• Crossfit Open 16.1

    The Crossfit Open workout 16.1 is out and it's not for the faint hearted.

    The first of five workouts throughout the open competition consisted of the following:

    • 20 minutes AMRAP (As many reps as possible)
    • 25ft Overhead Lunge (5ft per rep)
    • 8 burpees
    • 25-ft. overhead walking lunge
    • 8 chest-to-bar pull-ups
    • Men lunge 95 lb.
    • Women lunge 65 lb.

    One to watch, athlete Emily Abbott who took last years eighth place, completed a mighty 290 reps! 

    We spoke to our Personal Trainers competing in this year's games to see what they made of this year's first challenge.

    Personal Trainer Liam Scott, 26, from Crossfit Southeast Witham, has been training 6 times a week, rotating strength, skill and endurance as well as completing WODs (Workout of the Days) and previous open workouts in preparation for this years challenge. Liam gave himself a trial run competing in The Icon Online Championship last month, where he took 34th place. Prior to the games, he told us, “I’m excited for the open to get started and see what crazy stuff is in store for us over the next 5 weeks, preparations been going well!” We’re excited too Liam, so let's see how he got on with 16.1.

    “The moment I saw 16.1, I knew it would be a great test. Overhead walking lunges are a rather difficult exercise and with 42.5kg overhead, let’s just say it’s not going to get any easier. I watched Emily Abbott do the workout live via the Crossfit website which got me more excited” he said.

    There were 10 other athletes competing from Liam’s box, which created a great atmosphere with all the competitors spurring each other on.

    “When I noticed that the other guys were scaling down and using 30kg front rack lunges and only getting 6 rounds it made me more nervous about my turn, but on the beeps I started with my power snatch to get the 42.5kg above my head and the first 25ft walking lunges began. They were definitely the hardest part of the workout, but once I’d done 2 rounds I started to relax a lot more, like everything I’d been working towards was starting to come together.”

    When the clock struck Liam completed a whopping 205 reps, his legs were cramping and he even had to go outside in fear of being sick, but he didn’t give in. When we asked how he felt the rest of the day, he joked it “wasn’t too pleasant either”.

    In true macho competitor style Liam was chuffed to have beaten his best friend and coaches score, he told us he is “confident for the rest of the open” and is currently sitting around 600th in England. Watch this space with Liam, we have a feeling the best is yet to come.

    Our female athlete Beth, 42, is a Personal Trainer and a great lover of the outdoors, she has been Crossfit training for two years but this was the first open which she completed without scaling the workouts (well done Beth). At just over 5ft Beth has well and truly proved herself small and mighty.

    Crossfit 16.1

    She told us, “16.1 was a good workout for me. My first RX! The overhead lunges were not a problem nor the burpees. I have only just started being able to do chest to bar pull ups so these were the real challenge as Rounds progressed.” Despite having to go down to singles there was no stopping Beth and she gave it her all til the very last rep.

    “Overhead lunges are a challenging move for the shoulders and core primarily more than the legs, well in my case anyway. It was good to see them included.”

    Beth has proven that lifting heavy doesn’t make women bulky and has toned up and lost weight since starting her Crossfit training and following a healthy diet.

    “I never push myself over the edge...I'm too old now and it takes too long to recover” she joked. When we asked her about her aches, she rather modestly told us they “weren't too bad”. Clearly age is just a number because Beth could outperform women half her age and twice her height with her inspirational performance.

    Crossfit 16.1 has no age limit, whether you're 26 or 42, what the Crossfit open shows is if you’re prepared to work, it pays off. The diversity of entrants and spontaneity of the workouts are what makes the open so exciting. These Personal Trainers have proven they’ve got what it takes and we will be following their progress over the next few weeks of the competition. They’re ready, so bring on 16.2!

    If you want to try Crossfit yourself but are intimidated by the challenge why not scale down the workout and give it a try next time you're at the gym, without the pressure of competing.

    Posted by Victoria Gardner
  • Sleep vs Exercise

    “I can’t exercise late or I will be up all night”. True or False?

    Today we examine whether this is training fact or fiction. Many a time have I heard the excuse, “It’s too late now” and I personally don't exercise too late as best as I can avoid it as I don’t want to end up staring at my ceiling until the early hours of the morning, but according to research if I trained later I could be snoring before you can say “count sheep”.

    Running at Night

    The Myth: You can’t sleep after exercise

    Most people's theory behind this is the adrenaline rush from working out will keep you up for hours after a workout. It’s commonly believed you should avoid training before sleep like you would avoid Caffeine. Throughout the day, our body temperatures go up naturally and then fall back down at night. Our decreasing body temperature signals to the brain it’s time to go to sleep, which explains why we can stay up for hours on end on our holidays and yet in winter we are ready for our PJ’s within hours of our last mouthful of dinner. When you exercise it raises your body's temperature, this helps the body burn more calories and is why many thermogenic ‘weight loss pills’ (I use the inverted commas as I’m sceptical as to whether these actually contribute to any form of healthy weight loss) will raise the body's core temperature. After training the body’s temperature can be raised by as much as 2℃. This rise in body temperature can take up to 5 hours to drop back down depending on the intensity of your workout, the average time to cool down being about 3 hours. As we all know sleep is so important for our health, supporting recovery, cognitive function energy and, of course, mood, it is no wonder many of us have been avoiding late night sessions.

    Busted: Exercise helps sleep

    Research by The Journal of Sleep found that vigorous exercise late at night made no disturbance to the length or quality of sleep. Participants exercised vigorously for 35 minutes before they slept vs no exercise at all and found that they slept just as well when they were rested as they did when they had trained, in fact, the only difference was in the cardiac autonomic control of the heart during the first few hours of sleeping, the quality of their sleep did not change.

    Another study by The National Sleep Foundation found that exercise is good for sleep, regardless of the time of day. In fact according to their polls, 83% of people said they slept better when they exercised even if it was late at night, than those who didn’t. They came to the conclusion that exercise was good for your sleep no matter what form of exercise was done, when, or how. Researchers believe physical activity improves sleep by helping to reduce levels of stress and anxiety.

    The Myth: Exercise increases adrenaline which keeps you awake

    Busted. Exercise reduces stress hormones in the body such as cortisol and adrenaline. Research by Harvard Health also found that exercise stimulates the release of endorphins. These are chemicals released in the brain which work as natural painkillers and mood enhancers. It’s these feel-good endorphins which give you the post-exercise buzz rather than a shot of adrenaline. That’s also why you get a ‘runner's high’.

    Bottom line: It’s always a good time to workout!

    As long as you can fit it in, anytime is a good time to exercise and it should help you get to sleep as well. Chances are if you have difficulty sleeping, exercise isn't the culprit. Consistency is key with both sleep and exercise, get your body into a routine and you will be rewarded.

    Go for that run around the block before bed, swim yourself to sleep or book into that 9 pm class you’ve been avoiding. It’s not too late.
    Posted by Victoria Gardner
  • 10 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

    We all know exercise is good for us. We need to get fit. We need to stay healthy. We need to exercise to keep in shape. The message is drummed into us constantly. It’s like when your favourite song gets overplayed on the radio, eventually, you either get bored and stop listening or smash the radio before your ears bleed. Just me? Fine, I’m kidding, but the point remains, we’ve heard so many times how great exercise for us, most of us have probably zoned out. So, we’ve come up with 10 not-so-obvious reasons you should be lacing up and going for that run. Listen up.

    Unexpected Benefits of Exercise - TRX Training

    1. It could make your brain bigger

    A study published in journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise studied identical twins exercise and brain function. The more active twin was getting around 3 hours more exercise per week than their inactive counterpart. MRI scans found that there was more brain volume in the areas related to movement in those twins who were active. Other research conducted by The Journal of Alzheimer's disease concluded that regular physical exercise in the elderly improved their brain volume and improved cognition. It seems exercise is an intelligent choice.

    2. It wards off wrinkles

    Whether you like it or not, wrinkles are an inevitable part of the aging process. Short of spending a substantial wad of cash on anti-wrinkle creams or even botox, there aren't many ways wrinkles can be avoided, however, exercise can help. Aerobic exercise can help keep skin looking youthful as it promotes increased blood flow, which helps increase the rate of cell growth, natural oils and moisture in the skin, giving it a fuller appearance. So maybe you can exercise your way to pulling off 29 for another year or two?

    3. It can help you sleep better

    If you are one of the 1 in 3 thought to suffer from Insomnia in the UK exercise could be the answer (or creator) of your dreams. Research by The National Sleep Foundation found that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Research also found that one single moderate-intensity exercise session reduced the amount of time it took to fall asleep as well as increased its total duration. So next time swap your Nytol for a lap around the block before you hit the sack.

    Unexpected Benefits of Exercise - Running

    4. It improves your creative thinking

    We often hear, I'm just going for a run to ‘clear my head’ but in fact, regular physical exercise can help fill your head with creative ideas. Research by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that those who did regular exercise performed better on tests of creativity than their sedentary peers. Whilst you may not return from your jog the next Einstein, next time your have a metal block, fetch your trainers.

    5. It improves your sex life

    A study in the Journal of Human Sexuality found that women were more sexually responsive after just twenty minutes of vigorous exercise. Testosterone is also increased in both males and females when we exercise, this increase in testosterone not only helps us to get stronger, it also increases libido. More obviously, the more you exercise, the better you feel about yourself which in return enhances your sex drive. Plus, of course, exercise enhances stamina, need I say more? Let’s move on to reason 6 so my cheeks can return to a regular shade.

    6. It can earn you more money

    Could it be if you are disciplined enough with yourself enough to train, you’re more disciplined at work? Research conducted by The Journal of Labour Research found that those who partake in regular exercise (defined as 3 hours a week minimum) earn more money than those who are less active. The research concluded that those who regularly exercise earn a 9% higher salary. So that eliminates the gym’s ‘too expensive’ as an excuse doesn’t it?

    7. You are less likely to be depressed

    There are multiple studies that conclude exercise is an essential part of a recovery programme for those suffering from depression, taking control of their exercise and bodies gives sufferers the courage and strength needed to start gaining control over other areas of their lives and start to make a recovery. Exercise can also prevent depression in the first place. Research in the American Journal of Epidemiology studied 1947 subjects over a 5 year period and found that physical activity helped to prevent both prevalent depression and incident depression.

    8. You're more likely to inspire others

    Exercise can inspire others and not just when you're posting your #fitspo gym selfies online. Exercising is like dominoes, if people see you exercising and enjoying it they're more likely to be inspired to join you or even give it a go themselves! Even when you're not physically exercising, if people can see a positive and healthy change in your everyday life due to exercise, they're likely to try and achieve the same results themselves. Inspiring those around you can also lead to finding a new running partner or a gym buddy, plus, who doesn’t like to hear they’ve been somebody's ‘inspiration’? Take the compliment and bring them on your next run.

    Unexpected Benefits of Exercise - Gym

    9. It can improve your memory

    What was reason 9 again? I’ve forgotten… haven’t done my workout yet today! I’m messing, but exercise can seriously improve your memory. Research published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that aerobic training such as running or cycling increases the size of the Hippocampus, the part of the brain which is involved with verbal memory and learning. So don’t forget to go for that run later!

    10. It boosts your confidence

    Being physically fit can boost your self-esteem, and create a positive body image, but you don’t have to be in great shape for exercise to make you feel confident. Research findings from interviews conducted in the Journal of Health Psychology found that the act of exercise itself boosted confidence, rather than the participants actual level of fitness. The simple act of taking the time out of your day to do something positive for yourself promotes self-love and an increase in confidence. That explains the gym buffs posing in the mirror between sets then.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    Posted by Victoria Gardner