which class is right for me?

Sometimes it is hard knowing where to begin so here is a quick overview of my online fitness classes. Hopefully it will help you to make up your mind if you are undecided which one is best for you.

At present, all classes are live-streamed to your home via Zoom so that you can stay fit and stay home at the same time. If you miss the live-streaming, you can access a recording of your class at a time to suit you.

Here is my latest timetable:

online timetable

Classes can be booked in one of two ways:

  • one-off bookings can be made here
    • from £6 per class
    • book and pay individually for each class
    • after your class has ended, you will receive a copy of the Zoom recording which is available for 7 days
  • a monthly class pass subscription can be purchased here
    • £38 per month
    • unlimited live-streamed classes each week
    • a copy of the Zoom recording for any classes that you book (available for 7 days)
    • your own membership area where you can access recordings of all classes longer term

If you have any questions at all about classes or booking options, please email me for advice.

I look forward to seeing you in the virtual studio very soon Jx

#togetherapart

updates to online classes

And just like that we are 7 weeks in with online classes! I think we have all adapted so well to this significant shift in how we exercise, together-apart.

Thank you so much for staying with me as we have navigated through the technology along the way. For those of you that prefer to follow the videos rather than joining live, I miss seeing your face but I’m so happy to hear that you’re still moving.

For me, this is about so much more than keeping my business afloat. In the early days I felt like I wanted to offer something to the world without knowing how to offer it. I soon realised that the best help I could offer was to keep doing what I do, supporting you with fitness and movement to help keep you well. On one level it is a relatively insignificant thing, but actually I believe it is important for us all to keep active and keep some sort of routine in place. The enormity of the current situation is too huge to process and I hope that ‘coming’ to class helps you to step-away from it all for a while and re-connect with yourself on a regular basis.

Revised online class timetable:

Our online class timetable has evolved gradually over the past few weeks (and will probably continue to evolve) and I have made a few more changes this week. Classes on Mondays-Wednesdays are unchanged but I have changed things on Thursdays & Fridays (see details below).

online timetable

The 7am classes are designed to give you the chance to fit in some movement before you get busy with your day – if you are working from home or home-schooling, I hope it is early enough to fit around your working/schooling schedule, and if you’re not currently working, I hope it gives you a hint of a work-day routine and something to get up for.

Do please let me know if there are any other class formats or any one-off sessions that you would like me to add.

How to book:

All classes are booked online.

Payment can be made as a one-off booking or via a monthly class pass subscription which gives unlimited access to all sessions.

  • class descriptions can be found here
  • subscription details can be found here
  • classes can be booked here

When you book a one-off class, you will also receive a link to access the live recording afterwards so that you can ‘attend’ at a later time if your prefer. Live recordings will be available for 7 days after the class.

If you have a monthly class pass subscription, you will have access to recordings of all classes via your membership area, as well as all the ‘live’ sessions.

Let me know if you have any questions at all – I look forward to seeing you in the taylor-made fitness virtual studio very soon Jx

If you need to set yourself up for home exercise, read my guide about what you might need here

metabolic effect bootcamp online

In a nod to the early days of taylor-made fitness, I have added a bootcamp session to my online timetable. We will be using some of the Metabolic Effect protocols to create super-effective, time-efficient workouts to fire up your metabolism and set you up for the day ahead.

The advantage of online classes is that you don’t have to drag yourself outside on a cold rainy morning – you can do it all in the comfort of your home instead!

For anyone not familiar with Metabolic Effect or bootcamp-style training, I have created a couple of videos so you’ll know what to expect from this class.

Introduction to metabolic effect bootcamp online:

metabolic effect bootcamp sample class:

A note about weights:

I’m using two pairs of dumb-bells in the video above but you can improvise with whatever you have available at home.

Dumb-bells give the greatest flexibility but a barbell or barbell plates would work too. A kettlebell will also work – we won’t be swinging it, but it will serve as a useful weight. Soft, sand-filled weights are another option.

If you’re buying equipment for the class, please go heavier than you might normally! This is rest-based training. If your weights are too light, you will never get to the point of needing a rest. For metabolic conditioning, we want to push ourselves, so be brave. But also be sensible and make sure you can actually pick your weight up to start with.

You can find some suggested equipment & suppliers here

This workout may be short & sweet but I can still feel my glutes from filming two days ago!! Join me in our ‘Zoom room’ to feel the benefits for yourself.

You can find all the booking details here

Please let me know if you have any questions Jx

New online class timetable

We have a shiny, new online class timetable which comes into effect from Monday 6th April!

pilates mat

It may evolve over the coming weeks (I have a couple of extra sessions up my sleeve!) but your new online sessions are currently scheduled as follows:

  • Mondays
    • Fitness Pilates 8pm
  • Tuesdays
    • Kettlebell Express 7am
  • Wednesdays
    • Metabolic Effect Bootcamp 7am
    • Fitness Pilates 7pm
  • Fridays
    • Kettlebell Express 7am
    • Hi-LI Fitness Circuit 9am
    • Fitness Pilates 10am

All classes are booked online.

When you book a class, you will also receive a link to access the live recording afterwards so that you can ‘attend’ at a later time if your prefer. Live recordings will be available for 7 days after the class.

kettlebell upright row

Payment can be made as a one-off booking or via a monthly class pass subscription which gives unlimited access to all sessions.

  • subscription details can be found here
  • classes can be booked here

I look forward to seeing you in the taylor-made fitness virtual studio very soon.

Let me know if you have any questions at all Jx

If you need to set yourself up for home exercise, read my guide about what you might need here

equipment suggestions for home exercisers

kettlebell triceps extension

If you have suddenly found yourself exercising at home, instead of attending your usual classes or PT sessions, you might want to invest in a couple of key pieces of equipment to make the best use of your exercise time.

What you choose will depend on your goals, and of course your budget, but here are a few suggestions that you might want to consider, including some of my links to my favourite brands and suppliers.

Please note:

I am not paid to promote any of these items. They are all ones that I use in my business and for my own fitness, and I am happy to recommend them. Please do your own research and shop around as you may find alternative options, including pre-used items on auction websites.

Basic equipment:

  • skipping rope – choose a plastic-covered one as it will have a good weight and stay in good condition even if it gets wet
  • an exercise mat – I buy my yoga mats from ebay (there are loads to choose from so take your pick)but you may prefer a smaller fitness mat like this
  • small pilates/rehab/soft tissue release equipment – trigger point ball*, prickly therapy ball*, overball, stability disc, stretch band*, pilates circle, small weighted pilates ball (* I have these items marked in stock and available for local delivery p please message me for details)

Weighted equipment:

  • dumb-bells – there are so many options on the market that it is best to find the ones you like most. I have Hampton vinyl covered DB up to 4kg – they have a smooth surface so comfortable to hold, but they are quite chunky to grip. For heavier weights, I have hexagonal rubber DB which have a bare metal grip – not so comfortable and cold but very non-slip
  • kettle-bells – you will often find these at affordable prices in large super-markets or online. I like cast iron KB without a vinyl/neoprene coating – you may prefer a coated finish to avoid rusting if they get damp. The really big, concrete-filled KB are cheaper but the excess bulks can compromise your technique so best avoided.
  • barbells & plates & spring release collars – if you only want one set of weights, these are very versatile. The plates can be used on the bar and separately without it and you’ll have a selection of weights suitable for a range of different exercises.

Bigger/more expensive stuff:

  • Vipr – these are awesome, very versatile, suitable for indoors and outdoors, long-lasting – a great all-round piece of kit. You will often find them at good prices on auction sites – just check they are in good condition before you buy
  • a suspension trainer eg. TRX – if you only want to buy one thing, you should definitely consider this! When i was putting this article together, I found lots of other brands which were much cheaper but I cannot vouch for them, whereas I have had my TRX (in fact I have two!) for years without any signs of wear and tear. My clients love it when we do suspended planks in particular!!
  • Reebok deck – I bought one of these to replace an older step but found it is much heavier than I wanted to carry around to PT clients’ houses, so now I use it at home. It’s not a cheap step platform, but it is a versatile piece of equipment which has several functions including use as a weights bench.

Suppliers I like & use the most:

I like to shop around for smaller items but I tend to use these two suppliers for most of the fitness equipment I buy. My advice when shopping for fitness equipment, would be to compare quality as well as price and buy the best you can afford. Start with one or two multi-purpose items rather than feeling like you need everything on the market!!

What weights should I use?

This will depend on what your goals are, any health issues you may have and your previous exercise history. If you are a current exerciser, you will probably have a good idea what weights you already use, but if not, have a look at my suggestions below.

As a rule, you want a weight that is challenging but manageable so that you can perform the exercise with great technique and good posture. Bear in mind that you will probably out-grow a lighter-weight DB or KB quite quickly once you start exercising.

Here are some very general weight guidelines:

  • weighted pilates balls need to be light enough that you don’t overload neck and shoulder muscles, so you probably don’t want more than 0.5kg-1kg
  • most women I train are comfortable with 3-5kg DB, a 4-6kg KB or a 4-6kg Vipr for a circuit-style workout
  • for men, I would tend to offer 5-8kg DB, a 8-12kg KB or an 8kg Vipr for a circuit-style workout

Some final thoughts:

Remember that there are so many exercises which can be performed using only your body-weight so there is no need to go crazy setting up your own home gym. However, if buying a few pieces of kit will keep you strong and healthy and motivated over the coming months, and beyond, then maybe it’s time to go (online) shopping!

As always, please check with your own medical or health practitioner, and seek professional fitness coaching before embarking on a new exercise routine.

Do you have tight quadriceps?

Do you have tight quadriceps muscles which won’t seem to stretch? Do you have tightness or pain around the knee? Do the muscles in the front of your thighs feel ‘switched on’ all the time?

There are lots of reasons why we might have more/less dominant muscles in a particular area of the body (posture, lifestyle, occupation, etc) but for most of us the goal is to create a better balance, as that helps to create more even movement patterns. Typically we will have an imbalance which is left- or right-sided or which is noticed in the front or back of the body, but there will often be a combination of both and/or some rotational imbalance as well.

Of course, it is all relevant to the individual. For an elite golfer, an appropriate ‘imbalance’ will actually be required for them to excel at their sport, but most of us do not fall into that category and we are more concerned about improving every-day functional movement and potentially reducing pain.

I often see clients struggling to get into a position where a quad stretch is effective, and setting aside the debate about whether we actually need to stretch or not, I have recorded a short video showing a simple technique using a trigger point release ball. This technique focuses on releasing tight bands within the muscles fibres, which in turn enables the body to move more freely, which in turn reduces the development of tight bands within the muscle fibres…

This video came about because a client was struggling to move her hips backwards while squatting because the tightness in the front of her thighs was creating excessive pressure (and the most extraordinary noise!) over the knee-caps. It goes without saying that individual assessment and soft tissue work is the optimal approach, but this simple technique might be a useful starting point to get you moving more comfortably.

In the video I am using a dog toy as my trigger point ball – simply because they are affordable, readily available and still effective. If you want to invest in the real deal, I can highly recommend either Yoga Tune-Up balls or YogaBody balls, both of which I have.

Hopefully the video covers everything you need to get you started, but as always:

  • let me know if you have any questions
  • get in touch if you’d like to know more about how I can help you with soft tissue therapy
  • check with your medical professional if you have any doubts about your suitability for trigger point release work

& finally, let me know how you get on…!

Hypermobile elbows & Pilates

Hypermobile elbows (& other joints of the body) are sometimes really visible in a Pilates class. I wanted to look into the topic in more depth than we can easily cover in a group setting, as information for those affected.

The human body is an incredible thing but sometimes we need to take back a little bit of control for ourselves. Just because we can ‘stretch’ (ie. over-extend) at a certain (or all) joints of the body, doesn’t mean it is helpful to do so. 

The most common examples of hypermobility I see in class are:

  • locked-out knees in a standing position – where the back of the knee is pushed as far backwards as possible – and
  • locked-out elbows in a quadruped (all-fours) position – where the upper arm becomes rotated and the inside of the elbow joint turns forward

Of course, if you are hypermobile (or tend towards it) you will often be hyper-mobile at many joints in the body, but these are the two that are most visible in class.

mat-work pilates

What is joint hypermobility?

Joint hypermobility is often hereditary and cannot be prevented, but it can definitely be managed. It is caused by a weakness in the soft tissues that support the joint, and specifically a difference in the collagen. If you are hypermobile, it may not cause you any problems or it may cause pain in the joint itself or in surrounding areas of the body.  

What happens when we hyper-extend? 

When we go to the end-range of movement in a joint, it gives us a feeling of stability, which is great. However, when the joint hyper-extends, it means that the stability isn’t coming from the supporting muscles but from the joint itself. Over time that is likely to create wear & tear on that structure and other compensations in surrounding areas of the body – eg. if you lock out your elbows, you are very likely to experience associated neck and shoulder pain issues; if you lock out your knees, you are very likely to experience hip and back pain issues. 

Just because you can hyper-extend, doesn’t mean you should!

What can we do about it?

The ideal is to learn to stop short of your end-range point (keeping the affected joint ‘soft’) so that the supporting muscles surrounding the joint can get stronger. To start with it will feel unstable, but your body will gradually adapt and build stability in the muscles, so keep giving it the opportunity to do so.

I will keep reminding you about this in class because even if you feel like I’m nagging, I believe that I would be negligent if I didn’t bring your attention to it. You might not be ready to hear the message yet, and that’s ok because it is your body, but I’m going to keep on mentioning it when I’m teaching, and hopefully that’s ok too.

In the case of hypermobility in your knees, ankles or hips you may also be better avoiding fast-paced or high-impact exercises where the joints will hyper-extend without you having the chance to control the range of movement, and where the added impact will place extra load through the (already compromised) joint structure.

Although you can’t change your physiology, you can work on creating a stronger support system to protect your joints if hypermobility affects you. It may seem frustrating & like a backward step to begin with, but further down the line you will be so glad you made some changes and created a stronger body, especially if it avoids/delays your need for invasive surgery.

If you’d like to know more on this topic, Jeannie di Bon is a Movement Therapist who works extensively in this area. She directed me towards a blog post she wrote a few years ago: 

I think this is a really useful starting point, but Jeannie has plenty more great content on her blog which you can find via her website and she also covers the topic in her latest book

Pilates-flow sequence

This Pilates-flow sequence is a mat-based session focusing on smooth, flowing movements using core control for stability, combined with a relaxed breathing pattern. Slower is generally better so that you can concentrate on each part of every move rather than rushing ahead without control.

When we did this in class we practiced each move on its own before adding it into our flow sequence – you might like to break it down like that at home or if you are familiar with the moves, you may prefer to go straight into the sequence. All the moves are done in a supine (lying face-up) position. You may like to have a folded towel or a cushion to support the back of the head.

Begin by spending a few minutes grounding and settling into your breath, letting go of your day and connecting with how your body feels in that moment.

I’ve added different sequence options below – sequence 1 has the more basic moves, sequence 2 has a mixture of basic with some options and sequence 3 has all the optional extras.

Here are your 5 basic moves:

  1. alternate knee lifts (starting in relaxation position) > option to progress to alternate knee lifts coming into table top position by lifting and then lowering one foot at a time
  2. abdominal curls (starting in relaxation position) > option to add oblique twist
  3. knee rolling (starting in relaxation position with feet and knees close together) > option to bring top foot off the floor OR start in table top position with both feet off the floor
  4. alternate leg slide (starting in relaxation position) > option to add leg abduction (thigh moves out to side with no rotation)
  5. shoulder bridge (start with feet hip width or wider and close to your bottom) > option to change to single leg shoulder bridge
Pilates-flow sequence

How to create your sequence:

sequence 1: knee lift (single leg) – hold – abdominal curl – oblique twist towards the leg – uncurl – lower leg – repeat on other side – knee rolling with feet on the floor – alternate leg slide  – shoulder bridge – start again

sequence 2: alternate knee lift into table top – hold – abdominal curl – oblique twist x each way– uncurl – lower legs one at a time – knee rolling with feet on the floor – alternate leg slide with abduction – shoulder bridge – start again

sequence 3: alternate knee lift into table top – hold – abdominal curl – oblique twist x each way– uncurl – knee rolling with legs in table top position – alternate leg extension with abduction – lower legs one at a time – single leg shoulder bridge x each side – start again

I haven’t specified number of repetitions so that you can add as many or as few as you want. You can of course also do as many or as few of the different moves as you want – if there’s one that you don’t like, miss it out because life is short!!

You can see me doing each of the three sequences here:

You can print this Pilates-flow sequence as a pdf here

Enjoy Jx

(PS let me know if you’re not sure what any of the moves are & as always, check with your health care professional if you are unsure whether these exercises are suitable for your body right now)

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