James's blog posts

the end, or just the beginning???



The Commit to Get Fit Challenge ended on Friday and I can sense that most of the team are a little sad. Without the challenge will we all just let ourselves go into a flabby, lazy pit of plop; returning our lycra and shell-suits to the cupboards to collect dust???

My feeling is that this is just the beginning. Last month gave us all a taste of the numerous benefits of exercise and the fun of competing or encouraging each other through various activities. It is often the thought of doing exercise or classes that acts as the first hurdle to trip us up, even before the tracksuit comes on. But it’s a little bit like the thought of jumping off a high diving board on your way up to the top, once you jump it’s normally a lot of fun, weeeeeEEE! Last month gave us the opportunity to push through the threshold of that cozy comfort zone and we realised there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had!

The challenge ended with Lucy running the campus Boundary, to finish the challenge how it started; she got a little bit lost this time, but it was a nice way to mark it.

I went for a more relaxing finale by taking a Nidra Yoga session with Karen and wow, what a lovely way to bring the month to a close! I have spent the last year awaiting a knee operation to remove a large chunk of cartilage, so in the absence of physical activity, I have solely been training my mind with meditation, including a couple of silent meditation retreats…

The last month has reminded me that the mind and body are not separate entities, they both work in unison and directly affect each other. The natural endorphins have a profound effect on our moods and if you ask any top athlete, our mindset has a powerful effect on performance. This challenge has helped me personally by regaining a better understanding of the relationship between body and mind. Nidra Yoga was right up my street - virtually no bendy business at all, bringing a heightened awareness to our body ~ I literally floated through the rest of Friday afternoon aware of each little tingle in my fingers.

I think we all took something different from last month, but I can say that we all thoroughly enjoyed it! The whole Admissions team would like to send a massive thank you to the Sports Team for pulling all the stops out to encourage us, teach us new skills and inspire us along the way!

I have seen encouraging signs from the team. Michael has purchased table tennis bats, Janet has left Badminton racquets in the office (it’s starting to look like a giant sports shop in the office) and I am sure a few of us will be signing up to the gym… I really do hope the last month has acted as a spring board for much more to come!!!


Fastest Racquet sport in the WORLD!



Today saw team Admissions’ first bash on the badminton courts. We had all been looking forward to this one from the beginning of the challenge. Janet even postponed a trip to Belfast for the pleasure; seven of the team got involved in total and I have to say, it was one of the most fun activities we have done all month!

Surprisingly, badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world, with the fastest recorded shuttle-cock recorded at 262mph! However, judging from some of the teams efforts today, that record has been well and truly smashed!!!

Most of us had not played for years and it was Rosemary’s first time, but you genuinely couldn’t tell. In fact, we all knew we were in for a game when we saw Rosemary fly through the air like a Michael Jordan/Flying-Squirrel hybrid, determined to reach the shuttle-cock! The landing was slightly less graceful and it might have been a little inappropriate for us to have administered the wet sponge to the injured area. However, she was straight back up again and probably gave the best serve out of all of us.

It was yet another activity that virtually all of us are keen to play again, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had quite a giggle too :)

… Sometimes coming back into the office a little juicy around the armpits after the activities can feel a bit uncomfortable. However, a few of the team have mentioned today that once the heart rate has returned to normal and the body settles down, they have felt an increase in energy in the afternoons and also felt a positive effect on their moods – which is brilliant!


Yesterday, I took the opportunity to get some tips from Mark Beresford (the Health and Fitness instructor at Sussexsport) because I am training for a 100km walk in July along the South Downs way. I did it two years ago and we were the last team to cross the finish line (out of 500), taking us 36 hours in one go! One of our team started hallucinating and most of his feet turned to blisters. It was probably the most extreme physical and mental challenge I have done in my life.. just typing this makes a droplet of wee trickle down my leg at the prospect of doing it again!

With little time to train left, Mark’s advice was invaluable yesterday! He gave me a programme specifically for the walk, from the warm-ups, strength conditioning, mobility stretching, all the way through to nutrition tips prior to and during the walk. So hopefully the event won’t be so traumatic this time…

Admissions still sweating...



The final week is still rolling nicely for the Admissions team; there are a few tired muscles now we’re on the last stretch, but if anything the enthusiasm is greater than ever! The whole team are looking bikini ready (especially Dave) after so much exercise!

Today’s lunch time saw yet another game of the fantastic Swedish delight, Mölkky :) With Rob (the Head of Admissions) winning once again!!! The cries of ‘Fix, Fix!!!’ could be heard all the way from the outdoor table-tennis tables at Swanborough, where Amy, Michael, Dave and I spent the afternoon… Michael the undefeated champion of lunch times (still undefeated!!!) has purchased some bats and balls for the office – so we’re all looking forward to a summer of ping-pong and Mölkky! (let alone the rest of our new found interests)

Table-Tennis in the sunshine...



The team are rolling full steam ahead coming into the final week of the Commit to get Fit challenge. Lucy is doing two classes in one day today and much of the team have been very active over the weekend, taking advantage of the beautiful weather J

A few of us went to check out the new outdoor table-tennis tables at lunch today. Since our first round in the sports hall we have been dying for a re-match – this time it was outdoors, amongst the warmth of the sunshine. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it… despite losing, once again to Michael, the Federer of ping-pong! In fact, we enjoyed it so much we are going to invest in some bats (or paddles? whatever they’re called) great way to spend a lunch-time :)


Mölkky anyone?



Yesterday lunch time virtually the whole office got together to try something new. I wasn't around to join the fun, so Dave has done a post match report...


With the sun shining and lunch time underway, Admissions Team Leader Rob asked who is up for a game of Mölkky? ‘Mölkky what’s that…?’ Rob then explains that it’s a throwing game from Finland that is kind of like skittles/bowling. So with a few uncertain looks, but with the nice weather outside most were heard to say ‘yeah ok why not’.

The team make their way onto the howled turf (the bit of grass just outside the office ;). Rob sets up the game and explains the rules while we get into teams of two…’Your with me James’ you hear Janet call out ‘he plays cricket he must be good…?’ (nothing like two players getting really competitive is there…haha!!) the rest of us just turn to the nearest person and say, ‘shall we team up?’ and wait for the game to begin!

Everyone throws their first Mölkky at the pins and apart from a few misses…it’s our first time…and there seems to be an uneven surface and a divot just at the front there…we all manage to hit something and score a few points for our teams! One thing to be noted from the first game…don’t always pick the cricketer as they might not be as good as you think..;)!!

The first game was won by Rob and Kate with Kate hitting the last two pins with ease after saying I will never do that…

Let’s play again shall we…

The second game was one of classy shots and close scoring as everyone was getting into the zone. Especially Rosemary who was dropping more trick shots than John Virgo to get her team into a good lead. As this game went on we were even greeted by some cheering from a growing crowd… Oh, no way this was the protest! but we will still like to think they were cheering us all on!

This second game came to the wire.. every team so close to the 50 point target and wanting to win, win, win! then as it looked like we might be going on for ever… Rob steps up swings his arm back, all players watching and in what feels like a slow motion shot from a Hollywood blockbuster lets the Mölkky pin go…………………..bang…the 9 pin goes down and somehow no more… he’s done it and turns arms raised to show his excitement and a look of 'how did I do that!' Kate and Rob win again…

Cries of ‘It’s a fix’ are heard from J Team (Janet and James) to no avail and we all clap the winners and our lunch time is over!!

‘That was really good fun. We should play this again’…it seems this game has turned into a hit!

So if you have a free lunch time in the sun why not try a game of Mölkky. It’s fun and a nice bit of healthy competition for the office!!

http://is.gd/Dg85EL for more details.


Some words from the Team...





So here I am three weeks or so in, constantly plugged in to my jazzy pedometer, kinda more conscious of my activity.

I am not one for sport – no sport junkie am I - and so entering a gym is very strange. The worry of gym etiquette, ridicule, - the shame of losing; of being in pain and out of breath, all help to deter me donning plimsolls and shorts.

However, once over the sweaty threshold, I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed the experience. I sit at my pod, lifeless and without legs. I hardly move. Office life is pretty rubbish for health, physical, emotional and such-like – so getting down to the gym for an hour of fun with my pod-buddies has been really new, exciting and special; offering me a different perspective on the work – life – work colleagues dynamic.    

Main highlights for me – actually getting off a stop early and taking a longer walk home. Gardening - digging, pulling up a weed or two, stretching, bending, and kneeling in a sporty gardener way. Coming back from a rather hot and sweaty fencing hour (and feeling I could develop a (healthy?) obsession with tight-fitting body armour) – and playing table tennis and finding an inner ping pong diva eager to get out and spin. Feel tired now with all this writing, think I might go and have a little lie down…    


Rosemary, Jane and myself had a lovely walk to Falmer Village this lunchtime and it was glorious!  We walked to the farm shop and we all had an ice cream and then sat by the pond and thoroughly enjoyed the sit down and eating our ice creams whilst watching the ducks enjoying their swim around the pond.  We walked back (reluctantly) and finished the walk by going along the boundary walk which runs parallel with the road.  It was lovely and shady if not a bit damp underground but that was no problem.  All in all we had a lovely lunch time.


As a member of James' team, I would just like to say that I have really enjoyed the May fitness challenge and have found it a great source of inspiration to start using my body again in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.

Having had a baby last year, I have had a break from excercise. However, I now feel ready to begin using my body again and start toning up all my wobbly bits (which, I have to say... seem to be a lot more wobbly post pregnancy!)

I must say that I actually joined the gym in April, not knowing that the May fitness challenge was in the offing. To have my work colleaugues join in and have incentives from Sussexsport has been great as it has really put the fun into the fitness.

I have discovered Zumba... which I LOVE! And tried my hand at many new things such as Trampolining, fencing, Ping Pong (I mean Table Tennis!) and Boxcercise. I have found classes that suit me and I will continue going to these classes throughout the year.

The best thing about the challenge in my view, is the way it has brought people together from all over the university. I have made friends in other departments that I would probably never have even spoken to if it wasn't for the challenge. It is funny to see their familiar faces at classes and great to find that everyone is really embracing the idea of trying something new.

Now the sun has come out... we were thinking it might be time for an outdoor activity such as Rounders or Frisbee. If any members from the May Fitness challenge would be interested in organising a departmental match then just let me or James know.

We have a week left before the challenge is over... thanks for all the inspiration SussexSport!

Boing Boing! En Garde!!!



Some more pics of the action so far...


Bouncing Back... and time to relax ~



I have thoroughly enjoyed the May Commit to get fit Challenge so far, way more than I anticipated in fact! Although we are all aware of the benefits associated with exercise, this month has made it very clear! The rewards I have noticed stretch far beyond the obvious health benefits too..

It has been wonderful to interact with people from the office within the context of sport and new activities. I’m fortunate in that Admissions is a lovely office to be a part of, however, competing against or supporting colleagues as we attempt new things certainly shifts one’s interaction from fellow colleague to a fellow person. I have discovered a variety of interesting things about colleagues on the way to the Sports Centre or walking around the campus, and noticed some hidden talents too!

As well the team spirit we have experienced so far, it has been great interacting with people from other departments too. From Fiona (from Life Sciences) letting a couple of us join her team’s trampolining session, with Heidi from Conferences supporting Lucy as she tried her first straddle jump.. to people helping each other from different teams out of the straight-jackets we wore for fencing.

All this being said, I did/had one of my favourite activities so far after work yesterday!!! Over a week ago, I slightly jarred my back whilst trying to show off to all the girls with how high I could jump on the trampoline…. wah wahhhh!!!

.. So I decided to treat myself to a Clinical massage at the Sport Centre Therapy Room (seeing as we are getting a discount this month!)… and WOW!!! Jan worked my back with her magic hands, manipulating my muscles and untying more knots than you would find at your average cub scout camp. She used deep tissue, myo-fascial release and trigger point techniques, which has loosened my back beyond belief and then sent me off to float all the way home.. if you are interested, I would highly recommend a session, you can book here: http://is.gd/27xOAp

Some thoughts from the Team...



I thought it was time to get some reactions from the rest of the team of our recent activities...



 I have never stepped on a real trampoline before (apart from those tiny one’s you get in the back of the garden) and I was a little nervous about it.

 However, the instructor was great. He filled us all with confidence and as all of us seemed to be airing on the side of ‘novice’ we developed a real sense of team spirit! It was great to meet staff members from other departments who were all embracing the May Fitness Challenge too. And I have since bumped in to a couple of them at Zumba, Dynamic Bodywork and Fencing… of all thing!

 Fencing – En Guarde!:

 I have never tried fencing. I found it to be a lot more of a physical work out than I was expecting. I thought I would not get very sweaty (surely it’s just waving your arm a bit, isn’t it?) This was not the case! With all the lunging and nifty footwork, I found myself getting hot and bothered in no time. And I must say… the suits really were fetching!

To summerise… I don’t think Fencing is really MY sport but I’m glad I have given it a go. However, if Sussex were to put together a staff trampolining team… count me in!


As we took to the floor to be introduced into the world of fencing! I was worried this might not be for me… However once the great instructor ben took us through the basics I was thinking, you know I think I might enjoy this! Then was the time to get kitted up and ready to handle the foil. The kit was interesting, pushing me out of the normal comfort zone with the stright jacket type armour (..well maybe not that far haha!) and of course the helmet. Last of course was the weapon, the Foil, not as heavy as I expected and fitted into my hand like a glove, maybe I had missed my calling as one of Musketeers of the Guard I thought???

Well next was to learn the ropes and that it doesn’t hurt to get hit with a foil as much as you might think. We paired up and had a few lunges to each other back and forth and then it was time…time to fight!!

A salute to each other, the proper etiquette for Fencing and then the fight was on…back and forth back and forth and then a lunge and a strike! I could really get  into this!

The time went so fast but it’s something I would try it again if the chance came up! As our group walked away talking of how much we enjoyed it, the thoughts of us all as Musketeers walking away from hearty battle came to mind… ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE!!!


 Never did I want to doff a mask and raise a sword more than when I watched The Princess Bride, at age 7, (albeit the character Wesley cut a much more dashing image in a black bandanna than a wire mesh fencing mask).

 I was rather surprised by the desire of the men in our work pod to shun their jeans and merino knit sweaters in exchange for a foil and the classic white fencing jacket (rather reminiscent of something you’d find in use at Arkham Asylum). Attempts to convince my other friends to fence with me had proven futile, so I was extremely happy to bully my way into the boys team headed for the gym.

 Ben, the instructor was keen and friendly and ran through the moves we’d most need. It was nice that the expectations you have of fencing pretty well matched the reality. There were no complicated manoeuvres and special parrying skills. Practice is essential to be good, but it’s a sport that’s easy to pick up and not over-complicated with rules.

 Disappointment: we didn’t wear the trendy breeches (sometimes referred to as Knickers) – with the matching braces – under our jackets.

Highlight – watching Dave scuttle forwards and back like an armed-up Dr. Zoidberg.

I absolutely enjoyed myself though. And most crucially, it’s a life skill that could only be of the utmost assistance when your nemesis challenges you to a duel.


a little inspiration... can help you go a long way!



A huge congratulations to Pip who successfully cycled the 56 miles from London to Brighton on Saturday!!!


"I did it! 56 miles and some very big hills. It was a fantastic day to be out on a bike. Blue skies above and green fields all round.  I started at 8.30am and finished just after 2pm (with a short stop for lunch) and loved every minute!"

Please see below for her proud moment at the finish line and a photo of her grandparents Violet and Ken.. Pip thinks this photo was taken on a day they were out cycling, judging from their sporty attire (they didn't wear lycra and helmets in them days!). They were both in a cycling club and used to cycle from London to the coast regularly...



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