Local Talk

Do you need advice on getting/keeping fit? Speak to Personal Trainer Sian Smith about fitness in our webchat on 24th April.

(47 Posts)

With the inspirational London Marathon having recently taken place, better weather and longer days enticing us outdoors, beach holidays looming, figures to get back into shape after babies or just a general urge to get fitter and more toned, many of us are finding motivation to address personal fitness issues and challenges.

Sian Smith from Fresh Start Personal Training (a dedicated service for women), who is currently running an offer on Mumsnet Merton will be here online to answer your questions next Thursday, 24th April at 8.30 pm. If you're unable to make the webchat, you are most welcome to post your questions in advance, below.

Sian aims to help her clients (women of all ages, including mums-to-be, new mums and those with some years’ motherhood under their belt) in South West London, to find a balance: where being fit and strong in mind and body sits happily alongside the other priorities in their lives. A former self-confessed exercise-phobe, she spent recent years transforming from someone who huffed and puffed on the odd jog, to leaving PR behind and re-qualifying as a Personal Trainer, setting up Fresh Start in 2012. She aims to make fitness fun in a friendly, ‘shout free’, relaxed environment.

Sian has come up with a list of suggested topics to guide your questions:

- how to get back into exercise after a long break (finding local classes, booking with a friend, couch to 5k, 'fitness TV' or finding a trainer);
- what exercises and types of exercise are good for new mums (there is a lot of uncertainty about when and how to exercise);
- what's the 'best' exercise to do to make the most of limited time;
- how to tone all those wobbly bits we all hate!

Further information about what Sian offers can be found on her website: Fresh Start Fitness

Giflo Mon 14-Apr-14 14:03:21

How do I encourage my daughter to stop using her free bus pass as her legs, especially for short trip of 15-30mins walking time. As children we always walked to school and that contributed to our overall health.

Willemdefoeismine Mon 14-Apr-14 15:29:43

I am keenest on walking as a form of exercise. I do lots of walking but not fast enough to keep me as trim as I would like to be - what would you suggest for burning more calories/energy or is running an inevitability if I am to improve fitness and lose weight?

Thanks :-)

TortorSW17 Mon 21-Apr-14 21:12:03

Hi, I play badminton currently but little else. Trying to keep up twice a week up to an hour each session. Wonder what sort of warm-up i should be doing. Hard to motivate myself to keep fit. Is skipping good exercise for strengthening bones? Heading for 50 with some stiffness in lower back and a dodgy elbow but otherwise not too bad!

Sportcandy123 Tue 22-Apr-14 12:56:49

Hi,
What is the most effective way to tone up, many repetitions using light weights or few reps of heavy weight?

LupitaWoods Tue 22-Apr-14 13:27:42

Hello. I want to starting running but I have not run since I was at school (26 years ago). I want to run for charity -10K-. What is the easiest and safest way to do it?

TudorMaryRose Wed 23-Apr-14 10:36:15

Hi Sian,

I used to be very fit and healthy and able to run 5k and did regular exercise videos DVDs before I had children - think Taebo and Davina and similar hollyoaks, but I have now had two emergency C sections. I was advised not to put a strain on my stomach for at least 9 months afterwards, and I've now 'rested' sat on my arse for 17 months. I really would like to get my stomach back to looking like a stomach and not a bowl of porridge. Should I now attempt stomach crunches or are these not going to do it?

thekitchenfairy Wed 23-Apr-14 13:07:06

Hi there

I am posting this as Thursdays are my tricky nightmare night!

I work at a computer all day, my children are older, 8 and 11, but I seem to have less available time than when they were toddlers/younger. I was a member of a fab gym and improved my core fitness hugely with circuit training and found I loved a 20 minute blast much more than an hour long run. This gym closed 4 months ago and there is no other local option less than an hour's journey away which is too far. I am woefully out of shape, depressed by this but struggling to carve time to sort it.

I am thinking of getting kettlebells and TRX bands to use at home as after 6 months I can only seem to leave the house once a week to run, which is no good. My DH has weights and a bench but I have no idea where to start.

Can you recommend a basic plan I could follow, or failing that a DVD that won't drive me insane with irritation grin as sadly I think home exercise is the only way forward for me.

Thank you!

LESuffolk&Norfolk Wed 23-Apr-14 13:09:47

I love walking but part of the pleasure of walking is not doing the power bit because you don't actually see anything or get thinking time when you charge ahead trying to up the exercise quotient.

Would you recommend strapping on some wrist and ankle weights to up the energy expenditure and if so, what types and weights?

Thank you (from a very lazy person).

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 16:58:06

Hi Giflo
Thanks for your Q; "How do I encourage my daughter to stop using her free bus pass as her legs, especially for short trip of 15-30mins walking time. As children we always walked to school and that contributed to our overall health."....

Thought I'd get cracking on answering some of these threads pre-web chat! So....hmmm getting unwilling (I assume) teens to exercise is always going to be difficult. But one thing I know that works with people of all ages is that if you enjoy something then you are far far more likely to a) do it and b) stick to it! So rather than focusing on the (lack of) walking, could you encourage her to find something else either which she's enjoyed before, or new, e.g. swimming / dancing / cycling / team sport with her friends, which keeps her moving AND having fun? Perhaps there's activities you can do as a family (walks/hikes etc?) too to help keep her active?

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 17:15:01

Hi willemdefoeismine and LESuffolk&Norfolk. I've answered both your messages here as I think there is crossover. Hope this helps!

"I am keenest on walking as a form of exercise. I do lots of walking but not fast enough to keep me as trim as I would like to be - what would you suggest for burning more calories/energy or is running an inevitability if I am to improve fitness and lose weight?"

I love walking but part of the pleasure of walking is not doing the power bit because you don't actually see anything or get thinking time when you charge ahead trying to up the exercise quotient. Would you recommend strapping on some wrist and ankle weights to up the energy expenditure and if so, what types and weights?"

Great that you both love walking; its health benefits are often underestimated. As per what I said to Giflo above, keeping fit and healthy is about finding things you enjoy so willemdefoeismine, no need to move to jogging/running (although you may enjoy it wink). For you both YES LESuffolk&Norfolk, I would recommend ankle/wrist weights to up the intensity. These days you can buy both everywhere (Amazon/Supermarkets/eBay/sports shops), and from very light (1/2 pounds) through to 10 pounds (too heavy) which you velcro round your limbs. I'd start light and work up as you wish. They will aid calorie expenditure and help muscle tone.

I'd also recommend adding 'intervals' to your walks, varying pace and incline. Doesn't have to be power walking LESuffolk&Norfolk but just something which sees heart rate raising for a short time. So pick the next lamppost/bus stop to speed up towards and repeat this throughout your route, or purposely choose harder routes incorporating small (or big!) hills too. Enjoy!

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 17:45:15

Hi TortorSW17 - hope the below helps!

"I play badminton currently but little else. Trying to keep up twice a week up to an hour each session. Wonder what sort of warm-up i should be doing. Hard to motivate myself to keep fit. Is skipping good exercise for strengthening bones? Heading for 50 with some stiffness in lower back and a dodgy elbow but otherwise not too bad!

Good for you that you're even thinking of the warm up!! Most people don't! Badminton is of course great for your overall fitness and uses basically all your main muscle groups, so essentially you need to warm them all up! Keep it simple....start with some light marching on the spot/round the court to get the blood pumping to the muscles. Add leg squats and lunges (we're mimicking your badminton moves basically) and then as you march move your way from top to bottom of your body....so neck turns, to big shoulder rolls. Then standing still, add in some torso twists (hips locked forward), onto some bum kicks (heel kicked to bum), then some hamstring heel digs, then finally push your heel down behind you to warm the calf. 10-15 secs per stretch and 5 mins to warm overall. Do this moving rather than 'static' as you need to keep muscles warm. Then I'd do a couple of mins of light play with your partner to ensure you're fully warm.

Appreciate it's really hard to visualise, so if you simply google 'images for warm up exercises' there are tonnes out there which you could print and take with you. Do cool down (the reverse!) too.

Secondly re strengthening bones, 'weight bearing' and 'high impact' exercise is generally viewed to be good for building bone density. So that counts for your badminton and also for skipping - which incidentally is also brilliant for overall cardio fitness. So do skip, just ensure you're on a nice stable surface, have plenty of room and as per the above warm up for a few mins beforehand.

StrollAlongTheProm Thu 24-Apr-14 17:56:17

My arms are quite big in proportion to the rest of my body. sad Which exercises are best for toning them (especially the underneath) but won't make them look even bigger?

Thanks

StrollAlongTheProm Thu 24-Apr-14 17:56:59

Actually can I ask the same question about my thighs? Especially the front and top!

LESuffolk&Norfolk Thu 24-Apr-14 18:00:02

Thank you Sian

I appreciate your answer and am off to my local sports shop tomorrow to try some. I need to not be the person getting sand kicked in her face smile anymore.

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 18:08:04

Hi Sportcandy123 - great question and one I get asked a LOT!

"What is the most effective way to tone up, many repetitions using light weights or few reps of heavy weight?"

Firstly, it's worth saying that the most effective way to tone up in my view is a mix of fat burning exercise, combined with resistance or 'weight' based training, whether that's dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance bands etc, or indeed your own body! There's very little more effective than say, bursts of star jumps or sprints followed by squats, press ups or lunges to tone up.

In answer to your question though, there is lots of debate in the fitness world about this and a lot of the answer depends on the 'look' you are going for. So long and lean versus a little more size and tone. The general assumption is 'light weights and lots' for more lean and toned and 'heavier and less reps' for muscle hypertrophy (basically size increase - the extreme being the huge blokes in the gym doing 1-5 reps of enormous weights!). But in my experience it actually depends on the individual and what they like doing. I like to mix it up myself, so sometimes I'll use lighter weights and lots of reps of a more complex exercise, and then other times I'll use a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell and work hard for a shorter set. The same goes for my clients - some HATE 'big' weights so we don't use them and others the opposite! The MAIN thing to aim for though is a sense of fatigue at the end of each set of repetitions; that you really couldn't do more than 1-2 reps more without it feeling too sore. What weight that is with kind of doesn't matter as it's all working towards the same effect.

So - if you're new to weights then I'd always say start light and work your way up (say 1-3kg) and do reps to 'fatigue' (more than 25-30 then up the weight), but don't rule out the power of your own bodyweight too.

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 18:27:41

Hi LupitaWoods. Thanks for your question, "I want to starting running but I have not run since I was at school (26 years ago). I want to run for charity -10K-. What is the easiest and safest way to do it?".

Good on you! Firstly, it's great you have a goal to work towards with the 10k. I find clients (and me!) are much more likely to stick to a challenge if there is a real life event at the end of it!

I am assuming you are in good health, otherwise if you have any doubts and its been a long time since you exercised, then I'd check with your GP pre starting your plan. This aside, the easiest and safest way to do it is to:
- allow yourself plenty of time, and train carefully, slowly, and with the right advice. We could talk for hours about running plans but for the purposes of today, I think the best place for you to start is the internet. There are literally hundreds of training plans available online from 5k through to ultra marathons. I think the 'Couch to 5k/10k' ones are good as a start, or try Running mags like Runners World or Women's Running. You'll need to sift through to find one that suits your lifestyle though; many assume you have the time to do 5 odd runs a week, so find one that works with your schedule. All start you off with jogging/walking to build endurance.
- Get the right kit. I am assuming your trainers might be gathering dust (!) so it's worth investing in a decent running pair to protect your joints (I like Runners Need as they have a good range of prices), plus sports bra and appropriate leggings, and tops. If you're uncomfortable running it'll put you off so motivate yourself with some sensible - and attractive - kit. TKMaxx has great sports brands cheaply, with sweaty betty at the other end of the expense scale!!

Good luck!

Willemdefoeismine Thu 24-Apr-14 18:37:34

Hi Sian,

Thanks for the tips regarding weights with walking....so pleased I'm not going to have to start running (no offence to those of you who are keen runners!)

grin

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 18:58:18

Hi TudorMaryRose.

"I used to be very fit and healthy and able to run 5k and did regular exercise videos DVDs before I had children - but I have now had two emergency C sections. I was advised not to put a strain on my stomach for at least 9 months afterwards, and I've now 'rested' sat on my arse for 17 months. I really would like to get my stomach back to looking like a stomach and not a bowl of porridge. Should I now attempt stomach crunches or are these not going to do it?"

Thanks for your message. The good news is you CAN get that stomach back! grin The bad news is it'll mean a bit of work to get there, but with patience and the right exercises you'll see the difference!
SO, you were absolutely right not to put a strain on your core initially while the muscles recovered. But now the c-section will have healed you can check if you're up to core work by doing a 'rec check' to see if the rectus abdominus muscles have knitted back together. See YouTube for some really simple demos on how (if you haven't checked already).

If they haven't closed then I'd take some specialist advice offline (core just needs some more careful/gentle attention) .... but if they have then I'd recommend you kick start on some tummy toning with a mix of fat burning (see my response to SportCandy123) stuff and then increasingly complex core exercises. Crunches are okaaaaaay but there are lots more effective moves out there which work harder for you.... modified planks (heard of 'supermans'?), bridges, lots of pilates based moves PLUS pulse raising squats/hops/jumps/sprints to tackle the 'cuddle' smile. If you liked DVDs previously and need exercise to be home based then I'd pick a post natal specialist DVD to start with (e.g. Tracey Anderson is merciless, but good) and when you feel up to it try adding in good old Davina again. OR get those running trainers on again! (See response to LupitaWoods!).

Giflo Thu 24-Apr-14 19:19:18

Thank you Sian, my daughter and I are in dialogue and joint yoga has been opted for, so looking for a local group. She has also indicated that she wants to join the school's tennis club, doing something that she will enjoy, very happy mummy, she is trying to understand, keeping active is good for you.

TudorMaryRose Thu 24-Apr-14 20:01:29

Thanks Sian. I was thinking of joining a pilates class, so given what you say that seems like a good idea.

bouncychair Thu 24-Apr-14 20:05:19

I've lost a stone at the beginning of the year and would like to lose two more. I know exactly what I need to do to lose weight but I now want to tone up. As a previous poster, I've had two c-sections and hate the 'overhang' that I've got.

I've joined the gym today! I will be doing a pilates class twice a week as I know that will be good for my core and then will probably be able to get to the gym another two days a week.

How can I best use the 45-60 mins that I will have in the gym? Is there an ideal cardio: weights ratio?

Hi everyone

A big welcome to Sian Smith (Surrey-based Personal Fitness Trainer) and Mumsnetters. Thank you for joining us this evening!

I see Sian has already been hard-at-work answering questions - she's on a roll! Not sure if it's entirely appropriate, given the topic of conversation, but draw up a chair, pour yourself a wine and please do feel free to ask a question/comment on all things female-fitness related.

SianFreshStartFitness Thu 24-Apr-14 20:28:24

Thanks Kate! And hello all..... yep I've been enjoying answering all your questions and look forward to more!

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