When the location dictates the teacher – #TalkToMeTuesdays

As my journey along this fitness path continues I’m learning more and more about lots of things. What type of teachers I like, what type of venue, how far I’m willing to travel and how much I am willing to pay. You start the journey wanting a class for convenience but slowly you can outgrow your classes, or even your teachers at some point, or stagnate. That doesn’t mean they are a bad teacher, just that the type of teaching they do, doesn’t work for you anymore.

This is why I think it’s so important to keep developing even as a teacher. By that I don’t mean by learning a new posture for Yoga, or a new choreography for Dance or even a new recipe if you cook. I mean growing into your role and developing how you do what you do. For example, as a Dance fitness teacher I have taken up dance classes myself to try and improve my technique, refine my moves and even push myself out my comfort zone. My class will tell you that when I first started teaching I did not like the traditional Zumba hip based moves. I felt uncomfortable and unwieldy. I’m not saying I am any better in how I execute the move but I have tried really hard to try and improve that element of my teaching and to give my class a much more varied workout, constantly changing my songs and my choreo so they can grow, but also so that I can grow.

I find it baffling when you may have a Zumba teacher, or a Dance fitness teacher who has not changed for years. Ok, so you don’t have to be a dancer to teach dance fitness or even Zumba but what you do is still a career. If you worked in a standard day job, you’d still have objectives, you’d still have courses for improvement, constant feedback and expect to improve year on year. So why would you not do the same with this career? I know a lot of teachers that have done the same thing for years. They still have good numbers in their classes which is great, but is that good numbers because people don’t like change or are those good numbers just a turnover of people? If you have 30 people in a class this week, in 3 months you still have 30 people you’d think that was great for consistency. But how many of those new 30 are the same 30 that you had 3 months ago? It’s all well and good to keep numbers consistent but also you want those people to be with you long term feeling like the workout is constantly something new, something fresh and pushes them in new ways. For yourself, especially if you do 10 of those classes a week, when will you get sick of that song or that choreo and not give 100% every time you teach?

Furthermore, locations. Now I understand that especially in London (though also I’m sure everywhere) there is a growing desire for boutique type gyms and studios. More trendy, more expensive and more dynamic classes. I’m all for that. However, what I’m not all for is the location changing a teacher.

Every teacher you have for any type of fitness brings their own elements to their classes. Some of us design our own classes, or even deliver the same classes in very different ways. It doesn’t mean any of us are wrong, just different. That’s why there is so much choice. Someone may love attending my class, some may hate it. It’s not because I’m a bad teacher, just because the way I teach doesn’t appeal to them.

Today I went to a trendy studio in Central London. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the studio. I was sincerely disappointed in my class. Why? It was a yoga class, 50 mins. Firstly, it overran which is a big deal when you are going in the middle of the working day. Not only that but we moved through every posture so fast I barely got into them before we were moving out of them. We also did SO MANY postures, I’m sure we were going through the entire yoga dictionary. For those that practice yoga, I was doing crow balances in my second sun salute flow. During the entire 60 mins class we did, cows head pose, flows, warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior 3, humble warrior, reverse warrior, side twist, head stands, hand stands, forearm balance, side crow, standing balance, wheel and that is just to name a few!

At the time I blamed the teacher. Most of the class didn’t do every posture, myself included so why did she not recognise that we weren’t ready for them all and just take longer with the previous pose? On reflection, and after speaking to a few others, I realised there was probably a heavy influence from the studio. The entire theme of the location is about fast, dynamic, tough, arm balances and I realised that perhaps some of it was her inattentiveness to her class but how much of it was her opinion being over written by a location?

So my statement today is this. Like every single job we do, in every single walk of life. You can love your job but hate where you work. Nowhere is worth sacrificing who you are and how you do your job for. A fitness teacher especially has to stay true to themselves and has to teach their content, their way. They can’t be forced into changing everything because that is what the location wants as it just shows that the location doesn’t really understand the topic you are teaching. Yoga is about internalising, and as a couple of my awesome teachers have said in the past, it’s about how a posture FEELS not what it looks like. How can you get to what it FEELS like if you have barely got into the posture? If every posture is a transition, when do you stop to take it in?

Something to think about.

Ciao for now x

City Boy?! – #TalkToMeTuesdays

countryside

Today’s post is about a little thing that’s been bugging me for a while….am I born to live in the city, or am I really a country boy at heart?

This weekend I went away to the Cotswold’s and after initially thinking I would get bored, I completely fell in love with it. Swimming in the lake, kayaking, relaxing on the decking, being outside. It bought back all the reasons why I love having Sicilian origins and why I still love visiting Sicily. It’s a completely different pace of life where it’s about enjoying where you are right now and not worrying too much about tomorrow.

Not to mention exploring and enjoying great food, great company and much less rigidity about time keeping or being somewhere on time.

There’s always been a mini war that goes on inside me since I first explored Sicily. The ability to grow and pick your own fruits, to get by with whatever you have in the house, just appeals to me so much. I loved watching Jimmy’s Farm and River Cottage and the desire has always been there to escape the city and live in the countryside.

The Cotswold’s experience has now bought that dream back to the forefront of my mind and I’m wondering, am I a country boy in a city boy life?

So my question to you today is have you ever had a similar experience? Where you’ve been somewhere, fallen in love with it and it’s made you want to make the move? Tell me your story and help me decide if it’s something I should do!!

Ciao for now x

Fad Fitness – #TalkToMeTuesdays

Fad fitness

Fad fitness programmes

There’s no denying that there are literally dozens, hundreds of ways you can get fit and get the body you’ve always wanted. Some take longer, some need to be done more frequently than others and some just don’t hurt at all. What you need to be clear about is what works for you and your body. It may be you haven’t found it yet, but you shouldn’t stop looking. Think about what you would enjoy, give that a go and take it from there. When you find your right thing you’ll love it, going to a class or doing it won’t be a chore, it will be fun and you’ll smile the entire way through.

What does drive me a bit crazy however are the fad fitness programmes. The celebrities that every year have a new ‘smaller in 5 mins’ workout that convince you that if you do this workout just two to three times a week you’ll be sure to have their washboard abs and still feel great. No. Just no.

Let’s be clear, working out is a fantastic way to stay in shape and yes, a side effect is you lose fat in areas and build muscles in others. It doesn’t automatically mean that the scales will be lighter, you may get heavier due to muscle building. It doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll have an amazingly flat stomach either.

Getting to that shape and that body that you see in countless Hollywood movies takes a careful planning of both diet and exercise. A great phrase that I love is that you can’t work off a bad diet. If you exercise, that doesn’t mean you get to treat yourself to a really bad meal every night. Yes, a treat here and there is fine, it’s what keeps you going but I’ve known so many people that do a couple of workouts a week, expect an instant change in their weight AND expect to be able to eat the worst of the worst takeaways.

Your body needs caring. Would you put vegetable oil in your car? No. it needs proper maintenance just like your body and that is not going to happen in a DVD that shows you just 5 mins of information.

Most of the DVDs also do not encourage you to assess yourself. You don’t have the guidance, experience or knowledge of a trained instructor at home, just someone showing you the moves and encouraging you in a very generic way. How do you know if your posture is right? How do you know if you should move your feet an inch forward because you’re arching your back too much? You don’t. That’s why I always advise trying something out in person first and then giving it a go at home.

So next time you’re about to pick up a ‘5 mins washboard abs’ DVD, ask yourself would it be better to just pop along to a class at your local gym, community hall, leisure centre or any of the other hundreds of things going on all across the world?

Ciao for now x

Kids and Yoga? – #TalkToMeTuesdays

KidsYoga

Some of us already know the benefits of yoga. Having practiced ourselves for years we understand that it just makes sense to have children get engaged with yoga but how? and what are the benefits?

Focus – one of the huge benefits is teaching people how to focus. Using breath, teaching patience, holding postures, all subtle ways to teach anyone, regardless of their age how to focus. Once done correctly it can teach children how to use that focus on their exams, studies, learning in the class room

Behaviour – by rewarding well behaved children with more complicated postures, asking them to be your assistants and demonstrating to the rest of the class or even asking them to name their favourite posture can make them realise how easily they can be rewarded for the simplest acts of good behaviour

Patience – underestimated often by children and the impact and change it can have on their lives when they correctly master it. By correctly using yoga, postures and breathing you can teach children how to be patient. How to use that patience to benefit themselves

Those are just some of the benefits of yoga for kids but how do you deliver it? How do you keep a child’s attention span long enough to get them into poses, to breaths or even to explain to them what you are planning?

Simple. Stories. Tell them stories that they already know, some they don’t and incorporate yoga postures. Stretches, breathing exercises, all hidden within the story telling. Find ways to mask the moves so they don’t really acknowledge they are doing yoga, as far as they are concerned you are showing them moves that uses their imagination and incorporates it into part of the story.

Simple yet effective. That is how we change the next generation. Using what we already know in new ways.

Think on that and tell me what you do? Do you have a child who’s interested in yoga? Do you have an idea for how to deliver it? tell me! I love hearing more stories.

Ciao for now x

Boys can’t dance – #TalkToMeTuesdays

Billy Elliott

Most people know the story of Billy Elliot, the boy who wanted to dance. So why is it there is still so much stigma attached to boys that want to dance?

The biggest issue I have with people wanting to join my dance fitness class is they say they don’t know how to dance. It slightly baffles me, why would you need to know how to dance? All you have to be able to do is follow what I tell you to do and try to do it to the same timing as I do. But worse case scenario you won’t and you’ll still be moving and you’ll still be sweating and still be working out as you wanted….and hopefully still having fun while doing it? So why would you care really.

When it comes to boys, my mind boggles even more so. A lot of them look at you, when you suggest they come to a dance class, as if you’ve just told them their an alien that was adopted from the planet Jupiter on the day they hatched from an egg. ‘Men don’t do dance classes’.

When drilling into that statement further, they say it’s more for women. Why? Well, I think actually that’s their way of saying they’re scared and intimidated to come.

The few guys who have come along to my class have loved it. I mean, regardless of your sexual orientation, you get to dance in a room full of women with everyone having fun, no stress or awkwardness that there is in a club and you don’t even have to think about your dance moves. All you have to do is be able to follow instruction and over the weeks you will easily pick up the moves, no matter how bad you think you are at dancing.

I’ve seen people in my class who can’t keep to the beat of a song. Yes, I show them the move, I move to the beat and they can be going a completely different direction. That might be what happens on week 1 but by about week 3 or 4 those same people are moving to the beat and almost knowing what moves are coming next. They learn to keep to the beat. Dancing is a skill that anyone can learn, to differing degrees but everyone has the potential to keep to a beat!

I think the biggest shock that the guys in my class have had was how tough the class is. They thought there would be lots of hip twirling and grinding, some body pumps and that’s it, not much sweating. HA! Proven wrong every time, working their butts off and hurting more in that one hour with me than they would pumping weights.

So to everyone out there, boy or girl, old or young, try out our class. We are an amazingly welcoming group who just love music and enjoy the idea of smiling the whole way through our workout. Yes, some of us (myself included) treat it like our very own concert, belting out tunes while ‘squatting like it’s hot’ but who cares. No one in our room judges each other, we’re all there for the same reason.

Look forward to seeing you all soon

Ciao for now x

Yoga is only for women – #TalkToMeTuesdays

Anyone who knows me knows I am particularly random. I like doing random activities and I like meeting and talking to random people. I don’t have a problem trying anything out, which is why some of my fitness passions come from activities traditionally linked to female activities, Zumba, Pilates and Yoga just to name a few.

It’s because of this attitude that I have got into yoga. It’s crazy how many times I ask men to come along with me to yoga and how many times they have excuses. Yoga isn’t for me is the most commonly used phrase, but I’ve also had lots of ‘yoga is for women’.

Now, it’s true that I like random things but yoga is not random. If you don’t really understand yoga and understand how good it can be for anyone, regardless of age, sex, conditions or a million other things then you really should educate yourself.

Rather than find yoga emasculating, I actually find yoga maculating. In order to perfect a yoga technique you have to have strength, balance, focus and determination. None of that is attributed to only one type of person. In order to hold a pose I need to focus on me. Yogi’s or just general yoga practitioner can be from every walk of life and the feeling I have after a good yoga session is euphoric at times.

I like all yoga, but I LOVE tough yoga. Tough yoga is yoga that makes me sweat (without the heat needing to be on!). It’s yoga that takes me much longer to hold a pose because I am trying to move my body into exactly the right pose while still being relaxed and still focusing on my breath. Tough yoga needs a strength, not just physically but mentally and that’s why I LOVE it.

So yea, I find it hard to have patience with men who say yoga is only for women. Maybe you should stop making excuses and get to a class? Let’s see if you can hack it 😛

Ciao for now x

1st of the Month! – All change

all-change

Hello all my lovelies

Today is the first day of July and it signals big changes around the world, in the yea and most importantly on this blog.

Speaking to some of you, it seems a lot of you really enjoy these blog posts but we need a bit more consistency and a bit more planning so….here it comes.

From today I’m going to try and post once a day, every day. I’ll be talking about lots of different things but the majority of them will be about your health, happiness and fitness. Not only that but I’ll be categorising my posts and each day will be themed around a certain topic which are listed below.

Feel free to read them all, read only the days that you find relevant and more importantly try them out. I want to help you all think more about being healthier, being more aware and trying to make any changes, small or big to work towards your happiness and health.

Posts will start regularly from tomorrow so keep an eye out. If you want to help me spread the word, likes, follows, shares would all be much appreciated!!

Categories:

#StretchSundays – if you like a good stretch, love yoga, have never done yoga but want to try it out in the comfort of your own home or just learn more, this is the day for you! I’ll be talking through some of my personal favourites, explaining them and even filming a few demonstrations for you to give a go

#MoveMondays – all my dance moves will be released on Mondays. I’ll talk about the benefits of dancing, post some instructional videos and even talk you through a few of them

#TalkToMeTuesdays – I want you to engage, discuss, debate and yes, even disagree. I’ll be putting up my opinions on various topics and asking yours

#WellbeingWednesdays OR #WetWednesdays – mid-week will be split and dedicated to two topics, general well-being and getting fitter and enjoying the water. This will be the day we might talk through meditation one week and the week after talk about how to improve your swim stroke

#ThrowbackThursdays – one of my favourites. I’ve already introduced this into my classes with a throwback tuned introduced on the first Thursday of the month but these posts could be anything. Music, dance, exercise or even old toys! Tying them back into your health

#FeedMeFridays – obviously no week would be complete without some food. These will be my favourite recipes, easy tips on how to stay healthy when out and about or even how to mix up your food prep in ways you might not expect

#SkinliciousSaturdays – completing our week will be our Saturday where we’ll be taking a look at what goes on your body. The main focus of this will be  the amazing Tropic products but also we’ll start sharing some extra knowledge and getting you to ask questions about your current regime

I hope you like the topics and like what’s to come in the near future, I love writing them and sharing my thoughts with you all. If you want to have something specific shown then just drop me a line and I’ll do my best to include it!!

Looking forward to what the future brings and remember, life isn’t about getting to a destination it’s the journey we take to get there.

Ciao for now x