Category Archives: latest-blog

NEW: September 2019 class timetable

With thanks to your feedback from our quarterly class survey we have made a few amendments and additions to your class timetable. We know we can’t meet everyone’s busy schedule but we think we’ve got as close as possible.

We are super excited about launching your new timetable next Monday 16th September and look forward to seeing you in the classes.

Les Mills Grit has arrived at Iconic Health Club

It’s been called the closest thing to an exercise pill. And while it might take a bit more effort, there is now no doubt at all that high-intensity interval training is just what the doctor ordered.

Anyone who follows the latest in fitness news knows that HIIT is a hit. A big hit. But high-intensity interval training is much more than a fad – it is a scientifically backed way to build cardiovascular fitness, and research is revealing plenty more health benefits it can bestow.

Here are five of the top researched reasons to put HIIT on your own workout list:

HIIT improves lean body mass and maximal oxygen consumption, while drastically cutting the risk of heart disease.

HIIT is extremely effective at cutting stubborn and unhealthy tummy fat.

In both young (18 to 30) and older (65 to 80) exercisers, a major study showed HIIT had by far the greatest activation of muscle and fat-burning capacity, when compared with other types of exercise.

HIIT has been shown to be much better than other workouts for producing excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), meaning your body continues to use oxygen and burn fat long after you’ve stopped exercising.

There’s no doubt that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) drives amazing results. Several studies, conducted with sedentary adults, provide compelling evidence that HIIT can rapidly build fitness. However, there’s been nothing to demonstrate how HIIT affects those of us who are already fit and active. Until now.

The Les Mills Lab teamed up with Dr. Jinger Gottschall of Penn State, to explore how a specific form of HIIT training, like LES MILLS GRIT™, can transform the fitness of regular exercisers.

The research team measured aerobic fitness, body composition, upper and lower body strength, and cardiovascular risk factors, at the beginning and end of the six-week trial.

After six weeks, those who did LES MILLS GRIT showed a much greater increase in cardiovascular fitness, and a drop in triglycerides, which is the amount of fat we have in our blood. There was a startling reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors and their strength gains were significant – leg strength improved by 15.7 percent, and back strength increased by an astonishing 21.9 percent. Most impressively, the group who did LES MILLS GRIT reduced their bodyfat by 2.1 percent and dropped their waist circumference 2.5cm.

In another study, Gottschall followed professional athletes. A team of soccer players substituted their usual seven hours of off-season training with just four hours and added two LES MILLS GRIT workouts. Despite decreasing their training time by two hours per week, the soccer players saw significant changes in both body composition and fitness levels.

Together these studies prove that 30 minutes of LES MILLS GRIT twice a week, will create significant changes in your fitness and body composition, lower the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and smash through your fitness plateau. For a fit and active population, HIIT is extremely time efficient.

“For those people with a good base level of cardiovascular fitness and strength, HIIT will help you to keep getting fitter,” explains Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research. “For athletes, it can reduce training time and still improve performance.”

Hastings adds that the findings of this second study are not only relevant for soccer players. “It is a very real prescription for maximizing competition performance and minimizing training time across a range of competitive sports.” What’s more, the variety provided with LES MILLS GRIT workouts, could potentially reduce the risk of overuse injuries that can come from traditional conditioning such as distance running.

With this research front of mind the message is clear: it’s not the volume but the intensity that fuels change.

Two 30-minute LES MILLS GRIT sessions a week is all it takes. You’ve now got your prescription, what are you waiting for?

September Rocks

Have you signed up for our September challenge yet?

It’s still not too late and we know it will help you to stay motivated and on track.  Not only that but you will earn points for joining and attending and we have some really great prizes now added to our member rewards prizes.

Manager’s Corner

August was another busy month backstage at 1escape. While the club was quieter with many members enjoying their summer breaks we use this time to recruit and train new team members so that you as always receive the 100% customer service you deserve. We have hosted Manual Handling, Fire Warden and First Aid courses as the safety and well-being of our members and staff is always our highest priority. We have also used this time to carry out essential maintenance on our steam room and changing rooms. We appreciate your cooperation during this.

Our new class timetable has been designed using all of your valuable feedback. We are delighted to launch Les Mills GRIT. This HIIT class has proven to be a huge hit worldwide and is guaranteed to push you to your limits. Here’s a little taster

With more fantastic instructors than ever offering you the best fitness classes in the country why not try something new today! As always we ask that classes are booked through our app and in line with our class policy.

We also have some fantastic equipment on order for you to enjoy. The new arrivals should be with us before the end of September. Just in time for the last push towards those Christmas goals. This new kit will ensure maximum comfort while you push yourself out of your comfort zone.

We have completed our Standards of Excellence Audit for 2019- This annual audit along with spot checks throughout the year ensures that we maintain best practice in all that we do. We go above and beyond in areas such as Safety, Hygiene, Customer Engagement & HR. If there is anything you feel we have missed, feedback is always welcome to

National Fitness Day is once again upon us and we have an action packed schedule for you. Thursday 26th September we will host an array of classes for both members and non members with all proceeds going towards charity. Keep an eye out for more information in the club and why not bring along a few friends.

Intermittent Fasting: What’s the hype?

A lot of our members have been asking us about Intermittent Fasting and if it works.  As fitness professionals we refrain from prescribing fad diets but we have done some research into this trending topic and liaised with nutritionists for their thoughts so that we might share it with you.

The magic of the 12-hour fast

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey fasts for 22 hours in the day and has regular “water only” days as he claims this hones his ability to focus and work harder.

Because Iconic Health Club members are not billionaire techies obsessed with productivity (well most of them anyway!) we won’t be discussing that kind of fasting here but rather take a look at more sustainable options for people with lives to lead and spinning classes to get to.


I met up with a friend last week I had not seen in months and she looked fantastic. Her skin was glowing and had she lost weight?

She told me she had lost half a stone since she had decided to fast for 12 hours a day and, as she is asleep for most of it, there is little pain involved.

She said it had made her re-examine her attitude to food and realised the evening for her was prime time for unhealthy snacks.

That night we were tucking into tapas at 10pm and she was lowering her second glass of red wine so was she breaking her diet?

No, tomorrow she won’t have breakfast until 11am and then is back on track.

Most evenings she would not eat anything after dinner at 7pm until breakfast twelve hours later and had lost the weight without changing her diet ; apart from cutting out the 11pm toasted cheese sandwich.

Many ways to fast

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is everywhere but until now I had filed it away as drastic behaviour but now I was not so sure. So, what is it exactly?

Well, it is simply only letting yourself eat for a certain window each day.

For instance if you do IF for 12:12 this means you fast for 12 hours and the other 12 is when you eat all your meals.

If you are fasting for the much more unsustainable 16:8 you have to squeeze in all your meals into an eight hour window.

That means no calories from drinks during your fasting window. So water, herbal tea or black coffee is ok but, sadly, no alcoholic beverages.

The good news is you can take a flexible approach (within reason), and say if you do have a glass of wine and hit the crackers and cheese at 11pm one night,  then it’s black coffee for breakfast and you would delay eating anything until 11am.

You can also do the 5:2 diet which means you eat fairly normally for five days and then have two where you only consume 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

Dr Michael Mosley’s Fast diet is a well known example and if you think you could manage the two days where you are very strict with your food, this could be for you.

Eating window not a free-for-all

Irish dietitian Conor Kerley says there are many ways to fast intermittently but remember that to maintain good health you can’t just eat anything you like when you get the green light.

“There are many ways to fast intermittently for example skipping breakfast, or eating breakfast late, which means fasting since dinner the previous day. Another example is having an early evening meal. Intermittent fasting can be beneficial (for weight management) if it suits your schedule and preference but remember, the amount and type of food eaten when not fasting will always be important!”

Kerley would advocate trying to lower red meat consumption, as there is evidence that eating a lot of red meat can lead to health problems, and instead increase plant sources of protein such as legumes (ie lentils, peas), beans and nuts.

He would also recommend including enough fibre in your diet which makes sure your body releases energy slowly and will keep you fuller for longer.

Foods high in fibre are not processed, and as you do not actually digest fibre it means you can eat quite a lot, but still keep the calorie count low.

We need 30 g a day but many of us don’t get that.

This looks like an apple and a banana at 4g each, a cup of raspberries which is 8g, the same amount of broccoli will get you 5g and a cup of peas 8.8g.

Could you hack two meals a day?

The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut with refined carbohydrates quickly broken down into sugar which our fat cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use all of this we store it as fat.

Sugar can only enter our cells with the hormone insulin so between meals if we don’t snack our insulin will go down and fat cells will release stored sugar as energy.

I know the approach of eating twice a day would not work for me as I would not be able to cope without either lunch or breakfast, but many health professionals, such as running guru Eric Orton, swear by this and say not snacking gives your body a chance to burn fat.

The Wyoming based running coach trains runners for marathons and ultramarathons and told me he believes fasting is very good for you and having your blood sugar constantly elevated is not a good thing.

He suggests you skip breakfast and eat only two meals a day.

“This intermittent fasting will do wonders for your body to recruit fat burning capabilities for your running and your marathon performance”, he said.

His other diet suggestions for good health include eliminating all refined sugars and carbohydrates, with a focus on lots of fish, vegetables and good fats.


Proponents of the aforementioned 5:2 diet include increased life span and cognitive function and protection from chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Speaking recently on the Healthy Beast podcast Dr Micheal Mosley discussed how cutting your food intake could help those at risk from diabetes.

“Your body is constantly having to produce insulin and this ultimately causes insulin resistance. This causes your cells to rebel and you need to pump out more and more insulin and that takes you down the road to various cancers and particularly type 2 diabetes, “he said.

He also talked about the process of autophagy which is when your body starts to break down old cells and repair itself . This only starts to kick off 7-8 hours after you have stopped eating.

So the message here is the less often you eat, the less often you raise insulin levels. Insulin is the main hormone associated with fat storage so you are likely to lose weight.

Some diets such as the keto diet avoid insulin spiking foods and keep insulin low this way so the body switches to using stored fat as its main fuel source.

Fasting – the reality on the ground

As research for this piece I tried the 16 hour fast so had an early dinner one day at 6pm with no breakfast or any other food until 10am. This was not too bad. I did have a couple of coffees with milk (that was cheating). I did this for one day and it became way too much hassle and I didn’t like the fact that I had to eat my meals on my own.

I ended up snacking all day anyway and taking in the same calories. So that was that ; the 16 hour fast would never work for me.

The 12 hour fast was more sustainable as you could eat a late dinner at 9pm and then just delay breakfast until 9am the next day. Or eat dinner at 7pm and breakfast at 7am. That’s not too much hardship.

And if you do succumb to the popcorn and maltesers at 11pm then you have to skip breakfast and have eat again at 11am.

I tried this for a few days and actually it was nice to feel hunger for breakfast as previously I would unthinkingly eat a huge bowl of porridge no matter what time I had eaten the night before. It felt right to wait for 12 hours.

The 5:2 diet I could not manage for even one fast day. I had gone to a power pump class that morning, arrived home starving and gobbled up the 500 calories in minutes. There was no way I could not eat for the rest of the day.

In conclusion the 5:2 idea could be sustainable for you if it suits your lifestyle ; though it won’t be possible for many people to cope with the low energy on the two fast days.

The 16 hour fasts is quite drastic and I would suspect would be impossible for a lot of people to follow. But the 12 hour fast is quite doable and fits in easily with an active lifestyle.

Simple equation

Expert nutritionist Ian Marber is not convinced on the need for fasting and maintains it’s a question of physics – energy in and energy out and the reason fasting works is that you have less chance to eat.

“In my day not eating breakfast and having coffee instead was considered worrying, maybe dieting too hard.  But, call it fasting and suddenly it’s ok?  All these methods cut calories by creating an artificial window for eating, hence the success.  Fasting for 12 hours or 16 hours ; it’s all the same!”.

So it’s not the fasting that is making you lose weight but rather all those opportunities that present themselves outside of your allowed eating window.

Which makes me think perhaps the fasting 12 hour approach would work well for most people.

You still have your well balanced three healthy meals a day but it just cuts out the night time snacking which I suspect is a question of habit.

Are we getting so caught up in the dieting spin and the fitbits these days that it’s a distraction from calories in and calories out.

Figures show that nearly six in ten Irish adults are overweight or obese ; we are going wrong somewhere and perhaps giving your body a fast of 12 hours a day which will tackle the night time nibbles makes sense.

And with some flexibility once or twice a week as life is something that cannot be managed all the time and it’s important to give yourself a break.

Mary McCarthy is a freelance journalist writing for a number of publications. @maryknowsbees

All material in this document is for information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. These materials should not be relied upon as an alternative to any advice given by a medical practitioner or registered dietician or nutritionist. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of these materials and it is recommended that readers consult appropriate health care professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. 

April Managers Corner

Hi All,

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback towards our new class timetable which will launch on Tuesday 7th May. Your input is invaluable to us as we plan the Summer schedule to keep you on track for your health and fitness goals.

We use your feedback along with attendance statistics to plan classes so it is vital that you correctly use our Iconic health clubs app to book, attend or cancel classes where necessary. We understand that on occasion plans change however We would ask that you only book classes that you are 100% committed to attending as anything other than this is withholding the space from another member who would like to attend.

We have a planned pool closure tomorrow and Saturday to allow for underwater tile repairs, all of the remaining spa facilities are open for your enjoyment. We have also planned a renovation of our Jacuzzi , steam room and some new additions to poolside for the coming month, we hope you enjoy all of these improvements. We are always looking for ways to enhance our beautiful facility so any feedback or suggestions you have can be logged via our email survey or our club App.

We recently held an Aerial Yoga training in the club to further up skill some of our already amazing trainers. Juliette and Mairead will further practice their technique over the coming weeks however you will be able to enjoy their unique aerial yoga class over the summer months.

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter.

Kindest regards,


Eggs. The smart post-workout snack

The Easter egg is a huge temptation and whilst we know some of you are going to treat yourselves this Easter, don’t forget to include the natural egg in your diet all year round

Eggs pack a nutritional punch and are great for muscle recovery after a workout. They are affordable and best of all tasty!

Bord Bia say eggs are a great source of natural protein and are packed with nutrients such as: B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, selenium, zinc and iodine. Also, they provide vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin which most Irish are lacking.

Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids, including the amino acid leucine which is effective for stimulating muscle building.

Eggs – health insurance for vegetarians

The presence of all the amino acids means eggs are a complete protein and could be important in your diet if you don’t eat meat as while though it is of course possible to get all your amino acids from a plant based diet you need to be careful to eat different foods offering complementary proteins. Lentils and rice eaten together will do this but on their own don’t contain complete amino acids, though some plant foods like quinoa and soya beans do.


Cholesterol – eggs are not the villains

So why on earth did eggs get such a bad press in the past? Well, the yolk is high in cholesterol and too much of this in the bloodstream can accumulate on artery walls raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is why in the past we were advised to limit eggs to a few a week.

However, scientific consensus now is the cholesterol in eggs has little effect on us and rather it’s the higher consumption of trans and saturated fats in the wider diet from foods such as fatty meat and fried foods, confectionary, processed refined foods that affects the heart.

Last year a team of University of Sydney nutrition scientists reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  that a 12 eggs a week diet or a low-egg diet (less than two a week) made no difference to cardiovascular risk.

Super post-workout snack

Not that long ago athletes used to eat only the white and leave the yolks because they had concerns about the fat in the yolk. However, now it is known that egg yolks contain healthy fats and other nutrients that boost muscle recovery.

Recent research at the University of Illinois researchers showed how the post-workout muscle-building response in people who ate whole eggs after a weight-training session was 40 per cent greater than in those who ate the same amount of protein from the whites alone. The study also found there is protein in the yolk that seem to enhance the muscles’ ability to use that protein for growth and recovery.

The consultant dietitian Paula Mee, whose excellent new book ‘Mediterranean Mood Food’ is out in April, says that although eggs do contain some saturated fat, approximately two thirds of the fat found in an egg is either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

“If you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, eggs are  not the problem; it’s the umpteen other sources of trans fat and saturated fat that are. Take the Japanese for example: they are among the biggest egg consumers in the world, yet have the lowest rates of Coronary Heart Disease. Their overall diet is lower in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated”, she said.

Paula says eggs are good complete proteins, with one egg having 7g of protein and that high protein foods are good choices for athletes and for older adults especially, as aging tends to reduce lean body mass.

“Good news for slimmers, as the average egg contains just 87 calories so for most of us involved in recreational exercise eggs are a good food to include any meal of the day”, she said.

Paula?s new book Mediterranean Mood Food contains is available now in all good bookshops and has some great ideas how to cook your eggs. Here is a taster below.

Baked egg with spinach and tomato

Serves 4


  • 100g bag spinach
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Lots of black pepper to season


  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan.
  • Put the spinach into a colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt the leaves. Squeeze out excess water and divide between 4 small ovenproof dishes. (You can take a short cut and just let the oven do the wilting).
  • Mix the tomatoes, garlic, with the chilli flakes and some seasoning, then add to the dishes with the spinach. Make a small well in the centre of each and crack in an egg. Bake for 15 mins or more depending on how you like your eggs. Serve with crusty whole grain seeded bread and salad, if you like.

Serving suggestions: cube of melted goat’s cheese, drizzle of chilli oil, sprinkle of black olives or handful of capers.

Energy (kcals)Total Fat (g)Sat fat (g)MUFA (g)Poly (g)Protein (g)Iron (mg)Vitamin D (ug)Salt


Per Portion1167.

But first, Coffee!

But first, Coffee!

At Iconic we love when we hear something we enjoy is good for us as it takes away all guilt (we don’t do guilt!). It’s the little things in life that make us happy and nothing perks us up better than a decent cup of coffee.

If you regularly partake you know how it can inject a bit of life into you almost instantly, but did you know coffee has antioxidants and can help you workout for longer at a more intense level.

The stimulant caffeine is quickly absorbed within 15 to 30 minutes and will give peak productivity 45 minutes after drinking when it has been fully immersed into the bloodstream. This dovetails nicely with that exhaustion we can feel halfway through a workout or spin class when we want to crawl towards that door.

Caffeine makes us more alert because it alters the way receptors in the brain detect the body chemical adenosine, which usually makes us sleepy. Lots of energy drinks contain caffeine but many are highly processed. Coffee is natural, has zero calories if you drink it black, and has none of the added sugar that many of these drinks contain.

Research shows it could also help with your mood with a US study from the Harvard School of Public Health finding the risk of depression was 15 percent lower among women who drank a minimum two cups of coffee daily compared to those who drank little or none.

We asked the nutrition therapist and writer Ian marber if he thought the Iconic Health Club members should be drinking coffee and he said there is no problem as it offers some health benefits and will help you train for longer if you have a quick one before hitting the gym, though like everything it is best in moderation.

“Coffee before training offers caffeine which may help the intensity and duration of the work out. Caffeine is more effective when we don’t have too much or have it too often”, he said.

And music to our ears was the fact that it’s basically healthy as long as you don’t overdo it.

“Coffee is a source of chlorogenic and caffeic acids, both plant chemicals with noted antioxidant abilities, from the same family as those found in red wine and cocoa”, he said.

“It’s good stuff, often maligned!” he added.

Easy now, don’t go crazy

So how many coffees should we be drinking? The Mayo clinic in the US recommends keeping caffeine intake to 400 mg a day. How much is that exactly? Well one shot of coffee is 92 mg of caffeine so if we are making it at home in a plunger be aware of that and use a coffee spoon to measure.

Looking at the Costa Brand, which was recently installed in the Dartry Health Club, if I order a primo Americano that is 185 mg of caffeine, if I opt for a large one that will be 277 mg and a Massimo will be 370 mg.

So if you are partial to ordering giant coffees you might use up all your allowance in one go. Also one study found that consuming caffeine six hours before you go to bed could reduce your sleep, so keep it to the earlier part of the day and then switch to decaf.

The take-home message is enjoy your couple of cups a day and the next morning you find yourself toying with the idea of heading to the gym, but feeling a little half hearted, get yourself a coffee first and see if that gets you going.


Costa Coffee          Primo           Medio            Massimo

Americano              185 mg          277 mg             370 mg

Caffe Latte              92 mg            185 mg             277 mg

Ian Marber has been a nutritional therapist for 20 years and his next book is out in April – “ManFood – the no-nonsense guide to improving your health and energy in your 40’s and beyond”.

Mary McCarthy is a freelance journalist and a member of the Dartry Health Club. @MaryKnowsBees