Wildcat Fitness is a Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor, Blogger and Influencer based in London, UK. This is my fitness, health, lifestyle, food, travel and nutrition blog, and hopefully will give you an insight into everyday life as a London PT. I also aim to bring honest reviews of products, clothing, venues and experiences, as well as workout tips and healthy recipe ideas, all from a..
*Please note my stay at the Grange City was #gifted by Grange Hotels*
Holidays, weekends away and time off seem like something you should have in abundance once you become a self-employed freelancer. However the reality is getting and taking time off happens much more rarely than it did even when I worked a corporate desk job – as a freelancer you get programmed to think that time is money, and in turn time off is money lost. In my line of work it can also be tricky to keep clients on track in your absence, as well as finding reliable cover for fitness classes.
However, my stay this weekend at the Grange City Hotel made me realise how easy it can be to take a relaxing spa break even in my home city and feel rested and rejuvenated – and yet still able to take the tube home. After we finished work on a Friday night, my husband and I checked into the Grange City and enjoyed everything the hotel has to offer, and all without the hassle of trains or planes, or me having to alter my work schedule. And yet we enjoyed fantastic views, healthy food choices, a well equipped hotel gym and beautiful spa facilities. To be able to put on my bikini and enjoy swimming in a 25m pool (such a rarity to find a pool so big in London!) after a great workout on a Saturday morning before breakfast felt like the ultimate weekend getaway treat.
We were lucky enough to have a room on the 11th floor of the Grange City Hotel and the view from our bedroom took both of our breath away when we checked in. Directly in front of us was Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and then just a little up the river a perfect view of The Shard. Lucky for us the sun was shining when we opened the curtains on Saturday morning and to have some of London’s most famous landmarks so clearly visible even from our bed was pretty special.
We ate dinner on Friday night in the hotel’s casual bistro Lutetia – plenty of healthy and vegan choices on the menu for me (I opted for Sweet Potato and Chickpea tagine with couscous) – but my husband took the opportunity to treat himself to one of the biggest burgers I’ve seen for a long time! We had breakfast on Saturday morning in Forum restaurant – again plenty of healthy choices as well as the Full English you’d come to expect from a hotel buffet breakfast.
My favourite part of our stay has to be the gym, pool and spa. The Grange City Health Club has some seriously impressive facilities which can also be enjoyed by non-hotel guests. Even just a spa day here would feel like a luxurious London break. The hotel gym is extremely well equipped – I was able to use cardio machines, kettle bells, free weights, bars, a Bosu, stability ball and fixed resistance machines for my workout. So many hotel gyms I’ve used around the world have such basic equipment and it can be a struggle to get a decent workout, but actually the biggest problem at the Grange Health Club was choosing exactly what to do – there was a great selection of every type of equipment! After my session in the gym I popped my bikini on and was able to swim a few lengths of the 25m pool – this actually felt like being properly on holiday – the pool is beautiful and so peaceful, and the jacuzzi and sauna afterwards rounded things off nicely. Next time though I really want to check out the Ajala Spa – the treatment menu had a huge range of facials and massages – a treatment and then using the beautiful spa facilities afterwards would be the ultimate pamper!
If you, like me, struggle to take time out and to find space in your diary for some downtime, then a weekend at the Grange City Hotel is exactly what you need. Stunning views, an insanely comfortable bed, good food and an amazing gym, spa and pool – it’s the ultimate way to look after yourself – mind, body and soul!
Thank you to Grange Hotels for my much needed and very much enjoyed night away – this was a gifted stay, but all views above are my own.
If there’s one New Years Resolution I’m determined to keep this year, it’s to stretch more and spend more time recovering in between training sessions. My body always feels so much better when I do and it really helps iron out any aches and niggles, as well as keeping me injury-free, and yet it’s something I neglect to do enough of when life gets busy. So when Homedics asked if I wanted to try their special Stretching Mat, I was intrigued to see if it could help me make post-workout more of a priority.
The mat itself is shorter than a traditional yoga mat, and is very comfortable to lie on. It is filled with precision controlled air chambers that inflate and deflate to add pressure to the spine, neck, hips and shoulders that mimic various yoga stretching routines – from Flow to Twist to Energise. There are 4 pre-programmed options of varying length, and all have different benefits and can be made more or less intense depending on personal preference. Personally the most intense option works best for me – the Energise sequence especially really helps to loosen up my mid and lower back, where I tend to carry a lot of my tension. The Energise sequence is also less than 10 minutes long, so absolutely no excuse to not fit it in several times a week!
Have a look at the Mat in action here:
HoMedics STRETCH Back Stretching Mat - YouTube
I even managed to get my husband to have a go on the Homedics Back Stretching mat – he’s never done a single yoga class in his life, but said he felt immediately looser after trying the Flow programme (and I’ve caught him having a sneaky couple of goes since then too!)
The mat folds away neatly and doesn’t take up much space, but by far the best thing about it is that I can just relax whilst actually releasing tension and improving my flexibility at the same time. No-one (not even me!) can be too busy for that – and I can already see and feel the benefits in my training sessions after using the mat several times a week.
If you’re keen to start your New Year with the best intentions, then this Back Stretching Mat will definitely help you, and can be purchased here. Personally I can’t wait to start 2019 feeling more relaxed with my own personalised stretching routine – as long as I can wrestle the mat away from my husband!
Please note this is a Sponsored Post in association with Homedics UK.
There are a couple of things in life that are hugely important to me – keeping my body operating in tip top condition to support my extremely active lifestyle, and trying to put things that are as natural as possible into my body. So when I was offered the chance to try herbal joint supplement Flexiqule I was curious to give it a go and see if it really did help support my joint mobility and flexibility – something that is pretty much key in my line of work as a trainer and instructor.
AlchemLife have been creating natural supplements since 1984, trying to maximise the power of plants by using special extraction techniques that ensure the benefits of the whole plant are maintained. Flexiqule features a unique blend of Indian Frankincense (Boswellia) and Ginger – well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and was designed to not only support normal joint mobility, but also help relieve existing joint pain. I have been taking two tablets a day (one with breakfast, one with dinner) for the past month, and despite having had a much heavier activity load than normal for the past few weeks (teaching 8 spinning class a week, coaching at F45 4 days a week, walking an average of 18k steps every day, as well as my own strength and HIIT training) my body feels great. In the past when I’ve had this busy a schedule in terms of teaching and training I would often wake up in the morning feeling stiff and achy (especially heading into the colder weather) but that hasn’t happened at all this past month. If anything I’ve actually felt my fitness levels improve rather than struggle to recover in between sessions.
As you guys may know, I suffered a serious knee ligament injury several years ago and since then have to be careful with high impact exercise and pay very particular attention to post workout-recovery to ensure I don’t have ongoing knee problems, but I genuinely haven’t felt pain in my knee for weeks, despite having put my body through so much. As part of my recovery and general maintenance of my body, I see a chiropractor once a month to make sure my joints are all aligned, and the last time I saw him two weeks ago he was genuinely impressed with how good things felt – I needed very minimal adjustment, which for me is rare! The only thing I’ve done different is take Flexiqule regularly, so whilst results with this type of supplement are hard to actually track or measure, I’m amazed how well my body is doing and how good I feel considering how much I’m doing, and I am sure that taking a supplement designed to support joint mobility and flexibility has been a huge help in this.
My plan is to continue to take Flexiqule on a regular basis – the ingredients are all natural and derived directly from plants, it fits in so easily with my daily routine, and it is almost certainly playing a huge part in keeping my body cup and running and able to teach my classes and train my clients in the best way possible – feeling full of energy and free of joint pain.
If you’d like to try Flexiqule for yourself (it most definitely comes recommended from me!) you can buy directly from the AlchemLife website here or from Lloyds Pharmacy shops – find your nearest here .
And to those of you who have been trained by me over the past few weeks… sorry for the extra burst of energy making your sessions more energetic than ever…. you can blame Flexiqule for that!
Please note this is a Sponsored post, and whilst I was gifted Flexiqule to try, all views expressed in the post are my own.
I couldn’t be more delighted at the Summer we’ve been having here in the UK this year, because as you’ll probably know, I am an absolute sun worshipper and love to make the most of good weather because I’m one of those annoying people who tans easily, and I truly believe I look about 300% better with a suntan. However with my crazy work hours it hasn’t always been possible to get out and into the sun to maximise my tanning time over the past couple of months – so in order to help me maintain the Summer glow I’ve been working on whenever I do get the chance – I’ve been using a couple of products to help me along the way and I thought I’d share my not-so-secret tanning tips with you.
Over the years I’ve tried numerous different brands of self tanner, tinted moisturiser, tan enhancer…. you name it. Some have been good, some have been terrible and some have lingered on my skin weeks after I’d rather forget that they ever existed. So I’d like to think I’m somewhat of an expert when it comes to home tanning products. I’ve recently discovered Bali Body – Australia’s Number 1 Sun Care and Skincare range – and I’ve been using their Bronzing Lotion on my body to give me a subtle, natural glow when my schedule means I can’t sit in the park for a couple of hours to achieve the same thing! Bali Body sells a product worldwide every 45 seconds, and after using this Lotion for a few weeks now I can see why. It’s enriched with anti-oxidants and Vitamin E, so it feels ultra-moisturising on my skin, leaves a subtle and natural glow, and most importantly doesn’t smell bad or stain my sheets!
Have a look below at the comparison photos – I used Bali Body Bronzing Lotion on only half of my body – have a look at the difference in colour – enough to be obvious that I have a tan, but to too over the top to look orange or fake. I love it for everyday use, and for adding a glow for a night out, but one thing I will say is that because the tan is meant to look natural it does tend to streak if I have it on during a high intensity workout – so if I know I’m going to be sweating a lot I tend not to put it on – it’s more of man every day product rather than a deep, dramatic tan that lasts for days on end (that stinks like a rusty biscuit tin….!) I also love that Bali Body is cruelty free and Vegan.
In terms of a tanner for my face, I absolutely love Tan Luxe Tan Drops from Space NK. They’re amazing skincare (they contain Glycopeptides, Aloe Vera and Raspberry Seed Oil, as well as acting as a collagen booster). But best of all, they can be added to your usual moisturiser or skincare, and anything from 1-5 drops can be added so that you’re in control of how tanned you want to look. I generally mix two drops per night in with my usual night-time serum and find that it gives me a subtle, natural glow without compromising my skincare – in fact the anti ageing benefits of the Tan Luxe Drops boost what I’m already doing – bonus!
So to anyone thinking my tan was all natural – sorry to shatter the illusion! But it just goes to show – Bali Body and Tan Luxe are such great products that you’d be forgiven for thinking my colour comes from afternoons spent relaxing in Holland Park, rather than a few minutes in my bathroom every night! So if you’re finding it tough to get the time to make the most of our amazing London Summer Sunshine, then these two Wildcat Bathroom Cabinet staples could be just what you need to get your glow on.
Full Disclosure – I was sent the Bali Body Lotion to review, and bought and paid for the Tan Luxe Drops myself (and have done so for the past year).
After fitness and health, one of my biggest loves is make-up – and whilst you might not think the two go hand in hand, when I’m not working 14 hour days, or sweating profusely when I train then I love to take the time to apply my make up, as well as experiment with new looks and brands. So when American cosmetics brand Winky Lux invited me to the UK launch party at West London’s latest Instagrammable hot spot Saint Aymes I absolutely couldn’t wait to see what the Winky World was all about.
Winky Lux was born in New York, and was set up to “make make up magic” – and with their beautiful packaging and unique products, I think that’s a promise they definitely deliver on. Thankfully though the brand is not style over substance, and one of my favourite things about it is that they’re a proud cruelty-free brand – with their website stating that they “don’t test on animals and insist our suppliers don’t either”. Even better, their logo is a poodle as Winky Lux say poodles embody everything they want to be as a brand – intelligent, playful, groomed and pretty! Having read that pretty sure the poodle embodies everything I want to be too….. As well as being cruelty-free, Winky Lux products are free from parabens, sulphates and gluten – so they’re safe for animals and for your skin.
As I mentioned above, the product packing is both adorable and Instagram-worthy – especially their signature Jelly Balms which come in pill-shaped packaging – the Flower Balms even contain a real flower in the colour of your choice making them almost too pretty to use. Almost…. Hot on the heels of the Flower Balm are the Watermelon Jelly Balm and Matcha Lip Treatment, both worthy additions to any make-up bag. The Watermelon Jelly Balm is a pH balm, meaning it reacts to everyone individually, creating your own bespoke lip stain – delighted that mine ends up a pretty deep pink. The Matcha Lip Treatment contains real green tea powder and food-grade vanilla, so it smells like the absolute dream, as well as making your lips feel like a dream with it’s coconut and avocado oils.
In addition to the Balms, which are great for every day wear, and indeed a more subtle look, are the Disco Kitten Glosses. If a make up product could be my spirit animal then this would be it. The gloss is full of iridescent glitter that whilst super sparkly is also smooth (because who’s got time for gritty glitter in a gloss?), and goes on clear but turns to perfect pink when applied. I can see a Disco Kitten Gloss accompanying me on every night out going forward – it looks as good on as it does in the tube.
My other favourite product from the range is the White Tea Tinted Veil and actually for me works as well on full days with PT clients as it does for a base on a night out – a perfect multi-tasker that provides just the right amount of coverage. I love how lightweight it feels on my skin but still gives me a hint of colour and a lovely glow, which is down to the White Tea and Pomegranate extract (which I swear you can smell as the scent of this is divine as you apply it!)
Saint Aymes Cafe in Connaught Village was the perfect venue to both launch and showcase the Winky Lux products to the UK as the interiors are nothing short of beautiful, not to mention some of the prettiest cakes and pastries I’ve ever seen in London. Unicorn Cookie or Rainbow Cake anyone? Obviously my answer was both…..
All in all, safe to say that Winky Lux products have made themselves very welcome in my make-up bag as they look amazing, do exactly what they’re supposed to and are totally cruelty-free. The Watermelon Jelly Balm and Tinted Veil have become literal everyday essentials for me now, and the Disco Kitten Gloss is my weekend go-to. Cannot wait to try the rest of the range when it comes to the UK (definitely got my eye on the Coffee Palette – eyeshadows in gorgeous neutral shades that actually smell like coffee…. actually the dream!)
Thank you Winky Lux for allowing me to step into the Winky World. Now I’m here I literally never want to leave!
(Sidenote – definitely give them a follow on Instagram: @winky_lux – their account is every bit as sassy, sparkly and special as you’d expect!)
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that one of the biggest fitness and health buzzwords of the past few years has to be “clean” – be it clean eating, clean beauty – the idea of treating our bodies, inside and out, like a temple and cutting down on processed foods, toxic chemicals, fake ingredients, manufactured substances has never been so popular. So many of us place so much focus on training our body to be as healthy as it can be, and nourishing it with the purest foods possible, forgetting that actually something that enters our body in huge amounts every single day is the air we breathe. And for those of who you, like me, live in London, the air we breathe is most definitely not clean and yet we fill our lungs with it daily. But short of moving to the seaside to breathe fresh, pure air, what can we actually do to improve the quality of the air around us? Thankfully much like we can actively clean up our diets, we can now also actively purify the air in our homes thanks to the awesome Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier.
I’ll be totally honest, having lived in London almost 20 years, I had just kind of resigned myself to the fact that smog, dust and pollution were always going to be a part of my daily life. I guess I just thought after all this time my body would build up a tolerance to pollen, gases, particles and chemicals in the air, even though I invest so much time working on being stronger and fitter externally, and healthy internally with the food I choose to eat. Now that it’s Summer and I have the windows open a lot at home I was mainly concerned about the quality of the air coming in from the busy London streets outside, but getting the Dyson Pure Cool has actually made me realise quite how many pollutants are in the air we breathe at home – everything from plant pollen to excess fibres from new furniture or carpets to cleaning products and for me in particular pet hair and pet dander from my two kittens Simba and Rafiki. Bottom line is the air inside my own home contains just as many things to be concerned about as the air up the road on Shepherds Bush Green. Yuk! Thankfully the Dyson Purifier removes 99.95% of particulate pollutants – amazing for knowing I’m breathing cleaner air.
There’s something really satisfying about being able to glance at the screen on the Pure Cool itself, or via the Dyson Link App (because the purifier even has wifi and can be controlled via your phone – I feel like an A-Lister lying in bed at night turning my cooling fan up higher to blow purified air right at me…. because I’m worth it, right?!) and actually being able to see what the current indoor air quality is, and if anything is causing the quality to decrease (be it nitrogen dioxide from cooking gas or particulate matter such as dust and smoke) the Purifier will flag it.
As I said, I’ve spent years trying to become the best and healthiest version of myself through nutrition, exercise and sleep, without even thinking about something as simple as breathing clean air in my home. Thankfully Dyson have been thinking about this for me, and I’m happy my Pure Cool is now as much a part of my clean lifestyle as my plant based diet and regular strength training.
It’s hard to believe we are almost halfway through the year already, but with warm weather, blue skies and light evenings here to stay for the next few months I’m definitely happy it’s June already. I thought I would mark the start of a brand new month by sharing just a few things that I’ve been loving lately – not because I’ve been paid to, just because I genuinely love them, which hopefully means there will be something you love too!
Jump for Joy – it’s June! Photo by @lorami_photography
Firstly, you’ll know that the Wildcat loves a cold pressed juice. It may be a Health Blogger cliche, but genuinely, I get really excited for a green juice – and actually now that I’ve tried the full range of these new Natur Cold Pressed Juices maybe a pink or orange one too! There is half a kilo of fruit and vegetables in every bottle, and because the juice is cold pressed all the vitamins and goodness remains in the juice (unlike pasteurised ones, which kills off most of the nutritional value). Spicy Greens – a mix of cucumber, kale, mint and ginger – has been my favourite thing to have first thing in the morning over the past few weeks, but the Drunk in Love – watermelon, pineapple and lime – is the most perfect taste for Summer – I’d honestly rather knock one of these back than a cocktail whilst enjoying a beautiful sunset! You can buy Natur juices online, or I also purchase them from Ocado.
Speaking of my routine in the mornings, as well as kick starting my system by flooding it with nutrients from a cold pressed juice, I also like to lighten up my breakfasts in the warmer weather, so my regular porridge has been retired for a few months, and in it’s place one of my go-to quick and healthy breakfasts is vegan yogurt and berries – sometimes with a little granola on top too. My current favourite vegan yogurt is Nush – dairy free yogurt made with fresh almond milk. They make their own almond milk to ensure it contains a high concentration of almonds (unlike some shop bought almond milk which can be as little as 2% almonds….) and then they mix it with vegan yogurt cultures (and don’t add any sugar) – so you’re also getting all the probiotic benefits of regular yogurt. They have lots of lovely flavours, and I’ve tried them all, but my absolute favourite is the Natural flavour – just a hint of almond nuttiness which compliments whatever fruit I put with it – which this morning was some baked figs – delicious!
I’ve actually had to stop myself going on to the Lorna Jane UK website because week after week they just keep adding new styles of absolutely stunning activewear and I want it all! I have however just got the Yasmin Striped FL Tights and have been practically living in them. Although they’re black and full length, they are also lightweight and comfortable on, so I still feel cool in the heat. They’re actually made of LJ Excel fabric designed to keep you cool and dry, and they’re ridiculously comfortable on, not to mention the fact they’re mid-rise (I can’t stand low rise workout tights as I’m forever yanking them up during my workouts!) I have been wearing mine with the Athletic Sports Bra as you can see below – this is literally my go-to gym outfit right now. Apologies to everyone at F45 Shepherds Bush who must think I never take these leggings off…!!!
So as the song goes, these really are just a few of my favourite things. What about you guys, have you got any Summer essentials you’re loving right now? Let me know – maybe they’ll even become some of mine for July!
Whilst I love to be organised and favour routine where possible, I’m definitely not a creature of habit – and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I am often checking out brand new restaurants, alternative recipes or trying the latest workout class. I love experiencing new things, and yet when it comes to my holidays, time and time again I find myself returning to the same destination – Dubai. Those who know me well will know I almost moved to this Arabian city to live and work almost 10 years ago, but even though I didn’t go through with the move I’ve found myself returning not just once but sometimes twice a year to the United Arab Emirates. So when I’m all about the buzz of new experiences, what is it about Dubai that keeps drawing me back?
Photograph by @lorami_photography
I’ve just returned from my first trip to Dubai this year, and as always, left Dubai International Airport with a heavy heart, wondering when I’ll next be back. Of course this sounds like any case of post-holiday blues, but despite having a fantastic time exploring Singapore and Krabi, Thailand last year I can honestly say I was itching to get back home. Any time off from my hectic schedule, giving my body a break, enjoying lie ins and actual quality time with my husband is always going to be a very good thing, but what does a break in Dubai offer me that no other destination can?
For starters, it genuinely is a city that is constantly changing and evolving. In the 10 years I’ve been visiting Dubai they’ve built the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Metro system, JBR Tram network, Dubai Mall, Safa and Zabeel Park, the Dubai Water Canal, the Dubai Eye, the Dubai Frame…. and there is plenty more to come – two buildings I can’t wait to see completed are the Museum of the Future and the Creek Tower. Very few cities can boast such a huge amount of change in such a short space of time, and to me it always feels like something exciting is going on, or about to happen. Dubai is constantly evolving, and it isn’t just about building more hotels or high rise towers – they are creating green spaces, investing in solar power and salination plants to help combat water wastage. Granted it may have made a ridiculously large carbon footprint on the planet thus far (indoor ski resort in the desert anyone?) but at least they are recognising the need to change, and investing in doing just that.
In the past, my trips to Dubai were solely about sunbathing, beach time, shopping and glamming up for Ladies Night (where girls drink for free all night….) and Brunch (lavish all day affairs where it’s not so much All You Can Eat but genuinely Eat As Much As You Can…. and that’s before the free flowing champagne) – whereas highlights of this last trip include visiting two of the newest Dubai fitness studios – Barrys Bootcamp and Fly Wheel and taking classes just as awesome as the ones I do in London, heading to Sunset Beach for the Dubai International Kite Festival and seeing families and children enjoying colourful kites of all shapes and sizes from across the world, ate vegan street food at the Etisalat Beach Canteen (part of the annual Dubai Food Festival), strolled through old Dubai and bought fresh spices and Arabic tea in bulk before strolling to the Creek and taking an abra (traditional water taxi), and went up to the top of the Dubai Frame – their newest landmark (which opened in January 2018) which offers a journey through Dubai’s past, a 200m high view over Dubai’s present (including a glass floor for those with a true head for heights!) and an amazing virtual presentation of Sheikh Zayed’s plans for Dubai’s future. Let’s just say we really haven’t seen anything yet! Had we been sticking around another couple of weeks we’d have been able to attend XYogaDubai – a two day yoga festival with dozens of free classes from international instructors and Art Dubai – the UAE’s leading art fair showcasing work from over 500 artists. My point being that Dubai may have a reputation for sun, sand, glitz and little else – but it offers fitness, family activities, art, history and culture too – you just have to look for it. Don’t get me wrong – if you want to stay at opulent hotels (room with it’s own shark tank? Atlantis has that!), eat at Michelin starred restaurants, wear head to toe designer gear and party at lavish nightclubs then you absolutely can (and I absolutely have!) but if you want to work out at fantastic studios, eat traditional Emirati food, see the work of local artists and fashion designers or even see wild oryx roaming in the desert then that’s all there too.
Above: The Dubai Frame
Once upon a time (not that long ago) you genuinely couldn’t walk anywhere in Dubai and had to get a taxi to the gym, the supermarket and even to and from work, whereas now you can easily rack up your daily steps and discover parts of the city you never knew existed on foot. The marina, Kite and Sunset Beach and Zabeel and Safa Parks even have their own running tracks – and the Dubai Water Canal has a path over 8k long running alongside it – perfect for walking, running or cycling. This trip on several occasions I grabbed an iced coffee with almond milk (Dubai has an incredible amount of vegan options now widely available!) and just set off walking – it’s also incredibly safe to do so as a woman alone, at any time of day or night, which is something I can’t say about London. I still can’t get used to leaving my handbag or phone unattended in cafes, shops or on the beach – but you absolutely can in Dubai. Over the past year in London I’ve had my bag snatched (on a bus in broad daylight) and been harassed by men in the street on countless occasions, not to mention having to quicken my step on my way home at night or never ever getting my iPhone out at bus stops for fear of having it snatched out of my hand. Trust me on this – it wouldn’t ever happen in Dubai, and that sense of safety and freedom to me is worth so much.
The weather too needs to be mentioned because it is of course a big draw. Over the 8 days we were there this time from 4th March we genuinely didn’t see a single cloud. A little haze on one day – but a sandstorm is par for the course in the desert! Drawing back the curtains in March (and having left behind snow in London) and being greeted by a pure blue sky every single morning is one of life’s simplest pleasures to me. Great weather makes me feel great, and a mid-Winter trip to Dubai for some sunshine genuinely gets me through some of our darkest days here in the UK. The quality of the light there is also not something to be underestimated, as these beautiful photos by Lorami Photography (follow her on Instagram: @lorami_photography) show – I was lucky enough to shoot with her during our most recent trip, and even without a filter these shots and clear and bright.
Taken at The Palace Downtown by @lorami_photography
December, January and sometimes even February can be a little changeable in Dubai – it isn’t 28 degrees 365 days a year (and although rain is rare, when it rains, it really rains!) but even on trips where we’ve had a couple of overcast days we’ve always had sunshine on our breaks too, and even a cloudy Dubai Winter day is better than some of our London Summer days! Does it get crazy hot in July and August? Absolutely – 50 degrees anyone?! But the UAE is set up to cope with extreme temperatures – not like the UK which quite literally goes into meltdown once the mercury passes 25 degrees!
As you can probably tell, there really are so, so many reasons why I love Dubai, and why I’ll continue to visit and quite literally see what’s new. The feeling of excitement, being in a developing City, seeing their investment in the future and the environment, the beautiful beaches and parks, the sunshine and the safety will keep me coming back to Dubai and I genuinely feel like a little part of me will always belong to this jewel in the desert.
If you’re planning a trip yourself and would like hotel, restaurant, gym, shopping or area advice please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or drop me an email and I’d be happy to advise! But there are definitely a few places I would recommend to anyone.
Firstly, having stayed all over Dubai – Jumeirah Beach, Deira, Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Ibn Battuta…. my favourite hotel bar none in Dubai is Jumeirah Emirates Towers. We have stayed twice now – and paid in full on both occasions – this is in no way paid or sponsored. Whilst I know a lot of people like to be near the beach when visiting Dubai (and staying here does entitle you to use the facilities of their sister hotel on Jumeirah Beach and will transport you by shuttle bus) personally I love this city location as it is close to the airport, Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa, souks and parks – but also has a lot going on around it, most of which you can walk to. There is also a metro station right next door which connects you easily to the rest of Dubai. Check out the vlog I made of our trip last year – the views from the rooms, fantastic food, swimming pool with sunshine all day long, huge gym and fitness facility and above all staff that cannot do enough for you make this my favourite place to stay in Dubai. And much like the City itself I’ll be back again before long!
The view from our room at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel
If you haven’t seen it in real life, the Burj Khalifa is a must visit – the tallest building in the world will literally take your breath away. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it still makes my skin tingle – it’s just so special. Buy tickets online to go to the top – it is much cheaper than buying in person on the day. I’d recommend seeing the sun glinting off it in the day, but also seeing it all lit up at night – and then you can also take in one of the very impressive nightly free shows at the Dubai Fountain, right at the foot of the Burj.
Whilst you’re in the area the Dubai Mall is definitely worth a visit – the sheer scale alone is phenomenal. There’s a waterfall, ice rink and aquarium inside (you can see some of the aquarium for free just by walking past – one minute watching sharks and rays swim by, the next checking out this seasons latest collections!). There are so many great restaurants and cafes – many with outdoor seating, including the Souk Al Bahar section, built in traditional Arabic style and even boasting some local restaurants.
If you want to feel the sand between your toes, there are free public beaches at Jumeirah (JBR has a large beach and lots of cafes and shops along the seafront), as well as Sunset and Kite Beach. The latter are great for families and fitness enthusiasts with running tracks, playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment. There are plenty of pop up events at both including markets, food trucks and fitness classes so Google before you go to see what’s happening.
The colourful kites at the Dubai International Kite Festival on Sunset Beach
I was genuinely worried about trying to follow a vegan diet in Dubai (even though I can and will be vegetarian where necessary, I wanted to try to be as plant based as possible and practical) – but these eateries all had fantastic vegan food that I enjoyed during my latest trip:
“Boobs to Bar!” – definitely my phrase of the morning last Thursday and not something I was expecting to hear in a sweaty spin class – but perfect none the less! Last week I was invited by lingerie website Figleaves to try out a sports bra from their impressive online range in a spin class at the brand new Another Space studio in Bank. When super sassy instructor Olivia shouted at us to get our “Boobs to Bar” as we were dipping we may have laughed but it couldn’t have been more apt (and we definitely feel there’s an online campaign for Figleaves in there somewhere…!!)
I truly believe the power of a good sports bra should not be underestimated. Did you know that during a 1000m run the breasts can move up and down 90m?! And even worse, that there are no muscles in the breasts themselves so once sag occurs from bouncing there is no natural way for them to recover. And yet a good sports bra could prevent sag from exercise – a sports bra can reduce bounce by 80% – twice as much as a normal bra. So I love that lingerie website Figleaves has a huge range of sports bras in a fantastic range of sizes – from A to K cup – literally something for every active woman. If you’re not sure what size you are you can even get a free virtual fitting to ensure that your sports bra is as it should be – firm and supportive. For my spin class I picked the Freya Freestyle Soft Crop (Mother Nature blessed me with absolutely nothing in the breast department!!!)
I love that it fully supported me, but also that the racer back sat comfortably right in between my shoulders, and the wide underband meant no digging in either. Basically it was extremely comfortable – and even dealt with the serious sweat I worked up no problem!
I actually think I’m going to be wearing this Freya Sports Bra a lot – it felt great on, was totally seamless underneath my top, and the navy colour means it will go with absolutely anything. I may even have to get the Cherry Glow version too as you all know I’m a sucker for anything pink! I’ll also definitely be back to Another Space to spin again soon – even though I’m not a fan of early morning workouts, our instructor Olivia had so much sass and energy for 730am and her tunes made sure we were motivated right to the very end of the class (and after all those dips and sprints we needed every ounce of motivation!)
I have to confess, not only did I not know that Figleaves offered such a fantastic range of sports bras and activewear, but that they also came in my size – they really do have something for every woman who wants to workout, look good, and feel supported!
Thanks to Figleaves for my Freya bra, and to Another Space for the fantastic spin class. There are few things that will get me out of bed at 5.45am on a Thursday, but these two made it more than worthwhile!