Fitness

5th March 2018
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by Brendan Murphy (Shanti Warrior Yoga)

If your spine’s not healthy, then all the hard work that you’re doing to develop your muscles could be wasted!

So it’s important to consider how your lifestyle is impacting your spine…

Due to the fact that many of us spend a lot of time sitting hunched over a desk, we are putting a lot of pressure on the front part of our intervertebral discs. These discs could be described as the “shock absorbers” between the bones of the spine…

In other words, if you don’t balance out the muscles at the front and the back of the body equally, you can end up doing yourself a mischief! That’s why (in my biased opinion!) Yoga is so great…

If you tend to over-round your back and neck (looking down at your phone for a large portion of your day, for example), you can end up with a prolapsed (or “slipped”) disc in the spine. This is because the intervertebral disc is squished at the front of the spine by the continuous pressure of the vertebrae pressing down at the anterior section, which can cause it to bulge out at the back…

No matter what your passion (Boot Camp, Football, Rugby, or Ballet!), keeping your spine healthy is always going to be important. Since Yoga places a huge emphasis on keeping the spine strong and mobile, then you start to see why so many top-level athletes and sportspeople use this practice as a compliment to their training…

One of the most important sequences in Yoga is the Sun Salutation – a series where you essentially flex and extend the spine by doing forward folds and backbends. This works the muscles in the front and the back of the body equally – which, in turn, makes sure that we balance out the pressure on the front and the back of the intervertebral discs.

This means you’ll end up with better posture (if you’re doing it right!), and that your spine will be better able to deal with whatever gets thrown at it…

Of course, the spine is also the home of the spinal cord, which transfers all the messages from the brain throughout the body – so a healthy spine is also key to stopping you getting things like trapped nerves, which can be debilitating…

So – if you’re the type of person who always focuses on just doing those ab exercises for the washboard stomach, you must make sure to do some lower back strengthening too! Ladies (and gents, I suppose!) – if you’re on the “booty boost” vibe, don’t neglect those lower back stretches too!

Remember that too much of anything is not good for you…It’s all about balance – but then, as a Yoga teacher, I WOULD say that…

About the Author

Brendan Murphy is the Founder of Shanti Warrior Yoga – a form of Yoga that focuses on building strength and flexibility in equal measure, as well as helping with stress relief and relaxation.

Brendan has been practicing Yoga for over a decade, and has been teaching since 2013. He prides himself on being able to teach people of all abilities – whether you’re a professional athlete, or someone who hasn’t done much exercise in years. As Brendan likes to say: “Just do what you can do – and every time you don’t give up, you win!”

You can get in touch with Brendan at Shanti Warrior Yoga by calling 07540 848791, following @ShantiWarriors on Twitter, or searching for Shanti Warrior Yoga on Facebook.


31st August 2017
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No no…. we don’t mean the 90’s American boy band but these awesome new Instructors who have join the Fitness Squad family recently.

We thought we’d introduce them to you all so you can get to know them.

 

Aaron Weatherley
Aaron has a history of sport and fitness, playing football at a professional level with Aston Villa and Northampton. He also trains 5-6 times a week using resistance training and Crossfit to keep in shape. Aaron has previous experience of running boot camp sessions for three years. His attitude has always been to ‘Strive for perfection in all that you do’ and this reflects in his can do attitude in his training. Ask him about his tattoo 😉

 

Kieran Weatherley
Kieran is energetic and has the ultimate ‘can do’ attitude. Currently studying his BSC Nutrition (Hons) his knowledge on diet and nutrition is second to none. He has an arsenal of training techniques which he drawers on from his 7 years of Thai Boxing, transferring this to sessions with his high-intensity boxing drills. Don’t be fooled by his boyish charm, Kieran ‘loves to push the limits, as limits are there to be broken.’

They love the camera and post great videos about form and new challenges every week.

#FormFriday is once again upon us!! This week tackling the plank – often done to death we can sometimes forget to check that we're doing everything correctly! Plus a little advancement option for you #squaddies that like a push, make that your standard plank at sessions!#fitnesssquad #fitness #plank #tgif #technique #form

Posted by Fitness Squad UK – Berkhamstead, Hemel Hempstead, London Colney, St Albans on Friday, 25 August 2017

Aaron and Kieran run the sessions in Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, London Colney and St Albans.

Welcome to the family guys.


31st August 2017
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Accountability what is it and how can it help us?

We all know the hardest thing about fitness is that initial, right let’s do this, and even then you have a battle to stayed focused and keep it up. If you’re like most people, you need a reason to do what you’re doing and this is where accountability comes in and can help you.

Accountability gives you a reason. Not only to say you’ll do something but to actually follow it through. You can make yourself accountable by sharing with someone you trust or a family member or partner by just telling them your health or fitness goals.

I’ll give you an example and I actually have done this so I know it works.

A couple of years ago I told all my friends and family that I was going to compete in a triathlon. Now at the time, I was nowhere near ready to do a triathlon, but I needed to motivate myself. I had 12 weeks to train and get myself into shape for what was going to be a big test for me and all my closest friends and family knew that. By sharing my goals with them, I was waking up early doing my swim training, then doing my sessions, then going either for bike rides or runs. My weekends were taken up by training but at the time all that I was focused on, was not letting anybody down. Now, this would’ve been the same if I wanted to lose weight, run a marathon or complete an OCR.

My point is, it doesn’t matter what it is your training for, by just letting people know you’re training for something gives you that push to do what it is you need to do. For me the more people that know the harder it made me train.

So there you have it, give yourself a goal or a challenge and share it.

Share your goals with us. We are right behind you and will encourage you every step of the way.

 


3rd August 2017
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Hey guys, my name is Joe and I’m a certified personal trainer and an Instructor at Fitness Squad UK. I’m going to give you the low down on flexibility/stretching and the benefits of keeping those muscles flexible/supple and also dispel a few common myths and apparent pros and cons.

1) So first things first, why do we stretch and how does it benefit us? Keeping flexible and stretching is key to ANY fitness program for multiple reasons and for me first and foremost is injury prevention! Guys, have you ever sat and thought about how many reps you smash out or to be more exact how many times your muscles contract during boot camp…. A SHED LOAD 🙂 and for all that muscle contraction (or a cheeky flex in the mirror) that muscle has to be stretched off or we end up with tight muscles that can literally ping and injure with even a slight loss of form on any given exercise, boooooo!!!

2) R.O.M. you may recognise that abbreviation better as ‘range of motion’ when you have an Instructors voice ringing in your ears. Without frequent stretching to keep ourselves flexible we lose our R.O.M. and become so tight that even the simplest of exercises become a problem. Muscles can become so tight that it restricts our movement which in turn can affect our posture which as we all know can lead to all sorts of trouble….. again, boooooo!!!

3) We’ve all woken up after a tough workout the previous day and felt those muscles screaming at us right? Well this can be helped with a good stretch post session. When we train our muscles fill with lactic acid! That’s the burning sensation when you lose the will to live but you still have 5 more reps to go, well stretching off those hard earned muscles after training helps clear the fibres of the acid build up and lets oxygen pour back in to help those muscles recover a lot quicker which hopefully will help soothe those aches at the crack of dawn.

 

COMMON MYTHS!!!

“I’ve heard if you’re really flexible you have more chance of dislocation” Guys weak supporting muscles and ligaments are the root cause of dislocations NOT supple muscles so stretch away, and for you guys that are super flexible don’t panic 🙂

 

“You should stretch BEFORE you exercise” stretching muscles that have not been warmed up can be a dangerous game although it does have its place in more sport specific training, as a rule of thumb just after training or during exercise is fine.

 

Now I’ve been in the fitness game along time and can openly admit that flexibility can very much be at the back of my mind especially after a tough session when all I want to do is rest and get some protein in! But as you guys all know we ALWAYS end the session with a good stretch off! As a fitness Instructor, I always take the time to stretch myself as well as my clients after a tough session and aim to keep us as flexible as possible. So to round up the benefits of keeping ourselves flexible and looking after those ever important muscles here are some bullet points to keep you on track if you ever want to escape the post workout stretch off 😉

 

  • Injury prevention.
  • Increased R.O.M. (Range of motion)
  • Increased recovery time
  • Improved posture
  • Better overall performance

 

Remember at Fitness Squad UK, we have a certified team of Instructors so if you have any questions regarding your own flexibility and ways to improve it then give us a shout. Keep doing what you do best Squad and stay supple.


29th June 2017
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Tom Burton is a sports therapist who has been practising for 9 years providing sports massage, dry needling, post injury rehabilitation and various other treatments.
He has worked in both professional sports and in private practice treating various injuries and providing deep tissue massage.
Tom provides treatments in both a clinical setting and in the comfort of your own home to fit in and around your busy schedule.

 

I get asked at least 2 or 3 times a week whether a person’s injury will prevent them from training – normally there is concern that all the hard work so far will be wasted by having time out.

The answer is not a simple one, as it all depends on the severity of the injury and whether or not the training can be adapted around the injury without causing various other compensatory problems. When answering this question I try not to restrict exercise but in the majority of cases, training has to be adapted, reduced or stopped to allow the damaged structures to recover and repair.

When answering this question I try not to restrict exercise but in the majority of cases, training has to be adapted, reduced or stopped to allow the damaged structures to recover and repair.Pain is there for a reason, we can mask pain, work through

Pain is there for a reason, we can mask pain, work through the pain and sometimes compensate enough that we can kid ourselves it isn’t a problem anymore. Information from pain receptors takes high priority when information is relayed to our central decision making processors – this is because something is wrong and we are causing damage – this can be to bones, joints, ligaments, nerves and muscles.

 

Adaptation

So, what should you do when you’re injured?

Adapt your training – once you have been assessed and the therapist has decided you can continue to train but exclude provocative movements, then you will need to work with your trainer to ensure you adapt your exercise effectively.

Examples:

  • Sprained ankle – change to core work in sitting and lying, include some upper body weights without weight bearing
  • Rotator cuff injury – try squats and lunges but keep the arms close to the mid line of your body

Listen to your body – you know you really well and know ultimately whether you should be training or not.

 

How long until I can train again?

Another very common question – and again the answer is not simple, lots of factors come into play – age, fitness, nutrition and severity of the injury.

 

It has to be remembered that it is better to rest and let an injury recover for a shorter period of time than train through it and potentially worsen the injury and be out for months.

If you are unsure about an injury or your pain go and see a therapist (osteo, physio, sports) to get some answers/ reassurance.

Alternatively, speak to your Instructor – they see you train week in week out and probably know if you should be training well before you do!!


1st June 2017
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My name is Jonny and I’m an Instructor at Fitness Squad UK. I joined the British Army at 17 years old, so physical fitness has always been an important part of my day to day life. Nutrition also plays a big part and I’m always researching and trying new things.

One thing that is so important is meal prep and as I finish a couple of days worth of meal prep, it got me wondering how many of you actually do it or understand the benefits of preparing your meals.

To quote the British Army, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, the 7 P’s. Meal prep requires planning and preparation, have a plan for the week i.e when you are training, going out and work your meals around that. Making and preparing the meals can take a few hours of your weekend but as you get use to it, it will get easier and quicker.

 

So here’s 3 reasons why I think it’s beneficial.

1) Staying on track

Preparing your meals helps you to stay on track and remain focused, if you’ve already prepared your meals and already spent money on good food, why would you waste it? It’s there, it’s done, you know it’s what you need so just eat it!

If you’re not prepared and you’re out and about you’re more likely to go buy rubbish food to fix your hunger. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

 

2) Improves time management

I always hear “I don’t have time” whether that’s to train or cook good decent meals. If I’m honest I think that’s rubbish, if you really want something you’ll make sacrifices to get what you want, if you have to stay up later or get up earlier, make just 1 hour to prepare 3 days worth of meals, that 1 hour saves 2 hours over those 3 days, that’s 2 hours worth of extra unnecessary cooking and washing up. Those hours saved means more hours training, and there you go, you’ve hit 2 birds with one stone, more training time and less cooking time.

 

3) Portion control

If you’re prepping your meals you’re more likely to have the same portions daily. This helps you to regulate how much you’re actually eating as well as what you’re eating. You may be eating the right things but sometimes you maybe eating too much of it, being consistent daily allows you to keep close track and allow for alterations if needed. If for example you want to lose weight and you know you’re eating the correct things, you’ve been training hard but still not noticing a difference, drop down your portion size slightly until the results start coming. Remember, more food=more calories.

 

I like to keep things simple so chicken, green veg and rice is a winner for me but if you want to try something more adventures I’ve included a great recipes from Joe Wicks, The Body Coach.

Sweet potato with chilli

Credit: Joe Wicks, The Body Coach Lean in 15

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 250g reduced-fat (about 5%) beef mince
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 175g tinned kidney beans, drained and rinsed#
  • 100ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp full-fat Greek yoghurt

Method

Prick the sweet potato a couple of times with a fork, then blast it in the microwave at 900w for 5 minutes. Leave it to rest for 30 seconds and then blast it for further 3-4 minutes. Set aside, loosely covered in foil, until needed.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Stir in the spring onions and beef and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, breaking up any chunks of mince as you go. When the meat is browned, sprinkle in the cumin and paprika and cook for 30 seconds before squeezing in the tomato puree. Stir-fry for another 30 seconds, then add the kidney beans and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute.

Split open the sweet potato and serve with the quick chilli – and some cooling yoghurt.

Serve with a big portion of your favourite greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, mange tout or green beans.

This recipes serves 1, so double or triple the chilli ingredients and have with rice and greens on different days. Quick, easy and very tasty.

 

Good luck and don’t forget to ask your Instructor about any questions you may have regarding meal prep and how this is part of your journey.


14th May 2017
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This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week and it has been great to see people talking about it and raising awareness.

We believe mental health is just as important as physical health and there has historically been a lot of stigma associated and is still something that is not talked about often enough.

Mental health comes in all shapes and sizes and can’t be seen, so you never know what someone else is going through. There are lots of studies about the positive relationship between exercise and mental health and especially group exercising. Group exercising has lots of additional benefits including feeling a part of something and safety in numbers.

Exercise isn’t just about cardio capacity, fat loss and building muscle. It’s about so much more than it. The feeling of well-being and achievement is all thanks to those happy endorphins. Better sleep, more energy, feeling more relaxed and having a more positive outlook. Studies show exercise is a powerful drug and in addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing and encourages positive structure.

One of the big ones is distraction. Allowing yourself some time to break out of the cycle, focus on something completely different and away from any negative thoughts. Exercises that involve cross movement so engaging both arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, dancing and of course boot camp can all help by focusing the mind on your body and how it feels or what you need to do next.

You might know someone that would benefit from exercise both for the mind and body. Go for a walk together, encourage them to exercise with you, supporting them can also support you. Take a moment, it’s OK to talk.


3rd May 2017
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What is an OCR?

Obstacle course racing (OCR) is a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to test and push mental and physical ability.

 

My name is Dave Zidane and I’m one of the Fitness Squad UK Instructors and I’m a really big fan of OCR’s. I’ve been lucky enough to compete in many OCR’s over the years, including the UK Championships and I’m off to the World Championships in October.

Over the years I have made some rookie mistakes and would like to share with you my top tips.

 

One of the most frequently asked questions is what trainers to wear?

Now this is a really personal thing and everyone has their own opinion and recommendations. This is also not helped by the fact there are hundred of makes of trainers, all of which may not be the right ones for you. But before you start going nuts on Google and fall into the rabbit warren of colours, tread and brands, I would recommend you getting your running analysed at a running shop. Gait analysis provides you with essential information about your running style. This is important however long you have been running, as only through knowing your running style will you be able to select the right trainers. I know this, as I didn’t get this done soon enough and I have been through more trainers than I care to imagine.

Next step is budget. Try to decide how much you want to spend before you start looking as there is so much choice. From Irock2 at £110.00 to More Mile Cheviot 3 at £29.99. I wear Inov-8 X Talons which are middle of the price range, which I find do the best job for me in races.

With any of these trainers there are a two key points to look out for;

  • Drainage
    • A trainer that drains well and does not hold water after you have been through a water obstacle. Look for drainage ports (little holes in the sides of the trainer) or a perforated sockliner.
  • Grip
    • Nothing worse than trying to run and instead you are sliding about everywhere or trying to get out of a muddy ditch and can’t get a good foot hold. Make sure the grip is of a medium depth so you get good grip but are able to run across dry fields if needed. Also the additional grip on obstacles is really helpful especially on rope climbs or muddy/slippery walls. My Inov-8 X Talons tend to grip the rope a lot better because of them the way the diagonal tread is on the bottom of the trainer.

 

So you’ve got your trainers, now I’m going to show you how not to lose them!

I’ve seen many people start off with trainers and come out bare foot, especially when going through knee
deep mud. This simple tip will save your trainers and show you how to correctly tie your shoes. CLICK HERE

 

Does my bum look big in this?

When I first started doing OCR’s I use to wear football shorts, which once you went through a water obstacle would be half way down my bum, full of water and heavy. Again there are lots of different options on offer and this is all about personal preference and what you are comfortable in. For shorts, I’ve found train running shorts very good, I use Higher State trail shorts as they don’t hold water and dry out very quick which is so important when going through water and the temperature is near to freezing. As for t-shirts most tech t-shirts will do the job. They don’t hold water, like a cotton t-shirt which can feel heavy. Tech t-shirts allow the body to get air in, to aid cooling down and dry quickly keeping the water and sweat away from the body. As for base layers you can get so many different types and even novelty tops but they mostly provide different qualities for different conditions. Either keeping you cool or keeping you warm. You’ve only got to ask someone who has done either Winter Nuts or Tough Guy, how important it is to have the right clothing to keep the onset of hypothermia at bay. If you are a first timer or enjoying the races during the Summer months, a basic base layer like this Under Armour heatgear baselayer will do the job.

I hope you have found this information useful and don’t forgot to message us on Facebook if you are taking part in any challenges or events, we’d love to hear from you. Good Luck and enjoy the mud.


1st April 2017
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Sleep is a massive talking point in the fitness industry right now and we thought we’d share with you some sleep knowledge.

When we’re sleeping, the body uses this time to recover from the day’s work, stress, and physical activity it’s been through. Many people believe that it’s the time their heads are on the pillow that counts as quality sleep but this couldn’t be more wrong. It’s actually the quality of the sleep that’s the important thing. Another thing to think about is sleep deprivation, as this is one of the biggest causes to overeating.

To achieve a good night’s sleep, you should try and create your own sleep sanctuary. There are a few things you can do straight away to improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. The body repairs itself better in a cooler environment, so turn down that heating.
  2. No snacking 2 hours before bed or in bed, there’s only 2 things we should do in bed and that’s sleep and sex.
  3. No devices before bed. You’re trying to prepare your body to rest, not give yourself things to think about while you try and dose off.
  4. Try as best you can to blackout any light that comes into the bedroom.

In a study between 2 groups of people carrying out a lifestyle change, one group were deprived of sleep and only managed 5 hours sleep a night, while the other group had 8 hours sleep in their own sleep sanctuary and the results were phenomenal. The group that slept for the 8 hours burnt a massive 55% more fat whilst sleeping than the group who slept for just 5 hours. WOW.

When sleeping, the body produces lots of hormones to help repair it for the next day, some of these are HGH (human growth hormone) Leptin, which controls your satiety status, Ghrelin which is your hunger hormone, Cortisol which helps to metabolise fat and lots more, and really importantly Melatonin.

Melatonin does a whole lot of things in the body but one of them is it creates brown adipose tissue in the body. Now I know everyone thinks adipose tissue is fat and you are correct it is but there are two types. The difference between brown adipose tissue and white adipose tissue, is the brown tissue helps turn fat into energy and the white tissue  stores fat. Melatonin is also known as the best anti-cancer hormone and which is increased th with a better quality of sleep.

In summary, getting around 8 hours sleep has so many benefits. Create that sanctuary and happy dreaming.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to get better quality sleep then I recommend Shawn Stevenson’s Sleep Smarter.
By Michael Cox


1st April 2017
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At this time of year, every shop and supermarket stock their shelves with bunny and egg shaped treats. While very tasty they are full of sugar, syrups and hard to pronounce stuff. Of course we would never tell you to forego chocolate especially at this time of year but you can choose a healthier chocolate with added health benefits. Dark chocolate with 70 percent or more cacao has been shown to help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and help to regulate stress. There are literally hundreds of studies on chocolate, but most pro-chocolate research say you should opt for dark chocolate over milk or white if trying to be healthier.

Here are some yummy easter treats…num num num

 

Green and Blacks dark easter egg;

http://www.greenandblacksdirect.com/p/184/dark-165g-easter-egg

 

Hotel Chocolat City Bunnies;

http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/city-bunnies-%E2%80%93-dark/111729.html

 

Lindt Excellence Dark Shell Egg

http://www.lindt.co.uk/shop/new-lindt-excellence-70-dark-shell-egg-220g