Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Fitness Playground

So for those of you who know me, whether it be in real life or via Twitter, you'll know that I am slightly Olympic obsessed (slightly as in I have the Olympic rings tattoo'd on me). And because of my little obsession, when there was an opportunity to run round the Olympic Park and finish on the running track in July, I OBVIOUSLY signed myself up.

There was only one teeney tiny flaw in my plan. I hate running. HATE IT. I am not a runner.

But because of where it was, I kinda lost sight of what I actually had to do. Queue training plan... eek. Thank goodness for mobile phone apps is all I can say! When I started running, I couldn't even run for a minute. 60 little seconds, and I can now (proudly) say that I ran for 25 minutes last weekend - the tiniest bit shy of 2 miles. Go me.

Anywho... a Twitter buddy of mine, @brob11, had noticed that I'd got some sort of fitness bug (which I'll be honest will probably finish as soon as my run is over!) and sent me a link to the website for Fitness Playground with the message "This might interest you, or make you run away as far as possible!". Hmm... I wasn't convinced that anything with a message of me potentially running for the hills was going to be something I'd wanna do...

But I looked on the website anyway... and I must admit I liked what I saw... although I was far from convinced that I actually wanted to do it myself!

The basics of the Fitness Playground is this - use London as your gym. You get to exercise outside in the open, in the best city in the world, and in places most Londoners wouldn't even know about. 

Probably better if I let @FitnessPlaygrnd explain themselves...

Sounds pretty cool eh? 

So I bit the bullet and signed up for my first session (which is free!), and went along last night.

They're currently based out of South Bank University in Elephant and Castle, SE1 and I rocked up for my session at 7.30pm.

The lovely Pete and Dan (from the YouTube clip above) were there to meet me, and tell me that there was meant to be 2 other people with me, but they'd cancelled and so I was on my own. ON MY OWN.

This had both positive and negative implications... On the positive side, I had an hours personal training session with 2 personal trainers all to myself. The negative? It was all to myself so there was no where I could hide! Eek!

Off we went... running to our first station. Yup, running. Is a blooming good job that I'd been doing my training as there is no way I would have been able to run otherwise! Phew.

Our first station was a little green called Mint Street Park where I had to do such things as sprints, stretching, play a game of tag - tagging knee's and shoulders (which was quite amusing!).

From there we ran (again!) to Tate Modern where we went on the green outside and I did things like planks, side planks, press up's, used resistance bands, did slam dunks with a medicine type ball...

Run time! From the Tate Modern, we ran along the river to the little green next to the Oxo Tower. There I used a skipping rope (gladly I can say that I remembered how to skip from school!), did a mini circuit, sit ups and got strapped in a harness where Pete held onto a handle that was connected to the harness and I had to run while he held me back. Originally when I saw it, I did feel like I was about to be taken for a walk... :S
From there we ran back to the university doing stretches along the way. 

And then it was over. Thank god!

All in all, Dan said that I'd run between 4 and 5k. Awesome. Add all the exercise on to that too and I'd had one hell of a work out. Double awesome. Go me.

It was hard work, really hard work at some points, and you need to be willing to get a bit dirty (you are doing press ups etc... on grass after all!) and I'm not gonna lie, I felt like a complete lemon most of the time, but I actually enjoyed it and had fun!

When they'd first said it was me on my own that session, I was quietly filled with dread. But I am really glad that I was. It was great that I got to have a one on one session with 2 personal trainers, but it also meant that I got to speak to them a lot (although not when I was running as I can't talk and run at the same time!) and find out more about them and what they do. 

Dan and Pete were really friendly, push you hard without over pushing you and make what you're doing fun so you don't quite realise how much you're working. You also get to see bits of London you might not know about and meet new people too. Win, win and win!

As I said all the way up top, you start off the session at South Bank University. There are changing rooms and showers that you can use, but I didn't as I was dressed and ready when I got there. They will also lock away your bag/valuables. 

The route you do changes every time, but you'll still be in the SE1/Southbank area. You can book in sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings (they do 6pm or 7.30pm), and Saturday mornings too. There is also talk of them starting sessions in Canary Wharf on a Tuesday night in the future - which would be brilliant for me as that's where I work! The first session you do is free, and then there are various packages you can do from paying per session (which is £10) or you can buy monthly and unlimited memberships too for slightly cheaper rates. 

So how did I feel today I hear you all cry out? I woke up this morning and felt fine. So I cycled into work. As the day went on I've got more and more stiff...  and now I can't bend over. Or walk. I certainly had a full body workout last night! But... I've signed up for another session next Monday night, so it couldn't have been that bad! And I've got a friend coming with me so I won't be on my own... :)

My only question is... when are you all gonna sign up?

Oh... and the first rule of the Fitness Playground is we don't talk about Fitness Playground (except to everyone you know to get them to do it!).

Big thanks to Pete and Dan and I'll see you guys next week :)


  1. Lovely comments Sarah! The pain will go away once you get into the training... honest! Looking forward to taking you on new routes in future. We also have plenty more games up our sleeves! - Dan

    1. Hmm... I hope so! I plan on doing a session every fortnight... and if you guys do come to Canary Wharf half my office will sign up!