Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Why do we exercise?

I was asked by a reader why we actually exercise and it posed lots of questions in my mind. Obviously we are told that exercise is good for us but I felt that for many people exercise is more about vanity or competitiveness. We are constantly shown images of celebrities with so called perfect bodies but please don't be drawn in by all of this. Many images are airbrushed almost beyond recognition, the images can be stretched to make the individual look slimmer and that is after the extensive hair, make up and complimentary lighting. Also just because someone looks good on the outside does not necessarily mean that they are looking after their health long term.

Another arguement for exercising is the basic instinct of survival, we want to be able to run faster, be quicker, or just be better than the next person, In nature only the fittest survive. Perhaps we should also think about exercise from a less selfish point of view and think that by exercising and staying healthy we are saving the NHS money and are less likely to be dependant on others for care. In reality I think we all have our own individual reasons for exercising and hopefully for some of you the word enjoyment comes into play. Also if you exercise well you are more likely to sleep properly and that has to be good for your mental and physical health.

When you exercise you have a direct impact on levels of chemicals within the brain, you will often hear people say that they get a high after exercising, that is supposedly because you get a rush of endorphins and these have an impact on chemicals such as serotonin which make you feel happy. It is thought that exercise is a great cure for depression. I know that no matter how bad I am feeling a good session on the pole usually cheers me up. I noticed an interesting question on the web with a concerned individual who thought that he might be over exercising ( a very specific sort of exercise) and therefore making himself more depressed, Read it for yourself!!

Well the moral of today's story as usual is get out there and do something pro-active, make yourself and maybe someone else feel happier. Get on your sunscreen, get out and enjoy the good weather while it lasts, Apart from my colleague Jo who is off to Egypt for two and a half weeks and abandoning me (not that i am jealous!!), I am sure that she is going to have more than her fair share of sun and therefore should stay in until she goes - (only joking - Jo if you are reading this I hope you have a fantastic holiday)

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Yoga & massage - two of my favourite things!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be given a massage by my friend and It suddenly made me realise quite how battered my muscles were. The massage really eased up a few of the problem areas and gave me a nice introduction the the yoga workshop I attended this morning. I now feel very relaxed and I do not have the same niggling sensation in my right thigh. When I say massage it was not one of these light fingertip jobs but more of a pummeling which is exactly what my body needed.

Both Yoga and Massage look at the body's alignment and work on bringing the body back to its natural position. They also boost the circulatory system sending blood and therefore oxygen to the areas that need it.I have always talked about the importance of posture and yoga certainly enforces this. I get far less injuries from pole dancing when I keep up to date with my yoga practice. Yoga is also a great tool for the mind and definitely helps alleviate stress.

Sports massage is highly recommended to help ease injury but it is good practice to get into something like yoga to avoid some of the injury in the first place. If you can't afford a massage then you can do some massage yourself or ask someone else to manipulate an area - there is lots of helpful advice on the internet for learning to massage but of course always approach these things with caution.. We all tend to use one side of our body more than the other just being left or right handed means that you use one part of the body in a different way to the other and therefore you create an imbalance. If we were all ambidextrous we would be using our bodies in a better way as well as increasing the brain activity.

I found a nice web page that talks about yoga and dispels some of the myths that put people of attending a yoga class. Click here for more info. If you are considering yoga look at your own ability and decide exactly what you want to get out of the class, find the type of class that fits your needs. Like with all activites there are good and bad instructors so just because you attend one class and don't like ti does not mean that all other classes will be the same.

Thanks to Lesley bishop my yoga teacher fro a great session this morning and thanks to Fi for my wonderful massage yesterday.

Have a great weekend and if you are attending the Plymouth Real Ale Festival today remember to drink lots of water tomorrow! Stay healthy,

Sam x

Thursday, 26 July 2007

My new video

I have just received a video of me winning the South West Pole Diva's competition. I thought it would give you an idea of what we get up to on the pole! Will have more news for you soon,

Sam x

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Ready meals

What is going in when a sports celebrity aka Sharon Davies decides to promote highly processed turkey products and she states that it is good for her children! Also in the same week I saw some research to suggest that the smoking ban actually puts children at more risk of passive smoking as adults will now smoke more at home rather than at the pub. What hope do we have for the future when children will be at home watching the TV all day, inhaling stale smoke and eating processed turkey.

Don't get me wrong, I know that we all have busy lifestyles and we do not always have time to cook for ourselves which is why many people turn to ready meals and items such as those being promoted by Ms Davies, but don't get to carried away with excuses, there are healthy alternatives to heavily processed foods. I also noticed that some shops and supermarkets are starting to cater for that gap in the market and are providing ready meals that are more nutritious, have less harmful additives and can be part of a balanced diet. The food doctor has introduced a range of organic healthy living products and local companies are starting to produce healthy ready meals in frozen ranges so you can get the joys of home cooking without high levels of preservatives. I have just discovered the delights of the Champneys range of delights - the smoked salmon and creme fraiche risotto is particularly divine.

I think more people are becoming aware of what they eat and the importance of a healthy diet. You certainly cannot carry out a good exercise regime without considering what you put into your body. More and more research is finding links between antioxidants in foods and the ability to resist cancers. It is important to remember that not every study you read will be correct and statistics can always be manipulated but I think if you generally try to eat more fresh fruit and veg and less processed protein and carb products then you can't really go wrong. Oh and the old faithful - drink lots of water.

I have added some new photos to my blog to show the results of some of my new training programmes - hope you like them.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 22 July 2007


Today is a good day. I spent the morning lounging in bed and have spent the majority of the day in my dressing gown. My husband read 'Jonathon Livingstone's The Seagull' to me today and it seemed particularly inspiring after last nights performance at Annabel's. We then got up and I tucked into my favourite breakfast - smoked salmon, soya and linseed toast and poached eggs with lashings of black pepper. Life is not so bad.

It is amazing how my mood can change so quickly. Yesterday I felt nervous, queasy and generally a bit miserable but today I feel inspired, motivated and smug. I should feel good as Jo and I danced our butts off. We had huge support from our students which made the performance even more memorable and neither of us were sick on the spinning pole. I did lose a small area of skin from my left shin but as mentioned before no pain - no gain.

It seems the increased workouts are paying off, our muscles are stronger and our general fitness is improving. As usual I am my own worse critic and have spent some time today analysing my dances and thinking of areas where they could be improved but that is a good thing as there is always room for improvement.

I looked at the possibility that my current age means I could be at my maximum physical fitness and muscle development could now start to deteriorate due to aging but current research suggest that a good strength conditioning programme can practically reverse the effects of aging on the muscles, in other words if you don't use it you lose it. My first dance teacher was a great example of this, she was still teaching t the age of 83 and could still do the flying splits through the air - very impressive. Basically you need to exercise and consider diet. Carbs are great for fuelling the muscles, protein is good but not in large quantities and there is room for a small amount of fat. I found a useful website which gives you some guidelines for recommended daily amounts, click here for more info.

Above all keep reminding yourself that you can be stronger, don't use old excuses, get off your backside and achieve something. As Kenshi points out the mental state is as important as the physical state. Well it is Sunday so I am going to sign off, put my feet up and rest my body before another week of training and challenges - Bring it on!

Thanks to Annabel for a great night and a great venue and Thanks to Jo for doing the art of dance proud.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Sugar & Nerves.

I am a little nervous today as I performing tonight at Annabel's Cabaret and discotheque. Normally I would not be so nervous but the low ceiling height at the venue means my performance will be quite restricted and that worries me a little. Despite my nerves I am determined to do my best. My mum always said that as long as I did my best then that was more important than winning or losing. So I will give my performance everything I have even if it isn't my best ever. To ensure my performance does go as well as possible I will take a few smoothies with me to keep my sugars up throughout the evening. This will stop me feeling faint and keep my energy levels high. I will report back tomorrow on how the evening goes. Good luck to Jo to as I know she is a s nervous as me!

Whilst on the subject of sugars I noticed a new scientific study looking at the effects of over eating, exercising and insulin responses within the brain. If you reduce your food intake, eat sensibly and exercise more then the peripheral tissues are more sensitive to insulin therefore you need less of it. Apparently this means that you will live longer. This may not seem like ground breaking research but it does support the ongoing arguments that it is not good to be overweight, and it is important to exercise. All these issues do link strongly to the effects and causes of Diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that means the body can't produce any insulin or can't produce enough depending on which type you have. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes each year is rising and in particular GP's are becoming concerned with the amount of children being diagnosed with the condition. If you would like more information on diabetes why not visit the diabetes uk charity website.

Basically if you are going to ingest sugar then try to make sure it is in it's most natural form, this is where natural fruit smoothies are good for you. Try to avoid any product that has added sugar. Microwave meals are a classic culprit and fizzy drinks and products such as tomato ketchup tend to be packed full of sugars and other nasty additives.

Well I must sign off now as I have things to do before tonight's performance. Have a great weekend and hope to see some of you at Annabel's' tonight.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Friday, 20 July 2007

No pain, no gain.

I must apologise to any of my students who attended my class last night, they left bruised and battered but hopefully feeling a great sense of achievement. I was so proud of their hard work that I walked home with a big smile on my face. I did not witness any signs of laziness last night and I have just discovered that some of you have got off your backsides and sent me some web links too so all is good.

A friend of mine mentioned that he had arranged to do some Commando training, Commando training is not for the faint hearted and if a gentle exercise is what you are looking for then look again. I laughed when I heard that none of the team participating in the event had done any kind of training and generally did not exercise much. Despite my giggles I couldn't help admiring them for having the guts to have a go although I would like to be a fly on the wall when they do participate as I feel they may have second thoughts about their chosen day out!! If you want more information on the commando challenge then click here.

It seems that if you really want to tone your body and get in shape then you have to experience some discomfort, simply lying on a toning table is not going to be enough. You need to sweat, increase the heart rate and feel the muscles working. Of course the command style challenge is not suite to everyone and you should consult your GP if you have any concerns about your ability to carry out a specific sport or exercise. If you are looking for a challenge why not try the Beast - it is a hard workout but is open to anyone if you are brave enough. The Beast is described as a sports non-specific beasting class - an all-out fitness/circuit session with instructors from different disciplines taking turns in hosting the class. For the fit, the brave and the foolish.

Of course if you want some really silly activites than look no further than Human Tetris, extreme parkour or Lift Karate (only joking -the last one is not real but just a video that advises you not to try to steal someones purse!).

After all my silliness today please do exercise safely and try and have fun.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Automatic parking - whatever next!

Apparently some new cars will now be fitted with automatic parking units that will park your car for you, I am sorry but if you can't park your car then you should not be driving. How lazy are we going to become when we need a computer to do a basic task for us. Don't get me wrong, I think computers are great but there are some things that we shoud be able to do for ourselves and parking really is one of them. I suppose it is a bit like gym equipment such as treadmills, I can think of nothing worse than spending half an hour on a tread mill when I could be out walking.

It makes me shudder to think that our whole society is becoming increasingly lazy and that we are actually buying these ridiculous gadgets thinking that they will make our life better. I am sure that the opposite is true. How many people have bought items such as cross trainers, stuck them in the spare room and then rarely used them. You only have to visit your local charity shop to find a huge array of unwanted gym equipment and if you are going to but such things then why not save yourself money and help out a local charity.

Using such equipment can make your exercise regime more monotonous and therefore less likely to actually happen. Of course some of you may be thinking that you enjoy using a treadmill or that you do use your exercise bike at home on a regular basis and if that works for you then that is great but for the majority of us fitness fads and gimicky gym items just burn a hole in our pocket rather than burning calories.

Exercising at home has always been a delicate issue, for some of us we need to be motivated and that does not always happen when you exercise at home. Of course exercise could be as simple as doing the household chores (sorry - not the most exciting workout!) or burning calories in the bedroom is always a winner!

Seeing the sun is now gracing us with its presence then why not get outside and walk somewhere. It is at this point that I should remind you to protect yourself against the sun. We are lucky enough to have a lovely outdoor pool in Plymouth so why not use it, after all it is your tax that has paid for it so why not get your money's worth. I would love some feedback from you all on a nice way to get out, exercise and have some fun all at the same time. One of my students joked with me yesterday about spending a relaxing day at Whitsand's beach and then enduring the horrendous climb back up to the car park, I can't think of a better exercise for your little legs than that lovely steep cliff path.

Wednesday is normally my day off but seeing I went on holiday last week I thought I better put some hours in, However I may find time later for a quick spin round the pole and a brisk walk to the pub. Remember you don't have to exercise for hours at a time, every little helps and little and often can actually be better for you than overdoing it in a single session.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Saturday - Pies, Sunday - more rain.

Oh what a surprise, it is raining again. If my friend Adele in Portugal is reading this then she is probably feeling very smug as it still about 36 degrees out there without a cloud in the sky. I ventured down to the Barbican yesterday to try to relive that holiday feeling, the sun was out yet it still seemed a little chilly, but, I was determined not to whinge. My husband and I decided to treat ourselves to pie and mash at the new pie shop and what a treat it was, local organic ingredients, hand made to perfection. I didn't think I liked pie and thought I was making a compromise to satisfy my husband's Yorkshire taste buds but I think I enjoyed my pie more than he enjoyed his.

Pie? You may be wondering how pie and health and fitness are related but a small pie from time to time can't be so bad, can it? I had trained hard during the morning by running two advanced pole masterclasses which certainly reminded me that I had just had 5 days away from the pole. My students worked like Trojans helping to destroy the statistics stating that all Plymouthians are lazy. After the training session a nice carb loaded pie seemed like just the right thing and washed down with a pint of bitter and twisted real ale at the Cider press also seemed quite satisfactory. For any of you reading this who do not know the Barbican it is a delightful place next to the quay, fishing boats and swans fill the water and there is a continental style row of bars and cafes. Despite Plymouth's poor reputation for good architecture the Barbican provides a welcome break from some of the area's more nasty modern buildings.

What was even nicer about yesterday's trip was that there was no trouble, sometimes the Barbican can be a haven for mindless yobs who see the sunshine as an excuse to drink too much and then pick on someone more vulnerable than themselves. Yesterday was different, the atmosphere was calm, people were smiling and stress levels seemed low. All in all this was a good picture of health in the city.

Not much health advice today apart from enjoy the sun sensibly while you can and if anyone can find me a decent website to link to giving details of The Barbican please let me know, I have just spent the last 20 minute trying to find an informative website giving both pictures , history and up to date information on the Barbican, but have had no luck! Seeing the Barbican is so important to our city surely it should be well promoted on the net - if any of you can find such a website please let me know, otherwise I will start thinking that Plymouth is a lazy city and I am desperate to disprove that so called fact.

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Friday, 13 July 2007


I stated that I would bring some sunshine back from my recent visit to Porugal but I seem to have failed in my task in fact the weather seems to have deteriorated since my return. I thought instead I would try and find some fascinating anecdotes for health and fitness to motivate you all but, alas, my search has failed.

So today I set about the task of reading 10 new health reports trying to find some inspiring facts but all I have found is contradiciton about what is actually good for you. One report suggests that a pint of milk a day will improve your metabolism and help you fight illness in old age, another report suggested that childrens health was not improved long term by increasing their intake of food and vegetables. Report after report of vague advice and conflicting evidence. This all left me with the feeling that my blog was doomed and I simply had very little to write about with confidence.

It set me thinking about what I try to teach to my students and that for me exercise is not just about a monotonous regime. Instead it is about socialising, having fun, keeping my muscles in shape, improving my breathing and leaving each class with a smile on my face. Just seeing a student achieve a new technique on the pole is as great as learning a new move myself. I am the only one who likes exercising? Is it really true that Plymouthians are among the laziest citizens in the World - please prove the statistics wrong!

Go out there and excel at something that hopefully will be good for you. I mean, a burger eating marathon may not be the ideal thing and please don't throw your money away at get fit quick schemes, simply paying for a monthly gym membership does not mean that you will actually go the gym or use its facilities whilst you are there. Try something different to motivate your self and give yourself some escape from your normal routine. Lastly be careful when trying new activities -

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


What a difference a bit of sunshine makes, without making you too jealous I am writing todays blog from a secluded villa in the Eastern Algarve. The temperature today is 36 degrees and the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue. I can hear the buzz of crickets and the occasional woodpecker. The view stretches out across the mountains as far as the eye can see and my stress levels seem to have completely vanished. My good mood is only boosted by the small three month old kittens playing next to me.

If this is not good for my health then I do not know what is. The diet here is also great, plenty of fresh fish and vegetable markets selling a glorious array of produce, fresh juice vendors and what is even better is it all so cheap so my purse is feeling a little more healthy as well. As for my fitness I think my muscles are getting a well earned rest after some gruelling training in the studio recently. For a change I am not covered in pole dancing bruises either.

So how can I take this feeling back to the UK with me? Hopefully I will be feeling energised and motivated on my return, Maybe there will be some sunshine in the UK on my return and not the grey skies that I viewed on my dearture. Surely my Vitamin D levels will be boosted after my time in the sun? Perhaps there will be no nasty bills or letters on my doorstep when I return home.

Well I suppose I should return to the sun terrace to make the most of my last night here. Perhaps I will find room for a few bottles of Sagres bohemia, a beautiful portugese beer, accompanied with some fresh olives, tomatoes and barbecued tiger prawns. Of course I am also drinking copious amounts of still mineral water and various fruit juices to make sure I am thoroughly hydrated.

Hope I am not sounding too smug and look forward to writing again on my return to Plymouth.

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Monday, 9 July 2007


I simply can't cope with the weather anymore! I am just about to lock up my office and fly south to the Algarve. I am sure the sunshine down there wil boost my vitamin D levels and generally give me a great sense of welllbeing. This should be great contrast to the way I feel at present -pale, pasty, surrounded by ill students (it seems that everyone is suffering from colds, viruses and general aches and pains) and a little miserable.

I have talked before about the effects of stress on the body and I feel very lucky that I am able to take a few days away from work to really de stress and unwind. I wil keep this blog short and hope to return full of inspiration for you all on fresh ways to be fit and healthy. I also hope to bring some sunshine back with me so watch the weather forecast and see the sunshine for yoursleves on Friday 13th!

Stay healthy,

Sam x

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Lucky me!

I realised today that I am extremely lucky in the fact that I get paid to keep fit! I would hate to spend all day sat at a desk and although much of my day is filled with admin time the rest is spent climbing up and down and hanging of poles. If you are in the unlucky position of being in a sedentary job then consider hassling your employer for some time to exercise, if you work for Wrigleys you will not have that problem as they have just introudced free sports and fitness session for all their staff! Well done Wrigleys! Now lets hope other employers follow suit and either give their employees time to exercise or look into corporate gym / sports membership packages for their employees.

When I used to work for social services we were encouraged to exercise on arrival for our morning shift, this would increase our motivation levels and get us working more productively. At the time I hated the idea of having to exercise first thing in the morning, the idea of getting into work and spending the first half an hour drinking cups of tea seemed much more appealing, however, I always felt better after exercising and I drank less caffeine so all was good.

I am not suggesting that all employers are responsible for keeping their employees fit and healthy or that you have to exercise at work but that all of us have some responsibility and if we work together then we achieve a better result. Many health centres do great corproate deals and some gyms, such as mine, offer team-buliding packages which help to keep your staff fit whilst promoting a good working environment. I found a
company based in plymouth who organise a huge range of team build options with an emphasis on working the body as well as the mind.

Also employers should be wary, there are a group in America who are taking their employers to court for lack of exercise due to long working hours sat in front of a desk with little opportunity to move, with personal claims at a peak I am sure that they may win their case and that would then set an interesting precident for employers in general!

Well time moves on and I have to teach in about 10minutes so I will sign off for now, Stay energetic,

Sam x