Who said Mexican food had to dovetail your diet? Dig into these leafy alternatives
1 onion, finely diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
tsp smoked paprika
400g tin black beans, drained
1 ripe tomato, chopped or handful cherry tomatoes, halved
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 bunch coriander, chopped
lettuce cups, to serve
tomato salsa, to serve
1 Sauté onion in a pan over medium heat with olive oil. Add the chilli, cumin and smoked paprika. Cook for a minute.
2 Add black beans and tomato, then toss through. Cook until beans start to collapse slightly. Add a splash of water if needed.
3 Season with a little sea salt and black pepper, then fold through some of the coriander. Divide between lettuce cups.
4 Top with tomato salsa and enjoy.
You can also serve with lime, avocado, sweet corn and thick natural yoghurt.
The Lowdown (per serve)
321kJ; 6g protein; 11g carbs; 5g fibre;
2g total fat (0.5g sat fat)
By Libby Babet
One of the most frequent questions I get asked by female clients is, “how can I make my legs smaller and more toned?”
Most women tend to lose fat from the top down and build muscle from the bottom up, so at the end of the day, there’s one word that will get those pins lean and that word is consistency.
That means working out and eating well, not just for a few weeks but week in and week out for a number of months.
The good news is, rest and stretching are going to be just as important as the ‘working out’ part because when it comes to shaping your legs, you want to give those muscles time to recover and adapt.
Here are my simple rules for lean legs:
• Train consistently and with workouts that will encourage change and hormonal shift in your body. This means metabolic circuits, interval training, weights, or bodyweight resistance work and sprints.
• Avoid trans fats as much as possible. You’ll find it in fried foods, margarines, donuts, some baked goods and fast food meals, plus any foods or oils where you see the words, “partially hydrogenated”. Trans fats take on a different shape than other fats and are super hard for your body to process and eliminate, so they can literally hang around in your body for ages – in some cases, years!
• Cut down on starchy carbs and simple sugars, to give your body a chance to burn through stored energy, rather than continually topping it up with new supplies. This doesn’t mean going ‘no carb’, it just means choosing unprocessed, complex and fibrous carbs instead. Great options are veggies, fruits, or healthier grain substitutes such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, brown or wild rice, nuts and seeds, or perhaps a piece of good quality organic sourdough.
• Increase your consumption of green veggies. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus and brussel sprouts break down into something called DIM with the assistance of enzymes upon chewing. DIM helps your body process oestrogens more effectively, which helps to lean out your legs (and arms, for that matter). If cooking more veggies each day just isn’t an option for you, take the cheat’s option and swallow a supergreens supplement daily – I love Sunwarrior Ormus Supergreens, or Nu-Zest’s Good Green Stuff.
• Switch your coffee for green tea, which gives you the same little metabolic boost as coffee does, but rather than draining your body of vital nutrients, as coffee can, it’s packed with antioxidants and helps to improve liver function, which protects your body from oestrogen excess and helps your bod metabolise fat more effectively.
• Give soy milk and tofu the heave-ho from your diet. Extra weight carried in the legs is often due to oestrogen dominance. As soy is a strong phytoestrogen, particularly in its more processed form, it can contribute to the issue significantly, so it’s worth cutting it out completely for awhile and seeing whether that makes a difference to your body shape. If you’re a vegetarian and use soy as your main protein source, try switching to less processed versions such as tempeh, miso, or edamame beans.
• Include a wide variety of squats, lunges, step-ups, single-leg deadlifts, glute activation moves and full-body exercises that get your heart rate up in your strength workouts. Stick to either high repetitions (15-20+) using light resistance, or bodyweight and moving at a fast pace, or go for slower repetitions with super heavy weights and low repetitions (4-6). Rarely take the middle ground (8-12 reps with moderate weight) as this is hypertrophy territory and will increase the size of your legs over time. If you’re not sure of technique, hire a trainer to make sure you’re lifting correctly, as this can make a big difference to the body shape you want to create too. The right squat technique can lean out your legs and boost your bottom, but the wrong technique can end up building up your quads and straining your knees, so it’s important!
• When it comes to cardio, mixing it up is best if you want to lean out your legs. Keep it varied with a mix of endurance-style runs, short sprints and if you love cycling, go for high speed intervals with limited resistance for best results. Don’t forget other forms of cardio too – dancing, boxing, skipping and tabata-style workouts are all just as effective for keeping your body guessing.
I’ve made you a fun home workout called Pintastic to try - it’s packed with the kind of exercises that will help you achieve your leanest, loveliest pins ever and you can do it all in your backyard, no equipment needed. Have a read of the workouts structure below, then check out the video to get your technique right.
Spend 60s on each exercise in the workout, or 30s per side for unilateral (1-sided) moves.
Once you’ve been through them all, take 30-60s to catch your breath, then repeat the circuit another 2-3 times. Add dumbbells to the squat and lunge exercises for extra difficulty, if you dare.
1. Plie to Toe Raise (make sure you squeeze your glutes at the top position)
2. Kneeling Kick to Tuck
3. Clock Lunges
4. “Jane Fonda” Leg Lifts
5. 1-Legged Burpees
6. Shuttle Sprints
WF’s Samera Kamaleddine chats to cross-country skiing champ Esther Bottomley
Back in February, winter sports enthusiasts of the world gathered around TV screens, having their minds blown at the supreme athleticism on display at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. While we ‘ooed’ and ‘ahhed’ from our living rooms, 31-year-old Australian cross-country skier Esther Bottomley was right there on the Sochi stage, competing in her third winter Olympics – the only female cross-country athlete to have ever done so. No stranger to high-stakes competitions, the skier – who got her start on the snow aged just five when her family moved to the base of Falls Creek in Vicroria – has contested six World Ski Championships, won the Australian Spring Championship 15 times and was the first Australian to win a Swiss Cup. Most recently, she won an epic gold and silver at the Australian XC ski championships. As a competitor in one of the most physically demanding of any elite-level sports, she’s been down one very winding path, as we learnt when we caught up with her for this chat…
When did you realise cross-country skiing could be a full-time gig?
“After Year 12 my coach organised for me to train and compete in Sweden for five months. I’d had some success in Australian [in junior comps], but it was a big eye-opener as to how professional a sport cross-country skiing is. The kids there were doing schooling part-time so they could train to be athletes! I knew then that to be at that next level it was going to take a lot more commitment.”
How did you bring on that commitment?
“I got more intro training when I got home, skiing three times a week and doing a lot of cross-training. In summer, I’d do what’s called ‘roller skiing’, where you go on roads wearing ski boots and using ski poles on wheels. I started setting short- and long-term goals. My ‘dream goal’ from these early years was to qualify for the Turin 2006 Olympics.”
What did you have to do to get there?
“Skiing for me has never really been a paid career – I’ve always had to work and study – mainly because it’s not as popular in Australia as it is in Scandinavia, Europe and North America, where people are doing it professionally at national and international levels. So when I got back from Sweden I took a year off before going to university to train for my first World Junior Championships, while working at a café for the money I’d need to get there.”
You overcame your first hurdle at the World Juniors…
“It was the first time I’d been to such a large scale event. Devastatingly, I fell in my main event. I was absolutely shattered. It took a little while to get over it and realise it was just another event. The next year I went back, and qualified for Senior Championships that season. Two weeks later I was in Italy competing at my first World Championships which was both daunting and exciting.”
Did life change back in the real world?
“I started a graphic design degree at university when I got home, so there were definitely a lot more distractions. I studied in Canberra, a great place for training as there are lots of bike paths to roller-ski and awesome running trails in the hills. I fit in training where I could and met up with other skiers to keep motivated. In my final year, I deferred to concentrate on qualifying for the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Realistically, I thought I had a 50 per cent chance of making it so wanted to increase this by training full-time.”
You must have been pretty stoked to qualify then?
“All the athletes were top notch and to qualify was tough and extremely stressful – especially as I’d taken a year off to train for it. There were three skate sprints and in two of the three I had to come in the top 80 per cent on the field. I came fifth last in the first race, so was really disappointed.”
How did you come back from that?
“I had a good chat with my coach who said, ‘Qualifying for the Olympics is not all you’re over here for.’ I agreed, thinking, ‘No, it’s for fun as well. There are other events to look forward to’. It was six weeks until the second race and I was super nervous the whole time. After the final race, when my coach came and told me, ‘You’re in!’ I started shaking from the excitement.”
Was Turin a life-changing experience?
“Walking into the Opening Ceremony wearing the Aussie team uniform was a feeling I’ll never forget. Being in a huge arena with thousands of people cheering was just incredible and overwhelming! I picked up a cold a few days before my event, so my result was a little off where I was hoping, but after my race I went into the stands to see my family and friends and they were so excited just to have seen me race in the Olympics that the results didn’t matter too much.”
How different was your second Olympics experience [Vancouver 2010]?
“The atmosphere was even better than Turin. The spectators were very vocal – the Canadians really embrace their winter sports! In my last race I pulled out my best result of the season – being the only female to qualify. I’d spent four years doing intensive technique work to get my classic sprinting up to the same standard as my skate sprinting so was just really excited to have done that in order to qualify.”
Does competing get any easier?
“The pressure of competing gets easier. I didn’t put any pressure on myself this year [for Sochi] so was a lot more comfortable and ready to race as well as I could. Just like my first World Juniors where I crashed, you’re devastated if things don’t go right, but in the end, you’ve made it to the event and given it everything. For me, winning an Olympic medal wasn’t a realistic goal.”
Any tough moments at Sochi?
“Sochi was by far the most gruelling course I’ve ever skied on. Never have there been so many long, steep uphills in one course. It certainly wasn’t something I was comfortable with, but I finished with a result I was really happy with.”
What lessons have you taken away from the sport?
“You learn a lot about life, like how to deal with disappointments and goal setting. I’m able to put those lessons into situations outside of sport. There’s always hard times – when you’re training and it’s raining, or you’re thinking about how you’re going to afford a trip – but the other times are fabulous, especially getting to ski up in stunning high plains around the world.”
Speaking of those (cold!) plains, do you miss the Aussie summer?
“I’ve been chasing winter for half my life and don’t even know what an Aussie summer is! But I get months of skiing on real snow in amazing mountain situations, so I don’t mind. The travel is part of my life. I think I’ll struggle when I have to settle somewhere.”
What does life look like now?
“I finished my teaching degree in Secondary Visual Art and Graphics after Vancouver, and have been enjoying relief teaching. Resting, for me, is just as important as training. I’ve spent so many years sick because I haven’t been able to keep my immune system functioning. So when I’m not working, I sleep a lot!”
Can you ever see a time when you won’t be skiing?
“I’m at a stage where I’m not sure what’s next. I’ll see what happens with teaching opportunities. I’m happy to go back on the comp circuit for one more year and to the World Championships in Sweden. That would be a great way to finish. I’d also like to put back into the sport as much as I can. I’m an ambassador for ‘Fast and female’, events to get girls motivated to love sport and life, but would like to do more on the technical coaching front while my knowledge is still up to date. I’ve ticked off most of the things I’ve wanted to do, so I’d definitely be leaving skiing proud of that. It’s been my life, and it’s been a good life.”
Beauty product you can’t live without? “High SPF face sunscreen. My face is the only part of me that sees sun!”
Any guilty pleasures? “A little too much Swiss chocolate… although I don’t really feel guilt, just pleasure!”
What makes you laugh? “Modern Family.”
Your ultimate way to de-stress? “Go for a jog.”
A dream beach destination? “I’d like to go to Hawaii. Looks like it has great surf beaches, amazing snorkelling… and warm weather!”
Ed Coordinator Jaymie paid a visit to the skin whisperers at Dermalogica to trial their new innovation, Face Mapping
I’ve been starring in a hilarious sitcom all year. You might have heard of it: Jaymie and the War Against Breakouts and Hyperpigmentation. Six series in, I’ve finally goten the upper hand on the Blemish Army, but the nasty marks they leave in their wake still haven’t budged. Feeling betrayed by my favourite beauty products and my strict skincare regime, I turned to Dermalogica for a facial and to test their new Face Mapping service for a nudge in the right direction.
What is it
A new form of skin analysis which relies on the visual and physical examination of the face as well as reading the skin as an indicator of internal health. Your face is then split up into 14 zones so that your dermatologist can offer a tailor-made solution to all of your skincare woes.
Before any Face Mapping or facial could commence, my lovely therapist, Skye, asked me a series of questions about my general health and skincare problems. Then I was taken to the treatment room where I hopped on the bed and got under the microscope.
After gently pressing, squeezing and pulling on my face, Skye announced that I had combination skin (which explained why I always have congestion on my chin and forehead but my cheeks as drier than the Sahara), and, after drawing on a little Chinese medicine, concluded that a bout of chest infections might be the cause of my random breakouts.
She also revealed that in my effort to get rid of pimples, I may have been hitting the scrubs a little too much as my face showed signs of dehydration. (Tip: If you pull your skin together and fine, vertical lines appear, that’s a sign of dehydration, lady.) This was a big shock to a rosehip oil addict like myself, but, as my skin whisperer quickly declared, my face was after hydration, not oil. Big difference.
Fast-forward through a chemical exfoliation treatment (to combat the reddish, purple marks my blemishes always leave behind), a deep cleanse with electric currents to target and kill bacteria in my pores and a heavenly hydration mask, my face was feeling squeaky clean and super soft. And, to top it all off, Skye prescribed me a set of essential products based on my Face Mapping reading to help keep my skin in tip top shape at home.
The softest, most glowy complexion you ever did see. After the treatment my skin felt supple and looked luminous (save for a few red spots thanks to some much-needed extractions). The best part, though, came in the weeks afterwards. Armed with my new skincare regime and the tips gained from my Face Mapping with Skye, I’m finding my breakouts are growing weak in their numbers, my hyperpigmentation is (slowly but surely) fading, and people keep telling my how luminous and clear my skin looks.
Check out Dermalogica’s complementary Face Mapping service here.
Cure Mondayitis by making these simple promises to yourself each day
1.I will…prioritise fun – even (especially) when I’m busy or stressed.
2.I will…take a lunch break every day – even if it’s just a quick walk.
3. I will…block out time in my schedule just for me. Let’s reunite, bathtub!
4. I will…look in the mirror and call out one positive quality in myself every day.
5. I will…do nice things for others - it’ll make me feel good, too.
6. I will…notice the small pleasures in life, like flowers or a free coffee.
For more great pick-me-up ideas check out p. 44 of the new August issue of Women’s Fitness magazine.
Don’t let a little wet weather mess up your workout plan. Try this killer combo instead!
Starting out? 3 x 10 reps
Need a challenge? 5 x 10 reps
Almost pro? 6 x 10 reps
1. Jumping lunge
Great for: Bottom, legs
• Start standing, holding a dumbbell in each hand, then take a big step forward with your left leg and lower into a lunge.
• Jump up to switch your leg position, and land softly with your right leg in front of you.
• Continue to jump and alternate your leg position with each rep.
Great for: Lower back, bottom, thighs
• Push your hips back and bend your legs to take hold of a barbell on the floor.
• Push your heels into the floor and extend your legs and hips.
• Lower and repeat.
3. Side plank with rotation
Great for: Core,sides of stomach, shoulders
• Form a straight line with your body, resting on one forearm. Extend your top arm toward the ceiling.
• Rotate your body to thread your extended arm underneath your body, then return to the start position. Do equal reps on each side.
350g Barilla Whole Grain or Gluten Free penne
½ jar Barilla Basilico Sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ onion, 1.5cm diced
½ carrot, 1.5cm diced
½ leek, 1.5cm diced
1/3 celeriac, 1.5cm diced
1/3 small pumpkin, 1.5cm diced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
80g Pecorino Romano cheese,
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Rock salt, for pasta water
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Place all vegetables on an oven tray; add oil, salt
and pepper and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or
3. In a large saucepan, bring plenty of water to the boil. When the water is boiling, add rock salt (7g to a litre of water).
4. Drop the penne into water and stir. Cook according to the instructions
on the pack.
5. When the vegetables are cooked, place them in a large fry pan, add Basilico Sauce and simmer.
6. Drain the pasta a couple of minutes before the suggested time and toss it into the saucepan with ½ cup of cooking water to allow the pasta to finish cooking in the pan.
7. Remove from the heat and serve with fresh thyme and pecorino romano cheese on top.
Night owl? Not anymore. Make the most of your AM with these speedy, stress-busting life hacks
1 COOK SMART
No time to rustle up a healthy lunch before you walk out the door at 8am? Easy: make an extra portion of dinner the night before and your lunch menu is sorted. Anything that reheats well, like a stir-fry, curry or soup, will beat another old sambo.
2 DRY RUN
Washing and styling your locks adds a (boring) hour to your morning routine, right? Consider going low-maintenance (in a non-hobo kind of way). Add dry shampoo to your beauty kit – the bonus is extra volume, minus the grease.
3 GO SLOW TO SPEED UP
Watching an egg boil isn’t always the most efficient way to kick-start your morning. Instead, throw mixed raw nuts and seeds in a bowl with a handful of berries and a helping of natural yoghurt for a slow-release breakfast with tons of benefits.
4 KEEP IT REAL
Hands up if your morning routine involves checking your Facebook feed before you’ve even brushed your teeth. Yep, we’re guilty of it too! Sidestep your smartphone so you don’t get sucked in to commenting on your friends’ announcements and funny memes on social media. Your own morning (and life!) is more important, after all.
5 FACE UP
Slapping the entire David Jones beauty department on your face every morning? Go for multitasking make-up: a BB cream, a cream blush that doubles as a lippy, and a thickening and lengthening mascara. Easy and cost-effective.
Still hitting the snooze button? Get more morning motivation on page 23 of our latest issue, on sale now.
By News and Features Writer Sam
We love a celeb fashion collab here at Team WF, so I was pumped to try out the new Heidi Klum for New Balance range during a mini tramp class. Here’s why I dig the supermodel’s sporty style…
Every pair of tights/tank/crop top in the activewear world boasts breathable fabric with fancy moisture-wicking abilities. But, I could actually feel the aeration! Every bounce, jump, squat I did was met with lovely cool air on my legs, thanks to the clever mesh inserts in the compression tights. While I’ve always been a three-quarter-tights girl, I’m now converted. Full-length all the way!
After a carb-heavy lunch or a few too many cheese and crackers, it’s hard to ignore a case of blossoming belly bloat. Sound familiar? Say hello to the mid-rise waistband – it tucks and sucks your tum in so you can feel good during your workout (and in my case, enjoy busting a move, minus a wobbly belly).
With Heidi Klum at the helm of this range, you know it’s going to have supermodel good looks. I’m a big fan of the jewel tones and metallic accents that make this range look both sleek and street. Which means my post yoga brunch with girlfriends is sorted. My fave piece? The sports bra. Who knew an extra halter strap could make such a (glam) difference? Thank you, Heidi!
To find out more head to newbalance.com.au or head in store to Rebel Sport for the full range.
WF’s News and Features writer Sam Bailey and Editorial Coordinator/PA to the editor Jaymie Hooper get their 80’s gear on for an aerobics sweat sesh
Picture Jane Fonda aerobic moves, a sea of colourful 80s lycra outfits and a group of people rocking out to Madonna tunes in an old dance hall. Welcome to Retrosweat. With all the classic elements of an aerobics class including squats, lunges, grapevines and star jumps, “it’s a whole body workout with 12 tracks of 80s hits in a room full of love and and lycra”, says founder Shannon Dooley.
It burns at least 800 calories, strengthens your heart, improves posture, flexibility, co-ordination and confidence and tones all parts of the body.
As soon as I heard lycra and 80s I was instantly torn by a need to rekindle my dancing years, but also a morbid fear of ‘what am I going to wear?’ as lycra can be your best friend or worst enemy depending on the day (trust me I know).
Once I overcame my lycra laden barriers, my fluoro confidence was up and I was ready to hit the hall. As a keen group exercise go-er since way back, the combo of aerobics, dancing and dress ups sounded like the best fun I was going to have all week. And it was!
Greeted by Shannon in a high cut, custom made leotard get up (complete with a mullet wig) I knew we were going to channel the 80s like no tomorrow. And boy was it fabulous! There was low lunging, squatting, pelvis thrusting and some serious pouting, which of course ensued with tons of laughter (a core workout right there!)
In one hour I could feel my abs, calves, quads and tuckshop lady arms aching (score!) and I knew it was full proof.
Overall, the class was a scream, we sweated loads and I will admit to begging for just one more track even after our time was up.”
Shiny tights? Leg warmers? Ponytails? Just wait here while I prance around the office like Olivia Newton-John and sing ‘Let’s get physical’ all day.
As soon as I heard about this workout I forgot all about the high intensity part and just wanted to get down to some Prince. Lucky for me, Shannon soon reminded us that freestyle aerobics is not just about crimping your hair – it’s a serious body blast that’ll give you smokin’ legs and amazing abs if the Retrosweat girls are anything to go by.
Between pelvic thrusts (which I’m awful at), deep squats and chassés (which I’m awful at doing and pronouncing) I was definitely put through my paces. By the end of the first song in our 80s dance soundtrack my legs were burning and my cheeks were giving an Oscar-worthy impression of my scarlet leggings – but damn was I having fun.
After Shannon threw in a pineapple (yes, a pineapple) to keep my coordination busy and my arms flexed, I had no doubt in my mind that I’d be back – maybe sporting a lycra leotard, too.
Retrosweat is Sydney based and runs on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Redfern PCYC, $15 a class. The class is open to all ages and beginners. See retrosweat.com.au for details.
Not in Sydney? Pick up a Jane Fonda dvd and work it in the lounge room like your mum used to!
Deputy Ed Samera Kamaleddine puts her cooking skills to the test
I LOVE cooking. Especially when all the ingredients for a week of dinners are delivered to my door on a Sunday morning and come packed with easy-as recipe cards. Sure, it sounds like I’m taking the cheat’s way out, but I’m a super busy lady (who isn’t!?). Plus, when all the ingredients are locally-sourced, free-range and ethically farmed the feel-good factor is too good to knock back. I’m talking about My Food Bag – the weekly subscription service that’ll have you plating up nutritionally-balanced seasonal dishes like a pro (watch out Instagram!). The best way to give you a virtual taste of what My Food Bag looks like? The below recipe – my fave from the Gourmet bag. Bon appetit!
Salmon with salsa verde, fondant potatoes and watercress apple salad
400g potatoes, scrubbed, sliced into 1-2cm-thick rounds
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
300g fresh salmon fillets
3 tablespoons salsa verde
½ Granny Smith apple
Juice of ½ lemon
½ fennel bulb
1 ½ tablespoons crème fraiche
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
2 handfuls watercress leaves (leaves picked from stems)
Suggested wine match
Sauvignon Blanc, mineral laden style with typical core of citrus and passionfruit
Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
1. Arrange potatoes in a single layer in a small oven try or baking dish so that they fit snuggly. Pour over chicken stock, season with salt and dot with butter. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are golden and almost all of the stock has been absorbed.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, make the salad. Slice about 5mm off the bottom end of the apple (this will help it to sit flat when slicing). Thinly slice the apple, then cut into thin matchsticks. Place in a bowl and squeeze over lemon juice to prevent browning. Trim and finely slice fennel. Mix crème fraiche, Dijon mustard and orange juice together and set aside.
2. About 10 minutes before the potatoes have finished cooking, cook the salmon. Season both sides of salmon with salt. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large fry pan on medium to high heat. Pan-try salmon, skin-side down, for 4-5 minutes or until skin is nice and crispy, then flip over and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes more until salmon is just cooked through (salmon is best cooked to medium-rare).
4. Gently toss apple, fennel and watercress together.
To serve: Place some fondant potatoes and a piece of salmon on each plate. Spoon some salsa verde over the salmon. Serve with apple and watercress on the side and dress with creamy dressing.
Ready in: 35-40min
Prep time: 15min
Cook time: 30-35min
Want to get on board the My Food Bag delivery service? It currently operates in Sydney and has three bags to choose from – Gourmet ($149), Family ($179) and Classic ($199). Head to myfoodbag.com.au to find out more.
Ed Coordinator Jaymie found out that she’s kinda scared of heights
One day you’re climbing trees with your besties, conquering the steep incline of the living room couch or hurling yourself up onto the kitchen bench and declaring the land yours – then all of a sudden you’re not seven-years-old anymore so it’s really uncool of you to start clawing your way up a street lamp in the middle of the day. For all of us adults who still want to reach new heights without hitting up trees in the local park (or if you want to look totally badass by scaling up walls like Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers), there’s indoor rock climbing.
To live out our action-hero dreams (and to get, you know, fit) Deputy Ed Samera and I decided to check out the rock climbing scene at Sydney’s Virgin Active Gym. Once we arrived, put on our climbing shoes and got into our highly fashionable harnesses, we listened as our instructor walked us through the basics. It all sounded simple enough: propel with your legs, lift with your arms, let go of the rocks when you want to come down and don’t push off the wall unless you want to spin around in the air for the next 30 minutes.
Like most of our fitness ventures, though, it wasn’t as easy as it looks. Sure, as I perched my foot on a rock hold and lifted myself up to reach the next one I felt like a modern day Spider-Woman, but when faced with the decision of where my foot would go next and which rock my hand should go for, it all got a little confusing. The higher I climbed, I’ll admit, the more panicked I got. I’d thought I could scale the wall like a pro, but soon I couldn’t concentrate on making the right choices, so I let go and started to descend (very slowly) towards the ground. If I was worried about the harness snapping and leaving me with a broken leg, I quickly learned not to worry as it hugged my thighs tighter than my skinny jeans ever have.
After a pep talk from our instructor (who couldn’t believe I was actually going to stop climbing at the half way point), I decided to give it one more shot. I set my sights on the top (okay, the spot close to the top) and I replayed the advice our guide had offered:
• Look at the wall and figure out a plan before you climb
• Keep your hips closer to the wall to keep your balance in check
• Don’t look down. (Yeah, right!)
• The more confident you act, the higher you’ll get
The second time round I didn’t quite make it to the end – but I got a helluva lot higher than I did the first time, and I was damn proud of myself. Then I was sore for two days since rock climbing works your entire body. Shoulders, arms, legs, core and butt – climbing tests them all. And your brain, too, since your decision making and problem solving skills are put under pressure. Not to mention it left me slightly puffed, so it provided a mild cardiovascular workout, too!
The final verdict?
I’m now Catwoman. No, but really, this muscle-toning, brain-busting workout is definitely one to try.
In need of an adrenalin rush? Head to page 68 of our August issue for some action-packed indoor sports to keep you happy this winter.