by - February 25, 2016

Bored of running? Can't understand how to do the toning exercises from the magazines? Don't feel inspired but want to get on the case of toning up and getting stronger? Read on to find out how to exercise efficiently and how to get motivated...

I’m sitting here, writing this, knowing that my sweet potato is burning but it hurts so much to move that I might just have to have it burnt. I’ve just been to a blogger drop in session at Fitness First and did a 40 minute personal training session with a guy named Matt who has taken all of the power out of my legs. Ow. Walking out of the gym to the bus must have looked so ridiculous to onlookers wearing essentially hot pants on a cold winters night with two wooden legs.

The Gym Rut

I used to go to the gym about three years ago. I would do it ‘properly’ - have a high energy snack, such as a banana or some nuts, 90 minutes before and then trot off to the gym to get on with it. I got stuck in a rut which left me uninspired. My rut was: 20 minutes cross trainer, 15 minutes running, 10 minutes leg weights (abductors) and sometimes 10 minutes on the rower. Reading fitness magazines wasn’t enough and, as many people find, I ended up allowing a few weeks go by without going until I mustered the courage to admit defeat and cancel the membership.


Quitting sucks though doesn’t it? You tell yourself that it’s fine and you don’t need it and you’ll just go for runs as they’re free and we live here by the beach so we have the perfect setting for the sunset runs. OH the Romanticism of getting fit! We follow Instagram accounts to inspire us of beautiful girls doing headstands and think “Yep, if I see these everyday that will motivate me!” but in the last three years I have probably gone for a total of 10 runs and placed way more emphasis on diet in order to stay slim (one of those was the colour run which was SO much fun! I definitely recommend that)

Slim doesn’t necessarily mean ‘fit’ though, does it?

As the sister of a brother who has done many fitness events, including the Iron man triathlon, I have been encouraged many times to join boot camps, get a pull up bar or go to boxcersise. He does try -and I do appreciate it - but something in my head just prefers to stay in bed in the morning.

However, spring is approaching fast and that means getting your body out! The mornings are brighter and the evenings drawing out so we are running out of excuses. At 26, it’s time to invest more time into fitness and the body responds best to exercise in your twenties; if you get fit early on, you’ll benefit from it for longer.


Exercise carries a great stigma in that most people associate getting fit with going running, which is boring and unless you are sprinting, is not actually that beneficial. Those ten runs I talked of earlier are mostly interval training - walk, jog, sprint, jog, run repeat. That way you are pushing your body and raising your heart rate (going to stop acting like I know what I’m talking about now, I just know sprinting for one minute is better than jogging for 10)

Efficient training makes much more sense (think quality of quantity) and that's where weight training comes in. Hailed as paleo warriors as the most natural form of exercise (think of all the lifting of dead animals, each other, ourselves and our habitats our ancestors would have had to do in order to survive) and identified by fitness gurus as the quickest way to rev your body into super calorie burning mode at the same time as getting stronger. Spending time working on your strength not only tones up your body but improves your chances of survival, something which we often forget is important in our modern day living [Click here to read: 'Are you strong enough to save your own life' over on Primal Eye]

Personal Training

Matt, our personal trainer at Fitness First Brighton, told us that weight training is super effective at targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously and would make us stronger and more toned. It was really great to explain to someone what I wanted (something to work on which will tone me up all over that I won't get bored of) and to be taught new things and shown in person (those diagrams in magazines never make sense) and being pushed by someone. Having Hazel (Hazel's Blog) there too for support and encouragement also contributed to how hard we both worked and we shared the pain after too!

He had us squatting with a 20k bar on our shoulders at first, which we struggled with! Then just normal squats getting lower slowly over the bar he's pictured sitting on above. His focus was our technique, ensuring our feet were slightly wider than our hips, chests puffed out bums down low! It felt easy so he threw us some weighted bags and we repeated it. Then he had us hanging onto these ropes (pictured below) and squatting down on one leg at a time! THAT was tough. Wobbly leg central. Next was slamming the weighted bags down at the floor, squatting then jumping up x 15 and playing with some very heavy ropes which were more tiring than they seemed. The combination of fun, new and straight up difficult exercise kept us interested, wanting more and it wasn't 'til right at the end that we started feeling tired. The 5 minutes of abs at the end consisted of three different exercises finishing with a killer 30 second plank.  I felt terrible after he said that one man did a plank for 18 hours, not at the gym! But just to prove that you can be relaxed and plank at the same time, it's all about squeezing everything below your waist hard (bums and legs) so that your abs are doing all the work. 


I felt DEAD after our session with Matt. Hazel and I stretched a little but not nearly as much as Matt had advised us to (too preoccupied with taking pictures for you lot!) and limped down the stairs with unanticipated disability. We joked all the way home on Twitter about being so unfit but agreed that it felt good and there has been talks about returning to use the sauna, steam room and the other facilities and working on the exercises Matt showed us, with the hope of learning a few more from him! So you might be seeing more on the fitness side of things here on RR! Would that be OK with you?


As far as snacks go, you will want to have something which packs a lot of energy without a cram load of sugar. Popular as they are, certain pre-workout snacks and drinks are loaded with glucose which will temporarily give you the power you're after to workout harder/longer but you're taking in so much extra energy it seems counterproductive as that will need burning off also. Energy bars such as the one pictured seem very scientific, covered in words the average Joe wouldn't recognize, but are they really as good as they make out?  Upon a closer look at the ingredients, sugar and glucose feature heavily. As does caffeine. I don't think caffeine is such a bad thing really, when used in moderation but those drinks in general contribute to a fake sense of energy which may leave you feeling worse afterwards. Grab a banana and a bottle of water for clean fitness.

After a workout your muscles are screaming out for protein so give them some lean meat or eggs, drink a load of water and have some veggies, carbs and little sodium to complete your meal. Something like this is perfect and quick. and you can look forward to it throughout your workout. Click the recipes section above for more clean meal ideas.
Grilled chicken breast salad with hummous

Fitness First Brighton

Thank you Fitness First Brighton for the personal training and the invitation to come and use the facilities. All the staff at the gym were friendly and helpful and one guy even let me stand on the power plates after he saw how amazed I was to see them in there! I thought they were only in the really expensive gyms?! They were weird anyway and make you feel like you are in a club that's playing gabba, I couldn't handle them! Apparently they shake off body fat ten times faster if you work out on them! 

The gym at 8pm was empty enough to feel like you had enough space to work out without feeling rushed, judged or cramped. The changing rooms were state of the art with very futuristic large lockers and the location is so central next to Brighton station you won't have far to hobble if you leave in the same state we did! Click here to see the full range of facilities 

Have you ever had a personal training session? What was it like for you? What do you like to eat before or after exercise? Talk to me in the comments below or hit me up on social media for more fit food and fun


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