Should Women Be Cold Plunging?

Cold plunging seems to be the latest craze at the moment but should women really be jumping in an icy cold bath? Or should we be doing it with the same intensity as the men? 

It is a fantastic method for many many things, whether it’s fat loss, whether it’s reducing inflammation, whether it’s recovery from training, boosting your dopamine and boosting your energy for the day. It is absolutely fantastic. I love cold plunging. I really do like it, but I don’t think it’s a modality that you should do every single day, especially as a woman in her cyclical years and it’s not for everybody. 
It’s like anything. Every single day you should tune into your body and ask your body what it needs. 

Does it need a cold plunge?
Does it need to reduce the flame? 
Does it need to reduce the heat or inflammation in the body?

Is my body too stressed? Because if your body is in a highly, highly stressed state, you should not… be putting it into those intense stressful methods. The same as I wouldn’t recommend somebody to train intense if they are in a highly stressed state.

Cold plunging is a stress on the system….. 

…and the whole idea is you’re putting your body into that ice water and you’re creating a stress and you’re teaching your body to handle stress and to get through stress and to breathe amongst many other things mentioned above that it also does.
If you’re in a highly stressed state it can actually be more detrimental for you to do that. Now women run on an infradium rhythm not a circadian, so our body is different at different parts of our cycle. Marginally different. 
When we are in the luteal phase and our estrogen drops and our progesterone is higher than estrogen we can become inflamed much more easily which kind of says, should I do cold plunging at this time?  

Also the body is hotter at that time, so it might not need to be as cold for you to get a result in that time and our body doesn’t like stress in the luteal phase so should we really be cold plunging in that luteal phase?

I don’t know….. I think it’s really important for you to actually just tune into your own body and ask your body what it needs. That’s what I do, I love a cold plunge I also love a cold shower but if I get in the shower and I tune into my body and know that my body doesn’t need that that day or my body is in too much of a stressed state then I won’t have a cold shower that day.

Getting up at 5am to test your body by jumping into a cold plunge maybe great for men, not so much for women..

Women need more sleep than men for one, sometimes up to 10 hours in that luteal phase! So that tells us that in that phase, sticking to a dogmatic approach of everyday lets get up at the same time and putting our bodies through stress isn’t actually ideal. 
There was also a study done where they tested women compared to men and women don’t need the water as cold. For women to get a response, we can have the water at about 15 degrees.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to have an icy bath. You could get that from a cold shower. If you’re from somewhere really cold, the water will be even colder than that! So you don’t necessarily have to have a cold plunge in an ice bath. 
I still haven’t seen any studies that actually look at women at different parts of their cycle. So I think that’s really important when that study does finally come out. 
Women are also very different in terms of recovery from training. So in terms of cold plunging, men should not get into a cold plunge directly after training because it will actually inhibit their muscle growth, whereas women can get into a cold plunge or have a cold shower directly after training because it will actually help us to recover by pushing our blood to the muscle for recovery. 
So I think the jury’s still out. I think there’s still a lot of study that needs to be done on women compared to men. But the best thing that you can possibly do is just to tune into your body and ask your body what does it need that day. 

If you need to do a cold plunge go ahead do a cold plunge or cold showers are fantastic as well. You don’t have to jump in ice to get a response from the body.

At the end of the day there are many different methods that can be used for healing and harmonizing the body, or just getting more our of life. Remember that not every method suits every body and it’s up to YOU to learn how to tune into your own body and soul and ask yourself what you need on any day, at any time. Then feel into your responses and see if it’s the right fit for you.
If you need help with your health fat loss, becoming strong or harmonizing your body, reach out for a chat with one of our holistic trainers and we will see how we can help. 

Are you ripping yourself off in the gym?

What happens next depends on YOUR RECOVERY protocols.

For the muscle to repair and grow, you need to FUEL yourself with PROTEIN and for women it needs to be within a 30-45 minute window directly after training.

When we train, we are actually BREAKING DOWN muscle, not actually building it.

Whaaaaat? I know it sounds strange, but in the gym when we train, heavy enough that is, we are actually creating tiny little tears in the muscle fibres. This creates an inflammatory response to help to heal the muscle and repair.

If you don’t fuel within this window, your body starts to go into a state of breakdown, which means your muscle will break down and not grow. What a waste!! LITERALLY!

Why do we want muscle to grow?

Because more muscle improve your metabolism, immune function, reduces joint pain, improves posture and so much more.

Another big problem that we see with clients coming to us because they are not getting results is, training too intensely for their body. This can come in the form of too many training days in the week, or simply following terrible trends like HIIT or Crossfit methods. These methods will put your body into a state of stress due to too many training days being encouraged in the week and not enough recovery days to promote the muscle repair, growth and healing. In the beginning they may start working, but over time you can start to see hormonal problems, weight GAIN from the body being in stress, injuries and pain from not allowing the body to heal. Or simply not turning up to sessions for fear of the days of pain that are about to come!

‘Recovery is just as important as training’

So how do you not rip yourself off in the gym and create a healthy balance to training for your body?

You start to train and eat because you love your body and not because you hate it. Too many people are trying to cut calories because they feel fat and believe that it will help them lose weight. It will in fact do the opposite, especially if you are risking your pre and post training meals.

Show me somebody training and I can tell you if they are training out of self love or hate. TRUST ME. I used to be in the latter group and it wasn’t fun. I recall going for 10k runs with tears streaming down my face because I wanted to punish myself. Or smashing myself in the gym for 90 minutes because I thought I was fat. Oh I’m so glad those days are over.

In terms of training and how many training days are too many. It depends!! Every body is different and has different needs and outcomes based on our physiological load (stress load) , our body type, our nutritional plan and of course the type of training that you are doing.

Here’s a rough guide! 

If you are a healthy person 

You might aim to train with weights 4 x a week then add some recovery cardio in on the other days like walking, swimming, yoga or ELDOA.

If you are just starting out and not particularly active

You might start with 2 full body strength days and one day of Yoga, ELDOA or Stretching to ease your body into the training. You’re actually better to do this than going full hog right away. Full hog will add that stress to the body and essentially rip yourself off. What a waste of precious time! After 6 weeks, add another training day, then another and watch your body change!

If you’re already training and wanting to see more STRENGTH & MUSCLE GAIN (tone) – let’s say you’re already training 3 times a week and your body is handling that well. Good recovery etc. You might add a leg training session to your week to up the anti. Legs in particular are a big calorie burner for those wanting fat loss!

If you on the other hand are already training 5-6 days a week and have hit a plateau.

Drop your sessions down to 4, feel your body release tension as your body recovers properly, you reduce stress, you can hit your gym sessions with much more energy and strength and you will not only gain some precious time back in your week, but you will start to see those results again.

Remember when we add more training, we need to add more recovery, walking, stretching, mag baths.

At H.A.I.L Fitness, we thoroughly assess each client before they begin training with us to assess their body and ability before recommending which and how many sessions to attend. This way, we get you fitter, healthier and reduce that inflammation in your bod without wasting your precious time and you get better results by doing less. 

The above suggestions are a rough guide, but if you need help determining a game plan for you,  book in a chat with one of our team and find out how you can start gaining your results and not waste your precious time. 

It’s not about training more and eating less

Most people spend way too much time on two things. Training and nutrition and they focus all of their attention on these things without looking at the other main lifestyle habits that will actually add to their result. I know right, here’s someone in the fitness industry telling you to focus ‘less time’ on nutrition and training? YEOP
  • Do you need to train 5 x a week? No
  • Can you if you love training? Sure, if you’re getting a result and recovering well
  • Can you get a great result with training 3 x a week in the gym? Yes absolutely!
  • Do you need to count calories, macros and to feel like you’re dieting? Absolutely not!

There are so many other factors that will add to you either achieving your goals or not and these habits will; 

  • be EASY to add to your day
  • take little to NO TIME out of your busy schedule
  • they will actually GIVE you more time in your day 
  • mean you spend LESS time training
  • allow you to spend MORE time doing what you love

At HF Studio we focus on the holstic approach to health and fitness and we teach you  all of the important lifestyle habits that you can easily filter into your day to gain a result in incredible energy, reducing stress, reducing the tummy bloat and gaining incredible physical and mental strength to make your day run more smoothly. To get MORE DONE.  

If the train more, eat less method isn’t working, it’s time to try a different approach 😉

If you would like to book a complimentary Holistic Health Consult to find out what the simplest habits that you can add into your day to give you more energy and better results then click the button below.

Can Insufficient Rest Negatively Impact Your Gym Results?


Do you have them?
Do you understand the benefits of them for muscle growth? Why do we want muscle growth? 
  • improve body composition (reduce fat mass, increase muscle tone if needed), this is not just aesthetic but a health REQUIREMENT.
  • improve metabolism
  • increase strength for life and ageing (reduce injuries, keep working, keep living active life)
  • reduce muscle wastage, which happens with age 
Why do we need rest days? 
This is where muscle grows. We stress the muscle in the gym and make tiny tears in muscle fibres, then when we rest, the muscles repair and grow. 
*** They will only grow with enough protein in your diet*** 
If we don’t rest, we put the body into a stressed state, and training in a stressed state actually breaks down muscle and stores fat. Which is the very opposite of the goal and why I bang on about working OUT days and working IN days. 
Not only this, but to get a result in training, whether it be for increased strength or improved body composition, you need to work hard. To work hard, you need the body to be recovered from previous workouts. Otherwise you’re training in the grey zone and not hitting the workouts hard enough to create change mentioned above. 
How often should you rest? 
It depends. We are all different and require a different amount of training stimulous to grow, and rest to repair. It is also very dependent on your diet, of course, and your daily habits like sleep, stress, hydration etc. It will also highly depend on your training program style. 
For me personally, I like to train 2-3 days, then have a rest day to recover before hitting it hard again. 💪 If it’s a week out from my period, this may change to suit my energy and hormones, having more rest days or just lighter sessions. 
Does this mean you sit on the couch on rest days? 
Farrrrk no! Rest from TRAINING. Training is your hard workout days. The days you’re hitting it hard in the gym, lifting weights, going all out. 
So, on your rest days, get out for a walk, a swim, a slow run, do yoga, and do light movement. Just don’t ‘train’. 
Your body needs to MOVE DAILY. Some days are go for it days, and some are just movement days. 
So, to sum it all up; 
  • Yes, your rest days are just as important as your training days. Factor them in. 
  • Rest from training doesn’t mean sitting on the couch 
  • How often you train will depend on your body and stress state 
  • How well your body recovers depends on your lifestyle habits like sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration 
  • Training in an unrecovered state puts your body into stress 
  • Training in a stressed state reverses results  
  • We need to move daily!! 

Fitness gadgets are disconnecting you from your body

The more we follow gadgets for health the less we are in touch with our body. Gadgets, like step trackers, food calculators, meal plans, will all treat you like a robot. 

Sure, the recommendation to move daily is 10,000 steps, but does that take into account your energy, stress load, if you are unwell, your mobility or daily lifestyle? 
Your macro calculator may say to eat X amount of protein daily, but are you digesting and assimilating and eliminating it well? You can put the food in but is your body using it properly? All the macro and calorie counting is useless and possibly even making you more sick or more over-fed and under-nourished. Definitely less connected to your body. 
Food plans, don’t even get me started. Basically if I wanted to make a lot of money with little regard to actually helping people, I’d write a food plan. A food plan does not know your body, personal goals, lifestyle, stress load, digestive health, liver function, bowel movements and so on. Nor does it know your ancestral type. How much protein, carbs or fat YOUR body needs, which will change on any given day depending on your movements. 
If you can buy a food plan without anybody asking you questions about the above body responses, RUN! 
Yes, if needed to, I will tap into a step tracker, even a macro tracker if a client really doesn’t have an idea what macronutrients are or how much movement is enough movement. They’re a TOOL to be used for a short period in some cases, not to live your life by. 
The longer you spend using these tools and plans, the less in touch you become with your body and it’s needs. 
Our body is always giving us signs of what it needs. Signs like a little pain in the back or neck to tell us to eat more protein or to drink more water, stretch more or to train differently. A sign of jumpy mind or ADHD behavior, not sleeping well or waking up rested, or even our mood being flat and lethargic. These are all signs of our nutrition needs not being met. 
Our food is not only medicine but a gateway into fuelling our body to be able to live, create, move, inspire, to be happy and to live out our dreams and desires. 
Without a healthy body you will struggle to have a healthy mindset. The gateway to that healthy mindset is nourishment and movement, the right type for YOU. 
Learn how to tune into your own body, it’s needs, listen to the signs it’s giving you and learn which foods are YOUR medicine and which ones are YOUR poison in my upcoming Nutrition For Life workshop.  Gain nutrition freedom and learn the ‘non diet’ approach to health and happiness. Learn to nourish your body not only for a healthy mindset but for a healthy and happy life. 
NUTRITION for life!

Learn how to gain INCREDIBLE energy for your busy days and how to stop looking for the next diet to help you. How to gain better mental clarity, get more restful sleep improve stress and how to look after your health for the rest of your LIFE!

Sick Fit

I was sick fit for many years and didn’t know it. How could I not know that I was sick? Because I was being led and influenced by people who were also ‘sick fit.’

What is sick fit?

Sick fit is the term to describe someone who looks fit and healthy, but on the inside is sick from over-raining, under-recovering, dieting heavily and focussing only on what they look like on the outside and paying no attention to what’s happening on the inside of their body or how their actual health is.
Sick Fit = Looks good/hot, but has terrible health/pain/immune function
I’ll tell you what happened to me. I used to train at least 6 times a week, lifting weights for an hour to 90 minutes. Then some days I would also run up to 10k. ALSO, not INSTEAD OF. I was consistently on a diet or ‘counting my macros’ and weighing my food to make sure I wasn’t overeating and was eating foods only deemed as ‘clean’. Well, until Saturday nights when I would absolutely binge my hole out due to being so restricted in calories and nutrients all week.
I would constantly weigh myself, get my body fat % taken and every time I passed a mirror, I was making sure I wasn’t putting on fat anywhere. I was NEVER happy with how I looked, NEVER. I was constantly cutting, constantly wanting bigger shoulders, a bigger bum, a smaller waist. It was never enough.

This drove me to keep pushing, keep dieting, keep lifting heavier and heavier, and to keep absolutely smashing my body.

Eventually I developed a stage 3 adrenal fatigue and had to take a few weeks off work to sleep. I had to quit training altogether for 3 months and just walk. My blood pressure was so low that I would almost pass out when I was at work. I would train a client, and then go to the staff room to sleep on the floor. I was wrecked.

Even after I came out of the later stages of adrenal fatigue, I went right back to thrashing my body again. I dropped running, big whoop! Ha.

But I continued to lift 6 days a week, dieted heavily, never paid any attention to gut healing, immune health or on noticing that every single week I had a headache. Yes EVERY SINGLE WEEK I had a debilitating headache, often making me want to vomit. Sometimes lasting for weeks.

I had continuously a sore shoulder, my neck and upper back were always tight, oh and I forgot to add that during having the adrenal fatigue I bulged my L5/S1 disk in my lower back. A side effect from a weakened system is poor core function and stability. So my lower back would flare up often.

The point of my story is that I looked great! I looked healthy to the untrained eye, I looked fit as fuck!! But I was very unwell on the inside.

I was ‘sick fit’.
In all honestly I would say the a lot of people in the fitness industry are sick fit. In a completely honest guess I would say a good 70 – 80% are.

In the fitness industry it is praised to look a certain way, to be able to deadlift a certain amount or just to do cool looking shit for Instagram, but what is happening to the inside of the body from all of the dieting and over training? Nothing good that’s for sure! Unhealthy people are spreading an unhealthy mentality around health and fitness. It’s not their fault, they only know what they know, like I only knew what I knew back then.
I still remember when I was working in a big gym in Sydney and I was starting to ‘wake up’ to all of the over-training and dieting, not working for true health. One of the trainers asked me if I’d trained today and I said that I’d gone for a walk. He laughed and said ‘that’s not training’ and walked off. If we get down to the finer details, he was right – it wasn’t ‘training’ as such, but it was movement, healthy movement for what I needed that day. Yet I felt ashamed for not smashing myself as was expected.

After I moved away from Sydney and away from the big gyms I was able to fully adopt a much more healthy training style and to actually heal my body. I learned how to eat to nourish my body, how to train and not end up with a debilitating headache, I learned why I was getting recurring shoulder pain (my food and gut health!) and best of all, I learned how to rest and not to feel guilty about it. Well, sometimes I still struggle with this one, but remember – I was an addict and those habits die hard.

The point that I’m making is that a lot of the industry that is teaching health and fitness is actually sick and unwell themselves. Yes ,they look great, they are ripped, they have abs, they can do pull ups, but often they have poor immune function, they get recurring pain or injuries due to poor connective tissue and poor organ function, they have terrible gut health due to not eating a variety of foods and they take a shit tonne of supplements just to feel good because they are starving themselves of actual nutrients. This isn’t health or fitness, it is sick fit. Making yourself sick to look fit.

I was compelled to write this as I am getting more and more clients come to me in adrenal fatigue, having recurring injuries or just a poor mindset about what health and fitness actually is. They’re training 6 days a week at a high intensity and they’re coming to me looking like a burnt piece of toast. (Paul Cheks term, I can’t claim that one, lol)

Health and fitness is:

  • Being healthy not only on the outside but on the inside too
  • Having a healthy immune system
  • Having good digestion
  • Not dieting, but eating to give your body energy and to have incredible health
  • Having a healthy mindset about yourself and about training
  • Training well and resting well too
  • Training to get results but also knowing when to back off to get results
  • Sleeping well
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Having other ways to move that are not limited to a gym
True health FEELS INCREDIBLE and it makes you FEEL UNSTOPPABLE. You can look after yourself and still have energy for life. You can move your body daily and not absolutely drain yourself of energy and best of all you can do this and still get results! Whether that is fat loss that you need, improved muscle tone or just to feel strong as fuck. Health and fitness is achieved with a balanced approach.

Our body is always communicating with us in different ways but the simplest way it is showing you if you’re on the right path is;

  • Good energy
  • Good immune function (not getting colds and flu)
  • Good POOP
  • Good sleep
  • Not feeling in a constant state of stress
  • Healthy period (no pain, moodiness, bloating, booby soreness, extreme fatigue)
  • No recurring pain in the body (there are exceptions to this of course)
  • Good moods
  • Good response to exercise
The best advice that I can give you is to pay attention to your body and the little signs that it gives you. It is always telling us if we need to be giving it more attention or just a different type of attention. It speaks to us in all of the ways listed above.

Listen to the whispers or you will be forced to hear the screams.

Learn how to train better, not necessarily harder, and that will be different to every body as we are all unique. Learn how to eat to fuel and to heal your body. Learn how to reduce the stressors that wreak havoc on your health.

Lastly if you do need help learning a better way to look after your body in a much more balanced approach, reach out. It is my goal to help as many people as possible to heal themselves through health and fitness and to not only chase, but to live their dream life.

Back pain and some not so obvious causes

Working with many young men and women I am finding that too many are having back injuries or weakness of the back muscles at a very young age. I thought i’d outline some possible causes of back pain and injuries and also share my own experience.

My Experience

I had a slipped disk 2 years ago which has only healed as of this year. Slipped or bulging disks usually take 2 years to heal properly. At the time of the injury, my doctor was very thorough in having me do a MRI scan. On having the scan we saw that my disk was pressing on my spinal cord causing a considerable amount of pain, and sciatica (nerve pain down the leg as a result of pressure on the sciatic nerve). My GP told me I should see a surgeon to consider an operation. An operation? Seriously?  I was 30 years old and the last thing I needed was an operation which would eliminate me from being able to do allot of normal activities and exercises in years to come. I asked the doctor for options and he reluctantly passed me onto a Physiotherapist. He also advised that if I couldn’t feel 80% better within a month to see the surgeon. Challenge accepted! I spent the next month doing physio exercises and stretches and changing my usual exercise routine. No more heavy leg sessions and no more barbell squats! It took time, setbacks, a few more massages than normal, a lot of Voltaren and great amount of perseverance but NO SURGERY!

The point to my story is, look at your options. I do believe that Dr’s have a place and are very useful, but I also believe that all too often that diet and exercise is pushed aside. Or heavy pain killers are easily passed out. Pain killers will mask your pain, not improve the cause.

Here are a few possible causes of back pain:

1- Dehydration – Up to 80% of back injuries are caused by dehydration. When dehydrated, our muscles can become tight and collect lactic acid. What happens when muscles are tight is they pull on bones that they are attached to, and boom, injury! So if you suffer from back pain, try increasing your water intake. It may not be an instant improvement and may take up to a month to notice changes but it’s cheap and will improve your health if nothing else.

2 – Belly Button Rings – I know this one sounds strange but I also had a belly button ring and i’ve now taken it out and my back and core strength have improved. Metals are conductive and also excite the autonomic nervous system, causing organs to become inflamed and confused. This then can cause the core muscles to switch off or not work properly. Weak core leads to back pain or injury. It’s not a coincidence that many girls with belly piercings have also got back injuries. If you have a belly button ring, test taking it out and exercising and see the difference in your core strength. You may also notice that any digestion issues that you have will improve too. Cheap metals can also seep into the body and cause heavy metal poisoning which is even worse and can take years to fix. If you really can’t live without your piercing, just put it in for special occasions and use non conductive rings.

3 – Tight muscles surrounding the back – Tightness or inflexibility of the hips, hamstrings and calves lead to back pain and in time injury. These could also be caused by the dehydration that we spoke about earlier, or just from being inactive. Many people these days have jobs where they need to sit at a desk for long durations. This causes the muscles of the hips to shorten and the back muscles become tight. Good news is that these can all be fixed by including a good stretch program into your daily routine. If you have tight muscles causing an imbalance in the body, you need to spend time each day stretching them to improve the overall balance. Also, get up from your desk regularly and go for a walk.

4 – Muscle weakness – As sitting down causes tightness, it also causes weakness in other muscles. Glute (aka your BUTT) and core weakness is also a common cause of back pain and injury. When we sit down our core muscles go ahhh, i’m off shift. So again this can be fixed by including Core and Glute strengthening into your exercise routine. Functional exercises like squats, glute bridges and lunges are a great addition to a weak glute complex. Lying clam shell exercises are a favourite of mine to improve the glute mead which can get a little lazy too.

5 – Poor posture – Hunching or slouching can lead to back pain. Think of all of your muscles being connected. They all meet somehow through another, so if one is weak it will cause another to work more. So weak upper back muscles cause us to lean forward and puts stress on the lower back. Again this can be fixed by including strength exercises for the core and upper back muscles. Rows or a move where you are pulling a weight towards you help to strengthen the back. Usually combined with weak upper back is a tight chest. This can also be caused by leaning over a desk all day. Again, get up, stretch and move!

6 – Stress – A major contributor to illness and injuries is stress. Lower back pain can often become worse when having money issues in particular. When stressed we tend to breathe less or shallower. Breathing less lowers the oxygen provided to the body and increases the buildup of biochemical waste products in the muscles. As we spoke about before, this causes inflammation and your core muscles don’t work as they should. Stress can be managed. You can’t always change your situation, but you can change your reaction to it. Ways to decrease stress. Take a 20minute walk, meditate, play your favourite music, exercise, get beck to nature and take your shoes off to feel the ground, talk to someone who can help or do any of your favourite stress free activities including a glass of wine if that helps YOU.

7 – Inactivity – Often when we have an injury we think we need to do nothing so it heals. People become afraid to do normal daily activities for fear of worsening the injury. This often leads to inactivity which causes a certain amount of atrophy in the muscle, when in fact those muscles really need strengthening. If you don’t use it, you lose it! A good exercise program written by an exercise professional will not only improve your atrophic muscles but also get you back doing your normal activities and maybe even more than you did before!

I hope this helps explain some of the possible causes of back pain and injury. Reading these articles will only help if you take the information and try it out for yourself. Most of the things I have listed you can try straight away, so get up, get moving, stretch, breathe and fill your water bottles!