Get to know your Pelvic Floor

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 2 types fast and slow twitch and require you to strengthen them fast and slowly to support your core!

Pelvic Floor

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. Showing signs when you cough, sneeze, laugh, run or exercise, not reaching the loo in time, or struggling to control yourself and at worst a prolapse (suffered by millions of women) which can 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 and Isolating and functional exercises?
PF restoration and maintenance exercises are incorporated in many Pilates classes. They effectively start with isolating the muscles then incorporate your core – diaphragm, deep abdominals and deep back muscles. If dysfunctional you need to start with the basic exercises to learn to isolate the muscles but if you have no problems just keep mobile and do the following 3 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).as they incorporate the muscles which work to provide stability to the pelvis, pelvic floor and maintain your posture and alignment : gluteus minimus, the hip adductors, and deep hip rotators. During my Pilates classes we advise you to breath out on the exertion and when you start to engage the PF muscles. Ideally you’ll do these exercises for the rest of your life anytime, anywhere.

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 (If pregnant lie on your side), then …

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:
3. Fast Pelvic Floor contractions: Lift quickly -like an on / off switch hold for one second. Repeat 10 reps
4. 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 floor. Release slowly as the imaginary elevator lowers to each floor and returns to the starting position. Breathe in and relax completely.)Repeat 10 reps and hold 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 10. To progress lift and straighten legs towards ceiling, open, exhale then close and squeeze repeat 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 * 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 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 heart, maintaining a neutral spine position. Hold 30 secs repeat 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 5-10, fully relax between repetitions.

This term at Farnham Pilates one of our focusses is Pelvic Floor. Take a look at our classes page for more details.

Small is beautiful – benefits of small Pilates classes

small pilates classesAfter Easter I’m moving all the classes to the Garden studio. After 10 years of teaching I really feel that in the smaller classes clients get more individual attention and we can focus the class on particular problems and help with assisted stretching. Here is some feedback from my students on the smaller classes we provide and also my top reasons why small classes are beautiful.

 

Feedback from students  – 

 

“It is so great having classes in the studio especially after the years of attending the rowledge village hall, the studio is lovely and warm, and in smaller classes you get individual attention I feel I can focus on me more. With it being so much calmer, quieter, peaceful and relaxing I find I can really focus on my body and area we are working on and I find it better to help me use the pelvic floor (I need all the help I can get to find it). Another major advantage is parking feels so much safer as I park on school road. So I don’t regret moving to this lovely private space!” Jenny

 

“I just want to say thank you for the class I feel it is just what I need” Catherine 

 

Benefits of small classes or personal training – 
1. More Personal attention from the teacher– In a smaller class the teacher can see when you are out of alignment or need more support on a particular move.
2. Faster improvement in a smaller class – I remember peoples strength and weakness and can see the improvement quicker in a smaller class.
3. Quality of class – I’m continually trying to update and improve the classes and the class structure and the studio has made a massive difference to the quality of the class as the teacher has to pay more attention to each person and their problems in a smaller class.
4. Relationship building between teacher and class – means the atmosphere is great (sometimes too much chatting but you still get a good class).
5. Greater focus for you – in a small class you can’t hide or get away with doing nothing!
6. More fun – great rapport in class creating camaraderie and often class members become friends.
7. Accountability – in a smaller class everyone remembers who was there, so you become accountable to attend each week and more likely to develop a regular routine.
8. You are more likely to stay motivated during class. 
9. Less injury – larger classes can cause an injury as the teacher can’t see if you doing the exercise precisely.
10. If confused you are more likely to ask a question and check the exercise in a smaller class.

 

Please remember all feedback is welcome and I look forward to seeing you in the Garden Studio soon. Full timetable can be found here

Secrets to becoming a better runner

better runner

 

As many of you will know I am training to run the London Marathon next month in aid of backcare.org. I won’t lie, it has been hard to keep motivated and train, especially during the long winter months, so I thought I would share some of the techniques that have helped me stay motivated to KEEP RUNNING and some of the stretches that have helped me become a better runner.

1) I joined a ladies running group in my village and you get a message every day of who is running so keeping company and chatting while you run keeps me going.

2) Getting my husband and family involved to run with me. My husband’s great at getting up at 6am to run – I would not do it on my own.

3) I have to run in the morning when I’m in the right clothes and before my body knows what I’m doing!

4) I set up a Training plan on my I-phone using apps Strava and My Asics and get reminders of how far I have to run.

5) Organising fundraising events. Everyone helping and supporting me is so motivating as I can’t let you all down.

6) I also have a Personal trainer once a week to push me and check my alignment, stretch me, check that I’m doing it right as sometimes yourself you can’t tell and show me exercises I might not know. I believe it is good to go to someone else and be the participant not just the teacher.

Here are my secrets to becoming a better runner

I know you all ask me in class – “how is your running going”? Well I won’t say it’s easy to stay motivated but it helped this week having the lighter mornings as it is very hard to get/stay motivated early in the morning and when its raining, (and as I’m writing this its hailing – I’m not going out in that!!!) Once I’m up in my running clothes I want to get going first thing, once kids dropped to school, and tick my run off on my weekly schedule! What has really surprised me with all the online research and Womens Running articles I’ve read is that I’ve realised I should stick to 3/4 runs a week and do MORE strength work. Yes I do regular Pilates but for me to stop my lower back seizing up I have to stretch, stretch, stretch and have to strengthen my gluts too. So with all this I have a few tips to become a better, stronger, faster runner……..

Sam Greenwood physical literacy expert says“There is too much emphasis on actual running, when in reality runners should be focusing on improving core skills such as strength, posture, stability and mobility.”

Types of exercise to incorporate

1. Plyometric Exercises

If you really want to boost your running implement plyometric exercises two or three times a week into your training.‘Plyometric’ is commonly used to describe any explosive, jumping exercise and this is a popular addition to circuit training and is used in many sports. The most important functions of muscles and tendons during running is to store energy. Like a spring, your body can store some energy from impact and then unload that energy to propel your body forward. A large portion of your energy actually comes from the energy stored in your legs from the impact you made with the ground. So Plyometric training activates different muscle recruitment patterns than distance running does, it teaches your body to react to fast-twitch fibres. Maximising muscle recruitment allows you to exert more force into your legs and propel yourself faster.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning that tested the effect of plyometric exercises and running, further confirms that runners will benefit from adding in plyometric exercises. The study established a baseline by asking all participants to complete a timed 5km run, then split them into two groups. One group’s training consisted of running around two or three times a week, whereas the second group ran less but also completed bodyweight plyometric exercises. After eight weeks, both groups had significantly improved their 5km times, but the plyometric group ran 25% less than the other and still achieved the same results.

Example Exercises are – Switch Lunges, Leg bounds and Box Jumps.

2. Improve your posture

Your posture is the foundation of your movements, it affects how you stand, walk and run. Poor posture will shift your centre of mass back, accentuates over striding and impairs your ability to control the muscles in the spine and the lower legs. This lack of control can inhibit you from correctly storing and releasing the elastic energy for optimum running performance. As gravity pushes down on our bodies, our muscles make thousands of tiny contractions to keep us in a natural position, which means that you are actively maintaining your joints in the middle of their range of motion whilst standing, sitting and moving.

Pilates can help you work in a neutral spine and stretches are important such as – Kneeling hip flexor stretch, Balanced Donkey Kicks.

Posture strengthening moves have to include the posterior muscles including lower back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the calf muscles, try deadlifts, squats, lunges.

3. Improve your balance

Balance and stability is key to performance to maintain efficiency in each stride to helping to avoid injuries.

“The ankle is very common to injure while running, due to the nature of undulating surfaces and the up and down of pavement, good balance will help your ankle respond to the change in level of the surface you run on.” states Matthew Crehan, Author of The Art of Running and Sport and Exercise Science graduate from University of Leeds.

Exercise – Stand on one leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds before repeating on the other. Stand on the edge of a stair and raise up to toes and down both feet then try one at a time. Also the reformer works the ankles and can help get the legs, knees and ankles in good alignment.

4. Develop your core

There is a direct correlation between a strong core, strength and flexibility and a powerful run.

A strong core is vital for good running form; the core muscles work together to stabilise the whole body, allowing the arms and legs to work hard, propelling you along at a pace. If the core is weak, runners will tire more easily and tend to slump, particularly on long runs. This contracts the lungs, limiting the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs which reduces blood flow to the working muscles. Furthermore, a weak core can mean that movement from the arms or legs can throw the rest of the body around; making the energy spend totally inefficient and increasing the risk of injury.”

5. Stretch to Prevent injuries

After every single workout, whether it’s a run, walk or a strength session, you must stretch! This is one of the most crucial parts of running training that is so often overlooked. Having tight muscles will not only affect your performance but increase your chances of injury. So take the time to stretch these properly to look after them. This helps prevent injuries and can improve strength, power and speed. Being aware of your body and staying pain free enables you to train more frequently and increase the intensity of your workouts. I use the foam roller to stretch and relax the muscles after each workout. (I still have 2 available. )

See my best stretches after running from last week

USING FOAM ROLLERS– these are great for going greater range of motion at a joint, speed recovery, myiofascia release but we have been discussing in class not stretching the IT Band (Iliotibial band) on the side of the leg as this can injury you as it is a tendon not a muscle, the answer is to get the glut med to fire up properly and it would not be so tight.

Need to improve your core strength come for a postural and functional movement assessment, for us to be able to give you a personalised training program. Contact hannah@farnhampilates.com

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Mums and Posture! Could your posture be causing you long term health problems?

Mums and postureAre you a new Mum?

Do you have back aches and pains, do you feel stiff with sore muscles and achy joints?

I have been though this and I have the solution!

I can help you reduce your aches and pains, improve your tummy tone, make you feel more confident, give you a stronger pelvic floor (so no accidents), better back strength and the right exercises for you !

Do you know one of the key factors is a better posture !!!

Why new mums need to correct their posture?

There’s no doubt that pregnant mums and mums with young babies carry heavy things from a baby, toddler to bags and car seats !

As we tend to our daily activities, posture is the last thing on our minds. Unfortunately, this can often lead to regular tasks – such as housework and social interaction – being performed in ways that are detrimental to our health and posture. Lifting badly is a common cause of back pain (remember to bend your knees and pull the item close to you).

While postural issues don’t always manifest themselves in a manner that allow us to easily recognise we have them, back pain can be a clear sign that you may need to have your posture assessed. We balance our baby on our hip, the phone against the ear, so no wonder our lower back and neck hurt!

Did you know approximately 70% of women will, at some time in their lives, report low back pain. And during pregnancy, while 50–80% of women have reported back pain, one-third of pregnant women claim this low back pain is a significant problem.

Common Posture Problems

Uneven hips
Activities such as twisting to lift children out of cars, and carrying of babies or young children on the hips, can cause your hips and shoulders to become uneven.

Forward Head Posture
As a woman’s body adapts to her changing weight and shape during pregnancy, the spine and pelvis realign to serve as a counter-balance, One of the issues that can arise from this is Forward Head Posture (FHP).

Dowager’s Hump (or increased kyphosis)
Dowager’s hump (or increased kyphosis) is another postural issue that can occur during pregnancy. It is a condition that increases the natural curve of the upper back.

Pelvis Forward
The increased weight from carrying a child can pull your pelvis forward, increasing the curve to your lower back (or increased lordosis).

In severe cases, long term bad posture can lead to Scoliosis, a condition that results in the spine twisting from left to right, instead of running in a straight line from top to bottom. Depending on the severity, scoliosis of the spine can have a detrimental impact on vital organs, such as your heart, liver and kidneys.

Correcting Posture

The good news is that postural issues can be corrected, and even, in some instances reversed.

A good pilates teacher, osteopath, chiropractor, Physio can assess your posture or send me a photo and I can give you specific exercises – hannah@farnhampilates.com

At Farnham Pilates we give exercises and stretches that, when done regularly, will help to strengthen your muscles and maintain improved posture. Farnham Pilates is an online resource for pilates videos, tips and information to help busy mums solve these common, painful problems.

You can Take Action

1. Assess your own posture in a mirror.

2. Make an appointment to see me – I can recommend daily exercises to improve and maintain your back and core strength.

3. Start a routine of gentle exercise – Pilates, yoga, walking – see link here for Farnham Pilates classes.

3. Commit 3 minutes a day to improving your posture-

My philosophy is to keep moving, stretch do exercises within your limits and find something you enjoy.

Just 3 minutes a day dedicated to exercises to improve your posture can make a tremendous impact on your long term health. People who regularly stretch and maintain a good range of motion are less likely to suffer the negative effects of immobility.

4. Look at your diet and nutrition – Reduce sugar it reduces inflammation that can cause the pain!!

Maintaining a healthy spine, can help you maintain a healthier life.

If you are not local to me or find it hard to commit to a regular exercise session why not take a look at my Yummy tummy Programme.  This programme gives you bite sized exercises which you can do anywhere.  It is a 6 week programme which will help create a flat strong tummy, strong core muscles, and strong pelvic floor which will help solve many of the issues mentioned above.  You get weekly emails and a Facebook support group to join so that you are given the best chance of succeeding  over the 6 weeks.  Click here to find out more or you can sign up below.

Yummy Tummy Programme

Focus on Farnham Pilates Teacher – Sara Rounce

Farnham Pilates teacher

Sara Rounce

This weeks blog is a focus on one of our lovely teachers at Farnham Pilates, Sara Rounce. Sara teaches in the studio on Thursdays. She trained with The Pilates Institute in London back in 2003 and has enjoyed a varied career teaching classes at all levels and abilities as well as pregnancy, postnatal and seniors. Since having 3 children, Sara has become increasingly interested in pregnancy and postnatal exercise and is a specialist in this area.

Here’s what we asked Sara about her background in Pilates.

What is your favourite exercise and why?

I have two!

First is The Dart as it really focuses on extension of the spine whilst stabilising the shoulders. It is a strong exercise for the upper back and excellent for correcting poor posture. There are a lot of elements to get right which makes it a challenge to teach but it is so beneficial and I love the way client’s backs change when they make the correct movement in this exercise. You can see the ‘wings’ (scapulae) sink into the back and it is beautiful to see.

Secondly, The Plank! It is one of those exercises that, from a teaching perspective, most clients groan when I say that is what we are going to do next! However it is also one of the exercises that clients see the most or the quickest progress with and I find it a great benchmark. It is fantastic for building overall body strength, stamina and focusses on the core and the shoulders. It is great because you can easily modify to cover every ability level so everyone can join in and not feel left behind.

How do you like to structure a class?

My classes are usually an hour long and start with a standing warm up to focus the mind onto the body and to work on elements such as balance, coordination, centring and breathing. Then there is about 50 minutes of matwork exercises which involve lying on the back, side, front and seated movements. Then the last 5 minutes involves stretching and allowing the body to warm down.

What was your training and how long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 12 years. I was trained by Michael King, Cherry Baker and Malcolm Muirhead and my inspirations are based on my initial training at the Pilates Institute in London as well as my time with my own inspirational Pilates teacher, Kira Bowie who owns Aberdeen Pilates Studio where I taught for 3 years and more recently Carolyne Anthony (Center of Women’s Fitness).

What is your main area of interest in Pilates?
I am passionate about post-natal recovery in women and in March 2015 I attended Carolyne Anthony’s course “Healing Exercises for Diastasis Recti, C-Section and Pubis Symphasis Derangement” which I now apply in my teaching. Having had 3 c-sections and suffered from diastasis recti myself, I realise how important these healing exercises are for new mums. I felt so passionately about helping women to recover after having a baby that I have developed the Postnatal App available on iTunes to help women around the world.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about one of our teachers. You can read a bit more about Sara here and if you are interested in coming along to her class on a Thursday then do get in touch below.

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Get your fitness ready for International Women’s Day


Fitness and International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day, a global event celebrating the achievements of women around the world. This year the campaign focuses on the issues of inequality women still face every day. Another area where women are lagging behind is personal fitness. Studies have shown that women are up to 50% less likely to participate in sports and physical exercise than men. Research shows just 1/6 women has exercised regularly since childhood compared to 1/3 men.

Women often fall way down the list of priorities in their own lives and struggle to find time to work out. Family often comes first, followed by busy work schedules. It’s all too easy to say I’ll do it tomorrow.

Regular exercise has so many physical and psychological benefits. For example Pilates can help your alignment, posture, release tension in joints and improve your performance in all sports and can help relieve your back pain. I think we should use this day to encourage and inspire other women to have the life they deserve and show that anything is possible if we work hard and help each other.

With this in mind I am taking on a mammoth challenge this year. After not running since before having my 2 children now aged 9 and 11 years old, I am currently training to run the marathon and raising funds for the charity BackCare. See below for details of events that are helping me raise funds for my chosen charity – backcare.org.uk

Upcoming events:

Saturday 27th February 8-12pmCurry and drinks at Hannah’s, Tickets are £20 and include welcome drink and Thai curry. 

Friday 4th March 4-6pm – Children’s Disco in Rowledge Village Hall (aimed at primary school age children up to year 7 but all ages welcome). Tickets are £7.50 which includes a drink and party food. 

Friday 15th April 8 till late – Mixed gender poker night at Hannah’s house. It’s £10 to play. You can bring your own booze or there will be an honesty bar to raise money.

Friday 22nd April 1-3pm Coffee afternoon at Becky’s house (21 Lickfolds Road.) Just come along for coffee and cake and donate money on the day.

To book onto any of the above events or for more info please email me Hannah@farnhampilates.com

Or if you wish to donate towards my fundraising here is my Virgin Money Giving Page

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Exercise and teenagers – how parents can help

Exercise with teenagers

Last week I had the great honour of teaching a group of Farnham Girl Guides a 90 minute Pilates session. It was quite a nerve wracking experience getting up in front of teenage and pre teen girls, but I am never one to shy away from a challenge. I also believe passionately that getting girls into good habits around exercise, mindfulness and taking care of themselves from a young age is really important.

During the session I talked about how important exercise is for confidence, their heart, enjoyment, team playing, meeting friends, the importance of a good bra for exercise (my daughter was mortified about this!) and posture. The class also covered balance, all body strength moves, core strengthening, spine mobility, flexibility of your back forward, back and sides, stretching and relaxation and how to learn to meditate!

I couldn’t have asked for better praise at the end. They ran up after saying it was really cool which for any of you with teenage or pre teen children, you will know this is not said lightly!

“It was fun and informative”

“It’s great learning to meditate or relax so when I get stressed with homework I can do it at home”

You can see that very quickly teens make really positive associations around exercise and the benefits it can have in their every day lives.

The teenage years can be a time when our children start to give up some of the more active things they have always done for themselves. Pressures of school work and exams, social pressures and just changing bodies and hormones can all make it seem easier to just give up physical activities, maybe thinking you will pick them up again later. But it is so hard to get back to activities once you break away and breaking these good, healthy habits at around teenage years can set up a new habit that is harder to break – a cycle of not making time for yourself and your health and wellbeing.

The whole experience got me thinking about how we can encourage our teens to keep active and do something that makes them feel good just for them. My conclusion is that we, parents, are the answer. I know it seems that at times our teens just want to do the opposite of what we are doing, but actually they take on board the positive. So seeing Mum or Dad regularly taking time for themselves, exercising and keeping healthy is a far greater role model for them than any ad campaign. If this is just a normal part of family life then it is more likely that your teen will continue taking care of themselves without even thinking about it.

If you can also build activity into family occasions too then this can be a good positive reinforcement of healthy living. Even just a family dog walk, going bowling or we have become regulars at the roller disco since the New Year, or maybe taking time to do an online exercise video with your teen. These are all small, easy steps that can make a big difference to the ongoing health and wellbeing of your teen.

So do you exercise as a family? And if so what do you do? And does your teen have a favourite activity that they do whatever? I would love to hear what works for your family.

 

Dry January! Why we need to drink more water!

Drink more water

Are you doing dry January? Whether you are trying it or not this month, it is a good time to check if you are drinking enough water. Drinking more water can curb appetite and sometimes hunger can be thirst so try a drink before eating.

Tip – did you know – Water is an absolutely essential thing for weight loss, staying healthy and looking after your body! It can be hard to keep on top of the old 8-glasses-a-day rule so here are 12 ways I think are a great way to keep your water intake up.

How to drink more water:

1) Don’t allow yourself a diet fizzy drink until you’ve drunk 2 glasses of water.

2) Have a glass of water every time you do something transitional – ie, sit down at your desk, get home from work, when you first wake up.

3) Keep a bottle in your handbag and take it everywhere you go – fill it up along the way.

4) When you go to fill up your bottle or glass, down it – and then fill up again! No sipping over time, just get hydrated then and there on the spot and you’ll feel the benefit immediately.

5) Freeze slices of lemon, lime or orange and use them instead of ice-cubes. So refreshing!

6) If you must drink a rare orange or apple juice, just fill it half way and fill the rest with water.

7) Take a two litre bottle to work and aim to drink it all by the end of the day. Leaving it on your desk will reduce time spent away from working and will be a constant reminder for you to drink it up.

8) Drink two full glasses of water at each meal – one before and one after. You could drink one before you have a snack too so you don’t eat as much. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just dehydrated!

9) Put reminders in your phone calendar! Every three hours would be good and you’ll remember throughout the day rather than remembering at night and trying to play catch up all at once.

10) It doesn’t all have to be cold! Drinking hot water and lemon or ginger is lovely. Make sure it’s caffeine-free though as caffeine actually robs you of water! Herbal teas are great instead of caffeine like mint tea, liquorice. I’ve become a fan of Three Tulsi.

11) When drinking alcohol have 1 glass of water to 1 wine/ bubbly etc you will feel better in the morning.

So drink up – bottoms up! If you take just one of these tips away, you’ll be on the right track to getting your 8 a day and you’ll definitely drink more water.

5 steps for busy mums to feel, good, fit and healthy

5 steps for busy mums to feel good

 

At the start of any New Year there is so much pressure on us to make sweeping changes, lose weight, eat more healthily, do more exercise. Whilst all this is great and having goals is a great thing to motivate us, if you are busy Mum so much pressure and big targets to achieve can actually have the opposite effect and demotivate us. I propose that actually smaller, more manageable targets are actually going to see greater gains if you are already pushed for time.

Simply tune into your body’s needs to get the power to make positive, lasting changes in 2016. Changes you make affect your childrens choices later on (trust me I nearly have a teenager who makes her own choices now!). So showing that change can happen just by doing small things is a great example to set them. Here are my suggestions.

1. Take 15 mins a day to put yourself first – it’s only 1% of your day, making small daily changes and you’ll find what makes you feel good!  Take a look at our 10 minute relaxation and breathing video here, which can give a you perfect time out solution.

2. Plan your meals – proper family healthy meal planning stops you snacking, plan the family meals around when you are hungry, and have relaxing nights out – say “yes” to healthy and a life!

3. Get to bed early – sleep is major (I’ve been tracking my sleep and it’s a shock!). When you are tired you reach for sugar. Get more energy from exercise or more sleep. It also lowers your risk of disease. Scientists compare those getting less than 6 hours sleep to those getting 8.5hrs and it alters genes involved in metabolism, inflammation and immunity. Also taking magnesium or eating foods like leafy dark greens, fish and avocado gives you deeper sleep.

4. Look slimmer by correcting your posture – slide your shoulders back, lift your chest up and lift through the spine, lift and engage your deep abdominal muscles to pull in your tummy. Encourage good posture in your children as well.

5. In 45 minutes you can increase your metabolism with a good work out! With regular exercise you can increase the part of your brain associated with learning and memory! Get out as a family- cycle, run or swim. They will thank you for the motivation and they look to you how to live their lives!

6. (OK I said 5 steps but I’m feeling generous!) You must do daily stretches and joint mobility to help you age gracefully – I’m training for the marathon and have to stretch to prevent back pain the next day. See my Facebook page and youtube channel for the right stretches.

At Farnham Pilates we offer videos with mobility, strength, core work, stretching and relaxation! Take a look here for more inspiration or sign up to our newsletter (to the right on a PC or below on a tablet/phone) for up to date tips and news of our upcoming online programmes.

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

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

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

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

top 6 pilates exercises

Spine twist

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

6 top pilates exercises

Side bend

 

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

6 top pilates exercises

Cat Stretch

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

6 top pilates exercises

Shoulder bridge

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

6 top pilates exercises

The Hundred

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

6 top pilates exercise

Childs pose

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

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

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