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