Loading...

Follow Fitness On Toast on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Core strength will look after your body as it ages, so it’s well worth working towards a strong muscular girdle right now, whatever your age! To help accomplish that, here’s a great little ab routine which aims to target all your abdominals muscles and give your whole core a serious punishing! It’s been a while since I wrote about training abs and I thought this cheeky routine was worth sharing, as it requires no weights or gym equipment; it’s perfect to bust out in the living room, garden or local park whilst enjoying this stunning weather! It’s not overly complicated but when done correctly it’s devastatingly effective! Dispatch the 4 exercises back to back. Then have a 1 minute break and do it all over again! 4 rounds should do the trick!

  1. HANGING LEG RAISESThis is an awesome ab exercise as well as a great way to strengthen your upper body (arms shoulder and grip strength).
    – Start by griping a bar with both arms extended at arms length shoulder width apart.
    – Now the tough bit is raising your legs in front of you and lowering them under control, whilst ensuring the rest of your body maintains stationarity (a statistics term, but I’m borrowing it). You want to avoid swinging your hips arms or legs, thereby engaging all the stabilising muscles.
    – Options are: (advanced) raising your legs straight up until the torso forms a 90-degree angle with the legs, or if you want even more of a challenge, raising the legs even higher so that your feet touch the bar. The Intermediate option is to bend your knees and raise them to your chest, then slowly lowe them back down. There’s always the Twist too!
    – Finally the Beginner option is to bend the knees and then to raise them as far as you can. This takes some of the strain off the stabilising core muscles, which will help at first.

2) SIDE PLANK 

  • The side plank is a compound movement (i.e. it recruits multiple muscles simultaneously) which is revered because it targets your entire core and hones in on the external and internal Obliques (the ‘corset’ holding you in at your waist. So this exercise can really help sculpt a defined waist and rid yourself of the dreaded ‘muffin top’. The question is, how long can you hold the side-plank ensuring correct technique? If you trial this little exercise, you may find that 10-15 seconds will be your limit, but including it in your training on a regular basis and you’ll soon work your way up to 30-60 seconds holds.
  • How to?
    1. Start by lying on your right side. Placing your left foot on your right foot, keep your legs straight.
    2. Ensure that your elbow is directly under your shoulder and slowly lift yourself up spreading your weight across your body onto your righ arm and right leg.
    3. All along engage your core. Avoid pushing your hip too far forward it back. Instead aim to keep your body in line.
    4. Maintain the position until failure, and then gently relax
    5. Repeat for 5 cycles.
    6. Pursue a session of gentle stretching after the abdominal exercises, to promote lengthened and oxygenated muscles

3)  REVERSE CURLS

The reverse curls are a great body-weight exercise that helps strengthen the lower abdominals and entire core. It’s easy to forget to target the lower abs, especially the transverse abdominus which are considered your lower abs. This is a great exercise to help you do precisely that but beware as always listen to your body. Start with the easier option and work your way up if you feel comfortable to. Find the two options below.

How to?
– First off, always listen to your body and if you feel any discomfort/pain, stop!
– Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your palms face down on the floor for support, or as in my case, holding on to the bar behind you.
– Imagine you’re almost pushing your lower back down into the floor. This is to prevent the lower back from arching, which would place undue strain on it. Instead tilt your pelvis slightly to make contact with the floor, and breathe in deeply.
– Then raise both bent legs so that your knees are directly over your hips and your feet and shins are parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
– Now as you exhale, raise your knees slightly towards your chest and then slowly bring your knees back to starting position. It’s a small movement but when done correctly you’ll feel it massively.

Option Two!
– In this instance maintain straight legs throughout. This will require a strong core and lower back. If you feel it’s putting strain on your back, please stick to the leg raises with bent knees. There’s absolutely no benefit in pushing yourself to the point of potentially causing disruptive injury.
– When lowering and raising your straight (or bent) knees, ensure to use your abdominal muscles rather than relying on momentum, or just swinging. Also try to relax your head, and avoid straightening your neck and hunching up your shoulders.

4) MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

This exercise is another devastating compound move. Aside from positioning yourself in a plank position (and insoidoing, blasting out your core and abdominals) you’re also raising the heart rate by essentially sprinting on the spot, parallel to the floor. It is a punishing exercise, and hard to maintain the intensity. I dare you!

  • Start in a high plank. Draw your right knee under your torso, keeping toes off the ground.
  • Return to start.
  • Switch sides and repeat. Continue as if you’re running in place as far as you can! Aim for 30 seconds or 10 steps on each! Whatever you find challenging!

Good luck to you, dear reader!

Faya x

The post 4 TOP EXERCISES FOR ABS AND CORE STRENGTH! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I’ve lived in Blighty for over a decade now (and am half-English by birth), but I don’t remember this country having experienced such a proper stereotypical ‘summer’ before, with countless days of uninterrupted pleasant weather, and not a hosepipe ban in sight! To mark the occasion, here’s a deliciously light, refreshing and quintessentially ‘summery’ salad, somewhat infused with Scandinavian know-how. The texture and flavour really reminds me of Swedish summers! The crunchy, quenching fennel works beautifully when tossed into a salad and whilst this particular ‘edit’ is vegan-friendly, it works sublimely when dusted with flakes of roasted salmon too! Quick, easy and requiring almost no kitchen flare whatsoever, this is your best chance of upgrading your Monday-night Salad Game…

For those of you who perhaps haven’t encounterd the marvels of Fennel, it is a herb with a liquorice flavour. The crunchy texture along with its distinct ‘aniseed’ essence works beautifully in salads and provides some dependable nutritional benefits too, including a hefty deposition of Vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber as well as manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. Moreover though, the counterpoint of Fennel-vs-Citrus flavour just works a harmonious treat! Here’s the How To…

The post DELICIOUS SUMMER CITRUS SALAD! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The humble spud may have originated in the Andes 7000 years ago, but it features heavily in today’s Swedish diet, and is a mainstay in many of the recipes in my recent book Fit In 3. When Love Potatoes reached out to ask me to craft a delicious, healthy breakfast recipe using potatoes, I was delighted to oblige, and dipped into my deep bench of spud dishes! The potato isn’t just an incredibly versatile ‘hero ingredient’ (think roasted, baked, mashed, steamed, crisped, wedged/chipped etc), but it packs significant health benefits. Each one is loaded with flavonoids and carotenoids (whose antioxidant activities to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases), vitamin B6 (to enable enzymatic reactions and promote cellular renewal, as well as the production of serotonin in the brain and healthy heart function) and a unique type of ‘resistant starch’ that may help regulate blood sugar and improve the digestive health. They’re satisfying (their latin name solanum tuberosum literally means comforting tubers!) so you stay fuller for longer, and actually contain more potassium than a banana (which helps to regulate blood pressure and protect against the likes of stroke) or indeed any other fruit or vegetable. They’re also affordable, and always on hand as they’re grown throughout the year – the leading vegetable crop in the world. This recipe is for a delicious Breakfast Potato Frittata with Mushroom, Spinach and Italian Herbs – it’s quick and easy, requiring limited kitchen skills, packs a serious nutritional punch and will keep you full until lunch time! Click MORE for the full recipe and video ‘how to’…

Breakfast Potato Frittata - A healthy Recipe with Spinach and Herbs by FitnessOnToast - YouTube

This is a super simple but ultra-delicious dish, served hot or cold. It’s perfect on a summer’s day, as a breakfast or indeed in a lunch box to work. With the addition of a few key ingredients, the dish is transformed, and suddenly packs a flavorsome punch! I’ve chosen to go for an Italian taste as we’re enjoying the summer season, by choosing Italian herbs but you can easily swap the ingredients around to go for a spicy taste, for instance, all the while using the same base ingredient – potato!

The potato was once demonized for being bland & starchy, but they’re full of nutrients, as mentioned above. As a rich carbohydrate source, they provide a superb dose of energy, & help to keep you feeling full. Plus they’re surprisingly rich in immune-boosting Vitamin C; a medium sized potato (150g) with the skin on provides 27mg, almost half of the recommended daily intake! They’re also a rich source of Vitamin B, folate & minerals such as potassium, magnesium & iron. Affordable, locally grown, versatile, low-sugar, 100% natural plus they’re gluten/fat/salt free.

Find the instructions below. This recipe is super quick and easy to make (circa 15minutes), and it’s also an everyday meal, so why not give it a shot today!?

The post BREAKFAST POTATO FRITTATA WITH MUSHROOM & SPINACH! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Les Sources de Caudalie is one of those rare hotels to enjoy the mysterious ‘Palace’ designation – a hyper-prestigious mark of distinction bestowed upon just 24 hotels, all of which are in France. Unclear as to what it officially means, to me it represents an endorsement that an operation has proven itself a practitioner of the finest haut hospitalité that the French call their Art de Vivre. Whilst the hotel itself is really quite special, there were two other major components to the site which rendered my stay here totally memorable and unique; the world-class ‘Grand Cru appellation’ vineyard on site, and the shrine to the French beauty house Caudalie, itself stemming from the vines. When choosing a place to stay, one must select the appropriate property for the geography; Les Sources de Caudalie masterfully bottles the essence of this region into one exceptional package. For a wellness escape to Bordeaux, it is a sublime choice, and this post reveals the magical experience I found there! 

You might be a bit confused at this point? Perhaps you’ve encountered the beauty brand, Caudalie and noticed it featuring prominently in the name of this hotel? Caudalie beauty’s existence is entwined in a sort of symbiotic triumvirate of the vineyard, the hotel and the beauty brand. The family who own Château Smith Haut Lafitte (the reputed Bordeaux institution decorated with 100 points by Robert Parker for their 2009 opus major vintage – wine buffs will know this to be a big deal) started Caudalie beauty some 20 years ago, as a corollary of scientific research into the very grapes which bestow life-preserving properties to their wines. The findings postulated that the chemical substances called ‘polyphenols’ contained within the grapes’ pips were rich in specific amino acids and antioxidants, which are known to have beneficial applications in skincare. 

Blessed with hundreds of hectares of vineyards occupying the favourable south side of the Garonne river, an ultra fertile clay/limestone soil, an aspect benefitting from lashings of sunshine, gentle winds and cool nights, plus plenty of natural irrigation, the Château has a surplus of polyphenols (i.e. grapes) some of which following the harvest, will never make it into their finest bottles. They have other uses of these premium products of natural origin (no pesticides or additives are permitted by the domaine, so everything is organic); hence the birth of the beauty products! 

From this natural background, the hotel has sprung up, partly as a way to further commercialise the activities of the vineyard, but also to encourage and cater for the truly fascinating category of wine tourism (we’ll touch upon that a bit later!) and to provide a shrine, by way of a spa, at which to exhibit Caudalie’s essence. Unsurprisingly, those are the products you find in your room, along with a bottle of Les Hauts de Smith to welcome you. 

My preference is always to approach a trip from a wellness perspective and this Bordeaux excursion was indeed no different.  So, straight in then…

THE SPA!

As mentioned, the Caudalie brand was created at family owned Château Smith Haut Lafitte, from the discovery of a method by which to use active polyphenol components found in grape pips.

Their spa harnasses the naturally warm spring water which comes from 540 meters down, and is rich in minerals and oligo-elements. You can either take a swim in the indoor or outdoor pool, rest in the traditional hot tub, or sweat it out in the hamam. A cycle of all 3 is favourable!

Stepping into the 1,500 square meter spa you’ll be greeted by an airy space, high vaulted ceilings decorated by restored old wooden beams. It’s a wonderfully restorative yet energising atmosphere. With windows on every wall you’ll always have a view looking out onto either the endless vineyards, the outdoor pool, the organic farm or Chateau Smith Haut Lafite. It’s incredible looking out onto the vineyards knowing that the products you’re using in the spa contain natural ingredients which come directly from those fields.

Treatments-wise, there’s a generous menu from which to choose. I opted for the signature Honey & Wine Wrap and the signature facial, using only Caudalie products. The Caudalie products use grape, red wine and essential oil extracts in their treatments, and these ingredients are said to help reduce tissue swelling by draining and boost circulation.

I’d never had a simultaneous ‘scrub and massage’ before and I absolutely loved it. The therapists used the Crushed Cabernet scrub, which included all natural ingredients such as olive oil, sugar and grapes. After scrubbing both the front and the back of the body for a good 10 minutes you’re wrapped up in a cocoon for five minutes in order for the oils to really soak into your body. Once that’s done you jump into a quick shower (no soap allowed) and are laid back down for a massage. I can’t tell you how incredibly soft, supple and hydrated my skin was afterwards; it was quite remarkable. I would highly recommend this treatment and scrub if you get the chance to visit.

Product-wise, Cauadalie say ‘no’ to parabens and stay committed to using the highest proportion of natural ingredients as possible, which is a preference I respect and associate with. The brand is environmentally conscious too, as they’re part of the ‘1% for the planet’, movement which donates 1% of its global sales to NPOs that work to protect the environment. So by 2020 6 million trees will be planted around the world

ORGANIC VEGETABLE GARDEN & FARM

The vegetable garden was one of my favourite parts of Les Sources de Caudalie. You’ll find most things you’d expect in a vegetable shop – lettuce, artichokes, spinach, herbs, edible flowers – all used on a daily basis in the kitchens of the property. There are also fifteen hens producing eggs that you may have for breakfast the following morning. Theres also an adorable dwarf goat family who help protect the hens from foxes. Not to mention the rich ecosystem of bird families that call this sanctuary their home too. Nature and an appreciation of the natural world is so closely intertwined with respectful wine production that it is an integral component of this hotel too, which I loved.

FITNESS

There’s a small but high-spec gym on site with a set of dumbbells a couple of Technogym Personal-line machines and treadmills and of course you can always go for a few laps in any of the pools, indoors or outdoors. There are also personal trainers on site. If you let the staff know they’ll make sure to book one in for you. The gym is small but enough for an indoor workout when you need to lift something heavy

There’s also a tennis court to burn off any extra wine-based caloric energy you may have consumed…

BICYCLE, OR GO FOR A RUN

If you don’t fancy going for a swim or running on the treadmill, the hotel has an array of bikes along with routes through the beautiful forests and vineyards for you to venture on. I went cycling and running on a few of the routes and they provide some serious fitness motivation, as well as some stunning scenes and scents. The spring air of an awakening forest is quite intoxicating, and hugely invigorating.

THEIR VINEYARDS

There are hundreds of acres of vines, in their seasonal infancy at my time of visiting and which are constantly ploughed, tilled and cultivated by donkeys and ground staff alike. These eventually bear a fruit which will go on to constitute the 2018 vintage of Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Just 100m away from the hotel, the vineyard runs tours, which I only too happily joined for an immersion into the world of great growths. The impression I took away is one of dedicated and skilled craftsmanship, and significant hidden toil that goes into bringing superior bottles to the tables of oenophiles the world over. You tour the cooperage where 6-year aged French Oak is hewn and tied into the barrels which will eventually age their grapes, visit the fermentation vats, the harvest zones, the deep underground production facilities and barrel storage hanger (an obscenely serene and cavernous underground space where I felt quite at peace), the vines, and a tasting extravaganza of some of the reputed vintages. 

THE GASTRONOMIC RESTAURANT  

  • La Grand’Vigne is the hotel’s gastronomic destination of some considerable repute, having earned two coveted Michelin Stars – a rating which deems it to have excellent cooking that is ‘worth a detour’. They note that “in this 18C orangery, the dishes have the taste and the colours of nature: they are the work of an inspired chef, Nicolas Masse, a master in the art of associating flavours and textures with remarkable precision to appeal to the senses.” As the days passed, I observed that many of the ingredients are sourced fresh from the multiple gardens that the kitchen staff cultivate around the vineyard (along with a hen house and beehives), rendering the produce unusually fresh, and benefitting from the same terroir that gives life to some of the worlds finest vines. This is a light, gentle journey of a meal which eschews the heavy, butter-dependent grandstanding of many ‘gourmet’ destinations. It is about freshness and nature, from ocean to vine, and therefore mirrors the region itself, given its economic interdependence with the lands. N.B, the lemon tart is quite exceptional in its inventive re-imagination!
  • I would add that the hotel’s non-gourmet restaurant, La Table du Lavoir, is supreme, being bathed in golden light which streams in through the french windows, and enjoying a homely, cottage-like feel. Once an 18th Century washroom, there is still a huge period fireplace and a stunning vaulted old ceiling wrought from reclaimed Medoc timber. Oak barrels, once used for ageing wine, make for storage tables, and the wall of noise is punctuated by the chirping of birdsong with sparrows dancing about in the eaves above you (this is never threatening, and they are quite house-trained!). You have the feeling of being in someone’s country kitchen, and a peaceful, authentic tranquility. It might perhaps sound somewhat of a gimmick but it’s not; this is a gem of authentic Bordeaux history!

ROOMS 

Depending on where you stay within the property, the rooms are housed as cottages, scattered around the hotel complex; I was in the Fisherman’s Village, which is a collection of 12 suites, though there are a further 9 suites and 40 rooms. They’re appointed in country-chic fashion, and of a quality commensurate with the Palace rating,. There’s vine detailing on the wallpaper and you find a bottle of their ‘Les Hats de Smith’ awaiting you on the table. The cosmetics are all, unsurprisingly, Caudalie, and the space homely, comforting, and a good, secluded space into which to withdraw at the end of each day. I found no trouble switching off and sleeping deeply and uninterruptedly here.

OTHER EPIC THINGS TO DO?

  • Go Visit Cognac! The region lies just north of Bordeaux, and is world-renowned for the production of superior brandy, known under the controlled appellation of ‘Cognac’. I had booked a tour at the historic Château of Remy Martin, where I undertook the remarkable Louis XIII tour over 3 hours. My exceptional guide led me through several hundreds of years of history, from the origins of the Baccarat crystal decanter to the distilling chambers, and culminating at the 200-year-old barrels housing thousands of eaux-de-vie, which I sampled with awe (I couldn’t photograph that room, the air is filled with explosive alcohol vapour!). This was an educational and cultural indulgence, and I loved every minute of it.
  • Visit the Wine Museum! In Bordeaux, there exists the most well-invested, high-tech exhibition space I’ve ever encountered, called La Cite du Vin. The sole topic for this vast multi-storey shrine, is wine; it’s history, it’s significance in culture and civilisations both ancient and current, its development, its regional differences, its cultivation, its future and its economic significance. Simply fascinating. I spent 3 hours here, but could have easily managed double that, were I to have planned the time in accordingly. That may sound crazy, but this is an exceptional space, with so much depth if you’ve a curious mind!
  • Dessert! As an advocate of balance and occasional indulgence, there is a permanent place in my heart for dessert. Dessert wine, too, has a place. In the Sauternes classification (and in fact, beyond), there is no peer to Château D’Yquem. Now owned by LVMH, I visited their historic castle grounds and walked through the production process, inspected the vines and storage vaults, learned some detail about the Noble Rot rendering their precious semillion grape sweet and mould-gnarled, and of course, imbibed some of the heavenly nectar itself; pure mead.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I recently had the good fortune to attend the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping and FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Paris – which was RIGHT up my street! My formative years were spent living on a farm in the rural south of Sweden, and as a young child (then into my teens) I was a so-called ‘stable girl’, as my friends and I would spend all of our free time in the stables, combing the horses hair, cleaning their boxes and of course riding freely across the rolling fields. My walls were plastered with pictures of ponies – alongside the occasional Mariah Carey and kitten poster. Back in Paris, the FEI World Cup event is the pinnacle of equestrian competitions, their ‘Wimbledon’ or ‘America’s Cup’ equivalent if you like, so it was a real honor to have been invited the 10-year-old girl in me was overjoyed; watching the most decorated equestrian athlete of all time, Isabell Werth, dispatch a masterclass was a thing of beauty! This post is a behind-the-scenes account of the weekend, along with interviews with three riders, who reveal just how much of a physically and mentally demanding discipline this is. Click MORE to take a look at the fitness angle of world-class Horse Riding…

PREAMBLE:

Now, I realise that not everyone has ridden a horse, and I’ve encountered the misconception surrounding the sport, that horse riding is ‘easy’ and female-oriented. I would challenge any seasoned gym-goer to mount one of these huge beasts and control its power – it takes more than just brute strength, but also technique and the ability to communicate more subtly with the horse. It’s a ‘new’ meta-language that bridges the communication gap between human and animal. Once you’re able to ‘converse’ with your horse, you work as a team. The partnerships these world-class riders have with their horses is truly fascinating – it represents mutual respect, understanding and unconstrained drive to accomplish victory and be the best.

In an age of virtual reality, smartphones and social media, with most of our hours spent indoors, horse riding is more relevant that ever before, as a reactionary and liberating escape into nature. Getting on a wild animal and riding outdoors delivers a thrill unlike anything else. It’s a great way to truly switch off and be present.

BACKGROUND INTO THIS ANCIENT SPORT

The roots go deeper than almost any other sport which comes to mind. Renaissance Europe is the birthplace of the modern classical equitation (riding in harmony with the horse), though scientific and artisitic accounts of horse riding date back to about the 4th century B.C. with Xenophon, the masterful Greek general, whos treatises On Horsemanship show the concept of Parade Horses, and how to care for them. The Hittite civilisation, over a thousand years before even that, were participating too.

More recently, horses were the mainstay of the medieval battlefield, with an obedient and well-trained cavalry horse making the difference between life and death. They were trained in kicks, leaps and tears, to counteract any footsoldiers who were too close when the knight had been un-horsed. By the Victorian era, riding was a fully-fledged art; times have changed again, but today’s Dressage discipline still makes use of the ceremonial movements practised by the Ancient Greeks and the Medieval Knights – piaffe, passage, the half-pass and the pirouette.

The word Dressage originates from the French word dresser, which in this context, pertains to training or dressing a horse. It’s a super-organised discipline with strict etiquette, perhaps stemming from military heritage. Riders enter the 20 x 60m arena and perform a suite of manouevres with increasing levels of difficulty; they’re marked on their execution of these ‘tests’, as well as their horse’s gait, submission, impulsion and the rider performance. From what I can tell, the performance has to look gentle, quiet, harmonious, supple, loose, confident and attentive, all at once!

But don’t take my word for it; here follows an account of my discussions with three celebrated equestrians; Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, Carl Hedin, and Mattia Harnacke.

FIRST UP: MY INTERVIEW WITH ELLESSE JORDAN TZINBERG, MODEL AND FEI WORLD CUP DRESSAGE FINALIST!

F.O.T: What got you into Dressage? 

EJT: I started off as a show jumper but about three years ago I really committed to Dressage – it’s always something that I’ve done especially in Asia, you only have so many shows that you can do a year and so if you only do one it’s quite limiting to your opportunities. So I’d always done both and been pretty good at both, and then three years ago I wanted to fully commit to one. I’d never been in a program for Dressage so I wanted to at least try it, so I could say I tried it, it failed!

F.O.T: Have you ever been interested in any other types of sports?

EJT: I used to play basketball quite a lot, both in college and high school. We have university sports in America but then you also have intercollegiate, which is not as competitive as NCA but it’s still quite competitive. So I played basketball a lot, and also was into fitness. I box a lot still. I’ve been boxing since I was really young so it’s something that’s always been in me. If I was younger maybe I would’ve committed to that instead of riding but it’s something that’s also been a big, big part of me.

F.O.T: What sort of sport specific fitness training do you do to complement your riding pursuits?

EJT: For Dressage, I love Pilates and I think it’s really great for all riders. Yoga is, of course really great for riders but I know that maybe not all riders like the pace of yoga. It’s quite slow, and we work with horses so we tend to like fast pace. For me Pilates is a bit more mentally my pace, I do that a lot and that really helps with posture. Dressage is so much about the core working, and so much so that you don’t really want to be seen moving very greatly, everything is about very minuscule movements – very strong small movements so Pilates in my experience really trains those muscles. Then I always thought boxing was great for all riders just because you’re using your entire body, you’re using you balance, you’re using coordination, hand eye coordination, speed, controlled movement, and there’s a lot of rhythm. You have to stick with the rhythm and there’s a lot of combinations – it’s the same with riding where you always have a rhythm whether your jumping or sound Dressage, you have a rhythm that you keep to and you don’t want to break that constant rhythm. It’s quite musical as well.

F.O.T: Why do you love yoga so much?

EJT: As riders we’re in the same position for hours each day. A lot of riders aren’t very flexible. They get quite used to using the same muscles every day, all day. And we sit in that same position. You talk to a rider and most of the time it’s always like their hamstrings and hip flexors are super tight as well as lower back. I like slower, more meditative yoga, as it also works on opening the hips up. It calls for a lot of mental strength too and the same goes for riding – mental patience, and mental strength. Yoga is practical for that.

F.O.T: How do you structure your training week?

EJT: A lot of professionals ride five-to-eight hours a day so that’s quite draining. It varies depending on the horse but normally you’d ride one horse for 30 minutes to an hour. Some days, you do end up really exhausted. You and the horse will always have a day off so I think it’s really essential to do something that’s going to change which muscles you’re using, to do something else with your body. Then I think it’s really important even if you’re riding 8 hours a day, to take care of your body so you’re training those other muscles that support the muscles you use whilst riding. So whether you do some plank work or core exercises, stretches, I think any little bit helps.

F.O.T: A lot of people who’ve never ridden may not realise the immense amount of strength required for horse riding…

EJT: I can definitely tell when I ride more horses or not. It does take a lot of strength, they’re such giant animals first of all; also, of course you immediately think you have to be so strong to handle these big animals but also because I’m like 56/57 kilos I’m never going to match up to a horse head to head so you have to find ways to use your muscles in a more practical way and being able to have your core strength and being able to be quick and hold, let go very fast… so it’s about being able to use what we have most efficiently also.

F.O.T: What do you do to really chill out and recover from training?

EJT: Massage!!! In Wellington which is where I live in Florida, I’m very lucky that there’s a wonderful massage lady there who I try and see every week. I think it’s so important for your body. Also someone with that profession feel things that you don’t know. They might notice that your hip flexor or spine is a bit crooked, so you need to have that expertise. Besides, getting a massage is just really relaxing too! 

F.O.T: In terms of nutrition, so you want to stick to a certain weight?

EJT: For the benefit of the horse, it’s nicer to be a lighter rider. I also think that there are some riders who are light but they ride very heavy, and there are some riders who are a little heavier but they ride very light. Of course you want to be your fittest self whatever weight that may be – the fitter you are the better you are for your horse I think. I know that for the jumpers, it’s a little more essential for them to be lighter. For me, when I first got the horse that I have right now, I felt very weak compared to him because he’s a bit of a different ride. So for me I focussed a lot on getting strong in creating parts of my body – like my core, being able to have good balance whilst still being able to use my core and my upper body. It really varies on the type of horse and it’s personality.

F.O.T: I’m Swedish; I know you spent some time there too…

EJT: Yes! I lived in Skåne for two years, and that’s where I moved to from California, but it was a huge culture shock. One winter there and I thought ‘I need to find somewhere else warmer’ and that’s why I went to Florida – warmest place to do it! I moved there and that’s where I really immersed myself in Dressage. The horse I have now is from Sweden it’s from a Swedish rider. I still have a special place in my heart for Sweden.

F.O.T: Is there a benefit between switching horse?

EJT: I think so because really the horses are just so different. Personally if I look at the Grand Prix horse I have now, compared to my last one, they are completely different rides. The last one was very nice in the sense that he was so soft and light, I really didn’t have to be very physically strong, however I had to be a little bit stronger in my legs and I had to ride him in a more forward aggressive way. Whereas with this one I have to be very strong to control his energy. His energy is already there, so it benefits me to be able to swap from different horses and be able to change in that situation or adjust the way your style is.

F.O.T: What would you say makes Dressage so special? 

EJT: I think as far as fitness goes, it’s an amazing workout. I’ve had friends who are huge fitness buffs, soccer players, tennis players, and when they’ve gotten on a horse, the next day they literally can’t walk. So it’s definitely a great workout in terms of strength, but I also think it’s so special compared to other sports because it’s really the only Olympic sport where you work with an animal, so that brings this whole other element to it. You’re not only training yourself you’re training a horse and then you’re training yourselves together. I’d say if you like mental games and mental sports it’s definitely one of them but from a little bit of a different aspect.

I have my own horse with whom I compete and then I work for a show jumping rider and I train his horses in Dressage. A lot of jumpers will tell me ‘oh you still go to the gym but you do dressage’ – they think it’s so much more of a physically intense discipline. You do have to be enormously strong to compete in Dressage.

SECONDLY, MY INTERVIEW WITH CARL HEDIN, DRESSAGE RIDER & INSTAGRAM PERSONALITY!

F.O.T: What got you in to Dressage?

CH: I started riding at riding school, when I was 7 years old in Sweden. I’m not from a horse background. My parents have always been very clear though, this is my passion, they’ve always supported me, and said that it was my ‘thing’. At first at riding school I just wanted to be like a cowboy riding out in the woods and doing three day eventing and all of that. So I started off doing eventing and then when I was 16, I realised I wasn’t any good to be honest! I was always very good in Dressage though – I’ve always been a perfectionist and I loved training with horses, and understanding how you can teach them, and just the whole behavioural aspect of riding really. Then when I was 16 I did some two star shows at eventing and hadn’t really caught a break for eventing so then I said to my Mum, ‘I think I want to do Dressage full time’, because somehow whatever horse I would get on, whether it would be an Irish pony or anything, it would just end up as a Dressage horse so I thought ‘why fight against it, just go for it’. That’s when and how I started Dressage!

F.O.T: What goes in to training a horse?

CH: I think there’s different aspects of that. The easiest way I would divide it up is into three parts. You have the rider and the horse as two singular units, and then you have the partnership between those two. These three aspects all need to collaborate in order for it to just work. So if you have a really good rider but not such a good horse, that won’t be a fit and you can have a really good horse but not such a talented rider that wouldn’t work either. Sometimes you might have a good horse and a good rider but it s still not working because you don’t have the chemistry, and the third factor isn’t really there. I think those are really the three aspects you need to look at.

F.O.T: You mentioned ‘the behavioural aspect’ – what do you mean by that?

CH: I think it’s important that when we work with live animals, that we can never expect animals to understand our language. Instead, we can just try to adapt to their way of communicating with each other. Therefore I think it’s amazing – it’s a new language that you understand little by little, how to read a horse, and how you build that trust and relationship, for you both to do these amazing things.

F.O.T: Have you always been an animal person?

CH: Yes, absolutely! I can do all the lines from National Geographic, I’ve always been so into animals since I was really really young. It falls naturally for me to work with horses.

F.O.T: Can you read the horse emotions, for instance can you tell if and when your horse really enjoyed a ride together?

CH: Yes I think that’s a very important part of being a professional rider, and to work with horses – you can always try to understand what’s going on in their minds, or you won’t have that third aspect of the ‘partnership’. 

F.O.T: In terms of training, what do you do in the lead-up to competition?

CH: It starts from the age of three really, when the horse is very very young, and you start with very easy exercises. Just to carry a saddle for a horse is very unnatural, so that takes quite a long time. The horses that we see her at the FEI World Cup finals will have been training for maybe ten years. In the short period of time before a competition I’d say that most horses will have been training almost everyday that can vary a little bit in terms of how they’ve been trained.

F.O.T: What does the training look for a rider like yourself?

CH: It varies a lot. I work professionally with horses so that means I’ll be riding from 8 o’clock in the morning until like one o’clock in the afternoon, non-stop more or less. So that is serious training in itself. Then there’s the fact that you have to work hard to be a top athlete; you have to work with strength, conditioning and stamina. So yes we do train a lot. I’ve been running a few marathons myself! My best time is 3.26 I think that’s pretty good. I think a lot of riders nowadays take their own physical health into consideration because there’s a long career. Maybe it’s not vital that you are in top shape just for your single performance, but it matters in the long run because you have to be able to go to the stables everyday and stay fit and healthy.

F.O.T: What are the most common injuries would you say?

CH: Back and hip injuries are the big ones, but also knees – especially for show jumping because they are standing up a bit more in the saddle so they tend to ruin their knees if they’re not careful.

F.O.T: What do you do to relax and ensure you get the best recovery?

CH: I think that’s a weak point for the equestrian community – we’re very good at taking care of our horses, having all kind of treatments and therapies and physios and all of that but we are not so good at looking after ourselves: that’s an area that can and should be improved.

F.O.T: Nutrition wise do you follow any particular diets or ways of eating?

CH: I have for periods of times been quite strict with my diet but right now I think that, I wouldn’t say it has so much to do with my equestrian career but my general life wellbeing. I do look after myself, and try to watch what I’m eating and be careful of what I do. I think that’s also something that can be improved. I like to be aware consumer of meat so I like to know what I eat and where it comes from, and I pick my days. I rarely buy my meat for my own household but if I go out to a nice restaurant and I can ask where the meat comes from. I try not to eat as much meat because I don’t think there are that many benefit to it.

F.O.T: For anyone who may be considering riding, what would be your main reasons for giving it a go?

CH: I think that riding is the most wonderful sport! In a modern day society, we have all the virtual realities and social media and all of that and in that world I think that equestrian sport is such a beautiful activity where you still have the element of the real animal! You can only get one horse, you can’t copy-paste a horse. You can’t produce them like an iPhone X on a factory line, with a million copies of a horse. That would be great in some ways because we could all compete against each other more equally, but they’re all individuals just like you and I, that’s the beauty of working with a live animal! Give it a try…

FINALLY, MY INTERVIEW WITH MATTIA HARNACKE, A CELEBRATED MALE MODEL, AND TALENTED SHOW JUMPER

F.O.T: How did you get into Dressage?

MH: I got in to Dressage when I first started riding at 8 in Italy. I started with jumping but found that all the horses I owned could never jump. So by default I got into Dressage..

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I’m a bit of a gadget fiend and love playing about with new fitness devices – one I’ve been excited to trial since its announcement is Fitbit’s latest iteration, the Versa. Several of my Personal Training clients use its predecessor the Ionic, and they are without exception, big fans. So when I was recently invited to Barcelona by Fitbit and Deezer for a wellness weekend to put the Versa to the test, I couldn’t wait to give it a shot! Together with a group of passionate journalists who’d coalesced from all across Europe, we participated in a series of fitness experiences on the beach, as well as a host of other activities. Since then I have been wearing the Versa every day back in London, and am happy to bring you 10 of my favorite bits so far! Click MORE to see them all…

1) Over 4 Days of Battery Life

This is by far my favorite feature; charging just isn’t fun, and it’s easy to forget. Simply not having to charge the Fitbit for 4 days is pretty amazing in the era of battery-intensive processor demands! I travel quite a bit with work and for long weekends – the thought of not having to bring a charger for yet another piece of kit is comforting. This also allows you to keep it on overnight which has the bonus tracking your sleep… which brings me on to my the next great feature….

2) Sleep Tracking & Stages 

I sleepwalk and sleeptalk, and have done all my life – and it gets worse if I’m stressed during the hours of wakefulness. This means despite the fact I may have gone to bed early, I wake after a ‘long’ night sleep feeling pretty tired. However, by being able to see the time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages it gives me a unique insight into the quality of the sleep I’m getting. This personalized insight can really help figure out what’s going on, which enables you to finds ways to tackle this. For more information on sleep, check out my previous post here.

3) Music Experience

I don’t know about you but music is just such a colorful and significant part of my life – and what’s more, I listen to podcasts daily whilst walking to PT clients’ homes, or commuting around London. A workout without music is just too dull for words – it is the very lifeblood of a purposeful, massive session at the gym! Using Deezer, you can store and play more than 300 songs on your watch (no internet required on your run!), and download your own playlists from Deezer, and use the Fitbit Flyer wireless headphones to ditch the cables. I tried these earbuds out in some depth, and apart from looking and feeling extremely high quality, they are well lodged in the ear during a turbulent sweaty run, and deliver a strong sound quality that is crisp in the upper registers, and has character lower down too – so they are not a lightweight sacrifice.

4) Female Health

I love that there’s a dedicated ‘female’ feature, which feels very 2018. It allows you to keep track of your menstrual cycle, record symptoms and compare your cycle against other health stats like sleep, activity, and weight. When I realized how little women actually know about their periods and generally how we only look into them if/when there’s a problem, it made total sense to have an app which keeps track of it all for you. It also projects the optimum point of the fertility window too. I imagine this will find its way into competitor offerings shortly, as it’s a great idea.

5) Accessory Bands 

There are a host of different bands to choose from including classic, leather, metal and woven; I went with a woven nylon affair, as I feel it’s sporty, functional, and easy to clean. The watch itself comes in a standard array of black aluminum, rose gold and grey/silver case; aside from that you can change the look of the watch face – it can give you as little or as much information on the main screen as you wish to share/view. In short, you’re not locked to one particular combination, but can tweak things to look and feel as you want.

6) Heart Rate Tracking 

I found the heartbeat acquisition to be rapid and accurate. It’s excellent to be able to see your resting heart rate, track calorie burn, as well as give insight into your cardio fitness level. Using their SmartTrack you automatically record your chosen exercises like running, biking and more, and see them saved in the Fitbit app, which is neat.

7) There are 15+ Exercise Modes + Waterproofing

Fitbit recognizes that users do a lot of stuff. Consequently, in their Versa offering, there are over 15 exercise modes to help track each specific workout including Run, Bike, Weights session (etc), and throughout, you get a digi-coach to guide you through each move and adapt based on your feedback.

If you’re a swimmer or would like to keep track of your antics splashing about in the pool on holiday, the watch is water resistant up to 50M, which, combined with the 4-day charge, just makes it an easy ‘lifestyle’ everyday sort of choice. No special treatment needed.

Finally, at the end of each workout, Versa will give you a neat little summary which is always super helpful just for the sheer ‘mental note’ value.

8) All-Day Activity

Aside from just sleep and workouts, the watch tracks everyday activity which includes steps, heart rates, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationary time. So even on days when you don’t have time to go to the gym at least you can ensure you move enough and hit your daily step target. I like the complete picture it generates, as generally, I prefer access to more data rather than less.

9) Personalized Reminders

These help you stay on track towards your goals with personalized reminders. So rather than getting to the end of the day and realizing you haven’t moved or drank enough water you’ll get those reminders during the day. A super lovely feature is the guided breathing sessions which help slow down your breathing as well as your heart rate down. It’s a wonderful little reminder to have every day.

10) Connected GPS

Whilst it’s not inbuilt, by enabling Connected GPS via a mobile device, you’re then able to view your runs and hikes and to see pace and distance on display, and of course get a map of your route in the Fitbit app. I’m pretty sure that an inbuilt GPS module would chomp through the monster battery life pretty quickly, so I’m happy to trade that functionality off for life-preservation.

Plus all the other stuff…

Aside from the fitness tracking tools, the Versa also provides all the other smartwatch functionalities that are valuable – receiving calls, texts, emails or calendar notifications on screen plus you get push notifications from your favorite apps. Plus, it’s loaded with mobile payment functionality, so you can use your credit and debit cards on-the-go, almost anywhere that accepts contactless payments. It’s a pretty-looking, svelte, and versatile smartwatch that does the job at a decent price, and what you lose from inbuilt GPS, you gain in battery life extension. This is a good piece of kit for £199!

The post ROAD TESTING THE FITBIT VERSA… appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sometimes I crave burgers, and last week, such a day befell me. However, I am pescatarian; cue the plants! I decided to whip up a batch of vegan burgers using basically whatever I had the fridge. In my favor – these burgers are one of the easiest recipes to make. Using beans (you can use chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans etc) is ideal because they pack a proper payload of protein, are super cost-effective to make and can be produced in bulk to be frozen for another day! Click MORE for the simple instructions to have your own healthy burger day!

The post VEGAN BEAN BURGERS! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I recently had the excellent fortune to visit a charismatic, cozy, alpine bolt-hole named Les Fermes de Marie, nestled within the charming cobblestoned town of Mègeve, high up in the mountains of the French Alps. If you fancy going on a little ‘last-minute spring skiing weekend’, then perhaps read on to discover a little of the magic behind this outstanding traditional mountain destination!

HITTING THE TOWN OF MEGEVE

This ultra-picturesque town runs rich with charming authentic Savoyarde architecture as if you’ve time-warped back to a magical place where you’re riding in a horse-drawn carriage whilst church bells echo around the surrounding mountain shoulders. Unlike many ski resorts, some of which feel as if they were purpose-built in the 1970s, this entire town feels authentic, genuine and understated but is by no means sleepy! There is a pleasing blend of superb slopes, compelling hospitality options, countless boutiques and at the end of the day you can retire to Les Fermes de Marie by the fire in the coziest of chalets with all the modern amenities to make skiing enjoyable, deeply enrobing mattresses and possibly the best mountain spa I’ve encountered.

LES FERMES DE MARIE…

There are nine chalets, forged from reclaimed timber, sprawling across four acres of alpine garden. Whilst people may know Mègeve predominantly for skiing it’s active throughout the whole year, and is perfect as an active escape in summer for hiking and yoga, or likewise as relaxing spa retreat amidst the fresh spring air. The site was founded in 1981 by Jocelyn and Jean-Louis Sibuet, and as the name would suggest, the building was traditionally a farm. Jocelyn’s daughter is called Marie, and she feels it was a lucky name, so has since named many other hotels in their collection after her daughter as well. Jocelyn Sibuet designed Les Fermes de Marie and in many ways pioneered the distinctive chalets style across this region. If you get the chance to visit, you can expect large rustic properties decked in distressed wood from mountain farmhouses, plus beautifully detailed hand-painted ceilings, dim cozy lighting, fluffy fur blankets, and aromatically invigorating log fires all hidden under a blanket of deep snow. Throughout my time, I felt that the service was confident, super friendly and professional but not overbearing; instead, it boasted genuine warm French charm, often notable for its absence in the hospitality industry.


WELLBEING…

This is a place for complete wellbeing. During my stay, I slept plentifully on a vast bed, woke to a classic healthy breakfast, would head out for a full morning of hard skiing, take in the crisp, fresh alpine air scented with pine, grab lunch, dispatch some more skiing and then return to base. The experience leaves you quite drained, but feeling superbly energized.

Megève’s ski domain spans a monstrous 300km of slopes with and 80 perfectly integrated ski lifts within three areas – the Rochebrune Cote 2000, Jaillet and Mont d’Arbois. It’s comfortably suitable for all levels – you’ll find a good mix of green, blue, red and black, such that you should find it hard to get piste-fatigue here within a week! Megève also links the ski areas of Combloux, Saint-Nicolas de Veroce, and Saint Gervais completing the Evasion-Mont Blanc ski area.

BENEFITS OF SKIING?

•THRILL: Skiing as a sport is simultaneously thrilling, exhausting, exhilarating, uplifting, and perilous. If nothing else, it is a workout for all of the emotions! The thrill of tearing down the slopes means worldly troubles could not seem further away; adrenaline and endorphins flow freely in this pursuit!

•CORE BURN: You’re engaging the muscular ‘core’ to stabilize yourself, for hours on the trot. As a result, this activity hones and refines the agility and balance.

•CARDIO: It is a superb aerobic workout; an hour of skiing clocked up c.450 calories of energy consumption for me, though it would be more than double that should you go cross country skiing! Poling along on the flat, something I did quite a fair bit of, is a real leg-burner, and I loved it!

•LEG BURN: The entire leg complex benefits from the lunging and squatting silhouettes adopted during a day’s skiing; the glutes, the quads, the hamstrings and the calves all feel the benefit of moving on plains they rarely otherwise do, and bearing stresses as you go; you feel it after day 1, no matter how much you prep! Likewise, the joints and bones take the impact of the shock absorption required to navigate the piste, so are being strengthened too.

•FLEXIBILITY: Given that you’re constantly stretching and moving at extreme ranges of motion, skiing naturally improves your flexibility as the week goes on.

•MOOD BOOSTING: The mood is elevated; soaring amidst vast majestic mountains just fills you with renewed life. The air is crisp and pure, restoring strength to the lungs and constitution; the colors are divine, with an inky darkness of blue possible only at extreme altitude, cutting deliciously against the fresh white of the groomed snow, and the contenting effect of the sunshine amplifies it all with a sprinkling of vitamin D.

•CONCENTRATION & FOCUS: It’s also a mental workout, focussing the mind on spatial awareness as there’s a complex radar to monitor; other skiers, your own immediate and future path, your speed, pitch, altitude, incline, and overall technique!  It’s a proper challenge for cognitive function.

•REST & RECOVERY: Sleep gets a huge boost, for, at the end of the day, you’re utterly shattered, leaving no alternative but to seek restorative shut-eye!

RESTAURANTS AT LES FERMES DE MARIE…

There are 3 restaurants that I think seem to offer a suitable breadth of flavor for every palate…

1) Restaurant Traditionnel 

Per the name, they serve up traditional Savoyarde cuisine centered around natural local flavors. The dishes work in harmony with the seasons: fish is sourced from local mountain lakes, the herbs are from Les Fermes de Marie’s alpine gardens, fruits and vegetables are grown locally, and cuts of meat are signature Metzger, whilst the cheese platters stem from the master Cheese-monger Boujon.

2) Restaurant Alpin. In summer and autumn, Les Fermes de Marie offers a table d’hôtes in a magical natural setting, high among alpine fields, looking out across the peaks and directly at snow-capped Mont Blanc.

3) Le Bar – A relaxed affair which suits the purpose after a day of skiing; perfect to sit down for a game of chess, read a book or enjoy a hot chocolate in the cozy sofas.

ROOM WISE;

There are a total of 70 rooms and suites, each decorated with the simplicity of the traditional chalet style, and each with its own story, uniquely designed by Jocelyne Sibuet. There is an atmospheric and mysteriously cosy sensation in each of the rooms I visited, quite unlike anywhere else I’ve visited. It all promotes a sense of ease and comfort after a demanding day of exertion!

Pure Altitude Spa at Les Fermes de Marie

To counterbalance the daytime active pursuits, I found 100% Alpine Wellness at the hotel’s spa. It’s a superbly well invested facility with some serious diversity of spa features to keep you coming back in every evening! There are 17 gorgeous spa treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool surrounded by bay windows opening slopeside, with a choice of indoor or outdoor jacuzzis in which to relax, and likewise, indoor/outdoor saunas. As well as a wet sauna, steam room, Japanese-style Ofuro baths both hot and cold, and a terrace relaxation area looking out across the alpine gardens!

My time here was characterized by an overwhelming sense of ease and comfort, in contrast to my historic memories of skiing of old. There are comforts at every turn, with cozy, family-run individuality running through it as a constant thread. I returned more relaxed than when I left, in spite of the heavy physical activity – a key measure of a worthwhile escape!

Faya x

The post SPRING SKIING IN MEGEVE! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I spent last weekend in the company of one of the greatest Swedish icons; no, not Björn Borg, ABBA, or the Chef from The Muppets – but Volvo! Throughout my childhood in Karlskrona (southern Sweden) literally everybody’s parents drove this marque, including mine. Our country has a reserved, understated national culture, and it’s a point of humor that the populace differentiates its individuality by buying the *newest* Volvo. Now though, the exquisite, silky and muscular aesthetics of this freshly-launched beauty, the XC40, make our old 1990s Swedish 240 estate look about as aerodynamic as a cube! Our weekend at The Grove was themed around the classically Swedish concept of Lagom (there’s no direct translation but perhaps conjure Goldilocks and her ‘just right’ porridge), and part of my role was to lead a group of fabulous lifestyle press around a 30-minute HIIT workout on the ‘wellbeing’ part of their experience. Click MORE to read my thoughts on this car, to see how we got on with lagom, and to get a little BTS from the event!

Lagom is super duper Swedish; it’s all about striking an equilibrium of moderation to achieve sustainable contentment; neither having too little nor wanting too much, but instead realizing exactly the right amount of something, whether that be food, holiday, weather, experiences etc. It’s a very Nordic concept, and to me, it means that things are just right, just the way they are.

The XC40 is Volvo’s first small SUV, and you might say that it too is Lagom. But something’s seriously ‘off’. When cars are designed, visionary artists summon totally badass concept sketches that set car aficionados alight, but then somewhere between sketching and production, someone’s job is to make that car look really, really boring, as if it might have been a new car 10 years ago when vehicle silhouettes were aggressively cuboid. At Volvo, they have apparently forgotten to hire that person, and the result is a car that looks just as awesome as the concept sketch! Consequently, I think the XC40 is going to be quite the hit, especially because the monthly cost for a decent spec is actually good; there’s a lot of car-for-money (we Swedes are also notoriously frugal!).

My time in the vehicle was ultra comfortable (even though my press ‘chauffeurs’ did their best to test the limits of road-holding!), with my memory being characterized by an abundance of natural light inside the airy, glass-rich cabin. There are also neat, functional design flourishes and attention-to-detail that you’d expect to find on a luxury saloon at 2x the price, along with electronic connectivity that effectively turns it into a 4-wheel-drive iPhone! Hands full with the weekly shopping? Merely genuflect under the boot with your leg to pop the trunk! Lost your parking space at the Westfield multi-story haystack? Track, start, climate-control and/or lock your car from iPad. Spluttering from the noxious city fumes? Breathe ionized, filtered air in the cabin, whilst being massaged and soothed by dulcet tones from the crisp, 600-watt capable (!!!) Harmon Kardon audio. Then there’s wireless inductive phone charging (no cables), Apple CarPlay (so the whole system works with your iPhone seamlessly), heated steering wheel (essential on frosty days!), 360-degree reversing cams, self-parking etc… In other words, nice, modern, logical features you’d actually want in the car if you designed it yourself!

When we arrived at the gorgeous parkland bathed in glorious sunshine (and 0 degrees temperatures!), the fitness session I hosted for Volvo was to be a 30-minute outdoor bodyweight class. We went for a 2-minute jog around the perimeter of the park ground to start the warming up process, and then sub-groups alternated between wall sits and sprints back and forth, for around 5 minutes.

After that, it was ‘jackets off’ and we took up position on the mats to start the circuit of 6 moves with different options to cater for different fitness level; we tackled a minute of walking planks followed by a minute of stepping lunges/jumping lunges, a minute of press ups, and a minute of squats/jumping squats, then 30-45 seconds of Static Plank holds with the option of scapula retraction, and 30-45 seconds of clapping sit-ups. In between each, a 30-second mini recovery of high legs to keep warm.

When one cycle of all 6 moves had been completed, we took a break for a minute before hitting it again for the next cycle, and then the third and final cycle, at which point the body was in serious lactic-acid mode! A warm-down stretching session wrapped things up with the power HIIT session lasting 30 minutes on the nose.

Since Lagom is about balance, there was also Swedish Massage and cinnamon buns involved, as well as some aerial yoga!

It was my first ‘consumer experience’ of Volvo’s products since my childhood days; whilst they’re still a Swedish champion today, they’ve changed a lot over the years, and are clearly at the leading edge of lifestyle design and technology; and like any patriotic Swede, I really love it!

Faya x

The post VOLVO AT THE GROVE! appeared first on Fitness on Toast.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview