Last call for HIIT Boot Camp - January 2018!

Claire BC.jpg

The lovely Claire is kicking off our first HIIT BootCamp of 2018 in Wimbledon Park tomorrow morning!

If you're still making your mind up about coming, now's the time to throw caution to the wind & commit!

We start tomorrow in Wimbledon Park at 6.15am (finishing at 7.00am).

Training over 5 consecutive mornings, you'll get a full body workout, combining strength, cardio, endurance, core & functional movement. You'll scorch calories & be challenged from head to toe.

But I'm not feeling very fit?

Don't worry. We'll be offering different levels to suit all abilities. Beginners, weekend warriors & serious fitness freaks are all welcome.

What if I can't make every session?

No problem. You can make up a class at one of our regular Fit In The Park classes.

But I don't want to go on my own?

You'll be introduced to all of our Boot Campers on the first day. We'll then work hard to ensure an inclusive, motivating spirit and strong sense of comradeship during the week. It'll be great fun too!

So when is it? 

  • Monday - Friday: 6.15 - 7.00am

Where and when is it?

How much does it cost?

  • £45 for each 5-day Boot Camp.

How do I book?

Happy Training!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Little Black Dress Challenge!


Following on from the success of our previous challenges, we've teamed up with local nutrition expert, Marcelle Dubruel, to bring you another great healthy eating & exercise plan, just in time for the Little Black Dress season!

How Does It Work?

Once you've signed up, you'll be invited to join our LBD Closed Facebook Group on the 27th October, where you'll meet your fellow participants. You'll then be able to download your healthy eating plan and get ready to start. Your LBD Challenge runs from the 1st to 30th November.

Over the weeks, within this private group, you'll share your journey, motivating and inspiring each other along the way.

What's Included?

  • A wide range of healthy, balanced, easy to prepare and no-hunger recipes
  • Weekly workouts from the HA fitness team
  • Nutrition and exercise support, answering any questions you may have
  • Membership of our closed Facebook group
  • Daily motivation, inspiration and guidance, helping you to make healthy eating fit around your lifestyle
  • Party survival tips, including what to eat and drink whilst also having fun
  • Bonus Treat Friday - there's cake!

How Much Does It Cost?

  • It's just £65 for the Challenge, and you get to keep all of the recipes.
  • Sign-up with a challenge buddy / introduce a friend, and enjoy a discount. If you sign-up together, it's just £110 for two (you each pay £55).

How Do I Sign-Up?

Head over to our Bootcamp page to book your place, or drop us a line for more info.

And it's not just for girls! Guys are welcome to join the challenge too (Black-Tie Challenge doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

Happy Training!

Heather & The HA Team

P.S. Don't be a plump pumpkin, purchase your class passes online today!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Early Morning Wimbledon Park Boot Camp!

Schools out for summer! If you're wondering how to fit in a workout while the kids are off, why not do it before they get up?

Our early morning outdoor BootCamp in Wimbledon Park is a great way to burn calories, and strengthen and tone-up your body. You can do it all before work and before the rest of the family gets up.

We have clients of all ages, sizes and fitness levels join us in the park. You'll feel welcomed and benefit from a strong sense of camaraderie.

The classes are fun, energising and motivating. No class is ever the same!

When is it?

  • The classes are at 6.15am -7.00/7.15am during the week, and 9.00-10.00am on Saturdays. The dates are:

Week 1: Mon 24 July, Wed 26 July, Sat 29 July
Week 2: Mon 31 July, Wed 2 July, Sat 5 Aug
Week 3: Mon 7 Aug, Wed 9 Aug, Sat 11 Aug
Week 4: Mon 14 Aug, Wed 16 Aug, Sat 19 Aug
Week 5: Mon 21 Aug, Wed 23 Aug, Sat 26 Aug

How does it work?

  • You sign-up to doing 5 weeks of training with us over the above time period. You can choose to do either 1, 2 or 3 sessions a week. If you've got a holiday booked in August, work out how many sessions you can do, and sign-up for the relevant number of sessions below.
  • It's simple, flexible and keeps you committed to your goals!

Where is it?

How much Is It?

  • You can choose how much or how little you do.  The cost for the 4 weeks is either:

£87 if you book 3 sessions a week (total of 15 classes)
£75 for any 2 sessions a week (total of 10 classes)
£41 for any 1 session a week (total of 5 classes)
£10 for 1 drop-in session (1 class)

How do I book?

  • Click here to book and we'll send you a welcome email with details of how to get started.
  • Bookings close at midnight on Saturday (do it now while you're still thinking about it).

So whether you are a beginner, a keen fitness enthusiast or just tired of the same old routine, come try our BootCamp in Wimbledon Park!

Coming soon...

Back to School HIIT Boot Camp (week beginning 25th September) during the final week of the September Wimbledon Park Boot Camp block. More to follow!

Happy training!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

5-day bootcamp next week anyone?

As we all seem to be waking up really early at the moment, it seemed a good idea to put on an early morning 5-day HIIT BeachBody Bootcamp next week in South Park Gardens!

The goal?

To make the most of those extra hours awake, and to do some last minute work on that beach body!

Tempted to join us?

Just give us everything you've got for 45 minutes, everyday, for 5 days. Our fast-paced workouts will blast away that extra winter weight. The back-to-back sessions will both challenge and motivate you.

Who should come?

We welcome both men and ladies of all abilities to join us. It'll be a fantastic and fun way to boost to your summer fitness whatever your current level.

How does it work?

HIIT BeachBody BootCamp will run every morning from 6.15 - 7.00am in South Park Gardens from 26th June to 30th June. If you miss a class, you're welcome to make it up at our Saturday session either at 7.45am or 9.00am.

How do you sign-up?

It's just £45 for the 5 days. Book your place now!

Bookings will close for this BootCamp end of play tomorrow (Friday). This gives us the weekend to plan an amazing week for you!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.


You can do it fitness

Many of us make fitness resolutions at the beginning of the year, but find that by the end of January the initial enthusiasm and passion begins to fade.

If this sounds like you, it's time to do something different. Get a fresh approach.

It's common to start the year full of ambition. Only to find that that life just gets in the way, and you feel like you're falling off the wagon. To make your resolutions last, the changes you make have to comfortably fit within your current lifestyle. What do you need to do to get results without too much upheaval?

You also need to honestly accept your current health and fitness levels. Do a sanity check on what actually needs fixing. Then, look positively at all of the things you can change, rather than negatively lingering over the problems you can't resolve.

Make a realistic plan that’s sustainable and achievable. Get some advice from friends or professionals to get you on the right track and stay motivated.

Why not sign-up for an HA fitness class pass or some personal training sessions to keep you motivated? We've also got some great BootCamps coming up! All the links for more info are below, or drop me a line.

Remember, if you change nothing, nothing will change.

Best wishes

Fit In The Park
Buggyfit Postnatal Fitness
Class Timetable
Personal Training

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Will Exercising Before Breakfast Make Me Thin?

Cardio Controversy

Some research suggests that if you exercise first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, it may encourage your body to burn a greater proportion of fat as fuel.

The theory goes that your glycogen stores are depleted from fasting during the night. If you get up, don’t eat anything and immediately start exercising, your body then has to burn more fat as a source of energy.

Fat Chance!

Before you jump out of bed at 5am and head directly out for a run, there are few reasons why this isn’t necessarily a good plan.

Firstly, by skipping breakfast and going straight into your workout, you’re likely to tire sooner than if you’d munched on a banana first. 

Flagging energy levels may result in a shorter or less intensive session and you ultimately burn fewer calories. It can also have a ruinous effect on any type of endurance training.

On top of that, you could end up being so hungry following your workout that you scoff more calories than you would do normally!

Let Not the Sands of Time Spoil Your Breakfast!

Admittedly not everyone can stomach food first thing in the morning and then go straight into a workout. A smoothie or piece of fruit with water might be a wise option. It’s really what works for you.

What I’m trying to get across is that the timing of your cardio workout is not an important factor in fat loss.  The key is to burn more calories than you consume overall. Do this by exercising as much as possible and follow a healthy balanced diet.

My ideal is to get up early, eat a banana wrapped up in a piece of bread, and wash it down with a glass of water. Then get dressed and head out for a run.  It gets the workout done plus you glow with that feel-good factor and a smug sensation all day!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.


Well it's time to make those annual self-improvement promises again. But research shows that around 80% of people who make New Year's resolutions, fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day. So how are you going to make a success of it this year?

The key is to take your resolutions seriously. Plan ahead, stay committed and remain focused.

Easier said than done I know, so here are my top tips on how to succeed after the New Year's celebrations and hangovers have faded, reality sets in, and you need to squeeze back into those work clothes again.

  1. If you’ve got a long list of failed New Year’s resolutions hidden in your closet, then you need a fresh approach. Don’t pretend you’ll suddenly be a different person this year. If you want something different to happen in 2012, you need to do something different.
  2. Honestly accept your current starting point and do a sanity check on what actually needs fixing. Look positively at the things you can change, rather than negatively lingering over the things that make you unhappy or problems you can't resolve.
  3. Make changes that will comfortably fit within your current lifestyle. What do you need to do to get results without too much upheaval?
  4. Don’t leap blindly forwards with your ambitions. Make a realistic plan that’s sustainable and achievable. Get some advice from friends or professionals to get you on the right track and stay motivated. Why not sign-up for an HA fitness class pass or some personal training sessions?
  5. Finally, treating yourself to a new pair of trainers is a good motivational start, but make sure they don't look/smell new for too long!

Click below for some more HA fitness blog articles to help spur you into action for 2012:
New Year’s Resolutions…How to make and break them

Pleasure or Pain: What Drives You?

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Exercise The Mind As Well As The Body To Revive Your Spirit

We all know that exercise is good for your body, whether that’s losing a few inches or simply feeling healthier, but exercise is also good for the mind. Kate Dorward, HA fitness trainer, shares a few useful facts and tips to help motivate you, achieve results by introducing a few simple changes to your training programme and revive any flagging spirits.

Exercise for the mind:

  • A healthy body equals a healthy mind. Taking regular exercise is proven to enhance your mental function. Exercise boosts your circulation, getting more oxygen and glucose (the brain’s only source of energy) direct to your brain.
  • Most of us know that exercise releases endorphins, otherwise known as happy hormones.  Amazingly these clever little mood enhancers can lift your spirits for up to 12 hours after exercise – that’s about 11.5 hours longer than the lift a bar of chocolate gives you!
  • Research has proven that 20 minutes of exercise can significantly improve your body image. 
  • The best times to exercise are at around 10am or 5pm. Not only is this when your body is physically strongest and nicely warmed up, your adrenaline levels are also at their peak therefore making your mind sharp.
  • Set yourself some realistic goals e.g. to drop a dress size/ do exercise 3 times a week, and help yourself stick to them by sharing your goals with someone else. It’s a fact that you’re much more likely to succeed than if you keep your aims to yourself.

Exercise for the body:

  • Can’t find the time to fit in exercise? You really don’t need an hour for it to count. Exercise is accumulative - 10 mins walk here and 10 mins vigorous gardening there all really add up. Before you know it, you’ll have done your recommended 30 mins per day and not even put on your gym kit.  So next time you walk to the station/park/shops, push yourself to walk super fast for a few mins and you’ll look and feel better in no time.
  • Exercise, especially weight bearing exercise like running and toning using weights are really important in helping to prevent osteoporosis later on in life.
  • Ladies, if the words ‘weight training’ fill you with dread at the thought of looking muscle bound, fear not! Unlike men, our genetic make-up makes it hard for us to bulk-up. Training with weights should be included in your fitness programme at least twice a week to help build lean muscle – this is crucial in improving your body shape whilst helping increase your metabolism.
  • Hate running? Walking is a fantastic way of burning fat and getting your legs and bum into shape.  Get the technique right and you will burn 15-30% more calories per walk. Next time you hit the pavement remember to walk tall, shoulders back and down, tummy pulled in and to really push through  off through your toes to lengthen your stride, get your glutes (bottom muscles) firing and get a speedy pace up.
  • Drink!! Water that is... Dehydration is a major cause of over eating, lethargy and poor performance.

Follow these 10 tips, and you'll soon start to not only look but feel happier and healthier!

Kate Dorward

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Pleasure or Pain: What Drives You?

Understanding your motivation for getting fit is the first stage in bridging the gap between sitting on a sofa thinking about exercise, and actually going out and doing it.

Identifying the triggers that drive you, and using them as a springboard to getting and staying fit and healthy, is the key to success.  The more you focus on these, the more likely you’ll be able to fire up your enthusiasm for a healthy lifestyle.

So what encourages you more, the carrot egging you on or the stick beating you up?

Running Away From Pain

The stick is something that you want to move away from, you may like to think of it as a form of pain. It could be a health issue you want to stay clear of such as obesity and heart disease, or physiological problems like stress or depression.

The catalyst could be your doctor dropping some strong hints, or a friend or family member suffering from these complaints.

The motivation comes from your fear of the stick and wanting to take action to avoid it at all lengths. If you keep reminding yourself of this potential beating, it can be a really powerful self- motivator.

Try taking measurements or photos of how your body is changing as you get leaner and fitter. Look back at these and remind yourself that you don’t want to go there again!

Pursuing Pleasure

The pursuit of pleasure can also be a very powerful self-motivational tool. This is the carrot, or aspiration. It’s about wanting satisfaction by achieving something significant. For example, running a marathon, racing a PB, losing 2 stone etc.

Setting realistic goals and bite-sized targets is key. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or reaching a specific weight. It could be completing 3 workouts a week, or managing to run up a particular hill.

Visualisation can be a very powerful motivational tool. Picture yourself finishing a race or buying clothes in a smaller size. Imagine how good you’ll feel, and how proud you’ll be of your achievement.

Treat yourself when you achieve a step towards your goal. There’s no law against self-bribery!

Moving Beyond The Carrot & Stick

So what happens when you achieve your goals and the stick becomes a distant memory?

You may find that your motivation starts to diminish, so it’s important to plan ahead to avoid drifting backwards and having to start the whole cycle again.

Set new goals, challenges and targets and keep adding in variety by trying out different things. You may have moved from being in fear of the stick to wanting to pursue the pleasurable goals. Keep it interesting and inspiring and try to maintain the momentum. Look at what you’ve achieved and where you want to go next.

Don’t Stop Me Now!

Believe it or not, at some point you may actually find that you enjoy exercising. This is your ultimate goal, when fitness becomes a way of life and you’ll need less and less to rely on the stick or the carrot to keep you going. You train because that’s what you do and who you are.

Remember, regular exercisers don’t waste time sitting on the sofa weighing up the pros and cons of doing a workout, they just get on with it!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Getting High on Exercise!

We all know that regular exercise is great for toning-up your body, warding-off disease and generally improving your overall health.

But exercise is also a great mood enhancer. It can put a smile on your face when you’re feeling down and boost your energy levels when you’re feeling weary.

But why does this happen? Here are some of the most popular theories which try to explain that exercise high.

The Endorphin Effect

If you go back to our hunter/gatherer days, prolonged physical activity was necessary for our survival. If we didn’t go out chasing animals and rummaging for food, we’d basically starve. It’d therefore make sense if our bodies had a way of reducing pain during the hunt, and somehow make this physical activity more enjoyable.

This is where endorphins come in. They’re chemically similar to morphine, and naturally relieve pain within the body.

Although they’re not fully understood, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that endorphin levels in the blood rise during exercise (and also during sex… but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there!). These endorphins appear to not only increase our tolerance of pain, but also give us a sense of pleasure and relaxation.

Getting Satisfaction

Exercise can also give you a great sense of achievement, and this could be part of the high that you experience.

Whether you’ve managed to run to the top of a hill without stopping, or survived your first tough exercise class, you can really feel triumphant and get a buzz from a good workout.

Stress-busting Fitness Fantasies

Exercise can also provide a great distraction from life’s troubles. Whether you’re out on a run or in the gym, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about finishing that report, achieving those sales targets or paying the bills.

It’s also amazing how the answers to your problems can somehow pop into your head during a tough training session. As a result, you’ll often come home feeling not only healthier, but a much happier person too.

For daydreamers like me, exercise can also be a time to allow your mind to wander. You can enter into your own private make-believe world, where you can be whoever you want to be and achieve anything you want to achieve (anyone for the 2012 Olympics?!).

Conclusion – Chase that High!

Regular training can definitely perk you up, relieve stress, and give you a heightened sense of well-being.

Whilst the jury is still out as to exactly what causes this high, it does exist and is definitely a habit that’s worth pursuing.

All it takes is a bit of hard work on your part, and you’ll be rewarded with an energy-boosting, exercise-induced, feel-good factor. Best of all, its free, legal and available on-tap!

Surely it’s not something you should be missing out on?

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

How Can You Make Running More Fun?

Every runner needs some help to stay motivated from time to time. Here are a few ideas to help keep you on your toes and off the sofa!

1) Run Free

Ditch your schedule, route plan and stopwatch. Head out the door and, once you’re warmed up, literally run like a child. Don’t worry about form, how fast you’re running, where you’re going or how far. Just go for it. Let everything go. Feel the wind in your hair. Enjoy the exhilarating thrill of running fast. It feels good. Feels like you’re flying. Nothing can hold you back…

2) Head for the Hills

Hill training is great for creating “buns of steel”! Not only that but your whole body will get a good workout, including your arms and chest. It’s also enormously beneficial for building strength, endurance and speed.

Try not to approach a hill with a feeling of doom, though. Hills are only hard if you make them hard. Instead, see it as an opportunity to vary your pace and leg stride. Change down a gear and lessen your speed as the gradient increases.  Use your arms to help power you up to the summit.

When you get to the top, allow yourself to revel in that sense of elation. Hurrah you’ve made it! Let the endorphins flow!

Then, liberate your legs and arms as you enjoy some effortless speed on the way back down. This requires a different style and attitude. Relax your whole body, chill out and enjoy the ride!

3) Push the Boundaries

Be progressive. Challenge yourself on your regular run, be it 2 miles or 10. You can do it faster, can’t you?

Time it. Record it. Beat it!!!!!

4) Run to the Beat

Would you go on a long car journey without a radio or music?

Depending on the type of run, music can give you that extra boost when you hit a slump, take your mind off the pain or just put an extra spring in your step.

Invest some time into creating the right playlist for the type of run you’re doing. If you’re going for speedwork, try having a fast beat song, followed by a slower song. Run hard to the fast beat, and then recover listening to something more chilled out.

Make sure you stay safe. Never have headphones on after dark or in unpopulated areas, and be aware of your surroundings.

5) Cool Running Gadgets & Gismos

Although spending your hard-earned cash on the latest running gadget won’t necessarily transform you from a red-faced, wheezing jogger into a finely honed, lean-machine athlete, it can be a good way to help inspire and motivate you.  

Heart rate monitors are great for understanding how hard you’re running, help you track your progress, keep you running at the right intensity and stop you from under or over training.

GPS watches, such as the Garmin, can tell you how fast and how far you’re running including your elevation. They work in a similar way to the Sat Nav in your car. You can even impress your friends and family with how far you’ve run by downloading your routes onto Google Maps!

Similarly, you can use footpods, like those made by Polar, Nike and Suunto. These ingenious gadgets work by monitoring the movement of your foot and transmitting this data back to your watch. You’ll get all the information you need on your running distance, speed, cadence and much more!


So now you know that hills don’t have to be horrendous, running like a child and testing yourself can be fun, and music can make your runs rock!  What's more, you no longer need to waste time measuring your routes using a bit of string and a map.  There are plenty of swanky toys on the market that’ll do a much better job, and offer far more entertainment! 

All you need to do now is get out running, and enjoy it!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

New Year’s Resolutions…How to make and break them

It’s time to make those annual promises to kick bad habits and devise fresh new self-improvement programs for yourself. But how can you ensure you’ll actually make it happen this year?

If you don't want your bad habits hanging around for another 12 months, and want to improve your health, wealth and general happiness, here’s a few tips on how to succeed after the New Year's celebrations and hangovers have faded, and reality sets in.

Small Steps to a Smaller Jeans Size

You don’t want your resolutions to appear like a huge insurmountable mountain. If your goal is too big, you'll feel defeated before you even get started.

Set a realistic overall goal, and then break it down into smaller more attainable chunks that can be achieved throughout the year.  Then give yourself a pat on the back every time you achieve one of these smaller targets.  This will help you to keep the motivation going.

To ensure success, be really specific with your targets. Vague plans usually get derailed within a few weeks.

For example, instead of focusing on getting into a certain pair of jeans or looking good for a beach holiday, make the commitment to loose 2lbs a week. It shouldn’t be too long before that top button does up without a stomach-holding-in power struggle!

Make Your Goals Comfortably Challenging

Be realistic and avoid perfectionist thinking. Focus on setting achievable goals, rather than mere wishful thinking.

Choose goals that are important to you, and not what you think you ought to do, or worse still, what others expect you to do. The more meaningful and personal they are, the more likely you are to achieve them.

Be Brave and Go Public!

Don't keep your resolutions to yourself. Tell friends, family and anyone else who will listen. They can help you to keep on track by offering encouragement and support. You’ll also be less likely to back out if more people know about your intentions.

Write down your resolutions and pin them up somewhere prominent. This will increase their significance, and you’re likely to be more committed to achieving them.

Most people find it conveniently easy to forget about their resolutions by the end of January! Start as you mean to go on, and get into the habit of regularly revisiting your plan whilst also recording your progress.

The Power of Positive Thinking

You’ll find it more beneficial to think about your positive achievements rather than how much you fall short of your goals. The glass is half full rather than half empty, kind of thinking.

Life is rarely straightforward, and unexpected events are usually just around the corner. So don’t get too disheartened if your plan and goals need to change. Be prepared to adapt and be flexible, whist still concentrating on your end goal.

Accept that new habits can take a while to become established and learnt, whilst old habits can be frustratingly difficult to lay to rest. Try to remain committed and focused. Remember, nothing really big and worthwhile is achieved in just one day!

And if you do fall off the wagon, which most people do at some point, don’t be too hard on yourself. See it as a lesson for the future, rather than a failure. Don’t allow the experience to become an excuse to give up. You’re made of tougher stuff than that!

Bite the Bullet & Get Started!

The first few days are crucial. If you hang around waiting until the time is right, or you have a bit more energy etc, you just won’t do it.

Action will often pave the way for enthusiasm, and not the other way around. Instead of waiting and hoping that energy and enthusiasm will somehow materialise, you need to go out and do something about it. So even if you only manage a 10 minute jog, you’re likely to come back with the motivation and determination to do more. 

And the more you do, the more momentum you’ll pick up, and the easier it’ll become.

What You Should Do Next…

1)    Strip bare your ambitions, and turn them into achievable targets and plans
2)    Brag about your intentions to family and friends
3)    Put your trainers on and head out the door

Go on……What are you waiting for???

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Don’t Hibernate this Winter, Train Outside!

The weather at this time of year is often used as an excuse not to exercise outside; it’s too cold, too wet, too windy, and/or too dark. All excuses I’ve heard and, I have to admit, occasionally used myself. But all it takes is some planning and a bit of extra kit, and you’ll get a huge sense of satisfaction and generally feel great and smug for doing it.

Copious benefits to the mind, body and soul!

If you spend most of your time in an office, and go to work in a car, train or tube, then surely the last thing you’d want to do at the end of the day is to head off to another artificial people container for a workout?

Isn’t it time your body saw the light?

If you head outside, you’ll feel more energised and be more inclined to be active. There’s nothing like a battling against the elements to really focus the mind on what’s important, and help relieve you of the stresses of the day.

Unlike in the gym, you can take in different scenery everyday, providing diverse views and stimulus for your workouts. You’ll get to appreciate the change of seasons, see the colours and shapes of the landscape transforming, and get to meet some interesting people along the way!

Challenge yourself

Training outside can work your body in ways that a gym workout will never achieve. It asks more of your body as a whole. Different surfaces offer different challenges. Grass, gravel, mud, stones and tree roots all intensify the workout, increasing the demand on your core, and the muscles and ligaments that stabilize your body. Your balance, co-ordination and proprioceptive skills will rapidly improve, as you encourage your body to do more complex movements over difficult terrain.

The weather also adds an interesting challenge, and the wind can be both your friend and foe. If you push hard into the wind at the beginning of your run, it will give you a helping hand on the way back!

No more smelly changing rooms!

Outside training also means that you’re likely to come straight back home afterwards. You don’t have to worry about packing a gym bag, remembering change for the locker, forgetting to bring clean underwear, getting verrucas, and sharing grim changing rooms.

You can come back to the comfort of your own bathroom, use as many towels as you like, and not having a stranger’s bum in your face when you’re putting your socks on!

And if that hasn’t convinced you…

Think of all the germs that circulate in the air conditioning at a gym. You’ll be taking in big gulps of them during a tough workout! But when you’re outside, you can fill your lungs with lots of healthy, natural fresh air and get a rosy glow to your cheeks too!

And exercising outside is free!

I’m a Londoner, I live nowhere near the countryside!

Londoners should actually find it easier to access ‘The Great Outdoors’, than anyone else in England. In a recent study published by the Audit Commission*, 92 per cent of footpaths and rights of way in London that are in or lead to open spaces and countryside are considered ‘easy to use’, giving you good access to some amazing green spaces. The overall average for England was 76.3 percent, so no excuses!

*The Best Value Performance Indicator 2006-2007, Audit Commission Local Government Compendium

But what about the cold and rain?

Read my article on There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing! to find out how to protect yourself from the elements. And just think how nice that lovely warm shower will be when you get back, you’ll appreciate it so much more after a challenging run outside!

Safety comes before fashion at night

Make sure you wear bright coloured clothing or reflective gear if you go out in the dark and on a gloomy days. Florescent hats and gloves are a popular option, and are stocked by most running shops.

Share the pleasure & the pain

When it's dark, make your personal safety a priority and don't go out alone. Workout with a friend or trainer, or join an outside exercise class or running club. Stick to well lit, populated areas and be aware of what's happening around you. 

It's also more fun to train with other people, and you're more likely to push yourself further and less likely to wimp out when the weather is really bad!

Warm up first

Finally, you need to look after your body a bit more when you train outside. You're at greater risk of pulling muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly. Some people prefer to warm up inside first before they head out.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Just Inappropriate Clothing!

Although you don’t need to buy specialised clothing to train outside, a few extra bits of kit can make battling against the elements all the more pleasant. Here are a few things that I’d recommend, especially for those winter months:

For your extremities

Your hands are the usually the first to feel the chill, and a pair of old gloves (you don’t really need to buy a specialist pair) will help prevent numb pinkies.  I find that my hands warm up pretty quickly, unless it’s really cold, so I prefer to wear tops with long sleeves that I can pull down over my hands until I start to warm up, then I don’t have to carry gloves around with me.

On your head

You loose most of your body heat through your head, so a hat can make a huge difference. Again, unless it’s really cold, I prefer to wear a hoodie, so that when I warm up, I can just pull the hood down and don’t have to worry about carrying a hat around.

Core warmth

A rain and wind-proof outer layer is really important for those wild and wet days. The best ones are breathable, so that you don’t get too sweaty on the inside. I prefer the really lightweight versions, which you don’t actually notice you’re wearing.  These are a lot more expensive compared to a basic pac-a-mac, but are well worth the investment if you’re serious about training outside.

Underneath this, a layering system is the best option. Try to avoid cotton next to your skin as this just soaks up moisture and will leave you feeling cold and damp. Your base layer should be a thin layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat away from your body. If it’s really cold, thermal tops (like those made by Helly Hansen) work really well. You can then wear another layer on top of this for added warmth, either a t-shirt or fleece, depending on the weather and intensity of your workout.

Look after those legs

It’s important to keep your legs warm, especially when you set off, as cold muscles can pull.  Running tights or tracksuit bottoms are a good idea (wear both on a really cold day!). Try a few different styles on to see what feels more comfortable, and suits your body shape!

Best foot forward

If you plan on doing lots of off-road running, it’s worth investing in some off-road or trail shoes. These have a much better grip in the mud, are usually waterproof (to a certain level!) and offer much more protection against rocks and rough ground.

Keep your lips kissable

Avoid weather-beaten sore and cracked lips by slapping on some lip balm before you head out.

Experiment to find out what suits you

A lot of this is down to personal choice, and you’ll soon learn what works you, as you get more experienced. The most important thing is to avoid overdressing. You’ll just overheat and sweat a lot, which will in turn, make you cold!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

I See Dead People

I recently went to Body Worlds at the O2 centre. If you’ve not been, this is the exhibition where you see real dead human bodies, with the organs, muscles, bones, veins and ligaments, all exposed and preserved by a process called Plastination (made famous by Dr Gunther von Hagens).

Although an anatomical collection of dead bodies might sound gruesome, and not exactly Saturday afternoon entertainment, I found that the displays actually look more plastic than human, and I quickly became desensitised to the whole morbid side of it. I had to keep reminding myself that the specimens actually were once real people - which is a bit weird in itself.

How the body works…and why it fails

The current exhibition focuses on health, wellbeing and the human lifecycle. You see the amazing changes the body goes through, from conception, pre-natal development, growing, maturing, aging and then eventually packing up.

There's a big emphasis on the affect of our lifestyle choices, such as exercise, diet and drugs on the body, and you certainly get to see both sides of the coin. Some of the more unfortunate exhibits show how their lifestyles have distressed and diseased their bodies, such as cirrhosis of someone's liver (associated with excessive alcohol consumption) and a pair of lungs once belonging to a smoker.  You then move on to see the muscular bodies of athletes flaunted in optimal health, posing on gym-rings and playing different sports.

Who we are now reflects what our bodies will be like in later life

I came away with a much better appreciation of how complex the human machine is, it’s resilience and strength, but also it’s vulnerability, fragility and how easily we can destroy it. We’ve only got one body, it’s our biggest asset, and we should look after it!

The exhibition is definitely worth a visit, if you’re interested in the human body or just want some motivation to help you look after your body better and live a healthier lifestyle. Body Worlds is on until 23 August 2009:

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Forget Credit, You're the One who Should be Crunching this Summer!

Summer holidays are a time to relax and take a break from life's stresses. However, you're also likely to be treating yourself to a few extra deserts, drinks and ice creams, so it's important to try and fit in a bit of activity too. Whether it's doing a few crunches in your hotel room, or swimming a few lengths in the pool, every little bit counts. Here's some more ideas to help you keep in shape.

Release your Inner Child

If you’re on holiday with children, invent challenges that get everybody moving around. Make up ball games, races and time trials (who can build the biggest sun-castle in 1 minute?). Not only entertaining, these games are great for burning calories and improving agility and co-ordination.

The local playground can also be a hidden workout zone for you. Pushing your kids on the swings will work your upper body, especially your shoulders and tricep muscles. If no-ones watching (and it looks sturdy enough!), see how many chin-ups you can do on the climbing frame.

Waves Were Surely Designed to be Surfed or Jumped!

Battling with the sea’s natural resistance, your body will be challenged in ways that a gym session won’t come close to. Half an hour of aquatic fooling around will burn loads of calories and strengthen both your leg and core muscles.

Why not take the plunge and try out some of the local watersports? Not only great fun, it’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had, especially in your core area.

If you you’ve got the use of a pool, don’t just lie around on the sun-lounger, swimming is a great all round exercise that uses every major muscle group.  Challenge yourself to see how many lengths can you do in 30 minutes. Then try and beat it the following day.

Become the Holiday Gopher

Burn a few extra calories by carrying the luggage, getting the drinks from the bar (even if it isn’t your round), heading off for ice creams and running back before they melt!

Beach Bum Basics

Walking and running on sand is great for toning the legs and bum. A sandy and slightly unstable surface will  improve the strength in your ankles and calf muscles. Your core will also have to work extra hard too. Just build it up slowly, so that you don’t get injured.

I hope you have a lovely summer, and don’t forget to pack the trainers!


Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Motivational Mottos to Spur You into Action

Some of them are my own creation, some I’ve just heard and have stuck in my mind, and others come from books and the internet. All of them make me smile and give me inspiration in different ways.

1)    The smug feeling you get after a workout is far better than the guilty feeling you get if you've given exercise the cold-shoulder. 

2)    “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today'. ” Peter Maher, Canadian elite marathon runner

3)    Exercise is like mouthwash. If you can feel the burn, it's working!

4)    “Apart from the survival advantage when escaping a sinking ship in a cold ocean, being too fat has nothing but downsides.” Mike Stroud, Survival of the Fittest

5)    “Think of it like sex or a tax rebate. A little is always better than nothing. If all you have is 17 minutes to fit in a run, then run for 17 minutes.”  Runner’s World.

6)    Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows that it must out run the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up you had better be running!

7)    Conditions are never just right. People who put off doing things until all factors are favourable, achieve nothing.

8)    Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach!

9)    Force yourself outside the door, once your out, that’s the hardest bit of the workout over and done with.

10)    The more “buts”, the bigger the BUTT!

So that's the motivational bit, now get out there and train!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Inspirational Reads

Following a hockey injury to my knee, my running has unfortunately had to take a back seat recently. For inspiration, motivation and distraction, I’ve since turned to perusing other people’s physical triumphs and tribulations.

So for the next time your training takes a nosedive, these are a couple of my favourite inspirational reads to spur you on.

One of my most thumbed books is Survival of the Fittest by Mike Stroud. Interlinking stories of his adrenaline-charged adventures, with informative sections on human physiology, Dr Stroud convinces you that we are all capable of great physical achievements.

He takes you adventure racing across 300 miles of American back-country with a 72 year old great-grandmother, hauling sledges across Antarctica with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and battling sand, wind and blisters on the Marathon des Sables.  Along the way you learn a great deal about what the body can do in extreme conditions, and why we are all evolutionary designed to be physically pushed a lot further than you'd expect. 

Another well-read non-fictional book on my shelf is Life and Limb by Jamie Andrew.  After a gripping account of an Alpine climbing accident that turns him into a quadruple amputee, you’re then taken on a hugely emotional journey where he struggles to overcome his disabilities, returns to climbing and runs a marathon.  It puts the rest of us to shame!

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

Deflating that spare tyre!

How to get rid of that bulging waistline

Performing hundreds of sit-ups maybe great for developing a six-pack, however most of us need to concentrate on reducing that not-so-attractive layer of fat top first.

It’s not just about the way you look that’s important. If you tend to store fat around your middle you have a greater risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Just how big is too big?

The British Heart Foundation says that you have a greater risk to your health if your waistline is larger than 94cm (37”) for men or 80cm (32”) for women.

You need to measure around the bit that is mid-way between your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs (don't cheat by holding your tummy in, let everything hang out!)

How to loose a pound of fat

The best way to get your waistline back is by eating a healthy, low fat diet plus lots of regular exercise.  Basically you need to burn off more than you put in.

To quantify this, one pound of stored body fat equals 3500 calories.

Put another way, if you create a 3500 calorie deficit in a week through diet, exercise or a combination of both, you will lose one pound. That might sound a lot, but over a week, it amounts to just 500 calories a day.

The best way to do this is to increase your activity levels so that you are burning an extra 250 calories, and decrease your food intake so that you are consuming 250 calories less a day.

How to burn 250 calories

This will depend on your age, sex, weight and metabolism, as well as how intensely you exercise, but here are a few examples of what it takes to burn around 250 calories:

  • A 10 stone person running moderately hard for 20 minutes
  • A 12 stone person moderately cycling for 30 minutes
  • A 14 stone person walking fast for 35 minutes (not necessarily all in one go).

It's often difficult to fit in structured exercise into a busy lifestyle especially if you work long hours and have a family. Here's a few things you can do to help to knock off a few calories each week:

  • Take the stairs rather than the lift (up as well as down!)
  • Walk or cycle to work or the station
  • Walk to a sandwich shop at lunchtime that’s further away than your regular one
  • Stand on the bus/train instead of sitting down
  • When you get home from work, play with your kids on the floor rather than slumping in a chair
  • Go out for a bike ride, football in the park or kite flying with your kids at weekends

How to consume 250 calories less a day

The following are easy things to cut out of your diet that are around 250 calories each (some are a hell of a lot more!):

  • High calorie breakfasts: 1 Danish pastry, 1 muffin (American-style), 2 small croissants or 1 Starbucks Grande latte made with whole milk
  • Meals extras: Half a naan bread, 1 small potion of chips, 1 large dollop of mayonnaise or a large spring roll
  • Snacks and puddings: 1 piece of cake, 1 chocolate bar, 2 small portions of cheese, 1 portion of ice cream
  • Alcohol: 1.5 pints of lager or 1.5 large glasses (250 ml) of wine

Every little bit helps!

If this all sounds too much, just think that doing more than you are doing now is a step in the right direction.

Posted by Heather Waghorn.

How I kicked started my new year

Getting back into healthy living after a week of Christmas indulgences can be quite a challenge, even for me.

By the 5th January, few things had been crossed off my New Year's resolution list, and my running was going nowhere fast. Feeling a bit deflated, I entered a 10 mile race, totally on a whim, for the following day in Tadworth.

I hadn't exactly trained for it, so decided to run for "fun" rather than a particular time. I just took in the scenery and enjoyed the race (although a couple of sadistic hills were a bit more than I'd bargained for!).

It's got me back into enjoying running again, consequentially kick starting my healthy eating habits and a few of my other resolutions are now falling into place too.

I've learnt two things from this. Firstly, races are a good way to get some millage done, and you don't have to always run them hard.

Secondly, putting yourself under too much pressure to achieve something can actually have the opposite effect, and dull your enthusiasm rather than inspiring and driving you. Schedules and targets are great for keeping you on the right track, but sometimes it's good to just screw them up and do something different. By taking the pressure off, you can take more pleasure in what you are doing, and are therefore more likely to go out and do it again.

Finally, exercise doesn't always have to be in a structured, pre-planned format. Try thinking of something different to do like ice skating, kite flying, horse riding, indoor climbing, cycling, or just offer to take the neighbour's dog for a walk.

Here's a few ideas to get you started:

Kite (plus lots of other fun stuff!) shop:
Somerset House Ice ring:
Rollerblading lessons:
Horse riding lessons:
Indoor climbing:
Runners World event listings:

Posted by Heather Waghorn.