Fitness fanatic Nell McAndrew puts a FEMAIL writer through their paces as she releases a new DVD workout
14:36 GMT, 8 November 2012
It's a cold Tuesday morning and I've been invited to a health club at a plush hotel in London's Knightsbridge to try Nell McAndrew's new workout which will soon be released on DVD.
Along with some fellow fitness writers, I arrived at 8am, which felt a tad early to be put through my paces, only to discover that Nell, who is currently pregnant with her second child, had arrived at 6.30am and had already done a swim before joining us for a 40 minute sample of her exercise class.
Although I'm a keen runner who has recently competed a marathon in three hours and six minutes (I was slacking compared to Nell's incredible two hour 54min effort at this year's London Marathon), I felt some intrepidation about joining fitness fanatic Nell in a workout.
Fitness guru: Nell McAndrew, who is currently pregnant with her second baby, has filmed a new fitness DVD which will be released in December
Stretching and toning: Nell demonstrates some of the moves included in the workout
Running requires little coordination and upper body strength so I worried if I would have the ability to keep in time, master the moves and cope with the weight section in Nell's routine. Not to mention how I would look in front of the gathered photographers getting sweaty and puffed out next to model Nell who always manages to look glamorous – even after running a marathon.
But with her warm personality and enthusiasm, Nell soon put me at ease as we chatted before the workout began, which was led with vigor and encouragement by Liam Duffy, who Nell has known for years after attending his exercise classes.
Joining in: Femail writer Lucy Waterlow, back row far right, joined in a 40 minute sample of the workout led by Liam Duffy
Nell told me she wants people to feel like they are 'joining in' with her exercise class via the DVD – the fifth she has released over the last ten years in which she has established herself as a fitness guru.
She said: 'Everyone involved in the filming of
the DVD was buzzing after doing the workout, and that's what it needs to
be. When people do it at home, I want them to feel like they are
joining in with the group. It's not about “you need to do this and you
too could look like me!”'
Now it was my time to join in as Liam started up the stereo with a music mix of dance beats and the session began with a warm up including some gentle jogging on the spot and stretches.
Then the tempo was upped with some squat thrusts, jumping lunges and single leg knee lifts where my quads started to feel the burn, all with jogging on the spot in between.
Thanks to my aerobic fitness from running, I coped well with this section while feeling like I was also working some neglected muscles. Nell said this is the idea behind the workout as it should be used by people at home to supplement other exercise they may be doing to give them a broader overall fitness.
Hold it: 'Peak Energy Recharged' is designed to work all the muscle groups including the gluts and abs
She said: 'I wouldn't recommend the DVD to
beginners. I'd say it's for people who are already exercising and want
that extra challenge. Or people who have a good fitness level and just
want to break up their training a bit, especially at different times of
the year like when it's cold and dark and you might want to go outside
We then moved on to a weights section using 1.5kg dumbbells doing bicep curls and lifting the weights above our heads. The hardest part for me came when we had to hold the weights out with arms stretched out in front of us – for what felt like hours but couldn't have been more than a minute – as my arms started to wobble.
I was tested again when it came to the final section lying on exercise mats doing stomach crunches and 'the plank' – a core stability exercise where you lie face down and then prop your body up on your elbows and toes with your body straight. It really strengthens the stomach muscles so is a great exercise to hold at home for up to a minute a day if you want to pull in your stomach ahead for wearing a dress over the festive party season.
Passionate about fitness: Nell loves to encourage everyone to keep fit and even got the doorman at London's Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel, Miroslav Milneusevic, to try some moves
Nell joined us throughout only skipping sections like the stomach crunches on account of her growing baby bump. She told me she intends to carrying on exercising for as long as she can into the pregnancy.
As reported in the MailOnline last week, she has received some concern from people over exercising while expecting. But health professionals recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for mums-to-be. This is a fraction of what Nell used to do during her marathon training so by moderating her usual regime, she is continuing to reap all the health benefits of exercise without risk to herself or her unborn child.
Nell, who already has a son Devon, six, told me after she has given birth in March, she will gradually get back into exercise when she's ready.
'I don't know when I'll start exercising again, I'll see how it goes,' she said. 'I'll just gradually build it up again. After my last baby I invested in a treadmill with all good intentions to get back into running but then I barely had the energy to walk to the shops! So I'll take it slowly, I'm in no rush.'
Birthday girl: Nell launched the DVD on her birthday which deserved a slice a cake
Nell's laid back approach to regaining her fitness after having a baby is a refreshing change to celebrities who often rush to return to be a size 8 after giving birth. She also showed that while she enjoys being fit and healthy, she isn't afraid to indulge in treats once in a while when, at the end of the workout, her team surprised her with a cake as Tuesday was her 39th birthday.
Before the cake arrived, the DVD workout finished with a warm down and by the end I felt invigorated and ready for the day. It was the perfect workout for me as I had raised my heart rate and worked my muscles but it hadn't left me so exhausted that I would be falling a sleep at my desk later in the afternoon.
We had only done a 40 minute sample of the 80 minute workout on the DVD but Nell pointed out that people who do it regularly don't have to do the full 80 minutes to begin with – or every time they do it.
Tried, tested and recommended: Lucy with Nell after enjoying the workout session
Released in time for New Year: Nell McAndrew's Peak Energy Recharged DVD
She said: 'People
shouldn't be disheartened if they don't complete the whole thing the
first time. It's hard so you should work towards doing the whole thing.
If people did it once or twice a week alongside other exercise like
running and swimming, they'd get a really good overall workout and work
different muscle groups.
'You can also just do different sections, like I will just do the stretching sections after I've had my baby.'
So if you are looking for a workout DVD for the new year and already have a basic level of fitness, I would definitely recommend Nell's as it's easy to follow and challenging but fun.
Perhaps if I keep it up and continue getting the miles in running I could one day run a sub three hour marathon like her. Especially as I now know even someone as fit as Nell still includes the odd slice of cake in their diet.
Nell McAndrew's Peak Energy Recharged DVD is released on sale 31 December, RRP 12.99