Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sia!

I'm obsessed. With the music, with the dancing and with Maddie Ziegler.



I have been trying to learn the choreopgraphy and have found these Youtube videos, by Andrea Wilson, really awesome:

Saturday, 24 September 2016

My favourite healthy food places in Kensington and Chelsea

There seem to be quite a few clean eating places popping up around London. I am not gluten or lactose intolerant and I'm not vegan, but sometimes it is nice to be able to go to a restaurant that has lots of healthy options and uses high quality ingredients.

1. Jusu Brothers. JB have a really interesting menu, most of which I have no idea what it is. I had something called a "red smoothie oryoki" made from Acaï/guarana, banana berries, almond milk, topped with home-made granola, Dragon fruit, coconut, chia seeds, sesame seeds and agave. Even after eating it, I'm still pretty confused about what this actually is, but I guess it can best be described as a sort of breakfast bowl, and it's absolutely delicious! I also love the juices, which are freshly prepared.

Location: 147-149 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RS


2. Redemption. Although open all day, this place has a great evening vibe and is one of the few healthy food places to stay open in the evening. It's the perfect place to go for a drink when you don't want to have alcohol. I realise that may be a niche interest, but I love it! They have a really great menu of non-alcoholic drinks that makes me really happy! They also host some interesting events, such as "Soul food: meditation + lunch" or the "Sugar free jam". Check the website or the Facebook page for updates.


Location: 6 Chepstow Road, W2 5BH
Note on opening times: Redemption is closed on Sundays.

3. Farm Girl. This is a really cute café tucked away off Portobello Road. They do delicious food with lots of "free from" options and have a really interesting selection of teas and other hot drinks.


Location: 59a Portobello Rd, W11 3DB

4. Nama. Nama is a little raw food restaurant in Notting Hill. The food is vegan, organic and unprocessed. I had toast and smashed avocado, which was absolutely delicious.

Location: 110 Talbot Road, W11 1JR

5. Tanya's. Another little raw food restaurant, this one is in Chelsea. The venue is really beautiful with high ceilings and potted plants all around. All the food is raw living, plant-based, hand-picked, organically grown, ethically sources and free from refined sugar, dairy or gluten. And in spite of this, it's delicious! My favourite is
 the cheezecakes, which is vegan cheesecake!

Location: 35 Ixworth Place, SW3 3QX



Friday, 16 September 2016

Fitness classes in New York

I was recently in New York for a holiday and decided to try a few exercise classes while I was there. I love learning about new fitness trends, and I feel like New York is always a little ahead of London. I did some research in advance and ended up going to five different classes. 

1. Power Journey Beats at Lyons Den. This class came up repeatedly when I googled "best fitness classes in NYC", so I figured I had to give it a try. Power Journey Beats is a 1 hour, fast-paced, Vinyasa style yoga class in a slightly heated room with music. I thought it was meh. If you want hot yoga do Bikram. If you want Vinyasa yoga, do a proper class at centre for yoga. This class was ok, but it felt like a fad, and for $29.25 for an introductory drop-in class I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. 

2. Sculpt at modelFIT. This is another class that came up repeatedly during my research. Apparently it's where all the models go. I can confirm that this is true, but it is definitely NOT one of the best fitness classes in NYC. In fact, it is one of the worst. It literally did nothing for me. I didn't break a sweat, my muscles barely twitched. And yet, I was by far the fattest person in the room (I'm a size 10 btw). Normally I would interpret that as a sign that the class is effective, but in this case I think it's just a class where already skinny people come to hang out and stretch a bit. A single class costs a crazy $40, and I can only say, please save your money! 
 
3. Barre at Pure Barre. This studio was actually recommended to me by someone I fell into conversation with at the airport. I love barre (and will do a blog specifically about this soon), so I figured I would give it a try. As a bonus, this class was on Class Pass, so I didn't have to pay extra for it. I went to the Thursday 10.30 am class with Taylor at the Park Slope Brooklyn location. This class was great. The people at the studio, and particularly Taylor, were very friendly, and the studio was lovely. The only negative is that they didn't have showers. You don't sweat much in this class (though unlike modelFIT you work your muscles until they are literally shaking), so it's not the worst thing, but you know I have a thing for fancy facilities...

4. Barre at Exhale. I had already been to barre classes at Exhale on previous trips to NY and liked them so much that I decided to go again. Exhale have several studios around Manhattan, and one observation I have is that they vary quite widely when it comes to facilities. The Soho studio has no showers, whereas the Gramercy studio has two bathrooms with showers, but no separate changing rooms, which stressed me out a bit because I was worried about keeping other people waiting. The Upper East Side location, on the other hand, is absolutely amazing, with big, beautiful changing rooms where everything is provided, from shower gel to fluffy bath robes. So if you want a great barre class plus the fancy facilities experience, this is the place! 

5. Spinning at Soul Cycle - I'm not really into spinning, but I had heard so much about Soul Cycle, I was really curious to find out what the hype was about... and I totally get it now. This class was EPIC! I went to the Friday 10.30 am class with Isabel (who is the coolest girl I've ever met). If you've never heard of Soul Cycle before, it's basically spinning turned into a religion. The class takes place in the dark to flashing lights and really loud music - it's like being at a rave. The goal is to cycle to the beat, and when everyone is cycling in unison, and the lights are flashing, and the music is filling up your ears, and you're dying a little bit but you keep going because you feel so pumped, it feels almost transcendent. There were actually people in the class spontaneously woohooing! I would definitely recommend this class!

Let me know if you have other classes in NY you would recommend for my next trip!


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Velocity at the Core Collective

The Core Collective is said to be 1 Rebel's West London rival, so I was keen to give this studio a try. I meant to sign up for their Thursday morning HITT class, but ended up getting confused between Velocity and Accelerate - one is HITT, one is spin, I still struggle to tell them apart... However, the staff kindly let me switch class without any problems.

Velocity involves 45 minutes of high intensity resistance training, using weights and various other bits of equipment. It's basically a fancy circuits class. As with 1 Rebel's Lower Body Reshape, there really isn't anything here you can't do on your own in the gym for a lot less money (a drop in class costs £28, although I used Class Pass, which is cheaper). However, if you need extrinsic motivation, this class offers a really good workout. It isn't as full-on as Lower Body Reshape, which makes it more suitable to people of different fitness levels.

And as with 1 Rebel, there is the additional motivation of getting to hang out in a fancy studio. The Core Collective's studio is actually very similar to 1 Rebel's. It offers stylish facilities, enormous towels, toiletries by Bamford, GHD straighteners and a smoothie bar. However, I have to say, is lacks some of the finishing touches that make 1 Rebel amazing, most notably there was no fridge with the lavender scented cold towels and no face products. The classes are more expensive than 1 Rebel (£28 vs £20), so I really do want that lavender scented cold towel!

On the other hand, the studio is in a really nice location, just off Kensington High Street. I could see myself going back on a Saturday morning and then doing some shopping or going to the park or to the V&A.

Let me know if you have any questions, plan to try this class, or if you've tried any other good classes at the Core Collective or elsewhere.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Yin Yoga at the Notting Hill Life Centre

I've been struggling with exercise this week. I think the hot weather and the pollen are making me feel lethargic. Having done zero exercise at all by Saturday, I decided to at least try something gentle, and signed up for a Yin Yoga class at the Notting Hill Life Centre through Class Pass.

I've done lots of yoga before: mostly vinyasa and bikram. Apparently  - I did not know this before - these are so-called "yang", or masculine forms of yoga, which, put very simply, means they are more physically demanding. I read somewhere that the main difference between Yin and Yang yoga is that Yang yoga raises your body temperature. If you want to know more about Yin yoga, I recommend this website: www.yinyoga.com.

The class involved holding various postures (sitting, kneeling or lying down) for three minutes, and allowing gravity to naturally sink you deeper into that posture. There was an emphasis on mindfulness during the practice, which made it a very interesting experience. I discovered that there was a lot of tension in my body, but I was able to eventually push past it. It felt awkward and a bit painful, but by the end of the class I felt lighter somehow.

While we were holding the postures, the teacher, Amanda Wright, talked to the class about a book she was reading on the "five hindrances", which is a concept  that comes from Buddhism and is about mental factors that prevent us from progressing in our daily lives. One of them is lethargy, which felt very appropriate. I really liked the teacher. Unlike many yoga teachers I've met, she came across as completely unpretentious. She was also picked up immediately that I was new to the class and made me feel comfortable.

I really enjoyed this class and will definitely go back. I left the class feeling like I had pushed myself to my limits, but in a very different way from what I'm used to. I learned that, if the objective is to be healthy, it is not always necessary to push yourself to the point of utter exhaustion. It's important to listen to you body and take breaks when it demands it.

The Notting Hill Life Centre also offers many other types of yoga classes, and I plan to check some of those out too. Let me know if you have any questions, or, if you have been to the Life Centre, which classes you would recommend.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Gelato!

When the weather is as good as it has been this week, all I want to do is sit in the park and eat hazelnut gelato. In my opinion, London doesn't have nearly enough gelato places, but below is a list of those I have discovered.

The places below are mostly in Kensington and Chelsea because that's where I live and spend most of my time. The nearest parks are Kensington Gardens and Holland Park. Many of these places have other locations throughout London, so if you pop the name into Google maps, you might find a place closer to you. Let me know if you know of any other gelato places I can try!

Notting Hill

Morelli's Gelato
137 Portobello Rd, London W11 2DY
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8.00-19.00; Sat 7.00-20.00; Sun 9.00-19.00

Gelato Mio
37 Pembridge Rd, London W11 3HG
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 10.30-22.00; Fri 10.00-23.00; Sat 9.00-23.00, Sun 10.00-23.00

Gelato Mio
138 Holland Park Ave, London W11 4UE
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 7.00-22.00; Fri 7.00-23.00; Sat-Sun 9.00-23.00

Snowflake Luxury Gelato
43 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UA
opening hours: 1.00-0.00


South Kensington

Snowflake Luxury Gelato
42-44 Thurloe St, London SW7 2NT
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.00-23.00, Sat-Sun 9.00-23.00

Oddono's
14 Bute St, London SW7 3EX
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 11.00-23.00, Fri-Sat 11.00-0.00,

Scoop
16 Old Brompton Rd, London SW7 3DL
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 12.00-22.30, Fri-Sun 12.00-23.30


Chelsea

Dri Dri
Chelsea Farmers Market, 125 Sydney St, London SW3 6NR
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10.00-20.00

Amorino
67A King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 4NT
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 11.00-22.00, Fri-Sat 11.00-23.00

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Class Pass

This week, I signed up to Class Pass. Class Pass allows you to access fitness classes at participating studios in London. (It also allows you to take classes in major cities in the US, Canada and Australia, and I imagine  that, as Class Pass expands as a business, more countries will join - a bonus if you travel much.) 

The types of studios that participate in this scheme are numerous and varied, but the reason I like it because it allows you to access some high end studios at a lower price (including 1 Rebel, which I recently blogged about). It's also a great way to find out about studios and classes you might not have tried before. It's super easy to find and book classes via the mobile app.

There are two type of packages:

1. Basic - costs £55 per month and allows you to take 5 class per month.

2. Flexible - costs £110 per month and allows you to take an unlimited number of classes a month.

My understanding is that the subscription can be cancelled anytime, although I have not tested how easy this is (I do know that to reactivate the subscription having cancelled it cost £79; temporary suspension of the account cost £19 per month). The only limitation I am aware of is that you can only access two (three with the flex package) classes per studio. If a studio has several locations they count as the same studio. But with hundreds of participating studios I don't see that as being a problem at the moment.

I have signed up to the basic package for now, as its summer and there is always the option of going running in the park for free, so I don't see myself doing more than 5 classes per month. I will keep you updated as I continue to trial this and let you know about any great studios or classes I discover. Let me know if you have any questions. If you've already tried class pass let me know what you think. If you want to give it a try this link gives you a £30 discount (but please note for the sake of full disclosure: if you sign up with this link, I also get a £30 discount).