As sure as night follows day, when the warmer days arrive like they have this week (hurrah!) we get bombarded with talk from all corners about how to get the ‘ultimate’ bikini body. In the PHA sports department the clichéd phrase has become part of our daily (poor levels of) banter, with members of the team shouting out something about the ‘bikini body blitz’ whenever anyone mentions anything vaguely related to dieting or getting in shape… like when someone chose rice instead of chips with their Nandos, or took the stairs instead of the lift. Those types of health conscious decisions are all met with a cry of ‘oooh, bikini body blitz’ or some such, with the ‘joke’ being used as a way of deriding the annual pursuit of the perfect bikini body.
However… I have a confession to make. Despite fully partaking in all of this mocking I am going on holiday with 14 friends this summer and am not particularly relishing the thought of pottering around the pool in what is basically underwear. They are all my friends, no one will judge me… but still. I think I now can understand, or at least appreciate, what all this ‘bikini body blitz’ fuss is about.
So this week, I went along to a circuit training session being held in my local park. I keep myself fairly aerobically fit, but have the upper body strength of a field mouse and wouldn’t mind generally improving my muscle mass and tone, so circuit training sounded like something worth giving a go.
The sessions are lead by personal trainer, Bonnie Dair. Bonnie is lively, enthusiastic and is a walking advertisement for her methods. She has a shapely, but slim and toned figure; the stuff bikini body dreams are made of.
She started the session with a quick warm up – a few laps of our designated workout area – and some ‘dynamic’ stretching (stretching on the move). Then it was straight in to aerobic stuff to get the heart rate up; running at a decent speed whilst Bonnie barked instructions – ‘touch the floor’, ‘jump’, ‘change direction’, ‘five star jumps’, etc. Ten minutes of that and everyone was pretty puffed, but Bonnie hadn’t really got going on us yet.
Next up was a series of sprinting, side stepping, jumping, hopping, ‘bunny hopping’ (which involves crouching down as low as you can and then springing up and forward) and belly crawling.
Sounds knackering, and it was. But we hadn’t come for a walk in the park. Up next was another series of sprinting to be followed by a set of 10 burpies (for those that don’t know, a ‘burpy’ is a particularly exhausting exercise which involves jumping in to the air, then getting in to the plank position and doing a press up. Or if you can’t manage a press up – more of that later – getting in to the plank position and lowering yourself as far as you can on bended elbows) . Then there was more sprinting followed by eight burpies. Then more sprinting followed by six burpies… and so on and so on. By the time we got to four burpies one participant had to sit out because she was feeling faint and another was on the brink of collapse. I gallantly battled my way through to the end before collapsing in a heap after a fairly pathetic set of two final burpies.
After inflicting all that pain on us, Bonnie took the pace down a notch, but kept up the workout by switching to some core and upper body exercises. This is where my patheticness (not that that’s a word) came in to its own. Unfortunately for me and my sparrow arms, one press-up is a press-up too far. However, Bonnie took pity on me (I think she could see, by the pained look on my face, that I was at least trying) and helped by standing behind me and pulling me up from my hips slightly. She took just enough of my weight to make it do-able, but kept it difficult enough so that I could tell it was still doing ‘something’. My poor little twiglets (otherwise known as arms) were screaming at me in abject horror at the pain being inflicted, but Bonnie kept me going until I really could do no more. She then gave me an encouraging back slap and moved on to her next victim.
By the end of the session I was totally whacked, but my muscles also had that throbbing, but very pleasing, feeling of having been worked effectively. The cool down and stretching at the end of the workout ensured I wasn’t in too much pain the next day, and the pain I did have was of a satisfying sort.
Will I be back next week? Hell yeah. This bikini body blitz continues…
Our verdict: Despite the pain, I really enjoyed the class and the total body workout it offered. It was also great to be exercising outside in the lovely surrounds of Clissold Park. Clearly there is work to be done before the twiglets can cope with a press up, but I will be sticking with it and have faith that, with Bonnie’s help, the press-up dream will become a reality soon…
Our score: 9/10
Words by Katie Matthews