Families up and down the country will be celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, March 31st.
We wanted to join in the Mother’s Day celebrations, which is why this year Xercise4Less is championing some of its exceptional female members that are mothers with a selection of Q&A’s.
We have dedicated women’s only areas at our facilities and as ‘The People’s Gym’ we want to continue channelling inclusivity in all our gyms and support our members with their health & fitness goals.
We’re encouraging every mother at Xercise4Less to celebrate Mother’s Day by coming along to the gym. Keep an eye out on our social media throughout the week for some inspirational stories from our members!
How can you get involved?
If you’re a mother, why not bring along your son or daughter, provided they are over the age of 13, to Xercise4Less for a Mother’s Day workout.
Share your Mother’s Day workout pictures with us on social media by using the hashtag #mumknowsbest
Show your support for some of the inspirational mother’s at Xercise4Less by sharing the Q&A’s on your own social media channels.
All of our inspiration mum stories can be found below:
Every April sees the return of Stress Awareness Month, which serves to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for stress.
Exercise has proven benefits for reducing stress. Here Gareth Lewis PT from Burnley has rounded up five of the best stress-busting exercise classes.
This type of class is ideal for using the music to help relax you and take you elsewhere. During the routines the instructors use different strengths of resistance and speeds to make the classes harder strength wise or cardiovascular. In turn, your body then releases endorphins giving you a sense of euphoria, thus helping alleviate the worries caused by day to day stresses.
Whilst these come under the same bracket, the two types of exercise are slightly different in getting to the stress-free state. Boxercise is more of a shadow boxing style work out using the cardiovascular element of working out, getting you to the point your body releases endorphins. Boxing, however, is quicker with the use of pad work, punching bags or sparring. You are using the sensation of your gloves hitting the object – whether it’s the bag, pads or a person – to help relax your mind but work your body, again to release endorphins.
This type of training is very similar to boxing in many ways. Although you are not punching something, you experience a similar feeling when using your own body weight to push or lift yourself up. These exercises help to take your mind off the stresses, and combined with the heart-elevating workout, again releases endorphins and makes you feel better.
Yoga is a mind and body type exercise class, using physical poses as well as meditation and relaxation. All these elements put together will take your mind off your day and help you to relax. It can also help reduce your blood pressure and lower your heart rate, which are all indicative of stress.
The stress-alleviating nature of Pilates is evident in the very nature of class, with the principle of breath. Breathing oxygenates the blood and the body’s response is to relax the brain or calm down. Pilates also has a fantastic physiological response, causing the body to relieve anxiety and stress.
May 13th marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and this years theme is Body Image.
Body image issues can affect all of us, at any age, body shape, or gender and while everyone is affected by body image concerns every so often, if it becomes compulsive, then it may become a problem.
Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition (note: this is different from an eating disorder) where you concentrate on the so-called “flaws” your body has, and feel that you must change yourself through excessive exercising, weighing yourself compulsively and comparing yourself to online images, celebrities or influencers.
It’s OK to want to feel good in yourself, or to want to better yourself in whichever way, but we also need to broaden the standards of what we classify as ‘attractive‘. It’s always changing anyway, so there’s no point in deviating too far from where your body needs to be because at any given time the trend will change from thick thighs to thigh gaps, to abs to curves.
It’s important to remember that there isn’t a single type of beauty – everyone sees it differently. And there simply isn’t a right or a wrong way to look. But if you’re struggling, here are some things you can do.
Be kind to yourself and your mind. Try not to compare yourself to the images you see on social media, in magazines or on TV.
Focus on the things you like about yourself, and the parts of your body that you like. We know this can be hard, but at least give it a try!
Spend time with people who make you feel positive about yourself. Write down the nice things people say to you, and not just about how you look. Remember, people value you for many reasons rather than just your appearance.
Think about what advice you would give a friend if they told you they were struggling with the way they look, and remember that advice whenever you start having negative thoughts.
If you feel unable to cope, or particularly worried about one part of your body, talk to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling.
Stop for a second. Think about how hard you’ve worked, how much you’ve sacrificed and all of the troubles you’ve overcome. Be proud of yourself.
Remember the saying “if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you shouldn’t say it to yourself”.
Friday 5th April marks Walk to Work Day, when working professionals are encouraged to become walking commuters for the day. At Xercise4Less, we are challenging our staff to spend at least 30 minutes walking to work on 5th April.
Together we hope to get more people embarking on an active journey to their workplace, with just 11% of the UK’s working population believed to walk to work daily at present.1
And yet, there are so many health benefits associated with walking between 30 minutes and 1 hour a day. These include a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. For those of us with sedentary jobs, walking to work serves to counteract the hours of inactivity we’re having at our desks.
How can I get involved?
Easy! Where possible, incorporate some walking into at least part of your journey to work.
If public transport is your typical route into the office, you could walk one stop further before getting on. Alternatively, why not get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way?
If you drive, how about parking further away so you can benefit from walking the remaining distance to work?
There’s no doubt about it that exercising has an endless number of health benefits both physical and mental, but many people do not quite understand the effect exercise has on sleep! So we have listed the top 5 benefits exercise has on your sleep.
A potential reason for lack of sleep could be stress or anxiety. Exercise relieves this by producing a chemical in the brain called endorphins that act as natural stress relievers. Even taking half an hour out of your day can allow you to reflect on the things you are worried about. As little as 5 minutes of exercise can reduce any stress or worry, allowing a better night’s sleep.
While fitting in 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, it will burn all the energy you have in the evening, giving you no other option but to curl up and drift to into a deep sleep. Try some HIIT exercises to burn off all of this left over energy in a short space of time, you’ll be flat out before you know it!
Fitting exercise into your daily routine, will also give you more of a stable schedule. Committing to the gym at a certain time of day, a few days a week can settle you into a pattern that allows you to sleep better at a fixed time. Pick a time you wish to go to sleep and try to give it as much dedication as you do your gym time!
Your body temperature
When you exercise, your body temperature increases as does the rate in which your heart pumps blood around the body. Once your session is over, as your body temperature begins to decrease, this can also encourage sleep. There’s no harm done by working up a red face in the gym, it might even let you sleep better than you ever have before
The timing of exercise
For all the above reasons, the timing of the exercise you do to improve quality of sleep is an important factor to consider if you are struggling with sleeping. Exercising too late in the day can encourage an extra spurt of energy just before you settle down for the night, which may be the root of the problem! Luckily for you, our gyms are only open until 10pm in the evening, allowing plenty of time for your body to relax, before an excellent night’s sleep.
Xercise4Less offers multiple cardiovascular exercise equiptment that allow you to work every part of your body and gain the most fulfilling sessions, from our facilities, as possible. What is great about our cardio equiptment is that they measure your time, speed, heart rate and calories lost, so you can track your workouts. Let’s get to know some of the most popular pieces of equiptment we have to offer across all of our clubs nationwide:
The Treadmill is a staple piece of equipment in any gym and is one of the most popular that everyone knows about, even if they have never been to the gym before. It is very straightforward to use, you simply walk or run, what’s great about the treadmill is that you’re able to conduct your cardio on incline for extra intensity. Fancy a HiiT workout? Well the treadmill also has that covered, you can select the HiiT option on the screen and it will put you to the test, as well as other options like Zone Training, Random, Fit Test, Personal Trainer, Speed Interval, Fat Burn and of course Manual.
The Stairmaster can be daunting, especially for beginners because it is such a large piece of equiptment, but fear not, it is a very simple concept as it does what it needs to do and will get you working up a sweat. If you are just getting into using the Stairmaster it is important to concentrate on your coordination because you are lifted at a small height from the ground, and make sure you hold onto the side bars to support your balance, from there you are good to go and simply walk up the steps. What’s good about this machine is that you can adjust the speed to really get your blood pumping.
This is another popular exercise machine because it offers you cardio but without a strong impact, so you are able to maintain a long session on this at a time, it works in a similar manner to a bike because it is a pedal system, but without the bike seat. The elliptical is great for people who may have suffered from an injury but still want to keep fit as it doesn’t have a great impact on your joints. You are able to adjust the intensity of the elliptical to make it more challenging.
The rowing machine stimulates the action of watercraft rowing, it is a really effective form of exercise because it is the only piece of indoor equiptment that will give you a full body workout, because it requires a huge range of muscles to be able to conduct the movement of rowing, so you are gaining the maximum benefits from this machine. Like the Elliptical it is a workout with little impact on the joints and it worked through a smooth movement, so is again great for anyone with injuries or for the elderly. The machine allows you to add resistance to make it more difficult.
The Bikes are simple and easy ways to burn some calories whilst also improving strength, balance and coordination. We offer two different ones, one of these is the upright version, which offer a more high intensity workout as you have no back support and are positioned to hold your body up, which requires more muscle strength. The other choice of bike has back support and you are in a reclined position. At Xercise4Less our bikes allow you to increase intensity and select work out types such as Zone Training, Random, Fit Test, Personal Trainer, Speed Interval, Fat Burn and of course Manual.
One of the reasons people find it so hard to lose weight is because they still subscribe to common weight loss myths that are actually preventing them from losing weight. At Xercise4Less, we are committed to helping you get the results you want from your gym membership, so we’ve debunked some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about weight loss.
Myth 1: You need to exercise for hours every day to achieve results
Not true. Optimise your training. You can easily get the results you need by exercising for as little as 4 hours a week. Of course this all depends on your goals. If it’s to shed excess body fat, then looking at your nutrition, calorie intake and macro levels are key to success. We’re talking about realistic dieting coupled with cardio exercise. However, if your goal is to build and maintain muscle whilst losing fat, you will have to spend these 4 hours lifting weights at a fair intensity. A far more effective way to lose weight is to participate in a structured exercise regime that steadily builds you up to your optimum level.
Our 8 Week Body Transformation Camps can help you do that. The format of the camps have been devised using a combination of principles. Some originate from various forms of high intensity interval training. These are proven vigorous fat burners designed to create the calorie deficit required to shed excess fat, tone and get stronger. The camps are held 2 or 3 times a week.
Myth 2: Low fat foods are always the healthier choice
Be cautious of ‘low fat’ labels because many food companies add extra sugar and salt to compensate for the reduced fat. Sugar actually contributes to weight gain, so this is definitely not the best strategy. Legally, the amount of ‘fat’ in a product only needs to be slightly less than normal in order for it to be labelled ‘low fat’. Instead you need to tailor your diet to suit your individual metabolism and body type. Our upcoming transformation camps include nutritional advice that has been collated from some of the best dietary experts in the country. At Xercise4Less we also have a PRO app that gives you access to dozens of nutrition plans.
Myth 3: Going on a diet will help you lose weight and keep it off
This might seem like bizarre advice when all the hearsay out there say “go on a diet to lose weight”. So let’s break it down. If you go on a cabbage soup diet for 3 months and then lose weight, what happens once you come off the diet? That’s right. The weight will pile back on again. For a diet to keep working – it has to be a consistent one, basically a lifestyle. The great news is that making lifestyle changes to your diet is easier than you think. Want to know more? Discover the true building blocks to what we eat. Get to know the ‘Basic no nonsense guide to nutrition‘.
Endometriosis? Yes, I can see you screwing your face up wondering ‘how on earth do I pronounce that?…’ (en-doh-me-tree-o-sis) and ‘what on earth is it – sounds contagious?!’
Well, it isn’t contagious but it’s as nasty as it sounds. Endometriosis is a condition that affects as many as one in 10 women. It causes the lining of the womb to grow in places it shouldn’t like; outside the womb, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and bowels. And, just like womb lining, it also tries to shed every month causing inflammation, internal bleeding, scarring and in most cases excruciating pain (doubled up on the floor, crying, screaming, wondering-if-you’re-actually-dying kinda pain).
So, why am I telling you this and what’s it got to do with the gym?
Well, one of the less recognised Endometriosis symptoms is fatigue (you know that feeling when you get into bed at night and think ‘I honestly just have no more energy, all I can do is sleep’?) and one of the best recognised anti-dotes to fatigue is exercise – there are others, more on those later.
So, in September last year, two months post-surgery, to remove more scar tissue, I decided it was time to get back to the gym and get stronger, healthier and fitter. The stress of surgery and underlying anxiety had caused me to lose a lot of weight (I weighed less than 7 stone when I first joined) and I needed to get that back on.
Starting at a new gym can be a bit like starting a new job, you don’t know anyone, and it can all be a bit intimidating – except it wasn’t! I’ve never been made to feel so welcome and I soon joined up to a transformation camp with the aim of gaining weight.
Three weeks into my first Transformation camp, I’d gained over a kilo in weight but more importantly I’d gained confidence, reduced my anxiety and made some incredible friends. Now on my third camp – I’m fitter, stronger and feeling better than ever! My back pain is all but gone, my fatigue has gone from being a daily drag to only affecting me two or three days a month – and even then, I’m so motivated that I’ve been able to push through!
So yes, exercise is a brilliant tonic for improving quality of life with a chronic illness but it’s important to recognise, it’s more than just the exercise. Having a robust, achievable and balanced meal plan (including chocolate) plays a fundamental role in keeping my body and brain fighting fit.
I’ve also recently started PT sessions with Derby’s female PT – Caitlin! Now, I might be biased because she’s one of my best friends (thanks Transformation camps!) but she is also one of the best PT’s that I’ve ever worked with – in the few weeks we’ve been working together, my weight has jumped up again and for the first time in over a year, I’m doing the skinny jean dance – and not just because I’ve got serious Endo bloat. Every session I’m hitting new PB’s further improving my confidence and I’m seeing real results with how I look – something I didn’t think I’d care that much about.
Caitlin’s advanced nutrition knowledge also means that my own nutrition has kicked up a gear and I’m eating better – again, contributing to a reduction in my endo symptoms! I’m really excited to see how much further I can progress in the coming months – I really wouldn’t be where I am now without Xercise4Less Derby, my amazing and patient boyfriend, Jamie and you, Caitlin – Thank you!
Health and Fitness influencer and inspirational woman Sophie Grace Holmes talks with Xercise4Less ahead of International Women’s Day about overcoming adversity and using her experiences to inspire others
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit about your story?
Sophie: My story is very different to most because I was born with a genetic condition called cystic fibrosis (CF). It’s a lung disease where mucus builds up in your lungs. I wasn’t diagnosed with the illness until I was four months old and the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it. Once I was diagnosed, the battle began and has been going on all my life.
I have ups and downs, IVs and hospital stays and massive drops in lung function. I have to spend quite a lot of my time doing my treatments. My life is already very different to everyone else’s and I’m consistently being told I can’t do certain things. Which is why I have made it my mission to show what can be done.
Xercise4Less: Tell us a bit more about how your cystic fibrosis shaped your outlook on life?
Sophie: Some people who have been diagnosed with CF feel like it’s a death sentence, but I feel lucky because it’s given me the opportunity to have this unique outlook on life because of the adversity I’ve faced.
I got told from a very young age that I wouldn’t make it to 16 and that I couldn’t do something because my CF wouldn’t allow it, so for that reason I live a life full of adventure.
After a big drop in lung function when I was 19, I decided to dedicate my time to getting fit and healthy to prove everyone wrong and show the world that you can overcome any adversity you face.
Xercise4Less: Despite your condition you enjoy extreme adventures and physical challenges, what do you enjoy so much about them?
Sophie: We live in a world where you get told something and you are expected to follow it. I like to show people what is possible even if someone’s telling me it can’t be done.
I do that by scaling mountains and by competing ultra-events. I’m competing in two this year, one on a paddle board and one on a bike.
People think I’m crazy because I really enjoy putting myself through the sheer pain and because there’s a chance I won’t finish.
I lost most of the people I know with CF when they were about 22 so that’s five or six years ago now. I do this for myself, but also for the people who couldn’t do it.
Xercise4Less: What was the most enjoyable and/or challenging adventure you ever went on?
Sophie: The most enjoyable was probably when I trekked the Himalayas last year with my Dad. It was just so beautiful and to have the opportunity to spend quality time with someone who does so much for you is very rare.
The hardest challenge for me so far has been summiting Mont Blanc. It was definitely the most extreme in terms of the terrain and what was expected of you, but getting to the top of that mountain was well worth it. Being able to do something that only 5% of the world will get the chance to do is amazing.
Xercise4Less: A lot of people see you as an inspiring woman, what does it mean to be considered an inspiration?
Sophie: It means everything. I just love being able to have a positive impact on other people and giving them the courage to live the way they want without fear. So many people don’t realise their potential and don’t know what they could do if they gave it a shot.
If you have the power to influence people in a positive way then you leave a legacy behind and that is something that I would love to be able to do.
If you help one person, they can help someone else and it’s like a domino effect. When I get messages online telling me that people have achieved something they wouldn’t have been able to without my encouragement, it makes me want to push myself even further.
Xercise4Less: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Sophie: It’s a huge day and it encourages women to feel that they can have more power and more equality. I do believe that everyone and especially women tend to underestimate their own power.
“It’s a great way to recognise the women that have impacted your life, from someone who has just said a few words that have brightened your day to those who have changed your life completely.
Xercise4Less: Who is the most inspiring woman you know and why?
Sophie: Kelly Holmes. She was adopted, has been in the army and won Olympic gold. She’s someone who’s built herself up from nothing and now all she wants to do is help others and achieve amazing things along the way. I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring than that!