Wow what a week or two it has been. Life has become overwhelming at a completely new level with everyone’s stress levels on the increase.
In trying to work out how I personally cope and get through the restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 my thoughts as ever revert to staying active and eating well. I know that only a limited amount is in my control but taking some positive actions significantly lifts my mood and improves my mental wellbeing.
We are in the fortunate position of having access to powerful communications technology and this can bring us together virtually if not physically. Inspire Me Fit already has a membership subscription page. This has enabled participants to supplement their classes with short online workouts at home with many adding a couple of extra 10 minute Pilates or HIIT sessions each week. The only dis-benefit being you need to be able to motivate yourself to login and workout.
Taking technology a step further, for the last 9 years we have run online fitness and fatloss programmes such as Body Reset, through a Facebook Group where workouts are performed via a Youtube video. The key to the undoubted success of this approach is that it allows regular communication between instructor and participant and more importantly between participants. At a time where we face isolation and lack of access to groups this technology can provide a lifeline. You have regular access to your instructor who will be there to motivate with regular prompts during the day and live broadcasts. Connect with like minded people and gain access to plenty of short, effective workouts, which can be done in your own home.
I am so pleased I took the time to learn and set up this technology as everything is already in place to help you stay fit and motivated through these unprecedented times. Furthermore, by next week we should be in a position to offer 'live' group classes via video conferencing. Of course the big benefit of you joining in the live sessions is your favourite instructor will as usual be checking out what you're up to and we can all communicate together.
For many people Coronavirus will have instigated financial worries. Understanding this we plan to cut our prices and offer further reduced rates for those who need it most. If you or someone you know has had a significant change to their financial situation we would like to help. Please contact Debbie for further details. We are a small business comprising local instructors who want to do what we can to help you while trying to survive the impact ourselves. Please hep us by sharing information and posting pics of you working out on our Facebook Page. The more support we get the more frequently we will be able to offer classes. Thank for all your help and support and stay safe.
A question I am asked regularly is how much exercise is enough? Of course this depends on your fitness goal and i’m not talking about how to train for a marathon here but how to stay 'fit for life’. The biggest issue is perhaps the type of exercise we do! My fitness week looks something like this:
Ideally I’d like to add in at least one more run or bike ride but this is a pretty good variety of classes and ticks the following boxes:
All these elements of fitness are required to promote good posture, help prevent against injury, stay lean, stay strong and ultimately stay active. To be honest the marathon runner or endurance athlete should also be doing all these types of fitness in addition to their sport specific training!
Take into account too, that for many areas of fitness, as we get older we need to train harder just to maintain the status quo! We try to convince ourselves that we shouldn’t do ‘hard exercise’ as its not good for our backs/knees/shoulders (insert what ever excuse you can find) and do a little gentle exercise each week. This is where we need to get real, with a few exceptions most people in their 30’s 40’s 50’s and 60’s should be out there getting sweaty and exercising hard. I have some amazing ladies in their 70’s joining in Kettlebell HIIT who would absolutely hate me suggesting they take it easy. They have started with Pilates to protect their backs and strengthen their core and joints before successfully adding more challenging workouts.
I know there are barriers to exercise but the first step is to dump any excuses about age and ability.
Time can also be a barrier. Classes are so worth coming to because you will get the most from your time investment. We make sure you are working effectively, we vary your workout to prevent the body getting lazy, we push when you need pushing, ease off when you need a break. If you can’t get to as many as you’d like though add in more weekly sessions using our Online Fitness Membership Subscription. For just £3.95/month you get unlimited access to 30 short but effective workouts covering all areas from HIIT to Pilates and Conditioning. It's accessible and great value for money.
This week I challenge you to review your fitness regime. What are you doing and why? Does the time you spend exercising serve a purpose or are you doing it because you always have? Are you convincing yourself that getting sweaty isn’t for you?
Remember we are here to help. Give me a call if you’d like a chat about your fitness. Our objective is get you doing the classes and activities you need, in order to achieve the life you want to lead.
The Teaser, a signature Classical Pilates exercise within the mat system which requires a skilled combination of strength and power with length and control which can take considerable time and effort to learn to perfect.
Ultimately we aim to eliminate all other muscle groups from taking over the work of the powerhouse or core, but there are many stages to building up your teaser. Initially just ‘getting up there’ is an achievement, then one day it starts to feel easy. The one absolute rule of Pilates is that if anything feels easy then its time to reevaluate!
Achieving a strong Teaser undoubtedly marks a step change in capability and is recognised as a milestone in progression towards the Advanced Programme.
Stage 1: Getting There
Teaser 1 is a tough exercise in which the torso pulls up against gravity while the legs
remain still. To perform this requires a strong core connection together with sufficient
lower back and hamstring flexibility. It’s fair to say that many of the exercises performed in the run up to the Teaser are there to build up and prepare for the star of the show. So initially it’s a case of putting in time in class to start to build the strength and flexibility required for the Teaser, incorporating modifications and building blocks along the way.
A key exercise we need to master in order to have any chance of moving on to the Teaser is the Roll Up which is in essence the Teaser tipped on its side! Practice the Roll
Up regularly and this will improve many of the elements required to get there with the Teaser!
A strong back connection has a big part to play in the Teaser too. Make sure you connect your arms into your waist and build lower back strength from practicing the
Front Support and Push Ups. Very often however the problem is not one of insufficient core strength, but tight hamstrings or lower back and in this case it will be necessary to bend your legs when performing the Teaser. Performing targeted stretches will gradually help improve hamstring flexibility, which has a multitude of postural benefits as well as transforming your Teaser.
In summary the elements required to execute a teaser include:
Stage 2: Refining
If you can get there and sit and balance without thinking too much about it then its
time to get into the nitty gritty of refining your Teaser. This is all about two things:
You will inevitably be thinking about engaging your powerhouse as you lift into your
Teaser. However to transform the exercise to another level this engagement needs
to deepen into a rounding which is initiated on the way up, held through the
balance phase of the exercise and deepened on the way down. All the limbs will
reach out long as the stomach pulls back strongly in the other direction. A challenge
yes, but the result is a much smoother rollback and fantastic stretch through the length of the spine.
Finding the Two-way Stretch
It has been said that to truly master Pilates you must find the two way stretch in every
exercise! The two way stretch involves reaching in opposite directions to fully
activate your body and extend outwards from your centre. The more you can
lengthen out from the centre finding the opposing forces, the deeper your core can
work. Perhaps the easiest exercise in which to find the two way stretch is the Double Leg Stretch. When you extend your arms and legs you reach away from your centre
through your back, arms, legs and sides keeping an even and stable centre. When
you circle your arms you engage your back and bend your legs in from the strength
of your centre. Transform your Teaser by not only finding the opposing forces of your two way stretch as you lift into position but maintain and deepen it as you hold the exercise and then lower back down.
In the words of Pilates instructor Andrea Maida “A beautiful Teaser does not happen by accident. What appears to be effortless is in fact a boatload of sweaty work going on for days. Be sure to smile and enjoy it!”
Exercise and fitness in our 30’s
Our 30’s should be a great decade for fitness! Stamina and bone density are at a lifetime high, and its a time to push hard and enjoy working out. That said, it is a decade where hormonal changes will start to take effect on our body and with increasing commitments time constraints physical activity levels can drop. If nothing changes and we continue to eat as we did in our 20’s then over the decade we are likely to be looking at the onset of the dreaded middle age spread. The good news though is that with a few lifestyle tweaks and the right exercise focus we can easily manage the changes, maintaining a lean body and building strong foundations for our long term fitness.
After the age of 30 lean muscle starts to decline and we can lose 3-5% of our lean muscle per decade. The greater proportion of lean muscle we have the higher the metabolic rate (in other words the more calories we burn day to day just though our everyday life). Alongside the gradual decrease in lean muscle our metabolism is also starting to slow down. This means that that year on year if everything else remains the same, in order to just maintain our weight we need to consume less calories or increase our levels of physical activity.
Our 30’s are really only the early stages of change and it is relatively easy to manage weight and prevent the storage of fat. Start now and not only can we stay lean but physical activity will help prevent to impact of ageing. Telomeres are DNA ‘caps’ which protect our chromosomes like plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Scientific studies have found evidence to suggest that exercise together with a healthy diet, helps limit telomere erosion to produce and ‘anti ageing’ effect, reducing the risk of age related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Of course many women become pregnant and have babies at this age and that can create a fitness hurdle. The fitter and stronger you become before pregnancy the quicker you should be able to get back to exercise after the birth.
We can train hard in our 30’s. Even if it’s been a while since you last did formal exercise you should be able to pick it up quickly. Make sure your workouts are progressive and think about some goals along the way to keep you motivated. Steady stage running doesn’t quite cut it like it might have done in your 20’s, so introduce intervals. HIIT and resistance training will get better results quicker. Good exercise choices are:-
HIIT - time strapped 30 somethings will get quick cardio returns from HIIT (High Intensity Intervals). While you will get motivated to exercise harder in a class situation try adding an extra 2 x 20 minute HIIT workouts at home each week for best fat loss and fitness results.
Resistance Training - build lean muscle by adding resistance training to your fitness regime. Kettlebells and mini bands are cheap and effective and get results quicker than using body weight alone. As well as improving muscle tone you’ll burn fat, increase your metabolic rate and build bone mineral stores. Combine Kettlebells with HIIT for a real tame savy workout ticking all the boxes.
Start to think about Longevity Training - time invested in core conditioning, flexibility and balance will pay dividends in your forties and fifties, helping you stay injury free. A Pilates class once a week is a great choice particularly if you are planning a pregnancy to build muscular strength and balance before and after the baby is born.
Its simple really, eat according to how active you are. In general as we age we need less food but what we eat is important too. Eating a healthy diet in your 30’s will make life so much easier when the big hormonal changes start to hit in your forties.
Eat good quality proteins such as lean meats, nuts and eggs, and plenty nutrient rich vegetables. Choose complex carbohydrates as close to how nature intended as you can for example whole grains, quinoa, lentils and beans, sweet potatoes and oats. Where possible avoid processed foods, sugar and any ingredients you can’t easily identify particularly artificial sweeteners, preservatives and e-numbers.
Fitness Top Tips for the 30 something
I am feeling really excited about the coming year. We have the Wellbeing Day drawing ever closer (we sold out so quickly that I am planning another this summer too) and classes continue to go from strength to strength. Talking about strength, this is the theme I would like to explore further as a focus for 2018.
This won’t sound completely new as if you train with me you will know that strength is a personal fitness goal. But this year I want to develop my strength goal to become more than a just a physical focus but a holistic theme incorporating food and lifestyle.
By strong I don’t mean bulging biceps and a well-defined six pack but robust immune and digestive systems, resilient adrenals a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, tough bones and a strong mind.
Exercise has a big part to play in all these areas. I still feel that the wider benefits of exercise are overlooked with too much of the emphasis being on fat loss. To achieve a strong body and mind exercise choices need to incorporate:
So how can you translate all this into something more meaningful for a new years resolution?
All our fitness classes are developed around the concept of holistic strength. Depending on your current level of fitness will govern which sessions are right for you now but sign up and commit and we will do all the hard work making sure you do the right exercise and are motivated to keep going.
Beginner Level / Back to Fitness – Mindful Moves / Beginner Pilates / Outdoor Workout
Intermediate Level – Mindful Moves / L1 Pilates / Outdoor Workout / Kettlebell HIIT & Ski FIt
Advanced Level – L1/L2 Pilates / Outdoor Workout / Kettlebell HIIT & Ski Fit
No doubt in the media today there will be lots of statements with the message ‘New Year New You!’ Pressure to improve, lose weight, be fitter, be better! You’ll start to think about the food you should give up, the workouts you should be doing to achieve this ‘New You’.
For many people your body will already be taking abuse on a daily basis; rushing to be in two places at once, grabbing food in between work and family or other commitments. Do your really need more pressure to reinvent yourself?
Put all thoughts of what you could be and what you should be out of your mind this morning and instead think about what you can do to cherish the body you live in. If you look after your body it will repay you in so many ways.
Eat to nourish your body, you’ll have more energy, your skin will glow your hair will shine. Move more in a way that makes you happy, you’ll release endorphins ‘happy hormones’, your body will become leaner, stronger. Do things that give you pleasure, you’ll become calmer, more content, more positive. Yes, make some tweaks but make them in a positive way, because you love and value yourself.
In 2017 change your mindset from ‘improving’ your body to ‘loving’ your body. I guarantee that if you love your body it will love you back.
At Inspire Me Fit we like to encourage you to make a positive start to your New Year health and fitness by taking part in our January Fitness Challenge. Each week we will set you 3 challenges, one physical, one nutritional and one wellbeing. The challenges will include some workouts, a bit of healthy meal preparation and some activities to promote mental wellbeing. If you complete the challenge you will be well on your way to showing your body some love and a positive start to a healthy 2017.
Alongside your Fitness Challenge it would be even more beneficial to take part in Dry January and avoid alcohol for a month.
To follow the January Challenge follow our posts on Facebook or sign up to our weekly newsletter via our home page.
I’d like to introduce you to a great piece of Pilates equipment that everyone has at home…The Wall!
The Wall exercises are perfect for beginners so feel free to try these exercises even if you have never done Pilates before. They are also great for improving postural awareness for more advanced participants so everyone can take something from trying this.
To leave the wall walk the feet back in, push the palms of your hands back against the wall and walk forwards.
It is a busy time of year for running and cycling enthusiasts, building up to end of year events and Recovery is an essential but often overlooked part of race preparation and ongoing training.
Foam rolling provides a form of self-manual therapy which can be used as an effective alternative to expensive sports massages. Try it after training on warm muscles, to reduce muscle soreness and promote quicker recovery. Furthermore, evidence suggests that if performed regularly, foam rolling can help increase long term muscle flexibility.
The following exercises using the foam roller are particularly beneficial to runners and cyclists but also feel great after a gym session or class.
For each exercise, slowly roll back and forth as described for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping the roller under the muscles at all times (avoid rolling onto your joints). As you roll, take deep, slow breaths to help your muscles relax. If you hit a particularly tight or tender spot stop rolling and apply direct pressure for 30 seconds, or until the pain reduces. Always foam roll on warm muscles and keep your core engaged to support the rolling.
I have written plenty in the past about the importance of planning to achieve improved health and fitness. The first step in the planning process is to understand what it is you really want to achieve. It’s very easy to say ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘ I want to get fit’; however these statements are meaningless and won’t enable you to bring about change.
To identify what you want to achieve means you drilling down deeper, and to be honest how many of us have the time to do explore what is really driving us?
In our busy lives defining our goals can either seem to be a luxury or a bit of a waste of time! I see so many enthusiastic people wanting to just get out there and exercise! However all too often they are doing completely the wrong thing, wasting precious time and money as they plateau with their fitness or weight.
Health and fitness goals need to be SMART! Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Often it’s best to start by identifying the fitness problem and use this to help focus your goal. Some examples could be:
Problem: “I don’t feel fit enough to run round with the children in the park”
Goal: To be able to play cricket with the children / cycle with the children for an hour by their next school holiday.
Problem: “I am struggling to do up my favourite jeans and want to feel comfortable”
Goal: To be able to wear my jeans comfortably in time for the girls night out next month.
Problem: I want to enter a 5K run but am not fit enough at the moment
Goal: To be fit for my first 5K run which I’ll sign up for in 6 weeks time.
Problem: Back pain / knee pain is stopping me exercising.
Goal: Find an exercise regime to help overcome my back/knee pain.
Problem: I usually pull out of my evening fitness class because I feel tired after working all day.
Goal: Increase my energy levels to make sure I get to my evening fitness class on a regular basis.
For very long term goals such as I want to run a half-marathon in 9 months, or I want to drop 3 dress sizes by next summer, you will need to add some shorter term intermediate goals or milestones such as “to complete a 10K run in 2 months time, or drop a dress size in 6 weeks”.
Once you have identified your health and fitness goals, use these to set yourself a series of actions. In our example “I usually pull out of my evening fitness class because I feel tired after working all day” actions could include:
Remember that most health and fitness related goals require you to think about nutrition and a perhaps a change in routine as well as consideration of what type of exercise is best.
Ask yourself the following questions as you set out your list of actions:
Remember too that body adjusts to fitness regimes quite quickly so to progress you will need to change things regularly. Review your progress after about 6 weeks and see what’s worked, what hasn’t and what you might need to change as you set your next set of goals.
I would love to see your goals, please post up on Facebook and share.
It's the question I am most frequently asked and the one I dread the most, because the hard truth is that those wobbly bits can't actually be toned.
In terms of body composition we have lean muscle mass and we have fat. Lean muscle is as it sounds, lean and taught. Wobbly areas, usually to be found around the midriff, hips, thighs and under the arms are deposits of fat. They can't be toned they need to be burned.
Thats the bad news, the good news is that you can get rid of the wobbly bits. However, forget that machine in the gym that tells you if you have your heart rate at a certain level you are working in the 'fat-burning' zone. You may well burn fat but at a very very slow pace. You need to be on that stationary bike or running machine for hours, and frankly life really is too short to be a sweaty gym counting the minutes until you've done your time.
Burning fat can be fun, yes really!! And the feeling after a hard core cardio workout is AMAZING you will crave it and want more. Once you stop finding fat burning a chore and enjoy exercise then your body will respond and the change will begin.
The best exercise for fat burning in my book is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Not only do you burn fat FAST in a HIIT workout, you'll continue to burn it for hours after a session.
Of course you will never lose the wobbly bits by exercise alone you'll need to clean up your diet too.
We have plenty of short but very effective Online HIIT Workouts available on the Fitness Members Page. For those new to HIIT I recommend the new Back to Fitness Cardio Blitz, for die hard enthusiasts try the new Hard Core Fat Blaster.
With over 20 years experience in the fitness industry, Debbie's philosophy is to provide results driven, progressive but functional training solutions that fit in to our