These are the common boxing mistakes you make

These are the common boxing mistakes you make

Boxing can be a daunting exercise if it’s your first time, and a common misconception is that it’s a man’s sport, or that you’ll look ‘manly’ if you do it too often and build muscle. So we thought we’d ask Cathy Brown – who teaches boxing at Third Space London – to debunk a few myths for us.

What are the common mistakes women make when boxing?

The only mistake is not thinking that boxing is for them as it’s a man’s sport or thinking they will get hurt. I run women only, non contact boxing classes, which focus on correct technique and getting optimum power from punches. My Bitch Boxing classes are designed to make boxing attractive and comfortable for women to attend. I also run mixed classes where the women are encouraged to attend if they want. In terms of common mistakes, actually women tend to pick up technique better than men.

What are the physical benefits of boxing?

It is an amazing form of exercise for cardiovascular and strength training and it works all over body. It is an excellent fat burner because it mixes cardio and strength training. It gives you another form of training to do alongside weight training or classes, so keeps you motivated. It’s important to switch your training up as this prevents hitting plateaus and keeping the mind fresh so you don’t become bored. Boxing training can be transferred onto any other training as it helps with agility, power, faster recovery, fitness, strength and mindset. If you can integrate boxing within your training regime, it will enhance results.

What are the mental benefits of boxing?

It is a magical form of stress/anger release, and an extremely powerful way to help with anxiety, depression and increasing confidence. It gives individuals a stronger inner resilience and ability to build a coping mechanism. Boxing releases so many negative emotions and has a natural ability to be able to open people up about their feelings.

Once you talk about things, you can start introducing a coping mechanism, and talking about feelings/emotions is powerful to healing; suppression is toxic. The serotonin release you get from boxing serves as a natural anti-depressant and anxiety controller. What you learn from boxing in terms of mental strength will be transferred onto all other parts of your life, so you will be mentally stronger/calmer at work/socially and in life.

How does it change your body?

You will get stronger and leaner with boxing training, but you will also become more body confident which is the most important thing.

Can anyone box?

Yes, absolutely as long as the person enjoys it, and comes out of the session feeling good.

What are the benefits of female boxing classes?

Some women don’t want to train with men within a boxing class as if you’re not confident about boxing and haven’t built up the strength yet, it can be daunting if you have to partner with a man during the class. Although there is no contact, you may have to hold pads for a man during combination drills. Some women prefer to train in female boxing classes because of the great camaraderie, there are some lovely bonds and friendships created, you feel part of a ‘pack’ and we all come together to get mentally and physically stronger.

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Are you getting enough sleep based on the government's new rulings?

Are you getting enough sleep based on the government's new rulings?

Off to catch some ZZs


Sleep is absolutely essential to a healthy lifestyle but with work, children and life’s everyday pressures, too many of us struggle to get enough shut-eye.

‘I don’t need that much sleep’, we tell ourselves. ‘I can’t fall asleep before a certain time anyway’.

But judging by new guidance that is set to be issued by ministers, we need sleep a lot more than we think – and are more sleep deprived than we expected too.

The guidance in question is part of a series of proposals aimed at improving public health in the UK, with sleep deprivation leading to a multitude of physical and mental health problems.

Yes, according to the research cited in the proposal, there is a link between sleep deprivation and a number of increased health risks, from obesity and heart attacks to anxiety and depression.

So how much sleep should we all be getting? Well, according to the new governmental guidance, a whole seven hours – at least.

And while you may think that sounds easy, a leaked draft of the plans via The Times reveals that a whopping three in four adults do not regularly get seven hours sleep per night.

‘As a first step the government will review the evidence on sleep and health,’ the draft guidance reportedly reads. ‘This is with a view to informing the case for clear national guidance on the daily recommended hours of sleep for individuals in different age brackets and to raise awareness of the key “sleep hygiene” factors that can support healthy sleeping.’

Be right back – off to catch some ZZs.

The post Are you getting enough sleep based on the government’s new rulings? appeared first on Marie Claire.

Meet Louisa Drake, the celeb trainer changing the face of strength workouts

Meet Louisa Drake, the celeb trainer changing the face of strength workouts

She has trained everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Victoria Beckham – and here’s how you can train with her, too

louisa drake method
Credit: Louisa Drake

Louisa Drake’s boutique studio is London’s best kept secret. Nestled underneath a health food cafe in Fitzrovia, it’s easy to miss – but those that know about it are avid fans of her workouts, known as the Louisa Drake Method. The former professional dancer and choreographer has trained the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, worked alongside fitness guru Tracy Anderson and then went on to create her own unique system  – so it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about fitness.

Her signature style is a mixture of yoga, pilates, ballet and strength training – punctuated by a significant amount of pulsing – and the small studio is a lovely calm haven hidden under the busy pavements of the capital.

After a stretchy and sweaty Sunday session, I spoke to Louisa to find out more about her training method, what it feels to work with A-list celebrities and how she’s changing the face of strength workouts.

louisa drake method

Credit: Louisa Drake

Hi Louisa! First of all, how did you get into the fitness industry?

I spent years as a professional dancer and choreographer. Pilates and fitness were always a key part of my life so when I was chosen by Gwyneth Paltrow to be one of her trainers as part of Tracy Anderson’s team I knew it was something I’d be good at and I was keen to do something new.

I spent two years working with Gwyneth and Tracy Anderson based in London and regular trips to the States where I was a part of the boutique fitness boom before it came to London.

You have also trained the likes of Victoria Beckham – how was that?

It was a great experience, I enjoy working closely with clients. Working with actors or individuals in the public eye is slightly different as there’s a lot of pressure on them 24/7, and for females how they look and what they wear is always scrutinised. We would prep for events and roles several times a year and this would dictate the intensity of the training schedule and the overall focus of their results.

I was always so impressed with how driven and disciplined [Gwyneth and Victoria] both were. I worked with them frequently for two years with weekly private training sessions and they couldn’t have worked harder for me. They were both incredibly focussed, driven and hard working and a pleasure to train due to their commitment to their training.

Do you have a lot of celebrity clients and are they easy to work with?

I do have a couple I’m currently training but unfortunately I’m unable to disclose any names at this stage. However, they have graced the cover of Marie Claire! And many of them are, yes – absolutely!

How has being a choreographer and dancer helped to shape the Louisa Drake Method as well as your own fitness practice?

It’s had a huge influence. As a dancer, I practised yoga and pilates as well as other strength and conditioning exercises as part of my training, and I believe they are all significant, hence why I was keen to combine all disciplines to create LDM.

louisa drake method

Credit: Louisa Drake

How and when did you develop the Louisa Drake Method?

I was ambitious to do more beyond Tracy Anderson so I retrained and qualified in a range of fitness disciplines including Pilates, Strala yoga and L3 Personal Training and Nutrition. My Method, LDM, is a fusion of the disciplines I had spent years perfecting as part of my dance career – pilates, yoga, ballet and barre methods with functional movement and to have fun along the way.

I was approached by several of London’s fitness hotspots and taught a range of classes alongside private training. I was teaching Pilates and Barre classes at Shoreditch House and pitched them a LDM workout as something new and fresh for the class schedule. It was a hit and this is now known as our signature Shape Changer workout.

After excellent feedback and waitlist classes I brought LDM to the studio beneath the Detox Kitchen as part of a whole host of other fitness classes and teachers. LDM workouts developed and proved so popular that they asked me if I wanted to run the studio myself. We officially launched as LDM Studio in 2017.

What is the aim of LDM workouts?

LDM sessions aim to help you find balance in your approach to fitness, health and wellbeing. It’s about calming the mind and leaving you feeling energised, positive and with a stronger, leaner and lengthened physique.

What are the benefits? 

It will rework your workout and transform your body by creating more definition, increased strength and extensive toning. An LDM session helps to boost your energy, metabolism, burns fat and leans out your muscles. You notice increased flexibility, mentally it offers a release and overall the result is a sculpted physique.

louisa drake method

Credit: Louisa Drake

The new Sculpt & Stretch class feels like an invigorating mix of yoga, pilates and strength exercises – how did you create such a unique workout?

The fusion of disciplines is exactly what I aim to offer with LDM, and it’s an organic result of my background in dance. With a number of LDM instructors qualified in meditation, the class content also involves an element of mindfulness as we help clients switch off from their busy lives.

I believe you need to practise a variety of disciplines to get a balanced workout. I originally felt restricted teaching certain styles of classes at other studios, which I loved and respect, but I often needed to add in extras to give my clients what was lacking from attending just one style or discipline of workout once-twice a week.

Clients also tend to gravitate to what they are good at or like, and I like to add it elements of pilates or yoga to those clients who wouldn’t step inside a dedicated studio because they think that can’t touch their toes so have avoided yoga at all costs or have an impression that Pilates is boring so are not interested.

As a fitness professional its my job to offer clients what they need and I do this by introducing elements of existing fitness disciplines (if they are complete beginners without them knowing). I wanted to make it fun, effective and time efficient.

How is it different from other workouts?

I believe the difference lies in the variety of disciplines my classes offer and my unique programming. LDM is a one stop shop for fitness offering it all via our cleverly created class formats and private training so you can tick off all your workout needs led by a highly qualified dedicated team of experienced professionals.

louisa drake method

Credit: Louisa Drake

Do you need a certain level of fitness/strength to take part in the classes?

No, not at all. Myself and my team pride ourselves in our adaptability, we always make sure we find out about any issues, injuries, pregnancies, or simply those who need to take it a bit slower, at the start of the class and we adapt according to those needs throughout the session.

How often do your clients usually train to get the best results?

It depends on the individual and their goals but in general I’d say three times to four per week to achieve the best results.

What other workouts would you recommend doing alongside LDM?

I alway tell clients to do what they love, so any other activities such as swimming, running or tennis can compliment their training. I think it’s important to stay active and being involved with sports and activities they enjoy. With our private training clients we look at their lifestyle and factor in suggestions to help make them swim faster or run better.

To find out more about the Louisa Drake Method or to book a class visit or email

The post Meet Louisa Drake, the celeb trainer changing the face of strength workouts appeared first on Marie Claire.

This review website for contraception has gone viral for all the right reasons

This review website for contraception has gone viral for all the right reasons

morning after pill

Two years ago, Alice Pelton decided to create The Lowdown, a website dedicated to reviewing contraception, after noticing that the pill left her experiencing extreme mood swings.

It aims to provide users with honest, trustworthy reviews from those who have experience with a particular contraceptive method. It asks those who want to participate in sharing knowledge a few simple questions (anonymously, FYI) and discusses everything from periods, mood, weight and sex drive, and also provides information about sixteen different types of contraception from several variations of the pill, the implant, coil, condoms and also fertility tracking apps like Natural Cycles.

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Our Founder Alice has been shortlisted for a Rising Star award for building & launching @Gettheldown⁣ ⁣ Alice created The Lowdown because she is hugely passionate about empowering women with better information about contraception. Winning this award would give us a fantastic platform to spread the word about what we're doing – building the world's first review platform for contraception.⁣ ⁣ Part of the result is based on a public vote, so if you have a spare second please vote for Alice. It's super quick (you don't have to vote for all the categories). Link in our bio 👆⁣ ⁣ #actnatural photo by the supremely talented @Natevisuals ⁣ ⁣ #watctop100 #womenhelpingwomen #ladieswholaunch #mondayinspo #entrepreneur #femalefounder #femalefounders #shemadethis #startup #girlboss #femaleentrepreneur #businessbabescollective #womenwhosupportwomen #bossproject #femalefounded #ladieswholaunch #motivation #bizbabe #businesswoman #womenentrepreneurs #levelup #sexualhealth #contraception #getthelowdown #thepill #hormonalbirthcontrol #birthcontrol #medicine

A post shared by The Lowdown (@gettheldown) on May 13, 2019 at 1:13pm PDT

Alice told The Sun: ‘The idea just came to me one night: we review everything from our care salesmen to our hotels. Why don’t we review our contraception as well?

‘For many women, the only way they can find out side effects is by asking their doctor who can only relay his or her patients’ experiences – or by asking their group of friends. Both are useful but they’re small sample sizes.’

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Like the Brexit referendum, nobody tells you what it’s going to be like afterwards. ⁣ ⁣ At The Lowdown, we want to make sure we’re telling the whole story. That’s why we’re collecting data on contraceptive after effects – any side effects you had after you stopped using it. ⁣ ⁣ Mood swings, absent periods and bad skin – it can take months for your body and fertility to get back to normal. Our early research findings show how long women’s cycles take to re-sync post contraception. For 5% of women, it has taken over a year. ⁣ Here are some of the reviews and comments we’ve already received. Leave a review of your (non Brexit) experiences at We’d love to learn more about this ⁣ #contraception⁣ #ttc #mirenacrash #injection #amenorrhea #depoprovera #womenhelpingwomen #getthelowdown #thepill #womenshealth #hormones #wellbeing #hormonefree #pms #birthcontrol #birthcontrolproblems

A post shared by The Lowdown (@gettheldown) on Feb 24, 2019 at 10:54am PST

She told the paper: ‘I assumed the turbulent time I had over the next few months was just part and parcel of being a teenager.

‘I was so emotional; I didn’t have a grip on my moods. I had waves of anger and upset.’

Alice took a break from the pill before starting to use it again a few years later – and she almost instantly noticed a difference in her mood the second time around.

The site has found that just under 40% of users report a change in their mood and emotional state after using hormonal contraception, something that Alice knows only too well.

She plans to grow the website by encouraging people to keep adding reviews until each method has thousands of entries, as this is when the experts can assess where the patterns in side affects are.

Common side affects of contraception include headaches, tender breasts and a difference in skin, with less common side affects including hair growth and dizziness.

‘It’s an insight into quite how intricately the hormones can affect our body chemistry,’ Alice added.

What a brilliant idea. We’re here for it.

The post This review website for contraception has gone viral for all the right reasons appeared first on Marie Claire.

Milia: everything you need to know about those little white bumps on your skin

Milia: everything you need to know about those little white bumps on your skin


Milia are those small white bumps that appear on the skin that could easily be mistaken for whiteheads. However, they are in fact small cysts containing the protein keratin. They develop when clumps of dead skin cells get trapped below the skin and form hard white balls. The light colour has given them the nickname ‘milk spots’, which you might be familiar with as you often find them on babies.

To understand a bit more about these little spots and what can be done to remove and prevent them, we spoke to Dr Anita Sturnham, a GP and skin expert.

What do Milia look like?

‘Milia are typically white lesions, but can be yellow and red when irritated and inflamed,’ says Dr Sturnham. ‘They’re typically 1-2 mm diameter, uniform and spherical protruding from just under the skin surface.’

Why do Milia appear?

‘Milia are commonly found in both children and adults, and there are different types,’ explains Dr Sturnham. ‘They can either appear spontaneously, as in there is no obvious reason or trigger for them appearing, or they can be triggered by any form of trauma to the skin. Clinical studies have identified Milia as being linked to some genetically triggered skin conditions too.’

Milia are normally grouped into three categories…

Primary Milia – those that appear for no obvious reason

‘Within this category there are congenital Milia, which occur in up to 50% of newborns on the face (especially the nose), scalp and upper body, says Dr Sturnham. ‘These are harmless and tend to resolve themselves within weeks without treatment.

‘There’s also Eruptive Milia, which are larger groups of Milia that appear slowly and are most commonly found in younger women and are thought to be triggered by UV exposure.

‘And finally, Milia en plaque, a rare form, which can appear on adult skin. It occurs on red, swollen and inflamed skin, usually around the ears and eye regions.’

Secondary Milia

Secondary Milia is caused by damage to the skin.

‘The trigger can be any mechanical trauma (things like a strong laser or abrasive skin treatment), which creates an abnormal healing process leading to accumulation of keratin under the skin,’ she says. ‘Rather than developing in the sebaceous, oil-producing glands they can appear in the sweat glands (also known as eccrine glands).’

How can you treat them?

‘When I assess adult skin with Milia I do a full review of their skincare products and take away any harsh formulations, mechanical scrubs and heavily silicone and fragrance loaded products,’ explains Dr Sturnham. ‘I then recommend a gentle Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Cleanser duo at night, and using cream or clay-based products with ingredients such as Lactic acid, glycolic acid and Salicylic acid. I’d also integrate a fruit acid and fruit enzyme mask once a week to reduce the build up of oil and keratin clogging the pores.’

In the clinic, we treat Milia with extractions, Hydrafacial and NDyag laser to help to eliminate them safely.

The Hydrafacial detoxifies the skin, which helps to remove build up of oil, old dead skin cells and congestion.
The ND-yag laser is a multi-tasking laser treatment, using light and sound energy to stimulate remodelling and repair in the skin. For Milia, it resurfaces the skin and breaks down the cysts, whilst also improving sebaceous gland stability and oil control.’

Can you pop a Milia?

‘No. I always tell my patients not to pop them, as this can make things so much worse.’ warns Dr Sturnham.

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Taking your dog to work is actually great for your mental health

Taking your dog to work is actually great for your mental health

Let’s make it a thing

dogs work
Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

We all know that there are many benefits to having a dog other than the cutest sleeping delfies. Science says having a dog as a child makes you less likely to suffer from anxiety, that it’s better to sleep next to a dog than a human, and there are now airport therapy dogs for nervous fliers. So it’s pretty clear that dogs are brilliant for our health.

As if we needed any more proof, a study has revealed that your mental health can be massively improved by doing one simple thing: bringing your dog to work.

And it just so happens that today is National ‘Bring Your Dog To Work Day.’

The International Journal of Workplace Health Management published a study in 2012 which found that employees reported lower stress levels throughout the day when they took their dogs to work. It also noted that their levels of job satisfaction were higher.

Experts agree that dogs in the office can reduce stress and boost your mood.

Dr Daniel Allen, an animal geographer at Keele University told Pretty52: ‘Research has repeatedly shown the positive impact canine companions can have on our lives. It’s not surprising that dogs are the most commonly used animal in therapy, regularly featuring as participants in mental health programmes.

‘There’s something special about being in the company of dogs. Offering companionship, positive associations and unconditional love, the briefest of encounters can lift the mood, reduce stress levels and make you happy.

‘If every day was ‘bring your dog to work day,’ I think a lot of people and a lot of dogs would be much happier.’

So show this to your boss and fingers crossed every day will be ‘Bring Your Dog To Work Day’.

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It’s true – the eldest child is the smartest, and this is why

It’s true – the eldest child is the smartest, and this is why

Soz middle kids

Credit: Westend61/REX/Shutterstock

You’ve probably heard it before and brushed it off if you’re a second, third or fourth+ child – but it’s true: the eldest sibling is the smartest, according to research.

And there’s not just one reason for it. Apparently, there are a few. Le sigh.

A US study found that ‘those born earlier perform better at school’, and it’s all down to the parents. It concludes that they go a little easier on their second+ child/ren, and the oldest tends to experience better parenting leading to better marks at school.

The data from international surveys was analysed by economists V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano and they found that the oldest kids had higher IQs, performed better at school in terms of grades, and are believed to be more accomplished.

The 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth was used by researchers to asses parent evaluations of children, and they found that mums are more likely to view their first child as a high achiever, with the later children seen as more ‘average’.

There are multiple theories to back up the claim. Firstly, there’s the Divided Attention Theory that claims the first born receives more time and attention because the attention isn’t split between multiple children. Then there’s the Bad Genes Theory, claiming that higher IQ is dished out to the eldest and is then diminishes per child.

Next up is the I’ve-Had-It-With-Kids! Theory, believing that if their second+ child is difficult then they’ll stop having children.

Others include:

The No-One-to-Teach Theory: This is the idea that older siblings benefit from the ability to teach their younger brothers and sisters. Building these teaching skills helps them build learning skills that makes them better in school.

The Divorce Theory:Family crises like divorce are far more likely to happen after the first child in born (first marriage, then divorce, then a first child is not a common sequence) and they can disrupt later kids’ upbringing.

The Lazy-Parent Theory: The general idea here is that first-time parents, scared of messing up their new human, commit to memory the first chapter of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother but by the second or third child, they’ve majorly chilled out.

V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano believe that the Lazy-Parent Theory is the most likely to be accurate.

What do you think?

The post It’s true – the eldest child is the smartest, and this is why appeared first on Marie Claire.

SoulCycle just launched in London and here’s what you need to know

SoulCycle just launched in London and here’s what you need to know

Good news for fitness fans: the OG indoor cycling workout has finally crossed the Atlantic, after years of speculation.


SoulCycle’s first international studio is now open in London’s Soho. The brand has been redefining health and happiness for the past 13 years, and it definitely knows a thing or two about indoor cycling.

The brand is responsible for inspiring the likes of Psycle, Boom Cycle and 1Rebel that are all firm London favourites, but now SoulCycle promises to bring something different. So, what’s the difference? SoulCycle considers itself a lifestyle and hospitality brand, not a boutique fitness studio. CEO Melanie Whelan told me their riders come for the workout, but they stay for the community. Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are just a few fans, and personally, I know a few people who dislike spinning but have really enjoyed a SoulCycle class.

But what is it really about? Think 63 bikes (bespoke ones that are specifically built for the unique workout), a state-of-the-art sound system and a motivational instructor inside a candlelight room (every studio is lit with a signature grapefruit candle and the smell is amazing).

SoulCycle asks you to turn up, dig deep and switch off for 45 minutes (no phones allowed in the studio) while the instructor takes you on a high-intensity workout journey – the brand calls it a complete mind-body-soul experience. It’s a tough and sweaty workout – during the class riders are told to get out of the saddle (ride fast whilst standing up), tap it back (the signature SoulCycle move) and climb (the heavy slow part of the class).

Inside a SoulCycle class

Inside a SoulCycle class

Part of the draw is its exclusivity: you can’t snap the class for Instagram due to the phone ban, and it’s a multisensory experience, making it super personal. The preview classes have been fully booked all week and even David Beckham turned up to be one of the first to ride front row. There have been queues since its soft launch, so there’s definitely a keen appetite for it in London.

The Soho studio is its first to be plastic bottle free and guests are encouraged to bring their own bottle to fill up from the purified water station (don’t worry, if you forget yours you can rent one from the front desk). SoulCycle fans can also buy their very own apparel from the signature retail space inside the lobby. Leggings, bras and tees have been designed specifically for this workout, so they absorb the cycle sweat in all the right places.

SoulCycle has partnered with health food favourites The Good Life Eatery too, who are on hand to serve fresh snacks and juices after class. If that’s not enough to tempt you, the changing rooms will. Riders are treated to Le Labo shower and body products, Dyson hairdryers and even Drunk Elephant skincare.

The first SoulCycle London studio in Soho

The first SoulCycle London studio in Soho

But what SoulCycle takes most pride in is the motivating instructor – the beating heart of every class. Top talent has been moved over from the US to lead the London launch alongside a group of hand-picked UK-based instructors who have been intensively trained in New York over the past few months.

I’ve done a few classes before, both in the US and London, and every time it has delivered with the best direction from super-human instructors, the greatest playlists, plus more motivational quotes than I can remember. Some might think it’s all a bit too over the top, and it’s not for everyone, but I urge you to book a bike, take it with a pinch of salt and enjoy it for what it is.

Over in New York, I spent some time with Master Trainer and Director of Global Talent, Marvin Foster Junior, to find out more about what sets this brand apart from the rest. Marvin leads SoulCycle classes across the US and UK in addition to overseeing the scouting process and immersing recruits into training. He’s worked for SoulCycle since 2012, before that was a trained dancer and has worked with brands like Nike and Adidas. His class is up there with one of my favourites.

Here’s what he had to say…

SoulCycle Master Trainer and Director of Global Talent, Marvin Foster Junior

SoulCycle Master Trainer and Director of Global Talent, Marvin Foster Junior

Why SoulCycle?
When people travel to the US for holiday and take a class I always ask this, why SoulCycle. They always say it comes down to the class experience. When I first did a class, there was something that hooked me and made me want to try it again. I don’t know what the hook was but I just know that I left feeling awesome.

There’s definitely a market for all of the bells, whistles and lights but sometimes people want a deeper feeling, something aspirational and they want to leave feeling successful. Sometimes you don’t actually need all of those things. You just need to keep it simple with a strong conversation and a great workout.

Who is SoulCycle for?
Everyone. I often think that riders in the class are a reflection of the teacher, because they attract the same vibe of a person. My regular riders are from all walks of life. I love to see people working really hard, being healthy and feeling great in their bodies. It doesn’t matter if you had abs before your baby but now you don’t, if you feel just as good and like a sexy woman then I’m like props to you.

Dropping a dress size or losing weight is an extra benefit, but that’s not my approach. Even if you’re doing the bare minimum at a SoulCycle class you’re still going to enjoy a great workout but you can get so much more out of it. You can break open, tap into what you desire and apply action towards it. It’s almost like active meditation – there are certain moments in the playlist where you can go inward and there’s a benefit to that, outside of having washboard abs and a tight bum.

I think all those things are bonus credit but they’re not the end all and be all. I do it because I want to feel good, it’s fun and I can do it with my friends. Anyone can do it. Anyone is welcome. There’s no judgement.

The first SoulCycle London studio in Soho

Riding out the saddle in a SoulCycle class

How will you stand out from studios we already have here?
The London fitness scene has exploded so quickly over the past few years but it’s still young and finding its way. There’s definitely a business opportunity, a lot of gorgeous facilities and talented instructors but we are keen to bring something different. We’re a community based hospitality brand and we offer an indoor cycling workout that’s paced by the music we put together.

My focus will be to help build the community, communicate and integrate the instructors so everyone feels like family. We’re going to focus on our talent and that’s our opportunity. We want to show that we’re able to speak to riders in a different way with our mind, body and soul experience. Anyone can give a good workout, but I’m interested in giving people good experiences.

Will the London experience be different to your other studios?
The DNA of who we are will stay the same, but I feel like we have to wait and see who shows up. I tell my instructors – you’re going to have your plan but you’re not going to force that plan, until you get to know your room. If I have different tricks and routines planned but I see on the first track the group are still getting the rhythm, then I know I need to teach my room first.

My mentors in the past have always said if 80% of your class can’t do it, don’t teach it. Group fitness means that everyone is important and the point of SoulCycle is that people leave feeling successful, not defeated.

We’re working with London based music consultants to host workshops for us, so we know what’s super popular and who the big UK artists are. We want it to feel like it fits.

How will you feel if British riders don’t scream and whoop in class, like Americans have a reputation for?
I don’t need the whoops, I just need the energy and I can feel it in other ways. It doesn’t scare me if people are a bit quiet. There’s going to be a bit of resistance, but I’m into that. I’m confident that we just need to give Londoners the permission to let go. I think it’s going to be like dating. Once we get to know each other more, I’ll get them to scream.

How do you recruit instructors?
We host auditions in different locations and I look for all types of people. We don’t mind if they’re not already a spin instructor, but it helps if they have rhythm. I didn’t know how to ride a bike when I first started at SoulCycle.

I try to find people with different powers, waves and skill sets but there has to be an ‘it factor’. We call it the ‘Soul Factor’. We need something that’s aspirational like “wow look at him, look at her”, not just physically, but emotionally and there has to be relatability. I want to know their story and why they want to stand on a podium to motivate people.

What’s the training programme like?
The audition gets potential instructors through to the seven-week training programme in New York, but they’re not guaranteed the job at that stage. They still have to pass.

Having said that, we have a high success rate because we have so many support processes in place. We don’t want to hire instructors who aren’t fully ready because it’s not fair to them either – the job is just way too hard. Instructors exchange energy every day, and if they’re not prepared it can be overwhelming and too taxing physically. If that were to happen we’d defer them to another training group, so they can come back in the future when they’re ready.

Throughout the training programme we have check in points like individual conversations, voice coaching, extra development workshops, private time with coaches and personal practice space. I really do believe we have the best instructor training programme in the world, we give them so many tools to help them reach their full potential.

When I’m coaching, I ask them to give me a purpose and a why. We want them to be super effective teachers and make sure the class stays safe, purposeful and soulful. Hopefully the combination of the three keeps welcoming riders back.

The first SoulCycle London studio in Soho

The SoulCycle London instructors

What’s the music like at SoulCycle?
You can’t categorise it. We play everything – I love dance music, house, electronic, hip hop, r’n’b and pop. I probably won’t play country that much, but I have. Maybe not in London! That’s not really my brand, but I want to be a jack of all trades. We have a partnership with Apple Music where riders can download instructor playlists, music is really important to us.

I explain to the trainees that there are some things I play in class because I know it serves a purpose for my job, and because I teach to a community of people from different backgrounds. But it may not necessarily be something that I would kick out to at my own house.

That’s why the beginning of the training is about music and how we put it together. Often people present the best of the best and what really speaks to them – those are the things that really hit the most in class, because the instructor has a true relatability to the song. As opposed to, I just heard this song last night and it has a good beat. The music has a bigger punch when the instructor has an emotional attachment to it.

What do you think is next for the boutique fitness industry?
Technology. I think Melanie (Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle) has plans. Not necessarily with the bikes but we are trying to elevate the experience whether it’s through technology or with our events like Sound by SoulCycle. We’re definitely going to do that in London.

We did an indoor cycling event with The Chainsmokers when we launched the Vegas studio earlier this year, they actually rode front row. After the class, they performed and all of our riders had VIP access. We did an event with Ciara in LA recently too, it was so cool. We’ve always partnered with musicians who are part of our SoulCycle community, Ciara and The Chainsmokers are regulars. In London we hope to partner with the musicians and artists who ride with us too.

SoulCycle’s first London studio is now open at 3-4 Great Marlborough Street in Soho, visit to book a bike. Your first class is £16 (usually £24).

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Thinking about egg freezing? Here’s what you need to know

Thinking about egg freezing? Here’s what you need to know

egg freezing

Egg freezing is a great fertility preservation option for women who want to have children one day, but not any time soon. And considering that women over 40 now have a higher rate than ever before, it’s clear that we’re delaying motherhood until a bit later in life.

‘Fertility declines naturally with age from about 32 years,’ writes Dr Anita Mitra in her book The Gynae Geek. This is due not only to a decrease in the quantity of eggs, but also in their quality.

‘That’s not to say that everyone over the age of 32 will struggle to get pregnant – or vice versa; being on the pill for a decade, for example, doesn’t mean you’re saving eggs – of course, it’s a nice idea, but unfortunately using contraception that stops ovulation doesn’t prevent the number of eggs from declining at the same rate.’

That’s where egg freezing comes in; you’re preserving the life of these eggs to be used at a later date. So, what do you need to know? Read on for the expert lowdown.

What is egg freezing?

‘Egg freezing technologies, or cryopreservation, was originally developed for young women wishing to save some eggs prior to undergoing cancer treatment that could attack the ovaries resulting in early menopause,’ Dr Anita explains in her book.

‘Nowadays, many of us take longer to settle down and become financially stable enough to start a family, so use these technologies as a way of delaying motherhood – referred to as “social egg freezing” – has garnered much interest.’

egg freezing

Before starting the process – which takes around two to three weeks start to finish – you’ll be tested for any infectious diseases. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority explains that this doesn’t affect whether or not you can freeze your eggs, only how they will be stored to avoid potential contamination of other samples.

You’ll then probably have to take drugs to boost egg production and enhance their maturity. Once ready, they’re then collected under general anaesthetic, usually around 15 depending on the number of eggs the woman has.

A solution is then added to the eggs to protect them before freezing; they are then stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen.

When is the best time to freeze your eggs?

The short answer is not too late, but not too early either. ‘If you already have very low egg stocks, it might not work or you may get very few eggs to store, which is why it’s advised to undergo the treatment in your twenties or early to mid-thirties at the latest,’ Anita writes.

‘It has been suggested that the highest chance of a successful pregnancy can be achieved when freezing eggs before 34 years of age. Equally, that doesn’t mean that after 34 you’ve left it too late. Unlike a chicken breast, the time in the freezer doesn’t affect the quality of the eggs/embyros.

‘However, you’re currently allowed to store eggs or embryos for a maximum of 10 years in the UK, so you also don’t want to do it too early. If you didn’t use the eggs they could be donated for research, training or also for another woman to use.’

egg freezing

Benefits of egg freezing

Older eggs come with more associated risks, such as higher chance of miscarriage or chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome.

‘By freezing your eggs, you stop the egg ageing clock a the point at which they go into the freezer,’ writes Dr Anita. ‘So if you freeze your eggs at 30 and use them at 40, your risk of miscarriage and genetic abnormalities is the same as a 30-year-old’s.’

How much does egg freezing cost?

‘Social egg freezing’ as it’s referred to is not available on the NHS, meaning you’ll need to self-fund if you’re considering the process.

According to the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority’s website: ‘The average cost of having your eggs collected and frozen is £3,350, with medication being an added £500-£1,500. Storage costs are extra and tend to be between £125 and £350 per year. Make sure you get a full costed treatment plan from your clinic so you’re not caught out by unexpected “extras”.

‘Thawing eggs and transferring them to the womb costs an average of £2,500. So, the whole process for egg freezing and thawing costs an average of £7,000-£8,000.’

Does egg freezing affect fertility?

‘No. Although the medications stimulate lots of eggs to develop, this is similar to what happens naturally every month; it just makes it more efficient, rather than using up the eggs quicker,’ writes Dr Anita. ‘It hasn’t been shown to hasten the menopause.

‘Do remember that it’s still a relatively new procedure in healthy women, having been used more extensively in women at risk of undergoing premature menopause.

‘We don’t yet truly know whether there are any long term risks due to the small number of women who have used this type of treatment.’

Anita’s quotes are all taken from her book The Gynae Geek: Your No-Nonsense Guide To ‘Down-There’ Healthcare with her permission

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Talking to strangers on your commute can actually make you happier

Talking to strangers on your commute can actually make you happier

talking to strangers
Credit: Tolga Akmen/Lnp/Shutterstock

We’ve finally found the secret to a happy commute, and it’s actually really simple.

A social experiment has found that individuals who were tasked with talking to a stranger on their commute had a much more pleasant journey.

Yep, it’s as easy as asking the person next to you how they’re doing.

The research was conducted in Chicago and required those who were travelling by bus or train to do one of three things: talk to a stranger, actively avoid eye contact with others or do what happened naturally. Once the journey was complete, they filled out a questionnaire and sent it back to the researchers.

Their responses were compared to a second group, who were asked to just think about an exchange with a stranger during their commute. Those who simply thought about chatting to someone unknown recorded feelings of awkwardness and discomfort, but those who actually had a natter with a stranger reported a much more pleasant journey.

Of the participants, 60% believed that their fellow commuters wouldn’t wish to talk to them – but the results show that everyone who struck up a conversation found their chat buddy to be happy to do so.

So next time you’re commuting, try saying hello to someone – it could just make you that bit happier.

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