Monthly Archives: September 2011

The BEST exercise EVER!

The BEST exercise EVER!

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking! I wasn’t going to say that. But hey, whatever floats your boat…!

Do whatever exercise works for you, and have fun with it. It’s been great fun trying out different things, so maybe variety is the best way to keep interested. Remember it has to become part of your lifestyle, and should never feel like a chore.

Of all the forms of exercise I’ve tried, nothing beats the fun and sheer joy on my children’s faces as we are dancing in the kitchen. Maybe  more mum and baby groups need to account for the fact that mum has no time to exercise and make sure mums get included as well.  That’s something I’ll be investigating in weeks to come.

There are so many tunes that make you want to dance, but our absolute family favourite is Hey Ya by Outkast. Altogether now; Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Other tunes to get us up on our feet include:

Rock the Casbah by The Clash

Rappers’ Delight by Sugar Hill Gang

But whatever gets you moving, stick it on your family…iPod!

I’m a big fan of Spotify and it’s very freeing to be able to ditch all your CDs and find new…and old stuff. I’m a believer in Nostalgia Therapy and fascinated by the effects Ellen Langar’s work has had on old people, reversing the ageing process. There have been reports of improved cognition, movement, even hearing! Who knows what else. But there’s no doubt the right music for you makes you feel good. (NB if you’re husband’s a closet Goth and you’re not; don’t listen to his stuff, it’ll only bring you down.)


Heavy Metal Bellydancing


Rock it! Bellydancing to Heavy Metal and Rock

The studio at Yorkshire Dance Centre is light and air conditioned, a welcome relief to an unseasonably hot day. The dancers go barefoot, generally in gymwear, some wearing authentic bellydancing hipscarves. Saskia, our teacher, had made hers using drinks can rings – very rock and roll, and eco friendly too!

Rock Goddess

Saskia is every inch the Rock Goddess, with her flowing locks and rockstar black t-shirt (available on the website). She takes us through some really cool, sassy routines to both old school (ACDC Back in Black) and modern rock and metal bands like Shinedown. Watching the other dancers is almost a  form of hypnosis in itself, very zen.

I felt very comfortable there, the class is very friendly and you don’t feel you like you have to hold your stomach in. We are, after all, celebrating the female form. I even started to feel good about myself. OK, so belly’s gonna get ya when you pig out, but for nine months that belly was a safe, secure home to grow beautiful babies, and isn’t that more important than worrying about a bit of muffin top? As mums, we all should be really proud.

I think I may have found my perfect exercise. I’d love to be involved in a show in Leeds, and maybe make some rock goddess costumes too. Watch this space.

Rock it Bellydance: Based in Manchester, they also run classes in Leeds on Thursday nights at Yorkshire Dance Centre.

Email or call Emma on 07870 915148 or Saskia on 07738 441192

Impact: Low – Medium. Good for back pain and menstrual issues

Dress code: Barefoot, hipscarves optional

Lose Weight Instantly. Size Zero(…Gravity)

Lose Weight Instantly. Size Zero(…Gravity)

I’ve found an unusual new way to motivate you into losing weight. Ever since coming back down to earth from a trip to Las Vegas,  I’ve felt heavy and lethargic.

Not because of the rich American food, you understand (although that hasn’t helped.) No; while I was out there, I went up on a zero gravity flight, and since having that lighter than air feeling, nothing on earth will feel the same again!

After a light breakfast and a training session. Then we were told the surreal news that The Osbournes would be joining us on the flight. After spending the first two days wandering round Vegas, blinking and pinching myself, wondering when I was going to wake up from this bizarre dream, and now this? I couldn’t quite believe it.

Waiting for Takeoff

We were told that Jack was filming Celebrity Adrenalin Junkie, and he was bringing Ozzy and Sharon along too! Even when they got on the plane just before takeoff, I thought, ‘no, it can’t be,

they must be lookie-likies.’

During the flight, we experienced three types of gravity. The first was Martian Gravity, or one third of your weight. The closest feeling I can describe is bouncing up and down on my parents’ bed with my sister, and the heady, giggly feeling I got when I was bouncing upwards while my sister was bouncing down! The second gravitational flight was that of Lunar gravity, the exact feeling the Apollo astronauts would have felt on the moon. This is one sixth of your weight, or for me, weighing less than my two year old son. This too was a wonderful feeling, marred only slightly by the uneasy feeling I was about to have a nosebleed – I didn’t really fancy droplets of my blood floating around –  what a faux pas! (Especially when everyone was eating M&Ms and drinking spherical globules of water in mid air…not good.)

When the plane was coming out of its parabolic trajectory and we were about to fell the force of gravity again, they shout “Feet down, coming out!” and we all had to lie on the floor and fix on a spot on the ceiling so we didn’t feel motion sickness. Lifting up your hand is really hard at this point, you feel like you’re a magnet on a very large, padded fridge.

I really don’t go for tons and tons of comps, (honest!) I just get a feeling about which ones I’m in with a good chance of winning. For the Vegas comp, it was promoting Toshiba and the new Star Trek film, so I had to buy a Toshiba DVD player (we needed one anyway) AND write a slogan. Fortunately for me, the characters in the film were the same as the old Star Trek show (I’m not a Trekkie) so I wrote a cheeky poem including all the characters:

Toshiba’s ab-SULU-tely great, that’s what I hear
With my two SPOCK ears on either side and a final front-ier
Going boldly through zero gravity, my BONES feel light as air
Great SCOTT! Hope that’s not the Captain’s log floating over there!

Even without the zero-g flight, Vegas is quite an experience. Pure hedonism. My favourite moments were having lunch in The Restaurant at the Top of the World, (or rather, the Stratosphere) towering 1,149 feet above Las Vegas, with stunning views of The Strip with all its hotels, and the surrounding mountain ranges. Our friendly host Rob came and pointed out landmarks and chatted about the wonderful things to do while we were there. I was told not to leave my handbag near the window, as the floor revolves but the windows don’t. More than one diner has lost her handbag; if they’re lucky they will be reunited with it 90 minutes later.

My husband didn’t fancy Vegas, so he stayed at home with the kids (he’s a legend) and I took a friend called Julia because her husband won’t fly; she rarely leaves the country. Plus, she’s been an absolute angel, babysitting the kids, feeding us and taking Jim to pub quiz every week, so it was my way of saying thankyou.

Julia wanted to treat me to a show; she suggested Cirque du Soleil. Initially I resisted because my preconception was all a bit too Saturday night TV for me. I finally relented at the Cirque du Soleil production of Love, featuring music by the Beatles remixed by George Harrison and Paul McCartney. The opening track was “Because” and that was it, I was hooked. I had goosebumps from start to finish (which had little to do with the overzealous air conditioning.)

Two hours with no interval just flew by. I can thoroughly recommend going to a “Cirque” show; I balked at the cost (usually over 100 dollars at ticket, although we got ours at a discount rate from Tix for Tonight) but I can see now where every cent was spent; in production and choreography and costumes, not to mention the stunning new soundtrack and accompanying film.

Having been a “Vegas Virgin” and having no desire to go there, I was determined to keep an open mind and just enjoy what was going on around me. Now I’m back, I dream about flying in zero gravity, and would love to do it again, although at five grand a pop I’m not sure I ever will. Better keep doing those competitions…

Total Wipeout


I had an audition for the Christmas version of Total Wipeout last at Leeds University Sports Centre.  People came from all over the country. The invitation email said: “Wear fancy dress! Gold lame and spandex! I opted for Mary Christmas meets Moulin Rouge, and found some converse trainers in the style of  long lace up boots, which my husband disapproved of; as a mad keen runner,  he thought they weren’t technical enough for a Wipeout course.

Practicing my version of Total Wipeout. Scary.

It was surreal, in a room full of people dressed as ballet dancers, cowboys and cavemen, being checked out for costume impact by people who were dressed equally as bizarrely as me. I take my (Santa) hat off to the guy wearing nothing but a hundred modelling balloons formed to shape a big red ball. He even managed to write “Total Wipeout” on the front made out of balloons. Oh, to have that much time to waste. My father-in-law, a  children’s entertainer, said he was just showing off, but I have every respect for the guy and think he should have won for his costume alone.

As it turned out, all I had to do was run along a sports hall, holding onto my Santa hat. I had one minute to tell a young girl why she should choose me. My cards were already marked, unfortunately.  Before the “audition” I made some notes and made the mistake of asking a  security guard if I could take a couple of photos. He got it into his head that I was a journalist (he appeared to be throwing his weight around and scoring points with the younger people there. I’d previously asked to see the guy in charge but he didn’t show, or didn’t get the message I wanted to see him.)

 I tried to explain that I’m just writing an article about unusual forms of exercise for a parenting mag in Yorkshire. I’ve been doing all sorts of fun stuff, hula, roller derby, burlesque, pole dancing, with a view to get fit after having kids without hitting the gym. After several protests that I’m just a mum, he still didn’t  believe me and I was rushed through the audition and told to leave.
I asked the production company if they’d look into it, if only to wipe the smug grin off that awful security man’s face. I would be interested to see how many women his age actually got through the audition that day.
At the end of the day, I was doing it for my son. He’s four, and he adores Total Wipeout more than anything in the world. Last June we had a Wipeout party and I made the course out of choc cake and sweets, with jelly babies climbing over choc teacakes and being-sucker punched with licorice torpedoes. It broke my heart to see my little boys disappointed face, and it makes me sad that I didn’t get a decent crack at it, because of some jumped-up security guard.



Impact: Medium – High (depending on how fit you are, I guess)

Dress: Usual gymwear, top and leggings (preferably ones that stay up)

There’s a lot that’s been said about Zumba, so I won’t go over old ground here. All I’m going to say is: It’s knackering!

I went on a humid Thursday night after persuading myself I should try it out through Living Social where I got a good deal. I must’ve lost the equivalent calories to several King Size Mars Bars but it ended on a real high with a routine to Tina Turner., Rolling on the River (check Spotify if you don’t know it)

I had fun, but it was marred by the fact I was wearing leggings that had lost their elasticity after going fifteen rounds with our washing machine, or maybe I really was shifting some weight and they kept falling off my snake hips? Nah.

I have never felt so hot and exhausted. As we came out of the hall, the heavens opened and it was bliss. I steamed up the car windows on the way home; and not in a good way.

Total Zumba Fitness