Stop Feeling Intimated in the Gym.

Overcome gym intimadationWhen it comes to exercising different environments can suit different people, some like to exercise at home, some in a gym with equipment, some outdoors, some prefer group exercise and some like to mix it up – no different than exercise itself. Something I’ve heard quite often though is people preferring group exercise for the feeling of social support, I’m not going to go against it I love group exercise and you should feel comfortable and confident in the environment for it to be enjoyable, however it seems a shame when people don’t want to try the gym because they find it daunting.

I read a nice little poster the other day titled ‘stop feeling intimidated in the gym’ which I quite liked so thought I’d share some of its words of wisdom, beginning with ‘make a plan before you come in, then follow it’ – I’m putting this first as it will make a huge difference as to what you do when you’re there and how you feel about being there, I’ve gone without a plan thinking I’ll wing it and subsequently spent longer than I’d care to admit walking around looking lost!

This brings me to the next point ’everyone there is focusing on themselves’ – if this weren’t true I’m sure that for all the time I’ve spent walking around looking lost at least one person would have come up to me to check that I was in the right place, they didn’t so I’m sure they were in fact unaware of me and focusing on themselves.

Next ups a big one ‘literally everyone in the gym gets intimidated’ – yup even those of us qualified to instruct other people using the gym, it’s human nature. ‘Weights are for everyone, not just guys’ – definitely! This is something that needs to change in a lot of gyms and largely ties in with the previous point; I’m never going to deadlift the same weight as the 6’2” brick wall of a bloke in there but I have the right to attempt to lift whatever fairy light weight my 5’1” body will allow -refuse to be intimidated by either the other users or the equipment, (a degree of arrogance may be needed for this one, stand your ground!) if you need or want help ask for it, somewhere in that gym will be a bored looking instructor wishing someone would ask for their help.

Lastly ‘you’re at the gym, why not make the most of it?’ – ‘I figured since I’d made it this far I’d just keep on going’, I think we can all learn a little something from Forrest Gump!


Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

Image credit to FitRebelle.com

Fitness Exercise with a Balance Board

Balance Board ExerciseAs a rule if I run in the gym I like to find a treadmill which offers me some sort of view, preferably by a window; unfortunately one particular day I wasn’t so lucky and found myself using the last one available situated in the corner of the room directly behind a stand of swiss and bosu balls. I watched as people took and returned them and found myself feeling sorry for the only item continuously left on the stand – a dusty balance board. Now I appreciate the balance board doesn’t seem like the most exciting piece of equipment and swiss balls have a reputation for being the go to for core exercises, but seriously the balance board can work core and more! Anyone who knows me knows my stance on developing core stability as fundamental for all exercise but in conjunction when performing standing/weight bearing exercise stability at the ankle is also unsurprisingly important. All joints in the body undergo a continual conflict between mobility and stability – to increase one is often to lessen the other.

In part, the purpose of a warm up is to increase mobility in joints, the ankle in particular has need for mobility to allow for movement in several planes, but it also needs adequate stability to prevent injury. The most common injury in sports and physical activity are ankle sprains which are estimated to account for 25% of injuries; most commonly ankle sprains involve the lateral (outer side) ankle ligaments and are associated with the movements plantarflexion and inversion (pointed feet turned inwards). I tend to be of the opinion that prevention is better than cure and where ankles are concerned a balance board is a good first step. They can serve to mobilise the ankle (remember mobility is still needed), more importantly can improve proprioception (the body’s awareness of where it is in space) and in turn improve neuromuscular control and the ability to correct excess movement, as well as helping to begin strengthening muscles around the ankle for stability. Functional movements such as squats can be performed on them, lunges with either the front or back foot in contact; as well as core exercises such as planks with either the feet or hands in contact, and even press ups.

I have to say bosu balls are also great and perfect for progressing ankle exercises (honestly run or hop your way across one) but to take things back to basics the balance board is amazing, so the next time you head up to grab a swiss ball spare a thought for the balance board, do your ankles a favour and brush off a little dust!


Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

Image credit to Shape.com

Overtraining Signs and Solutions

overtraining exerciseI’ve noticed with some guests who have done a week at FitFarms that there’s apprehension at the beginning around the amount of exercise that will be involved and whether they’ll be able to do it all and keep up (the average amount of exercise at FitFarms being 4-6 hours a day), conversely I’ve seen others who are regular intense exercisers who seem to feel they should be spending the week stepping up their usual routine.

ACSM guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, so my question here is this: if a regular exerciser does 1-2 hours of intensive exercise daily, what would be the benefit in increasing it 2, 3 times or more to 4-6 hours? You may be wondering where I’m going with this or if it’s a trick question but what I really wanted to bring up is the subject of overtraining.

Now it’s not something that often gets mentioned in the average fitness setting as it’s more commonly associated with athletes however that’s not to say it doesn’t happen with non athletes.

What are the Signs of Overtraining

Overtraining is pretty much exactly as it sounds -an accumulation of training load without adequate rest that will ultimately cause a decrease in performance, the thing is as an exerciser you may not be aware of a decrease in performance if performance is not something you monitor, so how can you tell if you’re overtraining?

As with any other stress there may be several physiological responses, these include:

  • Increased resting heart rate in the morning
  • Poor appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Severe muscle soreness and stiffness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Lack of concentration.

 

What are the Solutions to Overtraining

If overtraining has occurred the intensity and amount of exercise should be reduced and a plan put in place to prevent it happening in future by:

  • Ensuring good rest and recovery
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Rest between exercise bouts
  • Adequate hydration and nutrition for training
  • Abstaining from training through times of high stress

Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

Background image created by Schantalao – Freepik.com

What is the Aerobic System?

The Aerobic SystemI thought I’d get down to basics and have an attempt at explaining one of those mystery words that crops up in fitness, if you haven’t guessed here we have the great unveiling of…aerobic! We’ve all heard it but what does it mean, what does it do? Well generally speaking it is a system so I’m going to attempt to answer: What is the aerobic system? The aerobic system is the bodies way of using oxygen to produce energy (Adenosine Triphosphate/ATP) for muscle contraction, it is responsible for long term production of energy, continuing to produce energy over a greater duration where there is a low work load such as when going for a walk.

The aerobic system also works to support the anaerobic system, this system also produces energy but does so much more rapidly though only over a short period as it does this without using oxygen, for example when sprinting; this system produces metabolic by products (they’re what slow us down) such as blood lactate which build up faster than the body can deal with at the time but which an effective aerobic system will readily remove after. Effectively the aerobic system is always governed by oxygen supply and demand -availability, uptake from blood and delivery to tissue.

Developing the aerobic system helps to speed up recovery, particularly between bursts of exercise such as with high intensity interval training, as well as helping to sustain longer periods of exercise bouts. Improving the aerobic system increases the anaerobic threshold -the point where metabolic by products are generated, thereby also allowing exercise to be performed at higher intensities.

There are several protocols suggested for developing the aerobic system including exercising over a long slow distance or duration (more than thirty minutes), performing high intensity intervals, threshold training (focusing on learning where an individuals anaerobic threshold is, exercising for 3-10 minutes at or just below the threshold before resting and repeating), and performing resistance training with high time under tension (increasing the length of time a muscle is under strain).

So there you have it, something to remember the next time you see an ‘aerobic’ class advertised!


Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

How to Start Running

run it never gets easier you just get strongerLots of us don’t enjoy the prospect of exercising indoors in a class or gym environment or even at home, least of all when the weathers nice. We want to do “outdoorsy” things and be active. Or we see regular joggers and runners heading off down the road and think that we would love to be able to run but it’s just too hard or we just aren’t fit enough or our joints can’t take it, truth be told you wouldn’t be running for your joints benefit so if you want to take care of them then eat right stretch and keep mobile maybe supplement if necessary but there’s no reason your joints should be an issue.

Before I go off point with this I’ll anticipate people may dispute my last statement and explain in advance people with underlying health or joint issues may be limited but it really depends on your expectations and requirements i.e someone with a form of arthritis in their knees and hips may be limited or may find it painful at times but that’s where the approach should be altered not the exercise excluded.. if you can walk you can run!

So how to go about it? Well you crawl before you walk as you must walk before you jog and jog before you run, don’t rush it, treat it as a hobby or discipline lean the basics before you master the art. The depth to this point is largely misunderstood as well when I say learn the basics we could be talking walking running in the pool we could be looking at correcting gait and lower limb function or developing a stronger core to support the joints involved instead of it being an over night thing it becomes a life long development or interest but that’s much better than just trying to do it to lose weight! So if you want start running and once started want to keep running I’ve listed a few pointers I would consider.

  1. Start by walking: it’s the best way to start using and building the muscles you will later rely on. It will help develop strength endurance of theses muscles as well as build your cardio vascular capability and it will help de-stress and find the right head space.
  2. Listen to your body: if it doesn’t like the way your doing it, it will tell you, don’t be afraid to turn it back a little if you move forward too quickly.
  3. Jog/run at a pace that is comfortable: kind of following on from number 2, the biggest hurdle I come across with beginners or returners is the need to adapt a pace to fast to be maintainable or controllable, so start real slow and let your cardio vascular system catch up.
  4. Get some support: it’s really difficult to actually know what’s happening with the body, it will give you lots of different signs to be interpreted in many possible ways.. my biggest regret is not relying on a physio more through my training, once a week/fortnight/month could make all the difference.
  5. Don’t just join a club: whilst the motivation and support will be great their is no guarantee that will be enough, or even the best approach for you, for many reasons running is good for you but it can also be bad so don’t just use one source of info or advice refer back to number 4 and number 2.
  6. Consider rest and recovery the most important part of development: exercise breaks the body! It doesn’t fix it, if you’ve been to FitFarms you will of heard me say that.. and it applies especially to runners. Something about the buzz they get when they find their stride next thing you know you can’t keep them out of their running shorts, every night and twice at weekends.. it’s great to see but for really sustainable development your rest and recovery is key without it. Your body will break.
  7. Don’t just run: it is a physically stressful exercise also one dimensional and as discussed in number 6 addictive, you need variety and broad development so consider other activities that will rest your muscles or at least use them in a different manner whilst still helping you improve, 2 prime examples are boxing and swimming two amazing cardio vascular exercises that do not use the body in the same way as running.
  8. Get the right shoes: I still can’t figure out what’s best for me.. less support or more, sometimes I feel better in my barefoots sometimes in my £20 amazon specials but that’s me and I have two guaranteed options there make sure you figure out what’s best before you start putting any real miles down.
  9. Choose different distances and tempos: so many clients I speak to always work on the same pace and trying to improve distance or time, I’m sure the pro’s probably do this already but I feel the info is not being carried as well to the amateurs and part timers, just because you can run 5k in this time doesn’t mean you have to, keep your body guessing and allow it to build in more dimensions. Sprint work, jog walk, run, intervals, hill climbs, treadmill, stride patterns and gait work, road or off.. just some of the variables..
  10. You don’t need carbs!: really I just threw this in to round it off to 10 but a lot of the full time runners will swear they need the sugar or they can eat processed carbs because they’ll burn it off when they run.. just because it doesn’t show on the outside doesn’t mean an over indulgence of crappy processed sugars won’t hurt you inside. The frightening thing is you probably won’t realise until it’s too late. By all means enjoy your food as I would say to anyone treat yourself and live 80/20 I’m not saying you shouldn’t touch these things just don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need them for exercise.. you body already has it covered!.. to follow this blog will be one with some possible exercise routines to play with in order to get you up and running.

Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here

Image credit: Shecanandshedid.com

FitFarms Legs, Bums & Tums Exercise

You earn your body

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steps

  • Perform exercise 1
  • Perform exercise 2 followed by 1
  • Perform exercise 3 followed by 2 & 1
  • Perform exercise 4 followed by 3, 2 & 1
  • Rest for 1 minute between blocks.

Block 1:

  1. 3 step squat, x 6
  2. Single leg Romanian dead lift (alternating legs), x 6 each side
  3. Round the world lunges x 6
  4. Kneeling to standing (alternating legs) x 6

Block 2*:

  1. Kneeling bridge x 12
  2. Single leg kneeling bridge* x 12
  3. Supine glute bridge x 12
  4. Single leg glute bridge* x 8

Block 3: Repeat Block 2 with the opposite leg

Block 4:

  1. Side lying abduction x 12
  2. Side lying hip flexion x 12
  3. Side lying abduction x 12
  4. Side lying abduction (2/2: pausing 1/2 way up & 1/2 way down) x 6

Block 5: Repeat Block 4 with the opposite leg

Block 6*:

  1. Supine toe taps (alternating legs) x 12
  2. Supine leg extension* (alternating legs) x 12
  3. Flutter kicks x 12 (6 up & 6 down)
  4. Supine leg lower* x 6

Block 7:

  1. Quadruped in/out abs x 6 each side (change leg 1/2 way)
  2. Moving plank (or 30 second plank hold) x 3 squares: forward, side, backwards, side
  3. Breast stroke x 12
  4. Donkey kicks (double or single leg) x 6

Notes:

*Block 2: The left leg in front for exercise 2) & raised for exercise 4) will work the right leg.
Alternate between the right & left legs if having difficulty performing exercises on the same leg.
If exercise 4) is difficult perform the standard glute bridge only lifting one leg once positioned at the top of the bridge.

Block 6*: Exercise 2) is a progression of exercise 1) if difficult perform by sliding legs away along the floor.
If exercise 4) is difficult perform single legged, bending up the opposite leg keeping the foot in contact with the floor


 

Check out FitFarms exercise courses for 2018:

Image credit: Quoteslifewiki.com

Why Do We Exercise?

Exercise daily and be healthyIn general it all boils down to three goals – lose weight, tone up and get fit. These aren’t our goals these are how we respond “typically” when asked. Even if people say it’s for health reasons they generally attach that to visual changes they see. For instance if they lose weight it must be working and they must be getting healthier.

So when the doctor says you have a high risk of CHD or diabetes you need to exercise and start a healthy diet. You think in order for this to be working I should see some change in my body shape I should see some weight loss on the scales (it doesn’t help that the doctor also associates these issues with being obese according to the BMI scale or your hip to waist ratio). Even if you have never had that conversation with the doctor but you just know you’ve gained weight or you feel less healthy or your not as active as you used to be … or your getting out of breath when walking a little or you feel stiff sore or weak all of the typical pre cursors to prompting a change in lifestyle or starting a diet and exercise program. These all lead to one thing a focused and planned out routine of structured and usually restricted eating and exercise to achieve visual result that will suggest you are achieving your goals. But think of it like this, exercise is not a natural or functional concept we do not need it to live or maintain quality of life, a structured or routine diet is not necessary for a healthy body.

I remember when I first started working in the industry the 6-8 meals a day idea was new and it was the definitive answer shortly after it got followed up with the theory of eating live a caveman (person!) and it all made sense. The problem is the cave people weren’t eating a diet or a structured routine, they also weren’t working a 9-5 job they didn’t have such a organised and developing society stress was much simpler back then and they lived more instinctively than habitually.. not to mention our bodies have evolved massively since then and so won’t they can and can’t tolerate is very different. If you consider all of this and then consider they weren’t trying to be fit or live up to a certain expectation they were just living then you can see how an understanding of their way of life can help us to find answers and solutions but it is neither the answer nor the solution in its entirety. What our body actually needs vs what our mind craves vs what is scientifically correct based on a perfect working model vs what is right for that person.

I read an article a while ago about a tribe in Tanzania and whilst there were many interesting points the main one was that the males of this tribe as hunter gathers would graze whilst out hunting and gathering on the food they would collect the females of the tribe were the farmers who would also graze throughout the day on the food they would harvest. In the main feeding times they would all sit together and eat a mix of the same food but the study found that their gut microbes were different due to the different grazing habits. The reason I think this is a good example as it goes some way to demonstrate how adaptive to change our bodies can be and how by the time we decide to make a change to our lifestyle we as individuals are unique and should approach it as such.


 

Editorial by the FitFarms Health and Fitness team. Check out all our fitness camp courses today.

Image credit: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/250231323022814293/

Exercise, Physical Activity and its impact to Longevity of Life

Exercise and LongevityExercise and physical activity are well understood to pose health benefits such as helping to control weight, prevent or manage health conditions, improve mood, increase energy levels and encourage quality sleep.

I found myself reading an article about another potential benefit which I will share: the article was about whether exercise or increased activity impacts longevity of life, in short as with many studies the evidence so far appears to be conflicted; without going into too much detail (yawn) observational studies are suggested to have consistently shown a connection between increased activity levels and longevity across varying populations, epidemiological estimates suggest solving the problem of inactivity may produce an effect similar to eradication of smoking or obesity, with an increased life expectancy of 0.68 years, while randomised control trials have not demonstrated a causal relationship between level of activity and mortality. The problem appears to be due to evidence being open to misinterpretation and study limitations, selection bias and a reverse causation were put forward: we know exercise reduces risk of obesity but what if obesity restricts potential to participate in activity.

There are clearly a lot of varying factors that relate to activity and longevity which all need to be taken into account when studied. All the time while reading I kept thinking even if it does increase longevity it’s only 0.68 years -just over six months is the estimated measurable gain of mortality from exercise or activity and it seemed like such a small amount. But then I reflected on the reverse causation: what if obesity restricts potential to participate in activity, 0.68 years may not seem like a lot quantitatively but it’s not just the extra six months that’s important but what can be gained qualitatively in all the other years that precede -and that goes beyond measure.


 

Editorial by FitFarms Health Team

Image credit: 16films.com

FitFarms Weight Loss Retreat at Norfolk

Imagine 6 Months from NowWe are here at our new weight loss retreat in Norfolk this week. It’s a place called piggy bank barns near Fakenham and it’s a part of a working farm set back off a quiet country lane with a church at the end of the road, as you approach on private driveway there is a lovely little duck pond between the farm house and the barn conversions that we are calling home for the week. The weight loss retreat accommodation is rustic and homely. There is a function room we will be using for the exercise studio this week that is spacious with some beautiful views of the surrounding farm land and the whole site is so peaceful and relaxing all around us is calm and perfect for the course.

We are really looking forward to our weight loss retreat week at this venue and since arriving here we have only become more excited. It’s fantastic, lovely spacious rooms, secluded, picturesque views a large studio area. It really is an amazing place.

During the week we hope to deliver a course that ticks all the boxes but our main focus is on helping people understand the differences between a healthy lifestyle balance and decide for themselves what is the right amount of healthy.

We want it to be fun but informative life changing but manageable and we want the end of the week to feel like they could do it all over again.


 

Image credit: https://www.popsugar.com/

 

Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy

Sports Massage TherapistAs a practitioner of sports massage therapy I thought it may be beneficial to explain a little about sports massage, partly because it’s a frequently used and often very beneficial treatment; and largely, as I’ve come to discover via the Fitfarms weight loss boot camp, it’s not a well understood one! Often people are not quite sure what its purpose is or what makes it different to other types of massage, so here goes my explanation of it.

Sports massage therapy is a treatment aimed at relieving stress and tension in soft tissues that may occur as a result of physical activity. It is a treatment that can benefit everyone not just people participating in sport, as often everyday physical demands can place stresses on the body that may not always be recognised until injury or ailment results. Sports massage incorporates techniques from Swedish massage, though is often deeper and more intense -however it is not necessarily painful as is sometimes presumed! Other techniques may also be included such as those to treat trigger points (aka ‘knots’) similar to acupressure, and muscle energy techniques and soft tissue release which aim to improve tissue extensibility and improve range of movement.

When used at sporting events treatment may be beneficial both pre and post event. Pre event massage is normally performed 20 minutes to an hour before the event with a shorter duration than other massages (usually 5-15 minutes), it is a more superficial massage which utilises techniques to invigorate and prepare tissues for optimal performance. Post event massage is usually performed 30 minutes to two hours after the event (following a cool down), it is a deeper massage intended to relax tissues and allow for identification of any muscle spasm and minor injury, it is often used to reduce the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which may occur following strenuous exercise.

In an everyday setting sports massage may be beneficial for either maintenance or rehabilitation. Maintenance massage is beneficial as a regular treatment where therapists aim to prevent injury by addressing areas that may be likely to cause problems based on knowledge and understanding of anatomy, the clients sporting background, and/or occupation and the physical demands involved, it usually has a duration of 30-60 minutes.

Massage for rehabilitation purposes may be beneficial for both acute and chronic injuries, aiding to reduce any pain or discomfort, encourage the healing process and lower the risk of further injury to other tissues which may be compensating. Massage for rehabilitation involves undertaking an injury assessment, the results of which guide the treatment plan. Initial treatment may be a shorter duration than a maintenance massage (allowing for assessment) though specific to the injury and tissues involved.


Editorial by FitFarms Health and Fitness Team
FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Learn more.
Image credit: https://www.discovery.uk.com/