Sarah’s Fitness Journey – Part 1

As a kid I was really active. My favourite things to do was riding bikes, climbing trees, playing football and running around. As a teenager this developed into playing a lot more sports, which I tried everything from sailing to water polo. I was a really keen football player and when I was 16, I had just completed my first season for a Women’s club team, when I contracted glandular fever. This stopped me completely. I couldn’t do anything! Bed ridden for months, very weak and very sick. I still suffered the effects of Glandular fever for over a year afterwards and would commonly take Monday’s off school as I was too exhausted after a normal weekend. Even after I got better, I was not allowed to play football again for 6 months as the risk of hitting my kidneys (that could be fatal), was too high.

This devastated me as football was what I loved and the only exercise I really did. Before all that, I had joined the school gym previously for 6 months and went a huge total of 2 times! The gym environment I thought was not for me, but now I look back, no one actually took the time to show me what to do, so I just felt lost.

Fast forward a good year and my mum past away very suddenly. I was suddenly faced with the task of finding a new home, becoming independent and at the same time as grieving for my mother (my father lives in the UK). Exercise was my LAST priority. After a while I developed a very bad habits and lifestyle of eating takeaways, morning tea pies and bingeing energy drinks! On top of all of this I was in a bit of a grief hole and was drinking a lot every weekend. I also worked at a takeaway pizza place, which did not help with free or cheap pizzas readily available. The weight piled on and it was another good 12 months until I said enough is enough and set about changing my lifestyle.

I firstly thought that I could get fit by joining my old football team. My first game back was the hardest of my life. I remember not being able to breathe, lungs screaming and the player I was meant to be marking always 5 meters in front of me. I had the coach yelling at me from the sideline “GO ANDREWS!”, but I was so unfit I literally could not keep up and felt like I let the team down.

I then joined a gym with a friend and shadowed them around the gym for a bit. I started lifting weights and really got a kick out of how lifting made me feel. Overall, I got a lot stronger but I was not seeing the results I really wanted. That’s when I took an offer from a personal trainer at my gym, Jae, for an 8 week challenge. This ultimately changed my life.

Looking back, I was quite a bad client. I would often ring him last minute to cancel our appointment as I honestly wanted to sleep in (sorry Jae!, I was not a morning person). When I was there though, I worked hard. The hardest part of all for me was actually the nutrition. I learnt that I was not nourishing my body and seeing calories as just a fuel. We would complete food diaries and I would write down, just a banana for breakfast and a small V and a Moro bar for morning tea! WHAT! Looking back now, that seems crazy and Jae was quick to point out that it was not ideal. I still have my exercise folder from that challenge and have never shown anyone as I am too embarrassed. My eating was not great until the last few weeks. Even though that was the case, I still got results! My body fat decreased, my muscles grew, I lost CM’s from everywhere and my strength increased. I went from only being able to do 15 push ups MAX, (on my knees) to 32 on my feet! The most surprising was that my weight also decreased, but not by much as I had thought as I had built muscle mass! I also found muscles that I did not know I had. Just imagine what I could have achieved if I took the nutrition seriously from the beginning.

I continued my fitness journey by seeing Jae regularly and also keeping up with my own workouts. I carried on doing a mix of weights, cardio and playing football. After a few years I realised that I loved the way I felt and wanted to help other people find their love for exercise and achieve their goals, so I went to university. I completed a degree in Sport and Recreation at AUT and have not looked back.

One particular memory I have is after about a year of my fitness journey, I went back to my old favourite bakery (where my love of pies began) and the lady recognised me in there after not going for almost a year and a half (I purposely stayed away). She was like “long time no see! How are you?” I laughed and politely told her that her great pies made me fat and purchased a sandwich. A matter of fact, it wasn’t the pies that made me fat, but my overall lifestyle and not understanding the energy balance equation.

These days I do strength and circuit training in the gym, pretend to run occasionally, slowly getting back into playing football (after having my second boy last year,) dabbling in some regular mountain biking and paddle boarding when the weather is right.

Notable achievements:  13 football seasons, 1 x 12Km event, 6 x half marathons, 2 x Tough Mudder (18km), Step Up Stair Challenge – fastest female team in 2019 and have 2 beautiful children.

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The Fat Burning Zone

You might of heard people talking about or seen it written on cardio equipment, this mysterious “fat burning zone”. What does this even mean?!

To understand this better we need to know how about the 3 different energy systems and how they produce energy.


  1. The Phosphagen System / ATP-PC System


This energy system uses phosphocreatine (PC) that is stored within the tissues of the body. This system does not require oxygen and works very fast. As your cells don’t store a lot of PC the amount of energy is limited to around 10 seconds of max exertion. Eg. Max effort sprints


  1. The Glycolytic System / Anaerobic Lactic Energy System

This energy system can produce energy quite quickly and utilizes carbohydrates in the form of blood glucose and stored glycogen to produce energy. This system also does not require oxygyen and is utilized for activity from around 10 seconds – 90 seconds.


  1. The Oxidative System / Aerobic System

This energy system requires oxygen and can produce a lot of energy. The Aerobic system is used for exercise of lower intensity cardiovascular exercise. With this system, although it predominantly burns fat, a supply of carbohydrate is required for the breakdown of fat into energy.  The ratio of how much fat vs carbohydrates that are utilized during exercise is determined by the duration of exercise along with your training experience.  More intense workouts tend to burn more carbohydrates for fuel, whereas longer less intense exercise will burn a higher ratio of fat.


It is important to remember that with exercise, the body utilizes a mix of all three of these systems. The method that is used to create energy depends on the type of activity and its intensity and duration.

Therefore, now we know about the energy systems, we can understand that this “fat burning zone” is when we train within our aerobic system using longer, less intense exercise.

In regards to your heart rate zone you ideally need to be working between 65% – 85% of your max heart rate (MHR).


How do you work this out?

To find out what your individual fat burning zone heart rate range is, depends on your age. To simply work out your MHR:

220 – Age = MHF

For example, I am 34. My MHR is 220 – 34 = 186 beats per minute

My 65% is: 120 BPM / 85%: 158 BPM


Heart rate ranges simplified:

90 – 100% of MHR – Develops maximum performance and speed

80  – 90% of MHR – Increases maximum performance and capacity

70 – 80% of MHR – Improves aerobic fitness

60 – 70% of MHR – Improves basic endurance and fat burning

50 – 60% of MHR – Improves overall health and helps recovery


At the end of the day, fat loss is about our daily energy balance and an important part of this is our nutrition. Simply we want to move more and eat slightly less to create a calorie deficit (energy in vs energy out). While you may be focused on fat, it’s still important to elevate your heart rate into the vigorous zone from time to time. Working harder strengthens your cardiovascular system and burns more calories than moderate activity.

Bouts of higher intensity exercise can help our energy balance by burning more calories (in less time too) during exercise and therefore creating a calorie deficit that way. Resistance/weight training we use our muscles and create an “after burn effect” which elevates our metabolism for up to 48 hours exercise.

Exercising in all three energy systems offers lots of benefits, regardless of your goal or your method of training. If you’re a cardio girl, adding resistance training into your week can boost power and reduce the risk of injury. If you typically resistance train, adding cardio can help with your endurance and therefore increasing your training volume. Either way, creating variety within our planned exercise can guarantee we are seeing the best results and become the best human possible.



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How to get the best results – progressive overload

What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload is a strength training principle to make your workouts more challenging overtime. We have a saying in the gym “Do the same, never change”. This doesn’t mean changing your exercise or program everyday or week. But to change something to make the exercise more intense and therefore beneficial.

By changing the way you exercise, it can hinder plateaus, help you gain strength, encourage muscle growth, and build endurance. This is what you need to become fitter, faster, stronger, increase muscle mass, increase the “after burn effect” and therefore how many calories we burn at rest too (BMR).


There a lot of different ways to progressive over load:

  • Using a heavier weight for the same exercise. Make sure if you are lifting heavier, your technique is still perfect and not compensating by swinging and using other muscles to assist.
  • Add more repetitions to your exercise. If last week you could do 10 reps, try slightly more e.g. 12, 15 etc.
  • Add more sets. Do another round of the exercise to get more volume. By adding more sets you can significantly burn the muscle out more and get closer to failure. If you usually do 3 sets of 12 repetitions, try 4 sets next time.
  • Change the tempo of the movement. Try slowing down the movement to create more time under tension and fatigue the muscles. You can try slow negatives or pausing at the bottom of the movement. Just remember that doing negative reps (e.g. 5 sec on lowering stage) needs more recovery time.


The national academy of sport recommends increasing your volume by no more than 10% each week. For example, if you are currently barbell squatting 50kg and that is not challenging for you any more, try 55Kg the next week. Progressive overload is the key to building strength faster, break through plateaus and make your workouts more efficient.

If you are unsure how to progressive overload safely, consider using one of our personal trainers and get that push you need.



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Why am I not losing weight?!

A lot of women don’t have an accurate picture of what “enough” food really is, especially when trying to lose weight. A big reason for women not losing the weight they desire is because of undereating.

There’s this ongoing myth that women should not eat more than 1200 calories a day. This makes little sense when you consider the wide variety of body sizes and goals among different women. You might have also heard the saying “calories in vs calories out” or “energy in vs energy out”. This is a very simplified equation of how to lose weight. Meaning what food, we put in our body vs how much we burn.


Our energy expenditure is made up of 4 elements:

  • BMR: Basic metabolic rate – how much energy we use just doing daily bodily functions.
  • NEAT: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis – How much energy we expend doing daily activity (eg. Daily steps, playing with the kids).
  • TER: Thermic effect of food – How much we burn from digesting food.
  • PA: Physical activity – Planned bouts of exercise eg. gym sessions, planned walks, etc.


We often make the mistake of believing that it’s easy to calculate the calories “in” (what we eat) and the calories “out” (what we expend). We think “If I burn all these extra calories working out, and eat much less, I’ll easily burn fat”. In reality, eating too little can instead hinder fat loss, strength gain as well as energy levels, and overall health.

Undereating may be hindering your progress, whether that is weight loss, or increasing your muscle strength or size. It can also diminish your power in training sessions. Our body is an adaptable machine – it wants to feel “safe”, with survival as its top priority, it is constantly regulating how it responds to its environment. So, to conserve energy and direct calories to essential functions for survival, your body will resort to burning fewer calories, even as you’re exercising regularly and intensely.

When calories are scarce, your body will prioritize essential functions such as regulating your body temp and blood pressure over other functions like rebuilding muscle tissue.

Undereating can also affect your recovery, which is just as important as the training itself. When you exercise especially with weights, you’re breaking down muscle tissue, and without adequate calories and protein intake, your muscles won’t have the materials it needs to rebuild. Your body may also turn to protein already in your muscles for the fuel it needs. Remember that if you have more muscle mass, you not only are fitter, faster, stronger and look good you also have a higher BMR (resting metabolism). Undereating can also lead to disturbed sleep and getting good quality sleep is essential for recovery after a tough training session. Poor sleep can lead to fat retention.

If fat loss is your main goal, then the main thing that matters is being in a sustainable calorie deficit. You eat slightly less than you burn, and your body will tap into stored body fat for the extra calories. For best results aim for a few hundred calories – 300 to 500 max below your estimated needs, about 10 – 20% max.

To stay in a calorie deficit more easily, focus on eating lots of Protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs) Try and get your carbs from sources like sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, and beans and fill your plate with non-starchy veggies, and leafy greens to help you feel fuller for longer.


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Fitness Equipment that we can’t train without



Resistance Bands: At the start of every workout, I like to activate my lower and upper body with resistance bands. They come in two forms: mini bands and longer resistance bands. Mini bands are great for putting around your knees and doing glute activation exercises. You can do so many different moves like crab walks, seated hip abductions, and squat pulses. I start every leg day with these exercises as they’re perfect for warming up and activating those stubborn glutes!

The longer resistance bands are so versatile. Looping them around the cable machine or the Olympic bar can create a tool for warming up the shoulders and back. You can also use them to do squats, lunges, good mornings, and donkey kicks to fire up the glutes! Bands can also be a great way to put extra resistance into exercises and make them harder. They can be utilised by giving tension through different parts of the range of motion or certain areas of it.

Ask us to show you the different ways to add some variety to your warm-up.


Kettle Bells: One hand clean & press, upright rows, kettlebell swings; so many exercises to do with one piece of equipment! A whole-body circuit can be done with just one kettlebell. Compared to dumbells, kettlebells have a big ball for the base which can make the movement less stable and promote more core activation. They’re awesome for explosive movements, fun cardio and are a great tool to use during a class.


Olympic Bar: I used to be intimidated by the Olympic bar, but once I learned where to position it on my back, I was good to go! If you want to increase your strength and gain muscle, exercises such as back squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts are awesome to do with the bar. You do not need to put a lot of weight onto the bar if you don’t feel comfortable. Start with just the bar (20kg), then gradually increase your weight as you become stronger.

I use the Olympic bar every time I train legs as it’s great for compound movements (using more than one muscle group at a time). Compound movements not only use lots of muscle groups but also burn lots of calories at the same time. Use the bar pad to make exercises like hip thrusts more comfortable.

Don’t forget that you can get a complimentary personalised weight program every 8 weeks. See us at reception to book in and perhaps we can show you some cool exercises with these pieces of fitness equipment.


“Fitness HQ is a locally owned and operated boutique gym in the heart of Albany. With 24 hour access, you can get fit, when it fits you!”


How to take the dread out of the dreadmill (a.k.a treadmill)


Winter has just arrived and the weather is certainly changing! The temperature has certainly dropped and the rain and wind will be here soon! Outdoor running starts to feel like it’s not even an option anymore so it’s time to hit the treadmill. But, to many people running for 45 minutes or so on a treadmill does not sound like a lot of fun.

So here are a few ways to mix up your running on the treadmill this winter:

  • BLAST the upbeat music. I would highly recommend creating a playlist of your favourite upbeat tunes or discover new upbeat music to listen to as you run. This can be really motivating and get you in a great headspace to beat your PB or even just get you past the first 10 minutes! Spotify has some great running playlists already made too.


  • Podcasts! I find running to a podcast so motivating and distracting from the fact I’m running. Find a topic you’re interested in whether that be health & fitness, crime stories, comedy etc. and I’m sure there will be a great podcast available.


  • Watch a video. Now you need to be careful with this one because you don’t want to fly off the end! Find a YouTube video or Netflix episode, set up your phone/tablet on the front of the treadmill, plug your headphones in and run! This is a great distraction that makes time go a lot faster. We all spend hours on the couch binge-watching TV series at some point over winter so why not burn some calories too.


  • Interval train. Breaking your runs up on the treadmill can make it a lot more interesting and feel a lot quicker. Going for a slow distance run often feels like hours on a treadmill when it’s only been 20 minutes… so why not smash a half an hour session at a higher intensity and mix up your runs. Pick a speed that challenges you and run at that pace for 2 minutes. Because this is a higher speed than you normally run at, 2 minutes should be enough to get your heart rate up and leave you feeling puffed. Now break this run-up with 1 minute of slower speed or power walking. Continue this for 10 minutes. Now increase the running time to 3 minutes and repeat. Mix up your interval training to what speeds and intervals suit you but remember to challenge yourself!


  • Find a buddy. If your bestie goes to the same gym then why not arrange treadmill running/walking dates and coffee. Walk and talk is something a lot of females love to do. So why not do it on those rainy winter days side by side on a treadmill. Challenge each other or even race to keep it interesting. Sometimes having someone with you to support you and distract you makes it that little bit better.


  • Set goals. Running on a treadmill is a lot different from running outdoors. You might discover you can run a lot further and faster on a treadmill. So, set yourself some goals to aim for and smash them before the end of winter. Whether that be distance goals, time goals, or amount of times you run a week goals!


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Myth-busting, Why you shouldn’t be afraid of getting bulky lifting weights

Quite often you hear women say that they don’t want to lift weights because they are worried that they will end up “bulky” but they want to get “toned” and lose fat. This is a very common misconception that women need to understand. If you lift weights, you will not suddenly look bulky. In fact, lifting weights will help to shape your body and give you definition in your muscles to give you that “tone” look.

Firstly, females have much lower testosterone levels than males which muscle bulk is largely dependent on. This is why females tend to take much longer to build muscle mass than males. Testosterone helps to stimulate muscle and tissue growth so without high levels of it, females must work much harder to develop their muscles. This is why as a female you should not be afraid of lifting weights because your hormones aren’t equivalent to males and won’t stimulate muscle growth as quickly. Muscle mass is important to help with injury prevention with age as well as metabolic benefits to help reduce high blood pressure and other health risks. That is why women should lift weights and engage in a regular resistance routine not only for the physical physique but also the health benefits that follow.

Lifting weights helps to increase your lean muscle mass which increases your metabolism and ability to burn fat. By having an increase in lean muscle mass your body burns more calories throughout the day to provide your body with energy for your everyday activities. Burning more calories per day ultimately leads to burning more fat and losing weight. Losing weight allows for the muscle definition to begin to show and therefore slowly giving the “toned” effect. Not only that but lifting weights helps to improve bone density and reduce the risks of osteoporosis as you age. Bone-forming cells are stimulated by mechanical stress placed on the bones which occurs when you are engaging in resistance or weight-based training resulting in stronger and denser bones. Bone density is extremely important to maintain as you get older as it helps to reduce bone fractures and falls which you very commonly hear of in the elderly population.

Another reason as to why you shouldn’t be worried is that females don’t tend to eat enough food especially protein to fuel their bodies and aid the process of muscle building. In order to become “bulky” you must be eating in a calorie surplus and training very hard to use that extra fuel and cause hypertrophy. Not only that but women don’t tend to lift often or heavy enough to cause such significant changes to their body, certainly not overnight. If your goal is to get fitter, stronger and “toned” then lifting weights regularly in the gym whilst eating a sufficient diet you will most likely find that you lose those stubborn few kilos and gradually see your muscle shape and definition.

Next time you’re in the gym, try up your weights and improve your strength! Don’t be afraid of it! Remember bodybuilders aren’t made overnight; female body builders work extremely hard to look the way they do, take numerous supplements to aid muscle gain, and eat a very specific diet. A couple of resistance training sessions each week is not going to make you bulk but it will help to build lean muscle mass, burn calories, lose weight, and overall look “toned”.

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How to get over your exercise slump

We’ve all been there… started off doing so well, making it to the gym 3-4-5 times a week and feeling great! But then, you fall off the exercise train for a couple of days… maybe over indulge in the foods you know you shouldn’t and then you are left feeling like sh*t and feeling no motivation to get back into exercising! Sound a bit like you?

Well 2021 is here and it’s time to leave what felt like a slump of a year behind and get back into the exercise routine you know you enjoyed at some point! Here are some of my go to tips to get back on track when that exercise slump hits!

  • Ease into exercise with an activity that you enjoy – whether that be going for a bike ride, hike, swim at the beach or a group fitness class! Starting off with an activity that you find enjoyment in is a great way to get the muscles pumping and heart rate up without necessarily feeling like you’re exercising! This could be just enough to help you find your motivation to get your body moving and ass back to a regular routine! Even better, try something new! This could be a dance class, pilates, boxing, cross-training and so much more!
  • Bring a friend – I’m sure there’s someone in your life who you can convince to come to the gym with you, even if its just one workout! Exercising with a friend can make it so much more enjoyable and can be a bit of a catch-up session! Instead of meeting for brunch or coffee, meet at the gym, the park or a walkway and then if you must… go get your brunch afterwards. Even better is challenging you friend in a workout to see who can complete the most reps during an interval or setting a workout and see who can finish it first!
  • Book it in as an appointment with yourself – things are starting to get back to normal since the Christmas/New Year break so its time to book in your appointments and set your schedules! If you see exercise as something you don’t have time for anymore, make time and put it visibly in your diary or calendar as time for yourself! You don’t like to skip an appointment and pay that cancellation fee so don’t do that with your workout!
  • Making it once or twice is better than not at all – you may not be motivated or quite ready to smash out the same number of workouts a week as you did when you were more motivated but anything is better than nothing! If you can only drag yourself to the gym once, its probably more than you did the week before so see that as a win! Then slowly you will get back to two or three times and start to feel more motivated as you feel your mood and energy improve again! Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t do the same as when you were more in routine!
  • Record down your activity – each time you do a workout, write it down in your calendar or start a workout tally for yourself! I personally love looking back on the week and seeing how active or inactive I have been with moving my body and find it motivating to challenge it the next week to see if I can do more or different kinds!

Don’t give up on yourself! The motivation will come back, you just have to be patient and do your best when you can!


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Top 10 Body Weight Exercises

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple body weight exercises can be a great choice for achieving gains in strength, flexibility, and overall health. Best of all, you can usually do them just about anywhere. While we are eagerly awaiting level 2 for the gym to reopen, there is a number of exercises that you can do with no equipment at all.

Here are 10 of my favourite body weight exercises you can do at home, all of these exercises are able to be modified to make them easier or more challenging.


I know they aren’t everybody’s favourite exercise but burpees are a great exercise to strengthen your whole body from head to toe. They help with coordination and stability, as well as getting your heart rate up to burn lots of calories. Burpees work the arms, chest, core, hamstrings, glutes and quads.  Plus there are lots of different options to make burpees easier or harder, so start with easy stepping options and change it up as you get fitter and more coordinated.


The bear crawl is another great exercise, primarily a strength and mobility enhancing exercise.  It works your core muscles just like the plank, but since you’re moving, it engages more muscles and forces your core to work harder to keep you stable. Your abs, shoulder, chest, glutes and legs are the primary muscles used during this exercise.  In fact, you are using all these muscles at the same time.  It also increases joint mobility in the hips, wrists, spine, ankles and the knee.


Squats are a great basic functional movement . We do this movement a lot in our daily life, for example sitting or standing from a chair or picking up and putting down a box.  Squats work your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominal muscles, lower back and your glutes too. Not many exercises can claim to recruit so many muscles at the same time!  Squats build strength in your legs and hips but also help with mobility and balance. Strong legs are essential for staying mobile as you get older. Not only do they develop leg strength, they also workout your core and stabilising muscles. These muscles help you to maintain balance while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle, which helps prevent falls.


Firstly the main difference between a split squat and a lunge is movement, with a split squat your feet stay in place whereas with a lunge you are either stepping forward, backward or sideways to get into the lunge.  With both exercises, all the muscles in the lower body and hips are working, and also the core muscles are activated to provide stability.  Lunges/Split squats can help you develop lower-body strength and endurance. Split squats are a great beginner lower body move and can be an great asymmetrical exercise for sports people and runners. Lunges/Split Squats can be made more advanced with different placements of weight, foot position and instability equipment.


Push ups are a great exercise for the upper body muscles with the added benefit of developing core stability. The push up also trains your lower back, upper back and glutes.  You can target different upper body muscles just by changing the position of your hands/arms. Like the burpee, push ups have a lot of different options to make them easier or harder. You can start on your knees and advance to the feet option.  Elevate your hands is a great way to make the exercise easier while being able to still do them on your feet. Try them on a wall first then move to a chair/floor when you get fiiter. By elevating the feet you can really make this a challenging exercise for the super fit athlete.


The Y-T-L-W Raise is a multi-part move that targets your upper back. At the same time, it stabilizes your shoulder blades and strengthens your rotator cuff. This exercise is very beneficial for people with desk-bound jobs or who drive a lot for work and have limited range in their shoulder movement, it also strengthens your shoulder muscles in every direction.


Planks are a very versatile exercise that target a lot of the most important muscle groups in the body namely, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, oblique muscles and your glutes. Planks work the stability of your core muscles and help stabilise the pelvis.  They are also essential for lower-back health and are highly effective at working your abdominal muscles.  Like most of the exercises on my list there are also heaps of different variations of Planks to keep them challenging. Start on your knees first and push your hips forward to create a straight line in your body. Advance to your feet when you can do a minute comfortably. When you can do a minute on your feet, make it more challenging by moving your arms or legs and create more instability.


The “dead bug” exercise is one of the simplest and best moves out there when it comes to strengthening your abs and core, without putting extra strain on your back. It engages your deep inner core including your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor. It’s a safe and effective way to strengthen and stabilize your core, spine and back muscles. This improves your posture and helps relieve and prevent low back pain. You will also improve your balance and coordination.


These are a excellent strength builder for your posterior chain. They work your hamstrings, glutes, outer thigh, lower back, ankles and core.  They can be used as a warmup/activating exercise or as a great glute/hamstring tie in move. Going single leg adds a balance and hip/glute stabilization component so your hamstrings really have to work hard.


This exercise is a great exercise to target your glutes and hamstrings. They also require you to activate your abdominal and lower back muscles in order to keep your body stable – so they are also a great core exercise.  You can use Hip Bridges as a good warm-up exercise to get your glutes activated before a leg workout, as a main lower body exercise as well as a basic rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.

I thought you said RUM: A beginners guide to running

  • Slow down

Newbies often think they are running too slow when in fact many are going too fast, meaning it quickly gets too difficult. Try jogging at the pace of just a fast walk for the next month and you’ll find that you will be able to go a lot further a lot easier.


  • Take small steps

Shortening the length of your stride can help big time. Practice over a 30 meter or so length (or between two light poles) and see if you can add in an extra 5 steps or strides over that distance!


  • Start with short distances

Start by jogging slowly for short distances. For example, from one lamp post to the next and then walking in between the next two (This is how I first started). Aim to do that for a total of just 15 minutes, twice a week, if you’re starting out or getting back into it after a long break. If you’re a bit fitter, try a walk-run or run-walk approach. Alternating blocks of walking/running with blocks of running/walking. e.g. 4 mins of running with 1 min of walking for 3 rounds = total running time 12 mins. Try to increase the rounds first, then look at increasing the running time. e.g. 5 mins running with 1 min walking. By using an on/off approach you are also reducing the amount of impact you are subjecting your body to.


  • Speed up or go further?

Once you can do a complete 15 minute jog, increase your speed by jogging slowly one way for 8-10 minutes then ‘racing’ back to where you started. Your total run time will get shorter, which at this stage of your running career is perfect – or – hold off on increasing speed and get out for a third run each week instead – idea being to do one or the other, not both.


  • Stop

If something doesn’t feel right, stop. If it hurts, stop. If something feels a bit weird, (and you get to be the judge of what that means), stop. This is an exercise in learning how to love jogging, not a game of pushing through pain. Seek guidance from a medical practitioner e.g. physiotherapist, podiatrist, if pain doesn’t go away.


Running Tips:

(This first one’s going to be a bit hard during this lockdown period but if you’ve got a good pair of supportive gym shoes/cross trainers that aren’t too old might be fine to get you started). Invest in a good pair of runners, go visit one of those specialist shoe stores (I go to our local Shoe Science store in Albany) yes the shoes do cost more but it’s well worth the investment in making sure you have the right type of shoe for your walking/running pattern. A quality, well-fitting and supporting sneaker will prevent aches and pains…no not muscle pain, but permanent knee, shin, and foot injuries that can plague you for life, if you suffer an injury.

If you walk/run a regular block (loop), then make sure that you also go the other way or vary your route .Our body (tendons, ligaments and muscles) get used to going that one way – the ups & downs, the level of the road. No road is level like a treadmill, so if we don’t vary the way/direction we go, we can end up with imbalances with the muscles, tendons and ligaments from our feet to our legs, hips and core which can then lead to injuries. With my current niggles, I just go straight out for time/distance and then turn around and come back the same way. I also vary the terrain every couple of runs by going to my nearest sports field or school and running on the grass (less impact) as there are no grass verges where I live to run on.

Do strength and conditioning and core work. These are hugely important for injury prevention and improving your running form and economy. For example when we go on a longer run, we tend to get tired. This causes us to slump forwards, which can cause pain in the neck, back and shoulders. By having a strong core, you can help prevent this. Many running niggles can be traced directly back to the fact that the glutes, the main hip muscles and the biggest muscle group in your body, simply aren’t doing their fair share of the work. Five minutes a day spent doing targeted exercises can reap significant rewards. A simple mix of planks, side planks and crunches can build your core strength, and squats and bridges are great for glutes.

Good music! 🙂 As you start increasing your time and distance, I find a good playlist with motivating music and a good tempo helps me go that bit further or go a bit longer. You can find already compiled playlists and albums on iTunes, Spotify or make up your own.

Benefits of running:

  • Healthy mind – running reduces stress and releases happy hormones.
  • Sleep easier -Runners enjoy better sleep, giving them more energy.
  • Healthy heart – Cardiovascular fitness goes up, blood pressure goes down.
  • Breathe easier – Running lessens the effects of asthma and helps to strengthen your lungs.
  • Keeps you young – Runners age better and live longer.
  • Better sex – Running improves stamina.
  • Strong immune system – decreases your risk of illness.
  • Weight loss – Running burns around 100 calories a mile (1.6 km). 3 miles (4.8 km) = 1 large doughnut.
  • Stronger bones – Boost your bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Toned legs – Runners have great leg

“I often hear someone say ‘I’m not a real runner. We are all runners. Some just run faster than others. I’ve never met a fake runner. (Bart Yasso)”