Flexibility is FAB

According to research for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (December 2020) the “Worldwide surveillance of self-reported sitting time: a scoping review” found that  the average person sits down for 4.7 hours per day (although it is thought that the real figure is probably more like 6.7 hours per day because the survey participants were ‘self-reporting’!).

A significant proportion of this sedentary activity comprises ‘screen time’ – e.g.  computer, TV and mobile phone use, and the associated health concerns are well-documented e.g. increased BMI, heart issues, diabetes etc. The definition of ‘sedentary’ includes not only sitting but also lying down or reclining and most of us are attracted to taking the comfortable option on a daily basis. This has all been increased recently, particularly during the Covid-19 restrictions.

These health concerns make it all the more important that we maintain our physical flexibility – the capability to use our joints and muscles in a full range of movement without restriction, discomfort or pain. 

Nurturing Flexibility
The frequency and extent of our daily movements impact the development and engagement of our muscles and joints. As time passes the scope of our mobility becomes limited. Using some parts of our body more frequently than others can cause tightness in some areas and slackness in others. This can produce pain and affect balance. Lower back and hamstrings feeling more tight this year? Maybe all that working from home on the computer is to blame!

This is why, in our sessions, we try to seek the ideal level of flexibility which allows your body to determine the optimum posture for smooth movement and strong balance which suits you. You will have noticed that in our sessions, I include joint mobilisation and flexibility work at the beginning and end, in addition to strength and cardiovascular conditioning. Sometimes, your personal needs may require a little more of this as part of your programme!

We’re all growing older and time takes its toll on the elasticity of our muscles and the suppleness of our joints. The exercises we do are designed to help you maintain a level of both strength and flexibility which can help you not only enjoy the activities of daily life, and everything else you want to achieve!

So – don’t skip the stretches!

The Power of Posture!

Those who train with me will undoubtedly be hearing my voice in their heads repeatedly chanting “shoulders back, engage your tummy!“…ie: the importance of good posture when exercising. (And believe me, I have to keep reminding myself about it as well, because it is so easy to fall into bad habits). 


The reason I stress posture so often is that it plays such a major part in our general wellbeing; not just in our fitness classes but also in everyday life. Poor posture can lead to all sorts of problems with muscles under tension, joints out of alignment, and resultant pain.


Medical practitioners, particularly Musculoskeletal specialists, emphasise the part that good posture plays in the basic health of the human body. As far as they are concerned it plays as vital a role in maintaining your health as a nutritious, healthy diet, quality sleep and regular exercise. But how do you ensure that you maintain ‘good posture’ during workouts and throughout the day?

Four things I find help me:

Reduce the anterior pelvic tilt: a large amount of back and hip pain can come from an exaggerated lordotic curve (ie, hips pushing forwards, curving the lumbar spine and sticking the bottom out). Commonly in pregnant women and those with increased abdominal weight, this can be corrected with practicing pelvic tilting, drawing the tummy IN and UP and tucking the bottom UNDER. Lie on the floor and practice your pelvic tilts, and then repeat this same movement standing. See how your spine flattens out and tummy pulls in!

Draw shoulders back and down: Upper back tension and neck pain? Check your shoulders aren’t up round your ears. Think about rolling the shoulder blades together and then SLIDING them down the back. This helps keep your shoulders stacked above your hips and more of a neutral spinal alignment, and helps prevent and even correct a kyphotic posture (hunch back).

Soften the knees: particularly when standing, we can lock out the knees and push the hips forward (think ‘grumpy teenager’). Not only does this put pressure on the lower back (see above) but huge tension on the knee joints, ligaments and tendons from a near ‘hyper extended’ position. When we soften the knees (ie, gentle bend, just short of straightening), we take the body weight in the muscles of the upper leg – away from the joints.

Imagine string pulling at the top of your head: Got neck/shoulder/upper back pain or tension? Have someone take a profile photo of you. Does your chin stick forward beyond your chest? Look at the angle on the back of the neck. Did you know the average adult head weighs 5kg and balances on 7 vertebra. The force exerted on the neck joints and muscles increases massively if you tilt your neck forward (looking down at your phone?!) – in fact, a tilt of just 45 degrees can increase the force as if the head weighs 22kg…! From learning various dance forms when younger, I never forgot this image: Drawing yourself up through the top of the head, as if with a piece of string, elongate the neck and draw the chin BACK to a straight cervical spine.


Here is a link to the NHS UK website with some useful information and helpful tips about how to improve your posture.

Needless to say, I will be happy to chat with you have any questions re posture correction 🙂

B x

5 ways to kick up your calorie burn!

You may feel it’s difficult at the moment (in Lockdown…in winter..) to motivate yourself to exercise, and when you are motivated…what can you do?!

Here I just want to throw at you 5 WAYS YOU CAN BURN AT LEAST 100 EXTRA CALORIES TODAY.

‘100 calories? What will that mean I can eat?‘ – that’s not the focus here folks! Getting moving and increasing your daily activity IN GENERAL is beneficial not only to loss of unwanted weight, but also bone density, muscle and ligament tone and flexibility, strength and heart and lung health. Not to mention the benefit to mental health and taking your eyes off the screen (any one got video-call fatigue?!).

1 – Walking!

For 15-20 mins briskly on the flat or uphill can burn 100+ calories (depending on fitness levels and body weight). As Billy Connolly said ‘Get yourself a sexy little raincoat and go out and have some fun!’

2 – Zumba

If shaking it to a good beat is your thing, just 10 mins of vigorous Zumba (or similar, vigorous dancing) can burn approx 100 cal and get your heart and lungs pumping. There’s plenty of resources on You Tube but sometimes you need that trainer there to push – and I can recommend the infectious energy of Nikki and her virtual zumba classes!

3. Running

Want more than a walk ? Get pounding the pavements or the local park for just 10 mins of jogging to burn around 100 cal. Be safe, start with the good warm up and ensure you have the right footwear (I love going for a run/jog with clients and the best way to be challenged and achieve more is with me by your side 😉 )

4. Strength training!
If you know me, you know I love this! It doesn’t have to be heavy weights, 25-30 mins of moderate body weight work done correctly can be very challenging and, along with a balanced diet, can transform the body composition. With just a chair, a mat and some simple dumbbells or resistance bands, I can take you through a full-body programme.

5. Gardening

It’s not the most attractive option in the winter, but it’s a great wat to get warm and just about 20 mins of digging, lifting and raking can burn 100 calories (and tidy up the garden in the process – winning!). Not to mention the upper body and core toning.

For these ideas and more, you can check out this article.

B x

Mind DOES Matter

For most of the past 12 months we have been enduring various levels of ‘imprisonment’. If not total Lockdown, then an assortment of restrictions and limitations to the normal enjoyment of our lives

Many have found this state of affairs stressful and pressurising to say the
least.

The good news is that many people have been turning to exercise to help them cope with the stresses and mental strains that every day life piles upon us. And there is evidence that it works. Take a look at this article from the American Psychological Assoc written in March this year.

About Stress

When our balance is upset in some way, our body creates a stress response as a defence, which can make us behave differently (Sound familiar?).

Symptoms of stress can include sleeping problems, inability to concentrate and fatigue (feel sometimes like your dumbbells are heavier than usual?)
Stress also can increase the level of the hormone Cortisol in the body, which can lead to fat deposits building up around the midriff (annoying!).

Surprise surprise – exercise can be very effective in relieving stress.
Research has found that highly active individuals tend to have lower stress rates compared to individuals who are less active.

Here’s a helpful publication about Stress and steps on how to reduce it from The Mental Health Foundation.

Look after YOU, inside and out in 2021

x

Be alternative

We all come across aches and pains in life, and sometimes are unfortunate to get a sprain or minor injury just from everyday activity.

Depending on what the injury is, and as long as you have had to ‘OK – go!’ from a medical professional (if necessary), you DON’T have to throw your fitness regime out the window!!

If you find you can’t perform a particular movement, don’t
despair and just “sit it out”.

I have said it time and time again – but there is ALWAYS an adaptation that can be prescribed to achieve the same(or similar) effect. OR a complete alternative to keep you working without aggravating that area. That’s just one benefit of personal supervision over a group fitness class or pre-recorded online video.

For example – knee injury and squats are out of the picture? To still work the Quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips we can sit to stand, perform seated leg raises, use resistance bands or leg weights to work the muscles and tendons without strain on the knee joint.

There is no excuse to sit still, and infact- recovery from injury or aches can be quicker if you continue to work your body in the right way.

See you soon

B

Flip The Script

So as the Second Lockdown is announced, I decided to try to take a positive spin on it. (Don’t get me wrong, I have exhausted my 4-letter words and had a couple more glasses of wine than normal too…) .

In my current reading, I have come across the not-so-radical idea of trying to seek a positive out of a negative. And here I am trying to impart the same idea to you.

So – 4 weeks. We could focus on all the things we’re not allowed to do, or we could use this as an opportunity for a short-term focus.

4 weeks to fat loss:

Reducing your kcal intake by 3500kcal a week (that’s burning off (or eating less) 500kcal a day) can lose 1-2lbs a week. Speak with me for specific guidance.

4 weeks to perfect press ups

Review with me to check form, then we aim for your goal – 10? 20? 60 in a minute? A little work every day for the next 4 weeks could get you there (and get some great core and upper body strength in the process).

4 weeks to a 4 minute plank

Again, check form with me to make sure you get the most out of your plank and don’t do any damage, then you’re away! Try adding 10 seconds to your current time every day or every other day..and 4 mins is in sight!

4 weeks to get 20 burpees in a minute!

Average just under 3 secs per burpee…it all starts with one!

My point is, you can make this period work FOR you and use it to focus, rather than lament what we are missing out on.

We can’t control the situation but we CAN control how we react to it.

Muscle Mass – not all weight gain is bad!

I was directed to this article this week:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/fitness/is-muscle-mass-the-key-to-your-health-and-fitness-goals/ar-BBZI3Oj?ocid=spartandhp

and it simply explains the importance of building muscle and the benefits of it to many aspects of our health and well being – not just the aesthetics!

So often I am asked ‘how can i lose this bit of belly fat?’ or ‘how can I lose the fat on my arms/inner thighs/waist?’ and the answer, along side healthy diet, is WEIGHT TRAINING! 

When you undertake an exercise programme which involves using weights and body weight, you will more than likely gain some weight. This is OK! Muscle mass is LEAN weight and makes up a significant proportion of our body’s over all weight. Muscle requires energy to fuel it and maintain (most efficiently calories from a healthy diet, not chocolate bars and wine!), therefore, muscle BURNS calories that you consume. Building muscle protects the skeleton, stabilises joints and takes pressure off knees, hips and ankles. Building muscle creates lean definition, thus making the body appear more toned and ‘tight’.

One of the best ways to workout your body fat to muscle ratio is to use a Bioelectrical Impedance Scale (I have one, give me a shout!) which breaks your body weight down into muscle, bone, water and fat. This can be really encouraging especially if you feel you aren’t making the progress you want.

Eat healthily, with a sustainable and varied diet. Keep an eye on portion sizes and reduce the amount of refined sugars and unpronounceables (artifical sweeteners, preservatives and chemical additives). Drink plenty of water and avoid eating late. and..

PICK UP THOSE WEIGHTS!

NEW YEAR – LET’S DO THIS!

So: most of us are feeling a little squishier, a bit guilty and in need of getting ‘back on the wagon‘ and feeling fit again. (If this isn’t you….what’s your secret?!:p)
That’s OK! Don’t feel bad for enjoying yourself! Of course, there are ways of being a little bit more virtuous when socialising (as mentioned in previous email!) But, what’s done is done and let’s LOOK FORWARD.
Fact: Resolutions made on Jan 1st are 40% more likely to be kept than ones made at any other time of the year
So, what changes would you like to make for this coming year? Continue as you have been, working towards your goals in a manageable, sustainable wayDo you need to ‘up your game’ and have a little word with yourselfOR do you need to be a little LESS hard on yourself and celebrate your successes more?
Whatever you want to do, make the goals SMART:
SPECIFIC (what is the goal, what does it look like?)
MEASURABLE (is it in weight, amount, size, shape, ? Eg 10 pull ups!)
ACHIEVABLE (There is no point in choosing something so far out of reach you will always be disappointed!)
REALISTIC (as above! Make sure you have chosen something you know is possible, even if it’s a challenge)
TIME BOUND (set a time period to achieve this in, to keep focus and limit how overwhelming the task might seem!)
Loosely set goals like ‘eat better, move more’ aren’t going to be as successfully met as ‘stop mid week drinking’ or ‘ exercise every Friday’ …!
Let’s make 2020 GREAT
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR

THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO CHANGE YOUR BODY COMPOSITION. PT 3

Eat correctly
  • Yep  the old adage “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is spot on.
  • I never recommend ;dieting’ per-se, healthy habits are for life, not for a short amount of time. Quick-fixes are just that – quick and short term. I promote long-term lifestyle changes which will be sustainable, non restrictive, and ensure maintaining progress for life.
  • General rules apply – avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates as much as possible (white bread, white pasta, sweets, chocolate, foods and drinks with added sugars and ALCOHOL). Eat wholegrain and protein with every meal (eggs, wholemeal bread, brown rice, fish, white meats, soy and vegetarian alternatives), drink plenty of water throughout the day (carry a bottle everywhere) and don’t have a heavy meal late in the evening, it’s not needed!
  • Additionally – eating TOO LITTLE can mean you aren’t going to be fuelling the new muscle you are building, you don’t have enough energy and you feel generally rubbish! It’s a learning process, but I can help if you seek specific weight management help when it comes to food.

THE THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO CHANGE YOU BODY COMPOSITION. PT 2

Rest when needed
  • Stress hormone Cortisol can actually make your body hold on to fat, particularly around the waist.
  • It’s hard with jobs, families and social commitments to ensure you rest enough. This doesn’t mean a take away and a bottle of wine in front of the telly, this means allowing yourself a day when you are not going 100 miles an hour – take a gentle walk in the fresh air, do some stretches, read a  book, go to bed earlier and lay off the caffeine and alcohol.
  • As much as you need to exercise, you need to rest to avoid the symptoms of ‘over training’ such as fatigue, plateaus in progress, injuries and losing motivation.

PART 3 ON IT’S WAY…