International Women’s Day – Sophie Dickson

Sophie Dickson - Featured Image - International Womens Day
Sophie Dickson - Featured Image - International Womens Day

Using the gym to improve body confidence

For this year’s International Women’s Day, we want to share what our female members are doing at Xercise4Less Gyms to reach their fitness goals but also improve their confidence and become happier.

Sophie Dickson, 29, joined Xercise4Less Newcastle-upon-Tyne 3 and a half years ago and in that time has worked incredibly hard to become healthier and now has a lot more body confidence. What has had the biggest impact on the positive changes? Weight training. Sophie swears by weight training and says that it has helped her to gain muscle and weight – something that she has always struggled with.

Sophie Dickson - Member Story - International Womens Day

Turning nerves into excitement

We see lots of woman using our free weights zone and resistance machines zones, but we’d love to see even more! For some Xercise4Less members, adopting a new style of training can be daunting and intimidating but once you give it a go, you’ll realise how much fun it is. 

Sophie wasn’t always as confident as she is, she was actually really nervous when she first joined Xercise4Less Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She was underweight and her doctor suggested going to the gym to gain weight. Fast forward 3 years and she’s upped her weight from 7 and a half stone to 9 stone 6 lbs and loves her time spent in the gym.

“People think that if you do weight training, you’ll look bulky and ‘manly’ with big muscles but that’s not the case. I used to think that but you don’t get like that, you just look toned, healthy and happy.”

It’s taken Sophie a long time and hard work to get to the weight she is now. She used an Xercise4Less personal trainer to help her on her weight/muscle gain journey too. Her PT not only showed her what to do in the gym, but made Sophie realise how important nutrition is and what she needed to do to achieve her goals.

“My personal trainer made me aware of things like how much protein I needed, how much carbohydrates I needed and how many meals to eat a day. He taught me all about protein shakes and things like that too. All of this alongside my gym routine really helped me.”

Weight training can help you achieve your goals

It’s unfortunate that some women avoid weight training and strength training but it’s an amazing and really effective form of training that could take you closer to your fitness goals. Whilst weight training isn’t easy (especially when really pushing yourself), once you start to see results, it makes it all worth it. Sophie’s weight training is varied. She visits Xercise4Less Newcastle-upon-Tyne twice a week – this works for her and her goals to keep her in a calorie surplus. By sticking to 2 workouts a week, she focuses on a leg workout and an upper body workout.

“My training is varied but involves heavy compound movements at the moment because they really help to build muscle. I do things like pull-ups, deadlifts, squats, front squats, use the leg press and bench press. I’m not super strong but I probably weigh around 59kg, but I can squat 60kg and deadlift 65kg! When I go to the gym, I can get all my stress out and get on with my workout and feel better about myself.”

Sophie Dickson - Member Story - International Womens Day-1

The People’s Gym – inclusive and friendly

We’re so proud of the communities at Xercise4Less Gyms and Sophie has had a great experience which confirms that and shows that no matter your gym experience, our gyms will welcome all women with open arms and make you feel part of the family.

When Sophie first joined the gym, she had very little confidence. She even asked her personal trainer to have their sessions in the Ladies Only zone to focus on her squatting technique. For 3 months, she worked on her strength and confidence and then started working out in the main gym.  

“Everyone at my gym is really friendly. Both members and staff really help and look out for you. When I see familiar faces, they ask if I need them to spot me or if I need any help with the weight. It’s nice that people are always there to help you out. When you join, someone shows you around, so you know where everything is and you have an idea of what to do in the gym.”

“The gym has everything you need to start weight training – it’s well equipped. The group classes are really good too. Most of the classes are focused around weight loss so I don’t do those ones but yoga, core conditioning and legs, bums and tums are really good.”

Sophie Dickson - Member Story - International Womens Day-2

Step out of your comfort zone for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day 2020 is all about equality. At Xercise4Less, all of our members are equal and that’s why we encourage our female members to use all of our facilities and equipment, especially weights. Sophie had no experience of weight training when she joined and now, she swears by it – give it a go and see how you feel, it might be the best thing you ever do!

“Don’t be scared of weight training. Go for it. You’ll be toned, fit and healthy. If you’re wanting to gain weight and muscle, make sure you get your nutrition right too. My advice is just focus on you and what you want and ignore what people think and say. I’ve had people making snide comments to me, but I’ve stuck with it for 3 years and I’m much healthier now.”

Become an Xercise4Less Gyms member today and pay only £10 for your first month with NO extra fees. Happy International Women’s Day from Xercise4Less Gyms!

International Women’s Day 2020

Group of Women - Featured Image
Group of Women - Featured Image

Celebrating all women

A day dedicated to celebrating women? Sounds like a great idea! Women are always uplifted for their achievements but today we really focus on the women we are, the women we know and the women we aspire to be.

On Sunday 8th March, people all over the world will show their appreciation to all women. The organisers of #IWD have chosen to focus on the theme of equality and #EachforEqual – encouraging people of all genders and backgrounds to treat females as equals. As The People’s Gym, we already do this at Xercise4Less Gyms and are proud of our equality and inclusivity across all of our 51 gyms.

Woman using Cables, Bench, Weights

Encouraging women to smash goals at Xercise4Less Gyms

With a huge variety of equipment in our gyms, we encourage women of all abilities and of all fitness levels to train with us. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never stepped into a gym before or you’ve been using gyms for years, there will be something to suit you. Some women might not have done weight training before and some women may not have done much cardio training before but luckily, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in an Xercise4Less gym.

The best way to navigate the gym is to set yourself regular fitness goals. If you’re wanting to lose weight for a certain event (wedding day, holiday, birthday), use our cardio equipment such as treadmills and rowing machines and maybe start following HIIT workouts. We run a huge range of fitness classes including the famous Les Mills classes, legs bums and tums, boxercise, Zumba and clubbercise – all of these will allow you to meet other men and women too whilst pushing your fitness to the next level. If you’re wanting to gain weight and muscle, we have resistance machines and free weight areas that allow you the freedom to focus. Whether you want to smash leg day or push your full body workout to the next level, as part of your great value membership you’ll have access to leg presses, weightlifting platforms and dumbbells up to 75kg. This is just some of the quality equipment that allows women of all abilities and backgrounds to push themselves out of their comfort zone at Xercise4Less Gyms

Older Woman Training with Kettlebell

Inclusivity is key at Xercise4Less

We’re proud to be a real gym. We understand our members. We know that some women want to build up their confidence at their own pace before they’re thrown into the ‘deep end’. That’s why the vast majority of Xercise4Less gyms have a separate Ladies Only section which provide you with a place to work out without having to worry about being surrounded by male members or maybe just more advanced gym users.

Equality is as important to us as it is to you. That’s why within Ladies Only zones, you have access to the same equipment as all members, just in a smaller space. By using cardio equipment, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, weighted plates, resistance machines and more, you can take your fitness journey to the next level. Just because you want to work out within the comfort of a smaller space, doesn’t mean you need to give up on your fitness goals. At Xercise4Less Gyms, we will support your goals and include you in our amazing community.

Woman in Free Weights

Join inclusive Xercise4Less today

At Xercise4Less, we have something for all women regardless of their goals. If you want to transform your body – this could mean weight loss or weight gain – you can sign up for one of our inclusive group Transformation Camps led by our qualified instructors. If you want to blast excess calories and fat, we have a diverse range of classes to test you and your fitness. If you like to mix up your workouts, you’ll have a choice of weights zones, combat zones, a spin studio, an exercise studio and so much more with us.

Join Xercise4Less Gyms today on International Women’s Day and pay just £10 for your first month with NO added fees! After all, who runs the world? GIRLS!

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Sophia Ellis

Woman using Battle Ropes

Overcoming anorexia and bulimia

People face mental battles that some of us have no idea about. Sophia Ellis was one of those people – she was being consumed daily by her eating disorder and it was getting the better of her. Not only was she dealing with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and EDNOS, but she was struggling with depression. Understandably, all of this was getting on top of her. 

Sophia, 23, somehow pulled herself out of this deep depression and after joining Xercise4Less Southend, fell in love with fitness and became interested in powerlifting. 

Surviving a physical and mental health scare

When Sophia was at her lowest, she was throwing up more that 14 times a day and had regular scary and suicidal thoughts. She was terrified of food and sometimes even binged and purged until she passed out. She knew this period of her life wasn’t good but just couldn’t get herself out of this damaging mindset. Food made her anxious and her mind sometimes would tell her not to eat certain foods and that she didn’t deserve to eat them.

“I was consumed by my eating disorder. Isolated, lonely and felt worthless. I hated having the illness but couldn’t see a life without it. I was destroying myself and disgusted with who I was turning into. It made me feel dead inside, like I was in a constant destructive cycle that I couldn’t get out of.”

This was when Sophia knew that she needed to change something in her life. She went to her GP as she started passing out and experiencing heart problems and eventually ended up in hospital. Sophie is the first to admit that being aware of your eating disorder and illness is the first step. In her opinion, it’s all about being patient with yourself and taking one day at a time

Working on mental strength at Xercise4Less Southend

Once Sophia hit rock bottom, she wanted to work on becoming healthy again. Not just for herself but for her friends and family too. She was aware that her eating disorder and illness was having an impact on other people and wanted to work on it. She also knew it was getting a bit too much and wanted to do something about it. Sophia decided to join Xercise4Less Southend and starting taking the first positive steps on her personal fitness journey.  

“My brother designed my first training programme just to help me get out of my room but I ended up getting into weight training and eventually found a love for powerlifting and the rest is history! I used the free weights gym zone Xercise4Less Southend for my training sessions to help me prep for powerlifting competitions.”

Sophia’s biggest piece of advice to Xercise4Less members who are feeling similar to her – stop comparing yourself to others. You’re on your own journey so accept that, accept yourself and accept your body. Confidence comes through self care and self appreciation of yourself. 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Mike Ryan

Man Lifting Barbell

Gaining confidence and motivation in the gym

After struggling to strap himself into his aeroplane seat on a flight, Mike Ryan felt like he had hit rock bottom and realised that he needed to do something about. Mike, 37, had been training at the gym every day using the free weights zone in Manchester but still managed to gain excess weight. The weight gain wasn’t caused by a lack of activity but overeating and unhealthy eating habits which led him to pile on the pounds.

Naturally, this caused Mike to lose his motivation and confidence in himself but by taking his gym workouts to the next level, he was able to push himself out of his comfort zone and improve his general health and fitness.

Work on health and wellbeing

Mike’s self esteem hit rock bottom during this challenging time of his life. He was having trouble sleeping, was experiencing real discomfort and struggling with breathing. He wanted to work on improving this and feeling better about himself – not just for himself but for his children too.

Mike said:  “My children were my biggest motivation. I wanted to be able to play football with them and more importantly, be around long enough to see them grow up.”

Despite weight training for 1 hour a day, Mike was the first to admit that he wasn’t really pushing himself out of his comfort zone. Whilst he was in the gym, he would spend time on his phone scrolling through social media and not really take his training seriously.  However, the biggest issue of all of was Mike’s diet. Because Mike was spending an hour lifting weights in the free weights gym zone in Manchester, he’d treat himself to a takeaway afterwards. Sometimes even having 4-5 takeaways a week and sometimes even twice a day. By adjusting his diet and taking his nutrition a lot more seriously, he began to notice positive changes to his life.  

Transforming fitness at Xercise4Less Manchester

Seen as Mike was finding himself stuck in a bit of a rut, he wanted to mix things up. He eventually signed up for one of our Transformation Camps and because he was getting bored of his typical training, he thought it might help him to make positive changes to his body. 

“The camps looked fun and I wasn’t really seeing the changes I was hoping for by training on my own. I gave my 8 week Transformation Camp not only hard work when in the gym but I was really watching what I was eating. It wasn’t long until I started to see changes in my body and was feeling better and sleeping better.”

Mike was also able to push himself harder in the training sessions compared to when he started as his fitness level and stamina was improving. When he started to see the numbers of the tape measure going down, this was the biggest motivation of all and kept him focused on his end fitness goal. Mike has only positive things to say about Transformation Camps at Xercise4Less following his experience.

“I know gyms can be intimidating places but remember, nobody is watching at you. We’re all there for the same reason, same goal – to be better than we were yesterday. I’d always encourage regular members to help others too. If you see someone new and unsure of what to do – be nice, help them, even if it’s just a smile or a nod of approval, it goes a long way. Remember, we were all newbies once.”

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020

Raise awareness: 2nd - 8th March 2020

Throughout the United Kingdom there are 1.25 million people living with an eating disorder, including cases seen in children as young as six years old. Here at Xercise4Less Gyms we are raising awareness for an ongoing problem, using real fitness stories from our members to help those affected by the illness to try and find a solution.

Xercise4Less: The people's gym

We stand for total inclusivity and body acceptance. No matter what your level of fitness is, you are welcome with open arms through the doors of your local Xercise4Less gym. We want to continue channelling that inclusivity and support all our amazing members with their health and fitness goals.

How you can show your support

With your help we can promote and support such a great cause. You can easily get involved and share your support for those suffering with an eating disorder. We encourage our members to share their experiences and help to challenge stereotypes by talking about what you’ve been through to help give others the confidence to seek the help they need.

Show your support on social by getting involved in the conversation and sharing posts around Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

To start your health and fitness journey with Xercise4Less, join now.

Find out more about this years Eating Disorder Awareness Week by visiting BEAT.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – James Tanner

James Tanner - Eating Disorder Awareness 2020
James Tanner - Eating Disorder Awareness 2020

Surviving a health scare to kickstart my fitness journey

After a health scare and an uncontrollably poor diet, James Tanner knew it was time to tackle his health by embarking on a fitness journey, taking part in body transformation camps at his local Xercise4Less Gym. Having previously had treatment for brain tumour, James wanted to totally transform his life through exercise and diet, helping to prolong his life as well as making sure all the treatment he had been through was not undone by making a few adjustments to his lifestyle.

“10 years ago, I travelled to Sheffield and had stereotactic radiotherapy for a benign tumour on my brain. The treatment was to stop it from growing any more, so I said to myself; why go through all of that just to end up like this?”

As a result of this, James signed up to Xercise4Less Gyms and enrolled on a transformation camp to enhance his fitness and begin his weight loss journey. This gave James a starting point to begin the process of boosting his self-esteem, developing a healthy diet and an incentive to lose the weight.

“I joined the transformation camp and was given a plan of everything that would happen. I also had the food app on my phone to help log my food intake. The camp took place three nights a week and we were put through our paces with different exercises.”

Transforming my fitness with Xercise4Less Gyms

Taking the plunge to join the gym and enrol for the transformation camp was a real struggle for James as he was intimated about going into the gym. Thankfully, at friendly, inclusive Xercise4Less Gyms, James was welcomed with open arms and joining the gym was much easier, and much less daunting than he initially suspected.

“The thought of walking into a gym was quite intimidating but I convinced myself to go in and ask for a look around and I’m so glad I did! I felt a bit silly for being so anxious about it, as all the staff put me at ease immediately.”

“After that it was pretty straightforward. Listening and learning from the information you’re given is pretty much all you need to do.”

All bad foods must go - controlling my diet

With all the hard work he was putting in the gym, James knew he also had to stay on top of his diet and made the necessary changes to supplement his fitness. All the typically unhealthy foods were subsequently replaced with healthy snack options such as fruit.

“Almost immediately after joining the camp I started to count calories and switch up my eating habits. Processed foods went from being an every-day item to being pretty much non-existent. Sweets and chocolate were replaced by raisins and carrots. I knew I had to put 100% effort into my diet, or I would wane off and slip into my old habits.”

This is a far cry from what James used to incorporate into his diet. He would regularly turn to fast food for convenience, especially when going to and from work.

“A typical day would see me have a packet of crisps, a breakfast bar and a bag of sweets for breakfast. Then for lunch I would have convenience food such as KFC, McDonald’s or the chippy. After work I would grab a pizza or something similar for my tea. Finally, before bed I would take a packet of crisps, a small cake and that all important bottle of pop that I convinced myself I couldn’t sleep without by my bed.”

Fixing my physical and mental condition through fitness

Aside from his poor diet and lack of exercise, James has also struggled mentally. James works full time as a bus driver, spending a long time on the roads and being sat down for extended periods has not helped his physical condition. He spoke candidly on the impact this has had on his lifestyle.

“I have struggled with my mental health for a long period of time, especially since my father passed away when I was in my early teens. As a result, I have struggled with depression and anxiety during certain periods of my life.”

“I had put these bouts of depression to working long shifts but then it started to dawn on me that although they were part of the problem, they weren’t the root cause. The root cause was mainly down to me, and how my eating habits had killed off the very little self-confidence I had left.”

How to tackle your own body image/self-esteem issues

James has conquered his own battles, and now he feels in a much better place to live a healthier lifestyle. He firmly believes that you are the master of your own destiny and having a network of good people around you can really make the difference.

“Only you can change what you’re not happy with. There are a lot of great people who will help you and give you all the guidance and tools to make the changes, but you are the one who has to make the effort and make it count.”

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2020 – Liberty Buxton

Eating Disorder Awareness Week - Liberty Buxton Bike
Eating Disorder Awareness Week - Liberty Buxton Bike

Transforming my life through fitness

Liberty Buxton from West Yorkshire struggled with Anorexia Nervosa as a result of anxiety and bullying at high school. This understandably took its toll on Liberty, and following a scare from the doctor, she decided it was time to gain control and turn her life around, finding fitness through Xercise4Less Gyms.

Joining Xercise4Less was the starting point on Liberty’s fitness journey, giving her the confidence she needed to make the initial small steps on her quest for big results. Liberty admitted she felt nervous before walking into a gym but making strides with Xercise4Less has helped her to find her comfort zone and her happy place.

“I used to feel nervous walking into the gym, but now I’ll walk into Xercise4Less and be completely comfortable, deadlifting away!”

During the slump of her eating disorder, she weighed 6st 7lbs.

Feeling part of a gym community

As a friendly, inclusive gym, Xercise4Less is always on hand to offer support and help to members such as Liberty, and this is something she experienced first-hand, giving her the sense of being part of a team and able to ask for assistance when needed.

“I’ll be the first to admit that when I started weight training I had no idea what I was doing. The staff at Xercise4Less are always happy to assist if you’re stuck. With it being a much bigger and much more popular gym there’s always someone around to help.”

Making healthy progress with Xercise4Less Gyms

The facilities and convenient opening hours provided by Xercise4Less also helped Liberty to get into a structured training plan, ensuring she can come to the gym and do exactly what she wants to do and not be restricted by a lack of equipment or having to wait to use weights.

“Until I had made progress with my eating habits, I then started going back to the gym. Initially I trained at another local gym, but they didn’t have much equipment and facilities – nor were the opening times accommodating. So, I moved to Xercise4Less.”

Facing an eating disorder head on

Admitting you have a problem or are struggling with something is often the hardest part of the re-building process. Liberty accepts that knowing she had an eating disorder and not being in denial was the most difficult to comprehend.

“The first step was to admit to myself that I had an eating disorder, rather than be in denial. From then on, I slowly started to incorporate more food into my diet and tried hard to not feel guilty after doing so. I even quit the gym for a while to get myself back on track until I had a healthy view on fitness.”

Changing her habits and exercise regime was also a catalyst for Liberty to overcome her eating disorder. Finding the motivation was difficult, but luckily, through fitness, she was able to change her life for the better. This resulted in her mental state improving alongside her physical condition.

“Once I had realised the damage I had done to my body I began to change my eating and exercise habits. I hadn’t had a period for over a year and combined with the news the doctor gave me about conceiving, I slowly started to realise that the life I was living was not healthy at all.”

Eating Disorder Awareness - Liberty Buxton Hopper

Self acceptance: block out the demons

With the help of Xercise4Less and the drive, motivation and discipline to succeed, Liberty has been able to transform her life and finds herself in a much better place. She regularly works out and has dramatically improved her diet and state of mind to live a healthier life. There are many people out there who are suffering in silence with conditions such as an eating disorder. Liberty has some advice for anyone struggling with body image or self-esteem issues.

“Firstly, ignore anything anyone has to say about your body. It is your body for a reason, nobody on the planet has a right to say anything about your looks so don’t give them the satisfaction.”

“Secondly, stop comparing yourself to others. You are your own person and that person is beautiful regardless of what you or anyone else thinks.”

“Finally, true beauty comes from within. Reduce your time on social media and focus more time into yourself; have a long bath, go for a walk, read a book or go lift some weights!”

Liberty now weighs 9st 1lb. A fantastic effort!

Go nuts!

Up your nut butter game with our guide to the best nut butters! 

With National Peanut Day and National Nut Day being our excuses to indulge in a whole host of spreads; we thought what better way than to spread the love thick on our favourite nut butters.

Gone are the days when the only option was peanut butter  ?  , you can now find tonnes of deliciously mouth-watering nut butters on supermarket shelves, but in a world of such diversity, how do you choose THE best?

With everything from chocolate orange almond butter, to cocoa peanut butter with coconut & honey gracing our Instagram feeds, we’ve weighed up some of the most popular flavours & brands which have exploded the market and whilst we provide nuggets of delightful details of products throughout this blog, we’d always recommend that you check out the nutritional labels yourself in order to maintain a balance diet!

We spoke to a few influential ladies within the health & wellness social hemisphere to bring you some of their favourite nut butters on the high street.

Two London based fitness, food and lifestyle bloggers who are also best friends/wannabe-sisters share their passion for leading a healthy, active and balanced lifestyles through @gains4girls.

Their favourite nut butter is the Pip & Nuts Chocolate Orange Almond Butter. Speaking of chocolate orange, why not try their Jaffa Cake Protein Truffles for a perfect post workout snack?

_Bethjohns, a confident, resilient, optimistic and avid gym go-er, also expressed her love for Pip & Nut, however, her flavour of choice was chocolate hazelnut.

We managed to speak to Veronica, the naturally nutty marketing intern from the famous Pip & Nut themselves.  She’d recommend the crunchy maple peanut butter, coconut almond butter or honey almond butter. But we’d recommend trying all three. In one sitting.

Madeline Shaw will get you glowing from the inside out. As a nutritional therapist, blogger and healthy chef who promotes recipes, wellness and self-care to a following of over 270k, we trust that when she says she loves the Meridian cashew butter, we would too! In fact, she recently used this in her chocolate collagen bars. Full of protein & (of course – as it says on the tin) collagen, they’re perfect for your morning commute, elevenses, afternoon pick-me-up & dessert after a lengthy day, why not give them a whirl this weekend?

Get the recipe here!

If you’re trying to get your head around how to be healthy, then look no further than Madeline’s 10 point golden guide to healthy living, which covers elements from hydration to deprivation and stress elimination!

Go nuts for these scrumptious spreads:

The original one: Peanut

Peanut butter is packed with monounsaturated fats and contains, vitamins and fibre but we most commonly associate the amount of protein per serving with this spread – and that’s all good being said, but what even IS monounsaturated fat and WHY is the fact its rich in fibre beneficial?

Well, monounsaturated fat is heart-healthy, it’s one of the ‘healthy fats’ and eating moderate amounts can benefit your health in terms of lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as helping manage blood sugar (particularly beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes).

Fibre is commonly known for the ability to regulate the digestive system, but contrary to popular belief, fibre is a carb, and a “healthy carb” at that. Did you know that over a third of the carbohydrate in peanuts is fibre?

Even though you shouldn’t use peanut butter as a dominant food source, its fine to eat every now & then in small amounts – moderation not deprivation!

The Instagram famous one: Almond

Whilst the popular peanut butter still dominates supermarket shelves, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that almond butter has been at the centre of the nut butter boom in recent years. 

We’re bombarded daily with healthy foodies generously drizzling and dolloping this nut butter atop their acai bowls and overnight “proats” (protein oats, of course); and with disruptive marketers such as Pip & Nut contributing to our desire for something sweeter, sales are soaring.

With a high calcium and copper content, almond butter is said to keep the brain sharp and skeleton strong, so similar to peanut butter, studies have shown links to reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes – but which is healthier the peanut or the almond?

In terms of “actual” nutrients, almond butter is said to be healthier than peanut butter because it contains more vitamins (predominantly vitamin E) minerals (magnesium and iron) and fibre, however, both are calorie and sugar similar and we wouldn’t like to say either are “better”; because at the end of the day, the only downside of there is overconsumption (and unfortunately, we can’t help you with that!)

The not so cheap one: Cashew

Fun fact: Cashew nuts are actually the seeds of the cashew apple, which is the ‘fruit’ of the cashew tree. The actual ‘nut’ (as we know it) grows inside a hard (and highly poisonous) shell; which makes the extraction tremendously tricky – and that’s why cashews come at a higher price than other nuts!

Cashew butter contains amino acids and healthy fats, which like our other choices, can keep your heart healthy. It also contains higher volumes of magnesium which speeds up your metabolism and improves your immunity.

Pro – high in protein; con – high in calories; so just like with other butters, it is important you don’t overindulge (sorry!)

Cashew nuts also contain a high carb content, which is why if you are on a low carb diet you should monitor how much of it you consume.

The one which reminds us of Nutella: Hazelnut

Although similar to the above listed butters in many ways, hazelnut butter is not as high in protein as the others, so if you want to stay fuller for longer, then we’d recommend pairing this one alongside another protein rich snack.

Previous research has linked hazelnuts with healthy ageing and decreased anxiety levels. #worldmentalhealthday2018

However, be warned. Hazelnut is usually coupled with chocolate when it comes to spreads (think Nutella… and pancakes… and French toast… and a good tablespoon); and although harmless as a treat, too much chocolate spread is likely to harm your diet and possibly your health.

If you want that cocoa fix with your hazelnut, we’d recommend the meridian cocoa and hazelnut butter – made with 100% natural ingredients, with no added salt, sugar flavours or preservatives. Why not pair with some fresh strawberries… or some French toast!?

We could go into scientifically proven stats surrounding the health benefits of the nut butters, but what you really want to know is:

  • Where can I discover?
  • How can I devour?

From Aldi and Lidl to Waitrose and Selfridges, you can find a nut butter in almost every supermarket. And if you can’t, there’s a whole host of websites with a variety to choose from!

Here are some of our fave brands & a taste of their tastes:

The protein works

Cacao almond butter, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, rawetlla

Pip & Nut

Peanut butter, choc hazelnut, choc orange almond, honey almond, crunch maple peanut, coconut almond

My Protein

Peanut, almond, power peanut, organic peanut, cashew, whey protein peanut, triple nut, rice protein peanut


Almond, cashew, rich roast peanut, peanut with salt, coconut peanut, peanut with sunflower & sesame, cocoa peanut butter with coconut & honey.


Peanut butter with honey

Bioana organic

Crunchy, chocolate, coconut

Take nourishment to the next level.

Not sure what to rustle up for breakfast this weekend? Fear not, toast isn’t always boring. Try banana & chocolate orange almond butter on a slice of sourdough this Saturday morning!

And if you fancy something savoury? Why not try adding a dollop of peanut butter into your stirfry?

 On that note, we’re off for some snacks.

Breast Cancer Awareness – The Power of Exercise – Charly Stakim

group hiit fitness workout xmas dinner blog

The Power of Exercise with the Right Support

For our last blog for Breast Cancer Awareness Month we’re focusing on female empowerment through exercise. However, challenging your life is or how fit you feel, working out can help lift you up and empower you as a woman. At Xercise4Less Gyms we witness the power of exercise when we see our female members working out with the support of other women or exercising with the guidance of our friendly personal trainers.

You can see an example of some of that female superpower in action with our video on YouTube of Xercise4Less women members working out together guided by one of our female personal trainers. Let’s look at a couple of ways you can charge up your energy banks with the support of your fellow women gym members and our fitness staff.

The Many Benefits of Training in a Group of Women

Working out within a group of women can motivate you to ever higher levels of fitness. You’ll be practically able to run a marathon with the energy provided by the encouragement of a female workout group. Exercise is good for everyone, but group exercise has been shown to improve the quality of life even for women being treated for breast cancer. And those group classes offer far more than pulsating music. Training in a group of other women can offer psychological support and social opportunities whether you’re feeling a bit gymtimidated or lacking the motivation to exercise.

Working out in our Female Only gym zone or in the main fitness space, feeling part of a group can boost your physical and emotional health and improve your mental resilience. Exercising in a female group makes you more accountable as you don’t want to let anyone down by not turning up. And it’ll make you more motivated through the friendly support of your fellow women members. You’re more likely too to try new forms of exercise when you’re a part of an encouraging group and that will prevent you from being bored at the gym.

Group fitness classes are popular with women members too as they’re a great place to meet friendly people with similar fitness goals and needs. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to work out alongside other female members rather than on your own. The shared experience of working out with other women in a non-intimidating inclusive environment has a supportive power all of its own.

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Exercise Your Personal Right to Better Health

Although it’s a lot of fun to work out with a group of women, you don’t just have to rely on them to reach your fitness targets. A personal trainer can also be a great resource for women trying to improve their health and wellbeing. Setting up a regular session with one of our personal training team is a very useful way of working towards specific fitness goals. As an exercise expert a fitness instructor can show you the most effective ways of setting and then smashing exercise targets. They’ll show you how to maximise your efforts, so you avoid common gym mistakes and prevent you from injuring yourself in the process!

Working one-to-one with our friendly fitness staff, you’ll be able to develop a fitness plan that will work for your individual body. But a personal trainer is more than simply a great resource for female members. Individual training sessions will give you the right tools to feel truly empowered by exercise. When you know what you’re doing in the gym, you can work out the best way forward for yourself, supported where you need it by our personal training staff.

An Inclusive Community at Xercise4Less Gyms

At Xercise4Less Gyms we consider ourselves a friendly inclusive community. And our strong group of people with real bodies are always there to support female members. Whether you want to work out at our Women’s Only Gym zone, meet new people at our group fitness classes or exercise in the main gym spaces like the Combat Zone or Functional Fitness Zone, your fellow members and your fitness staff are ready to encourage you. Draw on the power of an exercise community like Xercise4Less and transform your mental and physical fitness.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Low-Intensity Workout with Libby Frost

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Xercise4Less is continuing to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. According to Breast Cancer Care (2019), over 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. Exercise has proven to be beneficial for those who are undertaking cancer treatments. It’s important, though, to ensure that this is done safely without putting too much pressure on the body. Regular exercise can reduce anxiety and depression, strengthen muscles and reduce the risk of other health issues.

To support this cause, Xercise4Less is presenting another blog focusing on women’s empowerment and the importance of exercise with our member Libby Frost from Xercise4Less Leeds Kirkstall. This blog does not focus on anyone who has previously suffered from cancer, however, as we believe that exercise is essential for those who are going through cancer treatments, we would like to share our support.

Low-Intensity workout to help you keep active and motivated

Ladies, it’s your time to SHINE! So get those trainers out, that sports gear on and come and join all the amazing other women that are killing it in the gym every day! Even just doing low-intensity exercises in the gym can be so uplifting and help keep you active and motivated. So who ready to feel EMPOWERED?  

Low-intensity workouts are beneficial in so many ways to your mental and physical health. Examples of low-intensity workouts include:  

  • Cardio  
  • Yoga 
  • Swimming 
  • Low-intensity full-body circuits  

Here are some low-intensity workouts that ANY women can try to get that blood pumping, heart racing, and those endorphins flowing. We know that the gym can be intimidating but these exercises are quick and simple which means that any woman can feel not only comfortable but MOTIVATED and EMPOWERED to hit the gym.   


Yoga can be a great low-intensity exercise. It has been scientifically proven to aid stress reduction whilst helping you maintain that fit and active lifestyle. Xercise4Less offers amazing yoga classes that are a fun way to clear your mind and get active at the same time!  


Here are some low-intensity cardio exercises all using the treadmill with a total workout time of just 25 minutes:  

  • 10-15% incline Speed 3.0-5.0 & Then walk for 10 minutes  

Repeat the next 4 exercises 3 times, with each time followed by 1 minute of steady-state, no incline walk.  

  • 7.0 incline Speed 1.5-2.0  

1. Forward Squat walk: 1 minute  
2. Backward Squat walk: 1 minute                      
3. Lunge Walk: 1 minute  
4. Side Squat Walk: 30 seconds each side

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10 Low-intensity Exercises 

These exercises can be used in combinations of 4-6 exercises and repeated 2-3 times to create that perfect circuits for you to stay active and motivated. 

1. Side dips x 10 (place knee on the floor for a lower intensity movement)

2. Tricep dips x 10

3. Hover kickbacks x 10 (each leg)

4. Clamshell with resistance band x 10 (each leg)

5. Side squat x 20 

6. Standing cross body crunches x 10 (each side)  

7. Curtsy with arm raises x 10  (up the intensity by holding dumbbells)  

8. Arm circles x 20  

9. Alternating t-shaped arm extension x 10  

10. Single-leg hip thrusts x 10 (each leg) 

Physical and Mental Benefits of Fitness  

What makes physical exercise so good for your mental and physical health?  

Stress and anxiety reduction 

Any physical exercise, including low-intensity exercise, has been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Not only does physical exercise release hormones such as endorphins that naturally give you an uplifting feeling but having a gym routine has also been proven to improve mental health.  

Improve body composition & functioning 

Physical exercise helps to increase strength and muscle whilst reducing body fat. This creates better physical health for the body overall. Increasing body strength can also make daily tasks much easier. Additionally, physical activity improves immune system functioning helping ward off those unwanted colds and viruses.  

Better quality of sleep 

A good workout helps to regulate your body’s built-in alarm clock, the circadian rhythm that controls how awake or tired your body feels. Physical exercises help to maintain a good sleep routine which helps improve mental health overall. 

Improves cognitive function 

Studies have shown that physical exercises contribute to the growth of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. Additionally, as physical exercise improves mental health it also contributes to overall benefits in the memory performance. 

Improving self-confidence  

Okay, ladies. So it is without a doubt in this world of constant social media and unachievable body images that our self-esteem and confidence are bound to be knocked all the time. BUT, physical exercise can be an amazing way of building body confidence and learning to love your body. Getting together with like-minded women to do low-intensity workouts in the gym can benefit your mental health. Working out with other women may boost your mood and keeps you motivated.  

SO WOMEN… Who doesn’t want to feel empowered with the help of one another? 

Let’s do this together!  

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