Weight Loss Retreat FitFarms Spain

FitFarms Spain

FitFarms Spain

This week the FitFarms weight loss and fitness retreat are out in Andalucia in Spain. The health and fitness team always get a little more excited on these courses as the retreat has a little more of a holiday atmosphere than the UK holiday retreats. In fact I would go as far to say it’s our most popular course for guests and trainers.

The group is a little smaller at just 12 guests on the Spanish retreats and once again we are full with 12 very excited and fun guests which are all having a fantastic time. The trainers on this week are Andy who is in charge of the running of the week and Jen who is the sports therapist, aerobics and massage therapist always with a welcoming smile on her face.

The chefs on this week are the lovely Diana and Ian who run a catering business in Malaga which is approximately 50 minutes away from the FitFarms weight loss retreat villa. The guests have loved the taste of the food and the presentation has been spectacular.

Today is a real fun one as we are going to the beach. Even though the FitFarms weight loss retreat is based in the rolling olive hills of Andalucia there is a lake beach just 15 minutes from where we are staying. Now water sports aren’t for everyone so we do give guests the option of a lake walk and for those water babies we have kayaking and pedalos. On the last course back in June the pedalos proved to be really popular as they have long slides straight down into the water, they are also a good leg workout as well. The next FitFarms Spain fitness boot camp  course starts on November 24th but hurry there’s only a couple of spaces left.



Benefits of Strength (aka Resistance) Training

Strength trainingWe’re often asked at FitFarms ‘what sort of exercise should I be doing?’ and I’m generally of the opinion that you should be doing whatever activity you enjoy doing be it gym, classes, cycling or rock climbing; but I thought I’d share some info from an article I was reading about some benefits of strength (aka resistance) training.

As we age our muscle mass declines by roughly 1% each year and alongside it strength, though at an even greater rate; parallel to this there is an association between lower muscle strength and greater risk of dementia, need for care and mortality.

Recent studies in the article concluded a large reduction (19-27%) in mortality of adults using strength training a couple of hours/days a week. An earlier study in a nursing home found an increase in strength of 174% after 8 weeks in a a small group of nonagernarians with a couple of the participants regaining ability to walk without a stick, and one who had regained the ability to stand from a chair independently.

Other studies have shown strength gains to improve cognition in those with subjective memory problems, reduce inflammation in adults receiving haemodialysis for kidney failure, help adults with type 2 diabetes manage sugar levels, improve bone strength in postmenopausal women as well as benefits for heart attack recovery, depression and sleep.

Strength training is the only exercise that stimulates muscle growth and thus the only kind of exercise capable of dealing with reduction in muscle mass and strength. Finally, in line with the research and the ACSM guidelines, recommendation for strength training is to partake for at least two days a week at a moderate to hard intensity and to work the major muscle groups; all I will add for anyone reading thinking ‘I’m not about to start lifting weights’ the key is ‘resistance’ be it weights, gravity, water or my favourite the resistance band -as long as resistance and intensity is there it’s all good.

Health and Fitness exercise tip 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 Freepik

Day 5 FitFarms Fitness Retreat

aerobics exerciseTwo days left at this fitfarms retreat. As the week progresses we like to add more individually intensive exercise classes we like the clients to be pushed a little more but prefer it by this point for them to be doing the pushing themselves.

So we have our lifestyle workshop for a sit down but the rest of the day will be full on, from legs bums and tums to circuits to aerobics and boxing all in one day!

It’s amazing how much exercise we can do with none of the distractions we deal with on a daily basis. If you haven’t been on one of our weight loss boot camp courses don’t let this put you off. We know how to support, motivate and get the most from our clients and we know when they are giving their all so we know when to ask for more and we know when to pull it back, it’ll always be your decision we just make sure you have what support you need to find your level! A really good website to find information on Exercise is The American College of Sports Medicine.

Once again at 5pm it’s dinner time and the last class of the day is a stretch. After stretch this evening we have started the one to one mentor sessions a chance to rap up and answer any questions you may have and to put together plans or ideas on how to move forward when you go home they can be anything between 30 and 60 minutes and are completely optional but are really useful when it comes to planning.

These sessions will run throughout the rest of the week depending on how many people want them and we like to leave them till later on in the week to make sure people have what they need in terms of information and questions to make the most of it.. tomorrow is the final day at our weight loss boot camp Norfolk site and we have swimming and a beach walk planned, the weather is set to be nice and it should be a really good end to the week. So time for a good nights rest ready for amongst other things; the fitness test tomorrow!

Foam Roller Exercise

foam rollerFrequently we’re bombarded with headlines on social media like ‘the one thing fitness pros wish you’d stop doing’, quite frankly the one thing I wish would stop is those headlines! Despite this every now and then I get lured into reading whatever pearls of wisdom someone has decided to share – sometimes they’re actually quite good other times not so much, but that’ll be my opinion based on my own understanding and learning. To quote ‘the one thing fitness pros wish you’d stop doing’ is to assume we all agree & think the same – we don’t!

The science behind exercise is exactly that and as with any other science involves research which either supports or refutes the hypothesis proposed, often with conflicting results which can seem to leave us no further forward in understanding. My knowledge and understanding will be based on the research that I have found and engaged with and may be entirely different to the next person who has found and read something different (there are not enough hours in the day to read it all!)

Any way back on track: a particular article I read with one of ‘those headlines’ was about foam rolling the IT band (ITB), it explained that foam rolling should be performed slowly (agree for the most part), that the ITB is not a muscle but connective tissue that acts as an attachment for other muscles and doesn’t respond to foam rolling in the same way as muscle (I’ll agree there), and suggested not to foam roll the ITB at all (going to disagree with that).

It then suggested instead to foam roll around the areas of hamstrings, quads and glute. med. (sounds good to me); I have to say however that I was expecting mention somewhere in the article of a hip flexor called the tensor fascia latae (TFL) which happens to be the muscle where the ITB attaches, I can only assume it was left out as often hip flexors will be tight rather than shortened and potentially may require stretching rather than rolling, though I guess there are probably few ‘fitness pros’ who wish you’d stop stretching.

So if you also read that particular article and your ITB’s an issue don’t forget your TFL.

Health and Fitness exercise tip 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.

Foam roller image source by NPR.org

Foot Strike in Running

Foot Strike Types








As anyone that’s been on a FitFarms course will know I like a good stretch and often focus on an area generally neglected -feet; as I’ve also been on a bit of a running kick I decided to combine the two and discuss foot strike in running. I mentioned a while back about how running technique varies from person to person and foot strike essentially is a part of an individuals technique.

When we talk about foot strike there are three types – rear foot, midfoot and forefoot. Each is pretty much as they sound, rear foot is where the foot strikes the ground with the heel or rear third of the foot, mid where the metatarsal heads or middle third of the foot strike first and fore where again the metatarsal heads strike first but where the heel does not lower to the ground (with that said there are a few different methods for deciding foot strike including one that suggests ankle position should be considered as well, but for simplicity consider the foot in thirds!).

It has been believed that forefoot strike is the more natural way to strike, and when I say natural I mean how you would strike if unshod, however the majority of people seem to rear foot strike; this has been assumed
due to the creation of footwear however studies have shown from barefoot runners in Africa a majority also rear foot strike.

Some people have changed how they strike through practice believing it less injurious to fore or mid foot strike despite it being noted that there is little research wise to show any benefit long term (though I think it’s partly that there’s little research on the matter full stop). Forefoot running is shown to lower the impact and ground reaction force (the force return, if you like) compared to rear foot and it is demonstrated that top rank participants at different distance events were often fore or mid foot strikers; it has been suggested that foot strike may be specific to the task, with fore foot strike apt for increased speed and rear foot better for conserving energy with reduced oxygen uptake by running at submaximal speed, though as you can probably glean from the theme running through, this also is not definitive!

Health and Fitness exercise tip 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.

Foot strike image source by Ronnie Station

Andy Baker Day 4 at the London Weight Loss Boot Camp



Day 4 in the fitfarms weight loss boot camp house in London

As always we begin with our morning mobiliser but as it’s such a lovely morning we have decided to do it outside on the grass, it’s a beautiful morning at half past 7 it’s already warm enough to sit in the sunshine or shade and not get cold and there is something fantastic about the whole experience of this mornings weight loss boot camp session outside, so come breakfast everyone is feeling good and ready for another day.

After breakfast we have the 2nd section of our nutrition talk and something a little more intensive in terms of exercise, it’s a legs bums and tums session with a half hour stretch after.. you know it’s been a good class when people are still sweating after half an hour stretch .

We always like to change the weeks up as much as we can make every site different to some degree and still manage the approach the same. So although some of our classes maybe more intensive or more aerobic or more resistance based than you’d usually go for we try to ensure that everyone gets benefit and all levels are catered for in the group environment. The afternoon is the program workshop.. an usual one in all honesty it looks at planning and progressing towards your goals and there is just a teeny tiny incy wincy bit of exercise as well .

The workshop itself will be based on the idea that if we are more adaptive and flexible with our lifestyles then we can make them stick a lot easier and we are then able to make it a lifestyle and not just a means to an end. 

After dinner as always our final class is one of relaxation and de-stress usually either yoga Pilates stretching or something along those lines this evening it is facilitated stretching a really good way of releasing proprioceptive tension it always goes down well as a class and we usually get some great results from it. Please have a check of the NHS website on destressing. Another steady day has come to an end but with lots to soak up and think about and a big day ahead tomorrow it’s an early night for the group now well into the 2nd half of the week.

Andy Baker’s Blog On FitFarms London

FitFarms Fitness Retreat Kickstart Healthy Living



Day 3 in the Fitfarms holistic weight loss boot camp house

Today is Monday at the FitFarms London weight loss boot camp and we start again with some key mobility movement before breakfast. I find it’s easier to get clients to buy into the aerobic classes, the resistance classes and the hiit classes than it is the mobility ones sometimes.

So driven are we to sweat to prove we are burning calories and to burn calories to prove we are losing weight and to lose weight to prove we are achieving any of our goals that the most important bits are often not considered enough.. anyway that’s a point for another blog.

Those that attend the morning sessions talk over breakfast about how much better they feel and looser than they did when they first woke up, which I smugly point out is the whole aim of the holistic weight loss boot camp exercise.

After breakfast we have quite a busy morning planned with a local walk and then our second boxing session (the first one went down so well everyone was keen for a second) and then lunch comes around before we know it.

The local walk was great, it was lovely weather fresh air and countryside and it makes such a difference to mood when it all comes together like that, then boxing is great for the endorphins and releasing a little stress so much so the clients don’t realise how hard they’re working then by the time lunch came around spirits were riding high but energy levels low.

Not to worry thou as after lunch we have our first nutrition workshop and and a movement and agility based circuit class both of which were more mentally engaging than physically challenging.

In the nutrition workshop Lesley Harper lays the foundations, explains in a very complete way how and why we need certain foods and the effects of stress on the body and she also starts to unpick a few myths and misrepresentations. Lesley has been a long serving member of BANT and her workshops are extremely informative.

In the other room Jen breaks down movement, co-ordination, posture and balance and all things fundamental about movement. All in all a great day, well rounded, informative, de-stressful  after dinner there is one last stretch class to end the day and the evening snack and then we are officially half way through the week.

July 2018 FitFarms Norfolk Camp – Day 2 Review

walking exercise

It’s Sunday and the first workout of the day starts at 7:30am it’s the morning mobiliser, an hour of movement and articulation based exercises to get the body loose and nimble, straight after is breakfast and after that a personal favourite kettlebells! Followed by a class involving fitballs sliders and body weight exercises combined into mini circuits each one lasting 6 minutes and then we change the exercise but keep the equipment the same it flows really well and gets the group hot and sweaty, it’s never boring and easy to adapt so it works really well. Before we know it lunch has arrived and it’s time for a break.

We always try to give around 15-30 mins off before meals and half an hour after to allow food to settle etc but today it’s not so much of an issue as after lunch it is our 1st workshop of the week so it’s a sit down session for an hour and a half. In the workshop we talk about balance and variety as well as the importance of a more stress considered approach.

After the workshop along with a little “homework” we have a local walk to stretch our legs before dinner.. our first walk is always a short one just enough for us to assess the different paces and abilities in the group and for the group to get a little off site time.

After a nice quiet (ish) afternoon we have dinner and finish again with a stretch all be it slightly more active this evening.

It’s a lovely end to the Sunday and the weather has really been in our favour for the weekend so spirits are high and with the nutrition workshop tomorrow no day is ever the same for the group so although tired and happy with what they’ve accomplished so far they are powering on excited for the coming days activities all over again.

Health and Fitness exercise review 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.

People image created by Yanalya – Freepik.com

July 2018 FitFarms Norfolk Camp – Day 1 Review

fitness exercise

After measurements and breakfast the exercise begins, first off we have an intro to exercise a basic movement class where we cover adaptions and alternatives people may need to use throughout the week and this session is usually capped off with an 8 minute fitness test. Haha the clients are usually really happy at the end of those 8 minutes!

After this we had a yoga session with Rosie, it’s a great introduction if you’ve never done it before and Rosie really understands not everyone is there for the yoga so makes it a very well rounded session.

Next on the agenda is lunch, it’s chicken on the bone and cous cous salad today which sounds really straight forward but looks like something special even after 7 years of working at fitfarms the mealtime is still my favourite!

After lunch it was time for 1 and a half hours of boxing, that’ll get em’ sweating! People are always surprised if they haven’t done boxing or boxercise before for how much they enjoy it and how much they get from it, it really is great fun and I can honestly say I have t had a single course where the majority wouldn’t want to do it more than once in a week.

Next up is an intro to aerobics, we find people enjoy aerobics and dance type classes if they can at least follow the moves so we do an intro that teaches the basics and timing etc that way everyone gets involved, Jen has made this class into a really good progression so throughout the week everyone can see either base improvement and/or get a workout from it.

Core Session
After this it’s our first core session and again the basics are covered in the session it’s enough of a workout in itself but it’s focus is on correct technique. It’s a different enough approach that even the well trained will feel the benefits the day after. At this point a few of the more hardened and well conditioned clients may think it’s not a strenuous enough start to the course but it is exactly that and funnily enough the ones that usually ask on the first day are the ones suffering the most on the 2nd and 3rd day.

After dinner is the final class, a stretch session possibly one of the most important sessions of the day but typically the most underrated let’s face it “NO ONES EVER GOING TO BURN CALORIES OR GET FIT BY STRETCHING!” But we aren’t interested.

Health and Fitness exercise review 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

Do You Think You Need To Exercise?

fitness exercise

A healthy life is a balanced life! But unfortunately a lot of us are so confused as to what a healthy or balanced life actually is we end up following or striving for goals that aren’t our own! A healthy person has balance and a balanced person has health.. not knowing where our own balance lies is I believe the reason we look for the evidence in terms of visual change. We need to see weight loss or improvements in physical fitness to assure us that what we are doing is working. When in reality anything we do to improve our health will have an immediate impact as well as play a part in the larger picture. We need to think health first!

Everyday we hear about a new study on obesity, health factors, illness and mental and physical disease. In a way our constant self analysis, comparison and judgement in all our self awareness can be a tool of our own evolution and development but it can also be a major component in our decline of health and wellness. The added stress and fatigue that sets in from this awareness is generally not considered a factor when trying to “be healthier” but think about it when might exercise and calorific restriction have a negative affect? When our bodies and minds are already too fatigued to respond well to it.

And what is the general response to being told our health is at risk because of weight or diet..? Personally I don’t think it’s coincidence that the worlds health appears to be in steady decline and we appear to be struggling with more issues now than we should be. I think it’s in the nature of how we cope how we survive. We are expecting too much of ourselves and not accounting for it in the right way. Many people would say to get fit, be healthy, to lose weight for whatever reason or see whatever results you are aiming for it is 70/80% diet 20/30% exercise but I think before that it is 100% mental health.

When I’m a good state of mind, a stress managed state the instinctive decisions we make and the conscious decisions will be what’s best for longevity but when stressed fatigued or emotional we rely on decisions for survival of the moment or current threat. So when looking to be healthy look to find balance and you can then trust in your own decisions.

Health and Fitness exercise tip 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.

Hand image created by Schantalao – Freepik.com