BLOG: Boxing Clever

BLOG: Boxing Clever


Women love to box. No other exercise has the effect of getting my clients laughing and moving as much as boxing. Obviously, I’m not suggesting we are creating the next Muhammad Ali. However, being on the receiving end of some jabs it feels like it. The thing my clients love about the boxing is its fun and playful.

Real Boxing? In the golden ring?

I don’t go 12 rounds with anyone unless looking after two small children counts.  Most of all I work on technique: jab, upper cut, boxing drills. In the words from  the “Bugsy Malone” song I’m training my clients to:

“Can you move in a whirl like a humming bird’s wing if you have to?”

I do pad work which is working on upper body strength and movement at high intensity. That’s why boxing is so good. Its a great way to lose weight. Just try 2 minutes of punching the pads and see how you feel. The exercises are changing so your mind is engaged with mixing it  up and moving. The twisting moves helps maintain a strong core. Its important to have the correct stance and posture. A solid punch comes from solid feet never allowing feet to come together. Getting the feet right is the basis for getting the moves right. A little drop of the knees and drive of the back foot rotating the hips. Boom.

“Can you punch like a south bound freight train if you have to?

The boxing moves are building up strength but also coordination and mobility. Most of all, its not about hitting as hard or as fast as possible. The importance of posture cannot be emphasised. Holding ones chin correctly. Keeping the elbows close to the body. Boxing is just like comedy in that its all in the timing. Its important to realise that boxers do not slam their faces into an incoming glove. Therefore, the pad has to be firm but not slamming or slapping down the punch.

“So you wanna be a boxer?”

Put em up, put em up



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Skipping meals makes you fat

Missing out a meal?

So many clients say to me:

“I’ve done really well today I missed lunch”


“I did good I missed breakfast today….”



Their logic is simple I have put less calories into my body today so that must be a good thing?

Sorry, but no. Its complicated so to clarify firstly let me scream:

Skipping meals makes you fat.

PiggyHarsh?But fair

There is some evidence that a diet of eating less one day and then more the next day can help reduce levels of cholesterol, makers of inflammation, and help to reduce weight but only if you stick to a strict program and this is the key: don’t overeat. By skipping a meal the body increases its cravings for junk food and processed food. There is a tendency to gorge. There is always a tendency to gorge! This is where the skipping a meal plan is going to mean a lot of skipping to get rid of that bigger belly.

Why a bigger belly?

A gorging and fasting cycle is not a good one. This can lead to spike in insulin levels*. This is mucking around with your body cycles.  This leads to extra fat being deposited on the belly. Which for a variety of reasons is not a good idea. Its not fully understood but a bigger belly could be linked to insulin resistance and more clearly linked to increase risk of heart attack.

*Remind me what insulin does?

When blood glucose levels rise after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin and glucose then travel in the blood to cells throughout the body.

  • Insulin helps muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood glucose levels.
  • Insulin stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose. The stored form of glucose is called glycogen.
  • Insulin also lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver.

In a healthy person, these functions allow blood glucose and insulin levels to remain in the normal range.

And remind me about insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. So, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells.

The beta cells in the pancreas try to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. As long as the beta cells are able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, blood glucose levels stay in the healthy range.

Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes because the beta cells fail to keep up with the body’s increased need for insulin. Without enough insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to diabetes, prediabetes, and other serious health disorders.

But I’m starving

Well you are. If you skip a meal your body really does think you are starving and holds on to the fat it has. This is slowing down your metabolism. Plus the body reacts as if it is being stressed: it is being stressed you are starving. The body releases steroids and these again can lead to weight gain.

Little and regular meals

Develop a healthy eating plan. Plan your meals. Decide in advance what you are going to snack on mid morning and ditch the crisps have the protein bar ready (not one full of sugar but one full of protein)


Young at heart?

A light heart lives long. ~William Shakespeare

Young at heart?

Maximum heart rate for age is a difficult number to work out. The usual equation is:

MHR (maximum heart rate)= 220 – age

The problem with this formula is its too general and was calculated using young athletes.

A study by Tanaka in 2001 looking at a broader age distribution showed that this formula often underestimated the MHR in older subjects and a revised formula fitted to the data resulted in this formula:

MHR = 208 – 0.7 (age)

The problem with these formula is they don’t apply to everyone.  The standard deviation of the 220-age formula is + or – 12 bpm, and the other calculation has a standard deviation of + or – 7 bpm.

In case you never took calculus, or statistics, a standard deviation of + or – 12 bpm means that 66% of people are within 1 standard deviation of the max heart rate predicted by this 220-age formula, 90% of people are within 2 standard deviations (+ or – 24 bpm), and 95% of people are within 3 standard deviations (+ or – 36 bpm).

For example, let’s take a 35 year old man who has a max heart rate of 185 bpm predicted by the 220-age formula. Here’s how his max heart ranges would look:

1 standard deviation is 173-197 bpm (66% probability)

2 standard deviations is 161-209 bpm (90% probability)

So there will be people who fall outside of these ranges and the standard model does not really work for them.


Where is billy ray now ? oh still my beating heart.

Where is billy ray now ? oh still my beating heart.


Why is Max Heart Rate important?

 Because weight training has the effect of increasing your heart rate in cycles as you perform a set and then rest, it’s unlikely you will exceed your MHR under normal circumstances. If you monitor your heart rate during a workout and notice you are exceeding your MHR, consult your doctor to make sure there are no issues with your cardiovascular system.                  

Heart rate monitoring can also help trainers figure out how long rest periods should be. For example, most resistance training programs call for lifters to rest a certain amount of time between sets, with little regard for individual recovery ability.


BUT A high, or low max heart rate does not predict athletic performance, or even fitness level! its a tool to help you tweak your performance training.



heart quote

Is MHR really maximum?


There are many recorded speeds where heart beats have risen into the 300’s.  Although the heart can beat that fast, it doesn’t sustain life because the heart needs time to fill. (Overdrive pacing is sometimes in fact used in cardiac surgery to effectively stop blood flow for a brief period.)  As the heart can’t fill fast enough so the output is severely diminished. Since the output goes down, not only does it not fill fast enough, but the blood coming either back from the lungs or filling from the vena cava pressure drops and that gives less to fill as well. These very very high heart beats are serious and short acting medical problems and not a sustainable rhythm but it gives an idea that one is not actually training close the the maximum your heart could beat.

The Guinness World records notes the  lowest record is 28bpm belonging to Martin Brady (b. 24 March 1969 in the UK) – tested at the Guernsey Chest and Heart Unit, Channel Islands, UK on 11 August 2005.



The fastest heart beat in the world is 1,200 beats per minute by the hummingbird while it is in flightMax heart rate 1200bpm


If you and your heart look like this you have problems….

in a heart beat

in a heart beat

So how should I calculate my MHR?

  • Get your resting heart rate. Take your pulse at your neck or on your wrist as soon as you wake up, before you get out of bed. Find out how many beats per minute by counting your pulse for a full 60 seconds. Do this every day for one week.

The Takeaway

For seasoned exercisers looking for more data to help them improve their results, heart rate monitors are affordable and effective. However, they still must take a back seat to good old-fashioned common sense. If you feel uncomfortable while exercising then by all means slow down or stop, no matter what the monitor is telling you. The more information you have about how hard your body is working, the better you’ll be able to train.

Banana ice cream

This is the simplest recipe ever. A real healthy ice cream. A great pudding. Almond butter is found in most supermarkets in the jam aisle look near peanut butter (or ask) its readily available. Just think of all the added gunkeroonie in some ice creams: corn syrup, alkalized cocoa, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, vanillin, maltodextrin and dextrose. No really its all in there with this it just contains :


  • 1 large or 2 small frozen bananas
  • 1/2 tbsp almond butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp almond milk – add more if needed (The almond milk helps the bananas blend easier)

Put all the above in a blender. Yes, the bananas are frozen first. Whizz up. I sprinkle with blueberries but thats how I roll.

Lap it up.


banana ice cream

Here’s the crunch

Cor Blimey!


six pack

A stomach to smile about

A stomach to smile about?

A stomach to smile about?

Sit up and listen

So many of my clients come to me with the simple desire to get rid of the fat around their stomach. They want a flat tummy.  They say the route to this is core workouts. Can we do more planks, sit ups, crunches? Yes we can and of course its good to have a strong core. These exercises alone will not shift your belly.

Its important to realise that the six packs above are the result of ripping the fat away from the muscle. To lose weight one has to do big movements, therefore using the major amount of muscles and mainly the largest muscles in the body. Your bigger muscles like, your quads, hamstrings and glutes burn more calories whilst in use and after a work out which in turn will burn the fat all over the body including the stomach.

The best movements for fat burning are:

  • Squatting
  • Lunging
  • Deadlifts
  • Thrusters
  • Kettle bell swings

These burn calories and build muscles.If you’re muscles are well developed then they act as a fat burning furnace even when your resting.  Its the big movements that are going to shift fat. Plus really looking at your diet and eating in a clean healthy way

Row, row, row your boat…

Row, Row, Row your boat…

Flo rowing tips

My daughter Flo sharing some rowing tips: Row, row, row your boat…


Rowing is a great way to start your fitness journey, it’s particularly effective for people with knee injuries as there is no strain on your joints.
You can gradually better your cardiovascular function, over time increase the resistance (damper setting) to improve strength and also build muscle.
In its own right you could spend all your training on a rower, from long slow aerobic rows to anaerobic sprints.
It is the ultimate in cross training rowing uses virtually every major muscle group in your body:
– Glutes
– Hamstrings
– Quads
– Core
– Back
– Shoulders
– Arms

Slip Sliding Away

With no impact rowing is also a great way for runners to increase stamina, the fitness gains transfer easily from running to rowing.  Without pounding the pavements it can be a welcome break for many injured joints.
Also if you train hard in any other sport you can use rowing for active recovery sessions with little strain on your nervous system at low intensity. So, for example my husband has ran a few marathons. During the training regime for a marathon the weekly milage may rise to 70 miles. So on a “rest day” a short rowing session helps with recovery while not straining joints.
In summary rowing can help

Muscle Toning

Let’s think of the cycle of each row to understand why its a full body workout. Firstly, a strong push from legs engaging the hips and buttocks. Then the core tilts slightly back before a strong pull from arms strengthening the back shoulders and of course arms.

Weight Loss

To lose weight one has to burn calories. Incorporating a 30 min row into your regime can be booking yourself in for weightless. (I say can be because one always has to consider diet) While a PT may not be best served in motivating one through this workout. So I use the rower for interval sprints and warm up routines. The interval sprints are designed to cross into the anareobic system. To exhaust your body in a quick sprint. By frequently doing sprints the current thinking is that this alone can improve fitness.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Plainly the level of exertion can be set by changing the resistance of the rower. In effect row through treacle, sand or water. Each stroke can  be set to need more effort to complete the stroke. By setting the resistance to lower levels one can initially row for longer. The aim of this is to maintain an aerobic state.

anyone can row

anyone can row

rowing advert

I use a concept 2 air rower. Its perhaps a separate blog to discuss rowing machines but if Redgrave, Pinset etc who train on this machine i.e. if the Concept 2 is good enough for  Olympians to train on then its good enough for my clients.

Quick sprints, long slogs or a warm up row

All the technical info for my rower can be found here.


Healthy Banana Bread

Recipe: Healthy Banana Bread

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 19.22.01

Warning this bread tastes very, very good.  Easy to make. Great for breakfast….

Ingredients for Healthy Banana Bread:

Healthy Banana Bread

  • 4 bananas, (2 1/2 cups mashed )
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (140 grams) or coconut, sunflower seed, macadamia nut, etc butter. Peanut butter works too but not as healthy
  • 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter or regular organic butter, melted (can substitute coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (75 grams)(or almond flour)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius (150 for fan oven)
  2. Add bananas, eggs, and nut butter, and grass-fed butter inblender, food processor, or mixing bowl and mix well (if using a mixing bowl you need a good hand-mixer)
  3. Once all of your ingredients are blended, add in your coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt and mix well.
  4. Pour your batter in a lined or well greased bread tin and spread it evenly.
  5. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Keep an eye on this.
  6. Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
  7. Slice and serve.
 If you want to make these into muffins, use the same recipe and for mini muffins bake approximately 25 mins and normal size muffins 30-35 minutes.
My kids love this and we can all enjoy together.
The perfect version thanks to my hardworking, diligent, bake off winning, clients:

Extra warning: Even though it is healthy it is not calorie free.


Me Tarzan

Me Tarzan, You JaneUnknown

GI Joe? Glycemic Index gives you abs?

I was just watching this interview with  Tarzan.  Alexander Skarsgard. (His dad was the Swedish one in Mamma Mia.)  Tarzan was talking about his diet. He basically just eat chicken breasts and broccoli for 9 months. No booze, pasta, or cake.

King of the Swingers or Monkey-ing around?

This diet can be too extreme. Hollywood is not the real world. Not many can put their life on hold for nine months to just train. Eating 6 times a day, small portions from a private chef.  The problem with crash diets is that they crash. Tarzan says he fell off the wagon. Who wouldn’t? What is needed is long term sustainable goals.

So what can learn from the jungle boy?

We need exercise. Finding a regular enjoyable way to get that in your life is a route we all must find. Maybe we leave riding vines to the experts. So Tarzan did a lot of sit ups but he relied on diet. 7000 calories a day to bulk up and then ripping away fat.

“Cut out sugar and fast carbs” says Tarzan.

Reduce sugar sure that’s an easy first step? Well, certainly to be aware of what foods are high in sugar and move away from them. So, to state the obvious, in order of highest amount of sugar content: granulated sugar, syrup are the highest. Following on drink powders, soft drinks, sweets, cakes, biscuits, cereals, canned fruit, and sauces like tomato ketchup and ice creams. All the above should be drastically reduced and removed from your daily intake. Replacing the Frosties will make a difference. Nobody is saying Ben and Jerry’s will kill you. (Though Ben had a heart attack)  Regard this as a treat not a daily rite. Replace and reduce.

What are fast carbs?

Carbohydrates is one of our main food types: abbreviated to carbs. It is important to realise not all carbohydrates are the same.  Fast carbs increase the blood glucose level rapidly. However, it falls sharply too. So Tarzan was using fast carbs to mean those with a high GI ranking… So GI, what’s that?

Glycemic Index (GI)


The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating.  High GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed.  Blood sugar levels rise and quickly fall. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels. This has proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low Glycemic Index diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.


Think about replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes. The idea is you will feel “full” for longer. Its not cheating to find foods that make you less likely to snack. Read about the  Glycemic Index here:

So maybe Tarzan has given us something to shout about.

Tarzan and Jane,


A qualified Personal Trainer?

Can I qualify that?

There may be some who wish to train others without any qualifications. Surely, its just a little exercise what could possibly go wrong? I have been in gyms for over 20 years and have seen people who cannot manage a running machine without it running away with them.



Weekly, I see some trapped in weight lifting devices. A barbell can be a dangerous thing to a dumb belle. But its usually the men getting weighed down.

Its certainly the chaps who spend more time sitting on the bench press thinking about lifting stuff. Can you believe some without a coach may sit back just a little?

Can we all agree one needs to move it to lose it?


A gym session should be no more than an hour. But an hour dedicated to working out. No texting, reading the paper, sending an email, letter or completing christmas card list, or chatting. Get on with it. I have stood near people in gyms who are reading a magazine on the cross trainer.  For me, that’s one way to make a cross trainer. Go hard or go home.

How to make it count?

Firstly, if you are not completing your movements correctly its not doing anything. A good range of movement is vital to make the exercise count. Simplistically, all the way down; all the way up. Lifting a bar without going through the full range of movement is wasting your time. The muscle is not being strained. No pain, no gain was the mantra of 70’s body builders. Can we at least move on to: no sweat, no gain.

Stop wishing. Start doing.

The exercise has to be exercising. It has to rip the muscle to improve. By rip, I mean on a micro level: micro rips good: big rips bad. Chewbacca never made it as a personal trainer: ripping off people’s arms is not good technique and don’t get me started on his waxing regime.

Work with the muscle

Secondly,  an understanding of how the muscle works will help the range of movement. Work the muscle so as to not to hurt you but you need to tear it. The concept of micro tears within the muscle leads to new cells being laid down and thus one gets stronger, more defined. So its a balance between gently tearing the muscle to get stronger but not injuring the body. However, if the trainer has no appreciation of how the muscle moves or works then its easy to rip, pull and tear and damage the body in a bad way.

The Registry of Exercise Professionals (REPs)

REPs is a national independent body to provide a register and level of qualifications for professionals. An overview of their structure is provided below:

REPs progression chart

One of the qualifications I hold is a Level 3 Personal trainer. This can be independently checked here:

I have also completed an Ante/Post Natal course and within the Crossfit organisation have completed a Level One Coaching course. I have my own personal trainer on a twice weekly basis. Many clients are surprised at this. Qualifications are not just a certificate. They need to be regarded as a constantly continuing process. A learning for life: Gentle ripping of muscles with no arm loss and a perfect depilatory regime.


Chewbacca lifting weightimages




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