10 tips to sleep like a champion with a Casper bed

By on Aug 29 in FIT-FUN

Did you know that adults need an average of 7-9 hours’ sleep every night? Yet the amount they actually get is more like 5-7. For active individuals, sleep is one of the most important training tools available. (And, just like Esquared, it doesn’t require any contracts, memberships or long-term commitments.) That’s why professional athletes usually aim for between 10 and 12 hours.

improve athletic performance

Training tips usually focus on rigorous routines and strict diets but don’t overlook the importance of rest and recovery. In fact, a study by Stanford University showed that sleep has an equally significant impact on training performance. A full night’s sleep doesn’t just set you up for the day ahead but also allows your body to regain the energy it loses from working out.

Stage 1: light sleep

Lightly sleeping easy to awake.

Stage 2: onset of sleep

Muscles relax, body temperature starts to fall, heart rate slows, breathing rate slows.

Stage 3: restorative sleep

Blood pressure decreases, circulatory system repairs and recovers, blood flow to muscles increases, growth hormones release and repair muscles, bones, internal systems.

Stage 4: rem sleep

Nervous system repairs and recovers, new memories and information are processed, energy is restored.

So, why aren’t we getting enough?

In 1942, less than 8% of the population was getting by on six hours’ of shuteye a night or less. Yet by 2017, that figure had leaped to almost 50%. Why? In short, it’s the modern world.  Lights are a major factor – street lights, house lights, neon signs… these days, the night just isn’t quite as dark anymore. Then there’s the fact that we are working harder and commuter further. Yet rather than giving up time with family or friends, we give up sleep instead. Let’s not even mention stress. Caffeine and alcohol are the enemies of sleep.

A good night’s sleep helps to boost your body’s immunity

One of the body’s most important jobs is protecting us from disease and sleep has a powerful effect on maintaining the immune system at full strength. That’s why, when we feel ill, our first instinct is to go to bed – the body is trying to sleep itself well. Cutting back on sleep even for one night can lower your resilience quite drastically.

A good night’s sleep supports weight loss

A lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to putting on weight. That’s because sleeping can regulate the hormones that affect our appetite, which explains why we can often feel hungrier on the days we haven’t slept well. A bad night’s sleep reduces levels of leptin (a hormone that makes you feel you’ve eaten enough) while simultaneously increasing levels of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you feel hungry).

A good night’s sleep enhances your wellbeing

Sleep is good for our general disposition too. A lack of sleep not only makes you feel irritable and affects your concentration, it is also strongly associated with depression and mental illness. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, helps to rebalance the chemicals and hormones that affect your mentality and well-being. It’s now also well known that sleep affects stress levels, so make sure you give your mind and body the chance to restore themselves overnight.

Tips to sleep like a champion, from Casper

So a good night’s sleep is important for us all, not just the world’s best athletes. But what about you?  Obviously regular exercise can play a key role in enjoying a restful and rejuvenating 8 hours – but it’s also important to invest in a decent mattress that will provide the co fort and support your body needs.That’s why we’ve teamed up with award-winning Casper mattresses to offer a few tips for a better night’s sleep.

  1. Turn your phone to black and white in the evening.
  2. Try to avoid looking at your screen in the hour before bed.
  3. Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends, to maintain a consistent routine.
  4. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink.
  5. Avoid large, heavy meals at night and try to eat earlier in the evening.
  6. Cut out the snacking after 9pm and forget about the large brandy before bed.
  7. Eat fewer sugary foods and refined carbs.
  8. Try meditating to unwind and relax after a busy day.
  9. Speak to your doctor to rule out any other problems that could be getting in the way.
  10. Invest in a good mattress

We’ll even throw in a tip for free – exercise regularly! And if you think you don’t have the time, think again. Esquared is designed to help busy people make fitness fit in with their lives by booking two-hour gym sessions and one-off fitness classes at the time and place that suits them. Our free app offers a huge selection of high-quality clubs all over London, all available with no contracts and no commitments. So if you want to stay fit and sleep well… it’s no sweat.

Download the Esquared app now on the App Store or Google Play.

 

5 protein shake alternatives

By on Aug 28 in FIT-FRESH

Looking for a protein shake alternative? You’ve found it. Five to be exact. We’ve heard on the grapevine that a post-workout smoothie is what the people want as they edge away from protein shakes and the harmful effects they can cause.

Every human on this earth needs protein in their diet to maintain a healthy body. It’s responsible for multiple functions such as building tissue and cells and making hormones. Protein contains amino acids, one of the building blocks for muscle growth and repair. If your goal is to become stronger and leaner, adding more protein into your diet is a sure way to succeed.

Reaching for a quick post-workout protein shake or bar is convenient, sure. But they’re far from a meal replacement as they don’t contain other essential nutrients and vitamins that also promote muscle growth and repair.

Lucky for you, we’ve put together five homemade and delicious ‘protein shake’ recipes to give you full confidence that you’re providing your body with nothing but the best ingredients.

Peach, ginger & spinach smoothie

2 handfuls of baby spinach, 2 handfuls of chopped peach slices, 1 ¼ small cups of water, a dash of honey, a thumb of ginger. Blend. Sprinkle with flax seeds.

berry & vanilla smoothie

2 handfuls of fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries), 2 dollops of vanilla yogurt, 1 ¼ small cups of water, a splash of almond milk, 1 handful of baby spinach. Blend and serve. 

banoffee pie & peanut butter smoothie

1 banana, 2 cups of almond milk, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 1 handful of baby spinach. Blend together and dust with dark cocoa powder.

strawberry & avocado smoothie

1 banana, 1 handful of strawberries, 2 cups of almond milk, ½ avocado, 1 handful of baby spinach, a dash of honey. Blend together and top with flax seeds.

mango & yogurt smoothie

A whole mango, chopped, 1 handful of blueberries, 5 tbsp on low-fat natural yogurt, a dash of honey. Blend together and dust with cinnamon.

 

Got more protein smoothie recipes? We want to hear them! Join the conversation and tag #esquaredsmoothies on Instagram or Twitter.

To get more protein-packed classes, head to the Esquared app and book in just a few taps!

The best 6 ab exercises for a flat stomach

By on Aug 28 in FIT-IN

Crunch, twist and tap your way to a flatter stomach with our top 6 ab moves. Tried and tested, these exercises will target your core and reduce belly fat. Fast. Yes, they can be brutal. But we’re big believers of no pain, no gain. Do each exercise for 40 seconds, then 20 seconds rest – complete the circuit three times.

Choose a gym, hit play on the bangers – let’s go.

Russian twists – a killer for the core

Sit on the floor, your knees bent and feet firmly on the ground. Lean back to make your body at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Keep your back straight, people. No slouching!

Pick up your medicine ball. Or not, it’s up to you. Rotate your arms all the way to one side and do the same in the other direction. As you do this repeatedly, keep your feet elevated slightly (that’s the killer bit).

Commando plans: get your arms involved in the workout

Begin in a plank position with your arms straight. Think ironing board. Come down onto your right forearm, followed by your left. Then lift your body by straightening your right arm, followed by your left.

bicycle crunches: no resting on this one

Lie down on your back, your legs outstretched, your hands behind your head. Simultaneously bend your left knee in towards your chest and bring your right elbow forward to meet your knee. Both shoulder blades should rise as you do this and keep your opposite leg straight.

Repeat on the other side. You’ll be tempted to rest your shoulder blades on the floor between each crunch… Don’t give into it.

Toe taps: this one hurts, just warning ya’ll

Lie on your back and lift your legs up, your toes reaching towards the ceiling. Straighten your arms overhead and use them (and your core) to power you up. Touch your toes, lifting your upper back off the floor, then lay back down.

side planks: love your obliques!

Start on your left-hand side, resting on your left forearm with your entire body straight. Lift up your body by straightening your left arm and extend your right arm towards the ceiling. Repeat on the right-hand side.

leg raises: a flat stomach staple

Lie on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms by your side. Lift up both legs to a 90-degree angle and lower so that they’re almost touching the floor. Repeat lifting them, taking care that your lower back remains flat.

Max out this move by holding a weight overhead. As you raise your legs up, raise your arms and the weight to meet them.

Pick your perfect gym for this abs workout by downloading the Esquared app on the App Store or Google Play Store

Looking for more tips and workouts? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Tried & tested: The best sports bras

By on Aug 28 in FIT-SPO

Your choice of sports bra can make or break a workout. And while you want your HIIT session to take you out of your comfort zone, that doesn’t mean in the sense of unwanted bouncing, chafing or tightness. Yet finding the best sports bra to support your breasts rather than suffocate them can sometimes be tough going.

Not anymore. We’ve put together the best for your chest so you can enjoy a workout that feels good in all the right places.

LuLulemon – enlite bra

The buzz around this bra is phenomenal – it’s even being referred to as a ‘game changer’. Offering an unbeatable combination of comfort, easy movement and natural shape, this sports bra can do no wrong. Lightweight, built-in-cups are designed to soften bounce during high impact workouts, while the added bonus of Lycra offers a fuller stretch.

Check out the Enlite Bra

Sweaty betty – stamina workout bra

An overall favourite and a must have for your gym bag is the Stamina Workout Bra by Sweaty Betty. The racerback provides full but flexible support, while the soft fabric and waffle effect detailing is brilliant for breathability. The perfect medium impact sports bra, it’s available in a range of colours and sits discretely under your gym top without being too visible. We highly recommend it for yoga, Pilates or light cardio classes that require a seamless compression and medium-support.

Check out the Stamina Workout Bra

freya sonic carbon moulded

The Freya Sonic Carbon sports bra is always at the top of the best seller lists – and there’s a reason why. Several reasons, actually. Not only is it available in an eye-catching hot crimson, but soft breathable moulded cups offer separation and shaping without the bulk. And despite being an incredibly lightweight sports bra, it also comes with built up padded straps that offer extra comfort and support, especially for a bigger bust.

Check out the Freya Sonic Carbon Moulded

nike hero

Looking for maximum support during the most intense workouts? Meet the Hero sports bra, the flagship of Nike’s support range. Specifically designed for the bigger bust, the Hero’s encapsulated cups are as comfortable as they are supportive, with a compression fit adding definition. For extra ease and unrivalled comfort, the adjustable straps are super soft and provide the perfect fit. We recommend the Nike Hero when you want total support for intense workouts like running or HIIT training.

Check out the Nike Hero

manduka cross strap bra

Known for its super-soft fabric and crafted from 88% recycled materials, this bra feels good in every way. No matter which way you move or flow, the Manduka Cross Strap Bra has been carefully designed to provide unrestricted support throughout your workout. Nice touches include the removable cups, while cross back straps distribute pressure evenly across your back for complete ease of movement. This is the perfect sports bra when you need a combination of flexibility and support during low impact workouts.

Check out the Manduka Cross Strap Bra

adidas seamless yoga bra

Thought the perfect yoga bra doesn’t exist? Well, think again. This fantastic yoga bra offers seamless support, quite literally. That’s because it’s been designed with a complete lack of seams for ultimate comfort. Moisture-absorbing fabric draws sweat away from your body as you train, while the cups are perforated for extra breathability. Forget the distractions of an uncomfortable sports bra. The Adidas Seamless Yoga Bra will keep you focussed on the flow.

Check out the Adidas Seamless Yoga Bra

Strapped for time?

Esquared is the UK’s first Fitness On Demand app. It makes it easy to find a workout fast wherever you are, whenever you have the opportunity. Search Esquared in the AppStore or on Google Play.

The best tips for seasonal skin problems

By on Aug 28 in FIT-FUN

It’s hay fever season. You’re sneezing uncontrollably, your eyes are streaming and now you’re experiencing summer skin problems. It’s a common nightmare and one you don’t have to suffer alone. And it’s not just summer, but all through the year. According to the Health Care Needs Assessment round 54% of the UK population experience a skin condition in a 12 month period. Skin rash treatment, dermatitis season and summer skin care are all popular search terms on Google.  

We want to help you combat the seasonal skin irritations and maintain beautiful skin all year round. Discover common myths and misconceptions about skincare and how you need to protect your skin throughout the year.  

It’s been a long, hot summer – but your skin stays cool

Sunburn: We know it, you know it – sunburn hurts and is so damaging to our skin. Do not neglect the suncream bottle, whether popping out to run errands or spending a day at the beach.

Oily Skin: Sweating throughout the day can make your skin incredibly oily. Dirt, makeup and even pollution can stick to your face for hours. Use a toner after cleansing and before moisturising to help prevent a build-up of oil.

Heat Rash: Super itchy and uncomfortable, it’s a rash that occurs when your sweat glands get blocked. Head for air conditioning, wash regularly and try to avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest parts of the day.

Acne Everywhere: Due to excessive sweating, dead skin cells and oil can build up on your chest and back, causing a breakout of spots or acne. Try exfoliating problem areas regularly and keep your hair off your back and shoulders to avoid more oil build up.

don’t give in to dryness

Dry Skin: When dry, cold winds pick up, the thin layer of oil that traps moisture on our skin quite literally blows away. You need to be moisturising twice a day to help prevent flare-ups of eczema and psoriasis.

Dandruff: Our skin reacts as soon as temperatures drop low in Autumn. Dandruff is a common result – it’s a chronic inflammatory skin condition that leaves us constantly scratching our heads. Use all natural hair products with no perfumes or scents. Tea Tree also helps to soothe dry, itchy skin.

Chapped Lips: It’s all down to moisture and the right lip balm. Some balms and lipsticks can actually dry out your lips even more. PawPaw lip balm isn’t just suitable for chapped lips, but also rashes, burns and lots more. We suggest keeping one handy for emergencies.

Dehydrated Skin: Symptoms aren’t always dry and flaky skin – it can even be oily. Your skin has been stripped of its naturally occurring sebum, causing it to feel tight and greasy. Embrace gentle products when cleansing and moisturising and make sure to completely clean your face before sleeping and applying makeup.

All year round

Stay Healthy: Regular exercise and a balanced, nutritious diet really do help keep your skin clear. Try a boxing class in an air-conditioned studio during the summer or sweat with a Bikram yoga class in the winter.

Drink Water: Water offers the best hydration there is. For glowing skin, all year round, drink at least 2 litres of water per day.

Fancy that boxing class we mentioned? Book it up on the Esquared app in just a few taps. 

 

 

Dopamine: why we can’t help but move

By on Aug 28 in FIT-FUN

Dopamine, often known as the ‘runner’s high’ is an organic chemical released by neurons. Discovered in 1957, dopamine is one of 20 or so major neurotransmitters. Acting as a messenger between brain cells, dopamine release plays a part in motivation, reward, memory and attention as well as regulating body movement. It’s responsible for the reward you feel after an action, therefore motivates you to repeat it time and again, resulting in hobbies and behavioural habits.

People truly believe dopamine is ‘a miracle bestower of happiness’ and it’s easy to see why. It motivates you to carry out actions in order to seek your needs and desires. From eating your favourite foods to hugging your dog.

For example, you’ve just finished a tough HIIT class. Sweat is pouring down your face, you’re still trying to regulate your breathing, your muscles feel fatigued. You also feel alive, awake and good vibes are flowing. Dopamine is in full force. So much so that you’ll most likely return to the class to feel this way again.

A dopamine deficiency results in sugar cravings, moodiness and more serious afflictions such as Parkinson’s Disease and addiction. And if you consider yourself a risk-taker then it might be due to a certain kind of dopamine receptor that is associated with sensation-seeking behaviour.

The good news is that this chemical is easy enough to release. However, unlike endorphins which are produced every time you exercise, dopamine is something you’ve got to work for. Consistent, regular exercise, particularly cardio, will improve levels of dopamine in your body, therefore, helping to prevent moodiness, low self-esteem and Parkinson’s disease.

Want some of that natural high? So do we. Here are our top 5 classes to get it:

  1. Ride at Digme
  2. Romans: Resistance at F45  
  3. Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Dolphin Square Fitness  
  4. Basic Flow Yoga at Fly LDN
  5. HIIT London Bootcamp at Train Dirty London

Book any of them on the Esquared app on the App Store or Google Play. Share the love and dopamine with your friends – refer them to get £20. Dopamine + credit = winner.

Get involved with the runner’s high conversation:

5 things to do in the morning

5 things to do every morning before breakfast

By on Jul 22 in FIT-FRESH

The most important part of any day is the start, so it’s key to set a productive tone and a positive vibe to take you through morning to night. With a few of these quick tips, you will be feeling more motivated than moody.

Avoid hitting snooze

No good comes from the snooze button. A late start to the day can lead to morning stress, so wake up & rise up!

Focus on today

We are all prone to worrying about what happened yesterday but the truth is, all that matters is now and what your new day brings. Let it go.

Think about something exciting

Whether it’s your morning coffee or a long weekend, big or small, everyone has something exciting to look forward to!

Do something you’ve been putting off

We must all have that dreaded list of things you really don’t want to do, but by getting it out the way and free your mind from worrying and any release positive energy.

Excercise

Whether you enjoy yoga or a sweaty spin session, exercising in the morning can instantly boost productivity and your mood throughout the day.

 

Have you tried Esquared? Whether one morning you fancy swimming but tomorrow yoga… Esquared lets you book hundreds of classes or gym sessions all over London and at a moments notice. And the best bit? Only pay for what you sweat.

Search Esquared in the AppStore or on Google Play.

You can also follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Why you need to try: BOXING

By on Jul 4 in FIT-IN

If you’re looking for a full-on workout that will strip fat, build muscle and get you fitter than you’ve ever been in your life, then ding ding boxing is for you. Put on your gloves and climb into the ring. We can’t promise you’ll float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but we can guarantee you’ll enjoy an awesome training session all the same.

banana and walnut bread

Recipe Of The Week: Vegan Banana and Walnut Bread

By on May 16 in FIT-FRESH

We are big fans of banana bread! This recipe is ridiculously simple and fast to whip up. With crunchy walnuts and sweet dates, this vegan version is great for breakfast or with an afternoon cuppa.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients

50g coconut oil or sunflower oil, plus extra for the tin
200g self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
75g light muscovado sugar
4 dates, finely chopped
3-4 very ripe bananas mashed
3 tbsp soya milk
75g walnut pieces, toasted

LETS BAKE!

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Brush a 450g loaf tin with a little oil then line with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder, sugar and dates. Beat together the mashed banana and oil, then combine it with the flour mixture. Add the soya milk to loosen the mixture, fold in the walnuts and scrape the mixture into the tin. Bake for 1 hr, covering the top if it starts to look too brown. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean. If not, return to the oven and cook for a further 10 mins. Cool for 15 mins before taking it out of the tin.

 

 

Want more from your workout? We are here for whatever you are in the mood for: choose from yoga, swimming, spinning, boxing, pilates or just some good old treadmill time. With no monthly fees or no membership hassle, you just pay for what you sweat.

Search Esquared on the App Store and Google Play.
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