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My Time in London

Ben and Lyla in front of Big Ben
London is a very meaningful place to me.   My father grew up there and shared many stories of his childhood, his up bringing, and always ended in how proud he is of his British heritage.   I've always admired my dad for his simplicity with life, along with his hard work and determination.  Here is a man who grew up in a bedroom the size of most people's closets, was completely content with it, since that is all he felt he needed.  In order to help get him through college he was a London cab driver.  He came to the states when he was in his 30's leaving his entire family and everything he ever knew in his life to be with my mother.  Upon moving to America he studied in Southern California in order to pass the bar exam.  He took many odd jobs throughout process to contribute to the household.  Growing up listening to his English accent all my life was always fun.  As the English would say, I was a "cheeky" little girl and always "took the piss" out of him.  Needless to say, I find the English humor incredibly funny and when I go back to London I'm constantly laughing and happy.  Just riding the tube is an adventure and comical.  Listening to the thick English accent when they say  "Mind the Gap" and "This train terminates at CockFosters" never gets old.  ( I know I'm revealing my immature humor) Of course the serious side of seeing the culture, amazing sights, the kind people, and the deep history of London is incredible.

Photo courtesy of James Breese after a Primal Move session, by Regents Park.  This photo had to be taken.  For those who don't understand why I found this hilarious, Google it!  

My 89 year old grandparents live in London and I've always had a very strong connection with them, especially my grandmother.  I've always admired how independent they are.  They have been retired for years and live in a very quant humble house in Hampstead.  Every day from morning to night they don't stop moving.  They have a list of all their own daily chores.  My grandparents are very old fashioned and simple people.  They don't have a dishwasher or even a dryer for their clothing.  They hand wash every single dish, hang their clothes dry, iron, sew, cook all their own food.  Laziness is just not an option and this is very typical with much of the older generation I observed when I visit.  The older generation is out and about, doing their own shopping, riding the bus, and seems to be much more independent and healthier than the Americans.  It shows how easy we have it here in America.  Most of us have cars and have become technologically savvy to the point that it gives us the opportunity to not have to do as much for ourselves.  Overall Americans have a cushier life.  I have probably been to London about a handful of times throughout my life.  After all, it's not the closest place when living in Southern California to travel to.   When I go to London there is a part of me that feels as if I'm home.

English Phone Box.  A shame that their aren't many left, due to everyone having their own mobile phone.

This trip was much different and very special to me.  My grandmother has been very sick, in and out of the hospital, because of the horrible side effects she had been experiencing from her chemo treatments.  I knew how important it would be for my kids to get to spend some time with their great grandparents.  Parents know very well that flying half way across the world with 2 young children is a brave feat.  Nevertheless, the importance of the trip out weighed the exhaustion ahead, and we booked it.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much better the traveling went than I expected.  I would say, bringing the kids on my own without Ben, would have made for a whole other experience, that may have not been so smooth.  I strongly suggest one parent per child under 5 if possible, when traveling across the world on 11 hour flights to another country!  

Waiting in line with Chloe on my back for the London eye. (Was a super cold day)

Public outdoor Gym, Chloe enjoying herself
We stumbled across this awesome outdoor little gym.  The kids had a blast playing on all the equipment.

Lyla was better at this than all the adults who attempted it.  She kept saying "Mommy look at me, I'm exercising! This makes me healthy, give me so much energy and is fun!"

Cuddling on the streets in London

Looking out over the entire London, from the awesome London Eye

Being sassy and tired, playing with the iPad

Over the years I've had a number people in the UK, ask if I will ever come over and do a workshop.  I promised I'd make it over, just wasn't sure when.  Having 2 kids close together and nursing both children, I chose not to do much traveling during that time.  Last year James Breese, owner of Kettlebell Fever and official UK Dragon Door Kettlebell Distributor, contacted me to carry all my DVD's.  We then had a few moments to meet up in San Diego, while I was meeting with RKC Team Leader Andrew Read about strength training.  I told James I was going to London to visit family and wanted to do a workshop.  James quickly took the wheel and made it happen!  To both of our surprise this first workshop in England had no problem filling up.  James wanted to add some Primal Move to the workshop and immediately after seeing the video of Peter Lakatos, I was sold.  I actually couldn't wait to learn it for selfish reasons!  

First Ladies London Kettlebell and Movement Workshop

Attila Varga, Me, and James Breese
While I was in London, James took time out of his morning to show me some of the Primal Move system, at beautiful Regents Park.  I must say I'm very impressed and look forward to seeing more of it.  James is a fantastic teacher in all accounts from his Primal Move to kettlebell training, he is top notch!  He is a Krav Maga instructor and has actually had to use his skill many times while he was a London police officer.  Very impressive stories to say the least!  I had never worked with him before, but fortunately my intuition about people are usually spot on.  I'm glad I was right!  The workshop took place at one of the best BJJ academies in London at Carlson Gracie.  I was very honored to have, Atilla Varga, RKC and BJJ coach, to be there assisting at the workshop.

For the short time we had, the students made incredible transformations in their progress.  We had every level from the complete beginner to the advanced lifter.  Below is one of the letters I received after the workshop that makes me proud to share.  This kind of feedback is what keeps the workshops alive!

Dreams DO come true!
I've dreamed of taking a class with Lauren Brooks since I first discovered her DVD workouts about 2 years ago. I live in the UK whilst Lauren lives in the US so I thought my dream would remain just that. Well sometimes dreams do come true as I had the opportunity to take a workshop with Lauren on her recent trip to London and what an experience it was! I was very nervous before attending thinking it would be filled with super fit, amazingly honed athletes and I would be left standing in their dust. Not so. There was a great cross section of kettlebellers from out of shape beginners to some RKC's and Lauren taught us all with huge encouragement, intuition and passion. Lauren's love for what she does is evident in every move and sentence. Lauren is warm, encouraging and totally non-intimidating. Her form tips are excellent. For instance in order to stop some manic swings that were being performed she told us all to think "float" at the top of the swing and it worked like a charm - no more bionic swinging! She wants everybody to progress, safely, to be their best selves and to have fun with their kettlbell practice and not view it as a chore.

If you ever get the chance to work with Lauren, please, please take it. I gained so much from my workshop experience - vastly improved form from when I walked in (even the RKC's participating in the workshop had some tweaks made to their form) and increased confidence that I was actually on the right path and pretty darn good at some moves (swings).

If ever Lauren comes to the UK again for a workshop she can count on at least one class member for sure - me!

Thank you Lauren for everything.
Charmaine, UK


In closing, I plan on making my way back to London.  Most likely a quick visit solo since it is hard to drag the chidden along.  I look forward to my future adventures on the other side.  Next time I hope to visit Ireland, Scotland, France and Spain if at all possible!


Ann said…
Great story! Isn't it amazing how humans can feel a connection to their family's cultural history even when raised thousands of miles away? I am so envious of those workshop attendees! Come to Milwaukee!!!
Anonymous said…
I is such a gift that your grandparents are able to meet their great-grandchildren! Mine had passed years before I had my daughter which still makes me a little sad. Is is brave to travel such a long distance with two kids - wow! Your girls are so adorable! Will there be a DVD on the workshop?
Unknown said…
Lauren, thank you for such great and warm post. It's both so inspiring and encouraging to work out and so full of your family feelings! Thanks for sharing!
Hope your grandma get well soon!
Unknown said…
I enjoyed reading this Lauren. You have such a great and positive spirit. You are the reason I will never get tired of kb's.

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