember to take them. I go in fits and starts with creatine, and I remember to take a multivit maybe 4 days out of the month. So I’ll take my multivit (which has iron in) every day. I know iron deficiency can make you feel tired, so perhaps this will address that issue. Or maybe I need to go to bed earlier and not take my phone into the bedroom… !

Everyday Health Is More Important Than #Beastmode

It’s good to know that simple everyday habits (like spending time outside every day, walking a lot, low stress levels, having a healthy and varied diet, and training) do pay off.

It’s worth noting I am definitely not a “fitspo” type person these days! I tran in the gym 2-3 times per week. I do yoga. I walk a lot. I don’t count macros or calories. I drink a lot of water. My point here is that I don’t think you have to be an uber hardcore fitness junkie to be healthy. Simple daily habits, done consistently, as part of a happy lifestyle, are the important thing.

Have you had a Medichecks test? Thinking about it? Feel free to comment – if I can’t answer your question, I’m sure Emil would pop back on with his expert hat on.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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Hotpod Yoga FAQs: What You Need To Know Before You Go

June 6, 2018

If you read this post, you’ll know how much I’m currently loving hot yoga. (And if you know me IRL,  you’re probably sick of me banging on about it whilst standing on one leg bellowing “look! I can do this pose now!”)

The type of hot yoga I’m doing is a specific “brand” called Hotpod Yoga. It’s not regular yoga, and it’s not Bikram. You might not have a hotpod in your town. But, if you do, and you fancy giving it a try, scroll down for my handy guide. Let’s om shanti this shiz.

PS If you’re in/near Folkestone and want to try a free class at Hotpod Folkestone, just click here. Select “single class pass” and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free. You don’t have to have membership.

Hotpod Yoga: WTF Even Is That?

What is it?

Hot yoga is yoga in a heated room. I’ve been doing something called “Hotpod Yoga”, though, which is a specific style. If you want to actually do hotpod (which is what I’m going on about in these posts), you’ll need to find your local “pod” (here).

So… it’s yoga in a hot room?

No. It’s yoga, inside a heated up “pod”, which is itself inside a room. Basically: you go into the building from outside, get changed/hang your stuff up/check in, then enter the pod before the class.

How big are the pods?

Much as it would tickle me to tell you that they’re individual – like in the film Cocoon – this is not true. The pod is a big inflatable – room sized, really – but slightly dome shaped. It’s large enough for about 20 people to stand up straight, lay down flat, and stretch their limbs out without getting overly familiar.

How hot it is? And is the temperature consistent throughout the class?

Hotpod yoga is heated to 37*C (done via special heaters all around the inside of the pod), and it’s a humid atmosphere rather than dry. The 37*C is consistent, but the pod does warm up as the bodies do. The fuller the class, the hotter it tends to get.

Is it the same as Bikram?

I didn’t know the answer to this at first, because I’m a yoga dunce and don’t know what Bikram is. Turns out the answer is “no”. Bikram is a very specific system of yoga, which follows the same set poses every single class (and it’s heated to 40*C, not 37*C). No, this is not Bikram. 

What kind of yoga is it?

Hotpod calls itself a Vinyasa Flow style. Allow me to explain that in beginner newbie terms (for myself as much as for you). This means you do some warm up stuff to mobilise through the spine and get yourself calm and focused. Then you move into the main part of the class, which is a series of “flows”. You might recognise some bits of this: it involves things like Downward Dog, chaturangas, Warrior poses, and Triangle pose. Then there’s usually some kind of balance section, some forward folds and back bends, some ab/core focus work, and some seated stuff like forward folds and twists.

Why is it better than just regular yoga?

I’m not sure anyone is saying it’s better, just different. I’ll tell you why I find it better. First of all, it feels more like a workout (due to the heat, the sweat, and the fact that you can get deeper into the poses and work harder). The atmosphere is really special (the pod, the dim lighting, the music, and the nice aromatherapy smell). I know full well that sweating doesn’t burn fat or burn more calories (etc) but I do think that working in a hot environment enables you to get into the workout more quickly, work more deeply, and push a bit harder.

Do I have to be bendy to be able to do it?

Absolutely not. There are people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and yoga levels there. I’m not especially bendy, but I’ve got tons better.

I’ve never done any yoga, will I be OK? 

Yep. The teacher gives instructions throughout, and walks around the pod watching and making adjustments (if you don’t want to be touched, you always have the opportunity to say so before the class starts). If you get confused, drop back down to a basic pose (you’ll be shown this) as just watch or call the teacher over.

I have low blood pressure and get dizzy in the heat. 

Me too man. And I have had slightly dizzy spells – only when standing up straight from a forward fold (hardly surprising!) Just take it very slowly – you are encouraged to do this anyway, for the sake of your neck and spine. Keep sipping your drink, and drop down into a basic pose if you need a break. I have postural hypotension and haven’t had any dodgy moments in class.

What should I wear?

As little as possible without causing any consternation (to yourself or others). I started out in leggings, sports bra, and a vest top. I’ve since graduated (in confidence and IDGAF levels) to either sports bra and leggings, or little shorts and vest top.

Is it claustrophobic in the pod?

I don’t think so, but then again I don’t get claustrophobic. I guess you’d have to try it. It’s not small. It’s more like being in a dark marquee (?)

Is it stinky?

Not at all. In fact our hotpod uses aromatherapy oils in the pod (not sure if they all do this).

Do they play music or anything?

Yep. Not dance music obviously.

I’m a bit embarrassed, I don’t want people watching me.

They probably don’t want you watching them, either. The good news is that the pod has subdued lighting and no mirrors. Everyone will be focusing on themselves anyway. And you’re in downward dog a lot. I tend to have my eyes closed for much of the class – perhaps everyone else does, too?

Do I need a mat or do they provide them?

They provide them. 

Do I need a towel?

Yes. Take a big one (yoga mat sized) plus a smaller one (hand towel sized) for general moppage.

I’m a runner/bodybuilder/spin addict, do I really need yoga?

Check you out with your existential questions. Do any of us really NEED anything? I don’t know. I like to have more of a rounded, athletic approach to fitness. I think training should include some resistance/strength work, some cardio, some yoga or other restorative work. So – yes. But it’s up to you obviously. I will say that hotpod yoga has without a doubt helped my weights training (and recovery).

How sweaty will I get?

Very! Like you’ve been hiking in a rainforest.

Are there toilets and showers?

There are at Folkestone Hotpod but I guess each one differs – best to ask them directly. Probably though.

Should I bring water?

100% Bring a big bottle, and think about bringing some kind of electrolyte drink especially if you do other training or are planning another hotpod session the next day.

Hope that helps! If you decide to go, I really hope you love it as much as I do.

=

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


10 Hotpod Yoga Sessions In 11 Days: What I Learned

June 5, 2018

Do you yoga? It’s always been one of those things I “know I should do”. And – when I get round to it – I love it. But for various reasons, it’s never stuck. However, the older I get (especially since I still lift pretty heavy), the more I “should” do yoga.

So when a new hot yoga studio (Hotpod Yoga Folkestone) opened up a 5 minute walk from my house, I was excited!

And then I realised the owner was a schoolfriend of mine who I haven’t seen since the 90s (no, not the 1890s, although sometimes it does feel that long ago).

Done deal.

I booked myself in for a taster session, not knowing what to expect. Would it be too hot? Would I be able to do it? Would it actually hold my interest more than any of the gym studio/village hall yoga classes I’ve previously done?

Verdict: I loved it!  So I took Hotpod Yoga Folkestone up on their intro offer (a 10-day pass for £14)…. and challenged myself to going every day for 10 days. Because we all know I don’t do things by halves, and a 10-day pass is like a red rag to a bull. (A chilled out, zen bull, obvs.)

I didn’t end up making 10 classes in 10 days (but I’m totally chilled about it…!) However, if we count my taster session, I did 10 classes in 11 days.

(The day I missed was due to doing Stand-up Paddleboarding so….hopefully that’s a good enough excuse).

Here’s how I found it – and what I learned from doing 11 hot yoga sessions in 10 days.

(I’ll write a Hotpod Yoga FAQ type post soon – but if you have any specific questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer)

Day 1 (Sunday): taster session

Ooh, this is a bit different to yoga in a hall. The hot pod itself is like a big, room-sized inflatable inside the studio building. Intriguing. Inside, it’s warm – very warm, but lovely. The pod is dimly lit – which is nice because it means I can zone in and focus on myself without worrying what anyone else is doing. No mirrors – I like that. 10 minutes later: man this is hot! So sweaty! Note to self: bring a larger towel. 60 minutes later: I LOVE that. I could do it (it was challenging, but everything was explained well and lots of options given). I feel relaxed, energised, stretched, and like I’ve had a good workout. I haven’t been this sweaty in years. How is there sweat in my EARS?

Day 2: Monday morning

I’m legit excited to get to yoga. I haven’t fallen in love with a new form of exercise like this for ages. Monday morning session is an incredible way to start the week. No phone, no notifications, no chance to check anything or be distracted. Time for me, to focus on myself, and to start the week with a calm, clear mindset.

Day 3: Tuesday lunchtime

Today’s session seemed slightly easier, and I didn’t sweat nearly as much. Is my body getting used to it? Will I eventually stop sweating altogether during class? (This saddens me – I like the sweat).

Day 4: Wednesday morning

Lovely session today, these classes are already becoming a highlight. Part social, part switch-off, part exercise. We did some balances – and I managed to stand on one leg holding onto my outstretched foot. No mean feat for me!

Day 5: Friday evening

I’ve only missed one day but I can really feel it! Physically, but mentally/emotionally too. Hotpod yoga really is such a lovely short escape from the outside world, my to-do list, phone, noise, and stimulation. I’m having the most stressful work week in living memory, and I actually don’t know that I would have coped without hotpod. Today’s class was wonderful – the teacher is obviously trained in mindfulness and the emotional side of yoga, too, and her words really resonated with me.

Day 6: Saturday morning

A very hot and sweaty class (my theory from the other day was completely unfounded!) The flow (the main section of the class) was a lot faster than usual. Each teacher does things slightly differently, although the structure of the class and the core poses are the same. Note to self: bring a second towel (big one to lay on the mat, small one to actually mop self with). I went to the gym later in the day and the session felt very hard. Must drink more if I’m training and doing hotpod on the same day.

Day 7: Sunday morning

Finally – a class with my friend Ruth, owner of Hotpod Yoga Folkestone. Bought a proper yoga towel (little rubber dots on the underside so it doesn’t move around on the mat). Shit’s getting serious!

Day 8: Monday morning

Ahhh my favourite class. I really like this teacher’s style and the way she adds some mindfulness in, plus the Monday morning timing means this class is pure me-time, a pause to set the week up properly before life rushes in. It’s calming and grounding. Back at home, my work stress continues apace but I actually took time out to lie down for 5 minutes in a yoga pose, and do nothing. I would normally have carried on stressing (and wasted more than those 5 minutes just being stressed).

Day 9: Tuesday morning

At yoga for 7am, who even am I? I don’t get up for 7am anything unless it involves an overseas flight or perhaps a good breakfast. This class was very sweaty. So a) my body isn’t getting used to it and b) first class of the morning sessions can be hot! My body is looking and feeling different – leaner? I know the heat doesn’t sweat fat away or anything like that (!) But I can notice subtle changes since starting yoga and doing slightly less gym work.

Day 10: Wednesday morning

Feeling slightly bereft at reaching my final day of the 10-day pass. Hotpod yoga has me hooked. I love it. LOVE it. It’s changed the game for me: physically (more flexible, that persistent bit of my back which always needs cracking has GONE, even my “arthritic” toe is amazingly better), strength wise (I’m doing body weight moves I haven’t tried in years), peace, calmness, focus, clarity.

7 Lessons From 10 Hotpod Yoga Classes

1 Yoga is not a cop-out.

Yes, yoga is relaxing, quiet, and tranquil. But it’s doesn’t have to be easy (unless you want it to be). My 10 sessions of yoga worked me hard. Some days, my triceps still hurt from the day before (all those chaturangas!) After day 2, my abs hurt in new and interesting ways (serratus?) My hamstrings, shoulders, glutes all felt the benefit.

2 Sweating is lovely

I might not be able to convince you on this one if you’re squeamish about sweatiness. But I love it (as long as I can get a shower and a change of clothes reasonably quickly). The intense sweatiness of the 37*C heat (plus humidity from a steam machine thingy) leads to unbelievable sweatiness. This helps you get deeper into the poses, wasting less time on warming up. As a bonus, my skin was really lovely after just a couple of sessions!

3 Hydrate properly

Don’t underestimate how much you need to rehydrate after hotpod yoga. I took a 1.5 litre bottle to every session and got through it easily. I started just taking my traditional “weak apple squash”, but soon graduated to an electrolyte drink or coconut water (I used this from Project E2 – full disclosure, they’re a client so I got it sent free, but it is very good! – and this coconut water powder from Bulkpowders). Fluid isn’t enough – use electrolytes, especially if you need to do anything else active that day.

4 Your appetite will be affected

Well, mine was anyway. I lost a bit of weight over the couple of weeks I did hotpod yoga, but it wasn’t to do with the yoga itself (and definitely not to do with the heat/sweating – you can’t sweat body fat away!) It was to do with a bit of extra walking (I walk there and back), plus the fact that my appetite was noticeably reduced. I don’t know if this due to the heat and sweating (ever noticed how you want to eat less on hot days?) Whatever the reason – the circumstances and knock-on effects of adding yoga into my routine meant I ate less.

5 Two towels

I really advise two towels. A big one to lay on your mat (hotpod provide the mats btw). But a smaller one (hand towel size) to use as and when during class. You’ll probably want to wipe your face, and dry off your knee/shin before you try to hold on for balances!

6 Hotpod compliments other training

During my 10-day stint, I did significantly less gym training and cardio. But I didn’t lose any strength, size, muscle tone (and nor did I suddenly pile on 20 stone). If you think yoga is “just stretching”, think again. It’s essentially a series of bodyweight exercises done over and over again. I ached from it. I felt it in my triceps, shoulders, upper back, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, core. But it’s also wonderfully restorative and healing. My 10-day run of yoga cured an annoying “click” I’ve had for years in my thoracic spine (and it hasn’t come back!) My arthritic/whatever is wrong with it toe has more range of movement and hurts much much less than before. I can turn my neck further than before. I can move my spine more easily than before. I just feel… more athletic.

7 You might “have a release”

Not like that! Like this. OK, so this is weird, but apparently not uncommon so I don’t mind sharing.

In one class early on in my 10 day stint, the teacher was doing a bit of mindfulness chat with us. Out of nowhere, a word came into my head. An emotion. It’s not something I’ve ever associated with myself before. It’s not something I was aware that I was feeling. But it was a very strong feeling and made me… not upset, exactly, but definitely thoughtful. Luckily, the pod is a very calm and safe feeling place to have a “moment” – a bit dark, quiet, enclosed, and private. On the way home, I rang my yoga-loving friend and told her about my odd experience. Ooh, she said. You had a release! (It’s a thing)

I have since had another release (not that – stop it). This was in a Friday evening class, at the end of a full-on week, and before a significant weekend. The teacher was saying a few lovely words which really resonated with me. Suddenly, as I lay there on my back in savasana, I started to cry. Not out-loud “boo hoo” type wailing. Just tears coming out of my eyes and trickling down my face. It felt fine. I just let it happen. And there was so much sweat all over my face and neck anyway that it hardly mattered. Afterwards I felt calm and as if my brain had sorted a few things out.

So – there you have it. Hotpod yoga UK is an amazing new addition to my life. It’s helping me maintain strength (in different ways to weight training). It chills me out on stressful days. It gives me an escape from the bleeps and bloops of phones and outside distractions. I love it!

If you’re local to Folkestone and want to try a free class, click here. Select single class pass and enter code THEFITWRITER in the discount box – and your class with be totally free.

Stay tuned for a hotpod yoga FAQ. If you have any questions about the classes, how it works, what to expect – leave a comment or message me.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Strongman competition winner (or “That Time I Got 31 Deadlift Reps in 90 Seconds)

May 13, 2018

*is this thing on?* It’s been a minute since I blogged about a competition, but now I have something to tell you, so here’s an update. Not bodybuilding or powerlifting: strongman!

I haven’t stepped on a bodybuilding stage since 2016 (no firm plans to do so again, but haven’t “retired” either). But I’m always up for any kind of challenge – the more fun and weird the better.

Strongman definitely fits the bill! Pulling a truck? Flipping a tyre? Deadlifting a car? That’s weird in anyone’s book.

(If you’re not sure which one Strongman is – here’s the handy cheat-sheet I wrote, mostly for the benefit of my Dad).

Last Sunday’s Strongman & Strongwoman comp was hosted by my lovely friend Nikky Ricks at her gym – Waugh Machines – in Ramsgate. Strongman comps are few and far between, and tend to be organised by gyms, so I jumped at the chance to do something relatively local.

I knew the events and weights long in advance but didn’t get the chance to train on the kit (for various reasons). So I showed up with the knowledge that I am strong but… that’s about it.

The thing about Strongman is that nothing is predictable. Yes, there might be a deadlift event and you might love deadlifting. But WHAT will you be deadlifting, exactly? Not a bar with plates, that’s for sure.

Strongman is about full body strength, power, speed, and thinking on your feet.

The comp was split into three groups – men (split by weight) and one open women’s class – with different weights (but the same events) for each. There were four women in total.

Here’s how I got on.

Event 1 – truck pull

When I turned up at the venue, a couple of us ladies asked if we could have a go just to see if we could at least move it. I’ve done vehicle pulls in comps before, but never a sodding massive actual truck. It looked…. huge. Anyway, I managed to pull it across the line. We then realised that it had been loaded up to the advertised men’s weight. So we said sod it, we can do that, so give us that weight and put on extra for the men.

  • 9.7 tonnes over 20 metres for time.
  • Not sure where I came in this (2nd?) but I completed it

Event 2 – log press

This is where you clean (lift) the log from around knee height to chest, then press overhead. If you place the log back down, it’s a no-lift. I had no idea how I’d do with this. I don’t do this move in my regular training, and a log is awkward compared to a barbell.

We started at 30kgs then went up in 5kgs in a knock-out format. I was OK til we got to 45kgs – as I was pressing overhead, the weights slipped off one side, the log tilted, then the weights came off the other side. I was allowed another go, but obviously that had tired me out a bit. Anyway, I got the 45kg on my next go. There were a couple of us still in at this stage. The other lady tried to get 50kgs and didn’t manage. I stepped up, not at all sure that I would. It took two goes (but I didn’t set the log down, so that’s fine). After what felt like a very slow lock-out, I got it.

  • Very chuffed to log press 50kgs
  • And shocked to win this event!


Event 3 – car deadlift max reps in 90 seconds

(Here’s a video)
We didn’t actually get to deadlift the car (the guys did). But we had a 130kg tyre on the car deadlift jack. I’ve no idea what that actually weighs – obviously the angle and lever movement means you’re not actually deadlifting 130kgs. I got to go last in this which was great because it meant I could see what the others did and commit to beating them at all costs. Deadlifting is my favourite, and I would be gutted not to win this event! The lady just before me was banging them out like a machine. I counted 22. Right. 23 or more it was then.

I still had no idea how heavy the thing actually felt, though. I set up, lifted, stumbled back into a more comfy position… and went to a dark place haha! I literally just jammed my feet into the ground, gripped the bar, and refused to stop deadlifting until the 90 seconds was up. It felt… OK. Not that heavy (I reckon it was 100kg-110kg?) But it was a lung-buster. You try deadlifting ANY weight for 90 seconds let alone that. My body felt relatively OK but my heart and lungs were screaming. The referee was in front of me making sure I locked out and came to a deadstop on each rep. At one point I just shut my eyes and carried on lifting. I lost count completely and asked “how many?” “how many!” 27 was the reply. I’d already won but wanted to keep going. Bam bam bam…

  • 31 reps. In 90 seconds. PMSL
  • I won this

Event 4 – farmers walk into tyre flip
(Here’s a video)

I probably should have remembered that the deadlift was only the 3rd of 5 events. I still had this horrorshow to do. Farmers Walk/Carry (55kgs each hand) for 20 metres, drop, turn, and flip a 130kg tyre back for 20 metres. I’ve done a Farmers Carry before (although not this heavy as far as I can remember). But I’ve never done a tyre flip. I’ve tried one or two just in training and always find it so awkward and just horrible. I completed this – the Farmers was OK and at least I didn’t stumble or fall! – but the tyre flip was disgusting. I made a big song and dance of it, with various dramatic squeaks and yelps.

  • 55kgs each hand Farmers (20m) into 130kg tyre (20m)
  • Not sure where I came in this but completed it

Event 5 – 50kg sandbag over 1.2m yoke for reps

If you’ve never tried to lift a heavy bag of sand off the floor and shove it over something at roughly chest height, let me tell you how it feels. Horrible, frustrating, aggravating, exhausting. A bag of sand does not want to be picked up, held, or manoeuvred. I don’t have a lot to say about this event. I asked how many I needed to beat (3) and I did…. 5. Because that’s the kind of person I am.

  • 5 reps
  • Won this event

All done. I really wasn’t sure if I’d won, because of the timed events. I didn’t know if I’d done enough in those to put me in first place. I thought I was second to be honest, because the lady with the 22 deadlifts had been very quick on the truck pull and carry medley.

Turns out I did win! I reckon there wasn’t much in it, and I know 2nd place lady is up for a rematch next year. Me too!

[Edited to add: since writing this, I’ve been sent the times and placings for each event and I actually won them all (!) But I do reckon it was very close on the timed ones:]

  • Truck pull 46.5 secs 1st
  • Log lift 50kg 1st
  • Car deadlift 31 reps 1st
  • Farmers into tyre flip 1 min 32 secs 1st (<<< longest 92 seconds of my life I might add)
  • Sandbag 5 reps 1st

I’ve put a few videos and photos on my Instagram (in my feed, but also as a Highlight at the top of the page) if you want to look.

Big thanks to Nikky and Paul at Waugh Machines for organising and hosting the comp, and to everyone who helped referee, encourage, motivate etc on the day. It really was a fun day with a fab atmosphere. Deadlifting + getting a suntan – what better way to spend a Sunday!

Have you ever done a Strongman event? Would you?

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Want more ideas for content? Get my weekly curated media links

April 4, 2018

Join these fitpros, gym owners & online coaches who get my #Mondaymediaroundup emails✅

If you struggle for content ideas – or just always welcome more! – this is a no-brainer.

✅ weekly email of ready-made “hooks” for your content
✅curated by me (all you need to do is click the link)
✅ free advice on HOW to use the stories as a hook for your content or a discussion point in your group

= WHY? =
I used to be a journalist (writing health and fitness features for magazines) so I still have access to press releases, media stories, news databases.

YOU need this info (probably more than I do!) but I can’t sign you up to these resources or send you the log in. (Trust me, I’ve tried on behalf of clients – no press card, no access!)

So –  every Monday, I email a round up of relevant news stories, press releases, and other “hooks” for your content that week. Use them for email content, FB and Insta posts, blog posts…etc.

I gather the stories, curate the best, and code in all the links. All you need to do is pick the most useful ones, and let them spark off some content ideas.
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Want the emails? Sign up via this link, or message me on Insta.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

 

 


Storytelling for fitness business marketing: The Quest

April 4, 2018

It’s time for the third and final type of story in my series….

The Quest

“The Quest”-type stories come after “Rags to Riches” stories in Christopher Booker’s famous list.

The protagonist (and usually some companions) bravely strike out to unknown lands – either to find or win back some very important object, or to finally reach a meaningful location.

The journey is long, tiring, and littered with every kind of hazard you can imagine.

Of course, the hero faces temptations, obstacles, dangers, and perils along the way (it can’t be too easy, can it?!) But he or she ultimately returns home to tell the tale, usually with riches/reward/new status to show for it.

If you’ve heard of The Hero’s Journey, you’ll recognise this classic narrative arc. (If you haven’t – go to my blog and search Hero’s Journey for an explanation of this fundamental trope.)

Think Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, and – the film that scarred me for life – Watershed Down.

For examples in advertising, look at the Kia 2017 advert for the Niro, or Chipotle’s 2014 The Scarecrow.

Perhaps the most famous Quest in advertising is Apple’s story – with Bill Gates inventing (rather than finding) a valuable object and overcoming obstacles on his way to success. Aesop’s 2017 Brand Storytelling Survey listed Apple in the number one spot – for the 5th year running.

OK, but how can you use The Quest type stories in your fitness business marketing?

  • What obstacles and challenges did you battle to bring your vision into reality?
  • You learned a lot along the way – how can you share these lessons and educate your reader?
  • How do the values of your brand do good in the world?
  • Show how your product delivers on its promises to support your clients on their quest towards a better life.

Unlike many consumer brands, you – as a fitpro – are selling something that actually delivers positive results. You’re not selling the idea of something, or the promise of a feeling. You’re selling real, measurable, positive improvements in people’s lives.

What are the most effective stories for your brand? And how can you share them?

Let me know if you need any help with this stuff.

=

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


From RAGS To RICHES – storytelling for fitness business marketing

April 3, 2018

I’ve been talking about storytelling recently – and the most effective “categories” of story for fitness businesses like yours.

Let’s look at another type of story (as identified in Christopher Booker’s 2004 book “Why We Tell Stories“).

Rags To Riches

We can all name several rags to riches stories from fairytales through Disney and beyond. Think Cinderella, Aladdin, Pretty Woman, Forrest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire, and Rocky (yep, him again – I know I mentioned him in the “Overcoming The Monster” post but this is why boxing movies get us so hard in the feels – they are impeccable examples of storytelling).

You know how the R2R story goes. Poor (yet plucky) hero faces incredible challenges despite all the odds being against him. He usually has a loyal sidekick or just one person championing them. Our hero gains something, loses it, then gets it back again – but not until they’ve overcome a situation, learned something important, or become “better” somehow.

There is conflict and drama. The narrative has ups and downs (it would be pretty boring otherwise). The hero always loses something (or someone), or has to leave something behind in order to progress.

So how can you use R2R in your marketing?

Two ways…

1️ For social proof
Client case studies don’t need to be as dramatic as a movie plot, but they do need to show clear progress – with the client overcoming the odds and triumphing in the end. Build the story around contrast: what was life like before, what happened during the journey, and what is life like now? How will your products or services bring “riches” (health, happiness, confidence, fitness) into their life? What are the “rags” they so desperately want to leave behind?

2 Your own story
Intelligent and subtle use of R2R in your own storytelling can really help you connect and resonate with your target market. Do this clumsily, and you’ll come across as cheesy or – worse – insincere. But get it right, and it can create a deep connection which showcases your empathy. Where did you start from? What obstacles did you overcome along the way? What did you learn? How can your story inspire and encourage potential clients who are further back in the process?

Some examples of Rags To Riches in sports and fitness advertising: remember the Nike Golf ad (2016) where Tiger Woods inspired young Rory McIlroy to greatness? Fantastic example – watch it on Youtube to remind yourself.

Or Gatorade’s ‘Rise Up’, ‘Greatness is Taken’, and ‘The Secret to Victory’ campaigns: “Every athlete loses. It’s part of the game. But what separates the good from the great is how they bounce back.”

Want to know HOW to use stories like these in your own business content marketing? Just get in touch – happy to help!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


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