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Vicki Anstey is one of the UK’s leading fitness experts and Founder of London’s original barre and ballet studio, Barreworks. Vicki is also the first female Harlequins Foundation Ambassador and winner of the 2019 ‘Best Female Entrepreneur’ Award at the Richmond Business Awards.
Today she’s featuring in our fantastic new series – My Lockdown Workout.
How did you get into fitness?
I came to fitness fairly late. I hadn’t been particularly sporty at school or university and spent the first 10 years of my professional life in corporate environments running advertising and marketing campaigns for big brands like IKEA and Eurostar.
I had a ‘corporate life crisis’ and realised there must be more to life than selling Scandinavian furniture and train tickets. I also realised that my health and well-being was at the bottom of the pile of priorities.
I discovered the Lotte Berk method, which was sold to me as ‘a way to work out without feeling that you were exercising’. It seemed ideal. In truth, it was agony. But I was instantly hooked and determined to conquer it. The whole thing about barre (derived from the Lotte Berk method) is that you NEVER conquer it. And I think that’s how it pulled me in. I’m a seriously stubborn individual. As soon as I set my mind on something, I don’t stop until I achieve it.
The short runs I also began to take turned into marathons (5 in total, all in different countries across the world). I became a different human. I quit my career and trained in the Lotte Berk method. Two years later and I had opened up my own Studio in London. The first dedicated barre and ballet studio in the UK.
Fast forward ten years and Barreworks is going from strength to strength. I have turned my physical sights to weight-lifting, becoming a finalist in Channel 4’s ‘SAS Who Dares Wins’ and ocean rowing (but still teach barre several times a week) and I can’t survive a day without a workout!
What is one of your favourite lockdown workouts?
This is so hard to choose! I love a heavy weight session just as much as a light, limber barre workout. And my recent training to row across the Pacific (prior to the COVID-19 lockdown) had me rowing for hours on end on an erg. But overall, I think I would say I love a steady, HEAVY lifting session.
Deadlifts with a barbell for 6-8reps, cleans for 6-8reps and some overhead squats to test and build my shoulder mobility. I’m fairly comfortable with a deadlift of around 85kgs for 8 reps. But I would go lower for cleans and o/h squats – around 45kg. I’d probably break the sets up with 2km rows to get my engine working hard too.
- Deadlifts – Standing, feet under hips, straight back, bend the knees keeping chest up and shoulders drawn back, drive off the heels to engage glutes and hamstrings to straighten and bring the bar up to hip level.
- Cleans – Start by holding the bar with a shoulder-width grip in front of your thighs. Squat down slightly, then drive through your heels to explode upwards, using the momentum to help pull it up to chest height and catching it on your chest. Pause for a second, then lower the bar back to the start position.
- Over head squat – from hip-width standing with a barbell overhead in a wide grip position, hands behind shoulders, sit back into the heels to squat parallel to the floor. Keep the chest up and the arms behind the shoulders.
My favourite barreworks exercises involve lots of quad and glute-specific work, isolating deep into the muscle, focusing on key areas of stability around the spine, pelvis and shoulder while I get that addictive muscle ‘burn’. I love feeling light and agile on my feet, flexible and mobile, and at the same time, strong and able to lift heavy weights or spend hours grinding out cardio exercise. My training programme is incredibly varied. It wouldn’t suit everyone, but it works for me.
What’s your nutrition like when doing a lockdown workout?
I like to train early and fasted if possible, but my go-to is always porridge with fresh berries, greek yoghurt and a dollop of almond butter. I always have a strong coffee before a workout. Also I tend to snack on nuts or a protein-rich snack afterwards, I adore RX-bars.
I enjoy food, but I’m not very imaginative with it. Therefore I rely on staples like chicken and veg or brown rice. I love a few squares of dark chocolate too!
Do you have any tips for those new to working out?
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Realistically, you will probably NEVER truly reach your goals. At least, if you do, they weren’t set high enough!
When you begin to get into fitness, it’s tough. You want to give up time and time again, but that’s where the magic happens.
If participating in SAS training taught me anything, it’s that it’s not how fast, how strong or how fit you are that counts. It’s how many times you’re prepared to pick yourself up and go again. And again.
You can follow Vicki and Barreworks on Instagram under @vickianstey; she has some of the most fantastic story highlights of her experiences!