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  • Allow teachers to teach!

    I can remember being chastised by a teacher when I was 7 years old for trying to help one of my school friends do their class work. At the age of 60, I can still remember the huge sense of injustice I felt at being told off when I was only trying to help someone understand something. Even then, I loved knowledge, learning and I realise now teaching. Teaching for me is an absolute passion and I never, ever get tired of it.

    Every week I hear stories from teachers and support staff working in the education system about how stressed they are, how little they enjoy their jobs and how restricted they are by funding, targets and regulations.

    Having worked in education (albeit FE) for quite some years, I can understand how they feel. Towards the end of my lecturing career in FE, I wasn't valued or appreciated; my skills didn't fit in with the ethos of the system and I became a square peg that was never going to fit into a round hole. I also knew 100% that I had no faith or belief in that system, but had total belief in myself and what I knew teaching to be for me.

    5 years on and 25 years after passing my original qualification, I love teaching more than ever. I find it challenging, interesting and valuable. My class participants value my knowledge, skills,experience and my efforts to deliver the best experience to them in every class I teach.

    My efforts are not driven by money or business (as education now is) but by my desire for everyone to work to the best of their ability and so achieve their individual goals. That might sound very worthy, but my business is all about people and no 2 people are the same.

    I heard on the news this week that exclusions in schools have gone up 26% since 2014/15; that doesn't speak of a system that's working. Teachers are hamstrung in every area of their job with so many other things to do that have nothing to do with teaching and meeting the needs of individual children. It's thought that children are being excluded so schools are able to meet targets, unhindered by children that might make those targets look less than good.

    This whole situation saddens me beyond words. The education system is on it's knees.

    I believe teaching (any teaching) to be a privilege, a responsibility but an absolute pleasure. Good teachers enhance lives; it's time we left them alone to do what they do best....teach!

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  • Too much information :-(

    The start of every new year sees many magazines and newspaper supplements full of information about exercise and nutrition. I spotted a new cookery book being advertised yesterday specifically targeted towards middle aged (mid life) people?! With such a lot of information available to us, it's becoming more and more difficult to determine what we 'should' be eating and what type of exercise is best for us.

    I watched a TV programme last week called 'The truth about exercise' which conducted several experiments leading to conclusions that I think anyone with any basic exercise knowledge would already know.

    Some of those findings were that it's more effective to walk very briskly for 10 minutes several times a day rather than doing an ambling 10,000 steps a day, that resistance training is more effective if you lift as heavy a load as possible for a smaller number of repetitions(reps) rather than doing lots of reps with a smaller weight and that running is not as detrimental to joints as you might think.

    My philosphy regarding exercise has always been to integrate into your day what works for you. I've always been an early morning exerciser so since January 1st, the alarm has gone off at 6am on 6 days of the week to ensure I fit in 3 kettlebell training sessions and 3 runs every week at the start of the day. Together with a healthier eating plan, I've now started February 3 kgs lighter and am feeling stronger and more aerobically fit than I have for months.

    For optimum health, you need to do some aerobic activity (walking, jogging, swimming, cycling), some strength exercise whether that be using resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or your own body weight and some stretching and mobility activities.

    I do all my exercise sessions at home or I run from home and never set foot in a gym, but that's my personal preference and it means I don't have to spend hours travelling to and from a gym. I can literally get out of bed and be starting my exercise session within 15-20 minutes; this works for me and the barriers to me achieving my goals are minimal.

    If you're yet to start exercising this year, take some time to figure out what you can realistically fit into your every day life and go for it....I can promise you you'll feel 100% better for doing it :-)

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  • We're up & running and it feels great!

    Last week was our first week back in class(es) after a 3 week break and it felt SO good to be back! Three weeks of slightly more food and wine has resulted in a 3kg weight gain for me, so I'm upping my own exercise programme with kettlebell/HIIT training 3 mornings a week....no excuses :-)

    Kettlebell/HIIT training is a brilliant way to increase aerobic fitness and muscular strength and endurance and is fun to do as it can be so varied. I never get bored with this type of training as you can vary each session to keep it interesting.

    I'd stopped eating as much fruit and veg as I would normally do over the Christmas break, so my nutritional habits have vastly improved in the last week....making 2 different batches of soup and a huge fruit salad to keep in the fridge. I'm determined to shift these few extra kilos that are sitting around my middle at the moment!

    If you'd like to try kettlebell/HIIT training, check out the timetable for our Monday evening class. You can work at your own pace and build intensity gradually as your fitness level improves. There'll be great music too...what's not to like :-)

    Happy 2018!

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  • Do what you love in 2018 :-)

    Happy New Year! Do those 3 words fill you with enthusiasm and positivity for the challenges you routinely set yourself every January 1st or a sense of creeping dread as you feel pressured to get to grips with the resolutions you never managed to address last year!

    As someone who integrates activity into their every day life throughout the year, I don't feel it necessary to set myself huge goals at this time of year. Having said that, I do intend to increase my activity levels and be a little more structured with my exercise regime.

    My main priority is to do the type of exercise I love, do what makes me feel good (mentally and physically) and to factor exercise into my day/s when I'm most likely to do it. As a 'morning person', I've always found it easier to fit an hour's exercise into the beginning of my day rather than leave it until early afternoon and then make any excuse not to do it!

    Before you start making plans for your own exercise routine, ask yourself :

    * What time of day is easiest for me to exercise?

    * What type of exercise do I enjoy?

    * Do I need to join a gym/attend a class or can I exercise at home/outside?

    * Will it help me to have an exercise buddy so I stay motivated?

    As I enter my 25th year as a fitness professional, I know what works for me and I know how to set myself realistic, manageable goals that I have a good chance of achieving. Think long term and set your intention to factor exercise into your life in a way that works best for you.

    Good health and a feeling of wellbeing are priceless....make that your gift to yourself in 2018:-)

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  • Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2018 too!

    Christmas is almost upon us so I hope you're able to start winding down now to enjoy the festivities with family and friends. This time of year can be so busy and stressful, so leave all that behind and breathe and chill!

    Thank you to everyone who has supported my classes throughout 2017 and I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a happy, healthy 2018.

    I'll be raring to go on Monday January 8th and look forward to seeing you then....in the meantime eat, drink and be merry :-)

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