‘Healthy’ Grab & Go Snacks That Are Fooling Us All


It’s completely natural to grab the odd snack or drink on the go and think “it’s not unhealthy, it’s fine”. Sorry to break it to you, but many of the snacks you pick up when you’ve forgotten your lunch or are late for the school run could actually be doing you more harm than good. The NHS recommends that a person over the age of eleven should consume no more than 30g of added sugars per day. Think you’re under that limit? You might be in for a shock.

Flavoured Coffee

We all love a fresh, hot cup of coffee, right? It wakes us up, gives us the energy required to kick start our day and it essentially a lovely, warm blanket in a cup. The message here is to be careful what you choose when in popular coffee shop chains, because not all coffee is as innocent as it may seem. The key is to check the sugar content, which is more often than not listed on the company website. Failing that, ask in store.

An example? Our beloved Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte, as beautifully seasonal as it is, it is a coffee holding 37g of sugar per Tall cup, and 64g per Venti cup… and that’s without the added whipped cream. Gulp. Unfortunately delicious, flavoured coffee can come at a price, and we’re not (just) talking about your wallet. Tip: order something else with a lower sugar content or check out healthier recipes online to make your own. Last resort? Try asking for one syrup shot instead of the usual three.

Snack Bars

Advertised as healthy bars to help satisfy those cravings, all without doing any damage to your waistline. Some do in fact do this, others do not. For example a recent study showed that the following “healthy” bars featured tactical marketing to disguise their sugary truth:

  • Eat Natural Cranberries, Macadamias and Dark Chocolate Bars: 18.3g sugar per bar
  • Nutri-Grain Strawberry Bars: 12g sugar per bar
  • Asda Chosen by You Oats and Honey Bars: 8.7g sugar per bar

That said, there are healthier options out there:

  • Grenade Caramel Chaos Carb Killa Bars: 1.4g sugar per bar
  • Nakd Bakewell Tart Bars: 16g sugar per bar (zero added sugar)
  • Cacao Mint Bounce Balls: 9g sugar per ball

They may appear to have higher sugar content in some cases, but check the ingredients, as this will tell you whether it is natural or refined sugars. Look out for mentions of glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, fructose and molasses, as these could all be the culprits.

Smoothies & Juices

Fruit blended in a bottle, it must be good for you, right? In small quantities, yes. The sugar content of these juices and smoothies are usually all natural, but believe it or not many health professionals recommend that if you’re looking to trim your figure, fruit should be limited, as whilst it contains those good, natural sugars, more than you need could result in rotting teeth and slow but steady weight gain.

As an example, 200ml of Tesco’s Pure Orange Juice contains 16.4g of sugar, which sits in the red on the nutritional chart. You don’t need to eliminate it from your diet, but limiting it would be a good start.

Next up, the Innocent Mango and Passion Fruit Smoothie. 250ml of this contains a whopping 28g of sugar, only 2g of sugar away from your entire recommended daily intake of sugar.

Last but not least, 250ml of Naked’s Green Machine Smoothie contains a staggering 29g of sugar, now only 1g of sugar away from your entire recommended daily intake. Is it really worth it, all for a small bottle?

Now here are your options. One, limit the juice to once or twice a week. Two, swap to a healthier alternative still containing that sweet kick, such as coconut water, or better yet make your own. Three, stick to water, your ultimate safe option when it comes to hydration. At the end of the day, it’s water that our bodies need to function, not juices or smoothies. Just ensure that you’re getting your fats, fibre, protein and vitamins elsewhere in your diet. Balance is everything!

Our health is the most important thing to take care of, so monitor it and adjust where necessary to ensure you don’t fall into the ‘healthy/unhealthy’ trap. After all, we want to get our added sugar from actual treats that feel like an indulgence, don’t we?

For registered nutritional advice please contact a professional or visit the NHS website.

Posted in Nutrition and Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Superstore at Grand Designs Live Birmingham

Grand Designs Live returns to the Birmingham NEC from the 19th October – 23rd October 2016. Packed with over 500 exhibitors, the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to see all the latest trends for the home as well as many products never seen before, and we’re excited to announce that we will be exhibiting there at stand L42!


Grand Designs Live Discount

Pick up one of our special offers brochures from stand L42 in order to receive a one-off discount code (exclusions apply, please speak to one of our team members at the show for details).

2016 Show Product Highlights

As we did back in April for Grand Designs Live at the London ExCel, we will be bringing along our range of premium products that integrate seamlessly into home settings, alongside a few of our latest additions, which we are extremely proud to be showcasing! Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll be able try out during your visit to the show…

Airdyne AD8 Dual Action Air Cycle


The Airdyne AD8 enhances Schwinn’s existing air resistance reputation of durability and performance with its updated, next level design. Effective total body cardio workouts will soon become a staple part of your exercise routine thanks to Schwinn’s latest advanced air resistance technology that features in the bike.

Personal Power Plate


The Personal Power Plate is engineered to accelerate your workout scientifically with established health and fitness benefits, in order to deliver faster and longer lasting results in the areas of strength training, flexibility, circulation and weight loss. (Pssst – the My7 will be making an appearance too!).

Technogym MyRun Treadmill


Bringing the professional home, this outstanding treadmill features personalised programmes, insightful running feedback and is the first ever music-interactive treadmill.

Bowflex MAX Trainer M5


Achieve maximum calorie burn in no time at all with the Bowflex MAX Trainer M5. Well and truly feature-packed, it features incredible workouts including the ground-breaking 14-minute MAX Interval™.

NordicTrack VX500 Upright Cycle


The NordicTrack VX500 Cycle delivers high performance and ultra-smooth workouts at home thanks to its SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance, whilst its 20 intensity levels and 20 workout programmes keep you constantly challenged.

To see all of these incredible machines and plenty more, come and see us at stand L42 where you can ask questions and get to grips with the feel and performance of our top of the range products.

We hope to see you there!

Stay in Touch

To keep in touch with all of our news and updates following the show, make sure you follow us on Twitter, Instagram and ‘like’ our Facebook page. To find out more about the show, you can visit the Grand Designs Live website.

Posted in Events, Fitness and training, Our latest news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Talk About the Impact of Stress on Your Health


Stress is something which, unfortunately, cannot be avoided in life. Whether it is your work, your family or another pressing issue that you have to deal with, it is inevitable that at some point, your stress levels will rise to a point where you feel it is beyond your control.

What impact does this have on your health?              

Stress can contribute to many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, but it can also affect your mind, your behaviour and in turn, cause weight gain.

Many spend their lives working to maintain a good diet, remain active and in some cases, lose a significant amount of weight, so it could be considered quite unfair that stress has the power to unravel your hard work – yet sadly it is quite common.

What can you do to avoid stress?

Now we’re not saying that by following this advice you will remain stress free for the rest of your life, because sadly there is no guarantee of that for anyone, but little changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference.

Take time to breathe – It sounds simple, but learning to breathe in a healthy and calm way, such as through yoga or meditation, can allow you to become more aware of how you treat your body. Getting your breathing under control and remembering this during a stressful situation can avoid any further developments, such as enhanced stress or even a panic attack.

You diet counts – You might feel that the doughnut to your right is the answer to all of your problems, but sadly, it is not. It might be a delicious treat to distract you from your concerns for a couple of minutes, but the point here is that it won’t last. That, and the fact you’ll end up craving more because of the sugar intake, and may even find yourself eating uncontrollably of the course of the day. Bridget Jones eating ice-cream in a duvet fort comes to mind. Eating good, nutritious food will satisfy those stress induced hunger cravings, all while giving you that required brain power.

Get some fresh air – A walk, jog or cycle in the fresh air will do wonders for your mentality. Doing this when you’re stressed is a good option, but to work on reducing your stress on a more long-term basis, we suggest making this a regular part of your weekly routine. Taking time out to regain that organised and serene mind-set is something we should all be doing, multiple times per week. Another benefit? The exercise is always an added bonus.

Utilise the benefits of exercise – Further to walking in the fresh air, attending a regular fitness class, hitting the treadmill, bike or elliptical, or working through a strength workout a few times per week is excellent for reducing stress. Exercise releases a chemical known as endorphins, which triggers a positive feeling. Frequent physical activity has endless benefits that really are worth the time and effort. As they say, whoever regrets a workout?

Not matter how much stress you might be put under, tackling it head on from the very beginning will hugely support your energy, your productivity and your control.

Posted in Fitness and training, Nutrition and Recipes, Tips and advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cardio: The Forgotten Benefits


Often in the fitness world, cardio can be seen as ‘a waste of time’ for those who want to do nothing more than build strong, lean muscle. Of course, lifting weights is the way to go if you wish to improve you strength and shape, but cardio is often pushed aside with the mentality that if you do cardio, you’ll lose weight and muscle mass. To a point, yes, this is true, but cardio has another important role to play in our lives that some are forgetting about, and there’s no reason to say it can’t be included into our fitness regimes.

Walking, jogging, swimming, whatever it is, low or high intensity cardio is going to do wonders for your health. You may be thinking “but I’m healthy anyway, so why do I need to do cardio?”.  You want to maintain your health, right? You want to live a long, healthy life, limiting health issues wherever possible, right? Of course diet has a huge part to play in this, but cardio does too, so let’s not eliminate it.

What are the benefits of cardio?

Aside from weight loss, cardio gives you a stronger heart, stronger lungs, increased bone density, reduced stress and improved sleep, all while reducing the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

How much exercise should I do?

The NHS recommend that you do at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which can be done through a variety of activities. No time because of the kids? Get them involved! Take them swimming, take them to the park, or head out for a family stroll. The options are limitless, and as much as they might moan at the time, they’ll thank you for it later in life.

What cardio can I do?

Anything that gets your heart rate going is great, though activities such as running, rowing, cycling, boxing and CrossFit style circuits are all great options. If you’re a member of a gym you’ll of course have full access to equipment, but if you’re not and are looking at getting equipment for the home, products such as our new Pro-Form range offer everything you could ever need for your home gym… and then some.

The results

As stated by the NHS, it is medically proven that those who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

So what are you waiting for? Get that cardio into your week, and if you’re a keen lifter, save some workout time for a quick cardio session. Trust us, the benefits are worth the effort!

Posted in Fitness and training, Tips and advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Myth Buster Part 2: Spot Reducing & Diet

Following on from our Myth Buster Part One post, PT Carly Tierney continues on the topic of diet and exercise for women, this time focusing on spot reducing, calorie consumption and finding the right plan…











Put simply, your body cannot reduce fat in specific locations. If for example you have what you’d describe as ‘bingo wings’ or a bigger stomach, doing thousands of bicep curls and thousands of crunches won’t mean you suddenly wake up with impressive biceps or enviable abs, as sad as that reality is.

Your body is genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain locations, in a certain order, so when you start to lose weight, your body will lose the fat you currently have in a certain order as well. For example it might come off your arms first, then your legs, then your stomach, then your chest, and THEN your butt. Or in a different order, depending on your personal genetic makeup. No amount of targeted exercise will change how that fat disappears.

Want to make it disappear faster? Eat better. Your diet will be responsible for 80-90% of that fat loss. Strength train not with targeted exercises, but with big compound movements that recruit lots of muscle and thus force your body to rebuild lots of muscle, which requires extra calories burned, even after the workout is done.

If you never run another mile in your entire life, there’s no reason you cannot be incredibly healthy and look amazing. Despite what you might think and what you might see in a gym, you will never need to step foot on another cardio machine again.


A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, right? If you want to lose weight, just eating less will get you there, right? And eating even LESS than that will help you get there even faster… right? WRONG. This prevailing attitude is responsible for people all over the country being weak, miserable, irritable and frustrated. Yes, eating less will help you lose weight, however that is not the whole story. Surviving on 1,200 calories (or less) a day is a miserable way to go through life. Always hungry, never happy. Our bodies need real food, and they need enough of it in order to operate at optimum efficiency.

Not all calories are created equally, which is the foundation of clean eating. Our bodies can react differently to the consumption of protein, healthy fats and vegetables in comparison to processed foods, grains, and dairy. Some trigger positive reactions in our body: rebuilding muscle. While others trigger negative reactions: spiking your blood sugar levels, pumping out more insulin, storing more fat.

You need to eat real foods, and you need to eat enough of them. Honestly, unless you are incredibly small, I would never recommend ever putting any woman on a diet of 1,200 calories. In fact, I don’t recommend women ever dip below 1,800 calories per day if they are exercising regularly!  I understand that every woman is different and every woman processes calories differently, but I can’t emphasise enough that quality of food is so important!

As long as these calories consist of the right kinds of food and this diet is combined with a fun workout that gets your muscles exercising and your heart pumping, you will have success. Conversely, if you only consume 1,200 calories per day and you try to exercise, I’m going to guess that your body will hate you. You won’t have any energy, your body will potentially revolt against you and you will not last long in this routine. This is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.


You might be out shopping for that ‘master workout plan’ that works for everyone. You might read ten different books on diet, each presenting a contrasting style that promises amazing results. You might have read our posts on The Paleo Diet and Intermittent Fasting and wondered: “Will this work for me?”. It seems too good to be true but still you ask yourself “Is this the plan that will finally get me results?”. The truth: I don’t know.  Everybody, both men and women, react to foods, training, and different stimuli differently. We are all genetically different, have unique characteristics, different lives, different preferences and different struggles. The only way to know what works for you is to TRY IT OUT, and then TRACK YOUR RESULTS.

Yes, I am a big fan of clean eating and strength training for both men and women. Will these things work for everybody? Nope. However, during my years of experience as Rebel Leader, observing hundreds of people working to live better, I believe that a healthy diet and strength training give the greatest number of people the greatest chance for success with the best results.

It’s for those reasons that I champion these diet and fitness strategies. You are different. Different motivations, genetics and lifestyles, which is why I prefer programmes that suit individual needs and preferences.

Read more blogs from Carly Tierney.

Carly Tierney Personal Trainer

Carly Tierney is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, Pilates instructor, fitness feature writer and is also the new DW Sports Fitness Expert across social media. In 2014, she became Ms Bikini Tall Miami Pro champion and is sponsored by BSN, Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, Inc. Carly was also a finalist for Gym Based PT of the year.

Visit Carly’s website, and check out her newsletter!

Posted in Carly Tierney, Fitness and training, Guest blogs, Nutrition and Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Autumn/Winter is the Best Time to Train

Darker evenings, dropping temperatures, and if like us you’re UK based, no doubt endless rain. It doesn’t bode well for that post-summer workout motivation, which is no doubt already wilting, does it? We get the struggle, honestly, but hear us out. The autumn/winter months are actually the best time to hit the gym with a bang and meal prep until you’re sick of the sight of tupperware, Why? Let us explain…



It’s as simple as that, unless of course you’ve gone and booked yourself a cheeky winter break in the sun, in which case you may need to consider dropping the cake and upping the HIIT. But, for those of you who have zero holiday plans for the forseeable future, we’ve got your back and a pretty cracking proposition. Just think about this, its April and summer is around the corner. Its shorts weather, god forbid even swimwear weather, and you’re yet to begin your fitness journey, because once again, the Christmas and Easter treats got the better of you. How about we avoid that altogether, and get way, way ahead of the game? Use September to January to get as lean as possible and 100% beach ready for when the summer returns next year. You can thank us later.


AKA, the blanket which conceals the incredible body to be unveiled in early 2017. If you decide to get fit over summer, you’re spending each day in summery clothing which perhaps can reveal those bits you desperately wish you could get rid of. Some people may use this as motivation to work harder, but others may catch a glimpse in the mirror and think “nope, not worth my time. Nothing is going to change so what’s the point.” Now how about this. You end summer feeling a little unhappy about your weight or body shape, and before you know it, out come the jumpers and coats. Bam. Now is your chance to get serious about this, so that by the time they go away once again, there you are with a figure to be admired, ready to show it off to the world.


Yes, it may be cold and slushy out, but that’s an awful lot easier to work out in as opposed to searing, thirty degree plus temperatures. Picture this. You head out to the gym in the snow or go for a jog in the drizzle, it’s gross, but when you get home you’ve just earned yourself a beautiful bubble bath, cup of tea, and every excuse to get into your comfy loungewear for the rest of the day. Surely that beats getting home, sweating like a pig in a sauna, not knowing where to sit or stand in fear of melting into the floor, are we right?


Sorry to mention Christmas (though did you know it’s only just over thirteen weeks away?), but it’s got to be said. Raise a hand if you’ve ever got to 1st December and thought “what’s a few weeks of chocolate, gingerbread, roast dinners and mulled wine going to do?” Err, actually quite a lot. The odd day you can get away with, and we all deserve a break, but anything longer than a week is going to get our of hand. If you get carried away, no doubt come January you’re going to feel slightly bloated and slightly regretful, unless of course you have the willpower of a champion and can bounce back within no time at all, in which case we salute you.

All in all, the autumn/winter months really are the optimum time to reduce the sugar, up the workout intensity and load up with lean meats and veggies. After all, nothing beats the thought of standing poolside on holiday being the person that makes others wish they’d started sooner, does it?

Posted in Fitness and training, Nutrition and Recipes, Tips and advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Guide to Weighted Bags


Weighted Bags, what are they?

Launched in 2003, Weighted Bags are extremely versatile pieces of fitness equipment, giving so much more flexibility to your functional training workouts. Better yet, they’re suitable for every individual, thanks to the vast array of weight options on offer to us fitness enthusiasts. To put it into perspective for you, there are currently over 4,000 Weighted Bags being used by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF globally. Need we say more?

The design of Weighted Bags makes them comfortable to train with, featuring a soft construction spreading the load when they are on the shoulders to allow a more dynamic and aggressive movement than with traditional weights. Weighted Bags can also used on almost any surface inside or outdoors, so you’re by no means limited!

Keen to give them a go in your next workout? Here are five exercises that pair perfectly with the use of a Weighted Bag…


Hold the Weighted Bag behind your head and rest it on your shoulders/upper back. Take a step forwards bending one leg, but keeping a straight, upright position with your body. Alternate legs and repeat for 15-20 reps.


Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bend at the waist and knee, keeping your back straight. Pull the Weighted Bag up into your body and then lower to the ground. Repeat for 15-20 reps. Remember to keep a straight back at all times!


Similar to the lunge position, hold the Weighted Bag behind your head and rest it on your shoulders/upper back. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and squat down 90 degrees, or as low as possible, before returning to a standing position. Again, remember to keep your back straight.


Hold the Weighted Bag in both hands in front of you and lean forward to a 90 degree position, dropping your arms to the floor and lifting your leg behind you as you go, in order to reach a perfectly flat horizontal position (body and raised leg). Do this on alternate legs for 15-20 reps.


Hold the Weighted Bag in both hands at waist height, bring it up to your chest and press upwards. Bring the sandbag back down to your chest and repeat the motion for 15-20 reps.

You can take the intensity up a notch by performing 3 sets, resting for 30-60 seconds in between each set.

Looking to discover more about Weighted Bags? Head over to our website and check out our new Body Power range!

Posted in Fitness and training, Tips and advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment