Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It's Getting Hot In Here.

I was beyond excitement when I discovered that a hot yoga studio was opening in Liverpool and even more excited when I discovered their website. Yay, hooray for the internet, no need to pick up that phone. I have a strange fear of ringing people and have to psych myself up before I actually pick up the phone, even when its someone I want to talk to – even more psyching needed when its not, like the bank! 
Anyway I downloaded the timetable and sorted out a time to go, then the real worry started - what do I wear? A quick search online suggests tiny shorts and a crop top. Well that just isn't going to happen is it?!  But after a lot of VIPR, PowerPlate and even pole dancing, I think my legs have changed shape enough to possibly be put in little shorts, with the help of fake tan obviously, and topped off with a vest top. I have my own yoga mat from time spent at the yoga studio with the nipple fixated instructor, so just need to grab a towel from the airing cupboard and I'm good to go! 

I discover that I really don't know Liverpool that well despite living here for over six years.  I end up driving around for an hour longer than expected because I decide I know better than the sat nav. I have become very distrustful of my sat nav since it sent me down a bridle path. I realise I should have followed my instincts and not blindly followed instructions especially when said instructions are delivered in the dulcet, seductive tones of its voice, never trust a silky voiced sat nav!  I was driving a car that regularly got mistaken for an escaped dinky toy being steered by an invisible remote control; in the pouring rain;  in the dark;  on my own. I started to really dislike my sat nav about 45 minutes later when to get traction under the back wheels I had to take a running jump onto the boot of the car, shoot forward 10 feet and then to do it all over again.  I actually really hated my sat nav when I finally oozed out of the bridle path, shaking, cold and covered in mud, and it tried to send me down another bloody one! I think we had a full blown barny after that one!

Finally arriving at the yoga studio, the difference between hot yoga and bikram yoga was explained. The difference being that in bikram the classes are always 90 minutes long, you aren't allowed water and they lock you in! Hot yoga is the girly version! Listening to your body, drinking lots of water and being able to leave if it all gets too much! Sounds good to me! The class starts with slow breathing as I try to acclimatise to the heat which is quite difficult as its like a bloody sauna in there! 

As soon as I begin to move into a slow and controlled sun salutation I start to sweat. I sweat a lot. Its actually pouring off me and as I try to hang onto my leg during one pose, my hands just cant get a grip and slide off because of the sweat. I now realise the point of the towel is to stop you sliding of the mats - your feet won't stick to the mat for moisture!  But the heat, the breathing and the stretching has the most wonderful effect and I feel like I could take on the world (or maybe I've just gone really dizzy) and somehow seeing your muscles glistening with sweat makes them look more defined!  I could get used to this! 
Soon we move onto floor work and I start to understand why we are told to take things easy. I suddenly feel a churning in my stomach and everything begins to spin. The instructor (in calm monotone tones, much like the sat nave now I think of it) tells me to look into my eyes in the mirror this will help with the sick feeling. The person looking back looks insane. Wide eyes, red faced, panting, my hair sticking out at weird angles and fake tan and sweat pouring down my cheeks. S.E.X.Y. 

The class ends and I have gotten through it! The doors open and fresh air floods the room and I drag myself, my half rolled yoga mat and a now fake tan soaked and stained towel to the 'chill out' area.  There’s ice cold towels waiting  and even orange wedges waiting! At that moment the most refreshing combination known to man!  All the sickness and dizziness float away and I'm left feeling fresh, alive and like everyone else in the class - completely addicted. 

Monday, 20 June 2011

Variety is the spice of life.

I've been rather quiet lately and I do apologise!  I've been super busy this last month and it feels like my feet have barely touched the ground!  In fact during my Breast Cancer Care walk - I don't think they did!

The Pink Ribbon walk was a charity walk my boyfriend and I took part in for Breast Cancer Care, it was a brilliant day!  Everyone who sponsored me -work, friends, family and in particular my twitter followers – I can’t thank you enough!

The day started at Cholmey Castle in Chester and on the drive there I spotted a sign for an ice cream factory, an ice cream factory sounds wonderful!  So that’s mentally bookmarked for another day. No quite honestly, I have bookmarked the website - they have over 30 flavours and a petting zoo. I don't know which part of that I'm more exciting about. Mmmm – oops, better get back on topic! 

Now I'll be honest with you when I signed up for the walk I thought it would be a lovely day in nice surroundings with inspiring people. It was all of those things but it was also mostly UP HILL. Miles and miles of walking UP HILL is a killer on the thighs and lungs and I am very impressed by the determination and drive of those taking part. I can also say I've never been so happy to eat that banana waiting for me at a rest stop! 

The whole day was very special and so well organised and I'm really glad I took part. I feel inspired to do more events for charity and who knows - maybe the London Marathon one day!

So, apart from doing a lot of walking I've been keeping myself busy in other ways as well!  I know those who follow me on twitter will have seen the tweets - I'm still doing Zumba. Still going weekly to the lovely Danielle for ViPR and Powerplate session. Still trying to get off the ground at pole dancing and somehow also working everyday at Hollyoaks!

I wanted to try something new - I had grown tired of bootcamp. Too much time spent in the plank position and far too much dog poo. I had decided that the hippies at the Yoga Centre were too judgemental and was also not enjoying the company of  one of the instructors whose wandering eye was wandering a little too often to my chest. 

But the thing with yoga is its good for me. Its such a wonderful form of exercise for anyone, and gives you time to just focus on yourself. Particularly good after a long day at work or a stressful period. So I whacked 'Yoga, Liverpool' into google to see what came up.  Unfortunately, nothing new appeared. Boo!. Most places seem to have classes at 5 or 6pm which is no good for those of us who work late or they require you to sign onto a course, which given my unpredictable life is not practical. Boo! Boo! Boo!. 

I thought about Thai Chi and wrinkled my nose. I thought about Pilates and yawned. I thought about rock climbing but then worried about the damage to my nails….so problem goes unresolved, the hunt goes on! 

Suggestions most welcome…we might even do a poll if there is a good variety of ideas!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Daughter of Rambo.

Right, it's time for bootcamp again!  Unfortunately Vicks is full of cold and probably shouldn’t be lying face down in the mud whilst struggling to breathe. Result -I'm down one motivational partner and the other hasn't replied to my text.

Dilemma.  Snoozing in a cosy, warm, snugly bed or jumping jacks on a frosty field.

Potentially on my own? 


I play the game of hitting snooze 4 times. Each time sticking my leg a little further out of its cocoon and into the clearly Baltic weather conditions howling round my bedroom! 

I make it to the park with only moments to spare and the jolly Scouse body builder training man is ready to put us through our paces. More jumping up and down, star jumps, lunges, plank positions, and this time just for extra fun, we have to get down on our hands and knees in the plank position. What’s the plank position? Well,  basically this - get into a press up, keep your back and arms straight, try and stay there for as long as you can, that’s it, well sort of. We then throw water bottles to each other to test our core strength. This seems kind of pointless as people are straining themselves to reach for the bottles and no one is taking it too seriously. I'm not in the least impressed when my water bottle ends up in dog poo. I’m starting to wish I'd stayed in bed. 

Time for a 'game', yay!  We are told to get into two lines, which proves to be a lot harder than you'd think. Once this motley crew have, after much shuffling and debate, managed to form the lines, we are alternately told to form either the plank position or a wide legged squat. I feel happy and a little smug that I am given the squat position, my elbows and definitely my tummy muscles have had enough of the plank for one day. Then the last person on each side has to leap over the planks and crawl through the squatting legs. Doesn't that sound like fun? As I wait in my squat position, my legs start to wobble and I suddenly remember that I'm just five foot tall and so my 'wide leg squat' isn't going to be as 'wide' as that of a taller person. I'm quietly wondering if this might be a problem, when a 6 foot tall and 6 foot wide man tries to squeeze through - I go flying through the air in slow motion to fall bottom first in particularly muddy patch. Fun?  Hmmm. I can think of another word for it! 

On the other side of the field is the BMF group (British Military Fitness for those of you not down with the kids!). They look all shiny and organised which is appealing to me. They also have coloured bibs. I don't have a bib. Why don't I have a bib? What are the bibs for? What do the different colours mean? I want a bib. I find myself transfixed by how disciplined they are! None of the girls are doing their hair or gossiping whilst a harassed and stressed out instructor tries to get them moving. These bib covered fitness freaks are too busy crawling on their hands and knees and running in circles and carrying weighted back packs! 

I look around at the undisciplined, non-bib wearing rabble I’m with and at my dog poo smeared water bottle and sigh. Even so, there are things I like about the bootcamp and I will finish the course. New experiences and trial and error is the point of all this and indeed half the fun of trying all these different types of exercise. I like the fresh air and the fact that once I'm here my Sunday has started with a bang .I know I'll have energy for the rest of the day and will totally be allowed an extra roast potato with dinner tonight.  I like pretending I'm well 'ard. I picture myself Rambo style in combats with black marks on my cheekbones blowing things up and then, wait…what…who? 

There’s a man lurking in the bushes! 

I thought this kind of thing didn't really happen and certainly not at 11am on a Sunday morning!  There in the wooded section is a man wearing a waxed jacket and flat cap, watching us all grunt and strain and stretch. 

Being very English and polite we don't yell,  “Oi! Get out of the bushes you Filthy Pervert”.  Instead we cluck and tut to each like a brood of hens, trying to express our disapproval without actually saying anything . I look over again, he has realised that his furtive behaviour has been noticed and obviously feeling outfoxed, is now trying to stretch and squat with us as if interested in taking part in the class. 

I'm bemused to find that I don't find this man’s behaviour offensive, what’s troubling me is the thought that he might be getting something out of the class without paying for it! 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I Would Walk 500 Miles.

Now there are loads and loads of things you can do for charity and a lot sound either terrifying or downright dangerous. I am unbelievably impressed by anyone who can abseil down the side of a building, bungee jump or indeed throw themselves out of a plane. I am really not one of them…at least I don’t think I am, actually I’ve never been asked! 

I am however frequently asked to do marathons and triathlons and have always scoffed at the thought of even attempting such a thing. But I had good reasons! 

1. I am/was/tryingtonolongerbe so unfit. 

2. I have asthma, which makes doing anything physical for long periods of time quite difficult and the thought of 26 miles whilst clutching my Ventalin inhaler sends me into a panic. 

3. I only learnt how to ride a bike last year and still fall off quite often. 

I can tell you a story about my bike riding. I wanted to be able to ride to work on a nice day. I wanted to be able to ride around the park wearing a floaty dress with a picnic in the front basket and a Scottie dog running along side of me. I wanted to be in Amsterdam by a canal being so very European. So I bought a Dutch bike. I bought it online and it looked perfect!  Wicker basket?  Check. Little bell?  Check. Leather seat?  Check. Scottie Dog?  Well that could come later!

However, no one told me about frame sizes, that it would weigh a ton, that my feet wouldn't reach the floor, and that when I needed to stop I would fall off it sideways because it was so heavy. The last straw came as I was wobbling along the pavement trying to go round some people and a lamppost and I fell sideways into a parked taxi. No one tried to help me; they just looked at me like I was complete idiot. I traded the bloody bike for one a bit more Jessica sized not long after. 

4. I'm a crap swimmer. I detested swimming as a child and only really liked to do backstroke which I don't think is allowed in a triathlon!

5. I'm scared. I'm scared of failing and I'm scared of letting people down. Being asked to represent a charity and to raise money for them is an honour and something I don't take lightly. Therefore my fear of being a huffing/puffing/asthma attacking/bikefallingoff wreck has always made me decline politely. 

However I am working on it! Maybe this time next year I will be fit enough and confidant enough to take on the challenge of something as big as the London Marathon. But in the meantime I am looking for something I think I can complete and which will help a brilliant cause! 

Almost on cue I'm asked if I'd like to take part in the 2011 Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbon Walk and I delightedly said, yes! At some point in our lives unfortunately most of us will know someone or be someone who has experienced cancer and I'm no different so I think cancer research and care is very important. 

As I do a bit of research about Breast Cancer Care I realise how much good work they do - everything from providing free care and support services across the UK, to online and telephone advice from nurses, and special lingerie evenings. It feels like this charity really thinks about women’s needs and tries hard to satisfy them and I feel very proud to be able to support them in any small way I can. 

The walk itself is either a ten or twenty mile walk in various locations around the UK and I'm starting mine at Cholmondeley Castle on the 4th of June with fellow cast mate Alice Barlow. It looks to be a beautiful setting - I just hope the weather is good! 

I've been told it’s about 2000 steps to the mile for the average person - with my little legs it’s probably a few more! So that means I'll be walking around 40, 000 steps….sounds a lot of steps and a long, long way! To get it into proportion I wear a pedometer for the day to see how many steps I take. I've also read I should walk about 10000 steps a day, so I end up running up and down the Price Slice set between takes to get the numbers up and Ashley quite rightly declares me bonkers! If I need to be able to walk forty thousand steps - I better start training! 

If you fancy taking part you still can - men and women are welcome! You can sign up at https://www.secureweb-services.com/bccribbonwalk/ and if you can't take part you can sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/jessicafox

Many thanks if you do take the time to sponsor me - every penny counts and think of me on 4th June with my pink leg warmers on, striding out whilst humming that Proclaimers’s song.  ..Hopefully just not in the pouring rain! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

ViPR Bites.

I live in Liverpool. The year is 2011 and I am 27 year old woman. This at times can be quite hard. I am confronted daily by images of the thin, the slim, the beautiful and the fit, and that's not just at work!  Every magazine I pick up gives me 20 different diets or tells me about 20 different celebrities who are struggling with weight gain or why they are very pleased with their weight loss. I find this very tricky to keep up with, and I know I'm not the only one!  Look at Lilly Allen!  I TOO 'want to eat spaghetti Bolognese and not feel guilty for days and days'. 

If you choose and are lucky enough to work on television you know you have to have a tough skin. But having a tough skin doesn't mean that if you read a tweet, a message post or hear that someone has been commenting on your figure, you don’t wince - no one wants to be told they have 'wrestlers arms'. That’s what this new venture is all about. If I can feel happy within myself, well frankly…bollocks to those who want to be mean! 

On my new found quest to get fit and confidant I have been researching/googling/reading up on all different kind of fitness crazes. Zumba, Bootcamp, Yoga,  and as the nearest place I can learn to fly the trapeze is 2 hours away on the train (how flipping flaming cool would that be?!) I am looking at options closer to home!

So, if you read the entry from two weeks ago (scroll down please) you would know that a new fitness/dance/personal training studio has opened about 30 seconds away from my house and I thought it would be very rude not to check it out! 

After a consultation with the lovely Danielle we discuss what options might be best for me and my goals, and decide to try ViPR mixed with the PowerPlate for an 'effective all over body BLAST in just half an hour'. 

Now till a week ago I did not know what ViPR was and my knowledge of a PowerPlate was that it vibrates and is meant to give you an hour’s workout in half the time, which sounds excellent,and that Madonna has one.  With the ViPR I picture something that looks like a snake…the reality is a lot harder to handle.

The ViPR is a large tube which reminds me of a totem pole with hand holds in the middle. It is made of weighted rubber and on first glance doesn't look so scary. But having picked the thing up it is heavy - and it’s the lightest one apparently! 

We start off by doing a minute of something called 'thread the needle', a series of movements which cannot possibly be described in words so let’s just say, its bloody hard work. It involves a squat, a forward bend and the swinging and twisting of the totem pole through your legs. After 60 seconds I am a sweating, huffing, struggling to breath, mess. After 14 more minutes of bicep curls, twists, batting a swiss ball across the room and lunges with the rubber tube, the VIPR thingy is fast becoming a  boa constrictor and I'm glad to be moving on to the Powerplate.

Now this Powerplate is making me giggle, and as I spend the next 30 seconds in a wide leg squat I realise a few things:

1. If you keep your mouth closed it makes your teeth chatter.

2. It is really hard to focus on anything and it’s all a bit blurry.

3. Trying to stay still on something that vibrates is a contradiction in terms.

4. This is bloody difficult and my thighs are hurting canimovenowplease? 

The 30 minutes end just as I start to think I can't possible lift or bend anything else. However, I can't believe I can have done so much in such a small amount of time, I feel excited and am certain this is going to get results quickly.  I leave the studio with very wobbly legs. So wobbly in fact…I stumble into a lamp post as I stagger home. Oh well, what’s a few more bruises when you are having fun!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Clutch.

Guess what?

I've booked myself on a course to learn pole dancing. Me? Pole dancing? Pole dancing, Me? I try saying it out loud.  Hmmn, no, definitely doesn’t go together!  Now here's the thing, I've never been that girl who dances seductively or should I say attempts to, as they stumble across a pole in a club or possibly a random lamp post. I've never felt the urge and would watch rather disdainfully should anyone ever attempt it. 

However I have been reading that it is fabulous exercise and will tone my arms and belly quickly. I picture myself long, lean and able to turn upside down and hang by the ankles. So I figure - what have I got to lose?

But…the thing is…much as I loath to admit it…I'm a bit of a prude when the words pole and dancing are mentioned. I have nothing against poles and nothing against dancing but the phrase conjurers up Demi Moore in Striptease or the sleazy lap dancing bar in my home town called the Honeypot (which rather horribly is also the name of a children's day care centre here in Liverpool - argh!) and I can't help but wince. 

Why can't we call it something else? Why does it have to sound so seedy? I'm not going to be wiggling around in a thong while I do it.  A quick flick through a thesaurus and the most popular synonyms for 'pole' are shaft, rod and mast which sound even worse once you put dancing on the end. Vertical Apparatus Exercise anyone? Foreign translations sound nicer, but then doesn't everything sound better in Italian anyway? 'Dancing del palo' sounds enchanting as does the Spanish 'baile del poste'. 

Anyway on the eve of my first lesson I'm told I need to wear shorts as the more skin you have out the more you 'stick to the pole'. This is the first hurdle as I don't own any shorts. I don't even own anything vaguely short like so end up hacking off most of the leg part of my leggings.  The other golden rule of pole dancing is, to stay away from the body lotion otherwise you will slide down the pole. You want to slide round, not down. 

At the class I'm told to stretch out (which I do) and that we will start off with something easy. The teacher effortlessly takes two steps and hooks her ankles round the pole and goes round. Lovely, very nice I think. I can do that, can't I? 
So, I take my two little steps (that part is fine) and then I grab the pole and fall on my bottom. Ah, maybe this isn't so simple so I ask her to show me again. 

Now, what I hadn't realised was you’re not swinging round. You’re not gliding, grinding, writhing or any inging at all. You are doing a one armed pull up, with the other arm pushing away and up, and with your wrist in a strange twisted position - whilst spinning! 

I immediately feel deflated and cross that I'm not instantly good at this. I’ve also made it harder for myself because although I’ve abstained from the body lotion I did moisturise my face. So I have cream on my hands and  ...slip slip slip I go sliding down the pole. The rest of the hour is spent trying to hook my legs round, struggling not to slip off, whilst summoning the strength to hold myself up. My instructor patiently assures me, this will come with time. I've also decided that the pull up, push away arm movement is like working out the clutch when you’re learning to drive, and I hope it will suddenly click for me - like driving!

The next day I am so sore I can't lift my arms above my shoulders and sitting up by myself is almost impossible! I also have new found respect and admiration for pole dancers everywhere and am excited by the promise of a very strong core, sculpted arm muscles, and if I can just master the clutch - a new skill for the CV.  

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

My Dance Space.

Back to Zumba today and I'm quite excited. 

I've been planning an outfit in my head all afternoon, this involves wearing a t-shirt with a big banana split on the front.  Ironic?  Cheeky?  Motivational? Who knows, but it amused me, until I thought maybe this could be seen as rude, and resorted to wearing the purple Nike one from last week. 

Then I stress. Will they think I don't have anything else to wear? Should I change it? Does it matter that at certain angles I think you can see a VPL through my leggings, AND I'm worried my sports bra doesn't fit properly.

Anyhoo its time for the hip popping, arm waving, face pulling, sound effect making hour, and all fashion worries slip my mind as I pretend to be Zumba’s answer to Britney Spears in her heyday. 

But we have a problem, the side effect of press ups, lunges, sit ups, and squats is that I now ache. I have been aching BAD MAN. I have been going down the stairs slowly whilst huffing and eeeking for 2 days, and even though I thought I was Zumba fit - the new song with its Bollywood themed arms and thigh bursting plies is proving to be a new challenge. Every time I have to bend my knees I can hear Vicks next to me suppressing giggles, as this is accompanied by much yelping and puffing out of cheeks. 

There seems to be less knee bending in the next new number which has a real 60s vibe to it and you get to do the monkey which is all kinds of fun, I’m really getting into it and then…the lady next to me. 

She seems very nice. 
She seems to have very long arms and legs. 
She seems to want to hit me with these arms and legs. 

I spend the rest of the class ducking and weaving away from crazy failing limb lady and then hurry home relieved to have escaped serious injury. A revving cup of strong coffee and I’m ready to dream up new Zumba outfits and consider the need for some class etiquette...

So, here is my list of the do’s and don’t’s for the fitness class attendee:

1. First come, first served. If I get to class 20 minutes early to bag my front and centre space, don't you be nabbing it the second I go for a gulp of water.

2. Wearing jiggle bells round your hips does not make you Shakira. It just makes you noisy. 

3. No tutting. If someone goes the wrong way, kicks the wrong leg, waves the wrong arm - so what? It’s dance aerobics not the ballet. We are meant to be having 
a giggle.

4. HOWEVER - if you have no rhythm, no sense of direction and no control over your body, please at least be aware of where you are flinging it!  No one should come out of a class with a black eye. 

5. No talking. So as I said we are there to have fun, but there is nothing more distracting than people gossiping behind you. I never did hear what happened when Terry found Jenny in bed with someone else, because another song started and I missed the juicy bit!

6. STICK TO YOUR SPACE. Has Dirty Dancing taught you nothing?!  My dance space is not your dance space. STAY OUT OF IT. 

P.S. I bloody LOVE playing the imaginary drums on the Gloria Estefan number.