Fitness Trend: Hula Hooping

Ok so hula hooping is not new news, most of us had one as a kid; but hooping for fitness does seem to be having another moment on the fitness radar, with TikTok video demonstrations and gym clubs putting hula hooping classes back on their timetables. I myself used to teach a hula-fit class 10 years or more ago… so I’m familiar with how hula hooping works as a great fitness tool.


It’s worth pointing out here that we’re talking about ‘weighted’ hoops, (before you go stealing your 7 year olds plastic hoop from the shed!)

The weight in the hoop creates a resistance to work against with your body movements, which causes the momentum to keep it spinning. There are different types of weighted hoop to choose from too; the most traditional looking ones are circular rings made with thicker, tough plastic tubing, much larger in circumference than the ones we used in P.E. –  to fit an adult frame of course, often used by acrobats & rhythmic gymnasts. Some have a lose weight inside the hoop tubing that spins around as the hoop moves, causing the hoop’ee to keep changing their stance to counter balance the loose weight, thus creating more of a challenge. Then the latest invention looks rather like a belt that sits around the waist with the weight attached by a wire, which spins around on the outside, Google it – it’s hard to explain haha.


All this hooping business is great to help shape & tone the waist, activating the core muscles and burning calories, some say as much as 400 calories per hour, which is as much as doing a spin class. I say that’s totally dependent on the intensity you’re working at and if you can actually keep a hoop going continuously for that length of time, it is possible though and even if you can’t I still think it’s a fun way to do some fitness.

In-fact I think by writing this article I have just motivated myself to blow the dust & cobwebs off my hoops and start spinning them again!


There are even competitions, world hula hooping championships anyone?…something to aspire to!


– This article has been published in the August edition of Life Magazines –

Pilates for Back Care

Pilates has become well known as a type of exercise helpful for people suffering with back problems, often a ‘go to’ recommendation of doctors, physio’s, osteopaths and other health care professionals, to complement their own treatment plans – yet not all Pilates classes are made equal!

There are many levels to Pilates, think of it as having multiple-layers in terms of technique and application, which is then added to as you progress with your practice. If the wrong level is attempted without proper preparation, there can be a negative effect, especially when dealing with existing back issues.
There are also many ‘Pilates based’ exercises that aren’t necessarily designed for managing back problems, they are for the generally fit & well, and the last thing you want is to go to a class thinking it will be doing you some good, when infact it could be detrimental.
This is when you need to be considering the ‘type’ of Pilates you intend to practice?!

A class that is dedicated to managing problems associated with the back is most appropriate, certainly initially. Once you are on top of the back issue or feel recovered from injury, you may wish to move on to more challenging movement, yet until then seek out gentle, aligning movement which gradually strengthens the core, building a protective layer of muscle around the spine and lengthening out muscle fibres & vertebrae which have become compressed over time. The practice is better done slowly, yet consistently to gain real lasting change and true longterm management.

Promise Pilates ‘Back Care Pilates’ class provides an excellent foundation level practice for beginners and is careful exercise aimed at managing non specific low back pain, spinal injuries and post natal recovery. There is plenty of guidance on how to strengthen the core and improve posture, with flexibility & stretch work, as we lengthen, align, strengthen and stretch the spine & limbs.

Back Care Pilates: Thursdays 10-11am at The Scout Hut, Southwell. Booking essential.

– This article has been published in the July edition of Life Magazines –

Whats your fitness cocktail?

A cocktail drink is described as ‘a mixture of often diverse elements or ingredients”
– according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
If we liken our personal fitness to that of a cocktail, we need to mix together the ‘five main health related components of fitness’ (listed below) with activities we enjoy in order to come up with our own unique formula.

Body composition, Flexibility, Muscular strength, Muscular endurance and Cardiorespiratory endurance are all to be incorporated into your weekly fitness schedule.
So what does that actually look like?
We must also consider elements such as our age and what our body may be enduring i.e. pregnancy / injury / illness and the amount of time & resources we have available.

There are so many options & choices and personal requirements to consider, so in preferring not to be prescriptive here, I’ve added a couple of weekly schedule examples just for inspirational purposes.

Example 1: female, age 35, 10 months post c-section –
Monday – Running Club (cardiorespiratory, muscular endurance & body composition)
Tuesday – Strength training at home with free weights (Muscular strength)
Wednesday – Active Rest day – Home chores (body composition)
Thursday – Pilates Class (core muscular strength & Flexibility)
Friday – BuggyFit with baby in pushchair (cardiorespiratory, muscular strength & endurance)
Saturday & Sunday – active rest with family (body composition)

Example 2: male, 72, managing previous herniated disc injury –
Monday – Golf – 18 holes (cardiorespiratory, muscular endurance & body composition)
Tuesday – Pilates Class (core muscular strength & flexibility)
Wednesday – Swimming (cardiorespiratory & muscular endurance)
Thursday – Golf – 18 holes (cardiorespiratory, muscular endurance & body composition)
Friday – Pilates Class (core muscular strength & flexibility)
Saturday & Sunday – Active rest gardening & walking with family (cardiorespiratory, muscular endurance & body composition).

Very different schedules yet both incorporate all five health related fitness components.

We must continually be altering & reinventing our schedules with different types of activity, intensities and duration, being our own mixologist as we move through the changes of our lives.

So whats your fitness cocktail right now?

– This article has been published in the June edition of Life Magazines –

Keep your bones strong

Our bones are amazing living organisms with their own blood vessels, various cells, proteins, vitamins & minerals. Collagen proteins give them form and calcium phosphate mineral hardens and strengthens them, creating an incredible structure that is both strong & flexible, enabling us to withstand all manner of stressors as we go about our lives.
They grow and change, transform and repair themselves over & over throughout life, yet as we age the density of our bones begins to decline.

We can and should have a varied diet which contains all the right ingredients for helping to maintain healthy bone density, in particular adequate amounts of calcium are needed, found in dairy, green leafy veg, nuts, soya & boney fish such as pilchards & sardines. Vitamin D is also needed, which we can get from both food and sunlight on our skin, and vitamin C help us absorb the calcium, amongst a number of other micro nutrients, vitamins & minerals.

Yet we must also address the health of our bones through exercise, to stave off the possibility of future osteoporosis. A condition of such inadequate bone density that the risk of breaks and fractures is extremely high, or of the preliminary condition to that, known as osteopenia, were the bone density is considered too low [for the average age] but not yet at the critical stage of osteoporosis.

So which type of exercise is best to continue to stimulate strong healthy bone density? – the answer is any kind of ‘weight bearing’ exercise. It’s fair to say when we think of weight lifting or resistance exercise, we tend mostly to think of the effect it has on our muscles but the other very important reason for doing such activity is, you guessed it – for our bones!
The good news is almost all forms of exercise has a weight bearing element to it, as all movement works against gravity. So the moral of the story is; keep on moving in whatever ways you enjoy best.

– This article has been published in the May edition of Life Magazines –

Classical v Contemporary Pilates

Joseph Pilates’ life work was developing & tweaking his pioneering exercise system which he called ‘Contrology’. We refer to it now simply as Pilates. However many differences have evolved between the original Pilates Joe designed and the contemporary forms of Pilates available today.

The last few years has also seen an explosion in the popularity of ‘Pilates based exercise’, with hybrids of the method emerging & amalgamating with other exercise disciplines & sports, for example – ‘Piloxing’ is Pilates joined with Boxing, or ‘PiYo’ which is an aerobic version of Pilates & Yoga mixed together, or ‘Pilates Barre,’ which fuses Pilates with Ballet.

Step into most contemporary Pilates classes and you will typically find the session combine a selection of the original movements along with modern variations and alternatives, catering to the varied group of practitioners, where levels of capability will differ greatly.
Small equipment such as blocks, straps, bands, balls, and small weights are frequently used in contemporary classes, as aids to either help execute the movement or to create evolutions & progressions. In a classical mat Pilates session no equipment is necessary, though can be incorporated.
Contemporary Pilates doesn’t tend to follow the original order either but rather it draws together a selection of coordinating movements, which provide a full body workout using Pilates principles.

Each teacher will be unique, bringing together elements they have learnt through different training providers, professional experience etc, for example, a teacher qualified in both Pilates & Yoga may combine the two disciplines in their classes, or a Physiotherapist qualified in teaching Pilates may specialise their knowledge in injury management & rehabilitation, thus adapting the exercises accordingly.

Rarely will you find classes focused on learning & performing the original 34 movements, practiced in the order Joe Pilates designed them to be done, usually because it’s very challenging. One’s limitations will be highlighted, yet the strive to continually improve technique and achieve deeper levels of competency is the ambition.

Promise Pilates offer both Classical & Contemporary Pilates classes.

– This article has been published in the April edition of Life Magazines –

Spring into Action!

Hurray spring is upon us, and what better time to put into action those plans to get fitter.

With milder temperatures and the evenings getting lighter, we can begin to emerge from our winter hibernation.

I personally love all of the seasons for the differences they bring, and as long as I’m warm and fed I can enjoy the slower months of the winter but when the time comes, I like to shake off the winter excess and enjoy the freshness I always seem to feel as we move into springtime.


Embracing the turn of the season might inspire you to get outdoors for your fitness, the positives of this are many. Being out in nature is a proven mood boost and getting a dose of vitamin D from the sunshine are all perks to working out in the great outdoors.

A few outdoor activities to consider are hiking, cycling, running, wild swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, roller skating, skipping, and even sight seeing – if you fancy adding a bit of culture into your weekend, it’s surprising how much energy is used visiting a new city for the day and walking around all the museums and attractions.


If you prefer to exercise in a more controlled environment, joining your local gym or an independent fitness class may be more appealing, and with the lighter evenings you may feel more inclined to walk or cycle to the venue to for added aerobic work.

In Southwell and the surrounding villages we have a very good selection of independent exercise classes, hosted by well qualified professional teachers and instructors.

There are kettlebell classes, bootcamps, clubbercise, TRX, Stretch classes and of course Pilates classes such as my own – to name just a few.

You can be sure to receive first class sessions from an independent instructor as it’s their own business, so going above & beyond for their clients is part of the service and it’s always good to support local whether it’s your weekly grocery shop or where you exercise.


– This article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazines –

Free Fitness

There are many, many ways to exercise your body, yet if you are specifically looking for options that have little to no cost, here are a few suggestions.


One of the easiest options for most of us is to simply go outside for a walk, and whether the area is urban or rural, taking a walk is ‘usually’ absolutely free!

It could be around the local area where you live, or whilst you are away on holidays or on a business trip. Just getting out for 30 minutes or more for a brisk walk, will get the heart pumping and your limbs moving. You can also change up the way you walk in terms of speed & tempo, or gradient, such as uphill, or terrain, choosing surfaces which create resistance like walking across a muddy field or along sand. You can apply these training principles to outdoor running & cycling too, simply changing up your speed, gradients and terrain all challenges the body to work harder, even if it’s just for short periods of time (known as interval training).


If you struggle with motivation, try enlisting a training buddy – a like minded friend or colleague who is on a similar mission will help the time pass, keep you company and increase commitment. If you don’t have any one person available, join a whole group and make new friends in the process, such as organised Park Run’s, which are completely free, you just have to register to take part.


If you prefer to exercise in the privacy of your own home, you’ve immediately saved on vehicle fuel since you don’t need to drive anywhere, there are no memberships to pay and you don’t even need to buy any equipment if you want to be really frugal – as you can use your own body weight or things around the home as resistance. Dancing, weight training, aerobics, Pilates etc, etc, are all things you can do at home. If you’re in need of ideas and inspiration – try the world wide web!


– This article has been published in the February edition of Life Magazines –

Time for a soft reboot

The beginning of the year always seems like a good time to start a new health & fitness regimen and maybe you are one for making big declarations of change, perhaps reeling off your new year resolutions to friends & family with much enthusiasm, only by January 4th you’ve already fallen off the healthy eating/new fitness routine/dry January bandwagon!


Well you haven’t ruined it, there’s no need to pack it all in and wait till January 1st 2024 – Just do a soft reboot! A figurative reboot that is of course! Take for example when you have something go wrong with a piece of tech, the first thing many of us will do or the advice given from the technical support team you may have called, will be to suggest turning it off and back on again!


How does this analogy work here then? – well lets suppose you’ve done the ‘hard reboot’ already, which we’ll say is the intention, planning and preparing for it; maybe you joined a gym or bought a new pair of running shoes or stocked up the grocery cupboard with lots of fresh fruit & veg, only to find yourself snacking on left over Christmas junk food or the running shoes are still in their box and you haven’t even seen the inside of your new gym yet!


So – take a deep breath and write off the wrong-doings or the no-doings and restart again tomorrow, whether it’s Monday, Wednesday or Sunday, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is or what date it is, you can always, always, start again and keep starting again until one day you realise you actually are in a routine of making good food choices or you actually are exercising three times a week or you only drink on the weekends now – whatever your target or wellbeing aspiration is, getting there doesn’t have to be a perfect route. Maintain your intention and eventually things will slot into place.


– This article has been published in the January edition of Life Magazines –

’Tis the season to dance!

It’s December and for many of us there might be one or two ‘Christmas &/or New Years Eve parties’ to attend. No doubt they will include some food & drink, which could possibly put the healthy eating plan on hold for the night/weekend/week/month but….to balance out the indulgence there may also be the opportunity to throw some shapes on the dance floor or twerk around the kitchen island – depending on where your party is!


Dancing has so many benefits, even if it’s done with little coordination and finesse, the calories burned still count, the release of stress is priceless and the muscle toning benefits can often be felt for several days after a good night out, reminding you you actually did a work out whilst enjoying yourself – even if you can’t fully remember it!! Wink wink.


Dancing doesn’t have to be saved just for special occasions either – I regularly have a good ‘shock out’ in my living room along with my favourite tunes. Having a good skip about the house is great for releasing endorphins and personally I find it far more fun than pounding the pavement running, I mean its unlikely you’ll suddenly start punching the air whilst jogging through the park (unless you’re Rocky!) without getting a few curious looks, yet you can do that with absolute abandon when listening to ‘The eye of the tiger’ in you’re own hallway, and hey, who hasn’t fancied themselves doing the Paso Doble around the lounge after watching Strictly on a Saturday night!


If you’d prefer a more structured dance class there are so many styles to choose, from salsa to street dance, adult ballet to Capoeira (A traditional Brazillian martial art disguised as dance) or you could join one of the many dance inspired fitness classes such as clubbercise and Zumba.


However you choose to dance, whether it’s at a party, in the club, your front room, fitness studio or dance class – do it like nobody’s watching!


– This article has been published in the December edition of Life Magazines –

It’s all in the detail

Recently, while out on a walk, I came across one of my class clients, as we stood chatting away about various things, she casually slipped into the conversation that I had a reputation for, as she put it, being ‘particular’. I wondered for a moment what her true sentiment might be, as it could have gone either way, yet as she elaborated it became clear my client was referring to my style of teaching Pilates and in-fact meant it as compliment.

Knowing that I am a bit of a stickler for correct technique, gave her & others, the confidence in class that they were doing the exercises safely first 7 foremost, and also that the exercises would ultimately be more effective when done right and that my attention to detail was indeed appropriate. Phew!


Having experienced many different forms of exercise, it’s fair to say there are different attitudes that might go along with each of them at the time of execution. For example, when someone is running a marathon, participating in a triathlon or a football team playing a match, supporters will yell words of praise & encouragement to motivate their team. Or imagine a tennis coach signalling tactical manoeuvres with subtle gestures to their player.

There are countless other scenarios where different types of communication is needed to get the desired outcome. Yet in each and every one of these scenarios, there will have been a time of training and preparation where the details about technique have been discussed & practised many, many times.


So when it comes to your own training in whatever discipline you do, having someone to suggest a slight change here or a slight shift there, can make all the difference to your practice, performance & / or progress.

A good coach, trainer or teacher will constantly be looking for ways to enhance, improve & challenge the way their client works or to correct them to avoid injury.

The details make all the difference.


– This article has been published in the November edition of Life Magazines –