5 foods to prepare differently

prepare differently

Carbohydrates have received a lot of negative publicity of late, but not all carbs are created equal and the way the carbohydrate (and food in general) is prepared is hugely important.

Let’s look at a few examples, the first one being the potato. Boiled or baked potato with the skin on, rates high on the health scale, whilst potato crisps and fries would be deemed as ‘no-no’s’ for the health conscious.

Similarly, popcorn, if smothered in butter and loaded with salt, or coated in caramel, will negate almost all of its health benefits. But if air-popped using a minimal amount of oil (that has not been recycled multiple times), it is a fantastically healthy snack.

See the table below for some other examples.

  Healthy examples ‘Not-so healthy’ examples Health benefits if prepared/eaten the right way
Carbohydrate rich foods      
Potato Boiled or baked potato Deep-fried chips, crisps Good source of fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, Vitamin C
Popcorn Air-popped Sugar or butter coated, plus lots of salt Good source of fibre, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Potassium and Iron
Tomatoes Fresh, added to a salad or cooked in a stew/stir-fry Tomato sauce (with large amounts of added sugar) Good source of lycopene, vitamin K, beta-carotene and vitamin C
Bread Low GI whole-grain breads White bread Rich in fibre, vitamin B6 and magnesium
Protein rich foods      
Dairy Milk, yoghurt Ice-cream (loaded with added sugar) Good source of protein, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B12
Eggs Scrambled, poached or boiled Fried Excellent source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B12

We know that foods that have been highly processed have many negative consequences on our health, especially when it comes to chronic diseases of lifestyle and so the message should not be to eliminate food groups altogether, but rather to focus on eating more whole foods, the way nature intended them to be eaten.

Super Circuit = full body workout


Because you’re getting an aerobic and a strength workout, you could, quite easily, cut your gym time in half. The Super Circuit is one serious muscle-toning, endurance-increasing, calorie-burning workout. It’s hard work, but that work can pay off in big ways. You’ll also have more flexibility when choosing to train (hello lunch time workouts!).

How does The Super Circuit work?

Circuit training is a group of 6 to 10 exercises that are completed one after another and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a set period before having a quick rest and moving on to the next exercise. In the Super Circuit, you get the added bonus of stepping between each strength exercise. This gives your heart rate a boost, and gives you a tougher workout.

Who is Super Circuit training for?

In a word: Everyone. Specifically, if:

  1. You want to work on your core stability (think abs)
  2. You want to work on your T-Shirt muscles (hello upper body strength!)
  3. You’re a sports enthusiast who wants lower body muscle strength and endurance
  4. Your goal is to lose weight and up your fitness
  5. You’re looking for an all-round challenge.

The Super Circuit is a supercharged workout that mixes cardio intervals (using the step in the middle) and strength training (using our fixed machines).

How it works

You perform one set of strength exercises until the buzzer goes off. Then move to the step to prep for your cardio interval (step ups). When the buzzer starts again, step up and down on the step as many times as you can until you hear the buzzer again. This will be your cue to move to the next strength machine. Simple.

Important: It’s about quality not quantity. Aim for 12-15 reps per exercise. Keep an eye on your technique. And make sure that the last 3 reps of the set are challenging. If not, increase the weight slightly.

Your cardio interval

You can step up one level and back down, or you can step up two levels and back down. You can also jog up and down on the step for a higher intensity workout. You decide how hard you want to work.

Let’s recap:

  • The Super Circuit is a full body workout, so you’ll get the most out of your time
  • Strength plus cardio equals loads of calories burned, during and after your session. Win.
  • The machines can help your technique, especially when you’re pushed for time
  • You get to exercise every muscle group
  • Beat gym boredom
  • When the club is busy, you’ll always have a spot as soon as the buzzer goes and everyone moves along. No waiting around.

Not sure what you’re doing in your next session? Give the Super Circuit a go. Trust us. You won’t look back.

9 moves to up your calories burn

calorie burn

It’s February and you’re still going strong. You made your resolutions and you’re sticking to them. You want to keep the momentum going but you feel like you might be plateauing. Throw these moves into the mix and see some great results. Fast.

  1. Ice skaters

Stand on one leg with the other leg crossing your body behind you (this foot is off the ground). Jump to the side, land on the other leg and finish in the starting position, creating a dynamic alternating movement. Repeat. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

  1. Burpees

Stand with your feet hip width apart and your arms down by your side. Lower into a squat position with your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Kick your legs backwards into a press up position and lower your chest to the floor. Push your chest back up to the press up position and thrust both feet forward so you are back in the squat position. Jump up and raise both hands over your head. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

  1. Jumping jacks

Stand straight, with feet together and arms at your side. Slightly bend your knees, and propel yourself a few inches into the air. While in air, bring your legs out to the side about shoulder width or slightly wider. As you are moving your legs outward, you should raise your arms up over your head; arms should be slightly bent throughout the entire in-air movement. Your feet should land shoulder width or wider as your hands meet above your head with arms slightly bent. Quickly jump back to starting position and repeat. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

  1. Running

Just as you should maintain good posture when standing or sitting, maintaining a relaxed, upright posture while running is essential. Good posture will help release tension and reduce strain in the neck and shoulders, which can prevent muscle fatigue. The idea is to run in a relaxed manner with as little tension as possible. Head high. Relax your neck and shoulders. Keep your wrists loose. Let your arms swing. Consider including some interval training into your runs – jog for 2 minutes, sprint for 1 minute and repeat.

  1. Skipping

Jump 1 to 2 inches off floor, giving rope just enough space to slip under feet — only the balls of your feet should touch the floor. Keep elbows close to sides as you turn the rope. The movement comes from the wrists and forearms, not the shoulders. If you tire out before you finish the workout, drop the rope, but keep arms and legs going. Work up to using the rope full-time. To find a rope that fits, place one foot in the centre of the rope and lift the handles — they shouldn’t go past your armpits. Aim to complete 1 minute.

  1. Mountain climbers

Assume a press up position so your hands are directly under your chest at shoulder width apart with straight arms. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating for the desired number of reps or time. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

  1. Step ups

Lift your right foot off the ground and place it on top of the step. Next, lift your left foot off the ground and use the muscles in your legs and core to lift this foot to the top of the bench. Carefully step your right foot back to the ground, followed by your left foot. Repeat this process for at least 30 seconds before taking a short break, and then performing again.

  1. Squat jumps

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides. Bend your knees into a squat position, and jump up. Land in the squat position (for a brief pause) before jumping upwards again. Attempt to land softly and quietly on the mid-foot. Always push your hips backwards and drop them downwards to absorb the impacting forces associated with jumping. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

  1. Scissor jumps

Stand with right foot in front of left, spaced about 2 feet apart. Extend right arm behind you and left arm in front of you, elbows comfortably bent near 90 degrees. Quickly jump up and switch arm and leg positions while in the air, so you land with your left food in front of your right foot, right arm in front of your body, left arm behind you. Repeat. Try as many reps as possible in 40 seconds.

If you want to see how these moves are done, visit our exercise library on myvirginactive. We have loads of videos that’ll show you exactly how to perfect these moves.

Let the cycling action begin

cyclingSo, you’ve entered the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Now what? To make sure your experience is a great one, it’s important that you prepare well: mentally, physically and nutritionally.

We’ll be with you every step of the way, starting with how to prepare your body and mind for race day.

Time on the bike

Time on the bike before the big day is critical – not only for cardiovascular fitness but also to ensure that your “rear end” is accustomed to sitting for multiple hours on the saddle.


Just as important as time on the bike, is nutrition – ensuring that your body is equipped with sufficient energy, vitamins and mineral to support your efforts on the bike.

The main fuel for your muscles is carbohydrate and your body is able to store carbohydrate in both muscles and the liver until it’s needed. It’s important that you fill these reserve tanks prior to the day to ensure an optimal performance on race day.

For the Banters, remember that it takes a few weeks for your muscles to adapt to burning fat rather than carbohydrate as a primary fuel and if you’re someone who is going for time, it might hinder your efforts if you eliminate carbs altogether. It’s the fast-twitch muscle fibres that are responsible for fast explosive movements like sprinting up a hill, and they seem to prefer carbs over fat as an energy fuel.

Training before the event

While training for the event, remember to ensure that your muscles receive all the necessary nutrients to assist with recovery. Ideally, eat a meal within 30-45 minutes of your training session and ensure that there is sufficient carbohydrate and protein present. Some good examples include a fruit smoothie/milkshake, made with yoghurt or low-fat milk; a cheese/lean meat sandwich; egg and/or baked beans on toast; chicken pasta meal (tomato based, rather than cream based); tuna/salmon and quinoa salad; nuts and raisins etcetera.

In between training sessions, focus on getting in the healthy carbs like whole-grains, fruit and starchy vegetables. Save the refined carbohydrates/added sugar for carbo-loading before the event and on the bike (when requirements are high and it’s not always possible to meet these requirements without including some concentrated forms of carbohydrate like energy drinks, fruit juice, energy bars, gu’s etcetera).


Carbo-loading 2-3 days before the event is advisable in order to ensure that your muscle’s reserves are optimal. Aim to take in between 8 and 10 grams of carbohydrates per kg body weight per day when carbo-loading. Check out the 50g carbohydrate list below for some ideas.

Dairy and Fruits

  • 2 ½ cups of fruit salad OR 3 large fruits e.g. 2 banana’s + 1 apple
  • 1 cup (250ml) of LF fruit yoghurt (with fruit bits)
  • 340ml LF drinking yoghurt
  • 1 cup of fruit salad + 1 small tub (175ml) LF yoghurt + 1 heaped tsp of honey/syrup
  • 3 heaped tablespoons raisins (or dried fruit snippets)
  • 500mL fruit juice
  • 4 cups LF or FF milk


  • 1 ½ cups Corn-Flakes/low-fibre cereal
  • 2 cups cooked porridge or high fibre bran
  • ¾ cup pronutro or LF muesli

Grains/savoury snacks

  • 3 slices bread
  • 10 LF crackers
  • 6 rice cakes/12 corn-thins
  • 5 cups of cooked pasta
  • 5 cups of cooked rice/barley/samp/cous-cous/quinoa
  • 3 medium potatoes or 1 ½ cups mashed potato/ 1 cup sweet potato


  • 500ml soft drinks (colas)
  • 700-800 ml sports drinks
  • 1 cup liquid meal replacement (made with LF or FF milk)

Sugars / Gels

  • 3 heaped tbsp’s sugar or syrup or honey
  • 2 corn-syrup sachets (if it provides 25g carbohydrate per sachet)
  • 75g pack of wine gums or Ener-jelly babies or jelly tots
  • 8-10 marshmallows (approx. 100g)

Race-day tips

It is important to ingest sufficient carbohydrate during the event, as your muscle’s stores start to run low after just 60-90 minutes of continuous exercise. Some practical snack options include: energy bars, gu’s and sports drinks. Sports drinks are often a good option, as they meet your carbohydrate, electrolyte and fluid needs all in one go.

Aim to eat breakfast 2-3 hours before your start-time. Some good examples include cereal and low-fat milk/yoghurt; fruit and low-fat yoghurt, toast with jam and cheese or scrambled egg. For some people, too much fibre combined with nerves on the day, can lead to unwanted pit-stops during the race – if you’re one of these people, try opting for a low-fibre cereal and/or toast. Whichever way you decide, remember not to experiment with anything new on the day. Stick to what’s tried and tested.

Once on the bike, aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour (check out the 50g carbohydrate list for some ideas) – ideally, ingest something every 15-20 minutes e.g. ½ sachet corn-syrup OR 125ml sports drink /soft drink. Experiment with the different drinks and energy bars/corn-syrup products beforehand.
Aim to drink 400-800ml of fluid an hour – this may vary depending on how hot it is on the day, how much you sweat, your race pace and your overall size. Split the amount up into small quantities every 15-20 minutes (e.g. 100-200ml every 15 minutes).

Preparing your mind for the Cape Town Cycle Tour

Why would one need to prepare mentally for this race? Mental preparation can aid in the following:

  • To feel prepared and ready to race. By feeling prepared your confidence increase and you will feel ready to compete
  • To feel confident in one’s ability to complete the race. This is the number one objective, believing in yourself that you will have a great race and be able to complete the race.
  • To focus on your execution. What you focus on before the race is critical. This will guide you in directing your focus to what is important when you get distracted by external elements
  • To be able to cope with adversity (e.g. weather)
  • To finalise your race plan or strategy
  • To commit and enter the role of a cyclist on the day. This will help you make the transition between life and sports

So how does one prepare mentally?

  1. Set up your race plan

It is critical to have a plan on how you want to ride the race. Previous experience of the race can guide you in setting up your race strategy. This should be based on your strengths and weaknesses as a rider. E.g. when your weakness is hills, plan to catch up on your time during the straights and downhills. Set simple objectives e.g. Performance goals – at a certain km mark you need to be within a specific time or keeping and specific average and mental goals – keeping your focus or trust you race plan.

  1. Get psyched

Create your own pre-race routine and pre-race check-list. Have your bike packed and ready to go. This can include taking out your riding kit, filling up your water bottles, making sure you have all your “on route” snacks. On race day focus on your goal, make use of trigger words like “let’s go” or listen to upbeat music.

  1. Putting your mind into gear

Get ready. Familiarise yourself with the route and profile. You can either look at the map or take a drive with your car. By familiarising yourself with the route, you will prepare your mind and body on what to expect on race day.

  1. Attitude check list

Get into the role of a cyclist. Nothing else matter now except you, your bike and the road. A good attitude can help you stay motivated, increase your self-belief and keep you focused on your race plan. Check-in, if you don’t like your attitude… change it.

Let’s get functional fit

func fitFunctional fitness training is for everyone. If you move your body on a daily basis, whether you’re picking clothes up off the floor or reaching for that jar of peanut butter, you will benefit from functional training.

Adding functional training to your workout routine is all about incorporating natural movements, so that you can perform these moves every day without struggle. It’s that simple.

Tip: New to functional training? Make sure you seek proper instruction and supervision of technique before you embark on this type of training.

5 pieces of functional fitness equipment to use

  1. BOSU

An acronym for ‘Both Sides Up’, BOSU is a device that is used for balance training. As the name suggests, it can be used either with the dome-side up, or with the flat base on top. In either position, the BOSU provides an unstable surface that can assist in functional training and balance.

  1. Kettlebells

This traditional Russian cast iron weight looks like a cannonball with a handle. As the kettlebell displaces the body’s centre of gravity while training, the exercise mimics real-life activity like shovelling or farm work, creating an all-over body conditioning workout.

  1. Kinesis

The Kinesis circuit consists of four panels and grips, cables and weight stacks, which allow for 360 degree, resistance based movement in different directions. Kinesis is an innovative way to exercise in gravity with resistance, while focusing on balance and flexibility.

  1. Stability balls

These are the big and colourful balls filled with air that provide instability when incorporated during exercise. The body responds to this instability by engaging more muscles in order to balance and remain stable, adding an additional dimension to your workout.

  1. TRX

An acronym for ‘Total Resistance Exercise’, the TRX was born as a training tool for U.S. Navy SEALS. The concept of suspension training ensures that your entire body is given a workout involving balance, stability and power.

Functional fitness training – the benefits

  1. You’ll use more than one or two muscles, making your workout more efficient. Perfect for a busy lifestyle.
  2. This type of workout challenges you because a lot of the movements are unpredictable. You know the definition of insanity right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If you keep doing the same movements over and over again, your body will get used to it and you’ll hit a plateau. Plateaus are the worst.
  3. Functional fitness training has massive core-strengthening benefits, because it engages the body’s core stabilising and balancing muscles. These types of exercises put less wear and tear on your muscles and joints, and help improve coordination, balance, and stability.
  4. Into a specific sport? Functional fitness training can enhance your skills in any sport.
  5. It’s a fun, full body workout. There are so many different pieces of equipment to try out and experiment with. Variety!

Virgin Active will be launching a special functional fitness group exercise class in March, focussing on the six primal movements we use every day: Push, Pull, Squat, Bend, Twist and Lunge. So keep an eye on your club’s timetable and let’s get functional fit.

Power up with positivity

positivityRemember how you couldn’t do a full five push ups when you started? Now you’re doing 20 no problem. That’s success. And that’s what you should be focusing on.

We want you to live fit, live happy and live well. We provide a place where you can come workout, hang out and have fun. But what happens when you hit a roadblock or you just need some inspiration to keep going?

Break your barriers

1. What’s holding you back? It’s time to focus your energy on reaching your goal by getting rid of anything that’s standing in your way. It’s all about educating yourself. You can learn more about how you’re exercising, what you’re eating and how to achieve your ultimate health and fitness goals. This is all about being honest and getting to where you want to be. Use myvirginactive to track your progress. Tracking works like a charm.

2. Forget about unhealthy expectations. Be SMART (specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic and timed) about your goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

3. Don’t follow the crowd. And stop comparing yourself. We know Facebook and Instagram make that pretty difficult but try to be mindful of it. Try to shut it out. You’re you, with completely different list of responsibilities, priorities, and yes, DNA.

3. When you’re working out, focus on being in the moment. Focus on what you’re doing NOW. Forget about whether that particular exercise is going to shape your legs the way you want it to. Workouts are hard enough as it is, without the extra worry. Stay focused on every rep, every step and every stroke.

Remember, this is a long journey. A marathon. And there are no quick fixes. You just have to put in the time and effort. It’s so worth it. And just for a moment, right now, think about all of the ways you’ve improved. And all the ways you’re going to improve even more. Write it down. Remember it.

Boost your rewards in 2015 through the new HealthyCare

30432DHV HealthyCare Website Banners 680x360Do you shop at Clicks or Dis-Chem, or both? Then make sure you don’t miss out on the new HealthyCare benefit available from February 2015. You’ll get cash back on thousands of HealthyCare items to help you look after yourself and your family.

Here are steps to follow to activate HealthyCare:

  • Just make sure you activate the HealthyCare benefit on www.discovery.co.za, if you haven’t yet. You will get up to 10% cash back at both Clicks and Dis-Chem.
  • Choose your preferred partner and find out your Vitality Age to get up to 15% cash back.
  • Then complete a Vitality Health Check at an accredited pharmacy in the Vitality Wellness Network to get up to 25% cash back at your preferred partner and 10% cash back at the other. The main member can update the preferred partner once every 12 months.
  • You can also earn up to 25% cash back on a range of fitness devices at both Clicks and Dis-Chem. You can also claim up to R750 of the cost of these devices from your Medical Scheme plan administered by Discovery Health if you have day-to-day benefits available and if applicable.

So, get ready to enjoy cash back on thousands of HealthCare items at Clicks and Dis-Chem. Find out more about the HealthyCare benefit.

Boost your rewards more with DiscoveryCard’s Discovery Miles multiplier

You get incredible rewards when you shop using your DiscoveryCard, including cash back and the ability to earn Discovery Miles.

In 2015, you’ll have even more reasons to spoil yourself with the new HealthyLiving Miles Multiplier. With this benefit, you can multiply your Discovery Miles by up to 10 times when you shop at HealthyLiving partner stores and pay using your DiscoveryCard – it’s that easy!

Clicks, Dis-Chem, Sportsmans Warehouse, Totalsports, Pick n Pay and Woolworths are all HealthyLiving partner stores. So what are you waiting for? Make sure you get in on Discovery Miles now!

To Keep in touch with us, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Not a Vitality member yet?

Did you know you can save up to 80% on your monthly gym fees by joining Vitality Discovery? All you have to do is call 0860 99 88 77 or download your application form and fax it to 011 539 2509.