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How to get your ass kicked by a kettlebell

October 30, 2013 in fitness, health

Kettlebells are one of my favourite pieces of exercise equipment. Mostly because they’re so versatile and if you use them properly, they give you a kick-ass workout.

However, while I’ve often done my own kettlebell workouts and I’ve done many short workouts at Cape Crossfit with the kettlebells, I had never been to a kettlebell class. Which is why I was so excited when Laura Munro of Glow Pilates, invited me along to one of her kettlebell classes.

If you don’t know what kettlebells are, read my article on it here.

The class began with a nice long warm-up of rowing, skipping, bear crawls and squats and step-ups. Doesn’t sound like much but trust me, after a few rounds we were all sweaty and plenty warmed up.

Warming up on the rower

Then the kettlebells came out. I felt like a kid at Christmas, the not-so-secret exercise nerd in me was bubbling with excitement.

I picked a 20kg kettlebell for the ladder swings. Sounds like fun already huh? What it means is that you start with 3 two-arm swings, then your partner does 3, then you do 6, then 9, then 12, then 15… then you count back down. May not look like much on paper but if you do it right it’s quite a good workout.

Kettlebell swings

Then we moved onto goblet squats with the kettlebells. This involves holding the kettlebell with both hands at your chest and then lowering down into a deep squat. The weight of the kettlebell is perfect for getting you nice and deep in the squat and making those leg, hip and bum muscles work. We did ladders with these too and by the end my hip flexors were twitching their distaste.

Goblet squats… trying to go to my ‘happy place’

After that we switched over to lighter kettlebells for some push-presses, which involves holding a light kettlebell in each hand at your shoulders and then dipping down slightly and pushing them straight up overhead as you stand up. Also quite a taxing workout.

Push-presses

However, Laura was not done with us yet. And as she headed back to the board to show us the finishing workout I was reminded again what an awesome workout kettlebells can give you. I was pretty much soaked with sweat and could feel every muscle in my body had been woken up and was feeling the effects of the previous exercises.

The workout we finished with, finished me. It wasn’t hard, but it was tough, if that makes sense.

It consisted of 5 rounds of:

5 pull-ups

20 kettlebell swings

30 seconds of air squats

Come the end of the second round my hip flexors were screaming at me, those squats were deadly! And by the end of the last round I collapsed on the floor. A sweaty, heaving, totally fried version of the person that walked into the studio an hour before. But I was happy. Those feel-good exercise hormones were coursing through me like fireworks, and as I washed them down with Laura’s complimentary freshly-juiced carrot and lime drink all I could think of was “I HAVE to do that again…”

With Laura (top left) and the other lovely ladies I worked up a generous sweat with at Glow Pilates.

If you haven’t tried a dedicated kettlebell class yet I would highly recommend it. Laura is a certified kettlebell instructor. Find her at Glow Pilates here or visit their Facebook page here

Supplements: The what, when and why

August 5, 2013 in fitness, health

Supplements are not something that have been a big feature in my training programme, but lately I have started to feel that I’m at the point where I might need a little something extra to help me with recovery as my training sessions are getting more intense.

But what to take? I remember going to a talk with Professor Tim Noakes where he claimed that the most effective ‘supplement’ was caffeine and that nothing else has actually been scientifically proven to work. But that was a few years ago, and as we know, the supplement business is booming. Mostly from people who either have no idea what to take so just take anything, which can not only be dangerous, but also super expensive. This stuff isn’t cheap.

So I figured if I was going to take a supplement it would have to be something that I could trust, something that wasn’t full of all sorts of crap, and something that wasn’t going to kill me financially every month.

What I started with

At first I took hemp protein powder. It’s a rather vile tasting green powder which I mixed with a banana, some water, a little cacao and some green powder from The Real Thing. All natural stuff and while it looked pretty gross and often didn’t taste very good, it was really the only thing I could take as I was still breastfeeding my child and his safety was far more important than my need for muscle recovery.

However, as my child is now almost two and although I’m still breastfeeding, it’s less frequent and I figured it’s now safer to take a basic whey protein drink in the morning after my workout as I only breastfeed in the late afternoons now. Also my workouts have become more intense as I have become increasingly stronger and fitter. Which also means my poor muscles need a little more TLC.

So I spoke to my coach to get some advice on what I should/could take and what would benefit me the most. And while he was adamant that good nutrition is first and foremost the most important thing, given that I rush to work straight after gym and don’t get a chance to eat, he said in my case a supplement such as a whey protein drink would be OK.

Coach Chris Oman from Cape Crossfit during one of the CrossFit Games regional qualifiers.

According to Coach Chris Oman, head coach at Cape Crossfit, “Real food is the best supplement you can take. Clean out your diet first and make sure you get enough of all the good stuff you need from unprocessed food sources and your results will be amazing.”

He is of course right. Because if my diet is a mess then that will affect my training and my recovery. Vicious cycle.

So while whey protein is the only supplement I am taking at the moment, I wanted to find out a bit more about what the others are. And who should take them. And when.

This is what he said: “ For improved performance and recovery when everything else is in place supplements can have a place in a hard working athletes diet.”

This is his top list:

BCAA’s: Take them before training. It works as a precautionary effect to stop your muscles from breaking down too much, and also provides a little bit of extra energy for the workout. Drink about half the serving before the workout and then sip on the rest during the workout.

Whey protein: Keep it as clean as possible, “100% whey” is hopefully exactly that, only protein. It’s important to take immediately after training and is a great way to rebuild your muscles from the inevitable breakdown that happens during exercise. Be aware that even though the lactose content is low, it is a dairy product.

Glutamine: Most of the whey protein shakes contain L-Glutamine already, but if yours doesn’t or you don’t use whey protein it could be something to think about as post recovery and before sleep to prevent muscle loss. It is one of the more active amino acids in terms of saving muscles from breaking down.  A lot of athletes  also note improved sleep while using Glutamine.

Creatine:  If you eat a lot of red meat you actually get fairly high doses of this already. It is for people who are looking for strength increases and to add on muscles. Creatine binds water so don’t get scared if you gain a couple of kg’s the first week or two.

So there it is. Those are the basics and there are loads of other supplements out there with fancy-schmancy names that sound like they’re going to make you lean and mean all on their own. Which they won’t. Be careful of them – it’s a booming business for a reason.

By all means use them to supplement your diet and assist you in your training, but do your homework first. They cost a pretty penny and if all you’re going to get out of it is expensive pee then it might not be worth it.

I am going to give it a bash with the whey and see how it goes. I am not looking to lose weight, nor to bulk up. But I would like to continue to get stronger, and to do that I need my muscles to be able to recover from the previous workout. But I will be dialing in my nutrition a bit tighter and trying to get some extra sleep  - and for anyone with a toddler/baby, you’ll know that’s probably my biggest challenge :)

Coach Chris’s ultimate advice for anyone looking to get fit, healthy and strong?

“Eat real food. Drink a lot of water. Sleep eight to nine hours every night. And train, hard.”

Do you take supplements? Which ones work for you?

Feel the power with Vinyasa Yoga

June 18, 2013 in fitness, health

Yoga. It sounds so serene, so calming, so…. so not a workout, right? Not quite. Not if you do certain types of Yoga. I tried out Power Vinyasa Yoga with Lauren Mensikovas and lemme tell you something, that was nothing short of a hard workout.

I sweated. And it wasn’t Bikram-style heat-induced sweating… it was OMG-this-is-tough-sweating. My arms were shaking and really tired afterwards, my legs were a bit wobbly and my abs took a few days to forgive me. Even some deep muscles hidden way back in my hips and pelvis were a bit otherwise with me for a few days after the class.

But was it fun? Hells yeah. It was so much of fun. As much fun as you can have silently contorting your body into different positions in a room full of strangers doing the same thing and quietly sweating and gently huffing. It was also ridiculously invigorating, and it set the tone for my whole day afterwards.

This is one of those poses that you glance at and go “meh, looks easy enough”… then you try it… eish…. (BTW this is Lauren, my version of these poses is not really printable)

The nitty gritty

But what IS Power Vinyasa? According to Lauren it’s a “dynamic style of yoga blending steady poses and flowing sequences, linking breath to movement and opening you up to more energy, vitality and flexibility in your life.  It is an invigorating form of yoga that works for all body types and physical abilities working at your own level of fitness, doing just what you can”.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. I had a young man of about 13 next to me on one side and a rather supple granny on the other side of me… and there were a lot more men in the yoga class than I have ever experienced before. Which is fantastic, perhaps more men are finally realising the amazing benefits yoga has to offer.

If I could do this I would SO watch TV like this…

The flowing style of Power Vinyasa made the class really interesting, just when you were getting comfortable the position changes and becomes more challenging. Lauren says she finds this form of yoga “the perfect blend of endurance, strength and freedom to play”. And she’s right. I consider myself quite strong, but I found a lot of the positions very challenging. Not that I didn’t try the harder ones (there is always an easier option), cause where would be the fun in not trying the hard stuff… it looks so cool….

Why you should do yoga

The list is endless with regards to the benefits of yoga, and listing them would take forever. Suffice to say it’s good for mind, body and spirit. Although Lauren adds that she finds yoga improves physical strength, improves concentration, is great for stress relief and has a positive impact on overall physical, mental and emotional health.

Again… looks easy but it really isn’t.

“Yoga can help us all in many ways, and with a regular practice, we can see improved muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina as well as helping with weight loss.  It improves circulation and stimulates the immune system.  It reduces stress and tension as well as improving concentration and clarity. It can help to boost self esteem and help us find a sense of well being and calm.”

Learning from yoga

Unlike many other exercise programmes or fitness regimes, once the yoga bug bites, it bites hard and deep and it’s very hard to shake off the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve finished a class.

This one I could almost do. I am a little worried I’ll face-plant into the floor, but every sport has it’s injuries right? ;)

Lauren, a self-confessed yoga addict, says that it’s had such a profound effect on her life in many ways.

“From a physical perspective, it has helped me change my body enormously. I am the strongest I’ve ever been.  I also used to be a lot heavier and through yoga, I’ve learned to respect and care for my body and by being kinder to my body and enduring the physical intensity of the practice, I’ve managed to keep my body in much better condition, helping the weight to come off.

When looking at Table Mountain gets boring try it from this angle :)

“My yoga practice started to take me much deeper than just experiencing a physical change – I became more aware of how I treated people and most importantly, how I treated myself.  I saw how important it is to practice non violence towards yourself, your body and towards others.

“It had a huge impact on my body and the connection to my daughter while I was pregnant.  I practiced right till the very end of my pregnancy and believe it to be a huge part of why I had such a healthy, easy pregnancy and that it prepared me to be able to have a relatively easy, beautiful home birth.

“Yoga encouraged in me, an appreciation towards community and connection to others.  It re-awoken my inner curiosity about myself and about my world and was a powerful way for me to develop & maintain my physical vitality, mental clarity and be joyfully engaged with my life.  Most importantly, yoga helped me to find that subtle connection between my breath, my body, my mind and my emotions.”

I think she sums it’ up pretty nicely when she says that “ yoga gives us the power to have a better relationship with ourselves and through this,  a better relationship with others and the world we live in.”

All that and a damn good workout?! How could you NOT want to do it?

Check out Lauren’s Facebook page here for where she teaches classes in Cape Town.

Reform yourself with Pilates

June 5, 2013 in fitness, health

Pilates has been one of my favourite forms of exercise for a long time, although I don’t get to do it often, I always feel awesome after a session. However, until now I have only done mat work and Pilates classes with the Pilates ball. Which were always challenging and fun, but when I heard about Pilates Reformer classes I just had to try them out.

I met up with Garith Flood of Cape Town Pilates for a one-one-one session to find out what it was all about.

Meet Garith Flood. He’s sitting on top of the reformer machine which he later used to torture confessions out of me with. Fortunately I don’t know any very important secrets.

If you’ve ever read this blog you’ll know that I’m very much a fitness fiend, I’ll try any workout at least once. So I do consider myself relatively fit and strong. But man, this reformer machine totally kicked my ass. Just the warm-up Garith put me through had me trembling, and that was before I even moved onto the contraption.

Like I said, I have done Pilates before, but never in such a personal setting, usually in a class where the attention is less individual. And it would appear I had been doing it wrong in many respects, because the small corrections Garith made to my form in certain positions made it even more intense.

Garith illustrating a move on the reformer – it’s tougher than it looks. When I did this my arms, abs and back muscles were working overtime!

Once I was on the reformer Garith put me through a few different exercises, all with different resistances on the springs. In a few minutes every muscle in my body was screaming at me. It was breathtakingly tough but equally amazing at the same time.

I was once again reminded how inflexible I am and how much work I have to put in to increase my mobility and flexibility. Both of which are vital for basic daily living let alone any exercise programme.

Garith illustrating one of the basic moves on the Reformer. From this position you push yourself backwards and then he made me ‘pulse’ in that position. It was murder on the calves :)

I would highly recommend this form of Pilates to anyone – from beginners who are just venturing into the wonderful world of exercise, to the athlete who needs to focus on increasing their mobility. And in such an intimate setting, with either a private class or a class with 2 other people, you will get the attention you need to get the most out of this exercise.

A very advanced move on the Reformer which fortunately Garith didn’t introduce me to. I can only imagine the muscles this position would work.

Here’s a bit more about Reformer Pilates from Garith:

A: What’s the difference between ‘normal’ Pilates and Reformer Pilates?

G: Mat based and reformer based Pilates works the same core muscles and the basic Pilates principles are the same for both. The difference comes in with added resistance and an unstable surface to work on when working with the reformer. When doing Mat based Pilates exercises the only resistance is your own body weight but on the reformer this is multiplied by adding extra resistance in the form of springs. The same with the surface , mostly in mat based pilates you work on a stable surface where the body is stable whereas on the reformer the carriage part moves and therefore requires more control and stabilization of the core and stabilization muscles

A: How is Pilates different to Yoga?

G: The main difference is that in Pilates you have to focus and think on which muscles to contract. Pilates principles is based on science whereas Yoga’s origin and principles are based on spiritual and meditative roots.

A: How often should someone do reformer Pilates?

G: It is recommended to do 2 to 3 sessions a week

A: What are the benefits?

G: Pilates build long lean muscles and focuses more on the core and stabilizing muscles (muscles that stabilize joints) than the mobilizing muscles (muscles that move joints) With the added benefit of extra resistance and more focus on control, the Reformer has better results than the basic Mat Pilates.

So there you have it! Reformer Pilates FTW!

Give Garith a shout at Cape Town Pilates, you won’t be sorry!

 

Prancercise: Taking the fitness world by storm

May 30, 2013 in fitness, health

Forget everything I’ve ever said about exercise and fitness. Apparently I was wrong. So put down that heavy barbell and step away from the treadmill…. right here is the next big thing in fitness…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-50GjySwew

I mean who DOESN’T want to prance like a pony? Personally I think not ENOUGH pony prancing is done both in the gym and out.

So grab a friend, strap on those ankle weights and let’s get prancing y’all!

#Iamofcoursejoking

 

Get ripped with callisthenics

May 9, 2013 in fitness, health

It might be getting cooler and less appealing to workout outdoors at the moment, but that doesn’t stop the guys from Cape Calisthenics from hitting the outdoor gym in Sea Point every evening for a very eye-catching and visually pleasing workout.

Three of the guys behind Cape Callisthenics: Adrian Alberts, Alwyn Marx and Matthew Kriel. Enough six-packs between them to make anyone blush…

Outdoor gyms are very popular overseas and although they are few and far between here in SA, they are gaining popularity and hopefully soon the right people will take notice of how providing outdoor exercise equipment for free will inspire people to exercise and perhaps even curb the growing obesity problem.

But what Cape Callisthenics do isn’t just gym. It’s something else. Something far more primal and manly. It makes you gasp in awe as you watch them swing from the bars, hoist themselves effortlessly into the air and hold impossibly difficult positions at extremely difficult angles for an ungodly amount of time.

According to one of the group, Matthew Kriel, the Cape Callisthenics project was started “in order to promote awareness of the sport and fitness movement of callisthenics in South Africa”. He says that although he has only been with the group for a few months, he has seen such progressions in his fitness and strength in that time that he could previously never have done in an ordinary gym environment.

“When I started here in December I could only do like 3 push-ups, now I’m popping out muscle-ups,” he says. And for anyone who doesn’t know what a muscle-up is (trust me, it’s a tough move) check this pic out:

This my friends is a muscle-up. They make it look easy but it’s actually a very difficult move to get right.

The guys (and some girls) meet at the outdoor gym every evening where they do their inspiring callisthenics workouts. However, they have taken this one step further and have a following of people who now join them in the evenings to learn how to do what they do. And they gladly offer advice and assistance where they can – all for free too.

Matthew says that there has been so much interest that half their time is now spent helping others at the outdoor gym.

Alwyn Marx, another member of Cape Callisthenics says it’s all about finding out how well ur body can perform what it is is designed to do. They may use some of the bars for pull-ups and dips, but the exercises are primarily bodyweight exercises that require a lot of muscle strength and a tonne of core strength.

“Anyone is welcome, any fitness level,” says Alwyn, adding that the classes aren’t ego-driven at all. “We don’t compete against anyone else. Here you compete against yourself and be inspired by others.”

They popped up into this position while still talking to me. That takes a mighty strong core!

So if extravagant gym fees are putting you off going to the gym, or you just feel like a different challenge, why not get in touch with these guys and see if you can’t learn a little something from them?

They’re not experts and none of them have any fitness or gymnastics qualifications to speak of, yet watching them in full swing you’d swear they’d been at it their whole lives. And given the number of six pack abs between them, taking a few pointers from some guys who have built their bodies doing very difficult bodyweight exercises with very little equipment.

I’ll leave you alone now to ogle the pictures. What’s nicer than watching three strong, shirtless men working out on a warm winter’s day by the beach? Stumped? Me too… enjoy….

Adrian Alberts holds this insanely hard position in rings for what felt like at least a minute, if not more. This my dears, is how abs are built.

What’s this you ask? Why it’s one guy doing a push-up while the other does a handstand on him. Duh!

Matthew Kriel demonstrates a dip with a kick-through and hold. I don’t know if that’s what it’s really called but that’s what it looked like :)

Just when I thought my 5RM pull-up was impressive I had to meet this guy – who does a muscle-up INTO a handstand. I got some way to go….

I know right? Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better this guy pops out this lever move. He must have triceps of steel I tell ya!

However, while the pics may show off their muscles and strength, a video goes even further to illustrate just how strong these guys are. Check this out:

Why women can (and should) lift weights

April 12, 2013 in fitness, health

Kelly Dessington is the perfect example of how the right kind of training and eating can get you the body you want. She’s petite, feminine and has a six-pack that most guys would kill for…. am I right?

Ass to the grass…. this ladies, is a very good front squat. But don’t let those little weight plates fool you, this lady can lift a LOT more.

In the recent 100% RAW power-lifting drug-free competition in Cape Town she also proved just how strong she is with a staggering deadlift of 145kg, squat of 100kg and a bench-press of 67.5kg, the deadlift and benchpress which are now new SA records. It’s little wonder that she claimed first place in both the women’s category and her 60-67kg weight class. That’s a lot of power in a small (and rather toned) package.

Don’t you love the touch of pink in the equipment at Progressive Edge Performance gym?

Yet she does no cardio.

Yup, you heard me. NO cardio. Zero. Nadda.

So how does she keep so incredibly lean and toned? By lifting heavy weights. (*and BTW she takes NO steroids or other funny stuff either… it’s all hard work and good nutrition). And when she “wants to drop body fat” she does tabata-style sprints (8 rounds of 20 seconds of all-out work and 10 seconds rest). Other than that though, it’s all about lifting weights and doing body-weight workouts like pull-ups. Which she pops out like she was born doing a pull-up btw! Check it out….

Sigh…. one day I will be able to do a pull-up with such style and ease… one day!

It’s not hard to see why she says that women should lift heavy weights too – if they want to see an improvement in their physique that is. And those 2kg dumbbells with lots of reps just ain’t gonna cut it I’m afraid. Not if you want to look lean and toned like Kelly.

But there are lots of other reasons you should lift heavier weights if you’re a woman too – it helps improve your bone density which can lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, it helps with your posture, it helps in every-day life from lifting shopping, boxes, children… but it also helps with your confidence. It might sound trivial in the grand scheme of things, but let’s be honest here…. the better we look, the better we tend to feel about ourselves. Right?

And if you got to looking good by training hard with the right form and with a proper coach like Kelly, and had a good, clean diet to go along with it, then why SHOULDN’T you be proud of your new physique?

Read more on Health24 about what Kelly says about women and lifting heavy weights and how it won’t bulk you up if you do it right.

Check out Kelly’s specialist gym Progressive Edge performance.

Do you lift heavy weights? Show off – send us your numbers! 

Wa-SUP!!!

February 12, 2013 in fitness, health, Uncategorized

Stand Up Paddling (SUP) has made quite an appearance here in SA recently, I’m not sure how long it’s been around for, but lately I’ve been noticing more and more of them hitting the sea. So of course I wanted to try it out.

So I signed up for a session with SUPsistas, they’re a Cape Town-based SUP club especially for women. I figured if I was gonna see my ass I might as well do it in the company of other women.

Fortunately for me the wind has been so hectic here lately that they moved their usual Small Bay classes on the icy Atlantic to the Waterfront Canals in town. I say fortunately because I think it was probably a lot easier to learn how to get up on the board and stay up when there aren’t ocean waves thwarting your efforts every few seconds. Baby steps ok?!

So one glorious Cape Town morning I arrived at the canals. Karina met me and together with a group of about 12 other women we warmed up before she showed us newbies the basics. I.e. how not to fall off or crash into anyone.

Such a pretty setting.

 

Bottoms up!

The lack of a wetsuit makes you even MORE determined NOT to fall in…

One of the trickiest things to learn was how to handle the paddle. We practised a few times on land, but it’s very different when you’re on the water.

It’s like sweeping. But I’m not very good at that either.

See that boat in the background? It makes waves as it goes by. It’s also filled with tourists who I’m SURE were willing me to fall off just for a pic!

Once we were warmed up and prepped we took our giant boards down to the water. They’re freaking huge to carry, even harder to get into the water with cause they start floating away as soon as they’re in. So it’s a fine act trying to keep them close while climbing on.

So on I got, on my knees at first to get a feel for it.

If only you could see how wobbly I was…

It was a VERY weird sensation. My legs were trembling and my core was tight. And this was on flat water. So I paddled around on my knees for a little while before I felt brave enough to stand up. And that was something altogether different.

I don’t think my legs have ever felt so shaky. My thighs were like jelly. You see you can’t really straighten up and just stand. You have to keep your legs slightly bent (at least at first) so when the water moves – which it inevitably does- you don’t tumble off. You’ve also got to keep your ‘hips loose”. I didn’t know what that meant until the little boat came past and I started doing an involuntary salsa on the board just to keep upright.

Take the pic quick I’m focusing here!

It took about 15 minutes for my legs to stop shaking. Then my toes went numb, and they stayed numb for a while. But by then I was totally into it and enjoying myself FAR too much to worry about some stupid toes.

Once I got a rhythm going it felt amazing. My whole body was getting a workout, it was sociable and once I got a little more confident I even got a few peeks at the passing scenery. The women who were in my group were all from various backgrounds, various countries and were aged from early 20s to late 60s (I swear, one lady was in her 60s and not only was she kicking my ass she looked amazing).

An hour later I didn’t want it to end, but my body was actually feeling quite tired. Not sore, just nicely tired. My shoulders and arms were worked, my core was worked and my legs were worked (despite much protesting from them).

Next I’d like to try it out on the sea. But on a VERY calm day. Like I said, baby-steps.

No I didn’t fall in… I jumped. I swear! SUP-ing is sweaty work!

I would highly recommend this sport to anyone. It’s easy on the joints, fun and a great addition to a fitness routine. I’m sure out at sea it would be an even harder workout too.

Ladies check out SUPsistas if you’re keen, not only are they a great group of ladies but they’re also completely non-profit with all proceeds from board and paddle-hire going towards supporting orphaned children. You could get a double whammy workout AND be socially responsible. What more could you ask for?

Check out their Facebook page here or visit their website here.

 

 

FiCT and fabulous!

February 1, 2013 in fitness, health

So I survived Fittest in Cape Town 2013. I have many bruises and bumps to show for it and I couldn’t walk properly for about 3 days afterwards but I had an absolute blast. Same time next year? For sure!

First of all meet my team:

The rocking team ‘WOD you looking at’ comprised of Hermann, Francois, Daniel, moi, Kirsten and Tania

Not a bad-looking bunch eh? I was very proud to be a part of such a strong team. We’re all from Cape CrossFit but we all go to different classes so until Saturday morning about 10 minutes before this picture was taken I had only met Kirsten and Hermann. Nonetheless we still made an awesome team!

The first team event was tug-of-war. I know right? When last (if ever) did you do that? I don’t remember it being quite so brutal in my school years though. When they announced it I thought “OK, that’s not too bad…”

But I was wrong. It was a rookie crossfit mistake. NEVER underestimate a workout. It’s usually those ones that jump up and bite you in the ass with big shiny teeth.

Not only were we not allowed gloves, which made pulling on a rope very sore, but you should have SEEN some of the people we were up against. Holy shit, they were BIG. And strong.

But we held our own. First the girls pulled against the girls from another team in our pool (which we won!) then the boys, then we pulled as a team. We had to do this 6 times. It was brutal.

I only realised when we got the pics back that I hadn’t taken my sunglasses off. I’m not usually so ‘dolled up’ during a workout :)

This is what happened after the first team pull:

Rope burn. My badge of honour from FICT 2013 :)

Sexy huh? By the end of the weekend I had another 2 of those.

Then we had time to eat and rest and watch the amazing men and women individuals compete before the next team event.

Could there be a more stunning view?

The next event was ball tosses and sprints. It was quite complicated and very hectic. By now it was about lunchtime and there was not a breath of wind on the field and it was a blistering hot day. So sprinting wasn’t much fun. But we gave it our all.

Basically it started with tossing a 14lb medicine ball then running and touching it, running back and tagging a team mate. We did this for 100m. Then back 100m. Then we had to sprint to the opposite side and try fit in as many individual 100m sprints as possible before the time cap of 9 mins ran out. THEN we had to try get as many ball tosses as possible in 1 minute. It was very hectic. But we did damn well and finished top in our pool.

Sprinting to the end

Team celebrations

After that we had a nice 2 hour rest before our final event for the first day. Which was great because by then we were all buggered and it was so hot everyone scattered to find shade and water.

The final event proved to be just as tough. It consisted of front squats (29kg for girls/ 50kg for guys) then partner carries, then 10 burpees. It was a tough one to coordinate and we were the first group up after they revealed the event so we didn’t have much time to prepare a strategy, but we still did quite well. Big bonus was having really strong guys on our team so they could carry us girls across the field to do the burpees.

Partner carries

Me on a very tired Francois’ back.

And we’re done for the day! Thank god!

And that was the first day done. Little did we know what lay ahead for the next day… a gruelling 5.45am start with a  seriously hectic 6.5km run up Kloof Road (if you don’t know it, suffice to say it’s f#*ing steep) and back down carrying an 11kg weight plate.

We were SO lucky our guys were so strong that they opted to carry the weight plate the whole way and just let us girls focus on running. Did I say running? So silly. I meant SPRINTING. Yes. More of that stuff from the day before. We were trying to make up points and I ran alongside our team captain Hermann who pushed me to sprint as fast as my little legs would carry me all the way down some of the steepest roads. All I could think about was not tripping – which fortunately I didn’t. We came 18th out of 37 teams in that run so all my heavy breathing, red-faced dry heaving was worth it.

Until the run I actually wasn’t’ very sore – no more than after a normal workout at the gym. But AFTER that mad sprinting I was stuffed. My hips were sore, my legs were aching, my arms hurt… basically everything hurt.

But it wasn’t over yet. We had one more team event which would see the top 8 teams go through to the next round. At this stage we were in position 25 so we knew it was unlikely we would make it through to the next event (which my body was not-so-secretly thrilled about).

And what was it? Tug-o-war! Yup. My old nemesis. This time I had a sleeve to wear to protect my already battered arm, but with an aching body I wasn’t so sure how well I’d manage.

But we did OK, we got through the first heat and got knocked out by a team of giant heavyweights in the second round.

Overall our team came 27th out of 37 teams. Which isn’t too shoddy considering how strong some of the teams competing were AND the fact that we only met as a team on the morning of the event.

I’m SO happy I took part though, I have never had so much fun doing things that hurt so badly with a bunch of people I don’t really know.

Go figure! :)

One thing I forgot to mention is how amazing the vibe was – it was awesome. You couldn’t hear yourself think with all the cheering going on, teams cheering for other teams, everyone rooting for the individuals, spectators and athletes like. There was nothing but good sportsmanship throughout the competition, from all athletes. Sure it’s a competition, but everyone was so supportive of each other that it made it a lot more fun than other sporting events I have been to with an “each man for himself” attitude.

Check out some of the awesome videos of the team finals and individual events on the Fittest in Cape Town Facebook page. These people are amazing. I can only hope that one day I am as strong and fit as they are.

 

 

Sweat, sweet sweat….

December 11, 2012 in fitness, health

So recently I tried out a S.W.E.A.T. 1000 class. And man, did I sweat. It could easily have been 1000 calories, but possibly more.
What is it you ask? It’s a gym class, but a very unusual one. It combines interval training with weights and cardio in a deadly combination that left me breathless, but wanting more.
Basically they have a room with a bunch of treadmills lined up against one wall. Then on the floor they have various toning and resistance paraphernalia such as BOSU balls, dumbbells, TRX suspension bands and so on. In the class I went to in Sea Point, we used BOSU balls and dumbbells.
The class switches between sprinting on a treadmill at different speeds, on different inclines for different intervals. You do that for a few minutes until your heart wants to take a seat in the corner with a towel and then they whip you off the treadmill and before you can think too much about it you’re balancing on a BOSU ball on one leg with weights and doing some rather tricky balancing squats.

Treadmill sprints are damn hard, especially on an incline!

Another few minutes of this and then you’re back on the treadmills to haul your heart back in the game with some more sprinting and/or incline walking  (and we’re talking an incline of like 20 on the treadmill…. If you’ve ever been on  a treadmill you’ll know that’s virtually like walking up a wall it’s so steep).
That’s a rough version of what went on in the class – going between the treadmills and the floor doing weights, squats and lunges on the BOSU, push-ups, sit-ups.. you name it, we did it. And it was AWESOME.

BOSU balls… not for the faint-hearted (or balance-challenged)

According to the S.W.E.A.T. 1000 peeps, the reason they do this form of intense interval training is quite simply because they believe “It is the optimal way to train and that is why we believe that S.W.E.A.T. 1000 has become the ultimate workout.”
Fair enough huh? According to them “The body cannot get used to or rest at any given time as we are taking it through so many different work loads –  the slow twitch and the fast twitch muscle fibre is activated – the endurance aspect is activated.
“Integrating the components of interval training, functional training, core stability work, athletic training, and agility training – it is basically the result of taking everything that is the highest level of physical training and putting it into a 1 hour  dynamic, action packed class that is different every single time. Always changing the dynamics of the class, alleviating the boredom factor and never allowing people to know what they are going to get.”

The class in full swing… add in some pumping music and you’ve a recipe for (sweaty) success!

I must say that I agree with them too. Even though I prefer heavy weight training and short, intense workouts, this class was totally different from anything I have ever done before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sure it was intense and I was totally spent afterwards, but it was so much fun I would definitely consider adding it to my current workout programme 2 or 3 times a week purely because it made me feel so good afterwards.
While I exercise primarily for the health benefits it provides, I also LOVE exercising and this is definitely a class I could fall hard for.
Check out the video of one of the classes on their site. They have classes in Cape Town and Joburg, so check them out if you can…

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