Get Fit 4 Free with Sweaty Betty

A few weeks ago I trundled along to Sweaty Betty’s head office to hear about their latest Get Fit For Free campaign – the 30 Day Sweat Challenge which launches on Monday – 1 September. For the whole month Sweaty Betty will challenge you to give your fitness, nutrition and wellbeing a boost with a series of FREE online workouts, recipes and mindfulness goals.

Sweaty Betty Get Fit 4 Free

We were introduced to Susan from Hiitgirl, who put us through our paces with a 30 minute high intensity workout. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off – and within minutes my heart rate was soaring and the sweat was literally dripping off me.

Sweaty Betty Get Fit 4 Free

I couldn’t believe how effective the exercises were – a mere 30 seconds on each and I could feel my legs and arms quivering. The team wasn’t kidding when they called it a Sweat Challenge!

Sweaty Betty Get Fit 4 Free

Susan’s workouts have been filmed and will be available online so you can follow along at home easily. Just be warned, your glutes and hamstrings may ache for days afterwards – I had ridiculous DOMS all weekend, so it clearly works a treat!

Sweaty Betty Get Fit 4 Free

Zoe and I after the class = hot sweaty messes! 

I really loved the calendar that we were given, which lists all the challenges by day. Some are short and sweet – like a quick reminder to try and drink 2L of water one day; others direct you to a 30-minute online video, or to one of Sweaty Betty’s instore classes. I liked the mix of exercise, nutrition and mindfulness activities – meaning you will challenge both your body and your mind.

I’m going to be following along at home, and have popped the calendar on my fridge to tick off every day. Who want’s to join me? 

On Friendship

Recently I made a new friend.

Kathy is an expat who has just moved to London. She was looking for her kind of people (runners, yogis), came across this blog, and sent me an email. After a few exchanges we arranged to meet for yoga and coffee (we discovered we both loved The Power Yoga Company in Parsons Green) – and this meet up has led on to become a regular Friday morning date.

Naturally Leah Friendships

The whole “making a new friend” thing seems so easy to me now – but it’s actually something that I have put a huge focus on since moving to London. Right now I feel like my life is rich with friendships of all kinds -new, old, near, far, online, offline – but it hasn’t always been that way. One thing you learn, having moved countries and cities a fair few times, is that the adage “a friend is there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” is very true. I’ve slipped between friendship groups in the past, never quite knowing my place – and while I have picked up a few “friends for life” along the way, I’ve said goodbye to plenty of seasonal friendships too.

Team Naturally Run - Nike We Own The Night

I knew arriving in London that it could be hard to make new friends – work colleagues don’t quite seem to click here like they do back home (it could be the lack of 3pm Friday drinks culture – I’m not sure whether that says something about the UK, or something about NZ!), and I had heard that the Brits were a hard nationality to break in to. Basically I was doomed to only ever socialise with Kiwi’s and Aussies, who I would meet by living in Kiwi and Aussie flats, drinking at Kiwi and Aussie pubs, and travelling with Kiwi and Aussie tour companies.

Don’t get me wrong – my first 6 months of friendships centred around those easy friendships (and I met some fab Kiwi’s and Aussies!). I had my best friend Natalie living nearby, Jase had his set of good mates from home living in London – we didn’t really need to make new friends because our friendship cup was already full.

Gloanna Yoga Run 2014

Somewhere along the line I picked up this book, which actually made me stop and think really hard about friendships. MWF Seeking BFF is written by Rachel Bertsche who moves to a new city with her husband. She decides to go on a friendship quest – trying 52 ways to make a new friend. She asks for intro’s on facebook, she asks her colleague to hang out, she tries meeting someone at the gym, she even pays for someone to go on a “friend date” with her. Amongst the humorous tales (really – how often have you tried talking to the person on the treadmill next to you?), she intersperses theory and research about friendships  and relationships – topics like what makes friends click, how many friends we actually need in our lives, and the health benefits of having friends. It really was quite fascinating!

The Color Run London

When I finished the book I did realise one simple thing. To have friends is to be a good friend. You can’t expect friendships to develop and continue if you put no effort in. I couldn’t expect to make new friends in this new city if I wasn’t willing to put myself out there and be a friend in the first place.

And so I consciously focused on friendships. That might sound weird, you might think that friendships should be something that naturally develop without any thought – but since I have focused on making friends, I have never had so many or been happier.

parkrun Fulham Palace

Thanks to reading that book, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I can sometimes be quite shy – so I started by chatting to people on twitter. I then met up with a few at a run club and before I knew it I was meeting other new faces. I started seeing people at races. I started going WITH these people to races. I tried to move from being acquaintances to being friends – I asked for people’s phone numbers and sent them chatty texts, emails, whatsapps. For the non-sporty people in my life, I tried to remember milestones and send cards, to regularly arrange catch ups, and to just send messages asking “how are you, I’m thinking of you”.

Geneva Marathon Weekend

I created Team Naturally, Run – and suddenly I had a whole community of friends. Some I see weekly, some are friends of friends, some are brand new and joining for the exact reason I started it – to try and make new friends. In it’s own little way this community of mid 20′s – 30′s girls has become a place to foster friendships over a shared love of fitness (and brunch) – and I love watching the new friendships blossom between people.

Medals

A few weeks ago I wanted to remind the group that at some point – ALL of us were newbies, we were ALL looking to find “some people” to join for a class, a training run, a race, a coffee, a chat (even an overseas RACEcation). I asked everyone to share what their first experience was of meeting someone from TNR and the stream of comments that followed really reminded me that this is what friendships are about.

Putting yourself out there.

Being open to meeting new people.

Being the friend that you want others to be to you.

Accepting that some friendships won’t go anywhere, and that’s ok, but others will blossom into the most beautiful friendships ever.

I just wanted to say – thanks for being my friend. Whether we hang out regularly, we chat occasionally, or we have never met – you are all my friends, in one way or another, and my life is richer and fuller because of you.

What do you think about friendships? Have you ever stopped to think about your friends and the effort you put in to being one? 

I’d offer to lend you my copy of the book – but I circulated it at a book club I joined (another attempt at making new friends) and it never made it’s way back to me. I’m hoping it’s off, somewhere in the world, helping inspire someone to focus on their friendships too :) 

RACE RECAP: Shelter River Rat Race London

I love having friends who arrange catch ups around a fitness or yoga class, sometimes even a race. These catch ups are ALWAYS followed by coffee or food and I really look forward to them. It’s been AGES since I last saw Charlie, so when she asked me if I wanted to do the Shelter River Rat Race with her followed by a pub lunch, I didn’t hesitate. I said yes.

I’ll openly admit I didn’t even look at what the race was before I said yes. I didn’t even open the website until the night before, thinking I might need to plan my kit for the next day. When I clicked on the tab describing the obstacles, I immediately saw the 20foot plunge into the RIVER THAMES (should have guessed by the “river” part of the race name) and suddenly I wasn’t too sure about what I had agreed to. This seems to be a common theme of my racing this year!

River Rat Race London

I really really hate purposely hurting myself. With running, it hurts sometimes – but it’s more of a pain you can endure, and (usually) nothing that makes you bleed or breaks bones. Somehow I had found myself lined up at the start line of a race where I was going to run into walls, scramble and climb over obstacles – and EVEN WORSE – voluntarily put my entire body (head under!) into the THAMES.

In one small acronym…WTF.

River Rat Race London

After donning our exceptionally striking “rat-grey” t-shirts and meeting up with Emma and Becs on Saturday at ExCel, we headed off slowly on to the course – all in agreement to take it easy and treat it as fun. A few simple obstacles inside the venue eased us in to the course – up and over a truck, over a few blockades, climbing over some metal barriers…before it was time to head outside.

River Rat Race London

We squealed as our feet hit the ankle deep icy water in a paddling pool – it was time to get WET. Through a maze, up and over some enormous walls (thanks to the marshals for offering us shorties a leg up) and we came to our first obstacle in the Thames.

River Rat Race London

We had to swim under two inflatables – the water was cold, murky and absolutely stank. Which meant when we came out – we were cold, dirty, and absolutely stank too! Drips of the Thames water made it inside my mouth (despite every effort to keep them out) and let’s just say it was nothing short of foul.

River Rat Race London

I would have loved a bottle of water to try and wash out my mouth about now! I tried to put the fact that this wouldn’t be my last “dip” out of my mind.

River Rat Race London

A sodden run along the other side of the docks and over a footbridge, under and over some metal bars, a bit of an attempt at monkey bars (pathetic!) and then it was time to get into some lifejackets – and back into the water!

River Rat Race London

River Rat Race London

We did a 25m swim from one platform to the next – the swimming was fine because we could keep our heads out of the water! The hardest part was getting up on to the platform – they were slippery and there was nothing for you to grip on to, so you relied on a marshal pulling you up by your lifejacket and you sliding on very ungracefully like a beached whale.

IMG_8892

The next section you had to slide along tyres that were tied together. There were bodies going everywhere and it felt very over crowded on the platform – so rather than wait my turn to get on the tyres, I made the call to get in and swim along side the obstacle. I took hold of Charlie’s GoPro and took some delightful and graceful shots of the girls along the way!

River Rat Race London

Up and on to another platform, and the final section you had to run and jump on to a floating trampoline type thing. Most people missed them and bounced straight off into the water – so again, I decided to swim this section and try and push the trampolines closer for the girls to jump on to! Hauling myself up on to that final platform, and then having to clamber back up on to the footpath above – I felt absolutely exhausted. Every part of me felt heavy and weighed down – being in water in all your clothes is so much harder than just running!

And then we passed the 3km sign. Oh man.

River Rat Race London

We turned the corner and ahead of us was the 20ft drop. We climbed up, past the lower 10ft option, and continued up to the higher level. Emma literally threw herself straight off – she knew if she looked down she wouldn’t do it. I chanced a glance, and immediately decided I couldn’t. I just couldn’t stand there and jump. So I didn’t. I took a running leap and threw myself off that 20ft ledge before I could think twice. I hit the water with a slap (technique was the last think on my mind) and Thames water shot up my nose and in my mouth. The lifejacket popped me back up reasonably quickly – but I still coughed and spluttered. I quickly swam out of the way because Charlie and Becs were plunging into the water right behind me! I was SO proud of us all for JUST F*N DOING IT!

River Rat Race London

We continued on, through an inflatable obstacle bouncy castle thing (which, with barely any energy and sodden wet – was actually ridiculously hard!) and then it was an out and back run before time for the next obstacle. Kayaking! WHO KAYAKS IN A RACE?! We do…apparently. We grabbed paddles and off we headed around a few buoys. Charlie and I had the technique down and thankfully didn’t capsize!

River Rat Race London

I cheered with relief at passing the 6k marker, before we realised it meant more dunks in the river. This time we had to make it up some more gigantic walls before whizzing down a plastic waterslide straight into, you guessed it, the Thames! Yippee!

River Rat Race London

We ran back past ExCel and headed back on our second lap (cue the groans). We knew what obstacles were coming for us and this time made short work of the climbing walls and under/ overs. Instead of swimming under the inflatables, this time we had to crawl through giant inflatable tunnels and do a 50m swim around a buoy and back in to the dock. A sodden run along the riverside, over the bridge and back inside ExCel – surely this meant we were close to the finish!

River Rat Race London

The last few obstacles were particularly brutal. Belly crawls through metal scaffolding – where all I could do it try and caterpiller my way through the small gaps. The race ended with two more up and over giant wooden walls – before we fell across the finishing arch.

River Rat Race London

After being handed our medals we were directed straight to the hand sanitizer and bottles of cola (to kill the bacteria!) and a snickers bar that I ACTUALLY inhaled. Wet, stinky (SO stinky), scraped, bruised, slightly battered but still smiling – that was one medal I definitely felt I had earned!

River Rat Race London

After getting changed into clean dry clothes, Charlie and I headed to a pub for ALL the drinks and a big lunch – and finally got our long over due catch up in! Did I enjoy it? I’m not sure – I’m glad that I did the race and I attempted all the obstacles, but I probably wouldn’t run (or swim) to sign up for this one again. Swimming in the Thames is certainly not something I plan to repeat any time soon – but I guess I could class this race as good training for Tough Mudder (if I ever decide to do one!). It’s a week later and my bruises and scrapes are finally fading!

River Rat Race London

Have you ever done an obstacle race like River Rat? Would you voluntarily go swimming in the Thames?

All photos courtesy of Charlie at The Runner Beans. Thanks (I think!) to Charlie for the race entry too. I’ll get you back…one day! 

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