Podcasts I like to follow…

I am quite selective about what noise I like around me when I’m driving and so I’ve recently been compiling a collection of podcasts I like to follow…

Here are some of my current favourite podcasts/some recent recommendations that may become favourites. They tend to be a bit lifestyle-y and a bit business-y and perhaps influenced by a deep-seated desire to escape. [I’m never sure what I want to escape from but living alone on a desert island has been a dream of mine since I was very young!]

These are in no particular order, other than the first one:

Desert Island discs:

This had to be first on my list – partly because of the reason above but also because it was the first podcast I ever really listened to. I go in phases with this because I like to wait until there are a few good episodes to download and then binge on them. I have many favourite episodes but probably the most memorable was David Nott – if you’ve never heard that episode, do! It was so moving that I had to pull over and stop driving. I find that the least celebrity people are the most interesting and generally older people appeal more too.

How to Fail – Elizabeth Day:

I’m new to this one but so far I really like it. I like the concept that there is so much to learn from our ‘failures’ and I like that it is fairly gentle on the ear – I generally don’t like over-excited interviewers/ees! There looks to be a really interesting mix of guests and I look forward to hearing more episodes of this one.

The Doctor’s Kitchen:

This is cool – Dr Rupy Aujla cooks for his guests as he chats to them. I feel like I’m in his kitchen with them! I was recommended an episode called ‘The language of kindness’ with writer Christie Watson which I’m really enjoying, although I did wince at the thought of aubergine curry because I can’t eat aubergines. I just tuned out a bit when the food was mentioned! Like the previous podcast, this feels gentle on the ears. I will definitely dig deeper and listen to more episodes.

Shoot, Edit, Chat, Repeat:

This podcast is hosted by two UK photographers, Vicki Knights & Eddie Judd, and I’ve listened to lots of episodes after recently being recommended it. Some of the topics are very specific for photographers but there are plenty of really useful business-y guests too. I don’t mind the photography stuff (because I am interested in that too) but the business ones are equally relevant to any field of work. The hosts are very bright and chatty – I tend to skip the first 10 minutes of chatter – but I like the way they interview their guests and tackle some interesting topics, including mental health, social media use, mindset and marketing.

Other podcasts on my radar:

Here are some more podcasts that I follow but either haven’t listened to yet or haven’t listened to in a while:

  • The Mother of All Movement with Kathryn Meadows – focuses on all aspects of moving your body after having children; has a body-positive message; wide range of topics and interesting guests
  • Practical Magic with Kate Taylor – haven’t listened to this one yet but I have several episodes on my download list; ‘helping us live an embodied life full of creative expression’; some short episodes which are perfect for a quick mindset-shift
  • Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee – I love the common-sense approach of this podcast and some great information; I love his voice & his passion for empowering us to manage our own health; the episodes are a bit on the lengthy side – good for longer journeys
  • The Happy Startup Community – another one that is new to me but it looks at some interesting business issues so I am sure it will become a favourite
  • Bravehearts Rising with Lisa Pascoe – this is another newly recommended and not yet listened to podcast but it speaks to my soul – it describes itself as exploring ‘what it takes to create a wholehearted life’ and I like that concept; lots of stuff here that I look forward to hearing soon

What podcasts are you listening to? I’d love to know because I really like this format and find it a really useful way to pass the time whilst driving between clients.

Squat & lunge variations

Here’s a quick article and short video with some ideas of squat & lunge variations that you can use to make your home workouts more effective. If you’re currently doing my #tmf60x60 challenge these are ideal for you…

Body weight exercises are a great way to train because you can literally do them anywhere – at home, in the office, on holiday, in the park, while you’re filling up with fuel…ANYWHERE! If you have a body you can do body-weight exercises…

squat & lunge variations

Basic lower body movements:

There are three basic lower body exercises and pretty much everything stems from one of these:

  • squats – usually with both feet on the ground, but can be done as single leg options instead; can include propulsions eg. jump squats
  • lunges – starting with both feet on the ground but moving one foot to a new position; can move in any direction
  • split squats – looks like the end position of a lunge (ie. one foot further forward than the other) but without any stepping movement; can include propulsions eg. split jumps

Variations:

There are some really easy changes you can make to these basic moves which will each target the muscles differently and give a different training effect –

  • foot position – you can change the width of your feet for all the basic lower body moves – a narrow, neutral or wide stance will vary how the exercise feels; in particular lunges & split squats will be more challenging with a narrower stance
  • angle of the feet/knees/hips – a neutral angle is where your feet, hips and knees naturally live; internal rotation brings your toes closer together with your knees & thigh bones rotated towards the centre; external rotation takes your toes further apart with your knees and thigh bones rotated away from the centre; your internal and external rotation will vary but should always feel comfortable in all the associated joints
  • speed of movement – changing the speed of any exercise will obviously change how it feels to your body; here are some common speed variations based on an 8-count phrase which is used for teaching exercise to music –
    • single count – one down, one up
    • double count – two down, two up
    • slow count – four down, four up
    • three & one – can be three down, one up or one down, three up
    • pulses – smaller range of movement, usually bottom half, twice the speed of a single count
    • move & a half – full range down, half way up, all the way down, all the way up (or easier to think of as bottom, middle, bottom, top)

Other variables:

Once you have had a play with the basic movements, using different foot positions, angles and speeds, there are a few more things you can try if you want an added challenge:

  • alter the surface you’re standing on – bare feet will feel different to trainers; a yoga mat will feel different to a hard floor; airex mats are great for giving you less stability
  • have one foot higher than the other – try any of the basic moves with one foot on a low step; with split squats & lunges you can either have your front leg or your bag leg on the step – it will feel different each way
  • add some balance – all the basic moves work really well with a balance move added in between repetitions eg. squat & knee lift, side lunge and leg abduction, split squat and hip extension
  • try single leg squats – a split squat is almost half way between a full squat and a single leg squat, but to really load the front leg, take the back foot off the floor completely!
  • try repeater lunges – this is a great way to overload one leg; simply repeat all of your repetitions on one leg and then swap over to the other leg; works really nicely with some added balance work too eg. reverse lunge repeater with knee lift
  • add some power – propulsion (or jumping) will take your squats & split squats to the next level BUT only do this once your legs are strong enough and if your core, pelvic floor and joints can manage the extra load (ie. if jumping causes stress incontinence, don’t do it until you have resolved that issue first); remember that you want to land softly with soft knees and quiet feet; use your arms for extra drive; examples of propulsion include, jump squats, jacks, spotty dogs, split jumps, tuck jumps, skipping, etc. etc.

Summary:

Body weight exercises are easily accessible and make a useful addition to any fitness routine, but it can be easy to get stuck doing the same things over & over again. Hopefully these ideas will gives you endless options to pimp your home workouts for the foreseeable future. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list so feel free to add any other variations that work for you.

Remember to listen to your body – harder exercises are only better when they serve you. Always seek professional advice if you need help with your exercise programme or medical advice about suitability of an exercise for you.

Gift vouchers

I’m not ready Christmas this early in the year, but I have had some questions about gift vouchers so here are the options available in case you like to get organised in advance.

massage therapy

Massage gift vouchers & packages:

Regular massage offers many benefits including reduced pain, improved mobility, stress-reduction, better sleep and a sense of general well-being. Giving the gift of massage will definitely improve your popularity!

I have three options available for sports massage vouchers –

I have created a 4 session package which is great for someone who has an on-going soft tissue concern, where an initial course of several treatments within a shorter space of time will help to reduce symptoms.

This voucher will give the recipient four treatments over the course of 10-weeks, taken at intervals to suit their schedule, and it will earn you a whole lot of brownie points! If you are buying this as a Christmas gift, the voucher can be dated to start from 6th January 2020

I also offer a 10 session package which can be a gift voucher for someone else, or a gift to yourself! I have a special offer available when one of these options is purchased by 29th November, giving 11 sessions instead of 10 at no extra charge.

If you are buying it as a Christmas gift it can be dated to start from 6th January 2020; if you are nearing the end of a current block of 10 sessions, the start date can be amended to follow-on immediately afterwards, so that you can still take advantage of the 11 for 10 price.

I can also set up a gift voucher for any specific amount to be off-set against future treatments. Please get in touch to arrange this bespoke option.

taylor-made fitness

Personal training packages:

I have recently introduced a 10 session package for personal training and this can also be purchased as a gift voucher. Please make sure your recipient will appreciate your gift before purchasing! Please get in touch to discuss and purchase this bespoke option.

Please let me know if you have any questions at all about any of the voucher options or packages available Jx

tmf 60 x 60 challenge update

tmf 60 x 60 challenge

We are half way through November so I thought I’d add a quick update on the tmf 60 x 60 challenge and check-in with how you’re going with creating new exercise habits.

what will you do today?

How are you doing?

If you have you managed to do 60 reps every day this month you are already well on the way towards creating new exercise habits. All these small changes really do add up to a much bigger whole, even if they don’t feel like much right now. Getting into the habit of adding some movement into your day is a great place to start. Of course, you can add more reps later on if you want to or when time allows, but just being here, right now, doing this one little thing everyday is awesome!

If you didn’t start yet, or if you started and stopped again its all good – because every single day we have the chance to start-over. The challenge of this challenge is not actually the exercise itself – the priority is creating a new habit. It doesn’t matter when you start to create that habit – it only matters that you start. It’s never too late to start. Why not decide to start today and see what happens…?

In need of inspiration?

In case you’re out of ideas or need some inspiration to keep you going, I thought I’d share my 60 reps so far. [I have a brain that is easily bored so I like to change the equipment every time. I realise that not everyone has a range of different fitness equipment to hand, but all of these can be improvised to suit what you have available]

  • Squats have featured several times – usually when I am short on time because they are quick and easy to do anywhere (including in the lounge while I’m watching ER!) They are also easy to vary by changing the position of your feet, the depth of your squat & the speed of the movement
  • KB swings
  • Push-ups and shoulder bridges
  • Lunges – again easy to do anywhere & easy vary by changing the direction of the lunge
  • Shoulder exercises – I used dumb-bells for this one and did 6 different moves x 10 reps each (narrow shoulder press, bent over row, front raise, side raise, wide shoulder press & bent over fly)
  • Burpees, triceps & chest press (full disclosure: I was aiming for 60 burpees but 20 was enough so I added in some upper body moves instead!)
  • TRX squats & lunges
  • Step up, knee lift, step down – I used a fairly high step for this (you could use your second stair or a sturdy chair)
  • Triceps exercises using a weight
  • Barbell exercises – I loved this one because it took me back to the days when I taught Body Pump (bent over row, clean and press, deadlift, triceps extension, chest press & triceps press)
  • Chest & triceps – another barbell workout this time just focusing on upper body (chest press, triceps press, triceps extension, triceps pull-over)

I hope that helps to give you some new ideas, but remember that you don’t need to make it complicated. If you only do 60 squats every day for 60 days you will be creating a positive change in your body which will take you through the end of 2019 and into the next decade with stronger legs!

tmf 60 x 60 challenge

Find out more about the tmf 60 x 60 challenge here

tmf 60 x 60 challenge

I am hereby throwing down the tmf 60 x 60 challenge in a bid to keep you [me!] motivated to move more for the last 60 days of the year/decade! If you’re reading this on Friday 1st November you have exactly 60 days left (allowing a day off for Christmas). If you’re starting a bit later that’s ok – it’s better to start late than not at all.

#tmf 60 x 60 challenge
#tmf60x60

Recently (or more accurately for at least the whole of this year!) I have struggled to motivate myself into doing any regular exercise, other than daily walking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete couch-potato – fitness is my business after all so I am active most days. I think nothing of walking 20 miles at the weekends and I do feel relatively strong and fit-ish. Just not as strong and fit-ish as I used to/would like to feel…

In an attempt to motivate myself, I have set myself the goal of doing 60 reps of something every day for the last 60 days of the year #tmf60x60. I would really love it if you could join me and it doesn’t cost you anything other than your commitment!

I’ve called it a ‘challenge’ but more than challenging you [me] physically, I hope this inspires you [me] to get more active over the next 60 days, and that it helps you [me] to build good daily exercise habits to carry over into the next decade. If your [my] body feels fitter, leaner, stronger &/or more flexible by 31st December as a result that’s an added bonus!

You can choose whether you do the same reps of the same exercises every day or whether you mix and match according to your mood; you might do 10 reps each of 6 different exercises or you might do 60 reps of one exercise; you might do your reps all in one go or spread them out over the day – really you can make this whatever you want it to be but now is the time to commit!

if not now, then when

I tried it out this morning and it took me less than 5 minutes so that’s the ‘no time’ excuse knocked on the head. I’m planning to vary my 60 reps (easily bored!) and I will try to get them done before I start my day, but you can shape it to fit your lifestyle. If you have kids why not get them joining in to?

Click on the link below to read more and see some simple exercise suggestions from me. You can print this off to refer back to whenever you need ideas:

To help you keep on-track, click on the link to print off your daily check-sheet:

If you decide to join me in the challenge, please share some pictures of your home workouts using #tmf60x60 so that we can keep each other motivated; or email me so I know you’re in.

And please share this with everyone you know – the more the merrier!!

As always, let me know if you have any questions or need any help Jx

The Hundred

The Hundred is probably one of the most classic Pilates mat work exercises and one that we often include in class.

Here is a short video to walk/talk you through the key stages in preparing for the exercise and how to make it best suited to your body by adding in various progressions or regressions.

As with any exercise (Pilates or otherwise) the key factor is your ability to manage intra-abdominal pressure. When this pressure is not well-managed, we place undue load onto the pelvic floor muscles, and/or excess load into the abdominal wall. The potential issues from repeatedly exercising without effectively managing intra-abdominal pressure include:

  • a weakened pelvic floor, which over time will contribute to continence issues
  • a weakened/lengthened/protruding abdominal wall
  • changes to posture which can contribute to low back pain, hip pain, neck & shoulder pain, etc.

When performing the Hundred, try to stay mindful of what is happening in your body so that you can make suitable adaptations to improve the effectiveness of the exercise for you. For example:

  • move your legs one at a time rather than both together (you’ll see this is what I do in the video)
  • leave your head and shoulders on the floor instead of adding the abdominal curl
  • support your head on a cushion or with one hand
  • only hold one leg off the floor, instead of both
  • work with bent legs rather than extending them to the ceiling
  • hold the position for fewer breaths instead of the full ten breaths

Remember that you are aiming to feel your abdominal muscles working more than any other muscles in the body – if your neck is hurting or your legs are holding on tight, take it as a sign that your abdominal muscles are not able to effectively cope with what is being asked of them. When this happens, rest and start again when you’re ready, using a regression to keep the work in your tummy muscles. Sometimes, less is more!

I hope the video helps you to get your head around the preparation stages and get more from the Hundred as an exercise. Please ask if you have any questions at all Jx

(PS if you are new to exercise, recently post-natal or have any doubts about whether this exercise is suitable for you at this time, please seek appropriate advice from your medical practitioner or a qualified fitness professional)

October home workouts

This month I’m sharing some simple home workouts with you to keep you moving in between classes.

The moves can each be adapted to suit your body and fit the equipment and time you have available to you. My goal is that anybody can do these workouts but of course, if you have any health concerns please check with your medical practitioner before under-taking any new exercise routine.

Week 1 – 1st October:

This one is super-simple –

  1. squat & shoulder press
  2. bent over row
  3. deadlift & upright row/front raise

Do as many reps & sets as you choose, vary the order if you like, substitute other exercises if you need to. Aim to do these moves every day of the week if you can!

I did 1 set of 10 reps each on the first day; on the next day I did two sets of 10 reps each; on the third day I literally didn’t have a moment when I wasn’t working or prepping for work; today is day four and I haven’t done it yet but I’m aiming for four sets when I do…it’s not perfect but it’s better than not trying at all.

Week 2 – 8th October:

This week it’s a really effective format borrowed from Metabolic Effect – an up-chain workout. The idea is to sequence together several exercises and then add an extra rep for one or two of the exercises each round. To make it even more effective, go with a dumb-bell weight that challenges you…

home workout

I chose the following exercises for this up-chain workout, but feel free to change them to suit you (those marked with the * are my up-chained moves):

  • squat
  • lunge & biceps curl
  • biceps curl and shoulder press*
  • bent over reverse flye
  • body builder/burpee*

Last week I aimed to do the workout every day, but work overtook me and I managed only three days out of seven. So far this week I’ve managed one, but there’s still time to fit in a few more. My mindset is that anything is better than nothing so I’m not going to be upset if I miss a few along the way…

Week 3 – 15th October:

This week I have chosen four Pilates-inspired floor-based exercises, with options to add equipment for extra ooomph… It’s a slightly longer video so that I could include more detail on each exercise. Once you have nailed each move, you can put them together as a floor-based core workout or add them onto the end of another workout.

Pilates-based floor workout with equipment options

Week 4 – 24th October

This week I’ve put together a simple upper body workout using dumb-bells. It’s six upper body exercises and then some optional squats to give your arms a rest ready for your next set!

As always, change any moves that don’t feel comfortable for you and vary the number of sets & repetitions to suit.

Please let me know how you get on & ask if you have any questions at all.

& don’t forget to send me a photo of you doing your workout for a chance to win #goldstaraward1

gold star awards

Jx

My top 5 wellness tips…

I’ve had several really interesting conversations this week about weight loss, hormones, wellness, men(!) and life in general! It got me thinking about my top 5 wellness tips, so I decided to share.

kindness
  1. weight loss has come up in conversation with clients a few times this week following some recent coverage in the news. Last week James Corden spoke out against ‘fat-shaming’ on his show (see it here if you missed what he had to say) and earlier this week the topic of obesity hit the news, with psychologists calling for a change in the language used by health professionals. We all know that weight loss can be a complex issue. We eat for many reasons apart from needing to satisfy hunger, and making changes to long-term habits is never easy to start with. However, here are some simple strategies that might be helpful if you are struggling to get started:
    • switching to a smaller plate helps to reduce portion sizes – your body will only take a few days to adjust to smaller meals
    • avoiding foods and drinks which contain artificial/zero calorie sweeteners will help to adjust your palate, so that you gradually stop wanting sweet foods
    • taking more time to chew each mouthful of food not only slows down the rate at which you eat but also promotes better gut health
    • swapping out energy-dense foods for less energy-dense options will reduce overall calorie intake – eg. replace some of your pasta with an extra portion of vegetables
    • making choices, rather than denying yourself everything, will help you to create new habits which are more easily sustainable – eg. choose a glass of wine or a pudding, not both; share a piece of cake rather than having a whole piece
    • focusing on one strategy at a time, and getting good at it before you add another, is sometimes easier than making lots of changes all at once
  2. hormones have been fairly high on my agenda recently and several female clients have chatted with me this week about their own situation. Until I needed some hormonal support myself, I had no idea how complicated it can be finding the right guidance. I am very fortunate that my GP practice has a gynaecology specialist available (only 2 hours per fortnight, but still better than not at all) but I know that option isn’t always available. My advice would be to keep asking for help until you get what you need! If your surgery doesn’t have a specialist on site, ask for a referral. And keep asking until you feel you have everything you need. And go back if things change (which they will!) None of us need to put up with feeling ‘less-than’ just because our bodies are changing, and there are so many potential options out there. In particular, if you need help with pelvic floor issues book yourself an appointment with a Women’s Health Physio who will be able to advise you in much more depth than your GP. You may need to pay privately for this, but there is help available if you need it.
  3. wellness is a generic term covering a whole multitude of health & well being-related issues but one thing that came up for me recently is how much I have been judging myself. Over the past 3-4 years I have been experiencing some anxiety symptoms in certain situations. Without realising it, I have been running an internal dialogue on repeat, telling myself how stupid/weak/silly/pathetic/blahblahblah I am for having these feelings… And then last week someone suggested that maybe I could just accept the feelings for what they are (a small part of where I am in life right now) instead of giving the feelings all of my focus and attention. And a week later I already feel different about the anxiety. It may still rise up but I’m not searching it out or expecting it. And when it comes, I think I’ll be better able to let it go by me. I am not those feelings. I just have those feelings sometimes. And that feels ok. Maybe you have a negative conversation looping around your head too? Maybe you could let them go a bit by accepting them as a small part of a much bigger and more glorious you…
  4. men have been a source of much chat this week too! I have absolutely no tips about men at all – not for nothing am I a very single person!! And I don’t want to spark a sexist debate, because there are always two sides to every situation. And I know that not all men are the same. BUT I will say to the women reading this: don’t let anyone stop you shining your light…none of us need to feel ‘lesser’ so that someone else can feel ‘more’. For any men reading this, the same applies. Let’s all just be great at being us & keep shining!
  5. life in general – this is a big area to cover in one bullet point but here goes:
    • do what makes you happy
    • be kind
    • walk somewhere everyday
    • find exercise that you enjoy and do more of that
    • shop local
    • buy yourself a shower squeegee!
walking

That’s it – everything I know all on one page!

I hope something was helpful for you Jx

Gathering in & letting go

Happy Autumn Equinox!

On Saturday I attended a beautiful sound bath (with Sharon of Cosmic Healing) in celebration of the autumn Equinox. The focus was on gathering in the energy we had enjoyed over the summer months, in readiness for the shorter days & longer nights ahead.

I have been to a few sound baths with Sharon, but this was for me the most relaxing yet. I think my soul felt truly ready to gather itself in and I feel much more settled since the weekend. There have been some unexpected feelings of anxiety for me of late, but I feel that I turned a corner this weekend. I feel that I was able to gather in a positive energy, wrapping it around me like a blanket. And at the same time, I felt that I was letting go of some of the jangly, nerviness I have been noticing. I know it might sound a bit ‘out-there’ but I really felt something shift – and I liked it!

As well as gathering in my personal energy, I have been literally gathering in everything I can find in the hedgerows! I had a weekend of jam-stirring.

On Saturday I noticed some gorgeous rose hips on a local walk. Determined that there must be something good to be done with them, I found a recipe for rose hip and apple jelly, and set to work. An hour later I had filled one (clean!) dog poop bag with rose hips and another with windfall eating apples. A few hours later I was chopping and cooking and straining the juice, ready to create the most beautiful jewel-bright jelly…

On Sunday it was the turn of the dark fruits – blackberry and damsons. I have been gathering these in over the past weeks and freezing them until I was ready to jam. I just love the colour:

And a final word on letting go, because sometimes I think it is even more important than gathering in:

Wishing you a fabulous autumn – lots of gathering & just the right amount of letting go Jx

Sports Massage – special offer

I started my new massage course a few weeks ago and as part of my training I need to record 36 log-book hours of massage treatments by 10th January 2020. I have decided to offer these at the reduced price so that I can hopefully encourage as many different bodies onto my couch as possible (see details below) 

36 for £36:

Each week, I will have three appointments available at this reduced price. There is no difference in the level of treatment you will receive, but you’ll pay £36 instead of the usual price (a saving of up to £29). In return I’ll simply require you to sign my logbook, to confirm you had a treatment with me.

Please let me know if you would like to book one of my 36 for £36 appointments and I’ll let you know how to book.

(t&c: offer is restricted to one reduced price treatment per person; offer available on 60-minute appointments only; there are a maximum of three £36 bookings available per week; offer is open to existing and new massage clients; treatments are based in Cranbrook; I am fully qualified and insured to offer clinical massage)

Also, I made a decision this week to only use unscented massage mediums from now on:

While I was on my course, I had a reaction to one of the essential oils in a massage wax. It made me feel nauseous, disrupted my sleep and triggered some anxiety symptoms in me, even though everyone else in the room loved it.

It served as a reminder that we are all so different in what we like or don’t like, and in how we react to different products. I have since restocked with massage waxes which do not include any essential oils. I now have three solid unscented waxes (all have a beeswax base & no chemical additives, one also has no nut oils), and an organic grapeseed oil (nut-free & vegan) so you have plenty of choice (and no essential oils) when you come for your treatment.

Look forward to seeing you soon – Jx