Just in case you’d like some ‘homework’ to keep you moving while there are no classes over the half term break, I’ve pulled together some previously recorded sessions & some other ideas that I think you’ll enjoy. Of course, it is totally fine to give your body a rest or do some other activities instead – that’s what I’ll be doing!
Lying with your legs up the wall is a great way to gently stretch your hamstrings, manage stress, improve digestion, promote sleep, boost circulation and a whole lot more! Super-simple to do – find out more here
Add some breathing practice into your day – it offers so many benefits – find out more here
Do a bit of decluttering! This is one of my favourite things to do – I’m quite ruthless and having a physical clear-out always crosses-over into feeling mentally clearer. Just don’t do what I recently did and drive around for weeks with bags full of charity shop things-to-be-donated things in the back of your car – that’s just moving your clutter into another space!! There are some great tips here
Find a local ‘slow ways’ walk and check it out. There are currently over 8,000 Slow Ways routes. This unique network of routes was drafted online by volunteers during the Spring 2020 lockdown. The next challenge is to walk, review and verify them all – checking over 100,000km of Slow Ways routes. It’s a big ambition for 2022. Thousands of people are getting involved. Up for helping? Simply choose, walk and review a Slow Ways route here.
What started out of necessity in March 2020, soon become a real benefit to my clients, and so I have continued with an online fitness class timetable.
Classes are designed with women in mind, promoting cardio-vascular health, mental wellbeing, strength, core stability, lean muscle tone and bone density, all of which become more important as we age.
Online classes give us the benefits of regular exercise, in the comfort of our own homes (with the dog for company perhaps?!) and the convenience of joining in when it suits. Clients can participate in real-time via Zoom or using the recordings at a later date.
I recently changed my timetable to offer a rolling schedule of classes so that clients get more variety in their exercise routine. And all classes are just 30 minutes long so that we can get a workout done & dusted and then get on with the day.
Exercises are low-impact so that they are kind to your joints and pelvic floor muscles. Exercise variations are offered throughout each class so that you can enjoy the moves which are best for your body.
There are three class formats available:
Total Body – a 30-minute body-weight class focusing on low impact exercises without dumb-bells (DB). Sometimes there will be more focus on a particular area of the body, such as core or legs, but regardless of the focus, these sessions are great if you want an equipment-free workout
Functional Fitness – a 30-minute class designed to increase your heart-rate and strengthen your body using a single DB and single-arm/single-leg movements to replicate and strengthen you for day-to-day activities.
Metabolic Fitness – a 30-minute high intensity, low impact, fat-burning fitness class using a pair of DB. It is a self-paced workout which is ideal for maintaining lean muscle and bone strength, as well as improving cardio-vascular health. It is a super-effective, time-efficient workout which will help your body to burn more calories both during & after the class.
As a reminder, metabolic fitness needs two DB, functional fitness needs one DB, total body needs zero DB. Your DB don’t need to be heavy but obviously your results will be different with different weights. That said, if you tend to hold lots of tension in your neck and shoulders, heavier DB may make things worse so going lighter might be right for you on some moves. I will always respect your choice.
As well as the rolling programme, which moves the classes to a new time each month, I have also added ‘graded’ sessions for each week of the block:
week one classes will tend to include more basic movement patterns – it is a great chance to focus on great technique, but don’t think that will make it any easier!
week two may include some different timings or some pulsing movements for extra overload, but always with the option to stay with single reps if that is better for you
week three will tend to involve more variations eg. a different class structure such as an accumulator
week four might be more dynamic or use more complex sequences of moves linked together
Here is a look at the current timetable:
Classes are currently available to book here on a class-by-class basis so I hope to see you on screen soon!
I also have a new monthly membership option which goes live on 2nd May, giving you unlimited access to the online fitness classes every month. I’ll be sharing more details soon, but if you would like to know more in the meantime, please get in touch.
As always, let me know if you have any questions at all about my online fitness classes.
What type of exercise is best & how much do I need?
Ideally you will be active every day, aiming for 150 minutes of activity each week.
Daily activities such as walking, cycling or swimming will give you a really healthy base, but you will also benefit from adding in some activities which include added resistance and increase your heart rate further. This is where fitness classes can play an important role in supporting your health.
Resistance exercises help to build and maintain strong bones as well as strengthening the muscles which support those bones. It might involve resistance bands or weights (dumb-bells or kettlebells) but your own body-weight and gravity will also provide resistance (eg. when standing up from a squat or coming up from a push-up you are working with resistance).
Resistance work also plays a role in your cardio-vascular fitness which supports heart health. You don’t need to add high-impact to get your heart rate up – moving with a pair of moderate/heavy weight dumb-bells will give you a great cardio workout! This means that you don’t need to find separate strength and cardio sessions – you can get great results, with more time-efficiently, by choosing the right class for you.
How do my online classes support your health & fitness?
My sessions can loosely be split into three-tiers, each of which offers its own advantages.
Tier 1 = Total Body (Fridays @ 7am)
no weights are required – this is a body-weight session
it is a 45-minute class
it is more manageable than tiers 2 & 3, but you’ll still get a bit sweaty, feel fitter and move your body
Tier 2 = Functional Fitness (Mondays @ 7.15pm)
1 x weight required (DB / KB / tin of beans will work)
it is a 30-minute class
your weight can be light/moderate but if you prefer to go heavier that’s fine too
we will include lots of uni-lateral (one-sided) moves to replicate the way we move in everyday life
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
We have a shiny, new online class timetable which comes into effect from Monday 6th April!
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:
Fitness Pilates 8pm
Kettlebell Express 7am
Metabolic Effect Bootcamp 7am
Fitness Pilates 7pm
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.
Payment can be made as a one-off booking or via a monthly class pass subscription which gives unlimited access to all sessions.
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.
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.
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
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!!
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 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:
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.
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: