Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


Get fit in Roath Park

Roath Park in Cardiff is the ideal setting to kick-start your January fitness regime and keep you motivated all year long. This popular park retains its classic Victorian charm and attracts runners and fitness enthusiasts from all over Cardiff. The vast playing fields, pleasure gardens and stunning 2.1km running track around Roath Lake makes this park the perfect setting for outdoor based exercise classes. The Terra Nova Cafe and Penylan Community Centre also provide leisure facilities for indoor classes, especially during the winter months. I will endeavour to introduce you to a number of different and unique classes based in Roath Park which were highly recommended to me from a variety of people committed to fitness in Cardiff.

roath park

Roath Park is an idyllic setting for an exercise class or jog.


Outdoor Fitness Ltd

When: Monday and Wednesday at 18:15, Friday at 18: 15 for high intensity threshold training.

Where: Roath Rec playing fields, meet at the Penylan Library and Community Centre.

This challenging outdoor fitness programme combines cross-training with military training techniques and endurance work.  Every class is different, but the aim is to provide a general level of fitness which could be applied to any sport.  The ability groups are not split up, instead everyone works together so you could have an unfit 40-year-old training next to a young athlete.  The instructor will demand different numbers of repetitions from people depending on whether they have a basic, intermediate, advanced or elite level of fitness and experience.  Expect sprint intervals, military style burpees, planks, press-ups and rolling around in the dark and mud.

“This class will push you to your absolute limit and beyond.” – Catherine Morgan

Outdoor Fitness held their first classes in Roath Park in 2008 and since then the sessions have grown in popularity and expanded to other parks in Cardiff including Pontcanna playing fields, Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd and Morgan Jones  Park in Caerphilly.  The community has grown to more than 100 members and there are a number of affiliated running clubs and triathlon cycling and swimming groups.  The high intensity threshold training (HITT) session is based on the Tabata method of short, maximum intensity exercise bursts with a short recovery period.  This workout will hit your anaerobic threshold hard and provide effective cardiovascular training.  A typical class will only last between 10 to 20 minutes, but it will be some of the hardest minutes of your life.

“Outdoor fitness classes are designed to build self-esteem, confidence and also add a social aspect to your workout.  Our ethos is to have fun whilst getting fit.” – Jeff Webb Managing Director of Outdoor Fitness

Exercising outdoors adds variety and energy to your workout and it has been proved to boost levels of endorphins and serotonin during and after exercise.  It can be extremely invigorating and place you in an almost euphoric state.  The Roath Park Outdoor Fitness classes attract a high standard of people, but the instructors make sure to cater for all fitness ability levels and the first class is free.

Fit 4 Two and Buggy Fit 

When: Monday and Friday at 10:00 for Buggyfit, Saturday 9:30 for Fit Chicks Bootcamp

Where: Meet at the children’s play area by Roath Park Lake

Website: http://www.fit4two.org.uk/index.html

buggy fit

A buggyfit class in action next to Roath Park Lake

“I don’t know why anyone would want to train inside.  Roath Park is the perfect location.” – Clare Wheeler, Founder of Fit 4 Two

The Buggy Fit class is a total body workout, combining cardio with resistance band exercises, core training and a specific focus on pelvic floor muscles.  It is ideal for new mothers who want to get back into shape and still spend time with their child as the babies are brought along for the ride.  The Saturday morning bootcamp is a more challenging session which includes boxing, kettlebells and lots of abs work.  Roath Park is the ideal setting because the gradient is varied and there are a number of little hills and benches for stretching.  There are so many different routes in the surrounding area, so you could never get bored.

These classes are designed for women who want to focus on their fitness before, during and especially after pregnancy.  Fit 4 Two has been incredibly popular, with the average attendance at 15 to 25 per class, sometimes reaching as high as 35.    New mothers are encouraged to wait at least 6 weeks after a normal delivery and 10-12 weeks after a Caesarean section before they start to exercise, but this completely depends on the individual.  It is best to build your fitness level back up slowly and steadily after giving birth and not rush into a demanding routine.

“I am passionate about helping new mums get back into shape and encouraging them to feel better about themselves.” – Clare Wheeler

Bootcamp Pilates

When: Everyday except Sunday, see timetable:


Where: Terra Nova Cafe next to Roath Park Lake


The Terra Nova Cafe is a beautiful venue for a pilates bootcamp class

This unique class combines tough kettlebells strength and endurance training with the flexibility and toning elements of Pilates.  The founder of Balance Fitness, Michael Jones, describes the session as combining the Eastern and Western principles in a mind and body pursuit.  The high number of repetitions associated with kettlebells training really improves endurance and cardiovascular fitness levels.  Michael Jones decided to integrate kettlebells with pilates to combine two different ideologies and demonstrate how different disciplines can compliment eachother.

“My classes are designed to help people workout more intelligently” – Michael Jones

The Terra Nova Cafe is an idyllic and tranquil setting for an exercise class with a beautiful view over Roath Park Lake.  The bootcamp class was brought to a close with a number of toning and balancing Pilates moves, designed to test core strength and flexibility.  Michael Jones is looking to add more of a social and community element to the classes both at the Terra Nova Cafe and The Discovery Pub as group classes can have a real sense of camaraderie.  He has 12 years of experience in personal training and fitness instruction in Cardiff and was incredibly helpful with technique throughout the session.

The Terra Nova Cafe is also home to a Yoga for wellbeing class.

Nordic Walking 

When: Everyday except Sunday, see timetable:


Where: Meet at the Terra Nova Cafe in Roath Park or St Isans Road
Nordic walking is a form of high-intesnity walking with specially designed poles.  The concept and technique were developed as a form of off-season ski-training activity.  This sport really helps to build upper body strength and improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Balance Fitness offers a number of Nordic walking classes and founder Michael Jones is hoping to build more of a community and social feel around the activity.

“Nordic walking is such a great group sport. I’m really trying to build a community around the classes in Roath Park.” – Michael Jones

Penylan Library and Community Centre

This community centre can be found at the end of the Roath Rec playing field and it offers classes ranging from Zumba to spinning.  A full list of all the exercise classes can be found here:


Fancy a run?

Roath Park is the perfect location for a 5km run as the terrain is fairly flat and there is a track around the playing fields, through the gardens and around Roath Park Lake.  The route is fairly popular and you will have the chance to take in some stunning scenery.

Here is a map of a suggested route:



Booty Camp Cardiff

Booty Camp has exploded onto the Cardiff fitness scene, attracting over 100 female members all looking to get in shape and have fun at the same time.  The group exercise classes aim to encourage women of all ages and fitness levels to commit to a healthier lifestyle.

booty camp cardiff

Instructor Abbie Skene (bottom left) and booty campers

Founder of Cardiff’s first female only fitness boot camp and personal trainer, Mark Tregilgas, shares his passion for more inclusive and motivational exercise.

“We wanted to create a place where all women could exercise comfortably in a completely non-intimidating environment. At Booty Camp we want you to be who you want to be and not worry about being judged.”

“Our target group is mainly women in their early 30s, often mothers with a few young children.  The ages range from around 28 to 40 and there is a vast range of fitness levels.”



Mark is an experienced gym and spin instructor with a diploma in personal training and a level 3 qualification in advanced personal training.  He is an inspirational example of the importance of dedication to fitness as he struggled with his weight as a youngster but is now committed to exercise and healthy nutrition.



Instructors Mark Tregilgas and Abbie Skene

What to expect from a Booty Camp class:

This class couldn’t be further from the traditional Sergeant Major style boot camp hell I’ve experienced in the past.  We were encouraged to take the range of bodyweight exercises and high intensity intervals at our own pace as there was a diverse range of fitness levels within the group.  I decided to start with the beginners class, which combines some tough tabata routines with a mixture of toning exercises.  It was a gentle and relaxed introduction to the Booty Camp classes and I would be keen to try some of the intermediate and advanced sessions.

Date and time: Thursday 630pm – 7.15pm

Venue: Poletwisters, Eastmoors Road Industrial Estate.

Instructor: Abbie Skene

1)   Atmosphere and Fun: 7.5/10

Abbie immediately made the group feel at ease and we were guided and motivated through a mixture of resistance moves, cardio interval training and core exercises.

2)   Sweat and Pain: 7/10

The jumping jacks, side lunge jumps and mountain climbers were alternated with squats, lunges and planks, so there was a mixture of sweaty aerobic exercise and painful toning moves.

3)   Calorie Burn

I’d estimate about 250-300 calories per class, but this completely depends on your weight and fitness level.

4)   Toning Potential: 9/10

This class is a must for anyone looking to tighten and tone.  I really noticed my core working during the planks, side-planks and fully extended sit-ups.

5)   Morning After Muscle Ache: 8.5/10

The extremely high number of squats performed at the beginning on the class meant everyday movements such as walking and climbing stairs were very painful the next day.  Squats, named the “King of all exercises” by Abbie clearly have a dramatic effect.  The technical term for this type of muscle ache is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and the best prevention is keeping active and not sitting still.

Highlight of the class:

The high intensity interval training (Tabata) was by far the most challenging part, as we alternated 30 seconds of side lunge jumps with a 30 seconds plank.  The combination worked several different muscle groups at once and caused my heart rate to increase significantly.

The ladies attended the class for a number of reasons including impending marriages and recent births and there was a great sense of camaraderie within the group.

booty 3

Beginners class at Poletwisters

Here is a list of the Booty Camp classes:

Beginners Classes

Tuesday + Thursday 630pm – 7.15pm at Poletwisters, Eastmoors Road Industrial Estate.

Regular Classes

Monday – Vitality, Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Bay 7pm – 8pm
Tuesday – Cardiff Athletic Stadium, Lecwith Road. 7.30-8.30pm
Wednesday – Dragon Cross-FIT, Curran Road. 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Thursday – Llandaff Fields, Bottom of Cathedral Road 9.15am – 10.15am
Thursday – Universal Fitness, Ocean Way. 7.30 – 8.30pm
Saturday – Llandaff Fields, Bottom of Cathedral Rd. 10am – 11am

Ninja classes (advanced)

Friday – Dragon Cross-FIT, Curran Road. 6pm – 7pm & 7pm – 8pm

Online Group Detox: Gimme the Skinny

Cardiff Booty Camp’s New Year Cleanse: ‘Gimme the Skinny’ commences on the 14th of January.  This involves 28 days of post festive detoxification, health, fitness and fat loss from Mark and Abbie.

To find out more and sign up, visit the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bootycampcardiff?fref=ts

The weigh in for the detox will be on Sunday the 13th of January at the Holiday Inn situated in Cardiff City Centre.

“Trust in the programme”- Mark Tregilgasgimmie the skinny

Nutrition is the key factor to sustaining a successful fitness regime.  There are hundreds of fad diets, but unfortunately there is no quick fix.  In order to change your body shape and really notice a difference, you must commit to a balanced diet and an active exercise regime.

“You can’t out train poor nutrition” Mark Tregilgas

10 rules for optimum energy and fat loss

These are the key rules which helped Mark to change his shape:

1) Keep hydrated with bottled or filtered water

2) Bin the sugary cereal

This will give you an instant sugar high and the excess sugar will be stored as fat.

3) Do not fear fat

Avocados, nuts, coconut oil and olive oil are great sources of good fat and essential for energy and healthy living.

4) Eat plenty of protein

5) Let vegetables become your best friend

6) Eliminate stress and get your sleep

7) Eat within an hour of your workout

Immediately after your workout your body is at it’s most receptive to absorb vital nutrients in order to start the repair process.

8) Do not calorie count

Concentrate on eating more protein rather than a smaller amount of sugary foods.

9) Understand that booze

Alcohol is simply sugar and it de-hydrates you.

10) In a nutshell eat as much fish, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit as you like. Cook in coconut oil, drizzle your veg/salads in olive oil, wash it down with bottled water and you will begin to feel and look great.


Boot Camp: British Military Fitness Style

It took a lot of strength to drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning, fully aware that I was headed for the hell of a military workout.  The torrential rain did not help matters.  I toyed with the idea that the class might be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, but on arrival it soon became apparent that this couldn’t be further from the case.

In fact the primary aim of the class seemed to be to get us all as muddy as possible.  After sprinting around various trees in the waterlogged Llandaff Fields, our combat-clad instructor shouted that when he yelled 1, we all had to drop to the floor and roll over.  I responded to this with a snort of disdain, but of course failure to comply soon proved foolish.  Our trainer, Solly Afsar, had an impressive assortment of forfeits, which he was only too happy to deal out.  Within minutes I soon resembled Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin.  Attempting to do press-ups in the pouring rain whilst covered head to toe in mud, with mascara dripping steadily down my face, will definitely go down as a low point.

I very much resembled Private Benjamin after the first 10 minutes

Military Mantra: “Break them down and build them back up”

I was broken.  Then things suddenly started to look up.  The sun made a brief appearance and we stopped rolling around in the mud.  My clothes were fortunately not completely ruined because we had been given different coloured bibs before starting the class depending on ability levels.  I was given a blue bib because it was my first time, but the intermediates were wearing red and the dedicated, advanced group were sporting green vests.

This was the state of my outfit post boot camp. The mud dripped through even though I was wearing a bib.

The boot camp class created an incredible team atmosphere because everyone worked together and motivated each other.  Despite being new, I was made to feel part of the group within minutes.  After the class finished I felt elated, hyper and ridiculously energetic.  The post-workout endorphins rush was at a whole new level and I was on a high for the whole day.  Whether this was down to the group dynamic, the outdoor setting or the general feeling of relief that I had survived the class, the feeling was overwhelming.

The team-work exercises really motivate you

Military workouts are based on three fundamentals of training: cardio, strength and agility.  They are all about bare essentials and using your own body weight as resistance.  By stringing together exercises like push-ups, squats, sit-ups and planks with no break in-between, your body will turn into an efficient machine.  Boot camp classes aim to give your body a full workout, so the exercises target multiple muscles, rather than isolating one group at a time.

Challenge Yourself

The classes are designed to improve speed, agility, strength and stamina.  The beginners blue group is more focused on personal goals, whereas the red and green groups can get much more competitive.  The advanced groups are really pushed to their limit and beyond with gruelling circuits and sprint races.

Killer Exercise: The burpee

This is a classic military movement and it works because it targets so many muscle groups.

A marine demonstrating a burpee

1) Start in a standing position

2) Drop down into the squat position with your hands on the floor

3) Extend your feet back quickly to assume the front plank position

4) Bounce back into the squat position

5) Jump back to the standing position

Repeat for 10 (beginner) 25 (intermediate) and advanced keep going for as many as you can

The best element of a BMF class lies in the fun you can have with the other people in your group.  Rather than slogging it out in the gym for hours with minimal results, these sessions will revitalise you and you will see a noticeable improvement within a few weeks.

In Cardiff, BMF hold various morning and evening sessions at Heath Park and Pontcanna Fields.  Groups vary in size, but there can be over 30 people per class, a testament to the popularity of this fitness craze.

BMF Cardiff instructors Solly Asfar (left), Andy Morgan (middle) and participant Arwel Jones (right)

The instructor for the blue group was 18-year-old Solly Asfar (pictured on the left).  Although he has not done any military service yet, he attends military preparation college.  He said: “If you attend regular classes, keep a healthy diet and get enough sleep, you will start to see your fitness improve very quickly.”

Andy Morgan, 24 (pictured middle) was the trainer for the intermediate and advanced groups.  Andy spent 2 years with the RAF Reserves at Mod Saint Athan and has been an instructor with British Military Fitness since June 2010. He aims to join the Royal Marines as an Officer in the near future.

Arwel Jones (pictured on the right) has been coming to the BMF in Cardiff several times a week for three years.  He said “I’m in the advanced green group which is pretty tough but I love it.  The classes really allow you to push yourself to your absolute limit”.

Rate the Class:

1) Atmosphere and Fun: 8/10

The outdoor setting (despite the rain) combined with the motivation from the military instructors and the whole group gave a great buzz.

2) Sweat and Pain: 7/10

The exercises were tough, but because I was in the blue group, I was not pushed to my limit.

3) Calorie Burn: I would estimate about 400-500 per hour

4) Toning Potential 7/10

The combination of planks, squats, press ups, crunches and tricep dips targeted lots of muscle groups.

5) Morning After Muscle Ache: 8.5/10

I was hobbling around like an old lady the next day.  No pain, no gain!

1 Comment

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