Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


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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:

http://balance-fitness.weebly.com/timetable.html

Where: Terra Nova Cafe next to Roath Park Lake

Balance1

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:

http://balance-fitness.weebly.com/timetable.html

Where: Meet at the Terra Nova Cafe in Roath Park or St Isans Road
roath
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:

http://apps2.cardiff.gov.uk/leisureactivities/new_brochure_online.php?lang=ENG&brochure_id=75

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:



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New Year, New You

How to make your New Year’s fitness resolution count this January.

fitness

Queues for the showers, zero mat space and a line for the treadmills which will take longer than the time you’re allowed to spend on it?  It must be January at the gym.  Every year this predictable phenomenon occurs due to thousands of individuals signing up to yearly gym memberships, full of good intentions for the New Year.  You can already start to see the numbers diminish in late January and by mid-February, things are back to normal.

I’m here to try and help you keep on track of your New Year fitness and health goals with a number of hints and suggestions:

1) Set a REALISTIC goal

Start by having an honest conversation with yourself and decide on a resolution which is achievable within a certain deadline.  It’s no good pretending you will have the time to run 10 miles everyday if you have a demanding job or schedule.  The number one killer for a New Year’s resolution is placing too much pressure on yourself.

Set a realistic deadline, for example: I would like to work my way up to a half marathon within 4 months.  The deadline can easily be changed along the way depending on your level of commitment and progress.

Take the next few days to set out your game plan.

dream

One of the easiest ways to stay on target over the next few months is to sign up to an event.  This will introduce a competitive element and added incentive to your training.  I’ve always been tempted by the gruelling Tough Guy competition, but this would involve an exhausting training programme and I’m not sure how well I would cope with burning obstacles and pools of freezing water.

If you think you’re up for a challenge, check it out:

http://www.toughguy.co.uk/    

Don’t go it alone

It can be really helpful to enlist the help of a training partner to keep you motivated and positive.  The alternative is to join a running/ cycling/ exercise group to make your workout more enjoyable and sociable.

Choose something you actually enjoy

This is probably the most obvious, but the most important piece of advice.  It’s best to focus on an activity, sport or form of exercise which you know you can really throw yourself into and have fun at the same time.

2) Track and reward your progress

My goal this year is to keep a workout log to make sure I meet my targets.

There are a few different ways to keep track of your progress such as the Nike Plus iPod Sports Kit.  This incredible device transforms your iPod into a personal trainer by providing real-time, spoken feedback that alerts you to workout milestones.  It fits inside your trainer and you can then track time, distance, pace, and calories burned by transmitting the information wirelessly to your device for instant feedback.  You can see it here on my Christmas gift wish list:

https://highertone.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/top-10-fitness-inspired-christmas-gift-ideas/

Another option is the Nike + Sports Watch which is easy to use and gives you great running data.

watch

Reward yourself with a little treat- a new gadget, running accessory or new music each time you pass a milestone.

3) Kick one bad habit

I’ll be giving up sweets for as long as I can bear.  What’s your weakness?

4) Go the distance

There’s always the opportunity to go further and train harder than you anticipated.  Don’t be put off by the January crowds in the gym.  Wait it out and you will be rewarded.  Remember- no one ever regretted a workout.

gym

My local gym at 5pm on 29th January

This really surprised me.  Saturday at 5pm is usually prime time, but clearly people have not decided to kick-start their New Year’s resolutions. Gyms are often really quiet around midday or late in the evening, so try and target the less busy times during January.

6) Change it up

Alongside your main fitness routine, try some additional exercise classes to avoid getting stuck in a fitness rut.  It is very easy to get bored of your usual workout, especially if your are just running alone or going to the gym.  Try a group fitness class, the camaraderie really helps, especially if you are lacking motivation.

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I’d love to hear from you.  The 3 most inspirational goals will be posted up on Higher Tone on January 1st.  Feel free to send me as many as you like.