• Sally O'Sullivan - Personal Trainer and Ambassador

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    After experiencing some inspirational fitness classes, Sally qualified as a personal trainer so she could help others have the same magical experience she did. She talks to Sundried about her journey.

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start? 

    I trained as a dancer from the age of three until I went to university. In fact, it was very nearly my career, but I didn't want to be forced to retire at 30! I rediscovered fitness in my late 20's after experiencing some truly inspirational - I'd even say magical - classes in London. One or two instructors have been pivotal in my motivation by showing me just what a journey a fitness class can be - physically and mentally. The highs, the lows, the excitement, the emotion - all condensed into one hour. It's both a talent and a finely-honed skill, and I knew I wanted to be able to deliver that… one day! 

    If you are interested in starting your fitness journey, Sundried's kit is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned athletes. Check out our Active Life Collection today.

    What are your training goals now? 

    Firstly, I've rediscovered my love for running and have joined a challenge with an online (at the moment, due to lockdown) running club called Force Velocity Running. Through live, guided runs, we're remotely but collectively running the distance from Big Ben in London to Ushuaia in Ibiza. There's a bit of friendly competition as we're split into teams and it's a lovely, supportive and very motivating community to be part of. 

    Secondly, I've been doing CrossFit for a couple of years now and although we can't be physically in our amazing box - TIO CrossFit right now, it's always there as a backbone to both my training and my life in general. Again, it's a community thing; I've made some of my best friends there, but of course we do also set goals! Both of my CrossFit goals for this year are strength-related - getting after a 1.5 x bodyweight squat and 1.25 x bodyweight clean and jerk!

    What sporting events have you taken part in and what have you got coming up? 

    Aside from the running challenge I’m currently doing, I plan to do the CrossFit Open again this year. It’ll be a little different as most people haven’t had access to their gyms as usual, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out. Even the thought of those workouts makes me nervous. Good nervous though! 

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you: 

    I once briefly met Simon Cowell and he told me I was 'gobby'. Still makes me laugh to this day, as that's a proper insight to the 'real' Sally that he saw immediately. Anyone who knows me knows that day-to-day, I'm polite and courteous, a good listener, and generally very British - in the best sense. But he saw through to my cheekiness in the blink of an eye. Was that talent or a lucky guess?! 

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out? 

    When you get knockbacks, take a big, deep breath, pick yourself up and just keep putting one foot in front of the other - literally and figuratively! It can be really hard when something you had your heart set on doesn't work out. But experience has taught me that every single time, the alternative door that opens is a much better route for you. Things do work out for the best, naturally, in the end. And you will be a more rounded, resilient, confident person for having gone through those pitfalls and come out the other side.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat? 

    My first PT educated me well about nutrition and how to eat for my shape and size. I'm tiny but I have a huge appetite so it's just as well that I'm very active. In the past, I've followed super-clean, super-regimented plans and got very lean, but these days I'm more focused on fuelling correctly and being able to live a full life which includes alcohol and cookies!

    Now that I'm trainer myself, I also want to lead by example for what I think is healthy. My current nutrition is very balanced with roughly equal amounts of carbs, proteins and fats and I eat three meals and two snacks a day - the 'little and often' approach definitely works best for me. I do eat meat and fish. And cookies! 

    What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated? 

    When it comes to classes, I find variety is the best way to keep things fresh and engaging, and that goes for me as a trainer too. If I'm bored coaching something, then you can bet my clients would be! I also don't believe in lazy programming and think clients can see though that. I could be wrong, of course, but I've stopped going to instructors myself in the past because it was the same old stuff and guess what? I got bored.

    Of course, there need to be some constant threads running through programming to ensure progression and that you're not just zigzagging aimlessly through movements with no direction. None of us would reach our goals if that was the case! But my top tip would be to find a trainer who can balance your progression with fun and variety and who can keep things interesting. 

    Talk us through your training regime. 

    Right now, I'm strength training five times a week, although each day has a different focus/body part. I'm also running 3-4 times a week as part of this challenge and I'm going to count sleeping as part of my training at the moment, since I seem to be getting record hours in. Lockdown does have its perks!

    When the world starts reopening, I'll be chomping at the bit to get back to my CrossFit box: TIO CrossFit in Barnes, London.

    To hear more from our ambassadors and get free tips on workout plans and more, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.

    Posted by Aimee Garnett
  • Getting Started In CrossFit

    Weightlifting shoes training gym

    CrossFit is more than just a sport, it's a community and a way of life. This guide will be your one-stop manual for getting into CrossFit for the first time and will cover everything from snatches to WODs to poods and everything in between.

    You don't have to be fit to get started

    This is probably the most important thing to note. A lot of people will put off trying a new sport or hobby for fear of being too unfit. CrossFit is accessible to everyone thanks to their scaled workouts. Whether you're unfit or have a disability, there's something for everyone. Don't let your nerves or insecurities hold you back and just dive straight in.

    You will sweat and cry a lot

    CrossFit is a notoriously tough sport. They don't crown the CrossFit Games champions as the Fittest On Earth for nothing! You have to have the motivation and the right attitude before you start. It has to be your decision and you have to own it; if you've been coaxed into it by someone else you'll be starting with the wrong attitude and you'll find it way harder than it needs to be. Be ready to sweat a lot and cry a lot, but reap the benefits and rewards at the end of a tough WOD. 

    Find a local CrossFit gym, known as a 'Box'

    If you really want to dive straight in and hit this sport hard, finding your local CrossFit gym will help you get there. A CrossFit gym is known as a box and there are affiliates all over the world. You can find your local box through an internet search or by checking out affiliates on the official CrossFit website. A box will have all the proper CrossFit-specific equipment that you need, as you may not get a full workout at a commercial gym. Getting professional advice by an accredited trainer will also stop you from developing bad habits and will be available to give you advice along the way.

    However, you don't have to join a box to be able to practice CrossFit. They can come with expensive memberships and you'll have to do a foundation course before you can participate in the classes. A commercial gym will have most of the equipment you need, and some people even just train out of a garage. Use what you have and don't feel like you're missing out just because you're not a member of an exclusive club or gym.

    outdoor strength training

    Know the jargon

    There's a lot of sport-specific terminology used in CrossFit which you won't have come across before. Knowing what people are talking about is important if you want to join in on discussions about performance, and so that you know what workout you should be doing! Here are the basics:

    WOD - Workout Of the Day. A daily workout published on the CrossFit website which CrossFitters all over the world will tackle and post their results to the public forum. A WOD is also a general term to refer to any CrossFit workout. 

    Pood - This is a Russian term which is a unit of measurement equalling just over 16kg. It is generally used for kettlebell workouts.

    Rx - This is the prescribed way a workout should be completed, with set weights and times/reps. If you Rx a WOD, it means you completed it exactly how it was written. Alternatively, you can 'scale' a workout which might involve reducing the weights or swapping out an exercise. The CrossFit community is one of acceptance and inclusion, so scaling a workout is never anything to be ashamed of.

    MetCon - Short for Metabolic Conditioning. This is typically a workout that doesn't involve heavy lifts, and consists more of a body weight circuit style workout. There is also a very popular CrossFit shoe by Nike called the 'MetCon'. 

    Double Under - This is a movement in skipping whereby the rope passes under your feet twice before they hit the ground. It's a tough movement and you won't be able to do it straight away without practice.

    Practise the lifts

    CrossFit is unique as it involves so many different physical disciplines: gymnastics, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, rope climbing... you name it, CrossFit will have you doing it! CrossFit will train you as a well-rounded athlete and with the right dedication you will develop unrivalled fitness. Think triathlons are impressive? Pro CrossFitters do Ironman triathlon as a warm up!

    However, this can be overwhelming to a beginner. The only way to improve is to practise! If you go into the sport expecting to be perfect at it straight away, you'll be left feeling frustrated. CrossFit adopts a lot of really technical moves that athletes will spend their whole lives perfecting. Take your time and practise the exercises that you find the toughest. Scale a workout if you need to and take it easy. Some of the more difficult moves include things like handstand push ups, double unders, rope climbs, and weightlifting moves like the clean & jerk and the snatch. Learn these moves properly from scratch before trying to incorporate them into WODs and build yourself up slowly and gradually.

    Know the stars of the sport

    The CrossFit Games is the annual pinnacle of the CrossFit calendar. It's the event in which the fittest athletes in the world will congregate and compete to be crowned Fittest On Earth. As with most sports, there are star players, but CrossFit is open to anyone in the qualification stages so often there are rookie competitors too.

    Mat Fraser

    Fraser is the athlete to watch and is the proud holder of the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He is four-time winner of the games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), equalling Rich Froning's record. He's competed in the games since 2014 and has proven how hungry he is for the sport and to be recognised as the fittest man on earth. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts and it really shows. 

    Mat Fraser CrossFit Games Winner 2019

    Rich Froning

    Until Fraser won his fourth consecutive games in 2019, Froning held the record for winning the games the most amount of times, having claimed the title four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. He has won over $1 million in prize money from his wins and is sponsored by global sports brands like Reebok, Rogue Fitness, and Oakley. He is renowned in the sport and partly retired after his 2014 win. He now competes in the team events with his team Mayhem Freedom who are reigning team champions. 

    Rich Froning CrossFit athlete

    Dave Castro

    While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year and it was at his family ranch in 2009 that the first ever CrossFit Games took place. His personality gets him mixed reviews and some even claim he has 'ruined' the sport. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important figures in CrossFit and it's him you will see on the floor announcing the next WOD in the Games and mixing with all the athletes. 

    Dave Castro CrossFit games host

    Katrin Davidsdottir

    Davidsdottir is one of three Icelandic powerhouses who dominate the female side of the sport. She has won the games twice, 2015 and 2016, after a mental setback in 2014. She was originally a track athlete and gymnast and her sporting background has clearly stood her in good stead for CrossFit glory.

    Katrin Davidsdottir CrossFit athlete

    Sara Sigmundsdóttir

    Despite never actually winning the games, Sara is a leading figure in the sport of CrossFit. Sponsored by Nike, she is another of the Icelandic dynamos and has a very likeable personality making her the perfect CrossFit athlete to watch. She unfortunately suffered a bad injury during the 2018 games which caused her to withdraw and she continued to struggle in 2019. Only time will tell if she will be able to recover enough to challenge Tia-Clair Toomey's title.

    Sara Sigmundsdottir CrossFit athlete

    Tia-Clair Toomey

    Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who represented her country in the 2016 Olympics only a few weeks after appearing at the CrossFit games. With her background in lifting, she is a strong competitor and now has three consecutive CrossFit Games wins to her name – 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is now the one to beat and is sure to train as hard as possible to hold on to her title. 

    Tia Clair Toomey CrossFit Champion

    Follow the WODs

    Each day, a new WOD is released on the CrossFit website. CrossFitters from around the globe are invited to have a go, Rx'd or scaled, and post their results in the forum. Some WODs are for time, some for reps, some for rounds. The beauty of CrossFit is how varied the workouts are and you never know what you're going to get. You have to be ready for anything, from a heavy lifting session to a gruelling run, which is why it conditions your fitness so well. Have a go at any of the WODs that are published and compare your results to others so you can see where you stand.

    The biggest WODs in the CrossFit arsenal are the Hero Workouts. Each workout is named after a member of the armed forces who died in combat and they are always notoriously tough workouts. Some of the most renowned are Murph, DT, and Fran, with true enthusiasts marking their territory by asking newbies "What's your Fran time?" All this means is how long did it take you to complete this particular workout. All of the Hero Workouts can be found on the CrossFit website and traditionally one is always completed on Memorial Day in the US. 

    kettlebell training CrossFit workout

    The CrossFit Games

    The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of the CrossFit year. Held every August in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, the games showcase the best of the best and pit the top athletes from around the world against one another to claim the title of Fittest On Earth.

    The CrossFit Games have various unique aspects which set them apart from other annual sporting events (such as the Tour de France for cycling or Wimbledon for tennis). First, the events for the games are only announced that day and none of the athletes know what to expect. This keeps the element of surprise and means that athletes have to train everything and stay well-rounded rather than knowing what events are going to be included and only training for them. It also means that the events are more fair as some athletes are better at heavy lifting, some better at cardio, and some better at gymnastics.

    Another unique aspect of CrossFit (which we love) is that in many events the men and women compete together. In some cases, the women beat the men, proving that women are equal to men in physical capability. Events like the Tour de France which do not even have a female version could take note. For example, in the 2019 CrossFit Games, individual event 9 was a swim-paddle consisting of a 1,000m swim followed by a 1,000m paddle. Ten men and ten women took part and the overall winner was a woman, Tia-Clair Toomey, who beat all 10 of the fittest men on earth in this particular event. 

    CrossFit Games

    So you want to try CrossFit

    CrossFit can get a bad rap by some people, usually bodybuilders who have never tried a CrossFit WOD and don't understand what it's all about and just follow what other people say. CrossFit is an awesome sport as it is totally inclusive and everyone encourages one another to succeed. It is open to anyone and you could even be the next champion if you work hard enough. 

    So, get started! Study the WODs, learn the lingo, watch the Games, and get involved. You will be amazed at how fun it is and how incredibly fit you will get in a short amount of time. Have fun!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Difference Between CrossFit Shoes And Training Shoes

    CrossFit Training Weights Barbell Trainers

    It seems a little insane how much the correct pair of shoes can change your workout, but if anyone has taught us that a pair of shoes can flip your entire situation over completely it’s Cinderella.

    According to a study from the American College of Sports Medicine, 85% of individuals are using the incorrect shoes when they go out on a run. For the easiest way to avoid injuries and help boost your workouts, why not try getting professionally fitted for your shoes?

    The Importance of Wearing Proper Shoes

    Let’s start off with something a little simpler, walking shoes compared with running shoes. It turns out that by wearing the incorrect shoes for your run, you could end up with extremely serious injuries.

    The reason behind this is that when you walk, the weight is far better spread out on your feet than when you run. This is because your weight is more concentrated on your heels and they need to be able to absorb two to three times of your total body weight.

    Walking shoes are designed to be more flexible, allowing for greater comfort during your evening walkabouts. However, running shoes are a lot sturdier and are designed to take much more pressure, thereby aiding in the protection against knee injuries.

    These include knee dislocations, which I have experienced, or ankle tears, tears in your muscles or tendons, and even injuries to the bones themselves.

    Which Shoes Should You Use and When?

    With so many benefits to choosing the correct shoe, you may be wondering if you need a specific shoe for your CrossFit workouts as well. The answer to that is yes, you do.

    When engaging in complex moves that require a lot of balance, CrossFit-specific shoes will aid in helping you to maintain your form. They will also help ensure that you have a higher level of protection when performing the workout and thereby reduce the risk of injury.

    They provide the necessary support to your body, particularly to your joints such as your knees and ankles during your workouts, which is essential when ensuring the longevity of your health and safety against injury.

    They are built to endure many, many CrossFit workouts whereas your average walking or running shoe may give out underneath the pressure and they are therefore a better investment of your time and money.

    Tough Workout Squat Overhead Shoulders Strong

    Added Benefits of Wearing Proper Shoes

    A further benefit of wearing the correct shoes for the correct activity is that you will then be guaranteed to utilise your energy potential better thereby having more effective, efficient, and longer workouts with greater performance.

    You can do that by wearing CrossFit shoes for CrossFit or running shoes for running workouts. A further benefit to wearing CrossFit shoes for working out or weightlifting is that they are more beneficial to supporting you than walking or running shoes.

    Now you may be wondering what the main benefits of running shoes are, especially stacked against the comparative advantages of CrossFit shoes. Running shoes, especially those with soft mid soles, have an extra ability to protect you against the varied surfaces which you run upon.

    The softer the midsole of your shoe is, the better cushioning you will have against the varied surfaces you are exposed to. However, the softest ones wear out within a few months.

    Foot Injuries From Wearing Improper Shoes

    If you are worried about knee injuries, having a proper running shoe is essential as overpronation or the act of turning your foot inside as you run increases the likelihood of your knee dislocation. Other problems linked to turning in of your foot are shin splints, foot ailments such as bunions, and plantar fasciitis.

    The other problem with foot placement, is when you push your foot too far outward as you run, known as supination this accentuates stress upon on your joints, muscles and tendons.

    Furthermore, running with this form increases the likelihood of knee injury. Apart from that, running with the correct running shoes will also provide greater grip against a variety of surfaces and aid with protection against the various elements.

    What About Fashion?

    Finally, you may find yourself wondering about something that only really runs across your mind once you enter the fitness apparel store or surf for options online - shoe style.

    Well, you will be more than happy to know that both running shoes and CrossFit shoes are made for the style conscious gym-goers in mind. They usually need something that is both functional and gorgeous enough to motivate them to want to get into the gym.

    CrossFit Shoes

    If you’re wondering what the best rated CrossFit shoes are, here are some of the best. Nike Romaleo 3 and New Balance Men MX409V3 Cross Trainers are great options if you are hoping to get the most investment per dollar spent. If, however, you are hoping to make a long term investment and are looking to spend a little more, then there is the Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0 or the 7.0. 

    Running Shoes

    Moving on here are some great running shoes for your consideration, one on the lower end of the price spectrum is the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3, or the Hoka One One Challenger ATR3 and for the fashionable out there how about the Brooks Ravenna 8 or perhaps Reebok OSR Harmony Road.

    Barefoot Shoes

    Barefoot running and training is a growing trend as it promises to prevent injury and strengthen muscles that are usually neglected. By training in barefoot shoes, your feet are closer to the ground and therefore you gain a slight power advantage in your lifts.

    Barefoot shoes can be great for CrossFit as they provide a stable base and you will be able to feel the floor beneath your feet which is great for stability in heavy lifts. Not only this, they're very versatile so you can then do rope climbs in your barefoot shoes, transition to a quick run, and then transition to skipping or jumping.

    Now, For the Workout

    You may be wondering which type of workout is best for you, what type of physical exercise will motivate you and engage you, what activity best suits your unique preferences and personality, well there is a test for that.

    You do not have to limit yourself to one type of activity or simply the sports or methods of training that everyone around you is doing. As an individual, you can benefit from trying something different.

    Who knows CrossFit might just be the best thing ever for you? Therefore, when planning on beginning an undertaking such as CrossFit, make sure to invest in the correct tools and clothing for that particular fitness niche to protect yourself during the activity and to have the most effective workout with the greatest amount of energy conservation as possible. Therefore, I humbly decree it is time to go shoe shopping! I know I can’t wait.

    About the author: Sarah writes for Kicks Choice. She is passionate about workout activities and she puts great importance on maintaining leg and foot health as well.

    Guest author crossfit training shoe expert running

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • CrossFit Shoes

    CrossFit shoes

    CrossFit is a complex sport that involves multiple different disciplines within one workout. One minute you might be doing box jumps, next you’re doing double unders, then you’re throwing weights above your head doing clean and jerks before having to run a mile.

    As such, it can be tough to know which shoes to wear. You can’t run in lifting shoes but it’s not great trying to lift in running shoes. That’s where CrossFit shoes come into play. We take a look at what makes a great CrossFit shoe and some of the best on the market.

    What are CrossFit shoes?

    If you’re serious about CrossFit, you should be wearing CrossFit shoes. CrossFit shoes differ from other training shoes as they are specially-designed to have a solid sole for lifting, but are flexible enough to run in and as such are suitable for the versatility of this sport.

    Tom McBride, Sundried ambassador and owner of a CrossFit box in Hawaii says, “You want something that is comfortable to run in, but offers a hard enough sole to allow a solid platform when weightlifting. On one end of the spectrum you have weightlifting shoes which you would never want to run, jump rope, or do much lateral movement in. They are very stiff, heavy, and have a wide base. Running shoes on the other hand are very light, and sometimes have very squishy or even air-padded soles. These would never last in weightlifting and could cause potential injury. CrossFit is about being well-rounded, and the shoes are no different.”

    CrossFit shoes athletic wear

    How To Choose CrossFit Shoes

    Now that CrossFit is gaining more popularity, CrossFit shoes are becoming more prevalent among mainstream brands. Some of the most popular CrossFit shoes on the market are those made by Reebok and Nike. Reebok is the name sponsor of CrossFit and so naturally have a high stake in the market. Nike are one of the biggest sports retailers in the world and sponsor such high profile CrossFit athletes as Sara Sigmundsdottir and Mat Fraser. If you choose CrossFit shoes from either of these brands, you know you’re going to get a good product.

    When it comes to quality, Tom says, “The best test to see if a shoe will last is to climb a rope in the shoe. I've seen brand new shoes disintegrate after a few proper rope climbs. Run, jump, lift weights, play sports, and just be athletic in the shoe. If they can do all of those things well, they're probably just fine.”

    workout fitness CrossFit strong

    Best shoes for CrossFit

    Nike Metcon

    The Nike Metcon is one of the most popular CrossFit shoes on the market. Both Sara Sigmundsdottir and Mat Fraser are ambassadors for this shoe and it stands up to the test.

    Read our Nike Metcon 3 review for a full in-depth analysis of this popular CrossFit shoe.

    Nike Metcon Crossfit shoes 

    Reebok Nano

    Reebok is CrossFit’s official partner and as such a lot of dedicated CrossFit athletes will swear by this brand no matter what. The Nano is Reebok’s answer to Nike’s MetCon and it’s a fair contender.

    The Reebok CrossFit Nano features Reebok’s signature ‘NanoWeave’ technology, which is a synthetic construction designed to promote breathability, durability, and flexibility in the shoe. The entire shoe is encased by a full rubber outsole which creates fantastic traction for your lifts. Costing a shade under £100, it’s a fair price for this technical shoe and you can be sure to trust in their ability.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Things You'll Only Understand If You've Tried CrossFit

    CrossFit overhead squat WOD workout

    CrossFit is more than just a way of training, it's a way of life. Anyone who's tried it will know what a special community it is, and how different it is from anything they've tried before. Here are 5 things only CrossFitters will understand.

    1. You ache in places you never even knew you had

    CrossFit is notoriously tough. It is a mix of several different training principles, and as such works the entire body in ways you never knew it could. After your first CrossFit session, you have more than just the usual aches and walking up stairs is probably a no-go for a few days!

    2. Putting your all into a WOD is strangely enjoyable

    Lifting heavy has a great feeling of accomplishment, but completely wrecking yourself by completing a chipper or a metcon has a feeling all of its own. Lying in a sweaty heap on the floor knowing you've left it all out there is an amazing feeling, and you know you'll be fitter and healthier for it too.

    CrossFit WOD workout training box gym

    3. Training in a supportive community makes a huge difference

    Training with a gym buddy or doing a standard class is great fun, but it really doesn't compare to throwing yourself around a box, chucking weights above your head, and being cheered on by fellow CrossFit enthusiasts who want nothing more than for you to succeed. Getting a PB never felt so good.

    4. Handstands are much harder than they seemed as a kid

    You loved doing handstands as a kid, but somehow you never realised how much it kills the shoulders! Handstand push-ups are something you really want to master, but it's far more technical than you thought and after a while all that blood rushing to your head isn't ideal!

    Crossfit workout healthy active gym

    5. You've never felt better

    If you're a keen CrossFitter, chances are you already tried other training types like bodybuilding, powerlifting, or cardio. While all of those are great ways of training, you've never felt better than since you've been into CrossFit. You're stronger than ever, but your cardiovascular fitness is also better than ever, and you feel like you can achieve anything. That is the beauty of CrossFit.

    CrossFit workout sweaty metcon chipper

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
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