up-chain your workout

Adding an up-chain to your workout is a super-simple way to boost the effectiveness of your training. Even better, up-chains can be used in whatever way suits your training goals, the equipment available to you and the time you want to spend training.

Hi-Li Fitness Circuit

An up-chain circuit is a great way of increasing your strength and fitness because as you progress through your reps, each exercise will get more challenging, and then once you have done the highest number of reps in your chain, you go back to the start and it gets more manageable again. Working in this way means that you cycle through varying levels of intensity and this make the workout more achievable but also more challenging overall.

Here’s an example to show how it works:

  • If you were doing a squat and shoulder press as a continuous pattern of 1 rep of each, for a total of 2 minutes, you might gradually tire (& get bored?), but the exercise itself doesn’t  become more demanding on your body
  • If you use those same two exercises as an up-chain you would do 1 x squat, 1 x shoulder press, 2 x squats, 2 x shoulder press, 3 x squats, 3 x shoulder press, 4 x squats, 4 x shoulder press, 5 x squats, 5 x shoulder press, and then start again with 1 x squats, 1 x shoulder press, and so on which would create more muscle overload in the same period of time

Once you have understood the basic principle, you can tailor your workout to suit your needs and there is no limit to what you can include in your workout. Watch the video &/or click on the link below for ideas about how best to tweak your up-chain to suit your needs and a sample up-chain workout:

I hope you have some fun creating your own up-chain workouts – this one is based on my HI-LI fitness circuit class last week but there is no end to the variations you can make so please feel free to change it as much as you need.

Let me know if you have any questions at all


finding creative inspiration

When I was at school, I participated in art about as enthusiastically as I participated in sport – ie. not at all! How strange then to find myself, aged 52, working in the world of movement and exercise with a growing fascination in art and creativity. I come at both things from the perspective of wellness, because I think that movement and creativity are each closely linked with a sense of well-being, promoting physical and mental health.

Maybe both things were always destined for me, and it just took me all this time to realise it?! But now that I have, I think that for me a key part of 2019 will be about finding creative inspiration…

This week I have made a start & have felt a real surge of creative energy, which was sparked by a wonderful writing workshop on Wednesday afternoon. Although I like to write I was nervous, not knowing what to expect from the session lead by Hilary Wilce at Smallhythe Studio. I needn’t have worried – it was the most supportive, uplifting and joyful way to spend two hours and I smiled gently to myself all the way home. I feel like it has stirred something in my soul and opened my eyes to see differently. It was truly inspirational and an unexpected joy. I will definitely go to more writing workshops and wholeheartedly recommend the process of using writing prompts and short time-frames (eg. five minutes) to get your thoughts on paper.

reading, writing and purple ink

When I got home after the writing workshop, I picked up my Christmas present to myself which I had only flicked through previously. It is a beautiful book called ‘Conscious Creativity’ by Philippa Stanton. I had seen it on Instagram (a source of much inspiration for me given that I love photography, even if it is only iPhonography) and bought it mostly because it is a visually stunning book. One of the things I love is that the author leads you to explore your own creative vibe through a series of questions and prompts and then some exercises* to work through at your own pace. You can dip in and out or follow along with each chapter, which is where I’ve started because I feel like a bit of structure is good for me right now. If you’re interested in exploring your creative side in 2019, this is a great place to start.

Still feeling creatively stirred when I woke up today, I followed up a recommendation that a friend gave me a few weeks ago. She had just started Mission: Inspiration with Mike Deakin – a series of monthly art journal challenges delivered via You Tube, his facebook group and his vlog. I woke up early and sat in bed watching his first ‘story’ for January, which, for someone who has never dabbled in mixed media art (but would love to know more about it), was totally mesmerising! I have no natural feel for this kind of art but watching someone create in this way was mind-blowing for me. I’m not expecting my creation to blow anyone’s mind but I will be getting out some glue and paper this weekend for sure!

So how about you – what do you do to feed your creative soul? Does creativity play an important role in your life? How does it make you feel?

I’d love to know what inspires you and any creative types that you follow – please share.

* And also I’d love to know any music suggestions you’d like to offer, partly because one of my ‘Conscious Creativity’ exercises is to listen to some music recommended by a friend. There is another reason for the music too, but I’ll share that at a later date…

Wishing you a joyful, creative week Jx

putting my house in order

Putting my house in order – January 2019

Not one for NY resolutions, I am however really enjoying the surge of energy I’m feeling at the start of 2019. This time last year my Mum had not long died and I felt as if I was crawling into the new year. My only goal at that stage was to have one thing each month to look forward. Those things became my stepping stones through a difficult year.

It took me until October to even start to emerge from my grief. Obviously the grief is still there but it is no longer pulling me under – it’s a part of life but it’s no longer all-consuming. From that point on I had a real drive to ‘catch up’ on the months I had lost and I entered into a phase of frantic DIY which lasted until early December. In hindsight, I realise that it was mostly about being so busy that I didn’t have time to think; it was my way of escaping from the world and staying safe in my house. It left me with newly painted walls and total exhaustion!

Since Christmas I have started on a new DIY project, but this time it feels different. I’m not using it to avoid the world – I’m using it as a way of putting my house in order and the change in focus feels quite nurturing. Resolving problems, clearing out cupboards, reorganising and re-thinking how I use the space I have, has been a really positive process – although the dog is still not happy that his bed is in a different place!!

At the same time I’ve started taking more care of my body – the ‘house’ in which I literally live – by reviewing and overhauling some lazy nutrition and exercise habits:

  • I’ve defrosted and sorted through my freezer; stocked up on staple ingredients; batch-cooked some meals and prepped so that healthy meals can be quicker and easier to prepare.
  • I’ve been trying to walk at least 5km a day – some days I’ve gone double that distance, some days I haven’t reached it, but over time I hope the average is 35km a week. I’m finding it quite tough – not the distance, but the time it takes to walk the distance – but since I hate running I’m just going to have to find the time required!
  • I have also signed up to R.E.D January to nudge me into doing something fitness-related every day (on top of walking). I have become very good (aka bad!) at ‘letting myself off’ my own fitness training over the past few years, armed with some real reasons but mostly lots of excuses, but I am determined that it is going to change this year. I’ve started with short workouts on the basis that 10-15 minutes is an ok place to begin and that done is better than perfect. It’s not too late to sign up to R.E.D January if you need a gentle nudge too

The final part of putting my house in order is finding a word to set my intention for the way ahead. I caught myself  thinking I didn’t want to do this because although I think it’s a neat idea, nothing came to mind and I didn’t want to give my energy to it…but my #cy365 photo prompt for Thursday was ‘one word’ and that kind of forced the issue! My first thought was ‘now’ because it was in the title of the book I had just finished reading (‘Goodbye For Now’ by Laurie Frankel) and I decided it was a good reminder about being present – ‘in the now’.


Then as I walked my 4.7km this morning I decided that ‘here’ was perhaps a better reminder to be present in life and so that is what I have settled on. I regularly give myself the chance to opt out of living fully but maybe this year will be different and I will opt-in to the ‘here and now’ more often…

Regardless of the time of year, I think it is always useful to take time for some auditing and life-laundry. Putting my house in order feels like the best way to start the year, and so much better in every way than the way it started last year.

I don’t plan to use these intentions to beat myself up with if I get side-tracked later on, but at their heart these are the things that matter to me and it seems sensible to set out my stall in the quiet moments before I go fully back to work next week.

I’m fed up with not showing up in my own life and I am the only person that can do something about it, so watch this space (or don’t!) – this year I will be HERE!


happy birthday tmf

happy birthday tmf

I’ve never been big on birthdays but it seems rude not to celebrate the 8th birthday of my little business and all the ways it has made my life more whole.

The date is a bit woolly because actually taylor-made fitness started a little bit before this, and in terms of planning a lot sooner than this date, but I choose to celebrate on 1st October because that was the date of my first proper early-morning bootcamp in 2010. A few of you that were with me then are still with me now, and I am truly grateful for your continued support.

bootcamp barre pilates

(from bootcamp to barre)

Having a small business is a bit like having a dog in that I can look back at all the times it has been there while life has taken shape. Over the past eight years two of my children have left home, various pets have arrived, two grand-children have been born, my Mum has passed away and I like to hope I have grown a little too. As all of life has unfolded, I think that taylor-made fitness has undergone its own unfolding, reshaping, growing, changing and settling process.

On a personal level, 2018 has without a doubt been (and perhaps continues to be) my toughest year, and there have been many times that I have wanted to run away. One of the things that has kept me rooted has been my business and all of the fabulous people that are involved in it – ie. you. I know I haven’t always been at my best this year, and feel so grateful for all your patience and kindness along the way, but I hope that the time we have shared has still added value to your life and helps you to feel better about your body.

At the start of this year a friend advised me that this was my time to be fallow. I didn’t fully understand what she meant at the time but as the year has unfolded I realise that she was so right. I have tried to live quietly and gently, giving myself space and time to get used to my changed family dynamic and I feel as though I’ve recently started to turn a corner, ready to look ahead again. As I’m writing this my 2019 diary is sitting next to me on the dining room table and I’m ready to take taylor-made fitness onwards into a fresh new year…

What next?

Before I wish away the end of 2018, I’m going to make some tmf birthday celebration treats for PT and class clients on Monday, and maybe you could start thinking about how you want to spend the remaining 94 days (& counting) of this year…

  • what are you going to do with them?
  • what needs to happen to bring you’re year to a strong finish?
  • what can you do today to help you get where you want to go?

Here’s to birthdays, and celebrating progress, and looking back & looking forwards, a little bit older and hopefully a little wiser Jx

onwards & upwards

As a general rule, I don’t tend to label days or weeks as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but last week really was a BAD week, and so this week has been about moving onwards & upwards.

Or as a friend often says in such moments: ‘AVANTE!’

I had some (mental health) homework to do over the weekend which has been surprisingly helpful. The first part was to identify some key personal values; the second part was to find activities which support/match each of those values. For example, if one of my values was ‘feeling a sense of achievement’, completing a DIY task would be an activity which supports that value.

The idea behind the homework is to find a whole range of activities that support my values, so that I can spend more time doing those things (because they will help me to feel better) and less time doing mindless things (such as watching TV) which might be a  good distraction but which don’t contribute to a sense of well-being. To start with I was a bit flummoxed about my task, but once I gave it some thought it all became clearer and I have used it this week to help me feel more ‘me’.

I have also taken some inspiration from this gorgeous picture (by Lori Roberts) which is called ‘ABC of Life’ – I think it encapsulates all the things that matter to me (maybe apart from the voting?!):

ABC of life by Lori Roberts

So armed with my list and Lori’s art, I thought I’d share some of my wins from the past week:

  • a long walk on Saturday morning in the company of friends, followed by tea and cake at The Avocet Gallery in Rye Harbour got the weekend off to a really great start. The sunshine and stunning views made the early start very worthwhile. I walk everyday but really love to venture out for longer walks when I can – it works like a meditation for me I think. This week it will be Fairlight to Hastings, chips on the beach, and walk back again…
  • after-class drinks in the pub on Monday evening was a good start to the week – even though I don’t drink and I didn’t want cheesy chips, it was great to be in the company of those who do & did. Thank you lovely FP ladies x
  • I picked up my crochet hook (after a gap of 2 years) just to check I could still remember what to do (and I can!) ready to join a CAL (crochetalong) at Hoop in Tenterden on Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait to get started again – creating something (anything) is most definitely one of my key values – and I’ll be able to show what I made in 3 months’ time… [Do have a look at their website for details of upcoming events and workshops if you like to dabble with hook or (knitting) needle]
  • skiving off for an hour to pick damsons in the middle of a working day was a real feel-good moment – the sun was shining, buzzards were circling & calling overhead and there was no-one else around to compete for my bounty. I don’t often eat jam but I’m going to make it anyway to make use of my hedgerow harvest and add another tick to the ‘creating something’ activity list
  • bizarrely, and I never thought I’d say this, but I have even gained pleasure form starting on my tax return this week! Partly because it fits my ‘moving forward’ value but also because looking through the receipts has brought up many fond memories of planning & delivering my first retreat event this time last year. It’s odd that so much joy can be stored in an invoice, but I will definitely look for it every time I complete my tax return in future.

Rye Harbour

(Saturday morning in Rye Harbour)

It has surprised me how much a piece of homework which initially had me weeping (so much so that I literally kept turning the sheet of paper over so I didn’t have to look at it!!) has helped me to move beyond a difficult week and feel much more connected to myself again, and I haven’t been feeling that for quite a while. It’s just one step on a long road, but it feels great to make a start.

Obviously we all have our own unique set of values that keep us grounded. Maybe you already know what yours are or maybe my homework might help you too –

  • what are your key values?
  • what activities do you do to support them?

Onwards & upwards.


barre & buck’s fizz

After weeks of planning and preparation it was great to launch Barre Pilates with a ‘barre & buck’s fizz’ class yesterday morning.

barre pilates

I was joined by ten gorgeous ladies who stepped up to the barre and embraced this beautiful, flowing class for the first time. They demi-pointed, and plied, and tendued as if they have been doing it all their life and then they sipped buck’s fizz before setting off out into the sunshine.  It was a lovely way to start the weekend.

As I was teaching the class I was reminded just how much I love this work. Taking a group of clients through a class is a real privilege –  being trusted with another person’s health & well-being is humbling, especially when they are trying out a new class format for the first time.

It is sometimes hard to take the first step into doing something new and I think as adults we can too often tend towards staying with familiar territory. But when we step outside our comfort zone, the rewards can be great.

barre pilatesFor those who came to ‘barre & buck’s fizz’ yesterday  there may be a little muscle soreness today, but that is a really positive sign of muscle fibres being tweaked and woken up. A relaxing bath using the salts in your goodie bag will definitely help. And the best news is that you will never ache as much as the first time you do a new class!


New Barre Pilates classes starting next week

For anyone just about to start Barre Pilates with me I have to apologise that we will not have buck’s fizz at the end of every class, but over the coming weeks you will notice that your:

  • legs and butt become more toned (without bulking up)
  • feet & ankles will become stronger and
  • increased awareness of your core muscles will enhance your posture

More than that I also hope you will have fun and enjoy the experience of each class as the term progresses.

I think there is something a bit playful about working-out at the barre – memories of childhood for some, a chance to relive ‘Fame’ for others, or just the chance to do something a little bit different perhaps. Whatever your reason for joining the class, I look forward to welcoming you when the fun starts next week


(classes are held on Tuesdays & Wednesdays – you can find details  and booking information can be found here)



Principles of Pilates #8

The principles of Pilates (part 8)

With Pilates the way in which the exercises are executed is of more importance than the number of repetitions completed or the exertion used. Mastering a simple exercise is often far more complicated than producing a larger movement!

Joseph Pilates created 6 principles of Pilates, but over time these have been added to and there are now deemed to be 8 key principles:

  1. concentration
  2. centering
  3. breathing
  4. control
  5. precision
  6. flowing movement
  7. isolation
  8. routine

Today we’re going to look at routine.


“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour” J Pilates

As with anything, repetition and practice lead to greater skill and greater benefits. Obviously the value of the repetition relies on it being of a good quality but that aside, it stands to reason that a regular routine of practice will be of more benefit than exercising sporadically.

An established routine of Pilates exercise will improve physical and mental well-being and the more you practice the more improvement you can expect to see. It is the same with learning to play a musical instrument or a sport – if you practice once a week it will take you far longer to master it and become proficient than if you practice for several hours a day.

The amount of time you have to practice will obviously depend on your personal circumstances but practising a pilates routine twice a week would be a good place to start. If you are short on time try shorter sessions whenever you can. However much time you have, try to develop a routine which works for you.

As you master the exercises and see improvements, your confidence in your abilities will grow and you may notice changes about your body, in terms of how it feels and looks, but try not to bring about these changes by putting too much forced effort into your movements. Don’t panic if visible results take time – you are working from the inside out, developing a stronger foundation on which to carry the more superficial muscles, and this will inevitably take time.

Remember to try to incorporate the different principles of Pilates so that your movements are controlled and flowing whilst coordinated with your breathing. Think of your Pilates exercises as being natural, like walking in the park.

Remember too that it has taken a great deal of time to bring your body to where it is now – if you have poor posture or dysfunctional movement patterns they cannot be unlearned in a hurry, so be kind and give your body the space to learn new habits.

Imagine your Pilates exercises as everyday movements rather than something you do in class! Try to incorporate an increased awareness into everyday life – feel your gluteal muscles engage as you walk up an incline; visualise your abdominal muscles supporting your back when lifting a load; feel yourself supported from the inside whilst sitting or standing.

taylor-made fitness

Ultimately Pilates is about improved quality of movement which can lead to an improved quality of life. Grasp it with both hands and enjoy the process.



Please click here to find out more about of my current Pilates classes


Principles of Pilates #7

The principles of Pilates (part 7)

With Pilates the way in which the exercises are executed is of more importance than the number of repetitions completed or the exertion used. Mastering a simple exercise is often far more complicated than producing a larger movement!

Joseph Pilates created 6 principles of Pilates, but over time these have been added to and there are now deemed to be 8 key principles:

  1. concentration
  2. centering
  3. breathing
  4. control
  5. precision
  6. flowing movement
  7. isolation
  8. routine

Today we’re going to look at isolation.


“Each muscle may cooperatively and loyally aid in the uniform development of all our muscles” J Pilates

Isolating a muscle means that you are specifically targeting the muscle you are supposed to be working, rather than using other more dominant muscles near-by.

Concentration alone is not always enough to fire up the receptors to engage a faulty/weak muscle. You may first need to spend time identifying the muscle you are trying to work. If you cannot visualise where you should feel a movement, try this tip from Allan Menezes (founder of the Pilates Institute of Australia):

Press your fingers into the relaxed muscle to create a mental connection.

For example, when performing single leg circles [lying on your back with one leg extended vertically], press your fingers into the inner thigh, close to the groin so that you identify your inner thigh (adductor) muscles. Keep pressing the fingers into the inner thigh as you take your leg out to the side and then press the muscle against your fingers when bringing your leg back to the centre.

This will give your mind a better connection to the muscle you want to activate (the adductors) rather than the muscles you want to relax (the quadriceps), which might otherwise control the movement.

When trying this technique, an increased pressure can be more effective in provoking the correct response.

Don’t worry if it takes several attempts before you master this technique – just keep trying until you get the muscle to respond. Routine and repetition will gradually help you to recognise and feel incorrect movement patterns/muscle recruitment so that you can gradually learn to isolate and recruit the correct muscles in the correct order.

spinesafe pilates

It’s worth mentioning that a muscle does not need to feel sore the next day for you to know that it is working. If the muscle you are targeting feels firm to the touch when you are doing the exercise that is a good indication that it is working well. Conversely the muscle you are trying to relax should feel soft to the touch and this is an indication that it is not taking over the workload.

Over time, once you have gained control of the weaker muscles you may not need to rely on this type of kinaesthetic feedback to ‘feel’ that the muscle is working, but it is always a good way to check-in with what is happening in your body.

Successful isolation of working muscles will lead to greater flexibility in the muscles and joints. If you can isolate a part of the body and allow it to move independently you will also be better able to coordinate movements using different muscle groups.



Please click here to find out more about of my current Pilates classes

Principles of Pilates #6

The principles of Pilates (part 6)

With Pilates the way in which the exercises are executed is of more importance than the number of repetitions completed or the exertion used. Mastering a simple exercise is often far more complicated than producing a larger movement!

Joseph Pilates created 6 principles of Pilates, but over time these have been added to and there are now deemed to be 8 key principles:

  1. concentration
  2. centering
  3. breathing
  4. control
  5. precision
  6. flowing movement
  7. isolation
  8. routine

Today we’re going to look at flowing movement.

Flowing movement:

“Contrology [the original name for Pilates] is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in [all you do].” J Pilates

In Pilates, exercises are performed as smooth flowing movements so that muscles are continually being toned. When there is no control of the movement muscles are being under-utilised and there will not be the same toning result.

Fluidity of movement when exercising (practising) will also create fluidity of movement in everyday life so that the muscles are being actively toned for much more of your waking time.

In addition, by moving with conscious muscular control and flow, you will eliminate stiff/jerky movements which may over time create faulty movement patterns and contribute to injury.

matwork pilates

When we extend limbs to their end-range, we are more likely to lose control over the associated muscles and joints. For example, if you extend your leg to kick something without consciously controlling the muscles, the fast movement can create a ‘snapping’ or ‘locking out’ of the joint. If this movement is repeated frequently it can lead to joint pain caused by wear & tear and weakness in the supporting soft tissues. Allowing the movement to flow with control will reduce the possibility of damaging the joint.

In particular, people who are hypermobile (double-jointed) need to avoid over-extending their joints – they should extend only to the point where the joint remains ‘unlocked’. Initially they will feel that they have not fully straightened the limb but to anyone else it will look quite normal. Over time they may be able to reduce their hypermobility by consciously limiting the range of movement at the susceptible joints and by increasing the fluidity of their movements to avoid snapping or locking out.

Stiff movements can also occur when there is relative muscle tightness in certain areas of the body. For example if the hamstrings (back of thighs) are tight/shortened the gluteal (buttock) muscles will usually be lengthened and weak which will have an impact on postural alignment and movement patterns. Over time, increased fluidity of movement will help to establish a better balance between the opposing muscle groups and restore improved function and posture.

When practising Pilates (and in everyday life) try to keep your movements flowing & continuous. Think of ten repetitions as one continuous movement rather than one separate movement repeated 10 times. Think of moving in a relaxed manner with graceful transitions between exercises.



Please click here to find out more about of my current Pilates classes

Principles of Pilates #5

The principles of Pilates (part 5)

With Pilates the way in which the exercises are executed is of more importance than the number of repetitions completed or the exertion used. Mastering a simple exercise is often far more complicated than producing a larger movement!

Joseph Pilates created 6 principles of Pilates, but over time these have been added to and there are now deemed to be 8 key principles:

  1. concentration
  2. centering
  3. breathing
  4. control
  5. precision
  6. flowing movement
  7. isolation
  8. routine

Today we’re going to look at precision.


“Correctly executed and mastered to the point of subconscious reaction, these exercises will reflect grace and balance in your routine activities” J Pilates

When he talked about ‘precision’ Joseph Pilates was referring to a precision, or exactness, in movement. Through repeatedly practising the same movements with the same precision each time, our movements will become graceful and seemingly effortless – think of a classical ballet dancer or a gymnast practising over and over again until they can perform a move with exact precision each time.

To move with precision requires concentration and mental feedback from visualising and understanding how the movement will look & feel when it is correct. Without feedback we will not know whether or not we are moving precisely but it is often difficult to receive feedback from our bodies when stronger muscles groups take over from the weaker ones we are trying to target.

In order to improve the feedback, movements need to be controlled. We must first start with our body in neutral alignment and we can then slow exercises down so that movements become synchronised – ie the movement speed in one part of the body (eg an arm) matches the speed of movement in another part of the body (eg a leg) and also co-ordinates with the pace of your breathing. When movements become out of time with another part of the body or out of time with the breathing, the exercise ceases to flow and becomes stressful to the body instead.

pilates precision

Initially when you perform an exercise, your body may not want to move in the way you are asking it to – it will tend to move in the way that it usually moves, as it will have a well-established pattern of movement already. It is said that it takes 1000 repetitions for the body to accept a new movement pattern. Obviously this takes time but can be achieved with regular repetition and practice.

The more accurate your movements when you practice, the sooner your body will adapt to the new movement patterns. Next time you are practising try to stay focused on:

  • the position your body is in at the start of an exercise
  • how the movement looks and feels as you perform it
  • whether your movements are co-ordinated with each other and with your breath



Please click here to find out more about of my current Pilates classes