Bootcamp Ideas - Mastermind

Bootcamp Ideas - Mastermind

This workout has a fitness twist to the well-known game Mastermind! For those of you unaware of the game, it is a code breaking game where participants must find the 4 colour sequence out of 6 colours. This will be a game of mental strength as well as physical strength!

The workout can consist of only bodyweight exercise or you can include weights, bands etc. It is entirely up to you!

The only equipment needed for this workout is a pen and paper for each group.

Warm Up

To raise their heart rates clients begin by running the perimeter of a specific area - we have a field luckily. Next, set out a square where clients will run/skip around constantly changing directions. When you call out a number between 1-4, clients must do the relevant exercise:

  1. Left hand touches the floor

  2. Right hand touched the floor

  3. Both hands touch the floor

  4. Jump with both hands in the air

Clients can stretch themselves out during the water break.

Main Workout

Clients will need to pair up or work in groups.

Six stations will be set out (each represented by a different colour). To familiarise themselves with the exercises, let clients do a quick round of each exercise..

Then the games begin! Clients must perform a maximum of 4 exercises and record the order they completed them in. Then then come to you for confirmation. The trainer will use circles and ticks to represent if a colour is correct but in the wrong place, or if a colour is correct and in the right place. Clients must repeat this until the code is cracked. The winning team can choose a forfeit for the losing teams (e.g. roll of dice for burpees).

Exercises can be swapped for each following round.

Final round clients can decide on the exercises at each station prior to the round.

Round 1

  • Red- 15x cross arm crunch
  • Green- 30 sec plank (stop watch at station)
  • Blue- 10x bicep curls (pick own weight)
  • Yellow- 20x star jumps
  • Pink- 15 x squat jumps
  • Purple- 3x hill runs

Round 2

  • Red- 10 x back raises
  • Green- 30 sec ski sit
  • Blue- 10x goblet squat
  • Yellow- 10x Tricep dips
  • Pink- 12x lunge pulses (6,6)
  • Purple- 20x high knees

1 minute 30 seconds rest between games.

If you have some spare time at the end, you can finish with a game of “fruit salad” where clients are sat in pairs opposite each other with feet touching. When their fruit is called out, they must run and jump over the rest of the legs to the end, sprint back to the start and back to their place by jumping over the rest of the legs.

Be warned: this workout can get competitive!

This workout was designed & created by Kirsty Parfett, the newest member of the Pura Vida family. Nice work, Kirsty!

More bootcamp workout ideas to come!

Bootcamp Ideas - Core & Cardio

Bootcamp Ideas - Core & Cardio

This workout is designed to strenghten your core and give your cardiocascular system a good blast to blow out the cobwebs and burn some serious calories. It is one of the favourites of my bootcamp groups and always has them killing it on their daily step count - massice bonus!!

The only equipment needed is a mat and two cones.

Warm Up

It is epecially important to warm up properly before taking on sprint. This will help avoid injuries.  

I would set out a 1km route to run or in a big open space, set out a large oval area and start a jog around the oval. Make it interesting with zig zags, lunges, running backwards and Indian run drills.

Main Workout – Circuits

There are four circuits within this session. Each circuit contains three different core exercises and a sprint after each one. The core exercises last 45 seconds and the sprints are a set distance e.g. 80m. Your clients will complete each exercise twice and a sprint after each one, so a total of 6 core peices and 6 sprints in each circuit. Then it's time for a 2min rest.  

Remember to do the sprints after each core exercise

Circuit One

  • 2 x 45s mountain climbers
  • 2 x 45s plank
  • 2 x 45s v-sits

Circuit Two

  • 2 x 45s commandos
  • 2 x 45s crunches
  • 2 x 45s Walkouts

Circuit Three

  • 2 x 45s plank jacks
  • 2 x 45s flutter kicks
  • 2 x 45s supermans

Circuit Four

  • 2 x 45s leg raises
  • 2 x 45s russian twists
  • 2 x 45s knee to elbow bicycle kicks

You can change the length of the session by simply adjusting the length of time the exercises run for, adding more or less circuits or lenghtening/shortening the sprints.

So there you are, super simple and can pretty much be done anywhere with anyone. I will be running this one with tonight's group!

More bootcamp workout ideas to come!

Bootcamp Ideas - AMRAP

Bootcamp Ideas - AMRAP

This workout is based on bodyweight circuits and the goal is to complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP). It’s a tough one as it has very few breaks, but it’s one where your clients will need to put in 100% as to not fall behind and end up last. It always has my groups huffing and puffing and killing it on their daily step count!!

The only equipment needed is a mat, two cones and possibly cue cards for the exercises, although not essential.

Warm Up – Building Blocks

Complete two of each of the three rounds. Each exercise lasts 20 seconds. Rest for 20 seconds between rounds. 

Round One (1min 20 seconds)

  • heels to bum
  • high knees

Round Two (2mins)

  • heels to bum
  • high knees
  • lunges

Round Three (2mins 40seconds)

  • heels to bum
  • high knees
  • lunges
  • squats

Main Workout – Circuits

There are three circuits with diminishing time. Your client's goal is to complete as many rounds as possible in the set time. Each circuit has three exercises and one sprint. Rest for 2mins between rounds. 

Circuit One (6mins)

  • 20 x mountain climbers
  • 10 x regular press ups
  • 10 x squats
  • 80m sprint

Circuit Two (5mins)

  • 5 x commandos
  • 5 x crunches
  • 10 x lunges
  • 60m sprint

Circuit Three (4mins)

  • 5 x jump lunges
  • 5 x jump squats
  • 10 x walkouts
  • 40m sprint

You can change the length of the session by simply adjusting the length of the circuits or adding a fourth circuit, maybe.

So there you are, a simple but challenging workout that you can pretty much do anywhere with anyone. I will be running this one with tonight's group!

More bootcamp workout ideas to come!

Bootcamp Ideas - Ace of Spades

The Ace of Spades

This one I became familiar with while I was training with the guys at TRX Headquarters in San Francisco several years back. I have adapted the game slightly and added some new twists.

This is the perfect workout for both clients and coaches as it's great fun and requires only a pack of cards, 4 workout sheets and two cones. You can decide the lenght of the workout by extending/shortening the time or adjusting rounds.

Warm Up

Set up two cones roughly 30 metres apart. For the warm up get clients to run from cone to cone for 6-8mins. When you call out a number your clients must complete the following:

  1. touch floor with left hand
  2. touch floor with right hand
  3. side steps
  4. high knees
  5. power skips
  6. bunny hops

Main Workout

Spead out a deck of cards face down on the floor. If you have a very large group then you can use two card decks.

One at a time a player runs in and picks up a card. The suit of the card picked up decides what exercise they will complete (see below). After they have completed the exercise they then complete a exercise from cone to cone (see below). They then head back and pick up their next card. The round can either stop at a set time limit of finish when all cards are turned over.

If a player picks up a picture card they can give their exercise away to another player and then pick up another card.

If a player picks up the Ace of Spades, however, all players must complete 20 burpess - oh dear. 

Examples of Card Exercises

  • Heart = commados
  • Spades = mountain climbers
  • Clubs = squat jumps
  • Diamonds = walkouts

P.s. I would print these out on A4 paper and laminate them for player reference.

Examples of Cone to Cone Exercises

  • high Knee run
  • walking lunges
  • bunny hops
  • bear crawl
  • crab walk

So there you go, simple but super fun and super easy.

If you have any questions, please reach out and get in touch.

More Bootcamp Workout Ideas to come!


Be Gym Smart

Workout Intelligently

Sadly, time is money and I frequently get asked by friends, family and clients how to make their workouts a little more time efficient. I think this is a great question, so decided to share my three top tips that I use when I'm training myself or clients.

Tips 1 - Little and Often

If you compare workouts to revising for your GCSEs exams when you were back at school. The students that were most successful revised in bite-sized chunks. This application rings true for success in the gym. The people that reach their goal are not the people I see workout intensively for hours a couple of times a week. No, it's the ones that consistently hit the gym daily. It is all about little and often or the phase personal trainers love to use "consistency not intensity". This rule is simply about adaptations, if you consistently ask more from your body it will respond and you will be surprised at how quickly.

To summerise, I would aim for between 30 - 45 minutes five days a week. That's just over 6% of your week spent exercising; not a crazy amount, right.  

Tip 2 - Smart Cardio

This next tip is something that I feel strongly about as there is so much quality research to back it up.

Try and reframe from spending hours a week hitting the treadmill deck or bouncing up and down on the cross-trainer. You can achieve similar or better health benefits in less time using HITT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). Here's another of my analogies. I remember my Dad telling me how his father used to take their car out for a "blast" on the motorway every weekend to "burn off" the deposits that build-up in the engine from idling around town at 3o mph. I am confident to say that most of us are idling through life and we need to give our hearts and bodies a similar "blast" to keep us running smoothly. This is where the HITT workout rules over slow and long.   

Below are some examples of HITT workouts for you to try but bare in mind that you might have to adjust the workout to your abilities. I would do a 5 minute warm up of your choice before taking these on. Also, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime. 

Wattbike (my favourite) - complete fifteen 20 second all-out sprints, with 40 second 125w baseline cycle between each one. I suggest using resistance 5 with zero magnets. No rest time.

Woodway Running Machine (2nd favourite) - complete ten 30 second all-out sprints, with 30 second brisk walks between each one. This is tough, but awesome! No rest time.

Cross-trainer - complete six 1 min full-speed sprints, with 1 min slow between each one. I would start with resistance 4 and see how you get on. No rest time.

Running Machine - complete eight 1 min sprints (8-12kph), with 1 min slow walks (5.5 - 6.5kph) between each one. Try this with zero incline then add a some "hill" if feeling enthusiastic. No rest time.

Tip 3 - Smart Lifts

When it comes to lifting weights, rest between sets (rounds) is important. If you don't leave enough rest time you won't be able to repeat the same repetitions with the same quality, but leave it too long and you're just burning through quality gym time.

A simple technique I use to cut time by half is to superset exercises. This mean doing two exercise that use mostly opposing muscle groups. Trust me there are many, but here are a handful of the most common:

  • Chest press and low row
  • Bicep curl and tricep press
  • Shoulder press and pull ups
  • Flys and reverse flys
  • Leg extension and leg curl machines

You can also superset upper and lower body. For example, combine squats/deadlift/walking lunges with chest press/lows row/shoulder press/pull ups/bicep curls/tricep press/ flys etc.

The three tips above should get you working out smarter and help you make the most of your gym sessions in the least amount of time. Depending on your goal, though, you may need a more tailored program e.g. you are training for a marathon, a cycling sportive or a specific sport. In this case please seek advice from your local expert. If you would like my help, then please feel free to contact me and we can work together to build a tailored training programme for you.

Healthy regards,




Protein-packed Power Smoothie

Pre and Post Workout Fuel

Now this is worth waking up for!

A friend of mine asked me for a smoothie suggestion and after telling her this recipe I have been making for years, she begged me to share it. 

With this smoothie I have tried to bring together natures tastiest treats in a glass. It’s packed with natural energy and plenty of protein to fuel your workouts and it’s stupidly easy to make. Although a little bit too delicious and addictive.

Remember, it does exactly what is says on the tin. It’s designed to fuel your workouts not your day!

What to throw in the blender:

  • A handful of rolled oats 

  • A scoop of vanilla whey protein

  • 1 small banana (freeze the night before in chunks)

  • 4 stoned-dates

  • A couple of pinches of shredded Coconut

  • Almond milk to halfway

  • Dollop of almond/peanut butter

Blend and boom, you’re out the door.

10 Practical Tips to Help You Lose Weight

My Top 10


It is estimated that in the UK around 11 million adults are trying to lose weight. Even worse, after 19 days, four out of every five will give up.

Here are my 10 favourite practical ways to fight the fat. Choose one or two and stick with them to make them habits, then once you find success try another one. Be patient, a pound a week is nearly four stone in your first year. It’s about consistency, not intensity.

 ➡️ Drink some water - you often mistake hunger for dehydration

 ➡️ Eat some soups - they are nutritious easy meal-swaps, that will murder those ‘munchies’

 ➡️ Cook double portions - store the extra for grab-and-go ready meals from fridge/freezer

 ➡️ Boost your proteins - you’ll feel fuller for longer and find hunger at bay

 ➡️ Be less saucy - too many hidden calories; sauces are sneaky

 ➡️ Scale down starches – unless training often try to reduce your bread, potatoes and pastry

 ➡️ Be alcohol aware - drinks are packed with hidden calories - around 250 per pint!

 ➡️ Eat mindfully – say no to TV meals, eat slower and focus on every mouthful 

 ➡️ Keep off fruit juices - eat fresh, whole fruits and zap those high-sugar overload issues

 ➡️ Eat breakfast – kick-start your metabolism and control your hunger.

The above tips are a great start, but sustained weight-loss has a complex physical, mental & emotional interplay - more on this later. 

Good luck with making these tips new habits!


Clean Eating Meal Suggestions/Ideas

Food for Thought

As a nutritionist I advise people on their diets daily and often use this simple fridge-art for inspiration before they open the door. I thought this might be helpful for all you guys so decided to share.

If you would like a printable PDF for your own fridge-art then please contact me. 

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Please be aware that these photos are ones I grabbed from around the web and only compiled by me.

The January Gym Goer

New Years Resolutions

Hello all, and welcome to my first blog of 2017. My goal is to help people achieve their best and realise their potential.

Today, I'm going to talk about the mistakes the average January Gym Goer makes and ways in which you can be successful.

After two weeks of festive fun and thousands of calories later at the back of our minds, most of us are thinking about change. Although I don't agree with setting a date for improving our lives, you can't fight human habit. For some people change could be learning to switch off and live in the moment, but for most of the people reading this blog it's a change toward improving our health and wellbeing.

Where Does It All Go Wrong?

The good intentions are there. We agree to go Dry For January, sign up to the best gyms and head to the shops to buy fruit and veg that we've never even heard of, but by the time March arrives the drive has left us and we're heading down a slippery path.

It's the motivation that gets you started, but the forming of habits that keep you going. This may seem obvious but it underpins the entire concept of success, whether it's becoming wealthy or keeping fit. Habits take time to form so you need to keep motivated for long enough to reach the point when going to the gym is no different than cleaning your teeth. 

From my experience, the reason people don't reach the point at which habits are formed is largely due to the speed they take off from the starting blocks. You can't sprint 800m, you need to pace yourself, but in January millions of people will flock to the gym like sheep. Their minds focused on quantity, thinking that the more they exercise the quicker they will see results. Most have little knowledge or experience in gyms or even a clear, progressive programme set out to follow and this is, in my view, where people fail before they begin. Their bodies aren't ready to take on the beast and people become injured, fatigued and overtrained. You body is an incredible machine so it will take a lot of punishment, but will ultimately crash in a few weeks or months.

What Change Should look Like

Change isn't simple. It's not just a physical change you need to make, it's also an emotional one. Here are my 6 top tips to turning January motivation into habit.

1. Be realisticIf you've been a desk jockey for the last 6 months it's unlikely that your body or mind is ready to train 6 days a week, two hours a day. Muscles, tendons and ligament need to to build strength and this takes times. Success in the gym is about consistency not intensity. Focus on high repetition, low weight exercises. Sessions might start at 30 minutes in length, 3 times per week. 

2. Set Goals: Although you're motivated now, this might not be the same in 6 weeks. Give yourself a realistic goal. Like Christmas presents, I find it helpful to have a main goal with small achievements along the way to build drive. For example, you main goal 6 months away could be a 10k race with your best friend, along the way you complete 3km runs, then 5km runs.    

3. Keep things Simple: Gyms these days can look awfully like a torture chamber and with new functional training areas, the exercises you can do are almost limitless. You're not a personal trainer, so I would pick 6-8 exercises and stick to them for at least a month. In all honestly, don't get hooked up on whether you should be doing a double or single arm kettle bell swing. As long as you are consistently moving, doing it properly, and have a progressive programme, you will see results - fact!

4. Monitor Progress: This comes back to motivation. Many gyms now offer health assessments, such as Nuffield Health which offers free Health MOTs to all members. If you don't have access to an assessment, then at least measure your weight or bicep diameter with a tape measure. For an idea of aerobic fitness jump on the running machine and set the speed to 4kph, increasing the speed by 1kph and seeing how many minutes you can last. I would monitor biweekly as this will give you feedback to the success of your programme and whether it needs tweaking or your diet needs work (more on that later).   

5. Build a Programme: I have mentioned the word progressive several times so you might have been wondering exactly what that meant. Well, the body adapts to change very well to stress (exercise), but you need to keep asking things from it. If you lift the same weight or run the same distance for 6 months, you will probably become pretty good at it, but ask more and you may struggle. You need to start at a realistic point which puts the body under stress (the Alarm phase of adaption) and throughout your programme you need to increase the intensity/volume by changing weight/repetitions/distance (the Adaption phase of training) to promote further improvement, but If you push it too hard you will find yourself overtrained and the body under too much stress (the Overtraining Phase). Below is a graph to help show this principle. If by now you're a little lost, I have attached a simple, progressive exercise programme that you can download and use.  

6. Buddy Up: Your success rate will dramatically increase by being accountable to someone else. This could be a best friend, work colleague or personal trainer. It's human nature to support each other and you wouldn't want to let your best friend down who's waiting in the park for you at 6am waiting to go fro a run.   

Planning Gym Sessions

This can be a minefield so to make life easier I have built a simple, progressive training programme that can be adapted to every January Gym Goer's needs. For now, the secret is to target all areas of the body. I find it helpful to work in push and pull exercises. For example, a chest press is a pushing movements, so the opposite would be a low row which is a pulling moment. Initially you need to build the "house" by completing low weight, high repetition exercises which focus on movement (form) and flexibility. A high repetition range for weights could be 15-20, completing 2 sets with a 1min rest between. 

Changing Diet

Although I have left this part to the end of this blog, diet ultimately underpins your success. The amount of calories you can consume versus use is astronomical. You can eat a slice of cake in one minute, but it could take you one hour of exercise to use those calories. Take a moment to think about that, or even better, go out running for an hour.

I'm not going to go into diet in depth in this blog but my advice to you to get started is to remove energy dense food from your diet such as cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, fried food, and all fast food. Put your energy into preparing you own meals, basing them on plant-based ingredients that will help nourish your body and improve physical and mental wellbeing.  

Download My Free January Gym Plan

I have put together a simple, effective, and progressive gym training programme that's easy to follow and replicate in most gyms. If you have any questions then please get in touch as I'm more than happy to help you to reach your goals.   

Thanks for taking the time to read my first blog of 2017, there will be many more to come, including Podcasts, so subscribe, Like and share to help others.

Healthy regards,

Graham Swingler