Wednesday, 10 September 2014

INSANITY workout - review

A couple of months ago, I began to hear whisperings - around SW London and beyond - of a workout so tough it left even regular marathon runners trembling in their trainers.

The INSANITY workout, which began as a DVD sensation, was created by Shaun T - a man so bulging with muscle that he makes Hercules look like Rodney Trotter (American, obviously...) - and pushes participants to their very limits to hone the body and improve fitness levels. 

INSANITY has now well and truly reached British shores, and as well as the DVD workout taking the UK by storm, live classes have been popping up nationwide to help us Brits battle the bulge.

The lovely Tanya got in touch with me back in July to let me know about classes starting in Putney, Fulham and Hammersmith, and asked me if I fancied coming along to a session to give it a go.

Her very kind invitation happened to coincide with my lovely boyfriend popping the question, so what better time to kick-start the bridal body regime and give something new a go?!

Off I trundled to St Mary's Church hall in Putney at 7pm on a Monday evening, completely clueless about the 'experience' that lay in wait.

Tanya reassured me on arrival that I would be absolutely fine, but several references to the need to 'dig deep' and '100% effort' had me thinking otherwise...

I was right.

INSANITY does exactly what it says on the tin. IT IS INSANE.

But, I LOVED it!

The website tells you with  confidence that 'you'll be dripping with sweat, you'll be gasping for breath, your heart will be pumping out of your chest, and you'll wonder if you can keep going'. 

They are absolutely spot on. 

INSANITY is a variation of high intensity interval training (HIIT); you get your heart rate up as much as possible through a series of high impact moves for two minutes at a time, with a 30 second recovery in between. 

Each class starts with a 'warm-up' to get your heart rate up, which consists of six different moves that are repeated three times.

As a fairly regular gym-goer and a big fan of cardio classes like Body Attack and Body Combat, I was flummoxed - to say the least - at having to indulge my inner dweeby asthmatic and reach for my puffer after just this section alone.

Once the warm-up had really gotten the blood pumping, it was just a 30 second break before we were into the first of three 'blocks' of interval training. 

Starting with more cardio (god help me) before moving onto balance & agility and strength, each block consisted of four moves of 30 seconds each, followed by a 30 second recovery period.

For each move, there's a lower intensity option you can take if you're really struggling. I was reassured to see that even the super fit members of the class were resorting to these every once in a while (phewph). 

As Tanya encouraged us from the front of the room, it's all about how many reps you can do and keeping perfect form & technique. So long as you're working at 100% effort, it doesn't matter whether it's the higher or lower intensity option that you're taking. 

By the end of block three I thought I might quite possibly keel over / vomit / cry, but I just about managed to make it through to the final abs and stretching sections.

After a much needed towel down and glug of water, I even mustered the strength for one last diamond jump for a picture. (In the bright pink).

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It may have been the most difficult workout class I've ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. Afterwards, I was knackered, but buzzing! 

Six weeks down the line and I'm just about to sign up for another batch of classes, having completed my fifth week of INSANITY workouts on Monday.

I've certainly slimmed down as a result, and - according to my heart rate monitor - am burning up to 650 calories in each 50 minute class!

Tanya is currently running three classes each week:

Putney: Monday, 7pm, St Mary's Church Hall
Hammersmith: Thursday, 7pm Westside School
Fulham: Wednesday, 7pm, Vanstone Place Community Hall

Give it a go, SW6ers - it's a workout unlike any other!

Plus, your first class is only £5!

For more information, check out the website: or send Tanya an email: 

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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Duo's Deep Tissue Experience

Just on the corner of the Fulham road is a fitness centre and spa unlike anything else SW6 has to offer.

Duo Chelsea has been open for a few years now, and offers personal training sessions (including a free trial) and a wealth of treatments to hundreds of Fulhamites in the surrounding area.

Blaze, my fabulous therapist for the afternoon, tells me that all sorts of celebs waft through their front doors - from pop stars to princesses, Duo's appointment book is star studded to say the least. In fact, I'm told that my deep tissue massage appointment meant that a rather well known food critic was denied his usual dose of r and r last Saturday, as muggins here had snapped up the last slot!

The deep tissue massage really is 'an experience' like no other. More accustomed to the lavender oils and lapping waves soundtracks of your traditional masseuse appointment, Blaze's opening gambit of 'how's your pain tolerance?' made it clear that Champneys, this ain't.

Designed to get the blood pumping through knotted muscle fibres to release tension and strains, deep tissue massages HURT. However, the pain is both oddly satisfying, and totally worthwhile once you've experienced the results.

Blaze dutifully kneaded away at my office battered shoulders for a good half hour, breaking down the knots and taking the tension out of the muscles until they'd eased.

Even though the treatment isn't as soothing as your average massage, the deep tissue massage was fantastic. Blaze spotted exactly the areas that required more work and tailored the treatment accordingly. Though the pressure is firm, the treatment is really relaxing, and I emerged feeling like the stresses and strains of a very busy few weeks hunched over a desk had been lifted.

Also on offer at Duo are a wide range of more traditional 'beauty' treatments, from facials to foot rubs.

But, if you want my advice, be bold - the deep tissue massage may feel a bit like going 6 rounds with Frank Bruno at times, but the after effects make it all worthwhile.

Watch this space for more on Duo and their personal training offering (which will almost certainly leave me in need of another massage...!)

Duo Chelsea
2a Gunter Grove, Chelsea, SW10 0UJ
0207 352 5399

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fabulous Facials on Wandsworth Bridge Road

Usually, walking through the doors of the dentist fills me with dread. But last week, making my way into Fulham dental surgery, Karma, I felt anything but.

Tucked away at the top, above all the drills and general horror that goes along with a trip to the tooth doctor, is a very different experience indeed.

A real hidden gem amongst the more obvious beauty salons and treatment rooms dotted along the Wandsworth Bridge Road, Karma Well-Being  offers a wide range of fabulous treatments at highly competitive prices.

The incredibly charming and friendly Ellie Blair, who works her magic providing all sorts of treatments from Swedish Massage to Reiki, invited me along to try a brand new kind of facial: Face the World.

Unlike more traditional facial treatments, Face the World incorporates music and massage from all corners of the globe, providing you with a holistic experience that really revitalises. From a cleanse and tone inspired by the rainforest, to a neck and shoulder massage using Tibetan pressure points, this treatment really is unique.

The founders of the Face the World have come up with their own range of delicious smelling products to go along with the treatment, ensuring you leave feeling fresh faced and relaxed.

Ellie really is a fantastic therapist, and I left the little treatment room with a face smoother than a baby's bottom, and feeling truly zenned out. Plus, with a complimentary 8 minute mini-treatment and neck & shoulder massage incorporated, I felt well and truly pampered.

At £35 for an hour, this treatment is really fantastic value.

As well as the Face the World facial treatment, Karma Well-Being also offers:

Swedish Full Body Massage (60 min) -£40
Reiki (30  min - 1st and 2nd degree) - £35
Head/Neck/Shoulder Stress Reliver (30 min) - £25
Kansa Vatki Ayurvedic Foot and Leg Massage (45 min) - £35

I'll be booking in for a full body massage for Ellie to work her magic as an Easter treat!

Karma Well-Being
c/o Karma Dental Care
144 Wandsworth Bridge Road

0207 736 0876


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