Taking the fun out of fitness

Personal training. Spinning. Bootcamps. HITT training. Weights or no weights. Running vs. jogging. Pilates vs. yoga. Zumba. Walking the dog. Nordic walking … the list is endless. As someone who is immersed the fitness industry on a daily basis, both as a service provider and a writer, I’m forever bemused by the internal wranglings of fitness professionals over what is best, what is optimum and what is just a waste of time. In their opinion.

The thing is, if you are exercising to train in the Commonwealth Games or to rehabilitate a broken back, then the type of training that you do is REALLY important. But if you start a personal training programme and your trainer insists you do X,Y and Z for optimum effect and you hate X,Y and Z, then no matter how clever your trainer is or how keen you are, you won’t stick to it. Would it not be better for you to do a bit of X and Y but then a whole lot more of the stuff you love?

Here’s what I think (for what it’s worth). Enjoyment, community, stress release and fun are THE most important factors when it comes to exercise for most people. Yes, if you have a specific goal in mind like marathon training or weight loss, then you might have to factor in a little more of the optimal training stuff but please not to the detriment of what makes exercise enjoyable for you. When I recently interviewed the man who pioneered fitness clubs in the UK. Ken Heathcote (who was also the founder of fitness industry qualifications) he said social HAD to come first, functional after.

So if someone tries to tell you otherwise … I’d suggest you tell them to optimise their opinions to someone who cares.

Now here are a few people who knew how to laugh at themselves: Acorn Antiques does health and fitness.

acornantiques
Ken Heathcote, Father of Fitness, on creating fitness moments of magic.
Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Ante Natal Pilates

Saturday, 26th October, 10.15am.

It’s our last full course before Christmas and your best opportunity to relax and prepare your body to be in the best shape ever for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

AnteNatalFlyer£67 for the six week course.

For more information on the class check out these links:

Exercise During Pregnancy

About Fit School’s Ante Natal Pilates

Top 10 things you can do for an easier birth

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Want a flat tummy? My top 5 dos and don’ts.

DON’T EAT SUGARS OR REFINED CARBS. This one’s simple. Cut it out for a week and then tell me you haven’t lost fat on your tummy.

DON’T EAT PROCESSED FOODS. Yes even and especially diet ones. Flat tummies start in the kitchen.  No amount of exercise can out do a poor diet.  The cleaner your diet (this means no chemical nasties, unknown salts or sugars) the leaner your belly!

DON’T GIVE IN TO STRESS. It’s hard but stress, especially long-term, low level stress is a trigger for storing fat around your tummy. It can also be a trigger for comfort eating. Minimizing stress could mean letting go of commitments that aren’t serving you, booking in a weekly yoga or exercise session, or just taking time out to unwind but consider it as important to your health as cleaning your teeth (stress arguably causes more disease than bad dental care).

IMG_5162

DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL ON A REGULAR BASIS. ‘Ha ha,’ you think … but it’s true.  A glass of wine a night is like eating a chocolate bar before you go to bed. Empty calories which don’t fill you up but will keep fat on your tummy. An occasional tipple is fine but not if you’re serious about finding your waist.

DON’T SNACK. Cows graze, lions feast and famine. Unless you are training for an endurance event or pregnant, eating little and often is a misnomer. Cut out all snacks and aim to leave at least 4 hours between meals to regulate your insulin production.

DO GET PLENTY OF SLEEP. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can make you feel more hungry and crave calorie dense, fatty and sugary foods.

DO WORK ON YOUR POSTURE. Rounded, stooping shoulders lead to saggy boobs and extra belly rolls. Likewise a deep arch in your lower back makes it hard for your abs to work and can leave you with a permanent poochy belly. Lift weights and do Pilates!

DO DRINK LOTS OF WATER to keep you feeling full, flush out toxins and prevent water retention.

DO EAT A SELECTION OF HIGH QUALITY MEATS, FISH AND VEGETABLES – especially dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach and watercress, which are all great alkalisers.

DO CHANGE YOUR HABITS. If you’ve read all of these Dos and Don’ts and thought, ‘well I sort of do that but I can’t change that,’ then enjoy your belly roll.  Changing shape = changing habits.

Related posts:

How to alkalise your diet.

Is sleep deprivation making you fat?

Why can’t I stop eating sugar?

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

How to be happy

Have you ever had a few grumpy days? So grumpy that you feel as if there must be some sort of wiring malfunction inside your brain? Or perhaps a collection of ‘issues to deal with’ mount up and distract you from all the positive things in your life?

Several studies are pointing to gratitude and thankfulness as key factors in how happy and even how healthy we are.

A 2009 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined blood flow in the brain when participants had grateful feelings (Zahn et al, 2009). Those participants who were more grateful had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus, the area of the brain responsible for managing stress levels and essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping.

Another study, back in 2003, asked young adults to keep journals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003). One section kept happy, thankful, grateful thoughts in their journals, whilst the others kept journals of things that annoyed them. And guess what … the thankful journal keepers reported more feelings of determination, enthusiasm and energy compared to the others.

The same researchers did a later study on adults and found that even a weekly gratitude journal was enough to have a noticeable effect on mood, exercise patterns and a reduction in physical ailments.

So … when it comes to down days, perhaps we all need to be a little more grateful.

IsaacParkBallZoe1

How can you be a little more thankful?

Last year, we decided to keep a ‘thankfulness’ jar in our family. We started it on January 1st and when something good happens, in work, or at home, we write it down and pop it in the jar. Admittedly we haven’t always been great at remembering but we plan to get them all out at new year and say a huge thank you for the great things that have happened in 2013.

But when it comes to me and my rambling, busy brain, the best moment of the day is when I get on my knees, stare at my sleeping son, and give thanks for each and every lovely thing that has happened during my day. Yes, sh*t happens. And yes, it gets to me (I’m a sensitive soul) but whether you call it counting your blessings, acknowledging the good stuff, meditating or praying it is scientifically proven to make you happy.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Ken Heathcote, ‘Father of Fitness’ on creating fitness moments of magic.

55 YEARS after opening his first gym, the UK’s ‘Father of Fitness’, Ken Heathcote opens up in his autobiography about the personal challenges he faced forging a business out of the fitness industry.

KenHeathcoteAuto

I was fortunate enough to meet Ken on a recent trip to Bolton. My father-in-law used to attend classes with Ken, my husband’s best friend is now heading up the graphic design for Ken’s book and it was in a little back street in Bolton that he made the move from community classes to his first professional gym.

“I opened my doors on that first day from 10 ‘til 5 and no customers came,” says Ken, “then my dad walked in and put his money down on the counter. It was then I knew this was my profession and my livelihood.”

That gym would become the first multi-purpose fitness club in the UK.

Ken has published books before, The Gym Business sold in excess of ten thousand copies but this is the first time he has laid his soul bare – and he’s understandably nervous.

For fitness industry professionals, Ken laid the foundations of modern fitness qualifications and programming. He wrote, created and delivered the first National weight training course and helped for the NVQ for sport and recreation. He was co-founder and Chairman of the FIA (Fitness Industry Association) and his Lifetime Achievement Awards include: Life Fitness – Distinguished Service Award; The Oscar Heidenstam Foundation Outstanding Contribution to Physical Culture; and National Fitness Awards – Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

This man is a legend! We met over coffee, at the Bolton Arena, just opposite the Reebok Stadium. Fitting for our meeting since footballer Nat Lofthouse, whose statue stands proud between the two buildings, used to train in Ken’s first gym with the rest of his Bolton Wanderers team mates.

And Ken’s who’s who of contacts does not end there. He counts the ‘World’s Best Built Man of the Century’ Bill Pearl as his friend, having judged the Mr Universe Contest for 15 years, and then there’s squash champion Jonah Barrington, footballers Roger Hunt MBE and Gordon Taylor OBE, the world’s strongest man Geoff Capes, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Darth Vader!

So how did he go from an empty gym to a thriving, decades spanning fitness business? What can today’s fitness professionals learn from this pioneer? “It’s all about creating a social structure,” says Ken, “create moments of magic. We always focused on customer service first.” As a fitness professional, with my own community business, this is the message that has rung through my head since meeting Ken. That the fitness industry has grown in the past 50 years but hasn’t moved on.That our customers don’t really want fitness gadgets or trends, they are transitory. If we want customers for life then we need to re-discover the social side of the fitness industry. Take our customers on holidays, don’t just train them for them. Become a part of our communities, rather than just taking from them.

Ken Heathcote’s Autobiography, The Father of Fitness was published in the UK on 27th September and is available on Amazon.

For more information visit: http://www.kenheathcote.co.uk/book/

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com