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When most people say they want to shape up and drop a dress size, the first thing they expect is for the number of the scales to drop. This has become the normal measure of success over the years that most of us think we have failed if we haven’t lost any weight.

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Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast might be forced to take a break from training from time to time, whether they are travelling, suffer an injury or have a long illness. Getting back into the swing of things can be difficult at first, but here are some tips to start training again.

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As business owners or managers, it is important to remember that our most important assets are our employees. We want our employees to enjoy their work environment, and to bring the best of themselves to their jobs every day. Encouraging our employees to embrace fitness as a lifestyle choice pays off in numerous ways!

1. Fit employees are less likely to get sick. 

A person who is physically fit is generally more resistant to the “bug going around” than a person who is not fit. Reduced absenteeism and reduced health care expenditures are the result of a fit employee base.

2. Fit employees have more energy. 

One of the many benefits of regular exercise is increased and sustained energy throughout the day. This energy allows the employee to stay focused on the task at handing, bringing the best of themselves to each task.

3. Fit employees have more self-confidence. 

A fit and healthy individual tends to have a high level of self-confidence, because they have proven to themselves that they can accomplish what it takes to obtain a level of physical fitness. This self-confidence empowers the employee to challenge themselves, and strive for higher levels of achievement in the workplace.

4. Fit employees inspire confidence. 

Any person who maintains a high fitness level, tends to be a person in whom others have confidence.

5. Fit employees tend to take on more leadership roles. 

Because of the many positive benefits of a healthy lifestyle, a fit individual tends to make a good leader

6. Fit employees set and achieve goals. 

Extraordinary fitness often demands that an individual set and reach goals related to their fitness. Learning to stay true to your goals and see them through to completion is a skill that is naturally brought into the workplace. An employee with the proven ability to set aggressive goals, and then REALISE those goals, is a valuable asset to any organization.

7. Fit employees tend to have better attitudes. 

Fit employees generally “feel good”. They tend to have a physical and mental “balance” that results in a more positive attitude in the workplace.

8. Fit employees are less stressed. 

Regular exercise releases the physical AND emotional tensions that life brings our way, thus a fit employee tends to have lower overall stress levels than an employee who does not engage in regular exercise.

9. A fit employee base presents excellent team building opportunities. 

Team building activities are wonderful ways for employees to take their professional relationships to new levels, and discover new ways of working together. Obviously, employees that maintain a level of fitness are more likely to participate in these activities.

10. Encouraging fitness demonstrates a concern for employee’s well-being, and pays off! 

Employees NOTICE when an employer shows concern for the health and well-being of their employee base through a variety of wellness programs. Further, it has been shown that employee turnover is significantly lower among employees that take advantage of a wellness program implemented by their employer.

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Health is not just important, it’s EVERYTHING

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that our health is the single determiner of our life!  

Not the size of our bank account,  

Not the power of our Job,  

Not the size of our house or make of our car (no house can be big enough for 4 months of lockdown!) 

But the state of our physical, and mental health. 

For years, the Marlow Club have been led by the vision that ‘the greatest wealth is health’. 

 This is what drives every decision that we make, from our employee wellness, member experience to the investment in our facilities and the reason we promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle to our community, focusing on much more than just their physical health.  

So when thinking about health, along with exercise and nutrition, take into consideration; sleep, rest & recovery, stress management & movement. All fundamental factors to optimise lifelong health.  

So are you getting enough sleep? 

Are you allowing your body to recover? 

Are you managing with your daily stressors? 

Are you moving enough each day? 

Are you enjoying exercise? 

And are you balancing your diet? 

Is it time for you to invest in your health?  

Fill out the form below to arrange a time to visit the Marlow Club and see what we can do for you and your health.  

Get in touch

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July 25th marked the start of us getting back to The Marlow Club. For many it will be the first time they have trained in 3-4 months.

Whilst this is a great opportunity to kick-start your training, you can’t simply begin where you left off 4 months ago. If you did, you would probably find yourself immobile for a week with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

However, it isn’t just your muscles that have weakened. So too have your tendons and possibly ligaments too. These structures help to stabilise or transmit force through your body when you are lifting weights.

If your goal is to get back into shape, sitting on the side-lines with an injury is not the way to do it.

Session 1

Session 1 is what I call a ‘cobweb session’. It is there purely to clear out the cobwebs that have collected over the lockdown period.

Your goal for this session is simply turn up, do a relaxed workout that feels like you could repeat the session again immediately then go home. That’s it!

Use this session to reacquaint yourself with the facility and enjoy an incredibly easy session.

But once that first session in under your belt, you need a way of slowly building your training routine back towards where it was in March.

Take the first 4 weeks of training as a building phase

Each week aim to work yourself a little harder by building on your previous week’s efforts and pushing just a little bit more. This gradual overload will not only help your muscles to get stronger, they will also help to strengthen your tendons, ligaments and joints.

Below are 4 methods of increasing your training volumes and loads without the risk of injury.

Volume

Your training volume is the total amount of work you do in either a single session or over a week. It is made up by adding your total number of reps by your total number of sets by the load you lifted in each set.

Focusing on increasing volume is especially great for those who were doing a lot of training prior to lockdown.

How to do it

Simply start by doing just 1-2 sets of each exercise on session 1 then increasing a set a week each week until you hit pre-lockdown volume.

Reps Left in Reserve (RLR)

The number of reps you could have completed after you stop each set is known as your RLR. Therefore if you do 10 squats but could have completed 14 you have 4 RLR.

If using this method, start Week 1 with 4-5 RLR and each week, push a little harder by taking 1 RLR off the end of each set.

As you reduce your RLR you will naturally need to add a little weight to your sets and so increase the force and loads your body is being asked to work with.

Rest Periods

When training we have local fatigue and systemic fatigue.

· Local fatigue occurs when the specific muscle you are training has fatigued the most.

· Systemic fatigue occurs when you as a whole fatigues quicker than any specific muscle or body part.

Those new to training tend to find they suffer more from systemic fatigue and those who are have a bigger training background tend to find they suffer more from localised fatigue.

Whatever your training background, you can use how you fatigue to your advantage.

By reducing your rest period between sets, you will inhibit your body’s ability to recover and thus need to lift lighter loads. Lighter loads means less total load going through your body and shorter training sessions (assuming you don’t add more sets with the left over time at the end of the session).

Added, you will feel like you had a bigger workout as systemic fatigue kicks in.

Tempo

If you are into your weight training and want to feel a more localised fatigue, you can slow your weight training tempo down.

Most people take 2-3 seconds to complete a repetition when doing weight training. This is made up of 1 second of pushing then 1-2 seconds of slowly releasing the weight back to the start.

However, why not make the release take 4-5 seconds? Making each rep last longer not only inhibits the load you lift (reducing stress on the supporting structures), if you really focus in on how the muscle is feeling whilst weight training, you can increase the mind/muscle connection which is so important in weight training. This technique also improves stabiliser function and increases the time under tension each muscle is working for. Win Win!

How to Use these Methods to Increase Training

Whichever method you choose to adopt, the chart below shows you a simple way of progressing it each week for the first 4 weeks of training:

METHOD WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3 WEEK 4

Sets Completed per body part 1 2 3 4

Reps Left in Reserve 5 4 3 2

Rest Period length 30 secs 40 secs 50 secs 60 secs

Tempo 5 sec release 4 sec release 3 sec release 2 sec release

Depending on your training ability, it may take longer than 4 weeks to get back to pre-lockdown strength or volume. This is merely a suggested starter to show how to progress a plan.

Wrapping It Up

Which method you use and the time it takes you to get back to pre-lockdown routine depends on your training history, goals, strength, age, medical status and how often per week you train.

This article is just to give a brief overview of how to re-build your training after an enforced break.

However, if you would like a more personalised recommendation, pop me a message and we can discuss your needs in more depth.

For most of us, we have been unable to train at the same intensity or volume we are used to.

This means your body will have inevitably lost fitness but also stability and strength around ligaments and tendons. With this in mind, most of us will need to work through an AA Phase (Anatomical Adaption Phase) to allow our bodies to build back to where we were before. Often you are only aware of whether you have over-worked a few hours after finishing your routine so how easy you find a routine is not a good indicator of how close you are working to the most appropriate levels right now.

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As we come out of this lockdown period, many of us will reflect on our ‘lockdown diet’ and the weight many of us have gained during this period.

We all started with good intentions but as the lockdown progressed, our best intentions were replaced with lethargy towards training, impulsive visits to the fridge and a reduced frequency of healthy meals.

Gyms re-opening marks the start of getting back to normal. For many of us, July 25th is our January 1st.

But as we know from previous January 1st resolutions, seldom are our nutrition goals met and often our best intentions seem to slip within the first three weeks.

So, as The Marlow Club opens its doors once again, we are asking you to join with us in a 21 day ‘Re-Focus Challenge’.

THE CHALLENGE

1. Pick ONE HABIT from one of the below list:

a. Increase Veg Intake– aim to ¼ – ½ plate of salad or veg with every evening meal

b. Increase Protein – aim to have a visible form of protein with every lunch and dinner

c. Reduce alcohol Intake – insert glass of water between each glass of alcohol

d. Increase water Intake – aim to drink 2 litres of water each day

e. Reduce Impulsive Eating – Aim to only eat junk with a main meal

f. Increase Training Frequency – Aim to complete X sessions during the challenge

These habits focus on promoting health or reducing dependence on stimulants.

Vegetable intake, water intake and protein intake are three of the core constituents of almost every diet out there and for my clients are usually one of the first ports of call for changing body shape.

2. Create and track your progress every day using a tracker like the one below:

3. Aim for a target of between 80-100% success rate over this 3 week period to allow yourself to be human. No one is perfect so give yourself room for trial and error.

4. The challenge starts on 27th of July and finishes on 17th of August and we would love to hear from you during this period. Let us know via Facebook, Instagram or at the bottom of this blog about how you are getting on. Pop us some photos of you doing your habit and inspire other members in the process. If you have any questions, ask away. We would be more than happy to help.

Now you know the challenge, let me share some useful information I tend to work through with my clients. It should give you some tips and tricks to help you create success in your challenge.

Understand Habits

Understand that your unwanted lockdown habits grew to make your life easier, even if it doesn’t seem that way. If your unwanted habits didn’t solve a problem you wouldn’t have adopted or kept them.

Usually, poor nutrition habits either:

· Give you more time

o Takeaways/microwave meals save you time and energy

· Change our state of mind

o Over indulgence or impulsive snacking relieves boredom, loneliness, anxiety, frustration or stress.

Changing a habit is fundamentally about changing your self-talk and focus. It is easy to create excuses or justifications to exempt you from following through with your new habit. In regards to food habits, the most common justifications I hear are:

a. ‘I don’t have time’

b. ‘I’ve been good so I deserve time off/a treat’

c. ‘I’ll start again tomorrow’

Listen out for these and don’t accept them. Justifications create inconsistency of thought and make it easier to repeat poor behaviour in the future. Consistency is THE most important trait for creating a new habit.

Over these 21 days you will encounter multiple pinch points when you know you should be practicing your new habit but the voice in your head will tell you to not bother. Remember, inconsistency of thought or even allowing that internal debate to occur promotes inconsistent actions. When this inevitably occurs, stop debating with yourself and without thinking, actively start your new habit!

It is Easier to Evolve a Habit than to Break One

You will notice that each of the habits on this challenge focuses either on adding a habit or evolving a bad one. That is because giving something up is difficult and your reasons for adopting your lockdown habit in the first place are probably still there. If you have been

eating to relieve boredom whilst working from home and you adopt a habit of stopping impulsive eating, if your boredom is still present you are unlikely to maintain your new habit. However, saying ‘I will eat these treats but in an hour after dinner’ curbs impulsive eating without going cold turkey. In effect we make the new habit more palatable for your mind to accept whilst still creating change.

Change Your Environment

Your environment has a huge impact on your thoughts and actions. If you have chocolate in your kitchen and your goal is to reduce chocolate, temptation is bound to occur.

Whichever your chosen habit, try to fix your home so that it supports your goal.

· Take out anything that will encourage poor behaviour

o Take junk food and alcohol out of your home

· Add in anything that will support good behaviour

o Buy veg and have it cut and prepared at the weekend

o Place your gym kit out the night before your workouts to remind you to train

o Buy a water bottle you will carry with you

Success is a Zone

Aim for a success of between 80-100%. Success is always a zone, not an exact figure. Aim for 100% and you either score 100% or 0%, it’s that black and white. The very first time you aren’t successful in completing your habit you’ve failed. If you miss a habit in Day 1, that’s you done. That isn’t healthy and just creates a sense of fear of failure rather than a sense of progress and improvement.

Pick Just One Habit

Research shows us that humans are terrible at multi-tasking hard tasks.

In fact, it is estimated that those who only change one habit at a time manage a success rate of up to 80%. Those who change two habits as a time drop to a 35% and those trying 3 or more habits simultaneously drop to a frightening 5% success rate. No wonder diet plans that request multiple changes at once have such low success rates.

This challenge is about changing just one habit and really focusing on that habit without other habits distracting your focus. Hopefully these 21 days will create a stepping stone to allow you to change other habits in the future so remember, this challenge is just to get change started. It isn’t supposed to be an overhaul of all your lockdown bad habits.

Check In and Review Daily

We all lead busy lives and one day often blends into another. So it’s easy to forget new habits as our focus is pulled elsewhere. It’s even easier to routinely repeat the same bad habit day in day out without noticing.

Therefore when working with clients, I always try to start the day with a ‘5 minute focus’:

· What is my goal for today?

· Is there any time of today that might be challenging?

· How do I plan respond?

In effect we mentally prepare for the day and rehearse pinch points.

Set your alarm to remind you to check in half way through the day to see how you are getting on and whether you are still focused on your present habit. This gives you time to notice and halt any poor choices you may have made today and change them for the afternoon.

Finish your day with a quick 5 minute review of what worked, what didn’t and what you will change tomorrow to improve your chances of success.

Finish your day by filling in your Habit Tracker and celebrate any successes you may have had today.

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Why is it so important to stay active whilst under lockdown?

Lock down is crucial to minimise the spread of the Corona Virus, but you might be wondering what impact will it have on your health and well being? You will be relieved to know that here at The Marlow Club and Pila Yoga, we take your fitness and health very seriously, and will continue to provide you with fun and carefully planned workouts and classes that you can safely do at home – even with little space or equipment** – so that you can be a fully-fledged member of the #stayinworkout movement.

STAY STRONG

It will not be news to you that research has shown that being sedentary is bad for your physical and mental health, and therefore during this difficult time it is even more important to stay physically active.

Exercise can help:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of stroke
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes

What’s more, physical activity helps to maintain key muscle mass and bone density – which can help fight against issues such as osteoporosis.

STAY SAFE

Physical activity can help to maintain a healthy immune system: it increases white blood cell circulation and raises body temperature – not to mention flushing bacteria from the lungs and airways. All of these help your body fight infection – truly important at this time.

STAY CONNECTED

In addition to the benefits to physical health, working out with the Marlow Club and Pila Yoga online is a great way to ward off some of the psychological issues which can be associated with being quarantined and cooped up for an extended time. Being active helps lower stress hormones like cortisol and most certainly promotes the release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. Moreover, if you perform the Marlow Club workout live on Facebook, there is an opportunity to comment and chat with fellow participants – building our sense of community and togetherness – as we encourage each other to stay active and healthy. Loneliness is not, after all, about being alone, but about lacking a sense of common purpose and shared meaning.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND US

The Marlow Club has a fantastic, and varied, live timetable which you can access by joining each class at the Marlow Club Facebook page. Choose from HIIT classes, to Pilates or Yoga – there is a session to suit everyone. Once these classes have finished, they are uploaded to the website www.themarlowclublive.co.uk for you to access at your convenience. For Pila Yoga there is currently a fabulous offer of £30 for 30 days access to Pila Yoga classes via Zoom. This is an excellent way to stay part of the Pila community as the finest Pila instructors lead you through a yoga class – able to see you on their computer; it is as close to recreating a real-time class as we can get in these socially-distant times.

Our online communities are really thriving, delivering significant value to the lives of all of our members and community, and it is clear that – whilst we all miss our Club so much – we can stay strong, stay safe and stay connected through the channels offered by the Marlow Club and Pila Yoga and ensure that each one of us leaves this period of quarantine as healthy, as fit – and as included  – as possible.

**Many of our classes require no equipment at all, just the willingness to join in and try hard, but should you want to buy some hand weights, a kettlebell, or a yoga mat to add to the challenge/make yourself more comfortable, we recommend; https://www.yogamatters.com/ and https://www.physicalcompany.co.uk/