Interview with semi-professional Welsh weightlifter, Holly Roderick

Resistance training is fundamental to getting in shape and shedding excess weight, yet it’s an area of fitness training that many of us girls steer clear of. Maybe it’s because we are unsure of what to lift and how, or maybe because the weights section of the gym is quite often filled with grunting, sweaty guys posing in the mirror, but what many of us don’t know is that weight training has a plethora of health benefits. Resistance training helps to build muscle, shed fat, strengthen bones and your heart, and works as an amazing stress-reliever.

For Holly Roderick, fitness is a way of life. Having started competing in sport from the age of just 10 years old she has represented her county and country in a vast array of practises, from swimming and hockey to athletics and netball. Her newest love is for Crossfit and weightlifting, something which many girls are quite shy of. Now a semi-professional Welsh women’s weightlifter, Holly talks about how resistance training can benefit your body, mind and self-confidence.

1. When did your love for health and fitness start?

I have taken part in competitive sport for most of my life. From about the age of 10 I competed for Wales in athletics and also represented my county in swimming, hockey, rugby and netball. I also did gymnastics for a short while. I’ve studied a sports degree and took my personal health and fitness to the next level when I finished university in 2013.

2. How often do you train and what do you do?

I train 7 days a week; twice a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and once a day on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I train through Crossfit and weightlifting.

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3. For those who don’t know, what is Crossfit?

Crossfit is the sport of fitness, using constantly varied functional movement performed at a high intensity. It has 3 main elements  including cardio, gymnastics and weightlifting.
  • Cardio: running, swimming, rowing, skipping
  • Gymnastics: pull-ups, burpees, toes to bar , ring muscle-ups, bar muscle-ups and sit ups
  • Weightlifting: back squats, front squats, over head squats, all shoulder to overhead movements and Olympic lifts including the snatch and the clean and jerk.

4. What sort of foods do you eat to aid your training?

I eat a clean diet of 5 meals a day. All my meals contain carbs, protein and fats. Carbs are key!!

5. What are the benefits of weight training for girls?

Weight training can totally change the shape of a woman’s body and can give her curves and definition in places you didn’t know existed until you build muscle there. I think it also helps confidence and can make women feel equal to men in terms of physical ability. It gives women independence and it’s empowering being fit and strong, because now you can lift all those heavy boxes too! You don’t need a man to help you!

6. What advice do you have for girls who are looking to tone up for the summer?

My first bit of advice would be don’t think of it as toning up. Think of it as a benefit to your health and wellbeing before thinking about the physical benefits that you will gain.  Toning up is a thing of the past. Lift weights to get strong and look amazing. And my biggest bit of advice? Do not be scared to lift heavy weights or be in the weights area of the gym with the men. You belong there too. Strong is the new skinny!

Get lifting ladies!
What are your favourite weight training exercises?
Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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6 fitness classes you need to try in 2016

While January poses a fresh start and, for many, a time to start getting in shape ready to look like Kendall Jenner on our summer holiday, it can be a little difficult to drag yourself to the gym. Let’s be completely honest, slogging it out on the treadmill can be a complete snooze fest and in many cases the thought of it fills us with such dread that we decide against the idea completely.

Welsh Girl Fit is here to help! Gym classes are a great way to get you motivated and inspired, and you can use the personal trainer’s expert advice to get a full-body workout. There’s a class out there for everybody and today’s features 6 classes you need to try in 2016.

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1.Pole Fit

We’ve all been there – attempting to whirl ourselves around a pole (or lamppost) on a drunken night out in Cardiff – but did you know that pole dancing is an amazing way to keep fit and to really tone those arms and abs? In order to keep yourself from slipping down the pole you need a lot of arm strength and, most importantly, a solid core to keep you balanced when holding the moves. The benefits of pole fit are truly amazing!

What’s more, it’s really fun and a great way to get out with friends and keep fit in the process! South Wales’ “Pole Twisters” is a pole dancing and fitness school based in Cardiff. They host an array of classes for all genders, shapes and sizes, and if you’re not comfortable learning in the middle of a class you can have a workout at home. They bring the poles to you!

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2. Zumba

Zumba burst onto the fitness scene a few years ago and has since spread its booty shakin’ classes across 180 countries, with over 15 million people participating in classes worldwide. For those of you who don’t know Zumba is a dance fitness class mixing “low and high intensity moves” to get your blood pumping, calories burning and body grooving!

An instructor takes the stage at the front of the class teaching funky dance moves to chart-topping music. It’s like your classic aerobics class but incorporates fitness and cardio, muscle building, toning and even a little twerking to give you a total-body workout. Classes are available everywhere, so check out their website to find out when and where the Zumba-thon is in your area.

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3. BodyPump

Want to lift more weights but a little nervous to venture into this “male-dominated” area of the gym? BodyPump is the class for you! Using barbels and repeating muscle-based movements to the beat of the music, this class is perfect for ladies looking to tone up in 2016.

The exercises included in a BodyPump class are:

  • squats
  • deadlifts and rows
  • chest presses
  • clean and press (lifting the barbell from the ground to above the shoulders)
  • lunges and leg exercises
  • bicep curls and tricep dip

The class works every single muscle through repeating rep-combinations and moves to the beat. A recent study conducted by researchers at Sao Paolo University in Brazil and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested the actual effectiveness of the BodyPump program on the group most likely to try it, sedentary women. Breaking Muscle reports that “researchers concluded BodyPump classes were effective at increasing muscular strength and endurance and developing efficiency in movements and muscle activation”.

Still not convinced? It was confirmed in Fitness Research last year “that BodyPump has strong calorie and fat-burning effects and it improves aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance.” With expert instruction from trained instructors, you will leave with your legs feeling a little shaky after all the squats, but energised and ready to return next week nevertheless.

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4. Doga (aka. Doggie Yoga)

If you love dogs and you love yoga, then you’re definitely going to love this one! Doga brings dogs and yoga together to create a fitness class that’s perfect for you and your pampered pooch. With stretches that incorporate your doggy friend, you and your dog will leave the class feeling completely relaxed. I’m not entirely sure my dogs would behave and sit still for the whole class, especially when it’s supposed to be a calming, tranquil environment, but this looks like a lot of fun and keeps you fit in the process. After all, they don’t call it the downward-facing dog for nothing!

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5. HIIT

Great for blasting body fat and really working up a sweat, HIIT is high-intensity interval training and it does exactly as it says on the tin. Through short, sharp bursts of intense exercises, with even shorter rest periods this gets your heart rate to its maximum and burns more calories in less time! Yep that’s right, you don’t have to slog it out for hours on the treadmill to get maximum results.

“A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery,” Eric Salvador, head instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City, tells the Daily Burn.  “This afterburn effect is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.”

Think burpees and sprints combined with jump squats and mountain climbers and you’ll get the picture. Extremely intense but helping to boost metabolism and shed weight.

Photographer Credit : Ed Reeve

 

6. Hot Pod Yoga

Ahh, yoga… A gentle exercise we can all enjoy, with absolutely fantastic benefits for both the body and mind. Yoga tones your whole body, with specific focus on core strength, stability and balance, and helps to restore calm, clarity and tranquility to the mind through a series of stretches and with a little hint of self-love. But have you ever thought of doing Hot Pod Yoga?

Hot Pod Yoga teaches Vinyasa Yoga moves whilst taking in the warmth of an inflatable, 37oC heated pod. These pop-up studios can be found across England and Wales, and the heat helps to improve flexibility whilst making the heart work faster, so you tone up and burn calories too. Perfect for these cold Winter days!

What are your favourite fitness classes?
Let me know in the comments below!

 

New Year, New You: 7 resolutions you can actually achieve in 2016

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2016 already? What are your plans for the year ahead? Whether you’re one of those “New Year, New Me” people or not, the start of a new year is always the perfect opportunity to make some changes. Today’s post features seven New Year’s Resolutions you can actually live by. These tiny lifestyle changes will make a huge difference to your mind and body this year.

Drink more water
It’s simple. Water is absolutely key to living a healthy lifestyle and so good for you! It flushes out toxins, helps ease bloating, keeps your skin fresh, your mind active and it’s completely free. Fill up a water bottle before work/university each day and pop it into your bag to keep sipping on throughout the day. Avoid fizzy drinks and caffeine and see how much better you feel.

Sleep more
Now this is what you call a new year’s resolution! It’s so true that us ladies are always so caught up in our hectic schedules that we often end up burning the candle at both ends. Late nights and early mornings can result in us feeling super sleepy and rather grouchy, which isn’t good for you or those around you! Aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep a night and make the most of your day.

Get more “me” time
Whether it’s curling up on the sofa with a good book, grabbing your trainers and heading out for a run, having a hot bubble bath or splurging in the shops, make time for yourself this year and do more of what makes you happy. We’re always aiming to please everyone else and often forget about pleasing ourselves. At least once a week do something for you!

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Walk more
Avoid taking the tube and walk to the next stop, take the stairs instead of the elevator and use your legs instead of your car or bus. These tiny changes will eventually become second nature and will help to tone your butt and give you an extra boost of cardio in the process.

If you’re looking for something to keep you motivated as you walk then check out last week’s post all about the fitness trackers that will help you stay on track this year.

Practice yoga
Practicing yoga is so beneficial to the body and soul. Are you one of these people who spends the majority of their time planning, worrying and fretting over the never-ending to-do list in your head? Yoga combines stretching, breathing and meditating to relax and calm you whilst giving an all-body workout in the process. At the physical level, yoga comprises yoga postures or ‘asanas’ that tone and strengthen the body. The mental techniques include breathing exercises or ‘pranayama’ and meditation or ‘dhyana’ to discipline the mind.

Read more:  Importance Of Doing Yoga / Benefits of Yoga | Medindia http://www.medindia.net/yoga-lifestyle/yoga-importance.htm#ixzz3vf6WY4T6

How about setting yourself a little challenge and partaking in 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene? The American Yoga-enthusiast guides you through daily sessions to enhance your body and mind. Her videos are great for beginners! Namaste.

Spend less time on your phone
We’re all completely obsessed with social media these days. Constantly checking our phones to see how many people have liked our latest profile picture or status, waking up and scrolling through our Twitter feed like it’s the daily newspaper and spending an hour before going to sleep nosing aimlessly through our Facebook friends list for the latest (probably pointless) gossip. It’s unhealthy. Instead, read before bed or get up in the morning and head out for a walk. What’s more, turn off your technological devices and embrace the day. You’ll feel so much happier for doing it.

Get outside
Finally, get outside and appreciate the great outdoors. The beauty of the country we live in is often overlooked as we lust over travel accounts on Instagram. Head outside and breathe in the fresh air and take time to look at what’s around you. You never know what you may find hidden in your surroundings.

What are your new year’s resolutions?
Let me know in the comments below!

How to de-bloat after a festive feast

Raise your hand if you overdid it this festive season. *Raises hand in the air and shakes like I just don’t care* It seems that all of us have taken the “stuff it, it’s Christmas!” mantra a little too far this year and now we’re feeling extremely bloated and rather worried about fitting into that body con dress we bought last month for NYE.

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Welsh Girl Fit to the rescue! While you may need a small miracle to help undo the damage caused by that forty-seventh pig in blanket you devoured on Christmas Day, these top tips will help to beat the bloat in time for your NYE party…

1. Drink, drink, drink 
And by this I do not mean alcohol. Water is absolutely essential in helping to de-bloat after a big eat. When you don’t drink enough your body clings onto water resulting in your stomach looking swollen and bloated. Keep drinking to flush out those toxins and reduce bloating in the process, and add a slice of lemon for a little flavour.

2. Eat lots of fruit
Bananas, oranges, pineapple and berries are your best friends when it comes to easing the bloat. Pineapple is filled with enzymes to help with digestion and berries have antioxidants to help you feel fresh. Whip up a fresh fruit salad instead of opting for a turkey and stuffing roll this lunch time.

3. Check your portions
After over-doing it with the chocolate and Baileys, it’s really important to check your portion sizes in order to cut back on bloating. This Portion Guide by POP Sugar Fitness is great for keeping your meal sizes in check, and all you need to use is your hands! Also, remember there is a huge difference between being hungry and being bored.

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Photo Credit: POP Sugar Fitness

4. Work up a sweat
Go for a run or power walk around the block or have a quick home-workout blast featured in WGF’s previous post. Exercising will help you sweat out all the badness you’ve consumed this festive season and will leave you feeling so much better.

5. Have a good night’s sleep
After late nights of partying and staying up to binge-watch Christmas films with a glass of rosé in hand, it’s really important to get back into a regular sleeping pattern and to get your recommended 8 hours a night. Sleep helps to aid metabolism so put on your pjs and have an early night!

6. Do some yoga
Yoga is key to getting rid of that uncomfortable, swollen stomach that bloating causes. It helps to regulate your breathing and leaves you feeling calm, plus the twisting movements help to shift gas and aid in digestion. There is even evidence to suggest that yoga removes toxins to encourage bloating. Start with these de-bloating yoga poses by POP Sugar or check out Yoga With Adriene‘s video below.

What are your top tips for debloating?
Let me know in the comments below!

Quick workouts to keep in shape at Christmas

Home Style Holiday Workouts

Photo Credit: Flickr

With the Christmas festivities in full swing it can be hard to squeeze a workout into our hectic schedule. Gyms are closing for the holidays, the family is coming down to share the festive season and the fridge is filled with buffet food, turkey and mince pies – not to mention the sweetie cupboard!

Today’s post is all about mini-workouts which you can do anywhere and at any time. Heck, you don’t even have to change out of your pjs! Just drag yourself away from the tin of Quality Streets and off the sofa for these fab workout regimes created by some of the best blogger/vloggers in the business.

Blogilates – SNOWBUNNY BLAST WORKOUT

Pilates instructor and creator of POP Pilates, Cassey Ho, has been practising pilates for the past 10 years. She shares homestyle workout videos,  printable workout series and calendars and recipes and meal-plans on her blog and YouTube channel, Blogilates, which has over 2.7 million subscribers.

This SNOWBUNNY BLAST workout is an intense fat-blaster with lots of cardio to really work up a sweat; with mini-runs, mountain climbers and the dreaded burpees this will get your heart racing!

Carly Rowena – BUTT TONEUP WORKOUT

For YouTuber and personal trainer, Carly Rowena, working out is all about looking good and feeling great! Carly shares lots of motivational videos about living a healthy lifestyle as well as mini-workouts that really work different parts of the body to help you get toned and fit.

This video is all about getting that boot-ay in shape! Carly guides you through this easy workout with squats, lunges, donkey kicks and box jumps to tone, lift and shape your butt. Weights are used in the video, but if you don’t have access to a gym or have no weights to hand at home then body weight should be just fine.

Tone It Up – HOLIDAY HUSTLE WORKOUT

Best friends and business partners Karena and Katrina set up Tone It Up to inspire girls to live a fit and healthy lifestyle whilst working out with friends. They have an enormous following from across the globe and have been featured in an array of fitness magazines including Women’s Health, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.

This HOLIDAY HUSTLE workout is all about toning the whole body through using pulsing movements, squats, kicks and dips. All you need is yourself and a coffee table or chair/sofa. Be sure to hashtag #TIUTeam on Instagram if you do this workout!

What are your favourite home workouts?
Let me know in the comments below!

Three must-have gadgets for fit girls

A walk-in wardrobe filled with fitness gear to rival that of Khloe Kardashian’s; an unlimited supply of MAC lipsticks; and the ability to eat all the carbs in the world without putting on a single pound – that’s every girl’s Christmas wish list for 2015. But let’s get realistic. If there’s one thing that you should add onto this year’s wish list it’s a fitness gadget.

Whether it’s something to count calories, monitor your heartbeats or track your workouts, fitness gadgets are the next big thing. With so many varieties to choose from, they can really help to keep you focused, motivated and on track, especially if you’re new to fitness and are in need of a little extra drive. I’ve tried and tested three of the must-have gadgets out at the moment, and here are my thoughts.

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 Jawbone UP Fitness Tracker | RRP. £99

The Jawbone UP is a personal favourite of mine. I received this for Christmas last year and have worn it pretty much every day since. Through using a wristband gadget with world class sensors and connecting the wristband to an app on your phone, you can monitor your sleep, steps, distance walked and workouts; it really is your very own personal trainer.

The Jawbone has two settings – day and night – which both monitor completely different things. In the day it monitors your steps and movement, calculating how many calories you burn through moving and resting. If you workout within this time, such as go to the gym and lift weights or go for a run or swim, you can add this to your movements of the day via the app by selecting “Add Workout”.

From there you can choose what sport you did (there are so many to choose from), for how long and for what intensity (ranging from Easy to GUT BUSTER!). This then estimates how many calories you would have burned in that time based on your weight and height, and adds it to your total for the day. I will emphasise though that this is an estimate. I wouldn’t say that it’s completely accurate, though it is really great to see how hard you’re working. It has even motivated me to go running or walking in order to reach my daily steps target!

As for the night setting, all you have to do is sleep. The wristband will monitor how well you snooze throughout the night and you can check the next morning via syncing it to the app. After all, sleep is key to a healthy body and mind.

WELSH GIRL FIT STAR RATING: ★★★★
Great for every day use and really motivational as you can track your progress as it happens. The only downfall would be that it’s not completely accurate when counting calories from your workouts and you have to check the app for stats.

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MyZone Physical Activity Belt | RRP – £100 (approx.)

This is possibly the best fitness gadget I’ve bought this year and one that I couldn’t be without! My local gym signed up to MyZone a few years ago, which meant members of the gym to buy a MyZone Effort Monitor Belt to wear during workouts. You register the belt online and it works as a heart monitor and calorie counter in the same way that any other heart monitors do. The belt is worn just under your chest with an adjustable strap to cater it to your size. It is really tight and secure so stays for the duration of your workout.

The gym then provides a MyZone Facility. You sync your belt to the Facility via Bluetooth and the Facility then displays and stores the data so you can see how hard you’re working both during and after a workout. For example, in my gym there are big screens that show how hard people are working (as shown in the picture below) and as it is tailored individually to a person’s height, weight, gender and resting heart rate you get an accurate, real-life interpretation. This is a great way to push yourself and to have a little healthy competition between your friends and fellow fitness lovers!

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The MyZone Fitness Board displays how hard you’re working out.

After your workout MyZone will send you an email with a full breakdown of how hard you worked. From there you can log into the MyZone centre online and see how hard other members of the gym are working, and even compete in challenges both within the gym and against other MyZone gyms across the country!

I’ve found that having a MyZone belt has really motivated and inspired me. Whilst working out I can look at the screen and if I see that I’m only working at 80% then I push myself to work harder and to get into that red 90% effort zone!  It also has made me realise what exercises work best for me and what machines I should use/classes I should attend in order to burn the most calories and to really work up a sweat.

The only downfall was that this was only available to gyms that are signed up to MyZone. I believe my gym at the Carmarthen Leisure Centre is the only fitness facility in the whole of Wales to offer it, but now there is a new Physical Activity belt so you can use it and sync to your account online anywhere and at any time! I’m yet to use this one, but it’s on my Christmas wish list. This means you don’t have to be bound to a fitness club and can upload anywhere and at any time via your smartphone, and can monitor your workout as it happens too.

WELSH GIRL FIT STAR RATING: ★★★★★
I would have given the MyZone Effort Monitor a 4-star, just because it was only available to those at participating gyms. However, as it is now available to anyone anywhere, I have no option but to give it a 5-star rating. An absolute must-have for all gym-goers and something I could not live without!

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Fit Bit Charge | RRP – £92.99

The FitBit Charge works in a similar way to the Jawbone UP, by tracking your activity and sleep, but it also tracks the floors climbed (i.e. how many stairs you walk up in a day) and your active minutes. You can even set it to notify you when you have incoming phone calls and set alarms throughout the day, and it has a screen to display your stats whenever you want them. I really like this as you have an instant result and don’t have to use your phone to check each time you want an update.

One problem though is that these don’t seem to be as durable as the other gadgets in today’s post. My boyfriend, Dan, has actually gone through two of these wristbands in the past year. However, when he emailed FitBit their customer service team were extremely competent and sent over new wristbands immediately. I think with a lot of TLC, and perhaps not wearing it to bed, they should last longer.

WELSH GIRL FIT STAR RATING: ★★★★
With instant display, increased battery life and the ability to track all activity throughout the day, this is a great gadget gift. Just be careful  when wearing to ensure its longevity.

Admittedly, these gadgets are a little pricey, but a one off purchase can help you keep motivated, be inspired and whip yourself into shape! Plus, it’s a great way to spend your Christmas money on. Let’s be honest, whilst an unlimited supply of MAC lipsticks would be delightful, these are far more practical and durable and gifts that you won’t end up losing on a night out with friends!

What are your favourite fitness gadgets?
Let me know in the comments below!

Christmas Cocktail Calorie Counter

December is here and the Christmas festivities are in full swing with turkey, chocolates and Baileys galore – not great if you’re trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle over the festive period. With work parties, family gatherings and nights out with friends it can be difficult to stay on track during December, but one way you can be sure to keep (ever so slightly) to your health and fitness regime is by watching what you drink at Christmas parties.

We all love a Christmas party. It’s the one time of year we can really let our hair down, and it’s always great seeing the usually shy and retiring Sharon from Accounts getting drunk and breaking out the worm on the dance floor. But have you ever stopped to think just how much sugar, fat and calories you’re consuming on a night out?

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The NHS Live Well website states that in a large glass of wine there’s enough calories to rival a chocolate bar, and drinking a pint of lager means you consume the same amount of calories as eating a bag of crisps. What’s more, after a heavy night of drinking we often opt for a greasy, fat-filled fry-up for breakfast instead of our usual porridge or fruit and yoghurt, which can add up to 450kcal onto what we consumed the night before. You can use the NHS’ Drinks Checker (also available in a smartphone app) to calculate just how much you consume whilst on a big night out. I did this after a night out in Cardiff recently, and it’s quite a sickening result.

WELSH GIRL FIT FACT: There are seven calories a gram in alcohol. That’s almost as much calories per gram as full fat!

Drink Aware describe the calories in alcohol as “empty calories” – they have no nutritional value – so watching what you drink is super important if you’re trying to watch the waistline. This post doesn’t aim to completely stop you drinking alcohol forever; it’s just a gentle reminder to be aware of what you’re drinking and to “think before you drink” when following a healthy regime. It’s about keeping everything in moderation, after all.

So what’s the best cocktail to choose when wanting to keep in shape at the Christmas party?
Cocktails and Calories_ How much are you drinking?

Looks like a Sazerac cocktail takes the top prize. In a time where turkey and cranberry sandwiches and family biscuit selection boxes are in abundance, this is one way to keep on track this Christmas!

What’s your go-to party drink? Has this post changed your mind?
Let me know in the comments below!