Fighting Fit: get fit (and fabulous) with Total Boxer

Fighting Fit

Samantha Whitaker tries a new boutique boxing gym that really packs a punch in the fitness arena

Boxers are renowned as being among the fittest athletes. But if I’m totally honest, I’ve always found the sport too aggressive to really enjoy watching – let alone try it myself. So Total Boxer’s slogan – ‘get fit, not hit’ – sounded like it might be a good compromise.

I’m not going to lie, though: when I entered the small, North London gym, populated with leather punch bags and posters of boxing greats, I felt a little intimidated. But then Matt Garcia, founder and CEO, came jogging down from his upstairs office with a huge smile on his face and a labrador at his heels, and my shoulders dropped an inch. ‘You’re bound to be a bit nervous but you shouldn’t be,’ he said. ‘Almost everyone that trains here hadn’t done any boxing previously.’

As Matt strapped up my hands, greeting people by name as they arrived, my shoulders dropped a little more. The class was small, half were women, and everyone smiled or said hi when they realised it was my first time. During the warm up – rope-skipping or shadowboxing (sparring with an imaginary opponent) – Matt taught me the basic boxing technique, leaving me to practice on my own but quickly correcting me when my technique slipped. Fitness & Skills is a circuit class and, after a quick stretch, we went straight into three-minute bursts of punching bags, shadowboxing or sit ups, to loud, pumping music. Matt pulled each of us out in turn for one-on-one pad work in the centre – but it wasn’t embarrassing, as everyone trained with steady, blinkered focus.

As a sport, boxing demands aerobic endurance, strength, power, speed, agility and flexibility. The Fitness & Skills class is open to everyone and develops real boxing skills alongside fitness training. Total Boxer also offers FightReady, a 90-minute advanced session, which is a bit more technical and includes touch-sparring. Then there’s BoxingYoga, a revolutionary new yoga workout that directly targets the areas needed by athletes in the fighting arts, as well as bespoke personal training programmes and Corporate Box, which brings the Fitness & Skills class to the workplace.

Matt is just as passionate about the business as he is about boxing. ‘There’s no more effective training for body and mind than boxing fitness,’ he says. ‘It has everything: it’s challenging, fun and incredibly fulfilling as real boxing skills take shape and develop.’ Matt’s personal training business and experience as an ABA boxing coach means that he has trained all levels, from absolute beginners to competition fighters, so establishing Total Boxer seemed like an obvious thing to do.

At the moment, the gym is hidden – tucked between a post office and Konk recording studios opposite Hornsey train station – but it won’t be for long. Matt’s already scouting for a bigger venue locally, but the plan is for two or three venues, and then a franchise. He’s also in talks with decision-makers at leading gyms who are keen to feature BoxingYoga on their timetables. But there’s no hurry: ‘I’ve been building and selling businesses since I was 22, so there’s no real pressure other than my ambition to deliver on quality,’ says Matt. ‘It needs to be communal and unintimidating. Real boxing training but without the ego. Financially, I’m not trying to hit numbers. I’d much rather it was a slow, organic process,’ he adds.

The size of the venue means that class sizes are small – around 10 people – and the class I did was sold out. Total Boxer has an online booking system, which makes it easy for members to schedule their classes and shows Matt how attendance is steadily growing. ‘Some people who train here are now getting involved in the business – helping me write newsletters and blog entries,’ he says. ‘In return, I let them train for free – but I almost had to fight for that as their love for the club is so much that they were prepared to do it for free.’

As we stretched at the end, I felt equally pumped up and chilled out. Our glowing faces and the steamed-up mirrors were testament to our exertion. ‘I treat every session as if it’s the last one,’ says Matt. ‘I make sure that it’s executed professionally, that people enjoy it and get a good work out. But that’s a very natural thing because I just enjoy it so much.’

To find out more, visit


If you do one thing this week… Do a mini detox

If you do one thing this week… Do a mini detox


As Christmas draws ever nearer we tend to throw caution to wind as far as our diet is concerned. This not only increases our weight (over the Christmas period it is understood that 74% of woman put on half a stone), but it also overloads our body with toxins as many of the foods we are indulging in are processed, fatty, sugary and, as far as we are concerned, full of empty calories.

An overloaded liver (as this is where the toxins are expelled) is linked to cellulite, weight gain around the tummy area and bloating. So rid yourself of the toxins and support your liver by following our detox guidelines and you are looking at having your healthiest winter yet.

The Detox Rules…

Don’t Eat Anything Your Grandmother Wouldn’t Recognise
Always check the ingredients list – if there is something on there that you find hard to pronounce or doesn’t sound like a real food. These are especially prevalent in highly processed foods, which leads me to my next point…

Cut Out Processed Foods
They contain high levels of sugar and salt as well as all kinds of chemicals. They slow your metabolism down as your body has to work harder to digest them and they hardly contain any nutritional value. Get rid.

Eat Goods Fats
Good fats are vital for healthy heart, mind, body and hair. Eat lots of lovely oily fish and nuts and seeds to boost your intake of omegas. Also try adding an omega-filled oil to your meals. We love Neal’s Yards version as it tastes great in smoothies, on salads or even porridge.

Banish Stimulants
This includes coffee, tea, alcohol and sugar. If you smoke – now is the time to give up. All these things flood your body with horrible toxins that take a while to get rid of. In fact, when you cut out these things you will start to experience withdrawal symptoms such as head aches, low energy and sometimes even bloating. Work through it.

Up Your Exercise
Exercise boosts the lymphatic system, which helps the body rid itself of waste. It also releases feel good endorphins and you may even find wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle when you exercise more.

Support with Supplements
Assist your mini detox with some supplements. We suggest taking a good multivitamin, vitamin C, and milk thistle tincture which all work to support the liver and keep illnesses at bay.





The DODO Diet Made Doable

The DODO Diet Made Doable

words by Lorna Clansey

A boiled egg never tasted so good. It’s Tuesday and that means that today I am only eating 600 calories.

I was inspired to limit my calorie intake for one day per week when I saw Michael Moseley, the medical doctor and health journalist, on BBC’s Horizon programme a few months ago. He was investigating the health benefits of intermittent fasting and he discovered that alternate day fasting (one day eating normally and the next limiting intake to only 600 calories) had a huge impact both on his weight and his cholesterol and blood glucose levels. In the end, he felt that this one-day-on one-day-off approach was too restrictive to his life, so he stuck to eating normally for 5 days and then ‘fasting’ for 2, still with great results. Fast-living city workers are also now using this as a convenient way to manage their weight as it fits well with their lifestyle.

According to some nutritional therapists, intermittent fasting isn’t bad for us – probably more like our ancestors might have eaten. They do warn that it is important keep water intake high and not to use these low-cal days as an excuse to binge on the other days though! I know that I am of a healthy weight and that my blood chemical levels are in normal range, but I was interested to know if calorie-limiting could be beneficial to me if I only did it for one day every week.

Using the extremely helpful I was able to calculate a menu for the day which might consist of a small bowl of porridge made with oats, oat milk and cinnamon for breakfast, a cup of miso soup, a stick of celery and a raw carrot for lunch and, for dinner, steamed broccoli with garlic, ginger, soy, lemon juice and sesame seeds and the (very welcome) hardboiled egg. Lots of herbal teas and 2 thin rice cakes with peanut butter complete the day. Oh, and 9 almonds. Calorie intake can be distributed differently throughout the day though depending on a persons lifestyles and needs. Although this doesn’t look like very much food, I’m only eating like this one day a week, so when my stomach starts to growl at around 9.30pm, I know that tomorrow I’m back to eating normally again.

So what are the benefits?

I’ve been surprised that I have lost a couple of pounds over the month that I have been doing this, despite having a few celebration days where I’ve eaten much more than normal. I also feel considerably more alert, energised and lighter on the day after the ‘fast’ and seem to get much more done. Another interesting side-effect has been that once a week I actually truly appreciate what I am putting in my mouth. I chew thoroughly and relish the flavour of things I wouldn’t normally view as special. Knowing that I can’t just snack later on or have another helping means that I am much more conscious when I am eating. It’s a good reminder of how we should eat all the time!

Any downsides?

The hardest  time of the ‘fast’ day is between 3 and 5pm but I’ve been surprised at how easy it has been overall and I haven’t felt unpleasantly hungry or weak. However, I made the decision to do the ‘fast’ when I was fighting a sore throat. This was not a good idea as I started to feel very faint at around 6pm and then only sugar would do. I’ve learnt my lesson and so will only do this when I feel well.

Will I keep it up? The answer is yes. I have plenty of feast in my life, so maybe it’s good to have a bit of famine as well.

A Hip and Healthy Guide to LA: Day 10 & 11 – the final

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 10 & 11 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

Day 10

6:40 am and I can hear my wake up call.. I did ask for it. After waking up typically no later than 7am for the last few days I felt I could have slept for hours. Trying to wake myself up I bounded out of bed, threw on my sports kit and hopped in the car to Brentwood. From 7:15-8:15 I did Bar Class at the Bar Method, this cleverly adapted exercise routine incorporating the ballet barre is brilliant for strengthening and elongating your muscles. Starting with weights we spent an hour focussing on lengthening the body – as a dancer being close to the bar is natural and I really enjoy this ballet infused workout. Celebrity clients such as Drew Barrymore and Zooey Deschanel are regulars and use this method of firming and defining muscle to maintain there famous physiques. An inspiring teacher, attractive studio, lots of positive energy and a serious workout. Finished and it’s only 8:15, what a great way to start the day.

I met with friends for an early breakfast at Le Pain, located right next to the Bar Method, where else would we go! Piping hot bowl of berry oatmeal a good catchup and back to the hotel to soak up some sun.


For lunch we went to the Farm Shop at the Brentwood Mart. This deli and restaurant serves delicious fresh food to have in or takeaway. We didn’t reserve a table (it was only lunch after all) so are bellies weren’t happy when we were told we had a 25 minute wait, but we sat it out and soon enough we had a table. The menu is quite sly as you almost never imagine your meal to be how it arrives. I ordered the Albacore tuna salad with aioli, black olive tapenade and a cabbage raisin and carrot slaw. This came as a delicious open faced sandwich on wholewheat bread with a side slaw. I also ordered a side dip which was delicious – the seedy crackers went down a treat too. This Farm-shop however rustic from the outside is very popular and serves great meals.

After lunch we whizzed up Wilshire to Rodeo Drive. One of the most famous streets in LA home to shops such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel. We walked up and down, went into many shops, but left empty handed. Going to Rodeo is more for the experience, than to actually invest in something as Beverly Hills is very expensive! Once satisfied we had teased ourselves enough in these gorgeous shops we headed back into Santa Monica.

My mum went back up into Beverly Hills to meet a friend and my friends bailed, so Dad and I had a date night! First we went to Cafe Gratitude, I ordered the ‘I am Fabulous’ raw vegan lasagne and a side of spicy kale chips. This place never ever fails, so good, an enjoyable meal and a buzzing atmosphere. I hit up the dessert bar to get an ‘I am bliss’ chocolate mousse cake, healthy? Oh yeah!

Then to the cinema to see Looper. The tomboy inside of me loved it. A fun evening, a delicious dinner and a great film.. Et voila!

Day 11

I over-slept this morning so I quickly shoved my trainers on, grabbed a handful of cashews and drove straight to Pilates. My final session before leaving for England, Lizzie (the instructor) pushed me hard, revisiting all the reps of arms and core we have done throughout the weeks. Going back home after trips to resolution therapy my muscles feel stronger longer and toned, putting me in the perfect place to continue with my ballet training.  I drove to Planet Raw in Santa Monica for breakfast. I had an icy berry bowl, with dehydrated raw granola, fresh fruit and kream (no that’s not a spelling mistake!) This was honestly too good to be true, every meal is tastier than the last from this gourmet raw restaurant, will have to visit once more before I leave. After a late breakfast we walked down to third street to do some last minute shopping. Third street is a must when visiting LA, all the best shops, amusing street performers and plenty of restaurants and cinemas- it’s the place to be.


At lunch time we drove up to Will Rogers State Park via Le Pain Quotidian to grab lunch to go. We walked all the way to the top of the Mountain to ‘Inspiration Point’ where you can see LA in all it’s glory: Palm trees, beaches, the city, mountains. We sat down on the bench and had a picnic, what an incredible place to eat lunch. No hikers around, Inspiration Point was all ours and we made the most of having it to ourselves. After catching some sun we headed back down the mountain and said goodbye to beautiful Will Rogers.

I went back to the hotel and sadly had to pack my suitcase, this took a while because as you know I have been doing quite a bit of shopping, oops! Hopefully it won’t be overweight…but who am I kidding it most definitely will.

For dinner I  drove down to the coast to Nobu in Malibu to meet friends. This restaurant used to be located in the Malibu Country Mart (great shops if you find yourself in the area) but has now newly opened right on the ocean, with swish new decor the place looks great. Packed full of people the restaurant is buzzing. We sat right next to the ocean, practically able to jump in, the view was mesmerising.
The food is outrageously good, I ordered the Black Miso Cod, such a good order so very yummy. We also ordered chicken teriyaki, lobster rolls and lots of sashimi for the table, all of which were delicious. It was such a lovely evening and lots of catching up with great food. After saying goodbye I drove back up the freeway to Santa Monica. Still fairly early and considering it was my last night in LA I decided a quick stop at the Real Food Daily wouldn’t do me any harm! I ordered a chocolate milkshake (made from their sugar free, dairy free ice cream and hemp milk) and a chocolate coconut square to share. The sweet gay guy at the till asked me if it was my time of the month with my extremely chocolatey order, but unfortunately I don’t have that excuse, I just really love my chocolate! What a great day. The perfect end  to a perfect trip.

A Hip and Healthy Guide to LA: Day 9

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 9 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

This morning I woke up to the birds chirping and the sun streaming in through the blinds. Mum and I put on our gym kit and walked up the hill to the fitness centre, which consists of a treadmill, weights and cross trainer all outside and over-looking the pool. Working out at this time in the morning in the countryside is so peaceful and a complete joy.

After our gym session, we ordered breakfast to come to the room, so awaiting us was two bowls of delicious berry oatmeal and a pot of hot water and lemon. We enjoyed this outside on the patio in the morning sun. After breakfast we slipped our trainers on and trekked up the mountain to the San Ysidro Trail. This hike, up and down through the beautiful tracks of The Santa Ynez Mountain range and across the rivers is utterly mesmerising. With lots of “beware of the bear” signs, mountain deer and the verdant trees and flowers, it’s a walk with nature at it’s best. After our hike we settled back down by the pool, with magazines books and my iPad – I was set for the morning. At midday I ordered a simple club sandwich by the pool and continued to bathe in the hot sun. We had a two o’clock checkout, so I just about managed to eat my lunch, shower pack my bags and we were off on the highway. Such an idyllic location for a weekend break, I feel refreshed, serene and  ready to get back to LA. We were back in Santa Monica by four pm.

A film my Dad wrote the music for, ‘Here Comes the Boom’ was recently released in the states and I was itching to see it. I met friends at the Bridge cinema at 7pm and had a great night at the flicks. The bridge is located about 20 minutes away from Santa Monica but worth the drive for the comfy seating and big high quality screens, you can even order dinner while you watch. It was a hilarious movie! I loved it and thought Kevin James was utterly brilliant. A great cast and comedy.

After the movie we drove back via The Native Foods Cafe, this chain spread across LA is a fresh organic vegan cafe, with lots of options. Quick and easy, it’s no fuss, healthy and fast. I ordered the Crunchy Kale Salad with raw kale, shredded cabbage, apples and avocado tossed with a maple orange dressing and topped with currants, almonds and a creamy tahini drizzle. I also ordered a side of sweet potato fries, crisped and  seasoned to perfection. I couldn’t resist their all-vegan sugar-free desert bar with options such as pumpkin pie, boogie banana bread, double choc chip brownies. In the end I chose their Peanut butter parfait, made with tofu, and topped with boogie banana bread crumbs and dark chocolate chips. I believe i’ve mentioned my love of peanut butter in an earlier post, so choosing this dessert comes as no surprise. The salad was nice, the fries were delicious, dessert was incredible! A healthy meal with a sugarless protein packed pudding. The best way to end an evening.

A Hip and Healthy Guide to LA: Day 8

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 8 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 8

Since I was little Santa Babara has always been our favourite weekend get-away spot. Only an one hour and 20 minutes from Santa Monica it’s easy to get to and yet, when you are there, you feel like worlds away from the hustle and bustle of LA. After grabbing a little something from the Oceana’s breakfast buffet, we packed our bags for the evening and hit the road by 10:30. With a beautiful costal drive we arrived at the San Ysidro Ranch by midday. Located in the exclusive enclave of Montecito  and the depths of the  Santa Ynez Mountains, the scenery is stunning with breathtaking views of the ocean and channel islands. The  individual cottages named after flowers grown at the ranch are surrounded by aromatic orange and lemon groves, vegetable gardens and lots of blossoming seasonal flowers. The cottages are beautifully appointed, with elegant yet comfortable furniture with a country feel. The staff are all eager to please and always very welcoming. The Ranch is also very animal friendly. When we lived here our Golden Retriever, Rudy, was a regular and knew his way around the colourful gardens very well. As you arrive and check in there are always warm cookies by the desk and a bowl of treats for your pet. Everything is thought off, they really leave no stone unturned.

We settled in to the Gardenia Cottage. All the cottages are beautiful and unique; but with all-day sun a jacuzzi, terrace, siting room and large en-suite bathroom this cottage is our favourite. A very nostalgic place for us all. Unpacked and changed we went down to the Stoneground Terrace restaurant for the famous San Ysidro Brunch served till two pm. A two-course brunch with mimosas and juices included. Having had breakfast we passed up the appetizer (sadly as they looked incredible) and dived straight into an entree. I ordered the pan seared Scottish salmon, drizzled with whole grain mustard sauce and balsamic onions on a bed of wilted baby spinach. This was fresh, light and packed with flavour. Mum ordered the SYR’s Huevos Rancheros, homemade corn tortillas with Blackbeans, egg and organic avocado. Normally this dish comes with chorizo and queso cheese, but being dairy free and semi-veggie she asked for it without and they were very happy to oblige. This dish was also delicious, two very good orders but at the ranch I don’t think you really can go wrong!

After an exquisite brunch on the terrace, we walked up the enchanting garden to the pool. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the sun beds, relaxing, swimming and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Returning to the cottage we sunbathed some more on the cottages private sun loungers, showered then dressed for dinner. Walking down to dinner on the narrow stone paths the garden was illuminated by tea lights. Beautiful.

We again sat outside on the terrace; with lots of heaters the temperature was perfect. Although the menu only has one page, each dish is mouthwatering. In the end I chose the Butternut Squash soup to start, the chefs special. A heavenly bowl of goodness, I love the taste of squash, so this thick warm soup was the perfect choice. For my main I ordered the Halibut, it came with roasted rosemary new potatoes and a tomato sauce. Every mouthful had more flavour than the last, the potatoes were wonderfully seasoned and the halibut drizzled with lemon juice was cooked to perfection. As we ate our five-star meal, the chef made my Dad a bowl of broth and a side order of plain jasmine rice. He said it was the most delicious broth and rice he’d ever tasted. They really are very happy to help and assist you with any dietary requirements. So even a man recovering from stomach flu can enjoy a flavoursome bowl of broth!

We went back to the cottage and watched ‘Its Complicated’. One of my favourite films, set in Santa Babara (very fitting) with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, it’s brilliant, hilarious and gives you a wonderful feel for the town. If you haven’t seen it, see it now!

The lights are off in the cottage, and the ranch is silent. Time for bed.


A Hip and Healthy Guide to LA: Days 6 & 7

A Ballerina Abroad: Days 6 & 7 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to LA

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 6

Today we decided to go try out breakfast at Cafe Gratitude. I’ve never had breakfast there before, so was very excited to try it out. I ordered the ‘I AM FREE’ chia seed porridge with lucuma, maca, hempseed milk ,goji berries and blueberries. One of my favourite ingredients to use when I cook at home are chia seeds. Knowing their wonderful nutritional value it was no surprise that this breakfast bowl jumped out at me. Forgetting it is a (for the most part) a raw food cafe I was expecting the porridge to be piping hot, so my face when i tasted the cold tapioca like chia pot was a sight to behold! This breakfast is definitely like marmite, love it or hate it… But try to love it because it’s just so darn good for you. I also ordered the ‘I am Grace’ smoothie with coconut milk, almond butter, vanilla bean and dates. There was nothing at all marmite like about this, heaven in a glass. Other breakfast options include the ‘I AM FANTASTIC’ a live cashew crepe with coconut yoghurt, pecans and fresh seasonal fruit. A choice for next time.

After breakfast we went back to my dads studio in Santa monica. My dads a film composer, which is why I initially moved to LA and the reason I revisit regularly. We listened to a few cues of music, and hung out at the studio until midday. We then headed over to Aveda on Montana to visit the lovely girls there and check out the wonderful natural products in store. This kooky looking salon from the outside is a great place to get a guaranteed good hair cut or blow dry before an evening out.

In the evening we had tickets and backstage passes to Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler at the Hollywood bowl. As we were meeting friends we thought it would be nice to have a picnic before, so off we went to get lots of bits and pieces! First to Wholefoods: Salty cashews and almonds, sweet potato and lime tortilla chips and lots of salsa. Then to Planet Raw. We ordered all four ‘sushi’ plates on the menu to go. My favourite is the Godzilla with avocado, kim chi, nut-cheeze, wild seaweed, mint, cilantro, pumpkin seed oil, coconut jerky and jalapeño. While we waited, to cool us down, we had ordered a creamy berry smoothie topped with crunchy nuts, goji berries, raisins and lots of yummy trimmings!

Back to the hotel to get ready to go to the Hollywood bowl. A car picked us up and took us into Hollywood around 4:30 with awful Friday traffic so it took around two hours. Once there our friends joined us and we tucked into the picnic nibbles and champagne outside the bowl.

The bowl has the capacity to sit just under 18,000 people, being the largest amphitheater in the US. Box seats up front and rows and rows of bleachers going back. First to perform was Mark Knopfler of Dire Straights. Knofler is an incredible guitarist and the band used to be very rock and roll but the music has a more Celtic vibe to it now. They were great, put everyone in a good mood and finished their gig with a loud encore. After resetting the stage, it was time for Bob Dylan. I was not as familiar with his music but I am aware he is a legend in the industry and has had a roller-coaster of a life. He played for an hour and a half and the crowd loved it. Luckily it was a nice evening to be outside, as normally blankets can be requires late at night

On the way back to drinks with the band at their hotel in Santa Monica we stopped back at Planet Raw to get a superfood chocolate shake with cashew cream and homemade house trail mix to top. How very rock and roll of us…

Day 7

After starting the day at Le Pain Quotidien we went back to the hotel to greet a very poorly father. After having been ill all through the night, he couldn’t so much as get out of bed. Off to Wholefoods we ventured to get some bits and pieces to help his stomach. Lots of coconut water (my favourite rehydrating beverage, with more potassium than a banana) some organic plain salted crackers, grapes, bananas and some sparkling lemon and lime water.

I then went to Venice to visit my old ballet teacher Yuri Grigoriev. I was only seven when I moved out to the US and had only been doing small dance classes in a village hall. When we found Yuri I was absolutely terrified by the classes, the style was so different (Russian) he only spoke a few words of English and I was dancing alongside girls double my age. A tad overwhelming! But I was determined and stuck with it. Yuri taught me how much I love to dance by discipline, correction and hard work. I loved it and from that age I knew it was for me. It’s so lovely to be able to come back now and visit the studio and watch Yuri teach, since I’ve left nothing’s really changed.

I was there until two-o’clock, ravenous I went to the Seed Kitchen on Pacific Avenue in Venice. I ordered a coconut water and a Caesar Salad with cashew parmesan, croutons and a pumpkin seed vinaigrette to go. Seed is located really near Venice Beach so a good place to walk to if your walking, rollerblading or sunbathing in that area. I took it all down to the beach to enjoy with some friends.

In the evening we went out to Hillstones in Santa Monica. A diverse menu, catering for the meat eater with delicious veggie options too. I ordered the Veggie Burger with a side order of the pearl barley salad. Truly delicious, the best American cuisine near third street. But it’s very busy which can have you waiting hours for a table so go early or book in advance.

We then walked a block down to the AMC 7 theatre on 3rd street to watch The Perks Of Being a Wallflower. Such a brilliant film, so well acted and absolutely hilarious. Was surprised by what a wide audience this film caters for, definitely not just a teen flick. After two hours of laughing, crying and being thoroughly entertained we walked up to the Real Food Daily a few blocks away for dessert. We took it to go as we wanted to get back to the hotel. We ordered rice milk hot chocolates a raw blueberry cheesecake and an oatmeal cookie. Thumbs up for all. The cookie was warm and gooey, an amazing dunker for the hot cacao and the blueberry cheesecake was lovely and creamy. Hard to believe these deserts were all sugar-free and vegan. What a great Saturday night.


The Power of the Pumpkin

The Power of the Pumpkin

 words by Frankie Rozwadowska

Ahh the pumpkin – that round orange squash forgotten about for approximately 362 days of the year. And on the days we do acknowledge it, it’s either being carved to death or dished up in a (albeit delicious) spiced latte. It’s about time we gave this fruit the recognition it deserves – it serves a far greater purpose than a Halloween decoration (or embarrassing costume) – it’s a skin saviour. Seriously, the pumpkin packs some serious punch – not only crammed with skin-healing vitamins (A, C, E & beta-carotene), minerals and antioxidants; but also packed with zinc which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to calm skin, and enzymes that soothe, smooth and moisturise. If that isn’t enough, the pumpkin is rich in alpha hydroxy acids which act as a natural exfoliator and linoleic acid which helps make skin more supple. AND it helps calm redness. Just the ticket as winter kicks in. Just cook it, mash it, add some natural yoghurt, a drop of honey, and you have a frightfully fierce facemask. Or, to avoid looking like an extra from Dawn of the Dead, you could always try one of these super pumpkin products:

Burt’s Bees Miracle Salve – contains pumpkin seed oil to moisturise and nourish. Works wonders on dry skin and hair. £7.99

Elemental Herbology Wind and Cold Therapy – for your hands, cuticles and lips – this cocktail of botanicals contains fresh pumpkin cells to soothe and repair dry, inflamed skin, whilst stimulating cell renewal. £19.00

MyChelle Creamy Pumpkin Cleanser – it hydrates, purifies and moisturises, and forms a lusciously rich lather that’s both vegan and gluten free. £9.00

Lulu & Boo Rosehip Lifting Serum – 100% raw and organic, the pumpkin seed oil works with an array of other natural ingredients to firm and revitalise skin without blocking pores. £28.00

Philosophy Homemade Pumpkin Pie – use it as a shampoo, shower-gel or bubble bath to cleanse and condition skin and hair. It smells as good as it sounds. £14.00

Nest Fragrances Pumpkin Chai Candle – okay so it may not be skincare but it’s bound help you relax and unwind. The perfect scent for a cosy autumn evening, with notes of cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. £37.00

With the clocks going back; it’s officially time to get your beauty sleep

Get Your Beauty Sleep

words by Frankie Rozwadowska

The clocks went back this weekend, which means we get a whole extra hour of sublime shuteye. Hooray! Our skin is rejoicing. It is not just a saying or an old wives’ tale – sleep really does make you more beautiful. Heidi Klum gets 10 hours a night, whilst Penelope Cruz clocks up 12 – and Eva Mendes claims she would get the gold medal if sleep became an Olympic sport. Those glorious hours when we are dreaming of magical lands or marrying Ryan Gosling (admit it) are when our skin goes through vital processes of restoration and repair and when our metabolic rate rises to replenish dead cells at the surface. Lack of sleep not only makes you feel lousy, but it puts extra stress on the body. Increasing levels of stress hormones mean one thing – wrinkles. And lots of them.  Instead of battling nasty environmental factors like pollution and sunlight, at night our systems focus on repairing damage caused during the day, and without this key time period skin becomes more sensitive and irritated. Sleep also helps support a healthy immune system, enabling our bodies to banish blemishes and fight off infections. It’s therefore no surprise that many products are more effective when used at night. They are absorbed faster and penetrate deeper whilst our bodies are at rest, working alongside nature to turn you into a sleeping beauty fit for a fairytale.

Before bed, soak in a bath of Aromatherapy Associates Relax Deep Bath & Shower Gel. The aromatic oils of nature’s most calming plants (chamomile, sandalwood and vetivert) instantly create a deep sense of peace and tranquillity and the coconut oil will leave you feeling seriously soft. £37.00

Bad news for anyone who sleeps on their face – it is one of the biggest ways to speed up ageing. Your skin is compressed, meaning less circulation, skin creasing and more wrinkles. But there is good news. Sleeping on the 100% silk hypoallergenic Holistic Silk Rejuvenating ‘Anti-Ageing’ Silk Pillow Case means no creasing, therefore no wrinkles. Simples. £42.50

Now you have the pillow, you need the pillow spray. The This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is infused with 100% natural essential oils (lavender, vetivert, wild chamomile) to relieve tension and insomnia whilst soothing and sedating the mind and body. Simply spritz, smell and sleep. £15.00

The ultimate fighter against ageing has to be the REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Concentrate. 100% nature derived Vitamin A, Pro Vitamin A and Retinoid Analogue (which does not irritate skin like synthetic retinol) combats wrinkles, fine lines and age spots – leaving skin brighter, plumper and smoother. Warm a few drops in your hands and apply before your night cream/serum. £42.00

Detox is not just for diet but for skin too – and the Sisley Night Complex does detox and more. This cell activator, rich in active plant extracts (hops, horsetail and white lily) and essential oils, is suitable for all skin types – restoring tone, elasticity and firmness, whilst rebalancing and oxygenating. £158.00

Health Guru Dr Andrew Weil puts his power in a pot with the Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Night Health Bedtime Face Cream. Particularly good for the stressed or anxious, this nutrient-rich cream contains Buckbean and St Paul’s Wort to target tense, clenched-looking skin, together with anti-irritants derived from algae and yeast to help visibly calm complexions. £46.00

Eyes are the tell-tale sign of not enough kip (skin under the eyes is only a 1/3 as thick as facial skin and has far fewer sebaceous glands, making it more susceptible to dehydration) so a super eye treatment is a must. The Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye diminishes fine lines, puffiness and wrinkles by combining powerhouse natural oils with Butcher’s Broom – a root extract proven to increase microcirculation and to strengthen the delicate eye area overnight. £24.50

Naturally fragranced with the most luxurious of roses, the Eve Lom TLC Cream leaves skin supple, smooth and hydrated, as well as smelling sublime. Formulated with natural oils (Bulgarian Rose Otto, arnica and calendula), beeswax and euphrasia extract, it is gentle enough for the most delicate of skin – reducing sensitivity and calming redness. Total tender loving care. £55

A’Kin is one of a’kind. Blended in Australia’s bushland, the A’Kin Lavender & Rose Repairing Anti-oxidant Night Cream has no nasties and lots of botanical goodness. Rapidly absorbed and enriched with highly moisturising vitamins and fatty acids a’plenty, this works wonders for dryness. £24.00

A night-time nourisher that ticks all the boxes, the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate rebalances combination and oily skin, nurtures dry skin, clears toxins, boosts circulation, reduces puffiness and encourages cell renewal. Massage this heavenly combination of oils (argan, organic rose hip, neroli and lavender) onto the face and décolletage after cleansing and let sleep and Superkin work their magic. £40.25

A Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles: Day 5

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 5 of A Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 5

Back to Le Pain this morning for an alkalising hot water and Lemon and another bowl of super omega-3 oatmeal. Early in the morning LA is so peaceful, the cars are replaced with people running and power walking along Ocean Blvd and up San Vincente.

Pilates in Brentwood gardens at 9:30 Another great session, really felt the burn! I am the first to complain when I feel like muscles are gripping excessively and the work feels to tight and heavy, but I am told that tight muscles are weak muscles and to push past it. The Resolution Pilates team are great at incorporating muscle fatiguing exercises with deep releasing stretches for maximum benefit. After a pounding Pilates session, we quenched our thirst outside in the sun at The Coral Tree Cafe next door. I love this chain of cafes, great food, healthy, fresh and organic and there is always so much to choose from. The  smoothies and juices are truly special though, I chose a Beetroot Detoxifier. Full of greens and beetroot. Perfect.

After enjoying the sun we went to the Santa Monica Place shopping centre a new shopping mall at the end of 3rd Street. Just as I returned to England a few years back they started to knock down the old tacky shopping centre and replaced it with this new modern mall with loads of great shops including Tiffany, Michael Kors, Armarni, 7 for all mankind, Nike and lots more. We visited the Nike store to look at new trainers – you’ve got to work out with pretty shoes right?! I bought some super springy orange and grey nikes, with a thin sole, so not to clumpy but with all the right support.

For lunch we met a friend at the top of the mall in the food hall to try out the new Michael Kenney raw restaurant ‘M.A.K.E’. After waiting for outside seating (with weather like this sitting inside is criminal!) we browsed over the menu. The menu was small but included lots of wonderful raw creations. We ordered the Kimmichi ‘Dumplings’ (coconut paper stuffed with pumpkin & seed pate) and the red radish, daikon, nori and avocado salad with a side of  raw fennel and walnut crackers. It took a while to come as the chef’s use the plate as a canvas to create an artwork as well as a delicious meal. When it did come, it was worth the wait – never have I seen raw food look so creative. For dessert we ordered strawberries with a carrot cream purée, lemon kefir sorbet, poppy alfalfa, cucumber ‘jus’ and beetroot biscuits to share. This spectacularly presented pudding was just as delicious as it looked, with no added sugar it still tasted wonderfully sweet.

After some time spent mooching around shops in Malibu. We returned back to the hotel and got ready to meet a friend for dinner at FIG. This restaurant only a few blocks down the road from our hotel on Ocean Blvd is part of the Fairmont Hotel, but locals love it. The menu is very vegan friendly but has lots of organic meat options too. For my starter I ordered spinach with pine nuts and dates. This sat on a bed of freshly made peanut butter, that oozed into the water from the spinach making a crunchy peanut sauce. Being quite a peanut butter addict, we’re talking eating it straight from the tub, I was a huge fan of this savoury and sweet combo. For my main I ordered the Scarlett Quinoa with carrots, apple, green beans, Almonds and more wonderful rainbow foods. It was a tad on the vinegary side, so in future I would ask them to go easy on the seasoning but all in all it was a fantastic meal.


A Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles: Day 4

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 4 of A Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles

words by Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 4

For breakfast we revisited Urth cafe. We generally go between Le Pain and Urth for breakfast. Today we opted for Urth, as they really do do the best coffee in LA.. And it was one of those days! Then off to Pilates we drove. We were feeling quite tight after Yogahop yesterday, so it was great to work through the tightness with a leg and ab workout. After Pilates we met a friend at Mandeville Canyon for a hike and catchup. This canyon is located in between Brentwood and the Pacific Palisades, the views are stunning the atmosphere so serene and the air so fresh you feel you can think again, after being surrounded by the noise of LA. We hiked for over an hour stopping in between to do a few yoga poses, a really therapeutic way to start the day.

After the hiked we returned to the hotel freshened up and met my Dad for lunch at Planet Raw. Such a delicious Raw Organic Cuisine. We all ordered three different items to share.  The first order I chose was the ‘Cheeze’ Enchiladas; a pumpkin veggie nut & seed pâté wrapped in nori with a guacomole,salsa and sour ‘kream’ dip. It had a spicy kick and is a delicious healthy skin-loving combo. We then ordered the Babylon Lebanese falafel rolls wrapped in a collard green with garlic cream tahini, olives, bean-free hummus and avocados. This also went down an absolute treat. The combination of the tahini, avocado and hummus was to die for. Lastly we ordered their famous full of goodness Dinosaur Salad to share, with kale, wild seaweed, Marine Minerals, cayenne & nutritional flakes. We ordered very, very well and played pass the parcel with are food until every scrap was gone!

Mum and I then headed off to Fred Segal, a small luxury boutique department store of 4th and Broadway in Santa Monica. It’s a quiet, relaxed place to shop with a great selection of new stores. Another great celeb spotting location. We spent ages in all the stores, until having to sit down with a bad case of shopping legs!

For dinner we went to Vincenti Restirante on San Vincente,Brentwood. This is a smart dressy Italian restaurant it’s a great place to eat, and very family friendly. When I was little and we lived here we ate out regularly, this was one of our favourite spots, they all new us and the staff were all so kind to the little me. Returning today we were greeted by all the lovely Italian waiters and waitresses, who looked after us so well and treated us like we’d never left. The food was delicious, presented exquisitely. A wide menu of fresh, roasted and baked fish, flat base quality pizzas straight out the stone oven, seafood pastas, fresh dairy-free soups the list is endless and everything is cooked to perfection. It is easy to understand why this place is always busy, so you have to book in advance.

A Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles: Day 3

A Ballerina Abroad: Day 3 of our Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles

By Saskia Gregson-Williams

Day 3 

Hoorah, I slept till six am, which means seven solid hours of sleep and I definitely feel more energetic because of it. Once up, dressed and ready for the day we headed to The Urth Caffe on main street in Venice. This chain is spread right across LA, so when in doubt find an Urth (also it’s great for  the odd bit of celeb spotting.) The food is all fresh and organic and very, very tasty. We all ordered the Organic Oatmeal, with a side of fresh berries and steamed almond milk.

After breakfast we met a friend at Yoga-Hop on Montana avenue. This sweaty, cardio take on typical zen yoga, is more workout then meditation. It relaxes you while you push your body to a brilliant pumping soundtrack. The teacher, Matthew Reyes, is really encouraging and very welcoming to newcomers. A brilliant yet challenging class and a great workout and a great platform to start the day. Luckily you don’t necessarily have to fly to LA to take a fun California style yoga, great classes in Fulham with Nick Ryder at Yoga LA  (check out

Changed and showered after a rather sweaty morning we went to Lululemon Athletica in Brentwood. Now open just off the Kings Road in London, but like most things in the US this is a much bigger outlet. Racks and racks of great comfy yoga/ running/ cycling sportswear in all different colours, shapes and sizes – it’s a hip and healthy fave. The shop is brimming with positive energy mostly  to do with all the motivational mood boards hung around the place. I left with two items: an orange sports bra and a pair of striped running trousers. Fairly expensive, but worth every penny as the quality of the clothes are great and you can be assured they will last a long time.

Midday and we are hunnnngry! Off to Euphoria loves Rawvolution on main street. This all raw, organic, gluten and soy-free café is incredible; a large menu so full with yummy things I had to close my eyes and point at random to choose. I went for the Tiger roll (filled with  curry paper, veggies, avocado and a sweet chilli dip) this raw wrap, was so light and delicious, I didn’t want it to end. I also ordered  the popular Superfood Salad (kale, avocado, flax-oil, tomatoes, and green Dr. Schultze’s superfood powder). A wonderful meal at a fantastic positive place which totally embraces the “your body is your temple” philosophy. Everything is prepared fresh on site and stock the finest local produce. Love, love, love.

After lunch we ventured down Main Street, packed with great shops such as Planet Blue and funky Boho style boutiques. I love this area not just for the shops but the amazing graffiti art. Pictures, inspiring words you name it – it just makes you feel good in a way that only LA can.

For dinner we went to Santa Monica Seafood. A fish and seafood store on Wiltshire with a restaurant and cafe situated inside. The atmosphere is great; lots of locals enjoying the freshest seafood southern California offers. We all had a really enjoyable meal. A great, quick and easy, no-fuss little restaurant. Perfect when you want a healthy fresh seafood dish, a conversation with friends (you can actually hear) and a vibrant all American atmosphere.