The Problem of Body Shaming + Why It Affects Me

The Problem of Body Shaming + Why It Affects Me

I’m writing this article because I feel like I have something important to say. Rather than writing about training, nutrition, physiology or fitness kit, I am going to write about something equally important, which is body image and wellbeing.

I know that this might be considered controversial, but I have a few things that need to be said.

Please know that none of this is aimed at any one of you lovely lot reading this. I’m not out to make accusations or make anyone feel bad, but I’m also not someone to beat around the bush on important matters.

So here goes...
 

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Six3Nine: The Ultimate Personal Training Practice Review

I recently spent a couple of months training at Six3Nine*; an impressively unique personal training practice in Covent Garden, London. At the practice, I experienced an incredible personal training service which was bespoke to the nth degree. And, with the help of my trainer, Russ, I achieved far more than I had anticipated...

The Practice + My Personal Trainer

From the moment that I learned of Six3Nine and their fad-free approach to health and fitness, I was excited to experience what the practice and their elite group of trainers had to offer. I had high hopes for Six3Nine and they didn’t disappoint!

The practice itself is a hidden treasure; at basement level behind a grey door on Drury Lane is a highly-optimised, ultra-functional, super-sleek space. There are no fixed-resistance machines here - only equipment that encourages free and functional movement. I love this concept.

Free initial consultation at Six3Nine

My first visit to the practice was for my free 60 minute initial consultation with the practice manager, Dan. As well as performing a full body composition analysis, Dan spoke to me about my current lifestyle, health, exercise, nutrition, goals and generally got to know me a little better.

This process assured me that I’d be assigned to a trainer whose specialisms and personality were best suited to me, to develop a highly-personalised plan.

Russ Harris at Six3Nine

Following my thorough consultation, I commenced my training sessions with Russ, one of the practice’s Senior Trainers. Russ is undoubtedly one of the best in his field. He has a degree in Sports Science, is studying for a Masters in Strength and Conditioning, and is constantly researching and learning beyond that. It is obvious that he is passionate about what he does, which is really inspiring.

Not only is Russ incredibly knowledgable, he is also amazing at applying his knowledge in innovative ways. Often during our sessions I could practically see cogs whirring inside his head as he developed exercise set-ups and movement patterns that would specifically target my needs. I always found this process completely fascinating and, although some of the outcomes looked like torture devices, Russ always explained exactly how they were beneficial to me. He ensured that every aspect of our training was fine-tuned to my requirements in a way that I couldn’t have imagined possible.

As well as being super talented, Russ is a really nice guy, incredibly patient (which proved crucial when teaching me handstands), puts up with my sarcasm, and is a complete pleasure to train with.

The Training

My first session involved a biomechanical assessment to screen for weaknesses and imbalances. I loved this process as I’m always keen to make tweaks that allow me to get the most from my training and prevent injury. I was really impressed with how Russ’s highly-trained eyes spotted everything!

From there, we worked a lot on making sure that I was getting optimal muscle activation, especially my glutes, which are particularly stubborn! We also did a lot of core work, including various crawling patterns, which left my muscles so sore that I was almost convinced that I had fractured ribs.

We focused a lot on bodyweight exercises, including some gymnastics-based work, which I loved. I feel like the value of bodyweight training is so often neglected by people (trainers included!) so it was really refreshing and insightful to have it incorporated into my programme.

Russ also put together a strength and conditioning programme for me. It was great to work on basic movements such as squats and deadlifts and really perfect my form so that I built the confidence to start increasing my weights again. Russ also encouraged me to use kettlebells as part of my training. While at first I was dubious, I’ve fallen in love with the dynamic movement patterns that can be done using them.

I loved that as I learned and progressed, Russ continuously adapted my training programme and encouraged me to try new things. I can’t believe how much we packed into my time training together at Six3Nine!

The Results

Body Composition

When I arrived at Six3Nine, I was in fairly good shape and weight loss was by no means one of my goals. However, after 2 months of training at the practice, I noticed that my weight had dropped quite a lot; 3.4kg to be precise. I was a little concerned, so Russ suggested doing a body composition analysis to compare to the one I had during my initial consultation.

The results were beyond what we had anticipated.

I had lost 3.7kg of body fat, yet still managed to gain nearly half a kilo of muscle! The reading also showed an improvement in my left-right balance and a reduction in visceral fat. I achieved this simply by training on average 3 times a week while eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods.

Improved Lifestyle, Knowledge + Confidence

Although I’m really pleased and fascinated by the body composition readings, what’s more important is that I achieved a completely invaluable knowledge and awareness of my own body. My time at Six3Nine has transformed the way that I train my body, as well as some aspects of my lifestyle.

I can now go into any gym and train with confidence that I know what I need to do for my body, and can experiment with different exercises and set-ups (however unconventional) until I find what is right for me.

I have an intense awareness of my own body. I can tell when I have eaten too much of the wrong foods, or too little of the right ones. I can detect little niggles and understand how to customise my workout to avoid injury. I can recognise the areas that I need to focus my training on and, importantly, I know when I just need to rest.

Six3Nine excels at helping people to realise their goals. When I arrived at the practice I didn’t have a single, solid goal; I wasn’t aiming to improve performance at a particular sport, lose weight or rehabilitate an injury. Instead I wanted to improve my aesthetic, get a little stronger, a little fitter, a little less stressed. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was essentially seeking the tools to make constant improvements to my fitness and wellbeing, and that was exactly what I got.

Team Six3Nine understand that, for whatever reason, clients are going to move on from training at the practice at some point, and they want to ensure that these clients equipped with the best resources for long-term success. Not only are the team knowledgable, they’re genuinely keen to share their knowledge.

Thank you to the amazing, inspiring, lovely team at Six3Nine for inviting me to the practice, and a special thank you to Russ for all of your support!

If you’re interested in training at Six3Nine, contact the team to arrange a free consultation - it could be the best thing you ever do!

Wearing: Top - T K Maxx, Sports Bra - Fabletics, Leggings - Sweaty Betty

Asics Running Lab - Unlock Your Potential

Most people know by now that I'm a total geek when it comes to things like nutrition and exercise science so I was really excited to visit the Asics Running Lab at their flagship store on Oxford Street. The Running Lab is designed to help runners enhance their performance by improving running ability and reducing injury risk. By undergoing tests that provide such incredible guidance as these, it's possible to unlock your potential and eliminate a lifetime of guesswork. 

Despite the fact that endurance sport is definitely not my forte, I was fascinated by everything that the evaluation had to offer. For distance runners, I see this as being an essential investment in your training. Whether you want to know your ideal marathon pace, how to improve your running technique, find the perfect pair of running shoes, or learn what other exercises to compliment your training with, the Asics Running Lab is your one stop shop. The Asics Running Ability Measurement focuses on many different factors across the four key areas of physique, strength, form and endurance. After a thorough introduction with the Lab's incredibly knowledgable and friendly manager, Andrew, the testing got underway...

Physique

Leg Alignment

This analysis calculates various leg and ankle angles and looks at the range of movement and flexibility in your lower limbs. These measurements are design to highlight areas that may be predisposed to injury, so that corrective exercises can be recommended.

Static Foot ID

An INFOOT 3D foot scanner uses 4 lasers and 8 cameras to calculate seven dimensions including foot length and arch height before making a comparison against the average for your gender and age. It also indicates whether your feet statically pronate. 

Note: pronation is the way that your foot rolls when you walk and run. Pronation may be neutral, your feet may underpronate (also called supination), or your foot may roll inwards excessively (called overpronation).

Body Composition

You've probably heard of a body composition analysis before; I've had a few that I have documented on this blog, although this body composition analysis was done with a monitor far superior to the one that I have previously used at my gym. As well as providing measurements such as body fat % and basal metabolic rate, the technology can even assess the distribution of muscle and fat between your trunk and limbs, which can be an indicator of imbalances.

Strength

This was the part of the analysis that I was probably most eagerly anticipating having been fascinated by this piece of equipment on my trip to the GSK Human Performance Lab, and given that my general training is focused more on strength training compared to endurance sport. However, muscular strength is just as crucial for runners as running can exert a load of as much as two to three times your bodyweight on a single leg. Using an isokinetic dynamometer, leg strength is measured in extension (quadriceps) and flexion (hamstrings) to determine bilateral strength differences (the difference in strength between your legs), a flexion/extension strength ratio (the difference in strength between your quads and hamstrings), and your strength score based on elite level endurance runners (to give you something to aim for!).

Endurance

Given that endurance is often cited as the most important factor in running ability, this is tested at the Asics Running Lab. The Running Ability Test measures endurance by testing respiratory metabolism, which involves wearing a delightful mask. Despite it having it's own climate inside (tropical and sweaty), the mask is actually relatively comfortable and thankfully less invasive than other endurance tests that involve testing blood lactate levels. The test uses various parameters to determine your anaerobic threshold, and estimates half and full marathon times taking both training and fatigue into account. From this, an ideal running pace is also recommended, which I found especially helpful as a bit of a running-newb.

Running Form and Motion

Now for the part that directly assesses your running technique. While on the treadmill for the aerobic endurance measurement the Asics team video you from three angles: front, back and side. With their highly trained eyes, they are able to identify inefficiencies in your run which could waste energy (such as excess vertical movement, aka. 'bounciness' - guilty!) or even cause injury. Moreover, a dynamic foot ID tracks step frequency and step length, as well as foot landing patterns and pronation type. Some Asics stores offer the gait analysis part of this test for free when you are buying a pair of running shoes at it allows them to assess which ones are most suitable for you and I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity.

Full Running Lab Report

After that incredible experience, I received a personalised Asics package complete with:

+ a full-report collated by Andrew, which aids your interpretation of the measurements and makes useful training recommendations;

+ an Asics Running Science 70-page book, which includes further explanation of the testing as well as exercise guides, and;

+ a DVD of your running form assessment. I haven't plucked up the courage to watch mine yet... 

Overall, I had a brilliant afternoon at the Lab. The full Asics Running Lab measurement and analysis costs £200, which I think is amazing value not only for the access that you get to a fantastic facility and expert knowledge, but for the vast insight and understanding of your own body that you gain. Particularly if you are a distance runner, whether a novice or experienced, I've no doubt that you'd benefit from a session with Andrew.

If you'd like to have your own Asics Running Lab evaluation, get in touch by calling 020 7629 0154 or emailing londonoxfordst.runninglab@asics.com.

Body Composition Analysis No.2

Yesterday I went to my local gym and had a fitness assessment. Unfortunately, some of their equipment was out of action so I was unable to take a VO2 max test but I still benefitted from an insightful talk with one of the trainers and a full body composition analysis. 

To understand what each of the results mean, take a look at my last set of results where I detailed the different measurements a little more. Essentially, my results are very close to last time. There are some slight discrepancies but some of this may be down to the fact that my clothing weight wasn't accounted for as it had been last time. 

As always, I am happy with my weight which tends to fluctuate between 59kg and 61kg. I very rarely weigh myself as it's not a very good indication of much on it's own. I'm not 100% happy with my fat % as this appears to have increased slightly since my last assessment. I will admit, my addiction to Nutella (amongst other goodies!) probably has something to do with this so I am going to try and cut down on my naughty snacking. I'd also still like to increase my muscle mass and will continue to work towards this. Currently, I tend to drink a fairly calorie-dense shake after I workout but I have decided (and my trainer agrees) that I should switch this for a regular protein shake. 

Overall, I am really pleased. Although the numbers don't necessarily show it, I can see a massive difference in my body since my last analysis so I'm going to keep doing what I am doing exercise and nutrition-wise but I'm going to try and ditch the dairy milk in favour of chocolate-flavour protein powder. I'll keep you updated!

Body Assessment + Fitness Goals

Today, I had a one-to-one assessment at my gym. I usually have these every 6-12 weeks to reassess my fitness programme and to track my progress.

As well as tweaking my gym programme, I also had a body composition assessment and have decided to brave posting my results here, for all to see!

I removed my trainers and socks (what a day to have chipped toe-nail polish...oops!) and stepped onto the monitor. As these machines are a rather pricey (a few thousand pounds!), I have been assured that the technology produces a pretty accurate analysis.

I realise that these numbers probably don't make a whole lot of sense to most people, so I'll give you a break down.

Interpreting Body Composition Measurements

+ Weight

Obviously, as it says. I know a lot of people are quite nervous about revealing their weight but I honestly don't mind what the number is, so long as I am healthy and look in good shape!

+ Fat % and Fat Mass

These results show the percentage of total body weight that is fat, and the total weight of that fat mass.

As you can see from the photos, my fat % and mass is at the low end of the desirable range which I am happy with. However, I have previously been closer to 21% so one of my goals is to try and reduce my fat % over the next month or so, to ideally hit 21% by the time that I go on holiday at the end of May... I'm not sure how much of a challenge that is going to be! Apparently it is pretty difficult for women to reach and maintain a fat % of under 21.

+ FFM

The fat free mass is comprised of muscle, bone, tissue, water, and all other fat free mass in the body.

+ Muscle Mass

The actual mass of the muscle throughout my entire body

. I am happy with this result although another of my goals is to increase lean muscle mass

 by increasing my strength training and resistance workouts. 

+ TBW %

This score indicates the 

Total Body Water percentage which is the amount of water retained in the body. Ideally for women, it will sit between 50-60% (men's should be slightly higher). Although my score is fine, I know that I could still afford to drink more water.

+ Bone Mass

This score shows the weight of total bone mass. As I have previously had a bone density scan which 

scored very healthily, I know that this weight is perfect for me.

+ BMR

Basal Metabolic Rate represents 

the minimal amount of energy that your body needs to function at complete rest

.

+ Visceral Fat Rating

This measures the amount of your fat which is stored in the abdomen, around vital organs. My rating of 1 is the lowest that can be scored, which is fantastic. This rating is generally used to gauge whether a person is at risk of certain diseases which thankfully, I don't seem to be!

+ BMI

Body Mass Index and is a standard height to weight ratio which can often be misleading as it doesn't account for body composition. Therefore, people of an athletic build, with an above average muscle mass, could be shown to be obese for example. Mine sits in the healthy range.

I hope you found this interesting. I love knowing a little of the science behind looking and feeling good and I was really pleased to be told by my trainer that my scores are some of the best that he has seen.

Goals

So I've just got to keep it up and hit my goals...

+ Reduce body fat

+ Increase lean muscle mass

Hopefully, this will make me look more toned and improve definition on my tummy!

You can check out my previous workout programme, here, but keep your eyes peeled because I will post a full run-down of my new fitness programme and weekly-schedule very soon!