I’ve just turned 29, and considering it’s not really a “big birthday”, it feels pretty momentous.

I think it’s because I’m entering the last year of my twenties; a decade constantly associated with finding yourself, getting your career sorted, finding ‘The One’ and of course, having the most fun EVER in the process.

That’s a lot of pressure, and of course it’s nonsense to think that suddenly when you turn 30 you have to give up on all this stuff (I intend to have MORE fun, if anything).

However, while part of my brain is like “I’m so confused, I’m still 22!” the other part of me knows that in fact I have learnt A LOT over the past decade. So I’m sharing my wisdoms in the hope that perhaps a innocent little 21-year-old who has just moved to London might read it and learn what to expect…

1. No one has their dream career fall into their lap.

After I left university, I spent several months interning at various newspapers and magazines in London in order to get my first job. It was hard work; not only was I interning every day, but I had to work retail shifts during the evenings and weekends to pay rent for the tiny bedroom I shared with my female cousin in Brixton (our flatmates were convinced we were secretly lesbians, but actually we were just poor).

Then, when I got my first journalism job, I thought “that’s it, in the bag!” But, errrm, actually I hated it. And I went through a number of roles (and years) where I wasn’t particularly happy at work before I finally got where I wanted to be.

The point I’m making is, you might have to do some crappy jobs – and work hard at them – before you get your “dream” role.

If you want to work in marketing, it’s unlikely you’re going to start off your career promoting Topshop; you might be flogging some local insurance company instead. If you want to be a mega lawyer, you’ll probably have to be someone’s bitch in a super boring department for a few years before you get to live the Ally McBeal life.

Rather than driving yourself crazy fretting over not having your dream role, just accept that this is a stepping stone to get you to where you want to be, and focus on things that make you happy outside of work to keep you sane in the meantime.

2. You should never abandon your friendships for a guy

It’s fair enough that once you have a boyfriend, you probably won’t be able to spend every waking hour outside of work with your mates.

However, don’t ditch your laydeez completely just because you’ve found a man. I know way too many people who’ve done this, only to find themselves feeling pretty lonely once they break up with their boyfriend (although good friends will always welcome you back in, we’re dreamboats like that!)

3. Delete your ex on social media 

Social media has many benefits, but one of the downsides is that we stay connected with people who, in real life, we’d have forgotten even existed. Who hasn’t experienced that feeling of seeing a name pop up on their Facebook newsfeed and thinking “Who?”

This becomes seriously damaging when you remain linked to people you really need to ditch from your mind. Specifically, exes.

We ALL know it’s a lot harder to get over your ex post break-up if you’re still able to see what they’re up to on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s brave enough to take the step of deleting them.

I’ve seen people drive themselves crazy analysing an ex’s profile – there’s always going to be some ‘suspicious’ new girl suddenly liking their photos, or an update that implies they’re having a bit too much fun without you. Even if they’re doing absolutely nothing on social media, you’ll read into it, wondering what on earth they’re doing instead.

Having that social media connection can feel like the only way to hold to someone you’ve lost, which makes it really difficult to let go. However, one thing I’ve learnt is that it never really makes people feel better being able to keep tabs on their ex . You’re much better off just deleting them from your life and focusing on your own happiness.

4. Exercise is a habit

I exercise pretty regularly, and people often ask me how I manage it. The truth is it’s all about making fitness part of your routine; something that you just get on and do without really thinking about it. You just need to get over the initial effort, and soon it’ll be a habit rather than a chore.

5. Queen Bee syndrome in the workplace is real 

NOT to be confused with Queen Bey, who is the greatest.

Anyways, I once had a job where I was managed by a woman who at the time I thought was ancient but now realise was probably about 29 (oh hey!)

The main thing you need to know about her was that she was an absolute bitch. Her behaviour was all about making me feel small; she cc’ed me into undermining emails, constantly questioned my work (even though no one else did) and generally treated me like I hadn’t yet passed my year 6 SATs, despite the fact I had a good degree from Oxbridge.

Basically, she was your typical ‘Queen Bee’, and clearly wasn’t keen on young, ambitious women in her team.

What annoys me looking back is how much I let it get to me – crying in the toilets or venting my frustrations endlessly to my flatmates when I got home. 

Actually what I should’ve realised was that her behaviour was just a reflection of her own insecurities, not my work, and that sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and shrug off this kind of “management” (which, I’ll point out, can come from men too), rather than weeping in the loos about it. Seriously, managers like this are not worth your emotional energy and, if you do good work, your other colleagues will realise your worth.

6. Present giving: it’s better to give one great gift than lots of okay ones

I used to think that the more presents I bought for someone, the more thoughtful and generous I would look. Actually, this often just devalues each of the gifts. Instead, spend your cash on one really great gift, and if someone’s asked for something specific – even if you think it’s totally boring – buy it for them rather than think that you know better (also guilty!).

7. You need to make time for fun

This tip comes from my grandad, who had a twinkly grin that could light up a room. He died over a decade ago, but beforehand, he told me this: “The most important thing in life is to have fun”.

It might sound a bit obvious really, but actually it’s something that’s always stayed with me, because all too often “fun” can slip to the bottom of the priority list after work, life admin, exercise etc. Or we get too caught up in our own anxieties and life crises to let in any time for happiness.

I know the idea of “organised fun” sounds a bit creepy, but I’ve learnt that it’s really important to create opportunities for merriment in your life. Personally, I know that an evening of wine and raucous laughter with friends will make me feel on top of the world, so I make sure I’m regularly organising those evenings and always make an effort to see friends when they arrange get-togethers.

Whether your idea of fun is doing a 70-mile bike ride (I’m jealous of you), or going to galleries, or ringing your best mate for an hour, make sure you do it regularly and don’t let these things slip to the bottom of the list. Because on your deathbed you will never think “Oooh I should’ve done more ab crunches and late-night work sessions”, I promise.

8. No one notices your f**k-ups as much as you

It’s a bit like when you think you have a massive spot on your face and everyone else genuinely can’t even see it. Problems are escalated a hundred-fold in your own head, whereas everyone else is way too busy worrying about their own thang to focus on your supposed mess-ups.

9. It’s pointless fretting about things that haven’t happened

This is really one I’m working on, because honestly, at some points in my life I’ve genuinely driven myself a bit bananas panicking about thing that *might* happen.

My boyfriend finds this genuinely baffling, because, in his words, he “only worries about stuff that has actually happened”. What a wise way to live…

10. Women get called “crazy” all the time in the dating world, and it’s infuriating

Hear the term “crazy girlfriend” and you probably have a clear image in your head. She’s a bunny boiler, clingy, bossy, desperate to get married, needy, sulky, aggressive – the list goes on.

Sure, there are a few women (and men!) like this in relationships, but the idea of the “crazy girl” all the time in dating, to the point that women basically can’t do ANYTHING in terms of moving a relationship forwards without being labelled insane.

From asking a guy out, to ascertaining if a relationship has become official, to saying “I love you” first, to talking about marriage – all these things are simply CRAY for women in the modern world of dating.

Even my lovely fiance was like “You’re md” when I first broached the possibility of whether we’d get married (about 2 years into our relationship, FYI). Yep, bringing up the subject of marriage when you’re in your late 20s, in a committed relationship, and would like to have kids in the future really is as sign of mental ill health ladies (I promise he’s a wonderful person most of the time).

What makes me really angry about this kind of dialogue is that it stops women from being able to have important conversations about their lives because they’re too concerned about coming across as crazy. Guess what? Discussing marriage and babies in a long-term relationship is NOT a sign of mental illness – it’s in fact eminently sensible, because you need to know where you both stand while you still have time to opt-out.

This lazy bandying about of  “crazy” is really damaging, so I urge you to call men out on it – although please be warned, they will probably call you crazy when you do so *eye rolls x 1,000,000*

11. Thongs are the devil

Ladies, it’s a great moment when you make the switch from Miss Selfridge dental floss pants to M&S knickers. Removing that bum-wedgying torture garment from your underwear drawer is liberating. BE FREE.

12. That advice to just “have a glass of water” if you’re hungry never works

Ditto “Eat one square of dark chocolate and you won’t want any more”.

13. You CAN go to a Champagne reception alone

Although outwardly I appear quite competent at small talk, inwardly when I meet strangers I spend the whole time thinking ‘Oh. My. Gaaaaaaad’.

My nightmare has always been walking into a networking event alone and not knowing a single soul. However, a couple of months ago, I bloody went and did it.

The event – an industry drinks reception and awards ceremony – had been in my diary for months, and every time I looked at it I genuinely felt a bit sick at the prospect of going alone.

In fact, I was so alarmed I even arranged for my boyfriend to be working in his office nearby at the same time, so he could drop me off and meet me afterwards (just typing that has made me realise how pathetic it is, I’m suitably ashamed).

Despite all this panic, the event itself was – shock horror – absolutely fine. I walked in, looked round the room once, and within five seconds a woman had come over and introduced herself.

Even when we parted ways, there were so many people in the same boat that it was actually easy to say hello, and by the end of the night I’d had five glasses of Champagne, gained six business cards and was strengthened by the knowledge that things like this barely ever turn out to be the disaster you’re expecting.

My top tip for this situation? Approach people with a smile, tell them you’re alone, ask questions, show interest in what they’re saying and if all else fails, go up to the bar where you can get chatting to someone in the queue!

14.  Paper coffee cups are evil

I’ve waffled on about this before but once you realise that those coffee chain cups are NOT RECYCLABLE you will be horrified at how many you see everyday. Buy a recyclable one and use that instead (this comes with the added bonus that baristas often think you’re wonderful and will give you a free coffee!)

15. Give yourself at least one slob night a week

I am terrible for saying yes to a thousand invites, and then realising I have no evenings free for my chill out routine: coming straight home from work, eating Sainsbury’s tortellini and watching TV for 4 hours solid. YOU NEED THIS RESTORATIVE TIME.

  

16. Reading is the best thing you can do

How many times have you heard someone say that they “don’t have time” to read?

I find it seriously frustrating when people say this to me, because I think a) in 99% of cases it’s simply not true and b) it kind of implies that someone like me, who reads a lot, actually has nothing else on their plate.

There is nothing, in my view, that expands your mind, your empathy and your world view quite like reading, whether that’s magazine articles or novels.

Fiction is the best way to inhabit an alternative world to your own, and actually have a part in creating it through your own imagination. I’m aware that sounds unbelievably wanky, but I think books are really important in making you more understanding and widening your insight into other people’s lives.

Reading is also the ultimate escapism – you can’t be actively engaged in a book and also worrying about your own problems!

For me, it’s basically mindfulness, and I promise you reading will make you a more interesting person. So ditch the Instagram scrolling a find a book you love!

17. Sometimes you will miss the days of teenage romance

When simply sitting next to someone in the cinema could make you feel like “OHMYGOD THIS IS THE HOTTEST THING EVER I’M GOING TO DIE”.

18. You never regret travelling

Ok, I’m going to caveat this with the obvious point that if you get into debt travelling, then you will regret it.

But generally, if it’s a toss up between a new handbag and flights to Europe, or replacing your sofa and a holiday, I say always pick the travel. There’s nothing quite as magical as exploring the world.

19. It’s okay if your uni days weren’t the best of your life

Ditto, school days. There seems to be this weird perception about your time in education, with people claiming that it will literally be the highlight of your entire existence.

I spent quite a few years regretting the fact that I didn’t love university more. Sure, I had great nights out and made some lovely friends, but I also got myself totally stressed about work and found living in halls for three years (as was customary at my uni) pretty isolating at times.

You know what though? That’s okay. It doesn’t make you failure if you “failed” to have the greatest of times when you were “meant” to be. Everything is a learning experience, and I’ve had amazing times since – in fact I would argue my late twenties have been way better than my university years, proving those old cliches are not true for all of us!

20. It’s important to be able to take constructive criticism

Try to be gracious rather than defensive.

21. The best thing you can do to eat more healthily is cook from scratch

Ignoring my earlier comments about Sainsbury’s tortellini, I have realised that cooking from scratch makes you naturally eat more healthily, mainly because you can actually see what’s going into your food (whereas those 15 teaspoons of sugar that go into your shop-bought pasta sauce…nope).

 22. Some people are just “fun” friends

One thing I’ve definitely realised as I’ve got older is that there are certain categories of friends, and you need them in different situations.

For example: the fun friend. You’ve had some of your best nights out with her and can’t actually picture her without a cocktail in her hand. She makes you laugh until you cry and is, quite frankly, WILD on the dance floor.

However, when you text her saying you really need to chat, she’ll fail to reply. When you arrange dinner with her because you’re newly-single and lonely, she’ll flake at the last minute, even though that was the only thing getting you through the day.

Accepting that some people are like this – great fun but unreliable – is a good thing that comes with age. Instead of getting mad at them, put them in a box labelled “fun friend” and decide whether or not that’s something you need in your life.

P.S. to my friends who are both fun AND always there for me, you are the freakin’ best.

23. It’s okay to like Bridget Jones

And shaving your legs, being complimented, watching Love Actually, having the door opened for you, new MAC f0undations and anything else that some people might label you as a “bad feminist” for. As long as it’s your choice, do what makes you happy.

24. Being  a quiet person doesn’t mean you’re uninteresting, and being really loud doesn’t mean you’re interesting.

I’ll just leave that there.

25. Jealousy is really self-destructive

We ALL feel jealous sometimes – it’s human nature to feel like “Hmm that person is richer/cleverer/prettier/more accomplished than I am, I WANT THAT”.

However, being overcome with jealousy will only make you feel shitty and is normally based more on a perception of what you assume their life must be like, rather that fact. Like “Oh she’s so gorgeous, she must be way happier than I am”. This is not necessarily the case.

I know some form of jealousy is inevitable, but I think you can make a conscious choice to be thrilled for someone rather than envious. Make a mental decision to let all the great stuff that happens to your friends make you happy, instead of raving with jealousy.

I promise when you start to think like this it makes your mental load SO much lighter, because celebrating someone else’s success is so much more joyful and productive than thinking “F**k you I wish I had your life”.

26. If something really scares you, you have to do it A LOT

I had this weird phase where I developed a real phobia of flying (a super turbulent flight combined with all those disappearing planes tipped me over the edge).

However, I was absolutely not prepared to be one of those people who doesn’t fly, so I decided to treat this fear by method of over-exposure.

Luckily this coincided with a time when I worked at a magazine with lots of press trips, so – sorry planet – I took 18 flights in one year, and by the end of it I was very much over my fear.

Obviously not everyone is in that lucky position to fly all the time, but whether your fear is public speaking or going to the dentist, you just need to force yourself through it enough times until it’s not a big deal any more.

27. Stop saying “sorry” all the time

I remember reading about a study last year where it was discovered that women apologise way more profusely than men in their work emails. As I result, I downloaded software which scans my emails for apologetic terms – and was genuinely gobsmacked at how many I was using without even realising.

At first, when I left them out, I seriously felt like “Oh my god, this is email is so RUDE”, but actually, no one came back to me offended, and actually deleting all the sorrys from my emails made them much more authoritative.

Other things to use less: “I was just thinking”, “hope you don’t mind me saying”. “could I just add?”. You get the idea.

28. Endless shopping = bad

Whereas our grandmothers grew up getting one new dress a year and then wearing and repairing it for the next 20, we exist in an era where you can pick a new top up for less than the cost of your lunch.

This has led to wardrobes that are crammed to bursting and the invention of the phrase ‘stuffocation’, which I most certainly suffer from.

I was clearing out the clothes I’d left at my parents home recently and it actually made me feel sick to realise how much money I had wasted on high street tat, particularly in cheaper shops like Primark, where nothing fits well and it all seems to fall apart after two washes.

My advice: clear out anything from your wardrobe you never wear, that takes a big effort to wear (ironing, fake tanning, buying a new weird bra) or that you’re keeping solely because you feel guilty about the money you spent on it.

Only buy things you absolutely love, that you will actually wear in your real life (not on imaginary Caribbean holidays) and that will last. Don’t buy anything if, when you try it on, you think “oh yes this will look great with black jeans and gold heels” if you don’t actually own those items (come on, we’ve all been there).

I know this sounds like blindingly obvious advice but believe me, if I’d followed it at a younger age I’d probably be a lot richer right now.

29. Happiness is not a one way trajectory

If there’s one piece of advice I really want to impart, it’s that there will be good times and bad times during your 20s, but nothing is permanent.

When you’re feeling sh*tty, understand that you won’t feel low forever.

When everything is good in your life, take time to appreciate it, instead of fretting over small stuff.

A lot of people have asked me if I’m “freaking out” about approaching my 30s, which I think is a really bad way to look at it.

Instead I’ll be celebrating another year of good health and fun times, preferably with a several thousand glasses of Prosecco. Cheers ladies!

muddy shoes

Running is amazing – for all the reasons I listed here, there’s a lot to be said for popping on your trainers and heading out the front door.

However, there are a few *niche* gripes that you only recognise once you start to run regularly. Introducing the problems only runners will understand…

1. When people take up the ENTIRE pavement in front of you.

Your patience level for pavement hogging reaches zero when you’re running. Okay, you’re not an arsehole – a mum with a buggy or someone in a wheelchair can’t help taking up a narrow path. But when you have a group of three people walking astride TOWARDS you and they still don’t get out the frickin’ way, you’re sorely tempted to just trundle on right through them.

2. Anyone who shouts piss-taking ‘encouragement’ at you.

And let’s be honest, any randomer (usually a 13-year-old boy) who shouts ‘faster’ at you in the street is taking the piss.

3. Discovering your headphones have tangled themselves into oblivion.

This ALWAYS happens on those days when you’re short on time. And you always stare at your headphones in disbelief like ‘What the hell, I only left you alone for half an hour and you’ve done this to yourself!!


4. Needing the loo during a run

Oh my god is there anything worse? The answer is no, no there isn’t.

5. Getting home from a ‘needing the loo’ run to find that some other household member is in the bathroom

This is a true test of love and loyalty for everyone involved in the situation.

6. Disobedient traffic lights

Ok so here’s the thing: occasionally, you’ll be in your running groove, and hope that every pedestrian crossing you come to is green so you can speed on through. Other times, you’re like ‘dear god I’m dying, please let there be a red man coming up’. In both scenarios the traffic lights will do the OPPOSITE of what you require from them *shakes fist*

7. Wet leaves on the ground

Much like all public transport in the UK, your response to travelling through a slippery, sludgy bunch of leaves is basically ‘ugh’.

8. The earbud that constantly falls out of your ear for an entire run

This is a weird one, because you can be wearing the same earbuds for AGES and then suddenly, you’ll go for a run and one side will just continuously pop out despite you ramming it in with ever-increasing force. Did your ear hole get bigger or something? *checks in mirror*

9. Rain

This is the worst (except if you kind of didn’t want to go on your run anyway and you can point outside at the light shower outside like ‘Oh look, I couldn’t POSSIBLY run in this hurricane’.)

10. Beauty articles that tell you only to wash your hair once a week.

Given that post-run your hair looks like it belongs to one of the more disgusting peasants on Game of Thrones, there is no way you’re leaving it seven whole days before washing it… (see below: sexy huh?)

post running hair

11. Waiting for your watch to get GPS signal

Me to Fitbit: ‘You’re not even trying, are you?’

12. Running + a runny nose

Just eww.

13. When someone overtakes you while they’re running for a bus.

It is truly humiliating when someone wearing jeans, a jumper, smart leather shoes and a shoulder bag sprints past you while you are in FULL RUNNING GEAR. Although in fairness they clearly have more motivation to be putting in a sprint session at that point.

14. People not sympathising with any of your running problems.

Because after all, you have chosen to do this to yourself.

 

 

What is it?

H.E.A.T. is Virgin Active’s “newest and toughest class yet”, lasting 60 minutes and combining sessions on the SkillMill (similar to the treadmill, except powered by your feet) with resistance training and intense cardio on the floor.

My experience:

Having already tried out Gymbox’s “toughest ever class” Flatline, I was looking forward to seeing how Virgin Active’s killer session measured up.

The first piece of equipment I was introduced to was a harness attached to the wall by an elasticated rope. The idea is you strap it around your torso and then run/crawl away from the wall, fighting against the resistance of the elasticated band. About the least kinky use ever for a harness, but it definitely works you hard.

virgin-active-heat-review

Another new piece of equipment I encountered was the SkillMill, which is a bit like a curved treadmill but without the “on” button. Instead, the power of your feet is what drives the machine, with the option to whack up the resistance to makes things tougher.

skillmill-virgin-active

Before the class started, I was strapped into a Myzone heart rate monitor – this beamed by heart rate onto a screen on the wall, as well as calories burnt.

If you’re a competitive type, you’ll love this – the information of everyone in the class is displayed on the wall, so you can see who’s heart rate is in the ‘red zone’ (which I believe is around 90% of your maximum heart rate).

virgin active heat review

As a class we were split into two groups, alternating between the SkillMill and floor work. I started off on the SkillMill. This bit of kit takes a bit of time to get used to – at the start I was worried I was going to fly off the back – but once you get used to it, it’s great.

We alternated between walking, sprints and high resistance training, where you lean forward on the SkillMill and power through with your legs (see below). It was tough, but in a good way!

skillmill virgin active

My favourite bit was definitely the sprints – I feel like I know where I am with a sprint and it’s one way I’m guaranteed to get my heart rate up into that fat-burning ‘red zone’.

Once I was on the floor work, I found it a bit trickier to get my heart rate as high, which was a bit frustrating as I felt like I was working my arse off! The floor work included bear crawls, kettlebell squats, battle ropes, lunges and of course, plenty of work with that harness, providing a real full body workout.

I was very impressed with the range of equipment available (I tried the class at Virgin Active’s swanky new Mansion House gym) and think the class definitely lived up to its goal of increasing cardiovascular endurance and all round strength.

At the end of the class my heart rate monitor told me I’d burnt off over 500 calories, which is not bad going for someone of my weight (some of the bigger blokes burnt off 1,000 – oh the things I would eat if that was me!)

I’d definitely go again, although first of all I need to work on my press-up game – seriously, what is this?!!?!

Fitness level: 

At least a moderate level of fitness, in my opinion.

I burnt:

500 calories

More info here.

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Last Thursday was certainly not your average weekday evening for me – rather than a gym session then dinner in front of the telly (my life is so glamorous), I found myself at the Honorable Artillery Company near Old Street, competing in The Great Row for Cancer Research UK.

The challenge was to row a marathon, 26.2 miles, as a team of six, all the while competing against 13 other teams to complete the distance first.

As well as being a fairly challenging experience, it was also an educational one! Here are 6 things I discovered…

1. 26.2 miles is a REALLY long way to row

An admittedly fairly obvious statement to start with – but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t quite appreciated how long this distance would take to row. Sure, I’ve run the marathon, and I remember it being bloody hard, but I assumed on a rowing machine we’d be done in about an hour and I’d go home to put my feet up (clearly, I hadn’t thought this through).

My boyfriend even said to me when I signed up ‘Errrm, you do realise you’ll have to row about 7k each right?’ and I was like ‘Yeah yeah piece of cake.’ Nope, it’s hard. Luckily the atmosphere at the event was electric, with club tunes pumping out and plenty of encouraging teammates – plus, we were rowing for an amazing cause, which definitely helps you find that extra power!

2. Technique is everything when it comes to good rowing

About the only wise thing I did when I signed up for The Great Row is take advice from Patricia Carswell, who blogs all things rowing over on Girl on the River. She gave me some really good advice on technique; namely, that you shouldn’t be whacking the resistance on the erg up to 10 when you train (it’s not good for your back or technique) and that most of the work should be done by the legs, not the arms.

While we were doing the marathon row, she was great at pointing technical points out to me, such as keeping the length in each stroke (sometimes I tend to get a little frantic), which really helped me up my game rowing-wise.

Since taking her advice, I’ve also noticed LOADS of people are using the rowing machine incorrectly in the gym. I’d say the majority think it’s all about speed and a mega-high resistance, but their technique is shocking and actually looks like they could be doing themselves some damage! If you’re not really sure how to do it properly than I urge you to watch this video Patricia sent me, and educate yourself.

3. I have a weird crush on Dan Walker

Does he count as a weird crush, or a normal one? We were lucky enough to have Dan presenting on the night and I must say he has a certain tall and jolly appeal.

Staring lovingly at Dan with a sweaty ponytail

4. Teamwork is everything

I was SO lucky with my team, especially considering I’d never met any of them before. As well as Patricia, there was also Georgina from Fitcetera,  TV presenter and blogger Olivia Cox, Made In Chelsea’s Akin Solange-Caulker and finally Akin’s lovely friend Devon. Everyone was brilliant – no one had a tantrum and gave up, no one turned their nose up at taking the position of ‘foot holder’, and the whole team was really great at encouraging each other to keep the hell going.

5. CrossFit makes you hardcore

From the start of the rowing marathon, it was clear one time was extremely dominant – the CrossFit team. They finished way ahead of everyone else, whereas we were close to the bottom, which suggests to me that I probably need to start CrossFitting IMMEDIATELY.

6. Cancer Research’s goal is for 3 in 4 people to survive cancer in 20 years

Now here’s something truly important that I wasn’t aware of – Cancer Research UK’s next big aim is for three quarters of those diagnosed with cancer to survive it (currently, it’s one in two). They hope to achieve this amazing feat within the next two decades, but obviously, they require a huge amount of fundraising to support this, which is where you guys come in! Sign up to take part in The Great Row yourself and aim to raise at least £25 per person – more info here. You can even train for free at David Lloyd gyms every Friday in March. Personally, I can tell you it really is a rewarding challenge to take on; I found it tough but the feeling of achievement once you’re done is incredible!

The final sprint to the finish!

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fitness first SHRED

What is it? 

This new Fitness First class promises to burn fat and build muscle with a combination of compound lifting and HIIT training.

My experience: 

As someone who has the muscle strength of a flea and needs to change that, Fitness First’s new SHRED class sounded right up my street.

Firstly, it’s upbeat – I tried the class on a dreary Monday morning, but the loud music and fast pace quickly got everyone smiling and in the mood to push themselves. It probably helped that, since the class was laid on for press, Instagram sensation Zanna Van Dijk was also there, and she was brilliant at encouraging and pushing us as we worked through a series of exercise.

The idea of SHRED is that you alternate quick HIIT sessions – such as jumping up and down from a step or high knees runs – with weights. Given my limited upper body strength I kept the kgs on my bar fairly light, but I could still really feel I was working my muscles, and while some classes (I’m looking at you, Flatline) are all about lifting as much as you can regardless of technique, there was a lot more focus on doing it ‘properly’ at SHRED.

fitness first SHRED

In fact, I’d say it’s ideal for people like me who aren’t thrilled at the prospect of hanging out in the weights section of the gym but still want to incorporate some weight-lifting into their routine. Plus, the stuff you learn here will probably make you more confident when you do hit the gym floor!

The toughest bit of the session was the challenge they gave us at the end. We had to pair up and, while one partner did squats with the bar, the other had to do a standing sit against the wall, before switching. The challenge was how many squats each pair could do in five minutes, and by the end, I genuinely thought my legs might fall off.

fitness first SHRED

I even tried to claim to Zanna, who told me to squat deeper, that I was ‘too tall’ to go any lower, before remembering that this excuse would not wash with a gorgeous 6 ft 1 personal trainer. DAMN.

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t win the challenge, but I did really enjoy the class, and think I definitely got a bit of booty-shaping out of it!

Fitness level:

Anyone, but in particular I’d say it’s perfect for people who have good cardio fitness but need a bit of guidance with their strength training.

I burnt:

250 calories

More info here.

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