Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

I hope that the title of this post will catch your attention and you will read it from the beginning to end because in this post, beyond my own experiences I am going to write some information that you can use to make your life better.

Let me give you a bit of a background to this holiday first. I have been regularly exercising since I was 18; yes exercising, going to the gym, dancing etc. People would say that I was always doing something, moving and therefore I have always been fit, and I was happy with my level of fitness. I could have looked better, ‘one should always put up their limits high enough and never settle lower.’ I could have had a more stable body instead of gaining weight and then losing it just because I was running more or doing more cardio but overall I was ok with myself. During my travels I became a bit more chunky than before and I was determined once I settled back into the London life that I would lose the excess fat. I started working for Gamesys and with this joined the gym where they offer corporate membership called The Third Space. I remember when I walked into it the first time I saw this super fit guy (even his name has the word FIT in, he’s called Fitz Gaynes) shouting at people on the glass floor. ¬†It looked like he was training an army and people were still smiling. I promised myself that I would go into one of his classes and either die or come out stronger. So on the next occasion I went with my good friend Zara to his Legs Bums and Tums class. I wish I had a bit of an introduction or warning before, but sadly on that one occasion when I went to his class for the first time he did not ask if there was any ‘fresh blood’, so I was believed to be one of his’regulars’. If you have done legs bums and tums class before you would expect something like this:

Instead, we did about 300 squats in different combinations on a 45 minutes class that started with a 10 minutes dance routine. ¬†I remembered Fitz even on the 3rd day after I did the class as coming down the stairs had become a bit of a nightmare! That was it, I knew I was working hard and would get results. I returned to the class the week after and after and I found myself becoming more and more curious to see what other classes he was ¬†teaching. I tried his spin class, which is equally not the classic spin class that is normally taught. ¬†The bike is just a tool that we use to do strength training to the heart. ¬†Finally after a few months I tried one of his late Tuesday night classes, the LST weights class. This is when the whole logic behind his teaching started to come altogether, back to the simple logic, sit, stand, push and pull. That’s all you need to do. ¬†I’ll tell you more about this through this post but if you want to check out his site and learn a bit more here it is:¬†https://fitzlifestyletraining.com

So this January an opportunity arose to go on an LST holiday through him to Turkey. ¬†I had pretty much booked all of my holidays for the year with the wedding and honeymoon approaching so first I thought that I couldn’t go, ¬†although I really wanted to. So another proof that if you really want something, make it happen. I booked it.

I knew some people from the classes but mostly just by face however deep down I also knew that I loved meeting new people so knew we would get on:) Fitz flew out a couple of days before to prepare everything for us and the group flew on Sunday the 20th March.

The place we went to is called Ali Bey Manavgat and it’s in Antalya, about 1 hour and 20 mins away from the airport.

It was so nice to arrive in the summer, Fitz welcomed us, everyone checked in, unpacked and we met at the bar then went for the first dinner with champagne at the table. This was  a great bonding night. The food was lovely, everyone was chatty, already loved it. The timetable of the week was the following:

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 15.08.27

I couldn’t wait to get out there early in the morning and look around, greet the sea and look into the horizon as the sun rises. I took my camera and went to explore, then to breakfast.

DSC_1372DSC_1374DSC_1378DSC_1389

Everyone went to breakfast at similar times, earlyish so that the food could go down a bit by 10am when the training starts. We had a little welcome session at the Fitness First gym, got a Fitz T-shirt and a notebook, and the fun started with an hour of weights class. I took my tripod with me so that I could record most classes, as well as my GoPro and DSLR camera.

DSC_1417DSC_1421

After the weights class we had a heart strength training (spin) class. Watch this space to get a taste:

Straight after this class we went to the pool for a Q &A session, which taught me the following.

DSC_1433DSC_1436

Conclusions:

  • High intensity interval training has nothing to do with endurance. Once it’s low intensity it becomes endurance training.
  • Diets don’t work, once you stop it the fat comes back (yo-yo) DIET: Delay Internal Extreme Termination
  • Detox? Save your money and drink water
  • Want to look good? Change your lifestyle. Long term results require long term lifestyle changes.

After the Q & As everyone was starving and looking forward to dinner time!

DSC_1456DSC_1457DSC_1459DSC_1466

Considering that we were in an all-inclusive hotel the nights were pretty short. Simply because our focus was on our training as opposed to drinking or partying. Saying that I probably stayed out the most with my partner in crime Cat, not sure why she did not get the ‘raver’ title along with me!

The next day we played an ‘exciting’ card game called Lucky Dip!

Fitz cards

It was a body conditioning class. You combine the following in this card game:

Alternate Leg Thrusts, Star Jumps, Press Ups, Crunches and Squats.

The numbers go from 2 to 20 in each section and you never know what’s the next card. Could be the joker which is 20 reps of each, that’s a 100, without any break. Good luck! ūüôā

DSC_1495DSC_1507DSC_1517DSC_1519

Ok, this game is a hell! And Fitz represents the devil!

After Lucky Dip we had another seminar by the beach and listened to Fitz’s words of wisdom.

DSC_1552

Every afternoon there was a bit of time to relax and enjoy the sun and a bit of reflection…

Alizcat aliz

We still had an LST combo and active recovery left for the afternoon.  It was a tough day and Wednesday did not look any easier. However Wednesday was my favourite day for several reasons.

We started with the LST Heart/ running hour. This was a challenge for most of us.

Here is a taster:

DSC_1592DSC_1613DSC_1663DSC_1679DSC_1690DSC_1697

Food was well needed. When your body is working on 85-95% intensity you need fuel!

An LST weights class and another Q&A was left for the day..

DSC_1779DSC_1793DSC_1797

The Q& A was about food this time and what’s right and what to avoid. There is no ‘sample’ or pattern that you can copy. Everyone is different, everyone’s body and metabolism is different and everyone is on a different fitness level. This group worked so well together despite the different age/fitness capabilities. Susie shared some great experience about her food habits but she is miles away from any of our fitness levels and she is a WBFF Pro Diva Fitness Model but everything she said could be applied to anyone.

Susie has been training with Fitz for 6 years and achieved some incredible results over the years. Truly inspirational and supports the logic behind Fitz’s LST theory. She is a perfect example of the statement that Fitz says to all of us when we are about to give up and collapse: ‘What the mind don’t do, the body won’t do’. This girl has it all, control, mind power and beauty:

Susie

Some of us stayed out for a bit after dinner, but most of the people went to sleep. Great evening!

On Thursday we started with weights/strength training at 10, then a seminar about why short dumbbells are more ‘lifestyle’ than long bars for weights training. And finished off with a heart strength training.

I think by this day most people were tired by default, but in the evening everyone was up for a game of Cards Against Humanity which contributed to the stories we left Turkey with. ¬†Again, what a group! ūüôā

Some of you might think, I don’t need to go to the gym, I play football, it’s enough. No! It’s not enough. Sport is a choice, lifestyle training is essential for everyone. Once your training is in place you can specialise in any sports because you will have the strength to do them! Remember when you get old you will regret not having built up those muscles at young age. Never too late to start! One of our group, Sakino, was 67, and kept up the pace all week and even set and example to the group on how to ‘plank’. ¬†Get down to the gym and pick up those weights!

Friday we did an LBT class in the morning and LST combo in the afternoon.

Watch this cruelty on these guys here:

Fitz set a challenge for us for the week. A little dance routine! Now this made my week at the very beginning cause I absolutely love his music choices and the dance choreography that he teaches on the Thursday classes in London. Every day we had 30 minutes of dancing, and what have we achieved by the end? This:

And while learning it we had the best time!

On Friday we had our Gala dinner where we gave Fitz and Susie a little present for all the hard work they put in making this holiday happen and with that we are all officially the LST Pioneers!

Pioneers.jpg

On Saturday we had an LST celebration or so called TRI class. Running, conditioning, weights. 3 groups of people.

Fitz then said something of everyone’s achievements, apparently my motto on this trip was, Train Hard, Party Hard, Sleep None! ūüėõ

DSC_1832DSC_1855

After lunch we put on our uniforms, the ‘FITz LST t-shirt’ and performed our dance in 2 different places which then resulted in the fab video that Ben put together above.

This holiday was like a drug for me. ¬†It was hard to get back to reality and I am still getting energy from it 2 weeks later. ¬†I made some really good friends as well and it would have been my biggest regret if I didn’t go.

DSC_1899DSC_1927DSC_1967DSC_1970DSC_1975DSC_1976DSC_1993

So people reading this blog and wanting to get involved, there is another holiday coming up in October and there are still some spaces left. Let me know if you are interested in going. ¬†You will not regret it ūüėČ

Pioneer hols

 

Well overdue post from November last year when I surprised my mum with a trip to the ‘Eternal City’. It has always been her big dream to visit Rome at least once in her lifetime. I have been several times when I was younger and am passionate about Italy and the Italian culture so I knew Rome quite well and what’s a better occasion to show this stunning city to Mum than for her 60th birthday.

I flew there from London, she flew from Budapest and luckily I managed to choose flights that arrived at similar times. I was there first and couldn’t wait for her to get there and be overwhelmed. I booked a flat through AirBnB, very close to the Colosseum which was very convenient as next day we could start there nice and early to avoid the crowd.

DSC_0374DSC_0388DSC_0397DSC_0421

Mum was very emotional..a dream came true. I like making people happy.

The next obvious sight was the Forum Romano. It used to be the centre of Roman public life.  We also visited the Palatine and Capitoline Hills.

DSC_0510DSC_0513DSC_0551

After the Forum we headed to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. This is the sight that Romans respect the most, you are not allowed to sit down on the stairs or do anything that is disrespectful. We went up to the top and had a stunning view. It was very warm on those 3 days we were in Rome, about 20 degrees, which for November is great.

DSC_0566

DSC_0577DSC_0606DSC_0616DSC_0617

One of the best scenes from the Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck was by the ‘Bocca della Verit√†’ or Mouth of ¬†Truth. The material ¬†of the¬†round medaillon is¬†Pavonazzetto marble. This marble comes from Docimium in Frigia (today’s Turkey). The weight is 1,200kg and it’s 2,200 years old believe it or not.

The most famous characteristic of the Mouth, however, is its role as a lie detector. ¬†Starting from the Middle Ages¬†it was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. I can confirm we both arrived back home with 2 hands:)

DSC_0647DSC_0649

After these we just got lost in the little beautiful narrow streets or ‘stradine’ of Rome.

DSC_0660

I think I made mum walk at least 15km per day, but that’s the best way to discover the city.

And of course we fuelled up with the tasty food that the Roman cuisine offers.

DSC_0786DSC_0787

In the evening we walked around Piazza Navona.

DSC_0745DSC_0765DSC_0768

The next day, all recharged, we went to the see the Vatican. I think this was the highlight for Mum.

DSC_0799DSC_0833

DSC_0857

The other beauty is the¬†Castel Sant’Angelo, just at the end of the Passetto from the Vatican. It¬†was initially commissioned by the¬†Roman Emperor¬†Hadrian¬†as a¬†mausoleum¬†for himself and his family. The building was later used by the Popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. The Castel was once the tallest building in Rome.

DSC_0932_2DSC_0937IMG_9317IMG_9318

On the last day we visited Campo de’ Fiori (Field of Flowers).¬†The name was first given during the¬†Middle Ages¬†when the area was actually a¬†meadow.¬†Campo de’ Fiori¬†has never been architecturally formalised. The square has always remained a focus for commercial and street culture: the surrounding streets are named for trades‚ÄĒVia dei Balestrari¬†(crossbow-makers),¬†Via dei Baullari¬†(coffer-makers),¬†Via dei Cappellari¬†(hat-makers),¬†Via dei Chiavari¬†(key-makers) and¬†Via dei Giubbonari¬†(tailors).

It’s an overpriced market now, a bit of a tourist trap but the shopping in Giubbonari is great (not Gucci and Armani type of brand shopping but affordable everyday clothes and shoe shopping).

At night, Campo de’ Fiori is a meeting place for tourists and young people coming from the whole city. In the years after 2000 it has turned into one of the most dangerous places of the city during night, with reports of repeated assaults and affrays by drunk tourists and soccer supporters.

IMG_9351IMG_9352IMG_9354IMG_9355IMG_9356

IMG_9357

As Mum was leaving in the afternoon we did another little stroll around Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, I gave her another little surprise – a Swarovski necklace and earring set that she was very happy with. The necklace chain was too short but luckily we could change it in the Swarovski store in Rome.

IMG_9367IMG_9369IMG_9378

She then left and I spent an evening shopping ūüôā In the evening I went out for a superb meal and tried the famous¬†carciofi alla giudea at a restaurant called¬†Ba‚Äô‚Äô Ghetto in the Roman-Jewish Quarter.

The next day I flew to Malta for a gaming conference.

I think it was an unforgettable trip for both of us; Mum certainly remembered as her feet hurt for a few days after the marathon walking she was not used to.

It’s been ages since my last post..and also since my last backpacking trip..when I say ages..I mean around 6 months..I know I am a bit spoilt when it comes to travelling therefore my interpretation on time sounds rather big headed..but believe me…this is not how I mean it.

So..I had 3.5 days that I had to take before the end of the year and even though I would have had a lot of things to do at home, I rather made a little holiday from these days including the weekend. So..where can one go for 5 days with guaranteed sunshine relatively close to England..The Canary islands!

I always wanted to see these islands but hearing a lot about the British tourism in this area (yes the ‘Benidorm or Algarve’ type of tourism) I kind of postponed the destination in my head…when I thought..how about backpacking!

So I looked up the hostels in Gran Canaria (somehow this island was the closest to my heart) and I found one that suggested…yes! this is what I need at the beginning of December..on my own! The place is called La Ventana Azul and I can highly recommend it to anyone wanting to chill, sleep, surf, party..

http://www.ventana-azul.de/wordpress/

La Ventana Azul

The terrace   my room

I flew with my favourite airline: Norwegian (if you have not heard about the best low coast airline before with free wifi on board check it out now: http://www.norwegian.com/uk/ )..the journey was about 4 hours..and I arrived from 5 degrees to 20! It was a fantastic feeling! I took a bus to Santa Catalina (part of Las Palmas, the capital) where my hostel was situated, Lisa (lovely German traveller) greeted me who arrived in the island a couple of days before and started working in the hostel. Lisa explained that at the minute me and my room mate David are the only individual guests, as the rest of the hostel is rented to a Dutch sailing club who are preparing for the next Olympics on the island for 2 weeks with different physical exercises beyond sailing..

I’ll be honest..if things did not turn out how they did it would have been a problem because this young Dutch team was very closed and had no interest in communicating at all..they were loud and sometimes inconsiderate..but..it might just be me getting old..:) David was a surfer, equally very young so he was not as communicative as I was either..but!

Lisa took me on my second day to her hostel (she was living in another hostel about 7 minutes away from mine) where I met the real crowd:) A group of crazy Italians, living on the island, a Hungarian guy who was about to sail through the Atlantic to reach the Caribbean, an English guy who could only talk about his online marketing business and why he hates England, another holidayer who was from Germany, an Aussie globe trotter and that’s it. It didn’t take long for us to become friends..and the fact that I (used to) speak Italian was a big advantage. I remembered all those good times I had with Italians during my university years and in the first year after moving to England. It all came back and I had the same amount of fun as I did back then.

I was walking a lot, trying tapas bars, making friends with locals. One day I took the bus down to Maspalomas and visited the famous dunes where I tried to sunbathe a bit..well..I lasted about an hour and I went though very extreme moments when I was hot and when I was extremely cold as the clouds covered the sun.

Maspalomas

Maspalomas resorts

Maspalomas Dunes

Maspalomas is like an artificial ‘all-inclusive ‘ resorts heaven. There is much more sun in the southern part of the island than in the northern part (hence why I came back only with a tiny bit of tan). It is a popular place to go for the European retired crowd, which you don’t see as much in Las Palmas.

Another day I decided to dive even though the morning I picked was windy, rainy and about 15 degrees..I saw a few things but overall was not a great experience because of the strong current and bad mask I got from the dive centre.

But after diving while waiting for the guy who picked me up from my hostel and took me to Arinaga (just after the airport where the dive centre was situated) I had the best seafood probably ever..if you are there, visit this place called Restaurante Nelson: http://www.restaurantenelson.com

Nelson terrace

Calamari salad

One night we went for a Tapas and beer night to the old city centre which was a great experience! 1 tapa + 1 bier =2 euros. Fantastic selection of tapas, jam packed, great weather, music..

IMG_5064

Tapas night

On the last day we decided to hire a car..everyone went out on Saturday night but Lisa told the Italians that Sunday morning at 8am we are leaving…We went to the car hire at 8am with Lisa given that it was almost an impossible mission to get the Italians out of bed before 9am (especially cause some of them apparently returned at 5 in the morning)..

The car hire was a bit of a joke…laid back..:) 35 euro/car/day, no deposit or passport required, you get the keys, they explain where the parking house is, which floor to go to and then you look for your own car:) Took a while for us to find our 2 cars but in the end we did and went to pick up the others..well..in the end we left just after 10, and drove first to Nublo Rock (Rocque Nublo). The inland is green and beautiful. This rock was amazing as well! We had great banter on the way.

Roque Nublo

Sadly we lost each other with Lisa and only re-united in the south of the island, the end of the day just before dinner, caught some sun, and sat in a fantastic seafood restaurant (about 10 of us) and had the ‘last supper’. I adore the fact that Italian people are crazy about food. I am crazy about food too so sitting at a table where we are actually talking about how amazing the food we are eating is just great!

en route view from roque nublo Lisa and I The group

Next day my flight was at 7am, so I said bye to Lisa, who slept in the hostel just to be able to say goodbye to me (<3) and drove myself to the airport. It was great that I could leave the car there without any problem and did not have to hire a taxi early in the morning.

Well, that’s it. Some people asked if it was ok going on a holiday alone without Richard and I said yes it was…I will always have that ‘explorer’ spirit in me which he understands perfectly and knows that once in a while i need to¬†go away alone to find myself when I get lost in the big city…

I am talking about Scotland here in Scot language. ūüôā

So Richard and I decided to take a little holiday around the August bank holiday up to Scotland. We had a week, and our main destination were the highlands so instead of flying up there and rent a car to get around he drove up all the way with a stopover in the Lake District.

Scotland has always been a dream destination for me but somehow when you are living in England you are always opting for warm and sunny destinations..This was a perfect time to choose Scotland having spent half of this year in the tropical Central -America..

So the first night we spent in a lovely B&B just passed Keswick in the middle of nowhere:) It was actually a perfect escape from the city..We left London at 8am and got to the Lake District by 3pm with little stops on the way.

We took a stroll in the huge green fields and the nearby lake..it was warmish and sunny..but windy.

Ravenstone :) hay ride And this amazing view..

The B&B is called Ravenstone Manor- nice rooms and location however they were a bit smaller than they pretended to be. The service was a bit slow…If it was a backpacking trip I wouldn’t describe the place like this but again if I was a backpacker I wouldn’t have stayed in a flashy place like this:)

After the great egg benedict and cooked brekkie we headed to Scotland. Stopped at Loch Lomond in two places, at Balloch and Luss. In Balloch beyond the Maid of Loch (built in Glasgow in 1953, taken in sections to Balloch, and re-assembled on the slipway) we visited a shoe shop I never heard of before called Pavers. Now this wouldn’t be news just itself but because I bought 2 pairs of shoes (on sale) and one turned out later to be too small we got involved in some additional adventure later on…(they say no regrets..however…..)

After Balloch we made a short stop in Luss. Now this is a little perfect postcard looking town with lovely flowery gardens and a sea front.

Balloch Balloch Luss Luss Luss Luss Luss Luss

We drove through Glencoe’s majectic mountains then we got to¬†Fort William, in a beautiful B&B with stunning location called Hillview Guesthouse where we spent 2 nights due to our greatest adventure next day..climbing the UK’s highest mountain: Ben Nevis.

Glencoe Glencoe Glencoe Hillview Guesthouse Fort William Hillview Guesthouse Fort Will

Next day the big day..both super excited and hoping for the great weather that was predicted. I wasn’t too worried..thought after the 5000m Villarica volcano a 1344m peak wouldn’t be a problem. Well…it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Many people were climbing it on the day we chose, the sun was shining, the wind was moderate..the trail was steep:) First we had to climb up rocks, then we had a half an hour ‘easy part’ passing the lake just before half way and from the waterfall a solid 2 hour uphill. We even found a little snow patch! On the top it was cold but sunny and windy. Had lunch, spent 30 minutes up there and made our way down. It was a total of 8 hours ..4.5 up and 3.5 down. Great experience, would do it again!

Ben Nevis Ben Nevis Ben Nevis Ben Nevis DSC_0893 Some crazy people On the top

 

We got to know after that 9 days out of 10 you can’t see anything above 700m, hence why people turn up with maps and compass…Lucky.

The next day we were sore…..especially after driving hours and then getting out of the car..

So the 4th day’s destination was the Skye island. We took a gamble on the ferry from Mallaig, it was fully booked when we got there but luckily got in on stadby. Otherwise it would have made no sense to go to Skye for only a half afternoon. The area is 1656 km2 and has about 10.000 inhabitant. The island is mainly living of agriculture, tourism and fishing. The capital is Portree, very pleasant little town with some nice cafes and a colourful harbour.

Traffic jam Portree harbour Before the vote Skye Skye Skye Skye

 

After Skye we headed to the Eilean Donan castle..we caught the best time to visit..sunset.

Eilean Donan castle Eilean Donan Sunball

We spent the night in Plockton, tiny village (smaller than where I come from which is a rare find, 800 people living in). Next day discovered a few pretty trails.

Plockton Plockton viewpoint Plockton viewpoint The famous Scottish cow

The last mission in Scotland was to witness the Loch Ness monster.. Having a vivid fantasy I believed more than 50% of the existence of the monster..the first afternoon we visited Inverness, had a great meal in a fine dining restaurant in hiking kit among flashy night dresses and suits around us..Friday night style;-)

Next day we did a private boat trip to hunt down the monster and when I say private ..it was a boat with a capacity of min. 100 people but nobody turned up:) After the unsuccessful attempt to catch the monster¬†we went to the exhibition centre to see the scientific explanation of the monster’s existence or non-existence..and finally we headed to Pavers to change my shoe for a bigger size. Sadly it was an outlet store (like most Pavers shop) where they could not exchange the shoe..I was ready to drive around Scotland to find a High street shop instead of Outlet shop but luckily Richard had a bit more brain and figured we can do the exchange online.

Inverness Inverness Inverness Monster hunt Nessie

So we headed back home..with a stopover at a place I bet most of you did not hear..Redcar:) But before this we stopped in Pitlochry at the Atholl Palace Hotel for a lovely afternoon tea.

So Redcar..it’s by the sea…and getting there Saturday evening might not be the true picture of how the town looks midweek. The biggest surprise was that none of the pubs served food at 8pm. ūüôā The room however looked stunning..the best on this trip with a deluxe bathroom.

On the last day we stopped for a little hike in the Yorkshire Moor which was great then Richard drove us home and finished the week with a lovely fish and chips:)

Yorkshire Moor Yorkshire Moor Yorkshire Moor