Plant Based Diet 6 Jan

MEAT… it’s so 2019!

As it’s a New Year I could talk to you about the latest diet to go on and give you my top tips on “how to lose weight fast”. Cause that’s what we all like isn’t it? A quick fix! But I’ll be honest I’m no longer into ‘diets’ and quick fixes because I’ve come to realise that simply, they don’t work.

However, I am into feeding my body what I feel it needs and requires to function at its optimal strength and serve me well. In other words I’m more conscious these days about what I’m eating for health reasons, rather than the aesthetic reasons. Although, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a woman and I’m forever critical of my body, so I also eat well to keep my body at a weight I’m happy with!

It’s hard to ignore the current pleas to reduce eating meat, in order to save the planet and although it’s something (in all honesty) that I would have in the past ignored, this time I haven’t. Reducing meat in fact resonates with me now for a number of reasons:

1. I’ve been less bothered about eating meat since being pregnant
2. I’ve recently learnt more about the health benefits of cutting down on meat
3. I think we should all take some form of responsibility and do our bit to ‘save the planet’ where we can.

I know there’s a huge controversy around the subject and I’m not 100% sure myself if we get enough protein and iron by cutting out meat completely. But, I do believe that cutting down on meat and animal products can have huge benefits on our health.

So, what are the benefits of eating less meat and animal produce? 

Whether you chose to be vegan, veggie or just reduce the amount of meat and animal produce you eat, I believe it will all play a part in improving your overall health, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

Just recently, I have started eating a vegan diet around 80% of the time. I would do it more, as I’m honestly preferring eating this way, but I’m all about convenience and sometimes it just isn’t that convenient! Plus, I can’t imagine life without chocolate!

So here are my TOP TEN RESONS TO EAT A PLANT BAESED DIET:

1. Eating less meat (especially red and processed meat) can increase your life expectancy, as you will naturally be reducing your risk of heart attack, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

2. Dairy is one of the first things doctors tell cancer patients to cut out of their diet.

3. Cutting out dairy can improve your skin! Skin conditions like rosacea and acne are linked to dairy. Plus, cutting it out can also improve the texture and tone of your skin, so dermatologists say.

4. Red meat can take several months to fully digest, where as plant based foods pass through our system quick and efficiently.

5. Most of us don’t include enough fruit and vegetables in our diet, switching to a plant based diet will naturally encourage us to do so.

6. Eating a plant based diet naturally reduces our fat intake, as well as the amount of processed and sugary foods we eat, which as we all know can lead to obesity, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes and cancer. In turn, this naturally promotes weight loss.

7. Eating less meat reduces our carbon footprint by 50% as methane emissions from cows and livestock is one of the biggest problems our planet faces.

8. It requires 1,799 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of ground beef!

9. It’s cheaper

10. Meals are usually quicker to cook

I think people believe it has to be all or nothing. But why should we have to label ourself as vegans, veggies or meat eaters? Why not just reduce the amount of meat and dairy products we eat if that suits us better? Even if it’s just one day or even one meal per week.

And if you’re under the impressions that eating a plant based diet is dull and unsatisfying, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised as I have. Yes, you may need to do some research and arm yourself with a few new recipes, but that isn’t hard with the recent plant based boom! In fact, as we often get asked about our diets so much (as well as Pilates) we have decided to release some food plans which will host an array of plant based recipes, as well as meat and veggie recipes to suit everyone.

Watch out for these coming soon! 

Can I do Dynamic Pilates during and after pregnancy 25 Nov

Can I do Dynamic Pilates during and after pregnancy?

As many of you may know, both myself and Tiffany have been through two pregnancies on our reformers! And as we are about to embark on more pre and postnatal classes, I thought it would be good to set the record straight about pre and postnatal Dynamic Pilates.

Sooooo many clients get referred to me when they fall pregnant by doctors and medical professionals, because Pilates (and Yoga) are deemed to be a ‘safe’ pre and postnatal form of exercise. Which they are, BUT what they (all) don’t understand is that there’s so many different types of pilates out there, and not all of them are going to be suitable for pregnancy and postnatal, because guess what guys, pilates is not ALL about gentle stretching!

I’m all about keeping active during and after pregnancy, however, having had my fair share of issues (a prolapse after my third baby) I know how important it is to be sensible too.

My general rule of thumb is that you can continue whatever your body is USED TO ALREADY DOING (in Pilates classes) as long as you make modifications along the way. That means that you shouldn’t start Dynamic Pilates pre or early postnatal, as your body isn’t used to it. As those of you know who do our classes (or other ‘dynamic’ style classes) it’s a challenging workout that requires a lot strength, coordination and endurance and unless your body is used to being pushed to these levels, then this isn’t a good time to start. If you’re new to reformer Pilates, then you should be doing specialist pre and postnatal classes to ease you in.

So, if my body’s used to it, what can and can’t I do? 

There’s a heap of advice out there for each trimester, but generally speaking (without going into each separate trimester) the rules for are pretty similar:

1. No curl up action AFTER the first trimester (gradually building back up to this postnatally)
2. Reduce/modify plank holds and anything that causes a lot of intra abdominal pressure
3. Limit the amount of time spent laying on your back as you get heavier during pregnancy
4. Reduce wide ranges of movement to avoid injury
5. Pay particular attention to good posture, alignment and technique to avoid injury
6. Don’t move in and out of positions too quickly
7. Avoid tricky balances! 

Apart from the obvious physical changes that will limit movement, hormones are also flying high (relaxin the hormone that softens ligaments, muscles and joints both pre and postnatal, especially when still breastfeeding ) which is why we shouldn’t go into extreme ranges of movement.

Basically, pregnancy and post baby is not a time to be pushing yourself to the extremes, (you have plenty of time for that don’t worry!) it’s more about maintenance, relaxation and preparation (for birth) and then rebuilding the foundations slowly once your baby is born.

If I could advise one thing (from my own experience) that would be to work on your pelvic floor and don’t take it for granted! Go see a specialist who can teach you how to connect properly (there’s more to it than just squeezing you know!) and then practice every day (a few times a day) and apply these techniques to your every day life and importantly in class. Because in all honesty, even the BEST Pilates teachers don’t have time in a group class to teach pelvic floor properly, to the point where everyone really ‘gets’ it. Especially not in a dynamic class.

And finally to end on a more positive note after all the warnings, I truly believe that Pilates has been my saviour throughout my last two pregnancies AND for getting me back on my game after baby. You cannot underestimate the power of exercise both physically and mentally. Don’t be fearful, just listen to the guidelines, take them on board and keep moving!

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4 Nov

Can Pilates help you live a more stress free life?

I’m writing this blog today because in all honesty, I feel like it might be able to help me a little as well as you!

Sometimes, life gets overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am constantly rushing from pillar to post. With two small kids (one that wakes up every day between 4-5am) and two businesses, I’m already pretty maxed out. And, if I dare throw a social life into the mix too, then I’m almost at tipping point! I’m sure I’m not alone here, right?

So, how can we juggle everything successfully, without feeling like we’re being pushed over the edge?

Here’s a few things I’m thinking:

Say no – As much as we want it all, sometimes we simply can’t. Learn to say no to some invites and also only take on what you can realistically handle with work.

Exercise – We all know the positive effects that working out regularly has on mental health and stress, so really, you need it even more when life gets busy! Even if it’s only 30 minutes a day or every other day. I think this is one of the reasons that our short classes are so popular on DPTV.

Eat well – You can’t feel good on the inside, if you’re fuelling your body with quick fix rubbish. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be time consuming, but you do have to be a little prepared. Keep your fridge and cupboard stocked up with healthy staples, eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, whack everything in a steamer or under the grill, and cut out processed foods, stodgy carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol as much as possible.

Focus on one thing at a time – A friend made me think about this one. For example: if you’re with the kids, then be with the kids. Don’t bother trying to answer emails and make work calls at the same time, as you’ll end up doing a rubbish job of both. Allocate a separate time to do this when they are not around. Plus playing with your kiddies is actually a good way to switch off from the real world!

Less time on the phone/laptop – How many times do you sit scrolling through your phone just out of habit? Technology is great, but too much of it can induce stress. The world isn’t going to end if you put it away for a few hours and actually spend time speaking to people instead.

Take naps/mediate – I know this isn’t always possible, but when it is, do it! If you find it difficult to fall asleep in the day, then use a meditation app to help you switch off. Taking a quick power nap/mediation of around just 20 minutes, has been proven to have a big impact on overcoming tiredness and stress.

Look after yourself – Sometimes we are the last person on the list when it comes to care, so it’s no wonder we sometimes feel burnt out. Get your remedies from the health food shop, treat yourself to a massage to relieve stressed shoulders or just get your nails painted and go for a wax if that makes you feel better!

Gratitude – It’s all too easy to be negative and complain about how stressed we are, and about how much we’ve got to do. But negativity only brings more stress and bad feeling. So, if you try (again, I know this is sometimes not easy!) to be grateful for all the good things in your life and state them to yourself over and over, I promise it does make you feel happier and therefore less stressed!

23 Sep

Starting Your Own Pilates Studio

So you’ve trained up or you’ve been teaching for other people for years. And now it’s time to take the plunge and open your own business!

If you’re going to open your own studio then you should know that you will need to widen your skills set, as this will require much more than just being a good teacher. Opening my studio was one of the best things I ever did, but it’s not for everyone and it can bring stress at times!

Here’s a few things to think about before you take the plunge:

Location, Location, Location

Above all, I would say this is up there with one of the most important things to consider. Somewhere easily visible, that gives you access to passing trade will make your job a hell of a lot easier and could make all the difference between having to advertise frequently and not having to advertise at all.

What Sets You Apart?

What’s your USP? Do you teach dynamic group classes, purely classical, or do you focus more on private tuition? Is there anything that makes you really different to the rest? Maybe not, but if there is, then that could be a good selling point.

What’s Your Local Competition?

Sometimes competition is a good thing, but if you’re planning on opening a studio on a high street already saturated with established Pilates or other fitness studios, then you might be setting yourself up for unnecessary failure. Find out what other Pilates studios there are in your area and find out what kind of classes they teach, who their clientele are and how successful they are.

What’s Your Demographic?

Who are you aiming to target? This will depend on the style of pilates class you want teach, but ideally it should represent the majority of the locals. So, if you’re living in a quiet village where the average age is 85, then perhaps dynamic style Pilates may not go down so well! Get to know your area and the locals if you don’t already. This will also give you an idea of your pricing point.

Do The Math

Be as prepared as possible and start with a detailed business plan covering absolutely everything and every possible eventuality. (If you’re stuck on how to write a business plan you can get templates online) You won’t be able to give accurate figures of course, but do your best to estimate your potential earnings and show the worst case scenario as well as the best. You need to know that you will be able to cover yourself if things don’t go as well as hoped, which in the first few months may be the case.

What Is Realistic For You?

How many classes do you want to teach per day/week? Do you want to get other trainers to teach for you? How much can you afford to pay on rent. My top advice would be not over stretch yourself with huge outgoings, especially in the early days. Start small, build and establish your business/brand and then expand. The whole thing will be a much more enjoyable experience if the stress is minimized.

Good Luck!

25 Jun

Can Pilates help you to lose weight?

In short, yes. But that would make a very dull blog post if I ended there! I would say that 90% of people do Pilates to achieve the desired ‘Pilates body’ But, of course we all know that Pilates does soooo much more good than that!

However, as we’re talking about weight loss here, let me tell you how Pilates can help shed those unwanted pounds. Some might say that you can’t lose weight with Pilates and this is where we disagree wholeheartedly! If you’ve done any of our classes, you’ll know that we (and you) are usually dripping with sweat within probably the first ten minutes! And anything that results in a lot of sweat, also results in some form of weight loss if done on a regular basis. So, it depends what kind of Pilates you’re doing, as obviously if you’re doing a slow beginner’s class for example, then obviously, then you will be moving at a much slower pace to grasp the fundamentals first.

The great thing about dynamic Pilates is the flow of the class, the endurance of the exercises and then level to which you can push yourself, all of which results in a challenging workout that will help you reach your weight loss goals.

That being said, I’m a realist and I always adhere to the saying ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’. So, no matter how much you train and sweat your butt off, if you go home and eat a bag of doughnuts on a regular basis, then clearly weight loss is not going to come that easily.

If you’re desperate to lose weight, my top tip would be to stop being desperate. Focus on good quality fitness, it has to be something you enjoy and want to make part of your life. And eat for your health, not for the size of your waistline. It may be a slower process, but in the end the results will be more durable.

5 Jun

What are the best Reformer Pilates moves for a strong core?

This is a question as Pilates teachers that we get asked a lot! Either that or, how can I get great abs? Well let me start by saying, that I’m not going to list specific exercises here (although there certainly are a few that really target and promote that sculpting effect) but I’d much rather point out that ALL reformer moves help create a strong core.

When we practice Pilates, we should always maintain the Pilates fundamentals; good basic core connection being one of them. And if you remember that the core is the center of where all movement derives from, then evidently you are ALWAYS in fact training your core whatever you’re doing.

Another point to remember is that a strong core isn’t created by just targeting the abdominal muscles, there are many other areas that assist in creating and supporting a strong core, such as glutes, back and not forgetting a strong upper body to help stabilize. Essentially we should think of our bodies as a synchronized piece of machinery that all works in perfect harmony. Of course as the all know, that’s not always a reality for most of us, but that’s at least what we’re aiming for!

So, let’s talk more about that all important core connection. Since having my third baby I have become even more aware of my pelvic floor and have sought lots of help to try and reverse the prolapse that occurred after my last birth to a rather big baby! 9.5lbs if you were wondering – yes, ouch! (I’ll do a separate blog on this soon.) On the plus side it’s made me so much more aware of my core connection on a whole and whether I’m doing it correctly. Let’s face it we all can get carried away with a movement, especially in dynamic Pilates and forget to ‘engage’. So it’s really important that we constantly remind ourselves to connect, because that’s the root to creating that strong core (and great abs!).

Yes, some exercises require less connection and some require more, but we should always connect. And if we do this, we will be working more efficiently and effectively strengthening the core muscles in ‘less obvious’ core moves, such as squats and upper body work, which benefit greatly from maintaining that core connection.

So, how do you connect properly? Well, since visiting my women’s health physio, she advised me to ‘engage’ slightly differently to how I’ve practiced for years and years! And I have to say to me, her way makes more sense. So here it is:

  • Engage the back passage (as this is indeed where the pelvic floor originates)
  • Draw it forwards to the front passage
  • And then lift upwards as if you’re creating a smiley face from hip to hip. (A nice visual cue that works for most and this is when you will feel TVA activate)

Give it a try and let me know what you think?

It’s of course when you’re in those exercises that apply more pressure to the ‘core’ muscles (such as anything in a curl up or a plank) that we have to work even harder to engage those pelvic floor & TVA muscles and maintain that engagement not allowing the tummy to ‘dome’.

So, to summarize, all reformer moves are great for the core; aim to be more focused on using your deep postural core muscles in ALL your exercises, and work on strengthening glutes and upper body too and collectively everything will get stronger.

Korin

5 Jun

What are the best Reformer Pilates moves for a strong core?

This is a question as Pilates teachers that we get asked a lot! Either that or, how can I get great abs? Well let me start by saying, that I’m not going to list specific exercises here (although there certainly are a few that really target and promote that sculpting effect) but I’d much rather point out that ALL reformer moves help create a strong core.

When we practice Pilates, we should always maintain the Pilates fundamentals; good basic core connection being one of them. And if you remember that the core is the center of where all movement derives from, then evidently you are ALWAYS in fact training your core whatever you’re doing.

Another point to remember is that a strong core isn’t created by just targeting the abdominal muscles, there are many other areas that assist in creating and supporting a strong core, such as glutes, back and not forgetting a strong upper body to help stabilize. Essentially we should think of our bodies as a synchronized piece of machinery that all works in perfect harmony. Of course as the all know, that’s not always a reality for most of us, but that’s at least what we’re aiming for!

So, let’s talk more about that all important core connection. Since having my third baby I have become even more aware of my pelvic floor and have sought lots of help to try and reverse the prolapse that occurred after my last birth to a rather big baby! 9.5lbs if you were wondering – yes, ouch! (I’ll do a separate blog on this soon.) On the plus side it’s made me so much more aware of my core connection on a whole and whether I’m doing it correctly. Let’s face it we all can get carried away with a movement, especially in dynamic Pilates and forget to ‘engage’. So it’s really important that we constantly remind ourselves to connect, because that’s the root to creating that strong core (and great abs!).

Yes, some exercises require less connection and some require more, but we should always connect. And if we do this, we will be working more efficiently and effectively strengthening the core muscles in ‘less obvious’ core moves, such as squats and upper body work, which benefit greatly from maintaining that core connection.

So, how do you connect properly? Well, since visiting my women’s health physio, she advised me to ‘engage’ slightly differently to how I’ve practiced for years and years! And I have to say to me, her way makes more sense. So here it is:

  • Engage the back passage (as this is indeed where the pelvic floor originates)
  • Draw it forwards to the front passage
  • And then lift upwards as if you’re creating a smiley face from hip to hip. (A nice visual cue that works for most and this is when you will feel TVA activate)

Give it a try and let me know what you think?

It’s of course when you’re in those exercises that apply more pressure to the ‘core’ muscles (such as anything in a curl up or a plank) that we have to work even harder to engage those pelvic floor & TVA muscles and maintain that engagement not allowing the tummy to ‘dome’.

So, to summarize, all reformer moves are great for the core; aim to be more focused on using your deep postural core muscles in ALL your exercises, and work on strengthening glutes and upper body too and collectively everything will get stronger.

Korin