Meet Your New Favourite Workout–Pole Dancing.

Just a short ride away from Kingston’s Penrhyn Road campus is what could be the city’s newest fitness hotspot. Every week, dancers from all walks of life gather at The Pole Studio in Surbiton with the common goal of getting in shape, looking good and having a great time.

Located above a chip shop on Portsmouth Road, the dance studio is unassuming and cosy. Dancers leave their shoes by the door, hurry up the carpeted stairs, and are greeted with silver practice poles dotted around the small—yet comfortable—space.

While pole fitness used to be a taboo sport, in recent years it has gained popularity among both men and women. A combination of strength training, conditioning and acrobatics, this is a workout that encourages cardiovascular health while simultaneously working the arms, legs and core muscles.

The result is a full-body workout that anyone can do, either in a group setting or 1-on-1 with an instructor.

It was this all-in-one workout that helped draw 31-year-old Siobhan Parish to The Pole Studio. Lessons are held once a week and run for approximately one hour—long enough to work up a sweat, but not long enough to exhaust participants.

As a working mother, this 60-minute pole fitness model offers her both a convenient workout and an opportunity to de-stress from the workweek.

“You can see yourself develop, unlike at the gym, and you get better in a number of ways,” Parish said. “(Pole) makes me feel stronger—I like the way after, a few weeks, quite a few weeks, things start to get a bit tighter and it just makes me feel good.”

Jaime Rangeley, an instructor at the Surbiton location, has been practicing both dance and pole for years. An expat from California, she found pole fitness to be a helpful way to meet people when she moved to England, and has continued dancing ever since.

“Everybody’s super nice and welcoming, and (pole fitness is) just a really great way to make friends,” Rangeley said.

At The Pole Studio, Rangeley has taught dancers of all sizes, ages and genders, and feels that the environment that pole fitness creates is a more wholesome one than can be found at the average gym—a sentiment that Parish supports, having just finished her first set of beginner classes.

“Everyone I’ve ever had teach me or I’ve practiced with have been very lovely people,” Parish said.

For potential dancers who are afraid to take the leap into pole fitness, Rangeley encourages them to take a one-off class or sign up for a beginner’s course.

“You’ll see that as you get to know everybody, nobody cares when you start to wear the shorter shorts and stuff like that, you feel totally comfortable,” Rangeley said. “You’re never forced to wear anything you don’t want to or to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and you’ll find that you’ll actually have a laugh, and the workout is like an added bonus.”

The Pole Studio has locations across London and Surrey, with lessons for all levels of fitness—they even offer yoga classes, for the less adventurous among us. Prices start at £10 a class, with the beginner courses running for six weeks.

To find the perfect class for you, check out their main website for times, locations and individual pricing.

Treat Yourself: Hanx Releases New All-Natural, Vegan Condoms

Women have a lot to worry about in life, especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Staying safe is always a priority, but sometimes we don’t want to take all the steps necessary because it’s embarrassing, or we just aren’t used to it.

One of those steps is buying and carrying condoms: let’s be real, we all expect men to carry them. But how many times have you wanted to hook up with a guy that wasn’t prepared?

Buying condoms when you’re a woman isn’t the best. It shouldn’t be weird, but it just is. And then, once you get over the initial weirdness of having to buy them, you’re carrying them in your bag, which would be totally fine if they weren’t so ugly.

Why do they have to be of obnoxious colours? It’s like they’re begging to be seen, which is the last thing you’d want.

This is where Hanx, a British company started by two women named Farah and Sarah (cute!), comes in to save you.

Hanx produce stylish, well-packaged condoms that will make you want to have all the safe sex in the world. They’re made by women for women, are ultra thin, are 100% natural, vegan, and have a five year shelf life.

The idea behind them is to make women feel proud to carry them, hopefully destroying the idea that women can’t be sex-positive.

Order a pack on their website today. They even offer door-to-door shipping, so if you’re nervous about buying condoms in person, this is the perfect alternative for you. Stay safe out there!


Considering other forms of birth control? Check out our article here, which debunks five common myths about different hormonal birth control methods.

5 Common Birth Control Myths, Debunked

Standardised birth control methods have been around since 1960, when the contraceptive pill was first approved.

Thankfully, since then, contraceptive science has evolved, but some misinformation about birth control seems to have stood the test of time.

Ever wondered if you really need to take the pill at the same time every day, or whether birth control will make you gain weight? Read on for some myth-busting facts that should put your mind at ease.

Myth #1: Birth control can ruin your fertility.

This is a common myth, but there is no scientific backing to this statement.

The shot, the pill, and even long-acting forms of contraception like the implant and IUDs do not hinder fertility. Vagina-holders who had irregular periods before starting birth control may see delayed ovulation, but that is due to their biological makeup–not their contraception.

So, rest easy. If/when you want to have a baby, your ovaries will still be in working order and ready for you to go for it.

Myth #2: Everyone’s on it because they’re having sex.

This antiquated view is just plain false. Birth control methods can be prescribed to help a myriad of issues including polycystic ovary syndrome, cramps, acne, period regulation and even depression.

In the UK, doctors won’t require you to be in a relationship or having sex to get the pill, either. If you’re honest about why you want to be on birth control, your doctor can provide you with the best option.

Myth #3: If I forget to take a pill, I will get pregnant.

Overslept your pill alarm, or forgot to take it before a night out? Relax, you’re (probably) protected. As long as you have taken your pills regularly until this point, you’ll be okay.

Don’t try and double up–that can lead to nausea and vomiting, which counteracts taking them in the first place. If you had sex, don’t rush out to buy Plan B–again, you run a high risk of getting unnecessary nausea and vomiting.

Pills do not have to be taken every 24 hours on the exact dot, and everyone misses them. Make a note not to do it again, and carry on. If you find yourself often missing doses, ask your doctor about other contraceptive methods like the IUD, patch or implant.

Myth #4: Birth control isn’t effective if you’re overweight

The only truth to this myth is that, based on a small amount of data, the pill and emergency contraception is slightly less effective in women with a BMI over 30.

However, plenty of doctors will still prescribe the pill to overweight and obese patients, because the effectiveness is still very high. Additionally, long-acting and reversible methods of contraception (the implant or IUD, for instance) are equally effective in underweight, normal, overweight or obese individuals.

Myth #5: Birth control makes you gain weight

Google nearly any medication, and it’ll likely autocomplete the phrase with “weight gain.” Unfortunately, birth control isn’t immune to this hysteria, but you can relax: the majority of birth control methods don’t cause weight gain.

The only recent, substantial data about weight gain on birth control comes from a study involving the contraceptive shot. Individuals using this method generally do gain weight, but only when they use this method of contraception.

More often than not, environmental factors are to blame for weight gain–you’re in a better mood, feel more comfortable, or you’re just bloated from your incoming period. But, if you find yourself struggling to lose weight with exercise and diet, it can be worth evaluating your birth control.

Don’t let the fear of gaining weight keep you from seeking out contraception, and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if you’re concerned about any aspect of your contraception.

If you’re interested in changing your birth control, or getting on it for the first time, you can drop by the Wolverton Centre in Kingston Hospital or schedule an appointment with a GP at the Penrhyn Road Campus.


Looking for some additional protection? Check out our article on Hanx’s new all-natural, vegan condoms here.

A Carer’s Perspective on Mental Health

Mental health: there’s been a lot talk, from celebs sharing their battle with depression to an endless selection of self-care books available on Amazon.

The message of mental wellbeing is widespread, and it seems that almost everyone has a story to share. But, the most common ones we come across are generally first-hand accounts.

With stats showing that 72% of family members, friends or loved ones are acting as carers for those with mental health problems in the UK has suffered mental ill health as a result, the question arises: what about those who struggle supporting someone with mental health issues – where’s the discussion on this?

Lauren* is just one of many who feel unable to speak up about their second-hand experience with mental health.

“Psychotic episode, schizophrenia, bipolar–these were just some of the diagnoses she was receiving, but I didn’t know how I could be there for her and be strong for myself,” explained Lauren.

As a carer for a family member, Lauren had to balance her priorities, being her own person with taking care of someone at the same time.

“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through”, she says. “I always felt an unconscious conflict between my compassion for her health and the guilt of it all coming down really hard on me.”

A student at the time, Lauren explained how looking after a loved-one really took a toll on her studies and social life, which left her feeling anxious.

“I felt too guilty to find help for my own struggles,” Lauren recalls. “I often thought that my own problems seemed minor and selfish in comparison. She needed me, and I wanted to be there for her, but I felt stuck battling between my own mental wellbeing and being a support system.”

The Carers UK annual survey in 2015 revealed that out of 5,000 carers across the UK, 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression because of their caring role.

“Every day was a learning curve for me as I started recognising the small indications of the emotional support she needed,” Lauren added.

She explains that it wasn’t just the psychological effects that became a struggle, but it was also physical barriers that became difficult.

“I think some people see mental illness as an invisible health problem, but it does take effect on someone’s physical state–there were times she didn’t want to get out of bed and I had to stay nearby to support her daily needs,” Lauren said. “I needed to make sure she ate, that she showered, and I really didn’t mind if it meant it helped–but I did forget what it was like to live my own life.

“It was a commitment and it takes a strong person to see a loved one going through a tough time and while I would never point fingers for the way it all happened – I just wish at the time that I hadn’t neglected my own emotional needs,” Lauren added.

Lauren wants others to know that being there for someone is difficult and it’s OK to admit it: “I know from this experience, I have learnt that it’s perfectly fine to feel the way I did.”

If you are struggling with caring for a friend or family member with any disability, Mind UK have a support network specifically designed to support carers’ mental health and Samaritans are always available to talk.

Editor’s Note: Lauren’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

5 Miracle Products That Will Save Your Skin on Accutane

If you’ve got severe cystic acne and have tried pretty much everything to get rid of it, chances are your dermatologist will recommend Accutane (or Roaccutane, as it’s called in various countries around Europe).

While this may seem a magic cure to get rid of all your large, and often painful breakouts, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. While it is definitely effective (and is currently the strongest medication available for acne treatments), Accutane is known for having quite severe side effects on your health, including dry mouth, nosebleeds, dry skin and, in rare cases, even serious medical conditions, such as depression and pancreatitis.

But, there’s no need to despair! There are ways to help with what can only be described as the “Sahara desert” side effect, and we’re here to help! Here are five of the best beauty products you can use to pamper your skin and get it back in business.

  1.   THE BODY SHOP CAMOMILE CLEANSING BUTTER – ÂŁ10, THE BODY SHOP

Before getting to the skincare, it’s important to make sure your face is clean from any makeup or residue you might have. While it’s tempting to grab a foaming gel or a scrub and go to town, experts firmly advise against that—it’ll actually make your skin dryer and exacerbate acne by disturbing the skin’s natural pH.

Instead, it’s recommended you use a cleansing balm to make sure your face is clear and ready for a skincare party, and The Body Shop’s Camomile Cleansing Butter is the definitely a go-to for this! With a smooth consistency and a delicate and pleasant smell, it will turn your boring cleansing ritual into a lush experience, while leaving you with soft and fresh skin.

Recommended use: Use a pea-amount of cleanser all over the face, massage the product into the skin to remove makeup and dirt and then remove with a warm, damp washcloth with gentle, circular motions.

  1.     FRESH SUGAR LIP POLISH – ÂŁ19.50, HARRODS

There’s nothing more tempting than to peel off the flaky skin on your lips when you’re on Accutane, even when you know full well you’ll end up with a bleeding lip. Luckily, there’s a better (and tastier) alternative to this: the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish. This jar of sugar goodness will get rid of all the dead skin off your lips, leaving them soft and supple and ready to be kissed!

Recommended use: Use the Lip Polish once every two-three days to avoid over-scrubbing your lips and making them raw.

  1.     NUXE REVE DE MIEL LIP BALM – ÂŁ10, M&S

Lip balm is your saviour when taking acne medication, and Nuxe Reve De Miel is the one to rule them all. This award-willing best-seller brings the power of Acacia honey and Shea butter in your hands, and will rehydrate and soothe your lips to make them luscious once more.

Recommended use: Use generously when needed, especially after using a lip scrub.

  1.   INDEED LABS HYDRATION BOOSTER – ÂŁ16.99, ASOS

When we think of dry skin, we immediately think of slathering on the thickest cream we can find. But, the trick to fighting off dry skin is to layer your moisture products, and the Hydration Booster from Indeed Labs is just the thing for this!

The light-weight serum does exactly what the name says: it absorbs immediately into the skin, giving you immediate relief and a well-deserved hydration shot. A total staple for dry and dehydrated skin, especially caused by the medicine.

Recommended use: Use on cleansed skin on its own or mix with your moisturiser (or both!) and apply generously.

  1.     LA ROCHE POSAY NUTRITIC INTENSE RICHE MOISTURIZER, £16.49, SUPERDRUG

There’s no denying that the French know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to skincare, and La Roche Posay’s Nutritic Intense Riche moisturizer surely proves that. Its paraben-free and hypoallergenic formula is designed to hydrate and soothe even the driest skin and you’ll instantly feel relief and comfort. Bonus perk: it’s non-comedogenic, so there’s no need to worry about making your acne worse!

Recommended use: Use generously on cleansed skin whenever necessary; don’t be afraid to go to town with it!

What’s are some of your “miracle” beauty products? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Best Sex Toys on a Student Budget

Exams stressing you out? Worried you’ll be bored over the long Christmas holiday? Don’t worry, because Loudly’s resident sex toy expert has you covered.

Check out this list of the 5 best sex toys to buy on a student-friendly budget from LoveHoney, a company that offers discreet shipping and student discounts (and no, we’re not sponsored, just horny).

  1. BASICS Beginner’s Rabbit Vibrator

With a price point of £20, this is a great entry-level vibrator that offers penetration while stimulating the clitoris. It’s reasonably quiet under a duvet, unless you go full-blast, so keep that in mind if you have flatmates. If you’re new to the sex toy world, this is a fantastic introduction into the wonderful world of vibrators.

  1. BASICS Buzz Tongue Finger Vibrator

It’s discreet, it’s pink and it’s fast. This vibrator is designed to slip onto your finger and stay there, no matter how hot and heavy things get. It’s not the quietest vibrator, but it is very powerful—seeing as it only has one setting. However, this is a toy that can be used with a partner, which makes it versatile and worth picking up.

  1. G-Tickler 7 Function Clitoral and G-Spot Vibrator

This strange-looking vibrator is designed to stimulate the G-spot and the clitoris at the same time! The stubby bristles offer a unique sensation, and for those vagina-holders who swear they don’t have a G-spot, this toy will prove you wrong. It’s moderately loud, but muffled when used under a duvet. Used alone or as foreplay, this is a great addition to any sex toy collection.

  1. BASICS Love Egg Vibrator

Designed with couples in mind, this is a fun addition to foreplay for any couple. The “egg” itself isn’t the most powerful vibrator, but it can be used both internally and externally for some good fun. With a sliding scale of vibration, this toy can be tailored to your body and situation, and is a fun addition to your collection.

  1. BASICS Powerful Mini G-Spot Vibrator

As advertised, this small vibrator is powerful (and, unfortunately, loud). It didn’t help me find my G-spot as advertised, but it did offer a strong one-level vibration that just about made up for it. This shouldn’t be your first choice, but it is a good choice, especially for those who are new to sex toys. If you want to see if vibrators are for you, give this a shot—you might like what you find.

Remember, LoveHoney offers a 20% NUS Extra discount on all orders, so don’t hesitate to treat yourself to a little “me time” this winter.

Fix my Brain: A Guide to Mental Health Services at KU

University can be a stressful time for anyone, whether you’re a first year student or you’re getting your PhD. If you find yourself anxious, depressed or just plain stressed during your time at Kingston, know that you’re not alone—and there are plenty of support services to keep you on track.

Want to get help, but not sure where to turn? Here’s a comprehensive list of “what to do” when you find your mental health is suffering at university.

  • Contact Your GP

Your general practitioner is your first point-of-call when it comes to mental health services. Whether you’ve seen them your whole life, or you’re visiting them for the first time, they’ll be able to give the most inclusive advice about your specific mental state. They can also provide a prescription for medication that might help, as well as refer you to counselling services in the Kingston and Surbiton area. If you’re an on-campus student, it’s as simple as ringing the Penrhyn Road Fairhill Clinic and requesting an appointment.

  • Visit a Student Wellbeing Drop-In Clinic

If you can’t (or don’t want to) get an appointment with your GP, visiting the drop-in clinic is your next best option. These clinics run at both the Penrhyn Road campus (Health Centre) and Kingston Hill (Yorkon Building) throughout the week, and are roughly 15 minutes long—similar to a GP visit. These clinics are confidential and are a good choice if you’re not sure what type of support you need. The health adviser at the clinic will be able to offer advice about seeking medication, on-campus support or even counselling.

  • Call for a Stress Management Appointment

These unique appointments are offered at both the Penrhyn Road and Kingston Hill campuses and are arranged either by calling 0208 417 2172, or visiting a wellbeing drop-in clinic. Kingston University’s website claims these sessions help with “time management skills, assertiveness levels, new study techniques, anger management techniques and ways to relax.” This, partnered with visits to Kingston’s CASE program, are a great way to get a handle on your studies-related stresses.

  • Speak to Samaritans

Whether you’re in a crisis or just need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to call the Samaritans at 116 123. This number is manned 24/7, and all calls are fully confidential. If you would prefer, you can also email them at jo@samaritans.org. It can be very therapeutic to tell someone else about what’s on your mind, and Samaritans is equipped to handle a range of mental health issues. Whether you’re depressed, dealing with a traumatic situation, or just terrified of your exam next week, Samaritans is there to listen.

There are people who want and are ready to help, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for support. No matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone.

 

How To Survive the Halloween Walk of Shame

Maybe you spent days working on your costume. Maybe you picked it up on the way to the party. Either way, walking home from a sexcapade in a costume is like wearing a flashing neon sign that reads, “I HAD SEX WITH A STRANGER.”

Thankfully, avoiding this situation only takes a bit of planning – and if you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry, we have you covered.

  1. Plan your outfit ahead of time.

That tight nurse’s outfit that would get you kicked out of any hospital might look amazing at 11 pm on the 31st, but will scream your sexual experiences to the world at 6 am. on 1 November.

Before you leave for your Halloween party, ask yourself, “How can I wear this tomorrow?” Sometimes, it’s as easy as bringing along a long coat for the chilly morning or choosing an outfit with removable accessories. If you can, bring a decent-sized purse with you containing new underwear, makeup-removing wipes, and a pair of leggings for the next day. This way, you can simply pass as a tired commuter the next day.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes.

Few things are worse in life than walking home, hungover, in heels. When choosing your footwear, think about practicality before appearance.

Look for a pair of flats or thick-wedged heels – but make sure they’re worn-in enough to avoid blisters! If you must wear those stilettos, try to pack a thin pair of flats in your purse before you leave. Your feet will thank you, and you’ll look less conspicuous on the street the next day!

  1. Choose ridesharing over public transportation

Maybe you didn’t plan ahead (we’re not judging) or you got so drunk that you lost your carefully packed bag (hey, it happens). If your bank account isn’t depleted from your night of partying, splurge on an Uber ride to get home. You’ll still have to awkwardly walk from the car to your flat, but you’ll be in the public eye for much less time.

  1. Plan your escape early

The last thing you want to do when you’re hungover is wake up early, but it can be worth it. Try to leave before the morning commute starts around 6 am to avoid the traffic and judgmental stares. Look for what night buses are running and just go – most people who are awake at this hour are either too tired to care, or in a similar situation as yourself. Plus, you can sleep in your own flat much more comfortably, anyways.

  1. Don’t care what people think

Maybe you woke up mid-morning in that skin-tight catsuit, no spare clothes to be found and a pair of stilettos by the door. You’re skint, your Oyster is depleted and you know any Uber request would be declined. But you need to get home.

Sometimes, there’s no option but to walk and wear that make-believe “I HAD SEX” sign around your neck. In this case, you need to rely on your confidence – or fake it until you make it.

Everyone has sex. There’s nothing wrong with being a sexual being – you just happened to do it on Halloween. Even if people look, stare or comment on your outfit, it doesn’t change the fact that you have nothing to be embarrassed about. They might have been in the same situation before, or jealous, or any other combination of situations.

Just hold your head high and make your way home. They’ll forget about you in a few minutes, and you’ll be home soon enough anyways.

The Bloody Truth Behind Menstruation

Menstruation – It’s painful, bloody, and downright annoying. The unpleasant yet necessary cycle of menstruation affects nearly 50% of the world’s population — yet the topic is incredibly hush-hush and deemed taboo to speak about.

Anyone with a vagina has been there: you need to ask a friend for a sanitary product, but you’re uncomfortable saying the words out loud. But why is this? What is it about periods that make women feel uncomfortable to speak outwardly about them?

Depictions of menstruation in media – including film, advertisements, video games, social media, etc. – have always been particularly problematic. The media’s representation generally does not convey what menstruation is actually like, but rather demonstrates a glorified version that seeks to make audience members more comfortable with a manipulated version of menstruation.

Ads are especially guilty of adopting this sugarcoated image of menstruation. These advertisements are usually selling sanitary products and, in order to boost sales, depict the women on screen as being happy and physically active, conveying the idea that if you buy these tampons, you will also be happy and active!

This image is particularly absurd to most period-having humans; when you’re on your period, all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is painful and uncomfortable and ugly–and no matter how effective a tampon is, women on their period typically don’t want to perform a ballet recital or go rock climbing.

Advertisements are also notorious for specifically not showing period blood, despite the fact that their products exist for the sake of combating menstrual bleeding. Rather than the standard colour of blood – red – advertisements use a mysterious blue liquid to represent period blood.

The use of this blue liquid isn’t only found in sanitary product commercials; indeed, it can be seen in advertisements for toothpaste, diapers, paper towels, and more. Why do advertisements do this?

This sterile blue colour is often used in advertisements to denote cleanliness. The blue liquid elicits images of pure, clean water, and directly opposes any unsavoury thoughts of blood or bodily fluids. 

The use of this blue liquid also stems from quite problematic origins, some of which are deeply rooted in cultural norms. This allusion to cleanliness perpetuates the notion that menstruation is unclean and impure, a belief shared by the texts of many cultures and religions. This idea is also often seen in mainstream media and films, such as Carrie (1976), in which Carrie’s mother believes that her period is a symbol of sin.

While menstrual product advertisements do not necessarily mean to imply that periods are impure, companies tend to portray menstruation in a veil of beauty and happiness.

This perpetuates the notion that menstruation should be a clean experience, as a means to combat the inherent impurities of menstrual bleeding. This depiction is particularly effective as advertisements are ubiquitous and accessible, and therefore viewed by larger audiences, which subconsciously perpetuates these ideals without audiences knowing it.

The depiction of menstruation extends past advertisements. Not only is it misrepresented in mainstream media, but it is often actively censored.

A photo that poet and activist Rupi Kaur posted to her Instagram account of her bleeding through her pants was flagged and removed from the Internet. Since the photo technically met the official Instagram guidelines, it was eventually reuploaded; however, Kaur did not go quietly into that good night.

rupikaur-period1-454x341 Photo credit: Rupi Kaur

In response, she wrote, “I will not apologise for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak.  When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified.”

This, and sanitised media depictions, are just some of the many ways that menstruation is stigmatised and stereotyped and deemed gross or offensive, ultimately making it a taboo subject.

While this information can be disheartening, it is important to remember to celebrate companies that are attempting initiatives to end stigmas surrounding menstruation.

For example, Libresse is an international brand of feminine hygiene products that has recently initiated a campaign called “Blood Normal” that seeks to “banish the blue liquid that conventionally stands in for period blood in ads and instead shows real-life scenarios of young women dealing with their periods.”

The hope is that more mainstream companies will adopt similar ideals, ultimately working to collectively end stigmas surrounding menstruation. In the end, perhaps someday, women may not have to whisper about their periods and treat them like they’re secrets.

Watch the Blood Normal campaign video here.