Thursday, March 15, 2018

Emma's Exercise Experiments - Boot Camp

Feeling like The World's Strongest Woman.

If you'd have told me a month ago that I'd be loving going to Boot Camp I wouldn't have believed you. Boot Camp sounds like the kind of unenjoyable exercise that I avoid. Intense, sweaty, vigorous exercise. Someone shouting in your face to drop and give them 20 press ups. Being pushed to your limits until you're crying. No thanks!

But, I've commited myself to a year of different exercise types and it wouldn't be much of a challenge to just do types I think sound nice. So spurred on by a Groupon that gives you 8 sessions for £12 or £20 for two people (that's a hell of a deal) I decided to give it a go.

The first Saturday JD and I turned up it was pouring with rain, adding to that Boot Camp feeling. Rupert, the instructor, was completely unaffected by this and carried on enthusiastically directing us in circuit training. The exercise set ups were all quite ingeniously thought up. Bike racks were used for press ups and dips. Resistance bands were strapped to whatever else was handy. There were car tyres to lift. We ran laps of the area in between squats, lunges, star jumps and high knees.

Everyone was friendly and encouraging. Rupert was helpful, suggesting alternatives to anything I couldn't manage. No one shouted in my face, maybe this was going to be ok afterall. JD and I shambled away from the first session pleased to have got through it and feeling like we'd been thoroughly worked out.

Later the same day and all day Sunday we ached so bad. But it was the kind of aching that makes you feel smug because your muscles are getting stronger. Monday morning the aching had eased off so I was looking forward to more circuit training when Rupert posted about that night's session on Facebook. "Who's up for some boxing and Hiit?". WHAT? That's when the realisation hit me that it was going to be different each time. I'd felt comfortable knowing we'd be doing something I'd already mostly managed and now I'd be feeling anxious wondering what we'd be doing that night.

Where's Emma?

But that night I enjoyed the session even more. We boxed until I could hardly hold up my arms. Varying the punches between jabs, hooks and uppercuts to work all your muscles. I had a slight panic when Rupert told us us to swap partners (a bit like in PE at school when they won't let you partner up with a friend) but everyone was so friendly that I soon relaxed and enjoyed it. Then we moved on to the HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) which is short bursts of intense exercise that just keeps going and going. We were exhausted and aching again by the end but in different places.

The sessions progressed, each time doing something different, with varying people but always fun. Rupert showed us what to do at the start of each section then wandered around the group to see how we were all getting on. Stopping to show you a better form or to encourage you in an enthusiastic but not aggressive way. I always felt pushed to do the best I could but never made to do anything.

We did a 20 20 20 session which is three different exercise sections for 20 minutes each. We did cardio, boxing and stength, I think. We played a fitness Monopoly with each team racing to roll a dice and move round the board by completeing reps of squats, burpees, crunches etc. We even did a Winter Olympics session which was really clever, doing squats to power a snowboard, lunges to simulate curling, planks on a skeleton bobsled and lots more. Each session was well organised and timed to the minute to get the most out of an hour.

In the end I loved the variation of exercise. There's no chance to get bored or feel like you're not getting the benefit because of repetition. You can work at your own pace mostly, striving to do the most you can each session. Rupert offers alternatives to make it easier if you're struggling or tougher if you're finding it too easy. Which makes Boot Camp really flexible and suitable for everyone.

The group also does fitness challenges together. They recently did a 5k run at Harewood and they're planning a team for Yorkshire Warrior. 

JD getting encouragement from Rupert.
JD and I both feel stronger and fitter after just 8 sessions. Especially upper body because our usual exercise is mostly leg based. It's made me feel more confident in my body's ability and it's made me more comfortable interacting with other people. Both things I sometimes struggle with.

Boot Camp is a great way to meet like-minded people, push yourself to get fit and have fun. I'd recommend it to anyone, whatever level of fitness you're at.

Contact Details:

UK Outdoor Fitness

Previously on Emma's Exercise Experiments:



Sunday, March 11, 2018

Smoothies: Strawberry and Beetroot

Not sure about this combination but whatever it tastes like it's going to have a lovely colour!


1 can coconut water
3 beetroots (peeled and not the vinegar ones)
1 handful of strawberries
juice of 1 lime

This smoothie looks beautiful. It's nice and thick from the beetroot but there's something about the mixture of strawberry and beetroot that doesn't taste good. They both taste nice individually but together it's a little off. Almost delicious but not quite. Still, I'm sure its good for me.

Beetroot has iron and folate (folic acid) plus it helps lower blood pressure and prevent dementia. Strawberries are just as good for you with vitamin C, magnesium, folate and antioxidants. You can eat them separately and still get all the benefits luckily. :D

Next up: Banana and Walnut

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Burger That! 10: Mexico City Burger

We're looking forward to this one as we love Mexican flavours. It's wrapped in tortillas instead of sandwiched in a burger bun but I'm going to let this one pass.


1 package minced beef
1 onion
2 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 tortillas
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Chop the onion and mix into the minced beef along with the taco seasoning. We make up our own taco seasoning from this recipe --->

Form into patties and fry in oil until cooked through.

Serve the burgers on shredded lettuce inside a tortilla with the sour cream on top. Looks like the burger has gone camping, hehe :D

As expected these burgers were great. Spicy taco beef with cool soothing sour cream on top. It was quite nice eating it in a tortilla too, not as awkward as you'd think. An easy to prepare but tasty burger we'll likely have again.

Ratings: JD - 4, Emma - 4

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Veg, Veg, Veg

Here I am again bemoaning the lack of exciting vegetables in our meals. The same as I did in 2016 apparently!

This time I'm determined to make an effort to fill our lives with healthy veggies in the most exciting ways possible. Or something like that anyway. Haha.

First, a story. When my Grandad Beadle (my Dad's Dad) died, I went with my Dad to his house to help sort out his belongings.

We found a hand-written recipe for a 12 vegetable stew with a note saying how pleased he was to make a stew with so many veg in it. My Dad said he'd like to make a stew with 13 vegetables in it to keep it going. As far as I know he never did.

But guess what, I've done it. I've made a stew with not only 13 veg BUT 15 vegetables in it.

It was a bit weird to be honest. Maybe the celeriac gave it an unknown, strange flavour. Who knows? It had these vegetables in it:

1 - Carrot
2 - Potato
3 - Sweet potato
4 - Onion
5 - Parsnip
6 - Butternut squash
7 - Swede
8 - Leek
9 - Celery
10 - Celeriac
11 - Beetroot
12 - Turnip
13 - Aubergine
14 - Garlic
15 - Courgette

Anyway, it's a good start to my second attempt at eating more vegetables.

Remember Sylvester from the Tweetie Pie cartoons? I never knew what that word in his catchphrase meant until recently when I found out Succotash is a vegetable dish in America. So I had to try it.

Green Bean Succotash Recipe

It's a nice mixed veg side that goes with any meat. But really you could just eat it for a meal too. I liked it.

Next, I wanted to find a new way of eating brussel sprouts. JD and I really like them but we only seem to eat them at Christmas. I found a recipe for maple syrup roasted sprouts & sweet potatoes and changed it a bit to suit us.

Cube up some sweet potatoes and halve some sprouts. Mix together maple syrup, oil, salt and pepper then pour it over the veggies. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until starting to blacken a bit.

This was delicious, sprouts are great roasted. The maple syrup gave everything a sweet stickiness that went especially well with the sweet potatoes. Yum!

Watch this space for either more vegetable recipes or a post complaining that we don't eat enough veggies next year!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Emma's Exercise Experiments - Yoga

Another exercise, another Groupon. This time 5 classes at my local yoga studio Yoga Zen for £15. I've dabbled a bit in yoga at home using the Wii Fit and Youtube videos but never attended a proper class so I'm looking forward to trying it. I'm also incredibly anxious as this is my first instructor led class in years. I feel worried that I won't be able to keep up.

I needn't have worried, I just finished my 5th and final class and it's been a really great experience.

From the minute I walked in everyone was friendly and encouraging. Aina, the instructor, was very welcoming and several times told me not to worry if a pose was too difficult. I feel I have that attitude in exercise already, I don't push myself too much and I'm kind to my body. It was nice to be reminded of it in this situation because I had been worrying about appearing hopeless!

I survived the first class and after a chat with Aina was ready to try again the following week but in a smaller group closer to my level. This worked out much better for me as there was more time for adjustments and advice. The sessions were always well thought out often with a theme. One week we focused on shoulder work to release stress which was very much appreciated.

Getting help with Cobra pose.

I always walked out of class in a lifted yet relaxed mood. Feeling good about my body because of it's strengths and optimistic that I could feel improvements in my flexibility and core muscles already. The following day I would feel my muscles aching and feel pleased they were getting stronger. I was encouraged further by the other group member, Emma, who had seen improvements in the few months she'd been practising yoga too.

Warrior pose.

The surprise in yoga for me was the mental change I felt after a few weeks of going. Yoga is very much about breathing and focusing on how your body feels. It's grounding and relaxing in a way I've never experienced through exercise. Aina would often read out some words of wisdom as we started. Always something positive and inspiring. Encouraging us to be proud of ourselves or to show ourselves compassion. I really appreciated that she'd taken the time to find interesting passages to read out. I feel I've become more aware of my body away from yoga too. Sometimes at work I'll feel a knot in my neck or shoulders and stretch out to relieve it instead of letting it build up.

I've really enjoyed my yoga experience and felt a bit sad to finish it for now. I've learned that yoga really is for any body. Give it a go!

Me and Aina.
Contact details:

Aina Maj Landvik - 07432679385
YogaZen Harogate - 07455 028148

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Smoothies: Kiwi and Kale

This is my first time with a green smoothie. I always tend to go for berry flavours when I make them.


1 cup milk
1 cup kale
1 kiwi
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon honey

Blend together until smooth.

I was hoping for a bright green colour for this one but it's more delicate. It was really frothy and light to drink. There was a slight peppery flavour from the kale but the peanut butter was the strongest taste in this one. I enjoyed it. The last mouthful had lots of tiny crunchy kiwi seeds.

Kale is a great food to get in your diet as often as you can, it's benefits are numerous. Vitamins C, K and A, high in iron, anti-inflammatory, full of antioxidants, high in calcium and also helps lower cholestrol. Kiwis are pretty great too, they have vitamin C, they help digestion plus apparently they're a good sleep inducer.

Next up: Beetroot and strawberry

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Well, Burger Me 9: Jerk Pork Burger

Amother week, another burger. this time the jerk pork burger. Made up with jerk seasoning. It's gonna be a spicy one!


500g minced pork
2 tablespoons jerk seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 tablespoon oregano
salt & pepper

Get your hands in there and squish all the ingredients together making sure to incorporate the jerk seasoning quite evenly through the pork. Form into patties and fry in a pan for 5-8 minutes on each side depending on how you like them.

I'm coveting a burger press on Amazon at the moment so I had a go at a homemade burger press with these burgers. I used the lid of a peanut butter jar lined with clingfilm. It worked pretty well except the burgers are a bit small.

The taste of these burgers was great. Jerk is a lovely deep, spicy flavour. The addition of so much jerk seasoning made the burgers a bit dry though, almost a bit gritty. The addition of a sauce would improve it I think. Still, tasty!

Ratings: JD - 3, Emma - 3