carly-rowena-main-interview

You can’t be in the fitness blogging world and not know about Carly Rowena: the personal trainer has garnered a massive following online for her expertise and positive approach (and personally I like anyone who’s Instagram bio says ‘Forever trying to make food go to my boobs’).

I was lucky enough to interview Carly while she was working with Stand Up To Cancer earlier this year – here’s what she had to say…

How did you first get into fitness?

‘As a child I was always running around outdoors instead of watching TV, so it was no surprise that I joined the gym as soon as I could.

‘The big shock was that I fell in love with weights. I had previously always been a cardio bunny but weights changed my whole outlook and the shape of my body.’

What does you typical week in workouts look like now?

‘I try to never go two days without working out, but to be honest four days is usually the most I can into my schedule due to travel and work commitments.

‘At best, I like to have two HIIT sessions and 3 LISS sessions a week (this usually comprises of a walk or jog with my dog).

‘Weights-wise, I split my body in four groups: Legs and Butt, Chest and Biceps, Back and Triceps, Shoulders and Core.’

What are the most common gym mistakes people make? 

‘Far too often I see women spending all their time doing cardio and men only focusing on weights. Women end up with arthritis and men have heart attacks – there needs to be a balance.’

 How do we get abs like yours?!

‘One word: food. I know no-one wants to hear this, but abs don’t come from exercise unless you have extremely strong genetics.

‘Reducing stress levels, eating a balanced diet and having at least 6 to 8 hours sleep a night will get you much closer.

‘The best exercises to boost muscle in my opinion are hanging leg raises, planks and side plank dips.’

What’s the best way to get more out of your workouts?

‘If possible, get a trainer. You are never more aware of how much harder you can work than when someone else shows you.

‘If you’re not sweating or can’t feel your heartbeat quicken then you’re not pushing hard enough!’

Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?

‘My mum! She used to run marathons even though she was suffering with ME. She’s now my favourite client and loves to show her friends that she can do pull-ups at the age of 69!’

What’s the best way to motivate yourself when you don’t feel like exercising?

‘We ALL have days like that. I suffer from adrenal fatigue, and sometimes exercise is the last thing in the world I want to do.

‘But then I log in to my social channels and read the incredible comments or emails I receive from my followers and I can’t wait to get moving. They’re my inspiration!

Niomi and Carly Rowena put on a special Barry’s Bootcamp class to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer. Check out their YouTube channels to see how they got on.


Most of us are busy people, and that means exercise is often slotted in around work, socialising and various other appointments.

Much as I’d love to end each exercise session with a 10-minute meditation and kale smoothie, in reality I’m normally raking a brush through my hair while simultaneously trying to put my knickers on under a towel and not flash the entire gym changing room (a sign of my utter Britishness, because really, being naked in a female changing room is not ‘flashing’).

As someone who is almost constantly five minutes late in life, I’m always pushed for time in these changing room sessions, which means I’ve perfected the art of getting ready post-workout REALLY BLOODY QUICKLY.

Here are my top tips…

1. Be prepared

Pack your gym bag carefully so you know where everything is and you don’t spend valuable seconds digging around in its depths looking for contact lenses or emptying the entire thing out to find fresh socks.

I’ve found the best thing to do is have a little gym toiletries bag (including padlock and spare contacts, the banes of my life when it comes to forgetting things!) and bung this in whenever you’re going to the gym. Pack shampoo and conditioner at the top so you can quickly grab them when you’ve finished your fitness sesh and head for the shower.

2. Shower smart

The shower can be one of those places where you lose track of time as you start to ponder important questions like ‘Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle actually get married?’ or ‘I wonder how many hours of TV the Gogglebox families watch per week?’ DON’T let this happen – use your shower time to stretch and wash in super quick time, and set the temperature to cool to help bring your body heat down a level.


3. Hair

If you’re washing your hair, towel dry it as much as you can in the cubicle to reduce blow-drying time (this is why it’s always necessary to have two towels, even if your stingy gym tries to give you one).

I find brushing my hair through straight away with a Tangle Teezer also helps as a lot of water flies off in the process.

You’re not going to have time to do a full fancy blow-dry, so focus on the roots above all else – a hairdresser previously told me that if you dry the roots and the uppermost layer of the hair smooth, then you’ll look presentable not matter what hell breaks loose underneath.

4. Sweat

As a severely sweaty person (mmm), one of the main problems I have post-workout is that I seem to stay red and sweaty for friggin’ AGES. Trying to apply makeup to a sweaty face is an ordeal I wish on no-one, so what can you do?

This is where the cool shot on the hairdryer is your best friend. I find that blasting my face with the cold air is a good way to dry up sweat and cool myself down (plus other people at the gym will think you look really intriguing, which is great). Honestly though, it does the job – if you’re not washing your hair, it’s also a good way to banish sweaty roots and has a lifting effect on locks.

Another tip for sweaty types is to put your clothes on as late as possible. I know this goes against everything us prudes stand for but really, if you stay in your undies for a while you will cool off more quickly.

5. Foundation

Even with the old cold hairdryer trick, I know that a liquid foundation will just slide right off my big hot face straight after a workout. If you’re like me then skip the moisturiser – it’s just another slidey substance to contend with – and go straight for a solid foundation, applied with a beauty sponge.


I have discovered the best one ever is this Max Factor Miracle Touch foundation – it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin but the coverage is really good, and it turns my post-gym face from terrifying red monster to normal human being in a matter of seconds.

6. Makeup

Keep it basic. I know this is bleedingly obvious but now is not the time to be trying out a three-tone eyeshadow combo with top and bottom eyeliner. Take it from one who has spent far too many minutes leaning over the mirror in Fitness First trying to create even liquid liner flicks and then becoming increasingly flustered (and sweaty) as they smudge everywhere.

My usual ‘quick’ makeup goes: foundation, concealer (only if really necessary), blusher, mascara, and lipstick. The last point is very important, I’ve found. You can go super minimal on the rest of your face but suddenly if you apply a lipstick (nude or bold) you look 100% more pulled together. And it takes about 3 seconds.


7. Avoid tight trousers

Your good work will be entirely undone if you end up lying on the bench for 10 minutes trying to wrestle on your skinny jeans. Leggings and a loose jumper is my ultimate post-gym speed outfit.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
I bloody love a rooftop bar and restaurant, so when I heard about the launch of The Aviary in Finsbury Square, I decided to go along and check out the view (and food, of course!)

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
I went on a Sunday, which is always a weird time of the week to hang out in this part of the City –  I get a bit freaked out by the fact that even the Pret A Mangers are shut (say wuuut?!)

However, The Aviary, located on the 10th floor of the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, has a nice welcoming, cosy feel, with glamorous gold and cream interiors, plush seats and a glistening bar at the centre of the restaurant.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
The terrace is also pretty special – although we were there on a freezing cold day, I can just imagine how glorious it would be sitting there enjoying cocktails with friends on a Summer’s evening.

As for the food, I was definitely impressed. The number of veggie options wasn’t vast but the food was delicious; I went for the Ricotta Gnocchi with squash, turnips, salsify and sprout leaves, which combined the most wonderful flavours with a satisfying stodginess (although, being greedy, I could’ve done with a bit more!)

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop vegetarian
Sam, my boyfriend(well fiance, but I can’t get used to saying that), went for the Sirloin Steak, which, according to the menu came from a ‘retired dairy cow’. Being a vegetarian this obviously made me a bit mournful for the poor cow who spent a life being milked only to end up on Sam’s dinner plate, but he assured me that the GINORMOUS steak was very good indeed.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
Oh and after nicking all his triple cooked chips I can confirm they were scrumptious as well.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
We ended our meal with dessert – sticky toffee pudding for me (perfectly good) and After Eight arctic roll for Sam. The latter is definitely worth a try, especially if like me you’ve always dismissed arctic roll as a bit crap; not so with this gorgeous pud, which I can foresee will be a bit of a signature dish for this place.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop after eight arctic roll
The staff were very nice – hardly surprising given it was the restaurant’s first week open – and the atmosphere was  peaceful, which may also have something to do with the fact not many people know about this restaurant yet.

The Aviary restaurant London rooftop
I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a whole lot busier on weekends going forward, particularly when they start offering roasts. If you’re looking for lunch or dinner with a view, then definitely swoop on in to The Aviary.

More info on The Aviary here.

December is meant to be all about buying presents rather than treating yourself – but surely you deserve a reward for stomping around Oxford Street, right? Here are my favourites for December, from gym wear to party outfits!

zara-coat

Coat, £69.99, Zara

river island black floral embroidered dress

Dress, £40, River Island

silver-loafers

Loafers, £59, Topshop

 

new-look-backpack

Backpack, £22.99, New Look

 

zara embroidered jumper

Jumper, £69.99, Zara (sold out online but I managed to pick one up in store!)

black-leather-trousers

Leather look trousers, £24.99, New Look

Sports bra, £12.99, H&M

mustard-cable-knit-jumper

Jumper, £36, Oasis

miss-selfridge-dress1

Dress, £99, Miss Selfridge

warehouse sky blue jumper

Jumper, £32, Warehouse

Shirt, £29.99, Zara

Jumpsuit, £75, Hush

Jumper,£12.49, New Look

Trainers, £75, Adidas at JD Sports

Jumper, £35, Oasis

Dress, £39.99, H&M

Faux fur scarf, £55, Hush

velvet body zara

Velvet bodysuit, £25.99, Zara

Leggings, £75, Sweaty Betty

Boots, £14.99, New Look

rest-day-guilt
It’s Christmas party season. Yesterday, I squeezed in a gym session between work and a festive party. The day before, I ran 6k on a hangover. The day before that it was Body Attack, and before that I can’t remember, but I sure as hell have of a lot of gym kit to wash.

Today is therefore my day off, and I should be kicking back and patting myself on the back for a well-deserved break. Instead, I feel a bit guilty.

Yep, crazy I know, but the part of my brain which should be saying ‘Jeez girl, you did well there’ is actually saying ‘Hmm, you probably could’ve gone for a quick run this morning if you’d actually got your lazy bum out of bed’.

Let me tell you, a day off is way less enjoyable if you’re constantly guilty-tripping yourself about it – but why do I think this way?

After all, I haven’t always felt like this – I remember when I was training for the London Marathon my rest days not only felt well-deserved, but I thoroughly enjoyed them, using the free time to inhale blueberry muffins and put my feet up in front of Pointless. I was working towards a goal, and I fully understood that recovery was an essential part of that.

I don’t know why that’s changed so much, although I have a hunch that social media – which has grown exponentially even in the three years since I did the marathon – doesn’t help.

Scroll through your Instagram feed and it’s full of perfect bodies and people getting up at 5am to work out before heading to the office. These people certainly don’t look like they spend occasional evenings lying at home stuffing their faces with Ben & Jerry’s and moving no further than the distance between the fridge and the sofa.

I think I’m also a victim to that constant pressure young women are under these days to be living a dream, ‘have it all’ life. Most girls my age feel like we should simultaneously maintaining the ideal relationship, the perfect job, a hardcore exercise regime, an enviable social calendar, Instagram-friendly weekend plans and holidays, and a wardrobe that would make top fashion bloggers weep with envy.

So having a rest day can sometimes feeling like admitting defeat – like saying ‘no, I can’t bloody do it all, I just want to lie down and ready The Sunday Times Style while drinking endless cups of tea, thanks’.

Of course this guilt is completely ridiculous. Aside from the fact that nobody is actually living that ‘perfect girl’ lifestyle, there’s also the fact that most personal trainers and health experts recommend regular days off in order to maintain optimum fitness. Studies have suggested that you need between one and two days to recover from a hard workout, and there is plenty of evidence to show the detrimental affects of over-training.

There’s also the simple fact that I’m spoiling my days off for myself by pondering over the exercise I should be doing. Don’t get me wrong, my guilt is not at exercise addict levels (I’ve seen enough of that to know), but I hate that little niggling voice that tells me I’m a bit lazy, when actually I’m doing a whole lot more to stay healthy the the Average Joe.

So from now on, I’m going to endeavour to enjoy my days off more, and rather than feeling bad for putting my feet up, I’ll reflect on all the hard work I’ve done to deserve. If you’ve ever experienced rest day guilt – and a quick Google search indicates I’m certainly not alone – then I urge you to do the same. You’ve earned it!

Do you ever get rest day guilt?! Let me know in the comments below!