|Posted on 30 November, 2016 at 8:55||comments (0)|
There's a new kid on the exercise block and its name is PiYo.
As it's name suggests, it's pilates/yoga combo class which brings togther the mind/body practices of yoga with the conditioning, stretching and dynamic movement principles of pilates.
The added benefit is that it's very athletic and will bump-up your heart rate, ensuring you also get a cardio workout.
What's not to like!?
So, with that thought in mind I went along to my first class this week and did an hour of it - which I have to tell you was enough - not because I didn't like it, but because it's pretty tough, Far tougher than Pilates or yoga individually.
For the record, although I understand - and often promote - the benefits of Pilates and yoga, I am not massively into them myself. Where fitness is concerned I'm big on HIIT, lifting weights, strength work, jumping up and down, and moving around as fast as possible. If I'm not sweating and my heart rate isn't pushing 180 bpm I don't feel as if I'm in the zone.
So, I'm not going to lie, I was a little sceptical before I began my PiYo workout.
I needn't have been. Within 10 minutes it was pretty full-on. The reason for this is that the entire hour is spent in continuous movement. One exercise flows into the other. And while you're told that you should stop and take a rest if you need to, the idea is to refrain from doing so if you can help it.
The class is choreographed and accompanied by music, which helps with motivation, focus and enjoyment and the instructor demonstates exercises as you try them with her/him. The reason for this is that many of the moves are new - even to a seasoned exerciser like me. Yes, there are aspects of well known exercises in most of them, but they come with a special PiYo adaptation. An example of this is burpees. Instead of doing them hard, fast and with an explosive jump or a press up as an add on, you do them slowly, hold a high plank position in the middle and on coming up to standing, you do a slow squat with a hold at the bottom. After five of them, your quads, hamstrings and glutes are burning and you're out of breath.
If you've done either Pilates or yoga before, you should be able to do the actual exercises. Your strength and stamina will determine whether you can continue them for the required amount of time.
If you've never done Pilates or yoga before, I think the exercises will take a bit of getting used to, some of them are quite complex.
One of the things that appealed to me (apart from getting a cardio workout while doing pilates and yoga) was the amount of core work that came into it. I would say the majority of exercises engaged the core in one way or another.
So, if you want a stronger, more sculpted body (not to mention the possibility of a little fat/weight loss) and you fancy a class with a difference, why not give PiYo a go? I did and I will do it again.
If you live in the Blackheath/Greenwich/Lee area, there's a class near you at Colfe's School Leisure Centre in Horn Park Lane, Lee SE12 8AW on a Wednesday night at 8pm. Best to book in advance on 020 82979110. For non-members it costs £6.00
|Posted on 11 October, 2016 at 6:30||comments (0)|
'Fitness Tracking Devices Don't Improve Health'
This was the headline in a national newspaper recently. The story was borne out of the results of a scientific study which monitored 800 people using a Fitbit device over a year. The research found that while users exercised more at first, there was 'no evidence' the gadget promoted weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness or blood pressure.' The study also found that 90 per cent of participants had stopped using the device before the end of the year. They said the novelty wore off.
My Response? No surprise there then!
Since such gadgets became popular I have been sceptical of their real use in long term improved health and fitness, so I feel a little smug about this research.
I am of the opinion Fitbit, and the like, are little more than a distraction from the task in hand - exercise itself. I believe they appeal to a certain sort of person (and that person is often not a dedicated exerciser) - geeks, people with more money than sense, and members of a younger generation which is concerned with style over substance. Yes, they might look cool on your wrist or attached to your belt, but if you want to know how hard you're working, all you've got to do is take your pulse or ask yourself this simple question: am I working hard or not? Your body will soon give you the answer.
And yes, I know they can do a zillion things like count your steps, moniter your calories, sleep etc but, ironically, the one thing they can't do for you is the exercise.
In addition, information overload is the bane of most people's existence nowadays without even more of it to analyse about your activity levels. I think life's a little short for obsessing about such things - and this comes from me, a pesonal trainer, who is commited to health, fitness and good old fashioned exercise for both my clients and myself.
My advice? Jump up and down on your fitness tracker 100 times - you'll be killing two birds with one stone - destroying the gadget AND getting an aerobic workout into the bargain!
|Posted on 22 September, 2016 at 5:15||comments (0)|
Aside from compiling bespoke workouts for clients, I believe a personal trainer's most important role is that of motivator.
Let's face it, getting yourself to the gym (or your chosen place of exercise) on any sort of regular basis can be a challenge and, once you're there, working as hard as you can is tough. It makes sense, therefore to have someone or something that ensures you a) turn up and b) work to the best of your ability.
It stands to reason that if you've pre-paid for PT sessions (as most people do to get a discount) the chances are you WILL turn up; and then, when you've got a professional watching you, correcting you, encourgaing you, pushing you and maybe even shouting at you, then you're more likely to fuflfill your workout potential than if you were doing it alone.
Unfortunately, motivation doesn't just miracuoulsy happen. Motivation is borne out of desire - if you want something in life, you generally have to do certain things to obtain it. Most people need a reason to exercise; they need a goal or an aim or at least an idea of a place they want to be in time.
So, when I first sit down with a new client, one of the first things I establish is why they want a personal trainer. What I find though is that most people have a vague notion of what they're trying to achieve but they haven't thought it through in detail.
So, my advice for anyone about to embark on an exercise plan is to set SMART goals. The acronym stands for: specific, measureable, achieveable, relevant and time-bound. If you actually write down how each of these factors relates to your particular goal, you will almost certainly have a clearer view of what you're trying to do and what you need to do in order to achieve it.
For example, with regards the goal of weight loss:
SPECIFIC. How much weight do you want to lose/what dress size do you want to get down to etc?
MRASUREABLE: Plan to weigh yourself on a regular basis (say once a week) and log down the results.
ACHIEVABLE: Be sensible. If you're 30 stone, don't set a 10 stone goal. Set one that's more likely in the first instance - say 20 stone. Then, when you achieve that, set another one and another one until you're there.
RELEVANT: Good goals are meaningful and significant. They can be life-changeing. So, for example, an overweight dad might want to lose weight so that he can play football with his children.
TIME BOUND: Set a number of different dates by which you want to achieve different things - for example, getting into that little black dress you used to wear before giving birth on your next birthday.
NOW, stick these goals up on your fridge, look at them every day and if you're in need of further motivation, you might wish to hire yourself a personal trainer.
|Posted on 19 May, 2016 at 6:40||comments (0)|
REBOUNDING is the new kid on the exercise block and gyms all over the country are laying on classes quicker than managers can say 'jump to it.'
It's incredibly popular - and now I know why, having done a couple of sessions myself.
Firstly for anyone that doesn't know what rebounding is, I'll describe it in basic terms - it's a form of exercise that involves bouncing up and down - while doing different movements - on your own mini trampoline. Anyone with children will be familar with the concept because the equipment is almost exactly the same as the mini-tramps that most kids seem to have nowadays.
And therein lies the appeal - rebounding is fun. It makes you feel like a child again. It's sort of liberating in the sense that you can lose yourself for 30 minutes-or-so and still feel proud that you've done a workout.
Rebounding experts say it provides fast cardio benefits, helps strengthen muscles and is good for anyone with joint problems as it is low impact. Other plus points are said to include the fact that it can help reduce stress and that it gets the lymphatic system moving, which helps flush out toxins.
These are lofty claims which I'm not saying I doubt, but for me the truth about rebounding is somewhat simpler. Rebounding is an excellent form of exercise if you are unfit, overweight, have joint problems, have an injury or you're very old or very young. It's also a good way to ease yourself into a new exercise regime.
But, if you're already fit, then there's far more efficient ways to workout if you want to progress.
I'm a personal trainer, therefore I'm fit (it would be weird if I wasn't right!?). I hardly broke a sweat after the rebounding classes I did. They were 30 minutes long. Maybe if they'd been an hour long I would be telling a different story...who knows.
But maybe that's not the real point of rebounding and maybe I'm missing the point. As I said, rebounding IS fun and IT IS different. If you're like me and you've been going to the same exercise classes for years, it's a breath of fresh air.
As we all know, if exercise is enjoyable, then you're more likely to keep it up. If you keep it up, you're more likely to be fit and healthy.
So with that in mind, I've invested in a rebounding trampoline for my personal training business and I've been trying it out on clients recently. The verdict? They love it and look forward to its inclusion in sessions. That's proof enough for me that it's fir for purpose.
|Posted on 13 April, 2016 at 0:50||comments (0)|
IN THIS REGULR FEATURE, PERSONAL TRAINER AYLIA FOX SHOOTS FROM THE HIP ABOUT SOME ASPECT OF THE HEALTH, FITNESS OR WEIGHT LOSS INDUSTRY. SOMETIMES HER VIEWS ARE PROVOCATIVE, SOMETIMES THEY'RE JUST INFORMATIVE. EITHER WAY YOU'LL WANT TO TAKE NOTICE.
THIS WEEK'S SUBJECT: THE BLIGHT OF BLISTERS (AND HOW TO BEAT THEM) As you get older it's fairly certain that aches, pains, injuries and illness are going to dog you more as a result of regular exercise. It doesn't matter how fit you are, it doesn't matter how careful you, it's just a fact. Sad but true.
But there's an ailment that can reduce you to a sedentary wreck whatever your age. I am, of course, talking about blisters.
Those pesky pockets of fluid that form on your feet (and then burst) due to the rubbing and/or friction of footwear can bring your exercise regime to an abrupt halt that plasters, creams, speciality socks etc can neither prevent or cure. You basically just have to wait until they've healed.
As someone who has suffered from them for as long as i can remember (and who has had to get rid of several pairs of costly trainers as a result) I cannot tell you how happy I was this week to discover that scientists in the US have found a simple but 'revolutionary' way to prevent them - surgical tape.
Yes, I'm talking about the sticky tape that's used in first aid to secure bandages over wounds, you can get it from any high street chemist for less than a couple of pounds and all you have to do is wrap it round blister-prone skin before you exercise.
And you know what? it works. I've tried it. I mummified my feet in the stuff, put on my most uncomfortable shoes (without socks) and walked/jogged around for a couple of hours. I couldn't beleive it - no pain, no rubbing, no friction - NO BLISTERS.
As a personal trainer I'm constantly looking for little pearls of wisdom to pass onto my clients. This is the best one I've come across for a while. I also know people who are running in the London Marathon on April 24th and I'm going to be sharing it with them too.
|Posted on 5 March, 2016 at 13:05||comments (0)|
This week's rant: women who do multiple exercise classes in a row
We've all seen them - those smug, super-fit, super-slim women who rush from one group exercise class to another.
Why? is the question that springs to mind.
I'll tell you why - because theu can, because they're showing off and because they've obviously got time on their hands (and in some cases they're obsessed and think that the longer they exercise, the more they will benefit).
What perhaps they don't realise is that they could be doing more harm than good. As most classes at gyms and health clubs are an hour long, this means that some women are working-out for three hours a day. I know such women. I also know women who travel from one gym to another in order to meet timetable deadlines so they can get their class 'fix.'
It's now almost universally accepted within the fitness industry that 'less is more' in terms of time spent doing exerciuse. The guiding principle is: it's not how long you do something that matters, it's the quality and intensity of what you do in a shorter time that counts. (unless you're training for a marathon, or similar, of course)
And almost all research shows that, for an average person, exercising (hard) for much over an hour is likely to be counter productive - both in terms of results and impact on the body. This is because after about an hour, your brain registers that your body is exhausted and sends it into 'survival mode' via metabolic changes and hormonal responses. It starts doing cruel things like storing fat and burning muscle which is the last thing you want if your goal is a fit, healthy and toned body.
The other potential problem is that if you've got any physical vulnerabilities - for example, a weak knee or diseased heart - they will be the first things to 'go' if your body reaches its limits - particularly as you get older.
And then there's the problem of lower level injury - like strains or sprains - not to mention general aches and pains. These things are common in people who over-exercise (whatever their age) and they are your body's way of telling you to stop. What an irony though. You exercise for as long as you can, and then you have to stop exercising because it's harmed you...
So, while I don't wish to discourage enthusiasm and I should acknowledge that any woman who can do two or three classes in a row must be pretty fit, my message to such women (and it is a female phenomenon) is: calm down, chill out and give 100% to just one class. You'll achieve the same results and you'll get back a couple hours or your life every day to do whatever you were missing out on before - like, for example, scoffing a cream cake!
|Posted on 22 October, 2015 at 16:20||comments (1)|
IN this weekly feature, personal trainer Aylia Fox shoots from the hip about some aspect of the health, fitness or weight loss industry. Unafraid, upfront, provocative but most of all honest, you'll either lover or hate her opinions. Either way, you won't be able to ignore them and you might just learn something!
This week's rant:
TRAIN YOURSELF TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAINERS
FASHION is fun and colour is cool, but if you're buying a pair of training shoes for the purposes of exercise, make sure you're ruled by your head not your heart.
What I mean by this is that nowadays there are so many trainers on the market, it's easy to be confused about which are for sport and which are for everyday use. They look much the same; they cost a similar amount and they're often not separated on the shop shelves. On top of this it's difficult to focus on what you need - rather than what you want - when your senses are bombarded by a rainbow array of colours and designs the moment you walk through a shop door.
Caught up in this intoxicating vacuum, you can be drawn towards a pair which you can't help but try on. They fit like a glove, feel like a pair of slippers and the shop assistant is employing their best sales patter on you. Soon you're hooked and you've long forgotten the reason you went shopping today was to buy sports trainers. It doesn't really matter though because these trainers look great, they're cool, they'll impress your friends and therefore you simply have to have them....
Above, an example of a fashion/leisure trainer
No you don't!
If you buy them and use them to work out, you are setting yourself up for problems and, potentially, injury. Initially this might only present itself as a bit of discomfort in your joints such as your hips, knees and ankles. But it can escalate to back pain and conditions such as shin splints (extreme pain in the shins)l achilles tendonitis (damage and inflamation between the calf muscle and the ankle) and plantar fasciitis (overstretching and damage to tissue that links your instep to your heal). A worst case scenario could mean irreparable damage to your spine.
So here's a bit of guidance: as a rule of thumb, the higher the exercise impact, the more support you need from a trainer - particularly around the ankle and underneath the heel in the form of cushioning. If you're a serious runner you need serious running shoes. If you're someone who does a variety of exercise types, then your best bet is a cross-training shoe. This is a soft and flexible generic trainer which moves as you do (see pic below). You can normally identify this type of shoe by a criss-cross patern on the sole.
Above, an example of a cross trainer
As a personal trainer I often see people exercising in 'leisure' shoes or sneakers. Sometimes I strike up a conversation and mention it. Most people welcome the advice because they want to be safe, but I was once told to 'mind my own f-----g business' by a burly macho man who was a regular gym user and should have known better. About six months later I saw him hobbling around with a hunched back. I couldn't help wondering if his condition had anything to do with his gym footwear. Unfortunately I was too much of a coward to ask!
And finally, trainers are like tyres - they wear out with use. If you exercise more than about three times a week, you should be looking to replace your trainers every six to eight months. But don't think you have to buy one of the overpriced, well known, 'hip' brands (I'm thinking tick logos here). No, buy what's right for you and within your price range. But before you do, just remember: functionality first, then fashion.
|Posted on 5 October, 2015 at 3:10||comments (2)|
In this weekly feature, personal trainer Aylia Fox shoots from the hip about some aspect of the health, fitness and weight loss industry. Unafraid, upfront, provocative and honest you'll either love or hate her views. Either way, you won't be able to ignore them.
This week's rant:
THE PROTEIN SUPPLEMENT MYTH - THE FACTS
PROTEIN products are everywhere, you can't escape them. Once the domain of specialist sports shops and health food stores, now you can't even go to Sainsbury's without being distracted by bars, shakes, powders and protein-enriched concoctions. The internet is awash with them.
Retailers aren't stupid, they've simply responded to market forces and jumped-on the protein bandwagon that seems to have infected anyone who has the slightest interest in health and fitness.
As a personal trainer I am often asked by clients if they should be stocking-up on this sort of stuff. I tell them 'NO' and advise them to eat plenty of lean meat - particularly chicken - along with some salmon, tuna and mackerel. I tell them to Include kidney beans, chick peas, cottage cheese eggs and wholemeal cereals and grains in their diet and if they can throw in a bit of Quorn and Quinoa washed down with skimmed milk and a low fat yoghurt, they'll be getting more protein than they need and - more importantly - it will taste better and it's real food (this is not an exhaustive list, by the way!)
Another bonus of getting your protein the 'real' way, is that it won't cost you the earth. Have you seen the price of pre-packaged protein products? You're lucky if you can get a tiny (tasteless) bar for under £2 and protein powders normally come in bucket size portions that start at around £30. I saw a pre-mixed protein shake in a leisure centre vending machine that cost a staggering £3.80 - that's nearly twice the amount of TWO skinny lattes at High Street coffee shop.
There are other factors to consider too. These products are, in the main, artificial. They have to be made this way in order for them to be palatable and so that they have a long shelf life. Some of them are also full of sugar and many of them are calorific. For anyone trying to lose weight, they are best avoided.
Here are a few facts about protein: it is needed for the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue. Protein is part of every living cell and some tissues like skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments, hair and the core of bones and teeth are predominantly made of protein. Unless there is insufficent carbohydrate stored in the body, protein will NOT be used for energy production and compared to other nutrients, the body's protein needs are quite small.
Government guidelines say that a 'normal' adult should be getting 10-15 per cent of their total calories a day from protein. That's approximately equivalent to 0.8g per kg of body weight. For example, a 60kg person would require 60 x 0.8g = 48g per day.
That increases to 1.2-1.4g per kg of body weight for those people who are working-out hard, regularly (3 to 5 times a week) For a 60kg person, that's still only (approximately) 78g - which can easily be sourced through diet.
IT'S ONLY HEAVY-DUTY BODYBUILDERS, ELITE STRENGTH AND POWER BASED ATHLETES AND PEOPLE WHO ARE SERIOUSLY OVERLOADING WEIGHT ON A VERY REGULAR BASIS WHO NEED CONSIDER SUPPLENENTING THEIR DIET WITH EXTRA PROTEIN.
There are NO health or performance benefits in taking more protein than we need. In fact there are health risks associated with a surplus - for e.g accumulation of ammonia which can, in some circumstances, lead to kidney and liver damage.
So, don't get caught up in the protein frenzy and stop wasting your time and money on products that you really don't need if you're eating sensibly - and properly.
Protein IS important - I'm not saying otherwise. I personally include a sizeable amount in every meal I consume and I advise clients to moniter their intake to ensure they're getting enough. But let's keep the matter in perspective. Unless you want to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or Kelly Holmes, leave the protein supplements to those who actually need them.
|Posted on 30 September, 2015 at 0:15||comments (0)|
LOUD GYM GUY IS LAUGHABLE
ARRIVE in the weights area of any gym in the world and you will encounter a puffed-up man grunting and groaning like an animal in pain.
Do you know why this? Well I'll tell you. He reckons he's working far harder than anyone else and must make a primeval noise to prove it.
And if other gym users don't look round in response to the alert, he's failed in his task. Truth is, he wants people to look at him. He wants them to think he's tough - even if he's not!
It doesn't necessarily matter whether the guy in question is ripped and bench-pressing a colossal load, or is puny and struggling to complete one chin up, the perceived stratospheric level of exertion can still be the same and the audible exhalation of relief can be too. 'Little and Large' might not have strength in common, but they sure as hell share a gender and that, in my experience, is enough.
Women lift weights. It hurts them too. Most don't feel the need to make noise. Women just get on with it - rather like they do everything else.They're not there to show off or impress, they're there because their goals and aspirations require them to be (they don't tend to look at themselves in the full-length mirrors as much as men either)
As a personal trainer I have witnessed this macho phenomenon hundreds of times and it never fails to amuse me. If I pass the beast in question, I have to supress laughter for fear he might get angry and drop a dumbbell on my foot. For fun, I sometimes make eye contact with a person nearby and we exchanage a wry smile that says: I know what you're thinking.'
Shame Loud Guy doesn't; he might stop otherwise. Instead,his preening peacock display often continues as he saunters round the gym wiping his (hardly wet) brow with a boxing-style towel. He sips more water than is necessary because - lest we forget - he's been working harder than anyone else.
Unlike a peacock, noisy guy is not trying to attract a mate (that would take real effort!)... which is a good job because whilst a toned physique is attractive to women, narcisism and delusion are not.
|Posted on 17 September, 2015 at 9:20||comments (0)|
CELLULITE - TO HIDE OR NOT TO HIDE, THAT IS THE QUESTION?
Let's talk dimples - and I'm not referring to the cute ones on your face.
I'm talking orange peel flesh, blubber thighs, lard butt and cottage cheese tummy. In case you hadn't guessed ladies, I'm talking about the dreaded cellulite - or persistent subcutaneous fat, as the dictionary so charmingly puts it.
Cellulite is on a par with death and taxes if you're a woman living in the Western world - it's going to happen to you at some point and there's not that much you can do about it. You don't even have to be fat, unfit or chavvy to suffer. Supermodels get it, as do Hollywood A-listers not to mention royalty (who can forget that photo of Princess Beatrice on the beach in a bikini?).
So why is it that an affliction that connects women so personally, also divides us in terms of judgement on others? Open almost any magazine nowadays and you'll be bombarded with images of beautiuful skinny women on one page, while on the next you'll see someone in the public eye sporting thunder thighs reminiscent of the surface of the moon?
Talk about perverted sisterhood. We all get cellulite and we all try to hide it. But why should we, it's part of a woman's identity. It's tied-in with our genetic make-up, the same genes that give us the gift of children. And, if someone fails to hide it, we feel their pain but we're also secretly laughing because they got caught out and we didn't. And, in the case of celebrities, it's reassuringly nice to know that they're not so perfect after all and have to contend with the same cruel tricks of nature as the rest of us.
So where am I going with this? Well, as a personal trainer I'm painfully aware how many women are tormented by their cellulite. One lady I know of won't go on a beach holiday for fear of having to expose her dimpled flesh in a bikini. She pretends she prefers city breaks and ski-ing so in order to avoid the humiliation. A friend of a friend spends hundreds of pounds a year on self-proclaimed wonder creams in the belief that they will somehow cure her condition. Guess what, they don't. Her thighs are as dimpled as the oranges she eats while trying to lose weight.
The trouble with cellulite is that once you've got it, it's extremely hard to get rid of. It often develops during puberty (along with stretch marks) when teenage girls are prone to putting on weight - partly due to raging hormones but also because junk food is the nutrition of choice and exercise is not as attractive as boys.
Yes, there's many things you can do to improve the appearance of cellulite-infected skin. But ironically, rather like an infection, sometimes the remedies work and sometimes they don't. So, the best advice I can give you is: don't let cellulite take hold - unless, that is, you don't want it to ever let go. Glaringly obvious advice, I know, but important to state all the same.
And the best way to avoid cellulite? Well, you need to prevent toxins being stored in the fatty deposits that form just under your skin. So:
1) Eat 'clean'/healthy and avoid saturated fat
2) Drink plenty of water - preferably 1.5 litres a day.
3) Exercise regularly - particularly cardiovascular work (where you sweat out toxins)
4) Limit your use of salt - or use a low sodium alternative
5) Stimulate your lymph system by dry bristle brushing your skin and massaging afterwards with a softening or elasticity-giving cream
6) Try to avoid weight gain - particularly rapid weight gain.
And if you get cellulite, and you can't shift it, try not to stress - at least you're normal and unless you're a pop, soap or reality star, the rest of the world will never see it!