Strong Saturday – Farnham Pilates Blog

Easy ways to stay healthy at home

It’s easy at times like these to slip into bad habits, so here is a reminder about some simple things you can do to ensure you stay healthy – and happy – at home.

Make the most of the first 10 minutes of the day and set the tone for the day ahead – exercise, stretch, sit, and breathe. Get dressed and some days wear a dress or your favourite outfit that you feel good in. 

Be kind to yourself – try not to put high expectations on yourself. We all have different worries and concerns and this time and this means that you may not “achieve” much, so be kind to yourself. Try to incorporate self-care in your day even if it is just to shower and moisturise with your favourite smell; I love rose products from the Body Shop and like to put orange essence on my wrists to lift my mood. Every night I put lavender drops in my bath and on my pillow (I’m a bit of a smell freak!). Do things to make you find the joy and happiness within you – what do you love doing? How about reading, jigsaw puzzles or knitting.  If you are missing the coast you could find the sound of sea on YouTube. Even a simple bath and early night will make a massive difference to your stress levels,  so get a good night’s sleep. If you struggle try breathing exercises 10 mins before. 

Make plans and goals for the day – do meal plans and batch cooking to make life easier, it is so much less stressful if you know what is planned. Do a shopping list and stick to the plan – this will also help you avoid overeating.  Batch cooking makes for a stress-free dinner as you just have to reheat what you have already made.  Try to think of non-food related treats, such as a special cup of tea, a walk around the garden or a face mask. To mix things up a bit, look out for local schemes to help the community through these times: for instance the Maltings in Farnham is running a jigsaw and games swap. And with garden centres opening up, a little gardening can be a great stress reliever and improve the view out of your window!

Create a new routine – we have come out of the initial holiday phase at Easter (even if you are working) and feel we need to achieve things so plan your day. Try and do the daily exercise, do a 10 mins exercise video then Pilates, also plan a walk. Even if you just dance round the kitchen it will make a big impact. 

Keep a healthy diet – your energy levels will be affected by what you eat, so be sure to focus on good gut health and keep your immune system strong. I swear by Symprove, a local firm (I don’t get commission!) https://www.symprove.com. Learn more about the gut here – https://www.symprove.com/gut-microbiome/. You have 70-80% of your immune system in your gut, so manage your immune system with good gut microbe. Lack of Vitamin D can have a massive impact on energy levels and there is evidence that it can reduce the impact of Covid-19, so ensure you get enough sun and consider taking a supplement. Eat regularly to help balance blood sugar levels and add more fibre into your diet. An easy meal could be lentil bolognaise with whole wheat pasta and cheese. 

LAST CHANCE to join before the price increases next week then the doors close at end of May. 

I have 2 types of membership – 

ZOOM I only do zoom classes for the clients that pay for the class membership on £45 a month. The classes are small – there are about about 4-8 people in each class.
Monday 2.30 back care 
Monday 8pm improvers (business class)
Tuesday 9.30 beginners mixed
Some Saturdays  

FACEBOOK The rest are on Facebook – those are for the clients paying £9.99 a month.
Classes 
Mon, Wed, Fri at 9.35am 
(some Saturdays) 
This includes access to the website with a library of videos.

Membership also gives offers you a private Facebook group and WhatsApp group where there are lots of classes, both recorded and live.

I want you to take this opportunity to try this deal as Prices are going up next week on Thursday 21st April.  

Class membership will increase from £45 to £49 per month.

Online membership will increase from £9.99 to £11.99 per month

“I LOVE THE PILATES COMMUNITY. YOUR TEACHING IS OUTSTANDING AND I FEEL “SAFE” THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. PILATES CONTRIBUTES TO MY WELLBEING AND I SIMPLY LOVE BEING PRESENT. IT CAN BE VERY STRESSFUL WITH ELDERLY PARENTS SO I LOOK FORWARD TO PILATES AS PART OF HELPING TO KEEP MY MIND AND BODY WELL. THANK YOU.”

Jayne

“SINCE DOING PILATES, I FEEL MORE SUPPLE, KNOW HOW TO STRETCH PROPERLY AND FIND THAT RUNNING IS MUCH EASIER. HANNAH HAS ALSO HELPED WITH MY POSTURE AS I SIT AT A DESK ALL DAY.”

H Mortimer, Surrey

Next week’s blog will cover stretches for homeworking. Check back then!

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Stay fit with Farnham Pilates – classes at home via Facebook Live and Zoom

Now that we are all minimising social contact to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, let me show you how you can continue Pilates from your own home. Due to government guidelines, the Garden Studio is now closed until further notice.
If you are already a class attendee, these are the classes available to you. Please note that Zoom classes are limited to 35 mins for tec reasons, and Facebook Live classes are 45 minutes as these are much more intense classes.

Monday      2.30 – 3.05 Back care Zoom
                      7.30 – 8.15 Beginners Facebook Live
                      8.30 – 9.15 Improvers Facebook Live

Tuesday      9.30 – 10.15 Improvers Facebook Live 
                      10.30 – 11.05  Beginners Zoom 

Wednesday 9.00 – 9.45 Relaxation Facebook Live 

Friday           9.00 – 9.45 Mixed family session – Facebook Live

Saturday     9.00 – 9.45 Mixed family session – Facebook Live 


At the moment, these classes will continue weekly until 10th July but this is subject to change in these difficult times. I want to support you and would be so grateful if you could support me. We normally have a break for Easter but I have decided to continue classes through the Easter break, with the exception of Good Friday through to Easter Monday.  Naturally, if I am ill or anyone in my family is ill and needs looking after, I will be unable to do the classes but I will let you know if this happens. Let’s use this an opportunity to look out for eachother and to maintain some structure to our days! 

For live classes, the cost for current and new members is £10 per week.  This can be paid to me weekly, monthly or termly.  The added advantage of these new Facebook and Zoom classes is that you will be able to “virtually” attend all of these classes for just £10 per week. 

Once you have paid, you will be put on a separate email list to receive daily emails and videos, so please confirm your payment by email.

So that is all for a price of just:
£10 per week; or
£40 per month; or
£100 until 10th July.

If you are already attending my classes you will have received a link to my WhatsApp group that contains details about Facebook Live and the Zoom link. 

If you are new, once you have paid I will send you the Facebook Live and Zoom Link. 

Payment details
Farnham Pilates 
Account number: 00095005
Sort code: 30-93-20

Please put your surname in the reference field.

Join the Farnham Pilates Facebook group – this is so important to keep you motivated and so you can ask any questions. Also please invite a friend to join so you can work out together. Please Join here  (let me know if you struggle I can help.)

Once you have paid you can also access the WhatsApp linkHERE

MEDICAL QUESTIONNAIRE: If you have not previously completed one, please do so here:  https://pilatescommunity.co.uk/par-q-form
so I can help if you have any problems.


Thank you,
Squeeze and breathe!
Love Hannah
(virtual hug xxx)

Please Email, Text or WhatsApp me on 
07855 291833 
hannah@farnhampilates.com
Farnham Pilates   www.farnhampilates.co.ukwww.pilatescommunity.co.uk

Farnham Pilates weekly blog – get ski-fit!

Get Ski fit  – Pilates Exercises to get ready for Skiing 
[Week 1]

Pain and injury-free skiing for all the family with Pilates

Five-minute read
I am a keen skier so I appreciate that getting your body ready for your ski trip really can help you avoid injury, get stronger so you can do more runs faster or with more confidence, as well as prevent general ski-related aches and pains. This goes for everyone in the family including children; I notice a great difference in my children’s improvement and tiredness levels by getting us to do a few exercises before we go. 
 
So, if you are planning a weekend or Easter ski break, Pilates can help you avoid injury, ski without aches and pains, and have a better time. This week I make a case for doing ski prep exercises, but I’ll follow this up over the next couple of weeks with exercise routines.

Ski preparation – How can Pilates help prepare you for skiing? 

Skiing uses lots of muscles that most of us don’t use a great deal in our everyday lives; if these muscles are prepared, they are less likely to pull or tear i.e. quads, gluts, core and obliques.  

Pilates will…..

  • Improve body awareness and alignment to reduce risk of injury.
  • Strengthen and increase endurance of the right muscles by isolating movements. 
  • Improve core strength, balance and stabilise the joints to create better controlled slalom turns.
  • Mobilise joints so if there is a fall you are less likely to injury yourself.
  • Improve fitness and cardio levels for during and post ski activities.  
  • Reduce aches and fatigue to enable you to ski longer during the day.

Preventing injury

Taking care to strengthen, stabilise and mobilise the joints that twist and turn during skiing can help prevent injuries on knees, neck, wrists, ankles, shoulders and muscular problems. Statistics show falls are a high risk for women and children skiers, while men tend to suffer from injuries as a result of high speeds like muscle fatigue, head and neck injuries, neck sprain, and shoulder and medial ligament injuries. Snowboarding tends to cause ankle and wrist injuries. However, for every thousand people on the ski slopes per day, only two to four will sustain an injury that requires medical attention, that’s a risk of only 0.2-0.4%. However it may not only bring your holiday to an abrupt end but could also prove expensive in terms of medical treatment. 
 
Your exercise programme needs to have key elements for Skiing – 
Brenna Kelleher, a former NCAA ski racer and ski instructor and guide explains that each turn down a slope is like a sprint that engages leg, back and core muscles. While an aerobic base can help skiers recover faster the key for preparing your body is to focus on cardio intensity with core strength. Pilates exercises combines and improves the following elements – 

  1. Your alignment and posture. 
  2. Cardio endurance – for an aerobic base (essential for recovery), a high lactate threshold (so you can ski longer before you feel the burn) and lactate power (which provides the oomph you need for intense efforts).
  3. Strengthen quads and back muscles especially if you are a beginner in a snow plough position. 
  4. Increase strength and endurance of legs, buttocks and hips to mimic skiing to help create precision of movement, coordination and power i.e. squats on the vibration plate.
  5. Improve your balance and stability with one-leg emphasis exercises.
  6. Improve spinal mobility and oblique strength for rotations for turning and twisting at speed. 
  7. Strengthen your core abdominals. 
  8. Improve coordination and body awareness for speed accuracy (so that you can respond quickly when avoiding another skier or ice).
  9. Improve joint mobility and flexibility like ankles, knees and hips. (Feet influence a skier’s alignment and his or her ability to execute powerful movement. Edging and applying pressure to carve a turn and stay in control starts with the feet.)

Your ski exercise preparation routine – 

 
Start to prepare six weeks in advance with the following exercises and sign up to do videos at home like our online Pilates program (www.pilatescommunity.co.uk) and your ski trip will be more comfortable, easier on your body and your children will be less tired and have more fun.
 
I recommend an increase in a weekly schedule of exercise as follows :

  • Daily moderate in small chunks of 30-60 mins – obvious things include cardio like fast walking, take the stairs, cycle, walk to work 
  • Weekly cardio moderate to vigorous exercise 3-4 times intense 20 mins (cycle, jog, swim, dance, football) 
  • Weekly mobilise and stretch routine 2-3 times a week for 10-20 mins like yoga or Pilates. 
  • Increase your stamina and repetitions over a six-week programme. Build slowly, increase your speed and the mix of exercise.

To get strong join our 30 days of Pilates only £9.99 or the Pilates membership try 1 month get access to ski fit videos for only £11 per month, or full access for all videos for £49 for six months  or £110 for annual membership.

Next week… Next week we look at the basics of how to exercise along with some stretches and vital balance exercises.

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x





Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog – how to fit Pilates into your busy life – try Pilates at home

Last week we discussed making more of your time, ensuring that your every moment spent exercising counts. This week I want to make sure that you can fit Pilates into your busy life. Classes are great (come and see me for a class here!). As well as the exercise, classes bring community, support, expertise and companionship. But what if you can’t make it to a class? Or you can only make it to one class a week, and want to enjoy Pilates every day? Life is busy! Between juggling several jobs, family commitments, pets and hobbies, how can you fit it all in? Pilates videos to do at home, in your own time, are the answer. My 30 days of Pilates programme offers you 30 days of short videos, together with a supportive community, daily informative and motivating emails and an optional WhatsApp group, all for a special price of only £9.99! More details on my 30 Days of Pilates can be found here, where you will also be able to sign up. What’s stopping you continuing and improving your Pilates journey? Join us today! Squeeze and breathe, Love Hannah xx

Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog – Fitness in February

Hello and welcome to February! This is a short month (even on a leap year) and this has got us thinking about the time it takes to get fit. In the old days, getting fit was all about how much time you put in. An hour of swimming laps in the swimming pool, 45 minutes jogging, anyone? Research is growing that there are many benefits to short bursts of intense exercise, for both improving cardiovascular function and fat loss. So where does Pilates fit in with this? Here at Farnham Pilates we can offer 1:1s or small group 1:1s. This allows for more interaction with the Pilates instructor, meaning that exercises are done to a greater intensity. Couple that with use of the Pilates reformer or vibration plate, and you can have yourself an intense and effective workout in a fraction of the time! So you can reap the benefits of an hour long class in less than 30 minutes!

What is the Pilates Reformer?

The reformer a piece of Pilates equipment that you can lie on. It is large enough to accommodate full-range motion, which is wonderful for increasing flexibility while building strength. It seems to invite the length you want to create in the body, and it trains the body to sustain that length. Pushing and pulling with legs or arms against the resistance of the springs, carriage, and body weight is generally strength building. The exercises provide enough resistance and movement variety to help build strong bones. And there is a special feature – eccentric muscle contractions. This is when a muscle lengthens as it resists a force. It is great for injury rehabilitation as there is less impact on the joints and many exercises are done lying down. The reformer has a ‘rolling carriage’ with the springs set at different levels of resistance; this provides all kinds of stability challenges that develop core strength and promote better balance. For example, having less of the body on the carriage is one of the ways Pilates exercises get harder. It means more body weight has to be supported by the practitioner, and the body and machine have to be controlled even more from the core.

Springboard

Even if you regularly take reformer classes, incorporating some Springboard classes will help you quickly break through that fitness plateau.

Vibration Plates

Here at Farnham Pilates we use vibration plates help you speed up a routine with vibration making stability harder. So the increase in stability and basic movements, balances and exercises such as bodyweight squats, bicep curls and lunges, feel harder and give you a more intense workout.

For any Pilates reformer or vibration plate 1:1 personal training approach we track you progress and adhere to safety.

THE BENEFITS OF reformer and vibration plate-

✅Burn calories and fat whilst toning your muscles ✅Build muscle strength ✅Reduce cellulite due to boost in blood circulation to the tissues and its ability to tone muscles and tighten connective tissue ✅Improve your overall fitness resulting in improved moods, better sleep, and posture ✅It’s easy on your joints and tendons as there is no jumping or running involved ✅It gives you a full workout in a fraction of the time

Farnham Pilates 1:1s

Contact me if you want to try out a 1:1 session, where you can use the reformer or vibration plate to kickstart your fitness. I can offer ad hoc sessions or regular sessions, to fit in with your busy schedule. Prices as follows: 1 hour assessment: £65; 45 minute follow-up class: £45; 30 minute follow-up class: £35; Small group 1:1 class: 1 hour for £85 (split between the participants)

Availability: Thursday AM; Monday and Wednesday after 1500; Fridays 0830-1130; Saturday 0930-1230

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah xx

Why do Pilates?

This week we are looking at why people choose to do Pilates classes.

“Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit” Joseph Pilates

  • Are you busy running around with back pain or aches but trying to ignore them?
  • Are you trying to do your best to do lots of exercises, keeping fit and healthy, but your back and core is still weak?
  • Are you tired, achy or injured and need to get back to your previous strength?
  • Do you need more mobility? Do your muscles or joints feel tight and stiff especially hips, back or pelvis?
  • Do you fall or trip easily – we work on improving your balance using balance pads and stability exercises.
  • Do you have pelvic floor accidents (incontinence when you laugh jump or sneeze – those “Oops” moments…) ?
  • Maybe you’ve had children and still don’t feel your body is back to how it should be and your tummy is still weak?
  • Are you training for a big run, a skiing trip, or to improve your golf, and know you need to strengthen your muscles and core but not sure how or what to do?

Farnham Pilates is here to help! Our clients have given us some wonderful feedback this week, telling us why they do Pilates and what they love about their classes. Pilates can help you learn what is right for your body, improve your posture, strength and mobility. But what is it about Farnham Pilates that has kept clients coming back year after year?

What is unique about Farnham Pilates?

Location: All of our classes at Farnham Pilates take place in a purpose-built, warm, cosy garden studio. The studio is also fully equipped with Pilates equipment and mats.

People: You will be working with like-minded, friendly people. Many of my clients have been attending for years and have found the classes are a lovely way to keep up with friends they have met at the class.

Variety: I have classes for all levels: improvers, beginners, focus on back-care, focus on abdominals. If you and a group of friends are interested in a particular area, let me know and we can see if I can create a class especially for you.

Expertise: I have helped over 1500 clients over 12 years of teaching. I am qualified at Pilates OCR level 2, CYQ level 3, Equipment level 3. I have a back injury form a serious car accident, so I know what it means to train with an injury.

Testimonials

Don’t just take my word for it, here is what my clients have said about why they love their Pilates classes with me:

I come to Pilates because Hannah is a great Pilates teacher, I have been coming for years. It stretches and strengthens me.

BC, Farnham”

The garden studio is a lovely, cosy and personal venue to do Pilates.

LE, Rowledge”

Helps me strengthen my back and joints, plus we have a giggle! It’s a lovely small and personal group so I get a lot of attention from the teacher.

CB, Rowledge”

30 days of Pilates for just £9.99

Classes not for you? Or do you find that one class is not enough, and you want daily movement? Our 30 days of Pilates programme may be for you. A daily email containing a short video, hints and tips, and the opportunity to join a supportive group via Facebook or WhatsApp. To find out more or to join, see here.

Special February rate for classes: £60 for 6 classes from 24th February! For more details, please email me: hannah@farnhampilates.co.uk

Click here for our latest timetable.

Squeeze and breathe!

Love Hannah and the Farnham Pilates team xx

Creating Healthy Habits – how to keep up the momentum

So – it’s the third week of January.  How are all your new year’s resolutions going?  Chances are, some of them have already slipped.  If you put too much pressure on yourself, you set yourself up to fail.  Short term gains do not create a healthy lifestyle, so it is important to see how incorporating regular, gentle exercise into your daily life, can become a habit and therefore make a real, long-term change to your life.

How long does it take to form a new habit?

Researchers at University College London, recently conducted an enlightening study on habit formation. Participants performed a self-chosen, health-promoting dietary or activity behaviour, like drinking a glass of water, in response to a once-daily cue, like after breakfast, and gave daily self-reports of how automatic the behaviour felt. On average it took 66 days for the participants to start a habit. (That’s March 6 if you are attempting a New Year’s resolution).

Can I miss a day?

Popular belief has seemed to suggest that missing a day in the habit formation process meant you had to start over from day one. The study stated that,

“Missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process.”

What this means is, if you miss a day in trying to start a new habit, don’t put yourself on a guilt trip. Just keep trying; you’ll eventually get there.

So whether you are trying to eat 4 servings of fruit everyday, or walk 20 minutes a day, keep trying. You will eventually get there. And don’t get discouraged if it takes more than 66 days.

So, what can you do to kickstart this habit?

Why not sign up here to my 30 day Pilates Challenge course? For a special price of just £9.99 (usual price £11 per month) you will receive a daily video to practise in the comfort of your own home, the opportunity to join our online community via Facebook or WhatsApp to help with accountability, motivation and to share tips and stories. Pilates can help relieve pain, increase core strength and flexibility and increase strength and stability. A comment from a recent sign-up:

“Me and my 12 year old are doing the videos each night before he goes to bed. It’s helping him to go to sleep so it’s definitely working!” LV, Portsmouth

So, with my 30 day Pilates Challenge, building that new habit may just be a little easier….

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Pilates as a Christmas Gift

Need an idea for a Christmas present? Start Pilates in January …

Are you looking forward to Christmas or feeling slightly overwhelmed like I am? Did you read last weeks newsletter on how to keep calm over Christmas – the link is here !
If you’re looking to treat yourself or a loved one to a healthy present this Christmas, why not have a look at the below (or show someone this email and ask them to buy you a Pilates course?!). 

PILATES CLASS

Block of 12 for only £100 as a Voucher start on 6th January

PILATES EQUIPMENT

SPECIAL PILATES GIFT PACK– only £10 
This is an amazing pack of Fitness for yourself or family or friend – held in a tote bag “Love Pilates”, 2 resistance bands, yoga grip socks, fridge magnet with Pilates dates on, and spiky massage ball, there are instruction leaflets for resistance band  (combined value worth £20). 

FOAM ROLLER – £25 – only 2 available! 

TOTE BAG – £2  – super for shopping  – bag video here

T-SHIRT  – £8 for a “Love Pilates” T-shirt

RESISTANCE BAND – only £5 with an exercise sheet – the band is a versatile product for exercise, rehabilitation, conditioning and toning. Availability in lighter resistance for the upper body and heavier for the lower body, its the perfect aid to keeping arms and legs toned. 

WATER BOTTLE – £4 water bottle with logo

SPIKY MASSAGE BALLS – £5 these 9cm balls can be used to massage the feet, elongate and release tight muscles and provide self-massage for the trapezius and lower back muscles. A great help to release over-tight muscles.

PILATES SOCKS – £5 Pilates/yoga with grip points and unique reflexology points. Ideal to use in Pilates or around the house – use them to ensure a safe and non-slippery work out. One size fits all. 

PILATES VOUCHERS – £59 for 2 (worth £106)
2 one-to-one personal Pilates sessions, for bad backs, injury rehab, core strengthening on Pilates equipment.  these sessions are worth £106!  

Sign up to the January Pilates classes 

Contact me for more information or any questions. 

Squeeze and breathe 
Love Hannah xxx

This week’s recipe – a healthy Christmas cake

Healthy Christmas Fruit Cake

A healthy Christmas fruit cake recipe that’s gluten free, dairy free and grain free using almond flour and coconut flour. Easy to make!

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
 

Ingredients
500 grams mixed dried fruits         
75 grams walnuts
1 orange
125 grams almond flour/meal 
67 grams coconut flour 
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp salt
3 tsp mixed spice 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 eggs
50 grams butter or coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
60 ml amaretto or other liqueur of choice (optional)

Glaze (Optional)
2 tbsp honey or other liquid sweetener
2 tbsp amaretto or other liqueur of choice

Instructions

1.        Start by soaking the fruit. Fill your kettle and pop it on to boil while you organise all the dried fruit into a large bowl. If you’re using larger fruit like dates and apricots, roughly chop them up first (my quick tip: snip them with kitchen scissors – it will save you so much time!). Pour the hot water over the fruit and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to soften and then drain and allow to cool to room temperature (get on with your cake prep while this is happening).

2.        Preheat your oven to 150 C. Line a 20 cm cake tin (preferably spingform) with baking paper along the base and sides.

3.        Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, bicarb, salt, mixed spice and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Zest the orange and roughly chop the walnuts, and add the zest and walnuts to the bowl too. Keep the orange.

4.        In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter (or coconut oil), vanilla and amaretto. Squeeze in the juice of the orange (doesn’t matter if some pulp goes in).

5.        Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gradually stir in the wet mixture, stirring as you go (coconut flour is very absorbent so it’s better to add it gradually). You should end up with a very thick batter, almost like a wet crumbly dough.

6.        Make sure your soaked fruit is well drained, and then add this to the cake batter. Fold it in with a spoon until combined evenly.

7.        Scoop the cake batter in to your lined baking tin and press down with your fingers or the back of a spoon until there are no gaps and the top is smooth.

8.        Bake the cake for between 60 – 70 minutes, or until the top is well browned and the centre feels firm to touch.

9.        If you’re going to glaze the cake, do so immediately while the cake is hot, brushing on your glaze of choice with a pastry brush. You can also poke a few holes in the cake and then drizzle it over, if you want to use a lot and really soak the cake. To use the glaze I have suggested above, simply heat up the honey so it’s really runny, mix with the amaretto and then brush over the top of the cake.

10.    Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. (Store in the fridge for about 1 week or freeze for a longer life.)

10 ways to reduce stress over Christmas

We’ve reached December! Festive greetings to you all at this wonderful, though at times stressful, season of goodwill. I’m struggling this week, there is so much to do and we place such high expectations on ourselves. I would like this Christmas to be about spending quality time together with family and friends, and not about presents presents presents! This week, I’ve put together 10 ways to reduce stress so you are not completely broken by the New Year, and so that you can take some time to enjoy yourself!

1. Silence your inner critic

Don’t worry if you’ve chosen the slow queue at the supermarket, can’t find the perfect colour scarf or are on a tight budget and fear friends will secretly criticise your gifts. It’s not the end of the world if it takes five minutes longer to get to the checkout or if that scarf’s a slightly paler shade of blue than you’d like. And anyone who judges a present’s worth on its monetary value… well, they’re not the best of friends.

2. Practise mindfulness

Accept that if you’re shopping for presents – either online or in heaving retail parks – it’s likely to be frustrating. When the wheel of doom sabotages an online transaction or a fellow shopper jumps the queue, try not to get anxious. Focus on your breath, be aware of the situation but don’t judge it or question why it’s happening. Accept it’s happened, calm your thoughts and slowly let go of the angst. Keep in mind that the frustration is temporary.

3. Duck out of the crowds

You don’t have to spend all day shopping (in fact, you don’t have to spend any time shopping at all if you don’t want to). A great way to hide is to pop into your local cinema and lose yourself in a movie. Public libraries are also a great place to sit quietly away from the hordes.

4. Show self-compassion

Whether it’s a night in reading a book, taking a long, luxurious soak in a hot bath, knitting in front of the TV or lying on the sofa listening to your favourite music, take time out of the festive preparation to do something you love. Indulge your senses, feed your soul and make time just for you.

5. Make time for meditation

If you can, schedule 10 minutes a day for some quiet time.

  • Sit comfortably somewhere peaceful, keeping your spine straight and gently resting your hands, palms facing up. Your eyes can be open or closed. If they’re open, focus on an object on the floor a few feet in front of you.
  • Take five deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Bring your attention to the rhythm of your breath. Don’t try to change it or try too hard to relax.
  • Pay attention to the full in-breath and the full out-breath. Focus on where you feel it most strongly.
  • Continue to observe the breath. If your mind wanders off, observe where it goes and try to bring it back. Don’t judge or get anxious if your thoughts are lively, just look at them and let them go.
  • When you’re ready, lift the palms of your hands up, open your eyes – or shift their gaze – and slowly take in your surroundings.

6. Head out for a walk

A leisurely stroll is a great way to alleviate stress, clear the head and lift the spirits. Don your warmest woollies and let nature soothe your woes. Observe the light, feel the ground under your feet and ponder the resilience of our winter wildlife among the sparse trees. For urban dwellers, respite can be found in city parks, gardens and squares. Wrap up, fill a hot flask and take in the scene, there’ll still be birds and probably a few squirrels too. You could even do this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day – perhaps a slow, mindful pre-breakfast walk watching the sunrise could become a new festive tradition.

7. Play a game

Come the big day, remember you don’t have to stop behaving like a kid just because you’re no longer 10 and under. Laughter is good for the soul, eases tension and gets you in touch with the present moment. Playing a game with family and friends is a great ice-breaker, and really brings people together.

8. (Over) indulge – if that’s your thing

Don’t be frightened of embracing the festivities. It’s a time of year when excess is positively encouraged. Listen to your body – it will tell you when you’ve really had enough. But by the same token, practise mindful eating and drinking.  Before reaching for another drink or canape, just pause and minute and consider if you really want it, or if you are just mindlessly consuming. Take time to actually enjoy what you are eating or drinking!

9. B r e a t h e to reduce stress and relieve aches and pains

Cooking, cleaning and socialising all take their toll. If you find you’re getting overly anxious about the roasties or worrying excessively about who’s not getting on with whom, step away. Head to the quietest place you can find, observe your breath and breathe deeply. Taking a few deep breaths all the way down to your stomach and breathing out slowly will help to calm your mind, body and nerves. Here’s how:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your hands gently resting on your knees, palms facing upwards, or in a mudra position, where the first finger and thumb are touching.
  • Breathing gently, take a moment to allow your body and mind to settle. Then slowly close your eyes and imagine a big, bright hot sun.
  • Now, take a deep breath in all the way down to your stomach, for a count of three. As you are breathing in, picture a hot sun in your mind’s eye.
  • Hold this image for a count of two or four, whichever feels most comfortable.
  • Gently breathe out for a count of six and, as you breathe out, imagine you are the sun radiating light out into the world.
  • Repeat this pattern for three to five minutes and observe how your body feels. You may feel warm energised light bright afterwards.

10. Enjoy yourself!

Perhaps most important of all, enjoy yourself!

Squeeze and breathe, Love Hannah x

This week’s healthy recipe – Oriental salmon and broccoli traybake

You only need 5 ingredients to make this delicious and healthy mid-week supper.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into florets
  • juice ½ lemon, ½ lemon quartered
  • small bunch spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

METHOD

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Put the salmon in a large roasting tin, leaving space between each fillet.
  2. Wash and drain the broccoli and, while still a little wet, arrange in the tray around the fillets. Pour the lemon juice over everything, then add the lemon quarters.
  3. Top with half the spring onions, drizzle with a little olive oil and put in the oven for 14 mins. Remove from the oven, sprinkle everything with the soy, then return to the oven for 4 mins more until the salmon is cooked through. Sprinkle with the remaining spring onions just before serving.

Yummy! Hope you enjoy it.

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Pilates exercises for improved bone density

Today’s is the last blog in our series on bone health. This week, we look at exercises that can improve your bone density. These assume you have healthy bones. If this is not the case, contact me and I can write a special programme for you.

For feet and legs

Standing tap foot Stand tall and neutral with ears over shoulders, hips, knees and ankles, your chest lifted, and arms relaxed at your side. Breathe in and up, shift your weight over one leg as you lift the other. Count to five and then switch to the other leg. This warms up your feet and ankles and, in turn, improves your flexibility. Try tapping your toes sitting or standing 10 times.

Lunges Stand in a half squat position – feet shoulder-width apart, knees behind your toes, weight on your heels, torso lifted and hands in front of you for balance. Cross your right leg behind and beyond your left leg and drop as low as you can, keeping your pelvis and shoulders straight ahead and your weight back. Push up and step to the left with your left foot. Do ten reps to the left, then ten to the right.

Balancing on one foot at a time is also a great exercise for lower body bone density.

Shoulder bridge Lie on your back with your knees bent and a tennis ball under each foot. Roll up through the spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, squeezing your glutes. Repeat five times.

For arms

The plank Lie on your front leaning on your elbows, lift your knees to go up onto your toes, with shoulders down and neck long. With feet parallel lift and hold your abdominals in. Then progress to lifting one arm punching side to side and up to the ceiling to twist.

Side plank Lean onto the left hip and place your left hand down, straighten the legs and lift your hips so you are on your hand and side of your heel in a straight line from head, shoulder hip to feet. using the abdominals and obliques lift the hips and reach your top hand to the ceiling. On your out breathe twist under your arm pit then return. after 5-6 change sides.

Superman Start on your hands and knees, with your pelvis in a neutral position and a flat back. On your out breath gently clench the left buttock and slide your left leg away until it is straight, with your toes touching the floor. Simultaneously lift the right arm to horizontal. Return the leg and relax. Repeat three to five times for each leg.

Using weights is also a great way to improve bone health in the arms and shoulders. Ask me if you need details.

For back

Back extensions Lie on your front, straighten your legs behind you keep your arms at your sides. Lift your upper back, pressing your hips into the mat. Keep your head and neck neutral and hold for 30 seconds before lowering. For a deeper stretch, put your hands underneath your shoulders.

Dart or Swan Dive Lying on your front, arms at your sides and palms facing your body, your neck is long, legs are together parallel with toes pointing. Lengthen through spine.

I hope you have found this series on bone density interesting and helpful. Looking after your bone density is just one way to look after your health as you get older. We will be looking at others in the coming months. If you are worried about your bone health, why not sign up for a class next year. Our class timetable for the new year can be found here

Next week we will be concentrating on breathing and how it can help with pain as well as stress relief…

Squeeze and breathe…

Love Hannah x

Strong Saturday recipe – Ottolenghi’s ratatouille

This is taken from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Ratatouille book Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi

Note: Follow the instructions closely, over-cooking the vegetables “is the point,” according to Ottolenghi.

Ingredients:

7 tbsp sunflower oil

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 small onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch dice

1/2 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced

2 small red peppers, cut into 1 1/4 -inch dice

1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch dice

1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch dice

1 cup French beans, trimmed

1 medium courgette, cut into 1 1/4-inch dice

1/2 large aubergine, peeled and cut into 1 1/4-inch dice

1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch dice

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp tomato paste

salt and black pepper

1 cup water

chopped coriander to garnish (optional)

Method:

Pour two-thirds of the oil into a large heavy casserole dish or a pot and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, stir in the garlic, chilli and red peppers and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash and parsnip and continue frying 5 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, lift the vegetables out of the pot and into a medium bowl, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible. Top this up with the remaining oil. Add the French beans, courgette and aubergine to the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Return the contents of the bowl to the pot. Add the potato, tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir well, then pour in the water, or just enough to half-cover the vegetables. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste the vegetables and add more salt and pepper if you like. 

Finally, preheat the oven to 400 F. Use a slotted spoon to gently lift the vegetables from the pot into a large, deep roasting pan to make a layer about 1 1/4 inches thick. Pour the liquid over the vegetables and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes. At this point all the vegetables should be very soft and most of the liquid evaporated. Garnish with coriander, if you like, and serve. 

Enjoy!

Squeeze and breathe.

Love Hannah x

Farnham Pilates – Stronger Saturday – Focus on Lifestyle for Bone Health

Bone density and lifestyle

This month at Farnham Pilates we’ve been focusing on helping clients improve their bone density and bone health. This week we look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. These assume you do not have problems with your bones; if you do, please talk to your GP about anything new you would like to try.

Exercise

Activities like swimming and cycling are great for cardio fitness but they are not weight bearing so they won’t help your bone density. This is why a variety of exercises is best for overall health. Great weight bearing activities include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Climbing
  • Skipping
  • Jumping up and down on the spot.

What else can you do?

Try to fit weight bearing exercise into everyday life:

  • Use the stairs rather than the lift
  • Try to keep moving throughout the day
  • When getting up from sitting or lying down, take your weight through your legs rather than using your arms to push you up
  • Do up and down exercise on the loo every time you go
  • Fit in five press-ups while you boil the kettle.

Take a look at my mum’s morning exercises here https://vimeo.com/349833103.  She does this two-minute routine each morning for flexibility and for bone health.

Try to reduce stress

Another way to look after your bones is to reduce stress in your life. Stress increases cortisol levels in your blood, in turn blood sugar levels increase which makes calcium levels in urine go up. Of course, none of us can avoid stress all the time, but it is useful to identify what situations make you feel stressed and work out ways to avoid them. I have done this and now:

  • I try to plan better so that I am not late.
  • I write to-do lists and shopping lists so that I don’t forget things or have to do two trips.
  • I keep a notepad by my bed so that if I think of something important, I can write it down and then forget about it.
  • I avoid reading emails just before I go to bed.
  • If I get stressed, I try to go for a walk (otherwise I would eat biscuits!

Next week in our final blog on bone density, we look at the Pilates exercises that can aid good bone health.

Squeeze and breathe,

Love Hannah x

Recipe of the week for strong bones – Mushroom Risotto

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

Mushroom risotto

INGREDIENTS

 Mushroom preparation

1 8-ounce package Crimini or baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Rice preparation

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup dry Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 ½ cups of chicken stock – Hom,e made if you can
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To prepare the mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by brushing them off (avoid washing with water) and cut into quarters (stems may be left on).
  2. In a medium sauté pan, melt the one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Add the cleaned and quartered mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently. (Note – it’s important to sauté the mushrooms over somewhat high heat in order to get the mushrooms to release their moisture without steaming.) Once the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender and plump, sprinkle lightly with just a touch of salt and allow to sauté for another minute more – this step will release just a bit more of the moisture in the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms from the heat and set aside.
  3. To prepare the rice, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the Arborio rice, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until the rice is just starting to turn lightly golden.
  5. Quickly pour in the white wine and allow the liquid to boil and be absorbed into the rice. Then pour in ¼ cup of chicken stock to the rice, stirring constantly. (If necessary, adjust the heat under the pot – you want a medium simmer.) Add more stock ¼ cup at a time – adding more stock just as most but not all of the liquid has been absorbed before adding in more stock.)
  6.  Cook the rice and stock together in this manner for approximately 25 minutes or so – until the rice is tender but not mushy. Turn the heat off when there is still some liquid remaining in the rice and stir in the Parmesan cheese and mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine completely.
  7. Remove from heat and cover – let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  8. Note: Risotto may be reheated by adding in some additional chicken stock and stirring to incorporate into the risotto.

Yum….ENJOY!

Best Foods for strong Bones from Farnham Pilates

Farnham Pilates Weekly Blog –
Get Stronger Saturday

Best foods for strong bones

Here is your weekly post on Bone health.

A few Osteoporosis/Bone Health Facts and Figures
Bone remodelling is a lifelong process, but unfortunately bone loss starts to outpace bone gain as we age.  This starts to happen around aged 34 when peak bone mass is achieved for most people….this is not an ‘old person’s issue’!   The decline in oestrogen production also has a negative impact on bone remodelling activity for both sexes – this isn’t, as many think, a ‘female only ‘ issue.  Men are less susceptible to developing osteoporosis but their stats are still pretty compelling.

·         The first 3-5 years following the onset of menopause are associated with an accelerated period of bone mass loss before the decline, settling to a more linear decline as menopause progresses.  Most women are hitting Peri-Menopause in their late 40’s and Menopause in their early 50’s.
·         As bone mass declines and the threshold for osteoporosis is approached and exceeded, the risk of fractures to the hip, spine and other fall fractures is also greatly increased.
·         In the UK and the US 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over 50 will experience a fracture.
·         Research by the National Osteoporosis Society estimates that the daily cost of caring for those who experience disability due to hip fractures is somewhere in the region of £6 Million PER DAY!!
·         The mortality rate for those who experience hip fracture increases by 20% in the 12 months post fracture.
·         There are actually more ‘fragility fractures’ – (300,00)  in  the UK than strokes (275,000)  and heart attacks (110,000)
·         Hip fractures cause the most morbidity with reported mortality rates up to 20-24% in the first year after a hip fracture, and greater risk of dying may persist for at least 5 years afterwards. Loss of function and independence among survivors is profound, with 40% unable to walk independently, 60% requiring assistance a year later. Because of these losses, 33% are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year following a hip fracture.
·         A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime, equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer.
·         Studies have shown that bone mineral density in postmenopausal women can be maintained or increased with therapeutic exercise.

How diet can help increase bone density for strong bones

Here at Farnham Pilates we marked World Osteoporosis Day with a bone density health check for all Pilates clients. This week we are looking at ways your diet can make a difference to your bone health.

Calcium is vital to bone health and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. This is why food supplements often pair them together. If you would rather not take food supplements, consider adjusting your diet to include calcium-rich foods.

Calcium-rich foods

If you tolerate it, including cows’ milk and milk products in your diet is a great way to improve bone density. Other calcium-rich foods include:

  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Molasses.

Good sources of vitamin D: 

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel 
  • eggs 
  • fortified fat spreads 
  • fortified breakfast cereals 
  • some powdered milks 

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor may prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as osteoporosis drug treatments if they have concerns that your calcium intake may be low.Extra tips –
– Cook soups using bone broth from Sunday’s chicken (cook the bones and use as the stock!). I also use miso which is good for skin. 
– It’s also helpful to reduce your caffeine intake (caffeine affects how the body absorbs calcium) and to eat a healthy amount of protein every day.
– Reduce salt – excess salt is excreted in the urine along with calcium.
– Alcohol – Chronic alcohol consumption increases level of the parathyroid hormone, which leads to a leaching of calcium from bone; alcohol also has a role in decreasing osteoblast (the bone-making cell) formation.
– Check medications such as steroids – steroids can cause Steroid Induced Osteoporosis
– Reduce high sugar drinks – as phosphoric acid – found in Coca-Cola type drinks has been linked to lower bone density in some epidemiological studies – great information in this blog via Healthy But Smart and it’s also been included in a discussion in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
– Smoking – Research also suggests that smoking impedes the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bones; Nicotine and free radicals generated whilst smoking destroy ssteoblasts.
– Excess Sugar + Diabetes – High blood sugar slows new bone formation, accelerates bone resorption and impairs fracture healing.

Next week we will look at lifestyle changes you can make to improve your bone health. 

Squeeze and breathe 
Hannah

Pilates keeps your bones strong

Welcome all, 
Here is your weekly post to get your body and mind motivated for the week ahead. Each week we’ll send out exercises and a healthy recipe for you to focus on and why. If you have any specific areas of your body that you would like exercises for please message me and I will try and include it in the next email ….see below for why you need to strengthen your bones.

Bone Density – why it matters and how Pilates can help

My friend fell over and broke her wrist last month so I’ve focussed on increasing bone density this month in the Pilates classes. Do you know if your bones in good shape?

Does bone density matter?

Bone density is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. Too little can mean you are more likely to suffer from broken bones – a condition called osteoporosis. The risk of this increases post menopause so it’s worth taking note early and looking after your bones. This can be done with a good diet and with weight bearing exercise.
If you are concerned about your bone density – perhaps you have had a post-menopause fracture or there is family history – ask your GP about a bone density scan. If you have thyroid problems, talk to your GP as some conditions can affect bone density.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’ and those with the condition have low bone mass or brittle bones. This can lead to fractures, especially in the spine and hips. Osteopenia is a pre-cursor to osteoporosis. If there is any doubt about your bone health, you must inform your Pilates teacher who can modify your exercise programme for you. [or: let me know so that I can modify your exercise programme for you.]

What affects bone density?

The process of bone formation begins in the womb and continues until late adolescence – this is when it is crucial to have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. But what if your adolescence is a distant memory? Is it too late to look after your bones? There is not arguing that good nutrition in childhood contributes enormously to healthy bones, however there is plenty you can do to improve your bone health. 

Two quick exercises – 
Press up  – on your hands and knees and push down and up to strengthen your arms! Repeat 8 times, rest and repeat.

Swimming – on your hands and knees. Shoulders over your hands and hips over your knees, engage your core and lengthen you right hand and left leg away keeping your torso still. Repeat 6 times each side.

In my next blog, I talk about changes you can make to your diet to improve your bone health but see below for a great bone and skin strengthening receipt with bone broth!

How are you doing?

How are you? These are strange times and I just wanted to check in to see how you are doing? With so much uncertainty, I hope that you are able to spend some time looking after yourself and taking time to stay healthy.

I know that many people have turned to their kitchen for comfort – my children and I have been baking a lot, but it can be difficult with limited ingredients! I couldn’t get eggs the other day, so was pleased to find a recipe (below) for banana loaf made without eggs. If you use vegan chocolate it’s also completely vegan!  It’s a slightly difference take on banana loaf, with a moist, orangey taste, I hope you like it. A friend gave me a handy tip about bananas too – if you have lots that are on the turn but you are not ready to use them, pop them, as they are, into the freezer.  Frozen bananas are great for banana loaf and delicious smoothies too!

During lockdown, many people are getting used to the new normal of working from home.  As well as managing distractions, having no colleagues for support or water cooler catch-ups, and quite possibly becoming a teacher overnight (home-schooling, anyone?), you do still need to find the time and headspace to keep fit. Sitting at a desk, in an uncomfortable chair, every day may be giving you lower back pain or discomfort in your hips.  Here’s a great exercise to stretch your hip flexors:

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneel on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, knee bent. Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor. Squeeze your butt; this will allow you to stretch your hip flexor even more. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.

If you need some daily motivation, you might like to try my 30 Days of Pilates programme for a special price of £5.99 – daily motivational videos and emails to keep you on track with your Pilates.  Click here for more details.  

Alternatively, a library of over 500 daily videos can be yours for just £9.99 per month with our Pilates Community online membership – and the option to join our Farnham Community Online Facebook Group to help with motivation and camaraderie. In addition, you will have access to 4 Facebook Live classes per week! Click here for more details.

Egg-Free Vegan Pecan and Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 ripe-to-overripe bananas, mashed (about 300g when peeled)
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 80g soft, dark-brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 clementines
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g vegan dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids minimum), cut into small chunks
  • 100g pecans, roughly broken

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/Gas 4, and line a medium roasting tin or a baking dish with non-stick baking or greaseproof paper.
  2. Whisk the mashed bananas with the olive oil, sugar and clementine zest and juice until fairly smooth, then stir in the flour and baking powder. When they just start to combine, stir through three quarters of the dark chocolate and the pecan nuts. Smooth the batter into the prepared tin (don’t worry, it should look pretty doughy), then scatter over the remaining chocolate and nuts.
  3. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until it is well risen and a cake tester or skewer inserted in a non-chocolatey area comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack. This is best eaten warm, but will keep in an airtight tin for two or three days.

Please – STAY INSIDE – and don’t forget to squeeze and breathe!

Love Hannah x