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.