Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


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Trick or Treat?

Have a healthy Halloween

Tips on how to stay healthy this Halloween

Halloween is undoubtedly one of my favourite days of the year.  Dressing up like you’ve just escaped from the mental asylum and gorging on Harry Potter inspired treats being some of my favourite memories.  You may not think it’s possible, but there are definitely ways to make Halloween a healthier holiday and to avoid you stealing candy from unsuspecting children.

Check out:  http://spoonful.com/halloween/best-halloween-recipes-gallery

for 15 hauntingly healthy halloween snack ideas.

Edible eyeballs

Scared of working out? You shouldn’t be with my all over pumpkin workout! 

Essentially switch a medicine ball for a large pumpkin, as they weigh about 10-20 pounds and dress up for a fun twist to your everyday routine.

Pumpkin Squats

1) Stand with feet just outside shoulder width apart and hold your pumpkin out in front of you

2) Slowly squat down keeping your back staight and bending your knees

3) If you want to work your inner thighs point your toes slightlyout to the side rather than completely straight

4) Repeat for 3 sets of 20

Pumpkin Squat

Reverse lunge with pumpkin rotation

1) Stand with feet shoulder width apart and hold your pumpkin away from the chest

2) Step your right leg back two to three feet behind you whilst bending both knees

3) Keep all your body weight on the left (front) leg

4) When you are lunging back, rotate your torso to the left (same side as the front leg) so that the arms are now extended out to your left

5) When you step back up to the starting position rotate back into the starting arm position as well

6) Repeat with the opposite leg (left leg) going back.  Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

Halloween Inspired Fitness Events

Zombie Evacuation Run: http://www.zombieevacuation.com/

November 11, Pippingford Park, south London

Runner sprints for his life to escape zombies

Zombie Evacuation Race is a zombie infested 5K course with 20 obstacles designed to slow you down. You’re not only running against the clock — you’re running from hungry, blood thirsty, virus-spreading, zombies!

Price: from £45 (includes shooting range, T-shirt, medal and party). Entries by Nov 9.

November 2 to 4, Birmingham

Give your usual class the boot and opt for one that lets you battle with zombies. You’ll be given blood balls and fake grenades but this isn’t paintballing, get ready to stand your ground as these evil blood suckers try to take you down.  Price: £79
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Interview with the founder of Yoga Fever, Catherine Kelleher

Catherine Kelleher shares her desire to promote the benefits of yoga to keen sportspeople and to connect more deeply with the Cardiff yoga community.

 “Yoga Fever does not just refer to the fact that we practice hot yoga. ‘Fever’ also represents the intense passion we feel for yoga as a discipline and a way of bringing together the Cardiff community.”

Catherine Kelleher

When and why did you first set up Yoga Fever?

I took voluntary redundancy from my job about three or four years ago and after realising that there was nowhere in Wales to practise hot yoga, I decided to set up Cardiff’s very first hot yoga studio.  I first started to regularly practise yoga in 1997 with Yogacharini Kalavathi Devi in Pontypridd.  When I made the decision to set up Yoga Fever, I completed the ‘Hot Yoga Teacher Training Program’ through the YogaHaven training school based in the UK. This involved an exceptional standard of teaching from Allie Hill and Toni Roberts.

We hired a dojo in Pontcanna three or four years ago and Yoga Fever quickly started to grow from there.  The addition of yoga instructor, Ellie La-Trobe-Bateman, was integral to the Yoga Fever team, especially when we moved to the Windsor Place studio.  We were able to provide many different workshops and build a strong yoga community hub from Windsor Place because it was so central.  It was also a great advertising campaign and essential for developing the awareness and visibility of yoga in Cardiff because so many people used to walk past every day.

Why has Yoga Fever moved from Windsor Place to a new studio at Richards Place in Splott?

Unfortunately the studio in Windsor Place was very expensive to run and it was not a viable option to stay there.  Our new studio is much smaller, as we can only hold up to 14 students in each class.  I prefer teaching in smaller groups to ensure that each student receives some attention.  It should be a good thing for Yoga Fever to move away from the city centre.  This is because there was such a big mix of different people wanting to try hot yoga that less regulars could come every week like they had in Pontcanna.  Although Windsor Place was a very successful experiment to make hot yoga more visible, we were not able to create a real depth of community.  I am hopeful that the new studio in Splott will enable us to encourage a tight-knit community of sporty yoga lovers who will connect and meet up both within and outside of Yoga Fever.

Hot yoga helps balance, concentration and flexibility

Do you think there is a strong yoga community in Cardiff?

Yes, definitely.  We realise that there is a yoga instructor and style for everyone, as people connect to different methods of teaching.  The many diverse yoga companies in Cardiff do not compete with one another.  Instead we all endeavour to recommend the best instructor for the particular individual.  We all cross-pollinate ideas and help each other out.

What does the future hold for Yoga Fever?

Ideally, I would like to set up several smaller studios around Cardiff.  It is always a possibility to move back to Pontcanna and develop another studio there.  At the moment I want to see how everything goes at the new studio in Splott and then take it from there.

What are the main benefits of hot yoga?

Hot yoga is very different from classic yoga because the classes tend to attract very fit, healthy and competitive people who want to push themselves really hard.  It has opened the door to many more people who would never normally have tried yoga, such as triathletes and rugby players.  The main benefits for sportspeople are increased flexibility, strength and injury prevention.  Practicing hot yoga will definitely increase your flexibility and range of motion. It will also relieve muscle tension.  Hot yoga also teaches you to be in an intense situation and to manage the session through coping strategies and breath control.

Andy Murray says hot yoga helps his concentration

Andy Murray credits hot yoga for his improved attention span in five set tennis matches.  David Beckham also speaks highly of the discipline required to deliver and work hard in a high-pressure environment.

David Beckham also enjoys getting hot and sweaty

In my opinion, where balance is concerned, you either ‘use it or lose it’.  Once we pass the age of 40 our ability to balance rapidly decreases, so regularly practicing yoga will help you to maintain a healthy ability to balance and keep light on your feet.  The new range of postures and sequences will also challenge your brain and test your co-ordination.

Does hot yoga help you to lose weight?

This is a widespread myth as you probably only burn 200 calories per class, but you do end up losing about 2 litres of water, so make sure you stay hydrated.  What hot yoga does do is help your body to find a new equilibrium and put a stop to naughty cravings.  Hot yoga is not aerobic exercise, but it will make your want to lead a healthier lifestyle concerning food and sleeping patterns.

Would you recommend the 30 days yoga challenge? (This is where you do hot yoga every day for 30 days)

A lot of competitive personalities try hot yoga, so what I actually do is try to talk people down in class so that they don’t overstretch or push themselves too hard.  Everyone should take yoga at their own comfortable pace.  All I can advise is that people take care of themselves, have fun and relax.

Thank you very much Catherine Kelleher and good luck with the classes, which start at the new studio in Splott tonight.


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Yoga Fever

Venue: Windsor Place, Cardiff

Student Price: £8 for 1.5 hours

I had the pleasure and privilege of taking part in the last ever Sunday hot yoga class at the original Yoga Fever studio at Windsor Place in Cardiff.  It was an emotional farewell because Yoga Fever has now been forced to move to a smaller and more intimate studio in Splott due to increasing running costs.

If I can give one piece of advise this entire year, then it would be for everyone to sign up immediately to try a hot yoga class.  Before experiencing Yoga Fever I had never even attempted regular yoga, so it was with trepidation that I first entered the studio.  In the past, I foolishly disregarded yoga and Pilates, thinking that they would not constitute a proper workout.  How wrong I was.  I have never felt so completely satisfied, relaxed and aware of my body before.  Hot Yoga is also definitely not just for girls, as the benefits of stress relief, injury prevention and balance are equally relevant for men.

What is Hot Yoga?

It is taught in a heated studio (Yoga Fever is heated to approximately 38 degrees).  The lights are also slightly dimmed to create a more calming atmosphere.  Hot yoga tends to incorporate a flowing, vinyasa style of practice, which encompasses a series of linked movements.  Most people think that all hot yoga is Bikram, but this is not the case.  There are other styles, such as Power Vinyasa and Moksha Yoga.  Yoga also teaches control of breath, or Pranayama, as one can control the rhythms of pranic energy to achieve a healthy body and mind.

Practical Information:

Q: What should I wear?

A: Anything you don’t mind getting completely soaked.  I would recommend leggings or shorts and a t-shirt or vest in a breathable fabric.

Q: What should I bring with me?

A: A water bottle, mat (if you have one), towel and an open-mind

Q: Should I eat or drink before a class?

A: It is recommended that you try not to eat for 2 hours before a class.  Drink steadily throughout the day, as you will get the most from hot yoga if you are fully hydrated.

Hot Yoga: The Experience

The sweating starts almost immediately and does not stop throughout the one and a half hours of intensley physical movement and stretching.  The slow but constant drip of sweat from around 35 highly focused individuals is a surprisingly soothing sound.  The music is calming and does not distract your mental focus and concentration.  A skilled instructor slowly introduces the class to a range of movements with subtle variations according to individual ability levels.  The class teaches awareness and control of breathing, as this can improve performance and reduce anxiety and stress.  This was certainly the case with me, as I left the hot yoga class feeling completely inspired and relaxed.  The reflection period during the last five minutes of class was especially useful, as it really makes you think about the effect that the class has had on your body.

Rate the Class:

1)   Atmosphere and Fun: 7/10

The atmosphere of the studio is calming despite the intense heat.  The best part of the class is the incredible feeling during the reflection and relaxation section when you consider the workout that you have just given your body.

2)   Sweat and Pain: 9/10

The score is so high for this class purely because I have never sweat so much before in my entire life.  Just think about all the toxins that are leaving your body.

3)   Calorie Burn: This will be around 600-700 for an hour of hot yoga

4)   Toning Potential: 8/10

The balancing positions in this class mean that your core muscles are being tested to their absolute limit.  This class is a must for anyone looking to tighten and tone.

5)   Morning After Muscle Ache: 4/10

I really didn’t feel much pain the day after.  This is probably a testament to the expertise of the instructor in leading us safely and steadily through the exercises with plenty to time to stretch.

Hot Yoga Instructor, Catherine Kelleher, commented on the move, saying:

“We’ve been at Windsor Place just over a year and unfortunately, running costs have been escalating. It is just not a financially viable option to stay.”

“We are moving to a smaller, more intimate studio on Broadway, Splott. Whilst we were very sad to leave Windsor Place, I’m feeling very excited about Splott and I know we’ll be happy there.”


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Reaction to the Abs and Cycle Class

I think it’s important to acquire feedback from several people for each new class, as everyone wants something different from a workout.

Cardiff University English student, Emma Jones

Q- Would you do this class again?

A- I will definitely be returning next week if my legs have recovered.  The hill climbs were really tough and I’m not sure if I kept up the resistance as high as I should have, so I’d like to come again and try to improve.

Q- Which abs exercise did you find the most challenging?

A- Holding the plank for one minute, my arms were shaking uncontrollably.

The Plank- a tough abs exercise

Running enthusiast, Fiona Campbell

Q- Why have you chosen to join the Cardiff University gym?

A- There is a great range of classes available, I particularly enjoy Pump & Tone and Advanced Fat burning.  The trainers are all really friendly and helpful as well.

Q- Did you enjoy this class?

A- Yes, I find it difficult to motivate myself to do abs exercises at home or in the gym, so I need the pressure of a group fitness class.

Q- Which was your favourite abs exercise?

A- The reverse crunch as it really targets the lower abdominal muscles.  I’m trying to get my bikini tummy ready for a Christmas holiday to Australia.