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Fitness|| Speedflex, the resistance-style circuit workout

If you read my post recently on hot yoga, you’ll know that I don’t do enough resistance or strength training. It’s not that I don’t like it. Well, it can get boring. But I feel like I should be doing something more energetic with my workouts to reap the benefits. A belief I know is wrong.

So I’ve been trying to find a happy medium. A strength or resistance workout which is also pretty intense. Something which kills you internally, makes your legs feel like jelly and you question your choices. Yet one which leaves you with this amazing feel of success (maybe relief) after. One which makes you feel like you really could do anything. And I think I found it.

Speedflex is a new(ish) resistance training craze. It uses specialist machines which ‘resist’ comparable to the amount of effort you put in. The more effort, the harder it feels. So someone who lifts 50kg could use the same machine and same resistance (scale of 1 to 10) as someone who lifts 15kg, and they could both get a great workout…even if on the same resistance. Crazy huh? I obviously had to try it.

Speedflex, circuit workout

The London branch is in bank, only a 5-10 minute walk from the station. It’s right next to boom cycle, down a side street. This spot has a Speedflex studio, changing rooms, a consultation room and a gym on the opposite side of the alley which is included in the Speedflex membership packages. The gym is pretty big, and wasn’t too busy when we visited on a Wednesday evening.

There are a number of these Speedflex machines in the class studio, each for a different exercise, from squats to shoulder press. These are alongside some of the more usual gym accessories like kettlebells and medicine balls. The core element of each class being a circuit style workout.

Speedflex, circuit workout

I tried the 30 minute classic class.

Everyone got fitted with a heart rate monitor and we were off.

Speedflex, circuit workout

We had four rounds of circuits, after a warm up. Each round was a set of four stations (as there were four of us attending – nice and intimate). The timing for each interval was based on how long it took one of us on a specified station to reach a certain number. Brutal. You didn’t want to let the team down. It was tough.

Our circuits included; resistance squats, battle ropes, kettlebell swings, medicine ball throws, a sort of dead lift shoulder press type exercise on a machine, and pushing the instructor across the room (which was seriously tough – he kept shouting at me to sprint and push harder).

Speedflex, circuit workout

Throughout (well after each round) we tried to keep an eye on heart rate, which was on the screen. This was also on show to the instructor, so he could see who was working hard and who was sitting back.

Speedflex, circuit workout

I came out wobbly and feeling a little sick. But dying to go back. Such an intense workout but one which made me feel amazing after. Truly.

The changing rooms are fully equipped with showers in individual cubicles, towels and toiletries for a shower.

There are hair dryers too. And the lockers are all locked with codes, so no need to remember padlocks or coins. They’re actually really nice and the separate cubicles are perfect for getting ready again without the faff of doing it under a towel.

Speedflex, circuit workout

As mentioned earlier they do have an assessment room too, where you can get a full body assessment. It’s one which measures pretty much everything from muscle mass and which arm is heavier, to water weight. All just by standing on this machine, heels on the metal pads, paddles in hand. I don’t normally like this kind of thing, but it’s good to know every now and then if you’re on track/healthy. Great for those with particular fitness goals in mind. The instructor can even tell you how many calories you should be eating to maintain normal functioning etc.

I’ve actually been back since trialling the first class for a 45 minute classic class, and died all over again. All for that after feeling of exhilaration and achievement. Its seriously tough. One I don’t think you really ever get used to. But so worth it.

Speedflex, circuit workout

Summary:

  • Price: one session pass is £10 (not too bad for London classes), and monthly membership starts from £40.
  • Fun/serious: More serious. It’s hardcore. But worth feeling sick for – it feels like such an accomplishment to get through
  • Level: suitable for all. No matter how fit you are, you’ll still get a tough workout
  • Recommend? Yes! If you fancy something a little different, something tough, this is for you
  • How to book: You can become a member online, drop in or e-mail reception – all the details are here.

Do you put yourself through extreme workouts for the after feeling?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to try Speedflex. All views my own. 

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Out & About|| My FIRST F1 Experience @Silverstone

Let me start this post with saying, I bought these tickets for my dad. I was going for company. And because I was intrigued. Yet, I’ll be honest. I loved it!

It was back in November last year. I hadn’t a clue what to get my dad for Christmas. He’s always a tough one. You know the type. He says a Halfords voucher, new tool or white t-shirt with minimal print will do. But I want the wow factor with my gifts. I just don’t want to give something standard. It doesn’t usually have to be big, just thoughtful and something they’re not expecting.

Two tickets to the F1 Qualifying at Silverstone hit exactly that brief. With it being a bigger pressie than I’d usually buy for celebrations, it covered his birthday/Fathers Day too – win, win. I didnt have to think of a birthday present either.

Dad was excited. Me too. I’d never really gotten into it on TV. But I wanted the experience. Try something new.

F1 qualifying silverstone

The British Grandprix has been held at Silverstone on and off since 1948, but consistently every year since 1987. The British race is the oldest, and joins the Italian race as the only two Formula 1 World Championship Grand Prix that have been stage during EVERY season that the championship has been held. So we’re a pretty big deal 😉

The track itself lies over the border of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. Not far from Northampton and Milton Keynes. It’s not too tricky to reach from the West Midlands. But we still played it safe with the M40 Park & Ride. It was super simple. Arriving at around 8am, we had a smooth journey into the track. The journey back wasn’t so smooth as the driver wasn’t sure on the route, but we got there in the end.

Into the track at just after 9am we had plenty of time to enjoy the practise laps, and other races during the morning. People had already started settling in with chairs and blankets on the verges but there was plenty of space to perch, sit or stand still.

F1 qualifying silverstone

We did go for a wander to find the best spot. You do need a good view. We didn’t want to walk the whole track so did stop by Abbey which was only about 10-15 minutes from the entrance. We were right in front of the pits, and had a great view of a tight corner to our left – the Abbey and Farm curve. Investigating later too, I think we had one of the best.

The GP3 was the first race we caught. It seemed so fast. To fast. I was absorbed in watching the cars as they flew round the corner. Dad gave me lowdown on sounds, tires, pit stops, drivers mistakes and the rest. At this point I was already thinking I could get into this. It was thrilling. Even when the red flag came out to stop the race, I was drawn to the screen, watching what had happened.

F1 qualifying silverstone

We then had the F1 final practise lap. Dad had mentioned how GP3 looks fast, but it’s nothing compared to this. I didn’t believe him until the first car out for practise zoomed past, and took the corner at almost rocket speed. The sparks from some of the cars too as the body was SO close to the ground as it took that corner, were pretty crazy!

Nothing prepared me though for the atmosphere and thrill of the qualifying. It was electrifying. The sound of the engines in the pit started the excitement. The speed. Watching the drivers fight for top 15, then top 10 was intense. The cheers as Lewis Hamilton flew past showed the love for the sport and the British driver. And when Hamilton and Vettel were SO close in the last few mins, it was tense. The crowd when Hamilton came top in the last minute was amazing.

We did stop for lunch in the middle too. There were loads of food stands dotted on the outside of the circuit, behind bandstands and public viewing areas. As well as lots more in the entertainment zone, a space with a stage for viewing/music (it showed the World Cup after the qualifying race), and much more including Segway racing and laser target shooting.

It was hot that day. Oh so hot. So we bagged a seat on a picnic bench in the shade and didn’t want to travel far for food. Or water in that fact. Lucky for us, here was a hog roast stand right by us. Huge brioche naps followed with roasted pork, crackling and Apple sauce. It was delicious! At £7.50 it’s about the same price as street food in London, so its worth buying there.

F1 qualifying silverstone

You can take food and drink in too, so picnics are possible. But with the weather so warm, sweaty sandwiches were not what I fancied. Pork baps hit the spot.

As for drinks, there were plenty of bars selling alcoholic and soft drinks. And all the food trucks appeared to sell fizzy options too. There are water points to top up water bottles to keep hydrated too! The queues can get long, but you need to keep watered, especially when it’s hot!

In addition to the entertainment zone, there was also a F1 Simulator, showcasing what it’s like to be on track with Hamilton. It looked pretty cool. We did almost get to try it, but the internet was down and they couldn’t take card payment. With no cash machines in sight, taking change is definitely something I’d recommend. Maybe just for backup.

F1 qualifying silverstone

SUMMARY:

  • Fun?: I LOVED IT. So much fun. The races on a Saturday are shorter, and qualifying is knockout rounds, s much more exciting. But it’s so different in real life…more exciting and exhilarating.
  • Picking a spot: In front of the Abbey grandstand was fantastic. The view of the pits and the corner to the left was awesome.
  • Price: At £95 per person for Saturday, if booked in advance, it’s just a little more expensive than a festival. parking is £20 too, and I definitely recommend park & ride.
  • Food & Drink: You can take food & drink in with you if you want to picnic. But there are plenty of food stand and bars along the route around the outskirts of the circuit. You never have too far to go for it. The pork bap was pretty darn good!
  • Recommend?: YES! Even if you’re not the biggest F1 fan, but someone close to you is, the qualifying is definitely worth experiencing. I would happily go again!

Have you ever been to the F1? Or something you thought you wouldn’t joy as much as you did?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

I’m not going to lie. The wisteria drew me in. Knowing that the food was meant to be great too of course. But I couldn’t resist the purple floral interior. I decided Aubaine in Selfridges had to be the spot for Kim’s belated Birthday celebration – a meal on me for her 30th.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

Aubaine is on the second floor of Selfridges on Oxford Street. A french restaurant, the interior radiates contemporary parisian chic. It’s light and bright with pastel colours throughout and wisteria hanging from the ceiling. An absolutely gorgeous setting.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

The lunch menu offers a variety of modern french dishes with a nod to traditional cuisine. From salads and sandwiches, to black truffle risotto, Moules Marinière and a wagyu beef burger, there’s plenty on the lunch menu to choose from.

We had actually planned on getting brunch as it was bank holiday Monday. But I had assumed the times would run the same as a Sunday, and completely got it wrong. Breakfast finishes at 11.30am in the week. I think it might have been a blessing, as our lunch choices were fab. And it just means I’ll have to go back sometime for brunch too!

There was only one option for me on that scorching hot bank holiday weekend. A salad. And Kim was on the same page too.

A complimentary bread basket from the kitchen kept us going whilst we waited for lunch to arrive. The wholemeal, seedy slices delicious with a little butter. Crusty, yet airy.

This complimentary offering pretty much set the precedent. The service was pretty friendly and attentive. But at the same time, relaxed and not rushed.

The salads looked relatively average in size, but were actually really generous. Both looked so fresh and enticing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have at least a bit of food envy.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

Kim’s Salade de Chèvre Chaud looked amazing. Baby gem lettuce, mixed leaves, crunchy apple, juicy grapes and walnuts, drizzled in French dressing, and topped with warm goats’ cheese on cereal toast, it looked like one fantastic combination. Goat’s cheese is a personal fave, and there was a whole wheel on top! Plenty of it. Hence the food envy.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

My Superfood salad with added halloumi however did not disappoint either. With quinoa, soft sweet potato, Tenderstem broccoli, juicy bursts of pomegranate and baby kale, it was fresh and filling. A light french dressing too, it was one fab salad. Really nice to have Tenderstem in the salad too, to add extra texture. A dish I’ll definitely be trying to recreate.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

There are also plenty of starters on the menu from crab cakes, to ceviche and carpacio, and a handful of desserts too, including Nutella profiterole, and fresh bakes from the patisserie for those who have extra space. We can only wish we did.

The drinks list is extensive. As you can imagine, there are plenty of champagne and fizz options, including sparkling cocktails as well as wine, spirits, beer, liqueur and soft drinks. Both a little all boozed out from the weekend, we went for something soft. The Franklin & Sons lemon & elderflower, was fizzy and zesty. Just what I fancied.

Lunch at Aubaine, Selfridges

SUMMARY:

  • Price: Mains range from £7.50 to £28 – Reasonable if you choose carefully. But a fancy place to go all out if that’s what you’re after. Our salads were priced at £9.50 and £14.
  • Food: Fresh. Beautiful flavours. The salads were delicious.
  • Drinks: A large selection with a focus n champagne, fizz & sparkling cocktails.
  • Atmosphere: Relaxed, Parisian chic. Beautiful.
  • Wait: None. Seated straight away at 12pm on Bank Holiday Monday. Food didn’t take long either.

Where would you have picked? Have you been to Aubaine for brunch? Which other cute floral spots do I need to visit?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Eastern Mediterranean Small Plates @ Ceru, Soho

Sharing plates and cocktails or wine are a girls best friend. They’re great for enjoying over a catchup, and can easily be scaled up or down dependent on whether you’re going for lunch or dinner. I personally love them because you can have a bit of everything rather than one dish – which you might already know if you follow me over on instagram too!

Ceru is a contemporary Levantine restaurant, serving eastern Mediterranean small plates. The Soho branch is pretty big, set back from D’Arblay Street. Inside Ceru is cool, breezy and relaxed. It’s light, yet filled with earthy coloured prints, and patterned mirrors. With the heatwave we’ve had, it was almost a shame we couldn’t sit outside. But they open the windows right out, so you’re not missing out that much. Right in the window was of course where we picked our spot.

The menu features a variety of small dishes including dips (with bread), salads, vegetarian options, fish plates, meat numbers and side orders. Each section has 4/5 options, several of each sounding enticing and delicious!

We did struggle narrowing it down to the recommended 3-4 a person!

Ceru, Soho

Dips. I think I could live on bread and dips. The fadi, made with roasted zucchini, garlic, lemon and tahini, was my absolute fave. It was creamy, with strands of zucchini throughout. The flavour was fantastic. Not too rich, but super yummy.

Ceru, SohoCeru, Soho

The Pancar, was good too. With roasted beetroot, yoghurt, garlic, crushed pistachio it was a deep pinky red. It was a bit more rough in texture, and quite potent in flavour – you know how beetroot can go sometimes. Perhaps a little too much with the other delicate flavours, but tasty with the warm, herby flat bread. It was a great choice to have two contrasting dips!

Ceru, Soho

Because you need at least one salad or fresh raw dish when you go somewhere like this, we tried the Crisp Apple, Mint & Pomegranate Salad. Served with pea shoots, roasted pine nuts and green chilli, it was crunchy, juicy and had a delicate summery flavour to it. Perfect eaten in-between dishes with heavy flavours.

Ceru, Soho

The Karides, whole grilled garlic prawns, arrived on the skewer. They were a little difficult to peel, and actually a little more average compared to the other dishes, but still a tasty option for if you’re craving fish. Although all the other options look so good in that section of the menu.

Ceru, Soho

For our veggie number we tried the Roasted Aubergines with Chermoula. Resisting the halloumi. Just. The aubergine itself was soft and smoky. The accompanying creamy herb yoghurt and spicy lohz, which was almost like a paste, giving it that middle eastern touch. We definitely did not regret our choice!

Ceru, Soho

And for the meat…

The Lamb Shoulder was another fave. It’s slow roasted for 5 hours in a secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices, making it packed with flavour, and super tender. It’s then served with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce, adding a juicy, nutty finish. The flavours work so well. It’s one fab dish.

Ceru, Soho

The Merguez Chicken was fantastic too! The grilled corn fed chicken is served with a lentil & mint salad, preserved lemon and dried black olives. The lentils were perfectly prepared, the dried olives were rich and plentiful, and all together it one delicious dish!

Ceru, Soho

As if that wasn’t enough, we also had to try the Spiced Polenta & Feta Fries. They were just calling out to us! With coriander and chili, I actually found them quite mild in flavour. But they made a nice accompaniment to the other hot dishes, or were great with the dips.

Ceru, Soho

Of course, you can’t have a feast like this without drinks, soft or alcoholic.

The menu has plenty to choose from. When there’s a specials cocktail menu, I’m always sucked in – if you’re having an alcoholic number, how can you not be intrigued by the one menu which is shaken up, and been creatively devised?

The Pistachio Meringue had me at…Bet you can guess… pistachio. My fave. Never seen one before! With Beefeater, pistachio syrup, egg white, lime and cardamon syrup, it was light and frothy, with a delicious underlying pistachio aroma. I loved it.

Ceru, Soho

The Cucumber Martini was also fab. With Beefeater too, this one had Martini Bianco, cucumber, elderflower, lemon and mint. It had a very strong cucumber taste, almost a little tart, but was refreshing and super tasty.

Ceru, Soho

The rose blush was delicious too. Not overly dry. It was smooth, and accompanied the remainder of the meal well.

There is a dessert menu too. I bet you’re wondering how we even dared peek at it. Well we did. I was dying for more space to fit in the honey & cardamom panna cotta or flavours of baklava with cardamom ice cream. But I could only manage a lemon sorbet, which arrived as one seriously zesty scoop in a bowl. It was the perfect palate cleanser after such a fab meal.

SUMMARY:

  • Price: A little more pricey than other small plates restaurants I’ve been to, with main dishes priced between £5.50 and £11.50. But worth it for a special occasion/fancier spot.
  • Food: Delicious. Every plate was packed with beautiful aromatic flavours.
  • Drinks: Go for the cocktails. Very summery. The pistachio and cucumber numbers compliment the dishes well.
  • Atmosphere: Fancy, relaxed, summery vibe.
  • Wait: Nothing on a Wednesday. It wasn’t overly busy.
Are you a fan of small plates too in this heatwave? What do you tend to go for?
Chloe xx
*I was invited along to review the menu at Ceru. All views my own. 
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Lifestyle|| I went to a Women’s Presentation Workshop with Kirsty Hulse!

It’s a known fact that women are outnumbered by men when it comes to the more senior positions in many many companies. It’s an issue being tackled by businesses internally (where I’m working is putting this as a top priority this year). But what isn’t always highlighted is how women are usually underrepresented at conferences, speaking events or even in presentation situations too. Just take a look at any industry conference line-up and I’m sure you’ll see this for yourself.

Kirsty Hulse, previously stand-up comedian, now founder of digital marketing agency Manyminds, hopes to help us ladies face this straight on. And I was lucky enough to go to one of her presentation workshops last week.

Kirsty comes across as one of those hilarious, confident women, who can think on the spot, always has an answer, and genuinely knows her stuff. Insider insight: this is the voice she’s wanted to portray. Kirsty also actually considers herself an introvert which surprised me.

Presentation workshop with Kirsty HulseHad to get a quick snap of the view from the conference room at lunchtime – just look at this!

The thing is, we all have a voice.

We just need to decide how we want it to come across. What qualities we want to portray. How we want an audience to feel after listening.

This is one of the numerous lessons I learnt in my session with Kirsty. She gave her insight into acknowledging and managing nerves (they can be helpful!), including power poses (apparently there’s a great TED talk on this by Amy Cuddy) and how to stand. As well as getting us all up doing improv speeches in front of the eight other strangers in the room. It was daunting. I was shaky. The feeling after though of accomplishment is fab. And that’s just to a small group. I was actually really proud of myself.

Presentation workshop with Kirsty HulseMy friend Abi smashing her improv speech!

Kirsty was amazing.

Like truly. She came outright with the fact at the beginning that she’s not a professional. She doesn’t have any qualifications in coaching for this kind of thing. She’s doing this all from experience. But that’s how people learn right?! And experience and personal learning can be so powerful. So of course this doesn’t matter. I think the fact we all came out motivated, with a new found level of confidence in ourselves that we could do it, wanted to do it, and being in total awe of Kirsty just demonstrates this. She’s got a room of 9 strangers all presenting random stuff together, chatting away, and every one coming away wanting to do more. Now that’s fab!

My work friend Abi and I are hoping to continue the momentum internally. We want to set up presentation sessions where people can practice speaking. It might be random topics, or something more industry related, but just to have fun and give others the confidence we came away with. Maybe I’ll even present at a conference sometime in the near future too!

I’m definitely looking to do more training too, for things like this, and other SEO or digital outreach. To build on my skills, for work and my personal self. Of you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Chloe xx

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