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Love The Lunge

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, Lunges are by far one of the best lower body toning exercises on the planet; and those who’ve participated in my fitness classes or PT sessions over the years will know how much of a fan I am!
These beast mode exercises create lower body beauty as the pay off for your hard earned work, as you see stronger, shapely legs and a firmer bum develop.

They are a compound exercise which means they work several muscles or muscle groups within the movement and in the case of a lunge the list of muscles used is quite extensive and why they are such a challenging manoeuvre, taking lots of energy to complete – ‘butt’ so worth it!
The muscles used include the hamstrings and quadriceps on the back and front of the thighs, the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus in the buttocks and toward the side of the hips, also the calves, and the lower back and core stabilising muscles all play their part.

The correct technique must be mastered to gain full benefit and to stave off the risk of injury, particularly to the knees and anyone with existing knee injuries or contraindications should seek professional or medical consultation.
Personally I favour the walking lunge, not only do they produce incredible toning effects but also increases the heart rate and boosts metabolism, helping to burn fat. You certainly know you’ve done them – jelly legs is an immediate side effect, grumbling another and then the DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) may come along, not being able to sit on the loo without holding onto a rail or struggling to walk upstairs for a few days are often par for the course, initially anyway until your muscles get over the shock!

Don’t let all this scare you off though, Lunges are a bit like marmite but once you realise the good they can do, you might learn to love them that little bit more.

– This article has been published in the April edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Commitment v Motivation

If your initial flurry of New Years motivation to get fit, loose weight, get healthier etc, is starting to wane, then maybe its time for a re-think.
The fact is we don’t always feel motivated to exercise, it’s a transient notion affected by so many variables like your current energy levels, the weather, work schedules or even a better offer. Therefore relying on your motivation to get a task done, such as going for a run, can become a very unstable state of affairs indeed.
Instead we have to dig deep into our ‘commitment to the cause’.

It’s like anything in life we have to do because we’ve made a commitment, when sometimes we don’t necessarily ‘want’ to do what it takes – but we gotta! We’re in!
Getting up for work, school runs, nappy changes, walking the dog and even cleaning our teeth… are all examples of things we’re committed to doing to keep a situation going or maintain the health and welfare of ourselves and others. If we look at our fitness with the same mentality and become ‘committed’ to it, our bodies will thank us, ultimately with better vitality, long term health rewards and maybe a nicer looking physique in the process too, if thats what you want.

So next time you’re struggling to get out the door to go to your circuits class, or you’re sat thinking of a million excuses to tell your running buddy why you have to cancel todays session, remind yourself that it’s just that pesky de-motivation demon trying to trash talk you away from maintaining your wellbeing and instead turn your attention to the angel of commitment and value the importance of exercise, especially if you have a sedentary occupation, it really is essential to move your body.
Rarely a week goes by without one of my clients declaring how they didn’t feel like working out but were so glad they did because afterwards they felt great!

– This article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Riding the wave of temptation

If you’re on a weight loss or healthy eating campaign and find yourself fighting the temptations of foods that could jeopardise your success, it might be time to do a bit of Urge Surfing!
Never heard of this phrase before? – neither had I until a few weeks ago, although I was already familiar with part of the principles.

Years ago one of my roles as a PT was presenting workshops for an organisation designed to give practical solutions to family’s dealing with obesity. Part of the course provided ways to manage the cravings that adverts on TV or in magazines for snacks, confectionary and ready meals induced. One of the solutions was to create a distraction for at least 20 minutes with some other activity to avoid acting on the impulse to eat junk. In theory this time frame was enough for the desire to fade and eventually pass.

‘Urge Surfing’ is a similar idea. Attributed to the late Alan Marlett, Ph.D. A pioneer in his field of Psychology, he used the method for the treatment of addictions but the principles can easily be transferred to managing food cravings as well. The idea is that urges are like waves, they rise in intensity, reach a crescendo and eventually crash. Managing these urges by ‘surfing’ them, helps you to harness and override the desire and ultimately eliminate it altogether.

To fully understand and practice urge surfing a more in-depth study is needed than I can provide here but as a very simplified overview, urge surfing involves focusing on the sensations felt throughout the body as you experience an urge, then, by concentrating on the breath you move through the sensations until the wave passes, once you reach this stage you have successfully surfed an urge and swerved a potential diet catastrophe!
Keep the technique in your healthy lifestyle kit bag and see it as another way to get a step closer to your 2019 goals.

– This article has been published in the February edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Short Circuit

New Years salutations!

Is it time to switch up your training routine – or maybe even start one?
Then Circuit Training might be the one for you in 2019…

It’s not the latest trend nor a new idea, infact circuit training was developed in 1953 by R E Morgan & G T Anderson at Leeds University but it has remained popular over the years because the concept is simple and it works!
The basic formula is to work through 9-12 stations with different exercises performed at each one within a set amount of time e.g. minutes or seconds. It will challenge both your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, burning fat and toning muscles.
Among the many positive aspects of this training system, it allows participants to work at their own intensity levels, making it great for group workouts and therefore a sociable training method, which can help people stay motivated and committed and more likely to achieve their wellbeing ambitions.

Studies have proven the effectiveness of circuit training with Morgan & Anderson claiming it to be one of the most time efficient ways to achieve fitness goals and maintain them longer than other forms of exercise or diet – this is a huge claim and one that I whole heartedly agree with and not just because circuits takes you through a range of aerobic and anaerobic energy systems in one session; but also because the exercise combination possibilities are endless. Couple that with the short time frames for each station and things are constantly kept fresh and manageable. Which is great for exercisers who get bored easily and need to be engaged and stimulated mentally and continually challenged physically. Add the flurry of endorphins whizzing around the body from the aerobic elements and you have a great combination for a fun and ultimately very effective workout.

Bodyworkpt presents ‘Body Booom’ – a full body circuit class for both men and women on Fridays mornings in Southwell. Check website for further details.

– This article has been published in the January edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Jeepers Sneakers!

According to the online Collins English dictionary ‘Trainers’ are ‘shoes that people wear, especially for running and other sports’.

Over the years clients have often asked me what apparel they should buy for their workouts and the two items I advise investing in, is firstly a decent sports bra (females only of course!) and the second is the right ‘type’ of trainers. Ultimately both items are for protecting your assets and enhancing performance but I’ll save the sports bra info for another article!

Trainers have become huge high value fashion items, creating a two billion dollar industry for collectors alone in the US and a rapidly growing trend here too, people will spend thousands of pounds for just one pair of Kicks! Aside from the fashionista aspect though, its important to get the right shoes for your activities.

Running shoes are designed to keep you moving forward in a straight line, so the soles spread out as you make contact with the ground, this reduces the possibility of compression injury in the joints by absorbing the impact. However, this type of shoe is a potential ankle nightmare if used for activities involving lateral movement such as aerobics, Zumba and circuit classes. The wide spread of the sole can cause you to topple over and worst case scenario cause ligament damage to the ankle. So if you’re doing any of these activities opt for a slim fit shoe with narrow, flatter soles, you’ll be more nifty and nimble with a better feel for the floor surface. Weight training in the gym doesn’t tend to need impact support, so lightweight cross trainers will usually do just fine, especially if you use the treadmill for warm ups or short interval sessions.

This article is a quick overview to suggest the best footwear styles for the most common types of structured exercise but it is definitely worth getting expert advice and possibly even a full gait analysis when purchasing shoes for *running.

– This article has been published in the December edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Please be seated!

Exercise is essential for everyone, however sometimes we have to modify the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of it to suit our current situation or physical status. I’ve personally suffered from a number of injuries over the years that have been totally incapacitating and forced me to alter my physical activities for a time. For some people though, a quick recovery may not be the case and alternative forms of exercise may need to be considered.

One option is chair based exercises, this is a great way to stay active for people who are having problems with their mobility, for instance if you are recovering from back, hip or knee surgery, suffer with chronic conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis, or have a long term illness, disability of some kind, or even just a low level of fitness. It helps build activity levels gently without causing stress and strain on the major joints, it will assist weight management and promote cardiovascular wellbeing by raising the heart rate.
You can do this type of exercise at home or if you can get to a class you can enjoy a sociable experience as well. Many local authorities provide classes and certain eligible participants may be able to go for free. Look into ‘Exercise referral schemes’ for information or ask your Doctor about getting a referral.

Another option to try is Pilates. Joseph H. Pilates, the man who invented ‘Contrology’ or what we now call Pilates, developed much of his work by rehabilitating the infirm using the pulleys attached to their hospital beds as resistance apparatus to work the muscles of their limbs. Today this amazing style of Pilates is known as Reformer work.
A popular and more easily applied form of Pilates is Mat based Pilates, which can be adapted to suit different levels of fitness and abilities. It is always advisable to seek out professional guidance for both reformer and mat based Pilates exercise, especially if you have health concerns.

– This article has been published in the November edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

The 80/20 Rule!

Ever heard someone say (or even said yourself! – yikes!) “I’ve done a spin class today, so I can eat this cake!” Or “I haven’t done a workout today, so I won’t have a glass of wine tonight”?
This type of relationship between food and exercise makes what is or isn’t consumed a reward for doing exercise or a punishment for not. Both are unhealthy attitudes that can lead to oscillating between binging and restricting diets and exercise habits, that can leave you nutrient poor and feeling burned out physically.

We need to employ the ‘B’ word …no not Boring – Balance!
It would be boring though if we never had a piece of birthday cake again or a pudding on a special occasion. An equal balance is of course 50/50 but in this instance, to make sure we keep our waistline stats in check, we need an 80/20 ratio between eating well the majority of the time and the remaining 20% gives us a little leeway to indulge in the things we enjoy every now and then, that doesn’t mean to say we have to be literal about it and eat rubbish for two days every week, see it as more of a buffer zone thats there for when parties, holidays and weddings happen.

The other aspect of balance here is to see exercise as something we do to remain healthy, acknowledging all of it’s benefits and not because you over-ate at the weekend. Look for a style of exercise you really enjoy, this may mean thinking out the box a little, for instance, if you hate the gym but love being out in nature, get a dog with lots of energy that needs plenty of long walks, or if you prefer to swim but find lane swims dull, challenge yourself to try open water swimming, the options are endless but ultimately remember we need exercise regardless of what we’ve eaten and vice versa!

– This article has been published in the October edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

One Kit Wonders!

You don’t need a whole load of gym equipment to do an effective workout, especially when exercising at home where it may be necessary to keep your paraphernalia to a minimum.
Choosing one key item that has lots of versatility can maximise your space and time, less kit is easier to store and often you can do a very comprehensive workout in as little as just 10 minutes!

You’ll need workout gear that creates a resistance to work against, so an obvious choice for this would be a kettlebell or dumbbell. Other items you could use are good old fashioned Medicine Balls and you can have great fun flinging a Slam Ball around!
Swiss Balls can also be an excellent piece of home kit though a little more tricky to store and then there’s the TRX suspension training strap if you’ve got a strong tree or beam to hang it from.
Choose any one of these excellent training options and you can do an entire full body workout with each one alone.

A ‘one piece workout’ must always be balanced, meaning you work both sides of the body equally, with the same amount of repetitions, constituting one ‘set’. The amount of ‘reps’ you do within the set will depend on how heavy the weight is and your fitness level, usually the heavier your weight the fewer reps you will be able to do per set. You’ll need to do several sets or rounds of each exercise to get a beneficial workout, so challenge yourself on how many you can do within a set time frame.
In the case of using a Swiss ball or TRX strap the same principles apply. The difference here is that you are using your own body weight to create the resistance. You can adjust your weight by the angle, depth or method of each individual exercise.

Most fitness equipment items will come with instructions and often an entire exercise chart, so all you have to do now is choose which one?!

– This article has been published in the September edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

All about face – wearing makeup at the gym!

We know instinctively that wearing makeup while working out isn’t the right thing to do and that having a bare face is best; but how many of us, already rushing to fit the gym in after work, really take the extra time to remove the days maquillage before sweating it out in boxercise?! I’m sure I won’t be the only one to confess that, unless I’d worked out first thing in the morning before the application of foundation et al, I was unlikely to cleanse my makeup off again if I went to train straight from work.

When we exercise with our face au naturel, the pores open as we begin to sweat and the perspiration sweeps away excess sebum and toxins, leaving it fresh and revitalised. It stands to reason then that if this process is hampered by a veneer of contouring cream – the natural cleansing is less effective and the makeup products can lead to clogging, causing spots and blemishes.

For those of us who still want a bit of rouge while on the rower, here’s a few practical tips on the best gym makeup options whilst still allowing our skin to breathe. Keep it simple and light with just a BB cream or a little concealer and if you’ve arrived at the gym wearing foundation from work, keep a pack of remover wipes in your kit to take off the foundation, preserving your eyebrows & mascara so at least your complexion is clear. To add a pop of colour, a cheek & lip balm will do the trick nicely and it nearly goes without saying that waterproof mascara is always the better choice to avoid the ridiculous sight of panda eyes and the sting of both sweat & kohl mixing together as they drip into your eyes – ouch!!
Finally rinse the face with cold water straight after your workout to close pores and make sure you double cleanse before bed. Et Voila!

– This article has been published in the August edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Exercise for wellbeing, not just aesthetics!

Exercise is a great way to get your body into shape – we all know this! Usually one of the most common reasons for people embarking on an exercise regime is to loose weight or change their body shape in some way, so it’s fair to say these motivations are based primarily on aesthetics. The trouble is, approaching fitness with purely aesthetic goals in mind often results in a very inconsistent relationship with exercise.

Stop/Starting an exercise routine according to whether we have an up coming holiday or special occasion, means we are always back to square one. It would be so much easier to have a constant, manageable exercise schedule that could be temporarily increased if needed in preparation for an event and then ultimately be able to decrease or cease without too much detriment to ones figure/physique while on a typical two week vacation!

Perhaps then, our attitude to fitness needs another dimension? A little tweak to our way of thinking sooner rather than when it’s too much later, could save us a whole lot of trouble. How about prevention rather than cure?!
Many people, especially in their youth, work-out just for the body image. Then at the other end of the spectrum, many older adults find themselves ‘having’ to exercise. Often for the first time at much more senior ages when it is a lot harder, out of necessity or strong advice due to a poor health report.
Adopting the idea of working-out for your wellbeing and not just your looks from an earlier age, could help to stave off many health issues and provide yourself with a much more functional body for a whole lot longer.

As a Personal Trainer my most elderly client was 90 years old and at the time, he still regularly played table tennis. I asked him once what kept him so vital and his answer was simple “I’ve always, always stayed active!”

– This article has been published in the July edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk