Ditching the Elevator and Using the Stairs for Fitness

Ditching the Elevator and Using the Stairs for Fitness

Stairs for Fitness. Photo Credit RedBookMag

I just recently moved into a walk up apartment building. Living on the 10th floor, I always thought that the most convenient way to get up and down my flat was to take the elevator. While waiting for my ride, I noticed the usual signage posted near the lift doors saying “If you’re going up 2-3 floors, we recommend you take the stairs. It’s good for you.”

Seeing that I wasn’t in a hurry and that the lift was taking too long to get to the ground floor, I considered the suggestion and entered the stairwell. The ten floor challenge was on.

A few agonizing steps later, I found myself panting and literally crawling to my apartment door. After hydrating myself and getting some time to catch my breath, I vowed that conquering the ten floor walk up my apartment would be my next fitness challenge. I’d include walking up the stairs into my slowly growing fitness regimen.

Looking for a convenient workout that hardly costs any money and can be done throughout the year? Try stair climbing.

It’s convenient since most multi-storey buildings have elevators: schools, offices and even condominiums. Since the stairs are indoors you can easily climb them most of the year. You won’t have to postpone your workout even if it was raining or snowing outside. You won’t need any special equipment so there are no added costs. A good pair of running shoes and regular workout clothes are all you need.

Imagine all these benefits and I haven’t even begun to expound on the health and fitness part of the equation!

Research into stair climbing have documented its numerous health benefits: weight loss (in fact, studies have shown that you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run); and muscle toning (not just of your lower body, but also of your arms, particularly if you use hand railings that help you pull your arms up). There is also the added benefit of less impact on your legs, ankles and knees. Other fitness benefits were validated through the two research presented below.

A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine monitored the health of 22 sedentary college-age women who began climbing stairs over the course of seven weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that these women enjoyed better health outcomes in various categories: reduced heart rates, lower oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels.

Similarly, a Harvard Alumni Study discovered that men who averaged climbing at least eight flights a day enjoyed a 33% lower mortality rate compared to their sedentary counterparts. What is more amazing is that these findings are even better than the 22% lower mortality rate reported for men walking 1.3 miles a day.

Now I’m on my second week since adding stair climbing into my daily regimen. I’m happy to report that my endurance has improved considerably – I don’t pant as heavily as I used to. I’m a convert to this simple lifestyle adjustment and will continue to advocate it for other people interested in a low impact, affordable and all-weather fitness regimen that has proven medical and fitness benefits. I’d definitely advocate stair climbing for fitness!

Maintaining a Fitness Regimen for Busy Professionals

Maintaining a Fitness Regimen for Busy Professionals

Fitness Exercise Regimen for Busy Professionals. Photo Credit HealthMeUp

Most people, especially young professionals, with hectic schedules are prone to skipping a workout plan that they created altogether. Due to filled-up calendars, family and other personal obligations and work-related matters, it is so easy to have an inconsistent fitness regimen.

Thankfully in this busy and fast-paced world, the busy professionals have a lot of options to maintain that exercise routine while still being able to do their job as much as it requires them to. For a start, gyms and fitness centers that are closer to work are rapidly increasing making it convenient for the busy yuppie to head straight to the gym right after work. These places also close at much later hours, allowing the hardworking employee to still workout even if it’s two hours past the normal office hours. There are a number of fitness programs that are designed for the busy individual, depending on their fitness concerns. Given these terms, there are still a number of reasons that hinders many professionals to maintain an active lifestyle.

Barriers. Some of the most common reasons why professionals skip their fitness regimen are their impossibly busy daily schedules, leaving an illusion of not having ample time to work out. Another is that they are too tired to attend that spinning class after a series of meetings and client calls at work, leaving not enough energy for them to exercise at the end of the day. Another is that they need to spend more time with the family so instead of attending the 90-minute Yoga class, they will just go home straight after work to play with their dog or watch TV with their partners while munching on pizza.

Addressing these fitness concerns. By educating yourself that your health should be one of your top priorities, it will be easier to find time and energy to get back on track and attend the next Zumba class after work. Addressing these “barriers” should be a cinch when you know that you’ve prioritized your health above all else. Set aside time for exercise, whether it’s a 30-minute run around the neighbourhood or a full one-hour cardio workout at the gym. If your job requires you to travel often, bring portable workout gears like resistance bands, light dumbbells or Yoga mats with you. Download apps such as Map My Fitness to help you keep track of your progress. If you feel like you have no energy to work out, you should focus on nutrition and make sure you get enough rest and sleep every day. Make working out a family affair by attending fitness programs together. This way, you get to spend time with your loved ones while keeping an active, healthy lifestyle.

Have a plan on hand. Ask the help of a professional fitness trainer to help you map out your road to fitness success. Plan ahead. It’s easier to maintain a fitness regimen when you already have a workout plan on hand. The plan consists of which workout program you will have to do this week, how much time do you need every day, where is the nearest gym and fitness center that you can go to. If at times you don’t think you can squeeze in an hour of working out, you may do some alternative exercise in the form of walking instead of taking a cab, skipping the elevator and taking the stairs, or perhaps doing some 10-minute workouts like lunges or squats while you’re at work.




Weight Loss Retreat Exercise Routine Breakdown

Weight Loss Retreat Exercise Routine Breakdown

Here’s a Breakdown of the Weight Loss Retreat Exercise Routine developed by the FitFarms Team, as reported by Andy Baker.


9:15 am: Introduction to Fitness Workout with Zu
All the basics in a continuous routine designed to build up a sweat and teach important techniques that will be regularly used and revisited throughout the week..(45 minutes)

10:00 am: Carry your Excess Circuits with Ian and Andy
3 rounds of the same circuit first time to practice technique and control second time with additional weight to emphasise the bodies struggle with excess bodyfat and the third time to understand how much easier things are when the weight comes off! Each station is a minute long and each circuit is continuous rest is taken at the end of each circuit ( 90 minutes)

11:30 am: Snack

11:30 am: Introduction to Yoga with Ian
An hour of your basic yet extremely beneficial yoga movements and techniques, improving flexibility and core and full body strength and improving cognitive functions like balance, co-ordination and concentration, ideal for those who have always wanted to try or for those who are stressed either physically, mentally or emotionally. (60 minutes)

12:30-1:30: Lunch with…….. Food! 😉

1:30 pm: Introduction to Boxing with Andy
Covering the basics from stance, guard punching technique and pad work, this class takes the discipline of boxing and utilises it as a highly enjoyable fitness routine working the whole body and improving upper body strength and endurance. (60 minutes)

14:30 pm: Interval Training with Zu

30 seconds of slow pace either walking or jogging and 30 seconds of fast pace, jogging or running. Interval training is a fantastic way of improving your fitness and getting aerobically and anaerobically stronger. We used the road outside of our campsite which stretches on for roughly about a mile between bends, turnings or junction so it’s easier to gauge how far you’ve done but any stretch of road or type of terrain will be fine, even car parks are common place for such training. (45 minutes approximately)

15:15 pm: Snack

15:30 pm: Abs and Core with Andy

For this class we worked through the basic bracing and breathing techniques trying to engage our core muscles whilst breathing in a deep and controlled manner, then using this we added varying resistance and difficulty through a combination of arm and leg movements placing strain through the core muscles in many different ways. (45 – 60 minutes)

16:30 pm: Stretch with Zu

Bringing the intensity down before dinner, and allowing the muscles to relax and release after the impact of the say so far, a full body stretch focused on improving the mobility around the pelvis and core area. (45 minutes)

17:30 pm: Dinner …

18:30 pm: Introduction to Resistance Training with Ian

The basics are as good a place to start as they are to finish, so our introduction to resistance is a class built around basic techniques such as squats, deadlifts the prone position, shoulder press, bent over or upright rows etc used in a circuit to provide both opportunity to exercise and chance to understand the importance of correct position and movement. (60 minutes)

19:45 pm: Snack….



6:45 am: Wake Up Workout with Zu
It’s time to get the blood pumping and loosen off those muscles stiff from the day before, Zu’s fitball class is a great way to start the day, with easy movements and fun social atmosphere and some good wake up music the exercises will allow your muscles and joints to feel free of pain and able to move normally again. (60 minutes)

7:45 am: Breakfast

8:15 am: Fitness Workshop with Andy

A brief chat, about balancing your workouts, the benefits of each aspect and how to identify and improve on your own weaknesses and strengths. (60 minutes)

9:15 am: Local Walk with the Whole Team

The walks are a great way to recover whilst active or to push a little further, a great chance to think and clear your mind, or in the case of clients on this course a good chance to ask questions get to know the team and the other people on the course and to get away from the campsite into the beautiful countryside.
(1:30 hrs – 2:30 hrs approximately)

11:30 am: An Introduction to Tai Chi with Ian

The perfect chance to clear your mind and concentrate on one thing, fluid movement! And introduction to tai chi allows you to refocus and realign whilst considering a spiritual perspective, relaxing and releasing stress and recovering from previous exercise. (60 minutes )

12:30 pm: Lunch…

13:30 pm: Zumba with Sue

A fast paced simple dance routine designed to get you hot and sweaty to the upbeat music, a mix between several forms of dance as well as some aerobic moves all to the beat of the music (60 minutes)

14:30 pm: Bells and hoops with Andy and Zu

The class is split into 2 halves, one half of the group will learn about kettlebells and the other will learn how to hula hoop, half way through they change over, both types of exercise are very core orientated and a great way to tone the tummy as well as other areas of the body, whilst kettlebells are very technical hula hoops are very rhythmical so both take a little practice to get right. (60 minutes)

15:30 pm: Snack and Bus to Pool

16:00 pm: Swim and Aquafit with Zu

A chance to ease the aching muscles and still get a little more exercise out of you, for the first 30 minutes it’s swimming time at an active but comfortable pace, after which Zu will take you for an Aqua session which is great for active recovery or as a joint supportive exercise relieving the pressure and reducing damage across the joints (60 minutes)

17:30 pm: Dinner…

18:30 pm: Resistance training with Andy

In this session we covered three different structures of weight training, a great way of targeting the muscles to increase the breaking down and rebuilding of muscles in order to develop tone not size or bulk and by placing the session at the end of the day it allows for maximised muscle recovery through the night, the structures we used in this evenings session were.. Super sets, Tri-sets and drop sets as detailed below.

Superset: 2 exercises working on either the same or opposite muscles, I.e 2 exercises for chest or 1 exercise for chest and 1 for back, he idea being to double the intensity of the set without reaching complete fatigue.
Tri-set: similar to the above except with triple the intensity of one set and more scope available with regards to exercise.

Drop-sets: again there are lots of ways to complete this structure but with limited equipment the best is as we demonstrated, pick 4 or so exercises and complete them in a circuit one after the other with each exercise reducing the rep range.. I.e. Shoulder press (25),upright row (20), lateral raises (15), reverse flyes (15) are the four exercises and the numbers in brackets are the reps for each exercise. (60 minutes)

Report from the Holistic Weight Loss Boot Camp – 07 July 2014

Report from the Holistic Weight Loss Boot Camp – 07 July 2014

So today is a pretty emotional one for the group.

They wake up get their results, have a final breakfast together and then say their goodbyes.

All before 9am and I think especially because this group has gotten on so well it is a little like the last day of school in the final year.

Everyone remembers how that felt, right? There is lots of picture taking, lots of hugs and promises to keep in touch, it’s amazing how much of a bond has been formed over this past 4-7 days, later on we will be welcoming another group, still fresh with the sense of achievement shared by those we sit having breakfast with this morning.

So for us today is a surreal experience a difficult one to explain, this evening we will be looking at a whole new set of faces sitting in the same spots as the guys and girls we have just spent an intense and full on residential weight loss retreat week with.

group weight loss retreat

Tonight we will start all over again with a new group of people looking for either, the right answer, a kickstart, a boost, a life changing experience or just a plain old weight loss holiday, we will get to know them share their stories try to understand what has lead them to this point in their lives, do they want our help and support or just our motivation?

Tonight we will begin all over again but again tonight will be the start of a complete lifestyle overhaul for some people, a life changing experience for others or just a really good holiday with lots of fun exercise and lots of great tasting food and lots of new friends to be made!

Once the new weight loss camp group have arrived we begin the introduction and ice breaker, this week we have a typically diverse group of people but untypical is that it is our second mixed week in a row, so it will be less of a transition for us from the 1st week to the 2nd.

This second weeks group have all arrived and seem very friendly, as always there is a certain nervousness within the group but the fact that we have a few lovely gentlemen and some girls on their second week in a row will help to ease the tension much quicker.

As the welcome and icebreaker session proceeds it is clear that we have some real characters in this group and it has the making of a fun filled experience, it’s amazing how easily people settle and relax into their surroundings once you encourage them to open up a little.

Tomorrow will be the real start to the week, for tonight it’s all about getting comfortable! So enjoy guys and girls you have a big fitness and weight loss retreat day ahead of you!



FitFarms Customer Review – 04 July 2014

FitFarms Customer Review – 04 July 2014

Below is what happened in one of our recent fat camp weeks, as reviewed and reported by one of our customers.

The review article below highlights the details of the customer’s week camp experience at FitFarms from exercise programmes, learning nutritional diet menus, accommodation and the consultants.

At the back end of 2010 I went through a very particularly difficult time and I felt completely lost. I was really struggling and I found myself wanting to do something that was totally for me and to help me get back on track physically and mentally. I knew a spa wasn’t going to cut it. After a lot of research I found the FitFarms website. I thought this was just what I needed so I decided to go for it. The hardest part at first was getting there as I had never travelled on my own and I needed to get a flight and a train as I live in the beautiful island of Jersey. I was going on my own but sharing with another lady and we had made contact before we went. I am still in contact with her to this day and also a couple of other ladies who I met there.

When I arrived at FitFarms the staff were so friendly and welcoming. However they were straight with us in what we should expect on our week at FitFarms. We were shown our rooms and they were such a great standard. After we had settled we had a meeting and had to get our measurements done and if I remember correctly we had to do some small tests like flexibility, run/walk a mile etc so at the end of the week we could see how much we improved. We had dinner and were shown our list of what we would be doing the next day. I never thought in a million years I would get through the day. The first 2-3 days were a struggle and boy did we ache. Even going to the toilet was an achievement in itself. I remember being told by the staff that it would get easier. Because everyone who attended were in the same boat we all laughed about it and really encouraged each other. It was an amazing atmosphere every day. You really do get to meet some wonderful people from all different levels. By Day 3 or 4 we could walk and exercise much better and it really started to feel good.

The experience for me wasn’t just about exercise and eating healthy, it was also mental and I had a real breakthrough while on the course thanks to the Life Coach who was there at that time and I started to feel like me again (but a better version). The week was great fun even if at times we thought we would never do it. By the of the week everyone had made huge improvements and accomplished so much.

I enjoyed it so much I wanted to continue my journey and when I returned home I decided to do a diet and fitness course. I completed that but I didn’t feel it was quite what I was looking for. I eventually hired a health coach and through her I changed my whole life for the better. I have now gone on to train as a Health Coach as I think it is so important that as many people can see what they can achieve through living a healthier lifestyle. I am just about to turn 40 and I have never felt happier and fitter and I hope to help other people feel the same way. And it all started out with a trip to FitFarms, an experience I will never forget and I do think of often.

Getting Fit for a Deadline: Holidays, Weddings and Events

Getting Fit for a Deadline: Holidays, Weddings and Events

Special Event Diet & Fitness – Image Credit to Wonderful Oxfordshire Weddings

The motivation of a deadline

Getting fit and healthy is something we all intend to do as most of us are aware that eating right and staying healthy leads to happier healthier self. Deadlines are a great inspiration for wanting to look our best, whether it’s a wedding, holiday or event.

Ways to achieve your goal

  • Set yourself goals that are achievable
  • Plan out a week by week fitness and nutrition schedule
  • Exercise
  • Nutritional Content
  • De-stress
  • Keep it simple
  • Make it sustainable

Things not to do

  • Eat pre-packaged diet food
  • Use diet pills
  • Crash diets
  • Starve yourself
  • Excessive exercise





Image Credit to JSR Chartered Accountants

Set yourself realistic goals for the time you have
Various elements can impact on losing weight or getting fit so be realistic about what you want and CAN achieve to avoid negative feelings of stress, pressure or failure.

The length of time, nutritional intake, exercise and changes you can make within your lifestyle will have a direct result on what you are physically capable of accomplishing.

Planning a fitness schedule
6 months will allow for a long term outline of what you want to achieve each month and can lead to radical results whereas a couple of weeks you can provide smaller yet effective changes such as lowering heart rate, reducing fatigue and firming areas of your body will be made. If weight loss or fitness is to be achieved in this short amount of time then a boot camp is the best option for seeing those results.

Find exercises that will be most beneficial and that you will enjoy
It can take a while to find exercises you enjoy, so it’s good to try a range of classes to ensure you find something you are most likely to continue with. Fitness camps are ideal as you can try out a number of exercises and fitness and dance classes in a short time. This will leave more time to get the results you want.

Understanding fitness and the impact certain exercises have on your body is essential to tailoring your plan to target parts of your body you want to improve.

Nutrition plays a big part in both losing weight and getting fit so it’s essential to get it right. Avoid faddy diets, weight loss meals and processed food and focus on getting the correct balance of nutritional content to maintain blood sugar levels and provide enough energy throughout the day.

There is a lot of information online which can be confusing so check our website for tips and recipes from health professionals.

Our fitness camps have nutritional therapists and kitchen staff on site that provide delicious, healthy food while offering invaluable advise, cookery workshops and demonstrations.

Things to keep in mind
It is important to remain focus and not get stressed when life gets in the way, any change is good even if it’s just correcting bad eating habits and doing 20 minutes of exercise so remain motivated. Improving your fitness levels and nutrition is a big, positive step and it is important to find what fits best in your life and works best for you.

Remember that fitness and nutrition is a lifestyle so find a plan that will work for you after the event to continue all the hard work!

Your Skin and Weight Gain

Your Skin and Weight Gain

Weight Gain Skin Diseases – Image Credit to Viral Detector

We are truly into our great British summer and if you are sensible you will be applying sun cream to your body to help prevent skin diseases. Today we were out on a fitness walk at the peak district weight loss camp and I was reminding them to put cream on and then we got onto the discussion of how having extra weight affects your skin.

So do we appreciate our skin, perhaps not until we get older and the signs of ageing start? However, our skin has very important functions. It keeps our body together by encasing our organs and protecting them from injury, viruses, and bacteria. Without the sweat glands on the surface of our skin we would not be able to control our body temperature. Hair also helps to control the body temperature, it also alerts us to touch and heat. Some health conditions can be detected by changes to the skin and hair, such as diabetes and thyroid problems. Weight gain can change the efficiency of your skin.

The skins natural reaction to increased temperature on the surface is to secrete sweat in order to cool the area down. During weight gain there are more likely to be folds in the skin around the groin, waist, and torso. Retained moisture in these areas can encourage the growth of fungi and bacteria, which in turn will lead to infections, and skin rashes. Fluid retention can build up in the legs, putting strain on the veins in the legs, this can cause dermatitis, varicose veins, and skin ulcers. The feet are more susceptible to calluses and corns due to an increase in weight. A healthy diet and weight loss can improve the efficiency of your skin.

Foods rich in omega-3 have been credited with increasing the health of your skin, this can be found in tuna, salmon, walnuts. Canola oil, and flax seed. Reducing the intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar, and food rich in starch will help to reduce insulin spikes, as these spikes can cause skin irritation and effect the skin ageing process. Good hydration is also important to healthy skin so make sure to drink plenty of water which also helps with weight loss.

Why Energy Drinks are Unhealthy

Why Energy Drinks are Unhealthy

If you have been to FitFarms on one of our weight loss or fitness retreats you would have a real understanding of why most energy drinks are unhealthy. The FitFarms nutritional therapist Lesley Harper goes through the shelves of the supermarkets with the retreat guest and cuts through the products that are unhealthy and very misleading.
Below are the FitFarms thoughts on this very misleading so called health or even energy fitness drink in some brand cases.

They sound is if they should be healthy for you, but are they?  The average energy drink contains caffeine and sugar.  In America there has been reported ten-fold increase of emergency room visits, which can be related to the consumption of energy drinks.  These ER visits can be due to heart palpitations, and severe fatigue. Research into this increase suggests that it is the lack of knowledge of the products consumed that is causing the problem.  So what’s in them to bring about the need for an ER visit?

Energy drinks contain stimulants, the main being caffeine.  They are marketed to give an energy burst.  The energy burst is created by caffeine and sugar, and can be addictive.  A typical energy drink of 16 fl oz can contain 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar.  The recommended amount of sugar intake per day is around 6 teaspoons.  The figures speak for themselves.  Sugar is considered empty calories as there is no goodness in it, such as vitamins and minerals, but adds to the calorific intake per day.

The marketing of energy drinks has been traditionally aimed at a specific market.  Early in its history they were aimed at athletes.  That target market has since been increased to students and people in highly stressed jobs, such as city analysts, gamers, and extreme sport enthusiasts.  The design of the product and marketing communication is aimed at the younger generation.

FitFarms Fitness Retreat FrontAt FitFarms in the morning we have one natural coffee per day because it has health benefits for the liver. It is one and just one so please be careful not to falsely fuel yourself on caffeine.

FitFarms Dorset Customer Review – 23 June 2014

FitFarms Dorset Customer Review – 23 June 2014

Below is what happened in one of our recent fat camp weeks, as reviewed and reported by one of our customers in FitFarms Dorset site.

The review article below highlights the details of the customer’s week camp experience at FitFarms from exercise programmes, learning nutritional diet menus, accommodation and the consultants.

The Day before

After the initial excitement and enthusiasm from booking on to a weight loss boot camp with Fit Farms in Dorset, two days before departure the trepidation grew. What on earth was I doing? I don’t need to go to a fat camp, I love chocolate and wine, my dog, my new boyfriend were some of the thoughts going through my mind as I came to terms with the fact that it was too late I was off the following day.

Admittedly, I am concerned about my fitness level and whether or not I will keep up with my expectations- I go to a gym regularly already but new to fitness and with a series of injuries I had concerns. Naughty by nature I kept thinking of hiding a bar or two (large ones) of chocolate-it would be organic and dark so not so devilish should I be found out. Then I realised I would be cheating myself and if I didn’t play the game properly, would I really loose body fat and disassociate myself from being a little sugar obsessed on this fitness boot camp? I had seen all these programs on recent TV saying how bad sugar is for you only to realise that I was a sugar addict.

So i have arrived and met the other ladies on the course, a whole mixture of people and all really lovely, so so far so good. Hearing people’s stories and objectives as to why they are at this weight loss holiday was inspiring and emotional too.

FitFarms Fitness Camp Group 062014

Day 1

I had a really good nights sleep despite it not being long enough but I feel refreshed. Muesli for breakfast-not as much as I would normally have but it is a weight loss camp and so is focused on controlled portions. I worked really hard in circuits and all of us were fitness committed and of course red in the face by the end. The Fit Farms team were consistently looking after us ensuring we did the correct technique and pushed ourselves enough to be able to make that difference we so all want.

After Yoga with Ian we broke for Salad Nicoise which I demolished – a very healthy lunch and just the right amount –although I did pinch the olives that were discarded by non-fans. I keep thinking about food and wonder if it should be fat farms not fit farms and then realise i am hear to improve my fitness and loose body fat on this weight loss retreat.

We are on a break now until our next exertions of Boxing, working on our abdominals (which includes the hula hoop-not the crisp kind either). So far I really like the variety of fitness exercises making it a real fitness holiday as opposed to a boot camp where I imagine you would be covered in mud climbing over an assault course and tears being evoked by some sergeant majors shouting! Blast I can hear the rain-perhaps I spoke to soon about it not being like a boot camp-we are meant to be going out for a run/walk after the boxing exercise.

So the sun shone for us as we warmed up for our run/walk-this was literally a minute of walking followed by a minute of running as fast as was comfortable. I was thrilled that I was able to run down the country lanes as the treadmill normally teases me as it lessens any impact on my injuries. I sort of saw the blue bells either side of me but preferred to focus on my technique so as to avoid any further injury. It was only on the way back from the run that I truly appreciated the surroundings of stunning Dorset countryside and in May-how lucky I am to be on this weight loss holiday.

After a little snacket I took to the floor with Andy and all the ladies. We did an amazing session focusing on our core strength with. He had us lying on the floor and clenching our abdominal muscles whilst simultaneously squeezing our pelvic floor muscles. We must have done this for at least half and hour.

I do not think I have ever focused purely on my abdomen whilst exercising, but wow what a difference it makes. It was mildly uncomfortable at first, so I tried harder as I really am committed to having a relatively flat stomach especially with the summer coming up and bikinis coming out of the bottom drawer. On reflection of my extra effort for a lean stomach however, this may be one of those exercises when hindsight could be applied, as the next day I really felt my stomach muscles for the first time ever, even to the point that it hurt to laugh. As for a really good belly laugh, which there were many through out the fitness holiday; that was out of the question, it was far too painful.

From abs with Andy we took on another aspect to our weight loss retreat with the Hoola Hoop and I can now do it. However it took some effort and much persistence and patience. I have always wanted to achieve this hip swaggering move and have watched my sister do it since we were little and now I can do it too. In fact all of us were spinning the hoop by the end of the session. I am so pleased and amazed at how much of an exercise it is too. I worked up a sweat and gave it some on the old hip movement. It’s the kind of exercise you could do in front of the TV. Our very professional fitness instructor Zu said that its not only good for improving the waistline but also massages the internal organs and helps to eliminate a build up of toxins in the abdominal region. It helps to burn the fat in your belly, tones your body in to the desired shape. But most importantly it’s a sure way of achieving fitness whilst having fun on the fat farm.

The Hoola hoop needs to be a certain weight to make it firstly easier and also an exercise. It also has to be a certain diameter and so much bigger and heavier than the ones we had at school. I will be ordering one for sure. Apparently there is even a World Hoop Day to celebrate Hooping, which became very popular at the end of the 1950’s. It has become quite trendy now with celebrities such as Kelly Osbourne, who used to be a rather large young girl until she attended a weight loss boot camp and became committed to healthy eating and the Hoola Hoop amongst other exercise routines.

The extremely, nutritiously healthy dinner of roast chicken with quiona with fresh fruit and vegetables reminded me I was on a weight loss retreat. It was just enough to fill the gap and energize and revitalise the body and mind in preparation for the evening training. Resistance training with Ian was next on our agenda and as this did not involve running around or any cardio it was the right thing to do after our evening meal. In fact we were informed that resistance training is better to do in the evening as it continues to burn calories whilst you sleep. We were told by the weight loss health team that research has shown that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours period after their resistance training session ended. I got really excited by the prospect of burning calories whilst relaxing in bed on my own and especially by sleeping. However during this particular fitness holiday session, each time I raised some weights above my head, I became more aware that I was in desperate need of a shower.

Day 2 Sunday

FitFarms Dorset RoomWe were able to retreat in our rooms this morning for an additional half an hour, which I appreciated. I was woken up in our cardio session with Zu who showed us things to do with those fitness Swiss Balls that I would not have dreamt of doing. I have had one in the garage for years and only ever used it to do sit ups with, about twice. I shall definitely be making more use of it now I know what is possible. Apparently the unstable surface created by exercising with the ball means that more muscles, not usually engaged, become so. In particular the core is used to assist with balance whilst focusing on a push up, for example. So I completely forgot my tiredness after this fitness holiday session with the Swiss Ball and went in for breakfast- a lovely coffee with homemade beans and mushrooms.

I indulged in another, new to me, weight loss retreat exercise today to help with my fat burning mission ‘walking with Nordic Poles’. According to Wikipedia: ‘Compared to regular walking, Nordic walking (also called pole walking) involves applying force to the poles with each stride. Nordic walkers use more of their entire body (with greater intensity) and receive fitness building stimulation not present in normal walking for the chest, lats, triceps, biceps, shoulder, abdominals, spinal and other core muscles that may result in significant increases in heart rate at a given pace. Nordic walking has been estimated as producing up to a 46% increase in energy consumption, compared to walking without poles.’ Well, I really enjoyed it and more so because the sun was shining and I was walking and chatting to two lovely ladies from Fit Farms weight loss retreat. This type of fat farm holiday really does bring people together and such strong bonds are being formed already.

I then tried Aqua aerobics, another fitness holiday exercise. I have seen and heard of people doing this but could not imagine how it would or could burn calories as the exercise did not look like you got out of breath. However I was surprised to find out that that is exactly what it did. It was such hard work wading against the water. Maintaining a balance was also difficult so my leg muscles were strengthening just to prevent me from slipping over. I puffed and panted and was out of breath. I did find I quite tricky being only five foot two inches, keeping my head above the water so I gravitated towards the shallow end but then found my arms were not being worked unless I crouched down which was then uncomfortable, so I do not think this is one of my favourite weight loss holiday activities.

We then had an introduction to kettle bells, which varied hugely in weight and size. We learnt the correct technique to prevent injury and get the maximum effect in improving our core strength. We did this for about half an hour and I can really see how this type of exercise incorporates the whole of the body and so it really is a total body workout. The kettle bell is used with swing movements and apparently originated in Russia. The unique shape of the kettle bell provides the unstable force for handling which is the key for the effectiveness of the kettle bell exercises. I must say that this did feel somewhat of a fitness boot camp when I looked around and saw the perspiration on everyone’s faces. It reminded me of how I felt lugging heavy bags of sand around my garden when I was grouting in between the paving slabs. Who needs Kettle Bells I say, get to the garden and give it some welly out there.

We did another workout with the Swiss Ball with Zu and were introduced to more unique and beneficial ways of training our whole body. Having really worked up an appetite I could tell it was almost dinnertime. I did not need smells to remind me, or a rumble in my stomach, I just knew. We were then directed to the dining room and served a delicious stewing steak cooked in a Persian sauce with fresh vegetables. I ate it much faster than I should have and was reminded as to how much faster I eat in comparison with most people. I had heard that when on a weight loss holiday, food should be consumed slowly and savoured. It was paramount to ensure that food was chewed properly, something I rarely do. One of my trepidations when considering a weight loss retreat was that I would be looked at by others on the course as a gannet and told to slow down when eating, taking time over my food as apparently you get fuller, quicker. However, no one said a word, but I did become conscious of my eating habit.

I remember seeing a report on the BBC regarding the obesity epidemic and it really shocked me to learn that almost one in four of all adults in the UK are currently obese and by 2050 that is expected to rise to one in two. The report continued to explore the relationship between eating habits and obesity showing that eating more slowly can suppress the appetite. Researchers also found that people who ate slowly ate, on average, 88 fewer calories than the fast eaters. Although I am unsure how this actually works as surely a calorie is a calorie regardless of how quickly it is consumed. I was brought up like many, with the attitude that it was rude to leave anything on your plate and so everything would always have to be consumed. In fact, thinking about it, I may eat fast because if I did not when I was younger sitting around the family dinner table, someone else would eat if for me. Brilliant, I can now pin the blame on my family as to why I am here on the weight loss retreat and trying to improve my nutrition and fitness level.

We then did more resistance training with Andy and I remembered hearing that the exercise I was doing in this hour was going to continue working on my body through out the night so I increased the size of my weights a little and really put as much effort in as was possible, having had two full days at the fitness camp. Afterwards, I am pleased to say, we had another little snacket, which really was delicious, a raspberry tartlet. I thought pastry was bad but rather than question anyone I wolfed it down paying little or no attention to the fact that I should probably be savouring each morsel.

So, so far I can say it is more of a fitness retreat away from the world and the normality of life as opposed to a camp that boots you up the backside. There has been no shouting, just words of encouragement and great music to help keep us motivated. I am especially pleased too, as I can actually physically feel that it is making a positive difference to my body.

Day 3 Monday

Combat aqua in the pool was a refreshing start to the day and really making it feel like a fitness holiday. We had porridge to break the fast followed by a bus trip to a stunning place nearby for a 5 mile walk, it really was like being on a fitness holiday being surrounded by such beautiful countryside, the sun shining and of course, more blue bells (which I noticed this time).

What an eclectic weight loss retreat this is, as we then turned our attention to Tai Chi, which despite its promotion of slow mindful movement, it is proven to increase weight loss. Ian who taught us, it was obvious to see, it so passionate about Tai Chi that his enthusiasm for it encouraged me to really engage with what we were doing. The focus was all on energy and being present to the moment. It was so great to do yet another exercise that was not all about cardio and weights, which i have become quite partial to over the last couple of days. Tai Chi uses a lot of muscle control to help maintain balance, and so it is a challenging workout that is going to result in weight loss and fat burning, especially because it is repetitious. Apparently once you have mastered a tai chi routine, which should be done slowly to make sure every movement is precise, you can pick up the speed to create a fast, flowing movement where you use more energy and so burn more fat.

Our lunch was yummy chicken with salad and I felt yet again, full, despite the smaller portion I would have at home. We continued our theme of eating with the most excellent nutrition workshop by the lovely Scottish Lesley. Sitting there for 2 hours focusing on what to eat and what to avoid made it slightly like a weight loss boot camp but Lesley’s knowledge, delivery and professional expertise had each and every one of us completely engaged through out. The information we received both verbally and in excellent handouts was life changing for many. For example, some ladies shared about the two cans of coke they consumed daily which had to now go into room 101. My over indulgence in chocolate too was obviously an issue. Lesley showed us that changes needed to be made, but she presented them in a non-scary way but in a way that provided exciting alternatives.

An example of one of the alternatives to satiate my sweet tooth is banana ice cream. A pure and very simple way to enjoy a very sweet and satisfying treat without any of the bad sugars we are all so hooked on. I had no idea that melting dates in a drop of water resulted in a toffee like taste and texture. Adding this to mashed banana, coconut milk and some pecan nuts and there you have the most deliciously healthy ice cream-once frozen of course. Lesley suggested baking bananas in the oven and eating with some natural yoghurt instead of tucking in to copious amounts of chocolate or biscuits-weight loss holiday indeed.

The nutrition workshop was really like being in a weight loss retreat, as were given the opportunity to ponder on the realities of how and if we really value our bodies and ourselves. We got to see that weight loss camps are all well and good concentrating on exercise and smaller and much healthier food but the nutrition workshop showed us all how this could be sustainable back in our own lives. I cannot wait to get home and try some cottage cheese mixed with tinned fish, especially sardines, as it makes a pate. So simple and I bet so yummy. I will also now be buying whole milk and not, what I thought would be consumed on a weight loss holiday, semi skimmed. I have always been put off by whole milk as its so creamy and I do not actually like the taste, this, I am sure stems from years of warm whole milk we had to drink in junior school daily. However Lesley gave us the idea to water it down, buy a smaller carton and just add water. Genius, I love the idea and now my boyfriend will be thrilled that he can have his morning porridge and coffee with whole milk-everyone is a winner!

I could talk about this workshop for ages and how the National Health Service could reduce its debt by turning its attention more fully to nutrition and prevention of illness as opposed to spending large amounts of money pumping people with unhealthy drugs. For example, some of our group found ways to improve their under active thyroid which of course is a real cause of weight gain and another drain on the National Health Service.

We went from here to be greeted by the great weight loss holiday staff in the workout studio for a mix up session for one and a half hours of varied exercise. A quick shower and then Mackerel salad followed, which I did fastidiously attempt to eat more slowly than any of the meals consumed thus far and I am pleased to say I succeeded, I was not the first to finish my meal.

The day ended with more resistance training with Andy where we all got a bit of a sweat on. After a yummy snacket of yoghurt mixed with i am unsure what, but some healthy fruit, I retired to my room to chill and of course write this up for anyone who may want to share in my experience on this amazing weight loss retreat or an alternative fitness holiday. We are now half way through our week and i am still really having a blast. The lack of sugar is so much easier than I anticipated and yes I am aching somewhat but I have booked a massage for tomorrow night, all part of the Fit Farms package and I am so looking forward to it.

Day 4 Tuesday

Great wake up work out with Ian- mixing up dance music and Tai Chi, which I thoroughly enjoyed and found to be right up my street. I had had a really poor nights sleep for some unknown reason and the wake up workshop woke me up after only 4 hours sleep- what a result as I thought I might have to skip something for a little lie down later in the day.

We had an excellent part two to the Nutrition workshop, people with allergies and all sorts of health problems finding ways to combat them via an intelligent yet simple approach to eating correctly. Quick snacks, that are good for you. Label reading and its importance were the main focus of this part of the programme. The only downside to what I learnt today is that I will have to get my reading glasses out of my handbag to read about what I am purchasing or invest in some varifocals. Although I am sure after a few trips to the supermarkets with my glasses and my informed choice of grocery purchases my memory will kick in as opposed to being purely reliant on my vision. Perhaps Fit Farms could come up with a sight improvement retreat as well as a weight loss retreat.

Our afternoon consisted of an eclectic dance workout with Zu including belly dancing, ballet, baroque to name a few. Great fun and great music to accompany it. Our dance work out was interrupted by a Swallow bird who must have wanted to join in the fun as she flew into the converted barn being used as one of the exercise studios and so we continued dancing out side until she flew away. The animal theme continued that day with the lovely little dog who lived in one of the barns attached to the farm wanting a tummy tickle making it very much a FitFarm like atmosphere.

In the afternoon we went on another lovely walk in the beautiful countryside. The walk consisted of three hills each getting progressively steeper. We had a well-deserved snack on arrival at the top, an energy ball consisting of nuts, dates and I believe tofu although I am yet to research the recipe on the FitFarms website. It was quite a moving end to the afternoon when seeing the emotion of one lady who made it up to the top of the hill. Her elation and pride in achieving the three peaks-the name they have now been given by our group moved her to tears of joy. She had not done any exercise for years and so coming to a weight loss boot camp was not only very daunting for her but a real test to her physical ability. She was by no means last, however, I must emphasize that there was not one element of competition thought-out the whole week with regards to fitness levels, size or anything really, making it feel like a fitness holiday. Andy, one of the fitness health team, patiently walked up the hill with a new arrival who struggled to walk the three peaks at speed, while Zu shot up the hill to ensure the quicker walkers knew where they were going so everyone was catered for all of the time. They certainly had their work cut out for them this week as the fitness level of the group was so varied.

As with each exercise session, we ended with a big stretch to ensure our muscles were not aching too much the following day. The health team informed us that, after a workout, muscles naturally contract. Stretching helps prevent them from shrinking. Stretching allows your muscles to rebuild, growing bigger and stronger, and so enable you to get the full benefit from all the hard work.

On the fitness retreat we learnt that stretching after exercise can also relax the muscles, help speed circulation to joints and tissues, and help removal of unwanted waste products, and this all help to reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. We were also informed as to the importance of drinking plenty of water, especially after exercising. This is because you need to keep replenishing your fluid levels and quite a lot of my fluids left my body whilst exercising. Apparently it is recommended that you drink another 2-3 cups within two hours after you have finished your exercise routine and then, drink water regularly afterwards. You may not feel thirsty anymore, but you still need to take on board fluids to avoid getting dehydrated.

Dinner was stewed beef in a wonderful stewing sauce with vegetables which I devoured with out taking heed of eating slowly this time, well apparently it can day weeks to change a habit of a life time. In fact we are learning about changing bad habits tomorrow in another workshop which I am really looking forward to. Our evening ended with more Pilate’s great for sorting out some of our backs after the up hill walk and continuing to stretch our muscles. Some of us then went and soaked our muscles and relaxed in the outdoor Jacuzzi watching the sunset, the only thing missing for me at that point on the weight loss holiday, was my boyfriend.

Day 5 Wednesday

Zu started our day with a wet wake up again in Aqua aerobics. It did not seem to get easier but definitely became more fun. The music really helped too to transport me from my sleepy state to a livelier version of myself in readiness for the muesli with almond milk breakfast. A private coach came to pick us up to take us to this stunning little village not too far away, where we started our walk with stretches. We were about to go on a ten-mile walk and so were given our little snacks to take with us. Zu shot off in front leaving clear signs for us to follow and we were off.

It was another stunning walk in the Dorset countryside making me question where I live and where I could or should be moving to the countryside or even the coast. We came back for lunch and were then split into two groups, one having the much awaited habit changing workshop and the other having some ‘double –trouble’ training with Ian and Andy. This consisted of ‘Insanity training’ and circuits. I started off with the workshop on habit change.

I guess exploring our habits both good and not so good is essential when attending a weight loss retreat, as if we all lived perfect lives never consuming too much or even a little of what is not so good for us then we would, I doubt have a need to be here. We were given paper and pens and asked to write stuff down as this helps the brain process things. The lady running the workshop spoke about becoming aware of our internal dialogue that we have with ourselves. She asked us to recognise whether or not this voice was charismatic and one to be listened to- in other words the voice tells us exactly what we want to hear.

With a focus on the softly, softly approach expected on a weight loss retreat we were told about the importance of making our goals realistic and therefore achievable. We were asked to distinguish any triggers that led to the undesired behaviour and how these could be managed. It was also high lighted that 95% of our thought processes were subconscious and so by raising our self awareness and being totally honest with ourselves we could start to replace any unwanted habits that do not serve us with positively life changing habits that do. Some people on the course found it an emotional experience, as they had not considered the possibility of being in control totally of the self by raising their self-awareness.

After the workshop, we swapped groups and so it was my turn for the double trouble physical exercise. It was great to get the blood flowing through the body again having been relaxing and listening to the workshop. We then had dinner, a lovely vegetable frittata which was followed by further resistance training with Andy.

Day 6 Thursday

FitFarms Fitness Beach

Wake up workout at 6.45 was followed by breakfast. We took another private coach to the beach in Bournemouth. I had only been here once before and remember loving it and telling myself that I would like to retire there so I was curious as to how I felt about it all these years later. When we arrived we went for a long walk along the promenade and again the fitness team enabled us to walk or run according to our abilities with a little encouragement to allow us to challenge ourselves. . I ran the most I have ever ran in my life, 12 kilometres. During this time my mind fluctuated between loving and disliking running. It get so much pleasure from running it felt like I was on a fitness holiday but when my old injuries crept back it felt like I was on a fitness boot camp. My previously fractured pelvis, both of my knees having ligaments torn in ski injuries were rearing their ugly head so I slowed down my pace to ensure I was able to complete my mission of beating 10 Kilometers.

We went from what I considered exhausting to some very relaxing Tai Chi on the beach with Ian. It was so wonderful doing Tai Chi whilst looking out to the sea and the horizon beyond that. It helped too because the sun was shining and the sky was blue. We had a chicken wrap and some soup as a picnic on the beach for lunch, which went down a storm. Some of us braved a paddle in freezing British water, which must have been a maximum of 17 degrees. We Hoola hooped and generally chilled out on the beach until it was time to go back to the Fit Farms weight loss boot camp to have a cookery workshop with the chef. This was followed by dinner. There was a really lovely touch, it being our last evening we had presentations of certificates and speeches by the fitness team. It was really appreciated each person on the course being acknowledged by their mentor and the achievement we had all made throughout the week.

We ended the course meditation with Ian. Some of us had a swim in the indoor pool, used the Jacuzzi to relax our muscles or opted for massages. I had timed my zero balancing massage combined with Swiss massage and deep tissue massage perfectly. I then went for an early night around having been totally relaxed in the massage with a lovely lady called Jean.

Day 7 Friday – Home Time

I got up so early having slept like a baby and was really looking forward to being measured. In particular I was curious about my body fat reduction. After all the weight loss holiday promotes fat loss as opposed to unnecessary weight loss. As I was not really interested in loosing weight I was overly concerned about my fat. 4% fat loss gone from my body bringing me in to a very healthy body fat content area. I was happy as I had achieved what I had set out to and the sweat and hard work I put into training on the fitness holiday had paid off. My weight had stayed exactly the same, which I was amazed by, as I had not indulged in any chocolate or wine all week. However I had not gone hungry so I guess my body weight is the right for me at the moment.

After a healthy helping of muesli with almond milk I said my goodbyes, exchanged a few phone numbers and loaded up the car. Will I return? I definitely think Fit Farms intense yet fun approach to fitness and fat burning alongside an informative and tasty nutritional programme makes this type of fitness holiday something for everyone. I do not only want to make it an annual week out of the normal routine but to bring some of my friends and have fun exercising with them.

So many of my friends have focused so much on being great parents, husbands and wives that they have lost time for themselves in ensuring they are fit and healthy. Now their children are growing up and more independent I think Fit Farms would be the kick start some of them need to get refocused on creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle as they move into the next phase of their lives and so doing the best they can, to be the best grand parents they can be.

I have been reminded about how much fun you can have without spending much money. Most of the fitness holiday activities we did at Fit Farms did not involve elaborate equipment and we were shown how to exercise around the house and in our daily lives, showing its not all about going to a gym or running but finding something you enjoy and committing to it or finding a few things and mixing them in to a weekly routine. All of the fitness retreat exercises could be done with children to a more or lesser degree and so making fitness and health consciousness fun and something for the family.

Should you be doing yoga?

Many fitness and exercise trends have come and gone over the last few decades but it seems as though yoga’s never really been displaced from its position at the top since it first gained popularity in the modern fitness circuit. Now yoga’s longevity might seem like a full-on recommendation but before you start unrolling your mat, make sure that you’ve covered all the bases about what you need to know about yoga.

Yoga Instructor
First off, be aware that there’s no universal credential system for yoga instructors. Yoga studios adhere to their own specific hiring practices and without universal standards this means that though unintentional, there may be untrained instructors who slip through the cracks.  According to experts, being observant about how your yoga instructor starts a class will clue you in on how good of a teacher he or she is. If the instructor asks whether the students have any injuries and adjusts the instructions to help the student out, you’re probably good to go.

Yoga Classes
It’s also important to know that there a several kinds of yoga classes and it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with what goes on in a particular class before you sign up. After all, there are some classes that will see students performing their stances in hot and humid rooms. This may lead to dehydration and overstretching, the latter of which may damage your cartilages. If you insist on doing hot yoga, be careful and make sure that you keep yourself hydrated all the time.

Mens Yoga
It’s also worth knowing that women tend to have more elastic bodies, and according to a column in the NYTimes, the trouble starts when yoga instructors push men to do the exact same stances as women. Men are generally built with more muscle, making them comparative inflexible. In this case, it might be better to go with all-male classes as programs are structured to emphasize muscle building, instead of focusing on flexibility. More