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Core Blimey!

Do you know what your core is? Did you know that it’s more than just your ‘Abs’?
Infact your core is everything bar your head, arms and legs!
It is the thick layered musculature of the torso consisting of the abdominals, obliques, transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and many other deeper muscles.
All this meaty muscle protects our internal organs and the precious spinal Column.
So if you’ve ever had, or currently got, a ‘bad back’ it’s time to strengthen that core!
You can spend a lot of money on chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists but at some point you may well find or be advised that it’s a lot cheaper and far more satisfying to create some ‘in house’ protection of your own.

Building the deep internal muscles in your torso, not only helps prevent back problems but makes you stronger overall, helps you move more efficiently and promotes longevity of your general wellbeing. So how do you do it? Well it’s not all about crunches that’s for sure, you need to get a good all round (literally) work out, that targets all those muscles mentioned earlier, working them in all three planes of motion.
One great way of doing this is known as Functional Training, a dynamic type of exercising that as the name suggests, helps you to be more functional in your every day life, making you less likely to bulge a disc while doing the vacuum cleaning – anybody?

As a Pilates teacher as well as a PT, I’m bound to promote Pilates as a great way to build your core, infact Pilates’ primary principle is about developing the ‘power house’ the centre of the body which, when strengthened is the foundation for all movement. Breathing techniques compliment the movements in Pilates making it a very precise and controlled form of exercise, perfect if you’re already suffering and great prevention insurance if you’re enjoying good back health.
So people, learn how to engage your core – its key!

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

You can fake tan but you can’t fake tone!

As we rapidly approach our summer holidays the stark realisation hits us square on that maybe we should have started training in January just like we’d promised ourselves 5 months ago, eek!
Time passes so quickly and here we are drifting into June wondering to ourselves if there’s still enough hours left to get in shape before the holiday?

Shopping for new outfits and cosmetics needed for a trip to the beach is exciting fun. Salon visits get booked for gel nails, HD lashes, golden highlights and spray tans, which all help to create the ‘I woke up like this’ look and the vibe that you’ve already spent 3 weeks in the Caribbean.

Then we realise one thing that really can’t be faked and that’s tone!

Even if you’ve hit your target weight and trimmed down to fit back into your jeans from 2 years ago, something may still be amiss?! Jiggly bums, deflated biceps and protruding belly’s cannot be waxed, highlighted or sprayed away!

The good news is the body is an amazing creation and very responsive, so you can make a significant difference in the tone of your muscles in only a matter of weeks.

Resistance work is how to do it and there’s a plethora of options out there to choose from, body weight exercises, pump classes, kettlebell classes, free weights, Pilates, circuit training, boot camps, LBT classes, you name it, if you have to push, pull or pound something a resistance is created and that is what is needed to build muscle, but there’s no time to waste procrastinating on which class or activity?

If you don’t know which type of training you enjoy most, try them all. Dedicate 3 or 4 sessions a week to it and in the process of elimination you’ll still be toning up your body. You’ve really got nothing to lose, except the slackness of your triceps – so drop and gimme 20!

– This Article has been published in the June edition of Life Magazine – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Is Pilates good for men?

Absolutely!…is the short answer but let’s give this some context. Firstly consider the fact that originally Pilates was invented by a man for men!

Joseph Pilates’ first motivation was himself, as a sickly child told his life expectancy wasn’t good, it determined him to prove the doctors wrong. Studying many forms of exercise including athletics, weight lifting, boxing and gymnastics, his own physique developed so well, with such excellent proportions, he was used as a model for drawings on medical anatomical charts – very GQ’esque, circa 1900’s!

During WW1 while working in a military hospital, he developed his system further by assisting the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. Using the pulleys and structure of the beds the men laid in, he created functional movement patterns.

So how does this system benefit the contemporary man of today? Well, whether you lift weights or you’re training for a marathon, Pilates can help fine tune your performance.

1. Develops the stabiliser muscles. Pilates uses subtle concentrated movements, developing the often overlooked muscles you don’t use during daily activities or during heavy lifting sessions. Making you stronger, fitter, faster.
2. Improves flexibility. When you build muscle you can lose flexibility, the Pilates focus on this can help prevent injuries, muscle strains and improve range of motion.
3. Builds your core. Pilates exercises all focus on core stability and what Joseph termed the ‘PowerHouse’ (manly phrase there!) from this centre of power your limbs can generate great dynamic strength. It also Lays the foundations for creating the best abs possible.
4. Stress relief. You have to focus mentally during Pilates, this can take your mind off work for an hour, helping you to feel more refreshed and the deep lateral breathing rejuvenates your body like a walk by the sea.

There are many benefits of Pilates for men so factor it into your workout schedule, whether you’re fit as a men’s health magazine model or recovering from a prolapsed disc.

– This Article has been published in the May edition of Life Magazine – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Zzz’s affect Kg’s!

Sleep is a serious business! We all know not getting enough sleep is bad for us but it can have detrimental effects to your weight loss goals too.

The obvious reason of course, is that a lack of sleep will make you feel less likely to go and do your exercise workout because you just don’t have the energy. However there is a much deeper problem that will occur within only a few days of experiencing sleep deprivation. Let’s look at an example of two individuals trying to lose weight – they both exercise 3 times a week, combining cardio and resistance workouts and both try to observe a healthy balanced diet with the right amount of calories for their energy expenditure, yet one continues to consistently lose weight and the other struggles, why? Quite simply the successful weight loss candidate is getting enough sleep at night and the other is not.

The ‘science bit’ is extremely detailed, so to put it on a very basic level, not enough sleep wreaks havoc with your hormones! The body goes into a flat spin with several hormones becoming out of whack, impacting a number of systems. The seriousness of that goes far beyond the aesthetics of just weight loss alone, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you. This varies for each person but studies show that for most of us, between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night is optimum.

Another aspect of being over tired is it often leads us to make poor food choices with larger portion sizes than usual, increasing the likelihood of weight gain and sending us further into a hormonal state of flux. Overall sleep really should be made a priority for our general wellbeing and to support our fitness and weight loss goals. There’s even an entire celebrity endorsed movement called ‘Clean sleeping’ and as funny as it sounds, I urge you to get involved and get some quality Zzzz’s!

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

#Bodygoals

If you’ve got an instagram account or ever browsed through other social media sites like twitter or Facebook you’ll no doubt have come across #hashtag slogans such as #fitnessgoals or #summerbody, etc, etc.

These punchy little sayings and their cute motivational intentions usually go along with images of awesomely toned abs or pert derrieres, which is all good but seldom can one achieve those #dreambodies without #hardwork. These things also takes time to achieve, so forward planning is essential or it just becomes a #pipedream!

Realistic time frames for healthy fitness gains or weight loss goals are needed right from the get go. Forget quick fixes if you’re serious about your plans. Set out a period of time and then factor in life.
Unless you’re a professional athlete, Hollywood actor or Victoria secret model you’re unlikely to have the luxury of spending all your time and energy living in the gym. Plus it’s not common to have your own personal chef providing perfect nutritious meals, while you train for your next competition, movie or fashion show.

Now I’m not saying the rest of us can’t look as good as these iconic images that we enthusiastically collect on our ‘Pinterest’ account, anything that creates positive motivation is great, especially if it inspires you to change or develop your health and wellbeing but for the majority of us life happens in a far less glamorous way, so we have to factor in what might hinder our goals along the way with all the usual temptations and setbacks such as busy work schedules, family life, parties and special occasions , illness or injury, lack of sleep or that general apathy that can hit anyone of us at any time. It’s never plain sailing and usually a challenge on top of our challenge occurs.

So since we don’t all have our own entourage organising our lives may I suggest employing patience and perseverance in achieving your #bodygoals and as an old Ghanaian proverb says -#sofltysoftlycatcheemonkey!

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

Beyond the gym

Gyms are great, I love them but they’re not the only place you can work out. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that in order to lose weight, tone up, or get fit, you must have a gym membership. There are all sorts of other ways to achieve your wellbeing goals. It’s really important to choose activities that you enjoy, if you don’t you’ll burn out quickly and quit leaving you feeling frustrated and defeated. This doesn’t have to be the case.

The great outdoors is an obvious choice, if you prefer the idea of a run or bike ride through a local park as opposed to pounding the treadmill or going nowhere fast on the spin bikes then get yourself out there. It’s great as long as you’re not a fair weather jogger, if you only like being outside in the summer or when the weather is good, it won’t last long, you’ll soon give in to the elements and stop going. To make outdoor activities a success come wind, rain or shine, you just need the right kit – hats, gloves, wind cheaters, waterproofs, high visibility accessories and layers!

If you’re not a lone wolf and need a bit of comradery, you might consider a team sport or club. Running clubs, walking groups, football, tennis, hockey, rowing, you name it there’s one out there you’ve just got to look for it. Being with other people goes a long way to keeping up motivation and staying committed. Outdoor kit and attitude will still apply!
If the idea of being cold and wet fills you with dread better consider activities done indoors. There’s still plenty to consider beyond the gym, such as a form of dance, boxing clubs, village hall fitness classes, gymnastics, martial arts like Capoeira, Judo or Karate, trampolining, home workouts with a PT or using DVD’s, the list goes on so at the risk of this article turning into just that, I’ll leave it up to your imaginations to come up with more and to encourage you to go out (or in) and try something new, it could change your life not just your body.

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

Dial M for Motivation

Ah January!

The month, according to statistics, we are supposed to be feeling the bleakest in spirit along with the weather but I say don’t listen to that negative talk, bring it on – wipe the slate clean from 2016 and see in the New Year refreshed and ready with new ideas to pursue.

If however, you lack that sort of enthusiasm and can’t quite muster the motivation to get going, particularly where your new exercise plan is concerned, you may well benefit from enlisting the help of a Personal Trainer.

No longer just for the rich and famous, personal training is very accessible these days and in a variety of ways to suit you.

Most big brand health clubs will have their own in-house personal training team, along with state of the art equipment and up to the minute trends, great if you love hi-tech.

Some PT’s set up private Studios. Often Trainers who specialise in certain aspects of fitness, such as distance running or strength training, providing excellent knowledge in their chosen field.

There are PT’s who will visit you at your home or work place. It’s a very convenient way of training if you have a super busy schedule. Great also for anyone who is especially shy about training in a public sphere.
Finally due to the incredible advances in technology, trainers and clients can now access each other remotely, opening up all sorts of possibilities.

There’s lots to choose from but bear in mind that all PT’s are not equal, check your Personal Trainer is fully qualified – must be level 3 or above. It’s also a good idea to check they are registered and insured as a fitness professional with organisations such as REPS, a decent trainer will gladly offer that information. So if you need a push in the right direction and someone to be accountable to, a good Trainer will definitely exceed your expectations and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them!

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

Hydration please!

As a Personal Trainer I tend to drink a lot of water quite easily throughout my day. It always slightly perplexes me though when I meet people who are blatantly parched. I wonder to myself how it is possible to ignore the sensation of dehydration.

Chronic dehydration can feel like the norm once you’ve been in that state for some time and it doesn’t help either that there is a very British reliance on caffeine products, like tea and coffee, the problem is they actually work as diuretics on the system, meaning they aid the elimination or reduction of water out of the body rather than keeping it in or ‘hydrating’ the body.

We’ve all heard the recommendations to drink at least 8 classes of water a day but as a Trainer I’ve found it’s really quite hard to encourage people who hate the ‘taste’ of Water to make it a habit. Or those who just forget, they have to consciously count the glasses as they stand at the sink glugging it down to get their quota.

Whilst fielding this issue with many of my clients over the years, some of the strategies we put in place are fairly simple, like carry a small bottle with you all the time and sip throughout the day, or if you don’t like the taste or lack thereof, flavour with freshly squeezed lime or Lemon juice but one of the simplest ways is to just keep an eye on the colour of your pee, if it’s clear and pale in colour it’s all good, so use that as your marker rather than worrying how many glasses you’ve drank. Don’t forget your body draws moisture out of the food you eat as well, so it will all count towards how hydrated you are.

Finally as a note for the festive season, do we even need to mention how alcohol can make us feel like a dry sponge, so do yourself a favour and stay hydrated people!
You’ll thank me for it on New Years Day! 😉

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

Resurrection of a dumbbell

Hands up all those who’ve got at least one piece of fitness equipment collecting dust in their garage/shed/spare room?

Most of us have, then, one day we pack it all up and head to the car boot sale or stick it on ebay.
With all our good intentions, the year we are finally going to get fit and healthy, we go out and buy brightly coloured fancy equipment, or we get seduced watching an infomercial and order that ‘life changing’ apparatus, or maybe you received a gift that never even got unpacked. Sadly these items eventually find themselves rejected in the cupboard under the stairs.

Truth is there are a lot of fitness gimmicks and passing trends out there, they have a flash in the pan of popularity but then the novelty wears off and they disappear.

There are some things, however, that will always be relevant to effective workouts and one of them is the faithful old dumbbell. ‘Weights’ don’t tend to go out of ‘fitness fashion’ and usually are made from materials that don’t rot or disintegrate and unlike mechanical or electrical fitness equipment, they don’t need servicing, all you have to do is dust them down and off you go again.

The main reason dumbbells end up as door stops though is people just not knowing how to use them properly or effectively.

Enlisting the help of a qualified personal trainer is by far the best option but if that’s not possible, spending time researching books and videos on U tube is well worth doing, or picking the brains of one of the fitness instructors down at the gym for some pointers can go along way to help getting that home workout up and running again and quite literally, because maybe your only stashed away piece of fitness equipment is a pair of trainers and there’s nothing easier, cheaper or more effective to weight loss or cardiovascular conditioning than going out for a run.

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

Why everyone should do Pilates

I believe Pilates should have a place in virtually everyone’s fitness schedule. It has a reputation as being a bit girly or for the elderly as its ‘nice and steady’ but trust me, Pilates, when done properly, can be as gruelling as the hardest gym routine – if that’s what you’re after – It’s just in a different way and as I often say when I teach, “It’s your workout, so you work as hard or as gently as you want” It can be adapted to nearly everyone’s requirements. So let’s look at a few of the main benefits Pilates can offer.

Fitness is made up of several different components and one of them is flexibility but this is often missed out. This leads to injury down the line for many sports persons or regular fitness enthusiasts, very typically the ones who snubbed Pilates as boring and slow – I was one of them! You may be a person who sits at a desk or has a job involving a lot of driving and a good stretch out is exactly what is needed to counter the position you hold your body in for hours on end.

You could be one of those many long suffering folk with a ‘bad back’ – you need to strengthen your core, asap! This goes for post natal mums, anyone injured in an RTA or if you have a bad posture. Strengthening the deep internal core muscles is imperative for absolutely everyone, especially when you think of it as protecting your spinal column!

Then there’s that modern day epidemic called stress. The beautiful oxymoron Pilates can produce when you focus is relaxation and stress relief while you work hard physically. So if it’s an hour of peace from a busy household, stressful job or you just need some quality ‘me’ time, or any of the above issues apply, be you man or woman, young or old – Pilates really does work!

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