What’s in your gym bag? (Here’s mine + a few reviews)

January 21, 2014

What do you keep in your gym bag? Besides the obvious (shaker bottle, training log, headphones etc).


I’ve told the silly story of my actual bag before so we won’t go into all that again (just in case the Boots Parenting Club people are reading… )

Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve got in my gym bag at the moment:


“Figure of 8” type lifting straps from Legacy
I don’t use straps much, but when I do it’s for pull ups and rows – I find these straps really quick and easy to use

Fat Gripz lifting aids

I love these for bicep training and any pulling exercise. You put them round the bar to basically create a thicker bar, to increase muscle activation and train your grip.

You can’t see these in the pic – they are a pair of rubber grips you put round barbells, dumbells, even ropes and other cable attachments so you can brace your hands during the movement and activate the muscle slightly differently (also adds a layer of “Steritouch” protection between your hands and particularly grotty gym kit!)

Liquidgrip liquid chalk

I do like to use chalk particularly for deadlifts, but quite a lot of gyms don’t allow it (!), so Liquidgrip is good to have in your bag just in case!

Smartshake shaker/storage bottle
I’ve blogged before about my love of Smartshake bottles before (I do particularly love the neon ones though)

Paraben-free deodorant Bionsen
(so fresh, so clean… πŸ˜‰ )

Beet It Sports shots for pre-workout
I’ve been using these as a pre-workout recently and really rate them. I actually think they’d be fantastic to take backstage at a bodybuilding comp just before pump up. Beetroot juice contains high levels of naturally-occurring nitrate which converts into nitric oxide in the bloodstream. (Nitric oxide is the “NO” part of all those big-name pre-workouts!) Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which is why the Beet It Sports shots are so good as a pre-workout to help performance and stamina. Note – they are pretty high in carbs (as you’d expect, since they are beetroot juice!) but ITCFYM (“if that can fit your macros” hee hee) then go for it! Best served very cold – I keep mine in the fridge then pop in my kit bag on the way out the door. Oh – and they carry the Informed-Sport logo, too – great news for those of us who are drug tested in sport πŸ™‚ I might have a party soon and create the exclusive “Beet It Sports Shot Bloody Mary” πŸ˜‰

Sockwa shoes
These little minimal/slipper type shoes – Sockwa G4 – are actually designed for “barefoot running” and come from Barefoot Britain but I’ve been using them for deadlifting and absolutely love them. When I was still planning on doing a powerlifting meet, I was told they would be fine for wearing in competition (for the deadlift, anyway). They’re so comfy! I haven’t run in them so can’t comment on how they feel for their intended use, but for deadlifts they get two thumbs up!

Emergency zombie apocalypse SOS bag
Finally, there’s a little bag of essential items (ie mostly food) in case, you know, I suddenly find myself emerging from the gym to a world where food has ceased to exist, all shops have been burned to the ground, and my “anabolic window” is threatening to eat away at all my gainz. I keep a couple of little sachets of oats in there, some sample sachets of whey (Bulkpowders), some pre-workout (it’s Mezza Turbonox) and some lovely fragrant wipes from Mendill (I reviewed these just before Christmas). Because when the apocalypse comes, I want to my glycogen stores to be full AND my skin to smell nice. You understand.

What’s in your gym bag?

What’s in your gym bag? (Here’s mine + a few reviews) 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.

Helpful tips for regaining healthy-eating habits after Christmas

December 30, 2013

Getting back into the habit of healthy eating can be a challenge after Christmas.

It’s all too easy to get out of your routine and to adopt a new one: of eating erratically, of starting the day with chocolate, of picking at left-overs just because they’re there.

Here are a few tips and tricks which help at this time of year. In fact they can be useful reminders at any time of year (because it’s not just Christmas which can throw you off).

Don’t buy any more off the stuff you don’t want to eat

Want to stop eating chocolate after dinner, or toast as an afternoon snack? It sounds simple, but start by not buying it. If it’s not in the house, you won’t eat it. Well, you might, but you’ll have to actually go out to buy it (in which case it’s probably going to be a real treat, rather than habit).

Make an effort to break new habits if they don’t serve you
Over Christmas, you’ve probably developed some new habits without realising. Stuff you simply wouldn’t do at other times of the year. Stopping at service stations on car journeys for “festive” coffee drinks. Booze, cheese or chocolates after dinner. Having some biscuits with a cuppa. Cutting a slice of cake because it’s there. First step is to identify the habits. Are they serving you well? Are they helping you reach whatever your goal is (healthy eating, fat loss, performance, feeling good)? No? Then be aware of them and make an effort to stop.

Buy lots of veg
Your fridge and kitchen cupboards are no doubt a strange mish-mash at this time of year: left-overs, foodie gifts, bits and bobs which people brought to parties. Some of which you possibly don’t even want any more. And most of which aren’t a regular fixture in the way you eat the rest of the year. Crowd them out, by stocking up on veg.

**Brussels sprouts are currently 20p/kilo in my local Tesco** (other supermarkets are available) πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

Stock up on whatever veggies (green, leafy, cruciferous or otherwise!) you enjoy eating. And eat ’em! Your body and mind will remember how good it feels πŸ™‚

Make it as easy as possible for yourself
The thing about habits is that we take the path of least resistance. Even going to the gym and training really hard can become “easy” when we do it often. The training itself doesn’t become easy, but the process does. We know where our gym bag is, the routine of getting out the door is second nature. It’s no longer difficult to be a person who goes training regularly. Make healthy eating the same.
– slice, chop and cut up your (new) veg and store in tubs in the fridge. Make them quicker to grab than a biscuit or leftover sausage roll. Make it easier to eat vegetables than it is to eat mince pies
– prep some meals in advance if you know you’re going to be busy, tired or emotional and tempted to grab Christmas leftovers
– make good use of leftover Christmas meat. Various family members sent me home with generous lumps of cooked turkey and beef this year (thank you!) I cut them into reasonable portion sizes and froze them, so it’ll be easy to use them for healthy meals.

Have a plan
Maybe you can slide effortlessly back into your healthy eating routine without a plan, but I can’t. One thing that really works for me is having a simple, fuss-free blueprint which I know I can fall back on without a great deal of thought. It’s just regular, simple meals that I know I’ll enjoy and will help me perform well in the gym. Having it pre-planned and written down makes it very easy for me to get back on track and stick to it.

Keep it really simple

And my plan is very simple. The simpler, the better. I make sure there’s lots of variety within it, but not much choice. I find that if I give myself too much choice, I’m more likely to add “a bit of this” and “just a slice of that”. Simple meals, with plenty of variety throughout the day. No fuss.

It’s not a big deal
Some people find getting back into healthy eating after a break sends them into a tailspin. Overthinking leads to panic and self-doubt and then somehow they can’t really remember how their routine used to be (despite the fact that it was only a couple of weeks ago). So, deep breath. Be calm. It is not a big deal. It’s just the food you’re going to eat. Plan it, buy it, prep it, eat it. Then get on with the rest of your day, because I’m sure there’s a lot more to it (and to you) than what you eat.

No negative thoughts, please

And yes, quite possibly you gained a lot of weight over Christmas, didn’t stick to the plans and promises you imposed on yourself in early December, and don’t feel good as a consequence. Be kind to yourself. You can and will get back on the wagon. You know what to do and you know it’ll work. Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself. Speak to yourself – and about yourself – as you would a dear friend.

Helpful tips for regaining healthy-eating habits after Christmas 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.

Will you be exercising on Christmas Day?

December 23, 2013

Two more sleeps! πŸ˜‰

Will you be training or exercising on Christmas Day?

There are typically two responses to that question: “hell yes! The gym is open at 6am and I’ll be there at 5:59am ready to smash legs and kill it like the warrior I am” (etc) or “erm… no. It’s Christmas Day. I’m hoping for lie-in and when I do get up I’ll have Bucks Fizz with breakfast”.

How about a middle ground?

I do think it’s important to be active on Christmas Day, if you can. There’s no need to go to the gym, or take hours out of the day to head off by yourself for a run. But equally I don’t think it’s good for the body (or soul) to be inside all day.

Back in my endurance sport days, I would always go out for a very short run/jog on Christmas morning. It was one of my favourite runs of the year. It didn’t impact on the social side of Christmas Day and didn’t stop me from helping out, or hosting, or enjoying Christmas. In fact, it added to my personal enjoyment of Christmas because it was my own little tradition.

I’d get up, have a cuppa with family and then, whilst they were having their showers and getting dressed, I’d go out for a 30 minute run. I’d be back almost before anyone realised I’d even left, and grab my shower just as I would have done if I’d stayed in.

I loved those Christmas morning runs because the streets were quiet and the atmosphere was happy. If I did meet another runner, or a cyclist, dog walker, horse rider or rambler, they would without fail be cheerful and smiling. If I ran down residential streets, I could peek into people’s front windows to see lovely Christmas scenes.

Nowadays I don’t run much, but I do walk a lot (the dog wouldn’t have it any other way). So, this year, I’ll head out for a lovely dog walk on Christmas morning and enjoy it as I used to enjoy my Christmas morning runs. I’ll just be less sweaty by the end (one would hope).

If I was by myself on Christmas morning and going to family (or having family over) for lunch, I would consider going to train at the gym if there was one open.

So there’s no right or wrong about how to be active on Christmas Day. But I would recommend it.

– go to the gym if it’s open and if a gym visit would suit your schedule
– head out for a run or bike ride if you can fit it in
– grab 30 minutes to do a bodyweight session at home
– use home kit if you’ve got it: kettlebells, resistance bands, suspension trainer, bulgarian bag (or whatever you’ve got)
– head outside with friends and family if the weather’s fine
– go for a walk – or two!

Do you have a tradition of exercising on Christmas Day?

Whatever you’re up to I hope you have a very happy day πŸ™‚

Will you be exercising on Christmas Day? 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.

Five exercises I love to hate (a meme)

May 7, 2011

There’s a meme going round the fitness/training blog world – “Five exercises you love to hate”.

Today is day one: heavy leg session and an interval session*. So, I’m tired. So, a blog post based around a meme sounds like an easy thing to do πŸ˜‰

(*Then a fantastic leg and glute massage from my friend Jo – thank you so much, Jo! πŸ™‚ )

Truly and honestly, I don’t “hate” any exercise. (I try not to “hate” anything but that’s another discussion). There are, however, some exercises which I kind of dread seeing on my programmes. They’re typically the ones which are best for me – either because they’re the big-hitters, recruiting lots of muscles in one go and leaving me very knackered, or because they work my weaker or less-balanced muscles.

Here are my “Five exercises I love to hate” (and why).

Shoulder press
I don’t know why, maybe it’s simply that it’s pretty hard to press something overhead. But barbell or dumbbell overhead/shoulder presses…hurt. And I always want to stop one or two reps short of my target.

Squat jumps
Ouch! Wide or narrow squat jumps are killer. I know they’re good for me, so I do them, but…really. As part of a “finisher” complex after leg weights, or as part of an interval session, I kind of dread them.

Curtsey lunges
I’m not sure if this is their official name. I mean a lunge where your front leg is slightly across like a curtsey. I like these because I can literally see the good they’re doing for me, but ooooh they hurt. I do these with a weighted Olympic bar and can feel it getting right into my glutes.

Dumbbell flyes
I love doing flyes but “love to hate” them because I think the way they pull on the muscle attachments is so intense and direct (at least, that’s how it feels to me!)

Barbell single leg deadlifts
Did these this morning. Ugh. I do these with a weighted Olympic bar and can really feel every bit of the movement! Great exercise…but tough, and I’ve had enough of them by the end of the final set! And I definitely feel them the next day (or two days later)!

I was going to add burpees to the list but….everyone ‘loves to hate’ those, don’t they? Or just plain hates them! πŸ˜‰

Which weights exercises, cardio training or specific skills sessions do you “love to hate”? Does that make you do them (more often?), or avoid them?

Five exercises I love to hate (a meme) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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