Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Blogger Christmas Shopping

Can you believe Christmas is nearly here? I know it's crazy it'll be here before we know it!  I've not really had a chance to really enjoy it yet, so when I was invited by Westfield Stratford City to go with Emma from My London to check out the Christmas festivities, of course I jumped at the chance for an excuse to go shopping. 

I'm based in the East Midlands so Leicester and Nottingham are the biggest places for me to shop, I'd never been to Westfield however I'd been told it was huge and like a shopping paradise.  I mean how big were we talking?! Emma and I had met the other week at a blogger breakfast meeting so couldn't wait to catch up and enjoy a bit of Christmas shopping!

I got the train from St Pancras station to Stratford International which took no time at all and was literally a 2 minute walk.  I spotted a queue of children waiting to see Santa and tell them the toys they wished for this Christmas, I could see I was going to feel really festive after this trip!  On entering I was baffled. It was absolutely huge!  Where devil would I even start?!

First thing on my agenda was finding a good cup of coffee before meeting Emma for a spot of shopping.  As I trotted along the smooth floors it was clear Christmas had landed at Westfield's, gorgeous decorations graced the corridors, shops were lit up with tempting goodies in their window displays, and the numerous places to eat and drink were beaming with tasty treats and delicious smells. I was very ready to indulge.

After enjoying a classic Christmas blend coffee from Starbucks, I met with Emma.  We decided we'd check out the Hidden House attraction in the shopping centre which we'd read about online.

When we got there we both looked at each other, we knew we were going to be made jump by this scary maze within the spooky house!  I won't give away too much but be prepared to be in for a fright!


We went onto to explore the shops in a quest to find Christmas leggings from Primark and check out all the other festive bits available.

After seeing the recent Victoria Secret fashion show I was dying to pop in to see what new lines they'd got in. I'd never shopped in there before as where I'm from we actually have very limited amount of shops in comparison. Emma had already confessed she was probably one of the worst people to shop with as she will always justify a purchase... and is such a bad influence. Uh-oh.  

After exploring what the shopping centre had to offer both us were in desperate need of a refuelling stop.  I'd tweeted Westfield Stratford City the day before to find out what the top place for a hot chocolate was, immediately I was tweeted back saying John Lewis was the best. I've never had food or drink at John Lewis but we both had their delicious freshly made tomato and basil soup, followed by luxury hot chocolate topped with a marshmallow mountain!

I do feel very Christmassy now and have since decorated my home, I'll be Vlogging about later so stay tuned for that.  Big thanks to Westfield for having us and Emma for a lovely festive day!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Have you met JIM yet?

I've been talking about JIM quite bit haven't I? Oh goodness, I don't mean to... It's just all I've been thinking about these last few weeks.  No, no don't worry I've not ditched my fiancĂ© for a guy in Loughborough called JIM.... JIM is actually the name of an exciting new gym in Loughborough I've just tested out.

I'm an active person and I love doing exercise but since doing Blenheim Triathlon in June, I've kind of stopped doing anything. I've eaten far more than I'm burning and quite frankly feel a right lump who is significantly unfit.  I could list a number of excuses as to why but I'd have to say the main reason is because I feel totally uninspired and frankly quite bored with how I was training. 

JIM gym Loughborough review

Training solo for something can be hard and when you're pulling yourself out of bed to swim a certain amount of lengths, or run a specific amount of miles, you sort of start to vex about training and it can become stagnant and boring.  I was getting bored, but being bored isn't going to help me lose weight and tone up is it? So I needed to kick myself up the bum and find something to fill that void. 

I've been a member of the large chain gyms before and enjoyed group exercise classes from Les Mills and so forth, but even after trying that again I just lost interested, I even tried out for another Cheerleading squad but regardless it didn't feel right. 

JIM in Loughborough

A new gym, called JIM was opening in Loughborough situated where an old nightclub was. I was really interested to see what was going on in there after seeing some pictures on Facebook and I was then invited to try out what they had to offer.  On initial impressions, I won't lie I was intimidated, it's quite dark, very 'trendy' interior wise and the equipment looked somewhat daunting.  I'm not really making this sound good here but trust me I was so in need of something new I kept thinking this could be what I was looking for. I just needed the confidence to get past the feeling of 'I don't fit in here', or 'I'm not good enough', a feeling many of us are regularly faced with when we're out of our comfort zones. 

Personal Training Session

Firstly I was going to be having a personal training session with Antoine, who I discovered loved to play tennis and was French.  He wasn't intimating at all which made me feel quite relaxed...good start.  We had a chat about my fitness background with me explaining my current fitness problems, so he took that into account whilst planning our session.  Don't get me wrong I was nervous as even though I've drilled into myself 'sweat is fat crying', if I do sweat straight away I feel really embarrassed and unfit, even though I know part of that is adrenaline and nerves. 

JIM isn't like normal gyms it has very few cardio equipment which I was confused by, but after quizzing my PT, I was told it's because they like you to challenge your cardio abilities in other ways by using other tools available. We started off on what I can only describe as a cross trainer, but instead of just scooting away as you do, Antoine challenged me to a boxing setting.  This had short sharp bursts of doing a punching motion as fast as I could and then would return to a normal speed for a number of sets. Well, I was sweating after the second session finished and slightly out of breathe... All I kept thinking was what had I let myself in for! 
We next moved onto a the ski pull where it was warming upper body by pulling weights down as if I was doing downhill skiing.  It was here I confessed I had very little upper body strength, but to be honest I think it was looking quite obvious!  I felt the burn very quickly and it started to dawn on me how much I hadn't been doing fitness wise, but regardless of me feeling like I was struggling I was constantly being reassured I was doing a good job and to keep pushing on.

JIM has astro turf in two spots in the gym and we moved across to the area filled with free weights, suspension ropes, battle ropes, etc.  I was really interested to what we would be doing and we went straight to work on some core bits by using the suspension ropes.  We hooked my feet up and I rested my arms on a cushion  on top of a wooden box you'd use whilst doing plank.  Antoine organised me to do sets where I'd pull my legs up towards my chest so I'd work my obliques and my abs.  This was a real challenge but felt very rewarding.   We tried out using a weighted ball and throwing it has hard as I could on the floor, then picking it back up as quick as possible before throwing it again.  They were all simple yet demanding activities but I'd of never considered doing them before.

 I was really impressed with the variety of plans and exercises I could do, as by looking at it there appears to be lots of equipment but you don't always know what you can do with it.  Overall this was a hard and challenging work out because of it's diversity to what you'd consider a 'normal' training session.

Once I'd finished my session I questioned the staff about those who want to attend the gym, want to learn things but not have to pay for a PT session, I was told staff are there on hand to help whoever in order to achieve their fitness goals.  It's quite refreshing to hear a gym to have that approachable attitude.


I have previously been to a specific bootcamp in Norfolk (see here) and loved it, so I was really excited to join in with a 10 week programme at JIM. I was only taking part in one session  of the course with a bunch of people who had been following their fitness journey.  Haider was our fitness instructor who was leading the session and had been throughout the course, from the start it seemed like a close net of people and initially I thought they knew each other before, but turns out each had bonded over the course.  Going through something like this together had helped create friendships through coping which I guess is an added bonus of such a thing!

We kicked off in a circle to warm up followed by team exercises.  We had weighted ball work and dead lifts with different weights that  we alternated with.  I was surprised how hard this was but Haider was encouraging each of us to keep pushing.  It really helped me try harder.

I chatted to some of the members at the end and they said they'd loved the experience, well, not the hard fitness paces they were challenged to but the whole concept and the results they were seeing.  Unlike other gyms, bootcampers don't have a before and after image, they do a weigh in and measurements at the start of the course then will see what happens at the end.  Even going for one season I could see straight away how good this was and I was almost jealous I hadn't been there throughout.  There were so many fun ways used during the session where we'd use some of the exciting equipment in JIM, which made me feel confident to come back and do it off my own back. 

It was clear that JIM was giving a new twist on 'group exercise' and this was certainly something I'd never have found boring if I'd been doing the full course. 


After trying out these two different services from JIM, I'd certainly say that I'm excited about learning more and about challenging my body further.  Personally I love the team encouragement I saw with bootcamp so for someone like me that'd be something I'd be straight onto, but saying that when I just want to get on and get my head down, I now could do that after the personal training session.  Memberships are £28.90 a month which you can cancel at anytime - handy if you hate those silly contracts. After visiting twice I've already stamped on my preconception of not being good enough, because this is a gym with all shapes, ages and sizes, but also an eclectic mix of exciting ways to train.

Big thumbs up... now back to tackle those battle ropes!