Secrets of a Pilates Instructor – My top 6 Pilates exercises to keep me moving

At this time of year finding time to exercise can be hard and with our regular classes closed for the holidays, it can be easy to just not bother.  But just doing 10 mins exercise each day can really make a difference, keep your fitness levels up, and make you feel better overall during a time when we are generally less active. Here are my top 6 Pilates exercises to get me up in the morning, stretch, move and strengthen, which I feel are great for fitting into your daily routine.

To begin – Breathe wide and full and gently engage your tummy muscles as you breathe out.

1. Seated arm circles – sit cross legged or legs forward and circle your arm left arm round and lean with your body as much as possible. If you need support place the opposite hand in front of your knee. Change arms.

top 6 pilates exercises

Spine twist

2. Spine twist or the saw – sit with a support behind your back legs out in front, twist your spine and reach your opposite arm to the toes.

6 top pilates exercises

Side bend

 

3. Side bend or mermaid – standing or sitting, reach your arm out the head, support your back by placing your opposite hand on the floor or waist.

6 top pilates exercises

Cat Stretch

4. Cat stretch – on your hands and knees, on your out breathe let your head drop down and lift your tummy, tuck your bottom under without moving the hips forward.

6 top pilates exercises

Shoulder bridge

5. Shoulder bridge – lying on your back let your bottom tuck under, squeeze your tummy muscles and let the hips slow rise lifting vertebrae by vertebrae.

6 top pilates exercises

The Hundred

6. Hundred – lying on your back with the knees bent, let your arms pull towards your toes and slowly lift the head as your tummy pulls in and down towards the floor to support the back. The image is shown using the Pilates ball, but that is a more advanced version, you can just have your legs in table top with no ball.

6 top pilates exercise

Childs pose

To finish – Stretch into the child pose from your hands and knees, gently lift the tummy muscles and then press your bottom back to the heels to get a good stretch into the lower back.

If you feel you need a bit more help over the Christmas period or at any other time when you are too busy to make class we have a 15 minute video available to purchase with exercises you can do at home – click here for full details.

Have a Happy and Healthy Christmas and New Year from all at Farnham Pilates

 

Exercise at Christmas

Exercise at Christmas

Christmas can be a fantastic and exciting time but also full of stresses. Many mums that do regular exercise find it hard as the classes and bootcamps tend to stop the same week as the kids break up from school. There are things you can do at home but it is hard to keep motivated with all the temptations around at this time of year. Also I find it hard as it gets colder to resist the warm, unhealthy drinks and biscuits!

Its also hard for mums to stick to a routine and getting a workout in when there are so many demands on our time leading up to Christmas. Decide what you’d like to fit in and try and follow these 10 simple steps –

1. Move more – don’t stay in one position for too long a time when you are cooking, cleaning or relaxing on the sofa – get everyone one up and moving or out, for example on a walk, treasure hunt, races or competitions.

2. Workout first thing – before anything else happens. “There are just too many activities and commitments that come up,” says Angela Bekkala, clinical exercise specialist, mum of twins and creator of Happy Fit Mama. I run early so “You’re finished before the kids wake up!”

3. Put it as an appointment in your calendar – Hopefully your partner is supportive. If you worry about spending time with them as they are not working, it’s a great way to spend quality time together. Or if they can help with childcare you do the same for them. I have had comments of people saying it’s selfish, but its not – its about your health and sanity. Get grandparents to help, you only need 30 mins to fast walk or run!

4. Plan in what you enjoy and want to do – aim for 3-4 activities a week – DVD, online workouts etc. On Periscope Rachel Homes does a 7am workout, or maybe run, walk to get fresh air, or arrange to meet or pick up a friend then you cant cancel.

Classes available locally to Farnham with children

Bootcamp Tilford with Belinda Andrews 14th and 16th December – 9.30 Tilford Green – back on wed 6th January.

Farnham Pilates – last classes 17th-18th Dec – 8.45 and 9.45am – wear Christmas hats bring a friend or children.

Sweaty Betty does classes inhouse too.

5) Don’t worry about what you wear –  I put the clothes out the night before and dress in the dark and don’t look in the mirror. Then I enjoy the shower or bath later and then do hair and make up and feel much better in myself.

6. Its not always possible to exercise without the kids – so include them or watch online and do it in front of them. I think its just as important for them to see me working out and that I find it important to look after myself.

Ditch the ‘either-or’ attitude. Children instinctively love to move. Resistance bands are great for playing with and balls make fun mini trampolines. Also as your children grow older, workouts can be bonding time. I’d like my oldest daughter to run or cycle with me, if its a one off they wont do it, but if its regular they will understand it’s important and will want to come with you, or simply bribe them for that Saturday night movie and popcorn. I ran a dash for colour for Phillis Tuckwell this September and my daughter and I had great fun throwing powder at each other! Other ideas could include taking the kids to the park and do step ups, tricep dips, running races and they love a circuit or obstacle course. It doesn’t need to be long, just a quick workout – 10-15mins raising your heart rate is better than nothing.

7. Do you get Back pain? – stop what you are doing, think about your posture. Have a look at our 5 days of short stretches and the relevant blogs. I am also running a 6 week programme for you to follow – details here.

8.Walk or cycle to friends for Christmas drinks or the family drive and you walk or run and meet them there. Make the most of any time you have and make time.

9. Analysis your time – Can you not go on Facebook/cooking/ cleaning for 10 mins. Swap activities or plan ahead and do bulk cooking. Get the kids to help and delegate. I find December is the best month as they have to be good and help otherwise Santa may not come! We do a points system for pocket money and points are taken off for not helping. They don’t get tea if they don’t help. I know older ones have homework but when they are hungry they will do anything to get the food quicker!

10. Don’t beat yourself up – if you don’t get time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Even 10 mins a day is great but even every other day is a good start!

 

Mindfulness for Mums at Christmas

Mindfulness for mums at christmasXmas time can be stressful for mums with so many demands from work, household, family, kids plays, concerts, costume organising, parties – shall I go on? The main thing that gets missed off is you and your exercise. It is important to schedule time out for you to do exercise, eat healthily and spend the Christmas holidays to reset, reboot and recoup your body!

I’ve heard mums say its the kids holiday not theirs, as they have so much to do. That’s true when they are young as the focus is on them, and then teenagers just want to relax but set some goals and prioritise for you as well! Also you either love it or you just want it over. I love Christmas but that includes the food and drink and all the naughty things, but just stay relaxed and keep a positive mindset and tell yourself you will enjoy this lovely time. It’s also a reflective time and a chance to think about what is a priority to you and how to make it possible!

I am struggling fitting in the London Marathon training, as a non morning person it is a struggle to get up at 5.45am and run, but I’ve been doing it for 4 weeks now and trying not to think too much about leaving the warm bed and just getting it done. As I’ve been getting out 4 times a week my fitness has really improved! But I’m very aware as the holidays start and the weather gets colder it is hard to keep going or get started!!

My method to stay focussed – I’ve got reminders on my phone and it seems to be working, my husband is amazingly supportive and runs with me or gets me up!! I do find I’m multi tasking all the time and finding it hard to concentrate when I’m tired but I keep saying to myself in my head – “keep going” its like a little cheer and if I stay with a positive mindset it works wonders. This blog is more about our mindset and enjoying Christmas and staying fit healthy and happy. Comments about your struggles or ideas always welcome –

1. Be Present – enjoy the time with the kids, partner and family. Its so special when they are young, be in the here and now. Watch old movies with them (don’t check your phone), play games and enjoy the rows or banter (monopoly takes hours but we have bought a quick one!)

2. Gratitude – Encourage the kids to talk about what they are grateful for over Christmas ie food and presents compared to those with nothing or very little. At bed time we talk about what was the best thing they did and what they are looking forward to the next day.

3. Reflection – Reflect on what you and the kids need in life- take your life, and encourage the kids to, in their own hands. It is possible to say no to some things..

4. Expectations – Don’t have high expectations yourself ie of the perfect house/being tidy – it wont!

5. Be nice – Compliment the family before they can annoy you! If you have a critical relative just smile and nod – think happy thoughts (beach, sand!)

6. Take some time for you – Give yourself permission to think about you what you want to schedule in, i.e. 10 mins bath, chill out before the next family or social event. To totally relax and recharge, why not try our mindfulness video.  This is just £4.99 and you can put it on whenever you feel stressed to help you recharge and reset. Click here to find out more.

7. Balance – Even out the days events. If you are too busy or stressed the body goes into survival mode and store fat! Get fresh air, go to the beach, chase each other!

8. Meditate – when washing up to just clear your mind.

9. New years resolutions – if you don’t do something to make you happy / help you / please you NOW then when will you?

10. Food – have a day off unhealthy food, think 80 / 20 rule. Healthy veg soup with left overs?

11. – Sleep – Get 7 hours plus to reduce stress.

A good way to get set for this season would be to come to our Pilates and Wellbeing day on Thursday 10th December 12-5pm at our Pilates Garden Studio in Rowledge. All are welcome, bring friends and children. There will be the chance to try the reformers, a Heated Pilates session, 20 mins massage with Aase Waterman, Reflexology, and Reiki. Click here to find more details.

Or, to have a tool you can rely on to help you reset and rebalance whenever you need to, why not download our mindfulness video. It will take you through 10 minutes of exercises that will help you keep balanced over the busy festive season with breathing and relaxation exercises, which can be done when you need to. It is just £4.99 and you can click here to find out more or pay via the paypal link below to have the video sent straight to your inbox.

Have a lovely festive season with your loved ones but don’t be afraid to take time for you too.

Put your name in the box and follow the buy now link to make secure payment of £4.99 via paypal to get the Mindfulness video link straight to your inbox. Any questions please email hannah@farnhampilates.com

Me-time relax breathe

 

Heated Pilates

Heated Pilates

We are delighted to announce that we are adding Heated Pilates to our timetable at Farnham Pilates from January, 2016.

But what is Heated Pilates?

Heated or warm flowing Pilates is an effective workout in a warm environment. The class uses the benefit of heat to help muscles into muscles more deeply and effectively and the heat allows for a greater range of movement in muscles, ligaments and joints. A heated Pilates class covers a number of areas including Dynamic Mobility, Strength, Flexibility, Balance and Core Stability Work.

Here are the top 5 reasons to try Heated Pilates

1) Detoxification -Obviously when exercising in heat you will sweat more, and sweating promotes detoxification through the skin. Sweating is very effective in flushing out toxins and it also helps the body cleanse itself and clears bacteria out of the skin. Sweating can improve circulation and the appearance of your skin too.

2) Increased Flexibility – The high temperatures allow you to stretch your muscles further and can reduce the risk of injuries. It can also improve circulation and can help ease bodily pains, strains and stresses. This can lead to healthier connective tissue as the additional stretching helps lubricate your body’s connective tissue which will in turn help your flexibility.

3) Mental Wellbeing – Heated Pilates can help your mental wellbeing by fighting stress and insomnia. This is achieved by inducing relaxation and encouraging sleep by calming and soothing your adrenal system and nerves. All the normal benefits of Pilates are enhanced in a warm class.

4) A healthier immune system – In hot temperatures viruses cannot thrive. Additionally, the heat increases your body’s production of white blood cells, which also fight infection.

5) Weight loss – Sweating will help you lose some weight, but more noteably, the stretching builds more muscle, burning more fat and therefore increases weight loss.

Sound good?  We’ve had some great feedback already from a couple of trial sessions we have run.

Heated Pilates

We will be running  a new Heated Pilates course at the Garden Pilates Studio, Rowledge, Farnham on Thursdays  at 1pm starting February 4th 2016.  We currently have a special offer – a course of 6 sessions for just £75 instead of £90.  Email hannah@farnhampilates.com for full details

To see our full programme of classes for the New Year, including Heated Pilates visit our classes page.

Pilates and Massage – a Perfect Match

Pilates and Massage

I’m sure I’m not alone in loving a good massage. It can work so well with Pilates clients who combine Pilates for strengthening and massage for relaxing tense muscles. Massage and Pilates really are a great match.

This week we have a guest blog from deep tissue and hot stone massage expert Aase Waterman. We work together to help clients and I absolutely believe that combining regular exercise like Pilates and massage keeps your body strong and mobile and releases unnecessary tension.

Why having a massage is definitely worth it

Pilates and massage

Aase Waterman

“If you have been thinking about having a massage but never got round to booking an appointment, wait no longer as there are numerous reasons why you should make regular massage part of your lifestyle. Massage is an excellent way not only to manage stress and reduce chronic pain and so improve your life, it can also act as a preventative measure and promote a sense of well-being. Today more and more people are turning to complementary therapies including massage as part of a balanced wellness plan.

The aches and pains that come from working long hours, sporting activities, ageing and daily stress can be reduced by regular massage. Recent Technology developments that affect your posture and can give upper back and shoulder symptoms can also benefit from massage.

Technology can play a huge part in today’s common ailments.

The plethora of smart devices such as phones, tablets and computers that we find ourself continuously using in today’s digital age, has led to an explosion in “technology” related conditions such as tight neck and shoulders or sore wrists and backs. A high percentage of clients complaints and worries about their is posture is often due to holding a device for long periods and repetitive activity such as texting or working at a computer leading to discomfort. Common muscular problems people seek a massage for, are for stiff neck and shoulder, and low back pain – this isn’t a coincidence!

Have you found yourself propped up in an awkward position reading information from your iphone or slouching on the sofa?

The technology explosion and increased multi tasking has had a negative impact on lifestyle, mindset and our stress levels so exercise and alternative therapies like massage can provide time and space away for this “techno-stress”.

Massage can provide a calming and relaxing therapy alongside the physical benefits it brings, and is ideal for people of all ages and lifestyle. It can also give you a greater body awareness that can help detect any potential issues earlier as a preventative measure. A time for you to unwind!

This is where I as a professional massage therapist can help people feel better, improve their mobility and flexibility and address any problematic aches and pains. The positive effects of massage can be prolonged by adapting regular stretching and exercise activities as part of a healthy lifestyle.

My training incorporates various techniques like deep tissue, clinical and Swedish massage, hot stone treatment, passive and active stretching, soft tissue and myofascial release. I take time to understand your background and treatments can be tailored to individual requirements.”

But don’t take our word for it. Here is a testimonial from a client who has seen both Aase for massage and myself for Pilates.

I thought my body was declining at 84 but since starting weekly one to one Pilates with Hannah in July and monthly massage since August I feel my posture is improved and I’m walking tall for the 1st time in years. I know you and Aase are going to keep me going until I’m 100!” Peter Hillier age 84, Farnham

If you would like to see and feel first hand how Pilates and Massage can work so effectively together, join us for our Xmas Wellbeing event. We will have bubbly, nibbles, massage (20 mins with Aase), Heated Pilates (more about this in next weeks blog!) and Positive Mindset workshop.  This will all take place on Thursday 10th Dec at our Garden Studio in Rowledge, Farnham.

12-1pm – Heated Pilates trial (booking necessary)
1-3pm – Coffee, bubbly, nibbles, massage
3-3.30pm – How to have a positive mindset and the importance of this.
To book your place contact hannah@farnhampilates.com.
 
For more details of Aase’s massage treatments do visit her website 
 

 


Can Christmas give you back pain?

Can Christmas give you back pain-There are many activities you may have to do around the Christmas season that can cause common problems and injuries. As back pain affects 80% of us at some point, here is some advice about what to do to prevent problems –

The first line of treatment has traditionally been paracetamol, but new research has found it may be no more effective than a sugar pill. It is better to prevent by strengthening your abdominal muscles and back to help stabilising then stretching and strengthening around your weak muscles.

The most important thing to consider first is what’s actually causing your lower back pain. By considering this question you’ll be able to choose the right techniques or treatments to get to the root cause and move towards a much speedier recovery. For the most part, lower back pain is caused by strains to the soft tissues, the muscles, tendons or ligaments, and/or to the joints underlying the commons problems.

Here are some common activities over the festive period that can contribute to back pain and some tips as to how you can minimise this.

1. Cooking, washing up, prepping food, you may be standing for long periods of time. This can cause sore feet, swollen ankles and puffy legs, tense shoulders and ultimately back pain.

2. Making beds, shaking duvet, bending, lifting, moving items, getting the house ready, cleaning, gardening – clearing leaves and digging, All can cause sore wrists and knees and back pain.

3. Sitting for long periods – writing cards, wrapping etc all causing sore hands and fingers and back pain.

All of the above can cause these common problems ….

REPETITIVE STRAIN INJURYMore commonly seen in the upper body, this type of injury can occur in the lower back when an action is continually repeated over a long period of time, causing stress to the joints or soft tissues.

It happens due to a repetitive pattern in movement usually caused by work or sport.

For example, if at work you constantly have to turn to your right, the right side of your lower back could become compressed, irritated and inflamed.

How to fix it? Try to adapt and balance the movement of your body throughout the day.

If a pattern of movement is unavoidable then stretching in the counter direction would be beneficial. All of the above activities could contribute to repetitive strain injury so try and vary the jobs you do and don’t spend to long on one thing. Your aim is to balance out your body preventing one side taking all the strain.

A regular massage with an experienced therapist may be helpful too. Or massage your feet or have a game everyone massaging feet.
Some preventative measures you could take are as follows …

Always consider your posture, look in the mirror look at how you stand and sit, pull the shoulders back, lift up through the spine.

Stop and stretch every hour. Even going for a gentle walk for five minutes can do wonders.

Low impact regular exercise is best such as yoga, pilates, swimming and walking. This will also help your stress levels over the festive season too.

Regularly move shoulders, roll them and do back stretches.

Be mindful of posture alignment and back pain and use your pelvic floor engage the abdominals before you lift .

ACUTE MUSCLE OR JOINT STRAIN

This is probably the most common injury to happen to the lower back and quite often occurs when lifting, over reaching, so when moving furniture around, making beds etc.

Symptoms can include muscle spasm, pain (which can be severe) and restricted movement.

Overreaching, twisting or stretching causes the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the area to tighten to prevent further damage and inflammation will build up as part of the natural healing process. Fast treatment is the most effective for this.

Some preventative measures you could take are as follows …

Always bend the knees and engage core before lifting

Can Christmas give you back pain

Always bend at the knees not at the back before lifting.

 

How to fix it? Immediately put an ice pack on the area for ten minutes at least. Repeat this several times until the inflammation begins to subside.

If the muscles have tightened up you could also alternate with a hot pack to help them relax, but start and finish with the cold pack to ease the inflammation and reduce the pain.

As with any injury rest is important to allow the body time to heal, but don’t spend hours sitting or lying down as this could make it worse. Find a good balance and when it has calmed down a little, stretch the area out with exercises such as shoulder bridge, rock on your lower back. You may find massaging arnica cream into the strained area beneficial.

So do enjoy the festive season, but don’t overdo it. Make time for yourself and make sure you enjoy some exercise too which will help keep your body in tip top condition.

I’m a Pilates teacher! I cant have hurt my back!

I have corrected, advised and helped over 2000 clients over 10 years with back pain but I have to admit it – I have had low back pain (LBP) and severe pain twice where I can’t actually move. This happened on Sept 2014 and Sept 2015 (can you see a pattern forming – having the summer off teaching to be with the children and going straight back to exercise?)

Do you want to hear how I healed my back to keep me moving?

If YES then keep reading.

Pilates and back careSo this year, unfortunately, while I was lifting Pilates equipment out to the new Garden studio my lower back just “went”. It felt like a snap, a sharp feeling and sent a shooting pain down my leg! Have you had this happen? What did you do? I felt quiet scared, I went into shock and my body froze as I was stooping over. So I rang my husband “umm darling you know I teach Pilates? Im stuck and can’t move and I’m teaching in 1 hour! HELP!” I slowly lay down and cried a bit!! I mean how can it happen to me -I’m a Pilates teacher!”, I knew I needed to stretch but the shooting pain was agony! I relaxed and taught that class as I knew stress can make the pain worse, so I said nothing but I learnt such invaluable steps to get back to the road of fitness….

I had to give up running and started again with exercise. I also now can’t sit for long periods of time! I went to consult a physiotherapist, osteopath and Pilates friends to help pin point how I was twisting or where was weak to work on, as its hard to tell on yourself. I was so upset I joined a charity,”Back care”, on their “Get Britain Standing” campaign they started on back care awareness week in October, and I have now offered to sign up to do the London Marathon for the charity next April! So please help, support and laugh at my training attempts as the weeks go by. Please support my sofa to marathon attempt!

I’m not the only one! Do you know 70% of people in the UK get back pain, and in 2013, 31 million days of work were lost due to back, neck and muscle problems. Bone and joint problems persisted in the UK because “sitting is the new smoking” says prof Steve Bevan, Director of Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation. “The more sedentary the worse it is”. For example, ”the average British adult sits for 9 hours per day – double the safe limit” and The Backcare Organisation is trying to make people realise that prolonged sitting is strongly linked to back pain, diabetes, heart disease and cancer – so reducing your daily sitting by just 1 hour can burn 1kg of fat per month.

Tell me in the last year have you ever felt pain in your back, that you can’t lift your child or bend down, or are you in agony after gardening or driving? Do you know the right stretches and exercises for you? If not please contact me as I’ve formulated a 6 step plan which I know works, and I want to show you. Due to the demand Farnham Pilates is running more back care courses, and further short videos of exercises to help you are on their way, so please contact me – Hannah@farnhampilates.com

Pilates is the right thing to do, so try a gentle slow class. We will be posting daily exercises and/or tips to Facebook. Contact me if you have any questions, want an assessment or join the back care classes in the Garden Pilates Studio. And please join the mailing list if you would like more exercises and information on back care. You can do this on this page – on mobile devices sign up below or on PC/Laptop look to your right to sign up.

Is parenting making your back ache?

Parenting making your back acheThe school run, breastfeeding, birth, even cuddles can contribute to chronic back ache but it doesn’t have to be something you put up with. When you think about it, it isn’t surprising that the many tasks you juggle daily in addition to the effects of pregnancy and birth on your body can lead to constant back pain. Pilates specifically deals with these issues.

So what are the most common causes of back pain for mums?
  • Weak or dysfunctional pelvic floor
  • Postural changes during pregnancy and after birth
  • Age and hormonal changes post natal, Peri-menopausal
  • Handling the kids- twisting and leaning
  • Pushing a pram
  • Juggling everything- general stress on the nervous system
  • Tension
  • Overloading one side of your body due to bags, baby or child
  • Your “squeezed in” workout
  • Abdominal separation
  • Stooping over your iPhone or computer
Living with back pain can often scare you off exercise and movement but moving – the right way – can be exactly what you and your back need to feel better.

When participants first arrive at my classes, they’ve often put it off for fear that they’ve left it too long. There is no such thing. It really doesn’t take long to start to get back in shape and relieve your back pain, especially if you’ve done exercise regularly in the past. It’s just important to keep moving.

This doesn’t have to be in an exercise class. Making a few tweaks to the way you do daily tasks can make a massive difference to your back.


Take care when lifting
. Bend at the knees not your hips and when the load is heavy and wriggly try to keep it close. Keeping your child closer to you when lifting reduces your risk of injury or back strain.

Take care when getting your baby or child into a car seat or buggy. Kneel or squat whenever possible. If you can get in front of your child to get them strapped in it’s much kinder on your joints.

Use alternate arms when holding or carrying your child. This doesn’t have to be on a busy road, where you’d prefer your strong side but perhaps when you’re at home, use the other side for balance.

Check your breast feeding posture. Are you stooped or hunched forwards? Is your neck comfortable? Are you having to lean to get a good latch? Could cushions or a better chair help you both out?

Never twist when you lift. Lift first and then turn. Lift your pelvic floor first before you lift children, shopping or other items. To strengthen gently lift and hold a few times in the day and slowly release to increase the tone.

Work on your fitness and strength. Perhaps add a walking morning to the school run or park a little further away. Consider a weekly class with friends, a walk or something gentle to get you started. It’s great to do something sociable like joining a pilates, Zumba or Bootcamp class but take exercise slowly and balance your type or exercise.

Avoid standing still for long periods of time. Move more.

Every time you use your iPhone think about your posture. Make it a habit. Are you slouched on the sofa with your head pushed forwards? Could you take a breath and sit up tall?

Don’t rush. This doesn’t mean be late for everything but taking 3 deep breaths occasionally will calm the tension and help to relax your muscles. If the kids are demanding and not doing as I ask I try and smile before I call/ shout it helps me calm down.

Don’t overdo it. If life feels busy all the time it’s possible you are cramming too much in. Is there something you could prioritise this week? Something for you? Or perhaps something you need to say no to? “You time” is important as we are helping to raise amazing people for the future but need to make sure we happy and healthy first!

Make keeping your spine moving and therefore healthy a priority.

Parenting making your back ache

Example of shoulder bridge

Move as much as you can. Think about rolling your spine, side stretches twisting and rolling forward to help you lengthen and release tension. Pilates is an all over body conditioning programme designed to balance and add tone to your body but it’s also about stretching and mobilising your muscles and joints. There is a great move called the shoulder bridge it relaxes tension in the back and strengthens the muscles to support the spine. Please email me with your back problems or questions and I can send you back and pelvic floor exercises. Or if you are local to Farnham, Surrey why not book onto one of our back care classes that start next week?  These are 6 week courses designed to get your back – back on track – a perfect way to end the year.  Take a look here for more details

Are you scared of exercise? We can help!

scared of exerciseWith Halloween just round the corner again I want to use this scary time of year to motivate people to face some of the biggest fears they have about working out.

 

Gym-phobia is a stumbling block for a lot of people who want to start exercising more regularly but feel really anxious about working out, but I have some tips to anyone who wants to get over their fears of fitness and face their demons head-on.

 

It may surprise some people but the biggest hurdle many face when trying to lose weight, tone up or just focus on their body is the fear of working out in front of people.

 

They feel that they will look silly in tight fitting sports gear or they’ll sweat too much or not know the correct way to do the exercises. It can cause really high levels of anxiety so they avoid working out altogether.

 

Hopefully if you’re thinking of joining a class nearby you don’t think all fitness professionals are scary and we really do just want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

 

I have a variety of options from private one to ones in our specialised Pilates studio, small group classes to larger mat classes at Rowledge Village Hall and soon, Weydon school, Farnham. I run a personal service designing your workout for you and your bodies needs – whether that be private or in a friendly group.

 

Some more advice if you are worried –

 

Try getting a friend to come with you to one of the classes. Working out with someone you know can help you feel more comfortable and the moral support you can give each other can be invaluable

Check for beginners classes or explain that you are new and have no experience and need a few pointers

Wear workout clothes you are comfortable in. You don’t have to have all the latest gear to exercise. If you work out properly it’ll be covered in sweat anyway, don’t feel you need skin tight Lycra just a normal loose fitting t-shirt and leggings will work just as well.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone struggles in the beginning and you may not know the moves or the right techniques but you’re not alone

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may think a reformer or hand weight is something you’d find in the kitchen but try not to get overwhelmed. Gyms can be daunting at first but we all start somewhere, if you stick at it you’ll feel more at home the longer you are there.

Please use these tips from me to push through your fears you face head-on. You never know you may just end up surprising yourself. For full details of the classes we offer in and around Farnham click here.

Back Care for Parents (and what to do if it hurts!)

Back care for parentsWhen you’re a parent lifting is part of the job, but like most aspects of parenting you don’t get any training for it. However if you don’t take care of your back when lifting this can have serious consequences down the line. Here are some tips and ideas to help keep a healthy back when you are a parent.


Be careful when lifting – don’t bend from your hips. Use your legs and keep your child close to you. Injuries will occur if you pick your child up with your arms outstretched. This happened personally in the summer when moving pilates equipment. After 4 weeks off with no core strengthening, my back just went. It was agony! I had to just lie down and move slowly, so I understand and had to follow my own advice of keep stretching and moving and slowly building up the core exercises.

 

Kneel or squat where possible – when buckling your child into a car seat it’s a pretty awkward position to stand outside the car and twist in. It’s much easier and better for your back to try and kneel or squat in front of your child.

 

Use alternate arms – when carrying your child, try not to lift for long periods on just one side.

 

Check your breastfeeding posture – whilst breastfeeding make sure you are sitting straight and lift your baby to the breast, don’t lean over bringing the breast down. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable and try and sit in a chair with a firm back to support you.

 

Never twist whilst lifting! – Always lift and then turn.

 

Pay attention to your fitness – work on your core and strengthen your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. A great way to do this is by joining a Pilates class. During pregnancy the abdominal and core muscles weaken. It is important to rebuild them to help improve your posture and reduce back pain.

 

Avoid standing for long periods – this increases the pressure on your back. Keep mobile and enjoy gentle exercise such as Pilates, yoga, walking or swimming to keep your muscles and joints flexible.

 

Don’t rush – you may be lifting heavy, unfamiliar objects such as car seats and push chairs. Move slowly and pay attention to what you are doing.

 

Don’t overdo it – take a break when and if possible.

 

What to do if you get an injury:

    • If it’s a chronic tightness, stiffness or nagging pain try applying a heat pack.
    • If it’s a sudden acute injury, e.g. a pull in the back or twinge in the neck, stop and rest. Use an ice pack if you have one and consult your health professional.
    • Do some appropriate stretching or strengthening exercises to stretch tight muscles and improve joint range of motion. You can find exercises online or get a specific programme made up for you by an osteopath. We have a number of back care exercises for you to try here

  • A massage is a great way to relax and unwind whilst relieving your sore muscles, so go on, treat yourself!
  • Painkillers might be a short term solution but if you want to look after your health in the long run you need to get to the cause of your pain. If pain continues to be a problem or becomes more severe, visit your doctor or osteopath – don’t just put up with it!
  • If you notice any other symptoms such as neurological signs (headaches, numbness, weakness), general unwellness or bowel or bladder changes you should contact your doctor immediately.

Here at Farnham Pilates we are running a specific Back Care course small group course in the garden studio from Nov 3rd – Dec 8th. These sessions will take exercises slowly to increase strength, mobilise and stretch muscles, check your imbalances and correct bad habits. If you would like to know more visit our classes page.