Friday, 31 January 2014

Alignment and Movement:Biomechanics for the Non-Scientist

So, I was lying in bed in the ridiculous heat lastnight and my energy level allowed me to press play/pause on my iphone. This gave me the enormous benefit of listening to an interview between fitness guru Ben Greenfield and Biomechanist and blogger, Katy Bowman.
Katy gave me a whole new perspective on how important posture is and mostly, being aware of our body in space - how we sit, stand, move and even lie down to sleep.

In her own home, Katy has booted out the furniture and instead, she and her two sons use bolsters, pillows and even an in-home monkey bar! Why? If you try sitting on the floor and standing up, you will find it is MUCH harder than plonking on a sofa and then getting up. It also encourages you to move more. Change position when you're sitting. Transfer loads from one side to the other.

This does more than get you a gold star in alignment and posture. It means you are awakening and using ALL the cells in your body. Nothing goes to waste from underuse and you avoid injuries from overuse.

I highly recommend that you listen to the interview - Katy is far from your whitecoat, technotalk scientist. She is fun and generous with her responses.
Toe separators
At one point, she talks of sleeping in special "alignment socks". The same idea is used in yoga to expand the toes out after spending ALL DAY in shoes that squish your toes together. Don't go the whole hog and wear them overnight to start. Maybe half an hour while you're reading or wandering the house. You don't need special socks. You can use those dividers that Kmart sells for next-to-nix in the beauty aisle to separate the toes for painting.

To the left, toe separators available at Priceline for $4.49

Ben says of the podcast:
-Why your alignment matters…
-The extreme importance of your “psoas”…
-Why high heels are destroying you…
-Why Katy doesn’t use furniture…
-Why standing can sometimes be a bad thing…
-Special socks you can wear at night to fix your feet…
-Why Kegel exercises may not be all that good after all…
-Why you shouldn’t suck in your stomach…
-How your boobs can be a biofeedback device (yes, I said boobs)…
-Why you should care about your earwax…
-What the best stretching and sleeping positions are…
-How we can get our kids stronger…
Without further ado, listen or download here.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Which Milk For Me?

It occurred to me, standing in the supermarket aisle today, that there is an incredible variety of milk brands, flavours, sources and sizes. I am a bit of an experimenter, but I have non-negotiables when it comes to milk so that's where I can knock down my choices.

For me, milk has to be: 

  • high in calcium
  • low calorie
  • satisfying (higher protein helps)
  • yum
I usually go with So Good soy milk because I like the texture and it's quite sweet, which appeals to me. I also like almond milk. Both options are excellent as far as the amount of calcium, protein and kilojoules per 100mL.

I have seen Rice Milk, Chia and Quinoa Milk, Coconut Milk and let's not forget the milk most of us know, plain old Cow's Milk.

If you have any diet intolerances (ie. lactose, gluten) start there. Look at the label - know what's in your milk! Compare products based on the quantity per 100mL rather than the "suggested serving size" which can differ markedly between packages. Here's a rundown of Calories/Fat/Protein and Calcium - the major factors on which to base your choice. From there, try different brands because So Good soy milk tastes very different to Vitasoy and everyone has a favourite.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Team Up

VicHealth has made an app available that allows you to find sports and activities in your local area. You can then connect with other locals to get active together. If you're not overflowing with self-motivation (hello 95% of the world!) then this is for you.
Spread the word to friends and neighbours. Maybe even suggest starting up a walking group or find a tennis partner.
Download the app for free at 

On another VicHealth note - they are hosting a major dance party for White Night (the free, all night Melbourne event that promotes the arts).

VicHealth has said, "Ausdance Victoria and their professional dancers will be on hand to guide audience members through the moves of each dance style.

From synchronised swimming to live music, fashion to tattoos, illuminations and projections, White Night Melbourne 2014 will thrill and captivate when it returns to the city on Saturday 22 February."
Visit the White Night website

Friday, 24 January 2014

Unilateral Training: Why and How

Unilateral training involves focusing on one side of the body at a time. The benefits of this training method are that you build and require greater core strength to balance when one side of the body is bearing greater load than the other. You can really assess whether one side of the body is stronger than the other. When you do deadlifts with a barbell, if your left leg is much stronger than your right, you'll still execute the move because the stronger leg will compensate. If you're doing single leg deadlifts, however, you will know straight away if your right leg has been asleep on the job!
Why does it matter? If you keep compensating and ignoring that one side of the body is weaker,
you'll end up with over-use injuries, poor posture, soreness and fatigue.
If you do notice that one side of the body is weaker, you can plan your training to allow for extra work on that side. An extra set or extra weight to build. If you're not confident in doing this, or the difference in strength between left and right seems unusually great, see a physiotherapist! They can assess your movement and posture to diagnose what might be causing the issues and give you a program tailored to your needs.

  • Single Arm Chest Press
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Renegade Row

Monday, 20 January 2014

Protect your Tresses!

If my hair were able to speak, it would say, "Stop ironing me, pulling me and leaving me unwashed after going to the gym!"
It would also be deeply crabby and fatigued thanks to the amazingly searing heat in Melbourne the past week or so. Just like our skin, hair is sensitive to the sun and if you've been by the pool or the beach, hatless, you'll be feeling the frazzled damage.

So, after the expense most of us spend on dyeing, cutting, styling and maintaining our mops, consider making the wisest investment you can for summer. Kerastase Soleil protects your hair from environmental damage and is especially formulated to provide a shield for colour-treated hair.
I can also swear by Oleo-Relax masque for seriously nourishing naturally curly, dry hair. Find your nearest Kerastase stocked salon in Australia.

New Solow Gear! Spoilt for Sportswear!

Greetings Monday morning. As the new ambassador for Solow, I am totally spoilt for GORGEOUS gear straight from the City of Angels (or Los Angeles, if you will).
Today I am going with the blue ruched crop leggings. They are the perfect combo with my new dark pink Nike crop and purple Lunar trainers. Love them? PS. Let's just ignore that I don't know how to make my bed!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sportswear Shop : Sibling Outing!

I'm a solo shopper at heart - I like being able to ponder and change my mind for the best part of a day without the guilt of someone having a nervous breakdown waiting for me. But then I have my good moments where I'm decisive and I weigh up the opportunity costs, pros and cons in microseconds and BAM, I'm done.

So I took my super-stylish brother on my Nike store outing yesterday - stuck between two shades of pink, my brother looked them over and said, "dark" and the deal was sealed. No buyers regret! Brother got some kickass Nike Max - we even set up a fashion shot with his snazzy Honda Civic as a backdrop. Nike is at Rebel or online at

Still on the Nike bandwagon, if you're looking for a free app to provide workout inspiration, try the Nike Training Club with downloadable workouts and short video tutorials.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Little Moves Big Results

I've just been reading about Physique 57, based on Russian ballerina Lotte Berk's Method. Lotte designed a class that would rehabilitate her back following serious injury and keep her lean, muscular and with a killer core and great alignment.
This is exactly what Ballet Sculpt is about!
So, I want to share some moves with you that I am particularly loving from Physique 57. They might look simple, but done until your muscle gets really tired and you have to stop, you will shudder at the thought of them. However, you will also work EVERY ANGLE of your glutes, thighs and abs. 
If, like my neighbour, you choose to get around the street in your speedos, at least you'll have all the neighbours looking at you with envy rather than awkward, eyes-down, "time to call in the waxing professionals, buddy!" style.
First up, the Pretzel. You can put both hands down in front of your legs (stretching long through the spine, NO SLUMPING!) if you prefer.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Strengthen & Sculpt

New to Carlton Baths this week is my class Strengthen & Sculpt.
Initially, this class was scheduled as Pump but this is a new and improved offering!
The goal is to build lean muscle, learn excellent alignment and technique and apply it to strength training and also to focus on the core and major muscle groups.
We use the barbell, free weights and body weight to achieve a full body workout. Expect to sweat and expect to enjoy it!

Want to master the Spiderman Pushup? See you there.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Pick Your Poison and Delete! FebFast 2014

The supermarkets will have you believe it's almost Easter, but in FACT, it's almost FebFast.
FebFast is a charity movement where participants sign on to take a 28 day break from alcohol (or caffeine, sugar, Facebook!) to raise funds for youth addiction.

The ability to detox from other habits is new to 2014 and this is the perfect excuse to give yourself 28 days of healthier living AND support a worthy cause.

Your funds go to Youth Service + Advocacy Support, Family Drug Support, Brisbane Youth Services and Ladder, all of which assist teenagers to regain control and purpose in their lives.

Go on. Sign up. Let me know on Facebook when you have and I'll do my best to help you raise some funds!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Women's Health Big Book of Pilates

I am thoroughly enjoying going through Women's Health Big Book of Pilates. Sure, it's available as an e-book, but I like being able to flip through pages and mark out the ones I want to try. Fantastic, high quality photos and friendly, engaging style of writing with pilates expert, Brooke Siler.

The Women's Health Big Book of Pilates: The Essential Guide to Total Body FitnessThe Women's Health Big Book of Pilates: The Essential Guide to Total Body Fitness by Brooke Siler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really accessible and enjoyable to read. Having done the course quite a while back, it was an excellent refresher for me on what pilates is all about. Sometimes, I think instructors take it all way too seriously and it becomes a chore for the class. I sometimes feel guilty for having fun! But I think it can and should be fun to learn about your body and to test out your strength and flexibility. Highly recommend this book to beginners through to advanced practitioners of pilates

Available: The Book Depository $28.82 (AUS)

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Prevention Is The Cure

Chances are you're already leading a healthy, active life if you're following this blog. But perhaps you know someone who isn't, and you need some ideas to encourage them. Perhaps there's some things you've overlooked and maybe you're feeling anxious over the time or expense of your health and fitness measures and you need some reassurance.

Walking into a gym and doing stuff for an hour is good. Do you know WHY you're doing the activities that you are and do you vary what you do every 6 - 8 weeks with measurable improvements? If not, see a personal trainer. Sure, they're not cheap, but once you have mastered some basic technique skills and the ability to put together a program, you can check in every month or two months to ensure you're making progress. Think about it this way, seeing a trainer now is cheaper than ongoing physiotherapy and time off work due to injuries, back pain and a gym membership that doesn't see to be paying off.

Walk more - you'll get some much-needed vitamin D, vary your environment and get the challenge of walking uphill, downhill, through wind, rain and shine. Plus, using the car less means using less (very expensive) petrol!

Buy workout gear that withstands a workout and makes you feel confident. Enjoy getting ready for the gym because if you're wearing your coffee-splattered trackpants and the same t-shirt you slept in, chances are you're not going to put much more effort into getting a great workout. You don't need to buy big brand names. Go to Big W, Kmart or Target and buy a pair of gym tights and ankle socks. Pictured is an outfit from Target's T30 activewear line.

Get fitted for sneakers. Why? Because sneakers that are too big, too small, or designed for over-pronation or under-pronation (rolling outwards/rolling inwards) can dramatically affect your gait and your posture. Since I got fitted for orthotics, I no longer get stress fractures through my feet or a strain in my knees and hip. If you are getting recurrent pain through your knee or hip, it may be worth seeing a physio or a podiatrist for assessment. You can walk into a Complete Feet or Active Feet store for an on-the-spot assessment. I go to Complete Feet in Kew.

Don't use harsh products on your face in an effort to "cleanse" it. Your facial skin is sensitive and taking care of your skin today means looking and feeling young into your 30s and 40s. I use Neutrogena, Garnier and Rimmel products which are all easily available at the supermarket or chemist. But I ALSO consider it an investment to use luxe products that have proven benefits. Dior One Essential Serum to freeze time (hey, a girl can hope). I'm hoping it prevents any desire for injectables and lasers later on!
I don't push "detox" except for protecting your skin and building up its resilience against environmental aggressors (pollution, dust, chemicals) - I'm counting on

Take a multivitamin and fish oil. It is not INSTEAD of eating well. It is
to make sure that your healthy diet isn't falling short on any nutrients. Get a low-maintenance hair style that won't require constant bleaching/dyeing and straightening. Brittle hair with the structure of straw doesn't look good no matter what you do with it.

If you can, invest in private health insurance. I know that I'm going to need intervention due to a hip condition in the next few years and I don't want to be waiting for months or years. I want to be able to choose the doctor, or surgeon, who will be treating me and I want the security of knowing I can claim on physio and massage to manage the aches when I get them. Look into all your options - it may be more affordable than you'd thought.

Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life...