Monday, 27 December 2010

Hot Pulse - Fitness DVD review

The Lovely Lucy Misch (pictured below right) sent me a DVD to review a while ago and I seem to have not found the time to actually watch the DVD so today, being a bank holiday, seemed the perfect time to try the new workout and write the review. Apologies to Lucy for taking so long.

Hot Pulse is a DVD claiming to be a "fierce new fitness workout", it is also described as "sassy, sexy and seriously addictive". The DVD must have been more addictive than I first thought as it felt like I had only done about 20 minutes of exercise but when  looked at the clock I had done the full hour and I hadn't actually done the entire DVD. As it was my first time trying this workout I certainly did get the sexy look achieved by Lucy and her team but hopefully I will get better with practice.

The DVD is cleverly split into sections so you can tailor the workout to your fitness needs focusing on different areas of the body or going for an overall beasting. The DVD has 8 energising routines designed to help you get fit and toned for 2011 and beyond, each routine has a sexy twist so not only can you keep fit but you can also pick up some sexy moves for the dance floor or the bedroom!

I think home fitness DVD's are a great idea but I do recommend combining them with an actual class where an expert can check you are executing moves correctly and look for good placement and spinal alignment. It is very easy to pick up bad techniques when exercising on your own. If you have existing back problems then I air extra caution in trying any home DVD especially if you have no fitness knowledge.

I should add that you may find other members of your household watching this DVD whilst you are not using it but they may not be following Lucy's workout and may be opting for their own instead!!! There are plenty of cleavage and pulsating butt shots to keep any admirer of the female species occupied throughout.

The warm up is a nice, easy to follow, gentle workout suitable for most abilities, a few too many static stretches for my liking but that is just my personal preference and the warm up does fit its sports specific genre perfectly. The first section I opted for was the legs section (see picture above), I decided not to wear the leotard things chosen by Lucy and her team and opted for a tracksuit instead. The legs section does require good balance but you could easily hold onto something if your balance isn't great. There are some lovely moves and repeaters to get those muscles burning.

Next up was the Abs section which was definitely needed after my Xmas indulgence, having had a break from exercising, drinking more than usual and not eating enough of my 5 a day my press-ups were incredibly weak and I dread to think what my first pole practice of 2011 is going to be like :( The abs section seemed much tougher than the legs section but that could just be result of the Xmas ale. As with the legs section there were some brilliant repeaters aimed to really tone and strengthen those abdominal muscles and flatten any Xmas tummies.

Bums and thighs were next on the agenda and it was funny watching the ladies working out in sexy black corsets in a church style setting (see picture right), this section was another nice workout with some sexy dance moves and some lovely squats and leg raises.  I loved the fact that this workout allows you to wiggle your hips and add your own dance element to the workout which I know may not amuse some aerobics teachers but works for me.

The chair section (see picture left) upped the erotic side of the workout but showed some great moves as well as a few variations I will be stealing for my forthcoming chair dance workout classes (full details to follow very soon!). If you are doing this at home using a chair please make sure it is a good sturdy chair as I have seen lots of chair dances go wrong if an unsteady chair is used.

What I really loved about this DVD is that once you have learned the routines you can always play your own music in the background to keep it fresh. The fact that you can choose from the different routines and sections gives this DVD great longevity where other DVD's may end up on the shelf far earlier. Well done to Lucy and the girls for putting together a fun home workout that actually does the job of helping you keep in shape whilst having fun. I am already looking forward to trying more sections of the DVD tomorrow.

You can buy the DVD by visiting the pole dance community shop which also features a large range of instructional pole dancing DVDs too including another Lucy Misch release Pole Exercise 1 and Pole Exercise 2. The DVD costs just £16.49 including UK postage (add £1 for Europe and £2 for the rest of the world).

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Dance and Health

On Thursday 2nd December I was delighted to attend a seminar organised by the Department of Health and Dance South West. The event was held at the Jurys Inn and was designed to be an educational day looking at the benefits of dance and how dance practitioners can reach more people. The event was also a great opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals and it is the first time in 6 years that I have sat in a room with a bunch of professionals who did not turn their noses up when I told them I teach pole dancing!

The morning started with a DVD presentation about dance being used in different ways to promote better physical and mental well-being and focused in particular on a piece of work where dance practitioners went into a children's hospital ward and created dance pieces with the kids, the dance pieces ranged from group work to simpler pieces where a child would dance with the practitioner by the bed-side.  It was truly beautiful to see the response from the kids as they expressed themselves through dance.

Next up was Ken Bartlett, Creative Director, Foundation of Community Dance who spoke about why we should use dance to tackle health issues and came up with some very interesting arguments that bode well for the future of dance in the UK.  Ken argued that dance can be more inclusive than sport as it does not always aim to be competitive, in sport we are always looking for the best for the team whereas in dance there is more freedom for everyone to be the best. With the Olympics approaching and many talented individuals having their skills nurtured it is important that we also develop more person centred planning for those who do not excel in mainstream sports but could excel through dance and similar opportunities.

Ken mentioned research that proved the 'Power of Dance' through improving social cohesion and increasing mobility, flexibility, endurance and cardiovascular ability, he also shared research that showed how dance resulted in significant improvements for individuals suffering with Diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  

As well as looking at current attitudes towards dance Ken mentioned the history of dance and used a quote from Barbara Ehrenreich's book 'Dancing in the Streets', Barbara talks about the suppression of dance throughout modern history and in particular the Christian's approach to the  'dance of the devil'  a term used for all dance genres but more recently used for the argentine tango, salsa and, of course, pole dancing! Luckily attitudes are changing and the government is now recognising the huge benefits dance can bring not only to individuals but to the whole society.

At present Sport England only recognises 2 genres of dance, Ballet and Contemporary, but the Department of Health understands that there are many more genres that are equally beneficial to health and just as valuable as their more traditional cousins. The government wants to encourage opportunities for dance practitioners to work with health professionals and for both parties to recognise each other skills.

After Ken's informative and eloquent talk we were introduced to Kitrina Douglas, an independent researcher from Bristol University, who has just carried out a large piece of research recordng data from recent dance events organised through the governments change 4 life campaign. Kitrina's evidence looked at 4 events and how they encouraged increased participation in dance as well as their ability to attract new people to dance. The events Kitrina focused on were new ways of getting people into exercise rather than simply asking them to go to a gym. I, personally, love the idea of taking dance to the people through flash mobs, community festivals and street parties, this is such a great way of introducing people to dance, encouraging exercise and enhancing social cohesion.
After Kitrina's fabulous talk we participated in a short piece by Lois Taylor (The Works), a practitioner working with the elderly and focusing on arm-chair based dance, we were all invited to look at the number of ways in which we can dance whilst seated and we were all amazed at exactly how much you do whilst sat as well as how vigorous he exercise could be.  The piece demonstrated how those with decreased mobility could still partake in dance and could reap the benefits of such participation.

Just before we retired for lunch we were treated to a fabulous dance demonstration from member of Attik Dance and Attik 360. I was moved by the performance and hope that I may be able to do some work with Attik 360 in the near future.

After lunch it was time for us to get our brains back into gear and to develop ideas on how we can target individuals and groups to encourage them to participate in dance. Our ideas have now been submitted to the department of health and the full results from the 4 seminars held across the UK will be evaluated and sent back to us, I will post the findings as soon as I receive them.

For me the seminar has given me new hope for the art of dance in 2011, pole dancing s finally being recognised as a great way to keep fit, socialise and ave fun. At long last I am being recogniseded as a performing artist and a dance practitioner rather than being seen as glorified stripper (nothing wrong with strippers but that is not what I practice or teach!).

So watch this space for details of the art of dance's appearance at the International Women's day, The Attik dance strictly collaborative event (Devonport Guildhall - 19th March) and the BA7 fringe festival (commences Sept 17th). Perhaps 2011 will be the year that the art of dance receives some much needed funding to enable it to target new groups and do more comunity projects. Watch this space.....

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Crown Court, Blood, Pole Dancing, Daily Star and Perseid Showers!

After a fabulous day judging at the Bristol Pole Championships on Sunday and a seemingly long drive back to Plymouth in the early hours of Monday morning I was not keen to get up at 8am to view my neighbours pre-court hearing. However, after 10 years of neighbourly disputes I was determined to see his day in court and find out exactly what he had been up to aside from terrorising me and my fellow residents. The horror of hearing the 11 counts of rape and indecent assault against a 14 year old girl sent shivers down my spine and the fact that she now has to relieve the whole ordeal in a court room seems like a second round of torture for her, I just wish my neighbour had pleaded guilty to save the girl yet more hell. Click here to read more about yesterdays hearing. The trial is now set for March.

As I left the courts I noticed that blood transfusion vans outside the Plymouth Guildhall (pictured above) and decided to pop in and make an appointment for my free tea and chocolate biscuit and, of course, to give blood. Giving blood at the place where I got married was great, I laid on the donating table just 2 metes from the exact spot where I said my vows and enjoyed the added bonus of being able to count the number of penises on the statues that adorn the Guildhall ceiling whilst donating, definitely a worthwhile experience.

I mentioned the Bristol Pole Championships (see picture above of all the judges and competitors) at the beginning of this blog and I just wanted to say what a great, well organised and friendly competition it was, I am already looking forward to the 2011 event. A big thanks also to Rosanna for accompanying me to the event and being great company.

On the subject of pole dancing I should mention a poorly written article that featured in the Daily Star last week that I was completely unaware of at the time. My first inkling that something had been written was when I noticed a facebook update about me being in the paper, I was very confused and then saw anther few updates coming in mentioning the Daily Star, so I went to their website typed in my name and was taken straight to an article possibly written by an uneducated child about pole dancing in the Olympics accompanied by a picture of me with my name too!! As I don't own the image there is little I can do but I did have to chuckle at the poor content of the text which left me questioning the readership of such a publication.

So after the court case, giving blood, the fortnightly cash and carry visit, some Pole Dance Community and art of dance admin it was time to drive up to a secluded spot near Cadover Bridge (pictured above) on Dartmoor to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. Seeing a meteor was going to a first for me and it was quite fascinating staring out across the starry sky. I took a while for me to get my night vision but once I was focused I totted up about 6 or 7 meteors. My night vision was halted temporarily as the police arrived to see what my husband and I were up to, the young officer looked a little surprised that we were merely star-gazing rather than partaking in some illicit drugs deal or dogging activity. I thanked the officer for checking we were OK and then re-focused my eyes to see a few more meteors before driving home.

I will blog again soon about the Dance Event I have been meaning to review and the Plymouth Fringe Event planned to coincide with the British Art Show's Plymouth visit on September 17th 2011, if you can't wait for that blog then you must read Steve Clement-Large's blog to learn more. 

Just a quick mention to any of you who normally read my blog via the This is Plymouth website, sadly the website has now decide not to host any of the blogs written by its army of bloggers and they have got rid of the business section. But, fear not, there may be plans to host the blogs on another media platform.....

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Drugs, Prostitutes and Burkhas.

I read an interesting article on the Herald a few months ago where columnist Keith Rossiter discussed his views on the legislation of illegal drugs, it is a viewpoint that I completely agreed with and my liberal views also extend to the legalisation of prostitution. My views are not shared by all so I was particularly interested in a debate by the Plymouth Humanists on the subject of Liberty held last Thursday at Raffles.

Guest Speaker Keith Denby from the Devon Humanists kicked of the debate with a speech about John S Mill, a well known historical figure famous for his views on liberty and for his book, that has never been out of circulation since its publication in 1859, On Liberty. The talk was then followed by a lively debate focusing on legislation, human rights and mainly drugs and prostitution.

Generally the main point of disagreement was where we draw the line on our own personal human rights and the rights of those around us. Is the right of the wider human society more important than the individual and do we need excessive legislation to protect such rights. For example, if someone chooses to smoke cannabis in the privacy of their own home and they cause no harm to anyone else should that be illegal and do we as a wider society benefit from attempts to enforce such legislation. 

The point that Keith Denby had raised was that the actual act of taking a drug should not be the punishable offence, the offence would be any negative behaviour displayed by the individual that caused harm or offence to another. This links in to modern law in the sense that it is not illegal to drink alcohol but there are laws against being drunk and disorderly and drink driving as they cause harm to others. 

For me the biggest problem with the prohibition of drugs and prostitution is the creation of an uncontrolled black market; one gentleman quoted statistics proving that taking soft drugs usually led to involvement with harder drugs. I argued that this may be partly due to the black market where an individual buying drugs may be more likely to be introduced to other drugs or more likely to meet users of harder drugs. The black market prevents education and denies the government the opportunity to earn much needed revenue for the country.

Another issue with illegal dugs is that we create a taboo which may make it more exciting for youngsters to take drugs, this has been partly proven in studies in Holland where school children were reported to say that they did not take cannabis as it was not cool.

As the evening progressed and the alcohol started to flow the debate become even more lively and we moved onto prostitution which I strongly believe should be legalised. We are never going to stop prostitution and I don't believe we should be attempting to do so. We do have a moral responsibility to protect the vulnerable who are involved in the darker side of prostitution and sex trafficking and though legislation I feel we would have far more chance of doing so.  It was funny to see the reactions of the group as they were asked to put their hands up if they had ever used the services of a prostitute, people were much happier to divulge if they and taken drugs and I laughed as a few guys started to raise their hands, look around to see if others were going to do so and then lower their hand again as they decided not to publicise their activities.

I know that today's blog contains huge topics that deserve more than a mere page of ranting from me but I am interested in your views and would love to hear your comments. Perhaps I can do a follow up blog in a few weeks to discuss and share your comments?

Before I sign off for today I have one more controversial topic to discuss - the burqa, hijab or niqab. I wanted to mention that I bought a niqab for my husband (as you do!) and we, and some of our friends, have been experimenting with wearing it. The experiment has been partly about observing peoples reactions to the headwear and partly about the experience of actually wearing it. Whilst I understand that some would argue that it is their choice to wear the niqab I cannot personally understand how the full burqa can be worn without serious discomfort; I felt that my breathing was restricted and my vision was also limited which made me feel very vulnerable, it is also extremely difficult and undignified to try to eat or drink whist wearing it.  One lady was close to tears as she said that the head-dress really upset her as she felt it was a direct attack on women's rights. I will report more on the experiment  and others reactions very soon.......

Stay Healthy,

Sam x