I was never a runner. Yes, I know I am a qualified PT but I have never been able to run. A few weeks in to starting at Gymshark, Gymshark Running Club (GSRC) was set up. Put simply, I did not want to go; however, as the newbie, I thought it would be an opportunity to make some new friends. I reluctantly dragged myself there one Monday night and struggled with 2.5K.

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I decided I was never going back. 

The following week I went back.

I was annoyed at myself and adamant that I could do better. I thought back to when I first started weight training and how awful I was at that. If I could go from using 2KG dumbbells to bench-pressing almost body weight, I could run 2.5K.

That session I ran 2.5K. 

After I hit my first little milestone, I was hooked. I downloaded Strava and decided that I was going to be a ‘runner’. Twice a week, myself and the rest of GSRC (who are all fantastic runners) went out and I pushed myself to go further and/or faster in every single session. Once a club was set up on Strava and I began to see my miles compared to everyone else, I started to run outside of GSRC as well.

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The first time I went without stopping 

At the point of writing this blog post, I have been going to running club for about two months (maybe a little longer) and I am now running around 3.5 miles 3-4 times a week alongside 2-3  weight training sessions. I wouldn’t say I loved it while I was doing it (although I definitely enjoy it more now than I did at the start), but nothing beats the buzz once I have finished.

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I even ran when I went back to visit home!! 

I would never leave behind weight training. Firstly, because I love it! And secondly, because I think it is a really important part of staying fit and healthy. However, my goals have now changed. Whereas when I was solely weight training my focus was entirely on aesthetics, I am not more focused on improving my fitness levels. Of course, I still want a peachy booty and rock hard abs, but I want to also be able to run comfortably. As cringe as it sounds, running has changed my whole outlook on what ‘healthy’ means to me.

If you’re looking at getting into running, here are a few of my top tips:

  1. Download Strava (or another running app). It really helps to keep me motivated and visually see my progress.
  2. Join a running club. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but I would really recommend it if you can. Not only will you feel more motivated, but the running community are so welcoming, you will probably find yourself making friends.
  3. Don’t stress too much about pace. Your body knows effort, not pace. Try your hardest there and then. Of course, continue to push yourself but remember than some days it will be harder than others.
  4. Get outdoors. Treadmills suck! I know I probably shouldn’t say that but, after  running outside, I would never go back to the treadmill. Outside is definitely more challenging, but it is so much more rewarding.
  5. Don’t neglect weights. Even if your goals are solely based on cardiovascular fitness, do not neglect weight training. It will help you run further and faster with better form and reduced risk of injury.

I am still very much a beginner and I have a long way to go, but I would now call myself a runner (something I never thought I would say) and I am pretty proud of that.

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So, yeah, thanks GSRC. 

What are your top running tips? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to ask any questions you might have. 

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Jamie x 

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We’ve talked before about how music can help your workout here on the blog before. When I first started training it worked wonders on my self confidence and helped me focus on what I was doing rather than worry about what everyone else was thinking about me. However, it is more than just a placebo! Science has actually backed up, in numerous experiments, the claim that music can actually help you SMASH your workout. Here’s why and some of my motivational gym playlist for you to listen to during your next session. 

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The Science

In recent years science has made a hell of a lot of claims regarding the positive of using music to motivate your workout (and no, I am not talking about Bad Day by Daniel Powter, however much of a banger it may be). It will probably come as no surprise to you that music distracts people from pain and fatigue, helps to elevate their mood, increases endurance, reduces how much effort you think you’re putting in AND (now I’m not sure about this one but hey, I’m no scientist) may even promote metabolic efficiency. Turns out that music is a lot more than just a distraction from the burn.

It also turns out that having your own headphones might be more beneficial than listening to the gyms pick of tunes. A 2013 study revealed that choosing your own music (dubbed ‘musical agency’) allows you to think for yourself, which encourages a sense of autonomy and self-worth, which consequently helps you to power through your workout. Those who are stuck listening to the gym playlist reported feeling less motivated – just invest in Spotify Premium guys, I CANNOT squat to my full potential when an ad is on.

So there you go, now we know that music actually does help you smash your workout and you have an excuse to put your headphones in and not talk to that annoying gym regular (you’re welcome) it’s time to share with you some of my gym bangers.

My Gym Playlist 

Apparently, there is an optimum tempo of your gym music that is songs between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm). I’ll be honest, never in my life have I been blasting out a bit of eye of the tiger and thought ‘hold up – is the tempo right?’. Instead, I just go for motivational tunes I am loving at the time. Obviously, my playlist is very VERY extensive so I am just going to shuffle it and take the first 10 that come up for cardio and the first 10 that come up for resistance training (no cheating). I should warn you, they are very very varied.

Cardio

“Pump up the Jam” by Technotronic

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

“Hey Ya!” by Outkast

“Temperature” by Sean Paul

“Pound The Alarm” by Nicki Minaj

“Get Busy” by Sean Paul

“That’s My Girl” – Fifth Harmony

“I Like to Move It” – Reel 2 Reel

“Stronger” – Kelly Clarkson

“Welcome To The Club” – Manian

Resistance

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

“Stronger” by Kanye West

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

“Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses

“Lose Yourself’ by Eminem

“Smells Like Teen Spirt” by Nirvana

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

“Numb” by Linkin Park

“The Man” – The Killers

Phew, shuffle was kind to me today! I would love to know what are your go-to gym bangers and what you can always count on to get you motivated. Do you have  different playlist for cardio and resistance training? Let me know in the comments below. 

Jamie x 

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Sources: 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/why-exercise-workout-music-playlist_n_4173931.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/music-workout-exercise-playlist-pain-easier-rocky-research-studies-proven-a7238016.html

http://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/chls/life-sciences

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3741536/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793214

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/exercise-and-music

One of the greatest hurdles I had to overcome when I first began training was getting over ‘the fear’ – I was terrified of going into the gym. It seems strange now, right? I am a qualified PT and work for Gymshark for god sakes but, believe it or not, there was a time I avoided PE like the plague and the thought of walking into the strength and conditioning area in the gym gave me literal nightmares. Overtime I have picked up a lot of tips that helped me to build confidence in the gym and end up not only loving training in my free time but also making a career out of helping others to love it as well. I strongly believe that every single person deserves to feel confident, happy and safe in a gym environment so I hope that some of these top tips will help some of you new gym-goers out there! 

Top Tips for

Have A Plan

If I could only give one piece of advice it would be this – have a plan. Not only is this going to help you smash your workout but it is also going to mean you’re not wandering around aimlessly and feeling awkward (speaking from experience with this one!). Give yourself a bit of time before your gym session to plan what you want to achieve – that way you can give bits a bobs a google if you’re unsure and walk in with confidence and smash your session.

If you’re struggling with planning your own work out…

Get A Trainer

We’re nice, I promise, and most trainers, if they’re worth their salt, will teach you proper form and help you create a tailor made plan so that when you go at it alone you can smash it. Do your research and get yourself a trainer that is right for you. It can be expensive but, as I trainer and online coach, I really do think it’s worth it. Having somewhere there not only for accountability but also to provide motivation and mental support is invaluable when you’re feeling nervous.

If you’re interested in getting an online coach and want a bit more information, get in contact with me on jamieleejenkinsfitness@gmail.com. The initial chats are totally free and although I can’t be there with you, I am available all the time to offer support and guidance.

If you can’t afford a trainer make sure you have a least got yourself a…

Get A Good Gym Induction 

A good gym induction is vital when first joining a gym. Even if you have been training before and think you know the ropes don’t turn one down. They are a great way to feel at ease in a new environment as well as gives you a chance to get to know the staff. It’s also the perfect opportunity to assess your fitness levels and workout what your goals are. Having goals will help give you the motivation it takes to fight to nerves and do it alone.

This leads me on to my next top tip…

Do Your Research 

Every gym is different and they all have a different ‘vibe’. Don’t be nervous about going to look around the gym and even having a taster session before committing to a membership. Even now there are some gyms I feel a lot more at home in than others. It is important to work out what you are looking for from your gym and what it right for you. Have a chat with the people who work there who will be more than happy to offer any help and advice. It might sound daft but it is really worth making a consideration choice when it comes to which gym you go for. If you like the atmosphere and the people there you are much more like to feel at ease and want to go back.

Invest In Some Killer Gym Clothes 

Now I know that I always say you don’t need anything apart from yourself and some motivation to smash your sessions so this might seem a little hypocritical, but I speak from experience when I say that feeling fresh in a brand new outfit really helps with confidence. I used to always say that I would only buy nice gym clothes if I knew I was going to go (kind of like a reward) but this time I got them before and they acted as the best incentive. I have learnt that feeling good in gym clothes isn’t about my having the ‘perfect’ body, it’s about celebrating the body you have at the time and how incredible it it. Be your own cheerleader and invest in some gym clothes – you won’t regret it.

My recommendations: Gymshark, FLEXXFIT, H&M, Primark, Wearwolf Clothing.

Take Your Headphones

Music always motivates me. A little bit of Survivor and you can guarantee I’m going to absolutely dominate my workout. Having your headphones in also helps you to zone out and focus on your own workout. As much as I love chatting to people in the gym, I know this can be intimidating (not to mention distracting) and so having your headphones acts like a bit of a deterrent.

Don’t fancy listening to some bangers? That’s fine, instead…

Get A Gym Buddy

Joining a gym is a new venture and so it is completely normal to be nervous. Just like with anything else, having someone there by your side for a bit of moral support can be really helpful. Having a friend there with you will make the whole process a lot less intimating and will also provide some accountability in the long run.

Don’t have any friends you can drag along with you? No worries, instead you could always…

Go To Classes

Classes are a fab way to meet people and get yourself used to the gym environment in a fun and safe situation. When I first started training I had no one to go with and so I decided to go to a ladies only boxing class. I went along on my own and got chatting to a lovely girl. Flash forward 9 month and she is one of my best friends and my ride or die gym buddy. Without braving a class I never would have met here, and what I sad, sad world this would be… 

Remember, everyone has been there

As I mentioned at the beginning, we have all been there, myself included! ‘The Fear’ is not uncommon so don’t think that every single other person in the room is an expert – the chances are the majority will just be your average person trying to keep fit and healthy. Keep in mind you have just as much right to be in that room as every single other person, whether they are training for a competition or wanting to lose a few pound. Every single person has a goal and everyone should feel comfortable and valued in a gym.

So there you have it, my top tips that I have picked up over the last few years. I will say that the majority of people are very friendly and willing to help. Of course you get some nasty people but I have been lucky enough to only come across kind and supportive people on my journey. Remember that you’re doing it for you. ‘The Fear’ is hard to overcome but I promise you that it is worth it. 

Jamie x 

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It’s no secret that I am a huge coffee fan. I never used to drink it but final year at University got the better of me and I went from a milky Latte to a black Americano with an extra shot in the space of about a month. Nowadays I have coffee every single day without fail, whether that be from a coffee shop or chilling on the sofa at home. Coffee has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to health and fitness (one of the reasons I avoided it for so long) but is it really all that bad? Can squatting and shot-ing ever mix? What is your coffee habit doing to your fitness goals?

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We’ll ignore the huge slices of cake, shall we? 

I have been doing my research and found both positive and negative ways in which coffee is having an impact so sit tight, get yourself a cuppa and let us begin… 

Positives

We’ll start with the positives and you will probably be pleased to hear that there are a lot.

  1. Calorie Burner: The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found that trained athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned around 15% more calories during the three hour period post-exercise than those who took a placebo. This comes down to the fact that coffee contains caffeine (surprise, surprise), which you probably already know is a stimulant. What you might not know is that it has also been shown to enhance our metabolic rate and can help increase fat oxidation as a result of this – cappuccino anyone? 
  2. Athletic Performance: You might also be surprised to hear that sipping coffee has also been linked to improved athletic performance according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This is due to the fact that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Research has shown that that it can help with memory and concentration, which subsequently helps when it comes to your workout. This leads us on to our next benefit…
  3. Pre-workout: Pre- workout can be expensive but it turns out that everything you need might already be sitting in your cup board (or, you know, at your local Costa). As well as hoping with your performance, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has revealed that caffeine can also help to reduce DOMS when it was compared with a placebo. Less time needed for muscle recovery more time to make the gains!

Negatives 

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news and there are some pretty bad ways your coffee habit could be impacting your health and preventing you from achieving your fitness goals.

  1. Calorie Intake: We’ve talked about how coffee can help when it comes to burning calories but make the wrong order and you could be adding a lot more calories to your dinner break. It’s estimated that 34% of us (ahem, me) fall victim to what is called ‘upselling’. Picture the scene: you’ve ordered a small latte and the cute barrister has told you you can upgrade for only 50p extra. Seems like a good idea, right? Wrong. This could apparently result in an extra 17,000 calories over a 12 month period. Of course it depends on your coffee preference but certainly food for thought.
  2. Anxiety: Perhaps not directly linked to your workout but certainly important to consider, coffee consumption, due to the caffeine, triggers the release of the same hormones involved in the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and has the potential to exacerbate any existing anxiety disorders.
  3. 40 winks: Despite apparently helping with performance, if you’re drinking coffee within three hours of heading to bed you could be increasing the time it takes to drift off by up to 40 minutes – that’s a lot of extra counting sheep. Being sleep deprived can have a huge impact on your whole day, not to mention your workout.

So there you have it. As you can see, science has been anything but conclusive and there are both positive and negatives ways coffee can impact your health and fitness. My thoughts overall? Everything in moderation. I personally find myself more motivated, awake and content after a coffee in the morning (not to mention I enjoy the taste). I usually go for a white Americano with almond/coconut milk so it is not too calorific. Every so often I will treat myself to a dirty chai but it’s all about being aware. Stay hydrated and maybe cut back on the syrups and you’ll be fine.

What’s your go to coffee order? Let me know in the comments below.

Jamie x 

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Sources:

https://www.verywellfit.com/the-neurological-benefits-of-muscle-building-creatine-3121392

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901809

https://www.verywellfit.com/drink-coffee-to-boost-your-workouts-and-more-3121398

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/nutrition/happy-hour/7744/coffee-effects/

http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/beauty-style/skin/2759/is-your-morning-coffee-wrecking-your-skin-with-acne-and-dehydration/

https://www.nutracheck.co.uk/calories/calories_in_drinks/calories_in_coffee

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/calories/faq-20058100

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/edge/think-coffees-bad-you-think-again

https://www.health.com/nutrition/5-reasons-to-drink-coffee-before-your-workout

Hey guys! It’s my favourite time of the month again. If you are new to the blog (hi!) then this is a monthly feature where I share with you all the things I have been loving (clues in the title I guess). This month has been chaos! I have moved away from home and started my first job. I’ve made a loads of new friends and generally had a wicked time. Don’t you worry though, I have still found time to experiment with new bits and bobs and so have a lot to share with you guys today. So sit tight and let’s get started… 

Fashion 

As mentioned I started work this month, which can only mean one thing – a massive Zara order (I mean, I had to get a new wardrobe for work, right?). I tried to look beyond the heat wave with this shop and so got myself some autumnal clothing to take me into the next season. I love everything I got but my favourite has got to be these Leopard Print Trousers from their latest animal print collection.

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Image from Zara

I have never been a huge animal print fan but I saw these and I totally fell in love. They are so comfy and easy to wear, plus they look like I’ve made a load of effort when in reality I feel like I’m lounging about on the sofa. I usually team these up with some black or white mules (I love these onesand a cute little crop top (they go with so many colours – black, brown, red and purple look amazing with them). 

Make Up 

This month’s favourites have come as a huge surprise to me for 2 reasons. Firstly, I had no clue I was getting them until they turned up in the post from the lovely folks at Influenster. And secondly, last time I received lipsticks from this brand I was really not a fan. However, the Rimmel London Stay Satin Liquid Lipsticks have really impressed me – so much so they have secured a spot on this months favourites.

Now I’m going to be honest with you, they take some getting used to. They’re not the easiest to apply and the formula of the brighter colours never, ever fully dry so they smudge super easily (not selling them so far, I know). This said, the colours are absolutely unreal (I have never had a lipstick with such intense and beautiful colour pigment) and they do last for ages even with the risk of smudging. The brighter lipsticks haven’t been my go-to’s (however, I am loving experimenting with them and trying new looks) BUT the shade Shoulder Pads well and truly has my heart. It is the most stunning pinky nude that lasts all day and suits my pale complexion like a dream! I am truly obsessed, I think I have worn it every make up day this month.

As for the other colours, normally I would never be seen in a purple or a grey but these are just so stunning and have a perfect satin finish. Yes they have some negatives and yes you really do have to play around with them, but you can create so so many different looks and these have really made August the month that I have moved out of my comfort zone when it comes to make up.

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Skin Care 

I don’t know if this counts as skin care but just roll with it. This months winner is the MakeUp Eraser by MakeUp Eraser (imaginative…). I got this product in last months The Pip Box and, despite initial scepticism, I am totally obsessed! This rather underwhelming little bit of cloth is actually really impressive. It removes make up with water alone and therefore uses no chemicals or nasty stuff. It’s vegan, reusable and really does remove even the thickest mascara (believe me, I put it to the test).  It’s made from a specially knitted polyester/silk fibre which, when wet creates a hydro-mechanical process (fancy, right?) that breaks the surface tension of the oils that bond make up to the skin. Not bad for a little bit of cloth.

I love it. it’s good for the environment, it’s good for my skin, it’s good for how super lazy I am when it comes to removing make up AND it lasts between 3-5 years. Everyone’s a winner.

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Image from selfridges.com

A runner up this month has got to be Bepanthen. Nope, I haven’t got nappy rash. I do, however, have a baby tattoo and this stuff has been an absolute dream when it comes to keep it moisturised and healing properly. I would seriously recommend picking yourself some of this up if you’ve got a new tattoo.

Exercise 

This has been a tough one this month as I am back doing my usual 4 day split training programme with a 5th day of abs and cardio. I am loving it and it is certainly nice to be back into a routine, but there has been nothing particularly new/exciting to report. I am currently looking at joining some adventure holidays though. Ever since Crete I have been desperate to get back out on the water and go kayaking again. I absolutely loved it but sadly in Birmingham the opportunities are limited. I am therefore on the hunt for an adventure holiday where I can do this again. I’m thinking something where I can go kayaking, rock climbing and maybe try my hand at surfing so if you have any suggestions let me know!

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Get me back on those waves. 

One thing I have loved about switching up my exercise over the past few months has been how I no longer just love weights, I love being active. I have really opened my eyes to new sports and becoming willing to experiment with sports I never thought I would enjoy.

Entertainment (Books) 

This month it’s not a TV show that has been entertaining me. In fact, I have been struggling to find anything on Netflix that has been floating my boat. Instead I have been reading a hell of a lot. I love a good crime/mystery book and so I have been loving Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks novels. Nothing new here but they are really fantastic books that I would seriously recommend – my favourite is Cold Is The Grave.

If you’re fancying something a little less morbid, Everything I Know About Love is a fantastic read (you might remember it featured on my summer reading list a few weeks back) and I urge you to read it.

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So there you have it, some of my August favourites. As always, I want to know your thoughts! Up for trying out the Rimmel Stay Satin Lips or not up for braving grey lippy? Any August TV show band wagons I need to join? Let me know your thoughts and what you guys have been loving this month.

Jamie x 

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