Here’s a few updates and a quick run-down of what lie ahead for September 2023
My work has been largely female-focused for a while now but I recently decided to make it official!
It doesn’t mean I will never work with men, but my primary goal is to help women move more and feel better, so that is where I will be putting all my attention going forward. From sports & pregnancy massage, to safe & effective online fitness and one-to-one training, everything will be geared towards the specific needs of the female body.
I’m really excited to have this fresh focus as we head into the tail-end of 2023 and beyond…
Recently someone asked me if I like what I do and I have to admit that I gave a pretty non-committal answer because in that moment I was feeling a bit low. But I went away that weekend and kept thinking about the question, and realised that YES I absolutely do like what I do, but I have sometimes felt frustrated by it because I haven’t always structured my work it in a way that allows me time for growth.
And then I had a lightbulb moment!
I realised I needed to get out of my own way…so from now on, Wednesdays* will be my day for professional (and personal) development, where I can study, enjoy my own fitness and create space for my business to evolve.
I have several courses already purchased (some of which I have not even started!) so I am excited to be resuming one of those next week, focusing on fitness for menopausal women.
Watch this space!
(* I’ll still be teaching Pilates on Wednesday evenings at 7pm – it isn’t going anywhere!)
What’s on in August:
You can find all the class descriptions and booking details here
Find details about how Pilates is the perfect class to complement your other activities, and see booking information here
The new term of in-person Pilates classes starts on Friday 8th September, bookable as a block (up to 8th September) or on a week-by-week basis.
Further details about how massage can help to support your body, can be found here
To round off the updates for September, a reminder that I also work with women on a one-to-one basis, offering bespoke fitness programs to help you achieve a specific goal or focus on your individual needs. You can find out more here
Here’s to a brand new month, and a smooth transition into autumn!
( just in case you thought I was being mean by making you work hard)
In pretty much every fitness session I offer, I use an approach of encouraging clients to push and rest. It works equally well in my online fitness for women classes and in my 1:1 personal training sessions because it gives a really effective, time-efficient workout and helps you to build lean muscle and burn fat.
Sometimes I will put together moves which are deliberately challenging, not because I’m nasty, but because I want you to reach the point of needing to rest!
So what does ‘push & rest’ mean?
The idea is to use a weight which is moderately challenging for your body, but still manageable enough so that you can do the work.
In other words, you can perform the movement pattern well, with good technique, but as you keep going you will reach a point where you will need to have a quick rest, before you can continue again with good form.
So you push yourself as hard as you can, with good technique, for as long as you can, and then you rest until you feel ready to go again.
Typically, at the start of an exercise/workout you will be able to keep going for longer, and then as you begin to tire you will maybe have shorter gaps between rests. So if we’re doing four rounds of a circuit, on the first round you might not need to rest very much; on the second round the rests might be more frequent, but quite short; on the third round the rests might be frequent and slightly longer; and by round four they might be a bit more frequent still.
If your dumbbells (DB) are not heavy enough you will be more likely to ‘coast’ through the workout, never really feeling your muscles burn, not feeling that your heart rate is elevated and not actually needing to take a rest. Whilst this might sound (& maybe feel) like a nicer option, it will not deliver such good results for your body. Sometimes we all need an easy workout session, and there’s nothing wrong with taking one, but it’s not the best long-term strategy if you want to build/maintain lean muscle mass, which becomes more important as we get older.
Find out more about this approach to training here
For some exercises, your ideal weight will be heavier than it is for others – eg. you’ll always be able to use heavier DB for a deadlift than you will for a side raise – so you might need a couple of weight options for your workout OR we can use some different training techniques to even things out…
Different ways to train to keep the intensity high:
Hybrid moves –
As well as encouraging you to push and rest, I will usually have you doing ‘complex’ or ‘hybrid’ moves, which involve using several muscle groups or two areas of the body at once – eg. squat & biceps curl or lunge and shoulder press. This helps to make your session very time-efficient and higher intensity because you’ll be packing in more moves in a given time than you would if each move was separate.
Performing hybrid exercises also helps to give you a cardio element to your workout without needing you to add impact to your moves.
Continuous format –
The exercises are also done one after the other, without any defined rest breaks, so that you can keep going at an intensity that suits you, rather than working with the clock. If you feel ok to move on to the next move right away, you do that; if you need a quick breather, you take one. It puts you in control of your workout and makes sure that it is truly self-paced as well as rest-based.
We can also vary the speed that you move to vary the intensity of your workout. Generally speaking, if you have lighter DB, you will be more comfortable moving faster, so what you miss in load you gain in repetitions – although heavier would still be more effective overall! On the flip-side, slowing your movements down keeps your muscles under load for longer so sometimes that will give you a better training effect.
Range of movement –
We can also play with the size of our movements for each exercise that we do. Sitting deeper into a squat will obviously give you more work than staying higher up, and so long as it doesn’t cause any joint pain, it might be the most effective option. Sometimes we might change the range of movement by using bottom-half or top-half variations, or mixing up these two options!
What’s the best way to exercise?
With exercise there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but it is probably good to vary your workouts as much as possible, to cover all bases and keep on giving your body new challenges.
vary everything – pace, ROM, weight, choice of equipment, length of workout, exercise selection – often
push yourself, but also tune-in to your body so that you can rest when you need to (& know that if you never need to rest, you’re not working hard enough!!)
aim to feel all of these things while you’re working out – feel hot; get out of breath & feel your muscles burning
don’t be afraid to pick up heavier DB – you can always put them down again but you might not need to!!
And if you’re still unclear about what is the best way for you to move your body, always find a suitably qualified trainer and let them help you. This is Archie. He is not a qualified trainer, but he’s happy to help also!
After a few weeks doing WAY TOO MUCH in the garden every weekend, I’m determined to let things slow down a little bit in June. I had a fabulously ‘slow’ weekend away, staying off-grid in a shepherd’s hut for two nights, and it was just what I needed.
But back to the work stuff, here’s the class timetable and everything you need to know about clinical massage availability for the coming month:
Online fitness for women
The classes gently progress as the month continues. Things don’t necessarily feel easier or harder on any particular week (because it really depends on how your body responds to different stimuli) but in general terms week one classes are ‘back to basics’; week two classes tend to involve different timings or a specific body area; week three classes tend to be a bit more dynamic; and week four classes might include more balance work or more intense moves.
Having said all of that, ALL classes are self-paced – meaning that you can push yourself as hard or as little as you like – and I always offer variations so that you can get the best workout for your body.
40-fit Mondays @ 7pm – it’s always good to get a Monday workout in your week
metabolic fitness Tuesdays @ 7am – a really good start to your day!
functional fitness Wednesdays @ 7am – a perfect way to start the weekend…
Online class Wednesdays @ 7pm – join from the comfort of your own home for core & back strengthening exercises, combined with movements for mobility and flexibility, and some time for yourself
This session runs as a live class on zoom, but it is recorded so you can do it later if you prefer. Details here
In-person classes are back! Fridays @ 9.30am in Kilndown village hall up to (& including 14th July). Booking is now open on a week-by-week basis – details here. This term we are going to focus on core stability and some great trigger point release work.
Sports & clinical massage
Treatment for soft tissue injury or overuse issues, general niggles & chronic conditions such as low back pain, neck & shoulder tension, knee & hip pain. I am also certified to offer pregnancy and post-natal massage, work with post-operative scar tissue and provide oncology massage.
I have a massage treatment room at my home in Cranbrook (see below) and currently offer massage appointments at the following times:
I had a bit of a massage room swap this week! We’re now back in my original massage room, where there is more space and beautiful light levels. I can’t wait to welcome you to the new space.
Appointments can be booked here but please email me to discuss your treatment before booking if you have any questions about how I may be able to support you.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more about my classes, one-to-one fitness sessions or clinical massage.
Just a quick post to let you know that everything is gradually changing as we emerge out of 2020 and into the longer light days ahead.
The past 14 months have been an adventure that probably none of us wanted to take, but I think it has also been a huge opportunity for growth on so many levels. As we head back into the wider world again, I am determined not to lose the lessons I have learned along the way, which means that I am taking gentle steps for myself and taylor-made fitness. You can find out more details below, and I will update regularly as things evolve:
Online classes have been a fantastic way to stay connected and stay/get fit and I am happy to say that they are here to stay!
There will be some in-person classes too but ‘fitness mornings’ will be staying online so that you can workout in your own home, either at 7am with me, or by catching-up with the recordings later in the day.
Pilates sessions will be available as in-person and online classes so you can choose the best option for you. There will also be some occasional in-person workshops throughout the year.
In-person classes will follow COVID-safe guidelines, with social distancing between clients, no shared equipment, and no hands-on contact from me
Over the next few weeks we will start to transition from online to in-person personal training, but the online option will still be available for those who prefer it, those who are not local, and those who like to train at times when I can’t get to them!
Online personal training has been really successful but it will be good to see clients face-to-face again. Training will need to be held in an open, spacious area, with good ventilation, preferably outdoors, and social distancing will apply.
One of the casualties of the past year has been my massage space!!
In March last year, I turned my spare bedroom into my ‘zoom-room’, which meant that my massage room became my overflow space for all the things that used to be in my spare room! My office has recently been moved into the studio space, leaving that room free as a my new massage room…
I’m currently finishing off a complete redecoration so that when I start offering sports massage again, the new space will be a calming area for your treatment.
As soon as I am back to hands-on practice I will let you know!
Please get in touch if I can help:
If you are interested in returning to in-person Pilates classes, looking for online fitness classes, keen to know more about personal training, or want to be the first to know when I’m back at my massage table, please get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, there will be website updates in the coming weeks so check-back soon
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.
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…
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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 –
squat & shoulder press
bent over row
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…
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):
lunge & biceps curl
biceps curl and shoulder press*
bent over reverse flye
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.
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
A compound workout uses complex, or layered, moves to create powerful, effective exercises which can be adapted to suit you.
In a nutshell, you will start with a basic movement (eg. a
squat) and then layer in extra movements (eg. a calf raise and shoulder press)
to increase the load on your body. By working-out in this way, you will
increase your heart- & breathing-rate and add extra work to your muscles
and bones, whilst decreasing the amount of time you need to exercise for. If
you are time-poor, this style of workout is ideal for you!
The other great advantage of a compound workout is that
because there are layers added-on, you can easily adapt it by taking away (or
replacing) anything which doesn’t feel right for you, without having to miss
out on a whole exercise.
For example, in the case of squat, calf raise & shoulder
if you had an issue with your shoulder, you could
continue with squats & calf raises but leave out the shoulder press; or you
could substitute a biceps curl in place of the shoulder press
if your feet were not comfortable with calf raises,
you could do just a squat & shoulder press; or you could do a squat,
shoulder press & triceps extension
The key to layering in movements is to find ones which flow
together fairly easily so that the workout doesn’t feel awkward to do, but
other than that, the only rule is to listen to your body and change anything that
doesn’t feel right for you. And don’t feel that every exercise has to be a compound
one – mix in a few simple exercises too for more variety.
I’ve put together a simple compound workout to get you started and I have filmed all the exercises, to go with the notes below, so that you can see how they look. You can find a pdf version here
squat, calf raise & shoulder
press – start with
your weights by your shoulders; sit into your squat to begin and then as you
stand rise up onto the balls of your feet and press your weights towards the
ceiling; bring your heels to the floor and lower the weights back to your
starting position before starting on your next squat
diamond push-up – this is a variation to target your
triceps, but you can change to a wider push-up or a standard narrow push-up if
you prefer; focus on your range of movement and adjust your position to allow a
alternate forward lunge and row – have your weights at your sides;
step into a long, deep lunge, pressing your front heel on the floor with both
knees bent; bring your chest to your thigh if you can before starting your row;
the longer and lower you go into your lunge, the more energy you will use to
come back to standing; reverse lunges are a little easier and are also kinder
on sore knees so try those if you need to
walk-out to stand – start as if you were about to
perform a gymnastics floor routine; say ta-dah if it amuses you to do so; bend
forward and walk your hands along the floor until you are in a full plank
position; hold for 2-3 seconds; walk your hands back towards your feet, bend
your knees & stand; ta-dah; repeat (NB if your body doesn’t like the motion
of going up and down in this way, either come down to the floor and stay in a
plank position for the whole time or miss this move out altogether)
repeater reverse lunge to knee lift
& hold (x each leg) – I love single leg work because it really loads the big muscles in your
standing leg; go as slow as you can on this for extra core-control and as a
contrast to the next exercise which will ideally be fast & light; step back
into your lunge position; as you come back to standing bring the knee up to hip
height; try to step straight into your next lunge without tapping your foot
back to the floor; add a tap down in between if you are feeling unstable
knee/tap repeater (x each leg) – this is a sped-up version of the
move above, without the lunge; you will need to lean slightly forward to keep
your weight on your standing leg; try not to transfer your weight back into the
tap; go as fast as you can without losing control
upright row and front raise – in the upright row make sure your
elbows lift higher than your hands; in the front raise maintain a neutral
posture through your torso – ie. no arching in your lower back and no flaring of
Watch me doing all of the moves in the video here:
I added some afterthoughts on push-ups here:
time mobilising and warming-up your body before you begin your workout
attention to your body and change anything which does not feel useful for you
a timer for each exercise or count repetitions – whichever you prefer
if you have any questions at all
(this workout is aimed at regular tmf clients but it is
generally suitable for everyone; however, if you are new to exercise, recently
post-natal, or have any health concerns
please seek medical advice or professional guidance before embarking on a new