Our healthy take on Spaghetti Bolognaise

article eight 680px(5-6 Servings)

2 tsps. (10ml) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g extra lean minced beef
400g tin chopped Italian tomatoes
1 tbsp. (15ml) tomato paste
1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
1 tsp. (5ml) dried oregano
Black pepper & salt to taste
2 cups (500ml) vegetable/beef stock (add ½ the quantity of stock powder if you have high blood pressure)
3 tbsp. (45ml) red wine (optional)
450g dried spaghetti
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

• Heat the oil in a pan, add onion and garlic and cook over a low heat until softened (for approximately 5 minutes).
• Add the mince and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring gently (break up any lumps of meat with a wooden spoon).
• Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and black pepper.
• Pour in the stock and optional red wine and bring to the boil while stirring.
• Reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
• In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water (follow instructions on the packet).
• Portion the pasta and cover with the bolognaise sauce.
• Add an optional sprinkle of parmesan cheese for additional flavour and enjoy!

Beat PMS with exercise

pmsWe know all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a box of Oreos and series re-runs, but hitting the gym while you’re on your period can actually cause a shift towards more fat being used as fuel during exercise: This equals more energy for longer plus more calories burned! Boom. Plus there are loads of other benefits too.

The benefits of working out during menstruation
Unless your doctor has advised against it, exercising while you have your period can help:
• Decrease the pain of cramps by releasing endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), increasing blood flow, and by loosening muscles in your lower abdomen, back, and thighs.
• Rid your body of excess water so you aren’t bloated.
• Improve and stabilise your mood, making you less anxious, angry, or depressed.

Tips and tricks to try at the gym
• If you are just beginning an exercise program, and you suffer from cramps and other period-related issues, then start out slowly. Make sure you’re listening to your body and not overdoing it.
• Go for an easy run on the treadmill.
• Try a group exercise class like Yoga, Pilates or Shape.
• Do some resistance training instead of your usual cardio if you’re not up to a heavy cardio session.
• Stay cool – the gym is the place to be.
• Get plenty of sleep.

Foods that help fight PMS
That chocolate craving is out of control, we hear you! But chocolate isn’t going to help your symptoms.There’s science behind your cravings and we’ve got some tricks to help you beat them.
1. Try to eat small regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels up. That doesn’t mean eat everything in sight, just don’t let yourself starve.
2. Carbs can do wonders. But only the good carbs: fruit, vegetables and wholegrains – they’ll also help curb your more dangerous cravings (we see you, croissant with Nutella, we see you!)
3. Drink plenty of fluid (water, water, and more water.)
4. Fibre is good, but don’t over-do it (especially if you’re not used to it) – it might cause even more bloating! Always increase your intake of fibre gradually to give your gut time to adapt.

You might not feel like beating your personal best (PB) or swinging heavy kettlebells, but your body is capable of handling its usual workload when you’re PMS-ing, so if you don’t want the monthly visit to put the brakes on your fitness goals, we say go forth and squat!

5 tips to stay hydrated this winter

stay hyAs the days get colder, we can forget how important it is to get enough H20, but meeting your fluid requirements and keeping adequately hydrated is especially important in winter when the indoor heaters, long, warm showers and naturally drier air (if you’re living inland) steal valuable moisture from your skin.

So, how do you keep well hydrated, but not pack on the extra calories? Follow the 5 simple tips below.
• Opt for warm, vegetable soups packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals – all essential for a strong immune system to help ward off all the nasty colds and flu that are so prevalent at this time of year.
• Instead of hot-chocolate and lattes, experiment with different flavoured teas like peppermint, chamomile or lemon-grass, each one with its own unique flavour and potential health-enhancing properties.
• Replace your water bottle with a flask of plain warm water or flavour it with one of the many tea options available – where possible, try and limit the added sugar.
• Fruit naturally contains a lot of water – if you’re not keen on a fresh fruit salad, why not try some steamed fruit – steamed apples are an especially nice treat on a cold, winter’s day. Add some Bulgarian yoghurt and you’ve got the perfect dessert or mid-afternoon snack.
• Keep a glass of fresh water next to your bed at night – take a few sips before you fall asleep and first thing in the morning.

By ensuring an adequate fluid intake this winter, you’ll naturally ward off some of the symptoms often associated with dehydration, including headaches, lethargy, constipation and dry skin.

myvirginactive is all-new and all-you

myvamyvirginactive is your ultimate digital fitness partner, designed to guide you on your journey with us. So we’ve filled it with loads of awesome features, and we’re excited to show you what’s new, and all the ways these features can help you get to your goal.

First up: what’s new on your home page?
You can now book a class straight from the timetable, which is right there as soon as you log in. You can also check how many sessions you’ve packed into the month and how many calories you’ve burned on the right-hand side of the page.
Tip: If you’ve completed “Assess”, we can customise your home page even more, by adding articles, exercises and recipes, all based on your own needs and preferences.

myvirginactive’s new Shop
If you feel like you could benefit from something extra, visit our brand new Shop on myvirginactive. We offer Personal Training Booster Packs and our pre and postnatal group exercise class, Pop Fit.

We’ve moved settings and self service
You can now find settings and self service on the far top right-hand side of the home page. You’ll see a little arrow indicating a “drop-down” option. Click it, and voila!

Don’t forget that with our self service feature, you can update your personal details and payment info, manage your Wi-Fi login details and download your contract.
FYI: You can now find mycheatmate in Eat and Break your barriers in Goal.

Find the moves that suit you
– To make finding a workout routine quicker and easier, you can now choose from 3 recommended workout routines based on your goal or choose from the full list.
– You can also search for exercises by picking a body part that you want to work or simply enter a keyword into the search bar. We’ll then give you the results you’re looking for along with video clips showing exactly how to do it. Visit the exercise library in Move.

A quick reminder of all the other awesome stuff on myvirginactive
Track: See how well you’re doing by tracking your training and measurements.
Move: Select a workout routine, customise it and use our exercise video library to show you exactly how it’s done.
Eat: Get your own meal plan and shopping list according to your daily caloric requirements.
Learn: Browse our range of credible health and fitness articles and find inspiration, delicious recipes and expert tips.
Mobi: Wherever you are, you now have access to your workout routine, timetables, bookings and track.

Your health and fitness journey starts with a goal. And myvirginactive has everything you need to reach that goal. Register or log in today!

my goal. my results. my journey. myvirginactive

Guys, get in on that class action

groupexmenWhen you think of group exercise you imagine leg-warmers, cheesy music and 80s aerobics that look very un-manly, but our group exercise classes are hardcore and offer great alternative workouts.

How about trying one of our martial arts-inspired Kick classes for an endurance and stamina-building session? We have Ride, which will boost your overall fitness and leave you feeling more energised when you hit the weights section. And that’s just the beginning.

Working out in a big group of people can be exhilarating and can really up the ante on your fitness regime – adding variety to your session with some motivational music and still yielding good solid result-proven structure. Give it a try!

What you’ll get out of a group ex session
- The company! If you’re tired or bored of training by your lonesome, you can surround yourself with like-minded individuals in a group exercise class.
- A challenge! You’re encouraged to work out harder and any instructor worth their salt will push you to your limits. Also, there’s the added motivation of having to show what you’re made of in a room full of other fitness fiends.
- Broadening your exercise horizons. You’ll get to experience a variety of workout styles and new moves to incorporate into your lone sessions. There’s a group exercise class for every goal, whether you want to muscle up, get fitter or lose some weight.

5 group exercise classes for men to try right now
twentyfour – This 30 minute class is all about using your own bodyweight – it’s our answer to high intensity interval training and definitely worth the time.
Pump – This class incorporates barbells and weights, and you can choose how heavy to go, making sure you get an excellent strength workout.
Kick - This class will give you a great cardio and upper and lower body workout as well as improving your strength and flexibility. You’ll need to be fairly fit for this one.
Ride - This class involves heavy resistance for ideal strength training, while also utilising lighter resistance to increase your aerobic capacity. If you’re into cycling, this is for you.
Killer Abs – This floor-based class is a great supplement to your workout. It’s 30 minutes and focuses on that all important mid-section ensuring that you get a strong and stable core!
Boot camp - This class is high intensity, low choreography, and all hardcore! Join up and get some variation on your strength and conditioning routine.

You should never get bored with your workout routine, and trying out a few group exercise classes is the perfect way to stay inspired!

We’ve mentioned 5 but there are loads of other classes to try, so be sure to check out your club’s timetable on myvirginactive.co.za.

The truth about steroids

steroidsWe can’t talk about men’s health without talking about anabolic steroids. It’s no big secret that some men think the only way to get bigger, much bigger, is by taking steroids. Why do it the hard way, when you can muscle up quickly and dramatically with steroids instead? It can be tempting, just remember that there are many emasculating side effects to consider before reaching for the juice. But before we get into all that…

What are anabolic steroids exactly?
Anabolic steroids mimic the effects of testosterone, which plays a key role in the development of the testicles as well as promoting masculine characteristics like a deeper voice, body hair and muscle mass.

Why are steroids so tempting?
The effects on muscle growth make steroids seriously attractive to athletes where strength, speed, and size are an advantage. They’re also used by athletes wanting to recover from an injury more quickly.

Why are steroids so risky?
Anabolic steroids have the potential to cause a number of harmful side effects, like:
• Increased risk of heart disease and cancer
• Liver and kidney damage
• Acne
• Increased aggression
• Extreme mood swings (‘roid rage’).

A few of the male-specific side effects are:
• Breast growth
• Shrinking of testicles
• Decreased sperm production
• Impotence.

Other facts you need to know
• Buying steroids over the internet or from other unknown or unregulated suppliers could be fake or mixed with other dangerous chemicals.
• In most countries, the possession or sale of anabolic steroids without a prescription is a criminal offence.
• Importation of steroids or any prohibited substance, including items carried in your personal luggage when travelling, may also be considered a criminal offence.

Fact: anabolic steroids are prohibited both in and out of competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The starting point for a sanction related to steroid use is a 2 year ban from all sport.

At Virgin Active we’re totally against the use of steroids. We put your health and well-being before anything else, and we hope you do the same!

All the fitness inspiration you’ll need this month

Article3-Blog-Image-680x360px-2It’s winter. And with winter comes all kinds of hurdles to conquer. The cold, the dark and sometimes, the rain. Seasons can affect how we feel, behave and how we exercise. Sure, the pro runners will take part in extremely muddy and frigid races, but for the majority of us just getting to a 7am group exercise class is difficult.

Feeling a bit down during the colder months is a real thing. And so is the reality that you just don’t want to be cold – that’s us, surviving as humans. If you know this is a problem for you, let’s not dwell on the whys and science behind it – let’s figure out a solution, now!

5 ‘quick fixes’ to avoid winter hibernation
1) Try a Personal Trainer. Seriously. Once a week, for one month. The thing is: you will go if you are paying for it, right? Your PT will track your progress and make sure you get the most out of your time at the gym, less stress and work for you. Visit myvirginactive.co.za for a list of the Personal Trainers in your club. You can buy and book your sessions right there, done and dusted, just visit the Shop.
2) Can you commit to 2 out of 5 days? You decide when it suits you best and then try to stick with it. Get a buddy, book a Ride class – just get to the gym! Even 20 minutes will be more than what you would have done stretching on the couch. Focus on how you felt after your exercise session – happier, more alert, and more energised? Yes!
3) Become a weather-watcher. If the weather looks good on a weekend (good enough to head outdoors without layers of clothing), plan a walk with someone, take your dog. If you’re living in a windy city, shopping mall walks can add up to be quite substantial plus you’ll get some errands done.
4) Enter an event in September or October. Facebook it. Instagram it. Tell everyone (and try getting them to do it with you). You’re committed so you need to train for the event. Even a 5km walk or short fun run will be enough to get you out the door.

Just try to be as active as possible throughout your day. Don’t go for seconds. Drink water when you’re thirsty and be a bit more focused on not adding more padding than your current activity level is burning off. Simple physics of weight maintenance. You can do this!