Friday, 23 November 2012

Father Christmas is going to bring me a pair of odd shoes

Odd socks we all know, but odd shoes?  This year I wanted Father Christmas to bring me a few sports related gifts.  I asked him for 3 main things: a pair of track spikes, a foam roller and a pair of A400 SKINS for running in.  I have been very well behaved this year so I felt like he might listen to me.

Things have moved on since the days of writing a wish list with pen and ink and then holding it above the flames of an open fireplace and allowing it to drift up the chimney, up up and away, to eventually arrive at the North Pole.  I spoke to Father Christmas this year via mobile phone.  He also seems to have moved, as the Father Christmas I spoke to lives on the Welsh border, which also happens to be the same place where my parents live.

Anyway, enough of coincidences and getting back to the main point of the story, Father Christmas called me back today and said that he was happy to be able to tell me he could deliver every item on my wish list.  He said the foam roller had arrived at his grotto last week sometime, and the track spikes had arrived earlier today via Elf Courrier.  The SKINS are due to arrive shortly.  Now Father Christmas is very diligent, and he likes to make sure that all the packages arriving at his grotto are in perfect condition, so he opens each and every one of them and makes a small inspection.

Now imagine his surprise when he opened the package containing my track spikes and saw one fluorescent green shoe and one blue shoe.  Oh dear he thought, what has happened here.  Not wanting to feel outdated though, just in case fashions had changed and he was unaware of it, he went online and used Google to check the track spike reviews.  "Oh my goodness what a strange world this has become" he exclaimed, as Google confirmed that indeed some vendors are selling odd shoes on purpose.

In this case, the shoes in question are the Nike Zoom Victory Unisex track spikes, and they come in blue/ green.  One shoe is blue with some green on it, and the other shoe is green with some blue on it.  It will take a bit of getting used to, but odd shoes are a pretty cool concept.  Hats off to Nike for coming up with that novel idea.

Here are Santa's other gifts for this little boy (me) this Christmas

Compact Rumble Roller

SKINS A400 top and tights

Thursday, 22 November 2012

CrossFit Zürich Open Day

Roberta, one of the CrossFit Zürich coaches

Hello everyone.  I wanted to let you know that CrossFit Zürich is having an open day on the 1st December to celebrate the opening of their new box at Letzigraben 165.  Everyone is welcome and there are free trial classes available for those who have not tried CrossFit before.

There are also prizes to be won, including a one year free membership.  Below is the email that I received from them, containing all the necessary information:

Dear Member,

We would like to invite you to join the celebration of our new box December 1st.. We will open our doors from 11h to 17h at Letzigraben 165.

There will be many events going on to mark this new era of Reebok CrossFit Zurich. Of course, we will do so CrossFit style, that is high intensity, high heart rate, heavy work, lots of sweat, and plenty of fun. So the answer is yes, there will be WOD's.
 However, as you all know, we work hard and we play hard, so there will also be lots of time for chilling, chatting, mingling, and raising our glasses to cheer to our new box. We will have drinks, snacks , music and maybe some foot work and hip movement. And no, we don't mean KB swings. We mean some dancing. So let the PARTY start...

Bring your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Other than WOD's, we will have Schnupertraining, CrossFit competitions, and various other fun challenges with cool prizes.

As you enter the box, please take a number. We will give away a free one year membership, one 6-months membership and 3 one month membership.

WOD Sessions @ 12:00, 13:00, and 14:00 ( no need for sign up)
Schnuppertraining @ 12:30, 13:30, and 14:30.

Do NOT miss out. We will be very happy to see you there and be part of this important moment. You make the close community that we are.

3,2,1 GO! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Low budget strength training

The benefits of strength training are numerous.  To name just a few:

  1. strengthening bones (especially important for women who are more at risk of osteoporosis)
  2. decreasing body fat
  3. improving appearance (which in turn helps to improve self confidence)
  4. for the men, weight bearing exercises also aid in increasing testosterone levels.  

My personalised weekly coaching plan includes several strength training sessions.  I usually do  one or two CrossFit lessons and a one to one Pilates lesson.  I won't lie to you though, this combo does not come cheap.

So what if you are on a very limited budget and still want to get the benefits of strength training?  What gives you the most bang for your buck?  Having tried many different forms of strength training from yoga and Pilates to free weights, gym, CrossFit and kettlebells, one of these for me stands out the most.  It is very cheap to do (requiring a one off purchase), exercises the whole body at once in a very functional way, and can be done in as little as 15 minutes.

Have you guessed it yet?  I am talking about kettlebells.

Kettlebells are nothing new.  The Russians have been using since the 1700s.  They differ from traditional dumbbells in that the kettlebell's centre of mass is extended beyond the hand, which facilitates swinging movements.  It requires power and strength from the core and immense stability from large muscle groups to control the movement.  According to Wikipedia

By their nature, typical kettlebell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.[1][4][3] The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once,[3] and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.[1][4][2]

I want to introduce Anny to the power of kettlebells so I am going to go out and buy a small kettlebell in the next few days.  When she gets back from her business trip I will show her one of the easiest but most effective kettlebell exercises, the kettlebell swing.  She will have a super strong core and back in no time at all.  This will also benefit her running form.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Living in Switzerland or Austria, and normal running not hardcore enough for you?

For most of us mortals, running in itself is hardcore enough.  There exists however a certain breed of supermen and superwomen for whom normal running just isn't enough.  They need something more, and thats where races like Tough GuyTough Mudder and the Spartan Race series come in.

Just as recent fitness trends have moved away from high tech fitness machines towards back to basics training methods like CrossFit, kettlebells and such like, the demand for sadistic races has exploded.  Once the domain of the special forces, one can now find all kinds participating in these races, including accountants, software developers and a whole host of other deskbound career types.

Imagine the following situation.  You are a person who loves challenges.  You have been slaving away all week for crazy hours in a job you have no passion for, for a boss whom you hate and other than the pay cheque at the end of the month you have nothing to show for it, and no appreciation.  Now what do you do at the weekend to get rid of all that accumulated stress.  Either you can go out and party, sit at home and whine and complain, or you can go out and do something positive like take part in a race.  With names like the Spartan Death Race, these events are a magnet for challenge seekers from all walks of life.  Just making it to the end in one piece gives an immense sense of satisfaction in itself.

Now the problem.  If you like me live in Switzerland, these races don't yet seem to have made it here.  Mountain ultras yes, but short and extremely tough courses that even your CEO with few hours to spare in his tight schedule can fit in, there do not seem to be so many.

Well don't despair, as it seems Tough Mudder is planning to make an appearance in Switzerland and Austria in 2013.  No dates are set at present, but you can preregister your interest for the race at  I urge you to go ahead and do so.  I have done so already.

Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10 to 12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all round strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.  I hope to see you all there in 2013.