National Fitness Day – get involved!

National Fitness Day
It’s National Fitness Day this Wednesday 9th September and after being interviewed by BBC South Today last week I’m really keen to help local people can get involved in fitness activities, especially women.  I’m part of Women in Fitness Empowerment (WIFE) and women all over the UK are joining our “Walk the Talk” event as part of National Fitness Day.


I recently took part in a campaign with my 11 year old Amelia (see image by Emma.) The campaign #AWomansWord is about promoting a healthy relationship with women and their bodies and how they influence their daughters perceptions of their own bodies. The BBC filmed and interviewed several WIFE members about the campaign. We want women to feel happy and confident and to celebrate what their bodies can do – more healthy and happy inside rather than just image. There is so much pressure on women who feel they need to look a certain way, and with two recent surveys showing young girls are also feeling this pressure, we decided it was time for us to take action.


On National Fitness Day we are encouraging women to get walking with their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We want everyone discussing what body image means to them and make their #AWomensWord pledge. #AWomansWord seeks to promote greater awareness about negative and disempower the words we use to each other about image. A Womens Word encourages us to replace these words with those that empower us instead, it is a pledge and a promise we make as women for women.


I have organised a walk on 9th September at 10.30am at Frensham Ponds.  All are welcome and it is free and easy to join. We are also involved with a bootcamp in Tilford at 9.30am and running a FREE Pilates class at our new studio in Rowledge, Farnham at 12.30pm. Email me – hannah@farnhampilates.com to find out more.
We are just asking women to get walking and talking and/or pledge their support to connect with us using the hashtag #AWomensWord. The beauty of this is that even if you can’t walk or join in the other events, you can connect with others and follow our updates that day. We will be encouraging women every step of the way.


About National Fitness Day…..


It is the biggest and most visible annual celebration of physical activity of the year used to celebrate the role that physical activity plays a cross the UK. We all know the benefits that regular exercise delivers, including a healthier heart and a better quality of life. Many of us find it a challenge to get fit but it doesn’t need to be. Research shows if you exercise in company you are more likely to stick at it. I’d be happy to explain further to you and also how people locally can find out more about ways to get fit and active.


The WIFE event “Walk the Talk” is registered with National Fitness Day here and you can find out more about National Fitness Day on their website.


Take a look today and get involved with this great initiative.


Hannah is a Pilates teacher running Farnham Pilates with 10 years experience and qualification level 3 CYQ, MA Marketing. 

Is your life balance not weighing up? Life balance for busy women

#Life balance by Hannah Epps
Life balance for busy women
Why do we need to worry about doing something for ourselves or something for us? Because as busy mums, sometimes we are so busy doing things for others, caring and organising and just being so busy we don’t get time to clean our teeth or do exercise or cook a healthy meal, do our hair or finish dressing! But it is essential to have time to ourselves or do something for your mental and physical wellbeing, so even unwinding and relaxing can reduce blood pressure and help you slow down otherwise we will make ourselves ill. Also, we might be out having fun or being with the family but forget to enjoy it. Or be so stressed, that drink with a friend becomes a drunken night, as it’s the only way to switch off our busy brains. Life is about moderation but if you are there for others ALL the time it can mean your needs are not being met.  It is not selfish to need more time for yourself, it is a way to improve yourself.

 

Calming down or being aware of the moment (called mindfulness) helps you reset your brain to get rid of anxious thoughts. So even having a moment to think or visualise your “happy”, favourite place in your mind, can help you calm your breathing so you don’t lose your temper, shout or answer snappily to your husband or child.For you to be happy, relaxed and capable of living a busy life without becoming ill you need to lower your cortisol that raises stress levels. Mums feel so guilty about taking time off due to money issues, or ethics from our parents that lead us to have a strong work ethic. Also as mums we know if we just get these things done then we can sit down and relax or finish other projects.
Life balance for busy women
How do you know if you are stressed ? Do you have any of these symptoms?
– Easily distracted
– Forgetting keys
– Late to appointments
– On edge or short with people
– Feeling overwhelmed, trouble breathing or hyperventilating
– Trouble with sleeping
– Worried
– Over sensitive to what people say, over analysing
– Gaining weight or over drinking
– Struggle with relaxing or switching off
– Loss of focus, trouble with concentrating and even trouble with making decision because mind too busy!

 

All these are signs that you need to STOP... Yes friend you need to take some time for yourself. Life isn’t a race, slow down and enjoy it. Simple indulges like a movie, spa day or long walk can be amazing for your wellbeing. At Farnham Pilates we work out hard in class then spend time stretching and enjoying the silence and relaxing. The key is to find something you enjoy doing so much and that you feel real benefits from, that you have to make time for it. We would love to help you find that balance at Farnham Pilates.  If any of the above resonates with you then you will be interested to know that we are running a 10 day body reset course.  This course is delivered by email every day will help you listen to your body and teach you ways to fit time into your busy life for you so that you are a stronger and healthier person.  To sign up click here.

When I realised I needed more #metime

I need more me time

When I realised I needed more #metime – by Hannah Epps

We are all so busy in our lives that we can be too busy to see the damage this is doing. Last week I mentioned to friends that I needed more me time as I was feeling overwhelmed with work, teaching and all the kids activities I had to plan for. People offered to help and it’s just giving me a little for time to step back and prioritise. I was at the stage where I was tearful and needed to take a walk and sit and work in my favourite place, Frensham Ponds! Sometimes asking for help is the hardest thing, but it is something we all need to do from time to time.

I asked friends, work colleagues and other fitness friends what do you do for me time? From responses it’s so interesting that many feel too guilty to take time off or don’t know how to do it with young kids at home. Even reading a book for 10 mins at nap time can help your brain re- set. As you may know as a busy mum of 2 and my husband building a studio I’m always late and I’m really working on that. My mum always used to do “one more thing before we got out of the house” – I promise I’m working on it.

I have felt guilty about not being in a “proper” job and I also feel guilty when people think I just “teach pilates”. However, running your own business for 10 years, doing your own admin, bookings and social media, your time is so limited that I often feel guilty about not spending enough time with the family. Out of this own guilt I do so many play dates, parties, dinner parties, kids sleepovers, fundraising, charity dos (The Strictly Experience I did for Phyllis Tuckwell raised £26,000) taking hours making and cooking dinner and cleaning for all the family and fitting in dog walks, I have realised I’m not doing as much exercise as I used to.

I need more me time

Challenge yourself to have an hour unplugged today!

I’m not getting enough ying and yang in my life.  I need more balance and when I got a bad back 3 months ago it forced me to stop and reassess what I needed to get that balance. I had to work out what the best thing was for me to do. Yoga was hard so I went back to basic Pilates. I missed running but did fast walks and just sat to think and breathe, spent time with the family with no iPhone! This helped me come home refreshed ready to face questions, busy house work, family arguments.

It got me thinking that I was probably not alone with not having enough time to myself. I was so worried about people not having time to breathe that I did research with friends, fitness colleagues, business owners and got great feedback about what busy working mums do –
Long walks (with or without the dog), yoga, pilates, meditation, or just mindfulness, 8 mile hikes, gratitude diaries, beauty/spa treatments, cycling, open water swimming, just having a shower or time in the garden– the results were quite different but all great personal activities that make a difference. You can see some of their lovely videos on what they do for me time here.

With my new studio nearly finished it has been a great space to “just breathe” and if stressed I have a “special happy place” I visualise to lower my heart rate – especially over the summer when the kids are rowing.

Write yourself your Perfect me time list- so you can plan 2-4 things weekly. Create your own space strategies – screen time off, write a gratitude diary and be aware of being happy and enjoying he moment rather than thinking and worrying #justbreathe! Try this, it will change your mood and if stressed, take a deep breathe and #justsmile.  And just stop and unplug everything for time in quiet silence! It’s essential to us to contemplate and assess!

This will enable you to be a stronger or better mum, wife, daughter.

I’m off on holiday next week for time with the family and hoping to totally unplug and recharge myself.  This video has really inspired me to do this. All work and no play certainly makes us dull in many ways.

 

Will you arrange Me time ? Look out for our next blog to see the dangers and symptoms of not taking time for ourselves or sign up for our FREE 10 day Body reset email course and get on track for a stronger, healthier and more fulfilled you!

Schools Out! Keep exercising while the kids are on holiday

Exercise with kids in the summer holidays
Schools Out for Summer! Whilst that may mean lots of fun with your kids it can also mean that your normal workout routine can take a hammering.  So can you keep up your exercise regime over the summer? Here are my thoughts in a short video on the importance of making some time for yourself, followed by some great tips to help you keep exercising over the holidays.

Short workouts first thing can be great to keep exercising, but always –
Stay cool
Stay moving
Stay motivated
Stay healthy
Do 10 mins every morning
Swim, run, cycle, enjoy the sun for 10 mins get vit d.

 

Here at Farnham Pilates we also have a 15 min exercise video that you can download and do anywhere which can also help give you a focus to the exercise time you have.

 

Keep Calm and Carry on Exercising!
It’s important to stay calm with the kids and regular exercise for you can help with this. Physical activity influences changes in the brain otherwise activated by anti depressants and sport enhances the brains ability to absorb serotonin, which helps keeps moods balanced!

 

Stay motivated
Exercising as a group can be a real motivating factor to keep going. Run as a group, check local running groups or get other mums to meet you when partner home or cycle – wear a technical top to keep sweat away from skin to stop you feeling clammy. Or agree to do a class with a bunch of other mums and stick to it.

 

Get up early before the kids and do – Try this 4 min workout which you could do with your kids and encourage them to be fit and healthy too!
2 mins jog on spot then burpee
2 mins Squat then jump lift left leg then squat and change legs
2 Jumps
2 Air squats
Rocket jump bend knees
Butterfly sit up knees out – use core
Lunge
Crunch side reach for obliques
This will use oxygen so after the 8 mins the body carry on blitzing fat long after the session

 

We also asked Joanne McGowan of Act One Adventures for her top tips to involve kids in exercise and here is what she said.

 

“Try setting up a mini olympics at home, in the garden or park.  You don’t need fancy equipment – Pool noodles make great javelins, tins of beans for weight lifting, running races etc.  If you’re feeling really silly have a closing or opening ceremony too.
We also embrace technology that our son loves and have regular Just Dance evenings on the X Box.  It is a great giggle, good exercise and great family time too.”

 

To get the most out of your workouts in the summer…
Drink drink drink (water) –  it’s easy to be dehydrated do keep topping up.  I know in the summer it’s easy to start early with a glass of Rose but commit to 2-3 nights off a week and on those nights eat or choose healthily  – salads/ all veg meals, no bread.
Post workout Epsom salt baths cleanse your muscles of toxins restore mineral levels and encourage relaxation – soak away aches and pains
Diet – Keep blood sugar levels balanced take magnesium add more spinach, avocados, nuts seeds and dark chocolate. If you are going to drink a good detoxifier is hot water and lemon in morning and parsley tea- helps flush out toxins.

 

So with a bit of planning and a fun outlook you can keep up your exercise over the summer and have fun with the family too.

Summer Detox – Getting the balance right

Summer DetoxA summer detox can be a great way to refresh your body ahead of a summer holiday or to help shift that last bit of weight if you have been following a fitness regime.  On my Yummy Tummy Programme we finish with a 14 day diet detox to help cleanse the body and reset some of our not so good eating habits.

However going straight into a detox can be a shock to the system, causing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches.  It can also fail if you don’t get the timing right.  In this blog I share some advice as to how you can make your detox successful by just putting in some preparation to get the balance right

1) Cut down before starting – If you start cutting back on caffeine and alcohol at least a few days before starting a detox then it won’t be such a shock to the body when you actually start properly.  Withdrawal effects such as headaches and irritability can be so severe if you just go “cold turkey” that many people will feel like stopping their detox before they have even really got started.  A little preparation beforehand can really help lessen these effects and lead to success. Increasing your water intake before hand will also get you used to drinking the amount of water needed on the detox.

2) Ensure you are in the right place mentally – If you are in a stressful place i.e. with work or family commitments then this may not be the best time to start a detox. So try and clear your mind a bit before getting started by perhaps making time to meditate or have a massage and choose a period of time where you can make some time for yourself to relax and do things that you enjoy.  This will make the detox process more manageable and enjoyable.

3) Are your hormones right? – If you are really effected by your hormones at certain times of the month then try and avoid these times to start a detox.

4) Clear your cupboards – get rid of the temptation of high fat or sugary snacks and make sure you have plenty of veg on hand and healthy snacks such as oatcakes and nuts.  If the temptation isn’t there you can’t be tempted, so don’t make things harder for yourself.

5) Get the family involved – I’m not suggesting that your children or anyone else should go on a detox but by talking to them about healthy eating and why you are cutting down on certain foods it can certainly help educate those around you.

6) Get support – if you can find others who are doing the same detox this can be a great help in succeeding.  With our Yummy Tummy programme we have a private Facebook group where we all support and encourage each other which can be really effective in seeing a detox through.

Do comment below if you have any questions about detoxing or have a look at our Yummy Tummy programme for more details.

 

Hot Tips For Summer Fitness

Hot Tips For Summer Fitness and Body and Life balance

Hot Tips For Summer Fitness copySummer time has well and truly arrived in Farnham and with the rising temperatures comes a rise in warnings about how to stay safe in the sun especially during a workout and relaxing.

My name is Hannah Epps and I am a local health and fitness expert from Farnham Pilates. Many will be inspired to get outdoors to get in the best shape possible for the holiday season for example to keep cool I will be running am outdoor Pilates class tonight!

The summer opens up a host of potential outdoor activities like bootcamp, outdoor yoga, pilates, hula hooping, swimming, tennis, running, or walking that seem much more appealing now than in cold winter weather.  But how can you maximise your workouts so you can enjoy the heat without wilting away in the hot summer sun?

The motivation to get out and do something is far greater than when it’s freezing and miserable outside. But there are potential pitfalls you can fall into, so here’s my advice on how to prepare yourself and get the best out of your summer workouts

1) Drink lots of fluid hot weather and sunshine causes the body to sweat more and this will increase during even mild exercise like walking, so make sure you replace the fluids you are losing or you will run the risk of dehydration. Try to drink a pint of water about an hour before working out and also rehydrate after your workout

2) Don’t eat protein before working out it can increase your core temperature and could cause heat shock. You are much better off reloading on protein after you’re done.

3) Lower your core temperature before working by drinking ice based drinks around an hour before exercise or having an ice cold bath or shower.

4) Don’t workout between 12 and 4 – The midday sun is obviously when temperatures and UV exposure are at their highest points so try to avoid this time of the day to work out in.”

5) If you work from home try and sit out or walk and exercise within nature, a lovely view can be really motivating. Do something or discover something you really enjoy – exercising releasing endorphins that can really make you happy!

6) And finally, don’t forget sunscreen. Protecting yourself against sunburn, sun-stroke and harmful UV rays is really important and people often neglect the most basic protection which is sunscreen. Even when it is cloudy overhead UV rays can still be damaging to your health so don’t underestimate the power of the sun.

Even a 5-10 minutes stretch, yoga or meditation can really lift your mood and be very good for your soul!

So do enjoy this lovely weather and continue your fitness development safely.

Hannah Epps is building her own pilates studio and a great outdoor space to work out in so If you would like more details about Farnham Pilates classes or one to one assessment feel free to get in touch.

• Website www.farnhampilates.com
• Email me on hannah@farnhampilates.com
• Member of fitpro, reps working in the fitness industry for 20 years teaching pilates for 10 – cyq level 3 pilates, pilates equipment qualified, pelvic floor postnatal expert.

3 fitness tips to lose weight and achieve a flatter happier tummy!

3 fitness tips to lose weight and achieve a flatter happier tummy! 

fitness tips to lose weight

There is so much advice out there as to how you can lose weight and get a “bikini body” that it can be hard to know what to believe.  This blog cuts through a lot of the conflicting advice to make getting your Yummy Tummy a lot more straightforward with just 3 easy tips.

Myth: You Need A Long Workout

Truth: Your body starts burning fat as soon as you start exercising. If you can’t exercise for the 30 minutes a day recommended for adults, a shorter, intense workout is better than no workout. Too much intense working out will wear you out, so start small and work your way up.

Tips: On those busy days, fit in a little exercise when you can.

  • Do jumping jacks for 2 minute intervals while studying.
  • Stretch while you read or study.
  • Challenge yourself to do 200 crunches and squats before you go to bed or right when you wake up.
  • Don’t make excuses not to do a little exercise! You can do it.
  • Aim for 2 strength-training workouts and 2-3 cardio workouts every week.

Myth: Snacking is always bad

Truth: Snacking really isn’t the problem. Actually, most nutritionists will recommend you eat 4-5 smaller meals each day instead of three big meals. The real culprit is what you choose as a snack, and how big your snack is. Another myth buster: snacking will not boost metabolism. Remember, when you’re snacking, you don’t eat to feel full, you’re eating to feel satisfied and to hold you over until you have a meal.

Tips:

  • Don’t eat from the bag of chips/pretzels/cereal/ etc.
  • Choose something fresh, like fruits and veggies.
  • Personal favourite: baby carrots and reduced-fat peanut butter. Weird, but awesome.
  • Use the hand rule: if you can’t hold it all in your hand, it is probably too big of a snack. Drink water with your snack.

Myth: Drinking water helps you lose weight.

Truth: Substituting  high-caloric and high-sugar drinks for water is better for you and will reduce the amount of added sugars in your diet, but the idea that drinking water helps you lose weight has no scientific basis. You might want to carry water with you and drink throughout the day, but water cannot replace food in your diet because you need those essential nutrients to function. Replacing food with water can make you feel worn-down, faint, and unenergetic because of those nutrients you’re lacking.

These 3 simple tips are definitely achievable in even the busiest of lives but if you feel you need a little help to get started or need ideas of manageable chunks of exercise to do every day, have a look at our Yummy Tummy Programme.  Designed for Mums of all ages with busy lives it can get you started on the way to your own Yummy Tummy in just 6 weeks.

Pilates and Dance – Strictly Amazing!

10 weeks ago I had an email request for volunteers for a Phyllis Tuckwell dancing event. I answered the email as I thought we’d be interviewed and auditioned, but no, suddenly we were in and our first rehearsal was on Sunday! Now I had to admit to my husband now what I’d got us in to. My husband has never really danced apart from when he’s a bit tipsy at weddings, but he said he’d do it for charity and if I really really wanted to do it! As I used to dance and do ballet and perform with my dance school I was overjoyed – I missed it.
Pilates and Dance

A moment to cherish! – with Strictly professionals Janette and Alijaz

Unfortunately we couldn’t make the 1st week or second because of prior commitments, so when we made it we were really behind. I didn’t tell anyone but I had fallen and I had a really bad back from an old hip injury caused by a car accident 10 years ago. So I went with a back support (hidden under clothes). My other half had knee pain but we got in with it.

 

Each week we got to know the other dancers but were always late as both self employed and 2 young kids with parties, Sunday swimming etc – you know how it is. Even though I had done modern dance and ballet with we just couldn’t remember the steps –  it was so disappointing and we were beginning to panic! But luckily another hall was organised for extra practice on Thursdays and we could walk through and ask each other for help.

 

Due to the back and hip pain I stopped running so I wasn’t putting pressure on my back and joints and walked instead. I doubled the Pilates strengthening flexibility moves so was getting stronger with Pilates in my core muscles and balance for the leg kicks. I was also stretching all the time, especially after each dance and Pilates class. Bit by bit my back and hips were easing and getting loser, increasing flexiblility meant less pain in my bottom and lower back – I could move in my sleep without crying!

 

Last week I accepted the performance was last Friday so started telling my clients.  I have been raising money through family and friends and had 26 coming to watch.  I’m so grateful for all the support and had to admit I started getting excited especially when we realised we raised nearly £2000. The excitement built with nails, hair trial, last practice then drinks, we bonded with the other couples in our joint nervousness! Then friday performance night came and I was so excited and nervous, but my husband was relaxed! We performed to a clapping standing ovation! What an amazing thrill! The adrenaline was going round my body so I was nearly sick. In the performance I had to try to stop giggling with nerves especially the serious paso doble. The little mistakes didn’t matter but immediately after we wanted to do it all again – what a lot of work for 6 minutes!!!

Pilates and Dance

Me and my amazing hubby!

I’m so proud of my non-dancing totally supportive husband who just wanted to do it as he thought I’d love it, and I did but he worked so hard. We became firm friends with the others and want to start a dance class and have drinks and practices together with the lovely Angie of Angela’s School of Dance. I really can’t believe it’s over !

 

If you get get the chance do it the teachers at Angela’s School of Dance and Stephanie Bower are amazing, supportive and helpful. Go for it, it’s scary but it’s good for you, it helps you stay mobile and flexible and is a great fit with Pilates and apart from a bit of stretching after the splits in our final freestyle I feel pretty amazing!!! 20 all over again!
Pilates and Dance

Our fellow dancers

If you practice a sport or dance and feel Pilates could benefit your performance with added strength and flexibility do take a look at our Pilates classes or get in touch – hannah@farnhampilates.co.uk

 

Get to know your pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic floor muscles exercise

The Pelvic Floor is a vital muscle in your body: it underpins your bowel, bladder and the uterus, and supports your back and spine. Refer to the picture which shows the muscles that stretch like a hammock from the front to the back of your pelvis. When these muscles are strong and healthy they give us complete control and support over our bodily functions and help contribute to satisfying sex. The muscles consist of two types: fast and slow twitch. You need to strengthen both fast and slow to support your core.

In the absence of exercise, simply getting older brings muscle deterioration. But childbirth, pushing on the loo, hysterectomy, menopause, lack of oestrogen and muscle tone, obesity, bad breathing habits, excessive coughing, poor posture, weak gluts, stress, and high impact exercise like running, jumping and weight lifting can also contribute to a weak and ineffective Pelvic Floor (stats show high reports of female fitpros with weakness).

Leaking urine is embarrassing, inconvenient and happens to one in three women due to a weak Pelvic Floor. First signs show when you cough, sneeze, laugh, run or exercise, or not reaching the loo in time. At its worst, it leads to a prolapse (suffered by millions of women). Weak Pelvic Floor can also contribute to bad posture, back and neck pain, and can take away our freedom and confidence to enjoy an active life.

Pelvic floor strength test / Isolating / Functional exercises

Pelvic Floor restoration and maintenance exercises are incorporated in many Pilates classes. You start by isolating the Pelvic Floor muscles and then incorporating your core – diaphragm, deep abdominals and deep back muscles. If these are dysfunctional you need to start with the basic exercises to learn to isolate the muscles. If you have no problems, just keep mobile and do the following three functional exercises. The functional and movement based exercises can be 70% more effective than just kegel /pelvic floor exercises (research by Dr. Bruce Crawford Pfilates Urogynecologist) because they incorporate the muscles that work to provide stability to the pelvis and PF, and maintain your posture and alignment: gluteus minimus, the hip adductors, and deep hip rotators. During our Pilates classes we advise you to breathe out on the exertion and when you start to engage the PF muscles. Ideally you’ll do these easy yet effective exercises for the rest of your life.

 

Get to know your pelvic floor (PF) muscles (checks and exercises)

POSITION – Neutral posture (check in the mirror) either seated (don’t cross legs as you can use your gluts/ buttock muscles) or lie down on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat then (if pregnant, lie on your side).

To test the strength:

  1. Stop your wee mid flow on the loo (only do this once or you’ll risk getting a bladder infection).
  2. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and back passage and lift inwards and upwards. Count how long you can hold for, then completely relax the muscles. Aim to hold for 10 secs. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists recommends you practice this contraction just before you get out of a chair, cough, and sneeze or laugh to increase support and to retrain a weak pelvic floor.

Exercises to isolate the pelvic floor:

Fast Pelvic Floor contractions: Lift quickly like an on/off switch – hold for one second. Repeat 10 times.  

  1. Slow Pelvic floor controlled contractions: Imagine your PF muscles are an elevator at the ground floor of a building. As you contract and breathe out, imagine the elevator rising, slowly, to the second and third floors. Release slowly as the imaginary elevator lowers to each floor and returns to the starting position. Breathe in and relax completely. Repeat 10 times holding for 8-10 seconds. This increases endurance for impact activities (eg trampoline, running and weight lifting).

POSITION – Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent, find a neutral curve in your lower back, engage your Pelvic Floor and lower abdominals on each exercise.

  1. Pelvic tilt: gently rock your pelvis forward and back (anterior then posterior pelvic tilt). As you rock back breathe out and pull in your PF and abdominal muscles, feel your low back pressing and hold 30-60 seconds. This mobilises and lubricates the joints of the spine and hips, improves and increases
    blood flow, combines deep breathing and PF activation.
  2. Inner thigh squeeze: place a pillow or ball between the knees and squeeze, repeat x 10. To progress, lift and straighten legs towards ceiling, open, exhale then close and squeeze repeat x 10. Aim to strengthen your deep abdominals, hip flexors, and inner thigh muscles.
  3. Curl up: engage pelvic floor, breathe out, pull in your belly button and lift head x 5. Aim to improve core strength. (If Diastasis rectus, hug arms across chest and gently pull hands towards each other.)
  4. Stretch inner thighs: hug knees in to relax the back and rock then open the knees wide, hold 30 secs.

POSITION – Standing

  1. Squats 1: legs wide, push bottom back as if going to sit back on a chair. Repeat x 10-50. Aim to stretch and strengthen core, bottom and legs and lower back.
  2. Squats 2: slowly lower yourself down into a deep squat, bottom near your heels (you may need to hold onto the back of a chair for support). Place a pillow behind your knees (to take some pressure off the knee joints) or remove for a deeper hip and thigh stretch and stand with your heels on a firm cushion. Do not let your back round or your tailbone tuck under. Lengthen your spine and lift your head, maintaining a neutral spine position. Hold 30 secs repeat x 3. (Feet flat is harder).
  3. Squats: repeat above with PF squeezes (PF muscles are slightly lengthened so a good position to really sense the contraction and relaxation against gravity. Repeat x 5-10, fully relax between repetitions.

Hannah Epps is a Pilates teacher based in Surrey and running courses online. She has specialised in post-natal and pelvic floor dysfunction for over 10 years. This article is a combination of her research, courses, workshops and experience. For more information on classes click here and for more info on the Yummy Tummy programme click here

 

 

Hannah’s top reasons to do Pilates

Pilates has really worked for me which is why I became a teacher. The first time I needed to do Pilates was after a car accident, and then throughout both of my pregnancies. Today, if I ever feel out of alignment or in pain, Pilates is the only answer – I can do it in five minutes and I know I’ll feel better. I believe it’s about a balanced, happy body and mind.

Joseph Pilates designed this revolutionary system of exercise in the 1950s and he is still very much respected and referred to today.
“Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit” Joseph Pilates

Hannahs Top Reasons to do Pilates

1. The most important thing Pilates does is support your core, strengthen abdominals, back and pelvic floor. This is important for spinal stability. We don’t guarantee a flat tummy but you’ll certainly get a smaller waist- however we will focus on that next week and how you can improve your tummy with “Hannah’s 7 steps to a summer yummy tummy and her favourite abdominal exercises

2. Your balance will improve – try and balance on one leg – if you wobble you need to do Pilates!

3. Your body will have a better posture and proper alignment which improves your self esteem. Look in the mirror – You will look and walk better as more straight and confident with 2 inches taller!

4. Pilates keeps you fit and toned as you age. As our body and hormones change through the seasons of our life. So its right for all stages i.e. post-natal recovery; amazing 40s; sensational 50s; and sexy 60s plus# whether an athlete or recovering from an injury, the level can be adapted for you!

5. Pilates breathing will help you focus and relax the mind – it will improve your circulation, stimulate the spine and muscles. You will sleep better and learn to relax when stressed, as we run such busy lives. As you focus on the movement, the body and mind will work together more giving mind body awareness.

6. You may well look slimmer as the muscles lengthen and tone and it encourages better body circulation to aid weight loss.

top reasons to do pilates

Pilates can enhance your life in so many ways

7. You will improve your pelvic floor (which in turn leads to a better sex life!!). We rely on these muscles more than you think – they are our foundation like a tree’s roots. Your Pelvic floor is so important not just during and after pregnancy for women ALL their life. We need it strong to support our organs and prevent incontinence – if you have a slight leak when you cough of laugh you need to address this now – it means something is wrong . Your pelvic floor may be weak or Pilates will help you relax other muscles so it can get stronger.

8. You will improve the tone of your muscles (less wobbly bits!) as Pilates wont over develop some areas more than others and each movement lengthens the muscles, Pilates focuses on long lean muscles using eccentric contractions – lengthening not on the contraction like a bicep curl but the return phase i.e. lowering your leg.

9. Your joints will be more mobile and therefore help you feel better and prevent injury – not so stiff keeping fluid moving to prevent stiff joints and less pain which is relevant for all ages!

10. You will feel more flexible as Pilates stretches works on the stretch and increasing of the muscles and range of motion within joints. Clients say they feel so much better and their body feels lengthened and lighter after stretching the muscles and with more relaxed muscles tension in your neck, shoulders and lower back can relax and you’ll have less tightness and pain.

11. It is amazing pain relief as the exercises will isolate or focus on one or a few muscles at a time i.e. your bottom or one leg this will stop your dominate side taking over -as it may when you walk/ run or work. Your body will learn to isolate a muscle and therefore your body and muscles will be more balanced so no pain down one side if you over use it. Or as we get older people tend to lean, so working the weak side will stop this. So it is relevant for rehab after injury, also athletes and all ages – we adapt the exercise for different levels and give modifications so classes tailored to all.

12. Pilates will increase your energy and help you sleep well –and keep you pain free to do more of the things you enjoy like gardening, golf, running, skiing, cycling.

You will get addicted to Pilates plus any exercise you enjoy with make you happy, you will look forward to your session or class and you will stick to it. Pilates classes are fun and relaxing and you may make some friends that motivate you to want to do more!

Testimonial from a client “We started Hannah’s Pilates classes when we were training for the London to Paris Bike Ride to celebrate our 40th birthday and the classes saved us! They made an amazing difference to my body while training and helped relieve stiff limbs and a bad back as Hannah stretched us out and corrected our bike posture. The exercises and stretches were essential for our tired muscles during the challenge at the end of each day, and I’m sure a strong core contributed to us completing the ride with no injuries. We have continued the classes and I have found it is a huge difference to how my body feels and releases any tension after daily work and home stresses. Thanks Sophie Hardy Farnham.

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