I think I’m an inversion addict…

 

#inversionaddict

I’d seen the hashtag for a long time before I realised! I still saw it as ‘other’, those clever people who can do that stuff. I think, because, I was still focussed on where I needed to go, rather than what I had become. Looking at the photos in this blog, I’m smiling, I’ve achieved some stuff. Stuff I NEVER thought possible at the beginning or even halfway through. I had faith in the process, that training made me feel good in the short term. On that day. (Check out my blog Little by Little for motivation on getting started)

As you grow stronger on the journey you naturally try new moves and often don’t realise they’re impressive until you see someone’s reaction! Check out my instagram… for more. And here’s some of my you tube links:  headstand on beamassisted headstand on beamOlympic Rings.

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My goal was and still is to conquer handstand, by which I mean hold it at will no support and eventually on parallel bars. It’s taken me a long time because I developed headstand strength first, which is more core and neck. And for handstand, despite strong wrists for barwork (pull ups, push ups, dips) and punching, my 90 degree wrist strength needed a lot of work and shoulders loosening.

However once I took a step back and gathered my thoughts I realised, that despite all the work that I have to do on inversions, that I too was a #inversion addict! (about 40% of my instagram shots are me up-side-down lol).

 

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Storytime

It began 9 years ago, it shocks me to say that, feels so recent and so distant at the same time. I’d been working in the office on and off for 10 years (minus 3 years for study). I had dabbled in some dance classes and mini workouts before a long steam but in short I had zero fitness, zero strength and absolutely no core.  At 28 I still looked fine on the outside but I could feel something was wrong on the inside and the rest would soon follow if I didn’t do anything. A looming darkness that something wasn’t right; IBS symptoms, depression, SAD, anxiety and insomnia. I had no idea what the answer was at the time and that training would become my new way of life.

I tried a yoga class at work and realised something profound: I felt like I should be able to do the moves but I couldn’t; it was weird seeing people holding one legged stances and pulling off headstands, I was shocked to the core. What had happened to me? I was really active at school. I didn’t know at this point that you could change your body to be able to do the movement you want (through A LOT of hardwork :)).

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I was a long way off a headstand, in fact 4 years off (training for around 4 hours a day 5 times a week).  Your body knows when it’s not ready and I wasn’t ready. Some people were and I now know why; they had core.

[Piece of advice, when someone tries to tell you you’re lacking confidence because you don’t want to try something, ignore them, your body knows best. It’s moments like these when you get injured. Your body will naturally want to try a new move when it’s ready.]

Inversions are for all levels of ability

Inversions, however, are for everybody of all levels. An inversion at it’s most basic level is standing up on straight legs, bending over and letting your head hang. All the way up to gymnastics bars, olympic rings, flips, headstands, parallel bars…

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no handed ankle weight headstand

Balance mind body and soul

They are an invaluable way of balancing the body system: physically, emotionally, mentally (and spiritually, in brackets because you can ignore it if you wish).

Physically you are putting your heart and lungs above your head. This is calming. It lowers the blood pressure (so any conditions of this nature ask your doctor if it’s ok.)

If you’re feeling mentally stressed it helps clear the mind just by holding your head upside down. If you put your head in the soil you’re ‘grounding’ your body too!

Naturally you feel emotionally calmer from being still, focusing on breathing and lowering your head; extreme emotions like fear and anxiety seem to be balanced by the physical system working against gravity and pumping blood the other way.

 

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How to use an inversion in day to day situations

If you’re in a stressful environment or dealing with a difficult situation I highly recommend taking a minute out to go to quiet spot, empty meeting room, or even the toilet, put your back against the wall and lean over. This will stretch your hamstrings as well. Let your head hang as long as is comfortable, then gently raise, take a few deep breathes once in the up right position before moving. Make a note of how you feel after!

I find submissive poses (like the one below and the one described above where you’re not exerting yourself like in a handstand) help release painful knots in my back and realign my spine after tension.

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Hence my brand logo: my all time favourite go to move in any stressful situation: THE PLOUGH!

Finally an excellent way to cool down.. 

Even for those who have no interest in being upside down, I still recommend it to give the joints a break from the usual angle of force and pressure that you do in your regular training. Much like swimming it gives the lower body joints a break. And it is an excellent way to cool down from a workout.

If you want to book a PT session with me get in touch! book a PT session

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This week’s body blast workout

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This was an epic workout. 2.5 hrs of strength training plus swim and steam. Covered all basic elements! Aristotle would be proud. That’s the whole in holistic: strength, cardio, air, earth (gym floor) and WATER. Lifting the body out of gravity and floating about in the pool after compressing it with loads of weights = BALANCE.

Swimming also allows you to see how hard you’ve worked and grounds your energy. Your muscles are on fire after repeatedly going to failure with weight training. Water brings them back down to earth, calms them and helps YOU acknowledge just how tired you are. (I think this can help avoid injury by not overdoing it later on in the day.)
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If swimming isn’t your thing just getting in the sauna, jacuzzi or steam can have a similar grounding effect. Alternate hot (sauna or steam) with a cold shower (breathe through it! 🙂 ) and your skin feels mwah! No words. 

Lungs, heart, stomach: all key bodily organs feel clean too! The best beauty and skin care products are: workout, swim, steam, cold shower and use natural oil on your skin whilst in the steam (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil). You won’t need any creams or foundations after and your skin will feel super soft.

Alternating hot and cold is an age old technique, ancient even, for aiding recovery from intense workouts, flushing away toxins and lactic acid. It feels incredibly detoxing to do it. Like it’s cleansing glands and rebalancing the nervous system (emotions too).

In cold season I’d do a workout like this no more than once a week if I’m dancing at the weekends and want to do classes like gymnastics as I need to be able to move lol! This sort of workout changes you, grows muscles, burns fat, challenges your psyche: it’s what’s known as a ‘beasting’ 😄. Body should be aching for days. You have to eat loads of extra protein, carbohydrates, fat and nutrition (as it affects your immune system too). You will be tired and unable to do everything you normally do, so account for it and do sedentary work the following day, even restrict socialising as you will be tired and need to rest.

(I trained on weds, I’m editing this Sunday morning and my body is still tired! Didn’t go out last night because of this workout.)

I went to my max for my energy levels this week. Only done squats every fortnight this summer as I play outside as much as possible. So the weight feels low. Enjoy. (more info on food for training Food Diary – what do YOU need to eat?

Barbell Squats

20kg 25 reps

40kg 20 reps

50kg 12 …

60kg 10 reps 4 sets

70kg 7 reps 2 sets

60kg 10 reps

50kg 10 reps (140)

Cardio

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10 min fast run 

Olympic Rings play around, leg raises upside down, turning body as repsetc

Chest press 

20kg 25 reps

30kg 10 reps 

35kg 5 …

30kg 10

20kg 15

Leg press (kinda lying down)

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40kg 20 reps 2 sets

80kg 10 reps 2 sets

90kg 5 reps 2 sets

100kg 5

Adductor 

40kg 10 reps 3 sets

Abductor 

40kg 10 reps 

60kg 10 reps 3 sets  

Deadlift 

25kg 10 reps 2 sets

40kg 5 reps 4 sets 

Rings play around 

Cycle 

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2.6km 8 mins. Go in at highest level possible around 44 RPM (yes slow and deep!) as I warm up I push the level to the max (on the ….. bikes) then cool off when I can’t take it anymore. 

Big Machines

Shoulder press 

40kg 5 reps 3 sets 

Low row 

40kg 10 reps 3 sets 

Abs 

Weighted twist 10kg 20 

Crunches 100 10 slow 10 fast

Weighted twist 10

V sit 20

Sit up 25

Leg raise 25 (100)

Splits 

1.5 min each side 

Weighted twist 10

Crunches 50

Straddle split 45 sec 

V sit 20

Sit up 10

50 crunches 

Weighted sit up

Bits and bobs

Handstand 1 min

No handed headstand against wall 2 min

Handstand half press up.

2.5 hours

 

 

 

Self Defence Classes with Sev Necati

Photos Copyright © Sev Necati Training.
Having just completed a five week course in self-defence with Sev I’ve got to say how impressed I am!  An excellent teacher taking you through all aspects from defence techniques to fight training to understanding the law and the healthiest way of handling any kind of assault.

Sev’s authenticity and passion about personal safety/ self defence is real. Check out her website here for courses in your area http://www.sevnecatitraining.com She’s straight down the line in explaining we need to be aware and streetwise when out and about.

London is a big place with people crossing each other’s paths and kerfuffles (and much worse) happening all the time. This course gives you the essentials in handling situations on the street in day to day life.

The realisation set in that most people are walking around without a clue about what to do if someone comes at you in the street (mugging, attack, random and even domestic violence).

The course also underlines the importance of being fit enough to handle an assault. The cardio fight training we did as well as hits and kicks on the pads were intense workouts (!).

Fitness is not just about looking ‘good’ it empowers you in day to day life, from doing the household chores with ease to defending yourself from assault on the street.

If you’re not fit you’re more vulnerable. My core belief is that movement is for everybody (whether you like it or not).

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Running log

  

7.4 mile run (12km) even jog pace 10 minute mile with first mile or so at 11 min. Saw this sunrise on route in Hackney. Did not expect it. Only when I got home did I realise how stunning it was!

Also want to share a quirk in case anyone gets this and thinks they’re on their own. I get very hungry on long runs (not met a runner runner who relates. I’m more of an all rounder runner than a runner runner and maybe my blood sugar hasn’t adapted). So started with a 2 mile run very slow, warming up, waking the muscles and joints up, waking the metabolism up and working out what my hunger needs are for the next few hours, then had a coffee and porridge, let that digest for 10 minutes but not too long and carried on my way. 

This is shock horror for many runners. Running with food in their stomach is vile and repulsive. But for me running on empty is vile and repulsive. Porridge is like sweet air to me; it’s digested before it hits the stomach. We’re all different and have to understand that we have varying metabolism and blood sugar needs.

My dad is a life long runner runner, marathons, the lot. He can’t understand what I’m talking about and looks horrified when I stuff my face with low and sometimes high GI carbs before a run. Same with an ex pro triathlete who took me on a 60 kilometre bike ride in the mountains in Abruzzo a few years ago; I had to stop and grab an emergency couple of glasses of milk because I felt so hungry I was too weak to carry on. He was astonished. I felt great after and continued to the end and he felt sick at the idea of milk sitting in my stomach whilst on a ride. Of course it wasn’t sitting it was digested in minutes!

I was so impressed with his ability to do DEEP cardio, those hills and mountains were around 1200m above sea level. Steep, deep cardio. And he’d just had a classic Italian breaky; espresso, some bread, butter and jam. Makes me feel weak at the idea! A light civilian carby breaky then 60km bike ride up mountains!?

The point is we’re all very different and feeling different can make you isolated like you’re doing something wrong and stop you training. I’m trying to demonstrate that we shouldn’t let shock horror looks on people’s faces (especially experts’) allow doubt to creep in. What I need to do is find or create a protein bar/snack that I can take with me and is soft enough to digest whilst out on a run.

Then I did 5.5 mile run. By the end of the 5.5 mile run I was ravenous and had a homemade smoothie and strangely enough it filled me up. Just for an hour. 

I say strangely because there was virtually no protein content or calories but lots of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and nutrition. Sometimes the ‘protein hunger’ can be a vitamin and mineral hunger. Maybe. Also you can continue training on a smoothie.

Outdoor Conditioning: 

  • 25 chin-ups 
  • 10 pullups 
  • 60 leg raises on parallel bars (40 of which are straddle leg raises and 20 straight leg). 
  • 20 step ups on high log.

Indoor (at home conditioning and light weights):

  • 200 crunches
  • 25 v sit
  • 100 press ups (inc. 20 triceps press)
  • 25 deadlift (25kg)
  • 30 shoulder press (16kg)
  • 20 bicep curl (2 x 8kg)
  • 20 standing row (15kg)

And a good stretch. All exercises broken down into however many reps I could do in a row. Breather. Then carrying on.

Felt good after! Clean detoxed and buzzing. Was supposed to be doing admin. Avoidance techniques can get you very fit.

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Protein

  
The key to training is fuel. It goes against the notion of ‘dieting’. At first it can seem confusing. Stuck in the 80s or even 90s: to lose weight = eat less calories/food. 

A look of fear passes over their eyes. You’re going to make me eat more?! Then resistance, defiance even. If someone starts training, regularly, twice a week, from zero activity, the body is in shock. It needs sleep and quality fuel to adapt (and lots of stretching and Epsom Salt baths). You need the quality fuel to train so you can become fitter (more efficient heart and lungs), grow new muscles and gradually burn excess fat as your body becomes a leaner meaner machine.

But you can’t train on empty! The idea that you can simply burn the fat you have on your body and eat the same amount of food is a ‘diet’ mentality. Which is phasing out. Training for fitness, strength and health means eating seriously and employing long term changes not rapidly reducing calorie intake then increasing again after the ‘diet’ period has finished.

Protein intake must be increased to replenish and recover the muscles after training. This is critical. You work your muscles when you train: they tear and over the following 48 hrs are in recovery. The pain you experience after training is the process of your muscles rebuilding and growing and creating a more ‘toned’ body. 

The amount you increase by is personal and you must become your own body expert as you start to take your physical person seriously. Listen to all experts but always take advice with a ‘pinch of salt’, be aware of your own quirks, integrate expert knowledge with your own understanding of your body. Experts are experts in a topic but you should be an expert on your own body. Someone you’ve never met before but is a trained professional is going to give the best knowledge they have in their area of expertise but you can’t expect them to know the details of your body. That’s where you begin to take responsibility.

Official advice is 19-50 yrs 55g and over 50 yrs is 53g protein per day, see Gov guidelines on nutrient intake.

Vegan and vegetarian advice is similar with 50-60g per day. In the fitness and strength training world advice differs dramatically from this. Protein requirements depend upon your body weight and the amount of training you do (more body = more muscle = more protein and more training = more protein):

Sedentary body weight in kg = grams of protein.

Medium intensity/cardio workout; body weight in kg x 1.5 = grams of protein

High intensity/strength training; body weight in kg x (2, 2.5 or 3) = grams of protein. Depending on which fitness or muscles experts you talk to.

This is where the journey of becoming fit doesn’t just change your body but your mind as well. You start to learn through trial and error what your body needs. How much extra protein you need when you train and also find out how much you need when you’re sedentary. This is the key to maintaining a healthy weight or rather a healthy tone and body fat.

I have to eat A LOT of protein and no matter how much endurance cardio I do I still can’t eat refined sugar or flour without it affecting me negatively (internally in my digestive system and superficially with fat immediately going on my stomach!) Carbohydrate intake has to increase too which is a whole other topic for another blog.

Vegetarians and vegans have to adjust their protein too and there’s plenty of options available. Because meat has such a high protein content it’s easier for meat eaters to meet the extra protein requirements from training. 

Both meat eaters and veggies have to be scientific about their food intake and the best way to start is by keeping a food diary 3-5 days and calculate how much protein you’re eating at the moment. Then compare to your weight in kilos and note down any activity. Don’t change anything. From here you will have your foundation protein intake. You’ll be able to see if you’re eating above or below the basic requirements and whether that works for you.

For example person A weighs 70kg, on a sedentary day they require 70g of protein. When they train to medium intensity and do cardio like running or cycling or swimming they might require 1.5 x 70 (body weight in kg) = 105g of protein. If they do a weights session they might need 2 x 70 (body weight in kg) = 140g of protein.

The latest thoughts on nutrition and weight loss are more focused on satiety (how full you are) than calories. Protein fills you up. So when your body reacts to training and especially the first month or so into training you get a deep dark hunger. This is likely to be a protein craving and your body is crying to be refuelled so it can rebuild and grow muscle. If you don’t increase your protein intake you can end up eating the ‘wrong’ foods like sugar and other refined carbs that won’t feed your muscles but further increase body fat.

Another point to bear in mind is there’s evidence to show that too much protein in a sedentary lifestyle could be damaging to health yet also when your ill sometimes your body requires more protein to recover. Complicated isn’t it! Little by little you can work out what works for you. 

Protein shake recipe: almond milk, banana, (organic) peanut butter, (cold extracted Pulsin brand) whey protein. Blend together between 30-40g protein.

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Frosty

  
3 mile morning run 10 min mile, nothing major, wakes you up, implants visions of beauty in your mind. Misty ice kingdoms. Reminiscent of fairy tales and children’s books. Gets the blood flowing, fresh oxygen going and the mind expands. Now to numb the mind again and get some admin done. 
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