Join The 21-day Content Creation Challenge

November 30, 2017

Fitpro-ho-hos! (Too early?)

Who wants to do a MASSIVE push on content in December?

I’m running a free, informal 21-day content creation challenge.

Want to join in?

  • accountability
  • practical support
  • help with ideas
  • feedback and critique from me
  • a boost in visibility and activity

Plus you’ll get..

…BETTER at writing
…MORE CONFIDENT about posting
…and PAST the annoying procrastination you have about content

All you have to do is commit to posting ONCE per day from 1st-21st December. Yes, we start tomorrow. If you’re in, you’re in! Just get started – I’ll help with the rest.

It can be on FB, Insta, your blog, to your email list… whatever is most relevant to your audience.

This is for you if:

– you’re a fitness professional
– who wants a big push on content in December
– to get ahead of the “New Year rush”

Get in touch on Facebook, or leave a comment here, and I’ll message you with the next steps.

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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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Interval training at Fresh

April 4, 2011

OK so I lied about no more photos of me training for a while. When I wrote that, I forgot that I was due to go and train at Fresh, a gym and athletic conditioning facility newly opened in Shepperton.

Fresh contacted me through Twitter and invited me along to train with S&C coach Mike Lovett, on one of my HIIT days. Sure thing, I said. Put me through my paces. Let’s just say the drive home was…challenging. I kind of wished I was driving an automatic. It’s been a long time since my quads have felt like that!

To back up a bit: Fresh is just a couple of months old. It’s a big facility and combines traditional gym floor stuff (cardio machines, resistance machines and free weights) with athletic conditioning equipment in a lovely big space. There’s a scaffold, suspension training equipment, Olympic lifting, squat rack, kettlebells, battling ropes, punchbags and lots more.

I met Mike, my designated trainer, who asked me what I wanted to get out of the session. He already knew I was 14 weeks out from my figure comp (it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get this blog post up!) I’d told him I do plenty of heavy lifting but have little space or equipment with which to do really good conditioning sessions.

First of all, Mike led me through a warm-up focusing on mobility and dynamic stretching. He then revealed my circuit to me: five exercises focused on whole-body movement patterns (lunge, squat, pull, push and rotation)…and told me I’d go round five times. 45 seconds on, 15 off, and a bonus rest between sets. Eek!

Here’s what I did (with coach Mike’s explanations)

1) Lateral strap-shuttles
“Plyometric loading of the legs in a semi squat position whilst support the posture with the suspension straps, this exercise is great for heart rate training and really gets those legs full of blood”

2) Rope drives
“Using a 30kg heavy-duty rope, the aim is to get the whole body firing up in sequence with triple extension from ankle, knee and hips, an explosive power endurance exercise which will challenge the whole body”

3) Squat jump to hangs
“A favourite exercise of mine, great for separation and definition in the quads! Using a frame around 7ft high: stand directly under the frame in a squat position and explosively jump up and catch the pole above. Hold in an isometric position for 2 seconds. Let go and land softly in a full squat and simultaneously explode back up to the frame and repeat for the duration. A fierce explosive exercise!”

4) Get ups
“The aim of this exercise is simple: get on the floor from a standing position and – as quickly as possible – get up again. This usually involves a high tempo work rate including a squat, press up and lunge, and works both concentrically and eccentrically in all movements.

”

5) Endurance punch bag work
“Nothing gets the heart going like a little boxing. Using a 35kg hanging bag, I had Nicola punching high and hard for prolonged periods. This was challenging and got the heart rate up massively whilst keeping Nicola focused on the target throughout.” (I concur… πŸ˜‰ )

My heart was pounding and I was completely knackered after that lot, but it was a clever circuit which fooled me into carrying on.. the 15 second rest period was just enough recovery for me to forget what the fuss was all about, and one or two of the exercises were just easier (not “easy”, just “easier”..!) enough to convince me I could make it through another round.

The exercises Mike chose for me got my heart rate up, worked my entire body and blasted me from all angles – lateral, explosive, triple extension and all that good stuff. I asked him to explain why he chose them:

This session was designed specifically for Nicola going into a HIIT training day. Although many people associate HIIT with treadmills/rowing machines, this session was purely based on body weight exercises challenging every muscle group by keeping the heart rate raised with short rest periods which in turn results in a fantastic HIIT training session. My aim was to work on an explosive basis, ensuring maximum force in every movement, this was evident with the load and explode squat jump and hangs.

Nicola was great to work with and really put in a fantastic effort throughout, already looking in great condition for her upcoming figure competitions. It was a pleasure to train Nicola and give her some guidance on training structures.

Without question Nicola got the HIIT workout she requested and also went away with some new ideas towards training.

Nicola, I hope you enjoyed the experience at Fresh and we look forward to seeing you again.

Mike was a fantastic coach, calling out words of encouragement all the way through and saying just the right thing to keep me going. One of my favourite was during the squat jumps/hangs: “Load up that squat and explode out of it…it will really get some separation going in those quads.” Yes please, sign me up!

Fresh is a great facility and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. As well as training in the indoor facilities, the team do a range of classes, outdoor sessions and are about to start dedicated triathlon training sessions at an open-water swimming lake. So, whatever your sport or fitness goal, do check them out if they’re in your patch.

Thank you Mike and the rest of the Fresh team, the session was great (and took me a while to recover from!) and it was a pleasure to see your facility.

You can follow Fresh and Mike on Twitter, and Fresh on Facebook.

Interval training at Fresh is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Have your pancake and eat it too

March 8, 2011

Today is “Pancake Day” here in the UK. Yes, I’m 16 weeks out from a figure bodybuilding show. No, I see no reason to avoid Pancake Day. Growing up, it was one of my favourite days of the year. My Dad threw some means shapes as he flung pancakes around the kitchen under his pseudonym “Roger the Tosser” (I can’t believe I just wrote that on the blog. Luckily, I don’t think he reads it!) Sista, remember Pancake Days when we were kids? Hang on, I have a picture of R-the-T in action….here it is!

I digress. You may think Bodybuilding contest prep+Pancake Day=big no no. I say think again! Contest prep just means a bit of lateral-thinking when it comes to pancake batter.

What’s in normal pancake batter? Eggs, milk, flour, oil, and butter, right? Come on, those things are all so easy to find healthy substitutes for. So easy, in fact, that I’d celebrated Pancake Day before 8am this morning.

OK, so I’m not the best food photographer, and an iPhone is not the best camera in the world. But you get the idea.

Into your trusty blender, pour about 4 eggwhites, 40g or so oats and about 75g light plain cottage cheese. Blend. Add a pinch of baking powder and blend again just for a second.

Heat spray oil (or, if you’re me, a bit of coconut oil) in a good pan. Pour some of the batter in and cook just like a normal person’s pancake. Flip and cook the other side.

Plate up and top with whatever you want. I’d suggest good ol’ lemon and sugar isn’t the best choice if you’re in contest prep. I went with sugar-free syrup (yes, it exists and it’s lovely) and strawberry slices.

It should be noted that the recipe amounts above made three further pancakes. The photo above was not my entire breakfast!

Four oaty pancakes like this fuelled me up for my training session today which was a “raw conditioning” (their words) session at the simply fabulous Locker 27, a training facility in Weybridge, Surrey. I’m going to blog about my session later this week but if you are in the area, I urge you to go and try it out. You can contact Steven and the other chaps on info@locker27.com.

PS I also had pancakes for my afternoon snack. I made them out of egg whites, cottage cheese and protein powder. They tasted great but looked awful so I didn’t take a pic. πŸ˜‰

Have your pancake and eat it too is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Group PT and posing practise

March 6, 2011


Phew, yesterday was full on! My head is spinning, full of fantastic information after meeting up with my coach Kat Millar and a female bodybuilding competitor she knows. Annie Uelese was kind enough to invite me to her house, take a look at my physique, help me with posing and finally give me her thoughts on which show/s I have the potential to do best in. So I now have some dates in the diary! Countdown to showtime is officially on!

Let’s back up a bit.

I started my day (after a tortuous time on the tube network) at Kat’s personal training studio in Farringdon, where I gatecrashed one of her Saturday morning group personal training sessions. Anna, Angela and Jess, thank you so much for letting me join your group and train with you! I had great fun and worked really hard. I love the singleminded solitude of training by myself but from time to time it’s great to train with others, and yesterday was one of those days.

After warming up with medicine balls and kettlebells, we did a lot of partner work with medicine balls, some agility work as a group and even some fun “games” with press ups etc as forfeits, none of which would have worked by myself. I’ve been focusing on slower lifting work in the gym recently, so the series of bunny hops, fast step ups, jumps and running was a (good) shock to my system.

We finished off our hour’s sweatfest with partner-assisted stretching which was a real treat. Thank you, Angela, for the help with stretching (all 55kgs of you!) and for the mini back massage which you threw in for free!

Jess, Anna and Angela are all obviously working very hard with Kat and I wish them all the best with their individual strength, nutrition and fitness goals. Hopefully I’ll see you again soon, ladies! Train hard! XX

From there, Kat and I made our way to NW London to meet Annie Uelese, Kiwi figure competitor. You know how you always meet someone in every sport who is willing to give up their time, knowledge and experience to help out a stranger? Annie is one of those people. She filled my head with helpful information, suggestions and practical ideas and let me hang out at her house for hours asking her questions about bodybuilding and figure.

She took at a look at me and told me which class of bodybuilding/which federation she thought I was best suited to, explaining the subtle differences. She then took me through all the poses I’d need to do, tweaking my technique and manipulating me into the right position. Posing is really hard work and very precise, and Annie’s help was incredibly useful (even if I am aching today – yes, from posing!)

So, I now have a couple of shows earmarked, dates in the diary and – of course – a countdown! That’s what I’ve been missing and needing, and I know the weekly countdown is going to give my training and nutrition an even sharper focus.

Here they are:
– 3 July
BNBF show (figure class)
17 July NPA show (figure, possibly physique class)

and, as plan Bs (just in case):
– 7 August BNBF show
– 15 August NPA show
– 12 Sept NPA show (I may do this one anyway, as it’s in Kent – my homeland!)

So, that gives me 16 weeks to keep on building size and symmetry before cutting down to reveal all my hard work! Oh, and to practise posing, develop some stage presence, and…and…and…

Thank you so much to Annie for your generosity, time and insights. And thank you as ever to Kat – great to train with you and the ladies at your group PT session in London. May the groups go from strength to strength, it’s a brilliant way to train!

Do you have a mentor in your sport? Do you do group personal training?

Group PT and posing practise is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Giving it a tri

February 27, 2011

I hope you’ve had a nice weekend. I had lots of family over today, including my Auntie Rose, who has decided to take up triathlon. Now, it’s terribly rude to talk about a lady’s age but, if I tell you that I’m 33, you can probably work out for yourself that my Auntie is not quite a teenager. So I think it is fantastic that she is training for her first triathlon.

Auntie Rose and my little sister 20+ years ago yesterday πŸ˜‰ – sorry both of you, ha ha!

Auntie Rose is no couch potato – she’s a good swimmer and plays tennis (very well, I’m told) regularly. But triathlon is quite a challenge for anyone.

Before lunch, she picked a few products from my cardboard boxes of items I’ve kit tested for magazines (PRs, if you want them back, please just ask – Auntie Rose has only borrowed them). And, over lunch, she picked my brains about the mysteries of brick sessions, transitions, race belts and lock laces.

I’m thrilled to be able to help her out and can’t wait to cheer her on in her first race. And I’m delighted to have someone else sporty in the family!

I’ve asked her if she’ll do a few guests posts on this blog as her training progresses. If there’s any part of the learning curve you’d like her to write about, please let me know.

Did you take up a particular sport later on in life? Would you ever consider doing a triathlon?

I’ve got an exciting day lined up tomorrow with one big bit of kit to test and a talk to give at an industry event. I also owe you a blog post about fitness kit I’ve tested this week – some interesting stuff! I’ll blog again soon…

Giving it a tri is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


How to get the most from remote personal training

January 15, 2011

Have you ever considered working with a Personal Trainer or sport-specific coach in an online or email capacity? Perhaps with the New Year upon us, and the start of the race season a few months away, you’re looking for some accountability, structure and expert guidance. A professional trainer or coach is a fantastic investment, but sometimes there’s no-one local who quite does it for you.

That’s where a “remote” coach or PT comes in. By that I mean someone who offers coaching, training plans, perhaps nutrition guidance and emotional support, but by email (and usually telephone and Skype, too).

I worked with a remote PT at the end of last year during my 8-week gym challenge. Kat offers regular one-on-one PT and small group PT. I knew of her from reading her blog, and had a hunch that she’d be the perfect PT for me, but I don’t live in London, so I had to work with her over email.

I found the process to be very helpful. So helpful, in fact, that Kat and I are now firm friends as well as PT/client. Here’s a pic of us having, like, the most fun eva,….cooking veg last weekend on Saturday night. It’s a good illustration of how important it is to find a PT who has the same sense of humour and outlook as you!

When we weren’t cooking, talking or training, I interviewed her about remote/email PT and how she feels a client can get the most out of this kind of training.

Whether you’ve just signed up to work with an online coach or are considering it for the future, I hope you’ll find this Q&A helpful.

The Fit Writer: In what circumstances might a client find remote personal training useful?
Kat Millar: If someone can’t find the type of coach or PT they need in their local area, or at their regular gym, they can work with anyone they want. They don’t even need to be in the same country. Remote PT offers great value for money, too. The instantaneous support is really helpful: a client can be sitting at work, feeling tempted by the biscuit barrel, and quickly fire off an email or a text to me and I’ll reply with a few motivating words. Just having that accountability helps. Clients know they have someone’s eyes on what they’re doing. Most people have to be in some system of accountability to have success with fitness or fat loss goals, and a remote PT offers just that.

TFW: Are some clients better suited to remote coaching than others?
KM: Well, it helps to have the ability and willingness to be completely honest with their PT. It has to be real; there’s no point just telling me the good bits or the things they think I want to hear. Clients shouldn’t feel bad about reporting less-than-perfect meals or training sessions. If they tell me everything – good and bad – we can see why they’re getting the results (or not) and take it from there. Honesty is key.

TFW: How can clients help the remote PT process work for them?
KM: It helps if they come to me with a really specific goal. And then, even though they’ve asked me to help, they have to take a lot of responsibility for the process. They need to be honest with me and with themselves and stay “on it” between our calls and emails. I like clients to ask me really direct, specific questions and encourage them to do so. Tell me clearly what they’ve done or not done, give me feedback on the training and nutrition plans I put together for them, and use me for the resource I am! No client should battle on in silence if something about the process isn’t working. Tell me and I can fix it. All personal trainers want to give their clients what they need to succeed. Oh, and progress photos are great!

TFW: What’s good about working this way?
KM: I like the fact that working on email with someone enables me to react to things as they come up. I can offer support, answer questions and give motivation whenever it’s needed, rather than waiting for an alloted hour every week. Very often, email clients end up telling me a lot about their lives and personal challenges, so the relationship becomes very special and we have heart-to-heart chats. The bottom line is that, by working with an coach via email, clients don’t have to take some random training plan off the internet or out of a magazine. They’ll get a personalised plan. Working this way with someone often gets them to use a PT when otherwise they wouldn’t have considered it. And I think everyone should have access to professional support and guidance when it comes to their health and fitness.

Thanks Kat! πŸ™‚

Email personal training definitely works for me. Do you have a “remote” coach, PT or mentor? Does the process work for you?

How to get the most from your remote personal training is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Guest post: Kat Millar, personal trainer and figure competitor

November 9, 2010

For the past six weeks, I’ve been working remotely with London-based personal trainer Kat Millar. She’s been guiding me through nutrition and gym-based training with the goal being body-recomposition. In a (healthy fat) nutshell: less fat, more muscle, with some super strength-gains on the side.

In just six weeks I’ve had some astounding results (I’m going to post an update soon) but, more importantly, the programme Kat’s given me has been enjoyable. Not just doable but actually interesting, challenging and – yes – enjoyable.

Kat is a great PT and, in her own right, a very successful “Trained Figure” competitor (a class of competitive body building). She came 2nd in a national contest just a few weeks ago.

If any of you have been considering hiring a personal trainer, I can highly recommend you get in touch with Kat. You don’t have to be training for a competition. Your goal could be general weight loss, fat loss, specific strength or fitness gains. The bespoke programme I’ve been doing is her 8-week virtual coaching one. You can find details here.

I asked Kat to write a little about why she trains and competes as a figure competitor, because it’s a world I find fascinating. What drives her, what does she get out of it and what does she love about the sport?

Here’s what she had to say. And here is Kat’s own blog – check it out for lots of free tips, recipes and motivation! Thanks for the guest post, Kat!

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Being a figure competitor requires a great deal of mental and physical energy, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done – and probably will ever do (besides getting married and having babies of course! πŸ˜‰ ) It’s about so much more than looking good on stage. It helps keep me disciplined and focused and gives back so many positive feelings. It’s more than worth it.

(That's me on the far left winning 2nd place at the NPA National Championships)

The lessons I’ve taken from competitive bodybuilding can be applied to so many areas of life. I’m sure most people who play sport – or do anything competitive – will attest to this.

Some of the many things I’ve learned from competing in Figure

– How to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of
– How to believe in myself and my abilities
– That I do have what it takes (I never knew this before!)
– How important the mind is – in everything!
– The art of self-discipline and sacrifice
– That having a big goal and seeing progress in your work towards it is the most motivating thing in the world
– The art of delaying gratification in order to achieve something greater
– Lessons and skills that I can apply for the rest of my life when it comes to fat loss and body composition (my own and that of my clients)

I now know how to remain within a certain weight range that I’m happy with, and exactly how to get myself there. I recorded everything I did to get me to the place where I’m happiest with my body, so I now have a blue-print plan that works for me. It’s the law of cause and effect in action, right there in black and white. It works: no questions, doubts or confusion. For me, these guidelines provide safety for any future journeys like this, by removing the guess work.

I also understand my clients better. By taking myself through the weight-loss journey, I’ve picked up lots of tips and inspiration I can pass on to those I work with. To me, training hard, proper recovery and eating right is part of ‘walking the talk’ (I never want to be someone who tells people to do things I wouldn’t or couldn’t do myself).

My ongoing focus is helping as many people as I can to achieve success, whatever success means to them. My goal is to help people attain what it is they really desire in terms of their body and health. The enormous benefits you receive from proper training, correct nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle are too great to list. Once people experience a taste of it, they can become very addicted to the benefits!

Kat Millar, personal trainer
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Guest post: Kat Millar, personal trainer and figure competitor is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


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