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The Benefits of Foam Rolling

So, you haven’t been working out for a while and suddenly start again… Or you changed your training style, increased the intensity, etc – it’s quite normal for you to suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

DOMS is the pain and stiffness that you feel in your muscles after you have done workouts that your body isn’t used to. DOMS usually sets in approximately 24 to 72 hours after you have done the exercises.

So, what does DOMS have to do with foam rolling? Well foam rolling is also known as the poor man’s massage. We’ve all heard that foam rolling is an excellent way to speed up muscle recovery, etc – but why that’s the case, not everyone actually knows.

I think we could all agree, if you’re regularly foam rolling already – it’s because you have been told to do so by your personal trainer, biokineticist or physio. And you would possible be able to agree that you can feel a positive difference when you do foam roll compared to when you don’t – so you keep doing it for a while. Until your muscles feel better and then the foam roller gets stored away until the next serious case of DOMS comes up – right?

But have you ever wondered what foam rolling is actually doing? Or what is actually happening inside your body when you do foam roll?

During lockdown, I took some time to do a foam rolling online CPD (continuous professional development) course. And here’s what I have learned – based on the course I did and some other research I have done prior to the writing of this blog!

When we talk about foam rolling, you will hear words like myofascial release come up. Relax, it sounds more dramatic than it actually is. Myofascial release is simply a type of physical therapy that is used to treat myofascial pain. Myofascial pain is caused by tightness of myofascial tissues. Okay great – but what does that have to do with fitness?

The answer is – everything! Myofascial tissue is a dense, tough tissue that surrounds and covers the muscles throughout your body! The outer fascial layer is very strong yet very flexible. It is highly intertwined with your nerve system and plays a vital role in joint stability or kinaesthetic awareness. Your myofascial tissue moves independently from your muscles and thus ensures that your muscles remain aligns and as a result – it limits stress on your joints. The myofascial tissue consists of three different layers that all differ in density of collagen fibres. These tissue are mostly composed of water and it thus allows the different layers to smoothly glide over one another.

The pain you suffer after completing as strenuous workout, usually can be pointed out in specific areas of your body, also called trigger points. Thus – myofascial release is simply the practice of easing the stiffness/tightness and pain in specific areas. It is often difficult to pin point the exact origin of the pain or stiffness that you are experiencing – and that’s why you treat a broad area around the actual trigger point.

Now that we’ve covered that – who should be foam rolling? Studies have shown that anyone who sits, walks, runs, lifts or breathes could benefit from foam rolling! Does than answer your question? Haha

Foam rolling improves overall circulation, movement and helps the body to remain pain free. Thus foam rolling can be beneficial to everyone – regardless if you are partaking in fitness activities or not.

Foam rolling is an easy and effective way to “untie the knot.” When muscles become stiff & tight (like a rope with a knot in it) – the muscle loses its ability to lengthen and contract – and thus your muscle is less effective. You will often feel that your body is stiff – especially if you exercise on a regular basis. Ie – after a heavy lifting session you might not be able to reach your toes with your hands. And this is exactly where foam rolling comes in! By incorporating self-myofascial release techniques – such as foam rolling – you can help your body to improve blood flow, elevate oxygen consumption (improved VO2 Max) and reduce scar tissues on muscles – which will help your muscles to return to the previous levels of elasticity.

Researchers say that for optimal health benefits, you should foam roll twice every day! Things like sitting at your desk during working hours affect your muscles’ movement abilities. Limited movement or ROM (range of movement) will increase our risk of injury and decrease our strength and power abilities. Incorporating foam rolling into your daily routine will allow your body to repair itself on a daily basis and avoid the above!

Sadly, in a world as busy as ours (well as busy as it was before lockdown of course) – we tend to neglect the aftercare of things. Including foam rolling before or after sessions – because it takes to much time we usually use as an excuse. Let’s fast forward a few months down the line, and now you’re asking your trainer or your friends for a good physiotherapist’s number. Usually we wait until our bodies brings us to a halt before we start giving attention to the little things such as foam rolling.

In the ideal world, researchers suggest that you foam roll twice a day. Once before your workout session and once after your session.

What are the benefits of foam rolling before training?

· Increases muscle tolerance;

· Enables more muscle efficiency – thus improved performance;

· Increase the muscle tissue force output (ability of your muscle to do what it is designed to do);

· Decreases the heart rate.

What are the benefits of foam rolling after training?

· Releases tension through flushing (due to improved blood circulation);

· Starts recovery process faster;

· Creates more pliability/flexibility.

We spend most of our days seated, which results in a lot of tightness being developed in our calves. Also, I think it is pretty safe to say that we don’t keep proper posture when we are seated for hours at end. You have probably just moved yourself into a proper seated position after you’ve read that without even realising. Did you know, that foam rolling your spine is not only beneficial for your posture, but scientists also say that it will improve/ enhance your breathing? Pretty cool if you ask me! Another result of being seated for long hours at once -even lying on the couch with pore posture for that matter, results in tightened pectoral (chest) muscles. Releasing the tight chest muscles by foam rolling them, will also aid in enhancing your breathing.

Our quads (quadriceps aka the front part of your thighs) are a very functional and powerful muscle group and is used for almost every movement that includes your legs. Thus, du to their over activity – the quad muscles get shortened and tight.

Also, due to being seated or lying in a cradled position for long periods of time – our glutes become over stretched and as a result – muscles that are inferior to our glutes become tight and have to work harder during exercises.

Did you know that your sides/torso is placed under pressure when your glutes are not functioning as they should? For example, when the glute muscles are weakened, you might start to feel pain or discomfort in your latissimus dorsi (sides).

Studies have shown that regular foam rolling improves overall flexibility significantly. And as a result, a better range of motion is developed. Furthermore, studies have also shown that even though foam rolling does not directly improve performance, ie being able to lift heavier, etc – it has shown to significantly improve recovery. And thus, the body can perform better in general due to the ability to recover faster and more efficiently from workouts as well as everyday life!

Foam rolling is an inexpensive yet valuable part of your fitness journey!

If you are unsure or unfamiliar with foam rolling – watch this space! We have a another blog post coming up on Wednesday – on the muscles you should be foam rolling and how to foam roll them correctly, with illustrations and cues – the works!

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Are you getting enough sleep?

We have all heard before that getting a proper night’s rest is very important. Since we were young, we were told that sleep is important and our parents were strict about bed time. And if you are a parent right now, you will probably nod your head in agreement.

But why exactly do we hammer on the importance of good sleep? And how does your sleep routine affect your training?

When we talk about our health and fitness journey, most people would immediately refer to their exercise routines and healthy eating habits. But sadly, very little of us would mention that proper sleep is just as important as the above mentioned, in order to really live a healthy lifestyle!

To start off with the obvious factors – sleep is important for your energy levels. We all know how terribly long and exhausting a day can be if you haven’t had a proper night’s rest. The reason for this is pretty commonly known, as sleep affects several aspects of your brain function – such as cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.

In a working environment and even at home, we all can agree that the above mentioned are very important factors in life as we know it. We are living in a society where everything is fast paced and almost instant! And productivity and performance are key in every aspect of our lives – at home, at work and during your workouts.

Sleep plays a vital roll in our health and it often gets neglected due to overloaded schedules. Did you know that when you sleep – your body goes into repair mode? It is of vital importance to get adequate sleep in order for your body to function at its best the next day. Getting proper sleep on a regular basis is also key factors in maintaining a healthy weight by preventing excessive weight gain and preventing heart disease and several other illnesses.

According to Healthline, studies have shown that adults as well as children, with short sleep duration were 55% and 89% respectively more likely to develop obesity! And that simply because of a lack of adequate sleep! It’s been found that short sleep can impact the brain’s functionality in a similar way that alcohol intoxication does!

On the flip side, proper sleep – have proven to improve problem solving skills and enhanced memory performance of both adults and children.

Now you might ask, how could bad sleep affect your weight? Well, poor sleep affects several functions of your body such as your hormonal balances. And poor sleep, since your feeling drained the next day – will also result in less motivation to exercise.

If weight loss is your goal – sleep is absolutely CRUCIAL! And if your fitness trainer hasn’t told you that, maybe it’s time to re-asses their qualifications! There is no point in paying for a program or service if they do not inform you about the full picture of how you can achieve your goals. I know we are derailing from the topic – but this needs to be said.

The success of your health and fitness journey depends on three major aspects: Exercise, healthy eating AND proper sleep!!!

Studies have also repeatedly shown that people who get adequate sleep – tend to eat less. People who are sleep deprived tend to have a bigger appetite/craving – and let’s be honest – you’re probably not craving the healthiest foods on those days.

Poor sleep disrupts your body’s hormonal levels and will cause fluctuations in appetite hormones which will over an extended period of type alter your body’s ability to regulate your appetite in general – not only when sleep deprived. When you don’t sleep well, your body releases higher levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone) and reduced levels of leptin (appetite suppressing hormone). Which will result in? You eating more than you should. All because of a bad night’s sleep!

Did you know that sleep is actually also CRITICAL for the health of your heart?!

Your sleeping patterns can actually reveal vital information about your overall health levels and personal well-being. Most adults need at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours, of sleep every night to function optimal. How many of us actually get 7 hours of sleep every night? (Take a moment of appreciation right now if you are not a mom yet – cause we’re probably getting more sleep in than the moms out there). The amount of sleep every individual need will vary and depends on several factors including your age.

Health conditions that are linked to a lack of sleep includes: High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity.

Surely, we all can survive a few bad nights with short hours of sleep. But the problem comes in when this cycle continues over an extended period of time.

Over time, poor sleep can hurt your heart! Conditions such as sleep apnea can occur. Sleep apnea happens when your airway gets blocked repeatedly during your sleep – which causes you to stop breathing for short periods of time. Sleep apnea have been directly linked to obesity and heart failure. Sleep apnea directly affects how much oxygen your body gets while you sleep, which as result higher your risk of other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes.

Irregular hours of sleep every night affects your blood sugar levels and reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Studies have shown the people who sleep less than 6 hours per night for an extended period, often starts to shown symptoms of pre-diabetes. In this study, the effect on the body was monitored when the participants started to get more than 6 hours of sleep every night for a week. And in a week’s time, doctors and scientists were already able to see drastic positive changes in the body’s ability to regulate insulin levels.

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?

According to Sleepnet.co.za – if you’re experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day. Snoring, leg cramps or tingling sense in your legs (more commonly known as restless legs syndrome), gasping or difficulty breathing when sleeping, prolonged insomnia or any other symptoms that prevents you from sleeping well – you are probably not getting enough sleep and it would be a good idea to consult with your physician to determine the underlying cause.

Ignoring these symptoms will only cause more damage to your body in the long run!

Poor sleep or sleeping disorders are also linked to depression. Research has shown that approximately 90% of people who suffer from depression – complains about the quality of their sleeping routines. People who suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea – have also indicated a significant higher risk of depression than those who do not suffer from sleeping disorders.

Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Anyone suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)? How much sleep do you get every night? A lack of sleep has shown to activate markers of inflammation and cell damage that can become permanent if continued for long periods of times.

So, what does sleep have to do with my exercise routine directly?

In addition to all of the above; sleep improves your immune function. Research has shown that people who sleep more than 8 hours a night are 3 times less likely to develop a cold or common flu. And we all known, in order to exercise – you need to be healthy.

Good sleep has been shown to enhance overall athletic performance and improved functional abilities!

Sleep gives your body time to recover, conserve energy and repair and build up the muscles that worked during exercise. When you get adequate sleep, your body produces the growth hormone – a hormone which is essential for athletic recovery. Sleep is the time where the concentration of growth hormone (which contributes to muscle growth and repair) in the body is at its highest. So if you’ve been exercising, whether through strength training, cardio exercise, or something, it’s key to get a good night’s sleep and let your body do its job to strengthen and repair! Not to mention, a lack of sleep can affect strength and power, energy stores, and increase your risk of injury!

To finish this off… Proper sleep is a vital part of your health and fitness journey and should be given the same level of attention that you’d give to your exercise and eating habits!

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The Power of a Fitness Community

We have all heard about the power of community / there is strength in numbers / you need to find yourself a accountability partner/ etc… And although some might get bored by the trending phrases. One has to stop and ask – why are these topics trending? If it’s trending, then there obviously must be some sort of truth to it.

So, to set things straight from the start – we totally believe in the power of community! And here is why! Of course, countless people can confirm and share their stories of how communities assisted and improved their fitness journey. But why is that the case? The answer is actually pretty simple. We as human beings are emotionally wired. We thrive on connection with other people. Whether it’s simply being around other people, where it’s chatting to someone else one on one or even connecting with people on social media.

When you join a community, you immediately step into a larger audience. And with things like fitness communities – you are all obviously there for the same reason.

Regardless of your day job, your age or even your fitness journey goals – you get the feeling that there is someone else out there suffering and walking this journey with you. And we, once again, as the social creatures that we are – that makes us feel better, more excited and more motivated to continue with the journey.

Communities provides emotional support and access to resources – as the community will exchange information and skills they have obtained in their experience. And as a result, everyone can learn from one another. Community also adds to personal and, in some cases, professional development. The mere fact that you get to share your experiences with like minded people will already in added joy to your daily life. Being part of a community will also help you to grow and collaborate with others.

Say for instance, you are an accountant with your own accounting firm who loves fitness. So, now you end up in this fitness community. And you get to meet several new people along the line. And you might meet business owners who’s looking for someone to handle they bookkeeping, etc. If you haven’t been in the community – your paths would have never crossed.

A fitness community helps you to stay accountable and will thus help you to reach your goals. Research has shown that people are less likely to bail on workouts and similar events, when they form part of a community or have an accountability partner.

Basically, being part of a fitness community or having an accountability partner is like having a fitness journal! Only way better! A fitness journal is mostly used to track your journey, in order for you to make adjustments and improvements on your journey to ultimately ensure that you reach your fitness goals. And that’s exactly what an accountability partner and fitness community will do for you as well.

As mentioned above – having a accountability partner or forming part of a community – will help you to stay accountable with your journey. You will be more likely to plan and schedule your workouts in advance and stick to them. You will also stay in the loop about upcoming fitness and other related events – which might have passed you by if it wasn’t for the community.

Ultimately – results have repeatedly shown that you will be more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you surround yourself with people who are on the same journey as you are.

That doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to start doing group fitness classes or find someone to train with. Of course, there are many women out there who truly love to train on their own. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Community doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of training partners. It can be the friend who checks in with you on a weekly basis to see how your training has been going the last week. It can be as simple as following hashtags like #teamfitbest on Instagram and seeing how other people are making progress on their own journeys.

Its not about comparing your journey to someone else’s. It’s about experiencing the feeling of being connected. Having someone to connect to and speak to about your experiences. Learning from one another and improving your life in general.

That is one of the reasons why we love social media so much! You can sit any where in the entire world and be globally connected! Why don’t you give it a go?

Find a group of people that challenge and inspire you! Spend a lot of time with them & it will change your life! – Amy Poehler

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Re-Align. REST!

So I saw this post in a dear friend of mine’s stories the other day. And everything inside of me jumped up and down and applauded in agreement from within.

The last few months, as you would have noticed – I have been quite in active on my page. Not posting as often as I would have wanted to.

But other life things were happening. Some of you would know that I have quit my corporate job as a forensic investigator back in July this year. However, not many of you probably would have know that I took on another supposedly “small job” in exchange. After ditching the corporate sector, I became the Accounts Manager at the swim school where I coach.

And although the job is not merely as intense as the corporate life. Things have been BUSY to put it lightly. July as a swim coach is usually the most quiet and relaxing times of our year – as the pool is closed for the entire month for annual maintenance. So we, as the coaches get an entire month all to ourselves (pretty nice perks, I bet your job does not offer that😜). A month to relax and do all of the things which you other wise can’t find time for.

However, THIS July… This July I quit my job and took up a new one, and it was the most intensive July of my life to say the very least. First week in, I have realized that there are much more work to be done and sorted out than we initially thought. However, family-first-renché, decided to set proper work boundaries from day 1. Working 8-5. Nothing earlier, nothing later. Well, let’s just say, to-do-list-renché managed to screw those boundaries by day 3. Being very goal orientated and driven, I usually go in over drive when my work load increases.

And besides the so called small little job I took on, I am still trying to build FIT BEST Training to become what I envision it to be one day. In the roller-coaster of it all, I had to postpone online challenges and place somethings on hold, trying to tread water for my life (swim coach pun intended).

Some of you might clap and nod your heads, relating to my behavior & circumstances. Well, I am here to tell you that – if you just related – today I won’t be giving you a tap on the shoulder! Sorry.

In the past few months so many acquaintances have told me how hard they can see I am working and that it is such a good thing, etc.

And although I appreciate those comments – because I know they are all intended so purely. Time and time again it hit me like an ice cold bucket of freezing reality water right in the face.

Since July I have worked days & nights at once to get everything done & approximately 2 weeks ago I finally finished with what we thought would have been done at the end of July. Over two months later than planned & it was most definitely not because I slacked off.

I have busted my ass day after day. And although it might be necessary from time to time in life to do so. I want to remind you that it is NOT necessary, nor normal, nor good, nor beneficial for you to constantly be hustling in life.

In case you have lost a little focus from the long read, please read that sentence again and tie it to you mind. This is so important! No matter how much the world promotes, flourishes and thrives on being busy & pretending that it is a good thing.

Let me take you back to Genisis 2:2 (KJV) – “And on the seventh day God ENDED his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

The International Standard Version even says it better: “BY the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing, so ON the seventh day he stopped working on everything that he had done.”

God did not complete His work on the sixth day. He completed His works on the seventh day by RESTING!

Resting, contrary to the world’s tragic believe system, is not something that comes after the work has been done. Resting is part of the work. It is part of the process to complete things!

Once you discover this piece of truth, you perspective shifts to a entire new dimension!

The past few months, I have lost track of my perspective on how I want to live my life. A life solely build on living in God’s rhythm! It does not mean a life of loafing and no work. It simply means a life walking with Him through every situation. As soon as you kick start the worldly hustle engine back on, things (💩) are about to go down. You’ll loose the Godly rhythm and you will experience the worldly chaos!

So this is me, acknowledging that I have de-railed and lost the rhythm. I ended up with a few (aka way to many) extra chaotic beats to my rhythm – and that was exhausting!

Destroy every idea that tells you that you have to hustle, work or perform to achieve something.

You are good enough, you are made in the Image of the Living God – how can you ever think you are not enough!

You are right on track, you are making progress. You need to rest to complete your works.

How different this blue dot 🌍 will be, once more people could realize this!

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Sometimes it pays to take a risk & Quit your Job!

Sometimes it pays to take a risk & quit your job. There is not enough money in the world to make you truly happy. And if anyone tells you differently, they are lying to themselves.

Today marks 5 weeks and 4 days since I quit my job as a forensic investigator. And although the past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind with lots of other stuff happening, I honestly feel like a mountain has been lifted of my shoulders.

As some of you, who have been following me for a while, might know – I studied Forensic Accounting and that was my full-time job description until 5 weeks ago. I am still adjusting to the radical career change, but I am so excited about what lies ahead!

For almost 4 years I have dreaded every single day of my day job, no kidding. Every single day. There were numerous occasions where I wanted to quit but held my head high and kept going. Disclaimer (before anyone gets upset): I know that jobs in South Africa are not easy to find and that most people might think that I am a 20-something-year-old who acts like a millennial. But let me explain.

I studied to become a forensic accountant/investigator/auditor. I did end up doing investigations, however – the industry in which I worked was not my scene. Although many people truly love that sector – I did not. The sector in which I worked – was not entirely in the field of my studies. I truly feel that if it no longer works for you, whether it’s your work or personal relationships that doesn’t add value to your life – then leave. It is never worth staying in a job that makes you unhappy and that does not ignite your passion. So this choice of mine has been a long time coming. I still truly love forensics, like the real deal investigation of fraud and corruption. And if I ever get a chance to work in the line of work that truly is forensics to the core – I would most likely grab onto it with both hands! But for this season in my life, this was the perfect choice & I am thankful for the radical change every single day!

I am NOT telling you to quit your job. Not at all. I am not full time into fitness. There are millions (literally) of people in the world who are into fitness and became trainers. And at this stage of my life, fitness cannot cover the bills.

I only quit my job as a forensic investigator, after I secured another steady income. As most of you would know – I am a swim coach for toddlers and babies. I teach swimming 4 afternoons a week. And the opportunity arose for me to take over the financials of the swim school. So, I did not jump into something head over heels, and quit my job like an irresponsible person.

However, what I am saying is that life is short. There are so many negative things happening in the world every single day. And if your job does not bring enough joy to your daily routine – stick with your job until you find something else that you do enjoy. We can not all quit our jobs simply based on the fact that we don’t enjoy it. What we can do is try and make the best of the non-joyous situation and keep your eyes open for new opportunities.

Your job will never be able to make you happy. You need to be happy with who you are, not what you have or dependent on what your job description entails. If you quit your job in a search of a job that will make you happy, I can promise you – you will never find that job and you will never be happy.

Happiness is most definitely an inside job. You first have to happy with yourself and then you will realize that no job, person or relationship can determine your happiness. Yes it might increase or decrease the amount of joy you experience on a daily basis – but it can NEVER be your source of true happiness.

So I am over here, figuring out my life as a 27-year old wife, sister, daughter, dog-mom and small business owner. I am happy with every single bit of myself. And I am most definitely not saying this in an arrogant manner. But I am at a stage in my life where I create my own happiness. And if something in my life does not add joy – I remove or adjust those things accordingly. We all deserve to live a life we love & it is your own responsibility to continue moulding your life into something you love.

I end off my post with the same words that I’ve started it: Sometimes it pays to take a risk & quit your job. There is not enough money in the world to make you truly happy. And if anyone tells you differently, they are lying to themselves.

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Benefits of Aqua Aerobics

When someone mentions Aqua Aerobics – too often people’s immediate response is that it is only for old ladies. Well I want to ask you a question before we go any further! Have you ever attended an aqua aerobics class before? Probably not – since you think it is only for old ladies.

Being in the fitness industry, I am always looking for new ways to challenge myself and improve my professional development. So, when the opportunity rised to become an Aqua Aerobics Instructor – I almost made a few back flips in the pool. Just kidding, I can’t do back flips – but you get where I am headed.

You might be pleasantly surprised by how much fun a water aerobics class can turn out to be. As soon as you are immersed in the water, there is an immediate impact on the human body – simply by standing in the water.

Many people think that the movements in water is slow and easy – hence why older people do it. But the truth is, the only reason why older people like is that much is due to the fact the water aerobics does not have a very high injury rate. But does it mean that the younger generation can not benefit from water aerobics? Absolutely not!

I always remind my class participant (which are 95% under the age of 60 by the way) – that the effort you put into the water is the benefit you will gain from the exercise. The harder you push, the harder the water pushes back against your body.

The intensity of the exercises you perform will be affected by the following:

· The speed of movements;

· The rate of change in speed (acceleration);

· The surface area (frontal resistance);

· The participant’s inertia (effort inserted / input);

· The number of changes in direction.

Did you know that your body cools down faster in water than it does in air? That’s why people very seldom realize that they are actually sweating when they are immersed in water as well. When you exercise in water which is colder than your body temperature, the water draws heat from your body through conduction.

Conduction is one of the body’s thermoregulation functions. It enables the body to transfer heat when the body is in direct contact with a substance – air or water or an object – i.e. sitting on a cold floor. As in most cases, the water of the pool’s temperature is below normal body temperature. Your heat when exercising in water is mainly dissipated by conduction due to the body being surrounded by the cooler water.

Benefits of regular exercise (not only based on water aerobics) – as researched by ACSM:

· Reduced mortality & the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%;

· Lower risk of colon cancer by over 60%’

· Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%;

· Reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%;

· Lower the risk of stroke by 27%;

· Lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%.

When taking these statistics into account – it is no surprise that many people acknowledge exercise as a method of medicine. It’s a tool used to manage and prevent over 40 chronic diseases.

If you are not convinced yet, here are some of the psychological benefits of regular exercises:

· Helps to develop a positive attitude;

· Contributes to a feeling of well-being;

· Releases stress, anxiety and tension (we all can benefit from this one);

· Improved self-image;

· Increases sense of self-control;

· Improved sleeping patterns;

· Renews energy;

· Provides an opportunity for social interaction and a feeling of belonging;

· Regular exercise has lower absenteeism and lower health care expenses.

Aqua Aerobics can be a fun workout – and it might be just the right thing to get you moving and kick start your way to a healthy active lifestyle.

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Diastasis Recti & Training

It recently came under my attention that Diastasis Recti (DR) came under the spot light on social media discussions lately. And unfortunately, along with the discussions, I have also noticed an increase in online trainers advertising their guides to help clients “fix” their DR. You might be wondering why I am saying “unfortunately.” Well I will be honest, the reason for my out cry is because I noticed that some of the trainers selling the guides are not properly qualified to be giving out guides regarding such specific conditions.

I have been really hesitant to write about this topic, as I am all for supporting others and wishing others success with their ventures. And I never want to condemn other’s practices because I differ from them. HOWEVER, as a certified personal trainer with an additional qualification in comprehensive pre- and post-natal training – I feel a little obliged to voice my opinion about the matter that came under my attention.

When I started my journey in the fitness industry, I made a promise to myself to always be 100% honest and transparent regarding any topics and situations I may encounter and in every aspect of my journey. I hope that my honest intentions and concerns will be thoroughly transparent in this blog post and that it would not appear that I am trying to criticize or sabotage anyone’s business ventures.

I am a firm believer in continuous professional development – you can check out all of my qualifications on my Instagram page (@fitbesttraining) under the Highlight CPD. The qualifications will also soon be listed and uploaded onto my website. As a believer in continuous development, I have recently enrolled in yet another course which is especially focused on Post Natal recover (exercise, nutrition, scars, eeeeverything you can think of). I felt that the courses I did before focused more on pre-natal training and I wanted more and more valuable training and expertise with regards to post-natal recovery.

For the biggest part of 2018, I have been working on a Post Natal Recovery Guide. And whilst you can say that most of the guide is done. I am not releasing the guide as of yet. I first want to complete the new course in which I have enrolled – so that I can share all of my tips and gained knowledge with you ladies. I want to ensure, that when I release my guide, I am qualified as best as I can be and that I can give you the best possible guide. Giving you ultimate value for your money and ensuring that you will reach your goals, no risks attached.

Please excuse all the gory details and mumbling about qualifications, but when it comes to a topic such as DR – I honestly feel that you should not even be reading or paying any attention to anything anyone is saying with regards to it – unless it is clear by a mile, that the relevant person is qualified to be voicing their opinion regarding the topic.

So back to the Diastasis Recti topic itself… Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions…

What exactly is DR and why does it happen? DR is also known as abdominal separation. It is a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separates. It is a common occurrence during or as a result of pregnancy. DR is caused by an increase in internal abdominal pressure and not specifically by pregnancy. During pregnancy, your uterus continuously stretches to accommodate the growing baby, which can cause the abdominal muscles remain under constant internal pressure and thus cause muscles to split in the front. According to statistics, approximately 98% of all women suffer from DR after giving birth. The extent of the abdominal separation obviously varies between women. DR usually are more often seen during second or third, etc pregnancies – as the abdominal muscles have been stretched and weakened before – during prior pregnancies. Women who suffer from abdominal problems, or weak abdominal muscles prior to pregnancy are also more prone to DR.

How do I know if I have DR? First of all, DR always requires a medical diagnosis! However, there are signs to look out for. DR can only be identified and diagnosed once your baby is born. And even after birth, you might have DR and not even know it. In some cases, one can only see identify DR once the abdominal muscles are contracted. In other cases, there may be a noticeable bulge in the middle of your stomach. DR is the thing causing your jeans not to fit anymore – even after you have regained your pre-baby weight/size. You might even suffer from abdominal and pelvic pain as a result of DR. So how do you find out if you suffer from DR? The easy go-to method to determine if you may have DR can be done as follow:

Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent – feet flat on the floor. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor, as you would when performing a crunch exercise. With your one hand, palm facing towards your face, use your index finger to identify the gap between your abdominal muscles. The test should be performed above and below the belly button – as the measurement may vary. Once you have identified the gap, use your index, middle and ring fingers and measure the width of the gap. If you can fit three or more fingers in the gap, you may suffer from DR.

There is NO indication such as “if the gap size is 5cm or 7cm then you have DR and need medical intervention…” Each and every person’s bodies differ. Your fingers are most definitely not the same size as every other woman giving birth. Your fingers are in relation to your body and thus your stomach. So if anyone comes to you with an measurement indication in centimeters, you already known that you should start running as far away from them as possible. Okay, I am kidding – don’t run with your DR until your doctor made a proper diagnosis and gave you clearance to participate in activities such as running, etc. But the other part was true – please stay away from such trainers. You might think that you have came across a bargain. But I can almost guarantee you that it will do way more harm than any good.

If the above test result applies to you, please book an appointment with your doctor and get a proper diagnosis and advise on the road ahead.

Diastasis Recti & Fitness

Now that you have a better idea on what exactly DR is and how to detect if you might have it – lets look at the fitness aspect related to it. This is where my main concern creeps in.

Minor cases of DR can be healed or fixed through a proper and safe workout program. However, in some cases, the damage caused by DR might not be recovered by exercise alone. In such instances one will have to get physical therapy from a qualified physiotherapist or even surgery. Surgery for DR is basically the same procedure as a Tummy Tuck – where the surgeon would remove the excessive fat and decrease the gap between the muscles by pulling them back together internally.

When moms discover that they have DR, they will start looking for any tips and tools to get rid of the problem. However, DR is a non-serious condition that should be treated with serious caution. DR cannot be 100% prevented or avoided, but you can however decrease your risk of suffering from post-natal DR by getting proper pre-natal training. Hence again, may I remind you of the utmost importance of training with a qualified professional. However, pre-natal training is a complete topic of its own for another day.

Many unqualified trainers will prescribe a training program to improve your abdominal muscles s in order to hopefully recover the damage. However, the abdominal muscles are the worst place to start on your journey to recovering from DR. I bet the trainer where you got your R100 DR fixer guide from, did not know that & obviously did not inform you about that either. The shocking news is, that improper training might actually worsen you DR. And in very severe cases, improper training may even pressure your organs and push them through the separation – which can and might cause DEATH!!! Well I am not sure about you, but I don’t think that saving a few bucks by opting for the R100 guide is worth the health risk.

Creating a proper and safe post-natal training guide is an expensive and long journey. It takes a trainer a long time to be properly qualified, a simple personal trainer qualification is not adequate to take on such a topic and start handing out guides and opinions about how to fix Diastasis Recti. If you were planning on purchasing a cheap guide or now a friend who has – please first ensure if the trainer is properly qualified. And if the trainer is not willing to show you their qualifications – it obviously means that they are not qualified to issue a guide on that matter.

The greatest wealth is health – don’t risk it on unqualified trainers.

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Strong Core vs Rock Hard Abs

Scrolling through social media, you will probably see many pictures of girls with rocking abs and think to yourself – I want her abs. However, ladies, what if I told you – you had it all wrong.

I would choose core exercises over any type of ab exercise – any day of the week! Many people make the mistake by thinking core = abs. However, rock solid abs do not necessarily indicate that you have a strong core. Surprised by this news? Let me explain a little bit more.

Your ab muscles refer to your abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles consist of four main muscles groups, namely: Rectus Abdominus – the Six Pack muscles – these muscles are the top layer (closest to the skin); Transverse abdominus – the deep muscles around your stomach; and the Internal & External Obliques (the side muscles – hidden under some muffin tops from time to time).

Your core however, includes way more muscles than just your abs. Our core consists of our lower back muscles, hips, glutes (bum muscles), allllll of the muscles in the pelvis as well as our ab muscles.

Please understand my point of view – I am not saying you should not be doing any type of exercises to train your abdominal muscles. What I am saying is, that if you really want strong abs – you need to incorporate core exercises into your training programs.

Core conditioning will ensure that your entire body is strong and balanced and that you maintain proper posture. A strong core will decrease your chances of injury. Proper core strength will improve your functional abilities in daily life. Core exercises can be classified as functional training. Functional training is aimed to exercise the body in a manner that you can gain benefits on a day to day basis – performing daily tasks without placing strain on your body or getting injured. As our core is the center and control point of every exercise we can perform – the stronger your core become – the stronger your entire body will become.

So next time you scroll through social media and stare for hours to abs like chocolate slabs – don’t start doing every abs exercise you can think of. Start training your core, and the abs will present themselves in due time!

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Healthy Nutrition

Healthy nutrition is probably one of the most controversial topics in the world today. Most people will agree that healthy eating is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. But the controversy steps in when we want to determine how exactly that healthy eating habits should look like.

I must admit, that I have never been too interested in nutrition in general. I have never counted macros and I have never been a fan of diets. I do however agree that is essential to make good and informed food choices if you want to build a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The amount of food people can eat from every food group will vary depending numerous factors such as age, gender and activity levels.

There are many nutrition specialists in the industry and all of them have their own opinions of what type of diets people should be following and what foods to avoid. Research has also shown that South Africans’ diets have rapidly changed over the years. These days more and more people chose to follow a diet which contains less fibre, more saturated fats, higher salt contents and a lot more processed foods. There may be several reasons why the change occurred, but that is a completely different topic for another day.

What studies also have show is that poor eating habits have been directly linked to an increase in general obesity, chronic diseases as well as death. According to Eat Well Live Well, approximately 56% of South African females, 29% of males and 17% of children in South Africa are overweight or obese. Take a moment and let that sink in. 56% of all South African adult females. Six million South Africans suffer from high blood pressure. And 25% of South Africa’s adult population have risk factors for high blood pressure – factors such as obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and a high sodium (salt) and low vegetable, legume and milk intake, which result in a low potassium intake.

Eat Well Live Well suggests in order to keep yourself and your family healthy, you must ensure that your diet consist of a variety of foods from each of the food groups, in the correct amounts and according to your unique lifestyle needs.

The main reason why I do not support diets is because they are not sustainable. You might stay on track for a few days or some might even stay dedicated for a few months. But my question is, what do you think will happen to you body once you start eating normal again? The problem with diets is that hey usually exclude or limit certain food groups and promote other food groups. That will only result in an imbalance.

Our bodies need various foods from ALL the food groups, to provide the body with fuel for daily functions. If you are really serious about leading a healthy lifestyle, you will stop counting macros and jumping from one diet to the next. A healthy lifestyle is about make good and proper food choices. Not following a diet that works for someone else. Building a healthy lifestyle is more than simply the food you consume every day. It’s about consuming the types of food that your body need to be able to perform the required functions and tasks, you as an individual need to perform every day. A healthy lifestyle stretches further than healthy eating habits – it should include physical activity on a daily basis.

To build up and maintain a healthy lifestyle in general, it is of utmost importance that you understand the impact of your own food choices on your body. By choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle you will drastically reduce your risk of chronic diseases and will be able to enjoy your life with much more energy.

Choosing a healthy lifestyle is a smart choice for everyone – no matter your age or gender. It will assist you in maintaining a healthy weight and fuelling your body with the needed nutrients.

Healthy looks different on everybody. So, it is up to you to dig in, learn a little more about what your body really needs to perform at its best. Find a healthy eating routine that works for you. And please, I beg of you – don’t ever cut any food group completely from your diet.

Living a healthy life in general does not require any food restrictions. Forget about the diets and the food restrictions. Find a sustainable lifestyle diet that works for you, something that you can stick with for the rest of your life & not just for a few days or weeks. Eat the pizza when you want it & the greens when you need it! If you take care of your body, it will surely take care of you!

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Smash that 10k Step Goal!

If you are using any form of a fitness tracker, whether it’s a watch or your smart phone – we are all familiar with the 10 000-step goal. So why specifically 10 000 steps per day? 10 000 steps add up to approximately 5 miles (±8km) per day. To reach your step goal it can be as easy as a 30 min exercise session per day. The reason for 10 000 steps / 30 minutes of exercise daily – it to comply with the health recommendations. Which are that every person should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

The entire idea behind step goals are to encourage everyone to live a healthier lifestyle. And focusing on a daily basis to build a better version of yourself.

If you are new to exercise or started with a new program – it is best to start slowly and progress as you get used to the program. A good indication to get more active is to track your steps taken daily. In an article that Fitbit issued (Should you really take 10 000 steps a day – 1 March 2018) – it was recommended that you add 1 000 steps each week to your daily goal. Ie. If your goal for week 1 was 6 000 steps, then your goal for week 2 would be 7 000 steps.

If your plan is to lose weight, Fitbit gave a better idea of you can manage to lose weight simply by increasing your daily step goal. Fitbit advised to first determine how much weight you want to lose & then all you have to do is a little maths. Studies have time and again proven that the best way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to slowly and gradually shed weight. Losing a lot of weight in a short while can cause may health risks – but that is a topic for another day. To ensure that your weight loss is sustainable and safe, it is advised to aim to lose no more than 500 grams of bodyweight per week.

Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle sleep better and are less prone to suffer from depression. The Harvard School of Public Health found that a short 30 minutes of walking daily, cut the average person’s stroke risk by at least 20%.

How to reach your step goal?

1. Ease into your step goals. If you haven’t been active lately and simply starting out. Start with a step goal between 6 000 and 8 000 steps per day. Add 1 000 steps every week to your daily goal as advised above.

2. Start early. Don’t wait until bed time to march up and down like a soldier to reach your goal. Take the detour, walk a little further than you usually do. Volunteer to take the dogs for a walk or to grab the coffee.

3. Set reminders. Most fitness trackers have an option to send reminders to keep you moving throughout the day. If your tracker or smart phone does not automatically set reminders, set daily reminders on your smart phone to keep you moving.

4. Dress comfortably. You are more likely to reach your step goal when you are wearing comfortable shoes, than you are wearing 10-inch heels.

5. Use your time wisely. If you are early for a meeting or coffee date with a friend. Instead of slopping down, scrolling through your social media accounts – tick off a few steps while you are waiting.

6. Work it in to your day. There is no need to completely change your daily schedule to reach your step goal. Simple changes to your daily routines can make all the difference. Using the lift every day, why not exchange it for the flight of stairs? Walking to the closest bathroom? Oh come on, you can hold it a little longer – head over to the furthest bathroom from your office desk. Collapsing on the couch after work? Why not play fetch with your dog for 10 minutes outside?

7. Challenge your friends to reach their step goals with you. A little healthy competition never killed anyone.

8. Start running. Whether you are a regular runner or newbie to running. Adding simply, one run every week will get you moving and accomplish you step goal in no time. Why not join the weekly Park Run that is hosted all across South Africa?