Sir Roger Bannisters: True Epitome of Mental Toughness

Sir Roger Bannister Having read about Sir Roger Bannisters death at the age of 88 at the weekend, I mentioned it to my partner who recognised the name but couldn’t place why, having made a historic achievement twenty years before my partner was born, I only had to say ‘4 minute mile’ and he knew who I was talking about!

Born in 1929, Sir Roger Bannister went on to read medicine at Oxford and during his time as a student took up athletics, having only 30 minutes a day to spare for the track he utilised his knowledge of medicine to examine the mechanics of running and designed his own training plan.

This saw him get to running a mile in 4:24 and putting him as a possible for the 1948 London Olympics, four years later at the Olympics in Helsinki he set a new British record coming 4th in the 1500m. However what many would come to view as his greatest achievement came two years later on the 6th May 1954 when he became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, 3:59.4 to be precise; for a quarter of a century people had been attempting to run a mile in under 4 minutes, no one had achieved it and most thought it impossible.

This new set record lasted only 46 days before it was beaten again, over twenty five years of trying and no one had managed to accomplish a sub 4 minute mile yet two people did it just 46 days apart -and it didn’t stop there, today there are thousands who have attained the same.

Sir Roger Bannister himself described that “it had become rather like everest, a challenge for the human spirit” and it is well regarded that the barrier to achieving the sub 4 minute mile was not a physical but a psychological one.

For me he is the epitome of mental toughness, he believed it possible when no one else did, was persistent, focused and motivated to push himself to the limit to succeed, and all starting from when he only had 30 minutes to spare! I mentioned that many came to view the sub 4 minute mile as his greatest achievement but interestingly once qualified as a Doctor Sir Roger Bannister went on to become a leading neurologist which he viewed as a far greater achievement than any he made as an athlete.


Editorial by FitFarms Health and Fitness Team

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What is Sports Therapy

sports therapy

A question I’ve been asked on several occasions, often followed by ‘is that like massage and stuff!’ In all honesty it’s quite a difficult question to answer for several reasons. Unlike most mainstream healthcare professions it is not regulated by the HCPC but instead comes under complimentary therapies, this means the title is not protected and essentially anyone with a sports massage qualification can use the title Sports Therapist (ST), that said many will preferentially use ‘Massage Therapist’, as many with a degree will use ‘Graduate Sports Therapist’ to differentiate.

That’s not to dismiss massage therapists as there are many who have spent years developing their skill and understanding, and are not necessarily any less knowledgeable than those flaunting a degree. With the availability of CPD courses sometimes those who trained initially as massage therapists will have added other treatment modalities to their skill set and be equipped to offer more than just massage – further adding to the confusion! An explanation I read that made the most sense to me was along the lines that with a degree the expectation is there that the practitioner should be better able to understand research to choose what to integrate into their practice.

Going back to the initial question, yes a Sports Therapist will often massage – amongst other things! Adding to the difficulty with the question is the various settings and teams that ST’s can work in, unsurprisingly many work in sports -some will work at events on an as and when basis, some work for teams/clubs either part time such as on match days providing pre-event work like massage, stretching and taping, as well as potentially pitch side first aid; some will work on training days too assessing injuries and designing rehabilitation plans; and some will work full time incorporating screening to prevent injuries as well as strength and conditioning. ST’s often work in gyms as availability of equipment to use for rehabilitative exercise is a huge benefit, and there’s many whose interest and additional qualifications lie in fitness. There are others who work equally as well in clinics, often alongside other healthcare practitioners. Some incorporate other additional qualifications such as nutrition or sports psychology into their roles too. The title itself can be a bit misleading as although it has ‘sports’ in it, the basis of what a ST predominantly does clinically is assess musculoskeletal injuries – not always sustained from sport! It is little wonder then that many go on to further education often studying aligned subjects such as Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.

To conclude and try to answer the question ‘what is Sports Therapy?’ succinctly I think the simplest answer is ‘a many and varied thing’.

Editorial by FitFarms Health and Fitness Team

Image credit: HFE.co.uk

Inspirations: Getting to know FitFarms’ Sports Therapist

Jennie HebbIn the words of Julie Andrews ‘Lets start at the very beginning’, this is my first time writing a blog so it does indeed seem like a very good place to start!

As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I always replied ‘a dancer’, that changed the day I met the school careers advisor whose advice went: ‘it’s a very hard career to get into, think of something else!’ It had never occurred to me to be anything else, and so I ended up like many not knowing what I wanted to do, and eventually working in retail.

I took up yoga as a hobby at twenty two which I found I loved, there’s lots of schools of yoga and the one I found (or which found me) focused a lot on correcting and adapting postures which I found really interesting. Now career wise I progressed to management but always felt I’d fell into it rather than chose it and scoured prospectuses hoping to find what I’d ‘feel’ I should be doing, while filling my spare time with yoga and exercise classes.

I can and I will QuoteI met my partner when I was thirty and we moved away; it was one of those strange times in life where it felt like everything was coming together and falling apart at the same time. I realised I’d been searching for what I ‘should’ be doing and not looking under my nose at what I had been doing, and so I began looking into courses to teach exercise classes; I then ventured off (as I tend to when googling) to looking at university courses and found Sports Therapy a course that really resonated with me. I was apprehensive as I’d never thought of myself as particularly clever, but I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner who encouraged me to go to the college open day. I think there’s a lot to be said for support, as well as for effort and determination.

Today I now have a BSC (Hons) Sports Therapy, ITEC Level 4 Sports Massage and CYQ Level 2 in Exercise to music and gym based instruction, unsurprisingly I’m also aiming to add yoga in the future.

It’s been quite a journey this far but it’s taught me that anything is possible if you’re brave enough to try!

Jennie Hebb
FitFarms Sports Therapist
BSc (Hons) Sports Therapy



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FitFarms Chairobics Exercise Routine

Addicted to Exercise QuotePerformed using music at 128 bpm (beats per minute) movements can be performed either on the beat (1:1) or slowed to every other (1:2) if timing to music.

Seated (sitting towards front of chair /perched on buttock bones)

1. Cx flexion, Cx rotation (R/L), Cx lateral flexion (R/L), Shoulder shrugs x4 double, x4 single R/L, Shoulder rolls x4 forward/ x4 backward. Repeat.

2. a) Lateral raise x8, b) Bicep curl x 8, c) Pec dec x8, d) Horizontal bicep curl x 8. Repeat.

3. Forward row x8, Lateral sway x8, Tx/Lx Rotation (R/L) x8, Lean back x 8 (holding onto side of chair). Repeat.

4. Toe taps, Heel taps, Toe outs, Heel outs. Repeat.
(Mix up between alternate feet, both feet, single & double taps.)

5. March, Heel digs, Tap backs, Knee lift & hip rot. Repeat.
(Mix up between alternate feet, both feet, single & double taps.)

Standing (use chair back for stability if needed)

6. March x16, *Heel digs x16, *1/2 Jacks x16, *Push backs x16. Repeat.
(*Mix up between single -R/L/R/L & double R/R/L/L.)

7. March x16, *Knee lift x16, *Knee lift & hip rot. x16, *Leg curl x16. Repeat.
(*Mix up between single -R/L/R/L & double R/R/L/L.)

8. Knee lift -hold 30 secs (R/L), Leg curl -hold 30 secs (R/L), Lunge -hold 30 secs (R/L). Heel-Toe walk.

Seated (sitting towards front of chair /perched on buttock bones) + Resistance band

9. *Single leg march x16 (R/L), *Knee extension (straighten) x16 (R/L), ^Knee lift & hip rot. x16 (R/L) Repeat. (*Resistance band under heel, ^Resistance band around thighs)

10. a)Shoulder external rotation x16, b)Horizontal external rotation x16, c)Internal rotation x16, d)Chest press x16. Repeat.

11. a)Bicep curl x16, b)Hammer curl x16, c)Tricep extension x16, d)Underhand Row x16. Repeat.

12. Double clap on lap bring one hand to touch ear & one to nose x4 (R/L), Bicep stretch, Tricep stretch, Chest stretch, Upper back stretch, Heel-Toe walk in/out, Cross legs, Extend (straighten) knee (holding onto leg), Lateral stretch (sideways reach towards floor), Rotational stretch (sitting sideways on chair turning body towards chair placing hands on the back of it to assist turning).

Cx, Tx, Lx: Cervical (neck), Thoracic (upper back), Lumbar (lower back) spine

1. Flexion: chin to chest, Rotation: turning to look over shoulder, Lateral flexion: bringing ear to shoulder

2. a) Palms down, lift both arms horizontally to shoulder height & lower.
b) Palms facing forward bend elbows to bring hands up to shoulders.
c) Arms lifted horizontal to shoulder, elbows bent into a right angle, palms facing each
other bring forearms together
d) Arms lifted horizontal to shoulder, palms turned up, flex (bend) elbows for hands to
touch shoulders

5., 7.& 9. Knee lift & hip rot.: lift thigh, turn knee out & lower to the side.

a) Keep elbows into sides of body, hold band with an underhand grip, pull band apart.
b) Stand/sit on one end of the band, hold the other end, lift the arm horizontally level with the shoulder, bend elbow into a right angle palm facing the floor, lift the hand (rotating the shoulder) so the palm faces forward.
c) Starting in the end position of b) reposition the band to be behind the arm/shoulder, lower the hand (keeping the elbow lifted/in line with the shoulder) so palm faces the floor.
d) Place band around the upper back (under the shoulder blades) & under (R & L) axilla (underarm), hold onto both ends of the band, place both arms as with start position of b), push arms away together, keeping elbows lifted. (May also be performed alternately in a punching fashion).

a) Stand on the middle of the band, hold both ends, keep elbows into sides of body, palms facing up bend elbows to bring hands up to shoulders.
b) As with a) only with palms facing each other.
c) Stand on the middle of the band, hold both ends, elbows flexed (bent), keep elbows into sides of body, alternately (R/L) extend (straighten) the elbow & shoulder (pushing the hand & arm backwards).
d) Stand on the middle of the band, hold both ends with an underhand grip (palms facing up), keep elbows into sides of body, lean forward slightly, push elbows backwards to bring hands closer to torso. Note: motion is from the shoulder NOT the elbow.

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How to do simple Aerobic Moves

aerobics exerciseIf anyone has joined in with a aerobics class they can be quiet intimidating if everyone else in the class has either been going to that class for some time or they are a regular aerobics class goer. It can be very off putting and sometimes can be scary for people to.

Any good instructor should know that they have new people joining in their class and should give easier options etc.

I’m just going to give you a few pointers how to do a few of the basic steps you will find in most Aerobic Classes.

Step Touch

Simply step to the right with your right leg and bring your left leg to meet the right leg. Then simply step your left leg out to the left and bring your right let to meet it. Always keep the knees soft as this will take the impact off your knees and back.

If you want to increase the intensity then start to move your arms either out to the side, in front or over head. Simple..!!


One of the most used steps in any aerobics class and will be for sometime.

Start with doing a double step touch like above but do double it, I.e right leg out then bring left leg to join in but the repeat the same steps again to the right. Do exactly the same on the left side and this is called a ‘double step touch’.

To change this into a grapevine simple step out to the right but…. Heel first the with the right foot as you glade through with your left leg moving behind the right leg and bring the left let together with the right leg. Repeat on other side.

Same again if you want to increase the intensity move the arms like explained above.

Box Step/Easy Walk

Another very common steps in aerobics is the Box Step or called the Easy Walk.

Simply step forward with the right leg then the left leg keeping the feet hip or shoulder width apart the step back with the right leg then left leg but this time bring the feet more or less together then step out again with the right leg.

Repeat on the side starting with the right leg etc.

Same a before increase the intensity but using arm lines or step wider, longer or lower to increase the intensity much more.

These are the three most common steps you will find in ANY Aerobics class but made simple.


Myths Around Exercise

FitFarms Andy BakerFirst of all there are a lot of myths and opinions set around what exercise is best for you and your goals. Just remember no one has the same goals as you they may sound the same, look the same or even feel the same but they mean different things to everyone and everyone will have a different way of achieving their goals. The plans and routines out there for you to pick and choose from are all in some way supported by some sense of logic or even science (some definitely more than others) but at the end of the day none are really specifically made for you.. unless you make them of course.

With this in mind it’s easy to see why there is so much conflicting information, let’s face it we are a passionate bunch and if we feel something works we will back it 100% and because to a degree it all works everything you read is supported by some form of evidence or research. In fact the real sticking point is drive and motivation, so how do we train that? Well we don’t follow others ideas for a start. Picture the scene, you have finally sat down and decided to make this happen you are going to get fit! So what works? Running? Low intensity? YAWN!! High intensity? OUCH!! Weights?? “No I do not want to get big and muscular!! Oh I don’t know; .. I know!! I’ll ask someone! “So what works??”

Aerobic exercise is great for fat burning! Oh but I heard lots of that kind of impact is bad for your joints! Well running? Apparently too much cardio actually causes us to store more fat than burn it, it also causes more ware and tear on our joints and stresses our body in a way that breaks down muscle tissue and increases fat stores and besides you need carbs for it and I heard that they are bad to!”… well what about a circuit class? Resistance builds muscle muscle burns fat! But I don’t want to be bullied by a big ex army instructor or made to lift heavy weights because that’s a sure way to injure myself and besides weights will make me heavier not lighter!.. I could go on.. but I would literally still be writing this time next year! In my experience; they are all correct statements and they are all incorrect statements.

When you take them out of context and don’t consider the bigger or whole picture, you are shooting in the dark. The truth is too much of anything is bad for you too little is too ineffective to judge and getting good at one thing will make you bad at another.. any one that’s been on a FitFarms weight loss and fitness retreat will be used to me not giving them many answers other than the speech about balance. There is a massive need to understand human nature and the potential characteristics you need to deal with when creating a program for someone. Which is why I think we are all our own best personal trainers if we can just tap into our own potential. But that’s another rant for another time.

For now consider the fact the only difference between a successful program and a failure is the person involved. This isn’t to say we are all failures just that if the mix isn’t right then the cake won’t rise! So pick the right starting point for you don’t worry too much about all the info out there until you are in a position to sift through what is best for your goals and what works for you. Just get out there and start to make good choices and let the rest start to fall in to place.

FitFarms Quick Fire Fitness and Fat Burn Work Out – SECTION 3

You are stronger than you thinkThis is the third part of the FitFarms quick fire fitness and fat burn work out series.

This is a no equipment basic idea to a routine, assume a 10-15 minute warm up has already been completed.





Section 3

  • Cardio circuit full body
  • Jumping jacks
  • Running on the spot
  • Burpees
  • Jumping lunges
  • Floor to ceiling
  • Side to sides
  • High knees
  • 30 seconds of each with a 10 second test in between

Section 4

  • HIIT circuit
  • Ski lunges/static lunge and pulse
  • Press up/dips
  • Burpees/butt ups into mountain climbers
  • Heismanns/ side lunge and floor touch
  • Pick one super set 20 seconds of each exercise with 20 seconds rest the repeat 5 times

Section 5

  • Tabata
  • Core/abs
  • Plank/ reverse plank
  • V-sit up/ window wipers
  • Deadbugs/treadmills
  • Russian twists/sit-ups
  • Elbows to knees/leg raises
  • 20 seconds of work 10 second change exercise each time

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Why FitFarms include Aerobic Classes on the Fitness Course

beginAt FitFarms we try to give all boot camp clients a range of classes and activities that they may have or may not have tried before.

I teach a lot of the Aerobics well, all of the Aerobics from Basic Classes, LBT (Legs, Bums & Tums) to mad high energy classes to give people the chance to try these classes as most people will never step foot in to a Aerobics Class let alone try one!!

There’s a few reasons why we do aerobics on the Fitness Courses:

Weight Loss

Aerobics is well know for helping people lose weight and maintaining the weight as you are always on the move burning calories!

Muscle Toning

You will be toning the muscles of the entire body especially the legs and core. The legs will kick start your metabolism like a fire hence burning calories in he class and afterwards. Also, we do body toning classes that will target the not so toned parts of your body but, still working to burn calories.

Balance and Agility

As you are moving like a mad person during the class, you are constantly working on you balance and agility. You are working on this through the fast change of direction and movements that make your muscles, tendons and joints move and work together.

Co – ordination

This is one of the main reasons that people and especially men don’t do Aerobics is because of the Coordination part of the fitness class. But, if the class starts slowly, you can get the moves correct before moving on and the Instructor will go through the combinations slowly at first before moving on. This is why on a FitFarms course we always do Intro to all the different classes including Aerobics.

Brain Stimulant

Might sound funny and this part does kind of go together with the last two points above but, the class will also help your brain to react to fast change of pace form moving arms to moving the entire body up and down etc. So, a aerobics class doesn’t just workout your body, but it also works your brain too. Hopefully not to hard!

So, those are a few points why at FitFarms we always put Aerobics in to our Fitness Boot Camp Courses for everyone to try and enjoy with all of the above benefits.

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FitFarms Fitness Retreat Wake Up Workouts

exercise-to-be-fitnot-skinny-eat-to-nourish-your-body-and-always-ignore-health-quoteBegin with Mobility

Movement is so important to our health and well-being and should be always in the back of your mind where exercise activity and quality of life are concerned. So start your day off right with some flowing movements allowing for improved range of pain free movement less restriction in movement and an improved level of energy. I find mobilisers more effective than stretches for me but the purpose is to loosen the muscles and joints off… so what ever works for you.. I like to combine movements into flows so that it helps with the overall effect, take a look at some of our mobility videos if you need some ideas. 20-30 minutes should be optimal for this kind of routine but if you don’t have that sort of time don’t worry; even a ten minute routine would be sufficient to “start your day the right way!

Next is aerobic!

Aerobic exercise gets the heart pumping and the oxygen flowing around the body, increasing energy and metabolic rate, it has a very positive effect on your self confidence your focus and your ability to manage stress throughout the day. Think about it this way; what ever your long term goal and/or short term goal it takes small steps to get there and if you can start each day the right way you are much more likely to achieve your goals. Again purely for the purpose of giving yourself the right start to a day 20-30 minutes will have the desired mental benefits and be enough to wake your body up and boost your energy levels but to get some real health and fitness benefits this would be an absolute minimal amount.

Another very beneficial technique to use in your wake up routine is a breathing routine.. again it will help with oxygen flow, mood and energy levels, concentration and focus and managing your stress throughout the day. As little as 10 minutes could be enough to have benefit in your day to day life. Try breathing in for 4 seconds holding for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds, its best done in a relaxed position like lying down and try to make full use of your diaphragm and core muscles.

Try to make use of 1, 2 or all of the above ideas on a daily basis to improve your start to the day

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FitFarms Weight Loss Retreat Outdoor Training Routine

Fall In Love WithWARM UP

10 minute jog, walk and jog.


Back exercise

  • (Facing the tree with the Resistance band wrapped around tree at head height)
  • Straight arm shoulder mobilisers (make circular movements through the shoulders in both directions)
  • Straight arm pulldowns (lean slightly forward and pull the band down with straight arms) 3-4 x 30 seconds each 30 seconds rest after completing a set of each exercise

Chest exercise

  • (Place one resistance band around the tree attach the wrist straps to your wrists and the resistance band wrapped around the tree)
  • With just one arm connected to the resistance band position yourself in a press up pose side ways on to the tree so the resistance is only on one side, be a good distance away so there is reasonable tension on the band complete a press up then lift the arm (with the resistance) up and in across the chest is in a chest fly movement… 4 x 6 reps (2 sets a side with the resistance band) 20 seconds rest in between sets and build sets up to 4 a side..
  • Pull ups or pulldowns (using resistance bands)
  • 5×5 reps slow and steady

Press ups

  • As above but this time, facing the tree and after each press up lift the arm out of press up position and move it as thou holding a snooker cue (it’s called a renegade kickback and focuses on the tricep) with the band attached to your wrist
  • 4×6 reps build up to 4×6 a side
  • Single arm split stance row (with resistance band wrapped around tree)
  • 5 x 5-10 reps each side slow and steady squeeze

And finally…

  • Tabata routine for sprints
  • Sprint for full 20 seconds 10 seconds rest x 8 rounds

The above routine is great for outdoor exercise with minimal equipment, it covers cardio vascular fitness and muscular endurance mainly but will also help with some strength, mobility and will hopefully give you a great sense of achievement.

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