All posts by: admin

I have personally incurred countless injuries to various parts of my body, usually because of an overzealous approach to sport, though falling off bikes and out of trees have also been culprits – amazingly, I’ve never broken a bone, dislocations – yes, torn muscles – yes, sprains & strains – yes..so I know a thing or two about the pain and frustration felt on the road to recovery.

As well as no breaks, another thing I’ve managed to escape is chronic lower back pain, or as it is often referred to –
‘non specific low back pain’, where the exact reason for the pain cannot be diagnosed.
An incredible 60 – 80% of adults will experience some form of low back pain during their lifetime and this structural dis-ease accounts for the majority of reported absences from work here in the UK.

Constant pain, or a continuous debilitating injury is most unpleasant, yet I’m not writing this article to lament over the negative statistics; but rather to throw out some hope and positivity that there are solutions available and Pilates might just be the one for you!

Good fortune I’m sure has been on my side, yet I’d also like to think an element of avoiding any persistent back problems has been due to having a relatively strong core and a decent amount of flexibility and these are two fundamental aspects you can expect to achieve or improve on when practicing Pilates.

I literally can’t tell you how many men and women I’ve had come to my classes, all bent out of shape with this very issue, who find relief from the pain that plagued them.
Over time, with proper diligent technique and consistent practice, they’ve experienced a wonderful freedom of movement.
Exactly which exercise fixed them…you may wonder? Sometimes the answer to that is as non specific as the problem itself. The Pilates system works the whole body by strengthening & stretching each muscle accordingly and this holistic synergy is what makes it effective.

– This article has been published in the June edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Finding the road less travelled

Recently I took a bike ride along the Monsal trial in Derbyshire, it was sunny and a great day out. A popular route with walkers, runners and cyclists – hardly off the beaten track I know but; it was new to me, so I barely noticed the 16 miles we’d ridden as I explored and enjoyed the scenary.

Sometimes our fitness routines can get stuck in a rut or they get cancelled altogether and we have to find something else to do.
This of course has been the case for all of us over the past 2 years, as gyms & classes were shut down, finding new ways to exercise during the lockdowns and restrictions became a necessity and we know that is the mother of invention. So having walked all the familiar paths and trails a number of times, my bubble and myself set about trying to find new places to discover on our weekly hikes, within our immediate area.

We were very successful in finding new turf, there were incidents & accidents and fun along the way, once my companion and myself were talking so much, we didn’t take proper notice of exactly where we were, finding ourselves in a wood, beyond dusk, with two very vivid imaginations, citing teen horror flicks as we bumbled our way back to familiar surroundings!

I certainly felt the benefits of all that leg stretching and fresh air, vowing to keep it going but how many of us have really continued with our lockdown walks/bike rides?

Perhaps it’s time to find new tracks again, especially now the weather is milder, to keep our fitness varied and avoid boredom and more to the point, that when we explore new places we don’t notice so much the time, distance or how many steps we’ve taken and although the motivation to get out ’n about is to stay fit & healthy, it almost becomes a side element to all the entertainment being had.

– This article has been published in the May edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

What is Physical fitness?

When we think of the word fitness and how to achieve being ‘fit’ we probably imagine gasping for breath, excess sweating and possibly even pain. To a degree being a little out of breath and creating a sweat are indeed elements of achieving fitness, yet there are several components which combined together provide a much broader, holistic picture of what physical fitness truly is and it’s not all huffing & puffing!

There are six components of physical fitness, including cardiovascular endurance (sweating), flexibility (not much sweating), muscular endurance (some sweating), muscular strength (some sweating) and body composition (usually no sweat).
When factoring in all these different elements we can see why there isn’t one superior form of exercise over another and that we need several different types of exercise disciplines in our fitness schedule to achieve a state of good physical fitness.
Not only is the type of exercise we do important, we must also consider our lifestyle choices too, such as what we eat & drink, our sleeping patterns, the amount of stress in our life and how much rest we get, all of which contribute hugely to the component of body composition and also to how well we might perform in any of the other components.

So what are some examples of these different components? –
Cardiovascular endurance – continuous aerobic activity, such as walking, running, bike riding, swimming, etc.
Flexibility – Stretching, Pilates or yoga.
Muscular endurance – working against a resistance usually with high repetitions such as weight training, functional training, circuit training and Pilates.
Muscular strength – working against a resistance usually with lower reps & heavier weight such as weight training and power lifting.
Body Composition – this means balancing the ratio of body fat and lean tissue within the body, which is affected by all of the above components and by lifestyle choices already mentioned.
Bear in mind that within each of the components there are lots of variables, such as your ability, energy levels, injury etc. The scale of fitness is relative.

– This article has been published in the April edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Spring clean your fitness

It’s not just your home that benefits from a good ol’ spring clean, your fitness schedule does too!
You may have been dragging yourself through your winter workouts with little progress, or maybe even hibernated away completely and really need to come out from under the sofa throws, especially if those lockdown pounds are still lingering, or with all the very best of intentions, your new year fitness resolutions have just failed to launch.
Well now it’s time, as finally spring is upon us!

There is no better time to get going with a new fitness plan than when the evenings are getting lighter and the weather milder. Outdoor exercise becomes more bearable, and if you prefer going to an indoor gym or exercise class, let’s be honest, most of us are more inclined to go out when we can see daylight, even if we’re going to drive there.

So now we have the elements in our favour, the next thing to sort out is setting our SMART goals – Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Timely – goals!
Being clear and specific about what you want, with ways to measure progress, along with realistic & attainable desires, backed by a plan, will be far more likely to succeed, than a vague, overambitious, unplanned day dream. Jot it down in a notepad or on your phone, so you can reference it regularly.

I can’t stress enough that the exercise you chose must be something you enjoy. It’s all very well doing a hardcore bootcamp for a few months, to kick start everything, but if you detest that style of working out, the risk is you’ll eventually fall off from it, then if you don’t have a replacement activity, all your hard work will unravel and you’ll have wasted time and money.
Get back to your notepad and brainstorm ideas to pursue – try different types of exercise, until you connect with something you feel, could become part of your lifestyle long term.

– This article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Rules of Core Engagement

Having a strong ‘core’ has been a buzz word for some time now, with many people seeking out ways in which to achieve this objective. One such route is through that of Pilates, renowned for many benefits, yet famous for how this practice creates a super strong core.

In-fact in true Pilates terms the word ‘core’ isn’t really used. Joseph Pilates who invented the Pilates exercise system, called the musculature of the trunk section of the body, which includes – the abdomen, lower back, hips & buttocks, – the ‘Powerhouse’ and used a principle he called ‘centuring’ to create stability and protection of the pelvis & spine and from which energy for movement is generated.
To ‘centre’ your powerhouse area, it involves firstly placing the pelvis into a neutral position, then drawing up your pelvic floor muscle, whilst at the same time activating the deeper abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominus, internal obliques, diaphragm and multifidus, at about 30% of your maximum flexion, this is all done in sync with your breath, which in Pilates, is another fundamental principle and has a specific technique called lateral or thoracic breathing.

Once you have the powerhouse centred and prepared your breath, the movement pattern begins. In Pilates there are 34 original exercises or movements, yet all of these have many different variations and modifications, making the Pilates repertoire abundant with choices for every ability level, from beginner to progressive practitioner.

Even if you do not practice Pilates, this is a principle worth learning as it is highly transferrable to other forms of exercise, ensuring protection and stability and facilitating better functional movement, reducing the possibility of injury, which is why you’ll find many pro-sports personnel incorporating Pilates into their training schedules, from footballers and boxers, ballet dancers and golfers, to basketball and tennis players, swimmers and equestrians.
Learning to centre is also amazing for anyone struggling with issues related to a weak pelvic floor, perhaps due to child birth or surgery.
In all circumstances seeking professional guidance is advisable.

– This article has been published in the February edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

The importance of being sociable through exercise

My Pilates classes offer more than just the teaching of Pilates. I knew this before the pandemic happened of course, yet what we have all endured over these past 2 years, has revived in me just how important socialisation and community really are and how exercising together offers both.

As I write this article, I am hoping by the time it is published that we won’t be experiencing another lock down. There are so many ways in which these times of separation have affected us and I think it took a while to shake off the enforced introversion, a little while longer for those naturally introverted to dust off their social skill set.

Certainly I noticed how much quieter my class participants were initially, when we returned to halls, myself included as we all readjusted to socialising with people outside of our ‘bubbles’.
I was more than ready to ‘go out’ to work, yet I am thankful the technology existed to facilitate streaming classes from my lounge. This kept me working, encouraging others to exercise and clinging onto some semblance of community – live streaming has also added a new element to Promise Pilates classes, as the remote participation option for clients is set to stay for each session, however in my opinion, there is nothing like the real thing of sharing a tangible, physical experience and being around a group of people all invested in the same activity.

It’s fair to say that exercising our bodies in group classes, also exercises our ability to socialise with one another and I imagine not since the great wars has the exchange of ‘positive strokes’ been so crucial. The giving and exchanging of salutations, encouraging comments, facial expressions and gestures with one another, is so paramount to human sensibilities and each one of us must seek to find our own personal balance on how much socialising is needed and the ways in which to achieve this to maintain a healthy happy soul.

– This article has been published in the January edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

If you don’t use it – you lose it!

We’ve all heard the phrase “If you don’t use it – you lose it” so forgive my less than original title there, yet if you are reading this paragraph hopefully it drew you in enough to find out what you’d lose, if you don’t use it? – though hopefully [again] – you know the answer, so lets regard this article as a collective reminder to – keep on moving!

After spending this past [nearly] two years, working from my lounge, it hit home recently, now that I have my Pure Pilates classes back in the halls, how much more energy I use going ‘out’ to work and how much ‘less’ active I have actually been, even with all the lockdown walking!
Which brings me to my point, that there is a balance between activity and rest that we all must strive for to maintain our wellbeing.
This isn’t new news of course, yet we may have ignored how simple a principle this really is.
Apathy creeps in at times or we get out of our routines for a while and need a little nudge and December is a month many of us are guilty of such crimes.

To convey my point in a far more elegant and philosophical way, allow me to use one of my favourite wellbeing quotes by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, who is considered one of the most significant figures in medicine.

All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly; but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly.
—Hippocrates, c. 450 B.C

Thats some straight talking business from Hippocrates there, yet I wonder how much more we have really learn’t since then, or if we have indeed just gone full circle – there’s nothing new under the sun after all?!

– This article has been published in the December edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Running pros & cons: Outdoor vs Indoor Treadmill

Whether you are an established event runner or you’re just starting out with a few weekly jogs, it’s worth bearing in mind a few pros & cons of running outdoors vs indoor treadmill running.

Outdoors:

1: Fresh air. Unless you’re running along a busy road with lots of traffic fumes, outdoor running will hopefully provide you with lots of fresh air, especially in areas with plenty of greenery such as parks, woods and the country side. Far better than recycled air conditioning at the gym.

2. New places. Outdoor running provides new things to see & places to explore, as you weave through the streets of a different neighbourhood or explore new rural trails.

3. Naturally challenging. The constant changes in terrain when running outdoors, provides continuous challenges for the body & mind to navigate, making you work harder, developing proprioceptive skills & agility.

4. Always interesting. Seeing new faces &/or scenery along your jog, staves off any mundanity, if you’re prone to finding treadmill running boring.

5. Free & accessible. Anytime, anywhere, no membership fee, no time frames. Just go…

Indoor Treadmill:

1. Any weather. Even the most sturdy of runners can sometimes get weathered off – snow, extreme heat or some other weather condition can at the least be undesirable, or could potentially be dangerous to run in, so indoors has the monopoly on consistent, predictable conditions.

2. One kit. There is no need for extra kit, such as waterproofs, trial shoes, reflective apparel or thermals. Same kit all year round, simple.

3. Same session. You can tailor or programme the run accurately, in terms of time, speed & incline, making it easier to log or observe progress and measure comparisons to previous performances, with fewer variables.

4. Gentle on joints. Treadmills provide ‘assisted’ running that absorbs a certain amount of impact, taking pressure away from knees, hips & ankles, unlike hard pavements and roads.

5. Less risk of injury – aside from the odd mishap on a treadmill, there are less obstacles to trip over, or slip on than with outdoor unpredictability

– This article has been published in the October edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Circadian Rhythms – Finding your optimum time to exercise

Circadian rhythms are fascinating 24 hour internal cycles that regulate everything from when we need to sleep to when we are mentally most alert.

All living organisms have circadian rhythms, including humans, animals, plants and microbes and they are all subject to the external cues of their immediate environment, such as light & dark, temperature and environmental chemistry. These elements can all be altered, changed and artificially manipulated to influence the circadian rhythm of the individual, which is good news for anyone working night shifts or unusual work patterns. However a persons chronotype (internal body clock) is biological and can only be influenced rather than fundamentally changed, so while around 50% of the population are neither a morning lark nor an archetypal night owl, if you do happen to sit at either end of the body clock spectrum, it may not be that healthy to force an unnatural sleep / wake pattern.

Further understanding of how our own personal circadian rhythm works and what portion of the 24 hour cycle is best for different activities, means we can optimise each one of them whilst keeping good homeostasis.
Observing the 24 hour cycle helps develop and maintain routine and it’s also well worth the consideration of what our body naturally wants to do, tweaking activity times accordingly to avoid continually feeling fatigued or sluggish.

See below a diagram of proven times for bodily functions, including the best time to exercise.

– This article has been published in the September edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk

Jump rope for fitness

If you’re looking for no fuss fitness that gets serious results – try skipping with a jump rope.

Synonymous with boxers, this form of cardiovascular exercise has many fantastic wellbeing benefits.
It builds stamina, develops coordination, strengthens bones, and creates toned arms, legs and torso muscles. In fact depending of the weight of the rope and the intensity of the skipping, it can pretty much tone nearly the entire body. Skipping is great for preparing the body for other forms of sport too.
Skipping is also cheap to do, you only need this one small piece of equipment and the space to do it. The rope can easily be stowed away in a bag or backpack and taken to work for a lunch time skip or squeezed into suitcase compartments to take on holiday for a quick & convenient workout solution.

The length of your rope can vary the intensity of your workouts and tone different parts of your body. It’s recommended that for beginners a longer, unweighted rope is used.
There are lots of footwork combinations and different paces to work at, such as jogging pace, running pace or a sprint pace for short bursts.
Build your pace and time up gradually starting with a jogging pace for 10 – 15 minutes in 1 – 2 minute intervals, jumping from one foot to another, rather than on two feet together, as that is much harder to sustain for long.
Try to skip on soft ground or a sprung floor, rather than on hard concrete, to avoid jarring muscles and joints.

Channel your inner Rocky and try these skipping drills –
*Skip at jogging pace for 2 minutes, then take a 1 minute rest. Repeat 6 x times.
*Skip in 1 minute bursts at running speed, with a 20-30 second rest in between. Repeat 6 x times.
*Skip continuously at jogging pace for a full round of 3 minutes, with a sprint speed for the last 10 seconds. Rest for 2 minutes. Repeat 6 x times.

This article has been published in the August edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk