My Life, My Fitness
Julie’s 500km cycle ride from Porto to Lisbon
We follow Julie in her final weeks of training to take on a major charity cycle
A former corporate business management specialist within the banking sector, Megan Hoskin is now fully focused upon soul sustaining adventuring with purpose. It is that adventurous spirit that lead Megan to sign up for the 2018 Great Pacific Race as part of the Pacific Terrific team. Here is Megan’s story…
I’m rowing across the Pacific Ocean. Words I never imagined I’d utter, yet find myself doing so now at least five times per day. In June 2018, myself and my crew of 2 other brave (or some say, crazy) ladies “Pacific Terrific” will set out from Monterey, California in a 25ft rowing boat, next stop Honolulu, Hawaii 2,400 miles away. No sail. No engine. Just Muscle. In success, we shall be the first crew of 3, male or female, in history ever to row the Pacific, and only the 2nd crew of 3 women ever to row any ocean on earth.
“So you’re a professional rower?” I’m asked, at all too frequent intervals. A reasonable assumption, but no. “So you’ve rowed before though?” is the usual follow up. Again, no! Ocean rowing is a challenge incomparable to any inland oar based activity, and whilst flat water technique will see you well on the Thames, add 30ft waves to the mix and you literally won’t scratch the surface! Adventurers at heart, we’re lucky to have an abundance of experience in the wilds between us as a crew – be it sailing oceans, climbing mountains, or running ultra trails. But ultimately, we are three women, representing a different decade in age each from our 20s to 50s, whose diverse paths have led to a shared dream, and who are fortunate, and possibly silly enough to be able to say yes to rowing an ocean!
Competing in the Great Pacific Race will see us row in varying shift patterns of 1-3 hours on and off the oars, rowing more than 13 hours a day, at times alone, for up to 2 months unsupported on the open ocean. A huge number of tasks including navigation, desalination of sea water to drink, swimming mid-Pacific to clean the hull of the rowing boat, not least attempting to replace the c.6000 calories burned daily will consume our non-rowing hours. We’ll face sleep deprivation, waves tall as houses, blisters, potential capsizes and dangers from sharks and whales.
Fitness, endurance, strength, the ability to continue when every part of your body is screaming to stop, is absolutely key. The very specific muscle work required to row is entirely new to me, and I am right now staring up at the steep curve I need to climb in just 3 short months! With the help and advice of the Esph team I’m now adding multiple weight sessions into my ergo heavy weekly training routine, and I’m confident that quite literally a lot of leg work will get me to the start line shaped up and ready to ship out!
The physical challenge will be immense. But our motivations to succeed are greater. By rowing we hope to show especially that women & girls at any stage can and should dare to dream, to do so big, and to challenge limits wherever they can and wish. We are also rowing to raise funds for a the charity Mind, a cause close to us, and to raise awareness of and champion solutions to the issue of Plastic Pollution within our oceans
.We are incredibly grateful for the support of Esph and the Esph community!
Support the team in their bid to be FIRST female crew to win this great race: Donate to the Pacific Terrific crew here
Click on the link for further info on the Great Pacific Race
Photo credits: Pacific Terrific
Cycling to raise funds for Coram
Julie is in her last few weeks of training in preparation for her 500km, three day epic ride from Porto to Lisbon via Viseu and Leiria and some tough 2000 – 3000m climbs each day.
She reports on her training and why she decided to ride raising funds for Coram…
“When my back went I remember sitting in the therapy rooms with Libby in tears as the pain was incredible. Never did I dare to think I would be riding 100 miles a day for 3 days!”, says Julie.
I have always loved bikes and despite my parents having 6 children they fostered hard to place children. So when a friend told me about this women in the building industry charity ride for Coram, I didn’t need any further convincing. This year 42 women, from 28 to 60 will ride together. (I am the 60 year old – well 59 and a half.)
I rode for Coram two years ago riding from Bilbao to Madrid – it was the hardest thing I have ever done. This years ride will be even tougher. What I love about the society is they provide a complete support network for those who are interested in adopting hard to place children.
“Coram has been changing children’s and young people’s lives for 275 years”
This past year they supported more than 300 families struggling to care for their children, helping them to avoid reaching crisis point.
I have scoliosis and suffered a prolapsed disk in 2010, that has never healed. Missing 10 weeks of work, was my low point. Since then I have been determined to overcome this set back, through physio, pilates and yoga. With the encouragement of Pauw and Max E’, ESPH’s spin classes have improved my fitness overall.
What Libby Sharp, as Clinical Director of ESPH, think’s of Julie’s Charity Cycle:
“I am full of admiration for Julie’s amazing effort and previous achievements. I remember well how difficult everything was for her in 2010 when she had acute back pain. Julie’s achievement epitomises my clinical experience which over the years has taught me that people can get over acute musculoskeletal problems with focused exercise, determination, tenacity and support from family and professional experts.
Well done Julie – you are an example to us all.“
Support Julie’s fundraise for Coram
The event takes place: 18th, 19th and 20th of May 2017.
If you are willing to give up the cost of a bottle of wine (or 6 beers) then please sponsor my effort!
Please donate here: Donate to Julie’s Cycle
For further information on Coram please click: Coram
Photo credits: Amy Story, Club Peloton
Easter temptations – how to make it through the chocolate eggs
Charlie & Sharon's Easter exercise tips
As Easter approaches we have taken on a new challenge, recognising that chocolate eggs, hot-cross buns and Simnel Cake are lurking. We decided to do a blitz in the run-up to Easter, relax over the holidays, then blitz again afterwards.
What does this mean? Two PT sessions with Gigi per week, at least three of the many spin classes on offer per week and a “push-up challenge” for the month. Sharon continues to cycle to work every day and Charlie is also eating “healthy” in a big way.
Having a PT session on a Tuesday and Thursday means that we can use each session to focus either on our upper or lower bodies. Gigi really helps us with technique and it’s making all the difference. Her hyper-attention to our respective strengths and weaknesses enables her to tailor the exercises. I (Sharon) have a real issue with my thoracic back being hunched over my bike for hours on end, plus of course years of slouching over a computer and being big chested a combination that requires real attention to my posture. Charlie’s hips give her jip but she’s really flexible.
Our push-up challenge was devised by Gigi, it means push-ups every day for five days, followed by two days of rest. In our next blog we’ll tell you more about how this is going, let’s just say, sweating after an early morning spin, to hear Alexei say “I’ll join your push-up challenge today” was both inspiring and daunting. It’s great when our endeavours are supported by the whole team.
Here’s some of that attention to detail that Gigi applies to everything we do.
I can’t describe how much difference a month makes – on my last blog I said I was determined to go bananas – well we have – Sharon’s talked about our focus, sessions and challenges – every little bit makes a difference. I’ve got my weekends back and have been to spin and core at the weekend – unheard of – aren’t you proud Lexi? – Yes, I am ladies!
Friends ask me why I like PT and my gym so much – and I have tried to pin down one thing – but there isn’t just one thing – for me it’s a combination of so many – the gentle assumptive encouragement from Gigi when she says ‘how’s that – Too light?’, watching Sharon’s technique, shape and confidence grow – the excitement when we do something new, better, heavier, looking in the mirror and seeing the results, the increased confidence, the friendliness of ESPH staff and members and most of all leaving the gym with a skip in my step knowing I’ve started the day well. .
I have had a huge focus on my diet – my first blog started with ‘I love food’ – that’s very much still the case, but I have been learning about macros and micros and when to eat – its making all the difference! By no means am I starving myself, in fact in most instances I’m eating more – just the right things. It sounds simple- it’s not! Long gone are my nice street food lunches and Pret breakfasts – if I am not training, or working I am food prepping – the first week was exhausting – but like everything it’s just habit and routine.
I am by no means back to how I was this time last year but I am well on my way – my waist is back, the wobbly bits are getting firmer and I’m skipping up the escalator at London Bridge – even after a beastly session.
What’s my goal for summer? – fitter by 40 to me means a back like Gigi – see the photos – that’s enough motivation there.
Sharon is abandoning me next week – this is a test to my determination – I am determined to keep up the focus – and will be inundating Sharon with photos so she knows I am doing her proud!
When we agreed to this blog I didn’t really consider the exposure of ‘sharing’ – however since sharing we have had several members talking to us about the blog, asking questions and most of all offering encouragement – this really sums up ESPH! Thank you 😉
Sticking to the game plan – despite work and travel
The support that I’ve been getting in my endeavour to get fitter not fatter has so far been amazing, but of course I should have known that given the team at ESPH who all seem to be getting behind us in a big way.
A great example of this was when I had to take a trip to Atlanta in the U.S.A in February for work. I am part of an international leadership programme, so while I was exercising my mind I was determined to exercise my body as well. Especially as I knew that food would play a huge part in the proceedings. But I was without my Gym Buddy Charlie and of course Gigi et al.
So when I discovered that the conference centre had a gym I took a photo of the equipment and sent it to Gigi, and her immediate response was “right I am designing you a programme”. It focussed on my upper back, one of my problem areas.
ESPH – What service!
Five circuits including three different exercises on the “bad boy pulley machine” as Gigi called it, 10 reps each at 16kg (but had to convert to llbs, Americans don’t use Kgs), plus squats & presses with dumbbells, bench step-ups and the hateful treadmill for some quick bursts. I added a favourite from our sessions with Alex – rolling out on the ball for my core and a few hollow-holds. I managed to do it four days in succession. That set me up for the intense sessions with my brilliant international colleagues, it helped me get over my jet lag and prepared me for my return flight which entailed sitting on a plane for seven hours.
Here’s a bad picture of me and a dumbbell.
We catch up with Alexandra McMillan, PT Instructor at ESPH East Dulwich, on Sharon and Charlie’s gym buddy challenge.
Congrats to Sharon and Charlie who have now completed part one of their Training Plan and what a difference six weeks has made! I set them up on a circuit style training plan incorporating the use of the body as a weight and free weights. This would be the focus of our PT sessions and then once a week they could follow this on their own or together.
Eyes on the prize – select your fitness & exercise goals
Sharon and Charlie’s fitness goals were matched with exercise targets. Now, both had a common goal in mind – to achieve a perfect push up. Charlie could complete a few but couldn’t continue with reps and Sharon really struggled with her form. I gave them assisted push ups to perfect the perfect push up. They did 3 sets of 15 reps twice a week for the last six weeks and they are both now able to do push ups with good form and repetitions. Success!
Topping up strength and endurance
To build strength and endurance I added in some explosive plyometric jumps, 3 sets of 12 jumps twice a week. To start with Charlie didn’t have much of a spring in her jump and would land with half her foot on the box and Sharon really struggled with a mental block before the jump (which is very common).
Well there’s a determined spirit in the gym when these ladies train together and with team encouragement they are now both jumping with a spring, landing on the box and Sharon’s mental block has eased.
The next stage of their training will be with the lovely, but no messing, PT instructor Gigi. It’s been great to see Sharon and Charlie pushing themselves, each and every session, and it’s been an absolute pleasure helping them on their journey. Their determination and focus will see them exceeding their goals.
So, what’s it really been like Sharon and Charlie? We will be updating their story over the next few weeks.
Fitness levels & programme planning
We catch up with Sharon and Charlie as they go through their fitness tests to set out and commence their new fitness programme.
Benchmarking and testing – just how fit are you?
Charlie & Sharon: Every project needs to know where it is to start and it’s no difference when starting a new fitness programme. We have recently been training with ESPH’s lovely Alex McMillan, she is relatively new but immediately Alex has settled in and fits in seamlessly with the family community of ESPH. Alex suggested we take a BMI test, get a benchmark and go from there. Sharon and I had a chat with Lexi who upgraded our test to the ‘full beast’ – a test one of us had done before and can tell you not enjoyable – Charlie adds “I’m not sure if it’s the overall process or the sickness I feel when I know the results are sat in my inbox waiting to be read…”
The day of the test we rock up at the gym at 615am to Lex in his usual firm friendly manner – Sharon and I are joking about as usual, until he pulls out the ‘gas mask’! An hour later we have had our BMI done, strength tests, V02 tests etc
“How did I feel? Fat, sad, worried, amused, but most of all pleased I was making the first steps to bettering my health. The results – really, not that surprising – after nearly 4 months of doing 50-60% of what I was doing in the previous 4 months, I had put on weight, lost strength and was a little out of shape. All of which I knew and all of which can be worked on – so on came the planning.”
Keys to success – feedback, coaching and fitness planning
There are many things I love about ESPH – the kit, the classes, the community, the flexibility but most of all is the approach and people. Their ‘fit for life’ motto sums everything up really – the idea is to find the balance and not give yourself unrealistic targets. In our consultation with Lexi, he politely indicates the areas of focus, laughs at our enthusiasm and my ‘troublesome’ personality – understands my obsession with food and Sharon’s pro cyclist ways! At the end, I have the next 1 month’s plan all mapped out for me:
- Minimum of 100 minutes cardio a week
- New programme with Alex for Tuesday mornings, to be repeated by us as buddies on a Thursday
- Aim to do a least 2 e-Gym circuits a week
- Reduce food portion sizes.
Knowing that it’s 80% food / 20% exercise for weight loss, we need to focus. In 6 months, we are both aiming to get our body composition down to 28%… the aim is to turn our fat into muscle and be overall healthier.
Week one of training
I am classing w/c 16th January the first week of our training post ‘gas mask’. I already know this is going to be a tough week – not only have I got to up my minutes from 60 to 100 cardio for the first time but I am away from Thursday – Monday in Dublin so travelling and exercising will be a struggle.
So – my plan is to front load the week and try not to commit to exercise when I am away if I know I may not do it! I’ve also got a 10K on the 5th February which I need to get ready for – and pounding the streets of London is my least favourite past time – but I am committed.
Monday spin – winning! Tuesday morning PT – new programme from Alex is perfect –it tackles everywhere, is made of up of mini circuits and is easier for us to remember and do alone. Tuesday night I drag myself out for a short 4K run, takes me a slow 33 minutes but I did it! Wednesday, 30 min spin, my legs are beginning to feel like lead weights, tired and moving slower than normal. Either way I have made it to 93 minutes without too much drama. Friday, I wake up in Dublin, and urge my friend to come running with me. So, on the first day of my holiday I drag her out for an 8k run – taking in two piers and the water front – a slow steady 1 hour run not only gets me ready for this 10k but nails the 100 minute rule in week one #winning So far, I think I have started as well as I can!
So, buddy Sharon how’s week one been for you?
Well, I’m thinking on a monthly basis, and making my plans around a 30-day period. This enables me to factor in travelling, which I do a lot in my job. BUT knowing that I have three months before my next fitness test really sharpens the mind. Like Charlie I have begun well, but really, really want to get more cardio in. Blocking out evenings especially on Thursdays will require discipline, but it’s really going to be worth it.
Stay focused and on track in your fitness journey – the power from having a gym buddy.
Over the year, we will be following up on two of our members who have teamed up to energise their fitness programme. 2017 began with a commitment towards increased fitness between two “gym buddies”, Charlie and Sharon. Their journey, supported by the quite wonderful team at ESPH [their words not ours], will be shared regularly on this blog. So, be sure to check in to track the journey of these two brave ladies as they endeavour to go from good-ish to great.
Charlie and Sharon’s promise: “We won’t hold back on how we are doing, through the pain and, hopefully, to pleasure along the way.”
Embracing Fitness and Friendship – stronger together.
Sharon’s story: I am on a mission to make my 50s the fittest decade of my life. Charlie and I share a philosophy that can be summed up in one phrase: “Strong Girls” – it’s the mantra that we devised with ESPH personal trainer Gigi. It means that strength and fitness is our overarching goal and we got well on our way to that in 2016 with a whole year’s Personal Training. Gigi got us doing things that we’d never imagined possible, well I certainly hadn’t; hand-stands, lifting heavy weights and pull-ups, although assisted by big rubber bands. This gave us the confidence to take it further.
Alex Sharp took up the mantle in the autumn and is busy working with us now on an intensive programme that will see us upping our game through the thoughtful use of the Skill-Mill, free weights, TRX and lots of work on our respective cores. In addition to this we’ll be increasing our cardio, something that we’ll need to fit into our rather busy lives, but more on that later.
Fitness tests to gain a picture of just how fit you are.
To kick-off the year we each had a full fitness test by none-other than Alexei (also known as Lex), one of the founders of ESPH. Early before dawn had broken on Thursday 12 Jan, we were ready to take on a thorough set of tests and exercises that looked at our aerobic fitness, strength and body composition (that’s the ratio of weight and fat in your body). It was a bit daunting but totally amazing to see the whole picture, it’s given us both targets to aim for. Our goals relate to our metrics. Some are softer for example I want to increase my V02 max to 50 from 43, do an un-assisted pull-up (that will take some doing), reduce my BMI somewhat to climbing Col du Galibier (look it up) on a road bike. Pauw Steyl, ESPH trainer and professional cyclist has made me fall in love with spinning so he’s the man for the job! Oh, and I want to get that tattoo that I’ve been hankering after.
And so, we’ve begun. Being both active people, with hugely busy jobs and devoted ESPH clients we are “on it”. How we make fitness more of a factor in our lives is taxing us right now. We both need to work more time in the gym into how we go about our daily activity.
One thing that we are sure of is that the whole team at ESPH seem to be behind us and that’s an incredible feeling, we are well supported, it’s up to us now to make it happen.
We will keep you all posted.
Charlie’s story: Fitter by 40! Well, let’s start by being honest – I like food! I don’t just like naughty foods, or eating out, I love all food, ingredients, cooking, being cooked for, taster meals, street food – you name it, I will be up for trying it. It’s a very crucial factor in my life.
As a child, I shied away from PE and exercise. I’m competitive, and if I didn’t think I could win, I’d give up. My parents divorced when I was young, mum worked a lot, she set a good precedence for a strong work ethic and when it came to exercise she was a gym bunny, aerobics at the local leisure centre and maybe workouts at home – but no competitive sports or challenges – she didn’t need to or have the time. To be fair mum was tiny and smoking hot so the small amount she did was maintenance only! Sadly, I took on more of my dad’s physique and personality – a tall, solid unit, and a big weakness for a tipple!
I found a love for Personal Training… and haven’t looked back.
Around 8 years ago, one of my dearest friends was getting wed and was on a fitness mission, we did the odd class together and so I said great! I’ll come along for the ride, share the cost and do it with you! That’s when my love for Personal Training started, back then I was in sales, young and happy to dig deep and pay the ££ to not think about my exercise! From then on, I moved jobs and houses and found myself a new PT along the way! When I moved to Peckham I found ESPH, at the time I had a trainer near work but she ditched PT to become an estate agent, weird right? In need of a new PT for inspiration I signed up at ESPH and haven’t looked back since!
3 years ago, I agreed to do ‘Kilimanjaro’ for a friend’s 40th birthday. Alexei put me through my paces to build up my core strength, stamina and cardio – I was ready, and nailed it! Being one of two girls in the group I won the team award for always having a smile on my face, unlike babies I couldn’t put it down to wind, or could I? ;-)))
This simple walk in the mountains spurred me on and I felt I could run… having hated running all my life Lex taught me to run, probably harder than teaching his kids to walk, crikey I moaned! Hill sprints, just rank! But low and behold later that year I did a half marathon, my first and probably last, but I did it!
Unfortunately, I took to running with gusto but in the process injured my ITB (that’s the iliotibial tract or iliotibial band which assists to extend, abduct, and laterally rotate the hip). See, with all this exercise you also begin to understand how your body functions. I eased off focusing on spin classes, the odd workout but did manage to complete a few 10k’s. Then I met Sharon, and the friendship has blossomed to where we are bosom buddies. Her objective was, and still is, a back tattoo – and she wanted a lean body for this tattoo – along came – GiGi. Gigi ‘took us’ on and boy did she do that, within months we went from fannying about to dead lifting 40+kilos, learning to chin up and feeling the burn in places I didn’t know existed.
Balancing job demands with the gym.
During 2016 we had highs and lows – the tricky part for both of us the balance, our jobs are big, demanding and require us to be in the office a lot. I find myself sitting for 8-9 hours a day, there are endless lunches, meals, and events that I am often hosting – which not only steals hours of my time, but there is an expectation to drink and enjoy yourself. This, coupled with my need for sleep, means I am often playing catch up. In the later part of 2016 my focus was blurred, I was just about managing to train but with no focus or motivation – I plodded along until Christmas longing for it all to be over so I could clear the deck and find my focus again.
New year, new team approach to workouts.
I have always loved January – to me it’s a great time to re-evaluate life, look at the year ahead, define your focus and get into a new routine. One thing I know, I am happier when I am training, eating well and in control of my exercise, I grow frustrated when external factors dictate my life. So, 2017 is all about being in control of our training.
Strong, not skinny – find your mantra.
Sharon and I have always said: “strong, not skinny”. This will be our mantra and for me Fitter by forty. I turn 40 on June the 30th 2017 – on this date I plan to be fitter than I have been in the last 2 years and happier.
My emotions are mixed, I am longing for the routine and focus, and I am delighted to have my lovely generous and motivating friend Sharon joining me on this project. I am nervous of failure but quietly confident that with her by my side, I will get to wherever I want to be, and most importantly we will have fun along the way!!
We will be regularly posting updates to Sharon and Charlie’s story so you can keep on track with their progress. Don’t forget to keep them motivated when you see them in the gym!
Last week it was ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ and Harley Street physio Sarah has not stood still. This year to date she has ran over 600 miles, cycled over 1,800 miles and swam 80kms, raising over £3,000 for her cancer charities. With only two more events to go she’s edging towards her £5,000 target!
- NEXT EVENT*: 2nd Nov- Fireworks 500, 500m open water night swim.
Help Sarah reach her fundraising target for Macmillan and Prostate Cancer UK.
Recently she completed event #13/15, the Yorkshire marathon (26.2 miles…yes Sarah commented the 0.2 is important!). Here’s what she had to report on the event:
“8 weeks ago I didn’t think I would be able to complete it due to a slight knee injury so I am delighted to have ran my socks off into a PB of 3’43. It was gruelling as ever. Nearly didn’t make it to the start as my car wouldn’t start on the morning of the race, so thank you to the Pearson family for coming to the rescue! The last half was helped enormously by some very enthusiastic cheerleaders- so thank you And well done to Emma Pearson for a cracking marathon debut.
Only 2 challenges remain, with the next being an open water swim in a quarry up north…at night Thank you all for your on going support and donations, it’s means the world. X”
- 2nd Nov- Fireworks 500, 500m open water night swim
- Dec- Cycling home for Christmas, London to Nottingham, 135 miles!
READ more … click to see Sarah’s roll of honour so far! SARAH’S EVENTS
*Events may be subject to change.