Easter Weekend – Recovery Time!

The first bank holiday weekend of the year approaches and for me that will mean some much needed rest and recovery time as the gyms I work at switch to a reduced timetable and cut a couple of my classes.  One of the things I think people only tend to learn about exercise once it becomes a regular thing is that having a week off the usual routine occasionally to really allow the body to rest and re-energise is absolutely essential! 

 Why is that?  Physical activity puts a certain amount of stress  [FUN stress :)] on the body and the higher the intensity of the workout (think BodyCombat, BodyPump, ten mile run) the more demand is placed on muscles, tissues, hormones.  After the workout is over it takes time, perhaps as much as 48 hours, for the body to rebuild muscles, restore fluids, and reset energy levels.  If, like me, you enjoy working out frequently and regularly you may be going into a new session not quite fully recovered from the previous session.  Although regular, consistent training is necessary to maintain and improve fitness, over time it can result in accumulated fatigue.  You might notice a general sense of tiredness, finding it harder to get going in the morning, feeling like eating more, and if it gets too much noticing changes in mood.  Giving yourself some extra time off occasionally is a good chance to reboot the system and a useful opportunity to reflect on how you’re progressing with your training or perhaps to try something different.


 One of the best ways to keep yourself feeling strong and energised is keep a sufficient and consistent sleep schedule of around 8-9 hours per night.  Not always easy, I know, but plan for this as much as possible.  Then give yourself ‘rest’ days during the week where activity is kept at a low to moderate intensity.  If you regularly do high or maximum intensity workouts then it’s also a good idea to plan in a ‘recovery week’ every few weeks where you can do the same session perhaps but for a shorter time or with lighter weights to reduce the stress to the body and so increase the benefit of your rest days.  People who follow progressive training plans, building strength or for an event like a marathon will notice ‘low volume’ weeks built into the plan.  

Recovery can be active or passive.  Active recovery might be going for a walk, gentle swim,  or a BodyBalance session, perhaps even baking, where the body is still moving but at an intensity level that you could keep going for a while and leaves you feeling fresh and uplifted.  Passive recovery could be anything non-exercise and not overly stimulating.  Sleep being the most passive.  The idea is to relieve stress, physical and mental, so do something you really enjoy and helps you switch off.  For me this might be reading a book, having a sauna, or meditation.  It can be difficult to claim some time for this, particularly when family members or friends want to socialise, but I find even 15 minutes to half an hour can have a wonderfully restorative effect especially if you’re able to really switch off and get absorbed in whatever it is you’re doing.  The really important thing, I think, is to learn to listen to your body, notice your energy levels and moods, be able to adapt your routine or add in some extra downtime when you need it and to ENJOY your workouts and feel good outside the gym as much as possible. 

NEW BodyCombat Class

A week late owing to being snowed in at the start of the month, yesterday I took on a new BodyCombat class at Leys Pool Leisure Centre.  This is a great next step for me as instructor, having two regular BC classes a week and with different groups of people can only help to strengthen and develop my coaching skills (and fitness level!).

 I was full of nervous excitement beforehand and that energy helped me deliver what felt, to me, like a great class.  There was a decent turnout which was nice to see, hopefully that will continue, some positive feedback at the end and a few people were even willing to join me in a sweaty photo!

 Come and join us….!  Thursday at 6pm, pay as you go options are available at this gym (click to see their website for details).  I also teach the double of BodyPump and BodyBalance there on alternate Saturdays at 9am and 10am if that’s more your thing.


“Stay with the fight!”


Instructor Life: Les Mills BodyCombat AIM1

This weekend I spent a long Saturday travelling to London for my BodyCombat AIM1 (Advanced Instructor Module).  BodyCombat is the Les Mills workout that offers mixed martial arts inspired exercise to music and is the most recent, most challenging, of the classes I teach.  I attended my initial module training for this in May 2017 started teaching straight away and passed the instructor certification in June. Although I had already been teaching BodyBalance and BodyPump for over a year at that point the speed and complexity and intensity of BodyCombat made it really challenging to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing then get my body moving and coaching out in the right order at the right time.  With only one 45 minute format class a week and having been slightly less familiar with the format and feel of the workout before starting teaching it feels as though it’s been a slow process to get to a stage of being reasonably comfortable with it.  Perhaps a little soon then to be going on to the advanced training but when the right date, location and a voucher to use all appeared together I booked on.

 The great thing about the AIM1 day is that it’s not a ‘pass/fail’ type of training day.  All instructors attending are asked to present one track from the current release to the rest of the group, we get feedback on coaching and technique, then throughout the day we go through technique practice and discussion of coaching ideas before presenting again at the end of the day.  The intention of the feedback was to be encouraging and suggest a couple of specific things for each of us to focus on in order to give participants the best BodyCombat workout possible.  The trainer was great at putting us at ease right from the start, and even though as instructors we’re used to standing up in front of a group and teaching it is different and weird doing that on a training day format.  In my case, as I had practiced but not yet taught the new choreography with a ‘real’ class I was expecting to be nervous which tends to make me quieter and say less so was relieved to get through the first go and hear the comments.

During the technique workshops I was being pushed and pushing myself physically more than I probably do in a normal class.  Big surprise, even as an instructor it seems I let myself get away with doing ‘enough’ rather than the best I can – that’s something I intend to work on and really challenge myself to train better and hopefully see improvements to fitness and strength in general not just as an instructor.  In relation to BodyCombat this means practicing showing the differences in style between the types of martial arts that we do (for example, boxing and tae kwon do).  The feedback I had was to do this not just physically but vocally as well, to match better the feel of the moves and the music, to hopefully then get the class more fully engaged.   As with any skill based practice this will be a continual work-in-progress building up experience and (hopefully!) confidence over week after week of teaching and learning what I can from that and each new release that comes out.  The key word I picked up over the weekend was ‘unleash’, which I think is the opposite of how I normally show up, so it’ll be interesting to see how that manifests.  That is one of the things that drew me to becoming an instructor in the first place the opportunity to challenge myself and my fitness even more and share that challenge with others.


The plug:  if you want to try out my BodyCombat class I’m at David Lloyd Oxford on a Monday at 17:10 (followed by BodyPump).  Also at Leys Pools Leisure Centre on a Thursday at 18:00.

[Other BodyCombat classes are available and if getting to a gym is difficult this workout is available at Les Mills On Demand where you can experience the masters at work which I aspire to be as good as one day.]

New challenge: running Brighton Marathon 2018

This month I ran Oxford Half Marathon for the fourth time and so far that 13.1 miles is the furthest distance I’ve achieved.  Now it’s it’s time to take on a new challenge and tackle the full 26.2 miles distance.  Eeek!  I’m very excited to be doing this and especially excited to have a place with Team Panda in the 2018 Brighton Marathonraising money for WWF.  Head over to my JustGiving page to see fundraising progress and (if you can) make a donation!