Discover how Pilates helps to strengthen and tone whilst improving posture and reducing stress and illness by incorporating it in to daily life.
This 6 week online mat pilates course from Dancing Mama Fitness will take the beginners through the simple steps to understanding the ABC of pilates and how to put into daily practise in order to:
improve and strengthen posture/alignment, correct postural issues;
improve physical health – helping to stave off illnesses;
make us happier!
beat stress – Pilates focusses on coordinating movement and breath, known through many practices to calm the mind;
help us live longer lives!
The course will include a complimentary 1:1 session, which we’ll schedule on your registration, where we’ll delve deeper in to anything you’d like to work on. Option of additional 1:1 sessions also available. We’ll meet every Wednesday on Zoom for 1 HR Pilates and 15 minutes mindfulness relaxation at the end.
2 September – 7 October 2020.Hope you can join me in September. Get in touch if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever circumstances, working lifestyle, or lifestyle adaptations are currently being made given the latest government advice about social distancing during this period of disruption, a large chunk of the population, will probably find themselves with more time at home, and possibly, depending on the age of the kids and work status, with more time with the kids. As parents we’re going to need to be mentally and physically strong for ourselves and our families amongst the catastrophe.
Here are 10 things you can do to help boost your immune system and preserve your mental health and wellbeing whatever social distancing measures you’ve decided or have to take, or if you have to self isolate, that you can do with – or without (possibly after bedtime) – the kids!:
1 Work Out.
Working out boosts the immune system and massively improves mental health.
For you: There is a mass of online fitness videos, or 1 to 1 personal workout instructors in a huge range of styles. Virtual learning platforms will become our best friend over the coming months – technology is amazing. Investing in an online personal trainer, who can monitor your workout, will ensure you’re working out safely and to your strengths.
Listen carefully to the safe workout guidelines the online practitioners should provide. Take care, don’t overdo it to avoid injury, and always ensure you have approval from a physician if you feel unwell, have underlying, continuous health conditions, are pregnant, or have given birth within the last 6 months, on the type of exercise that is suitable for you.
Watch this space for ideas for parent and kids work outs together from Dancing Mama Fitness…
At the time of writing (17.3.20) some of us can still get out – can still get to leisure centres. They’re still open – providing you’ve done your own risk assessment for your health – support them! The centres I teach in are heightening their cleaning routines and there is reduced attendance by members, so two metres apart from each other is achieved in most classes.
Nature, fresh air, greenery – exercise, walk, escape the confines of walls and bust some stress. Get some comfy walking boots or trainers and explore – walk far and wide with younger kids in a baby carrier (visit Wear My Babyfor a great collection), or take shorter walks to take time and educate the kids on nature or take a ball or frisbee.
3 Ramp Up the Self Love and Care
Take long baths, have a go at making scrubs and home made shampoos. There’s so many blogs online, and we can’t necessarily go wrong if the ingredients are entirely natural and applied externally only of course (ahem!). Perfect opportunity to be more careful about the environment with less packaging as a result.
Also time to cook from scratch in mass production, if there’s not usually time to do anything more than bung a ready made meal in the microwave. Cook with loads of immune system boosting fresh or frozen fruit and veg, and freeze stuff – loads of suggestions of recipes suitable for freezing online. Read my Dancing Mama blog on Parent Baby Nutrition, Baby Led Weaning Ideas and cooking on a budget here. Time to take control of what we’re consuming.
4 Meditate or Find Stillness and Breathe.
When our minds are a-jumble with so many different concerns, questions, possibly health issues too, it’s important to try to take some time out and try to switch the brain off. Guided meditation app subscriptions help spark motivation to practise regularly – I love Spotify or Insight Timer. My little one loves New Horizon Holistic Centre Meditations on either app – I’ve been encouraging her to practise deep breathing (she’s 3 in June). There’s a meditation for everything!
For you: Novels, fact, fiction, Motivational self help books, personal or business development…the list is endless. Feed the mind! Audio books are a good substitute, but we’re more likely to try to multi-task whilst listening, arguably not giving the books full attention!
For the kids: My school friend’s son has started a Facebook page as he believes every child should have a book to read or read to them at night. Check out Story Time By Max here!
6 Get arty or crafty
Do a quick online shop or support a local craft supplies retailer. Make a master piece. Adult colouring books are beautiful, and brilliant for the concentration. There may be a craft or skill you’ve been wanting to have a go at. My mum told me I have to mention knitting – perhaps I’ll get her a YouTube channel of her own! Opportunities for being creative with kids are endless – find some inspiration here.
7 Dance, play and laugh
Crank up the tunes, dance with your partner/spouse, dance with the kids, sing really loudly. That Saturday night out might be on hold for a short while. We love finding different dance styles on TV, and my little one gets so inspired, lost in a ballet or a fierce contemporary dance piece.
Social media and technology will either make or break our society. I love this diagram from @From The Other Chair on Instagram.
So hard to disassociate with all the chatter but with increased social distancing we’ll probably be looking at social media and technology far more frequently to communicate.
Conflicting evidence on facts could ultimately cause us more unnecessary stress as we consume so much conflicting info and so many different opinions.
Our brains and eyes need a break – studies show that staring at a screen longer will reduce our melatonin, disrupting sleep.
I’m also worried I’m staring at a screen too much and disengaging with my little one, so it will be nice for her to see me unattached from a phone for once!
9 Socialise (Virtually)
The above said – use technology to help you gather all your best mates, kids, family into a Google Hangouts or Whatsapp video call every now and then from phones or laptops. Have a virtual girls night in – try to still celebrate the birthdays, Mothers’ Day together. We can’t lose the ability to speak face to face and see expressions and laugh together. It’s the greatest medicine.
Get to bed earlier, wake up earlier! 7.5 – 9 hours sleep is the optimal length of time for the body to really benefit (and kids need more). Any shorter or longer is not healthy for the body. Some of the greatest leaders and thinkers are said to do their greatest work early in the morning whilst the rest of the world is still sleeping. Another great blog post from This Is Calmer about the benefits of sleep.
Time for reinvention?
Imagine if this time of unrest is actually a wake up call for us, to re-evaluate our lives and relationships, shake up our bad habits and practises that don’t serve us, and is a gift to practise some self love and care…
In a time of immense uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, my mantra lately: Where there is tension, there is reinvention.
For the last two years I’ve been sharing my body. This week am I going to stop sharing. I’m starting the painful night-weaning journey. Don’t get me wrong – it was enjoyable for a while. I enjoyed the feeling of breastfeeding (BF) and nourishing my Baby-O, knowing I’m giving her a good start in life, but as she’s getting older and wiser, she now knows how to play the tantrum card to make me cave in if I don’t give her the goods. I’m over waking up in the night with little vice like hands grabbing, ney, pulling my nipples until I feel like they’re going to twang off. Now I’m ready. I heard a phrase recently; I’m all touched out. Sums it up perfectly. I want to reclaim my body.
I’d been waiting over the last few months to feel mentally strong enough to deal with the exorcist style behaviour of my little one when I deny her comfort at night. We’ve also been through major changes moving up to my parents and I didn’t want to take away the one constant in her world until I knew she’d settled. She’s just turned two – I don’t think there is much milk left for her, so I don’t think it’s a hunger thing when she sits up in her cot at night and shouts for ‘Mummy’ or ‘Milk’.
I don’t think she is actually awake either. My mum helped me out earlier on this year with getting her to sleep with no help from me – she can now lie down at the start of the night contentedly at night and fall asleep without BF. When she wakes up at night and can’t help herself back to sleep, I think she has maybe just roused herself from sleep (maybe to pee?!), sits up immediately, almost as if sleep ‘walking’, and won’t lie back down in her cot.
I try to resist picking my little sleep thief up but, she starts moaning, and, of course as my downfall, for most of her life I’ve just brought her into bed with me and breast-fed her right back to sleep again. I MISS MY SLEEP!!
So last night I steeled myself to battle through screeching and squealing, hitting and kicking which is so distressing, and so loud I’m worried will wake the neighbourhood dogs, and went my first night since her birth, without feeding my daughter back to sleep.
As morning arrives I have a feeling she’s going to be as tired as me today I’ve gone for 31 hours without feeding her. Just as I think I’m not producing much milk, by mid-morning my boobs feel like they’re going to explode – like I’m stowing two rapidly inflating beach balls. The pressure.
I get to an Aqua Aerobics class. The motion of the water as I’m bouncing away almost gives me a massage and the cool water feels so good on my chest! Plus the upper body workout should hopefully boost the circulation, and my increasing beach balls start to feel soothed.
I think they accurately call it ‘Engorged Breast’. Exactly how I feel – Engorged. (I read that cabbage leaves can soothe milk filled boobs? Hmm – attractive!).
Throughout the early night my boobs feel so uncomfortable and I begin to think about the best way to pump some milk. Hand pumping through the pain doesn’t appeal. The last thing I need now is a squeeze. I have a laugh at myself – I was willing Baby-O almost to come to MY rescue. I wait to see how the mini mitts clamouring at my nipples at 3am will feel if I resist her milk…and I wait. I wait, lying AWAKE in pain, starting to feel feverish, until she wakes up around 1am and I crumble – she has a feast on both sides, relieving the pressure around my chest. Baby-O and I both fall back to sleep satisfied and relieved, respectively.
Day 2 of my mission, on repeat of resisting the feeding, with the anticipation of the previous day’s discomfort and distress, we are both much calmer. Miraculously I don’t get the same pressure in my chest. It’s almost as if someone has started to turn off the tap. I think my milk flow is starting to adapt.
One week later
Over the week to come I’m down to only one ‘feed’ (I think she’s just using me for comfort now as I don’t think there is any milk left!), mostly in the break of day around 4am, when I still relent into a moment of whatever it takes to get Baby-O back to sleep. This is progress. She still wakes earlier in the night and I’ve resisted feeding her – hoping it sends the signal of ‘it’s dark and there’s no milk at nighttime’.
I have no desire to go back to the new-mum reading frenzies of the many conflicting blog/mummy community/sleep expert advice at 2am whether for sleep training tips, minor illness etc, which usually only happened in my bleary eyed state during the night. I always ended up confusing myself even more. Now I’m going along with instinct, trusting that surely soon enough she’ll crack on…preferably not when she’s 5 and still attached to me. I hope this is the start of dropping the only ‘feed’ of the day completely. I have to remember I’ve got this far, it probably won’t take much more to go the final steps – of not bringing her into bed with me at all. I’m hoping soon enough she won’t wake up so much…must stay strong!
I think I’ve cracked it…
Before I know it I’m 2 weeks on and I haven’t breastfed her for 3 days. I think I’ve cracked it. She still delves into my top during our cuddles when she’s bumped her knee etc, but I gently prize her hand out, telling her there’s no Mummy’s milk now, and she gives up!
I am having a moment whilst I type this. It’s the end of an era. The end of my little girl’s baby phase, as she is no longer reliant on me for her source of liquid food…as much as that is possibly the last time I’ll have another life so dependant on me, it feels empowering. I knew it would have to happen some day soon. The distressing nights when I never thought it would happen seem a distant memory – and to make me feel like it is all worth while, she actually slept for 10 hours solid last night in her own cot! Then I remember why I’m doing this. To make a full night’s sleep normal again for me!
We’ve come a long way
I love looking back on my journey with Baby-O and the remarkable things my body has done to produce this perfect little being and the care and nurture I have given to make her as healthy and happy as she is today. I think about the post-natal recuperation my body has gone through: walking, swimming and doing Pilates to get stronger again; strengthening my posture to repair some niggly tingly muscle spasms after the hours of slouching whilst feeding her, no matter how mindful I tried to be; knowing my pelvic floor has a way to go so I don’t have to cross my legs when I sneeze; and trying to get my dancing fit body back (still a little way to go!).
I feel though this is the last piece in the jigsaw of transitioning her to find her independence, from giving my body to help her nourish and flourish. And for me to transition away from my ‘New Mum’ phase, to the next stage of my woman-hood, by reclaiming back my body.
Picturing a Summer of running through fields; on the beaches – effortlessly picking up the kids and spinning round with them as you go, without feeling the heave-ho as you lift them? It’s the classic, carefree image of parenthood.
Keeping strong and fit has wonderful benefits for parents, not only preparing the body for all the physical eventualities that comes with having kids, but also helping parents to enjoy play time with them on those great days out and holidays to come.
Having fun play time with kids can physically demanding, as can sitting breast feeding for hours; rocking a child to sleep; managing their raging tantrums! A stronger body will help you to match their energy whilst reducing the chance of long-term injury to joints and muscles.
Dancing Mama Fitness helps parents prepare for the physicalities of parenthood through Matwork Pilates – the perfect mind and body workout for parents, holistically supporting mental health and wellbeing.
The many benefits of regular Pilates practice for parents include:
improves strength for demanding activities with kids;
improves and strengthens posture/alignment, corrects postural issues;
improves physical health – helping to stave off illnesses;
makes us happier! Happy parents = happy home;
beats stress – Pilates focusses on coordinating movement and breath, known through many practices to calm the mind;
helps us live longer lives – we want to see our kids thrive well into the future, right?!
It’s not just about making time to respect and care for our bodies and mental health – it’s about the benefits we’re passing on to our children as a result!
Personal Pilates Tuition
Dancing Mama Fitness will set up small group and 1:1 Pilates just for you and your friends. We come to a venue near you, at a time that suits you, for a programme of personal training sessions around Beds, Herts & Bucks.
Bring your babies or young kids to join in with fun sessions incorporating the babies into exercise with and without baby carriers – or leave the kids at home!
We love the outdoors, so if possible we’ll take our workouts to the wild and connect with nature for some feel good, holistic mind and body vibrations too.
Share the cost of sessions with a group of friends – the feeling of personal training on a more affordable level – or treat yourself to a personal, bespoke programme of sessions.
Example cost: From as little as £8 per person per hour, paying per month and based on a group of 5 people at your home (subject to size/suitability of flooring/terrain!).
Dance and Fitness training for mums wanting to get their groove back! Strengthen your core, pelvic floor and feel your stamina return.
The Love of Dance brings you the Dancing Mama Fitness concept! As a new mum I found it hard to find a fitness class I could join whilst having a young baby, that suited my childcare needs, time and location. I’m a dance and Pilates Instructor and needed to get my strength back but couldn’t find the classes to help me. Surely I’m not alone!
Dancing Mama Fitness will set up small group and 1:1 dance fitness training just for you and your friends. Bring your babies or young kids to join in with fun sessions incorporating the babies into exercise with and without baby carriers, or leave them at home! Babies can also be entertained in the room whilst you work out – I realise this isn’t quite giving ‘you’ time, but realistically, us mums have to compromise sometimes!
We come to an venue near you at a time that suits you, for a programme of personal training sessions around Kent and South East London.
Dance class in contemporary, street or jazz;
Dance conditioning; or
Share the cost of sessions with a group of friends – the feeling of personal training on a more affordable level – or treat yourself to a personal, bespoke programme of sessions. Contact me for more information!
Pleased to announce my new qualification as a Pilates Instructor! I’ve passed my Level 3 Diploma in teaching Mat Pilates.
Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to help target a myriad of physical and emotional well being needs. I’ve found it so beneficial in helping me regain my core strength after having the baby – wish I’d have practised more during my pregnancy too.
Dancing Mama – Pilates Instructor
I love the feeling after a Pilates class – the only way to describe it is ZEN! Chilled, rejuvenated and STRONGER. I notice the tone returning to my muscles instantly, sculpting the shape of my body. It’s a little like meditation for me as for an hour or so I’m just focussing on the smooth, fluidity of my body movements and all the muscular actions and changes through each exercise. Some might see Pilates as sedative – in fact the slower the movement, the deeper and more effective the action towards developing strength, whilst minimising the possibility of injury or muscular tearing.
Pilates & Dance
In my classes I’m going to combine Pilates principles with dance conditioning exercises. Pilates and dance go perfectly hand in hand. I first discovered Pilates in my dance training at Trinity Laban. They have a great Pilates studio there. Joseph Pilates himself rehabilitated many dancers back to strength from injury – his methods for them being quite powerful and advanced to service the demands of athletic bodies. Prior to which he helped injured world war soldiers by adapting the hospital beds into, what we know today as ‘reformers’ – the larger Pilates equipment, assisting exercises by providing resistance – to aid recuperation. His methods helping people with different needs demonstrates the power of Pilates for different ages, health conditions and levels of strength and fitness.
Contact me here for more information about small group and 1:1 Pilates Tuition!
The Power Of Play – What better depiction of play fight than with a pink teddy!
I love a play fight. A spontaneous, innate wrestle to bundle each other, avoid or supply a tickle, or to try to get my own way.
Not a euphemism for anything kinky – honest; it’s not easy to quietly play fight anyway. So all above board when the baby is awake (ahem!), and plus my fam is likely to read this so yeah…
I love the struggle to push and pull; the wrangle and tangle of limbs. The huff and the puff, the grunt and the scream, the force, the grapple to succeed. The calories burnt, the muscles engaged, the core strength to overturn the opposition.
As long as the opponent knows when to really stop of course – there are moments when they won’t give in. A stronger force needs to know the rules, respect the signs when to relent, catch a breath, before Round Two begins.
Love the laughs, the moments where I can’t breathe either for laughing ’til I could burst, or being pinned down and unable to move. An extreme game of Twister, that extra level of tussle to intensify the workout, ok, a bruise here and there, but the feeling of euphoria at the end.
The bond the play fight forges. A patch over an argumentative moment or blasting away the stresses of the day. You can’t beat a play fight to boost the happy feels and each one rolls out every time in its own unique way.
I had to write about play fighting like this. It’s something that always astounds me. The restorative nature from a tense moment as two people, or maybe even parent and child, push the concept of play. It may not be for everyone, and there may not be a suitable (or worthy) opponent to hand. A recovering post-natal body should probably take it easy, and their opponent needs to be clear that ‘stop’, ‘ouch’, or the agreed equivalent is understood, as is the agreed level of force. And definitely no kicking, punching or biting allowed (just a nibble perhaps)! It’s such a natural instinct we see with other mammals – dogs, cats, monkeys – they play with each other frequently, but it’s something we tend to lose as human adults. A full body work out of short bursts of intense play can surely burn serious calories. I don’t know the stats, but would be interested to know, and in addition to the laughter it’s a good all round mind and body workout. Go on – find that inner child and find the Power Of Play!
This is hilarious – the How To guide to Play Fighting with your girlfriend. Take note!
My motto to achieving progress is ‘little by little’ ; faith in action no matter how small it is. However unfit you feel, you can make progress. Dream BIG but don’t let …
2) Whole Foods: include lots of whole foods and minimise any processed foods. Smoothies are great for time efficiency! You can add oats, hemp, flax, chia, frozen fruits for vitamins and minerals and natural sources of protein.
3) Protein: this is one of the most essential building blocks of the human body, whether you are weight training or repairing the body after a baby. Generally aim to have in grams of protein your bodyweight in kilo: e.g. 80kg person = 80g of protein.
This amount goes up depending on how much training you’ve done. Here’s my blog on protein that goes into more detail.
4) food diary: write down everything you eat in a day or even better put it in an app; there are so many out there now! You can see exactly what’s happening, how many grams of macros you’re consuming: protein, carbs and fat.
As for cardio only gentle movement at first; Alison’s group walks in the countryside and woods are perfect! Try not to to do high intensity until you’ve done several months of core, strength training and gentle cardio.
Good luck guys! I have lots of clients with babies and young kids and it’s always a far greater challenge to fit in exercise but just a little everyday goes a loooooong way.
And if you’re based in East London, Olympic Park Stratford (and Hackney Wick) and would like to try out personal training feel free to get in touch.
We’ve been living on a baby budget since baby was born. If this is the time to take advantage of the wonderful benefits we have in this country for low-income families this will be it for me.
Discovering the Healthy Start initiative for families on low incomes was a saviour for us. As freelancers living off a small maternity monthly pay out for me we are entitled to healthy start vouchers giving us a certain amount each month off of fruit and vegetables, milk, baby formula (although I’ve not regularly bought this ) and vitamins for me and Baby-O, from many major supermarkets. I’m yet to find any independent F&V stores that take them – and not sure it would be worthwhile for them to take them.
Learning to shop and cook on a low budget but still making tasty food has been a fun challenge for me. We’ve tried cutting down on meat we’ve tried going vegetarian and I’m still not sure how to cook sufficient food that will sustain us without meat. I know it can be done but we are a work in progress.
Although it drives me mad that organic produce is more expensive than non-organic I have tried to use organic for Baby-O where possible and therefore largely our diet consists of lots of fruit and veg and easy to throw together meals, cutting down on meat to allow for the slight luxury of organic.
I keep the store cupboards stocked up with red lentils, pulses, whole wheat pasta and lots of dried spices, so I know veggie dishes, although basic, can be bulked out with protein and with different flavours. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m cooking in bulk and freezing meals so I try to minimise wastage of some F&V that many not always get eaten up.
Now baby led weaning is underway and Baby-O is eating breakfast with us, the cheapest and most sustainable breakfast I know is porridge. I’ve been mixing it up depending on what fruit we have in, always mixing in full fat cow’s milk and a couple of dollops of full fat Greek yoghurt on the side has been a winner. My fave additions are:
*Apple or pear chopped into tiny pieces mixed into the porridge has gone down well.
*Frozen berries mixed in whilst the porridge is still on the heat to defrost them makes for a fun pink porridge.
*Always mashed banana mixed in with some cinnamon
*Dates soaked overnight, chopped and using the sweet water the next day to cook the porridge has been an occasional addition (dont want baby poop overload!)
*I’ve been adding a little peanut butter as I understand after 6 months babies can have peanut butter to help build up immunity to nut allergies.
I’ve learnt a lot since being off work about how to cook yummy things with very few but healthy ingredients and this will be a good life skill which is going to continue with me as Baby-O grows up.
I love days when I look in my fridge and it’s so uninspiring that I’m considering ordering takeout. But then I remember the goodies I have in my freezer. As long as I can motivate myself and find time to prepare vegetables in advance or buy them ready prepared from the freezer department, I can quite often be creative enough to cobble together lunch or dinner from the contents of my freezer.
Preparing baby food in advance or cooking in bulk and freezing means I can easily grab something for her dinner and cook it quickly. So when she’s grizzly and hungry food can be in front of her in a matter of moments. I’ve been told about using ice cube trays to store mashed vegetables. As baby gets older she has more ‘cubes’ of food per portion but it really helps to manage her mealtimes without chunky tubs, when freezer space is at a premium.
As long as I have some good staples in the freezer I can also get something nutritious and satisfying for my lunch too. My favourite is a Asian inspired with some miso soup paste vegetables and noodles the song keep me going at lunch time and again doesn’t require much preparation.
My meal here was thrown together in moments, and with the claims that frozen foods retain their nutrition when packed from source, hopefully I’m optimising our vitamin intake as I go.
Dancing Mama – Freezer Food Lunch when I look in my freezer