Yoga, Tara style…

Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar – yes ladies (and gentleman of course) I’m talking about our dear friend yoga! If like me, you’ve been slightly confused by the plethora of different yoga styles on offer (and there are lots) there’s one thing we can all agree on;  whatever style you choose, yoga combines strength, flexibility, breathing techniques and comes with the added bonus of boosting our physical and mental wellbeing – what’s not to like about that?

It should therefore come as no surprise that there are millions of people worldwide currently practising yoga in one form or another, and yes I’m one of them! Everyone has an opinion of what the focus of yoga should be, some focus on the physical and health aspects and others the spiritual and philosophical. As with all of my workout regimes, I prefer the pick a mix approach and like to choose what’s right for me. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Tara Stiles (who in my opinion has the most refreshing and unpretentious approach to yoga to date) was in the UK. Not only that, but she was going to be teaching a one off Strala yoga class at the Reebok FitHub King’s Road, in London. Where do I sign up!

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(Picture Credit – Reebok)

Tara Stiles is the founder and owner of Strala, the movement system that ignites freedom. She has a host of videos, aptly named “yoga rebel” which are available on her YouTube channel which show you how to do yoga, anytime and anyplace. She is a collaborator with Reebok and works closely with the design team on their Reebok Yoga lifestyle range, and has authored several top-selling books. She has been profiled by The New York Times, Times of India, The Times (UK), and featured in most major national and international magazines. And on top of all that, she’s partnered up with Reebok as part of their #BreakYourSelfie campaign which I’ve been following with great interest over the last few months. The list goes on and as an expert in her field, this was a class I needed to try.

After securing a spot, I bounced, yes bounced, out of bed and took my place on a jam packed rush hour train and headed towards London Victoria. It may have been cold, it may have been wet, it may have been a Monday morning, but if ever there was an incentive to move with a spring in my step, this was going to be it!

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(Picture Credit – Reebok)

Frankly, I was not disappointed. With a room filled with like-minded yoga enthusiasts we flowed through posture after posture, with music blaring through the speakers, which some would say is unconventional but I found totally invigorating. Tara’s approach was refreshing, she walked around the studio as we dipped into a series of freestyle sun salutes. She demonstrated the trickier poses and allowed us to move through each posture at our own pace. Although there was never any pressure to push to our extreme, I found myself working to my maximum output. Outside, onlookers pressed their noses against the shop window (probably wondering what on earth we were doing) but quite frankly I was too busy to notice. I was totally immersed in the yoga experience and quite frankly, when all was said and done, I was left wanting more. With a spring in my step I was ready to start my week, If only every morning could start this way…

Having been a devoted yoga enthusiast for many years, I always try to find time to fit a class (or two if I’m lucky) into my weekly workout routine. I’ve seen huge improvements in my strength, flexibility, posture and muscle tone as a result of practising yoga. It definitely seems to compliment my cardio and strength workouts by making me feel longer, leaner and fitter in every sense of the word. However, I’ve also discovered a happy by-product of my yoga practise; it has given me the opportunity to focus on, well nothing. Yes you heard me correctly! When I do yoga, my focus is completely on the moves I’m performing. When I’m moving mindfully, there is complete coordination between my body and mind. It allows me immerse myself in the present moment so I can totally indulge my mind without the usual daily overload of worries and to do lists coming into play. For two whole hours I can take time that’s just for me and I love it! It makes me feel, dare I say it, enlightened! I know, I know; but seriously it works!

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(Picture Credit – Reebok)

Yoga’s popularity continues to grow and its place in the 21st Century fitness world has been well and truly cemented into the landscape of gyms and fitness centres throughout the world. Some would argue that this boom has been inspired by the scores of celebrities who have taken to the mat, thus promoting the huge health and toning benefits of this ancient system; but for me it’s personal.

Tara is currently partnered with Reebok as part of the #BreakYourSelfie campaign. The movement is a rebellious social campaign with the aim to challenge the notion of what beauty is as part of Reebok’s pursuit for us to all ‘Be More Human’. #BreakYourSelfie encourages fitness enthusiasts to rebel against the millions of shiny, happy selfies and instead post images to of themselves at their most depleted, raw, broken post-workout state using the hashtag.


Selfie obsessed? It’s time to #BreakYourSelfie

If you type ‘gym selfie’ into a search engine, you’ll immediately be inundated with article after article about the new worldwide phenomenon that has, quite frankly, taken the fitness world by storm. Everyone’s doing it, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Madonna to name but a few. You can’t move on social media sites for images of thousands of gym goers, parading around in their latest lycra, showing off their newly toned abs or weight loss. But most of the time they look like they haven’t even broken a sweat, never mind actually set foot on a treadmill! There’s even step-by-step advice on how to take the perfect gym selfie – who’d have thought!

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Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen them and some of us have even taken a few ourselves; guilty as charged! So what’s the obsession with us taking the perfect picture in the gym? Why are we so afraid of embracing the hot, sweaty mess that we all become (come on admit it) and sharing it with the world? Well some would argue that the perfect selfie promotes progress, shows off ‘just how far we’ve come’ with our body transformations and inspires others. After all, if you can see it – you can be it, right? However, others would disagree saying that it is narcissism – pure and simple. They may suggest that posed selfies have zero impact on our performance in the gym and can actually hinder it. Therefore, stopping us from working to our full potential. So which camp are you in?

If I’m totally honest, although I can’t believe I’m about to say it out loud, for me it’s the former. I work hard at the gym, enjoy having a leaner, fitter body and sometimes feel the need to show the world (not that anyone particularly wants to see it). Usually, I’m only going to upload a picture to Twitter or Instagram if I feel it’s moderately flattering (so maybe there’s a smidge of the narcissist me too). You’re less likely to see a photograph of me at the end of a workout, when I’m dripping with sweat and more likely to see me pre workout with my make up still intact.

But…are you ready for this, ladies? What if we could capture ourselves working at maximum output? If we could actually see the blood, sweat and tears during our workouts, would we like what we saw? Well, I was about to find out…

The gauntlet was thrown down in epic proportions when I was invited by my lovely friends at Reebok and Gymbox to ditch my shiny happy selfies and encouraged to post pictures of myself in my“most depleted, raw and broken post workout state” …er remind me again why I signed up!

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We were put through our paces by the team, burpees, press-ups, biometric lunges, planks and encouraged to take a selfie during each stage of the workout. We also had lots of lovely cameras photographing us as we were put through our paces, capturing us working to our maximum output. There was quite frankly nowhere to hide!

By the end of the class I felt motivated, totally pumped and even though I looked a little broken to say the least, I was surprisingly quite happy to be photographed at my sweatiest. Even more surprisingly I found myself willing to share my post-workout selfie (apply named the anti selfie) to the world, who’d have thought?

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Believe it or not, I’m converted! There’s something quite refreshing about seeing images of myself being pushed to the extreme during and after a workout. And it’s not just me, lots of likeminded fitness fanatics (celebrities included) have taken to instagram and twitter to share their post workout pics for us all to enjoy! Maybe, just maybe, we’re all at our most beautiful when we’re pushing ourselves beyond our limits…

So are you ready to join the revolution? To join the campaign, simply share your post image workout image using #breakyourselfie and tagging @ReebokUK on Twitter and Instagram  (Pictures Nathan Gallagher)

This blog featured on The Huffington Post UK


Strap Yourself in and Hold on Tight: You’re About to Meet the ‘Future of Fitness’

My name is Sarah and I’m a fitness addict! There, I said it! But let’s be clear. I’m the sort of person that breaks out in a cold sweat at just the thought of running and when I try to motivate myself to hit the treadmill, or pick up a free weight, I’m about as useful as a chocolate teapot!

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But, and it’s a very big but… sometime ago I discovered a fitness craze that I fell in love with; in fact we’re now having a full blown affair. When we’re together, it’s mentally and emotionally exhilarating and he always leaves me wanting more. Ladies, I’d like to introduce you to Les Mills: welcome to the world of studio fitness.

I’ve been an active member of the Les Mills tribe for the last 15 years, religiously attending classes from Body Combat to Body Step, always looking for ways to challenge myself and take my fitness onto the next level. So imagine my excitement when I started to hear whispers of a totally new workout concept that was set to revolutionise the studio fitness industry. Not only that, but it was a collaboration with Reebok, a brand that has group exercise in their DNA and a rich and storied heritage in training and fitness. Together they were promising to showcase fitness in the digital age and introduce us to the “future of fitness.” Needless to say they had my full attention and I set off to find out more.

Named simply, The Project, the initial details of what it was all about were sketchy to say the least, shrouded in mystery, we were left wondering what we were letting ourselves in for. As we were led into the immersive experience I felt like I was queuing up for a special 3D cinema screening. In a darkened corridor, with red strip lighting flashing overhead, I was half expecting someone to hand me a bag of popcorn. Instead I was handed a fitness experience that blew my mind!

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We were taken through a series of workouts: THE TRIP, BODYCOMBAT, LES MILLS GRIT, BODYJAM and BODYBALANCE. All familiar workouts that I’d done hundreds of time before but with one huge, glaring, game playing difference – we were going “immersive”! We were surrounded with cinema quality, video content that was projected onto the screens of a purpose-built studio.

The instructors led exercise moves that synchronised perfectly with music and graphics, creating a truly immersive fitness experience. I got to fight space invaders, cycle along snow-capped glaciers and dance like no one was watching. At times, I was so immersed in the cinematic scenery, I forgot I was even exercising! Well, until GRIT anyway!

Did I love it? Yes! Did it live up to my expectations? Yes! Did I come out wanting more? Yes! Am I going to be able to pop down my local gym to do it again…? Watch this space! With innovators and trendsetters like Reebok and Les Mills combining forces, I think we can agree that anything is possible! The future of fitness maybe closer that we think!

This blog featured on The Huffington Post UK