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

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

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 – 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

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

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