A New Sport Every Month: Roller Derby

September 29, 2017

What’s got 8 wheels, a gum shield, and a witty pseudonym?
A Roller Derby athlete!

Yep, I did Roller Derby.

I’ve decided to try one new sporty thing every month. Partly to stop my training from getting stale, partly to meet new folk, and partly for the LOL factor.

Because we all know I’m no good with:

– falling down (or prospect thereof)
– jumping/moving both feet off the ground at the same time
– any form of agility

September’s A New Sport Every Month was pretty funny (…mostly for the instructors…)

What Is Roller Derby?

Just about the further thing from my comfort zone that you can imagine.

No But Really, What IS Roller Derby?

Roller Derby is a contact team sport on roller skates. Two teams of five players skate counter-clockwise around a track, during “jams” (point-scoring bouts) that last up to 2 minutes.

One of each team’s five players is the “jammer” who can score points. The other four are “blockers” – defensive/offensive players whose role is to block the other team’s jammer, and to protect their own jammer so she can lap the other team to score.

Two things really appealed to me about Roller Derby.

1) It originated as a female-only sport, and men’s teams are a much more recent thing. Roller Derby is closely tied up with themes of feminism and body positivity and, at entry level, it’s an amazingly encouraging, empowering sport for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels.

2) The names. I mean, come on. At my trial session I met Demi Lition, Hellen Degenerate, and Brute 66. In teams around the world, you’ll find Brazilian Whacks, Tess of the Derbywheels, and Nancy Raygun.

Roller Derby has been around since the 1940s, but fell off the radar until recent years. It’s enjoying a massive surge in interest now, so when I realised we have a local team, I signed up for the Open Day.

I didn’t get to actually play (that would have been asking way too much of my first hour on skates!) But I learned some of the basic skills: how to fall (various ways!), stop, speed up, and turn. We got to watch the Rec League in training, and then saw the main competitive team practising.

I asked Demi Lition, Founder of Kent Roller Girls, to tell you more. about Roller Derby.

Who is Roller Derby suitable for?

Pretty much everyone. You don’t need any experience or fitness level to start, and there’s no particular shape or size of person it suits best. You just need to be prepared to fall over a lot!

What does basic, entry-level Roller Derby consist of?

Most teams run a variation of beginners sessions. These can be a course over a set number of weeks, or continual drop-in sessions. My team – Kent Roller Girls – runs a recreational league. Skaters can join at any time with any level of experience, and we will teach you everything you need to know. You can take as long as you want/need to learn the skills, before getting to the level of playing games. Our rec league needs absolutely no experience whatsoever to join! Just the willingness to learn something completely new

Can you do Roller Derby as exercise/training and never compete (if you want)?

You can indeed! Recreational teams are great for this. There’s no pressure on skaters to compete, and you can focus on the fun side of the sport and of skating. There’s a place for everyone in the sport.

What does Roller Derby do for a body?

Roller Derby is all about the bum and thighs! (Nic: I concur! I “do legs” twice a week but the day after trying Roller Derby, my adductors, abductors, and glutes were sore!) You spend the majority of your skating time in a stance known as “Derby stance” – a slight squat position – which you definitely feel when you start skating! You build a lot of power in your legs to get yourself around that track. And as you make your way towards actually competing you need to be able to skate at a certain speed for a length of time which really helps with improving cardio.

Roller Derby has done more for my body confidence than anything else ever has. And a lot of people will say the same. It’s a sport for everyone, no matter what body shape, and we’re all as valuable to the team as each other. We all have our strengths based on our sizes and we all learn how to use them to our advantage. I’ve gone from hiding in baggy shirts and tracksuit bottoms, to wearing shorts in front of crowds of people. I hadn’t worn shorts in public for 15 years!

Thanks, Demi! :)

Go and visit Kent Roller Girls’s website or KRG on Facebook. Where is your local Roller Derby team? Why not look out for an open day, or pop along to their Rec League to give it a go.

Do you do Roller Derby? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks to Kent Roller Girls for the open day 🙂

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 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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National Fitness Day – What Does Fitness Mean To YOU?

September 27, 2017

NFD blog

Happy National Fitness Day! It’s the annual UK-wide celebration of fitness (exercise, training, sport, activity… whatever you choose to call it).

What do you choose to call it? And what does it mean to you?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Why do I make time to get to the gym, work so hard that I’m often aching for a few days, and bother to set goals (goals that often nobody knows about except me and my training log book)?

I’m not a pro athlete. The effort and investment I put into training won’t necessarily come back to me. Life might well be easier if I didn’t know or care about training!

Yet I do it. Almost every day. For years – decades, actually – now.

Why?

I didn’t start out this way. I guess very few people, unless their parents are elite athletes and they were born into a sporty household, given a tennis racquet/put on horse/thrown off a diving board before they could walk 😉

So why have I persisted with training, general lifestyle fitness, and sometimes pretty high-level sport? It must be because of what it MEANS to me.

Fitness means health

Some of the extreme goals I have pursued in the name of sport haven’t been healthy (swimming the Channel, dieting down to bodybuilding-stage-lean). The sharp end of sport often isn’t. But on a day-to-day basis, fitness means health. This year has hammered this home to me. A couple of close family members have been through serious illness, and that stuff puts things into perspective. I want to be fit so my heart is as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I want to build and keep muscle so my body stays strong for as long as possible. Cardio matters. Muscle tissue matters. Activity levels matter.

Fitness means growth

Not just physical – although as a bodybuilder, that is important to me. (I actually think it should be important to anyone: after the age of about 30, our muscle mass starts to atrophy and bones lose density. By trying to “grow”, you’ll stand a decent change of keep one step ahead!) Setting myself personal fitness goals and working towards them helps me grow in confidence, learn new skills, and develop myself.

Fitness means confidence

I have no idea if I’d be the same kind of person without fitness. But I’m pretty sure that my regular fitness routine, goal setting, and achievements, empower me with a lot of confidence. Fitness is all you. Even if you’ve got a Personal Trainer, a coach, or team mates. What YOU achieve is all down to YOU. And it’s not always easy. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you know you can achieve more – in business, in relationships, in finance, in life.

Fitness means fun

A lot of my social circle comes from fitness, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that. Fitness has given me friends, contacts, and an entire world of likeminded people. Training with a partner is about more than just the exercise session. It’s about friendship, talking, listening, making a human connection. The same goes for any hobby, of course. But with fitness, you’re getting healthier at the same time!

Fitness means sanity!

Training, a long walk, any kind of exercise on/in water, and even a sweaty gym cardio class gives me an important outlet for stress, high emotion, or an attack of the blahs. It’s one of my most important – and reliable – coping mechanisms. Exercise boosts my mood, lifts my spirits, and helps me put things into perspective. It also helps me work – some of my best ideas come to me when I’m physically active.

I asked a couple of fitness friends to tell you why fitness is so important to them.

Girl on the River, what does fitness mean to you?

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“Fitness has fundamentally changed my life and how I feel about myself. Becoming fit has given me body confidence I never had, makes me feel strong and healthy and has given me a load of amazing friends. Finding a sport I love has also made it really fun, which I never thought possible.”  Twitter: Girl On The River

And Lucy Fry, how about you?

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“Fitness means… freedom to express myself, strength to embrace life, and help with slowing the chatter inside my mind. It’s been a support in difficult times; a source of joy, pride and excitement…!” Twitter: Lucy Fry

 

 

 

Over to you: what does fitness mean to you?

National Fitness Day is an annual awareness day from ukactive, the non-profit organisation whose mission is to get more people, more active, more often.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All

August 23, 2016

fitness writer bodybuilding dieting

How good are you at handling your finances? Bear with me. This does have something to do with health and fitness!

I recently had a massive communication breakthrough about bodybuilding. So big, so rewarding, that I whooped when I heard about its success. In fact, I am claiming it as one of my finest moments in linguistic creativity. OK, OK – it was with my Dad. Dad has never really understood the dieting side of bodybuilding (despite seeing me diet through numerous “preps” in years gone by). But apparently, something I said to him recently FINALLY made sense to him.

What did I say? I simply compared dieting for fat loss to budgeting for financial savings.

We were talking about flexible dieting.

“It’s not that a bodybuilder CAN’T eat anything,” I said. “It just that they have a small budget to play with. So imagine that you only had £10 spend that day. You COULD buy some slightly-overpriced thing for £6.99 that you don’t really “need”, but then you wouldn’t have much cash left for the rest of the day. Plus you’d probably get home and think…”oh…is that all I got for my money? It looked better in the shop!” Or you could spend £1, £1, £1, £1 (etc) throughout the day. Then get home and think “wow! I managed to buy tons with my £10!”

Apparently this made sense to Dad.

I explained “going out to eat whilst dieting” like this:

“It’s not that they COULDN’T have the dessert, Dad. But it might make more sense to come out and just eat a main. That way, they still get to socialise, but no harm done to their “budget”. It would be like inviting someone out for a shopping day when they are saving up hard to buy a house. They can still come out! But they might say “I can come, but I really can’t spend more than £5 today because I’m saving up for the house deposit.” It’s not the going out shopping for the day that’s the problem. It’s how much they spend whilst they’re out.”

Losing Weight Or Saving Money: Why You Only Really Have A Few Options (Sorry!)

On a roll, I also used the finance/budget analogy with another member of my family recently. This person is keen to lose a bit of weight, but doesn’t want to do the meal plan/12-week transformation thing. She’s been there and done that, and doesn’t fancy the backlash (I don’t blame her).

This person is very good at managing her finances. Knowing this, I explained that there really are only a few ways to lose a bit of weight. And they are the same as being successful at managing money.

If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. That’s the bottom line. The law of thermodynamics is key. You have to consume less than you expend, or expend more than you consume.

If you want to save money, you have to create a financial excess. You have to spend less than you earn, or earn more than you spend.

Your options are:

1) Track your food/drink as you go along and stop when you’ve reached your spend limit (track your money as you spend it, or track your calories/macros in myfitnesspal or whatever you use)

Pros: this will help you work out where you are “overspending”
Cons: if you want to “save”, you’ll have to stop when you hit your target, which might be partway through the month/day if you are “spending” more than you thought

2) Pre-plan what you’re going to eat/spend and work to it (a financial budget, or a calorie/macro budget). This can be as rigid as a meal plan/precise spending plan, or as flexible as eating to macro targets/spending within various “categories”.

Pros: it will be very precise and you will likely “save” (or “lose” in the case of weight) quickly and accurately
Cons: it might seem boring and restrictive, depending on your mindset and personality

3) Wing it and hope for the best. This only works if you are a person who naturally doesn’t spend much money, or who earns so much you could never get into debt. (The weight loss equivalent is someone who naturally undereats, isn’t interested in food, or is so incredibly active that your calorie burn is through the roof).

Pros: if you’re one of the lucky ones, this will work for you. Until your lifestyle, income, or habits change!
Cons: it doesn’t teach you anything about finance (or nutrition) and you might be left wondering WTF when things eventually change.

Have my amazing analogies (!) helped something “click” in your brain? Funnily enough, the above conversation actually helped ME wrap my head around budgeting! I realised that if I can track my nutrition, I can track my spending. I’ve already made plenty of savings and changed some of my spending behaviour!

Do you reckon your success at nutrition/money could be transferrable skills?

How Reframing Weight Loss As Budgeting Helps Make Sense Of It All 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.


Brace Yourself: A Mass Sense Of Entitlement & Elitism Is Coming…

January 3, 2016

Ah, January.

Specifically, January in the gym. Or, out on the roads (if you’re a runner), in the pool during lane-swimming sessions, or in your favourite exercise class/bootcamp session.

Social media this week is full of whinges, whines, and passive-aggressive memes about “newbie” exercisers. The problem? Apparently they are all about to arise from their sofas (where they’ve been lazing for the past 20 years whilst us fit-folk have been #beastmode 24/7). And they’re about to have the audacity to venture into our gyms.

That’s not all! They’re going to mess things up for us for a few weeks in January (you know, using the equipment and possibly not knowing how to load a bar properly) and then they are going to GIVE UP AND GO AWAY AGAIN! (Why could that be… ?)

These gym-newbies are thus a dual source of sustenance for the gym community’s elitist comments and holier-than-thou attitude. Firstly, they turn up at the gym never having been before (remind you of anyone… like… you? And me? And indeed everybody?) Then they fail to stick it out (because, of course, they haven’t got the commitment and willpower you have. It could also be that they were put off by that sense they had of not being quite welcome. Or perhaps, just maybe, it’s because the gym isn’t for them after all).

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Well, I hate this time of year. Not because of the gym newbies. Because of the attitude of gym “oldies” who posts memes like this one, and write stuff on Facebook, and then crow with I-told-you-so glee when the newbie isn’t there any more in February.

I get it, I do. It’s annoying when you turn up to squat, and all the squat racks are taken. It’s frustrating when the weights are all out and strewn around the floor. It can be irritating when you really want to use a certain pair of dumbbells and they’re being used by someone who doesn’t look like they know what they’re doing.

But I really think we need to get over ourselves.

Worst case scenario: you are doing your final workout before a competition. Or you’re someone who makes money from your sport/physique, and you can’t do the exact workout you wanted to do.

I can’t imagine there is ever a situation where there’s literally not one thing you can do in the entire gym that day. If there is, I guess you need to talk to management and tell them they’ve been ambitious with their new sales targets, or need to re-invest in kit.

Here’s what I hope I’ll be doing if any new folk decide to join my gym in January.

  1. Say hello and/or wave (depending on the Headphone scenario)
  2. Introduce myself
  3. Ask if they’re new (because I’m terrible at remembering people I’ve actually already met)
  4. Ask if they’ve come from another gym or if this is their first go in a gym environment
  5. Tell them amusing stories about the gym dog
  6. Tell them to let me know if they need a hand with anything
  7. Say goodbye and hopefully see you again soon

It’s really not difficult. I was new to the gym, once, too. I still feel unsure and a bit intimidated and nervous if I go to do a brand-new sport or type of training. And I just think it’s nice to be nice.

After all, what’s the alternative? Whingeing about how people are lazy and can’t be bothered to do anything about changing their weight, health and fitness… ? Oh wait… our industry tends to do that, too. 😉

What are your thoughts on the January gym-influx scenario? To what extent is your training affected? Have you posted that ^^^ meme and do you plan to unfriend me on FB now? 😉 (bye)

Chat with TFW on social media
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Facebook
Twitter
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Brace Yourself… 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.


Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both?

January 5, 2015

The internetwebs – particularly social media – has flattened the landscape somewhat. It’s democratised things. Instagrammers with a good set of abs and a frisky amount of followers brand themselves “fitness models”. Clients no longer necessarily need to see their PT. And prefacing your online biography with the word “[aspiring]…” seems enough to do away with the need for a portfolio, qualifications, or real-life experience. In any sphere.

I feel I may have got off on the wrong foot with this one. So, before you all think I’ve got an axe to grind (I haven’t – if I had, I wouldn’t waste time grinding it, I use it to tackle my garden), I’ll explain the context for today’s post.

My client-now-friend Mike Samuels of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting recently posed a question to his Facebook followers: “do you need to actually train people to coach online and write about fitness?”

The video post prompted responses from trainers, coaches, PTs and PT clients. And from me. I responded as a copywriter. More than that, as a copywriter who specialises in writing about, and for, fitness businesses.

So, of course, my reply to the writing portion of the question was a resounding “no”. Although I do have extensive experience of training, being coached, and even competing in various sports, I don’t think this is a deal-breaker. After all, I also write for a funeral car company, and I’ve never designed a car, driven a hearse, or arranged a funeral. My fitness clients include businesses whose niche is running (I haven’t run properly for years) and post-partum yoga (I don’t have children, and corpse pose is my favourite because it involves lying down and having a nice sleep).

Now, granted, the context of Mike’s question was a PT who had approached him, asking about moving into exclusively online coaching and writing about fitness, rather than face-to-face PTing.

But it got me thinking.

In this online age, where boundaries get blurry and self-styled job roles merge, what do clients actually prefer?

A copywriter who can write about fitness?

Or a fitpro who can write?

Does it no longer matter? What’s more important: official training and experience in writing, or hands-on experience of the topic being written about?

Can a writer understand enough about a topic to be able to write about it with authority? And can a topic-expert know enough about how to get inside a reader’s head to write content which persuades and engages?

I don’t know. But I’d love to know your thoughts, particularly if you have ever commissioned anyone to write content for your business (or publication).

*No axes were ground during the composition of this blog post*

Should a fitness copywriter have writing experience, fitness experience, or both? 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.


thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015)

January 2, 2015

Hello! I was taking a look at my wordpress stats this morning and got to wondering: what do you lot want to see more of (and less of) on the blog over the coming year?

Product reviews always seem to be popular, but I’ll only do them if you really find them useful (and I do turn down more than I accept – one day I’ll have to tell you about the sort of products I turn down. You’ll LOL and possible ROFL, promise).

Competition reports go down well, too, but I am still undecided about my plans for 2015. I might compete in bodybuilding, or I may take a year out from competing (and dieting!) in order to give my body a chance to grow and develop before I next venture into a deficit. If I do take a year out, I will possibly do some other kind of comp (powerlifting?) – would you want to hear about those, too?

Do my training sessions interest you? Would you want to hear more about the ins and outs of off-season?

And what about my actual job – copywriting. Do blog posts about the business of writing, about writing for the fitness industry and about freelancing interest you? Or would you like my occasional advice for business owners who write their own content?

Do let me know! 🙂

Here’s a round up of how the blog did in 2014 (its fourth year… it’s positively elderly in blogging circles!)

Mentions!
It topped the list of top sport and fitness PR company Promote’s list of favourite fitness blogs.

Guest posts and interviews

– I was on the Katie Bulmer-Cooke podcast (yes, Katie who was in this year’s The Apprentice!) talking about copywriting for fitness businesses, PTs and fitpros, how to create content, what’s trending in marketing, why writing is so important for your business… and a bit of banter with Katie. You can listen to it here. I’m so pleased to have done this; being on a podcast was one of my goals for the year. Thank you for the opportunity, Katie (and thank you to those of you who have messaged me to say that you found my advice useful).

– I blogged twice for Karen Nadkarni-Ruffle at FitProClientRecipes (FPCR): this blog post gives fitpros and fitness businesses 10 easy-peasy ways to generate topics for their own blogs, and this blog post gives my advice about how to write press releases which get opened, read… and published!

– What else… I was featured on the blog of fellow Fitness Writers’ Association member “Fitcetera” (aka Georgina Spenceley) when she did a series called “Yeah, She Lifts”. Here’s my Yeah She Lifts interview (thanks, G!).

– And I was interviewed by Introvertology about my work as a freelancer and training and competing as a bodybuilder and former endurance athlete (thankfully, they let me send my replies in by email… haha 😉 ). You can read that interview here.

I set up thefitwriter’s own Facebook page in 2014 and I’d be delighted to see you there – come on over and like the page.

Views and visitors
It had 83,000 views in 2014, from 55,000 visitors, and now has 253 WordPress followers (hello, and thank you! 😀 )

The list of countries those visitors come from is fascinating. Here’s the top of the list….
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…and here’s the bottom. Hollaaaaaah to the chap or chick in Honduras who had reason to read my ramblings once this year!
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My most popular posts

– An old review post of ON whey
– An old review post of the protein powder Tesco launched in Jan 2012 (this post’s enduring popularity continues to amaze me!)
– My review of the Phil Learney Fat Loss & Performance Seminar I went to in 2013
– An old review of Monkey Nutrition whey isolate
– A review post of Bare Naked Noodles (this pings to the top every time they’re in the press or whenever Ross’s Dragons’ Den episode is shown)
– My blog post about my pal Julia Buckley’s Fat Burn Revolution book
– Show report of this year’s UKDFBA Open (the only post from 2014 which is in the 2014 top 10… I guess this shows my writing’s staying power and my blog’s SEO strength!)

Big thanks to all of you who read, share, like and comment on my posts. A happy, healthy and successful 2015 to you all 🙂

thefitwriter blog in 2014 (and looking ahead to 2015) 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.


Latest favourite training, nutrition, health podcasts

October 26, 2014

It’s been a while since I listed the podcasts I am currently enjoying. I listen to tons (as well as audiobooks) because I walk so much (dog owner living in a beautiful part of the country!)

This will be the third of these types of blog posts I’ve written; my previous podcast recommendations are here:
favourites from last year
more from 2013
and podcast recommendations from 2011 (many of which are no more)

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The Ben Pakulski Podcast
For those who don’t know who he is, Ben Pakulski is an IFBB Pro bodybuilder (he was in Generation Iron). I came across his podcast when Mark Coles of M10 (whose social media content I absolutely love) was a guest. I listened to that podcast episode, applied some of the ideas to my next leg session, had DOMS for about a week, and was hooked. Ben and co-host John Meadows interview athletes, coaches and experts in bodybuilding, strength and muscle hypertrophy about practical applications and ideas in various areas.
Ben Pakulski podcast on itunes

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Elite Muscle Radio
Phil Graham is another guy whose social media content I really enjoy, and now I can listen to his podcast too. The Elite Muscle Radio podcast explores nutrition and training in pretty high-end detail but does so in a way that won’t leave you feeling lost (or bored). I was once stuck in traffic on the M25 and listened to almost 80 minutes all about dietary fats and insulin sensitivity for sports performance and body recomp. I’m not a prep coach nor do I have a scientific mind but those 80 minutes were fascinating and I was grateful for the traffic jam. All of the episodes are similarly interesting. I truly feel like I’m “getting my learn on” when I listen.
Elite Muscle Radio on itunes

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Physique Science Radio
I’m sure you’ve heard of Layne Norton. Well, here’s his podcast. He co-hosts with Sohee Lee, a smart woman who has just released a reverse-dieting book. Layne and Sohee are known for their work on flexible dieting, reverse dieting and health-based contest prep and off-season nutrition. Expect lots of evidence-based nutrition and training advice.
Physique Science Radio on itunes

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Real Nutrition Radio
I really like this nutrition podcast, hosted by Clinical Sports Nutritionist, Martin MacDonald and his co-host, Mike Sweeney. Between the two of them, they are able to discuss and dissect nutrition topics from two angles, bringing loads of experience not just from academic study but “from the trenches” of actually treating people. It’s not all fat loss and contest prep, either, which I really like. They set out to dispel myths and misconceptions and bring real talk about nutrition for health, sports performance, muscle gain and body composition.
Real Nutrition Radio on itunes

Do you have any podcast recommendations for me?

Latest favourite training, nutrition, health podcasts 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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