Last week I noticed a few posters going up in my gym for a trial session of a new class called Bokwa Fitness. I’d never heard of it before, and the poster looked a bit Zumba-esque. Even so, I did a quick search and found Bokwa described as:

an intense cardiovascular workout combined with South African war dance, Capoeira, Kickboxing and Steps. It has been proven to burn a great amount of calories making it easier for weight loss goals. Through the use of fast paced extreme movement, a fun, challenging, and energizing total body workout was created

I had no interest in doing the class for weight loss, but the combination of dance, Capoeira (something that I’ve never dared to try) and Kickboxing sounded good. Plus I’m becoming more up for trying new ways of getting a cardio workout.

I’ve never done Zumba, but the fact the instructors of this class also teach it, makes me think they are perhaps similar. A quick flick through YouTube and I think they do look quite similar, but I’d say Bokwa is a bit more ‘steppy’ and a bit less ‘hip shaky’ than Zumba.

Here’s a clip of the Bokwa Fitness DVD to give you an idea:

I actually quite enjoyed this class – it basically used different variations of stepping forwards, backwards and side to side with jumping and kicking thrown in between. The videos I’d seen on YouTube all used quite generic music, but this was done to the gym classic of chart remixes. I can see how it’s a good cardio workout – my feet did not stop moving for the whole sixty minutes, in fact the balls of my feet were starting to feel it by the end thanks to all the bouncing. As it was a taster session I’m sure it could definitely be ramped up more to give even more of a workout.

There was a little bit of whopping (definitely not for everyone) and a small amount of booty shaking, for which my skinny little white girl ass was definitely not up to the job! The class moves at quite a pace and follows a routine which is built up to the end when all the movements were repeated together. Having danced a lot when I was younger, I was comfortable following all the sequences – but this is definitely a class that requires coordination and an ability to follow a basic routine. I’m definitely going to give the class another go and see how I get on, I’d say it’s one of those classes that you just have to give your all and not be shy to get the most of out it. As there’s some dance moves in it, you just have to go for it – you’ll get more enjoyment and more of a workout that way anyway.

Back in November of last year, I went to my first Nike Training Club live class on Clapham Common. I’ve always been pretty scared to talk too much about the classes since, mostly because they are free but also because they are pretty awesome, and quite frankly I still want to be able to get a spot on them. But as it’s summer, the timetable has expanded massively, with loads of mid-week outdoor classes added – I highly recommend checking them out via the Facebook page.

Anyway, as a regular(ish) attendee of NTC – and after a little bit of Facebook registering and QR scanning – I got myself an invite to the first Nike Training Club live festival which was held this weekend at Old Billingsgate right on the Thames.

Me and my friend Lou turned up uber keen before the queue even formed or the doors even opened, but when we were eventually let in we were treated to NTC classes, a NTC yoga class, a WAH nail bar, a tasty healthy lunch, music, challenges, massages and my first ever taste of coconut water.

Vertical jumps, jump rope, foot fires

Nail bar

Yoga time

NTC Live class

Basically, what an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Image source

When I first decided I wanted to run half marathons, I told my boyfriend I wanted ‘calves of steel’. I was a little bit jealous of his, I wanted rid of the slight wobble and the legs of a proper runner. There were two problems with this. Firstly, getting calves of steel meant becoming very well acquainted with a foam roller (mmm the glorious yet puke-inducing muscle crunching). Secondly, I decided to focus on completely the wrong area – it was not my calves that needed to be awesome to be a runner – it was my butt.

In the run up to the Berlin half, I was having problems with my left knee. Not pain as such, just something not feeling quite right. I sensibly visited Carly at Advance Physio on a recommendation (and due to them being the only practice in Nottingham – and London – who actually answered their damn phone) who told me that the problem was in fact my glutes, rather than my knees.

Naturally, there is tonnes of information on the internet detailing the importance of glute strength for distance runners. And naturally a lot of it I don’t understand. Thank goodness for Runner’s World (in this case the US edition), for summing it up in a way that makes sense:

When we run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain gets disrupted. Studies link glute weakness to Achilles tendinitis, shinsplints, runner’s knee, and iliotibial-band syndrome. Indeed, many injured runners I treat come to physical therapy with strong abdominals and backs but weak glutes.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. Another issue is that most strength-training routines don’t isolate the glutes. If an exercise requires several muscles to perform the movement, the majority of the work will be done by the strongest of those muscles. Also, tight muscles, specifically the hip flexors, can inhibit the glutes and prevent their muscle fibers from firing.

Without wanting to get all the technical stuff wrong, I will summarise: my hip flexors are too tight, my glutes aren’t strong enough, my ITB suffers. Hence the knee pain.


                                           My taped up leg during the final week of Berlin half training
 

As pretty as the tape is, I’m in no rush to have it back. So, this time round I’m going the exercises given to me by the physio for my glutes and hip flexors. And it’s ALL ABOUT SQUATS. I’m going to the Glute Blast class at my gym every week, which is awesome and now now one of my favourite classes. Tonnes of squats and lunges with the bar on your back, lots of very unflattering floor work on all fours and finishing off with the whole class in a line against the wall doing t h e  l o n g e s t  s q u a t  e v e r. It’s ace.

I love squats… how about you?

At my gym there is a lady I see quite a lot. She’s often using a nearby treadmill, and she does a lot of the same classes as me. She wears a brilliant array of brightly coloured sportswear, including some great neon and floral leggings. She also is usually glowing with the shine of a hard work out – she knows how to get her sweat on. Sounds awesome, right?! I know.

Well, the other day, I overheard a few things (said person I overheard these things from may well be reading, in which case – I’m sorry, this isn’t a personal attack, just my opinion on what I think is an interesting subject). Anyway, such overheard things included comments on how much she was sweating (and where from), how obvious it was due to her choice of bright pink workout attire and just generally how visually displeasing this was to all subjected.

When I see this girl I am jealous. I am in no way hardcore when it comes to training. I float around the edge of what most would call training. I aspire for fitness to be a much bigger part of my lifestyle and to just generally be a bit less nerdy, and a bit more badass. This girl is badass. She sprints, she lifts weights twice as heavy as me and she rocks some awesome outfits whilst doing so.

I found it really bizarre that other people could be so derogatory about someone just because they’re sweating. I wish I sweated more. It was a perfect example in action of all the stuff we’ve seen so much of in the press lately about girls not wanting to participate in sport because it’s not feminine. But these weren’t school girls, these were adults in their mid twenties, surely we should have grown out of this by now?

But then I realised that I myself don’t fully embrace the sweat. I prefer training in the winter – because it’s dark. At weekends I prefer running as early as possible – there are less people around. Even in my gym, full of guys and girls sweating, I usually work out in the ‘power zone’ (the disco style cardio area) because it’s dark (no one can see me panting) and loud (no one can hear me panting). What is that about?

And as a first step to embracing sweatiness, here’s a lovely picture of me that I took just after I came back from a run. Look at the colour of my face compared to the rest of my body… it’s ridiculous. It is muggy out!

Excuse the picture, but you get the idea
 

Also… see here for what I’m talking about – I shall be doing this. 

A couple of weekends ago, I finally plucked up the courage to take myself ‘all the way’ down (from Euston) to Clapham for the Nike Training Club Live Class that happens every Saturday morning.

I’m in London one, maybe two, weekends a month and I’d seen the classes up on Facebook and had wanted to try one out for a while. They don’t run any in my hometown of Nottingham (I’m assuming due to the lack of Nike store) so had to wait for a free day in London to come around.

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