Are you one of the millions that has returned to the gym this week with a fresh New Year’s resolution spurring you on to reach new heights in your levels of fitness? Or perhaps you’re the person that walked in to your regular gym in your regular routine and discovered it’s rammed full of people you’ve never seen before in your life?
Yes it’s that time of year again when the indulgence and extravagant eating and drinking over the festive period returns to haunt us, and our instant response is to renew that gym membership and make plans to shed the pounds before the summer holidays creep up on us and the panic starts to achieve the perfect beach body.
But herein lies the question: how well do you know your body?
Virgin Active sought to find out just how much we know about the muscles we use and train every day, and the result was truly staggering. 75 per cent of a 2000-person study admitted to having an average to poor knowledge of their own muscles, while nearly half of those asked had no idea where their triceps were – despite being one of the key muscles groups strengthened through weight training.
Worryingly, despite the gluteus maximus (or the glutes) being the largest muscle in the body, nearly 10 per cent believed is was located in the stomach, 60 per cent struggled to locate the quadriceps and 32 per cent admitted they had no idea what deltoids were.
Furthermore, Virgin Active looked at location to see where the most clued up exercisers were in the country and which areas could do with a good old biology lesson before picking up the weights once more. London proved to be the highest scoring area with 31 per cent claiming to have a good to excellent knowledge of their muscles, while Yorkshire and Humberside came in second with 26 per cent.
The healthy eating trends of 2015
The healthy eating trends of 2015
1/10 Acai bowls are the new green juice
Who ever thought we’d have been ok with adding spinach to our smoothies? Yet even virtuous green juices started to get something of a bad rep, as the ‘juice fast’ backlash grew and it turned out that some shop-bought juices contained as much sugar as a can of fizzy drink. Bring on Acai bowls, the new darlings of Instagram. Like a gloopier smoothie, these are made with antioxidant-rich acai berries (they are hard to come by - search for powdered or dried berries or frozen puree), which are said to aid weight loss. Blend with frozen bananas, berries and a little nut milk and top with whatever you like - seeds, nuts, cacao nibs, goji berries. A picture-perfect purple powerhouse for breakfast.
Ella Grace Denton, www.weneedtolivemore.com
2/10 Bone broth is the new Miso soup
Remember back in the day when the word ‘broth’ would conjure up visions of Dickensian orphanages? Then miso came along, Gwyneth embraced it, and we all followed suit, lauding how filling and protein rich with little wonder broth was. We’ve come full circle now, as bone broth is back on the radar. The glowing-with-health Hemsley sisters seem to use bone broth in most of their recipes, and rave about its nutritional benefits. “Bone broth is a nourishing all rounder packed with vitamins, minerals, collagen and keratin which makes it amazing for skin – including the dreaded cellulite! The healthy fats in the broth help you to assimilate important vitamins including Vit D.” There you go, something to stew over...
Food Loves Writing, Flickr
3/10 Bee pollen is the new Manuka honey
Every health hipster has a jar of manuka honey on their shelves - if they can afford it that is, a jar can cost about £15. But many claim it is worth its weight in gold, due to its unique antibacterial properties. Traditionally it was used on wounds, but many also claim that it performs miracles combatting cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and digestive problems (although the science is limited). Now bee pollen is the latest ‘superfood’ out there - thought to ward off colds, limit food cravings, improve skin tone, ward off allergies like hay fever (although some caution that it may exacerbate them) and, of course, fight cancer. Again, the science behind these claims is dubious - but it certainly adds a nice sweetness to your morning porridge.
4/10 Kelp is the new kale
Last year saw the emergence of an unassuming green leaf that was previously barely used beyond cattle feed. Now, we have kale chips in Pret, kale juices, ‘massaged’ kale salads - it’s even on the menu in fine dining restaurants. Yawn. Introducing kelp. This seaweed is high in iodine, which is said to improve thyroid function and control metabolism. It is also thought to have anti-aging properties for skin and hair. Try it in salads or add to asian-style soups.
5/10 Matcha is the new green tea
Yes, yes, yes, green tea, weightloss, yadda yadda yadda, boosts metabolism, etc etc. For 2015, though, it’s not about just any old green tea - this is matcha green tea. Made from finely milled high-grade matcha leaves, which are grown in the shade, matcha boasts 130 times more anti-oxidants than your bog standard green tea and is supposed to boost energy levels, lower stress, improve your mood and aid metabolism. It can be consumed as a regular tea, added to steamed milk for a matcha latte or even used to add a pleasant green shade and flavour to ice-cream.
6/10 Whole 30 is the new Paleo diet
Thought you were a culinary champ with your caveman-style eating plan? Well, think again, paleo is for wimps! Ok, not quite, but while people on the paleo plan cut out grains, legumes, sugar and processed foods, there is an increasing trend to paleo-fy your treats, with almond-flour pancakes, banana bread and a lot of brownies. The Whole 30 plan is a purer, stricter version of Paleo and really takes you back to basics when it comes to eating natural foods. The 30-day plan bans scales as well as sugar and alcohol, so that you can concentrate on nourishment rather than weight.
7/10 Fermenting is the new sprouting
Just when we thought we were ahead of the game by starting to sprout our own seeds and with sprouted flours creeping on to the market, the health set had to kick it up a notch. Now it’s all about making your own kombucha (fermented tea), sauerkraut or kimchi (both kinds of pickled cabbage). Fermented foods are said to aid digestion thanks to the creation of enzymes and probiotics in the process. Plus they tend to be high in B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids. Think of it as the new jam-making, and break out those mason jars.
8/10 Banana flour is the new coconut flour
Coconut flour was one of the coolest baking ingredients of the year, beloved by Paleo fans. Its highly absorbent qualities mean you only need a tiny bit for baking, keeping your creations low carb but resulting in the odd dry-crumbly-mess baking fail. Banana flour is the next flour to experiment with. Made from green bananas (and no, not banana-flavoured), it is gluten free and light in texture, so ideal for baking. High in resistant starch, which is effective against colon cancer, obesity, and diabetes, it is already being lauded for its nutritional benefits in Africa and South America, and will surely start to become much more visible on health-food shop shelves in the near future.
9/10 Bulletproof coffee is the new soy latte
Nowadays it is possible to walk into almost any cafe and order a soy latte without being eyeballed as a lunatic by the person behind the counter. But would you have the guts to request a stick of butter in your morning brew? Well, some coffee shops are offering exactly that. Bulletproof coffee is a paleo-friendly invention which involves a black coffee with a dollop of coconut oil or butter. Bleurgh. But advocates say it gives you more slow-release energy, sharpens your brain and helps you to focus - and even that it is delicious. Now the theory has been expanded into a whole ‘Bulletproof’ diet plan, rich in fat. Who wants to bet on when Starbucks will give it a shot?
10/10 Tiger nuts are the new almonds
2014 was a good year for almonds. Gym-goers and raw foodists alike carried around a stash for healthy, protein-rich snacking, almond-milk lattes were quaffed, and almond flour featured in so many paleo and gluten-free treats. Now tiger nuts, or ‘earth almonds’ (yes, really), are about to vie for snacking superiority. Tiger nuts are not nuts, but the tubers of the sedge plant. Originally a key food source for Paleolithic Indians, they have until recently been used as animal feed or a side dish in South America, Africa and the Middle East, or in Hispanic companies made into a sweet, milky drink called horchata. But now the hipsters have got their hands on it, drying, roasting and flavouring with the likes of sweet chilli for an on-the-go snack. High in healthy fats, protein and natural sugar, it is rich in energy content, and thought to help prevent heart disease and improve circulation.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the West Midlands were rooted to the bottom with 34 per cent admitting they had a bad to very bad knowledge of their muscles, although both the East Midlands and South West were not far behind with 32 per cent apiece.
But fear not. Virgin Active are offering virtual workouts that will help gym-goers gain a full understanding of their muscles and how to train them properly as well as giving tips on different ways to remain active.
“The results show just how much of an opportunity there is for us to build knowledge about our own bodies, and how to improve our movement and wellbeing just by being more conscious of what we are trying to achieve,” said Andy Birch, head of fitness for Virgin Active.
“Modern lives lead us to being increasingly sedentary and the data shows we’re not only unsure of the names and locations of these muscles, but that as a result, we are not exercising our whole body, instead becoming overly focused on specific areas and falling into routines that we are comfortable with,” Birch added, with half of the study revealing they focused all of their training on stomach, arms or upper legs while neglecting the rest of their body.
“With this in mind we are inviting consumers to discover new ways to move with us and new ways to keep exercise challenging, fresh and fun. We are always introducing new innovations and activities that will work muscles you never knew you had.
“We know that there is a growing trend to build knowledge of and monitor fitness both inside and outside of the health club.
“These stats show that it is necessary for knowledge to substantially grow in this area. It’s why we are inviting members and non-members alike to access our free and unique virtual workouts this January, and get a taste of the benefits that freedom of movement can bring to your everyday life.”
To access the virtual workouts, pick up a Jump-start pack at any Virgin Active club. For more information on Virgin Active health clubs and classes visit www.virginactive.co.uk or sign up to @virginactiveway for fresh, fun tips on discovering new ways to be active.Reuse content