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Bottoms Up Girls, and Mix Your Cocktails With Cardio!


A training programme targeted at the modern woman convinces Bryony Gordon to lace up her trainers and head for the park

If ever there was someone who understands how difficult it is for modern women to get fit and stay that way, that person is Georgie Thompson.

And lunge: Bryony opted for the 'Bridget' programme.

Springing down on to her knees for 20 effortless press-ups in the middle of Hyde Park, she admits that the previous night, after a training session, she went out and had a good few drinks.

“You have to balance your cardio with your cocktails,” she smiles, dropping into a lunge. Comforting words for women who, like me, want to let themselves live a little this summer, without going up two dress sizes.

By day, Thompson is a Sky Sports news presenter, but by night she runs SuperChick, a new fitness company that provides women with a free online personal training programme tailored to their needs.

Her aim is to motivate the estimated four in five females who do too little sport and exercise - a figure that the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation estimates will increase to 19 out of 20 by the year 2017.

As one whose only exercise at the best of times - let alone on holiday - is lifting a glass of wine to her lips, I definitely fit into that bracket. But Thompson doesn’t go in for the kind of ‘‘evangelical” approach to fitness that usually makes me switch off.

“I know from my own experience that it is difficult to maintain a professional and a social life and squeeze in staying fit,” she says. “I was lucky to be able to afford a personal trainer, but it was getting pretty expensive. I thought ‘no wonder women are so uninspired’ - you either go to a gym full of sweaty blokes, and tentatively ask the staff how to use a medicine ball, or just muddle along by yourself before giving up.”

So Thompson got together with her personal trainer, Cat Dugdale, a former dancer, and they came up with the idea of creating an online library of exercise programmes - mixing resistance and cardiovascular training - just for women, and was born. It currently has 3,500 members, in Britain, America and Australia.
Bryong Gordon lunges

And lunge: Bryony opted for the ‘Bridget’ programme

Users log in to a personal webpage. There they access their own fitness diary tailored to their needs and goals. Some are straightforward and encourage you to lose weight and tone up; others help you get fit for races from 5-km to marathon level.

There are also quirkier programmes such as the ‘‘Bridget“, for women who smoke and drink too much, and ‘‘City Rehab“, for those who work so hard they have only snatched moments to get fit.

Or how about trying the ‘‘Break-Up - Wake-Up!“, for women who have recently ended a relationship? Mums who want to get their figures back are not ignored (inevitably, their programme is called ‘‘Yummy Mummy“), and pregnant women are also included.

Naturally, I opt for the ‘‘Bridget“, which involves training for 40 minutes four times a week, with a mixture of step-ups, squats, lunges and cardio to target “bingo wings and saggy bums“. “We wanted it to complement women’s lifestyles, not complicate them,” says Thompson. “The idea is that you can go anywhere in the world and access your training programme.” So it’s perfect for holidays: you only need a wireless connection and a local park or beach to keep up your regime.

Still, the prospect of training with a beautiful television presenter and a super-fit personal trainer is not one I particularly relish as I lace up my barely worn trainers. But when I lumpenly attempt a push-up - and fail - the pair neither tut nor patronise.

“You have good posture,” notes Dugdale, kindly - although possibly not entirely truthfully. Still, it gees me on and I manage to do not just one push-up, but 10, and I don’t feel at all silly when they make me squat over a park bench. They even get me running - kindly dropping their pace in deference to my wheezy, tar-stained lungs. After 40 minutes, I feel energised and inspired - not words I usually spit out at the end of a fitness session.

As a fully signed-up user, each week I will receive a motivational email plus electronic cupcakes for completing my tasks - although Thompson and Dugdale hope to turn these into real rewards, such as make-up, very soon. Every exercise is accompanied by user-friendly instructions and printable diagrams.

But it’s far from boring, because it’s balanced with recipes for healthy cocktails (this month’s feature is a tangerine and carrot martini - packed with beta-carotene, apparently) and food. Plus it catalogues the calorific content of every sandwich from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Pret A Manger and even McDonald’s.

“I know time is paramount for people nowadays,” Thompson says, “and this allows you to work out what you want for lunch before you have even stepped out of the office.”

An alcohol counter also allows you to tot up your units, and balance out your Cosmopolitan intake with exercise - a prospect that this Bridget, booze-soaked from a recent holiday, finds slightly terrifying. However, it turns out to be motivational.

“We are realistic,” says Thompson. “We know you like a drink and that from time to time you want to indulge in rich food, and that’s fine with us as long as you create a balance.”

And with that, she jogs off - though not, she assures me, to the nearest cocktail bar.

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