Fit Brit 2014 – challenge accepted!

In August I attempted Fit Brit for the first time. Fit Brit is the result of a partnership between Fitness First and Men’s Health magazine to complete “8 exercises back-to-back against the clock” and to put yourself in the running to be ‘Britain’s fittest man or woman”. Check out the moves here. As a (very) competitive person, this challenge was going to be tackled. I rocked up early to work one day and declared that I wanted to do the challenge and please, would someone kindly time me? As I pounded my burning legs on the treadmill for the final part, collapsing in a heap, I realised I had gathered a little audience! Woo, go me! The ‘lanky’ girl who had turned up to work every day, too shy to work out in the club, had clearly not given a true impression of herself as they were all surprised as a new fastest female time, within our club, was set.

IMG_0410My nemesis is Michelle Steenhuis. She is a pint-sized powerhouse and personal trainer at the club. She is blond; I am a brunette. She is small; I am tall. She is strong; me, not so much. Within a week of beating her time, she then beat me. I then had another, but sadly very lame, attempt the other week (yes, these are my excuses…) post a 4:30am start and feeling pretty hungry, to beat my time but not hers. Humph. So, the challenge is on. However, we are considering partnering up to maximise our strengths – it’s all about that balance!

My main areas to improve on are the press-ups (those shoulders, grr), and trying to work through the burn on the cardio sections. I also just want to get fitter and stronger. With the ski season fast approaching (YES!), I am thinking more about my core, legs and to mimic skiing hard for a few minutes by doing some interval training.

Here is an outline of my programme last week.

Monday: I went for an 8km run, gradually increasing my speed and sprinting the last 200m (roughly) home. In the gym, I did 3 sets x 12 reps each of deadlifts, squats, walking lunges and some core work. Not with hugely heavy weights I admit, but I am working on it!

Tuesday: I warmed up on the treadmill for 5 minutes, gradually increasing the speed. I then did 6 x 1 min at 10mph and recovered for 1.5 minutes at 7mph. 5 minutes cool down, slowly decreasing to a walk. I did shoulder presses with 8kg. And, I did some dreaded press-ups (which although very frustrating, I secretly love!). Pushing myself back up is the hardest part, so (thanks for the tip Michelle!) I am practising just pushing myself up from the floor. My triceps are weak too; so a few dips have been chucked in for good measure, and to balance it out, some bicep curls into an Arnold press. I do each arm separately for these, so each arm works individually.

Wednesday: Nothing. Yup, not even a swim. Just some walking whilst out and about.

Thursday: 20 minutes on the rowing machine, followed by 20 minutes on the bike. I wear a heart rate monitor and made sure that I got my heart rate up to about 75-85% of my HRR (heart rate reserve). Following this, I repeated my leg workout, as on Monday. I did core work again – plank for a few minutes, varying the positions from prone and lifting a leg/arm etc, to side plank with hip touches.

Friday: Intervals, again, similar to Tuesday’s session. This time I increased my sets at 10mph to 1min 15s and recovery to 1min 45s x 6. More shoulder presses and arm work including the press-ups. I can now do about 10 in a set, with a wide foot platform and my elbows going behind me (more military style). I am using a stability ball for core, trying to get a full range of movement in my sit up, rolling right over it, and holding a 10kg plate. Going side to side, too, engages my oblique muscles. I also lean on it (prone) and curl backwards, to work my core back muscles. Balancing out!

Today: A swim. I swam for about 30 minutes and did about 1.5km. Varying between crawl, breaststroke and backstroke. I also used my Speedo Power Paddles that played a major role in strengthening my shoulders, and also a board to give my arms a rest and make my legs work.

As a hypermobile, slightly weird, being I have to be careful not to over stretch. After every workout I stretch to maintain flexibility and to help recovery. A foam roller is essential – I love it for my back.

Each shift at work I conduct a Freestyle class and/or the Pro Athlete class in which I demonstrate the exercises for the warm-up and training sections and then get involved as much as needed in the team phases and making up partners.

When I say ‘it is your workout’ during these classes, I mean it, honestly. I’ve done mine and will happily encourage and motivate you through yours, so you get the best out of your session. I’m not just an evil person enjoying watching you sweat. Well, maybe a little.

Next week I will try to do similar, varying from continuous cardio and interval sessions and resistance work, but trying to push myself to run a bit longer, or faster, or lift more weight or do more reps – and eventually both.


Between now and the end of November, on a day when I feel full of energy, I will hopefully smash my previous time on Fit Brit and more importantly make Michelle have to do it again. Game on!