This is my cool hubby diving into lake Näsijärvi in Tampere, Finland with his brand new Go Pro camera.
Protein shakes and supplements are all the rage nowadays! Have they suddenly become trendy and mainstream or is it just that I'm more aware of them since I bought my first ever 4 kg bucket of whey protein?
Nevertheless, after reading various blogs and articles about the benefits of protein supplements and after hearing recommendations from fitness trainers at the gym, it all makes rather a lot of sense to me.
I had serious issues with the natural (or flavour-free) whey protein powder. A normal shake from that literally made me gag. It's tastes absolutely disgusting. I tried various things to disguise the taste, including mix it vigourously with peanut butter. It worked, but it's quite a lot of hassle. Then, one day, I met a friend at the gym and we got to discussing the fact that it tasted so horrible and after the class she made me a shake from chocolate flavoured whey protein which had been sweetened with Stevia (that's a whole other story). It was delicious!!
I more or less went straight home and ordered a big bucket for myself, whereas my fiancé sticks to the natural-flavoured stuff, occasionally 'borrowing' the chocolate one ;)
The whey protein I use is made in Sweden and is called SELF 100% Micro Whey Active (no harm in a little product placement ;)). So far, I'd highly recommend it in terms of value for money, flavour, and product quality. I genuinely feel like it has helped my recovery, even after only a week of using it. I feel stronger and muscles ache less!
All Photo Rights belong to Self Omninutrition
I'm keen to hear what you guys think!
Do you use protein shakes? What kind and why? Have you noticed a difference in your recovery after training and subsequent performance as a result? Are you totally against supplements in any way, shape or form? Why?
*Please note, taking this protein does not make you a body-builder and does not equate to using steroids or any other ridiculous notions :)
Where have you been?
It's a fair question. If you still care to remember, I started my blog very vigourously indeed back in January, posting new content every couple of days and then all of a sudden, I stopped. Life got in the way :)
This spring turned out to be quite eventful. Since I last shared stuff with you quite a few pretty big things happened to me. I was proposed to , I passed the Finnish Language test, started a new job, travelled to Italy and ate like a horse, did a professional "Happy Couple" photo shoot and began organising our small slim Scottish-Russian wedding ;)
Everything is under control. Wow, and summer is here. Life is beautiful.
I started cycling to work and back a few days a week, which is an 19km round trip. It's exhilerating and liberating to feel the wind in your face (except when things fly into and get stuck in your eye) and to know that you are free and rely purely on yourself to get to where you need to go.
I started baking bread. This is a great recipe for sundried tomato soda bread baps. I typically make a batch and it does me every morning for nearly a week for breakfast. Yum.
I got BodyBalance back into my fitness routine as I know that stretching (a core benefit of that class, in addition to building strength and felxibility) is something I'm really bad at doing on a regular basis.
We bought ourselves a food processor and it has been the absolute best investment ever. We churn out smoothies from it all the time and use it for making the bread dough and slicing/chopping/whisking and all that good stuff. Love it.
I will be getting back into my blog, so please stay tuned. Peace to one and all.
I'm trying to get my head around the whole endurance aspect. I compared my last 4 Spinning workouts (below, date order from right to left) to see if I'm getting any closer to the target range of 65-75% of maximum heart rate. Apparently not!
I have the real-time heart rate measurements on my wrist, so why is it hard to keep within the defined range?
Just before Christmas last year I fell in love.
I didn't see it coming at all. So unexpected, yet thrilling and addictive! I have a feeling it's going to last.
I opened my arms wide and welcomed...SPINNING into my fitness regime. Admittedly, the very first time I flirted with Spinning, the experience was truly bizarre. It was about 3 years ago and it turned out to be a virtual spinning class. So, there I was in the class, staring bewilderedly at the rather flimsy-looking bikes around the perimeter of the room, thinking to myself...
Wtf? This sort of thing can only happen in Finland...
Clumsily, I set up my bike and started following a DVD of some wee guy riding through what appeared to be the Rocky Mountains. I suffered on through the boredom and left feeling very weird. That spelt the end of our brief encounter.
3 years later, in need of some lower joint-impact exercise, I ventured back into the Spinning room, but this time I made sure there would be an instructor. It was a 30 minute class in which I literally nearly died. The 30 minutes were spent trying to breathe while frantically clock-watching praying the pain would end soon!
However, like a total sucker for punishment, just before Christmas I decided to give it one more try by going to a 1 hour endurance Spinning class. I had another reason to be skeptical about this particular class and it was because of the instructor. I'd previously tried her kettle-bell class, hated it and promised myself never to go to her classes again!
The result? I was hooked, it was really great fun! I even saw a bit of myself in the instructor. She is a fitness-freak, loves her music, carefully chooses playlists for the class and TURNS UP the volume: an excellent motivator! I like her anecdotal approach, filling in the gaps in tracks with some wee stories. Granted, they are in Finnish language but I try my best :)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Spinning, it's a calorie-burning cardio workout on a stationary bike. You control how fast you pedal and the level of resistance from the bike. There is (usually!) an instructor telling you how to follow the intervals, stand up, climb hills and sprint etc.
In endurance Spinning, the idea is to keep your heart rate between 65-75% of its maximum. I haven't quite mastered that yet because when I feel like I'm capable of working harder, why should I cool it down!?
If you're a first timer, it's CRUCIAL that you ask the instructor to help you set up the bike to suit your height and to explain why the adjustments are made like that.
Take it from someone who was initially very skeptical about Spinning that it can be a lot of fun, not to mention a killer calorie-burning workout for the legs, bum and your cardio fitness.
Don't be shy, give it a try!
I workout on a regular basis but find it irrationally difficult to do a decent, if not minimally acceptable, amount of stretching. Why is it so hard to muster up the self-discipline to do it on your own?
My conscience screams at me in the evenings, post-workout, to get off the sofa and spend even just 20 minutes stretching all those muscles I've just used. In reality I rarely do it. What are my excuses, you might ask? Mostly, I feel too tired and lazy and would rather just flop into bed than get my yoga mat out!
However, without going into a lot of scientific detail, the benefits I personally get from stretching are crystal clear:
- stretching before bed induces a relaxed state for the body and mind
- quality of sleep improves
- muscles recover faster and actually get stronger
- increased suppleness in general and better performance in my next workout
From experience, I've noticed that in almost every single gym I've ever been inside, the stretching area is so tiny and more often than not just shoved in some skanky corner of the gym!. It's a complete joke. If you want to go there to do some dynamic warm-up stretching before a fitness class or a workout it's usually jam-packed and you'll struggle to squeeze yourself in there. The same applies after the session.
I just don't get it, because I think the general understanding among all people who keep fit is that stretching is a crucial part of your routine, yet the gyms don't offer regular stretching classes, very few instructors advocate stretching. You'd think it'd be in their interest to do so, as it would minimise the number of people getting injured as a result of pulling muscles etc.
I know that I would benefit from a stretching class environment and I bet I'm not the only one!
Can you be bothered stretching?
Is there a good-sized space where you can stretch in your gym?
Do you go to stretching classes? If so, how often?
Why do you think we neglect this crucial part of our routines?
Let me know what you think guys :)
Seriously. Back in the days when I was training in Muay Thai, I would often observe the gym and fitness class-goers finishing their Les Mills classes like BodyPump and BodyCombat and a couple of my fellow Thai Boxers and I would say to each other...
"Check them out...they are so lame. They should try out a real tough sport! Bet they don't get to train to The Prodigy like we do! Suckers!
We were literally laughing at them. We thought it was so cheesy.
These days I can absolutely, 100%, entirely willingly, EAT MY OWN WORDS. This is my heart rate graph from today's BodyCombat class:
It speaks for itself. Now, you could quite reasonably draw a number of conclusions about this:
1. We were extremely narrow-minded Thai Boxing snobs...and you'd be quite correct.
2. This graph indicates that I'm actually quite unfit and the minimal effort required for BodyCombat is way above me...and you'd be wrong!
In actual fact, I'm in pretty good shape (even if I do say so myself) and am doing a variety of different types of exercises in my routine. I typically head to the gym 5 times a week. So, in my humble opinion, the most reasonable conclusion to draw from this is that group fitness classes can be very intense and extremely physically demanding. BodyCombat is a cardio class, based on various martial arts' influences. Although I don't actually hit anyone or anything any more, I would argue that the cardio effect and fitness training here is definitely not lame.
It's a fantastic way to release some aggression and just have fun!
Over the past couple of weeks I've been feeling really nostalgic about Thai Boxing. Sometimes known as the 'Science of 8 limbs', Muay Thai is arguably one of the toughest fight sports around. I didn't really know that when I signed up for it but I soon found out that in addition to punches and kicks, elbows and knees were completely legitimate techniques too - fabulous!
I got into Muay Thai when I was in my second year at university, around 10 years ago (wow!). I went along to my first class with my friend, thinking I was going to 'kickboxing', not really fully understanding what that was either.
Little by little, I became dreadfully hooked on the beautiful, vicious art of the sport, the feeling of training so hard that you physically want to throw up while fully aware that you'll plunge yourself right back into it the next day, the attractive shade of blue that both of my legs inevitably turned and maybe even more importantly the feeling that the guys in your club were your new family.
We trained in a really dingy, smelly room in the university gym, which totally lacked any kind of ventilation. I vividly recall the lady Yoga instructor who often taught her class right after ours, turning up with a huge can of air freshener, frantically skooshing it around the room in the desperate hope of getting rid of the sour stench of Thai Boxer sweat. It was, of course, highly entertaining for us.
Ah, the good old days!
From a fitness perspective, I would argue that the kind of training you undertake for Muay Thai is one of the most effective and grueling around. Of course, the intensity of the training varies depending on whether you are training for fun or competitively fight training. I have experienced both and during that time, I was undoubtedly in the best shape of my life.
Ultimately, this photo represents one of my favourite and certainly defining moments in my relatively short Muay Thai career:
This is from my second and last C-rules Muay Thai fight at Airth Castle, Scotland in Sep. 2005. I won on a points decision and was truly elated! On the rare occasion that I watch the DVD of the fight, I still feel like I could have done more, maybe even gone for a KO but you know, hindsight's a wonderful thing.
In future posts I'll go into more detail about what Muay Thai training comprises and what you can expect if you go along to a training session :)
Respect and thanks will forever go to my home club Caledonian Muay Thai and The Griphouse in Glasgow, Scotland.
Sports & Remedial Massage Therapist, language-geek, mum, Nordic at heart. Family, travelling, my bike, fitness and music make me tick.