How to ‘get better’ at Pilates

Whether your a beginner or a life long fan of Pilates, the aim of the game is to achieve a level of fitness, strength, mobility and flexibility that allows you to perform ‘the moves’ and feel good.

But as with all forms of exercise, it’s easy to plateau – to find your progression (and perhaps your interest) wanes.

So how do you progress with Pilates?

RollOver

Pilates progression, like all forms of exercise is based on two basic training principles:

The Specificity of Training Principle and The Overload Principle.

The Specificity of Training Principle states that the body will adapt to whatever specific demand you place on it. Be it your Pilates One Hundred, a 40kg deadlift or long distance running. 

If you’re a beginner to Pilates it may take a while for your body to adapt to the new exercises (I always reckon 3-4 weeks is a real turning point) but this is great since you won’t hit a plateau (training plateau where you stop progressing) as quickly as Pilates regulars. 

Once you can do the exercises however, you’ll maintain your fitness levels or ‘ability to do Pilates’ levels but won’t progress. 

This is where the Overload Principle comes in to play.

The Overload Principle states that to continually adapt, the body must be placed under a stress that exceeds the body’s current capabilities. 

This is a little easier to do when you are using weights or running than it is in Pilates. Remember in Pilates we never want to stress the body to the point we are holding our breath, bracing or using the ‘wrong’ muscles. It’s not a sweat it out gym workout. It’s much more considered. 

But you can still work the edge of your own comfort zone rather than staying comfortable and daydreaming! 

This is where an instructor who’s on your case and continually adapting the programme is much more beneficial to your body than a drop in class where the programme rarely changes or progresses. 

So this is why there are progressions to each exercise and why I always stress that it’s about your comfort zone, not that of the person next to you. 

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

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Did you get your 20 minutes today?

I don’t like to say I told you so but … scientists said last night that a brisk daily walk of at least 20 minutes could add years to your life?

You don’t have to run a marathon to stay healthy – you just need to do something!

How much have you moved today?

Does the thought of pounding away in the gym or running through your town at school run time put you off from doing anything? Both of those thoughts have entered my head today!

A massive Cambridge University study (of 334,000 people) found that even a small amount of extra activity could add days to your life expectancy and that the least active had the most to gain.

But the key finding was that inactivity kills more people than obesity.  The lesson being that even if you aren’t massively overweight, the way you look or fit your clothes isn’t a marker for health.

Studies have consistently found that visceral fat (the stuff that sits around your organs) is one of the key markers for diseases like heart disease or cancer and increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes. And if you think about it, a sluggish system doesn’t make you feel great.

Would you rather drink from a stagnant pond or a briskly running mountain stream? So how would you rather your blood vessels be?

This study does not say (as I’ve heard some radio reports suggest today) that if you do more than this you should stop. On the contrary the study along with government guidelines encourage more activity than this. But don’t be put off because you’re a novice exerciser.

So what if your bum looks jiggly in a pair of workout leggings? At least you’re getting off it and doing something.

This week started with the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign and has been closely followed by today’s research findings. So put on your trainers and sports bra and go get some fresh air to your cheeks!

https://www.youtube.com/user/thisgirlcanuk

Pilates isn’t an abs workout

PILATES IS NOT JUST ABOUT TRAINING YOUR ABS. YES THEY ARE PART OF THE PROCESS AND AN INTEGRAL PART OF MANY EXERCISES BUT THERE IS A LOT MORE TO PILATES THAN YOUR TUMMY.

There are some exercises which look or feel similar to abdominal crunches and there is a place for abdominal strength and control when it comes to a healthy body but no amount of Pilates style ab work will send your six pack pinging out of your torso if you have flab on it. Myself included.

Conversely, abs don’t have to be strong to be seen. I’ve seen six packs on lean mean who can perform fewer exercises than the average post natal mum returning to the mat. And let’s not forget the best sprinters in the world who have abs you could dry your clothes on but who I very much doubt do the numbers of crunches I’ve seen performed in the average gym abs blast class.

Aside from whether or not you choose to attend or deliver a class comprised entirely of abdominal work, let’s consider the issues associated with some abdominal work. Yes, those pesky pelvic floor muscles. Any pelvic floor weakness or prolapse, or an abdominal separation (diastasis recti) will not appreciate (understatement) crunches. If want to know more about this have a read of my post on how NOT to get a flat tummy by doing sit ups. That’s not to say you can never do them again – but a post natal specific programme is essential before rolling headlong into a ‘one size fits all’ Pilates session.

Pilates is about balance. Your body is designed to move across many planes. Forwards and backwards, side to side and twisting. Think about a gymnast on a beam or on a pommel horse. Consider how they move their bodies. Come to my classes and you’ll know that we work through a variety of exercises as if your body was being spun around. Why? Because we are ‘multi-planar’ beings and things go wrong/start hurting/get expensive when we STOP MOVING, not necessarily when we get weak (I’ll talk about this more in my next post about core strength).

 

Now of course if training your abs lights your fire and makes you feel good, by all means do it but equally don’t misunderstand Pilates as an abs workout and then leave feeling a bit disappointed. Enjoy the way your back works and your glutes work. Enjoy the way your body moves. Go with the Pilates flow.

See you on the mat!

Next time … Pilates isn’t about core strength.

 

Pilates isn’t about sculpting body beautiful

I’VE been teaching Pilates for at least 10 years now and I confess, I look back at my early days and cringe a little at how I taught or what I focused on. Of course at the time, my theory and practical knowledge was up to date but modern science combined with Joseph Pilates’ original exercises, my own experiences and education (most recently from the brilliant JPilates) have created a very different ‘Karen’s Pilates’ from what I taught 10 years ago. I was also much more likely then to be swayed by the more vocal participants in my classes!

As in all professions, experience and training influences and shapes you. I believe that where I’m at now would hopefully let Joe P rest easy under his daisies. It’s true to me and to the participants I work with.

Of course as my experience evolves I get a bit ‘fussy’ about what other forms of ‘Pilates’ are out there. I don’t believe in one size fits all but I am in this profession to improve lives and health. Wellbeing.

So I’m penning a series of articles about what Pilates isn’t. That doesn’t mean if you enjoy your chosen class it’s wrong – it just might not be Pilates. And there is a brilliant magic and flow in the process of Pilates, which you, your body and your wellbeing might just be missing out on.

PILATES IS NOT ABOUT SCULPTING BODY BEAUTIFUL. PILATES ISN’T AESTHETIC LIKE A FIGURE MODEL’S GYM PROGRAMME. PILATES COMES FROM THE INSIDE OUT. PILATES WON’T MAKE YOU THIN AND IT WON’T WHITTLE YOUR WAISTLINE.

  1. THE FAT THING.

Fat is fat. No amount of roll ups, teasers or gym crunches will drop belly fat. Fat loss starts in the kitchen, continues in the gym (with weights or interval training), is massively complemented by Pilates and graduates with a happy symbiosis of all of the above.

  1. PILATES IS INSIDE OUT

If we focus first on the outside, we are likely to neglect the inside. By inside I mean back and joint health, muscle imbalances, pelvic floor health, hips, shoulders, breathing, stress and TENSION. In fact years of experience have shown me that the Pilates participant who comes from the physiotherapist, where pain has motivated them is generally much better at Pilates (if there is such a thing) and progresses quicker than the gym bunny who wants to get thin.

  1. PILATES ISN’T ABOUT BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

You know what I mean. All those stock photos of models looking serene and just occasionally doing a bit of Pilates in a well lit studio without a squidge of fat or under-eye baggage in sight. Now I’m not anti-pretty (I should say I consider all my participants beautiful) but I am anti putting anyone off exercise. In my classes we have fat rolls, we have ‘retro’ workout gear and the occasional hairy leg (sometimes a little parp too) but we are all doing it. Striving to look after our bodies, not just to show them off.

Of course, I’m not ignorant to the fact that how we look is a driving factor behind exercise but let’s not lose sight of wellbeing and let’s not lose sight of Pilates.

Focusing on toned tummies to the detriment of our backs will not serve us long term. And when your motivation is looks over health you are far less likely to stick to exercise.

If you DO want to change the way you look, then yes do Pilates but do HIIT training, eat clean, cut out alcohol and processed sugars, sleep more, unwind, train with weights and have fun.

https://alittlefitter.com/2013/06/04/sit-ups-the-fastest-way-to-a-flat-tummy-after-having-a-baby-i-lied/

https://alittlefitter.com/2013/10/22/want-a-flat-tummy-my-top-5-dos-and-donts/

https://alittlefitter.com/2013/06/07/10-golden-rules-for-a-flat-holiday-ready-tummy/

Next up … Pilates is’t an ab workout.

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.fit-school.co.uk

Pelvic Floor. To squeeze or not to squeeze. Pre/post natal essentials

Do I need to train my pelvic floor when I’m pregnant?

YES.

During pregnancy there is a lot of downwards pressure from your growing baby and uterus. Add to this a pregnant posture where your pelvis tips and adds more downwards pressure and lots of pregnancy hormones which can do funny things to your lady parts. Training your pelvic floor is a pregnancy essential.

Will pelvic floor muscles help with delivery?

YES.

Your pelvic floor muscles will help to push baby out, the healthier they are, the better equipped you’ll be to get baby out under your own steam. A well trained pelvic floor BEFORE delivery will also pay dividends when it comes to birth recovery.

What about C-sections – do I still need to bother?

YES.

You might not get to the pushing out part but you’ll still have had the same pregnancy hormones and downwards pressure throughout your pregnancy.

Have I left it too late?

NO.

It is never too late. Don’t forget that you don’t just have to squeeze to train your pelvic floor muscles. The more active you are, the more they’ll be working anyway. But it’s always good to put in some dedicated pregnancy practice.

So I just have to squeeze once a day?

NO.

Squeeze as often as you can. And don’t forget to squat, walk, lift, relax and pulse too. All those other ways to ensure your bits are in the best shape for pregnancy, labour and recovery that we learn in class.

So what do I actually have to do to train them?

Squeeze, lift, squat, pulse, slowly lift, slowly relax – there are so many ways. Your pelvic floor works constantly but also at an intense level when you sneeze (or orgasm). Think of it like sprinting and endurance. The best place to start is on a hard chair. Lift up and you’ll get feedback from something hard underneath you.

Why is it so important?

According to a 2000 study published by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at least one in three women is affected by pelvic floor disorders (PFD) and these are just reported cases. The University of Adelaide study found urinary incontinence affects 17% to 45% of adult women – with age being a big factor. Surgery is an absolute last resort. Pelvic floor exercises are THE BEST WAY to keep your pelvic floor healthy and functional.

I pee a little when I laugh or cough – isn’t that just normal?

NO.

A little problem when you are young could be a much bigger problem when you hit the menopause/get older and lose a lot of muscle tone.

What increases my risk of pelvic floor problems?

  • Big babies;
  • Hysterectomy;
  • Being overweight;
  • Being inactive;
  • Forceps or other birth intervention;
  • A chronic cough;
  • Menopause; and
  • Age at which you deliver your first baby.

What about once I’ve had the baby – how long will it be until I can feel them again?

Everyone is different but even if you can’t feel them straight away you need to start doing your exercises to help healing and recovery.

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.fit-school.co.uk

 

Back to School (by guest blogger Lucy Bannister)

Back to School. Back to Mind

By guest blogger Lucy Bannister (http://www.lucyoga.co.uk/)

Yep, no matter if you have kids or not, September has a ‘Back to School’ feeling about it. And for me September is always a busy month and if I’m not careful I’m steaming headlong into Christmas before I’ve blinked.

So that’s why today’s email is about taking time to blink. To stop. To breathe. To go with the flow.

I want to encourage you to slow down a bit repeatedly throughout the day.

All this is inspired by a quote that popped into me Facebook feed this week: “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” (Ghandi)

PinkFlowers

We are so conditioned to be busy, to keep going at all costs, to push through, that we can easily forget that by stopping to meditate or do yoga we can actually achieve more. We can slow down, appreciate what is happening, where we are and have clarity of purpose and task.

Many of you have commented that you find it hard to do yoga at home. But you don’t have to make it a special thing (although that is lovely and I strongly encouraging finding a space in your week to have a home yoga practice); you can do yoga anywhere at any time. Yoga is the unity of body and mind, being still in the present moment not getting sweaty, throwing crazy shapes or standing on a rubber mat.

Your challenge:

Set an alarm or reminder for every two hours during your working day. When your reminder goes off take five minutes to sit and breathe or go for a silent walk outside or find somewhere to do your favourite yoga pose or meditate – whatever you like as long as it doesn’t involve technology, cigarettes, stimulants or other people!

If every two hours is too frequent, try twice a day to start with and see if you can build it up through the week.

Like the results? Try doing it outside of work too, taking regular ‘time outs’ in the evening and weekends to bring body and mind together.

If you can spare 10 minutes for your ‘time out’ and you have access to You Tube on your mobile device, grab some headphones and head out to the park or quiet place near work and use this mediation, made especially for busy people: http://youtu.be/zIsg5voCmuY

Don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I am joining you with this challenge too so we can share our experiences.

Lucy teaches Dru yoga in London. She teaches yoga for Fit School at Northern Trust as well as popular rooftop yoga sessions in Peckham. http://www.lucyoga.co.uk/

Pilates Foundations

Pilates Foundations is a new course designed for those new to Pilates, returning after injury or illness or pregnancy. The classes follow a similar programme to the Monday Pilates classes and you can still expect to progress, learn and move your body – this class focuses more on technique and adaptations where necessary. 

Book Online

 

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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

The cure for back pain

BACK pain is one of those nasty conditions which bites most of us at some point in our lives but for some it’s chronic, debilitating and just plain miserable. Is Pilates really the cure all that we hope for when we’re suffering?

Second to post natal rehab, back pain or back injury is the most common reason that newcomers find my classes and take action. As a very dear friend of mine always said, ‘pain is the best motivator for exercise’ and she had a good point.

BUT (and yes it’s a big but), Pilates does not cure backs, improving core strength does not make pain go away and Pilates is definitely not a replacement for physiotherapy.

Before you start Pilates following a back injury you’ll need a diagnosis and/or a sign off by your medical professional that you are fit to exercise.

Back pain requires a long term management strategy. I’d be lying if I told you Pilates could fix you, rather it can be fantastic as part of a long term pain management approach alongside other lifestyle changes. Dull hey? There’s no fad or tabloid worthy headline here. Back pain is not an injury you can fix like a broken leg when you were 12. Instead it’s a condition you need to accept and find ways to work around.

Do bear in mind however that most adults have some degree of disc bulging or wear and tear. We could all be exercising with a minor disc prolapse but never know it. Our backs are strong and designed to last a life time. 

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STAGE 1:

So you first visit your GP and get referred or you go straight to a physiotherapist. In a nutshell, physiotherapists are like musculo-skeletal doctors. They cure with physical treatments and exercise recommendations not pills. This might sound blindingly obvious but a physiotherapist can not cure your back like a course of antibiotics might cure a throat infection. So at stage 1 of back pain you already have exercises to do, at home, between sessions which will help the repair process. The more you do your exercises, the quicker you’ll be on your feet.

STAGE 2:

When you are beyond the acute (really painful) stage you might be referred on to a hospital based Pilates programme or you might be signed off with a recommendation for Pilates or similar. So at stage 2 there are still exercises to do. At home or at the gym. But you need to keep doing them.

STAGE 3:

You get advised to improve your core strength. You may have even skipped stages 1 and 2 and gone straight to here. This is where Pilates becomes an option. However, core strength is a bit of a fad that doesn’t really exist, I’m not sounding very positive today am I? Core strength conjures images of a super iron girdle which you can get so strong by doing Pilates that you’ll never feel back pain again. The problems with this theory are that a) this girdle doesn’t exist; and b) immobility is the enemy of back health. I’m not suggesting it’s time to launch yourself into a dynamic Pilates class but fixing (as in making more rigid) your painful joints will not serve you long term. Instead we can use Pilates and physiotherapy exercises (that you need to keep doing between sessions) to get your body to a place where you can move, rather than using it to make you even more stiff.

STAGE 4:

Keep doing your exercises … forever! Visit your occupational health team at work and get a work station assessment. Can’t fit Pilates in at home, get a group together and get a Pilates instructor in to you. Consider what else you could do to help your back. Is there another health concern you need to get sorted in order to get you more mobile? Could you swim during the week? How’s your bed, your shoes or your bra? These can all be massive contributors to back pain.

Fit School is planning a seminar on long term back pain management (we hope it will have a sexier title than that) so if you’d like to find out more visit our Facebook page or contact us via the contact form below.

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

Get updates from the alittlefitter post natal newsletter: http://eepurl.com/YVmD9

My DNA results are in!

By guest blogger, Chris Laing, director of Fit School

A few weeks ago, my wife, Karen was interested in having her DNA profile analysed as she starts to rebuild her body after having kids. So we got her tested and the results are in. I thought I would share them here so you have an understanding about where we are with advancements in health and fitness testing.

Before you get your results, it is advisable to have a think about what you think the results might show. They rarely show up something that you genuinely never knew or felt. Unless you are living a really unhealthy lifestyle. Here are what the we are testing for.
  • Carbohydrate sensitivity – also know as the fat gene
  • Fat sensitivity
  • Detox ability
  • Caffeine sensitivity
  • Salt sensitivity
  • Lactose tolerance
  • Coeliac risk
There are a few others such as antioxidant needs, vitamin D and calcium, but I’ll stick to topics above.
Here is what Karen felt prior to her results.
  • Used to live off carbs in her management consultancy days, but was fatter and unhealthy (her words not mine)
  • Tried low fat diets but left her feeling hungry and craving sweets
  • Craves dark green veggies
  • Gets the shakes if she has too much coffee
  • Her dad has high blood presssure which would put her at risk of hypertension from excess sodium
  • If she has too much dairy, it upsets her stomach
  • Whole wheat doest’t agree with her.

So here are Karen’s test results:

Karen has a low sensitivity to carbs, which means she can cope with them pretty well. You’ll still put on weight if you are into a calorie surplus, regardless of how well you can cope with carbs, but carbs definitely aren’t her enemy.

Karen also has a low saturated fat sensitivity. Her body uses saturated fats for energy better than the average person or someone who has a high fat sensitivity. So a low calorie and low fat diet will not suit her and it is no surprise that she was hungry when she tried it. nearly 40% of her diet can made up of fats. 10% of these can come from saturated fats. So it is advisable that she adds some to her diet as saturated fats help absorb fat soluble vitamins and hormones.

Karen has the deleted version of a gene responsible for detoxification. So it is advisable that she increase her dark green veggie intake to compensate. This would explain her craving for dark veggies.

Karen’s salt sensitivity is raised which puts her at risk of hypertension with a high sodium intake. As mentioned earlier, hypertension is in her family. We know this to be genetic so it’s no surprise. However, risk doesn’t mean the gene will be expressed. If you try to stay fit and healthy, you may not even get hypertension.

Karen is one of the lucky people who actually gets a positive health benefit (lower cholesterol) from moderate intake of alcohol. Her body breaks down alcohol more slowly than me which means her body can cope better with the toxic element of alcohol.

Karen has an intermediate ability to detoxify toxins such as carcinogens from food and smoke. It also helps with caffeine removal. So her body might struggle with more than 1 coffee per day.

Karen has what is known as lactose persistence. She can cope well with dairy, but she might not cope as well in later years. Again, this is listening to your body.

Lastly, she has a potential risk of coeliac disease. It still is only risk, but she does get digestive discomfort with whole wheat and spelt. At the moment she just avoids them, but at some point may want to get an antibody test to see if there is anything going on.

There were a few vitamin and mineral recommendations which are more than she currently takes, but there was nothing that she didn’t expect. So you might be asking what is the point of being told things you currently know?

Having the things you have always thought, written down in a report is incredibly powerful. Especially for compliance. I never advise Karen on anything to do with health and fitness and vice versa. Couples giving advice to one another on the whole doesn’t work as your relationship gets in the way of any objectivity. However, as the test is objective, we were able to have a non judgemental discussion. She has since been making the tweaks to her diet. It helps that she is happy to. I don’t need to mention lowering risk of heart attack or better protection from cancer etc. This is a report that stays with you for life and is what your body needs to function optimally. So I’m hopeful that people who often struggle to stick to a healthy diet, will be able to connect with how their body works. You’ll not need to worry about inflammatory newspaper headlines because they might not apply to you. Also, you can redefine what the word ‘healthy’ means for you. Low fat might be healthy for you, but unhealthy for someone else. Quite often it’s how the information is relayed to us, that makes us stand up and take notice.

Later in the year, I’ll post about Karen’s exercise DNA test too.

If you are interested in getting a better understanding of your body, please contact fitschoolessex@gmail.com.

Chris Laing is a personal trainer specialising in luxury, comprehensive lifestyle/fitness training packages. Chris is co-director of Fit School with his wife Karen, Fit School offers accessible group training programmes including ladies only training camps, online detoxes, P.E. classes and Pilates (including pre and post natal Pilates) in Essex.

 

Are you an encourager?

ABOUT 13 years ago I first learned to run. Before then I would try but would set off all keen and then have to stop and walk for a bit. It was very discouraging. Years of school inter-form running or cross country (AKA running around the school) had hammered into me that I was pretty useless at it (as for most sports) and my memories are of getting really cold, falling in muddy ditches and generally never getting clean or dry before I then had to go straight to band practice! I wanted to enjoy it but couldn’t get a rhythm. I’d get a stitch or couldn’t breathe. I loved dancing, aerobics and training in the gym but running – no. It was my nemesis. So when – with the help of a keen runner, Mike Hall (no relation) who was on my team at the PRS whilst we built them a new IT system (these were the days of Karen, the management consultant) – I completed my first ever 5k Corporate Chase Challenge back in 2001 it was a really big deal.

The team

(clockwise from far left) Amy, Nicola, Simona (Simona’s mum not in shot), Sally, Gemma, Hayley, me (Karen), Angustias

Roll on to 2014 and I somehow sit here with a snoozing six month old next to me and a three and a half year old at preschool. I run my own business and can remember little about coding in java or C (these are probably outdated now) but I do remember I always loved getting the team ‘on board’ and getting results. So when on Wednesday, we had our first little Fit School team running in the North Weald Race for Life it might not have seemed like a big deal to many but to every woman who had never run that distance before, or taken part in a ‘race’, or felt like they were a bit rubbish at sports, I knew how it felt. I also knew, that a now very dear friend, who lost her mum to cancer last summer, would be running 10k. Amy is a sunshiny, giving person and I wanted to be there for her too.

I’ve run in events since my first 5k but I’ve always felt pretty nervous due to the ‘pressure’ of doing a time. This event was different. I was going to get everyone round because that’s what I love doing. I could never have imagined just how incredible it was to see the perimeter of North Weald Airfield covered in little pink running and walking dots as runners, joggers, plodders and walkers just got out there and did something defiant and amazing.

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The team all made it round and all felt amazing afterwards. I got laughed at for running in the wrong direction at times but then I wasn’t going to leave anyone out there on the field!

It’s very easy to sit back and think, ‘It’s okay for her – she’s thin,’ or, ‘it’s okay for her, she has the time,’ or, ‘I can’t run because …’ but events like this are great for just getting everyone out, off their behinds, and sharing time, effort and hugs.

So perhaps you need a little encouragement to do some exercise or you’d like some guidance – or perhaps you’re feeling a bit low, or maybe a lot low. That’s okay. It doesn’t make you stupid or a nuisance. It makes you human. And there are always people like me who get a complete buzz out of being an encourager because I had enough of feeling like I was useless at sports when I was a teenager.

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Oh and for all my cross country efforts, I’ve since discovered that endurance events are in my genes – so it’s time for me to stop making excuses, learn how to run and just do it!

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

Get updates from the alittlefitter post natal newsletter: http://eepurl.com/YVmD9