Revitalise for spring

Timothy Barber
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ONE of London’s best features is its multitude of open green spaces – and while they’re fabulous places for a jog, they can also be used for more organised training. Fitness company One Element runs group training sessions in spaces including Battersea Park, Wandsworth Common, Richmond Park and Parsons Green, with each session focussing on a different area of fitness. “Being out in the fresh air is energising compared to a group session in the gym,” says One Element’s Tom Marien, “and working on uneven grass makes you work a little harder and helps your balance and strength.” From £30 per month for weekly classes.

“Cycling gives you a good aerobic workout which is very efficient for fat burning, and it’s low impact which means there’s no major stress to the knees or back, unlike running,” says trainer Matt Roberts ( The past couple of years have seen a surge in the use of single-speed bikes – who needs 17 gears for cycling through London, after all? – which have the added benefit of making you work a bit harder when you set off or find a hill. The new Specialised Langster roadbike (above) is a great fixed-speed commuter bike for those getting started. £449,

“When you do something new you stimulate endorphins and seratonin – the feel-good hormones – which is very helpful for body fat loss and muscle growth,” says Virgin Active trainer James Trevorrow. Virgin Active’s new innovation is the ViPR (below left) a tube with handles that you wield in various movements. “It teaches the body to move better in three dimensions, rather than just sideways or up and down,” says Trevorrow. “You do a lot of twisting in different planes of movement getting all parts of the body mobilised – it’s very good for releasing stiffness if you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair, and gives you a very effective cardio workout.” For details see

Heaving through a gym workout a few times a week is one thing, but giving yourself a target in the form of an event to train for can be a huge motivator, says Matt Roberts. “It’s a great driver at this time of year, with so many events planned in London over the summer months. Pick one or two for later in the summer, and it’ll give you a real sense of purpose and drive, as well as being hugely rewarding when you complete it.” There are myriad running events organised in London, but for something different get training now for September’s Rat Race Urban Adventure, which involves hiking, biking, abseiling, kayaking and navigating.

This month sees many of the city’s outdoor swimming pools and lidos opening up for the summer season. Among the best are the Serpentine Lido, which is open at weekends in May and daily from June, and Brockwell Park Lido in South London, which should be open for business next week. “Swimming is amazingly rewarding exercise, since you get a real sense of achievement from nailing your number of laps or lengths,” says Matt Roberts. “It works every muscle group, is good for posture, and the water pressure helps blood flow which means you can work your body harder for less energy.”

The list of gadgets, gizmos and technically-advanced kit you can get your hands on gets ever longer – and as well as improving your performance, flashy new items can also motivate you. One worth having is a GPS-tracking heart-rate monitor, like the Garmin Forerunner 405CX (above). These connect to a satellite and monitor your progress, telling you how fast you’re going, how far you’ve run and the calories you’ve burned. £329.99

Spring is the best time of year for a liver cleanse with all the key ingredients in season, says nutritionist Charlotte Fraser. The liver works closely with the gall bladder, the body’s fat buster, and these recommendations support both organs as well as the digestive system to speed the elimination of waste. For the best results, the liver cleanse should be carried out over a three-week period.

1. Never skip meals – eat smaller and more frequent meals. Chew your food properly and have fun introducing variety.

2. Start off each day swallowing a dessert spoon of linseeds soaked in a glass of water. Linseeds have a gentle cleansing action on the bowel wall, provide essential fatty acids and are prebiotics (i.e. feed your good bacteria).

3. Avoid liver stressors: alcohol, caffeine, saturated fats, dairy products and refined sugar. Preferably avoid wheat products too.

4. Increase your intake of local fruit and vegetables in season (always eat more vegetables than fruit).

5. Drink at least 2 litres of still water a day, and try herbal teas too.

6. Eat green vegetables in season such as spinach, sorrel, watercress, and spring greens. Other beneficial “liver” foods are brown rice chicory, globe artichokes, cabbage, celery, dandelion, fennel, garlic, onion, leek, lemon, milk thistle, oily fish, olives and olive oil, parsley, sunflower seeds, turmeric and whole grains.

7. Have a small portion of short grain brown rice at least twice a week (rich in B vitamins to support the liver, as well as magnesium, the fibre provided also acts as blotting paper and aids digestion).

8. Increase your intake of essential fatty acids.

9. Don’t eat late and if you are feeling stressed or emotional.

10. At bedtime, drink the juice of half a lemon in warm water.

11. Be in bed before 11pm to concentrate liver energy on cleaning and renewing the blood.

For details of Charlotte Fraser’s nutrition practice see