It’s 9.30am, Saturday morning, and I am standing bare-legged in a muddy field: hard, cold rain pelting my t-shirted shoulders, icy wind blowing a gale up my skirt.

In one hand, I carry a long stick with a net on the end, while the other is in the grim clasp of the opponent I’ve been instructed to shake hands with. “Hi! I’m Clare,” I introduce myself, brightly. “I’m pretty rubbish at this; in fact, the chances are strongly in your favour.” She looks at me warily, like this is some kind of distraction technique – but by the end of the game, I’ll have managed to convince her. Though I loved playing, turned up to practice religiously and enter into every game with gusto, I was – and still am, I suspect – genuinely bad at lacrosse.

I can’t run very fast – being by nature more of a long distance girl – and the art of running, holding a ball in my stick and cradling it (a strange motion in which you wiggle the stick from side to side) at the same time eluded me. I could almost catch the ball – but when it comes to ball games, almost-catching doesn’t get many goals.

Fortunately for the school, I was in the B team – which in some schools would be an esteemed position but at St Helen’s meant losing most games and winning, by total fluke, just a handful. On one memorable occasion we lost three games at a tournament just because we forgot which pitch we were on.

We were, in short, a shambles – but man, did we have fun with it. Pressure off (if we turned up, we’d exceeded the school’s expectations) we were free to enjoy the game for what it was: a means of meeting mates, getting some fresh air and exercising with a common goal loosely in mind. If the goal was reached, it was a bonus: if not, we’d still worked out, mucked in and had a laugh in the process.

Free of the pre-match nerves, we enjoyed both the coach journey there, with its banter and colourful energy bars; and the ride back, where our ‘post match analysis’ consisted of raucous re-enactments punctuated with laughter. We enjoyed ourselves: a feeling which those who are good at team sports can often miss out on because the pressure’s on and if they mess up, their team mates point the finger, shout angrily, or talk about them behind their back.

Taylor ball

These are the joys to be found in a team sport when you stop worrying about how well you’re playing, and start asking why you’re playing. Yes, you’re playing to win – but unless there are lives or great prizes at stake, aren’t you playing for something more?

Of course, it is not just ‘the taking part that counts’, as with all things you get out what you put in, and there’s honour as well as more exercise in trying hard. But stop (not on the pitch, obvs) and look at the game as a whole and you will reap rewards so much more more satisfying than cups, trophy shields and goals.

You’ll be stronger: not just physically (though being able to stand up to your brother’s pretty great) but mentally too. Exercise and fresh air works wonders for the brain as much as for the bod, releasing chemicals which make you feel good (endorphins) and improving memory and performance. Besides, it is character building, persisting in something you find challenging – even if (in fact, especially if) you are used to being top of the class in everything else.

Most people give up activities they aren’t very good at. But the funny thing is, it’s often in doing the stuff you’re not good at that you find other strengths. One B-team mate’s insistence on hitting the ball round the field rather than carrying it in the stick brought her to hockey; my flat inability to reach any speed higher than steady jog is what lead me to cross-country running; and of course, there is always the possibility that you might get better at the sport itself. Many of our B team ended up in the As.

I didn’t. Even now ball games elude me. But the memories of our floundering on the pitch, and the fits of giggles afterwards – they’re still strong. Honed by hilarious defeats, our team’s sense of humour equipped us with one of the most invaluable life skills: the ability to laugh at ourselves.

@finney_clare

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Sure, some people LOVE exercising at school. Whether it’s team games, athletics, gymnastics, absolutely bossing the bleep test – a little sporting activity during the school day can be a lot of fun.

But, whether it’s because you don’t get on with other people in your class (but now have to shower with them, hello), you’re made to do really long cross country runs in the dead of winter like something out of an Enid Blyton book, or you get all hot and sweaty before maths class when you have that crush sat right behind you… sometimes PE can suck.

Really suck.

The thing is, moving about is (breaking news!) really good for you. Working out gets your heart pumping, can improve your skin and does wonders for your mood. This means it’s important for your health – inside and out – to exercise, but not that it has to be boring or happen in school hours to make a difference.

Here are seven ways to work out that are about eleventy times more fun than anything that happens in PE lessons.

(NB: must also pay attention in maths)

Rihanna work work gif

1. Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk

We know, it sounds obvious. It sounds boring. It sounds like something you do every day anyway, doesn’t it? But adding just a few more steps here and there can actually make you feel a lot better – and there’s nothing nicer than getting fresh air after double physics. Luckily what last year we called ‘walking’, this year we call ‘playing Pokemon Go’. Have you caught them all yet?

Liz Lemon dancing gif

2. Dancing queeeeen

Whether you’re at a party with a big group of friends or just rocking out in front of your mirror, dancing is scientifically-proven to be the most fun form of exercise, ever. (Well, if science is based on us asking all of our friends and them agreeing with us.) The best thing about dancing is: the more you do it and the more of your body you move, the better it is for you.

3. Walk, sprint, jog (then do it all over again)

Walking can be boring. Sprinting can be tiring. What’s the answer? Do a bit of everything! Mixing some walking with a bit of sprinting, then switching back to walking again, then finishing off with jogging gets your body really moving. It adds variety to your workout and it’s a tried-and-tested way to keep very fit. You can make it even more fun by taking a friend with you – or get good pet karma and take your dog.

Foxes on trampoline

4. Trampolining, bouncy castle-ing and general jumping

Trampolining is so much fun, because it makes you feel like a little kid again. Bounce around, do some tricks and make sure you do lots of laughing when anyone falls over – it’s kinda the rules. NB: this tip also works just as well on a bouncy castle.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ice skating

5. It’s time to get your skates on

Roller skating is a great way to have fun with your friends, move about a lot and keep your body working – it actually takes a lot of muscle strength to keep your body balanced. Feeling frosty? Try ice skating instead.

Swimming baby underwater

6. Splash around

If you love to swim and doing length after length doesn’t bore you, go for it you athlete! But for most of us, it’s much more fun to dunk each other’s heads in the water and see if we can totally nail a handstand on the bottom of the pool. If you’re feeling ambitious, get your mates together and dream up your very own synchronised swimming routine. With a little bit of practice you’ll have everyone around you super impressed by your seamless moves – or it’ll just be a great thing to have a giggle about on the way home.

Dog on a bike

7. Get on your bike

That’s right, it’s time to dig your old bike out from your shed and take it for a spin. As long as you have a helmet you can explore your local area on two wheels rather than just two feet. It might be easier than walking (and it’s definitely easier than running), but it gives your legs a good workout.

Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, try a unicycle. You’ll find growing numbers of acrobatic skills classes in most areas – so if the thought of double hockey in the rain really gets too much, you can always run off and join the circus.

@BeccaCaddy

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

Can you remember what your first bike looked like?

Mine was sky blue, a hand-me-down from Melanie, our glamorous neighbour who was leaving Reading for a sunshine-glazed life in America. I kicked those stabilisers off pretty early.

There’s video evidence of that first, giddy two-wheeled ride during a holiday in France, and my father still talks about this achievement more fondly than anything I’ve done since. These days I navigate around buses, motorcycles and dreaded white vans on London’s potholed roads.

The good rides are those through Mayfair or Kensington on a warm summer’s night, under the glowing boughs of Chelsea Bridge, feeling like the leading lady in a rom-com. The bad ones are soggy, knuckle-numbingly cold, around ugly urban roundabouts. But I still feel better when I get there than if I had taken the train.

It wasn’t always this way, though. I’d estimate between the age of 11 and 19, when I got a bike to puff myself around my university city, I rode approximately two miles a year. When I was a teenager I had a fancy bike, and I lived in the countryside, the kind of place which inspires middle-aged men to don lycra and go out on a bike on a weekend, but somehow cycling wasn’t cool or appealing or just done, really. It took effort, there was nowhere to go, and I was, in essence, quite lazy.

Which is a giant shame because cycling is brilliant. It will give you independence and a means of transport. It will allow you the time and space to think and feel and not stare at a screen. You will reach the top of hills, gleefully short of breath, feeling the pure euphoria that comes from making your body do something to get you somewhere.

And, when you grow up and maybe move somewhere different, you will have the confidence to take your bike there – and let me tell you, it is the very best way to discover a new place.

So don’t wait! Here are the five best ways to get involved with cycling now. You’ll be Laura Trott before you know it.

Learn how to ride safely

Do you still cycle on the pavement? Then you need to learn how to get off it. When I encounter idiot boys on bikes on the pavement I tend to shout at them, something along the lines of, “real men cycle on the roads”. You are way cooler than those boys.

Roads can be daunting but they are far less scary when you know how to tackle them. The Highway Code is actually very kind to cyclists – it says we can cycle as slowly as we like down the middle of a road, if we fancy, and cars just have to stick it.

But you don’t need to sit reading books of rules, either. The government offers free cycling safety courses, and there’s a good chance your school can help you find one. Check out the Bikeability website, where you can find a course near you. You’ll be grateful for it when you’re whizzing past those losers on the pavement like a total badass.

Choose an awesome bike

Chances are that you might not be cycling much because you’re between bikes. Maybe you’ve grown out of the one you had when you were younger, or perhaps you want to upgrade to a zippier version.

Start off by heading to your local bike shop; have a chat to them there and get them to measure you for the right size of bike. You can DIY this with a measuring tape, but it’s probably better to get a professional to help. Take a parent or a friend if you’re feeling a bit shy.

Once you know what size bike you need, don’t feel you need to stick to the ones available in the shop. Perhaps you fancy a vintage model, or a second-hand fancier kind of bike if you plan to do lots of long journeys. This fixie bike is £179.99 from Halfords. Set some searches on sites such as eBay and Gumtree, with terms such as “small ladies vintage bike” or “Raleigh working bike frame”, depending on what you want.

Keep an eye on local adverts in newspapers and newsagents, too. I discovered the first bike I fell in love with in the back of a local paper, and it only cost me £35.

Pick some amazing kit

If you just want to do some casual bike rides, you don’t have to join the dad lycra brigade just yet – just some normal leggings, sweat pants or jeans and a light waterproof jacket will do you fine. But you will need a helmet, no arguments.

Don’t get me wrong – helmets are neither cool nor sexy, but you know what’s considerably less cool and sexy? Head injuries. As someone who has ended up in A&E three times from bike accidents, I can tell you that helmet hair is worth every single ounce of well, not being dead.

There are also some really lovely helmets out there, too. Bern pretty much have the monopoly on making chic and safe helmets, but Bobbin makes amazing shiny gold ones and Lazer Armour have a huge range that won’t make you look like a fool. Yes, they cost quite a lot of money, but consider it the cost of your safety. Make sure you fit it properly, and, if you do get a fancy one, take it with you once you lock your bike up.

Don’t forget about lights and locks

More bike admin, but these are the essentials. Locks make sure nobody runs off with your lovely new bike. Different cyclists prefer different combinations of security – some like a cable and a heavy metal D-lock, others just go one or the other. I recommend the dainty but tough Kryptonite Evolution Mini, which can be attached to your bike frame and is relatively lightweight. I’ve trussed up my bike in the most chaotic of ways with that thing and nobody’s pinched it yet.

Lights are a must if you’re cycling at night. You can get them in a huge range, but I’ve always preferred Cateye. A basic front-and-back set will cost you around £20 and they’re reliable. Make sure you keep a couple of spare batteries in your purse.

Go out and have fun!

The trick to really getting on your bike is knowing where to go. Search online for suggested cycle paths nearby and plan an amazing day out with your mates. Take a picnic – it’s always more fun when you know there are snacks in store.

Cycling regularly will help you fall in love with being on a bike, I promise. You’ll quickly realise how speedy you can be on two wheels, so if you wind up learning how to cycle to school in the morning you can guarantee at least an extra 30 minutes in bed. You’ll also find your fitness improves – and your mind, too. It’s incredible the difference even a 10-minute bike ride can make to your levels of happiness.

So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike.

@alice_emily

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Dear 12-year-old Alice,

Hey, how are you?

I know that you’ve just started year 8, so the anxiety you’re feeling about how seating plans will affect your position in the class’s social hierarchy is being slightly eased by the fact that you’re no longer the lamest kids in the school.

What you won’t realise, yet, is that your successors are bolshy little tykes who will continue to challenge your authority until sixth form, when they take over the upper sixth sofas within seconds. Deal with it. By the time you’re my age (27 – I use the word “tykes” now), you’ll be actively hanging out with people three years younger than you and enjoying it, too.

I’m not here to tell you about your future or what homework you can totally get away with not doing (most of it, but you won’t properly take advantage of your nerdy reputation for at least a decade, soz).

Instead, I am travelling through time to tell you that, even though you hate PE, games, physical exertion, the social kudos that come with being good at hockey and the fact you just aren’t very good at sport, you will come to love it in 10 years. I know. Unbelievable, yet true.

This is because when you do exercise properly, your body releases endorphins. They’re a chemical substance released by your pituitary gland (that’s the same one in control of your hormones, which I know are giving you hell right now) that primarily exist to stop pain and induce euphoria – “a state of intense excitement and happiness”. Sounds pretty great right?

We both know that no PE class or hockey game has resulted in an endorphin rush. This is because 25 minutes of half-arsed jogging around with a stick barely raises your heart rate. Add in the fact that the changing rooms remain a hornet’s nest of underwear and boob-growth inspection (this is one of the many weird school things that never happens in adult life, promise), and you’re unlikely to ever experience a ‘runner’s high’.

But there’s a reason why all the cool girls love hockey and netball so much, and it’s not just because they’re really good at it. If you keep active enough for more than 20 minutes, that horrible ‘wall of pain’ your teacher keeps telling you about actually does disappear and instead you’re filled with the gleeful satisfaction of using your body properly.

Do you remember when you were younger and used to cycle around the cul-de-sac we lived on, really fast? Or roller skated to the end of the village? Or made up vigorous dance routines to Hey! Mickey and practiced them every afternoon for a week? They were doubly fun because of endorphins, because you got puffed out enough to encourage your body to release euphoric chemicals.

I know you will struggle to understand this, but I actively pay money to do an hour of exercise twice a week at lunchtime these days. I’ve been doing that for five years. I cycle several miles every day, too, even though there’s a 10-minute train I could take instead.

You know, even when I went on holiday with my friends (one of them is Anna Morris – yeah! From 8S! You become really good mates, hang out with her more) we actively did yoga for fun, in 36 degree heat. This is because exercise makes grown-up me feel happy and strong, rather than pathetic and miserable, which is how you feel after Games.

Please realise that you shouldn’t write off doing exercise because you’re not the best in the class at netball. You’re actually fiendishly competitive so it’s probably for the best that team sports aren’t your thing. Yoga hadn’t really hit the Home Counties by 2001 so you can’t do much with that, but get out on your bike more – I promise you will feel less angry and less scared after cycling properly for an hour.

It will be difficult at first. You’ll get out of breath and your mouth might taste like metal, but don’t give up.

Just slow down, maybe eat a Kitkat (exercising isn’t about losing weight or getting in shape, by the way – you, like all the girls in your year, look far more wonderful than you realise and don’t need to change, even though you will be made to feel like you should) and take a little break. Keep going. Push your bike up that hill if you fancy, one day you’ll cycle up there (I still push my bike up hills, I’m not trying to prove anything), and then you get to ride down really fast and it’s terrifying and fun all at once.

Dance. You’re not bad at it, and it is so much fun. Find music to dance to – check out David Bowie and those Kiss compilations you think you’re too cool to listen to, and throw your body around until you’re exhausted. It feels amazing. I still do it now.

Learn to listen to your body. I know it sounds as confusing and uncomfortable as progressive jazz music right now, but if you use it to do physical things that you find fun, you will feel it growing stronger. You will understand how to make your body work at a time when it feels like it is doing everything to conspire against you.

Have fun. Don’t be scared. Trust that making yourself properly sweaty feels so good that you won’t care how you look or smell (both fine). Buy some better trainers. Try running, but know that we will probably always hate it. Try team sport but know that Vincents are genetically programmed to not understand them. Do yoga. Breathe.

Don’t worry: you’re going to be just fine.

Love,

Alice

@alice_emily

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Image: Laura Callaghan 

Ahh ‘running’. It’s a word that might strike fear into the hearts of some of you because it reminds you of cross country, muddy knees and so much sweating. We’ve all been there.

But maybe for others it gives you a short, sharp blast of excitement at the thought of getting outside and getting moving? Maybe?

During school hours, exercise was always the first one for me. A pain in the neck. A way to send my face a shocking shade of tomato red. A necessary evil I had to endure to make it to art class after.

But outside of school, I found my secret exercising superpower: running. It helped me to feel more positive, get my body moving, stay fit and give me some time to think. Just me, the beach or the road, my music, my battered old trainers. And nothing else.

Sure you might never get into running — some of my best friends much prefer swimming and even skating — but today we’ve collected together five key things to think about to get you started. Who knows, you might find running makes you feel like a superhero too!

So, my little runner bean, here’s how to go from feeling “URGhhhh” to “AHHHH!” about running in no time.

1. Get some decent kit to keep your feet and your boobs happy

Anyone can start running right now. You can run in bare feet (this is a thing), you can run in battered old trainers (sometimes I still do) and some people can even run quite successfully in heels (although we wouldn’t recommend it).

But you’ll feel better if you have some proper kit. We’re not telling you to spend a bomb in the Nike shop or get your parents to shell out a fortune to have you looking like an Olympian. There are just a few key things you actually need. Then you can add to your kit over time.

The first one is running shoes. You can go to a special running store and have shoes fitted professionally. Oo-er, fancy pants! But if you’re just getting started, find some trainers in a sports shop that are created with running in mind. Look out for words like, obviously, ‘running’ and ‘support’ and ‘cushioned’.

If you start to get really good and run all the time, you can upgrade your shoes. But as a starter pair something that ticks at least one of those boxes above will be good. (Just ask the shop assistant if you need help.)

And it’s not just shoes that are important, but a good sports bra too. As your body is developing you want to take good care of the skin around your boobs. And yes, this is just as important if you’re an A cup or an E cup. If not, it’ll feel painful and could cause muscle ache over time.

2. Work to simple goals and challenges

Sometimes it’s easier to do something if you set yourself a goal. But the key when you’re getting started with running is to keep it small.

Some of our favourites are: Run 3 times a week. Run to the end of the street and back. Run for a whole song. Then, as you get better, you can increase these goals. If running to the end of the street and back gets easy, run around your whole neighbourhood once. If you can happily run for a whole song, try running for two. Then three, then even four!

The key to setting good goals and challenges is to keep it simple. You don’t have to be aiming for marathons. You’re not Paula Radcliffe (well, not yet).

There’s a saying, and we have no idea who said it first, that goes like this: “No matter how slow you go, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.” What this means is, even by getting out and trying, you’re doing better than the lazy version of you who didn’t even try and is still watching Netflix. So don’t obsess about being the best, the fastest or the strongest. As Nike always tells us: just do it.

3. Treat yo’self: Warm up, stretch and cool down

Even if you can only run for one minute right now, you need to make sure you treat your body nicely before and after you move it. This means warming it up before you run, so you don’t injure your legs. A warm up can be as simple as 30 star jumps and a few stretches.

Afterwards, you’ll want to do the same thing, but in reverse. Do a few more jumping jacks then have a good ol’ stretch.

Once you get more and more into running, stretching will become your new BFF. It’ll stop your limbs from feeling like jelly or like rocks the next day. It’ll make you feel more nimble and you’ll be able to go faster and further next week if you’ve been good about your stretches all of this week.

If you don’t know where to get started with stretching, there are some great apps that’ll help you out. We love Sworkit’s stretching option. Just tell the app how long you’ve got and the kind of stretch you’re after and it’ll show you exactly what to do, step-by-step.

4. Stay safe – you’re in superhero training but you’re not Supergirl just yet

When you get into running, it can be tempting to go on big, running adventures. We’re not stopping you – exploring new places is one of the best bits about running. But always stay wary about where you are.

Avoid going to really isolated places, like maybe a secluded beach or a forest, on your own. And always tell your friends and family when and where you’re going for a run, just in case.

The same goes for roads. When you’re running along, feeling like Beyonce, it can be easy to slip into a state of excitement or get lost in a world of motivational images. You taking over the world! You running the 800m at the next Olympics! But you need to be careful when it comes to cars, bikes and other pedestrians. Always stay alert and don’t play music too loud, or you’ll never hear anything coming.

5. Have fun

If running stops feeling fun, get some better kit, try a different route, listen to more motivating music, stretch more. Try mixing things up before giving things up.

But if you still don’t like it, don’t sweat it! Literally! Try something else. Skating, trampolining and swimming are some of our firm faves for when running feels like too much hard work.

Bottom line: if it’s not fun, don’t do it. In fact, we could apply that to everything.

@BeccaCaddy

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Most of us know what we need to do to get fit. Choose a workout, like running or swimming. Do it a lot. Keep up the habit. Try and improve each time. It’s obvious, isn’t it? But the problem is it gets boring. We don’t go as often as we should, we come up with excuses and next thing we know we’re five episodes into a new Netflix show and our gym gear never left the shelf.

So what’s the answer? Well, now we’re well and truly into 2017, it’s time to shake things up. You don’t have to do the same old gym classes or the same dull workout routines. We’ve explored some of the top fitness trends we think will be big this year, as well as how to get into them and start moving – like, right now.

Fitbit: Turn Your Steps Into a Game

Before we start delving into the top new sports and classes you can try out to turn yourself into a sporting superhero, let’s talk about technology. Sure fitness trackers, like the Fitbit, have been around for years now, but this will be the year they step up a level – and anyone who’s anyone will be working out with a device strapped to their wrist. (Or arm! Or ankle!)

Ever said you’d run more or go to the gym all the time if you won a medal for your efforts? Well, that’s the great thing about using tech to get fit. You can use it to make fitness fun. You earn badges for hitting your goals, can compete with friends and get little notifications when you workout too.

Where do you start? With an app like Sworkit for stretching or Nike+ Run Club for running. Or if you like seeing graphs about how you’re doing, invest in a gadget like the Fitbit Flex 2.

Parkour: who run the world?

Gone are the days of parkour only being reserved for boys in baggy trousers and branded t-shirts. The great thing about parkour, which you can also call ‘free running’ if you think it sounds less ridiculous, is you can do it anywhere. The aim is simply to gett from one point to another without any equipment. Think of it like making boring stuff, like steps, benches and parks into a fun obstacle course. Just be careful! You need to feel brave to give this one a shot, but don’t get too cocky about your abilities – follow expert guidance and always take a friend with you or you could end up hurting yourself. Obv.

Where do you start? Grab a friend and get outside. Look for things that you can climb onto and jump up (or down to). A park is a great place to begin. Start with jumping down steps a few at a time and you’ll get the hang of it.

Yoga: take a deep breath

Yoga has had a bit of a makeover in recent years. You don’t have to light incense or be on a hilltop in Thailand in a bikini to feel the benefits. Instead, it’s about becoming fitter, more flexible, super-charging your performance in other sports and most of all, learning to breathe properly. Most people don’t realise breathing is a HUGE part of yoga. We can all breathe already, right? Mm, not necessarily. Not only will yoga make you more bendy, but all the deep breathing will make you feel calmer and lighter when you’re doing everything else in life, too.

Where do you start? There are so many YouTube tutorials that’ll teach you yoga basics. Give a few a go to see how you feel, then find your nearest class. Start with one especially for beginners, it might seem slow at first but it’ll teach you the basics so you can become a head-standing superstar in no time. Or if you’re interested in the big benefits of breathing, try Googling mindfulness meditation and give it a whirl. 

Hiking: get fit with the trees, the breeze and the bees

Ok, ok. We’re not trying to claim walking outside is bang on-trend now. But what will be big this year is talking walking outside seriously; not just strolling around a park. We’re talking hiking, the LA way. Not only does it get you moving and keep you fit, but there are all kinds of happy mind-improving benefits to being around nature that’ll make sure your body AND your mind are happy.

Where do you start? Put on a good pair of trainers with decent grip. Find a forest, a hill or big local park and walk around it, taking in the scenery while keeping your pace up. The key is not be overwhelmed by muddy trails or daunted by little hills – take on the challenges and keep going until you’re good and tired.

Boxing: find your inner warrior

If you don’t fancy the idea of calming yoga or a nice walk to get you fit, then opt for something with a bit more ‘oomph’ instead. Boxing is a great place to start, you’ll be able to vent some of your anger from the day and get all sweaty at the same time. It’s also a fun one to try out with friends and you might even end up going head-to-head. All’s fair in love and sport.

Where do you start? Watch some YouTube tutorials and we bet you’ll be addicted to the energy of boxing in no time. If you’re going to take it seriously, you’ll need to find a local class, or head to a gym near you to find out if they have lessons to try.

Water Workouts: it’s time to make a splash

Rowing! Canoeing! Paddle boarding! There’s so much more to workouts in the water than just the front crawl. A lot of water sports are great because you get a real sense of achievement when you travel from A to B. Row down that river! Canoe across the lake! You’ll feel like a badass action hero and you’re getting fit too.

Where do you start? Google local sports centres or clubs that’ll give you a taster session of paddle boarding and canoeing to see if you’ll like it. From there, you could rent out your own equipment, join a club or get a few friends together and meet up to splash around once every few weeks.

Group Workouts: get fit with your mates

Whether you’re boxing, doing the downward-facing dog or just hitting the treadmill, we all know working out is a tonne more fun if you’re not doing it alone. And 2017 is going to be the year that fitness stops being a boring chore you slog away at on your own.

Where do you start? Create a Facebook group for your mates to suggest group workouts. You could do the same thing every week or nominate someone each week to come up with what you could all do.

@BeccaCaddy

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Christmas is just around the corner and 2016 is almost over, so to quote our brilliant editor, Lauren: “It’s time to start winding down… or ramping up, or… something!” Now that school’s (hopefully) out for this year, you have plenty of time to catch up on all things betty and watch Christmas films to your heart’s content.

In the meantime, here are some of the things we’ve been reading, watching and loving this week. Enjoy.

What’s in our search history?

Google has put together a video of the most searched events of this year and we’re not going to lie, it’s really freakin’ beautiful. We would suggest having tissues close by for this one – as it’s been a hell of a year and this is a hell of a video to match. Google’s take away message? Love is out there.

Let’s be YouTube stars, shall we?

There’s a point in everyone’s lives where they’ve thought, “Sod it, why don’t I just quit school and become a YouTuber?”. Well the idea just got a whole lot more tempting, as this week Forbes released a list of the world’s highest paid YouTubers. For the second year running, PewDiePie topped the list, making a whopping $15 million (£12M).

New business plan: check if the handle ‘PewDiPi’ is taken.

pewdiepie

Pretty Little Liars will live on

The final series of Pretty Little Liars is hitting our screens next year, but there is a silver lining. PLL and PocketGem have announced that they’re going to be releasing an interactive app, so you never have to really leave Rosewood. According to Variety, the app will let fans follow their fave characters with a brand-new storyline set way back in the first season of the show. The choices you make will change how the plot unfolds, so this time it’s you – rather than A – who’s pulling the strings. Zomg.

pll

Felicity Jones would rather play male roles

The latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise hits the big screen today (finally!), with your new imaginary best friend Felicity Jones in the lead role. Felicity told Female First this week that she would often rather play male characters, because the roles are more interesting – but luckily she’s plenty happy with her Star Wars alter-ego. “Jyn is a fantastic woman,” she says. “I saw her as being tough and decisive and I tried to capture that attitude and portray her as an extraordinary heroine. We rarely see a woman like this in film.

Here’s to seeing more kickass women on the big screen!

These amazing girls blew the whistle on the FA 

Some girls in County Durham properly kicked off this week when they were handed the Football Association’s plan to get more girls involved in the sport. Some of the FA’s suggestions included: allowing girls to take breaks to check their phones and tweet, providing “colourful bibs that smell nice”, using a smaller ball to avoid the fear of being hit by a heavy one, and, the biggest stroke of brilliance – using pink whistles.

In response, girls from Lumley Junior School in County Durham wrote letters to the FA, including one from 10-year-old Ruby that said: “We aren’t brainless Barbie dolls. We don’t all like the same colour (pink). We are not fussy about colour or the smell of our bibs – would you be? And we are not afraid to get hit by a ball, so why would we need light ones; in case we break a nail?”

Mike drop.

bilb

Look how cute! 

Christmas is coming, so it’s time to dust off your glue guns and glitter. In typical betty style, we weren’t just about to make any old Christmas decorations. Why would we do that when we could make TAMPON ANGELS? Look out for our tutorial explaining how to make these celestial beauties on our YouTube channel.

slack-for-ios-upload

Flying high

And why stop at a tampon angel when you could have a whole tree loaded with feminist baubles? We love this one of the Queen of the aviation world, Amelia Earhart. Fly, pretties!

amelia

Amelia Earhart Decoration, Zazzle, £10.15

See, 2016 wasn’t a complete disaster 

Sure, there’ve been plenty of times that 2016 has got us down – but Buzzfeed has rounded up 33 good things that happened in 2016 and it made us smile and cry simultaneously. For about 20 minutes. Spoiler: includes love, puppies and a kid licking a dolphin.

Enjoy!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Remember the Olympics? It was a happier time. Or at least, a simpler time. We all stood united, cheering for Team GB in everything from cycling to field hockey.

But one of our favourite champions to emerge out of the 2016 Rio Olympics was our Shero, Nicola Adams – the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title and the only female boxer in the history of the sport to have won every major title.

Recently she received the MOBO ‘Paving The Way’ award in recognition of all her hard work, and lay her commemorative paving stone at the gold post box awarded to her after the 2012 Olympics in her home city of Leeds. We spoke to her just after she laid the stone to see how she felt.

Congratulations on receiving a MOBO Paving The Way Award! You just laid the award stone in Leeds, how does it feel?

It was really special, it was an exciting moment. I can’t believe it actually! I’ve presented so many awards at the MOBOs over the years, and I never thought I’d be receiving one myself.

The Paving The Way Award celebrates people who are creating a path for others to follow. Is it important for young people to have role models?

Yeah I think it’s really important. I had to struggle a lot when I was growing up in the boxing world. We didn’t have any funding, there was no money for training camps or competitions so my mum had to fund everything I did pretty much, from travelling to the gym to going to training camps, or boxing abroad. It’s nice to know that the girls that follow now won’t have to struggle the way that I did, and that the mums won’t have to work as hard either!

Do you think your career would have been easier if you’d had a role model?

It would have been nice to have a role model. I guess it just showed the determination I had, the fact I wanted to work as hard as I did in a sport that I loved so much. I just wanted other people to feel the same way about boxing that I did!

You’re a big advocate of getting girls in boxing – what can they get out of it?

Nicola: You can get a lot out of boxing, even if it’s just for fitness and general wellbeing. It’s a good way to keep fit, it’s a full body workout. And if you did want to get into competitions there are a lot of titles to be won; European, World, Commonwealth and Olympic titles.

Is it good for you mentally as well as physically?

Yeah it does make me feel really confident, and it’s always kept me in really good shape.

You’ve talked in the past about experiencing sexism in boxing. Is it improving?

It’s improving all the time, women’s sports in general are getting a lot more coverage now. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s making a step in the right direction.

You’re a big advocate of BAME and LGBT representation, did you know you’d want to use your voice in this way when you started out?

I didn’t realise at first how much of an impact I was going to have, I guess it’s something that I’ve just grown into. I think now I really enjoy it, I enjoy inspiring people and helping people along the way. I never had that much help in trying to achieve my dreams so it’s nice to be able to help others.

2016 has been a big year for you – you became the first British boxer to successfully defend their Olympic title for 92 years! So what’s next for you?

I’m going to take a holiday and decide what I’m going to do next with my team when I get back after Christmas!

Go enjoy your hols, Nicola! And just so you know, you’ve even inspired the most exercise-adverse of us to think about taking up boxing.

For that and for so many other reasons, you’re our Shero.

Rio, you weren’t without you controversies, but what great love story ever is? It was a summer filled with highs and lows, with nail biting sprints and devastating losses. But it’s all over now, the Paralympians are packing their bags and heading home.

It was only meant to be a summer fling, but there are many awesome athletes that have stolen our hearts forever. Here are our new Paralympic sheroes.

Libby Clegg and Chris Clarke

Libby has Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a deteriorating eye condition which has left her with only slight peripheral vision in her left eye. Her eyesight deteriorated further this year, but she didn’t let that stop her, now she is required to wear a blindfold while racing and has a guide runner, Chris Clarke. The pair have only been running together for a year, but they won gold in the T11 100m and 200m sprints at Rio this year.

 (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images for Tokyo 2020)
Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images for Tokyo 2020

Coral Batey

As the only woman in Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad, 21-year-old Coral Batey is badass. Rio was her first Paralympics, but she’s been representing GB in various competitions for the past two years. Unfortunately, Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad were knocked out in the first round, but Batey’s presence on the team has been inspiring all the same.

Having installed a big screen in her old high school so that students could watch her compete, Coral’s former PE teacher commented, “It is very much a male dominated sport but she comes out and gives it just as good as the men. We’re all very proud of her.”

(Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)
Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images

Kadeena Cox

Kadeen first got involved in para-athletics in 2015, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She won gold at the T37 100m World Championships before switching to cycling and winning the 500m time trial in the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, making her a world champion in two different sports. Oh wait, and in the Rio Olympics, she casually won a bronze for sprinting and a gold for cycling. As you do.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 14: Gold medalist Kadeena Cox of Great Britain celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Women's 400m - T38 on day 7 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on September 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

The two Ellies

Ellie Robinson is following in the footsteps of legendary teammate, Ellie Simmonds. Simmonds is only 21, but this is her third Olympics, and acts as something of a mentor to Robinson who is 15 and just beginning her Olympic career. Both Ellies have achondroplasia, which is a common form of dwarfism – and both are paralympic swimming world record holders, which is less common.

Ellie Robinson currently holds the British record in the S6 50m butterfly and the world record in the 100m, both set when she was 13. Because, you know, why not? Robinson won gold at the Rio Paralympics in the S6 50m butterfly, while Simmonds won her fifth gold medal and set the world record for the 200m medley. Best PR for the name ‘Ellie’ ever.

(Photos by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images and Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
Photos by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images and Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

Abby Kane

Abby Kane started swimming when she was seven years old. Her family had gone on a holiday to Australia and Abby was frustrated when she couldn’t participate, so inspired by her brother, Fraser, she took up swimming. Like Libby Clegg, Abby has Stargardt’s, a deteriorating eye condition. At the 2016 British Para-Swimming International Meet, she lowered the British record in the 100m backstroke S13. Twice. Oh, and she was 12 at the time. Now, aged 13, she came 6th in the 400m freestyle. No big deal.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Oh wait – HUGE DEAL. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Paralympic Sheroes! We’re counting down the days until we see you in 2020.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Bey is bae. We all know that. She is more of a queen than the Queen herself.

But let’s be real, the price tags on her Ivy Park range at Topshop can be a little more than your weekly allowance can stretch to. So we’ve found some Ivy Park alternatives that feel just as fly but won’t take you months to save up for.

Party in the back

criss-cros bra

This strappy number is surprisingly supportive for a bra that is so freaking beautiful. You could wear it on its own or with a loose vest top.

Sports bra, medium support, H&M, £14.99

Minty fresh

mint green top

Sometimes exercise gear can be all shouty neons, or black on black on black. So add a splash of pretty colour to your workout with this mint green top, complete with beautiful back. 

 Mint green knot back sports vest, New Look, £5.99

Move it, move it

Move leggings

In case you forget what you’re supposed to be doing, these leggings will remind you. MOVE.

Black Move workout leggings, Primark, £8

Flower power

Flower crop top

We know spring and summer is long gone, but this floral number will remind you that there are brighter days ahead, even in the middle of winter.

Floral print crop top, Primark, £5

Don’t sweat it

grey legging

Some intense motivational tights might be just what you need to kick you into gear?

Sports tights, H&M, £19.99

Top of the crops
white top

Is this white sports bra almost too pretty to sweat all over? Nah.

Striped technical sports top, Bershka, £9.99

Bum chic

ASOS leggings

Black leggings with white piping? The classiest leggings of all time. You could totally wear these to lunch on a yacht afterwards.

ASOS CURVE leggings with contrast binding, ASOS, £16

Ms Scarlet

Red top

Everyone know red cars go faster, so maybe it’s the same for red tops? Plus, it’s got a racer back. Can’t get faster than that.

Racerback sports top, Bershka, £12.99

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

 

It’s a playground taunt that has been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth (yep, even T-Rexes had to put up with this rubbish).

“You throw like a girl!”

Whenever someone would inevitably squawk that put-down at me in our PE class, I would feel myself shrink; embarrassed by my femininity, by the boobs that had sprouted one day on my chest and refused to move, by the knowledge that I was, supposedly, always going to be worse at sport than the boys in my class.

I heard, “you throw like a girl” and understood that doing anything “like a girl” was an insult. There was something bad about being associated with girls, despite that fact that, you know… I was one.

Because girls are bad at throwing, right? Girls are bad at sports. Girls are weak and delicate and are only good to be cheerleaders, or (if they’re really lucky!), the wives and girlfriends of sportsmen.

Here’s what I wish I had said to the kids who had tried to use “like a girl” as an insult:

Thank you.

Because doing anything “like a girl” shouldn’t be an insult, it should be a compliment. Let’s remind ourselves of a few cold, hard facts:

1. Twenty-six of 58 gold medals Team GB won at the Rio Olympics were won by girls.

2. (One of whom, by the way, was the first in history to win an Olympic boxing title – your girl Nicola Adams up there.)

3. A girl wrote the best-selling book series in history.

4. Our Prime Minister is a girl and a girl is probably going to be the next President of the United States of America.

5. There is a girl up in space right now, living in the International Space Station as a flight engineer.

So yes, I throw like a girl, and I’m damn proud of it.

A League Of Their Own baseball catch scene

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Main image: Getty

The Olympics has left a five-ringed void in everyone’s hearts and TV schedules. There are no more medal tallies to discuss or heptathlons to obsess over. No more gymnastic routines to attempt to copy in our bedrooms. No more humble speeches to weep at or national anthems to sing. Or at least, not until the Paralympics start next month and all the cheering begins again.

But hey, we have the legacy! And while we will probably never again see Usain Bolt or Jess Ennis-Hill compete for Olympic gold again, there are some new Olympians that wormed their way into our hearts in Rio. Presenting: our Olympic Sheroes.

Britain's Amy Tinkler celebrates after the women's floor event final of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2016. / AFP / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

 Amy Tinkler

Amy is the ultimate overachiever. As well as being team GB’s youngest athlete (she’s 16), taking her GCSEs and spending 30 hours a week training, she went ahead and brought home a bronze medal in gymnastics for her floor routine #likeaboss. Now, she’s back from the Olympics and waiting to hear how she did in her exams. Amy, as far as we’re concerned, you’ve scored straight A*s.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Abbey D'Agostino of the United States (R) hugs Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand after the Women's 5000m Round 1 - Heat 2 on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin

She didn’t take home a gold. Or a silver. Or a bronze. But she most definitely takes home the Miss Congeniality award. Halfway through the 5,000 metres, Abbey clipped fellow runner Nikki Hamblin and both girls tripped and fell. Abbey quickly recovered, and jumped back up, but instead of running off to try and make up for those lost few seconds, she noticed Nikki was lying on the floor in the fetal position, crying. Nikki remembers feeling a hand on her shoulder, helping her up and Abbey’s voice in her ear: “Get up. We have to finish this.”

And so, despite their injuries, they did. *Sob*

Fu
Image: Getty

Fu Yuanhui

If you can watch this video of Fu and not want to hug her senseless, we can only assume you’re playing Pokemon Go at the same time and not giving it your full attention.

In addition to being adorable and winning the bronze medal for the 100m backstroke final, Fu also got real about her uterus. After competing in the final of the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay, in which her team came fourth, she sat down and clutched her tummy. When a reported came over to ask her about the race, Fu responded, “I feel I didn’t swim well today. I let my teammates down. Because my period came yesterday, I’m feeling a bit weak, but this is not an excuse.” Round of applause for Fu for letting the world know that even kickass sportswomen have to deal with periods too.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Gold medalist Laura Trott of Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony after the women's Omnium Points race on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Laura Trott

Laura Trott is the most successful female British athlete in history. In history. Can you imagine? She has won seven World Championships. Ten European Championships. Two Commonwealth Games titles. She is un-freaking-defeated in the Olympics. As a side note, she’s engaged to fellow Olympian Jason Kenny. The pair took home five gold medals between them, meaning if their home in Cheshire was a country, it would have finished 19th on the table – above Canada and New Zealand. Couple goals: redefined.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Simone Biles of the United States performs on the beam during the Gymnastics Rio Gala on Day 12 of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Image: Getty

Simone Biles

You know it, we know it, the whole internet knows it – Simone Biles is bae.

But while she might look like the most together teenager in the world, her life wasn’t always paved with gold medals. When Simone was three, her mother became unable to care for her and her three other siblings. Simone went to live with the grandparents on the other side of the country, who formally adopted her and her younger sister a few years later. She has won five medals in Rio, four of which were gold, and they’ll look damned good hanging next to the 14 World Championship medals she already has.

To think, some people collect Beanie Babies.

(Right now, there is no one else in the world that can perform this manoeuvre. They call it The Biles, obvs.)

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty/Katie Edmunds