Choice – or is it?


Yes I do remember when all the above applied.

And you know what?

None of this was directly down to an unhealthy choice, it was down to a supposedly healthy necessity – I’d broken a bone in my foot and doctors advised me not to do any exercise that involved putting weight on it (in other words my normal exercise routine!)

Admittedly I could have been more creative in how I adapted my workouts but in practice this didn’t happen.

One of the many results was a limited choice for work outfits for summer.  A big bust, flabby upper arms and a slight belly are better off hidden under baggy black tops. The Guerrilla training I was forbidden to do would’ve sorted the issue.

Now, of course, that’s in the past. And I’m very, very grateful I can run today – I’m in my running gear as I type this and the sun is shining outside! Am I procrastinating?

Good Luck to everyone who likes working out but who’s still recovering from injury. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen! Hang on in there.



Well – give or take a couple of days, it’s my first Blogiversary!

In plaster

Breaking a bone in my foot which stopped me doing my favourite workouts was just the catalyst I needed – as I never have been an “ideas woman”, yet knew I needed to blog.

The idea was ultimately to give hope, not least to myself, but to anyone else for whom exercise is a way of life that’s suddenly taken away from

I broke my fifth metatarsal in my left foot falling off the arm of the sofa whilst swatting at the smoke alarm – my boyfriend had been cooking sausages.

Gratitude is no bad thing. Today I just threw on my kit and did what I normally do, just go out for a run. This time last year that simply wasn’t an option.

therapeutic shoe - me
Ugh – just LOOK at that shoe!

We are talking a crazy-sized granny shoe and the geriatric “hobbling” which easily made me appear much older than my years.

And I’m comparatively lucky.

During the course of this blog I featured the story of Austin Rathe, who faced the real possibility of leg amputation after a road accident – and developed his resolve to run a marathon whilst recovering in hospital.

Detail from The Hostile Forces, Beethoven frieze, by Klimpt
Flab fear – I don’t want to look like this

I wanted a dancer who’d recovered from injury – and she came along in the unlikely form of Amber Kershaw, then aged nine, who’d recovered from a broken arm to street-dance on a competitive level.

Blogging is a steep learning curve and I’m still learning.

Part of the fun, of course, is seeing how well each blog post does – it really is quite fun looking at the stats.

In that respect, by far my most successful post was Maxing Out, which featured fellow blogger Christian Boyles, from Illinois, US, of Maxed Out Muscles.

guerrillas shakey selfie
Nerves? Yes! A shaky selfie just before my return to Guerrillas


Having suffered depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease he told me: “I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”

Another high-hitter was Does Yoga Heal? a Q and A with my yoga instructor Espi Smith.

My inevitable fears over putting on weight led to an article on my pet hate – dieting. And I’ll level with you, the inevitable flabbiness caused by lack of exercise did impact on the choice of clothes I could wear for work in the unforgiving summer.

skeleton pray
Yup, I’ve learned to be grateful

Of course there were land-marks along the way in my recovery – getting the six-week all-clear at the fracture clinic, my return to running – and Guerrilla Training!

And whether I was able to run or not, I kept in regular contact with ParkRun – where, much to my surprise, I returned to do a Personal Best.

In the end it was simply a question of patience and letting the bone recover, as it inevitably did.

But this blog did (and still does , as I have no intention of finishing it) help tremendously.

So it’s true – Time really is the great healer.

Along with blogging!

To Yell or Not To Yell

Is it acceptable to grunt or even yell during a workout?

Rebel yell - but is it necessary?
Rebel yell – but is it necessary?

I know there’s some controversy over whether or not letting out some vocal response actually helps during exercise.

I think we British are a bit restrained – although I have, in my time, welcomed an outbreak of whooping when an aerobics class got particularly tough.

And I plead guilty, Your Honour, to vocal venting.

Meg Ryan lets go in the deli
Meg Ryan lets go in the deli

Just today during a particularly arduous abs session following “insane” Guerrillas I let out a yowl which had the instructor turning round and commenting “I wondered what what was going on there for a moment!”

Had I left my inhibitions at the door?

It reminded me of that notorious deli scene in the late 80’s romcom “When Harry Met Sally”.e27e543cea0754ca1e834665d9a0f2d60bdcd3c35e288bf8346098172d7b7227

Again, I’m going to apply some British restraint here and suffice it to say the female lead “fakes” a response arguably more appropriate to the bedroom in a busy restaurant – to prove a point.

She “finishes” – and resumes eating her lunch, whereupon an older woman on the next table tells the waiter “I’ll have what she’s having”.

Did Monica Seles invent the 'tennis grunt'?
Did Monica Seles invent the ‘tennis grunt’?

Apparently it took several takes to film that scene.

Was Meg Ryan, then, as mortified as I?

Let’s get out of the New York deli – and back into the gym.

Or the dojo, and even the tennis court.

Everyone’s familiar with Miss Piggy’s “Hi-yah!” as she wallops Kermit.

Kiai is the Japanese term for the yell or shout used during an attacking move – but in addition to the impact on your opponent, it’s also thought to teach a proper breathing technique.

Miss Piggy is familiar with the Kiai
Miss Piggy is familiar with the Kiai

Nine-time Gland Slam winner Monica Seles has been dubbed the creator of the “tennis grunt” (and you can see her in action here).

Yet Russia’s Maria Sharapova topped a Daily Telegraph grunting poll in 2011 – deploying a climactic shriek of the blue-movie variety at 101 decibels.

There have been calls for a crackdown regarding on-court grunting – but leading pundits point out that, just as in martial arts, it can help players focus on their performance.

But if you’re not a world class athlete and just working-out, there’s always going to be the idea that there’s simply no need to make a noise and if you do, well, then you’re simply showing off.

At this point I needed a laugh
At this point I needed a laugh

At this point I decided I needed a bl**dy good laugh – and courtesy of BroScienceLife, I found it.

In the YouTube video There Will Be Grunts, our guide explains: “Your grunt explains who you are. It’s your identity at the gym.

“Grunting is in our nature, it was the first language – followed shortly after by Emojis”

He then goes on to analyse variations ranging from the “lion-breath” to the “squirt-bottle”. Take a look below, but be advised – there’s swearing (“oooh language!”) .

“Grunting should be reserved for weight that’s impossible to move silently”.

A concept an English woman can relate to – my friend trained perfectly happily amid body-builders but a switch to another gym got her disapproving looks from other female gym users – for her “unladylike” grunting.

Yet as a trained fitness instructor she found this helped her achieve her targets “especially with the leg press”.

So whether you yell, scream or grunt – it would appear you’re in good company.

Just pick your moment wisely!

Maxing Out

Inspiration’s never far away in blog-land – and Christian Boyles, of Maxed Out Muscles, has provided yet more proof.

Christian advises a sensible approach
Christian advises a sensible approach

The 21-year-old, from Illinois, US, created his website after suffering a lot of depression and flare-ups of Crohn’s Disease.

For him, the crunch point came last summer.

Christian told me: “I said “Enough is ENOUGH” and I started taking control of my life. I feel that too often we take life’s punches and we just allow ourselves to be downtrodden. I wanted to take control of my life and not allow myself to become sick again.”

At his senior prom
At his senior prom

So, as well as doing his best to improve his own fitness – he made it his mission to take others with him on the journey, possibly motivating them to turn their lives around.

Inspiring enough? Christian modestly adds: “I don’t personally have experience with being injured, but here are some ideas I have…”

Unfortunately his advice does include watching what I eat and avoiding running! Fortunately I’m past that stage now LOL.

Christian doing cross-country in his junior year
Christian doing cross-country in his junior year

Here’s my Q & A

What adaptations should I make to my fitness regime?

You’re injured, and that was possibly out of your control. Or maybe it wasn’t? Use this time in your life where you are somewhat forced to rest…as a period of reflection. These next few months can be months where you:

1) Ask other people for tips and tricks on finding effective ways to deal with injury and prevent it from happening (Which you’re already doing!) Good for you 😉
2) Spend a lot of time focusing on other aspects of your life. Take this time to re-educate yourself on the basics.

3) Look into other hobbies related to fitness.

Christian believes Elliott Hulse's perspective changed after he injured a tendon
Christian believes Elliott Hulse’s perspective changed after he injured a tendon
Do you know anyone who’s survived injury to continue their exercise regime? 
Elliott Hulse tore his bicep tendon when he was lifting heavy weights. He had to have surgery done on his bicep and he began doing work on just one side of his body…
What I found really interesting about this is, after he tore that tendon and went through the surgery, his videos on YouTube started to have a different tone.
elliott hulse - strongerHis personality started shifting into what was a completely different perspective.
Before he tore that tendon he seemed like the muscle man that had something to prove and was yelling at the camera, and after he tore the tendon he seemed much wiser.
Can injury make people who enjoy exercise feel cut-off and even make them drop out altogether?never give up
I believe it can and I hope the people that quit can learn from that experience in some way.
I personally don’t think that quitting is the most resourceful path and if anyone reading this is thinking about giving up, please don’t.
The only positive way I feel you can quit “exercise” is if you replace it with something that is equally beneficial like reading and researching something that interests you and creating a new hobby.
No matter what you decide to do in response to the resistance life has placed in front of you, make sure you’re maturing because of it in some way.

Guerrillas in the Mist

I should be grateful my bone has healed!
I should be grateful my bone has healed!

A breather after a block of non-stop working means my exercise activities are totally unrestricted – and I’m loving it.

And as my Guerrillas instructor shouts commands to do burpees that send me scrambling to the floor, or boob-joggling star-jumps, I know I should be grateful.

I no longer hobble. I’m there – in the moment.

It’s worth enduring the rain (the “mist” in the title!) to get there.

That once-broken fifth metatarsal reminds me it’s there – I practically see it shining UV fluorescent green through the side of my shoe, through my skin.

Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?
Help me Doctor! Is it Guerrillas or gorillas?

My yoga instructor once told me this “reminder” is the bone’s way of protecting me!

All the same, it’s surreal. It now survives high impact exercises – not only Guerrillas – but running too.

I had to replace my mobile phone recently due to wear and tear – that option simply isn’t as readily available when it’s one of your feet.

Good job the body heals as well as it does!

My battle against vile, flabby, passive femininity – my War on Soft – is making satisfactory progress to date.

Leave the wings where they belong
Leave the wings where they belong

However my latest concern is – now the bingo wings are on their way out courtesy of my upper-body work – am I going to bulk-up?

After all I don’t want to end looking like a gorilla!

“(Women) should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels”, says exercise physiologist and author Dr Jason Karp.

Like, phew!

Another WordPress blog CrossFit Journal has offered some reassurance this won’t happen.

Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly 'bulky'
Leading cross-fitter Christmas Abbott is hardly ‘bulky’

With my short, stocky stature I fear I could go that way – but if I’ve being realistic, I’ve got a very long way to go before that happens, if indeed it does.

For a start, at the moment I can’t even pull myself up whether it’s on rings dangling from the ceiling or on a bar above my head – my arms simply aren’t strong enough to carry my full body weight.

That’ll change, of course!

I'll be able to do this - one day!
I’ll be able to do this – one day!

And the majority of people in today’s class were female (don’t ask me why but the male-dominated ones tend to be more in the evenings) – and I’d say most of them don’t want to bulk-up either!

Frankly, as someone who prides themselves on being unfeminine and unladylike I’m shocked at my typically girly fear of becoming muscular, especially when I know how irrational it is, given my existing knowledge.

I reckon I need to start balancing out the cardio and reintroducing long runs.

It’s all a work in progress – but I’m on it!

I’m Back!

The time has come – and as far as the big kid in me was concerned –  it couldn’t come quick enough.

You work out for a minute at different stations
You work out at different stations

We are, however, talking more than the obligatory three months (doctor’s orders!) between fracture and weight-bearing exercise.

So Team Guerrilla was the venue for the relaunch of my life-as-someone-who-exercises-regularly.

It was the first time I’d seen myself in my workout gear in months – and my assessment was ruthless.

Keeping it real - it's early days
Keeping it real – it’s early days

As someone who still walks a lot, the legs weren’t too much of a write-off. I’ve not exactly put on weight but I’m flabbier – especially round the midrift and arms. My bust? Well let’s not go there.

The session basically consists of working-out for a minute at different stations – but even then there can be a sense of “why on earth am I doing this?”

Of course, I know why I’m doing it, (not least that fantastically happy feeling you get at the end) but with those vile soft flabby upper arms of mine it looks like I’m a long way from my goals.

Nerves? Yes! This shaky selife was taken BEFORE the class!
Nerves? Yes! This shaky selfie was taken BEFORE the class!

There was a sense, admittedly, of real anger too – regarding why I’ve almost “back to square one”.

As you know, I broke my foot trying to switch off the smoke alarm.

Clambering on to the sofa arm to reach the device (which was on the ceiling) resulted in a slip, and the fracture. Oh, and Em’s Way To Go!

In a way I have myself to blame. Taking the plunge – pscychologically – has admittedly been difficult.

So – months later – I picked up where I’d left off.

No hiding places at Guerrillas!
No hiding places at Guerrillas!

There were no surprises. I’d expected the sensation of my heart-trying-to-smash-its-way-out-through-my rib-cage and, sure enough, it welcomed me back.

More galling was just how unfit I’d become – at one point my arms couldn’t support me when previously they could whilst doing the same exericse – and I practically fell flat on my face.

But other exercises gave me that “welcome back” feeling – like declaring war on my burgeoning cleavage with the pectoral exercises, to name just one.

That sense of regaining control is fabulous. Whether it’s a coping strategy or not, a vital component of my lifestyle is back.

The foot? I could slightly feel that left fifth metatarsal as I walked back, but  that’s about it.

It was reminding me of its presence but hopefully now it knows who’s boss!