Collaboration With The Pilates Studio

Pilates is often stereotyped as a form of exercise which is substantially less vigorous than the majority of other workout options. In terms of how you feel during the session; fairly relaxed and not too out of breath, it definitely feels less strenuous than say a high intensity session. However, because you are repeatedly engaging your muscles and paying attention to specific areas of your body, Pilates can often be a more beneficial workout.

There are a few variations of the workout including mat, barre and reformer machines. The most popular is a mat pilates session, upon where you work through a process of strengthening and toning exercises in order target different muscle groups. Even though the tempo is fairly moderate, the results you can get from continuous sessions of this format is incredible. Within a few weeks you feel stronger, more toned and eager to try more difficult moves.

Having only ever experienced this form of pilates, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to try more variations of this ancient exercise at The Pilates Studio in Norwich. Nestled down a scenic side street, The Pilates Studio boasts a wide range of machines in the most aesthetically pleasing and relaxing studio. The owner of the studio and experienced teacher, Lauren, tentatively went through each exercise by informing me and my friend, Lorna, the science behind the effects it was having on our bodies and how it would help our posture and flexibility. After only an hour’s session, both me and Lorna agreed that we had learnt more from our time with Lauren than we had with any other fitness instructor.

A real eye-opening moment for me during the session was Lauren’s comments on how both me and Lorna naturally do not sit with correct posture. We both appeared to hold our spine at an angle, most likely due to our prominent lifestyle of spending hours on end sitting at a desk studying. Alongside this reason, which will affect a large majority of the student population, another factor to our improper posture are exercises which me and my friend regularly partake in. As fans of Les Milles Body Pump class, there are frequent elements of fast paced deadlifting, which appears to helped in forcing mine and Lorna’s spine to naturally fall into an incorrect position. Lauren aided us in helping to focus on correcting this error and by the end of the session my back felt sufficiently stretched and less tense. When I go to deadlift now I make a conscious effort to make sure my back is set in the correct position, and I have subsequently noticed a big difference in terms of my upper body flexibility and ability to perform more reps.

A lot of people associate pilates as being an exercise for the older generation. However, with young people spending more time than ever at a desk, or slouched over their phone, it is just as important for our generation to practise pilates in order to assess and prevent issues within our bodies which may occur later in life. At her studio, Lauren offers both group and private sessions. For your first time I would highly recommend a private session, so Lauren can figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to tailor your sessions in a way which will benefit you the most.

I cannot thank Lauren enough for the patient and methodical approach she took for our session. I learnt so much about my body and, due to implementing the tips given to us, I feel as though my posture has greatly improved after only a week on. To book a session at The Pilates Studio, simply contact Lauren by email on info@thepilatesstudionorwich.com or ring 07891 987055. It’s also worthwhile checking out her Instagram, @thepilatesstudio_norwich, which is full of mindful quotes and amazing progress pictures. If you want to see the session in action, then click here to watch the video we filmed on the day.

 

Why Variety Is Key To A Healthy Lifestyle

Boredom can be one of the main reasons why people swiftly abandon their mission of getting fit and living a healthier lifestyle. Thought of eating salad every day? Boring. Thought of running aimlessly on a treadmill? Boring. Same ‘motivational’ playlist on Spotify? Boring? Unless you find a type of exercise, or a particular diet, which well and truly motivates you, it’s going to be extremely hard to stick to a regime. These are the tips I use throughout the week, in terms of diet, exercise & general wellbeing in order to ensure enough variety.

 

Diet

This is perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle to constantly switch up. There is nothing worse than being disappointed at the thought of an upcoming meal, as more often than not the temptation to then replace this meal with something a lot less healthier suddenly becomes very high.  My main tip for avoiding this scenario is to meal plan. It takes 10 minutes, you have no excuse not to fill it with healthy, yet enjoyable food and it also hinders snacking (not on the meal plan? then don’t eat it).

There is a rather large misconception when it comes to dieting or keeping fit; in that you can only eat rabbit food, otherwise you won’t lose an ounce. If you’re exercising daily, or multiple days a week, this can often be more dangerous than beneficial. You need enough protein, healthy fats, fruit/veg and carbohydrates in your diet in order to assist any bodily changes. The exact macros vary, depending on what your goal is, (gaining muscle mass, carb-cycling, cutting etc.), but if you just want to ensure a healthy, balanced diet then aim for one item of carbohydrate, two portions of fruit or veg and a source of protein in every meal. Drinking enough water is also crucial, especially on day’s where you’re exercising, as it’s very easy to become dehydrated and fatigued.

 

Exercise 

Finding the right type of exercise which suits both your ability, time frame and will also ensure you meet your personal goals is KEY. There is no point deciding on a Sunday night that you’re going to go to the gym every day of the week for two hours because a) it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be able to fit that in to your weekly schedule b) you’re certain to get bored of the same routine and c) you’ll end up feeling negative and disappointed in yourself. Set more practical aims such as 3 days a week in the gym, coupled with an exercise class or a long walk, to ensure you have enough variety.

Finding the right type of exercise for you is also crucial; you want to be eager to go and workout, not counting down the minutes until it’s over. If you really detest the gym, then exercise classes such as the Les Mills series of Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack provide just as good a workout in a fun, relaxed environment. Swimming and outdoor running / cycling are also great additions to a cardio workout, with the added benefit of a change of scenery.

 

Wellbeing 

In terms of general wellbeing, it’s important not to get too obsessive. Yes, exercising and healthy eating are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and for many people they feel better in themselves for doing it. However, everyone needs a treat or something to look forward to, and if you deny yourself these things then even though your body may be healthy, your mind won’t be.

Try and eat/drink/do one thing per week which you know you will look forward to, and consequently motivate you. For me, it’s usually a chocolate desert or a night out, something which makes a particularly hard session worth it. Yoga and Pilates are also a great way to de-stress, perhaps during the end of a busy week in work. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which offer routines which you can follow in the comfort of your own home.

Why you shouldn’t freak out if your fitness goal changes

As a previous post explains, my fitness goal has changed several times since I started training seriously. I went from working towards the typical cardio inspired ‘athletic’ look, to putting all my effort into heavy weights and living for leg day. This is COMPLETELY normal when you start to really enjoy fitness as, like anything in life, your goals are there to be challenged.

For the last 6 months my fitness goal has been directed towards my whole body looking muscly and defined in time for summer. I started including more structured arm and back workouts, previously I had just been adding random exercises onto the end of my main workouts, as well as being super strict with my diet. I’m definitely pleased with the progress and I’ve found that I’ve also learnt a lot about my body, both exercise and diet wise, because of this intensive period. I carried on training through family holidays to Jersey, Prague and Italy so it was amazing to also see just how much exercising in the heat effects your calorie burning. However, I recently went on holiday to Zante with my best friend and, as implied by the location, I was definitely not going to be visiting the gym. I pretty much lived off chicken burgers and drank more water than I have ever drank in my whole life in order to try and shift the hangovers, so diet wise (excluding the vodka) it wasn’t a complete disaster.

It’s always amazed me what a short period of time can do to your body, for the better or for the worse, but surprisingly when I returned from Zante I was happy with the change in my body. Living off chicken had obviously packed a lot of protein onto my legs and bum, as they looked a lot thicker, and my arms looked a lot bulkier too. I’d been in and out the pool due to the nearly 40 degree temperatures so my abs had pretty much stayed the same thanks to regular swimming, which was a pleasant surprise after all the alcohol. So thanks to a messy girls holiday my new fitness goal is now to stop my 6 months cut and to start bulking.

How I’m Doing This-

  • Calories. Calories. Calories- I’m upping my calories to nearly double what they were on my lead up to summer. Instead of increasing the size of my meals I’m now splitting them, so instead of having three big meals a day I’m aiming for 4 or 5 smaller ones.
  • Protein- Increasing your protein intake is one of the best ways to add muscle so with every meal I’m making sure there’s either a good source of egg, chicken, beef, fish, milk or protein powder. I’m also using My Protein’s pancake mix to add extra protein to my breakfast, or to use as a snack.
  • Less Cardio- The obvious way to lose weight is excessive cardio, so for the time being I’m limiting it to just two light sessions a week.

So all in all you shouldn’t freak out if you find yourself aspiring towards a different physique all of a sudden. Keeping things fresh and regularly updating your goals is what makes fitness so exciting.

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