I tried online P.E. with Joe Wicks today, and here’s what I found out.

As the UK schools closed, and the nation were told to stay at home, Joe Wicks (aka the Body Coach) self-appointed himself as the nations P.E. teacher. As he explains in his first video, Joe originally wanted to be a P.E. teacher in his younger days, but life took him down a different route. If you have come across him before it is most likely through one of his ‘Lean in 15’ recipe books, or his You Tube channel packed with HIIT workouts to do at home. I’ve tried his stuff before, but I prefer outdoor exercise to HIIT routines, so didn’t stick to it for long.

It’s not just for kids

So this morning, in an attempt to encourage my 7 year old to exercise I decided to do one of Joe’s P.E. workouts myself, if for no other reason to set a good example, but also because I was really feeling the need to get some more exercise myself. By the end I felt great. My mission to encourage my son to join in had failed, but I had got my heart rate up and felt energised and much more positive about the day.

It’s very simple

I was initially put off by the lack of music, but soon realised that Joe’s constant chattering was enough of a background soundtrack. His encouragement, light heartedness and self-depreciation make you feel like it’s ok if you can’t always keep up, and that you can get some exercise without taking it too seriously. The sequence of exercise, break, exercise, break means you’re never far away from the next break, which makes it easier to keep going. Joe also provided plenty of options of harder and easier versions so if, like me, you’re not as nimble as a 7 year old. There was normally an easier version you could keep going with.

This is what P.E. should be like

I know from my own coaching practice that many women have developed an aversion to exercise due to experiences at school. To me this is a tragedy, and I’m pretty sure Joe would agree. He has been working with schools in recent years to try and promote physical activity to children in a way that is fun and engaging. He also takes the time to explain what’s going on with the body and the feel-good benefits it creates. I would have loved him to be my P.E. teacher – and why not. Maybe this is an opportunity to try again. Yes, these workouts are aimed at children, but the level is suitable for adults, you can work at your own level, and even Joe got himself out of breath!

Here is an opportunity

So, to anyone who falls into the category of hating school P.E, I would say – give it a go with Joe! Especially if you have time on your hands, and you’re avoiding going out of the house. This is a great way to start your day and create a new experience of being active.

And if you’re used to being active but have found your usual workout venues are closed, these workouts will be great for you too. You can work at the more intense level, get as worn out as Joe, and feel refreshed and ready for the day.

How to get involved

Joe’s P.E. workouts are streamed from his YouTube channel every weekday at 9am. You can watch the life streaming or play one of the previous recordings. I’m lucky enough to be able to play YouTube directly on my TV, but if this isn’t an option for you a tablet or laptop would also work well – and would even give you the option of taking it into the garden! If you’re new to this type of technology, persevere and ask friends for help if needed, it will be worth it.

Stay Safe, Stay Well.

Diane x

www.fitbee.co.uk

Spring is just around the corner!

OK, I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but in a couple of months flowers will be blooming, birds will be chirping and many of us will be looking forward to getting outdoors more and even getting a bit more active with friends and family.

Personally I can’t wait. For me daylight is important for my mental health, and whilst I’m managing OK at the moment, I’m really looking forward to getting an extra boost. My plans range from outdoor swimming to running, with maybe some long walks and definitely some gardening thrown in.

I’m aware that I’m in a pretty fortunate position. Not only have I learned how to manage my activity levels, I’ve also learned how to not be put off by the ups and downs of taking care of my wellbeing. However, I only came to be this way following years of experience and a determination to keep driving forward and find a solution.

As a consequence of this drive, I have completed an ironman triathlon, 3 half-ironmans, an ultra-marathon and a whole range of swimming, cycling, running and triathlon events too numerous to list here. I’ve also experienced the incredible power of exercise on my wellbeng, and I’ve seen it in countless others too.

Often in Spring, I’m looking over the horizon to the next big challenge, but now as a Mum in my early 40s, I have chosen to take a new perspective. I have chosen to go after the holy grail … balance!

So this Spring I’m on the look out for family friendly bike trails, adventure parks, and as many parkruns as I can fit in. In between all this I’ll be looking for the best way to serve others with an outlook similar to mine. A keenness to exercise and be active, with a desire to keep a balanced life and involve friends and family too.

My programs are unique in that I focus on your mind more than your body. Even Olympic Champions know that success is 90% in the mind. I intend to share what they know with the masses.

My next program begins Monday 24th February. Pop me a message if you’re interested.

Much love, Diane

Choosing the gym that’s right for you

It’s a common cliche that we all sign up to expensive new gym memberships in January, only for them to become deserted by February. The cynical amongst us might even suggest that gyms are only interested in extracting money from us, and care little for whether or not we achieve our fitness and wellbeing goals. In fact, isn’t it better for them if we fail and then we keep going back to spend more money?

Whilst there’s always unscrupulous money grabbers, in every industry, the truth is that most people choose to work in health and fitness because they love to support and inspire people to live healthier and happier lives. Yes it’s a business, but it’s also a business striving to make a positive impact in the world.

5 Top Tips

So how do you choose a gym that’s really going to support you and dodge the money grabbers. Here are my 5 top tips:

1) Do your research.

Have you thought about what you need from your gym membership? There’s no point signing up because there’s a great looking pool if you never had any intention of going swimming. If you really want to do classes what are their classes like? Is it possible to have a taster or trial? It sounds obvious but sophisticated marketing at this time of year can often lead us to rush a decision before we’ve really done out homework.

2) If you wouldn’t pay full price then don’t buy at discount.

I think this is important because you need to make a judgement whether this place is really value for money. If you know you’d be prepared to pay top prices then you are genuinely getting a bargain. If you are only buying because “it’s cheap at the moment” then maybe your hearts not really in it.

3) Talk to the staff.

It’s the people that really make the place. Don’t be fobbed off with sales office people on a mission to lure you in. You want to talk to the reception staff and fitness instructers and decide for yourself if they come across as friendly, welcoming and supportive. Trust me, you’re going to need those positive vibes when you’re trying to motivate yourself out the door on a cold wet day.

4) Consider different gym types

There can be huge differences between different gyms and there really is no one size fits all. I know some people who love the budget style gyms, and it works well for them because they are self motivating and are just paying for what they need – the basics. Others prefer more of a luxury spa feel.

For example, I recently visited Supersonic Fitness, a boutique gym in the centre of York, and I was blown away by how much they broke the mold of the traditional chain gyms that I was used to. Before my visit some people commented that it was expensive. The reasons why became apparent as I took my tour and interrogated one of their lovely fitness instructors. With membership capped at much lower levels then traditional gyms, the Supersonic instructors are really able to focus on individual service and attention for their members. There is a real family vibe between the staff. And the relaxation suite with both infra-red and thermal saunas is a little piece of luxury after a long work out.

Supersonic have taken the deliberate decision to focus more holistically on both fitness and wellbeing, and this commitment was certainly backed up by the delicious, nutritious food offered by their cafe. So yes, it is a bit more expensive, but if they fit your needs, and you can afford it, then it could be perfect.

5) Location, Location, Location

Even if you find the greatest gym which fits your needs and your wallet, it isn’t going to work for you if you have to do a 2 hour round trip to make it there. Great locations are: close to work, on your commuting route, or close to home. The last one being especially useful if you want to use it on your days off.

Think about when you most want to use the gym and how traveling there will fit into your day. Many people prefer to go to the gym straight before, or straight after work. Having to to go home first, and then motivate yourself to get out again can be a big challenge, so a gym you can use before or after work takes one more obstacle out of your way. Another good routine is to go to the gym just before shopping. You can then use the inspiration from your workout to help you stick to healthier choices in the supermarket.

When you think you’ve found a gym in a great location, try a travel trial run on the days you think you will use it. It may be that you visit at the weekend, but getting there in the week at rush hour takes 4 times longer. This is something you’ll want to find out before paying up.

So gyms do tend to get a bad rap, but if you can find one that works for you then absolutely go for it. When you find a good fit, a gym can be a great source of support and inspiration, and a little me time space away from the wild outdoor weather. Don’t be put of by the cliches and the cynics. Only you know what is right for you

Dr Diane Brown is a Fitness & Wellbeing Coach, qualified in Sport & Exercise Psychology, Wellbeing Life Coaching and Triathlon Coaching. She has overcome her own health challenges to successfully complete an Ultramarathon (2018) and Ironman UK (2011). Diane’s current mission is to help as many women as possible to create active lifestyles, gain greater wellbeing and enjoy a better quality of life.

Family Friendly Fitness

New Year, New You!

Doing more exercise” is a popular new year’s resolution, with gyms at peak marketing trying to gain new customers.

The thing is, we all know that an active lifestyle is good for us, but how do we make that a reality when there are so many other pressures in life? From going out to work to taking care of the family, it can often seem that wherever we turn there is yet another demand on our time and resources.

This is especially the case for mothers, who typically adopt the role of primary carer for the children, as well as often supporting older relatives too. For such women, it can feel that focusing on one’s own self-care is a luxury at best, and at worst just plain selfish!

So, what’s the solution?

What we need is a more family friendly approach to fitness which is inclusive of a mother’s needs and takes a more holistic view of fitness together with a woman’s wellbeing. For example, many mothers experience guilt at spending time away from their children to exercise. Dealing with these feelings is important as they get into our sub-conscious and help generate the long list of reasons why we can’t do it. There is no quick fix to this one, but you feel that feelings of guilt are preventing you from taking up exercise then you might want to consider having a chat with an exercise psychologist or wellbeing life coach.

Another issue is that we often focus on what exercises to do, and how often, and forget to consider how our new active lifestyle will integrate with the rest of life. This can sometimes create problems down the line as our new routines become more difficult to stick to. Sustainable active lifestyles tend to incorporate physical activity into daily routines, allowing the family to be active together. Some of the most popular activities to consider are trips to the park, dancing round the house, active computer games, family friendly events (such as parkrun), swimming and walking or cycling to school. For some reason the “fitness industry” tends not to focus on these types of activities and this can lead us to feel that they’re not “proper exercise” – but they are!

Understanding your needs

Of course, any major lifestyle change requires a specific period of focussed effort, ideally supported by someone who is knowledgeable on how to overcome the setbacks and challenges ahead. But choosing where to go for support can be overwhelming, especially in the new year when we seem to be bombarded with advertising for the latest new health trend, and the quick fixes seem ever more tempting. Remember, there is no quick fix.

My personal recommendation is that to know who can help you best, you first need to understand yourself and your own needs. Try this:

Take yourself aside for 20 minutes and try the following exercise:

  1. Write down your health goals – what are you prepared to work on to make a long-lasting change?
  2. Write down who else you think will be affected by the changes you want to make. How will they be affected – include both positive and negative – does this help or hinder you?
  3. Write down the reason why you want to achieve this health goal – how will you feel this time next year if you’re successful?
  4. Write down some initial ideas of things you’d like to try to help achieve your goals – what have you enjoyed in the past or always fancied having a go at?

When you have your answers, you are ready to start looking for the right kind of support, based on your own needs. For every gym, club, personal trainer or coach you consider, think about if they will be a good fit against what you have written down.

Choose what’s right for you

Making a lifestyle change can be hard, but it can also be made much easier with the right help and support. Take your time and begin when you are ready. If you are interested in learning more about my work, I would love you to contact me through my website. Until then I wish you all health and happiness for you and your family in 2020.

Dr Diane Brown is a Fitness & Wellbeing Coach, qualified in Sport & Exercise Psychology, Wellbeing Life Coaching and Triathlon Coaching. She has overcome her own health challenges to successfully complete an Ultramarathon (2018) and Ironman UK (2011). Diane’s current mission is to help as many women as possible to create active lifestyles, gain greater wellbeing and enjoy a better quality of life.

Festive Fitness & Winter Wellbeing

Winter must be one of the most challenging times of year for our fitness and wellbeing. A combination of cold, damp weather, a touch of overindulgence and frenetic Christmas preparations can leave many of us feeling wiped out come the New Year.

No wonder then that January is so popular for new year’s resolutions as we attempt to inject some healthfulness back not our worn-out bodies.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if we were to approach winter a little more mindfully and give ourselves some self-nurturing during the festive season?

Now before you panic, I’m not suggesting you cancel all your Christmas Parties and go tee total for Christmas (unless you want to), but there are things we can add to our day to support our fitness and wellbeing through these challenging months. Here are my 3 top tips:

A person standing in the snow

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  1. Get Outdoors!

I can’t say this often enough or loud enough, but if you do only one thing to support your wellbeing this winter make it spending time outside in the daylight – even dim daylight! We instinctively know that being outside is good for us, but it’s also scientifically proven to boost your mental wellbeing too. So, whatever you’re doing, try to do at least some of it outside.

  1. 2. Eat your vegetables!

Sounds obvious? Heard it all before? Well there is a good reason for that. The nutrients we put into our bodies make a huge difference to our health, fitness and mental wellbeing. We tend to over-indulge at this time of year which puts a strain on our bodies. Now I don’t want to be a killjoy and tell you to put down the mince pies. I believe healthy eating should focus on including greater nutrition rather than deprivation, so whatever you’re piling on your plate think what else you can add to boost the nutrients your getting. One of my winter veggie favourites is braised red cabbage with apples and pears. What’s yours? If you don’t have one, go experimental and see what tasty nutritious treats you can discover.

  • 3. Move your body!

It can be challenging to stick to any kind of exercise routine in winter, especially on days when it’s icy and treacherous outside. In addition, the endless line of visitors and visiting can soon push good intentions to the bottom of the to do list. However, by focusing on just doing what you can, when you can, you can take the pressure off and get enjoyment from moving your body when the opportunity arises. Here are some of my festive favourites:

  • Winter walks – round the block to admire the Christmas lights, or down to the pub to meet some friends. Getting out and walking is especially fun in the Christmas holidays when lots of other people are doing it and you can dress yourselves up in Santa hast for a bit of fun.
  • Sledging – OK, you will need a touch of snow for this one, but if it comes make the most of your opportunity. A few kids on a sledge with you trying to pull it along will give you a great workout and make you popular parent (or grandparent) number 1!
  • Dancing! – This one can be enjoyed whatever the weather and is perfect for when it goes dark outside. Throw on a few tunes and boogie around the house. Great for entertaining the kids but also handy when you need a bit of motivation to get the housework done.

Whatever type of movement you want to go for, just 20 minutes of getting your heart rate up each day will really help boost your fitness and wellbeing, and will also set a great example to other family members.

Some final thoughts:

Fitness isn’t all about weight loss, running times and muscle tone. Probably the most important thing exercise can do for us, and our stressful lives, is the boost it gives to our mental wellbeing – and you don’t need a gym membership to achieve it.

At FitBee, I focus on helping women gain greater wellbeing through exercise, and balancing fitness goals with the demands of family and work life. During my life, I have faced many health challenges from obesity to back injury and from anxiety to burnout. What I discovered was that being more active brought huge benefits, not only to my health, but also how I felt about myself. That is why I chose a new career path at the age of 41, trained in Wellbeing Life Coaching and qualified in Sport & Exercise Psychology, so that I can help support other women going through similar experiences. You can find out more about me and my work on my website www.fitbee.co.uk

If you have some fitness & wellbeing goals, I’d love to discuss them with you sometime, but until then have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!