Stephen's blog posts for 2013

Mr Twits Great Upside Down Monkey Circus - Get Fit Challenge - Week 5

Jun

05

Blink and you'll miss it

 

It really doesn't last long. But I can do it and I'll definately keep working at it. Thanks Karen for time and the teaching, thanks to Lucy Hall (team admissions) for the inspiration.

Total May packets of crisps eaten = 5!

Commit to get fit Challenge - ITS Group - week 4

May

31

Last week was the big ITS Table Tennis competition. An eagerly awaited tournament that had the enterants* picking up, what had formly been know as, a ping-pong bat for the first time since Atari Pong was invented (talking of which go to google images and type in "atari breakout").

 

Atari Pong

 

*All but one, Jane is a dab hand with the bat and the bookies had already closed shop and paid out on a win.

Monday lunch time was upon us and we gathered round two table tennis tables. All except Carol, where was Carol and why was Paolo there? In a switcharooney, much the same as Game of Thrones' Imp's Trial by Combat, Carol had a ringer.

 

Pool one wiiner: Jane

Pool one runner-up: Debs

Pool two winner: Paolo

Pool two runner-up: Angi

3rd place: Debs

2nd place: Jane

1st place: Paolo "The Ringer"

 

ITS CTFG Table Tennis winner 2013

Thanks to Sandy for arranging the tournament and supplying the winners trophy.

 

New activities for individual ITS members last week included fencing, life circuits, beginners running, core lecture and core training. One particularly tired team member had tried childcare, Carol had a bike accident Cry, but this week's alternative prize goes to Jeremy who flew out to Italy took on Pisa Baptistery's steps.

 

Finally, as IT we decided to have a look at some of the health and fitness programs and apps that are available. As that was a bit too time consuming we looked at ourselves and looked at what we were already using:-
Running and Cycling

Route planners
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ (webpage and app)
http://www.mapmyrun.com/ (also with activity monitor and food log)
GPS Trackers
http://www.strava.com/
Yoga

Simply Yoga
http://is.gd/U9j0YZ
Health Checker

From Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies
http://is.gd/3ZUaUD (app also available)
Calorie King
http://www.calorieking.com/
Skiing

My Altitude
http://is.gd/G8x41i (also for cycling and walking)
Ski Tracks
http://is.gd/y2Fgj4
Fitness

Apps for Press-ups, squats, pull-ups and sit-ups
http://www.rittr.com/
Everything

Youtube has been used for allsorts of instruction and injury management

Mr Twits Great Upside Down Monkey Circus - Get Fit Challenge - Week 4

May

28

The penultimate week - week 4 saw a step back towards the reality of more time with the world topsy turvy.

 

10 minutes upside down didn't seem to much of a challenge - finding 10 minutes seemed more of a challenge last Tuesday. By the time the kids were in bed I rushed downstairs to invert myself. Dinner was about to be served. I scoffed my dinner, waited 10 minutes and then announced my intentions. I was given the support I needed, "You're an idiot, your dinner will reappear". I didn't want that so sat down and watched the tv for half an hour. Miranda was on next. Now seemed like the perfect moment to disappear to the far end of the room. I went up into a headstand with my legs resting against the wall (remember the intention was just to get used to being upside down). After a while a began to feel a little weird and asked my wife how long I'd been doing it. "5 minutes" came the disappointing reply, I'd reckoned at least 7. Ho hum. Miranda was still wittering on in the background. I decided the best way of getting through the next 5 minutes was to zone out a little, so I closed my eyes and relaxed. The next 5 minutes flew by.

 

I met Karen on Weds. On our way into the practice room I found that I've got a new fan. Fan number 2 after my daughter. Donna, "Can I come and watch?", Me, "When I can do it?", Donna "But it sounds like you can do it from what I've been reading".... I've tried to be positive about the progress I've made but there is no way that I could demonstrate a headstand yet, with a wall yes, without a wall no. As predicted it was time to leave the wall. Now was the time to master getting up steadily. This week I wasn't going to raise my legs, just lift them from the floor and leave them bent into my chest. I was getting the hang of getting off the floor and into position. 5 seconds ok and then wobble a bit and then down. I've been stuck on 5 seconds the whole week. The problem is I find it pretty tiring still and can only do a couple of practices in a row. I've seen Karen today but that is for my final blog. I'm not keeping anything from you it just belongs in the next blog.

 

Water consumption is still miserable but I didn't have a single packet of crisps last week. Apple consumption has gone up and appears to be my work snack of choice. Carb intake has gone down. It's amazing how nearly every meal is based around a large carb intake. It's hard removing it from my evening meals, pasta, rice and potatoes with everything. A reduction in portion size seems the best thing.

 

Commit to get fit Challenge - ITS Group - week 3

May

23

We made a recruit or two last week. Michele joined the group and Jeff joined us for spin.

 

7 members of ITS made it to a group spin class, there was a whiff of solidarity in the air that would have made Lech Lewenza's knees wobble. 40 minutes of panting, sweating, grinding and swearing later and I could sense the relief of finishing. The consensus was that it was good exercise but the bike needs getting used to. For Angi it was cycle 2 ever and cycle 2 in 2 days. Cheers to Andy for coming in especially to take the class.

 

Last week saw smaller groups take on life circuits, power hoop, racketball and an interesting 3 person badminton match. On an individual basis new activities included the gym, goal setting, running, yoga, zumba, H.I.T., boxercise, legs, bums and tums. Jane apparently had a wheelbarrow race at her allotment.

 

What I've picked up on though is that its not just the participants that are thinking about their fitness. There is interest in the department, small groups talking about their fitness activities.

 

And for those that were wondering, Terry still hasn't got his sticky pads.

Mr Twits Great Upside Down Monkey Circus - Get Fit Challenge - Week 3

May

20

Last week was a different kind of week to most. As part of the CTGF I thought I'd try some of the more gruelling sounding activities. I do Spin and Life Circuits most weeks so I'm used to putting some effort in. I chose Boxercise, H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) and Power Hoop and I thought I'd spread them over the month. Alas with availability of Power Hoop and a group Spin class and some fitness bartering "I'll do H.I.T. with you if you do group Spin?", I ended up deciding to do all 5 chosen activities over 4 days. I missed out Kung Fu because I used to do Shaolin Kung Fu here at Sussex over a decade ago.

 

I've done a little comparison:-

Boxercise

Intensity: High and low
Cardio: High I think
Sweat Factor: High
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: Loads
Complicated to follow: No
Technique: It'll come
Recommend: Yes

Spin

Intensity: High and low
Cardio: Extreme
Sweat Factor: Extreme
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: Sometimes (usually music dependent)
Complicated to follow: For new starters and the hard of hearing.
Technique: trainer should introduce the fundamentals. You need to learn your own limits though.
Recommend: Yes - its hard and noisy but rewarding.

At this point I should have been doing my headstand practice but after 2 dodgy night's sleep and 2 gruelling classes I decided sitting was a safer option....

H.I.T.

Intensity: High and low
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: No! Ladies No! Squatting (it burns us precious). Aerobics and step, Gangnam Style and LMFAO songs, make your own opinion.
Complicated to follow: No, listen to trainer and watch person in front.
Technique: It hurts too much to care.
Recommend: Yes and no, a really good workout, Ria is an excellent class instructor but this class is not for me.

Slept like a babe on Tuesday night.*

Power Hoop

Intensity:Moderate and low
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate
Out of breathe: Yes (due to lack of technique).
Fun: Yes
Complicated to follow: No.
Technique: Critical, if you don't have it its hard work but once you start getting it it's good fun and the breathlessness goes.
Recommend: Yes

Life Circuits

Intensity:You choose
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate/You choose
Out of breathe: Sometimes
Fun: Yes, both Mark and Terry work really hard on making these classes different every week.
Complicated to follow: No comment - once you get going its normally fine.
Technique: For safety reasons you should know what you're doing with weights and apparatus. The instructors will show you.
Recommend: Yes

And it's over. I couldn't wait for Friday's Yin Yoga class. It was the reward for a very very hard week. It has to be said that I did over do it during week 3. I was running on empty at H.I.T. and Power Hoop. I had a few aches that I wouldn't normally get, like tight calves.

In reflection I have a balanced exercise regime but I think I'd like to include a bit of walking, a bit of swimming, alternate cycling with rowing [Indoor Rowing Classes Terry?] and I wish I was disciplined enough to use the gym regularly on my own. I will commit to trying out the next 6 week course for Metabolic Training.

 

Quick Monkey Circus Update

*On Weds I had a go at the headstand. Karen pointed out I was going up in an uncontrolled and rushed way. I think I've improved that. Still haven't got that balance point. But I'm working on getting used to being upside down. I spent two 5 min sessions upside down on Friday and I think I'll go for 10 mins tonight. Then I reckon it's time to leave the wall.

 

Finally, water consumption is rubbish still but I've only had 5 packets of crisps this month. Walker's are sending a rep round later this week.

Commit to get fit Challenge - ITS Group - weeks 1 & 2

May

14

The ITS team consists of 13, we range from inactive couch potato(es) to very active people, but we've all committed to improve something.

 

We got off to a cracking start as one of our members, who will remain nameless, Gill Powell, harangued all staff in the building and gathered enough people to win the coveted “University of Sussex Boundary Walk Most Departmental Participants 2013”. With shouts and heckles from smaller departments we strode off for a thoroughly nice walk. I asked one member of ITS why they were doing it, “Gill was right in front of me, I just couldn’t say no” was the reply.

 

Group activities started with Wii Fit. With our BMIs and Wii Fit ages we booked ourselves in for Body Composition at the Sports Centre. 3 of us done and Terry runs out of sticky pads – so I’m afraid folks you’ll have to wait on our comparison.

 

Individually, we worked towards our goals in various ways such as buying tracksuit bottoms and gym kits. One of us went to a rave. One of us has now given up smoking, another has cut down. Other activities tried out are handball, running, boxercise, mountain biking, trampolining, horse riding, rowing, spin, headstands and tennis. 3 of us attended Terry’s interesting talk on Food.

 

Next week we have a table tennis tournament and a group spin class AND will Terry’s sticky pads arrive?


Stuart Sets the Ball Rolling


Mr Twit's Great Upside Down Monkey Circus Part 2 - Commit To Get Fit Challenge

May

09

Well we're on day 9 now and most of the personal challenges have been exploritory and insightful. As someone that has a high cholesterol count I've been avoiding saturates for the past couple of years. A visit to the quack last week and an interesting talk from Terry "Eat Better, Feel Better" has made me re-start the process of what goes in and what doesn't. For now I'll stick with the weekly salmon/trout, the wholewheat breakfast cereal and some sort of greenery with all meals that contain meat/processed food.

TOP TIP: Tinned Tuna - the canning process breaks down the long Omega 3 chain - eat fresh tuna and beware of the mercury!

I'm also trying to drink 4 glasses of water a day (plus anything drunk during exercise) and failing miserably. Back in a mo. Ok I've now had one glass of water today. Walkers have also taken a hit, I'm down from 2 bags of crisps a day to 3 so far this month.

The headstand is heading in the right direction. I had a practice at home (much to my 3 year old daughter's amusement) and found that I could get off my toes without bursting a blood vessel. "Do it again Daddy" - "No". "Do it again Daddy" - "No". "DO IT AGAIN DADDY" - "Do you want a bit of melon?". I've learnt how to distract her when losing an arguement.

I met Karen again on Tuesday, keen to show my slight improvement. Slight improvement shown, what do I do now? Oh the scarey bit. Stick my feet up in the air. I tried, much to Karen's suprise, luckily she just managed to break my fall as I went up and then over.

We moved to the wall. I got my feet up but I've no idea what is vertical. My heel hit the wall. Only one heel, that was promising. As I removed one heel I'd sway and replace that heel with one from the other foot. So there were moments where I was upside down without contact with anything but the floor. I think I stayed upside down for about a minute and I enjoyed it. With my confidence a little higher than it was last week I had a quick go today on my own. I can get up pretty well but I just can't find that balance point, but I remember learning to drive and having to find biting point.

 

 

 

Mr Twits Great Upside Down Monkey Circus - Get Fit Challenge - Day minus 1

Apr

30

I've given myself a few challenges for May which I'll share with you over the next few blogs (next and blog - this is my first ever). The first though is part of my Yoga practice. I started Yoga in January 2012, whilst suffering an ongoing knee injury and experiencing a growing waistline, and have probably embraced it more than any other activity since I was a kid. What I've noticed since doing yoga is that loads of normal people do it, and some even do it at home, and some haven't even heard of Sting, even Ryan Giggs does it. During class I've noticed that headstand (Shirshasana) looks pretty cool and people that I know that practice at home always seem to mention it.

So I asked my general and dynamic yoga teacher, Karen Creffield, whether she would spend some time with me and try to teach me how to do a headstand, and that practice started today. You can have the abridged version...

Karen started by describing the technique required and which muscle groups needed to do the work so that I firstly didn't break my neck and secondly send myself catapulting head over arse. We decided on a hand grip that I'd tried once before, the ashtanga style. From kneeling I put my hands together and my hands and forearms onto the mat, stuck my head in between them and then got up on my feet and started to walk towards my head. As I approached a point where I was on tiptoes and ready to go up my temperature shot up, as if my head and had been stuck in an oven. I came back down and Karen suggested we give the other method a go, apparently my face had gone bright red. Making a fist rather than interlocked fingers I went down on my knees again. This time I didn't go bright red so we decided to go for this method, for now.

Karen had demonstrated going from tiptoes to bent legs with feet in the air. It looked easy but I suspected otherwise, and I wasn't ready for this. I thought this would be week 3 or something. Anyway after a couple of attempts I gained the bottle to launch from tiptoes, I was very wobbly but I knew either Karen or the wall would stop me going right over, so I straighted my legs. Wow, I'm doing it, engage stomach muscles. Eventually my heels hit the wall and Karen supported me but in essence I was doing my first headstand and that would be more than enough for today, I felt hot and sweaty and tired and I'd only inverted myself.

After Savasana I wandered back to work. I still felt tired, my stomach and shoulders felt like I'd done a hundred crunches and pulls. Although pleased with the progress I'd made I wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew for a month.