Recent surveys show that more and more people are choosing a healthy holiday
The Great British Public are, finally, changing their holiday habits. New research we are studying at Barcelona Bienestar, a health, fitness and sport holiday business based in Catalunya, shows that the number of British people planning a fitness holiday has doubled in the past year, with around one in two people considering an activity-based break as opposed to the traditional ‘fly and flop’ vacation.
The survey found that one in the three people wanted to ‘tone up’ whilst on holiday and a quarter of people surveyed said they would like to lose weight. In contrast, only one out of twenty people said they would want to go on a group drinking holiday. Separate research by a travel company found that staying active while on vacation is now important for 82 percent of people.
Most popular activiites included Pilates, yoga, boot camp, walking and cycling.
More and more people are saying no thanks to over indulging on holiday, and instead they are choosing much healthier pursuits. It’s way too early to think that this could be the demise of the boozy Brits abroad stereotype, but it is a very positive step in the right direction.
health retreats barcelona
At Barcelona Bienestar fitness, sport and wellbeing holidays in Barcelona and Ibiza, we give people the chance to get away from their normal life with all the associated stresses and strains on a health retreat Barcelona, and spend quality time in beautiful locations whilst also refreshing their body and mind. We have a wide range of holidays. On our detox, yoga and meditation retreats, clients immerse themselves into programs designed to make mind and body healthier. Our fitness holidays feature many different activities in both personal training and group training, such as boot camp, Pilates, boxing, HIIT and TRX. These are designed for all levels of fitness, and we work closely with you to achieve all your goals. We also offer sport holidays where you can try new sports such as SUP, surfing, snowboarding, beach volleyball, cycling, hiking, golf, kite surfing and many more.
All of our fitness professionals you will meet on Health Retreat Barcelona are fully qualified in everything they teach. Most countries are not as regulated as the UK when it comes to fitness and health instruction, so be careful when abroad. You can trust Health Retreat Barcelona with you health and fitness.
Health Retreats Barcelona can be designed to meet all requirements, so for example you can have a mixture of fitness sessions and trying different sports. Also do not forget that you are on holiday in beautiful locations, so the full holiday experience can also include day trips, city tours, time to relax on beautiful beaches, and also entry to the best restaurants and clubs.
The attitude that a holiday should be over-indulging and going over the top are long gone. We know that you can return from a holiday feeling refreshed, fitter, healthier and having tried and learnt new training techniques and sports. You can also have a personally designed health and fitness plan to continue to follow.
I do not go looking for controversy, but I am not afraid to speak my mind either, and after all that is what a blog should be for. I certainly do not write articles to create animosity or bad feeling, so please understand that before you read this article or comment upon it. I write from my own opinion, so obviously you might think me right or wrong depending on your own opinion, but we all have the right to our opinion. I respect yours, so please respect mine.
With that said I want to talk about Pilates and dance. We all know that Joseph Pilates was not a dancer, and that in his early days he did not work to any great extent with dancers. It was opening his studio next door to the New York City Ballet that really began the love affair between Pilates and dance, and that affair is still going strong today.
We also all know exactly why Pilates is so suited to dancers so it is not my intention to discuss that here today. What I want to talk about is not so much how much Pilates has influenced dance and dancers, but how much dance and dancers are influencing Pilates.
I know many wonderful Pilates teachers who are former dancers, some of who were integral in my first Pilates experiences and my decision to become a Pilates professional. What concerns me are presenters who are turning Pilates into dance choreography. This means that I come across Pilates teachers who have only ever trained with certain presenters so their idea of Pilates is clearly and fundamentally influenced by dance.
So how should the Pilates method be taught to new teachers?
Everybody has their own individual take on our beloved system, me included (see Pilates EVO: From the Heart). I respect everyone’s ideas, and many of those individual “takes” are wonderful and enhance the experience. But for me the basic principles are sacrosanct and so is a more classical grounding. I only teach Pilates EVO to teachers who are already fully qualified. I see it as an add-on to people’s fundamental knowledge, not the starting point.
I do not think it is good that people do not experience fundamental training and then different types of Pilates, so they can understand that different presenters do sometimes have very different interpretations of the method. I see conventions year after year that feature the same list of presenters, and whilst I am not questioning the value of anyone’s integrity, ability, knowledge or professionalism, in my opinion that can continue to perpetuate the insular beliefs and experiences in some teacher’s minds about what Pilates is.
So what is your opinion about Pilates and dance? Do you agree that there is some truth in what I say, or is your opinion different? I would love to know, so please share.
When is the best time to stretch? How long should we stretch for? Why should we stretch? Does Pilates help to improve flexibility in a safer way? All questions that provoke different opinions and attitudes. I have people come from all over the world to work with me here in Barcelona on my fitness holidays or retreats, and I also train teachers in many different countries, so I hear a lot of different ideas and opinions. So….
Today I want to talk about stretching. Whilst I write my articles aimed at fitness professionals to get different opinions, I also know that many members of the public read my blog as well so I want to make this post informative. However this is still a blog post so by its very nature it needs to be short and sweet.
Let’s start with what is not in dispute (at least I hope we can agree on this).
Your body relies on three main types of tissue when it comes to movement: muscles, ligaments and tendons. However, these tissues can become tight over time, resulting in a reduced range of motion and a higher risk for injury. Stretching can help remedy this problem, when used the correct way and at the correct times within your weekly workout schedule.
One of the main long-term effects of stretching is an increase in your overall flexibility. When you make stretching a habit, you slowly stretch out the connective tissues of your body. Over time, this lengthens the tissues, improving the range of motion in your joints, and in turn your overall ability to move. Stretching these muscles and connective tissues can also help relieve muscle stiffness and reduce the risk of joint degeneration.
More flexibility may also decrease the risk of injuries related to overstretched or overextended muscles and other connective tissues. This is true as long as stretching is thought of as a regular routine, instead of acute stretching directly before exercise, sports practice or a game. Stretching after exercise can also help reduce aches and pains, according to the American Council on Exercise. This is due to stretching’s ability to reduce the shortening and tightening effect of tissues that occurs after exercise and leads to aches and pains.
Static flexibility is stretching one muscle or joint for a duration of time, usually about 30 seconds. This method relaxes the muscles by reducing the amount of neural stimulation which also lengthens any tightness in the muscles and tissues. You should perform static flexibility after your workout, not before, to cool down and relax your body.
Dynamic flexibility is moving one or more joints or muscles in their full range of motion repetitively with control. This method increase neural stimulation, prepares your mind and body for the upcoming workout or activity and increase body temperature. You should perform dynamic flexibility before your workout or activity.
Since the body moves in three primary directions, perform your stretches in all planes of motion that your joint allows. For example, rather than stretching your shoulder in one direction, move your shoulder and together in various directions repetitively until it feels looser, such as over your head, out to the side, in front of you and across your body. Add a rotation to your arm and wrist as you move to experiment with different stretches.
Agreed? I hope so. But now let’s talk about the areas where there is less agreement. There is evidence that static stretching before a game or practice may actually hurt athletic performance (Dr. L.W. McDaniel). The negative effects of static stretching before athletic competition can last up to an hour after the stretching has been completed.
Several papers have been published which has produced a substantial body of evidence that stretching may not be the way to improve performance and decrease risk of injury. There are two studies that have reported that strength was reduced up to one hour after static stretching (Fowles et al. 2000] and Kokkonen et al. 1998). Another study that focused on peak torque during concentric isokinetic leg extension discovered that after one active and three passive stretches, strength decreased at both high and low speeds (Cramer et al. 2004)
So in conclusion, in most cases static stretching before exercise reduces an athlete’s power and strength. If the athlete participates in power or strength exercises acute stretching may not be recommended. For many competitive athletes warming up completely prior to competition and stretching after competition or training may be more important. By stretching afterwards the athlete gains flexibility without compromising power and strength. An additional consideration related to stretching would be to not over extend your range of motion (over stretch a muscle) this practice may cause muscle damage.
How does this evidence relate to the public in general, personal training clients and Pilates client’s in particular? What is your experience personally and with your clients? What are your routines for stretching with your clients?
“What’s the difference between Pilates and Yoga” is a question that I am asked probably more than any other, so I am sure all teachers have been asked this many times as well. It is clearly something that many people do not understand.
It’s been a warm weekend in Barcelona. The weather has turned a little so whilst it’s still hot, there is a slight freshness that is reminding everyone that the heady days of summer are passing and that autumn is not so far away now. The children are back at school and there is the usual surge of people wanting to get back into their fitness and health before the next holidays at Christmas and New Year. I like this time of year. The oppressive heat is dying down, and many of the younger people have returned to their colleges or work, so the demographic of visitors here in Barcelona is older and calmer.
During the weekend I was working with some clients who have travelled to Barcelona from Germany and Russia for one of my wellness and fitness retreats, and yet again, the Pilates or yoga question was asked. I like to let the Universe direct me to what my blogs should be about, so the message at the weekend was clear: what is the best way to explain to people the difference between Pilates and yoga?
In my experience, it’s quite typical that many yoga and Pilates devotees are passionate about their chosen discipline, but it’s clear to me that many members of the public do not understand the differences and are therefore not in a good position to decide which is best for them (or of course decide to do both as I do). As people are so passionate about their chosen discipline, if you ask one of them you are unlikely to get an objective and unbiased opinion.
Some Pilates teachers incorporate elements of their yoga practise into their Pilates teachings and vice versa, so sometimes it could be argued that the lines get blurred (can’t resist a musical MTV reference to Miley Cyrus, our twerking Pilates fan!) I use some Kundalini in my Pilates system Pilates EVO, primarily as stretches and transition movements.
So what really and simply is the difference between yoga and Pilates? How do you describe it to your clients who ask?
Let us use as our starting point the following statements and go from there:
Yoga is an ancient practice that focuses the body, mind and spirit. The yoga lifestyle upholds more than just a healthy physical lifestyle by embracing good moral values such as honesty and tolerance. Its intention was to join the individual spirit with the universal spirit. Pilates is a modern school of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates as a way to improve core strength and spinal alignment. Pilates combines flexibility, core strength and body awareness to support physical rehabilitation.
Ancient yoga practices were passed down individually between teacher and student, so there are many schools and types of yoga. Each school of yoga combines a series of postures, breathing exercises and meditation to form different routines. The repetitive movement of yoga can be very therapeutic while also building flexibility and strength. Yoga has also developed popularity as a great way to relieve stress. Exercises are completed on a floor mat and need no special equipment to begin.
Pilates improves your body from the centre outward by strengthening your core and improving your posture. Pilates is considered a resistance exercise to build muscle and support for the body while aiding flexibility. The core and spinal cord are the central and most important part of whole-body strength and awareness. The cornerstones of Pilates exercises include concentration, control, centring, breathing, flow and precision. A floor mat and specialized machines may be used in Pilates practice.
Pilates reigns supreme as the key to a strong core and improved posture. Practitioners experience stronger abdominal muscles and those hard-to-target obliques from holding positions and using resistance. Pilates exercises will make your body appear taller and leaner. You will also see improved flexibility in your hamstrings and hips. Yoga will provide the most improvement in flexibility. Holding poses while focusing on breathing stretches the body and relaxes muscles, and certain poses will target certain muscles.
So do we all agree? If not, can we all agree on a definitive explanation to clearly explain the differences, or in your experience do you not think we really need one?
How to make your Barcelona holiday a health and fitness retreat
A holiday means many different things to different people.
Some people go to a beach resort to relax in the sun. Some people choose adventure holidays to explore. Some people like sightseeing breaks or a more gastronomic emphasis to immerse themselves in a different culture. Some people choose sport-based holidays to practise their favourite hobby or try something new like golf, horse-riding, skiing or snowboarding, mountain biking, surfing/SUP or hiking. Others might want music and the arts to form the basis of their vacation.
So why is a holiday to Barcelona such a great choice? It is because in Barcelona you can have every one of the holidays I mention above.
More people are choosing to have some organisation to their holiday. The days of the traditional package holiday may be long gone as people use the internet to create their own designer holidays, but more people want something constructive to do on their holiday. But they do not want a hotel-organised series of events or classes that the hotel manager thinks you will like at a time specified by the hotel. They want a tailor-made, personal itinerary that fits in with individual particular requirements and timescales.
This is where Barcelona Bienestar answers the needs of our clients. There is nothing we cannot arrange and organise for our clients who come to us from all over the world. Barcelona is such a diverse and interesting city and we complement this by giving our clients a personal itinerary so they can maximise their enjoyment of their holiday.
We offer a health and wellness package based around whatever interests our clients. Fitness activities include personal training, Pilates, TRX, boxing, weighted vest training, functional training, HIIT, and programs based around specific sports such as Stand up Paddle (SUP) fitness, skiing/snowboarding, surfing, walking, mountain biking, rock climbing and many more. For all these activities, we arrange time not only training, but also practising. So you will get time on a surf board, on the slopes or on a mountain.
But it’s not just physical activities we offer. We also offer a range of wellness and beauty services including massage, diet, weight loss, eye lash curling and extensions, gel nails and meditation.
We also organise cultural holidays including the arts and gastronomy, and we give advice on all aspects of Barcelona from the best restaurants to the best sights to see.
We take the stress out of organising your holiday, but you are always in control so you have exactly the holiday you want and need. We can simply arrange your activities, or on a full package we can organise your hotel, meals and transfers as well. What ever you want and need.
For more information, click on www.barcelonabienestar.com or contact us and let us organise your dream holiday for you. Barcelona is waiting for you, and so are we.
Another week nears an end. It’s been a hot one here in Barcelona which pleases the sun worshippers and the ice-cream sellers, but maybe not so much the exercisers.
After a week of serious blog posts, I have that Celebrity Friday feeling again, my compromise afte a week of serious blogs. I have explained before (but I will again), I am not obsessed with celebrity. I have never bought Hello Magazine. What I am obsessed with is Pilates. And whilst not every one agrees, it’s my opinion that if someone starts Pilates because their friend, neighbour, sporting hero or favourite celebrity does Pilates, then why not?
I’ve had comments about glamorising Pilates, about how privileged celebrities are, about creating false hope, about living on a different planet… Whilst I respect the opinion of everyone, it is my humble opinion that these people are missing the point of my posts and they are taking everything way to seriously. All I am doing is raising the awareness of Pilates. Plain and simple. If you do not or can not understand that, then I am sorry for wasting your time and please do not read my blog on a Friday! 🙂
So today I am talking about Mila Kunis (again). The 31 year-old Hollywood actress, has been doing Pilates throughout her pregnancy, even before she announced she was pregnant with fiancé Ashton Kutcher’s baby. See my previous post “Mila Kunis Pregnancy Pilates”.
She can clearly no longer hide the fact, and she was photographed outside Hunt Pilates in California this week following a class. She is also reported to be having prenatal yoga classes as well, and she admits to cravings for sauerkraut, pickles, guacamole and fish tacos.
It’s celebrity Friday so I allow myself this day to blatantly flaunt celebrities who do Pilates, and pregnant celebrities I think are a great example to show the general public how beneficial Pilates can be and to help raise awareness.
The personal training pregnant clients that I teach in Barcelona are always blooming and more than happy to show off their “baby bumps” (their name not mine). As one of my Russian clients said to me this week, “life doesn’t have to be put on hold whilst I’m pregnant, I’m having a great time doing Pilates, exercising and enjoying all the Barcelona has to offer!”
Do you have any quotes or stories about your pregnant clients that you can share that might help us to inspire current and potential future clients? Also, I am getting conflicting comments from Pilates teachers about their training and what they have been told is safe/not safe to teach, and for how long Pilates can be taught during pregnancy and how soon after birth.
I hope Mila’s example will convince more women to try Pilates.
Have a great weekend where ever you are in the world. If you are ever in Barcelona, then please come say hello!
Pilates in Chelmsford, Essex. How to run a successful group session
I started Pilates over 20 years ago because I had a problem with my back. My story is not uncommon, as in my experience the majority of people who start Pilates do so as a result of a problem, an injury or advice from a doctor or physiotherapist. Pilates changed my life, so it is my mission to raise awareness of Pilates and to make sure that everyone has access to professional and reliable Pilates classes.
I will use the example of classes that I run in a hall in Margaretting which is in Chelmsford, Essex as this sums up what I want to talk about in the article perfectly.
Before I begin, some of you reading this might not be clear exactly what Pilates is. There is a lot of misinformation out there so I will try to succinctly explain.
Pilates is a full body conditioning program appropriate for the young and old, developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates. His revolutionary program focuses on training the mind and body to work together more effectively and efficiently. Pilates dramatically transforms the way the body looks, feels, and performs by incorporating modern exercise science and rehabilitation principles, eliminating contraindicated movements while emphasising neutral alignment, core stability and peripheral mobility. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body and a flat abdomen. It teaches body awareness, good posture and easy, graceful movement whilst improving flexibility, agility and economy of motion.
Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, our clients can re-train their body to move in safer, more efficient patterns of motion – invaluable for injury recovery, good posture and optimal health. No other exercise system is so gentle to the body while giving it a challenging workout. Pilates builds a foundation of strength and flexibility that creates a better balanced body.
It is for these reasons that so many people practise Pilates. From Olympic competitors and professional sportsmen and women, to people recovering from serious injury, operations or following childbirth. Pilates can really help everyone, but only if it is done properly and regularly.
So back to Pilates in Chelmsford. The reason that I use Margaretting as my example is because it shows what is possible. The classes there have been running successfully for over 10 years. It is essential to give people regular and professional classes that they know they can rely on. Of course circumstances mean that sometimes a class cannot run (but it takes a lot of snow to stop us!) and sometimes it is necessary and healthy to introduce a new teacher, but consistency is vital so people know that their class will be running every week. What is important is that the classes are regular and frequent. The timetable for Chelmsford is:
Mondays: 9.30 am to 10.30 am and 19.00 to 20.00
Thursdays: 9.30 am to 10.30 am and 19.30 to 20.30
This has been the same for many years so people know when the classes take place. Communication is important and with this in mind we now have a Facebook Group dedicated to Pilates in Chelmsford. Click here (Pilates in Chelmsford) to view and join the page. You will find up-to-date information and interesting articles about Pilates and health. There is a lovely sense of community in these groups that is wonderful for regulars but also very welcoming for new people.
The quality of the teacher is also paramount and when I talk about quality I mean professionalism, qualifications but also personality and teaching ability. We all know people who are highly qualified but cannot seem to get that knowledge across in an interesting way.
The classes are appropriate for all levels because the teachers are of a high quality. It is possible to have absolute beginners in the same class as very experienced people because most of the exercises have different levels of difficulty so everyone has a choice.
The venue itself is also very important. For our Pilates in Chelmsford we use Margaretting Village Hall in Wantz Road. It is a perfect venue. It is clean (it’s cleaned everyday), it has good ventilation in the summer, and excellent heating in the winter, it is easily accessible (only 10 minutes from central Chelmsford and 2 minutes from the A12, also 10 minutes from Brentwood and Billericay and only 3 minutes from Ingatestone) and importantly there is ample free parking. This all makes for a stress free experience.
For these classes I provide all the mats (and they are proper, full length Pilates mats, not yoga mats or cheap imitations) and also all other equipment such as balls and bands. This means that people can just turn up, enjoy the session and go home.
Cost is also very important. The session must be affordable and good value for people. So I still only charge £6 for an hours class (this price has not increased for 3 years), and people can buy a block that makes the sessions even cheaper.
Every ingredient is important if the end result is going to be the best it can.
If you have any questions about Pilates in general or about Pilates sessions in Chelmsford then please contact me on 07947 650809 or email email@example.com. You can also read more about Pilates by clicking on www.chrishuntpilates.com. You will find a link there to the Pilates Life Solutions website.
Working as a fitness exercise trainer in Barcelona, I am often asked the same type of questions. In my blog I will try to answer some of these questions. Today I talk about losing weight without losing performance.
Many athletes and fitness participants wish to lose weight, either for health or performance reasons.
However, rapid weight loss can have serious health consequences leading to a reduction in performance.
Since 95% of dieters fail to maintain their weight loss within a five-year period, lifestyle management is the key to long-term weight management. Two methods that should not be entertained are crash dieting and dehydration.
It has been proven that rapid weight loss results in diminished aerobic capacity. Fat is more fattening calorie for calorie than carbohydrate. This is supported by a number of well-controlled studies. It is the over- consumption of fat, rather than carbohydrate or protein, that results in body fat gain. To lose body fat, you simply have to expand more energy (calories) than you consume.
Research has shown that a combination of diet and activity is more likely to result in long-term success than diet or exercise alone. There are no miracle solutions or short cuts. The objectives of a healthy diet and exercise programme are to:
Expand more energy than you consume
Maintain (or increase) lean tissue
Gradually reduce body fat percentage
Avoid a significant reduction in resting metabolic rate (this is the number of calories your body burns if you did nothing all day).
Obtain energy requirements from a high percentage of carbohydrate (60%) and a low percentage of fat (15-20%)
Achieve an optimal intake of vitamins and minerals
The key to successful fat loss is to cut your calories mostly from fat and to reduce carbohydrates by only a modest amount. If you reduce carbohydrate intake below the daily average requirement, glycogen stores become depleted which results in lean tissue loss, so is not a good idea.
Keys points for permanent fat loss are:
Set realistic goals, and write them down.
Monitor body composition changes by measuring chest, waist, hips, arms and legs, and obtain skin-fold thickness measurements by using callipers.
Aim to lose no more than 0.5 kg each week.
Keep a food diary. Most people eat far more than they realise or admit to.
Trim the saturated fat by using less butter, deep-fried foods, fatty meats, pastry, cakes, biscuits and chocolate.
Do you spend your year ploughing through pile after pile of chocolate? Valentine’s Day chocolate (having previously just finished the Christmas chocolate bonanza), then Easter, and birthdays and dark nights and mother’s/father’s day etc etc. The chocoholic’s calendar is usually very busy.
It will come as no surprise at all that chocolate is the most frequently craved food, with 40% of women and 15% of men claiming chocolate yearnings (Yanovski 2003). My dear Mum used to say that chocolate cravings were caused by the body asking for the “goodness” found only in that magical wrapper. But are chocolate cravings based in science or psychology, or both?
It is complicated. Chocolate comprises a complex medley of over 400 distinct components that gives it that unique taste, texture and aroma. It has properties that enhance our urge for sensory gratification, so simply seeing or smelling it can trigger cravings. Even writing about it is making me want to reach for that Malteasers Easter Egg hidden away as a present for my Niece.
Like drug addictions, food cravings alter potent neurotransmitters that regulate our mood. Cocoa butter changes from solid to liquid at mouth temperature (the melt-in-your-mouth quality), which causes the brain to release a flood of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, producing temporary feelings of warmth and euphoria. The analgesic effect of chocolate may be a source of sensory addiction for some.
The sugar in chocolate stimulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and provides a sense of calm and well-being. Chocolate may help chase the blues by raising serotonin levels, though the science behind this is disputed.
Chocolate contains psychoactive agents that can change mood. Theobromine, a chemical similar to caffeine, is absorbed quickly, mildly stimulating the nervous system to increase the heart rate and can give a mild energy surge. Chocolate is rich in phenylethylamine (PEA) another stimulant. PEA levels are enhanced in people in love, so eating chocolate may temporarily mimic the love vibe, without the need to pay it compliments or take it out to dinner.
And if that was not enough, recent research suggests that people who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner. The findings come from a study of nearly 1,000 US people that looked at diet, calorie intake and body mass index (BMI) – a measure of obesity. It found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it occasionally. Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favour weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe.
Despite boosting calorie intake, regular chocolate consumption was related to lower BMI in the study. The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account. And it appears it is how often you eat chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it you eat. The study found no link with quantity consumed.
According to the researchers, there is only one chance in a hundred that their findings could be explained by chance alone. But the findings only suggest a link – not proof that one factor causes the other. Lead author Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California at San Diego, said: “Our findings appear to add to a body of information suggesting that the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining their ultimate impact on weight.”
This is not the first time scientists have suggested that chocolate in moderation may be healthy for us. Other studies have claimed chocolate may be good for the heart. Consumption of certain types of chocolate has been linked to some favourable changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol level. And chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain antioxidants which can help to mop up harmful free radicals – unstable chemicals that can damage our cells
Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight – at least studies in rodents would suggest this might be so. Mice fed for 15 days with epicatechin (present in dark chocolate) had improved exercise performance and observable changes to their muscle composition. They say clinical trials are now needed in humans to see if this is the case. There will no doubt be a long queue of willing human guinea pigs willing to risk their health by eating chocolate in the name of science.
But there are still lots of unanswered questions. So while there’s no harm in allowing yourself chocolate now and again, eating too much might be harmful because it often contains a lot of sugar and fat. So if you are looking to change your diet, you are likely to benefit most from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
When we create something ourselves, it can be a difficult step to share our creation with the world. What will people think? Will they like it? Will they criticize or praise? Will it be a success? I have always followed the words of Aristotle, who famously said, “there is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing”.
When I was young, I suffered from a lot of back pain. I was born with a spine defect and that led to poor posture which made my problem worse. Hours spent playing sports and practising the piano further added to my problems. I tried many things to help, but Pilates was the thing that really changed my life. It enabled me to live a full life, to run marathons, to snowboard, surf, play golf and never think twice about my back before trying something new. From that day forward, I had a passionate belief that Pilates could help many people improve their quality of life.
In the early days, whilst still practising and studying Pilates I was worked in the City of London as an Insurance Manager. I continue to this day working as a Senior Business Consultant so my life has an excellent balance.
I travelled the world teaching Piates and learning (we never stop learning, and anyone who says any different is very sadly mistaken). As well as Pilates, I was interested in kundalini and other methods of functional training. I also developed a deep love of meditation which took me to the Buddhist Temples of Thailand. Whilst there, I also discovered and studied meridians, becoming qualified in Thai Massage. It was not just the body that interested me. I had always been interested in psychology, in what I saw as “total fitness”. I studied Buddhist psychology and other modern concepts such as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).
As I travelled teaching Pilates, within my subconscious there was a seed that was growing, an idea that I could use all my knowledge to create a different type of Pilates that reflected the ancient and modern. I am classically trained, and it pains me to see some of the new systems that claim to be “Pilates” when they are clearly nothing of the sort. So I took my time to think about how my new system could stay true to the principles of Pilates, to my principles, but how I could add to the experience my own knowledge, character and ideas.
It was important for to me to create a system from my heart, a system where everything has meaning and purpose. In my opinion there are too many systems and teachers who teach not from their heart, but from their bank balance. To quote Einstein, “Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty.”
Music has always been a massive part of my life. I am a classically trained pianist and I play guitar, sing and write songs. I wanted every detail of EVO to maximise the total experience, so it has its own unique uplifting soundtracks mixed in London designed to enable clients to really connect with how their body is moving and working, giving a deep and rewarding experience.