Thursday, 15 February 2018

"We want to change people’s attitude to make exercise like a part of their routine"

"Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE", "Never doubt, only believe"... are some of the inspirational quotes posted on the All Girls Can Instagram and they are perfect to define the spirit of this wonderful initiative, whose objective is "share our passion for getting active and encouraging and empowering others to do the same". Philippa Curphey and Eleanor Lestrange are the creators of this activity based in Surrey. They encourage and help people to run, cycling, walking... using the positive experience of group exercise. They tell us her lovely story in this interview. 

- How did the idea of All Girls Can arise? 

We are mum buddies and great friends who met 4 years ago at their kids nursery gates. Like many women our focus over the last few years had been family and work and as a result not doing any exercise at all. However a couple of years ago over a glass of wine we decided we had to adjust our priorities and make time for own health and fitness. 
After a slow start, our confidence grew and in 2016 decided to take on huge personal challenges. In April Philippa ran the London Marathon and in August Eleanor completed the 100-mile cycling challenge, The Prudential Ride London
Having experienced first hand the positive impact that exercise has on both mental and physical well-being, we now feel compelled to  share what we have learned and so we have put our enthusiasm and passion for sports to good use to create a new initiative ‘All Girls Can’.

'All Girls Can' celebrating the 'International Volunteer Day'.

What are the benefits of doing exercise in group?

We have seen first hand the improvements that group exercise has had on one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. There are so many benefits to exercising within a group, particularly if you are new to fitness. Our groups are so motivating and the ladies that participate in our sessions work as part of a team to reach their fitness goals always encouraging each other along the way. It is also a fun and very sociable way to meet like-minded people whilst getting fit - we have become a lifeline to many women.

- Is it true that you are happier when you practice a sport?

Yes there is no doubt - 100 percent! Fitness has made us happier, healthier, less stressed and way more energized. Our confidence has grown and those endorphins make us feel like anything is possible which not only has a positive effect on our lives but on our family’s lives too. 

- Do you think all girls (and people) can?

Yes! we want to emphasise that we are a totally inclusive club. Regardless of age, ability or gender we believe that everyone CAN! We actually encourage family participation in one of our running groups - we want mums, dads, kids and  grandparents to get involved- it’s a great way of bringing families and communities together. 
We have focused our initiative mainly on women however, as we have seen first-hand that sports participation rates among women and girls are much lower than men and evidence has shown that  women are significantly underrepresented in sports for reasons that we can help change. 

Eleanor and Philippa, creators of this sports initiative in Surrey.

What is the feedback you are receiving from the community?

We have had such a positive response from our community and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who are coming forward to volunteer with our 'All Girls Can' groups which means that going forward we can reach out to other communities in the area. 

- What is the most difficult thing/fear/barrier to encourage women to start exercising?

The barriers can vary from financial issues, lack of confidence, the feeling of being judged to injury concerns - many women complain about how lack of time prevents them for exercising  due to prioritising family and work over their own well-being.
Our aim is to break down these barriers by creating free activity groups that are encouraging, inclusive and welcoming where women feel supported and comfortable enough to take their first steps in to exercise without fear of judgement or competition. 

- How can you motivate people who have a normal busy life (family, children, job, shopping...) to start doing sports?

We want to change people’s attitude towards fitness by encouraging women to make  exercise a part of their daily routine and making women realise that at times it is ok to prioritise yourself over family, work and other pressures that may otherwise hold them back from getting active.

Drew (Simply Sports) helping Eleanor choose a running trainers in Reigate.

- After you have started, how can you add the sport in your daily life to avoid quit it in a couple of  weeks? 

By  giving yourself a personal challenge or a sporting goal to aim for, this can really motivate an individual to keep returning in order train and improve performance. Some of our running ladies have already completed 5km runs and are now signing up for 10 mile races. 
By starting off your fitness regime gradually and taking small steps, you’ll find that it won’t impact on your daily life too much.  Even it is something small like taking one less car journey and walking instead - anything is better than nothing and you will reap the benefits very quickly.

- All Girls Can is focused now on running (All Girls Run) and cycling (All Girls Ride). Are you thinking in offering more sports?

Yes, we are launching our first walking group this month and we hope to get more ladies in to a swimming pool too!

(Pictures taken from All Girls Can UK)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

ISPO 2018: Reasons to love sport

ISPO is like a great window where you can look through it and see what can happen in the future of the sporting industry. Sometimes, it is futurist, incredible or fantastic, but always ISPO surprises you. It is the reason why Simply Sports loves this international event and each year we travel to Munich to visit the capital of the sport for a few days. The insights reflect that anyone who has ever been to ISPO Munich will come back again.

Principal entrance to ISPO in Munich.

We look for inspirational ideas and see the latest of the sporting industry, trends, new products, discover brands, share experiences, make contacts and meet old friends... and almost always we come back fascinated with something and with new ideas for our customers.

We have been attending for so many years and are still always inspired by the enthusiasm, passion and newness of the show. Every now and then you come across brands that just shout “buy me”.

Such was the case in 2010 when we first met the guys from a Swiss start-up company called On Running in the “Brand New” hall, now they are one of our top brand partners. This year we met a group of ladies who were launching state of the art body protection for ladies playing contact sports, this really is the future and takes protection to another level.

ISPO 2018 registered 84,000 visitors.

The 2801 exhibitors of ISPO Munich 2018 or the world's most important meeting place for the sporting goods industry -held at the end of January- attracted 84,000 visitors from 120 countries. It is easy to get lost by the 16 halls, divided into the eight segments Snowsports, Outdoor, Health & Fitness, Urban, Teamsports, Vision, Trends, Innovation & Industry Services and Manufacturing & Suppliers.

Our first great surprise this year was when we were interacting with a magic mirror. We tested this digital/smart mirror that will recommend complimentary products to what you try on. You can contact the sales staff through touching the mirror which sends a request to the store staff's smart watch. You can also place items in your virtual basket for immediate collection or delivery to your home.

The mirror is connected to sales staff. 

In the Fitness hall UFC, MMA and boxing were well represented. OPRO’s tie up with UFC looked good. They were also launching the latest incarnation of their mouthguard range, now called “Generation 4”.

Fitness equipment is certainly a mature market, technology has improved. Now it looks to be all about the technology and the interactive features. The most stunning range by the WaterRower company was finished in wood and would grace any living room.

Best Mannequins stand.

We were knowing the latest models of Altra Running shoes, which will be available in Simply Sports  this month. The US running brand were busy, they were there last year and we are expecting their shoes in to store this month. They are very niche, but a lovely group of people working behind the brand. Nothing was too much at the show and nothing has been left to chance for our launch at our Reigate store.

Adrian Pointer (Simply Sports) visiting the Altra stand.

It is perhaps a paradox that the brands where the stands were busiest were the stands selling premium and niche products.

So many brands, so many new products and so many people to meet. We work in one of the friendliest trades imaginable, everyone has a love for sport which is why we all work in the industry. How lucky are we that our work is also our hobby. (Adrian Pointer)

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Priory Parkrun: 200 runs changing lifes in Reigate

The last New Year's Day the Reigate Priory Parkrun was 200 runs and celebrated it the best way they know: running in the beautiful, scenic and undulating Priory Park course -the 91st most elevated in the ranking of 400 Park Run in  UK-.

Bruce Fordyce, Parkrun South Africa Country Manager, says in the book Park Run: much more than just a run in the park (highly recommended) that Parkrun 'is not a simple 5 kilometre fun run. It is changing  the lives of ten of thousands of people for the better'. In Reigate, the Park Run has changed the live of more than 6,500 runners, who has taken part in this simple and revolutionary concept of run -timed, five kilometre runs, for people of all ages and all abilities, fun, friendly and free- since starting on 22nd of March 2014. The figures of this event are absolutely incredible in around four years: more than 189,000 km of total distance completed or 2 years of time running.    

Image of the beginning of a Park Run in Reigate.

It doesn't matter the weather (sun, rain, snow and mud) or the Park conditions -the course in Reigate is a mixture of gravel path, woodland trail and grass- each Saturday at 9:00am an average of 188,9 runners is waiting with their barcode to run and improve their time. 

But, why the Parkrun is being so successful? Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, the founder of Parkrun, explains in the book mentioned above his reasons: 'Partly, the obvious it is free. But also lots of other reasons -the socials aspects, the encouraging, welcoming atmosphere for new runners, the simplicity, and because it's fun. More and more, it's because of the relationship with the community'. 

Paul Chandler, who has seen the growth of the Reigate Priory Parkrun as Run Director in these four years and heart of this event, defined the Reigate Priory Parkrun in a interview on our blog as "not a race and there are no winners just a friendly place to run as fast or as slow as you like".

Now, we have tried to compile a few key moments that has marked the history of the Priory Parkrun. (This summary is the result of reading all the post published about the races since March of 2014 from the Reigate Priory Parkrun website. Pictures have been taken from the same page. By the way, it has been a pleasure to experience the history of this great event through these weekly articles).

200th Reigate Priory Parkrun: 179 people complete the course on New Year's Day, which make a total of 6,524 participants and a distance of 188,355 km since first Reigate Priory Parkrun in March of 2014.

200th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

198th Christmas Run: 307 people elves, santas, reindeer, snowmen, a penguin and a surfer complete with surfboard the race at the Christmas Run.

198th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

192nd Reigate Priory Parkrun: Each Saturday, parkrunners celebrate their records of runs: 50, 100, 200... Last November, Catriona Sanderson and Mary Northway join the 50 club.  

192nd Reigate Priory Parkrun.

190th Reigate Priory Parkrun: 4 bats, 2 werewolves, 2 ghosts and a pumpkin complete the race to celebrate the Halloween Parkrun.

190th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

165th Reigate Priory Parkrun: 377 runners gather at the start line for the largest parkrun at the Priory ever.

165th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

131st Reigate Priory Parkrun: Two years ago Reigate becomes in a running capital during a weekend. The Reigate Priory Parkrun on Saturday and the Run Reigate on Sunday, both sponsored by Intersport UK.

129th Reigate Priory Parkrun: 318 runners finish this race, making a total of more than 100,000 kilometres. The person who completed this milestone was Alicia Saunders.

129th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

128th Reigate Priory Parkrun: Laura Gent sets the current female course record beating her own previous mark by 7 seconds to set the new time at 18.19. (Kevin Quinn holds the male record achieved in the event 134 when he ran the 5k in 15:37).

128th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

76th Reigate Priory Parkrun: The event sees the 10,000th finisher since the beginning in 2014. 

76th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

59th Reigate Priory Parkrun: More than 400 clubs registered in four years. In this race, Horley Harriers Running Club makes a group appearance.

59th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

52nd Reigate Priory Parkrun: First year of the Priory Park Run in Reigate. A milestone that would not have been possible without the volunteers enthusiasm.

52nd Reigate Priory Parkrun.

46th Reigate Priory Parkrun: The snow cannot stop this 5k in February of 2015. In fact, this day there are some good performances. 

46th Reigate Priory Parkrun.

1st Reigate Priory Parkrun: 325 runners complete the inaugural course, 83 of them run their first parkrun event. Many parkrunners move from around the country to visit the opening run in Reigate. Ryan Harris and Alice Chandler (Reigate Priory AC) are the first winners.

1st Reigate Priory Parkrun.

1st Reigate Priory Junior Park Run: Last November, 46 young runners (4-14 years old) runthe first Priory Junior Parkrun. Six weeks later, the number of kids is 79. 

                                                           1st Reigate Priory Junior Park Run.  

Monday, 27 November 2017

How to complete 50th Park Run by Catriona Sanderson

Catriona Sanderson remembers that she already loved running when she was studying at school. It was in 2010 when she started running like a routine and seven years later she has celebrated another milestone in her running life. The last 11th of November she completed her 50th Park Run (39 of 50 runs at Reigate Priory). Catriona, one of the more active member of Simply Sports Running Club, tells that she enjoyed a lot that day running over muddy puddles along with her school friend Mary Northway, who reached 50th Parkrun that same day as well. Here is her experience and her running recommendations like take part in Park Run and our lovely running club. Thank you for sharing your experience and now counting down for your 100th Park Run!
Mary and Catriona after their 50th Park Run.

"It was great to do my 50th Parkrun at Reigate sharing it with my school friend Mary also doing her 50th run (she took up park running after returning from living in  Africa a couple of years ago). We both grew up in Margate. I did my first parkrun on 31 August 2013 in Margate, before Reigate had started its own Parkrun. It’s a great run along the clifftops with beautiful views out to sea. I did a few runs down there especially when my father was still alive. The route passes the beaches I went to as a child and looking inland I can see our old family home.

I gradually started to do more runs in Reigate which is much closer to where I live now in Redhill. I have done a few other tourist runs and a memorable one was in Kingston when we moored up our little cabin cruiser on the Thames for the night, I got up in the morning clambered up the bank to the start of the run along the tow path.

I had to take a break from park running for about a year when I got plantar fasciitis. Simply Sports running club helped to keep me going with some gentle runs on Thursday as well as some other exercise and Pilates. Thankfully my foot recovered and I can run a lot more regularly again now. I love being able to run on Thursdays with Simply Sports and then on Saturdays at parkrun. It’s a great way to start the weekend. Sometimes it’s just about getting it done, sometimes it’s aiming for a PB and lately it was wanting to get that first milestone 50 T-shirt!

When I run the course in Reigate I count down the number of “hill climbs” on the second lap – it’s just my way of dong the course, I am sure everyone has little ways to keep going – it’s a really friendly run and I recommend both parkrun and Simply sports running club whether you are new to running or want to make some new friends as you run!"
(by Catriona Sanderson)

Training of Simply Sports Club, directed by Steve, at Priory Park.

Catriona's Running Profile 

Name and surname: Catriona Sanderson

Age: 52

Occupation: Clerk to School Governors.

How often do you run?   Twice a week, sometimes three if I am training for a specific event.

Why do you love running? It's so flexible and quick. I can just open the front door and go. It's great to appreciate the countryside around where I live.

When did you start?  Started in January 2010 - training for a Try-a-Tri at East Grinstead - previously at school I loved 100m sprint and 80m hurdles!

On Road or Off Road: A mixture of both.

Short or Long Distances? 5-10K runs

Park Run or races? Both, I like to do Park Run regularly as well as Simply Sports and when I can will do 10k races - mainly local.

Your running kit essential: Running leggings with a zipped back pocket to keep my keys and parkrun barcode and my Garmin to see how far I have gone. I never run with music.

Your favourite running brand: Ronhill.

Your best and worst running memories: Best moment was doing the Intersport Run Reigate Half marathon in 2014. I loved every minute of it. Worst moment: plantar fasciitis.

How do you motivate to run? Keeping fit as I get older, A chance to think and pray and clear my head and meeting up with friends at club runs and events.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The sound is in your mind, not in your ears

The first question arises when you listen music through an AfterShokz headphones is how can I feel the sound if my ear canal is free? The first sensation is weird, but when you understand this reinvented listening experience and you get use to it, you will love this gadget for ever.

We have selected a few key simple facts to help you to know better the system used by AfterShokz:

1. How they work: Bone conduction technology produces sound via mini vibrations that travel through your cheekbones to your inner ears, bypassing your eardrums completely. 

2. Curiosities: Bone conduction technology has been around for many years as a tool to help those with hearing loss. Even Beethoven, who was hearing impaired, used bone conduction to listen to music by biting down on his composer’s wand that was touching the piano.

3. Industry: Hearing aid(s) users, Military communication, Sports headphones and Scuba diving are the 4 major industries have benefited from bone conduction technology.

4. Safety Open ear design: AfterShokz transmits audio via a pair of transducers that rest on your cheekbones, leaving your ears uncovered and canals unblocked. As a result, you can listen the ambient noise normally, without the traditional limitations (A 2012 study documented a three-fold increase in the number of accidents involving pedestrians wearing headphones, and nearly 70% of those accidents resulted in death).

5. Reviews: 
Everyday Hearing: “Overall, these wireless bone conduction headphones are a great solution for those wanting to enjoy audio without cutting yourself off from everything around you”. 

The Verge: “For people who have a good reason to keep their ears open while listening to music I can recommend the Aftershokz, which were comfortable, had solid battery life, useable controls and are a regular top pick among specialist sites”. 

Trusted Reviews: “If safety, rather than sound quality, is your primary concern then you’ll find plenty to like about the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium”.

Forbes: "These are the headphones I would want to use for outdoor activity. They’re lightweight, provide decent sound with wireless freedom, and let me hear background noise --like traffic. 

If you would like to try out an AfterShokz, feel free to visit us at Reigate, Oxted, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells stores. Besides, we will be offering 20% off on Sportz Titanium & Trekz Titanium AfterShokz headphones on #BlackFriday. Simply use the promo code 'SSBlackFriday' in store the 24th of November and get the discount! 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

David Earl: "I wanted Tennis to be affordable, with high quality and get all ages playing"

David Earl, Head Coach at Redhill Lawn Tennis Club and Simply Sports collaborator, has been awarded the prestigious Coach of the Year Award by Reigate & Banstead District Sports Council. The organization concluded that David has been "a highly active member of the local community, inspiring many people across all age groups to start or return to tennis".

He started his coaching career at Sanderstead in Surrey before taking on abroad "to learn more about the different styles of coaching". In the UK, he has worked at Parklangley, Surbiton Rackets Club and Reigate LTC. "My goal at Redhill is to make sure the club reaches it's potential but more importantly I want every member to be on court having great fun and improving all the time". Now, he has started the LTA Level 5 coaching award, the highest Tennis coach qualification in the world.

- Did you expect to receive the Reigate & Banstead and Sports Award 2017 like coach of the Year? 

No and I went to the awards evening with a terrible case on "man flu" so I thought i'd just sit at the back quietly watching the winners go and up get the awards! I was really happy to hear my name read out and I think I look shocked in all the pictures. The last year at Redhill has been hard work but really rewarding so getting an honour like this was icing on the cake.

David Earl receiving his Sports Awards.

- According to the organization, one of the reasons to reward you are “inspiring many people across all age groups to start or return to tennis”, do you see yourself like a tennis inspiration?

I'll let others decide how I'm seen but my goal was pretty simple when I first moved over to the area to start Boom Coaching. I wanted Tennis to be affordable, high quality and get all ages playing, learning and competing at a sport that's given me so much. We've managed to get 10 schools playing and have huge plans for 2018 so watch this space whatever age you are!

- Why should kids play Tennis?

Tennis assists coordination more than any other sport so at a basic level Tennis will give young athletes a better chance of being a rounded athlete. When a child first comes to our coaching our first goal is to give them skills in a sport they can play for the rest of their lives, some will take to it quickly and others will have to work harder but the lessons learnt about themselves and the technical, tactical, mental and physical side of a demanding sport go much further than the court, there's lots of key life skills.

- Another reason for your award is that you've increased membership at Redhill Lawn Tennis Club. How have you done this?

Good quality service and good results. We have a 7 day per week coaching programme with our youngest participants being 4 years old and our oldest nearer 74 years old (I won't tell you who though!). Every school holiday we have junior courses and they start at £10 per day, adult groups are £10 for 90 minutes and our monthly junior coaching programme is £30 per month for 3 sessions per week so we always aim to keep our prices at a realistic level.

- Do you think people need a little push to play tennis?

I hope we can cater for everyone but in 2018 we have some very exciting plans to get everyone on court. We know that there are a lot of people who are rushed off their feet and don't have a long time each week to dedicate hours to learning the ins and outs of tennis. We are planning on launching a new service at Redhill Park and Redhill Tennis Club where we get some hardcore cardio and coaching points in a 40 minute session. Keep an eye on Boom Coaching.

- What do you need to play tennis?

I would say Boom Coaching of course but the truth is you don't need much. The courts in parks are free to use, Tennis Club membership is often around £20 per month and then a friend and racket. At a club there'll often be sessions for people to walk up and play as well as tournaments but if you're looking for a partner you can always call us and we'll help

- Many people say that your tennis training system is enjoyable. How important is have fun in your sessions?

Very! We keep our sessions sociable so everyone can have a laugh but all sessions have strong teaching points because there's lots of fun in getting better

- Tell us about your new qualification.

I'm on the Lawn Tennis Association Level 5 Master Club Coach award at the moment. It's a two year course and the highest qualification possible for a Tennis Coach so it's not easy. I'm only at the start but it's been great to be pushed and as someone who is always trying to get better i'm loving the challenge.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Brooks Transcend and forget the feared running impact

Our ambassador in the Intersport Run Reigate 2017 Vicky Maher has been telling us last weeks in three post published on our blog different stories about the race: her first half marathon, her painful training for the 10K and her chronicle of the race last September. We asked for her a last favour: a review of the Brooks Transcend, which provided by Simply Sports and Brooks and she wore on her training and during the competition and below you can read her opinion. We can anticipate that her score is close to the perfection. Before the review, we asked for her she defined herself as runner to know her a little bit. 

A massive thank you to Vicky for her collaboration and for having allowed us to experience for a few weeks like a runner before a race. That was our idea about being a Simply Sports ambassador.
Vicky during the Run Reigate (Sussex Sport Photography).

Name and surname: Vicky Maher

Age: 39

How often do you use your trainers?: 2-3 times a week.

Model of trainers analysed: Brooks Transcend. 

Running Profile: I started running 9 years ago. I had never been good at PE, I was the uncoordinated clumsy child, no balance and last picked for every team. No sport ever grabbed me but I did quite like to when the sports day came round and I whilst I wasn’t a good runner I wasn’t terrible. Fast forward to 2008 and you find me age 30 in a pub with two friend, Liz & Wendy. I can’t remember whose suggestion it was that we run an 8K race but we all decided it was a good idea.  Wendy found some training plans to start us running and we went out together to get fit enough to run. The race was the Windsor Running 4 Women 8K and it was a lovely course, I keep saying I’ll go back one day. 

Running with these friends petered out fairly soon after the race and I was uninclined to run alone, I didn’t feel I was good at pacing or motivating myself but as luck would have it I discovered another friend, Laura, went out running every Sunday morning at 8am. This was an ideal time for me being a morning person and she was much fitter and faster than I was. I quickly learnt to keep up with her and we had the added bonus of being able to chat about our week, the kids etc! 

Vicky trying on a few Brooks trainers at Reigate store.

I also had a friend Karen who had told me about an organisation called parkrun and persuaded me to join. She found I had a parkrun near me at Tilgate and told me it was free to join and run. I signed up but did nothing more for around a year. Finally I screwed up the courage to go in 2013 and I have never looked back. Laura usually joins me and since last year so do my mum and sister when they are able.  Sometimes the kids come although they find getting up hard! I ran the Reigate Priory parkrun when it started up and have been there quite a few times, my total parkruns is now over 100 and my friend Karen came all the way from Cardiff to help me celebrate my 100th run

So races!  Since that first one at Windsor I have done the YMCA fun run (5 miles) twice.  First in 2012 with Laura when I was pleased to be under an hour (58:30), and then again this year where my new pb was 49:19.

I ran my first half marathon at Run Reigate in 2015 with a time of 2:13:58 and then the Run Reigate 10K (my first official 10K) this year and was thrilled to come in at 59:43.
When I started running I had shin splints and favoured off road softer ground but in training for the Run Reigate Half marathon in 2015 I finally felt like a real runner. For the first time I was able to go out on my own road running and now that’s my preference. I still had pace issues running solo for a long time so relied on music to help me keep time.  These days I find my legs usually know what they want to do and I just go with it!

Love mapping software and use both mapmyrun and my Garmin FR10 to map what I do, it’s a nice reminder.  

Goals: I would definitely like to do another half marathon, I am 40 next year and want to be even fitter than in my 30’s. I would love to think I was capable of a marathon but I know that would involve an awful lot of work, and I was out of action for a long time after the last half!

Vicky's Review (On a scale from one to ten):

Vicky's Conclusions: I found these trainers a massive help in my Run Reigate 10K, the cushioning meant I didn’t get any joint pain during the race at all and I really felt my feet were being properly supported as well as cushioned from impact. The only thing that stops me giving them a full 10/10 is the grip isn’t quite as good as my old shoes and I would be worried about using them in muddy or icy conditions.