What To Expect From A Speedflex London Class

September 11, 2018

Speedflex London invited me to try their flagship class, so of course I said yes (thank you). Here’s how it went, what I thought of it, and why I challenge you to give it a go! (Spoiler alert: you’ll work harder than you thought possible in 30 minutes but feel amazing the next day!)

Speedflex Helps Put The “I” In HIIT

We all know about HIIT – high intensity interval training, right? Great for burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time, and a good way of hanging on to muscle mass rather than just getting “skinnier”. But – the clue is in the name – HIIT has to be intense. Not just a bit hard. It has to push you right out of your comfort zone. And be honest, how easy is it to REALLY push yourself to true “intensity”?

Speedflex promised me a lung-busting HIIT workout, but the bit that really got me interested was the method. Speedflex uses nifty kit to turn your HIIT workout into a resistance session.

I might have hung up the bodybuilding bikini (for now… never say never and all that) but I still train with weights. And whilst I might not want to put on any more size, I’d like to hang on to the muscle I have! (At a 40-something lifetime drug free female, that’s no easy feat and certainly won’t “just happen”).

Speedflex would be a great workout for anyone in my position (wanting to hang on to muscle but work on fitness – oh and not get too fat despite eating pretty much whatever…) It would also be a good workout for anyone who wants to build a bit more muscle but doesn’t want to do the freeweights or gym weights machine thing.

Speedflex London (where I went) offer several different classes. I did the Classic (the flagship 30-minute class). But all the classes use Speedflex’s unique weight training machine. It’s really clever – it actually changes resistance level based on how hard and fast you push/pull/press/row (etc) it. There’s no momentum, but constant tension which increases as you put in more effort. So when you get a bit tired, the resistance comes down. But when you’re ready to go at it, it throws more at you.

This means you can achieve a challenging level of intensity no matter how experienced/new/strong/tired/fired up (etc) you are.

No kit to load, nothing to drop on yourself, and no sudden jerking movements – Speedflex is really safe but (trust me on this!) very challenging!

Fun fact: did you know that Speedflex was formed in 2011 by a group of entrepreneurs including Alan Shearer. You do now!

About My Speedflex Class

So – enough about the sciency stuff. What is a Speedflex class actually like (and would I recommend it)?

First up, I had my inbody assessment which I’ll talk about in another blog post. All Speedflex attendees/members get regular inbody assessments so you can track changes to your body composition with real data. Very rewarding!

Then I was given an induction – how to use the Speedflex machine, using my own weight/strength to alter the resistance as there are no pins or plates or stacks.

After that, it was into the class – a 30 minute high-octane combo of giant sets using the Speedflex kit, battle ropes, slam balls, and kettlebells.

Each class is different (check out the different versions of Speedflex class here) but each instructor will naturally design the sessions a bit differently, too.

Our coach Tigan was smiley on the outside but don’t be fooled – the man knows how to design a killer session! Our group was a mixed ability of men, women, sportspeople, and beginners but it’s fair to say we all got what we wanted from the session. Sweat pouring, gasping for breath, just enough recovery time to go again… It was one of those sessions where halfway through you’re thinking “this is never going to end!” and then with 5 minutes to go you feel like it wasn’t so bad and you could push a bit more… Perfect!

It took me a while to recover (as you’d expect, when my heart rate had hit 90%+ of max!) But afterwards I felt good – tired but not destroyed, and no DOMS the next day (<<< this is a big USP of the Speedflex system – little to no DOMS).

Would I recommend Speedflex?

Yes, without hesitation. Great for freshening up your fitness routine, perfect for people who don’t like “the gym”, highly effective for weight/fat loss and muscle gain, and an amazing way to do true HIIT.

Want to try Speedflex? They have a 2 week free trial (unlimited classes in that time period) so you can get a real feel for it. Just ask at your local studio or click here. At the mo, there are Speedflex studios in London, Coulby Newham, Cork, Darlington, Dunfermline, Durham, Dallas, Dubai, Edinburgh, Reigate, Mansfield, Newcastle, Norwich and West Byfleet.

Oh – and I apparently burned 342 calories in the 30 minute class (as measured by the MyZone system – used in all Speedflex classes so you can see how hard you’re working and challenge yourself).

Let me know if you’ve got any questions – or if you try a free class like I did!

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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My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing

May 10, 2016

Most of us know about tracking heart rate to measure intensity (usually of cardio) but how many of you track resting heart rate? Perhaps you already take resting heart rate every morning to note “spikes” which might suggest you need to take a rest day.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) takes that one step further.

I was sent a HRV tracker by Bioforce and have been using it for the past month. The data has been really interesting – and it’s revealed a lot more than I thought it would.

What’s HRV?

HRV doesn’t just take your heart rate. It measures variations in the intervals between heartbeats. Why is this significant to people who train?

Variation in these intervals is physiological, and hugely affected by our sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.

In short, HRV monitoring can give you valuable data into how stressed you are, how well you’re recovering, and how ready your body is to train today.

The phone app (and web interface) charts your data on graph which clearly shows peaks, spikes, and fluctuations in your HRV. Red days suggest you should take it easy, rest, work on recovery. Green suggests you’re well recovered and ready to push hard.

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How It Works

You use a traditional chest strap heart rate monitor* which measures your resting heart rate and sends it to the phone app via Bluetooth (*although Bioforce is about to launch an alternative to the strap – ear and finger sensors).

It measures for 2 mins 30 seconds, to gather enough data (I like the fact that it measures for a comparably long time).

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The Book

The Bioforce strap and app comes with an impressively large and in-depth book about heart rate variability (written by Joel Jamieson). Its 138 pages cover HRV’s application within sport and fitness, what your results mean, and how you can use the data to optimise your training and recovery. There’s even training and programme design. The book is a huge bonus to the Bioforce product.

My Experiment

I expected to find the data interesting (I’m a bit of a numbers geek when it comes to training, health, nutrition) but what I didn’t expect was to see so many patterns developing. As an aside, I weigh myself every day. Without fail, my HRV was in the orange or red zone on days I also weighed in heavier or the same – suggesting that lack of quality sleep (or a late night) affects my recovery in more ways than one.

I also noticed regular patterns in my HRV relating to sleep, work stress, my menstrual cycle, and my training programme.

Pros & Cons

If you love data and numbers, and find your own biofeedback fascinating, I think you’ll love learning more about heart rate variability by using the Bioforce system. It’s easy to use and has been made very simple to understand (although you can delve much deeper into the research if you want!

The only possible downside I can think of is your morning routine. If you’ve got small kids, noisy neighbours, or an erratic schedule, you might find it a challenge to find 3 minutes to chill out at roughly the same time very day (ideally before you get out of bed).

The Bioforce system has an impressive army of fans already, including powerlifter Jim Laird, Crossfit Games Champion James Fitzgerals, and Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong. If you want to join them (and me!), find out more about Bioforce HRV here.

My Month Of HRV (Heart-Rate Variability) Testing is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…)

April 26, 2016

WordPress informed me today that this blog is six years old. In blog terms, that’s positively elderly. But a blog isn’t a blog if it’s not actually updated… so here goes!
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I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to say…

…so – for anyone still out there and interested – here’s a stream of disconnected ramblings about training, food, and my newest bits of home fitness kit.

My most recent blog posts were about powerlifting. Specifically the BDFPA full power Nationals in February (so long ago already?) where I squatted 105, benched 60, deadlifted 150 (but I’d like it to be known that I got 160 to my knees!) You can read about that comp by clicking the clicky <<< .

Directly after that meet, I really wanted to do more powerlifting. I had grand plans:

1) the BDFPA single lifts nationals (initially just deadlift, but then I fell in love with squatting and decided to both deadlift and squat)
2) a BDFPA qualifier, ideally with my girlbro Charlie, to qualify early for 2017 nationals
3) nationals in 2017

But then various annoying logistical issues got in the way – travel, dog sitters, accommodation – and I had to make an executive decision.

I decided to shelve my powerlifting for the year (I’m happy enough with the progress I made between my qualifier and Nationals), and to revert to plan B: get back to training, do a late qualifier (Jan/Feb 2017) and see how I get on.

What am I up to now, then?

TRAINING

I’ve brought more bodybuilding aspects of training back into my life (although my training has definitely altered since my time focusing on powerlifting). I’m enjoying doing a wider variety of exercises, and paying attention to body parts I didn’t have the time (or the need) to train as a powerlifter.

Remember “notch watch” from way back when? (No, nor do I really and I wrote it.) Well, that belt has long since been thrown in the bin (it perished – literally – after languishing in the boot of my leaky car). But I still wear my Inzer belt for heavy squats, and I’m down 3 “notches” on it since the start of the year.

EATING

Things got a little wild there out in the hinterland of powerlifting, so yes I am dieting, but very slowly and extremely “flexibly”. No meal plan, no eating out of tupperware, and no cutting carbs (indeed no cutting anything). I’m just paying attention to what I’m eating, tracking it, and working to macros. Carbs are lovely and high, and I’m loving life! I’m dieting to macros, rather than to a meal plan, but it’s a very “flexible dieting” type approach. Carbs are no lower than 180, and I got above 200 twice a week. I think I might turn into a rice cake soon!
rice cakes bodybuilder
MOVING

Cardio has made a re-appearance, partly to support the slow diet and partly cos it’s Summer and it’s a lot nicer to ride my bike and pull my sled around the field in this kind of weather.

(Sled from Celtic Strength)

Bit of sled work out on the field tonight with my push/pull sled, handmade and custom painted by @simoncelticstrength 👌🏼

A video posted by Nicola Joyce ✒️💪🐶✌️ (@thefitwriter) on Apr 13, 2016 at 2:45pm PDT

No plans for events/comps/meets just yet. I’m really enjoying getting some structure back into my nutrition and training, and seeing where it leads me over the next few months. If I end up in shape, I have the option of UKDFBA (bodybuilding) later in the year. To all UKDFBA competitors and the general UKDFBA “fam” – I will be at as many qualifiers as possible this year, and I can’t wait to see you!

I’m better at updating my social media…

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Lift Heavy Things Up & Down, Once

November 20, 2015

I’m going to do a Powerlifting comp.

Before I go any further, here’s a quick “strength sports 101” for people whose brains go blank when they see a barbell*

(*hi Dad)

Bodybuilding: the one where you use weights in the gym to make your muscles big, but then at the competition you don’t lift any weights up and down. You pose on stage in sparkly pants/bikini. The judges neither know nor care what weights you can lift.

Powerlifting: the one where you lift weights up and down in the competition. You only do three different lifts. Bench press (lying on your back on a bench and pressing the bar up and down), squat (standing up with the bar on your back, and squatting up and down), deadlifting (leaning down to grab hold of the bar, then standing up with it). The judges don’t care what you look like in a sparkly bikini, but they are very strict about how you lift your weights up and down.

Olympic lifting: the one you might see on TV sometimes during major sporting events, where people in singlets do athletic stuff with a barbell like lifting it over their heads. The lifts have funny names, “snatch” is one.

Strongman: the one you probably watch on TV over Christmas. You’ve probably only seen massive great big giant men doing it. The events are very memorable, even if you’re not sure why they’re doing them; things like pulling a truck, deadlifting a car, or lifting a series of very big heavy stones.

OK, so the one I normally do is bodybuilding. I’ve done strong(wo)man a couple of times. Now I’d like to have a go at powerlifting. If I ever give Olympic lifting a go, you have permission to make me eat any one of my numerous hats.
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Which federation?

There are lots of powerlifting federations/associations (just as with bodybuilding) but I’m choosing to compete with the BDFPA (British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association), partly because lots of my friends lift with this association so I’m guaranteed to have friends at my comp, and partly because – as a natural bodybuilder – I’m serious about competing in tested sport wherever the option exists.

Full Power? Whassat?

At most powerlifting competitions, you can either do “full power” which means you have a go at all three lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) or you can opt to do just one lift.

Equipped or unequipped?

You can also lift “equipped” (which involves bits of kit which help you be able to lift more weight, such as bench shirts, knee wraps) or “unequipped” which means you can use a belt and that’s about it.

I’m going to do full power (yolo) and unequipped, because I just want to see what I can lift, and I can’t be bothered getting used to lifting in kit – it’s a whole new world of technique.
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What do you wear?
As an unequipped lifter within the BDFPA, I wear a singlet (kindly lent to me by my powerlifting buddy from the gym) with a t-shirt underneath, long socks for deadlifting, a belt, and any suitable shoes. I’ve got myself some Olympic/squat shoes for the…er..squat (obvs) and I must say they make a lot of difference. I really love them. They make me feel much more secure as I squat, I feel I can go deeper (which is important, because if I don’t go deep enough at the comp, my lift won’t count), and my posture feels better. The belt and I are not enjoying such a harmonious relationship at the moment, but it’s early days. I hope that, with time, I will be able to see past the belt’s tough, unrelenting exterior and that it might soften up and be more gentle with me. Until then, I will (wo)man up and deal with the pain!
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I’ve barely started training for the comp, but I’ll post more about training another time. I do bench, squat and deadlift regularly, and can lift OK weights for all three. But obviously I’m keen to do as well as I can at the comp. And training for just one maximum rep is very different to using the three lifts as part of hypertrophy-style bodybuilding training.

At the moment I can lift:

– 60kgs for 2 reps (bench)
– 100kgs for 1 rep (squat)
– 140kg for 1 rep (deadlift)

And yes those are all executed properly according to powerlifting rules – I train in a powerlifting gym and my training partner is a powerlifter.

I’d like to get the bench up a bit, the squat up quite a lot, and the deadlift up a fraction if possible.

Here’s what I need to do before the comp:
– get used to the belt
– make sure my technique is “comp legal” for all three lifts (hitting correct depth, locking out, pausing at the chest etc)
– poss smash belt with meat tenderiser?
– try to get my lifts/numbers up as much as possible (particularly bench which is my weakest one of the three)
– poss run belt over with truck
– decide on my openers (the weight I’ll nominate as my first attempt on each lift)
– decide how much I’ll probably go up by after that (you do each lift three times, so you nominate your opener, and then have two more goes on each lift, obviously going up in weight each time, but by how much is up to you)

Have you done a powerlifting meet? How was your first comp? I’d love to hear any advice, funny stories, dos or don’ts.

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
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Lift Heavy Things Up & Down Once is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate

March 29, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new product from one of my favourite supplement brands.

Primal26 new whey protein isolate review

I’ve reviewed a few Monkey Nutrition products on the blog. I like the brand for its honest, no-BS communication style and I like the products because they really are great quality (and they have some little gems in the range, like Moodulator the neurotransmittor/hormone support which really helps me sleep).

So when one of the Monkeys asked if I’d try the new Primal26 PRO advanced whey isolate, I said sure! I reviewed the previous version of Primal26 here, but this is a new and improved formula with digestive enzymes.
monkey primal26 whey review blog
I’m off-season at the moment, and have drastically cut down on the amount of supplements I take. Partly for cash reasons, but mostly because I truly don’t think many are needed when you’re eating well, sleeping well and getting enough recovery. Prep is perhaps a different matter. But in off-season, I really don’t use much at all. (Happy to blog about what I do use if anyone’s interested).

That includes protein powder. I work at home, the gym’s not far away. I usually just come home and eat a meal. But there are times when I need a protein powder after training – and on those occasions I will use whey isolate.

Why? Simply put, it’s the best form of whey available.

Monkey Nutrition’s Primal26 PRO whey isolate is a little different to most whey isolates. It contains digestive enzyme ProHydrolase, which helps with protein absorption. Whey isolate is always pretty gentle on the digestion anyway (much less lactose) but the addition of digestive enzymes to Primal26 PRO supports an increase in protein absorption (by up to three times) and helps ensure smaller, non-immunogenic protein peptides are formed. These help lower inflammation (as indicated by decreased CRP levels).

If you sometimes suffer bloating, gas or worse when you use whey protein, this product would definitely be worth a try.

Because your body is able to get more out of digesting this product, it means you can actually reduce your serving size without any loss of protein assimilation.

The product formula is clinically researched (you can read all about the clinical trials here, if you’re that way inclined) and

I tried Primal26 PRO in chocolate flavour, which is sweetened with Stevia and flavoured with organic cocoa. 26g pure whey protein isolate per serving – and that all-important ProHydrolase digestive enzyme.

Thanks for the supplements, Monkey Nutrition guys!

You can find Monkey Nutrition on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Monkey Nutrition new Primal26 PRO whey protein isolate is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Fuelify fitness snack box and 20% off your first box

March 13, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is something yummy! Hands up if you like 1) snacks 2) surprises and 3) deliveries?
fuelify snack box review

Fuelify is a tailored fitness snack box service which sends sports snacks, fitness nutrition, bars, gels (and more) to your door.

And they’ve kindly offered you lot 20% off your first box – scroll down for the discount code!

Fuelify is a tailored service, choosing 6-8 products from the latest in sports snacks and fitness nutrition, customised to your fitness needs. You just tell them how you train, what kind of sport you do and what you need from your snacks and supplements and they send you some goodies.

It’s a great way of discovering new products from established and up and coming brands like Pulsin’, Nakd, Clif, Luna, CNP and more. You can see the entire range of everything they stock here.

I told Fuelify it was OK to send me a very general selection so I could get an overview of some of their favourite products.

Here’s what I got in my box.

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I actually gave the gels to a mountain biking friend, but I worked my way through the bars, electrolyte powder and the energy chews/shot bloks myself. All of them were great – some were brand new to me (the Nom brand) and some I’d had before (Trek).

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My favourite – for what it’s worth – was the Nom protein bar, made with pea protein and coconut oil. It had a lovely texture and was very filling, hitting the spot for me (I prefer fats to carbs, as a rule).

You can get a one-off box (ideal as a present), or opt for monthly or fortnightly subscriptions. I think this would be a great way to discover new favourites and try things you wouldn’t usually come across (or things which you usually have to buy in bulk).

And once you know what you love, you can head to the Fuelify store and buy bulk-boxes of your favourites!

20% discount code for your first Fuelify box

Use code TFW20 at the checkout or when you sign up to Fuelify and get 20% off your first box!

Thanks for the sample box, Fuelify!

You can find Fuelify on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Fuelify fitness snack box and 20% off your first box is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code

February 16, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new UK company with a very useful service.

Meet Supplemented, a no-frills, honest supplements and vitamins company that makes ordering health supplements really easy.
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Matt from Supplemented got in touch with me via the naturalmuscle forums, where the company are a sponsor. That immediately suggested good things to me: if the admins at naturalmuscle trust and rate a company, chances are I will too.

Supplemented are a small food supplements company based in London. Their focus is on providing top quality supplements, vits and minerals (they actually use exactly the same UK manufacturers as some big-brand suppliers and popular High Street chains) at very cost-effective prices.

Take a look at the prices, you’ll see what I mean. What I really liked about the Supplemented business model is that delivery is so hassle-free. It’s all sent directly from London, foil packed and letterbox friendly. So you won’t need to take time off work to sign for a parcel, or “discover” it behind your bin or with a random neighbour.

And the products are safe for tested athletes, too (a big selling point for me). Supplemented.co.uk’s suppliers are Informed Sport registered and audited, which means their products are all produced at a facility that has full compliance for both ingredients and the manufacturing process.

The guys at Supplemented sent me:

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)– 1000mg per capsule
Green tea extract – one of my must-have supplements all year round
BCAA tablets – I’m not sure of the ratio but I’d guess 2:1:1, at £7.99 for 90!
Creatine mono tablets – 750mg per capsule. Something I’m adding to my stack this off-season!

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As you can see (dog for scale) the packets are small and slimline, ideal for popping through the letter box with your normal post. The products are all top quality, and I really rate this new company and hope they do well.

Their range goes well beyond the sports supplement and bodybuilder type stuff – there are vitamins, minerals, joint care products, omegas, probiotics… etc.

10% discount code

Supplemented.co.uk have a discount code for thefitwriter readers – add MEMBERSDISCOUNT at checkout for 10% discount on your already very cost-effective order! Delivery is free regardless of order size.

Thanks for the supplements, Supplemented guys!

You can find Supplemented on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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