Active travel- London

Monday, September 21, 2015

It has been nearly 5 years since I moved to London. There are always new neighborhoods to explore and every time we get a visitor, I have an excuse to do touristy things.  My mom was here for 9 days at the start of September. She didn't pack her Fitbit but her iPhone has an app that counts steps and flights of stairs. She and I compared our steps every day, always trying to reach at least 10,000. I was at a slight advantage because I had to walk Oldland a few times each day (note my mom was always invited to join us but declined).

Here is my list of things to do and see in London if you'd like to stay active and accrue your Bounts points (use referral code: millington1695 to get started).

St Paul's Cathedral- It is over 500 steps from the ground floor to the top of the Golden Dome. There are several levels where you can stop at to catch your breath- Whispering Gallery, Stone Gallery, and Golden Gallery at the top with great views of the London skyline- or simply head back down. My mom is a bit afraid of heights so we parted ways at the Whispering Gallery.  The cathedral itself is large so there is plenty of walking to do regardless of what level you are on, as well as benches for a rest if you need one.

Rugby World Cup- or any sporting event. London is lucky to host many big events-Olympics in 2012, Wimbledon tennis every year, professional bike races at the Velodrome, plus all the football teams.  I will be attending USA vs South Africa at the Olympic Stadium in my new Kitbag Jersey. Can't wait to cheer on my home team! 

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)- This takes you out onto the water with either paddleboarding itself or throw a little yoga into the mix too. I have tried the yoga SUP and it is a lot of fun!  Either way SUP activates your entire body (especially your core) as you try to maintain your balance on these large paddleboards.

My London routes on RunGo- I am gradually adding more routes to the London list.  So far there is a 5K around the Olympic Park and a 5 mile run through central London that hits Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, and the Southbank.  Best to run this one in the early morning as it will be packed with people throughout the day. Of course, you can always walk these routes too if you prefer something more leisurely.

Go Ape- Based a short walk from Cockfosters Underground Station in North London, this outdoor obstacle adventure course is fun for the whole family, as longer as they are 1.4 meters tall and 10 years old. I was lucky enough to finally try it out last weekend with an invite from BGO. All of us bloggers 'went ape' climbing in the trees and trying out the Tarzan Swings. I laughed a lot, landed in dirt and mulch more times than I would have cared to (somehow I always approached the landing areas backwards), and made some new friends. It is a fantastic full body workout that is also fun. You don't need to be strong to try out the course and you can skip any entire obstacle that isn't your cup of tea (but once you have committed you have to keep going).

I know this list is missing a few fun opportunities and want to hear from you.  If you live in London, or have recently visited, what would you add to this list?

Thanks to BGO for letting me finally give Go Ape a try.  I can't wait to try another course with my in-laws soon.

Rugby World Cup- are you ready?

Friday, September 18, 2015

One of the many perks of living in London is the world class sporting events.  I would rather play any sport than watch it, but you can't beat having the Olympics, Wimbledon tennis, Diamond League, European Hockey Championships, cycling- all on your doorstep. Tonight, the Rugby World Cup kicks off at 8pm with England playing Fiji.  My diary now includes every game as my husband has added them all to his.  With the home field advantage, he is hopeful England will advance to the finals. 

Team USA's schedule, courtesy of the Metro
I am more interested in the USA team, of course. Our first game is on Sunday against Samoa. We also have South Africa, Japan, and Scotland in our group.   Originally, I wasn't able to attend any games as I was going to be out of town for the Ireland vs Romania match we have tickets to. But luck was on my side this week and I have secured a ticket to the USA v South Africa match at the Olympic Stadium on 7th October, conveniently 2 miles from my home.  Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for photos of me at the game.

While watching USA try their darn-hardest to win (tough group, boys) I will be sporting my new USA jersey from Kitbag. I thought I was getting a t-shirt but this is a replica jersey that fits me perfectly (in a men's small).  I can't wait to keep an eye on Team USA throughout the tournament.  James is cheering for England so we shall see who gets further.

Who are you cheering for?  Did you manage to get tickets to any of the games?

UPDATE: Here I am in my shirt that matched the team's uniform.  Please excuse my wet hair (I just came back from a long run). Thanks KitBag for my awesome jersey!

My first fitness retreat- it's prep time!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Not long until I head to the Canary Islands (Fuerteventura) to visit Azul Fit for a few days of yoga retreat.  This is my first ever fitness retreat and I am so excited!  Holidays seem to be the only time that I actually have to exeercise these days.  At Azul Fit, guests usually stay Saturday to Saturday, but I was unable to get additional time off from work.  The weekend was originally booked for the Berlin Marathon, but I never started training after we moved to East London.  Although I just had a week off while my mom visited, we spent a lot of time exploring London and the Cotswalds so it wasn't really super chill.  I was able to run a few times, which was great, and got tons of walking in.  Hey, there was even sunshine!  But let me tell you why I am pumped about my trip to Spain:

1.  The ocean- I am an Aquarius, a water-loving girl. I miss the salty sea air and sand between my toes.
2.  Pilates, yoga and meditation classes- Everyday. So much to do (or not do, as it is up to guests).
3.  Homemade vegetarian meals- Often times when traveling, eating out is far from healthy- too much temptation, too much fried food, too much wine.  The provided food will keep me on the straight and narrow.
4.  Diet Coke and processed sugar detox- I am sure I will be a bit miserable the first day or so but I will have no choice but to go cold turkey!
5.  Massage and optional beauty treatments- One 1 hour massage is included but guests can book extra experiences, such as facials, wraps scrubs, manicures, waxing, reiki, reflexology, chakra balancing, etc. I have enquired about horseback riding, as I have wanted to do this for ages but haven't gotten around to it yet (I took lessons when I was 10 years old or so but quit when they started making me canter).
6.  Hanging out with Sabine- She is the one who told me about Azul Fit and I enjoyed being her team member for Spitfire Scramble. I look forward to getting to know her a bit better.

There is a pile in the corner of my room of some essentials I don't want to forget (please let me know if I have forgotten anything that would be handy).  Usually I overpack for trips, but for this once, I just need a bathing suit and workout gear. Score!  Here is what is in my pile:

 Back of the case
  • My iPad in Active Urban Caterpillar case- This case matches my brand color scheme (score!) and protects your iPad from drops of 1.5m.  I know I can chuck it in my carry on and not have to worry about my iPad breaking.  I did need to buy a clear screen shield to prevent scratches but the case itself seems tough.  Unfortunately, I am too chicken to drop my iPad to test the product claims.  I have been using it for a few months now and haven't had any problems.  It will be great to read on the plane, work on some blog posts, as well as take amazing photos of the landscape.
  • Utalk app and Spanish phrase book- Even though I took four semesters of Spanish at uni, I am not that great at it (I have never has an aptitude for languages). The Utalk app is on my iPad so I can study while commuting (see above photo for picture of the screen).  It has native speakers saying phrases, along with images to help you remember.  There are games too which make the learning a bit more fun.  Utalk offers training in over 128 languages (from any of those 128 languages), so there is no excuse not to brush up on the local language before you travel.
  • Energy Bits and Workplay Bags Fleet Foot II bum bag- I have talked about both of these plenty.  Energy Bits are a handy natural snack to keep me going during my runs, and my bum bag will hold my phone for when I get lost.  Use code PTMOLLIE of 25% off your Energy Bits order.
  • Green People Sun Lotion SPF30 - Skin cancer runs in my family, so I want to make sure I cover up with something that won't irritate my skin.
  • Keen Womens Clearwater Sandals - These aren't very fashionable, but they are super functional for active beach holidays. The design protects your toes, are waterproof, and have a solid sole for multi-terrain walking.
  • Sass Intimate Recovery Serum- As I will be wearing a bathing suit, I am going to get a bikini wax as a treat.  Now, a few months ago I tried out out a sample off Sass that I received from an event's goody bag. Seemed a bit silly as any lotion I have ever seen said 'for external use only' and 'avoid sensitive areas'. Plus with my skin allergy, it was a big risk to try anything in an area that would constantly be aggravated by clothes.  A few months ago, I was out running a few days after some 'ladyscaping'
    and noticing some irritation was skin would normally be, err, protected. Upon closer inspection, the skin appeared to be dry and flaking. Not sure if this was from the wax procedure itself (Wax too hot?  Was I too hairy?) or from my run but it wasn't becoming and was  a wee bit uncomfortable. Luckily I had the Sass and lightly applied it in small area as a test patch. The next day, the test patch looked perfectly normal so I did another application on the rest (Note, nothing internal or in places I could not easily see).  It seemed to ease the irritation within 24 hours.  I have been using it once daily since and am really pleased with the results. 
Keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter from 25-29 September to see me at the retreat.  I will let you know all about my time on the island in a later post.

Thank you to Cat Phones, Utalk and Sass for providing me with their products gratis.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Health Rewards Ambassador

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If you are struggling to start a fitness journey or spend 6 out of 7 days at the gym, Health Rewards might be just the thing for you.  This incentive program gives you some fantastic rewards (no other way to say it, really) when you living your life in a healthy way.  This is monitored via activity trackers or phone apps that count your steps or measure your heart rate.

The rewards include:

  • 2 free cinema tickets and a free Starbucks beverage every week
  • Itunes vouchers
  • Once a year, you are entitled to 50% off new trainers from Sweatshop
  • If you are a non-smoker, you receive a financial bonus
  • When you sign up with Health Rewards, they will send you a free Garmin Vivofit activity tracker as a welcome and thank you gift
  • Discount on British Airways flights
  • Discount for Virgin Active memberships and at Evans Cycles

I am very happy to say Health Rewards have asked me to come on board as an ambassador to help let people know abut this program.  They are interested in creating a community and keeping it fit and healthy.  This totally aligns with my ethos as the Happiness Personal Trainer and I am happy to be a part of this family.

How can you get involved?  Give them a call and ask for more info.  You are eligible for Health Rewards when you invest in a health and/or life insurance policy with the company.  My husband and I are currently looking into a life insurance policy to help protect each other (and our mortgage).  My friend, Stephen, is a huge fan and also a client. I have also spent time talking to the people at Health Rewards and they are really a lovely bunch.

I will keep you updated on how I am finding Health Rewards and offer my tips on how to maximize your point-earning for even bigger rewards. Now, go out for a run.

#IGAcademy15 - never stop learning

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Are you a perpetual student like me?  Ever since I graduated from Boston University, I have almost always been enrolled in a course.  Scuba diving, veterinary school prerequisites (study hard during undergrad people!), my masters degree and my fitness journey started in 2009 and hasn't stopped since.  This includes personal training, Spinning certification, numerous CPDs, Coach in Running Fitness and my year-long certification course with Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

I call myself a jack of trades, master of none.  But this won't get you very far when you own your own business.

When the opportunity to enroll in an Instagram Academy came up through Fitfluential, I jumped at the chance.  Not only will it help me gain skills and strategy with social media, but I also helps me zero in on who my readers are.  Of course you know who you are and I would love to get to know you better.  With Instagram being a very popular tool right now, I can't wait to interact with you while sharing a few moments from my day- from what I am eating, where I am exercising, and an occasional photo of my Staffie for a dose of cute.

My guide for the next 30 days will be fellow New Yorker and personal trainer, Amanda Tress.  She is a lovely lady and said a lot of things that made sense to me on our one-to-one call.  I encourage you to start following me on Instagram if you don't yet and see what happens over the next month.  It is going to be awesome.

What do you love about Instagram? Let me know your favorite hashtags to search on the comments below.