The Fit Foodie: Circuits: a great way to maintain cardio fitness without too much effort

This week I’m sharing a simple but effective bodyweight circuit from my recent workshop at Ballymaloe. I’ve got a delicious cauliflower side plus a show-stopping whole poached salmon.


This year I have run three workshops at Ballymaloe Cookery School. They are a combination of food and fitness.

This time I was delighted to be joined by world medallist, Olympic athlete and fitness professional Gillian O’Sullivan. Gillian was a big inspiration to me during my career. In fact, the first World Championships team I made was the same one that Gillian won her world medal at.

I had come last in my heat and although disappointed, was hugely motivated by her to improve.

After her retirement from international athletics, Gillian qualified as a personal trainer and has recently completed a master’s degree. She has a no-nonsense and sensible approach to fitness which I love.

In recent years I no longer follow a strict training schedule. Instead, I aim to do what I can when I can and circuits like this are often my go to.

They are a great way of maintaining a little bit of cardio fitness without too much effort, perfect for when you are demotivated and want a simple way to keep fit. They are easily done at home, out and about or at the gym.

They require zero equipment and are done and dusted quickly.

Hopefully, it will give you some ideas for your own sessions.

The Fit Foodie: Circuits: a great way to maintain cardio fitness without too much effort

Warm up:

  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Bum kicks
  • Forward and reverse lunges
  • Squat pulses

Do each of these for 30 seconds

Repeat by 2-3 rounds


  • Squat jumps
  • Press up (the wider the hands the easier the push-up. Lower onto your knees if needed)
  • Jump lunges (for an
    easier variation try static lunges)
  • Plank (try a forearm plank for an extra challenge)
  • Mountain climbers — single leg version (keep your core engaged and back straight throughout the movement)
  • Side plank — right side
  • Side plank — left side
  • Squat pulses
  • Mountain climbers- double leg version
  • Goblet squat (Aim to get the elbows to the knees while keeping your shoulders back and chest up for good posture)

Do 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest (increase work periods and decrease rest periods for a more intense workout. If you are a beginner then increase the rest period
between exercises).

Repeat the circuit by 3 rounds with a one-minute break between rounds.


Gillian O’Sullivan

In a world full of fitness advice focused on how people look, I love her real-life approach to health and fitness. Check out her website     

Parmesan and Paprika Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is such a versatile, yet underutilised, vegetable and is the perfect vehicle for a whole host of flavour combinations. Roasting the cauliflower transforms it and the parmesan adds a golden crust that’s truly irresistible.

Cauliflower is packed with nutrition too. It is rich in vitamins C and K plus antioxidants and fibre, all of which our bodies love.

This is a delicious side to any meal. I love tossing it through salads for some extra flavour and texture or simply eating it hot out of the oven or straight from the pan.

The Fit Foodie: Circuits: a great way to maintain cardio fitness without too much effort

Prep time: 2minutes

Cook time: 15minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 3tsp smoked paprika
  • 75g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Sea salt to taste


Preheat oven to 180C/ gas mark 4

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.

Place on a large metal roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Whole poached salmon

This is a spectacular dish and makes for a stunning centrepiece. It’s deliciously healthy and because it goes a long way, it’s economical too.

Salmon is packed with healthy omega 3 fats which help to protect our hearts against heart disease and are important for joint health and brain function too.

I like to serve this on a big plate in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.

It pairs perfectly with some greens beans and buttery new potatoes. Any leftovers are delicious added to a salad for lunch the next day.

The Fit Foodie: Circuits: a great way to maintain cardio fitness without too much effort

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: Will  vary depending on size of your salmon (5 minutes per 450g)

Serves: 6-8


  • 1 small-medium salmon, ask in your fishmongers/supermarket
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • Cold water, enough to cover the fish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole black peppercorns


Heat oven to 190C

Weigh the salmon; this is important for determining cooking time.

Line a deep roasting dish/large casserole with a sheet of parchment paper. Put a layer of the fennel and lemon slices at the bottom, then fill the cavity of salmon with remaining slices.

Place salmon carefully on the lemon-fennel layer.

Add the wine and enough cold water to completely cover the salmon. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns and cover tightly with tinfoil. Place in oven to poach for 5 minutes per 450g of salmon plus an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the liquid. Please, note that this can take up to three hours — even in the fridge. I like to cook the salmon the day before as it’s best served cold anyway.

Using the parchment paper very carefully lift the salmon out of the liquid and place on your serving dish, you may need a hand with this.

Serve with a selection of your favourite sides. Enjoy!


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