Burning off the Bundt

Well, it’s time to check in on January health and fitness plans with you all and update you on my efforts. This week I thought I would focus on the exercise aspect of what I’ve been doing after we talked weight loss methods and food last week.

I’m a bit militant when it comes to exercise once I start doing it and I also think that dieting alone is a really counter-productive way to lose weight. It can also ruin your metabolism by starving your body and encouraging it to store fat as soon as it gets its hands on excess calories again, because it’s in feast or famine mode.

You might remember me saying that I love food and I love both eating and drinking socially – its just not practical for me to say that I will forever be careful, not have that extra drink, or refuse the cake on offer with coffee. It’s never going to happen. Although I’d like to make my healthier diet a long term change, moderation, not denial is key.

With that in mind I needed to find a new method of exercise. Pete and I cancelled our gym membership with a three month notice period and it finished on the 31st of Dec. We must have been the only people cancelling at this time of year! The membership had gone up and up and up and we weren’t going anymore as It wasn’t as convenient for my new job.


Thinking back, my favourite exercise ever was a circuits class I attended there, loosely based on military fitness by the instructor and a mix of cardio and weights or strength work for toning. I was physically exhausted after every session but saw fast results and it was addictive. I wanted to replicate that and was also aware that exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. I’m fortunate in that despite living in Manchester, I live ten minutes from a vast stretch of waterpark with miles of running tracks through woodland, around lakes and fresh air that feels miles from the city. So I wanted to get back to outdoor exercising too.


All that lead me to British Military Fitness. I’d known of the classes for a while but never been and I won’t deny being nervous. The classes are based upon the kind of training the military use and particularly rely on when they’re out on tours of duty. They have to maintain their fitness without equipment and sometimes in limited space so the exercises are an intense combination of cardio (sprints and short runs) interspersed with all manner of total body exercises ranging from star jumps and air boxing to the dreaded burpees and more traditional sit ups, push ups, tricep dips and squats. They do all this in parks or open spaces all over the country and for a bargain price. it’s £35 to join and the class I attend is £28 for 1 class a week or £36 for as many as you like, at any location in the country. (I know that it’s higher in the South East and London – Gemma C-S has confirmed she paid £50 per month for unlimited classes in Hyde Park, but she agrees it’s worth it even at that price)


I admit I couldn’t face it in the dark during the first week of January when the gales were blowing and rain lashing, but I got to my first on on Saturday the 7th, anticipating a gruelling session due to my miserably diminished fitness levels.

Was it hard? Yes. Definitely.

Will I be going back? Without a shadow of a doubt. (I’ve done three sessions since writing this and am now wandering round under a black cloud as due to work commitments I can’t attend until Thursday, it’s that good!)

It was great fun, the instructors were unfailingly supportive and encouraging and the sense of achievement at the end was fabulous. Even better, you can expect to burn around 500 cals an hour and I immediately recognised that it was going to make a massive difference to both my cardiovascular fitness and general strength and tone. I joined at Sale Water park and you can try your first class free by downloading a voucher on the BMF site.

Get Fit with Florence!
I have a had a thought for those of you who are more goal orientated and looking for a fitness aim for 2012 to motivate you. There are still a few places for the Manchester 10K which I have done a couple of times before and will be doing again. It’s a fantastic atmosphere on the day and I can highly recommend the sense of achievement you gain from completing it. I could even be persuaded to arrange a mini-meet up for lunch after the race if anyone is interested?

Just drop a comment in the box below 🙂

So, have you done BMF? Will you be giving it a go now? Do share what your exercise goals are and how you’re going to get there, team sports or head clearing runs, I’d love to hear more.


*Credit to Glitter Guide for the title phrase, a rather affectionate way I thought, of referring to the extra pounds we’re all working on shifting post-Christmas!

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26 thoughts on “Burning off the Bundt

  1. I used to go to BMF, on the one hand it is an incredible workout! On the other hand, I did quit it. First, they do a LOT of sprinting and while I can run over 10k, my body fails at sprinting, this led to feeling like I was the fat kid in PE class again, and a knee injury. Unfortunately, I am also a very contrary individual, and I dislike being yelled at. I just want to shout back. So I used to walk away feeling worked out, but also a bit angry and injured! BUT that is really just me, my other half loved BMF and would still go now, except we have free membership of Virgin Active because I’m a swimming teacher there.

    My best tip from the past few weeks? Get off your train/tube/bus one stop early and walk briskly for 20-30 minutes every day you can’t fit a workout in (or park your car further away!)

    K x

    • Oh no Katy – I’m really sad that you had that experience.

      A few people have mentioned that there’s some ‘shouting’ – I would say it’s very moivational and quite tongue in cheek, I certainly havent ever felt shouted ‘at’.

      I feel your pain on the sprints, but I know deep down that short sprints ork you much harder and quickly improve fitness – I always do interval sprints when training for a longer run, so whilst it makes me want to vomit(!) I hope the feeling will not last longer than a few weeks!

      • To be fair, I get the impression I had an unfortunate coach, who was rather more aggressively shouty than I’ve heard others are!

        I wish my knees would stand for sprinting more often, as I know sprinting is so beneficial. Plus a sprint set is nice and short! Everytime I do a sprint set though, my recurring knee injury recurs. Annoying! I shall persist though!

        K x

  2. I’m back on my bike!
    Cycling to and from work (6 miles each way) means that all my exercise is done on my commute – and it’s quicker than getting the tube.
    Not so nice when it’s windy and raining though!

  3. Loved BMF . Did it for eighteen months and was the fittest I’ve ever been (and I used to swim competitively!) I recommend it if you love bring outdoors, if you get better results when told what to do and like bring yelled at (although they aren’t mean), and the camaraderie is brilliant. I started as a beginner – and you see results very quickly. Never made it to the greens – the advanced group – though!

  4. As with most other PTs I know, I have slight reservations about Brit Mil Fit (some physical and others business related!) but I’m really pleased it’s working out for you. It’s certainly a great all-rounder in terms of body fitness and fast results, and really fab for younger people looking for a challenge.

    Am also training for a 10k at the moment, looking forward to hear how you get on!


    • Curious to hear you reservations Penny?

      I feel like I’ve got a really good value PT although from that perspective I would say that I am pretty strict on keeping form (and can do that as I have experience of stength training and maybe a novice couldn’t,) but there seems a focus on quantity over quality at BMF.

      • Definitely agree on this – it’s really hard to stay firm and disciplined doing proper, good-quality situps for example when the instruction is “twenty situps and run round the lake” – you just want to get the sit-ups over with as fast as possible and to hell with good form, especially when everyone else is sprinting off!

        • exactly Anna and as I’m just not a fast runner, like, at all, I was always behind the ‘pack’ even though I was working hard. Lucky for me my sister is a PT and she had a look at my ‘form’ on the situps etc to check I was doing them right… That’s the upside to her profession – the downside being that as a nutrionist also she has opinions on my chocolate biscuit/cream/cheese/red wine intake 😉

      • Mostly health and safety issues really – that type of outdoor group training is great for young, fit people who have good form, otherwise there’s a very real risk of injury in such a big group, as the instructors can’t watch everyone. As a Pilates teacher I pick up a lot of the pieces after these types of training have done their damage! I’m not sure how aware of the risks the participants are made. Possibly my idea of responsible screening is probably a higher standard than most, as I often deal with older people than you and those with injuries, so it’s down to perspective, I guess! Also your park may be nice and clean but not all are – I know the park they use in our area has its risks. Small things but still. There’s a good article on similar things in the US this week here from a lady who really knows her fitness onions! It’s true that a regime designed for fit, military people in their teens and twenties is going to be completely wrong for, say, a lady in her mid-30s who has just had a baby, and had little experience of exercise before – but with a quick fix mentality and the best will in the world, these are the people who will go! Hopefully there are enough good and conscientious instructors working for BMF who will spot the vulnerable participants.

        The biggest thing for me personally is this: big moneymaking companies like BMF are one of the catalysts for a new government initiative meaning PTs may have to now pay annually to use parks to train in. An overhead we don’t need in an already tough climate for freelance trainers! It’s nobody’s fault really, just another sad example of the big companies pushing out the little guy….


      • I also wouldn’t class it as PT – it’s group exercise really. Personal training is generally one-to-one and completely tailored to their client to ensure maximum results and an education in fitness and their own body – ideally a complete lifestyle overhaul, generally with nutrition etc too. This is just like a very hard PE lesson! (OK claws away now!) Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it gets a lot of people off the sofa and moving and that’s awesome!


        • All good points Penny, and I think your last one is key. BMF is simply just another form of group exercise and should be viewed as such, with people taking a certain amount of responsibility for themselves, if it hurts tell them, they do listen. I would love to be able to afford a PT, but compared to my BMF membership, I’d only be able to pay for one once a month, one and a half times at most (London prices, decent enough trainer), and I don’t have the discipline to carry on myself the rest of the time. As you said, it’s better than nothing and is similar to a regular gym user who goes it alone – without a PT you really don’t know you are using the machines correctly etc.

          • Gemma, you’re absolutely right: it’s at your own risk. Hopefully the participants are made aware of just how much so before they get started – and then there’s no issue (other than that of professional responsibility anyway). Worth noting that I’ve never come across a fad that’s united fitness and medical professionals across the board in just how risky it is though…. you don’t hear a physio telling you not to go to the gym in case you don’t use the machines correctly…! But for yourself, and most others on here I would imagine, BMF is a great motivator and a fantastic way to push yourself – it really is a minor quibble on my part because I see a lot of people who are nowhere near as capable as you guys!


  5. I’ve been looking into BritMilFit, but there just isn’t one anywhere near me – unless I fancy an hour and a half round trip!

    Have been back to the gym, but the motivation just isn’t there. Am switching gyms though in the next month or so, so hopefully that change will be enough to get back into it!


  6. 9lbs off for me since Christmas. I didn’t lose anything until New Year despite being super healthy, it always takes a while for me to see results. I’ve been swimming a lot, running some (it just HURTS to run) and have been eating my big meal each day at lunch and have been watching my carb intake, although not giving it up entirely. I have completely given up cheese though, which hurts.

    Like you, I am super strict with myself about exercise but I can’t deprive myself of treats entirely. I’ve become a bit addicted to chomp bars. Smaller than a normal chocolate bar, but still that orgasmic chocolatey taste. People have suggested the fun sized bags but I can’t just eat one. I find the best way to stop eating naughty treats is to not keep them in the house and usually, in this weather, a trip to the newsagents to buy them is too cold.

    A stone and 5lbs still to go.

  7. I LOVED BMF but when I was doing it I was working in an office where I shared a kitchen/coffee making bit with some physiotherapists and a couple of sports medicine people and they all said that the reservations they had with BMF were things like people trying to push themselves too hard too fast and getting injured, or doing exercises like squats and push ups in an incorrect way and getting injured, and various things like that. I could see what they meant, but I still thought that for me it was a really effective way to get fit, I am really slack at motivating myself but once I knew I’d paid for and signed up to unlimited classes I wanted to get my money’s worth!

    • I bet the physios were having kittens over it!! I can really see why it appeals to a lot of folk, would be tempted myself if I wasn’t in the industry with a chip on my shoulder 🙂


  8. I’ve been doing BMF for years, on and off, and definitely prefer it to the gym. I think it is excellent for mental health more than anything, being outside in the green and fresh air (in the centre of London, so perhaps not so fresh) never fails to make me feel better. Of course, I could just get out there and do it on my own, but I never manage to keep it up for very long.
    I do completely agree with the downside mentioned above, it took me a long time to realise that doing burpies properly was a lot less painful, and quicker, than not!

  9. Oh I used to love BMF! I did it during the lead up to my wedding and have never felt more healthy or energized. It is perfect for those who lack motivation (like me!). It did however bring out a competitive streak in me which I hadn’t seen since school sports days….

    Unfortunately I fell over last winter and hurt my knee and BMF was just too high impact for the injury and I ended up making it far worse. After not doing any exercise for nine months and just working on strengthening my knee and hip again, I feel ready for action again! I no longer live near a BMF class so this week I joined my local running club. It costs just £40 for the year and includes a 10 week induction course to get us beginners up to 5k. I went for the 3rd time last night and loved it. I am definitely a group exerciser and think this time I am going to get fit and stay fit (oh and drop a dress size!)

    Rebecca, I made your Tom Yam soup on Friday night. Yum! I felt instantly thinner. 🙂

  10. Never done BMF, but do have a personal trainer, and I definitely agree- not cheap! But definitely worth it- Why? Because I HATED gyms until I got one. Who wants to spend hours running on a treadmill, staring into space?! Not me- I have a really comfy sofa back home I could be sitting on! I started having once a week sessions with my personal trainer back in October and he completely changed my
    Mindset on food & exercise. He made me realise that you can eat “like a man” and still lose inches, but also that gaining weight through exercise isn’t always a bad thing and it’s the measurements that matter, not the weight and I think that was my biggest problem, trying to accept that.

    Now I go to the gym and don’t use any of the, I guess “traditional” equipment, more the weights etc. At 5″2 I’m a bit of a weakling still but I like the fact I’m fulfilling more goals from a work out in less time than I used to because I have a personal trainer.

    • I agree, I’m a bit in love with my PT! Admittedly I can only afford her because I don’t pay gym fees, but she has literally changed my life, changed my attitude to and relationship with my body and changed my shape beyond all recognition. I heart her!

      K x

  11. Fantastic article Rebecca. I agree with you that military fitness is very hard but it’s also very motivating as you can see results quicker than in the gym. Another aspect is that it’s more socialising than gym, as you cooperate with other people who train with you. x

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