August 23, 2016No Comments

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

July 5, 2016No Comments

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

February 28, 2016No Comments

Fitness egos!

Fitness Egos!

Anyone who knows me and talks to me on a regular basis knows that I do a lot of exercise. Probably too much but I listen to my body and if it doesn't feel right I'll skip one of my planned activities. By a lot of exercise I mean I currently try and do 5 yoga classes a week, 1 pilates, 2 dance (learning dance!) classes, 3 one mile swims and teaching my own Dance fitness class twice a week (which you know is intense). That's not including any teaching yoga to kids I might do as well, though to be fair that's not as physically demanding as the rest.

Needless to say, I'm good at some things but I have a lot to learn in everything I do. There are people in all my classes or the pool who are better than me and those that are worse. I don't go to compete with them I go for myself. Sometimes I do look at other people's techniques as each of our bodies are unique and so the way someone else does something might help me improve. I use that a lot with my swimming, watching how other people might be smoother in the water or how they pivot their body side to side so I can give it a try and see what impact, if any, it makes on my own swim.

So it drives me crazy when you get to the gym, pool, class or whatever it is your doing and there's the huge screaming ego forcing everyone to focus on them rather than on ourselves. Just a few examples and my pet peeves:

  • Mr 'I am the machine' - ok I understand you have a specific series of things that you want to do and you want to use certain machines for a certain amount of time to achieve that, but please be aware of those around you. No one will come up and ask you if they would like to use a machine that you've been on for over an hour but hey, maybe be considerate and move along. I personally don't do weights, don't like machines but even passing through the weights room or standing outside waiting for a class I can spot someone eyeing up a machine and a guy on there completely oblivious or not caring that anyone wants it. While he spends 15 mins on his phone finding the right song, or posing for the right arm flex. Please be attentive to those around you and move along!
  • The Selfie taker - we get that you're working hard, sweating and want to show the world. Maybe you have abs to die for and feel now is the time to share them but be honest with yourself, you look like a douche. Standing in the middle of the gym, posing in the mirror, making sure it looks just right with the right light so you can post on social media right there and then. Let me be clear, I like a good selfie, I hate a serious one, I always have my tongue out or pulling a funny face. Selfies are fun. They're sharing a moment with people, but do it after you're done. Don't hold up those around you by standing in their way or looking like you'll never move out the way of the mirror while you perfect this selfie. Some of us have hair that takes a long time to tame, I need that mirror space and I'm actually the one feeling self conscious standing next to you while you pout, flex and pose for that shot. Selfies are not good workouts.
  • Ms Yoga 'Pro' - You may be a qualified teacher. You may know the next move in the sequence. Let the teacher tell it. Wait for them to tell us. What's the point in attending a class if you're going to be moving 3 moves ahead of everyone to prove that you can. The teacher then has to focus on moving you through your sequence ahead of the rest of us and when she corrects your posture, take the learning from it. Don't give the teacher a look like she should never have deigned to speak to you. I love yoga as much as the next person and I do a lot of it. I can generally tell what is coming next but the only time I move out of my current position before the teacher tells me is because my legs or arms are shaking like an earthquake has hit that is ridiculously high on the Richter scale. Then the only move I usually do is to get back into my extended childs pose (or crying foetus as I sometimes mentally refer to it) to gather myself before giving it another go. Let's be a class where we move relatively in sync, especially when the teacher tells us.
  • Mr 'I need to be in the fast lane' - this is my absolute biggest issue with people at the pool. I'm a fair swimmer, fast enough when I want to be. When I got in the pool the fast lane had the least people, that's why I got in it and yes I can keep up with everyone else, sometimes the odd overtaking of them but I try to slow down to match the people in the lane I'm in. When you get in the pool, I'm the only person in any lane. There's a slow, a medium and a fast. Why you feel the need to have to be in the fast lane with me is baffling. I mean the lane speeds are dictated by those in the lanes, so if you go in the medium or the slow you're the only one there so what's your issue? It usually means that you go crazy and swim the fastest length you've ever done in your life to prove you are faster than me, get to the other end and need to spend another 5 mins catching your breath, even though it took you 30 seconds to swim the length, before you then repeat. I'm not going to change my speed to accommodate you, it's very simple. I. Will. Change. Lanes. Yes, crazy as it sounds I will continue to swim at my speed, with my current stroke and move to the medium or even, crazy as it sounds to the SLOW lane!!! Then after 15 minutes when you're getting out the pool because you're exhausted and the other lanes are starting to get busy again I'll move back to the empty or quietest lane, whichever that may be. Moral to this story? Read about the Tortoise and the Hare....slow and steady every time!

Anyway, just some pet peeves of mine, told light heartedly. I'm sure you all have dozens more stories so feel free to share them!!

Ciao for now x

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