As a personal trainer by trade; bestselling author, Women’s Health columnist and Women’s Aid ambassador by night (talk about a side hustle), Alice Liveing is a busy woman at the best of times. But as lockdown has the world quite naturally slowing down, Liveing has been speeding up.
Shifting her business to a digital first one, her daily Instagram workouts have become a godsend for anyone and everyone stuck at home scratching their head over the pile of kettlebells and resistance bands picking up dust in the corner of the living room.
For the second instalment in our lockdown interview series (read our first with Professor Green here), we managed to catch up with the renaissance woman in between her live workouts to find out how she herself has been keeping her mind and body fit, what books, TV and foodie treats she’s been devouring and how she’s cheating on the Insta with a surprise addition to her catalogue of iPhone apps.
How are you keeping your mind healthy during lockdown?
Structure has been really key in keeping me relatively sane during lockdown. I’m someone that really thrives off routine and getting into that was really important early on. So, making sure that I still get up at the same time for example.
I usually go to the gym first thing most mornings anyway, so I’m getting up and training from home from about 6:30 to 7:30am. That just really sets me up for the day. I find that dedication to exercise first thing in the morning just makes me feel so good for the rest of the day, mentally and physically. It’s kind of a non-negotiable.
I do that around four times a week, and then I run one morning a week as well and just get some fresh air. I then teach at 8:30am, doing my live workout each day, which has been really rewarding. And then I just try to sit down and focus for part of the day. I can’t say I’m amazing at focusing from home all the time. It’s really challenging. I’m someone that needs to sit down and do an hour of focused work, and then I’ll get up and faff around for a bit.
How are you coping without the gym?
I’m really missing it. I’ve adapted and just changed what I’m doing quite well though. When I thought at the start of lockdown that I wouldn’t be able to get to the gym for even like six weeks, I was like, “Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever.” But early on we ordered loads of gym equipment. We’ve basically got half the stuff that we would probably use in the gym. It’s enough to be able to stick to a good training routine and be able to get in the the weight sessions that I would usually do four days a week.
Before any of this, I think I’d done about one home workout in my life.
What does your typical home workout schedule look like?
My typical training involves a lot of key movements. So, squats, dead lifts, lunges, presses, and pulls. And obviously within all of those, you can find an infinite amount of variations that you can work off.
I try and split most of my movements into those and then also add some core training and maybe some running on top of that. Those are kind of the key movements that I tend to train. Within that, if you put a gun to my head and said, “You have to choose your favourite exercises,” I think I would always have a squat variation in there in some capacity and a deadlift variation. So for a full body home workout, I’d recommend:
- A squat variation (bodyweight squat, goblet squat with kettlebell)
- A deadlift variation (dumbbell deadlift, kettlebell deadlift)
- A hip hinge (stand tall with with your core engaged, hinge forward at your hips with your arms relaxed and then come back up)
- A horizontal or overhead press (push-up, dumbbell shoulder press)
- A horizontal or overhead pull (dumbbell row, pull-up)
- An isometric hold (plank)
A lot of it you can do with your own body weight. Some, like your overhead pulls you’ll need a weight for though, or if you’re able to tie up a resistance band relatively high up, you can use that. And that’s what’s been really amazing training from home. You realise how creative you can be with your training and how versatile it can be.
Would you recommend more reps at home then?
Yeah, exactly. A lot of people are using less weight than they would at the gym, so for that reason, the rep range will be a lot higher. I would recommend anything between 8 to 20 reps. If you’re using a resistance band, anything up to 30 reps is probably advisable just so that you can make sure you’re getting the volume in there.
Obviously a lot of these things depend on what your goal is, how well trained you are, how experienced you are in lifting weights. All of these things will have an influence on the rep range that I would then select for each individual. Rep range is generally linked to goals first. If you want to put on muscle, you’d be in the hypertrophy strength range. If you’re more of an endurance person who maybe does more running, i’d probably look at a combination of strength and endurance work.
Again, if you were a body builder you’d be looking at hypertrophy endurance. So there’s a real mixture of reasons as to why you would select a certain rep range even though it’s difficult to be super prescriptive. You need to know what someone’s trying to get out of their training.
What have you learnt about yourself through lockdown?
Well, I think I’m very scatty and I need to be more organised, definitely.
I have no excuse for not doing stuff and I’m still not getting stuff done, which is obviously not ideal. But I would say that I have felt quite resilient. I’ve felt like I’ve had a few days where I’ve been been a bit down, but for the most part, I have just got on with it. And I think I’ve been resourceful to some extent.
At the start of lockdown, I thought, “oh my God, my business is going to really struggle and I’m not going to get any work,” but it’s actually been really nice to adapt the way that I work and take things online, and the amount of people that I can reach in doing that. So, I’ve been able to adapt my workout schedule, and my business too.
What books have you been reading recently?
Oh, so many. I have just read City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, which was brilliant. I absolutely loved that. I’m in the middle of Gene Eating by Giles Yeo. He’s a geneticist and a specialist in obesity from Cambridge University. The book is all about the role our genes play in why we’re overweight and the connection between the two.
I have also read a book called The Silent Patient, which was really good. More of a thriller. And I have also read a really good book called Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. That was about women in London as you’ve never known them before. I try to read a lot of different stuff and not all in the same genre.
What’s been your most treasured possession?
I think my time.
It’s made my realise that there is only a number of hours in the day and to try and not give those up to people all the time and to see the value in each day. I just try and appreciate each day way more than before.
What’s in your fridge at the moment?
What have we got? Greek yoghurt. Oat milk for my coffee. We’ve got some sea bass that we’re going to have for dinner tonight. We just got a veg box delivery yesterday. It’s from Knock Knock by Smith & Brock. They usually supply five star restaurants in London but because the restaurants are all closed they’ve changed tack and have been doing veggie delivery boxes.
It’s been a nice time to have a real mixture of food. We’ve loved cooking meals, and being able to eat each meal at home. I think it makes such a difference when you’re not constantly on the go and moving around. You can actually take time to make nice lunches and nice dinners.
What apps have you been hooked on during lockdown?
This is going to sound really sad, but basically I’ve started investing in stocks and shares through Hargreaves Lansdown. So my most used app at the moment is probably the Hargreaves Lansdown app.
It’s been a little side project. My boyfriend’s a financial advisor, so he has far more of an idea of what he’s doing than I have. But it’s been an interesting foray into that world.
I was not expecting that. And to finish, what have you been binge watching on TV recently?
Well, we watched After Life with Ricky Gervais. It’s so good. Honestly, that was one of the best things I’ve ever watched. I just laughed my way through it. It was such a tonic.
I just finished watching Normal People too. I absolutely loved that too. I’d read the book, and so I was really worried that it wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. But they definitely did it justice.