Author Archives: Martin Copland

I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more

Last month, my husband (Martin) and I were lucky enough to go to the Glastonbury Festival.  You’ll be pleased to hear that we are now fully recovered and managed to survive the hot days (over 90 degrees), the sanitary conditions and the lack of sleep (two hours a night is norm).  The site is vast and in the course of a day it’s not uncommon to walk 20 miles between the stages, with plenty of cider breaks along the way.  When we eventually got to our tent each night, our feet and legs were sore – we’d certainly got a good work-out.

On the Saturday morning, we arrived at the Pyramid stage to watch the Proclaimers and marched along to “500 miles”, that old classic from the 80s.  This got me thinking about the benefits of walking in the great outdoors and how to get involved.  When you walk you carry your own body weight, this is referred to as weight-bearing exercise. If you did a brisk walk for 30 minutes at least five days a week, then you will certainly notice the difference.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart/lungs) fitness.
  • Reduced risk of a stroke and heart disease.
  • Improved balance and stronger bones.
  • Increased muscle strength.
  • Reduced body fat.

The NHS recommends that 29 to 64 year olds should do two types of physical activity per week – aerobic and strength exercises.  Walking and cycling are good ways to take care of the aerobic part and then strength exercises on two days a week to work the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, core, chest, shoulders and arms).  If you go onto the NHS site (www.nhs.uk) and select walking you will find plenty of good advice and research material – all pointing to the benefits of walking in leading a healthy and disease-free life.

Walking outside is really refreshing whatever the weather.  Martin and I have enjoyed many gorgeous walks in Derbyshire, with the chance to visit new places and we even tried an orientation course once.

Nordic walking has been popular for some years and is a great way to make new friends.  This activates 90% of the muscles and burns up an incredible 46% more calories as compared to normal walking.  Poles (similar to ski poles) are used to propel you forward. The good news is that Nordic walking can be done by anyone regardless of age or fitness levels and apparently uses the same muscles as swimming (without getting wet).

There are a number of groups in Bedfordshire, so best to search on the web for the nearest one to you.  The one I’ve seen out and about is Walk2Fitness organised by Elaine – check out www.walk2fitness.co.uk

So there you have it.  What could be better than a brisk walk on a Summer’s evening, who knows there might even be a pub along the way. As always when starting any new form of fitness, please speak to your doctor.  Before you know it you would have walked those ‘500 miles’.

 

She Wants To, She Can Do: 28th April 2019 Come Along for Free Sessions

Now that Easter is over and the evenings are getting lighter, it’s time to think about exercising in the evening.

I am really delighted to be working with Bedford Borough Council under the ‘She Wants to, She Can Do’ initiative. On Sunday 28th April 2019 you will find me at Bedford Park right next door to Robinson’s Gym and I’ll be holding 4 x 20 minute taster sessions.

Every participant will be asked to sign a PAR-Q form (The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire). This is a simple two-page form which takes about 2-3 minutes to complete. This basically provides me with enough information to determine if you’re ready to exercise or if you should check with your doctor first before becoming more physically active. Really nothing to worry about.

Each 20 minute session will have a warm-up and a cool-down and the sessions will look like this:

11:00 to 11:20 – Playing games to keep fit – a fun session where you won’t even notice you’re working hard.
11:30 to 11:50 – Endurance circuit for an all body work-out.
12:00 to 12:20 – Working out in a pair to strengthen the core, upper and lower body.
12:30 to 12:50 – Circuit using kit for an all body work-out.

The sessions will take place just opposite the tennis courts, so please arrive a few minutes early so that we can get the paperwork sorted.

Trust me the sessions will be fun and you will be working hard without even realising it. Then once 4th July hits, I will be holding one hour sessions at Priory Park for six weeks. Just show up when you can (there are no contracts) and pay £4.

If you can’t wait until July, then don’t forget the Saturday sessions at Harrold-Odell Country Park at 09:30. We meet outside the Dragonfly café. More details can be found here.

Look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
Happy exercising in the great outdoors.

Best wishes
Jules x

How do you Know your Fitness Levels are Improving?

Whatever we’re doing, its human nature that we all want to see progress and ensure that our valuable time and money is being spent doing the right things. The good news is that health and fitness is one of those things, where it’s relatively easy to monitor progress. At the same time thought this can also have the opposite effect if improvements aren’t forthcoming – trust me we’ve all been there and reached a bit of a plateau at times.

As a qualified Personal Trainer, the first assessment with the client covers a range of health and fitness tests including:

  • Blood pressure – this is an indicator of good health. Ideally we should all have a blood pressure below 120 over 80 (120/80). This is the ideal reading for good health and a much lower risk of heart disease or a stroke.Blood pressure is given as two numbers; the top number is the systolic. That’s the pressure inside your arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, or the diastolic is the pressure insider your arteries between beats.Both of these readings are important, first of all to make sure you are fit enough to exercise in the first place (i.e. a doctor may need to be consulted with first), but secondly highlights any blockages in the arteries which may create a high blood pressure reading.
  • Heart rate – the resting heart rate can be a good indicator as to how fit you are. Normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower heart rate at rest implies a more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute.
  • BMI – the Body Mass Index is a bit of a confusing one and at times can be taken with a pinch of salt. This chart compares your height to your weight and determines if you are considered underweight, overweight, obese etc. We are all different, so I don’t consider this a good indicator and would much rather work with waist to hip measurements (see below).
  • Waist to Hip Measurement – this measurement compares the hip to the waist and then via a calculation it’s possible to work out if you are at more likely to develop certain health conditions. The test is based on the theory that people who carry more weight around their waist may be at risk. In my opinion, this is a much more realistic test as compared to BMI.
  • Body Fat – you can buy a set of impedance scales easily enough and fairly accurately (the readings can be out by 10%) the amount of body fat you have. The scales work by sending a very low electrical current through the lower half of your body (don’t worry you won’t feel a thing). Since the electrical current flows more quickly through water and muscle than bone or fat, the scales measure the speed of the current. Using a mathematical formula, the scales are able to estimates your body fat.

The above tests are only a handful of the ones that are available and many of these can be easily done at home. However, it’s important to know how to interpret the results correctly. That’s why I spend plenty of time with my clients explaining what the readings mean and would certainly recommend speaking with a doctor with any concerns.

Take care, keep healthy and keep fit.

Hydration Made Simple: An Easy Guide to Just How Much is the Right Amount

Without a doubt, the most important part of our daily nutritional intake is….water.

Without water our performance suffers and health deteriorates very quickly to point where the body simply can’t function.  50% to 60% of the human body is made up of water and even a small reduction in water can start to make a big difference to your body, with serious consequences:

  • 3% loss – reduction in exercise performance
  • 4% loss – muscular work reduces by 20% to 30%
  • 5% loss – heat exhaustion requiring medical attention
  • 7% loss – hallucinations
  • 10% loss – heat stroke and potentially death

So just why is water so important to our bodies?

  • Needed for all the chemical processes in our cells
  • Enables the transport of nutrients and gasses around the blood
  • Provides lubrication to our joints and protection for our organs
  • Maintains a consistent body temperature (especially during exercise).

Hydration levels can also be affected by sugar, salt, caffeine, food and alcohol.

So just how much should someone drink to stay healthy?

The NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to prevent dehydration. However, when exercising, the body needs more than this. It’s easy to get into the routine of water – I have a one litre drinking bottle and know how many times a day I need to fill it up.

Without getting too personal, it’s easy enough for you to find out if you’re drinking enough water.  Just take a quick look at your urine and if it’s clear to pale yellow then you are hydrated.  Anything from yellow to dark yellow means that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

Some of my lovely clients who work-out with me in Harrold-Odell Park, have asked some interesting questions about hydration and I thought you might be interested in the answers:

I can’t seem to lose my belly fat – is that because I’m drinking too much water?

Keeping your body hydrated is absolutely essential to losing belly fat.  If you are dehydrated your liver doesn’t function correctly and the ability to burn fat is not as effective.  So by drinking lots of water, you will notice your belly reducing in size.

Should I drink water during exercise?

If you want to lose weight and get healthy, then exercise should be part of your programme. You should drink water before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration.  Water helps the muscles, connective tissues and joints to move correctly – also helps the lungs, heart and other organs to function effectively during exercise

So there you have it, water is important for weight loss, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t like water then there are some low sugar/zero calorie squashes out there which you can mix in – be sure to read the label first.

If you’re interested in getting fit and healthy in the great outdoors, then I’d love to see you at one of my one-hour fitness classes in Harrold-Odell Country Park.  We’re a friendly bunch and meet outside the Dragonfly Café every Saturday at 09:20 for a 09:30 start. Everyone is welcome from our youngest “fitbizer” age 13 to our oldest gentleman, mid-70s.

Just click here to find out more or get in touch!

Get Fit in 2019 by Signing Up for one of our Group Fitness Sessions

A happy new year to all our friends and customers! We published this blog a year ago, but don’t see the need to change it this year because all the same advice holds true!

All we would add though, is the fact that you can now join our wonderful Saturday morning group sessions at Harrold-Odell Country Park. The first session is free and you can book a block of ten for the price of 9 if you want to really commit to getting fit this year. So sit back, read on and we look forward to seeing you very soon!

You are probably feeling a little down after all the festive excitement and also a little guilty after indulging in all that food and drink?. Well fear not, so are we!

January is a hard enough month as it is without feeling bad over this stuff. The best way to ease yourself into the new year is to just make small changes each week as you get back to full fitness.

So maybe just have a drink every couple of days or just weekends. Give up the mince pies, but still have a little treat every few days so that you aren’t going completely cold turkey.

In addition to this, if you haven’t visited the gym or had a run for a good few weeks, then again slowly return to your normal routine rather than trying to do it all at once.

A good idea (if you are a runner) might be to sign up for a 10k or half marathon in February and gradually work towards it with some short runs. For gym work, just do 30 minutes rather than your usual 40 or longer.

By the third week of January, you will be feeling so much better and on track to reach your fitness goals for 2019.

Of course, if you need help in getting back to fitness and reaching your goals, then Jules is ready and waiting to make it happen for you!

If you live in Bedfordshire, north Bucks or Northamptonshire, just contact us and we can get cracking!

 

Are You Looking for a New Diet? Then have a Read of this First

As a personal trainer, I’ve often been asked about diets and the best one to do.  We all know that in December we can all be a bit naughty when it comes to eating, but that’s fine as long as it’s not 365 days of the year.  But for the New Year you might want to have a think about a healthy eating plan.

If you want to make a real change to your health, then I would love you to attend one of my regular fitness sessions at Harrold-Odell Park! But I would say that wouldn’t I?! As long as you are doing some regular exercise each week, it doesn’t really matter whether this is in the park or at the gym. To truly make a difference (and to aid your fitness drive) then your nutrition is just as important.

There have been a lot of fad diets over the last 20 to 30 years, from the Atkins to the South Beach diet and hundreds more in-between. Some of these are without doubt very risky and in extreme cases, people have even died from being on them. So I started thinking about what is the best diet for you to retain your shape and fitness, that doesn’t involve you completely giving up on all fun. I’ll even allow you a cheeky glass of wine or two at weekends!

So my research took me back to the mid 1990’s. There used to be something then called the “eatwell Plate” which the government launched to encourage healthy eating. The eatwell plate was a visual representation based on five food groups and showed the proportion that each food group should contribute to a healthy, balanced diet, namely:-

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and milk and other proteins
  • Dairy and alternatives
  • Potatoes, rice, pasta and other carbohydrates
  • Oils and spreads

The eatwell plate was updated to take account of new research in 2014 (less sugars etc) and the main findings are now defined as follows:-

What are the main dietary messages of the new eatwell guide?

  • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible.
  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options.
  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily).
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
  • Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day.
  • If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.

So, there you have it. The prefect non “faddy” way to lead a longer life and really simple to understand. Happy eating!

Jules

Why is the First Ten Minutes of Exercise Always the Hardest?

The title says it all really. Plus, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. I have spoken to many people who run or take part in football, tennis, personal training or any form of exercise really. The answer always comes back the same.

Take running for example. As I’m following a 16 week marathon training programme, I thought that week by week the first ten minutes would begin to get easier. But no, it’s still as hellish as ever! It’s always in the first ten minutes when I want to give up and very nearly do.

So I got to thinking there must be something scientific behind this feeling. There is.

It seems that according to research the body is basically crying out in pain at the beginning of exercise. All of the nerve endings are saying “Woooooooaaah! Why are you waking me up?”

In reality what is happening is that the *senovial fluids are taking their time lubricate your joints.  Your breathing seems irregular and difficult and talking to a running partner is just a no-no.

Other factors such as that feeling of early fatigue during exercise is actually quite normal. In fact, it happens to even highly trained athletes. But rather than feeling demoralised and psyched out by your heavy breathing and burning legs, use this knowledge as a reminder of the importance of the warm up, and remember what’s happening in your body in the first few minutes of exercise.

Have a read of this great article from Elizabeth Quinn which goes into more depth about the scientific reasons for this problem. It tells you all you need to know and how to combat the worst effects so that when minute 11 kicks in; you are really in the zone! Elizabeth concludes “that If you want to take a gentler approach when you head out for a workout, use the first 5 minutes as an easy warm up, the next 5 minutes to ramp up the pace and then settle into your workout as usual”. So no great revelations, just good practical advice.

If you feel suitably relieved having read this blog and you are training for an event or just coming back to fitness, why not get extra help with personal training in Bedfordshire, North Buckinghamshire or Northamptonshire. Just call Jules now for more expert advice and support.

And remember, even Mo Farrah and the Brownlee Brothers feel exactly the same as you do in the first ten minutes. Now that’s a comforting thought!

*The senovial fluids are the bodies way of lubricating the joints and so once this happens you tend to get into a groove after the ten minutes.

 

Group Fitness Sessions in Harrold-Odell Park – Amazing Start

In the last week of August, I have never been so interested in the weather forecast.  On a daily basis I was hoping the predicted sunny spell would hold and that everyone would enjoy working out on a Summer’s day.

Well, the Gods were certainly on our side on 1st September.  The day before, Jes and I met up to discuss the programme and what kit we needed to get out of the garage.  So we arrived at 8:30am with the wheelbarrow to empty the kit out of the car.  Unfortunately, we had a flat, so Jes/Martin enjoyed a good workout getting everything across to the bench (which turned out to be quite some distance from the car park).  With everything set up, we waited for the first clients to arrive.  Martin had done all of the marketing and ensured the villages were swamped with posters and cards.  I don’t think you could turn in Olney without seeing the advertising.

At 9:15am the first clients showed up, with their PAR-Q forms in hand.  A PAR-Q is basically a health questionnaire which allows Jes and I to determine what exercises need to be avoided. Also to advise on other exercises which may help in these areas. Everyone seemed very excited, although a little nervous as to what lay ahead.

With the sun shining and around 18 degrees, we started off with the all important warm-up.  This was soon followed by a circuit and then some excellent exercises using power bags, slam balls and resistance bands for running.  Following a fun (yet tough) work-out we organised a final game and then started the cool-down.

The group will tell you what a great session they had.  Hard work, but plenty of laughs and the hour went so quickly.  If this sounds what you need, then please do come along – you will find us outside the Dragonfly cafe every Saturday at 9:30am (please try to come 10 minutes early to ensure a swift start). The cost is £5 per person and you simply pay as you go – no monthly contracts or joining fees. You can find more details here.

If you want to stay fit and healthy, then it might as well be fun and in a beautiful park.

See you there.

Jules

Is Exercising Outdoors Better for you? I Think we Know the Answer

Although it’s getting cooler now, we’ve certainly had a run of hot weather this year.  I really couldn’t handle the prospect of going to the local gym to work out and any form of fitness classes inside, just left me cold and I couldn’t be bothered.  I’m sure you might have felt the same.

As you know at the very heart of Fitbiznow we believe in fitness in the great outdoors.  Whatever the weather, be it sun, shine, snow or rain you will find us outside working out. After a hard day at the office, sitting down all day and coping with the air conditioning (Summer of course), then it’s great to get outside for a good work-out.  On a beautiful Summer’s evening, it’s wonderful to hop on a bike or go out for a run in the sunlight.

The bottom line is you can take your exercise outside – whatever you can do in the gym, with some imagination you can take outside.

So is there really any benefit to exercising outside?

  1. Exercising outside gives you the opportunity to work-out in a changing environment.  In other words the ground and gradient are changing every step you take. In doing so you are challenging your body more and strengthening up the connective tissue which may help to avoid injury.
  2. Wind resistance can help you to burn more calories.  If you’re on a bike or running, you may find a strong headwind, which takes more energy to cover the same distance.  When you’ve got a strong tailwind, you will feel exhilarated and go faster – this can help to build definition in your body.
  3. There’s some pretty good research out there, which has demonstrated that exercise outside can increase energy levels and positivity with a decrease in anger, confusion and depression.  How many times have you gone to a fitness class in a bad mood and walked away feeling so much better.
  4. Exercising outdoors can improve your mental health as well.  There’s some real benefits to switching the laptop off, leaving the mobile phone at home and enjoying the great outdoors.
  5. Being outside can easily be turned into family time.  Take the kids out on a bike ride, enjoy a game of rounder, clamber over the climbing frame.  Not as good as a one hour circuit, but certainly exercise and plenty of fresh air.

So get outside and enjoy.  Don’t forget we are running Group Fitness classes at Harrold-Odell Park from 1st September 2018.  Please do get along.

 

Why is Fitness So Hard after the Summer Holidays?

You’ve been really good about exercising on the lead up to your holiday and then you go on holiday and have a complete break.  No visits to the gym, no running along the promenade, no yoga…… On top of that you’re drinking every night (or all day if you’re all inclusive), eating the wrong foods and adding a few extra pounds along the way.

Trust me I am where you are right now after every holiday and Martin probably struggles more than me.  You then come back and keep putting off the fitness classes or eating the right foods, combined with drinking every night. You plan to start the following week and then the following week, but the old regime never quite gets off the ground.

So how do you get back on the wagon?

  1. First of all don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone deserves a break during a holiday. Don’t feel that you need to come back from holiday and work off what you consumed by doing hour after hour of cardio.  Get that negativity out of the way and see this as an opportunity to start afresh and try something new.
  2. Try a new class. If you’ve been doing a particular class for years, then it can get boring.  That’s where the Group Classes by Fitbiznow come in useful.  You can get plenty of fresh air, whilst meeting new people without being locked into a contract. If you’re in the area, come along to Odell Park, Harrold.  More details here……
  3. Start slowly and be realistic – you’re bound to be tired after a holiday. Start with half an hour a day with gentle exercise to avoid injury. This beats ploughing in with an hour a day of intensive exercise, which might have a negative impact – in other words you get depressed because you could do this two weeks ago and now you’re struggling.
  4. Try to cut the alcohol out during the week and make this a treat on the weekend with a quality glass of wine. I adopted this approach some years ago and now I really enjoy it.  After a holiday, it’s all too easy to carry on drinking.
  5. Try to get your diet back on track as soon as you can – make it fun. With the beautiful weather we are having, we’re barbecuing most evenings – grilling salmon with a simple salad or making burgers.  Having said that, I am writing this in a thunder storm!

Don’t forget it’s hard for all of us when coming back from holiday. I take a break like anyone else and then find I need to spend quite a bit of time getting back to where I was.

Happy exercising and see you at Odell Park on 1st September, 09:30.  Details here.