Angel Dee Review: Fight Klub

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I headed over to Gymbox in Farringdon to try out their action packed class Fight Klub. To be totally honest, I was expecting light sparring and a few kicks so I packed my running kit to go for a run afterward with my Crew.
Ten minutes into the session, I knew forgetting to pack my running trainers was the best thing I did.

The class was back in the same area I had tried out the Gravity Workout in, this time with huge free standing sparring bags that we dragged out into the space. By the time we had done that, I was pretty ready to go home. Our vibrant teacher for the session Chiraz was full of energy which did mean that the session started off very energetically and it was high octane from start to finish.

After the warm up we went straight into punching drills which were in time with the fast beats. I have to say after the few days I had prior, this was indeed my favourite part to the session and it gave me a chance to let the bag have it and my vest was off pretty much right at the beginning. Chiraz made sure she came around to everyone offering encouragement and offered gentle tips on improving form. Excellent. As we completed each drill, we were made to keep moving so the whole of the session apart from quick water stops, it was literally non-stop.
By the time we had gotten the punches, kneeing and series of kicks in, we then had a change of pace involving jumps, mountain climbers on the punch bags and sprints before copying the drills on the right side.

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The “cool down” which makes me laugh even now, was an ab workout on the floor. Now you know I love a great core workout, but after going in on the punching bags? Who am I kidding, I loved it!! To say I will be back to do this workout again especially when I’ve finished my marathon next month and cutting down the running completely is a total understatement. Chiraz was a great teacher and the class itself is great for toning, cardio and core.

If you’re looking for a fantastic cardio, adrenaline fuelled workout; look no further than Fight Klub. But tell your friends quietly as you know what the first rule of Fight Klub is, don’t you?

To find out what time your local Gymbox hosts Fight Klub sessions, click here.

For more information on the lovely trainer, Chiraz click here.

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Angel Dee Review: Integra

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As a former sprinter turned distance runner, I’ve always been taught to look at where injuries are and treat those at the source, so I was very intrigued after reading through Integra’s website and the concept of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) as it turned what I knew on its head. I headed down to Integra’s space I’m the heart of London’s Brick Lane to meet with the Founder of Integra, Michael Goulden who put me through my paces in what was a very thorough consultation.

MAT is a concept from an American programme and Michael is one of a very few professionals in Europe who hold the qualification of Master Level Specialist in the Muscle Activation Technique. MAT is a biochemically based manual therapy that prepares the body for exercise which ensures the body works more efficiently reducing injury risk and increases recovery time and performance.

Pain in fitness is usually seen as a place to stop and rest, which is fine, but Michael explained that by looking at the muscles and their inhibition when something is wrong (which results in us feeling pain) and looking at that in connection with the Central Nervous System (your brain, powerhouse for the muscular, endocrine, immune and digestion systems), it will point to the imbalances of the joints and muscles usually found elsewhere before working on activating the muscles which have “shut down” causing the inhibition. Pain essentially is a protective mechanism that the brain places on the body to get us to stop. We went through my weekly activity and diary of races coming up as well as lifestyle.
I currently have issues with my left hamstring, so we went through a series of resistance tests to look deeper into the cause. Michael made the point of reminding me to think about why that was; yes, it was due to exercise, but I was to look at why there was pain there in the first place.

Integra’s space is very well laid out and offers a room for examination and an open gym area.

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After a very thorough examination looking at muscle strengths and weaknesses, Michael pointed out my flexibility was very good, considering I run long distances my feet and knees were in a very good place and as an athlete, in fact I had sprinters feet. He noted I should look more at my left hip and part of my glute as that’s where my weaknesses were and not in the hamstring where I feel the tightness. Michael also dispelled the myth about the illustrious IT Band that is the bain of a lot of runners lives. The ITB cannot stretch, so when we feel the pain in that area, it is usually indicative of issues in the muscles usually in the thighs hips or glutes, so foam rolling may not always be the best solution. (At this point, I should add my mind: blown).

This is definitely something I would like to look more into as I continue my Personal Trainer studies, for my personal knowledge about my own body and how it operates as an athlete.

Integra have a “Injury Prevention for Runners” workshop coming up on Saturday 7th September which I would highly recommend for anyone who is a runner or wants to start running. For further information on the workshop click here.

Integra also offer Personal and Group Training. For more information on this and their Muscle Activation Technique consultations, you can find details on Integra’s website.

Angel Dee Review: Gravity Workout

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Last Friday I attended a new class at Gymbox called “Gravity Workout” which was described as ‘body weight training on the frame with the added difficulty of wearing a weighted vest’, and it was just that!

I arrived at the gym nice and early as I was aware of the roadworks in the Farringdon area and descended two floors to the very spacious (read this as ginormous) changing area to lock my stuff away and have a walk around the gym. Going down the dark stairs hearing music pumping from various areas made me feel like I was about to go clubbing which isn’t a bad thing to me at all. The areas are zoned pretty well, with the free weights area looking like Muscle Beach. The boxing ring and punching bags looked awesome, didn’t have time to have a go at the time. I popped my head into the area on my way out and there was a lot going on, vigorous punching with jungle music pumping. Niceness. There is plenty of space to move and a lot of equipment and machines, although the first few trips be prepared to get a little lost as the gym is deceptively large.

Our class was in Area 1 which resembled a scene from Mad Max, I was half expecting someone to shout out ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ as I looked down into the area from one of the free weight areas above. It could look intimidating to the untrained eye, but I think my heart skipped a beat when I walked up the stairs into the area and saw all the bars, medicine balls, boxing pillars and mats. George our trainer threw down the vests from one of the other zones upstairs and when I saw the size of them, I realised this wasn’t going to be an easy class at all. After an introduction we got straight into a warm up incorporating sprint drills and quickly into the main aspect of the class.

We were paired up with one partner in a vest and one without. I went first donning a vest and was paired up with George (of course I was!) and only being 5’2 the vest came up pretty big on me. George gave me a 10kg vest (the vests came in 10or 12kg weights). We went through three sets of five disciplines . Each set consisted of:

Vest
Squats
Slow Mountain Climbers
Static holds on pull-up bar
Lunges
Hip thrust Bridges

No Vest
Jumping Squats
Push-up with extended arm after each rep
Sprint on the spot
Jumping lunges
Opposite arm to leg sit-ups

The first set was for a minute, the second for 45 seconds and the last for 30 seconds before swapping over the vest to your partner and George made sure the recovery between sets were short and sharp. Needless to say I was glad I wore the vest first because but the time I was on the last of the static hold on the pull-up bars I was questioning my reason for being there! But George’s enthusiasm definitely rubbed off onto the group, despite it being hard work the majority of the group were still smiling by the time we finished the session with sprint drills. The 40 minutes went by really fast and my only gripe was not being warned about the holds, it definitely does require gloves or chalk – I had both in my gym bag, the last set was a mess with sweaty hands. George was to me a very good trainer, encouraging without being patronising or pushy.
I would definitely do this again (maybe not after a hardcore session the night before like I did), and I definitely would stretch in the sauna afterward again to help with muscle soreness as my arms are a mess now as I’m typing.

Thank you to George for a dope class and to everyone at Gymbox, Farringdon.

For more information on the Gravity workout, have a click here.

Angel Dee Review: Simplicious and Afrikan Yoga

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“Ooh, you know they’re serious about life when they’re spelling “African” with a K”. – Angel Dee 2013.

I was invited to this event through a friend of my homegirl, Tahirah and upon investigation I was sold at the idea of exploring Afrikan Yoga. Simplicious marketed the event they held in conjunction with the founder of Afrikan Yoga, Pablo Imani as an evening “combining movement, reflection and discussion”. And it was certainly that.

After a very long and tedious day at work, I was very tired and fed up before I had even set foot on the bus to Stratford. So when the man next to me released his bladder all over the seat, I seriously thought about going home. I arrived at Stratford Circus with a very tense body and was full of stress. That started to disperse when I turned to see Tahirah stroll through the centre doors. We were initially greeted with a warm welcome by the team from Simplicious and directed to the studio before they went to finish setting up. After a quick change, I met Tahirah and we made our way to the studio where her friend Michelle and some of the other ladies taking part had already convened. We waited for a while talking before Pablo arrived and greeted everyone individually before we started the class.

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Lying down for a few minutes as the drums started to be honest was all that I needed. Pablo came around the room preparing everyone for the hour ahead giving encouragement and reminders to relax where needed. By the time we started the warm up, the majority of ladies in the room seemed to be a lot more cantered (myself included). Warm up consisted in stretches and dynamic movements in preparation for poses, as we weren’t aware the warm up was so long, most of us were surprised when Pablo told us this when a few wanted to get water. He explained the water would undo the work of warming up, which I understood, but the room was warm and we had undergone a series of quite vigorous movements including intense stretches. There were moments where I did feel uncomfortable, a room full of women gyrating to “warm up the hips” and being asked if we felt the fire wasn’t my favourite moments of the night. I also had to focus so hard in order not to get the gunfinger out or laugh when we were rolling backward like Shabba Ranks circa Mr Loverman.

It was apparent that Pablo’s style drew on a martial art/tai chi style as well as Kemetic yoga, dance and African roots to create his unique style. The warm up where we were grounded and creating air with our arms did remind me of the groups in the local park practicing Tai Chi, but it did feel natural and admittedly I did get into the whole thing.

We were talked through the poses as Pablo had us follow his lead and soon found ourself in shoulder stands, intense cobras, wheel poses, and a mixture is seated and standing poses; all very demanding on the body. Yoga can be seen as slow and boring, I’d dare anyone to say this after an hour and half of Pablo’s class. The last portion of the class had everyone sat meditating after using the energy created during class to remember to be thankful and we went around the room offering peace and thanks to each other. Meditation for me was very necessary. Despite a few reservations, the class was invigorating and I did feel recharged.

The finger food was pretty good, I’ve been to many events and their idea of finger food was meagre. Simplicious put on a very decent spread, including sandwiches, rolls, vegetarian pizza, breaded chicken and spring rolls was very necessary after our evening. We sat afterward with Pablo for a while for a Q&A and photos. I left the building feeling very tired from what was a good evening with a group of lovely people having had an intense moment with them. Not sure I would be comfortable with the hip warming again, but I definitely did not hate the evening and glad that I went.

Simplicious put on a very nice evening which was relatively well organised despite a later than expected start, thank you!

For more information on Soulicious, you can find them here.
Details about Pablo of Afrikan Yoga can be found by clicking here.

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