Squats – Who Needs Them | Alternative Glute Exercises 

​Believe it not, squats are not, I repeat – are not, the be all and end all when it comes to glute day. 

 
In fact, at the minute I have fallen right out of love with squats (but that’s another story for another time) meaning not much time has been spent focusing on them of late. 

Initially, I was concerned for my glute gains but thankfully, any loss appears to be minimal and I’m going to attribute that to having placed a lot of focus on to isolating the glutes and incorporating weight and resistance in other ways. 

Now, before we go on, I don’t want you to think these exercises are a complete replacement because let’s face it, they are kind of like the Regina George of exercises. All I’m saying is nobody liked Regina but she was still Queen Bee.

Squats are the Regina George of leg day” 

Anyway, this isn’t about squat bashing, they are a good strong exercise at the end of the day but my point is not every glute day has to include them, there are other options too.

The days where the squat rack angers me just by being there, these are my fall back exercises:

1) Deadlifts

Edit

2) Glute Bridges


3) Glute Side Kicks 


4) Cable Kick Backs 


5) Standing Heel Drives 

Go give them and try and get ready for that burn!!

Gym Girl Gift Guide 

It’s hard to know where to even begin with  this one, there are so many gym related gifts that would make perfect Christmas presents! 

As I’m sure many of you will find, as soon as December hits so do the “What do you want for Christmas” questions. 

Personally, I hate this question and usually tell people to buy themselves something instead but on the odd occasion I’m pushed for an answer the request is something for the gym. The usual response to this is being looked at as though I have 10 heads. It is baffling to me that people struggle with thinking of gym related gifts. 

Those of you who have been asked to buy such gifts and are clueless for ideas, fear no more – all you need to know is below. 

Those of you who want such gifts, make life easier for the purchasers and send them here for a little guidance and inspiration. I’m sure Santa will be glad of the help!

1) Gym Bag 

Especially for the busy girl who has to lug her gym kit around with her. Wait, even if she doesn’t have to lug it around with her, we are girls and most of us love an excuse for a new bag!

Hands down my favorite! Pick this up at: https://www.bando.com/collections/backpacks-duffles/products/work-it-out-gym-bag-after-this-we-re-getting-pizza

2) Athletic WearQuestion: what’s the maximum number of yoga pants a girl can own? 

Answer: the limit does not exist!

Gym wear however, much like jewellery, can be very personal so to eer on the side of caution a voucher for a sports shop will do also. 

3) Straps

Wrist straps, leg straps – we aren’t fussy. there is a need for all. Even if she already has some we like options!

4) Wireless Headphones

Well if you don’t know now you know

These will be life changing. Wires getting in the way and finding somewhere comfortable for your phone while squatting is just not necessary more. 

In the words of pinochio and taken straight from Beats campaign: I got no strings!

5) Workout Diary 
Perfect for the gym newbie or the gym junkie. Nothing screams motivation more than seeing workouts ahead of time, tracking progression and seeing PB’S written down on pretty paper. 

6)  Fitness Tracker

If pen and paper isnt her thing, then a fitness tracker might be a good option. The benefit of many trackers is the ability to assess quality of sleep, distance travelled each day and monitor heart rate without even having to think about it!

Kate Spade’s wearable tech range is to die!

7) Water Bottle


These days a plastic evian bottle just isn’t going to cut it. With more option than you would ever think possible in a water bottle, from glass to BPA Free, may aswell make it a cute one. 

8) Supplement Bundles

Most girls these days are as mad on supplements as their male counterparts.If you are unsure in this department then a tasty pre-workout is a safe bet.
9) Underwear 

 Unfortunately, I’m not talking the pretty, lacy Victoria’s Secret style lingerie but more the seamless, breathable, really unattractive kind because let’s face it, VPL is just not a good look. Sweaty Betty does a fantastic range to help us ladies keep our dignity while squatting, lunging and the like!
10) Training Program/Personal Trainer

Training under the instruction of a coach is so very different to training alone or with friends. The benefits are tenfold and almost impossible to and achieve alone.  Purchasing training sessions or a professional program will propel progress. Search Urban Instinct Personal Training on Facebook and you could even win a fitbit2 with the purchase of a program! 

If that doesn’t provide you with a little bit of inspiration then I don’t know what will! Happy shopping…

Fighting Fit | 5 Tips to Kick The Christmas Cold 

​Welcome to December or as I prefer to call it, the 1st of Christmas. At this most wonderful time of year (clichéd I know but it’s true!) having a cold can really suck all the fun out of the spirit, making everything seems more like a chore. I know because it’s December 1st and I have a horrible cold!
And bah humbug there is no cure for the common cold. At least there are a couple of ways to fight back!

1. Switch to cardio.

When it comes to exercise you definitely don’t want to stop, giving in could mean harbouring a cold for even longer but you do want to put down those weights.  Yes, you read that correctly put down those weights and switch to a low impact, quick paced cardio session. Studies have shown that that by increasing the heart rate and keeping active creates a more positive response to dealing with symptoms. 

As a strong advocate of listening to your body, it’s difficult for me to suggest exercises and intensity. The only direction I can give is to listen to your body and do not put it under too much stress as risk of injury is heightened when we are a little under the weather.

2. Essential oil – Eucalyptus

The antiviral and decongestant properties of Eucalyptus oil are nothing short of a God sent MIRACLE! If you don’t believe me go put a few drops on your tissue or in a steam facial and you won’t even believe how quickly you feel like you can breathe again!


3. Hydrate – plenty of water and hot blackcurrants.

Hydration is everything. On a good day if we aren’t hydrated enough we definitely see and feel the effects. When we are ill maintaining hydration is that much more difficult but that bit more important to help fight the infections, to maintain temperature and not to mention our poor noses that turn redder than rudolph’s – and that’s even when you’ve been using basalt infused kleenex!

Hot blackcurrant because well if my nan gave it to me it must be beneficial right? Probably the same effect as chicken soup though!

4. Vitamins

Upping your vitamin intake may help to fight the effects and reduce the duration but if nothing else eating micronutrient rich foods will make you feel good rather than constantly stuffing down the comfort food. 

5. Moisturise

The classic tell tale sign of a cold will remain long after the infection has been banished if you don’t stay on top of your moisturising. The last thing you want is to look like you’re still sick when you’re better. Trust me. Even when it stings because it’s red raw, get the moisturiser on. Your skin will thank you! 

I know i said 5 tips but there’s one more that just cannot be ignored: REST! our bodies recover best when we are sleeping, which can be difficult when struggling to breathe so make sure you at least rest and relax when you can. 

Resting up with the puppy

S’nofun like Snow Fun!

To some, it may come as a shock to hear that there are many out there who live for the winter season. I used to think it was complete madness too, until I skied for the first time that is. Now, it totally makes sense. It’s the snow sports that are the attraction or I should say addiction. Those that have already experienced one snow sport or another already get it. To those who have never had the luxury of such experience as of yet, you simply have to get out and give it a go. Luckily, this does not involve an expensive trip to the Canadian Rockies or the Alps.

Right on our door step, here in the grand city of Manchester, we have the Chill Factore, home of the largest indoor ski slope in England complete with real snow. Yep, don’t know how they do it either but the only logical explanation is magic!

There are a number of snow activities you can get stuck in with at the Chill Factore, skiing, snowboarding, luging, sledging, airboarding and snowscoot to name a few. The only downside is that the main slope is only to be used by those that can already ski or snowboard, understandably so due to obvious health and safety reasons, as perfectly demonstrated in this clip.

Not to worry though, book a lesson or two, learn the basics – pizza slice and fries, I mean how hard can that be?! Complete the lessons and away you are!

Personally, I have been a regular attendee of the Chill Factore in the past (pre moving to Canada) but since being home I kind of forgot it was there and haven’t actually been until last Thursday.

The Chill Factore’s corporate events team invited us for a tour of their facilities & to showcase their Christmas party packages. Honestly, I accepted the invitation not really knowing what to expect but with a promise of food and access to the snow park it was a no brainer!

It ended up being myself and my favorite person in our offices attending the event so the night was already off to a fabulous start!

The mere mention of food played a big role in our attendance that evening but we were ready for a few butties and some crisps, imagine our surprise when we walked into the Eiger Room, which makes you feel like you’ve been transported into a winter wonderland, a top a mountain in far away lands where the snowmen sing,  there were snowboards on  a table with a full Christmas Dinner buffet laid upon (including some tasty vegetarian dishes), complete with slush puppies to drink and an amazing selection of Christmas deserts. it was so good we almost forgot that outside it was sunny, warm and September, heck we almost forgot the reason we were there in the first place!

underneath those scrumptious cakes is actually a snowboard
The room from Banff? Nope, the stunning Eiger Room at the Chill Factore!

The snow park. Ah the snow park. surprisingly, once you are stood in front of it is bigger than it first seemed!

Helpful hint: get your snow boots 2 sizes smaller than your normal shoe size! Those things are monstrous! 

After getting kitted up, protective head gear and all. We were lead to the slopes for free run of the snow park.

Ready to go! Not nervous atall and maybe a tad giddy!

 

Guys, when you get out there, don’t go crazy and follow the crowds, hang back for a moment and let them all run off, chances are they will all go to the same slope giving you clear access to the others! That’s efficiency right there!

We have all done sledging before on various bits and bobs we have been able to get our hands on, on the odd occasions we have been in snowy conditions so this activity was not top of our list. Especially given it was a pretty straight run. Thankfully, that was the first activity everyone headed to.

Naturally, my friend and I headed in the opposite direction. Well actually, I followed her and for some reason she led us straight to the luge, walking up those stairs I felt like I was walking to my death. We have all seen the “we are Jamaica we have a bob sleigh team” movie (Cool Runnings) so you can imagine how I felt staring down that tunnel of ice. Okay, okay, maybe this is a little dramatic, it is a minute run in comparison and it’s not quite a bob sleigh but more a body board that you lie on. Nonetheless, the luge is terrifying.. terrifying and one of the most fun experiences you’ve ever had whilst lying down!

Helpful hin: on the luge, keep your hands turned in or risk losing your knuckles. You have been warned! 

By this point, people had cottoned on to the ‘free roaming’ aspect and each activity was equally as busy as the next so we headed for the dohnut run.

If you haven’t already drawn the conclusion that I am a bit of a wimp, let me tell you that I am a bit of a wimp! The dohnut run has 2 tracks, a smooth and a bumpy. Of course, we took to the smooth first. Gotta suss these things out before you throw yourself down a bumpy track right?! Good job really, given that the next time up the only option was the bumpy track, where the  guy overseeing the safe operation suggested that we take a running jump down the track, which we did and we regretted.. until we got to the bottom and ran straight back up to do it again. Only this time, the ‘safety guy’ pushed us down backwards! Yeah that one, way more terrifying than any of the other. Genuinely thought we were going to take off, legs were flying everywhere! Not even being dramatic for once.

There is so much fun to be had on this big-little snow park and it is definitely worth the visit. If you’re a little nervous or fancy changing things up a bit, chat to the ‘safety guys’ they are full of good ideas! 

If you want a bit of a sneak preview, I have uploaded a video or 2 to my instagram (@contourallure).

For an even better time, get some pre-agreed forfeits ready for the losers of the races! Take it from me, trying to plan some at the top of a slope is just too much pressure!

Oh also, if you go to the Christmas party here you get access to the snow park too! There are changing rooms so you can get pretty again afterwards but honestly, who cares about being pretty when you can be racing down slopes! Hands down beats any other Christmas party. Can’t wait to get the friends on board and hey if you wanna join, it’s a shared do so why not?! Call the Chill Factore and speak to Jen or Lori in the corporate events department.

But even if you’re not feeling getting in on our Christmas shindig make sure you still get down and experience this place! Further details of events, times and prices can be found Here.

Have Fun!!