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Fitness retreat at East Village is ‘healthy cherry’ on Olympic cake

Kathryn Tilbury took me through a range of stretches before getting started on the high intensity excercises as part of a fitness retreat at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Kathryn Tilbury took me through a range of stretches before getting started on the high intensity excercises as part of a fitness retreat at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Saturday, August 9, 2014
1:00 PM

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My favourite part of the fitness retreat, the parachute sprint, outside the VeloparkMy favourite part of the fitness retreat, the parachute sprint, outside the Velopark

To my dismay, we are rarely asked if we want to do anything that is fitness related so when I saw the email from Get Living London asking if we wanted to get a taste of the free exercise sessions they are offering tenants at the former Athletes Village, now known as East Village in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I literally jumped at the chance.

As a fitness fan I was looking forward to see what tips I could get from Kathryn Tilbury, personal trainer and founder of Precision Movement. My one concern was the weather as the forecast was for temperatures in the high 20s on the day.

By the time I arrived at Get Living London’s headquarters in Celebration Avenue it was already getting to 24 degrees C.

Accompanied by another three journalists Kathryn took us through a series of short, enjoyable stretches, performed on a shady area of grass outside a three-bedroom townhouse.

After that we set off on a run around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I decided to set my own pace in the rising heat which didn’t seem to be bothering not just my colleagues but the other park users - parents with young children, cyclists, runners and tourists.

As I got to the Olympic Stadium I decided enough was enough and made my way back to the townhouse where I caught up with my colleagues and Kathryn.

After a quick water break we headed off to the Velopark for what Kathryn called a parachute sprint. This involved tying a parachute around my waist, jogging down a ramp with the wind behind me and running back up the ramp with the wind against me, the resistance from the parachute pulling me back.

Although it looked easy, having done it a couple of times I began to see why it was so effective as an intense, short burst activity and was my favourite part of the day.

It was followed by another series of intense, short exercises, including press ups and squats, alternating with boxing, skipping and sprinting uphill- all in the shadow of the famous Olympic rings.

After another water break Kathryn took us back towards Celebration Avenue to bring the session to a close with some yoga.

As we set our yoga mats down in a shaded area I was struck at the way it resembled a CGI, complete with landscaped paths, bushes, trees and even display structures. Even the sunbathers, shoppers, couples and construction workers looked like they were part of a computer generated image. Added to that was the fact that no-one gave us a peculiar, or even a second, glance.

Throughout the yoga I found it hard to believe not only that we were in Newham but that we were in the UK. With the wide open vistas, landscaped paths and spotless buildings baking in the heat, it felt more like America or some part of Germany.

If I were a single girl looking to rent a property, the offer of free exercise sessions would be a very healthy cherry on a cake full of Olympic memories.

Although I’m unlikely to live in any of the apartments that were home to some of the world’s elite athletes in 2012, I know my fitness retreat has spurred me to vary my regular exercise routine. I might even go back and try some of the new things I’ve learnt, just not on a day when it is 27 or 28 degrees C!

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