Sally Fitzgibbons is synonymous with surfing. Funnily though, she excelled at athletics, touch football and soccer in her teens. It's fair to say, if it required energy and sportsmanship, Sally was into it and mastering it. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for my iTunes podcast, Core Integrity With Cat, today. In light of her book, Summer Fit All Year Round, which I really enjoyed and am still referring to for recipes and body weight training ideas, I took the opportunity to ask Sally about how the book came to be, the role of athletes and authors in sharing their fitness and nutrition programs and how to do this responsibly. As you may suspect of an elite athlete, who rises at 5am to train and has a singular dedication to being the best she can be, Sally is an intelligent and articulate interview subject. She's also funny and energetic and inspiring. I may come to regret this, but I was so enthused by her I agreed to a trade of yoga training for a surf lesson. I fear I'll need more than one!
Here's some recipes from Sally's book. I've posted them as downloadable PDF so you can print and paste up on the fridge! Yes, old school.
Can't make it to class? No worries. Do this pulse move for one minute minimum and ideally keep it going until you can't maintain technique. Squeeze your glutes. I mean it!
Start in plié position, heels raised and pressed together.Squeeze your butt cheeks together, get down, P U L S E.Step forward, pulse. Step to starting position, pulse.Step to 2nd, pulse.Step back, pulse.Keep going.Keep going.Keep...on...pulsing.
I recently gave my advice on the best barre moves to master - and the ones most often cheated in! Wellineux published a home workout guide and combined it with an XTend Barre giveaway. You can find the article on the Wellineux Blog.
Here are the moves and the reasons to do them. Don't belly flop.
Challenging and most importantly effective, these three moves are effective in developing body awareness, good core strength, muscular endurance, timing and postural alignment.
No belly flopping during the diamond push up! No dropping the hips while doing the bridge! Rather than cheat, you could try to make the moves smaller, or reduce the number of reps. Focus on perfect form if you are aiming for results.
The Diamond Push Up.Works: Triceps, shoulders, chest Here’s how:
From a kneeling position, make a triangle shape between your index fingers and thumbs. Place your hands, in this position, below the chest in a push up position. Engage the core muscles as you would in a plank hold.
Try to maintain your head, neck and spine in alignment rather than dropping your head or straining your chin forward. Lower your chest towards your hands without letting the back arch and the belly slap the mat. This is belly flopping – don’t!
Press hard into the palm of the hands as you raise back to your starting position, fully extending the arms. Repeat. As many as you can.
The Bridge with Heel CarveWorks: Hamstrings, glutes Here’s how:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Ensure your feet are hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down by your sides.
Tighten and engage your glutes then lift your hips up, feeling your abdominals also bracing gently to stabilise and support your spine.
Keeping your hips lifted, extend your left heel along the mat as far as you can, then imagine carving the floor open with your heel as you drag it back. The foot is flexed to really target the hamstrings. Repeat with the right leg.
Repeat until you need to rest, then gently roll down from the top of the spine until you’re back at the starting position.
The Lying Leg LiftWorks: Quadriceps, Abdominals Here’s how:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down, by your side.
Extend your left leg to straight, flexing the foot as hard as you can. This is to engage the VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle – the quadricep muscle responsible for stabilising your kneecap. Turn the leg out to the side so that you have a slight external rotation.
Make sure you are engaging the abdominals to avoid your back arching as you raise and lower the leg. You should feel this right through the front and sides of the tummy!
Maintaining your foot in flexion and leg perfectly straight, raise the leg straight up – hold for a second – then lower your leg until it hovers just over the mat. Do this 10 – 20 times.
I saw the physiotherapist yesterday and he was very impressed with the strength I've built in my VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique), the front thigh muscle that stabilises the knee. So many turn-out, straight leg lifts. It has made my abs burn like crazy to do them properly too. Bonus.
As they say though, the best cure is prevention. I don't want to put my joints at risk when I work in fitness and when I love training, teaching and the independence of free movement.
I also want to always be learning more about the body and how it works - the muscles, the bones, the brain. To that end, I have collected my tools and I want to share them with you.
Stretch and self-massage: So important when preventing an injury or just being able to move more freely, to stretch and also to massage and work into muscles that are feeling really tight. I have very tight glutes and hamstrings - especially after a couple of classes in a row. This can pull on my knee joint and also result in compensation with other muscles so that I'm feeling tense and sore.
While a foam roller is great for the ITB, I prefer a massage ball for glutes, back and feet.
My favourite way to use it is to come into a squat with my back against the wall. I place the bakball towards my mid-back and then I slowly come to standing and squat again, allowing the ball to roll up and down my spine. Eases out all those little niggles between the shoulder blades!
There are videos of how to use the bakballs for particular areas. I also take mine in the car and sit it either under my shoulder blades or into my lower back and press back into it. It presses into sore spots. If Drake or Diplo comes on, I end up doing a bit of a dance in my seat, which results in a mini massage. Recommended!
Understand the muscles you use: Yesterday I asked my class to be curious about their bodies. I think we ought to be in wonderment every day at what we're capable of and the incredibly engineered machine that our body is! Having been through surgery and illness, I have so much appreciation for how the body wants to heal. It wants to perform. It loves movement.
Liane Simmel is a former professional dancer who now runs her own clinic in Germany specialising in osteopathy and sports medicine. She also supervises strength and training programs for dance students and professional dancers. Dance Medicine $52.95 @ Taylor and Francis
I'll be attending to the chapters on hips and knees very closely! I'll also be continuing my VMO strengthening. Now, I have popped this video below to encourage you to work your VMO too. It not only helps with stabilising your knee but it also gives you great muscle definition in the front of the thigh (priorities?!) By the way, this is a very appealing trainer with a cool accent. You're welcome - my pleasure.
I love Tracey Mallett. An ex-dancer who has a whole range of barre DVDs and online training videos, she does fun and TOUGH workouts. You don't need to do an hour - you can feel a burn through the abs and thighs in this 10 minute workout. Maybe you do it once in the morning then again in the evening. Just an idea. Did you do it? Do you love it? Come and tell me on Facebook!
Not just to gain that sculpted muscle that looks fab, but to ensure you are strong from every angle and really challenging the biggest muscles in your body to be fired up, able to endure and support great alignment, posture and balance.
Thigh Stretch: Kneeling with knees directly under your hips. Shoulders back and chest open. Without tilting your hips, maintain a straight line from top of the head to the knees as you lean back to 45 degrees. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and eyes ahead! Hold 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Plie in 2nd: Whether you use a barre, or a chair, or a desk for support, make sure you are only holding lightly. You want your body to do all the work! Bend at the knees and make sure your knees are in line with your middle toes. At the lowest point, your hips are in line with your knees and your knees are directly above your ankles (don't stand too narrow!). Avoid hunching forward. Raise and lower in a straight line for 20, holding at the bottom for 2 seconds. Extra challenge? Raise your heels the whole set.
Frog Press: Lying on the mat, bend your knees and take them wide. Keep your heels locked together and toes pointing outwards. Press your legs out straight at 45 degrees then return. Make sure your lower back doesn't raise off the mat! Repeat for 10, rest for 30 seconds and do another 10!
Frog Press Reverse: Lying on your tummy, take your legs out wide and bend your knees. Keeping your knees wide, lock your heels together and flex your feet. Without raising your head, squeeze your bum to lift your thighs off the mat and hold for 2 seconds before returning. Repeat 10 times, rest for 30 seconds and repeat again.
Warrior 3 or Arabesque: Pushing into every edge of the foot, make sure you are standing firmly then reach forward with the arms as you raise one leg to hip height behind you. Hold for 10 seconds then return. Swap sides. Repeat on each leg 3 times.
BODY BEAUTY TIP!Bare your legs and arms with pride. After a shower, generously spray Vaseline Intensive Care Spray (Fragrance Free) all over. No dry elbows and heels happening here! Buy it at Priceline.
Know what is driving me up the wall? I really like walking mindfully - thinking about just "heel, ball, toe..." and thinking about engaging pelvic floor, standing tall...it calms me. It helps me focus.
At the moment, I'm walking with a pronounced limp and while I know it's noticeable (thankyou for pointing it out people - yes, I have a LIMP...mind your own business!) that doesn't bother me as much as the idea that I'm teaching my body to continue it.
I also think I need to be a little gentler on myself. However. I have found an exercise to improve my hip and pelvic strength. I intend to try it today - not too many, just to see how it feels. I will also be calling the physio centre at the rehabilitation hospital I attended to ask their feedback on what I should be expecting at this point and whether this is a safe move for me. So, while I'll be trying this, I DO suggest you talk to your physio and check this is safe for you if you have any sort of hip complaint. Pelvic Drop Exercise