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Want A Healthy Breakfast? Take The Icelandic Approach


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, January 20, 2020 - 15:39

Most of us don’t tend to focus on eating healthily when we’re on holiday. You’re more likely to take full advantage of an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in a hotel or raid a local bakery for pastries than to sample the traditional morning fare of the country you’re in.

As such, you probably don’t know that Iceland boasts the healthiest breakfast in the world, according to dietitian Harriet Smith. Travel company Canvas Holidays asked Smith to pick the most and least healthy breakfasts from around the world, and you’ll find 12 of those breakfasts below, along with Smith’s comments explaining why they’re healthy or how you can make them healthier. And you’ll probably need to, because England, Scotland and Ireland have not done well out of this – though we do reckon Scots can feel hard done by that they’ve been assigned a fat-filled fry-up as their traditional breakfast, rather than a healthy bowl of porridge.

Before we get to that, however, here are five quick tips you can use to make your brekkie healthier.

  1. Have whole fruit instead of juice. It’s more filling and provides some all-important fibre.
  2. Grill instead of fry to lower the fat and calorie content.
  3. Replace a high-fat item with a veggie alternative. For example, instead of two sausages have one and some avocado, mushrooms or beans instead.
  4. Aim to increase your fibre intake – beans or wholemeal toast work well.
  5. More protein will help you feel fuller for longer. Go for scrambled or poached eggs, or a small pot of yogurt.

12 Breakfasts From Around The World

1. Iceland

Traditional: hafragrautur (oatmeal), Skyr yogurt, fruit, coffee, cod liver oil

“This breakfast is high in protein, fibre and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and low in fat and salt,” says Smith. “It provides around one-fifth of the daily recommended fibre intake and over one-third of a woman’s recommended daily protein intake. Protein is the most filling macronutrient, so this breakfast is likely to keep you full throughout the morning!”

2. Japan

Typical: rice, grilled fish, pickled vegetables, miso soup, egg, natto (fermented soybean)

"Although this breakfast is high in fat, it’s mainly from heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel,” says Smith. “This breakfast is very high in protein. It also includes pickled vegetables; these contain probiotics which may be beneficial for gut health.”

3. Spain

Traditional: Spanish-style toast with tomato (pan con tomate), coffee

“Although pan con tomate contains tomatoes, there isn’t enough to count as one of your five-a-day,” says Smith. “Adding an extra portion of fruit or veg will help you on your way to the daily target and will provide some additional fibre. The dish is low in protein, so adding a small pot of yogurt will double the protein content, keeping you full for longer, and will also provide some calcium for strong bones and teeth.”

4. France

Traditional: baguette, croissant, jam, butter, orange juice, coffee

“A typical French breakfast is high in fat and sugar,” says Smith. “Switching fruit juice for whole fruit is a great way to increase fibre intake and slow the release of sugars in the body. Getting rid of the butter lowers the calories and saturated fat content significantly.”

5. Germany

Traditional: German sausage, hard-boiled egg, Gouda cheese, rye bread, butter, coffee

“The Germans undoubtedly enjoy a hearty, protein-packed breakfast,” says Smith. “However, it’s not the healthiest, providing 70% of your daily saturated fat intake and nearly half of your daily salt intake. Remember that cheese is a high-salt, high-fat food, so try to stick to the recommended portion size of 30g.”

6. Italy

Typical: bread, butter, jam, caffè latte

“The Italians are not big on breakfast, with many choosing to start their day with just a coffee,” says Smith. “Those who do eat breakfast tend to prefer something quick and sweet. Choosing wholegrain bread and adding a piece of fruit increases the fibre content and helps you to meet one of your five-a-day. Switching a latte for a coffee with semi-skimmed milk reduces the fat content by almost half.”

7. Croatia

Traditional: polenta and cornbread topped with lard and paprika, coffee

“Lard is high in saturated fat, which can raise LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels,” says Smith. “Switching it for avocado will provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help to lower bad cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.”

8. Ireland

Traditional: two slices of back bacon, two sausages, baked beans, fried egg, mushroom, tomato, white pudding, hash potatoes, Irish soda bread, tea

“As with most traditional fry-ups, a full Irish is calorific, and high in fat and salt,” says Smith. “By grilling the sausages, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, and poaching the egg, you’ll significantly reduce the fat and calorie content. Cutting down on processed meats such as bacon and sausage and increasing our intake of plant-based foods is the first step to achieving a more sustainable diet. Switching soda bread for brown boosts the fibre content too.”

9. England

Traditional: two sausages, two rashers of bacon, two fried eggs, fried bread, fried mushroom, fried tomato, black pudding, tea

“A typical full English breakfast is high in calories and fat, and lacking in fibre,” says Smith. “Grilling breakfast items, poaching eggs and eating one fewer sausage reduces the calories and can halve the fat content. Most people in England don’t eat enough fibre, so including baked beans and a slice of wholemeal bread is a great way to boost fibre content.”

10. USA

Typical: three pancakes, maple syrup, two fried eggs, three rashers of American bacon, hash browns, coffee, orange juice

“This provides more than half of a woman’s recommended daily calorie intake,” says Smith. “Switching the pancakes for wholemeal toast boosts the fibre content, whilst getting rid of the maple syrup reduces the sugars. Scrambled or poached eggs would be a lower-fat, lower-calorie alternative to eggs fried in oil. Even with the healthier tweaks, this breakfast provides half the recommended daily fat intake, so it’s more of a treat than a regular occurrence!”

11. Scotland

Traditional: lorne sausage, link sausage, streaky bacon, fried egg, fried tomato, fried mushroom, haggis, baked beans, toast, tea

“This traditional Scottish breakfast provides over half of a woman’s recommended daily calorie intake, three-quarters of your daily saturated fat intake, and half your daily salt intake,” says Smith. “The good news is that by making some simple swaps such as choosing lorne sausage or link sausage, grilling the bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, and poaching your egg, you will consume fewer calories and reduce your fat intake by almost half. Switching white bread for wholemeal boosts the fibre content, while the tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans provide three of your five-a-day.”

12. Mexico

Typical: fried corn tortillas, green salsa, Mexican cheese, refried pinto beans (fried in lard), two fried eggs, pineapple juice, hot chocolate

“This dish provides your daily amount of fat and salt, so it isn’t one to be eaten regularly!” says Smith. “Having a plain tortilla wrap and switching the cheese for avocado reduces the saturated fat content and provides some heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Eating fresh pineapple means the sugar will be released more slowly in the body compared to juice, while switching a hot chocolate for coffee will lower the sugar, fat and calories substantially. Although this breakfast ranks in last place, it does contain beans, which are high in fibre and protein. Frying them in lard adds calories and fat, but if you just eat them in their plain form, they can be part of a balanced, healthy breakfast.”

How This Woman Uses Exercise To Manage Severe Period Pain


Sarah Lienard

Friday, January 17, 2020 - 17:06

Sport England has released an inspiring new TV advert to mark the fifth birthday of its campaign designed to motivate women to get active, This Girl Can.

The campaign aims to empower women by normalising the reality of exercise, covering topics that many women experience but that aren’t readily discussed, such as periods and breastfeeding. It also urges the media to feature more realistic and diverse images of women, as well as shining a spotlight on the emotional, practical and societal challenges that some women face when it comes to physical activity.

The new advert features Hannah, who uses yoga to ease severe menstrual cramps; Kirsti, who is shown breastfeeding before playing netball; Glynis, who is building self-confidence in the swimming pool; Farrah, who is meeting new friends through climbing; and Yvonne and Patrice, who are using circuits and jogging to manage the symptoms of menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Coach spoke to Hannah Johnson, 29, who is featured in the campaign doing dancing, yoga and Pilates to help manage severe period pains – something that she describes as an “incredibly empowering process”.

How did you come to use exercise to help deal with period pains?

I’ve been active ever since I was a teenager, but I’ve had really bad period pains and it’s been debilitating – I would even vomit from the pain. Even though I was generally active, working out during my period was the last thing I wanted to do.

In recent years, I’ve been looking for ways to relieve the pain without taking loads of painkillers and exercise came up. I started working out and found that if I timed it right it does really help. My second or third day is usually my heaviest, which is when I get the most pain, so I try to exercise on the first day. It’s been a real game-changer for me.

Did anyone recommend you try exercise?

No-one recommended it to me – to be honest, everyone that I know that has really bad period pains has told me it’s the last thing they want to do as well!

Yoga seemed like a good place to start because you’re not jumping up and down and getting out of breath. Normally in a HIIT class I’m looking at the door and thinking about my nearest escape route, so I thought it might not be the best thing to start on my period.

Yoga is great, because even though it can be intense at times, you’re encouraged to think about your breathing. Everything is about tuning in to your body. Even if you can’t do a certain pose, the teacher is understanding and can accommodate you. It’s not someone shouting “Push!” at you.

Before exercise, had you tried anything else to manage the pain?

Not really – I would just take painkillers and have a hot water bottle with me at all times. It’s been the past two years that I’ve been really active about finding ways to help my period pains.

I did look at changing my diet, but it’s hard because you get cravings – I’ve got a really sweet tooth. I can’t say I’ve found that diet makes much of a difference. I have switched to organic period products though, which has helped.

Now, I don’t really use painkillers anymore. Sometimes if I can’t get to the yoga studio and I can’t be at home then I’ll take one, but I don’t rely on them like before.

I used to be in work environments where period pains were not an excuse not to be at your desk. There was no empathy for the fact that my period pains literally had me in tears. It was really hard and stressful not to be understood like that. So I was popping loads of painkillers just to get through.

In the end I thought: if I’m pushing through my period when I’m at work, I can push through my period when I’m exercising and actually doing something that I enjoy.

Were there any challenges that you faced when you began using exercise to manage your period pain?

I was mainly scared about being in pain so far away from any kind of home comfort. Sometimes if I’m in a yoga class I’ll want to get on all fours or a position to make myself feel better, and I felt a bit self-conscious about that.

Also during yoga you’re upside down and stretching a lot. It’s very rare that I leak but you can’t help but think that this will be the day, or this will be the pose, when it happens.

You get scared because periods are not part of everyday discussions – you don’t see them very much. It sounds like an irrational fear but it’s really not. It’s not always talked about openly.

You’ve mentioned fear of the pain being a part of your experience – what was that like?

I don’t think pain is comfortable for anyone but I’m very sensitive to my body, and if I’m in pain I will probably cry – I don’t want to burst into tears on the mat. I’ll get emotional, I’ll want to go home, I’ll feel helpless – it’s just not a nice feeling. But I was tired of taking all those painkillers, so when I finally got around to exercise I started to look for ways to make it as easy as possible.

Because I was always in so much pain, I was in denial about my period. I didn’t keep track of them – I didn’t even want to put a date in the diary because I didn’t want it to come.

When I started to use exercise I became more regimented with using apps or my calendar to track my period, so I could know when would be best to exercise – and discovered it was best before the pain hits, which is usually my first day, or even before my first day.

What do you think of the This Girl Can campaign?

I think it’s amazing. I’ve been so inspired listening to everyone’s stories.

The best thing about the campaign is that everyone is so diverse in their backgrounds, stories and ages, so when you watch the advert you aren’t thinking, “Oh, that person is just an anomaly. She’s amazing – but she’s just one person.” Instead, there are all these women from such different backgrounds and circumstances, and they’re all finding ways to be active in ways that work for them and just completely bossing it. That’s really inspiring to me because the message really hits home.

I’ve had such a response from family and friends saying that they’re so inspired but they could never do that. But I tell them you can absolutely do it! It’s important for women not to just see fantasies all the time, and to have real-life experiences shown to inspire us.

We need everyone’s support when we’re going through these things. We need people to empathise. I always say that if men had periods we’d never hear the end of it, it would be considered normal, so we need them to see it as well. We can’t do it alone – we need other people’s empathy, and understanding and support.

Find more real-life stories and ways to get active that suit your life on the This Girl Can website

Kettlebell Centurion Workout Challenge


Jake Stones

Friday, January 17, 2020 - 16:54

Kettlebells are fantastically versatile pieces of exercise equipment once you’ve mastered some of the trickier movement patterns like the clean. This challenge from PT Beth Thayne, on the other hand, uses two foundational kettlebell movements – the swing and two-handed press – which makes it accessible, although it’ll pose a serious challenge to anyone.

“This is a real forearm burner, and will challenge your core, upper body and grip strength,” says Thayne.

“Use a weight you can overhead press using both hands for at least 15 reps – somewhere between 8kg and 20kg depending on your shoulder strength.

“The workout should be completed all in one go with no rest. Although if you need to rest, take it between sets and try not to rest for more than five to ten seconds.”

“It can be done either as a finisher at the end of a session or repeated three times for a full session.”

The Workout

In this challenge, the exercises are put into a tri-set, so you do the first set of exercise A, then the first set of exercise B followed by the first set of exercise C with as little rest as possible. Then return to the first exercise to do the second set, competing a different number of reps as indicated.

To make it easier to follow in the gym, we’ve included a table with the reps required in each set at the bottom of this article.

1A Kettlebell swing

Sets 7 Reps 5, 10, 20, 30, 20, 10, 5

Start with the kettlebell on the floor just in front of you, with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees. Keep your back ramrod-straight throughout. Hinge at the hips and lean forwards to take hold of the kettlebell and pull it back between your legs. Drive your hips forwards to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Let the swing end naturally and come back down again, hinging at the hips as the kettlebell passes between your legs, then drive your hips forwards to power the next swing.

1B Overhead press

Sets 7 Reps 3, 5, 10, 15, 10, 5, 3

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest. Press it straight up, exhaling as you do. To complete the lift with good posture, push your head forwards so that it’s between your arms. Slowly lower the kettlebell while inhaling, bringing your head back as you do so. Once the kettlebell is down to your chest, pause and then go again.

1C Overhead hold

Sets 7 Time 5sec, 10sec, 20sec, 30sec, 20sec, 10sec, 5sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the kettlebell with both hands. Press it above your head, keeping your arms extended and your core tight throughout. Once the time is up, slowly lower the kettlebell under control.

Kettlebell swing Overhead press Overhead hold
Set 1 5 3 3
Set 2 10 5 10
Set 3 20 10 20
Set 4 30 15 30
Set 5 20 10 20
Set 6 10 5 10
Set 7 5 3 5

Cowboy Electric Bike Review: The Best E-Bike For Commuting We’ve Tried


Jonathan Shannon

Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 17:28

Electric bikes have many excellent uses, like making it easier for mountain bikers to get up hills so you can enjoy more downs every outing, or making it a breeze to commute by bike every day so you’re not totally knackered by Wednesday evening.

One common problem if you ride them to work is the risk of theft. You can more easily arrange a decent degree of security at home, but you have to lock it somewhere while at work and since getting around is so little effort it’s also tempting to make diversions to run errands on the way to and from work. E-bikes are valuable – this mid-range model is £1,780 – and all bikes are unnervingly simple to steal, with even the best bike locks only able to slow down committed thieves.

So even though I’ve ridden and enjoyed riding many e-bikes, especially up the hill on the final leg of my commute, the fact that I can’t confidently lock one up in my back garden or at a shop on the way home means I’ve never considered forking out for one myself. Until, that is, I got my hands on the Cowboy.

I get the impression the Belgian start-up has benefited from not being a traditional bike manufacturer: instead, it’s taken a step back and considered how someone would design a bike for 21st-century urban riding if starting from scratch.

Among the clever features Cowboy has included to answer that question is sticking a SIM card in the bike. This means that the electric assistance can only be turned on by the app on a paired smartphone and that the bike can be located by GPS. These are both compelling security features, especially since it’s not an enjoyable ride at all without the assistance.

Of course, just because you’ve located a stolen bike doesn’t mean you’d want to start banging on strangers’ doors, and it remains to be seen whether the police would attempt to use these functions. The most practical application is that it allows Cowboy to provide cheaper bike insurance that offers a like-for-like replacement. Or it will, at least – that insurance isn’t available in the UK yet.

This modern approach extends to the app, which unlocks the bike and turns on the integrated lights (the rear light also acts as an automatic brake light). Yes, if your phone has run out of battery you cannot turn your bike on, but if your phone runs out of battery when the bike is already on then the bike will stay on – either until it runs out of battery or until you recharge your phone and turn it off. You can also set up automatic shut-off after a predetermined period of inactivity.

The most impressive part of my experience involved the chat section in the app, where you can get support. I had a problem with the lights turning on and when I told customer service (admittedly I did mention I was a journalist reviewing the bike), I received a series of prompt responses and the software on my bike was reset remotely. The lights turned on and have worked since.

The other part of the non-riding experience which set Cowboy apart was decidedly old-fashioned – a set of exceptionally clear instructions for setting the bike up, printed on paper. No referring to a series of online videos. No assumption you’ve brought a direct-to-consumer bike before and know how to turn the handlebars round and screw in pedals. Just easy-to-understand instructions with pictures and words, and all the tools I needed to complete the set-up included. It feels like an odd thing to praise, but it got me on the bike far more quickly and confidently than with any other e-bike I’ve had to unpack.

The 2.4kg battery clips on to the back of the seat post and while the instructions discuss how this weight placement may affect how the ride feels I found it natural, perhaps because it made the motor in the back wheel feel solid and weighted. It can be removed with a key and charged separately from the bike. The range of 70km is on the low side, but this is an urban commuter bike so if you’re doing more than 35km each way then a hybrid or touring e-bike is a better choice for you. It takes 3½ hours to charge up with no quick charge feature, so it’s wise to plug it in at work or overnight regularly.

Of course, all this innovation is meaningless if it rides like a pig, but the Cowboy provides an easy ride, injecting assistance earlier than other models to compensate for the lack of gears and rubber chain.

The rubber chain had my office mates at our sister title Cyclist purring, and pointing out that although it’s not as efficient as a new metal chain, the latter will wear before long and the rubber chain will outperform it. Once you hit the cut-off point for the motor the Cowboy can feel a little sluggish and it takes extra effort to go any faster, but 15.5mph (25km/h) is a decent cruising speed and plenty for relaxed urban riding.

It’s worth noting that the wide tyres have no tread on them, although I am reliably informed by a colleague on Cyclist that on commuter and road bikes, tread is just for show. Unless you’re riding on mud, a flat surface provides better grip and energy transfer. Even in the wet I had no issues with cornering or slipping, and the powerful disc brakes brought me to a stop quickly. I did experience a puncture, however, which might have something to do with my negligence of checking and inflating the tyres every week as I do on my regular ride, combined with the extra weight of the battery on the back tyre, or it may be that the Cowboy lacks thick, puncture-resistant tyres.

When I did experience the puncture, I could easily lift the back up by the saddle and wheel it along just using the front. This is because the Cowboy weighs 16.1 kg, putting it very much on the lighter end of the weight scale for e-bikes, most of which are over 20kg.

To go with the single-speed design, the handlebars are narrower than on hybrid e-bikes, which took some getting used to. The steering is a little twitchier and I found myself in a more hunched, tight-shouldered position. Also the Cowboy’s mudguards cost an additional £77, which is very expensive for mudguards.

But those are the very few gripes I have with Cowboy (OK, the name too). And they’re forgivable, because the only other company I’ve seen offer this killer bike-SIM combo is VanMoof, whose Electrified S2 model retails at £3,200, almost double the Cowboy’s price (although it also offers an innovative subscription service, £98 plus £24 a month).

Hats off to Cowboy. This is the e-bike I would buy myself.

Buy from Cowboy | £1,790

Krissy Cela’s Bum Workout Will Have Feeling Your Best


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 16:38

If you’re looking for a glutes workout purely for aesthetic reasons, then we have what you’re looking for right here – except that this training session brings a whole load of other benefits as well.

“Your glutes are the largest set of muscles in your body and are used for a range of functional movements,” says Cela. “When we fail to train our glutes effectively, our back and legs work harder to compensate, and this can lead to injury – it’s a reason why so many of us suffer from lower back pain. Training your glutes not only works your muscular system but your skeletal and cardiovascular system too, so not only do booty workouts have you looking your best, they’ll have you feeling your best too!”

This workout comes from Cela’s app, Tone & Sculpt, which is full of training sessions that you can do at home (if you have the right kit) or in the gym. For this session you’ll need a set of dumbbells and, if you don’t have a handy hill to climb for the warm-up, a treadmill set on an incline.


Incline walking

Time 5min

Either find a hill and walk up it or set a treadmill at an incline to get your glutes going.


Take a 60-second break between sets and a two-minute break between exercises.

1 Donkey kick

Sets 4 Reps 12 each side

Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Keeping your right knee bent at 90°, lift your right knee behind you to hip level. Straighten your right leg, point your toes, then lower your foot to the floor. Lift your leg to hip height again, then bend your knee and return to the starting position. Complete all the reps on one side, then switch.

2 Dumbbell alternating step-up

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side

Stand in front of a raised platform, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Place your right foot on the platform and step up, engaging your quad and straightening your front leg. Step down carefully and repeat with the left leg. Continue alternating legs until you complete all the reps.

3 Standing straight-leg kick-back

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side

Stand straight with a slight bend in your knees and your hands on your hips for balance. Bend at your hips and kick one leg back behind you, keeping both legs straight as you do. Slowly return to the starting position. Alternate legs until you complete all the reps.

4 Frog pump

Sets 3 Reps 15

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your feet so your soles face each other. Lift your hips, the same way you would for a glute bridge, and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.

5 Alternating single glute bridge walk

Sets 3 Reps 12 each side

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Raise one leg off the ground, bring it back down, and then raise the other and bring it back down. Hold your bridged position for a couple more seconds, then ease back down.

6 Dumbbell hip thrust

Sets 4 Reps 12

Sit on the ground, resting your shoulders on a chair directly behind you. Place the dumbbell on your hips, using some sort of padding to avoid discomfort. Drive through your feet, pushing your hips up to raise the dumbbell. Your shoulders should remain on the chair at all times. Squeeze your glutes throughout the movement and scoop your hips in at the top. Slowly come back down to the starting position.


1 Skipping

Time 10min

Round off your workout with ten minutes of skipping to get your heart pumping.

The Tone & Sculpt app is available from £13.99 on the App Store and Google Play

Tom Kerridge’s High-Protein Malaysian-Style Beef Curry Recipe


Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - 16:54

Curry night comes around at least once a week for many of us in the UK, but despite eating it so frequently we rarely spread our wings beyond the traditional “anglicised Indian” approach, aside from the occasional diversion to Thailand for a green or red curry.

This Malaysian-style curry recipe from Tom Kerridge will help you expand your curry repertoire. It has subtler flavours than the traditional fiery Indian curry, and it’s also full of protein, making it ideal for regular gym-goers looking to build muscle.

The recipe is taken from Kerridge’s new book Lose Weight & Get Fit (Bloomsbury Absolute, £22) and the main ingredient is lean stewing steak, which is not only high in protein but also very low in saturated fat compared with other cuts of beef.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

  • 650g lean stewing beef
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 litre fresh beef stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 150ml canned coconut milk
  • 1tbsp tamarind paste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the spice paste

  • 8 shallots, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 dried chillies, stalks removed
  • 2 long red chillies, deseeded
  • 2.5cm piece fresh ginger, diced
  • 2.5cm piece fresh galangal, diced
  • 2 lemongrass stems, coarse layers removed, chopped
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp salt

To finish and serve

  • 500g cooked brown rice (freshly cooked and drained, or 2 pouches)
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced


  1. Prepare the spice paste. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth, adding a splash of water if needed.
  2. Cut the beef into 2.5cm cubes.
  3. Place a large non-stick saucepan over a high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant.
  4. Add the beef and cook, stirring, for five minutes until starting to brown.
  5. Add the stock, cinnamon, star anise and lime leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the beef is tender. Meanwhile, if using a packet of rice, cook according to the packet instructions.
  7. Increase the heat, stir in the coconut milk and tamarind paste and cook for a further five minutes. Meanwhile, if using pouches of rice, heat up according to the packet instructions.
  8. Season the curry with salt and pepper to taste and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise. Divide the rice and curry between warmed bowls and top with coriander leaves and chilli slices.

If you want to save a serving or two for later, let the curry cool then freeze in portions. Defrost fully overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a pan over a medium heat until hot all the way through.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 613 calories, 66g protein, 19g fat, 42g carbohydrates, 3g fibre

Lose Weight & Get Fit (Bloomsbury Absolute, £22) is out now. Photography by Cristian Barnett.

Buy Lose Weight & Get Fit on Amazon | £22 (currently reduced to £11)

The Best Running Gilets


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 16:50

You might consider a running gilet a luxury. The last piece of kit you will consider getting once you’ve picked up more essential items like shoes, T-shirts, shorts and the like. While you’re not entirely wrong – it is more important to have some shorts to hand than a gilet – the versatility of the latter means that it’s still something no regular runner should be without.

That’s because a gilet offers the perfect amount of protection in many conditions. They’re generally windproof and water-resistant, so they keep your core warm and dry, but the sleeveless design means you won’t overheat. You can use a gilet over just a T-shirt for runs in cool conditions, or put one on over a jacket when you need an extra layer on freezing days, especially when the wind is blowing. They’re also usually packable, so you can pop them into a pocket on your shorts, backpack or jacket to have an extra layer to hand just in case.

In short, you’ll be surprised at just how often you reach for your gilet once you have one in your wardrobe. Here are the best running gilets available.

Gore R7 Partial Gore-Tex Infinium Vest

Designed for breezy but otherwise temperate days, this wind-blocking vest still stops you getting too sweaty with a large mesh section on the back. Although it’s not waterproof the fabric is water-resistant, which will keep your core warm and dry in light showers. The R7 is a great option for run commuters, with the seamless design of the shoulders helping to stop rucksack straps becoming uncomfortable.

Buy men’s from Gore | Buy women’s from Gore | £114.99-£119.99

Soar Ultra Gilet

This bright gilet is so lightweight it can be folded up and stashed in a pocket, and it’s definitely worth having to hand if the weather’s unsettled because the front, shoulder and side panels are waterproof and windproof. The back is more breathable, however, and we’ve headed out for multiple runs in this gilet at a range of temperatures and never found it too hot to wear. The front pocket is good for cards and keys, while the larger back pocket can take a phone.

Buy from Soar | £135

Brooks Cascadia Thermal Vest

The 80gm polyfill insulation in this vest means it’s suitable for winter running, as well as beating the chill of spring mornings, with a water-resistant outer layer that protects you from showers and a high neckline to keep the wind off your throat. It’s warmer than the other options here, but Brooks has taken care to ensure the vest still allows the air to circulate so it doesn’t get clammy as you run.

Buy men’s from Brooks | Buy women’s from Brooks | £80 (currently reduced to £56)

Kalenji Kiprun Light Sleeveless Running Jacket

Despite being a budget option this lightweight gilet still impresses with its combination of weatherproofing (it’s windproof and water-resistant) and packability (you can stuff it into its own pocket, and it has a band to attach it to your arm or hand when not in use). It might run a little hotter than pricier gilets, but it’s still a great option for those who don’t want to splash out big money.

Buy from Decathlon | £19.99 (currently reduced to £14.99)

Adidas Terrex Xperior Vest

Built for winter sports like cross-country skiing, this is one of the warmer options on this list, so it’s best saved for your midwinter running. The soft fabric and slim cut make it comfortable to wear even when running at full pelt, and the material is also windproof and water resistant.

Buy men’s from Adidas | Buy women’s from Adidas | £84.95

The Best Vegan Snack Bars


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 15:21

Whether you’re dipping a toe into veganism for a month or are a fully paid-up member of the plant-based club, you – like everyone else – need to snack from time to time. And if you are new to veganism you may realise many of your go-to snack options (cheese, milk chocolate, more cheese) are forbidden and find yourself hungry all too often. So it’s a savvy move to ensure you have a ready supply of tasty and satisfying vegan snack bars to hand.

As with all snacks, keeping an eye on the nutritional information of your vegan bar is a must. Look out for added sugar in particular, and then check out the amount of carbs, protein, fibre and fat. If you’re looking for an energy hit before, during or after exercise then you’ll want a good amount of carbs and the bar can be high in sugar and calories, but if you’re just looking to satisfy hunger pangs until your next meal, then the ideal bar will be low in calories but high in protein and fibre to fill you up.

The Best Vegan Snack Bars

OnePro Protein Bar

These plant-based protein bars come in two flavours – raspberry and chocolate, and peanut butter and cacao – and both are absolute winners. The texture is smooth, the bar itself is not stodgy at all, and the nutritional stats make for pleasing reading: there’s 17g of protein and a massive 15g of fibre in each bar (so there’s no doubt you’ll make it to your next meal without getting hungry again) and the calorie count is fairly low at 223.

Buy from OnePro | £29.99 for 12 57g bars

Veloforte Plant Power Pack

With their stylish packaging and fancy foreign names, Veloforte’s energy bars are the classy option on this list – didn’t think you’d get a classy snack bar option, did you? The bars are also delicious, with a chewy, fruity, nutty texture, and the zingy citrus and ginger flavour of the Zenzero bar is especially good. The bars are designed for before and during exercise, which means they’re very high in sugar at around 30g per bar, so be wary of using them as an office snack.

Buy on Amazon | £21.49 for 9 62g bars

Trek Protein Nut Bar

This is nuts. And we mean nuts. All of the nuts have been crammed into this bar, which is why it contains a solid 10.3g of protein as well as14.9g of fat, most of which is unsaturated. The sugar content is pretty low at 4.7g, which is less than the 4.9g of fibre you get, and there are four flavours, of which the dark chocolate and sea salt is the best.

Buy on Amazon | £14.95 for 16 40g bars (currently reduced to £13.33)

Real Handful

Despite being labelled as a protein bar, the protein count is actually pretty low at 6.4g per 40g bar, and the sugar and fat content is reasonably high owing to the predominantly nuts, seeds and fruit ingredient list. However, each bar comes in at under 200 calories and, crucially, they are absolutely delightful in both taste and texture, whether you opt for the choc orange or sea salt caramellow flavour.

Buy on Amazon | £19.99 for 20 40g bars

Workout Finishers For Faster Fat Loss


Monday, January 13, 2020 - 21:44

Almost everyone who sets foot in a gym wants to lose fat and there’s a straightforward trick that will help you lose more fat more quickly – namely finishers, like the three below from the transformation experts at New Body Plan. Essentially they’re short, sharp bursts of high-intensity activity that provide a resistance training stimulus as well as getting your heart rate up.

They form a crucial part of every New Body Plan fat loss gym programme because they have such a positive effect on your body fat levels. And they’re called finishers because they’re best done at the end of your workout so you can use up every last ounce of energy you can muster. Try the challenges below to turbo-change your own fat loss efforts.

Swing And Sprint Workout Finisher

Do ten kettlebell swings, then go straight into a 100-metre row without resting to complete one round. Complete five rounds as fast as you can without resting.

Each time you try this finisher, add another round until you get to ten rounds. Once you’re doing ten rounds your aim should be to chip away at your total time.

1 Kettlebell swing

Start with the kettlebell on the floor centred between your legs and slightly in front of you. Hinge at your hips to bend down and grab the kettlebell with both hands. Pull the kettlebell back between your legs, then push your hips forwards explosively and straighten your torso, generating the momentum to raise the kettlebell to shoulder height. Hinge at the hips to let the kettlebell swing down and back in an arc so it goes between your legs then repeat the movement. Remember, this is a hip hinge movement rather than a squat, so you only want a slight knee bend during the exercise. The kettlebell should be powered by your hip thrust rather than being raised by your arms and shoulders.

2 Row 100 metres

Get into position on a rowing machine with the resistance set to ten. With a straight back and your core braced, straighten your legs to start the rower. Once your legs are almost straight, pull the handle in towards your chest, then reverse the movement back to the start and repeat. Make sure that your back doesn’t round as you pull because that could cause a lower back injury. Go as fast as you can until you have rowed 100 metres.

Wave And Walk Workout Finisher

Do 20 seconds of battle rope waves, then go straight into 20 seconds of the farmer’s walk to complete one round. Rest for 20 seconds, then go again. Complete five rounds the first time you attempt this finisher then add one round every time you train, until you get to ten rounds.

1 Battle rope wave

Secure the battle rope around a pole and hold one end in each hand. Alternately raise and lower your hands to create a wave motion in the rope. Aim to make the movement as fast and powerful as possible, using your biceps and the fronts of your shoulders to power the move.

2 Farmer’s walk

Start with a kettlebell outside each leg on the floor. Hinge at the hips to bend and grasp the handles of the kettlebells, then lift them so they are by your sides. Walk forwards in a slow and controlled manner until you have completed the set time. You don’t have to use kettlebells – you can use dumbbells or a farmer’s walk frame, if one is available.

If you want to get a complete fat-loss transformation programme, visit New Body Plan and use code coach20 at checkout to get £20 off!

This Protein-Packed Vegan Burrito Recipe Is Perfect For Veganuary


Nick Harris-Fry

Monday, January 13, 2020 - 16:44

If you’re new to a vegan diet it’s not always easy to come up with satisfying, healthy dishes that stick to plant-based ingredients alone. Fortunately, there are few things more satisfying to eat for lunch or dinner than a burrito – and it’s very easy to make a terrific vegan burrito, as this recipe from the book Naturally Stefanie by Stefanie Moir shows.

The book is full of vegan recipes, workouts and other advice to help you live a healthy life, whether you’re vegan or not, and this burrito recipe is a great example. It’s chock full of veg and beans, and packed with extra flavour thanks to the spices used. Gym regulars will also be pleased to know that there’s plenty of protein too, so it makes a great post-workout meal, while everyone will be delighted to learn that it’s simple to make. That is, aside from the tricky moment you try to wrap it up and realise you’ve tried to cram in way too much filling.

“In my humble opinion, few things in life beat wrapping up all your favourite foods in one giant tortilla,” says Moir. “Comfort food at its best. Great for lunch and dinner, and perfect when you’re out and about, too.”

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 2 tortillas
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 100g brown rice, cooked
  • 1 can black beans in water, drained and rinsed
  • 60g pickled red cabbage, chopped into long slices
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 75g sweetcorn
  • 1½tsp paprika
  • 1½tsp cumin
  • 1½tsp chilli powder
  • 40g jalapeños or chillies, chopped
  • Guacamole


  1. Add the onion, pepper, black beans, sweetcorn and jalapeños to a preheated, non-stick pan and fry for two to three minutes until lightly cooked but still a little crunchy.
  2. Add the paprika, cumin and chilli powder to the pan and mix well, ensuring the beans and vegetables are evenly coated in the spices.
  3. Layer each tortilla with cooked rice, vegetable black bean mix, pickled red cabbage and a big dollop of guacamole. Wrap and gorge.

Buy Naturally Stefanie on Amazon | £16.99 (currently reduced to £11.05)

Sustrans’s Challenge Rides Are Cycling Adventures Anyone Can Do


Nick Harris-Fry

Friday, January 10, 2020 - 17:27

Here’s the best idea for a holiday you’ll come across this year: go on a long-distance, multi-day bike ride in the UK. You’ll see parts of the country you’d never otherwise visit on vacation, enjoy a rewarding level of activity each day, and finish your break energised at what you’ve achieved.

You can of course grab a map and plot out your own ride, but the smarter option is to tackle one of Sustrans’s challenge rides. Sustrans is the UK’s walking and cycling charity and it looks after the 25,000-plus kilometres of the UK National Cycle Network. As you can imagine, there are some pretty sweet rides to be found in that 25,000km.

You can find Sustrans’s challenge rides on the charity’s website, where you can also purchase guidebooks and maps for the routes. To give you more of an idea of what’s involved in a challenge ride and how fit you need to be, we spoke to two people who have done at least one of them.

Glynis Francis, community activist, rode the Way of the Roses route from Morecambe, Lancashire to Bridlington, Yorkshire, with her daughter in the summer of 2019, while Alistair Millington, land manager at Sustrans, has ridden three of the routes: Devon Coast to Coast (C2C), Workington to Sunderland C2C and Lôn Llas Cymru in Wales.

What makes the challenge rides so good?

We know your holiday time is precious, so we also asked Millington and Francis why using it to do a long-distance ride is worthwhile.

“For us it was about recapturing the spirit of some precious mummy-daughter adventures,” says Francis. “It lends itself very well to that. It gave us headspace. The scenery was lovely, and we could talk and talk and talk or ride in silence if we wanted. It’s an active holiday but with no stresses in it, because we knew where we were going to stay, plus we had food with us. It was an adventure but we were set up for it.

“It’s the most delightful experience. We live on a small island, and going from A to B is deeply pleasing. From Morecambe Bay on the Irish Sea over to the North Sea… you go from valley floors up to moorland tops that are quite scary and eerie when the cloud is down, and you think the world could have ended because there’s nobody up there apart from you. Those contrasts are part of the absolute charm of it all.”

“I could say a lot of things!” says Millington. “I would say apart from the scenery, it’s the paths themselves. Particularly on C2C between Sunderland and Workington, and the Devon C2C, you get to ride some magnificent cycle paths. I can’t exaggerate how splendid the riding is. Take the Devon C2C and you will ride alongside tidal estuaries, around the edge of open moorland, through tunnels and over spectacular viaducts. The routes you’ll ride on will take your breath away.”

How fit and experienced a cyclist do you need to be?

“I don’t think very fit or experienced at all,” says Millington. “They’re all suitable for novice cyclists. If I were to pick one of the ones I’d done to start with, I’d choose the Devon C2C – it’s the shortest and least hilly.

“What I would say is that your experience should determine how quickly you want to do it. If you’re inexperienced, set very modest objectives in terms of how many miles you want to do per day. Probably not more than 30 or 40 to begin with.”

Francis thinks the key is to have some experience of spending a long day in the saddle.

“I think you could do it if you had experience of five hours’ cycling in a day,” says Francis. “We did it over three days, and five hours can be quite a long time on the bicycle even with nice breaks. It was about 50 miles the first day, then 60 the next day and about 61 on the last day.”

What kind of training do you need to do?

This will naturally depend on how much cycling you’re already doing and your existing fitness, but Millington suggests building up to rides of around 30-40 miles if you’re a complete novice, while those already commuting regularly by bike should try a couple of rides of that length to see how it feels.

“The more you train the more you’ll enjoy it, but I wouldn’t want to get too hung up on training,” says Millington. “If you’re already commuting you’ll have a good base level of fitness, and I think it’s as much about feeling comfortable with your bike and your kit, and its suitability for riding all day.

"Quality is as important as quantity. It’s better to do a two-hour hilly ride than three to four hours of flat easy riding.”

What kind of bike do you need?

“My daughter used my hybrid and I had a touring, winter bike,” says Francis. “The essential bit was that we had panniers and the wheels weren’t the slimmest of tyres – they could handle a bit of off-road or rough road sections, as well as ordinary road.”

“The biggest issue to consider is your gearing,” says Millington. “All the routes are hilly, especially the Lôn Llas Cymru Welsh route which has some big climbs. You want a big range of gears, so you can always gear down when you start to get tired at the end of a day.

“Ideally a touring bike would be best and a hybrid bike would be fine. But I’ve done all the challenge rides on a racing bike with fairly narrow tyres, so it can be done. It comes down to how fit you are and how comfortable you want to be. You could do it on a Boris Bike if you were fit enough.”

What bit of kit would you consider essential?

“My top tip is to look after your bum,” says Millington. “You need a good pair of padded shorts, and don’t wear the same shorts two days running without washing them first. And even for the experienced cyclist, take a little tub of Sudocrem, so if you do get a little bit saddlesore you can self-medicate. If you can keep the bum happy for however long you’re riding, then you’ll enjoy it.”

Alongside panniers, Francis recommends using a bike computer to follow the route.

“Sustrans has a fantastic map, which we used, and also I put it on a Garmin Edge 810,” says Francis. Compared to people she met along the route who asked for help finding their way, she could relax and let the computer keep them on track.

Francis also warns that you need to carry essentials with you because you might end up more isolated than you expect at times. Take food and kit to repair your bike if needed.

“There were sections out on the moorland with quite tough climbing,” says Francis. “There are no cafés when you’re up on the moorland, and when it’s hard work you need snacks! We didn’t have any mechanical issues, but I did have inner tubes and I also knew where the bike shops were. I’d plotted that so in the event of something more serious happening, I knew where we’d go to get more assistance if needed.”

How useful are the guidebooks?

"They’re extremely useful for planning accommodation, rest stops and trying to understand the routes so you can pace yourself,” says Millington. “I’m a great fan of guidebooks for many reasons – you don’t want to be completing a ride and then thinking ‘oh we didn’t stop to look at this!’ If you’re going to make the effort then do a bit of research so you can appreciate what there is to see on the ride.”

Francis suggests that if you’re riding the Way of the Roses in particular, getting your accommodation sorted in advance is a savvy move.

“I would definitely recommend plotting it out because it’s quite busy, quite a lot of people do that route,” says Francis. “It’s not always easy finding accommodation if you want it just for one night, which you do if you’re doing an A to B route, so my advice is to book ahead. Some people like that sense of turning up and not knowing, but I find that a bit stressful. I like to know where my bed is at nighttime!”

How To Do The Dragon Flag


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 15:54
Dragon flag, step 2

When you’re looking to test yourself with some harder exercises, it’s always worth referring to a Rocky montage for ideas. Whether it’s one-arm press-ups, stair sprints or corralling chickens, the Italian Stallion was prepared to go the extra mile in his training sessions.

That brings us nicely to the dragon flag, a core exercise so effective it helped Rocky prepare for his fight with Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, where he – SPOILERS – avenged Apollo Creed and conclusively proved that the USA was better than the USSR.

The dragon flag is a savage move that really tests the strength of your core. It makes a great addition to any abs workout, but only if you have the muscle control to do it effectively.

How To Do The Dragon Flag

First of all watch Rocky IV and check out Balboa’s perfect form. Marvel at how three people are content to stand and watch him do dragon flags because he’s so good at them.

Now hit the gym and find a free bench.

Lie on your back on the bench and grip the sides of the bench by your ears with both hands. Brace your core and raise your legs until your toes are pointed at the ceiling. Only your head and upper back should be touching the bench, and your body should form a straight line from your toes to your chest. Pause at the top of the move, then lower your legs slowly, keeping them extended and making sure that your back doesn’t arch.

It won’t take many reps to feel the burn in your abs, and if you’re managing to complete five or more dragon flags then give yourself a big pat on the back. If you’re struggling with the move, however, then go back to easier core exercises to gradually build the strength required. Start with the reverse crunch and standard leg raises, then move on to hanging leg raises. Once you’ve mastered those moves, return to the bench and attempt the dragon flag again.

Joe Wicks’s Chickpea Kofte Pitta With Sweet Potato Fries Recipe


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 11:38

Chickpeas are one of the most underrated ingredients around. They count towards your five-a-day, are low in calories and fat but pack in a hefty amount of fibre and protein, and assuming you opt for the canned rather than dried variety, they’re incredibly easy to cook with too. Just drain and tip a can into your favourite curry, stew or soup.

Alternatively you can mash them up and make delicious patties, as in this recipe, which comes from Joe Wicks’s new range for recipe box service Gousto. Pop the patties in a pitta – fun to say and fun to do – and serve with sweet potato fries and homemade raita for a satisfying and healthy dinner.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

  • 15g fresh root ginger
  • ½ cucumber
  • 20g mango chutney
  • 2 carrots
  • 80g natural yogurt
  • 1tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 400g can chickpeas
  • 10g coriander
  • 50g baby leaf salad
  • 400g sweet potato
  • 20g mint sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tbsp curry powder
  • 2 wholemeal pittas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 7. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Peel (scrape the skin off with a teaspoon) and finely chop or grate the ginger. Slice the lemon into four wedges. Top, tail, peel and grate the carrots.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas to a food processor along with the curry powder, chopped ginger, coriander (including the stems), ½tsp salt and 1tsp olive oil. Blitz until almost smooth, then add the grated carrot and pulse for three seconds until all the carrot is incorporated.
  3. Divide the mixture into four and shape into patties – these are your chickpea kofte patties. Line a baking tray with baking paper, drizzle with 1tsp olive oil and place the patties on it. Sprinkle over half of the nigella seeds and press them gently into the patties. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the sweet potato (skin on) into chips and add to a large baking tray with a drizzle of vegetable oil and a generous pinch of salt. Mix it all together, then cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the fries are tender and starting to crisp.
  5. While the fries are cooking, finely dice half the cucumber and grate the remainder. Squeeze the water out of the grated cucumber, then add to a bowl along with the natural yogurt, mint sauce and a pinch of salt and mix to make your raita.
  6. Add the diced cucumber to a bowl along with the baby leaf salad, juice of one lemon wedge and the remaining nigella seeds.
  7. Once the kofte patties are almost done, add the wholemeal pitta breads to the tray with the sweet potato fries and cook for a minute or two until warmed through. Carefully slice in two halves before serving.
  8. Put dollops of raita into the pitta pockets, then fill with the kofte patties and a spoonful of mango chutney. Serve with the sweet potato fries, cucumber salad and remaining lemon wedges on the side.

Nutritional information: 614 calories, 9g fat (of which saturated fat 2g), 105g carbohydrate (of which sugars 30g), 25g fibre, 25g protein, 2g salt

Try Rugby For Free At England Rugby’s Warrior Camps


Nick Harris-Fry

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 16:57

If you’re about to embark on a New Year health kick, stop for a second and ask yourself one question: are you going to be doing a type of exercise that you’ve already tried and hated in the past? If so, then you might well be setting yourself up for failure.

We at Coach firmly believe that there’s a type of exercise for everyone. One that you’ll enjoy so much that it becomes a joy, rather than a chore. So if you’ve struggled to maintain an exercise routine in the past it’s well worth trying something different this year. With that in mind, we offer up England Rugby’s Warrior Camps as a new way to get fit in 2020.

The camps are designed to introduce women to rugby union, teaching an array of skills specific to the sport while also improving your general fitness and ensuring that you’re having a lot of fun.

More than 100 rugby clubs around the UK offer Warrior Camps, and all have scheduled at least one or two free taster sessions. However, between 11th January and 9th February that number has been increased to five free taster sessions at 13 clubs up and down England, so you can have a real go at rugby and decide if it’s for you without having to spend a penny.

“It can often be daunting to try a new sport or get the motivation needed to go along to the gym for the first time,” says Sarah Hunter, England Women captain. “That’s why Warrior Camps are the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and as a result, you can have fun and get fit all at the same time!”

You can find the nearest club to you offering the Warrior Camps on the England Rugby website, and these are the 13 clubs offering five free sessions:

  1. Bedford Athletic RFC, Bedford
  2. Blaydon RFC, Newcastle
  3. Eton Manor RFC, London
  4. Harpenden RFC, Hertfordshire
  5. Horsham RFC, West Sussex
  6. Ivybridge RFC, Devon
  7. Keighley RFC, West Yorkshire
  8. Leicester Forest RFC, Leicester
  9. Lymm RFC, Cheshire
  10. Stourbridge RFC, West Midlands
  11. Walsall RFC, West Midlands
  12. Whitley Bay RFC, North Tyneside
  13. Yarnbury RFC, West Yorkshire

Sign up to a Warrior Camp | Free

5 Things Worth Knowing Before You Try To Learn How To Kitesurf


Jonathan Shannon

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 16:26

Photography: Adam Drake-Hughes (@adamgetssurfrage / @drakehughesphotography)

Carve your way through the water at speed, use a wave as a ramp and perhaps throw in a few tricks if you’ve been doing it for a while – really, why wouldn’t you want to kitesurf? The answer is that learning to kitesurf is hard. “Facefuls of sand and surf” hard. “Being hurled through the air while trying to stand up on the board then Googling the difference between bruised and broken ribs” hard.

That, at least, was my experience, attempting to learn over a five-day trip with KiteWorldWide to Essaouira on the Moroccan coast, flying with RyanAir from Stansted. But ask anyone who skis or snowboards how easy learning that was, and then ask them if it was worth it. When I asked a group of experienced German kitesurfers why it was worth persevering, they needed just one word – “freedom”.

Imagining that feeling, plus losing a few hours watching kitesurfing videos on YouTube, will probably be enough to get you looking at flights and packages, so here are a few pointers from Coach and Abdeloauhad Nasser (pictured, above), co-owner of Explora Watersports, which provides lessons for KiteWorldWide in Essaouira and other locations.

1. You Don’t Have To Be Fit…

“It’s more of a technical sport,” says Nasser. “That’s why it’s getting very popular, because everybody can do it from ten years old to 70 years old.” That said, learning will be easier if you’re used to endurance sports like running and have a bit of strength to keep going while you acquire the technique, which requires getting used to a new set of co-ordinated movements for your feet and hands, just like learning to drive a car. In the six weeks before the trip, as well as my usual cycling to work, I opted for one strength class a week through Classpass and I think it was time well spent.

2. …But You Can Be Prepared

One thing you can easily do to get ahead of the game is try the individual elements of kitesurfing before you go – namely power kiting and cable wakeboarding. “It’s exactly the same position on the board,” says Nasser, “so you just need to understand the kite. If you have a feeling for the board, learning’s so easy.” There are cable wake parks all across the UK and it’s similarly easy to find an activity centre that will offer an experience with a power kite.

3. Flying The Kite Is A Bit Like Driving A Barge

While we’re not recommending spending a weekend on a canal to prepare to learn kitesurfing, we found the trick to steering a longboat carried over to the kite. Both are very easy to oversteer and if either stray off-course, it’s almost always too late to correct deftly. Anticipating where the kite’s going and making small corrections in plenty of time keeps things steady and under control.

4. Anyone Can Pick Up The Basics In A Fortnight

Everyone’s different, so who knows how long it will take you to pick up kitesurfing? But whoever you are, it’d be a surprise if you weren’t able to crack it in two weeks, conditions permitting.

The process I went through, which will probably be similar wherever you learn, starts with learning how the kite works on dry land, how it’s set up and how to stay safe. You’ll launch the kite on the beach and find the “wind window” (essentially where to put the kite to get different levels of power), and also need to overcome the instinct to tense up when things go wrong: the trick is to let go and all the power in the kite will dissipate.

Once you can demonstrate control you’ll walk the kite out into the surf and try body dragging, which means getting the kite pull you through the water.

The next part is the trickiest, and it’s the point where my trip ended after four sessions over three days. While keeping the kite in the air, you have to slip your feet into the board’s straps, get some power in the kite, stand up and get going – travelling a few metres before falling over. This, said Nasser, can take two or three lessons to get past, but after that it’s working up to travelling downwind, 50m away from the shore, turning and going back towards the shore. Kitesurfing, in other words!

The other reason you might want to take your time is so you can learn in the sea. There are many places where you can learn on flat, calm water where you’re not trying to slip a board on while getting battered by waves (hot tip: wait for the set of waves to pass), but if you plan on continuing with kitesurfing you’ll inevitably end up on the sea at some point so why not surmount that obstacle while you’re learning?

5. Make Sure There Are Other Things You Want To Do At Your Destination

There was plenty of wind during my trip but it tended to be too blustery in the morning, making those times a bit of a write-off. Even going to a destination with reliably windy conditions like Essaouira is no guarantee you’ll be able to kitesurf whenever you want, so it’s worth making sure there are plenty of other ways to pass the time.

Essaouira has a ton of active stuff to do with surfing, horse riding, camel riding, quad biking, beach yoga and hiking aplenty. There’s also the medina to wander around, featuring shops, markets, restaurants (Umia and Ramsess were particular favourites) and more in the fortifications of the old town.

We also stayed in the new luxury villas at Jardin Des Douars – surprisingly affordable if you fill each room with couples – and there was a private pool to splash about in and an onsite spa to try. It’d be foolish not to choose a treatment which uses argan oil, since Morocco is the source of this in-demand beauty product.

Coach travelled with kitesurfing travel specialist KiteWorldWide. Kitesurfing and surfing lessons were provided by KiteWorldWide's partner Explora Watersports. Ryanair now flies direct to Essaouira from London Stansted.

The Ballot For The Great North Run 2020 Is Now Open


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 17:16

Over one million people have completed the Great North Run since the event launched in 1981, with more than 40,000 people running the race each year. And all of them will have enjoyed the unique experience of crossing the Tyne Bridge with the unrivalled support of the people of Gateshead and Newcastle, who line every inch of the route south of the river on the way to South Shields.

With such an enormous number of race places you might think it’d be easy to get a place. Don’t be fooled. Such is the popularity of the Great North Run that you have to enter a ballot and cross your fingers if you want to run this half marathon.

The 2020 lottery is open now until 9pm on Sunday 9th February, with the results of the draw announced by email on or before Friday 14th February.

Enter the ballot on the Great North Run website, where you will be required to give payment details for the £58 race entry, but this will only be taken from your account if you are awarded a spot.

If you enter the draw but later realise you can’t run the race on Sunday 13th September for any reason (hey, it happens to the best of us), you can email the Great Run team (info@greatrun.org) to let them know you’d like to be withdrawn from the ballot. Naturally, you’ll need to do this before the ballot closes and the draw process begins – the deadline for withdrawing your entry is noon on Friday 7th February. Otherwise you’ll have to pay if your ballot entry is successful.

There are a couple of other ways to take part in the Great North Run if you aren’t drawn in the ballot. The first is to run for a good cause. You can apply for a charity place by checking the website for the full list of organisations that have places in the race.

Missing out on a place in the Great North Run is always a downer, since it’s a race with a truly unique atmosphere, but it’s worth remembering there are plenty of other epic half marathons you can run in the UK in 2020.

On the same weekend as the Great North Run there is the Richmond RUNFEST in London, which features a 5K and a 10K on the Saturday, and a half marathon and a marathon on the Sunday. The half marathon is both pleasingly flat and wonderfully scenic, starting in Kew Gardens and following the banks of the Thames for much of the course.

Meanwhile, if you’re dead set on running a point of the compass, then the Great East Run in Suffolk is also a half marathon and takes place on 20th September, a week after the Great North Run.

The Best Epilators For Effective, Long-Lasting Hair Removal


Caroline Preece

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 14:11

When considering hair removal, many prefer the quick fix of shaving or the relative ease of professional waxing. But those who discover epilation often find it’s impossible to go back.

In its most basic terms, epilation is the removal of hair at the root using a device with dozens of tiny tweezers, which rotate to catch shorter and finer hairs than waxing does. Epilators can be used at home, are available for use in wet or dry conditions and, once you’ve made one upfront purchase, soon become more cost-effective than other methods.

But the real advantage of epilation its effects last as long as waxing (three to four weeks on average) without the associated costs or inconvenience of booking and attending sessions at the salon. Although some find it can be uncomfortable at first, epilation becomes easier and less painful with repeated use.

Many of the best epilators come with attachments that exfoliate the skin while they work, as well as a light that allows you to see what you’re doing clearly. As you might expect, the more you spend the more comfortable the experience is likely to be, so take your general sensitivity into consideration when choosing your epilator.

1. Best All-Round Epilator: Braun Silk-épil 9 Skinspa 5-in-1

After seeing the price, you’d be correct to assume that the Braun Silk-épil 9 SkinSpa epilator is the big noise in hair removal. This cordless epilator does everything you’d want it to when spending over £100. It works wet or dry, and comes with a shaver head that’s designed for more sensitive areas as well as a trimmer cap, a deep massage pad and four exfoliating body brushes that help prevent ingrown hairs. In other words, it’s several devices in one and is the natural choice for anyone whose skin tends to need extra TLC. And don’t let the various attachments put you off – this is very much suitable for beginners.

Buy on Amazon | £125.99

2. Best Budget Epilator: Remington EP7010

There are no fancy bells and whistles included with the Remington EP7010, but it does a good job at a much lower price than its competitors. The device promises to remove hairs as short as 0.5mm with its 40 tweezers, and the shape of the cap ensures you can get at hairs even at slightly awkward angles. It has two speed options, while the removable cap makes it easy to clean. For the money, this can’t really be beaten.

Buy on Amazon | £26.98

3. Best For Comfort: Philips Satinelle Advanced

If you’re new to epilation and worried about the pain and discomfort involved, then the Philips Satinelle Advanced could be the one for you. The ceramic discs gently remove even fine hair and it also comes with a body massager, an exfoliator and other useful attachments, while the smart light makes it easier to see what you’re doing. Even the handle is thinner, making it more comfortable to hold for longer periods.

Buy on Amazon | £92.06

4. Best For Your Face: Braun FaceSpa Pro 911 Facial

Your face is the first thing the world sees, so when it comes to hair removal you want the most effective solution possible. That’s where the Braun FaceSpa Pro – the first facial epilator, cleanser and skin-toning device – comes in. Plucking eyebrows, upper lip and chin hair with traditional tweezers can be time-consuming and a facial epilator makes the whole process much more efficient, while the facial cleansing brush and micro-vibration toning head ensure the key areas remain blemish-free.

Buy on Amazon | £71.57

5. Best Dry Epilator: Braun Silk-épil 5 Power 5780

While more expensive epilators have a wet and dry function, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pay a premium for this feature – dry epilators can work just as well, as proven by the Braun Silk-épil 5 Power. The device comes with a high-frequency massage system built in, which lessens any pain associated with the process, as well as massage rollers and a cooling glove in the box to help soothe your skin after hair removal.

Buy on Amazon | £48.23

6. Best Luxury Epilator: Panasonic ES-ED96 Wet And Dry

Most epilators have 40 pairs of tweezers but the Panasonic ES-ED96 Wet and Dry ups the ante with 48. What’s more, it treats the hair removal process as a chance to pamper yourself rather than a necessary evil – it can be used with foams, lotions or in the bath depending on your preference. For facial epilation, the head’s fine bristles and sonic vibrations help clean the face without irritating the skin, and the variety of attachments make the device a real one-stop shop for hair removal.

Buy on Amazon | £82.08

Fuel Your Workouts With Tom Kerridge’s Apricot Flapjack Energy Balls Recipe


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 12:44

Energy balls are a brilliant healthy snack, one-upping energy bars purely by having a more fun shape – they’re easier to toss up in the air and catch in your mouth for one. They’re also incredibly easy to make yourself if you have a food processor and some kitchen scales, saving a decent wodge of money in the process.

Start with this terrific recipe from Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge’s new book Lose Weight & Get Fit (Bloomsbury Absolute, £22). The balls are full of dried fruit and fibre-rich oats, and pack in bundles of flavour as well. It’ll take you no time at all to whip up a batch of 20 balls – and you can then chill or freeze them to have to hand whenever you need a tasty energy hit.

Ingredients (Makes 20 Balls)

  • 200g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 50g dried apples
  • 50g raisins
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 150g almonds, toasted
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2tbsp honey


  1. Place the dried apricots in a heatproof bowl and pour on the boiling water. Cover and leave to soak for ten minutes.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients into a food processor. Drain the apricots in a sieve over a bowl to save the water. Add the apricots to the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are well combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a little of the apricot water and pulse again.
  3. Divide the mixture into 20 balls, each a little larger than a golf ball, and roll each ball well so they’re evenly sized.
  4. Place on a tray and refrigerate for an hour before eating. Store any uneaten energy balls in the fridge and eat within ten days. If you want to keep them for longer, freeze them on a baking tray so they don’t stick together, then transfer to a rigid container. Defrost in the fridge.

Nutritional Information

Per ball: 124 calories, 3g protein, 12g carbohydrates, 6g fat, 3g fibre

Lose Weight & Get Fit (Bloomsbury Absolute, £22) is out now. Photography by Cristian Barnett.

Buy Lose Weight & Get Fit on Amazon | £22 (currently reduced to £11)

Start Sculpting A Six-Pack With This Home Workout


Monday, January 6, 2020 - 17:05

It takes a lot of work to develop a six-pack. It requires you to intensively train your upper abs, lower abs and obliques, as well as moving your body fat percentage to the lower end of the healthy range. That last part is the most important and also the hardest, but the training part is much more straightforward (if still hard). Working your abs directly doesn’t require the type of equipment you’d find in a gym, because your bodyweight provides sufficient resistance and stimulus to sculpt a harder and more defined core.

To get started, try this 20-minute abs circuit, designed by the fitness experts at the New Body Plan. It hits all the key areas of your abs from different angles and using different rep ranges to work and fatigue the maximum number of muscle fibres, so your body has no option but to rebuild your midsection stronger than it was before.

How To Do This Workout

Perform the exercises in order, sticking to the work and rest periods detailed. At the end of the first circuit, rest for three minutes, then repeat. If you’re a beginner, aim to do three circuits; if you have more training experience, do up to five circuits in isolation or throw in a few circuits at the end of another body part weights workout for a tough but effective “finisher”. Watch your form carefully, especially with the crunches if you’ve had back issues. If you can’t maintain the correct form, stop, rest and try again.

1 Crunch

Reps 10 Rest 20sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers either side of your head by your temples, elbows pointing forwards. Engage your abs, then raise your torso until your elbows pass your knees. Don’t round your back at any point. Hold this top position for a count of one second, then slowly lower your torso back to the floor.

Make it harder: Don’t allow your upper back to touch the ground between reps.

2 Crunch pulse

Reps 20 Rest 20sec

Start at the top of the crunch but hold your arms straight up so they’re pointing to the ceiling. Pulse up, pushing your fingers as high as you can into the air, keeping your abs fully engaged throughout the set. The movement range is very small, so the number of reps is high, and you must ensure your abs muscles are responsible for the movement, rather than using momentum to rock body down and up.

Make it harder: Raise your heels off the ground to work your lower abs too.

3 Reverse crunch

Reps 10 Rest 20sec

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms by your sides, or put your hands flat under the small of your back. Engage your lower abs, then raise your heels off the floor. Keeping your core tight, use your lower abs to raise your knees and bring them towards your chest, avoiding any rocking motion. Hold the top position for a count of one second, then lower your feet back to the floor.

Make it harder: Don’t allow your heels to touch back down on the floor between reps.

4 Lying leg raise

Reps 20 Rest 20sec

Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides, or put your hands flat under the small of your back. Keeping your legs straight and feet close together, engage your lower abs to raise your feet around 30cm. Hold this top position for a count of one second, then slowly lower your feet back to the floor. Keep the small of your back pressed into the floor throughout.

Make it harder: Raise your feet as high as you can, then lower them without letting your heels hit the floor between reps.

5 Plank toe tap

Reps 15 each side Rest 20 sec

Start in the plank position on your front, holding your body in a straight line on your forearms and toes, with your feet together and your core, lower back and glutes engaged. Keeping your head in a neutral position and your breathing relaxed and regular, lift your left foot and take it out to the side. Touch the floor with your toes, then return your left foot to the start position. Repeat with your right foot. Alternate sides with each rep.

Make it harder: Start in feet-elevated plank position, with your feet on a chair, step or other raised surface.

6 Plank shoulder tap

Reps 15 each side Rest 3min

Start in the plank position on your front, holding your body in a straight line on your forearms and toes, with your feet together and your core, lower back and glutes engaged. Keeping your head in a neutral position and your breathing relaxed and regular, lift your left hand and touch it to your right shoulder. Return to the start position, then repeat the movement pattern with your right hand to your left shoulder. Alternate sides with each rep.

Make it harder: After each left and right shoulder tap, perform a press-up.

If you want a complete fat loss transformation programme, visit New Body Plan and use code coach20 at checkout to get £20 off!

Use This Leg Day Workout To Strengthen Your Lower Body


Nick Harris-Fry

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 20:55

Leg day has a bad rep. Sure, after your first big leg workout you might worry that you’ll never walk again when you wake up with the very worst kind of DOMS, but once you’re over that hump you’ll start to look forward to leg day as a chance to test yourself and burn huge amounts of calories, thanks to the fact you’re using the biggest muscle groups in the body.

This leg workout is taken from Naturally Stefanie by Stefanie Moir, a compelling combo of vegan recipes and workout plans for the gym and home. It works your lower body from all angles, hitting the quads, hamstrings and glutes in particular. Make sure to follow the warm-up closely to prepare you for the main workout, where you’ll be working with weights and resistance machines, to maximise the benefits.

Warm Up

1 Unweighted squat

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

From standing, lower by sitting back until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up to standing through your heels.

2 Walking lunge

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

From standing, take a big step forwards and lower until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. Then, keeping your torso low, bring your back leg through into another big forward lunge. Keep walking forwards until you complete your reps.

3 Donkey kick

Sets 3 Reps 10-15 each side

Get on all fours and brace your core so it doesn’t sag during the exercise. Raise one leg behind you with the knee bent at 90° until the sole of your foot faces the ceiling. Bring your leg down slowly. Do all the reps on one side, then switch.

4 Dumbbell squat

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

Introduce some light weights to finish off the warm-up. Using a light set of dumbbells or an unloaded barbell, do another three sets of squats to ensure your body is ready to move on to using heavier weights in the workout proper.

Leg Workout

1 Pulse squat

Sets 3 Reps 8-12

From standing, lower by sitting back until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up halfway to standing. That’s one rep. Continue, only standing up once all the reps are completed.

2 Hip thrust

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

Sit on the ground with a bench behind you and a barbell resting just below your hips. Lean back and bring your hips up a little so your shoulders are resting on the bench. Drive your hips up to raise the bar. In the top position your knees should be bent at 90° and your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower slowly.

3 Bulgarian split squat

Sets 3 Reps 10-12 each leg

You can use a barbell or hold a dumbbell in each hand for this exercise, or use no weight at all if you’re finding it hard to maintain your balance. With the top of one foot resting on a bench, step forwards into a lunge with the other. Lower until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, then drive back up. Do all your reps on one leg, then swap sides.

4 Cable kick-back

Sets 3 Reps 15-20 each leg

Attach an ankle cuff to the low pulley on a cable machine, or just slip your foot into a looped handle. Stand facing the machine and hold it with both hands. Slowly kick the attached leg back in an arc, taking it as high as it will comfortably go. Then bring it back down slowly. Do all your reps on one leg, then swap sides.

5 Seated hamstring curl

Sets 3 Reps 12-15

Sit on the hamstring machine and position the padded lever so that it sits just below your calf muscles. Lift your legs so they’re straight out in front of you, then pull the lever down with your legs. Hold that position for a second at the bottom, then raise your legs again.

6 Plank

Sets 3 Time 30-60sec

Get into a plank position, face down with your weight resting on your forearms and the balls of your feet. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Brace your abs and glutes, and don’t let your hips rise or sag.

Buy Naturally Stefanie on Amazon | £16.99 (currently reduced to £11.28)

Joe Wicks On Why You Should Avoid Crash Diets


Nick Harris-Fry

Sunday, January 5, 2020 - 21:30

When a new year rolls around, it’s tempting to go for broke and try to achieve all your health and fitness resolutions in record time with a brutal exercise regime and a highly restrictive diet.

However, according to Joe Wicks, all this approach does is put you on the fast track to giving up on those resolutions before the month is out.

“I’ve seen so many people go through the yo-yo diet circuit of low-calorie diets, ketogenic, Atkins or whatever it may be,” says Wicks. “I just think when you’re doing these kind of things you’re setting yourself up for failure because it’s not something you can sustain all year round.”

Fortunately, Wicks isn’t just going to leave you with advice on what you shouldn’t do. Here’s what you should try to make your diet healthier this January – with a little help from recipe box service Gousto, in which Wicks is an investor.

What are the keys to making a long-term change to your diet?

It’s about a balanced approach to nutrition. I’m not a massive fan of people obsessively counting calories. People should focus on cooking at home and portion control, alongside general exercise. That’s what the general population really need, I think.

How will cooking at home help to improve your diet?

When you start cooking at home you’re reducing the chances of having takeaways, fast food, and meal deals on the go. By doing that you’re more in control of what you’re eating and you can get proper nutritious food in you. Keep it simple, and go back to your bologneses, vegetable chillis, stir-fries and curries – that’s way more sustainable. The food is going to taste great because you’ve made it yourself, and you can store a bit of it in the fridge or the freezer. Little things like this are going to set you up for a successful week.

If you don’t do that you’ve got to rely on food on the go and that’s when you get in trouble. That’s when you start to gain lots of body fat and feel really run down.

Do you have any tips for judging portion sizes?

With my 90-day plan there are portion sizes and you weigh everything out, but after the 90 days I don’t want people to be weighing their food. I think you just learn about portion control through recipe books and if you’re doing a plan. Essentially it’s about eating intuitively – if you feel like you’re eating massive portions and you’re really sluggish and tired, then you’re probably eating too much. It’s a case of gradually reducing things. You might have a really low-calorie breakfast but then a really nutrient-dense lunch, and it has to be a weekly target rather than a daily target, or it becomes a bit restrictive.

What’s something people can try in January to be healthier?

If you go down the canned food aisle you’ve got lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, butter beans – so many things that you might not necessarily be eating, but if your throw them in a curry with some coconut milk and some curry powder they taste incredible and are going to make your diet healthier.

What are the benefits of trying a recipe box service?

People don’t have the confidence to try things, they get stuck in the same five recipes on repeat. That’s why I like Gousto. I do four meals a week and it makes me try new things, new ingredients, and keeps things fresh every week as opposed to relying on the same food. I never cooked risottos, orzo pasta or Filipino curries – I used to just do Indian curry and that’s it. So it’s definitely got me using new flavours, and herbs and spices I wouldn’t have used otherwise.

Most importantly it’s so convenient. The days of walking around supermarkets scratching my head wondering what to cook have gone.

Peloton Review: The Best Exercise Bike For Spinning At Home


Nick Harris-Fry

Sunday, January 5, 2020 - 21:06

Risible adverts aside, 2019 seemed like a pretty good year for Peloton. It established the idea that you could take spin classes at home with a stationary bike, a screen and a monthly subscription, and did so successfully enough that a raft of copycat bike-plus-app options sprang up in response to its popularity.

After spending a couple of months using Peloton, I can see why it’s taken off. The set-up is phenomenally swish, with an impressive bike and a vast range of excellent classes from popular instructors. There are even non-spin classes in the app too, which you can follow on your phone or cast to a TV.

It comes at a price, however. The bike itself costs a minimum of £1,990, and you’ll probably want to spend more like £2,129 to get a package that includes shoes to clip in to the Peloton pedals plus a set of hand weights. On top of that, a monthly class subscription is £39.

Can such a pricy bike offer good value? I’d say there is an ideal audience for whom it’s perfect, but just as with a gym membership, you’ll definitely have to think long and hard about whether you’re going to use it long term, and what alternatives there are – like a gym membership, for one.

The Set-Up

The bike and system is very easy to set up, because installation is included in the price, and you’ll also get a quick run-through of the software once it’s up and running. Jump on the bike, turn on the large HD screen and browse the classes available, a task made easier by being able to filter by length, difficulty, type, instructor and more.

Resistance is controlled by a dial that allows you to ramp it up or reduce it very quickly, and during classes there are three primary stats on display: your cadence, the resistance and an estimate of your power output. All of these are used by the instructors in classes to explain how intense your effort level should be.

There are thousands of classes to try on demand, and there’s also a schedule of at least 14 live classes a day to join. During all classes a leaderboard pops up on the side of the screen so you can see how you compare with others who have taken the class in the past, and you can filter this by age range and sex to see how you compare with others in your demographic.

It’s easy to adjust the handlebar and seat height to fit you too, and you can use the pedals without special clip-in shoes, though the experience is definitely improved by having cleats.

The Experience

Peloton is brilliant to use. The screen is huge and makes for an immersive experience, and I rarely experienced drop-outs during live classes even though the bike was in my garage and not all that close to my internet router.

The classes themselves are exactly what you’d expect if you’ve ever tried a live spin class. The music is loud, and the instructors are even louder and unfailingly upbeat. Every spinning session is built up to incredible levels of importance, with all manner of motivational clichés thrown at you every time you’re asked to increase your effort.

It’s not quite as motivational as being in a studio with others tackling a class, but it’s really not far off, especially if you take a live Peloton class and join in a couple of minutes beforehand to see the instructor chatting to those in the studio where it’s being filmed.

You can also find a class to suit pretty much every aim, whether it’s a 90-minute sweatfest to boost your endurance or a 20-minute blast to get the heart pumping. There are classes aimed at keen cyclists that get more jargony, and there are classes aimed at complete beginners just designed to make you feel good about getting moving. You can also select based on your music taste and see the playlist in advance.

Peloton aims to bring the spin studio experience home and it does that superbly. On top of that there are plenty of other classes you can do too, including guided yoga, Pilates and strength sessions, and even outdoor runs and walks. I tried a strength session in the Peloton app and while it didn’t offer quite the same premium experience as spinning, it was solid enough. I couldn’t get the app or bike to cast to my Chromecast, but following the workout on my phone was easy.

If you’re a fan of spinning and the OTT motivational ethos of it, then Peloton delivers. I think I would start to tire of the incredibly earnest behests to increase my effort level, but then I’m a grouch and an obsessive runner who generally prefers the great outdoors to spinning inside, no matter how amazing the experience is. There are instructors who tone it down a bit, however, and once you find them it’s easy to search for their other classes.


Peloton delivers on everything it promises, but there is still a question hanging over the sizeable outlay. If you get it to share with others in your home, and avoid paying for multiple gym memberships or regular spin classes as a result, the cost becomes far more reasonable. Extra user accounts are free, though you may need a separate set of cycling shoes to use with the bike.

Even for one very keen user the Peloton bike could be worth its price. It’s so easy to jump on and do a quick class, and it will help you get fitter quicker and burn a lot of calories in an enjoyable manner. It’s a convenient and premium experience, and the motivational boost of having the live classes definitely helps.

There are other ways to get classes at home, and you can link up far cheaper bikes to TVs, tablets and phones to get an ersatz Peloton experience. However, the Peloton screen and set-up are hard to rival, and those that do make a proper attempt at it like Echelon and Technogym Live end up costing similar amounts.

One alternative worth considering, if you want to get fit cycling at home but aren’t so sure about spin classes, is Zwift. You can get a good-quality set-up for comfortably under £1,000 assuming you already have a bike to put in a turbo trainer, and then the Zwift subscription is just £12.99 a month. A subscription allows you to cycle in virtual worlds, rather than the closed shop of a spinning studio, and take on classes and training plans where you ride in those virtual worlds. Zwift is much more focused on road cycling enthusiasts, however, and allows you to ignore all the jargon and just ride up a virtual volcano or through underwater tunnels.

Buy bike from Peloton | Peloton bike £1,990, monthly unlimited classes £39

Tom Kerridge’s Cajun Salmon Recipe Is A Delicious Low-Calorie Dinner


Nick Harris-Fry

Thursday, January 2, 2020 - 14:49

It’s a myth that low-calorie meals need to be bland and boring. One way to pack a meal full of flavour is to raid the spice rack, which is what Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has done in this salmon recipe. As well as being delicious, it clocks in at just 552 calories per serving, but the chunky amounts of protein and fibre will ensure your stomach is as satisfied as your taste buds.

The recipe comes from Tom Kerridge’s new book Lose Weight & Get Fit, which is chock full of tasty meals and snack ideas to support a healthy, active lifestyle.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

  • 4 skinless salmon fillets (120g each)
  • 250g (1 small head) broccoli
  • 1-cal sunflower oil spray
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Cajun seasoning

  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp garlic granules
  • ½tsp hot smoked paprika
  • ½tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp flaky sea salt

For the dirty rice

  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp dried thyme
  • 200ml fresh chicken stock
  • 400g can black eye beans
  • 500g cooked brown and wild rice (freshly cooked and drained or 2 pouches)
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced

To serve

  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.
  2. For the Cajun seasoning, mix the ingredients in a small bowl. Pat each salmon fillet dry with kitchen paper and then sprinkle with the seasoning on all sides. Leave to marinate while you prepare the broccoli and dirty rice.
  3. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat (or spray with oil). Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, season with salt and pepper and spread out on the tray. Cook on a high shelf in the oven for 12 minutes or until the broccoli is lightly charred and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, for the rice, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook for four to five minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, then add the red pepper and tomato purée and stir well. Add the oregano, thyme and stock and bring to a simmer.
  5. Drain the black eye beans and add to the pan with the cooked rice. Cook for another five minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and stir through the spring onions.
  6. Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Spray the salmon fillets a few times with oil then place in the pan. Cook for two to three minutes on each side or until lightly charred and cooked through.
  7. Spoon the rice into four shallow bowls or containers, and add the broccoli and salmon. Serve at once, with lime wedges, or cool then seal and keep in the fridge. Eat within two days, either cold or reheated.

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 552 calories, 41g protein, 17g fat, 55g carbohydrates, 9g fibre

Lose Weight & Get Fit (Bloomsbury Absolute, £22) is out now. Photography by Cristian Barnett

Buy Lose Weight & Get Fit on Amazon | £22 (currently reduced to £9.99)

Pump Up Your Chest With This 10-Minute Press-Up Workout


Thursday, January 2, 2020 - 12:20

You probably have plenty of fitness goals, but may have written off some of them because you don’t have the time to follow a four-sessions-a-week gym routine or the funds for a gym membership. But there’s still plenty you can do for free and in a minimal amount of time. Case in point, this high-intensity style bodyweight workout from the experts at the New Body Plan.

The exercises in this workout target your chest muscles as well as the fronts of your shoulders and the backs of your arms. Because all the moves work the same body parts you’ll get blood flooding to the target muscles, which will give you a great pump and really make your muscles stand out.

Even though this workout only lasts ten minutes, it poses a real challenge. The workout requires you to perform press-ups and press-up variations, ideally for three rounds at 30 reps a round, but the workout is structured in such a way that you can tailor it to match your current level and return to it again and again to build up your strength and progress until you can rattle it off with no problem. A worthy goal in anyone’s book.

1 Press-up

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Get into a press-up position with your body in a straight line from head to heels. Make sure your core is braced and your hips aren’t raised because that will take tension off your abs. Also ensure your hips don’t sag because that will place stress on your lower back. Start with your hands directly below your shoulders and, as you lower, keep your elbows in to your sides rather than letting them flare out to the sides. Lower until your chest is almost touching the floor, pause for a second, then press back up powerfully. Complete all ten reps, then go on to the next move without resting.

2 Diamond press-up

Reps 5 Rest 0sec

This is similar to a press-up but your hands are placed together so your thumbs and index fingers touch, forming a diamond shape. It’s essential to keep your elbows in to your sides rather than letting them flare out to the sides. If you’re unable to press back up, just do the lowering phase of the move as slowly as you can. Complete all five reps, then go on to the next move without resting.

3 Press-up

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Use the same form as you did for the first set of press-ups. By now you’ll be starting to fatigue so pay attention to your form. Complete all ten reps, then go on to the next move without resting. If you can’t manage ten reps, do as many as you can and then move on to the next exercise.

4 Eccentric press-up

Reps 5 Rest 90sec

An eccentric press-up is one where you only do the lowering part of the move. Start in a conventional press-up position, lower to the floor, pause, then reset to start in the top position again. Once you have done five reps you’ve completed one round. Rest for 90 seconds and go again. Aim to complete three rounds in total.

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If Your New Year’s Resolution Is To Lose Weight, Then Make Losing Weight Easy


Jonathan Shannon

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 - 17:17

We all wish it was easy to change and rid ourselves of bad habits, but most people’s experiences are that change is hard. But what if we were looking at it the wrong way all this time? What if the key to change was to make it stupidly easy? That’s one of the revelations from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits (published by Virgin Books), a new book that shares a model of behaviour many at Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have known about and been using for more than a decade.

Coach to spoke to Fogg, the Stanford University behaviour science expert, about that, as well as how his method can be applied to weight loss and New Year’s resolutions.

How did Tiny Habits come about?

I’m a behaviour scientist, but Tiny Habits didn’t come out of academic lab experiments. I did it in my own life for a year or so and then I started teaching others – anywhere from two to 400 people a week, some in person but mostly on email – for seven years. Week after week I was measuring and testing, then it became more of a research project.

How does the Tiny Habits system compare to the traditional methods of behaviour change?

Tiny Habits is radically different. Pick what you want, not what you should do. The old-fashioned way was like pick something you should do and then just figure out a way to stay motivated. In Tiny Habits, you don’t have to set a goal or track your behaviour. You can, but you only do those two things if they help you feel successful.

The old-fashioned way really focuses on repetition, like if I just suffer for 66 days in the gym then I will magically have this habit, but that’s not how it works. In Tiny Habits, it’s not about suffering, it’s about feeling good. What I figured out – and now it’s so obvious, but it wasn’t then – is you wire in the new habit by feeling a positive emotion.

I teach the technique I call celebration. You focus on feeling positive as you’re taking a drink of water or getting out your dumbbells. You can wire in habits really fast through emotion.

How did you use your techniques to lose 20lb (9kg)?

I figured out a whole bunch of different eating behaviours that were really easy to do, but also, that I wanted to do. It’s the combination of finding new habits you want and then making them really easy to do. And in this case for weight loss, I finally figured out that so much was about nutrition, so I focused on nutrition primarily, but I also did resistance training. For me, that combo works.

Is there a problem that people experience when losing weight that the Tiny Habits system fixes?

Number one, it helps you see it’s really easy to get started. And it’s no big deal. You’re not making this dramatic overhaul of your life and you can do it on the sly. I found out that for some people this matters. Somebody will try to eat differently and their spouse will sabotage them because they don’t want to eat healthy foods too.

The other thing is you can start succeeding immediately. That’s not to say you succeed on the scales, but you can start succeeding in developing good nutrition and exercise habits immediately and you accumulate them.

Not everything will work and that’s OK. I have an orange tree and it always has oranges on it, so I thought eating an orange every day for lunch would be a good habit. I started and it just wasn’t working, it was too much orange for me. So even though it sounded like a good idea and I could make it a habit, as I got going I was like “No, this is not the right habit for me”. So I stopped. Part of the method is try stuff. If it’s not the right habit for you, stop, no big deal. Do something else.

Where do people go wrong when it comes to New Year’s resolutions?

At New Year’s, you want to do big hard things and you feel capable of doing big hard things. What humans are terrible at is looking ahead and understanding our motivation is going to drop. When our motivation drops, we can no longer do the hard thing. So in some ways, the whole excitement about New Year’s resolutions sets you up to fail. One thing Tiny Habits does so well is make change really, really, really tiny so you don’t have to have lots of motivation.

How are some of the themes in Tiny Habits used by social media platforms?

Let’s talk about the psychology here. The pattern [in social media platforms] is, and this totally maps to the book, help people do what they already want to do. That’s what every successful social media platform has done and that is my first maxim in the book: do what you already want to do. Pick new snacking habits you want, but also make it healthy. Don’t force yourself to eat kale if you don’t like kale.

Then next is to make it really easy. One of my former students is the co-founder of Instagram. The idea for it started in my class at Stanford. We talked a lot about how to make things really easy. That was the point. Simplicity changes behaviour.

And then – I’ll just add one more – the next is to help people feel successful. With Instagram, I think what they did brilliantly is that when you take a picture, you apply a filter. And as you apply a filter you’re seeing not just your picture, you’re seeing an artistic creation, and that’s like, Wow. That is sparking the emotion of success which then wires in the habit. There’s more, but I would say those are the primary ones. Help people do what they want to do, make it simple and help people feel successful.

Buy Tiny Habits on Amazon | £14.99 (currently reduced to £10.29)

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