“GET YOUR A***S TO THE GROUND!” a man’s voice bellows. “Every time you stop, a little cellulite appears on your thighs. SCIENCE!”
No one has the energy to contradict our Australian head coach Alex, built like a tank and being just as subtle now with his ‘stick-but-no-carrot approach’ to motivating us. We’re all too busy gasping in pain as we slowly lower ourselves to the ground in yet another torturous squat.
Week two of Bikini Fit has, for some, begun with more of a whimper than a bang. My (not so) inner slob wages a daily insurgency against me when the alarm goes off at 6.15am, wheedling and pleading to stay in the warmth of bed instead of heading out into the bracing cold to face death by push-ups. There are also a few absences at a couple of classes, including my own one grey morning, and it’s safe to say we’re all feeling a little ragged around the edges.
Still, I keep in mind that the trainers themselves have told me it’s usual for most girls to attend around four to five sessions per week, and instead focus on their key lesson of the week: eating well.
Watch: Sofia's week 2 Bikini Fit testimony
Bikini Fit founder Alex, a qualified nutritionist, takes us through a very scientific approach to the best foods for health and training in evening workshops over the week and how we can avoid committing “body composition jihad” on a daily basis. His descriptions of food choices seem to fall into three very simple categories: “great,” a polite “sub-optimal,” and the very blunt “s***”.
He encourages the girls to keep food diaries, not necessarily to count calories, but to check if there are any patterns coming up that are sabotaging us without us knowing it. One girl tells me that she realises that her daily skinny latte, full of sugar, has to go (“but it was SKINNY!” she wails), while others are a bit less eager to cut back on those weekend glasses of wine. I myself realise that feasting merrily on a cupcake after a joyless salad probably isn’t the “balanced” diet that our trainers are thinking of.
While Alex says that there is no “ideal” body shape and that it’s up to us what information we take on board, it’s hard not to get a little excited when he says that anyone can look like those fitness models on Instagram if they can figure out the right balance of nutrients for their body.
However there are definitely some no-nos. A couple of brave souls volunteer to share their food diaries, with one girl earning serious brownie points (ah, brownies) with her breakfast of quinoa, spinach and eggs (“that’s great”), while the toasted cheese and ham sandwich of her neighbour elicits a cooler “well, if you’re going to make s*** choices...”
But the trainers, posting pictures of their healthy meals all week on Facebook to inspire us, stress again and again that it’s all about taking “baby steps” in the right direction, maybe just changing one meal a day to begin with.
On a more serious note, I feel a little concerned when Alex talks about the effects of sugar and the insulin response on the body. I realise that with my family history of heart disease and diabetes, I need to start getting serious about curbing my vices.
So with my usual moderate approach to lifestyle changes, I take the Bikini Fit idea of “baby steps” and smash it into pieces. I splurge on one last blow-out day of cakes, sweets and scones at afternoon tea with the girls (hello diabetes!), before heading to the supermarket the next day to stock up on lots of lean chicken, fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables and quinoa, glaring at a text from my husband that reads “I ate so much chocolate I think I might be sick”.
The first day of my brave new diet starts with me looking at an egg and realising that, having avoided them for years since my mum used to make me eat one every day before school, I don’t actually know how to boil one. A couple of Google searches and failed attempts - that almost result in me catching salmonella - later, I’m finally sitting at a breakfast of boiled eggs and broccoli, eyeing the unappetising-looking plate with some dread and dreaming of croissants. This and my next meals of chicken salad then baked salmon with kale, with snacks of nuts and seeds in between, all keep me full and focused at work, but not quite...satisfied.
But it’s not all depressing news. Just before I start my new eating plan, I weigh myself and find that I’ve lost three pounds (1.4 kg) since the beginning of Bikini Fit, which although it doesn’t sound like a huge amount, is at least a good start. And that was while I was still eating cakes and drinking cosmopolitans, I think excitedly. So imagine what could be possible if I stick to the new diet?
Hmm. Pass the broccoli.