Stress Hormones: How to combat belly fat, bloating and blemishes

stress hormones belly fat blemishes acne health
In over 10 years of teaching, I've been asked the same few questions repeatedly. Two of the most common are:

  • How do I fix blemishes/acne/dry skin?
  • How do I target excess belly weight?

Now, as we all should know, I don't buy into body hate and shaming and guilt. Women naturally have curves and a tendency to hold weight around the belly and hips because women are designed to create, house and nourish new human life within their bodies. That's pretty amazing. Whether you choose to have children or not, your body is engineered for it.

That said, there's a fine balance to find between functional and healthy amount of particular hormones and the sort of irregularity and imbalance that will lead to a cycle of nasty symptoms that indicate hormonal problems and that lead to MORE hormonal imbalances if not addressed through lifestyle.

The culprit - in all my discussions with medical and natural health practitioners, and in my personal experience - is the stress hormone, cortisol. An excess of cortisol leads to inflammation within the body, creating dramas with digestion, sleep, mood, acne and blemishes, insatiable appetite, cravings, bloating and weight gain particularly around the belly and hips.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (in the kidney area). It isn't all bad! Cortisol is produced to enable the body to handle and respond to danger. It is also heightened during exercise or at the beginning of the day to put the body into a more alert state.


Too much cortisol results in a number of symptoms, including weight gain around the face and abdomen, thin and easily broken skin, acne, bones more vulnerable to fracture and breaking, depressed mood, increased facial hair and irregular periods.

Some medications can mimic cortisol, including some asthma medication and topical steroid creams or steroidal drugs.

What can you do to prevent excessive cortisol and a crappy mood, bloated belly and tired, dull skin? Here's some simple steps. Take one at a time, or all at once:

  • Stop the extra long workouts. No wonder your body believes your under pressure and in need of hormones to cope with stress if you're forcing yourself through training regimes that run over 90 minutes
  • Cut the coffee. Sure, addictive, sure. But if you want to sleep and look 10 years younger, stop.
  • Eat wholefoods. Organic wherever possible, but maintain a diet where at least 80% of your food is a plant that you can recognise as exactly the same as it was on the tree or in the earth (powdered beetroot doesn't count)
  • Take high-quality supplements if your diet is restricted at all (vegan protein, omega 3 supplements, vitamin D if you don't get much sun, multivitamins)
  • Did I mention Omega 3 supplements?
  • Eat a high fibre diet to maintain good gut health
  • Take adaptogenic herbs: licorice root tea or medicinal mushrooms are easy to find at health food stores or online
  • Take 5 minutes every morning and/or evening to sit quietly, eyes closed and breathe fully into the belly then slowly out again. Set a phone timer if you need.
  • Get away from screens. Put the phone down.
  • Go to yoga - any type.
  • Do pilates
  • Dance
  • Laugh
  • Omega 3 supplements (seriously, though)
Image from Wholefood Merchants, Melbourne

Surf Star Sally Fitzgibbons on Strength Training, Body Image & Living Well

Sally Fitzgibbons

creamy healthy chicken wrapSally 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.
pesto kaleAs 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.









Ballet Sculpt 1 minute move

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.



Burn at the Barre (or Chair, or Kitchen Bench...)

I'm often asked what resources I recommend for my barre, pilates and yoga participants when they're on extended holidays, travelling or just working irregular hours that mean a consistent class attendance just isn't gonna happen. Without fail, I always recommend Sadie Lincoln from barre3 and the divine, funny, challenging and inspiring Tracey Mallett who posts regular pilates and barre videos that enable you to workout at home.

You don't need a barre - the back of your chair will do the trick. Try this one. If these attitude "in-out-tap" moves don't give you the burn, I will fall onto my barre-toned bum in amazement.


February Gym Bag Loves - The Style, Beauty & Body Gear For Now

fitness fashion beauty body
Hello February!
Exactly a month in my new beachside abode and I've still got so much to explore locally. It's been a struggle trying to build more classes into my schedule but (apart from a few hair-pulling, nail biting evenings of angst) I'm feeling hopeful of making this happen. My other goal is to increase my freelance writing and collaborative work. I'd also really love to schedule some more workshops and encourage people to come together locally to share food, stories, inspirations and ideas about life and living it well, fit and joyfully.
hair body fitness body beauty lululemon

There's a bit of a theme going on with my February gym bag - it must be living so close to the salty air! It's...being naked. Now wait! Don't go pulling your top off and risking mega fines just for the sake of solidarity!
Phew.
lululemon naked align pants

It's naked in regards to an approach to ingredients and elements. The Naked Dry Shampoo from Herbal Essences has none of the nasty chemicals usually associated with both dry shampoos and aerosols generally. It took me a while to get on the dry shampoo bandwagon but as someone who gets oily roots within a day of washing, it prevents overdoing it on the shampooing OR walking around with nasty oilslick hair. Important.
Try the whole Naked range - I'm all about the Naked Volume Shampoo and Conditioner.
The Naked lululemon Align Pants II are designed with no ruffles, frills and bows, literally. They are ideal for wearing independently or pairing up with your favourite booty shorts, jogging shorts, slouchy shirt or T, or even going out in your best 90s style with a pair of ripped denim shorts (man, I LOVED that look at the time.)

It's also a mindset I encourage you to adopt in February.
Get naked.
Strip off all the history. Strip off yesterday. Strip off the labels that have been placed on you, or that you've placed on yourself. Daughter, wife, mother, teacher, Australian, American, Young, Old, Friendly, Rude, Determined, Lazy, Fit, Flexible, Friend, Foe.

This is not to dismiss everything that you are, but to recognise that beneath and beyond all these labels and these ideas you develop about your life, you are so much more than that. Come back to your roots. Your heart beats, your lungs pump air, you exist from one micro-moment to the next in a world where we are all so vulnerable. This is quite wonderful - and it doesn't depend at all on any labels you put on yourself or what you own or what you do.

Once you've had a little smile to yourself, ensure that you hold onto these sunbeams of joy in your very core so that they radiate out through your pores and make your face glow with the beauty of being alive and appreciative of it. Then pack your gym bag and get out there. The gym bag featured in above image is the Lululemon Urban Warrior Duffle Bag. Yes, you can attach your yoga mat.

Post showering, keep the fresh scents lasting all day by applying my absolute, all time favourite body moisturiser, Laura Mercier Souffle. There's a few delicious choices but I'm in love with almond and coconut (it gets SO many compliments!) or pistachio. YUM.

Fresh Fit Food: Which Meal Delivery Services I Recommend


I know how to cook, prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals.
I can also talk macronutrients, energy, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
In short, I'm not in the dark when it comes to food and how to look after myself. There are other reasons for using a meal delivery service.

Good Reasons To Use Meal Delivery:

  • Being caught up in a hectic, unpredictable time where shopping, planning meals and feeding yourself and your family or housemates just isn't possible (ie. new job, illness in the family)
  • Experiencing injury or illness that can sap you of energy and the physical ability to get out and about to shop and then to do the preparations also.
  • Feeling caught in a rut and eating the same meals over and over again
  • Struggling to find inspiration for new ideas at meal times and wanting a kick in the butt
  • Curiosity
Why I Use Meal Delivery

I am guilty of being caught in eating the same meals all the time because it's easy. I know exactly what I need to buy in advance, I know how long it takes me to prepare and I know I like it. Only, I get so bored and if I'm bored, so is my body! Variety - just as in the classes you do, the friends you have, the places you go - is fuel for the soul. The body also benefits in every way from a variety of flavours, nutrients and just the mental effect of discovering something different and inspiring.

Which Meal Delivery Service To Use

There's already some really great services that deliver around Australia, and there are new ones popping up every week. This is both fabulous and also overwhelming if you're not sure where to start or you've had a bad experience. 
I've used the following and I highly recommend them. None of them require contracts or an ongoing relationship. You can order a one-time-only delivery and never do so again if you want!




This is for the person too busy to shop but not completely inept in the kitchen. This is for people who enjoy the preparation factor, but don't want to walk through supermarket aisles for the sake of a few meals. The box arrived for me on Tuesday morning (delivered silently in the very early hours of morning!) and had each meal packaged in a separate large paper bag.

In the box, recipe cards that described the preparation of each meal including cooking and prep time. I was provided herbs, flavourings, raw ingredients and ultimately, I had to cook and prepare. The great thing about this is that I felt like I had control over the level of flavouring I could add, and I could be a little creative as far as presentation and making any little adjustments like changing the choice of herbs or adding different vegetables.

I heartily recommend the chicken and fish meals as well as the superb Superfoods Veggie Bowl. I did add extra protein to this one but if you didn't, it's ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

Marley Spoon




Kate Save is a clinical dietitian with a true passion for food and it shows in the delicious menu options she offers. She designs meals with a real focus on balanced amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and micronutrients to ensure hormonal balance, weight control and VERY importantly, flavour. From frittata to curries, chunky soups, chia pods, protein ball snacks through to vegetarian friendly tofu dinners, there is no skimping on quality and yumminess.

Kate has worked with eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, juveniles and adults in her clinical role of dietitian and it was this, combined with her genuine love for preparing healthful, flavourful foods, that acted as the catalyst to start her own business. She has raised her children on these same meals and it is imperative to her that they are well fed, nourished and loved. This comes across in the food that arrives on my doorstep. It is full of flavour, perfectly balanced for a fit and weight-conscious individual, and also full of love and soul. There is nothing dry and boring about Kate's meals and even though they are perfectly measured as far as macronutrients (safe for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight), there is nothing boring about Kate's menu.

You can put in an order as late as Sunday evening and be assured of delivery the following Tuesday - everything is prepared and delivered fresh and clearly labelled.

I totally recommend the chia puddings - in fact, I'd put in an order for these alone! - and the frittata with kale and chickpeas. Delicious. Definitely don't skip the Berry Bliss Chia Pudding and the Blueberry with Chia Seeds.
I also loved the South American Chilli Beef And Beans for lunch on the go.

Be Fit Food


My Muscle Chef was the very first meal delivery service I tried and it is not at all what I feared it might be: tiny portions of NASA-grade food for body sculptors who subsist on a couple of almonds and a lettuce leaf. THANKFULLY these are divinely tasty and the fact they are energy-controlled and designed with the ideal ratio of protein to carbs is an afterthought once you dig the fork in. The meals range from vegetarian through to kangaroo, fish, chicken and beef.
I'm a big fan of the kangaroo with brown rice. It's so easy to overcook and dry out kangaroo meat but this is perfectly prepared and delivered for maximum flavour and texture. I admit, the meals are not nearly as big as I need for dinner. As a lunch option, perfectly portioned. I add nuts, extra rice and loads of vegetables to the dinner portion and occasionally, extra protein depending on my appetite. They deliver weekly to Melbourne and Sydney.

My Muscle Chef

Other delivery services I recommend trying include Aussie Farmers Direct, Woolworths Online and Nourished Life for supplements and healthy meal preparation tools.

Be Truly Well and Truly Fit - Free Download

If you have decided - especially coming up to the end of one year and the beginning of another, that now is the time to overhaul your mindset and to embrace a life of being well and fit, I can't do it for you. But I can give you the tools to make it happen. 
I'll be creating some free workout guides in the coming weeks, but this is the ideal place to start. With reflection and setting your intention.

What I Listen To For Inspiration

Are you a podcast junkie like me?
Do you just love a bangin' good dance mix to get you through a circuit routine or a cardio session?

I've got you covered. There's so many free music and radio resources. You could even learn Spanish while you're sweating it out! Here's my pick of what to listen to and I'd love to know if you have recommendations for me. Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and tell me what you listen to and love.

Soulcycle on Soundcloud

If you can't be in one of these cult cycle classes, you can tune in to the remixes and playlists that make the grade in LA, NYC and Chicago.

The Do LaB on Soundcloud

An LA company that is behind interactive events and exhibits at festivals like Lightning In A Bottle - get into these playlists stat.




ABC Radio National Podcasts

You can call me a nerd, but this is a great way to tune in to politics, culture, science, economics, news and current affairs either for the whole show or just snippets you want to tune into. I love RN Breakfast, All In The Mind and Pats Karvelas on RN Drive.

BBC Global News and Business

Twice daily on weekdays, this is a round-up of what's happening around the world both in news and also in business. I tune in via iTunes but you can listen directly from the site or via iPlayer. The business pods are really interesting and meaty discussions on business and I haven't found an Australian podcast that can do this HALF as well.

Move Beautiful

An Australian pilates and movement podcast by physiotherapist and pilates pro Lana. She has over 20 years experience in pilates, rehab and movement for ultimate health and wellbeing. She takes a really joyful, curious and considered approach to the body and this podcast is really enlightening for teachers and those with a general interest in alignment, pilates and strength.

Beyond The Movement: The Pilates Podcast

No longer current, BUT these back episodes are a great insight into the purpose, benefits and business of pilates and the body.

Wrist Support For Yoga, Pilates, TRX, Weights

I know many of you get pain through the wrists during yoga, pilates, balance, core and TRX or circuit training. I've done my research and asked those in the know and the resounding recommendation is WAGs. There are several models to choose from depending on the level of support you need and the type of workout. Get yours at WAGS.

Bring Sally Up Challenge

Core Integrity With Cat Bring Sally Up
I discovered this on YouTube, the place of many fitness discoveries!

What is the Bring Sally Up Challenge?

Press play. Get up, get down and keep it going for the Whole. Track.

Some are going to squat, some will do push ups, some will lunge (good lord...) and WE are going to plie in second for...the...
Whole.
Track.

Here is Suzanne Bowen doing it. I recommend practicing because we'll be doing this in Ballet Sculpt for the next week. See you there.

Is there a particular reason I need to post this? No. Just a whole lot of extremely attractive Euro guys doing push ups for the Bring Sally Up Challenge. Consider it motivation!

Can I Workout After A Piercing?

Good question.

Short answer is: yes.

There are mitigating factors though, of course! If you are in pain or your workout of choice is crossfit or some form of boxing or martial arts that is going to make impact a necessity, consider a DIFFERENT workout while you're in the healing stages. Depending on the area you've had pierced, this can be 6 weeks to 6 months.

This week, I had the same piercing done as fashion icon and serious workout warriors, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Janet Jackson and Bella Hadid. 

It is requiring some modification as far as NOT lying on my chest (goodbye to Child's Pose for a few weeks) but I'm still working out daily. I asked the fabulous and entirely professional and experienced Sammah Chehade (Hairhouse Warehouse, Northland) to give me the rundown on piercing after care for those who plan to workout.

1. The usual healing time on nipple piercings range roughly anywhere between 6 weeks-6 months, sometimes a little longer depending on how well they're being taken care of it and how fast your own body likes to heal itself.
2. Touching your fresh piercing, bumping/knocking it, playing with the jewellery and not cleaning it regularly can cause an infection and/or really irritate the pierced area making the piercing uncomfortable and quite sore, it will also extend the healing period. Your aim is to totally leave your piercing alone and make sure you're cleaning it when its needed!

3. It is best to avoid chlorine water and sauna's for at least the first 2-4 weeks whilst your piercing is healing, as these can irritate or cause an infection for most people. If you can not avoid it, it is recommended to have a shower straight after, rinsing the piercing out really well and then giving it a clean with your aftercare solution.

4. In terms of clothing, its best to avoid net/wool tops while healing as these can get caught and pull on your jewellery, also always wear a clean top/bra while it is healing to avoid any cross-contamination. For ladies I would recommend to wear a full cupped padded bra, any low cut bra's can knock your piercing as you move around and the padding will protect your piercing if you accidentally knock/bump it as the impact wont be as hard against the pierced area. If at any time your piercing starts to bleed again, make sure you cover it with a dressing, not leaving it exposed to bacteria to avoid infection. 

5. Working out and sweating is fine! Just be careful not to knock it around as you're working out and avoid any workout that involves pressure/leaning against your chest till it heals. For ladies while working out, wear a firm padded sports bra to avoid as much movement as possible for the piercing so you don't irritate it. After a workout, have a shower and rinse out your piercing from any sweat/dirt and give it a clean with your aftercare solution 😊
6. The only position not recommended for your fresh nipple piercing is laying on your chest, as this can apply pressure and irritate your piercing, leaving it uncomfortable and sore! Everything else is fine although if you feel like you're going to be in a position that's going to be leaning/pressing on your piercing, avoid it!

7. You will only feel pain if you're not taking care of your piercing or touching it in any way till it is healed. You will know your piercing is fully healed when you are able to touch it, lay on it, do weights etc and it doesn't hurt! In terms of sensitivity is varies. In my piercing career, I have noticed with most males it tends to stay sensitive (in a good way!) after it is pierced and healed, With women its different, a small amount of women become more sensitive and others don't feel a difference at all once it's healed!

8. A line to I like to tell my customers or anyone thinking of getting their nipple pierced is: never let the fear of pain stop you from getting what you want! at the end of the day the piercing pain is for a second for something that could last you a lifetime! You will be proud of yourself for putting aside your fear and actually getting something you really want! but hey, what's beauty without pain 😉

June Gym Bag From Skincare To Sweatpants


June is miserably cold here in Melbourne. But even if it isn't shiver-to-your-bones icy where you are, these are excellent items to have in your gym bag, on your home shelf, or even stashed in the car for emergency use. Because if you break down, that's the perfect time to work your biceps as you wait for the repair guy (or girl).

Featured above.

Onzie capri

Made by LA yoga people to move, flex, moisture-wick and maximise your workout whether that's yoga, pilates, barre or weights. This heathered orange shade is the bright antidote to this dreary weather. It's summer in a pant! Get 'em here.

Cotton On handweights

Only 2kg you say? If you do some YouTube and Google time you will discover light handweights can be deadly difficult and totally effective. These are so chic in black and rose gold. Karl definitely would. At Cotton On.

Alpha H Balancing Moisturiser and Gentle Exfoliant

Alpha H does Serious Skincare. This is not your supermarket shelf standard. Anyone I know who has used it RAVES about it, me included. This is not a product I use every day or night as it's quite intense but I always wake up brighter and dewier when I do. At Alpha H.

Mellow Liquid Lip Paint

Sure, you COULD go lip colour free but it's a short life and there's a whole lot of colour in the world. So, with that in mind, don't choose to use lipstick that's going to end up on your chin after you've been sweating it out in BodyPump, barre or Bikram. Liquid lipstick that is super affordable? Yes please. Mellow Liquid Lip Paint right here.

Indermica Eye Treatment Night/Day

This is just so self-explanatory. But the reason I choose this product over the zillion eye products there are out there is because I usually wake up with sore or gluey eyes because even though it promises not to get in my eyes, somehow I react! NOT with this. And the bottle is ingenious. It's an all-in-one with two pumps so you can easily mete out day and night quantity as you need. Get it here.

Last but not least, a moisturiser that doesn't cause a breakout. Hallelujah! BetaMoisturise is a must. I'm not a teenager but get a super rich  moisturiser on my face and bam, spot time. This is tried, tested and terrific. Right here at Medik8 Australia. Oil free and mattifying.

All New Les Mills Classes Launch in Australia

What would it take to drag me back into a cycle room? The promise of a totally new world. 

Literally.

So Les Mills' The Trip has more than delivered. This is the future of cycling - pedalling through planetary landscapes, high over the cities of London and New York where you can peer down and see the laneways, feel the nerves of being on a bridge, veering around a tight corner...

Melbourne is about to experience The Trip 4 at the Melbourne Convention Centre for Filex 2016. This is set in a planetary wonderland. You'll be pedalling hard to Major Lazer, Hudson Mohawke and A Tribe Called Quest to name a few.

As you'll discover in my interview with Matt Spandow from Les Mills Asia Pacific, the technology behind The Trip isn't cheap and it's likely to be offered at premium clubs as a beginning point. BUT. There's another Les Mills offering and it comes at you with a different proposition.

Sprint is a 30-minute (short, sharp!) HIIT workout that is scientifically tested and developed in collaboration with Penn State University to ensure the intervals are timed EXACTLY to maximise EPOC (your post-exercise calorie burn). All this set to bass-heavy beats, choreographed to align perfectly with the intervals. This has already been launched in Australia - if your gym doesn't have it but they do have Les Mills, ask about it. 

See the videos, read more about The Trip.

Meet Matt Spandow, Les Mills Asia Pacific Marketing & Sales Director. Here's what he shared with me about Sprint and The Trip.

Sprint and The Trip are both new products. We know the international trend for HIIT and previously we’ve hit that segment with GRIT. Cycling studios are sitting empty half the time. We worked with Penn State University to create the science behind a HIIT 30 minute class, and the science and the results of the EPOC burn, people get around a 900 calorie burn throughout the rest of the day.
It is recommended you do HIIT workouts twice a week to avoid diminishing results. Ideally, Sprint is designed to be done twice a week. This is the same for any HIIT workout – including GRIT.

The Trip is immersive fitness. There’s never been one showcased in Australia before. Multiple projectors and screens are involved and the instructor takes you through virtual worlds and it’s so realistic, it feels like you’re moving. The instructor faces away from you as if you’re riding in a peloton.
It’s amazing how people become immersed in that world. This is just normal interval training, not HIIT. It’s normally about 45 minutes.

One of the problems we see in these spaces is that there’s only RPM on the timetable. There’s all this space and a lack of great programming so that’s where these two new programs meet the new global trends: HIIT and the interaction with technology. People want to work out short, sharp and get bang for their buck. With The Trip, it’s about really using principles of gaming with fitness science.

The hormonal and EPOC levels have to be timed to the exact intervals. Because we use choreography and music as well as the Penn State science, we’ve brought that into Sprint and GRIT.

The Trip really attracts a lot of people who have never done cycling before. It’s more about people wanting to experience the virtual world. Our company mission is to create a fitter planet. It doesn’t help if we bring out a program for people that are already there.  We want people to say this looks cool, it looks like a lot of fun so they come in to try it.

The Trip is so new it has never been seen in Australia before so we’ll be debuting it at FILEX. Whether clubs decide to charge in clubs or not is up to them. Our recommendation is to use it to attract new members, but we wouldn’t recommend charging extra. With Sprint, you’ll find people [instructors] just need to do the training, but there’s no extra equipment needed.

Not every gym can afford the technology fee for The Trip. For now, I’d imagine you’d see it in more affluent clubs. Your bigger chains, it would make sense for a couple of these to take it on. Premium clubs are more likely to invest in the technology and some chains will decide to put it on in their centrally located clubs where members are willing to travel for the experience.

Training [for instructors] in Australia will be available as soon as clubs decide they want to go with it. It will be different as we’ll actually do site-specific training. Sprint training is available across the country right now.

The instructor creates a whole experience by narrating the training.
A couple of studios in Hong Kong, London, Santa Monica, Stockholm and Newmarket, NZ have The Trip operating right now. All the content and testing has been centrally developed in New Zealand. To create this 3D virtual world, a lot of work has gone in.
The Trip One is the very first one we did recreates TRON – like the digital world of the movie.
I did The Trip Four in Hong Kong and it was virtual cities. The screen wrapped 270 degrees and we could look down through landscapes like New York and Tokyo, London and city to city.

The one we’re showcasing in Melbourne, you go through planets for about five or six planets. I haven’t heard the music, only seen the visuals so far. I imagine a lot of it will be generated by our studio in New Zealand, and they’re driven by heavy beats just like GRIT.  Music is designed to take people on a journey, to bring heart rates up and down. Chris Richardson in New Zealand listens to something like 3000 songs a quarter for one release to select the right music. There’s no rules, so if they want a track, we go out there and we purchase those.

Read more about The Trip and Les Mills Immersive Fitness.

Members of the public can attend Sprint classes at Melbourne Convention Centre during FILEX.


Epic Barre & Ballet Sculpt Moves

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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:
  1. 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.
  2. Tighten and engage your glutes then lift your hips up, feeling your abdominals also bracing gently to stabilise and support your spine.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down, by your side.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat this on the right side.

How Much Cardio Should I Do and What Type?

With any workout, it depends on what your goals are and where you're at now. It also depends on how much time you are willing to commit to it and what resources you have.

I am breaking my own rules about not doing boring workouts by engaging in steady state cardio that is both a mental and physical grind to get through. Habit.

High intensity interval training wins my vote for all-round strength, cardio and efficiency in a workout. It's short, it's intense and it keeps you focused. With a trainer who is dedicated to your safety and fitness, it's also a great way to pick up technique and ideas for your own workouts. This requires no equipment usually - body weight cardio and strength are very effective when done properly. Classes that are based on this method include CrossFit, F45, Tabata and HIIT.
Try CrossFit Collingwood, F45 Training in Victoria, or talk to a personal trainer about designing one particularly to meet your training goals.

Circuit style training is a similar idea to HIIT, only you don't need to do the short bursts of really intense activity to such a strict time limit. That said, using your phone to time yourself in each activity or even designing your workout playlist around your circuit plan is perfect. I used to spend longer making my running playlist than I did actually running! Carl Cox got me through a lot of endurance distances. What might a circuit look like?
Cardio: Treadmill warmup 10 minutes
Strength: Wide stance push ups for chest; deadlifts and rows with a barbell or dumbells; clean and press
Cardio: Running up and down staircase for 2 minutes
Strength: Plie squats, plank hold (try the medicine ball plank pictured if you're up for a challenge!)
Cardio: Rowing machine or bike for 20 minutes
Try BodyPump, Barre Circuit or any type of hybrid class. My latest Fitness Network article is all about interesting and effective hybrid classes!

Whether your goal is weight loss, cardio fitness or building strength and definition, circuit style training and getting your heart rate up while combining cardio and strength work is going to meet your goals. It is the intensity and duration that you will need to tailor to your needs. Speak to a trainer with experience in working with clients that have similar goals to you.

Beware of overdoing it. Been there, done that. If you end up hating and dreading your workouts, and you're punishing and pushing your body, you will not only end up with injuries but even worse, a feeling of misery, exhaustion and failure. Work with a trainer who recognises your goals and provides realistic guidance and motivation. If you need help with diet and wellbeing, see a dietitian and/or a psychologist with experience working with sportspeople or others with your particular goals and health background.
There are free fact sheets and a list of accredited Sports Dietitians at SDA Australia.

Build toned, defined and sculpted arms


I wrote this initially for ninemsn Honey but sadly, it was tacked on to an article about using fake tan and illuminator to fake toned arms. Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 would not buy it.

Nothing fake about strong arms. This is how to get the "Real Deal". You'll need 1 - 1.5kg dumbbells and some determination. I recommend Kanye West, Beyonce or Rihanna for a bit of "determination" via Soundcloud!

Try these simple yet effective arm-toning exercises from personal trainer Cat Woods. She recommends doing them three times a week either at home or the gym:
Tricep push-ups
#1 Assume a plank position on your knees, and imagine drawing the belly drawing back in toward the lower spine.
#2 Position hands slightly wider than shoulders and ensure that the arms stay hugged towards the rib cage as you lower and raise.
#3 When lowering, make sure elbows travel back towards the toes and that the upper arms brush against body.
#4 On the raise, push hard into the palms and try to maintain a long, strong back.
"Lower down as far as you possibly can and push all the way back up until your arms are straight," says Wood. "With practice, you’ll be able to lower deeper and keep your belly braced for longer sets."
Start off by doing a set of six, resting, then repeating two more times.
Tricep kick-back pulse
#1 Hold a 1kg dumbbell in each hand.
#2 Standing with feet hip distance apart, bend the knees and sit the hips back into a squat. Lean forward from the waist at 45 degrees, keeping the spine long and being careful not to round the back. Focus on pushing into the heels to also work the bum and thighs.
#3 Reach the arms back straight, slightly higher than the torso and giving the shoulder blades a little squeeze.
#4 Make tiny pulses upwards with straight arms, counting to 20. Then, with arms still extended, pulse the weights towards each other for another count of 20.
#5 Release arms and come up to standing. Do this another two times.
"The beauty of these is that they require small weights, very little movements and yet the results are stronger arms, great muscle tone and you have also targeted upper back and core," says Woods.

Pointe Studio Grip Socks Giveaway

Barre babes rejoice! Christmas may be over, but the gift giving doesn't end for you.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Pointe Studio - a boutique barre, pilates, yoga and dancewear treasure box that also sells the most comprehensive range of patterned and coloured grip socks you can imagine!

From polka dots to stripes, pink, orange, grey and blue...you name it, it's there.
What's the benefit of grip socks?


  • No slip grip - perfect for pilates, yoga, barre and BodyBalance (also, the loungeroom)
  • Protects your feet in the cold and in airconditioned spaces
  • Hides the pedicure you didn't have
  • Ensures that if you moisturised the night before class, you won't be sliding around

I have 8 pairs to give away.

All you need to do is follow my Facebook and Pointe Studio.

Leave a comment here telling me where you'd wear your grip socks.

Cross your fingers!

Competition ONLY open to Melbourne residents. 


Workout Music - The Guide

Just like I cannot dictate exactly what you should DO for your workout, I cannot dictate what you should listen to.
I can direct you to where to find music though. I'm very eclectic in my tastes and it's important to match your music to your mood, your workout goals and importantly, your music taste.
I can't tell you how many times I've kept running/pushing/holding on because a really killer track comes up in my playlist and I just have to get to the end...of...that...track (phew!)
So.
Here's some picks.
Also, have to give props to the Philips ActionFit Jetkit - earphones that stay in your ears while you're working out. Essential. 

Major Lazer is Diplo's reggae/dubstep/trap project. It's very bleepy, loud, banging and great for:
  • running
  • high intensity intervals
  • rowing
  • kettlebells
Listen to Major Lazer The Workout Mix on Soundcloud. Find Major Lazer on iTunes Podcasts


I love Sascha Fitness on Soundcloud for consistently reliable dance/electro mixes - they're continuous so you can just keep on going without going "Is that another 3 minutes down? I wonder if the next song is 4 minutes and 15 seconds... is this over yet?"
Listen to Sascha Fitness on Soundcloud


The last time I did my own vinyasa yoga practice (eep, over a week ago. Where is my discipline?!) I listened to Outkast. It's not for everyone, of course. I'd opt for something that connects me with the history and spiritual roots of yoga - chants, traditional Indian instruments - but also with a beat that enables me to get lost in the rhythm. Love Durga Dub by Playadusta on Soundcloud.



Got any recommendations? Share them with me in the Comments!

How to Stick To Your Workout


  • Dress For It
  • Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
  • Be Accountable (Make Friends, Go To Classes)
  • Set a Routine
  • Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge

Pictured: Nike sneakers, Onzie tank top (black), Pointe Studio "Sanity Not Vanity" tank, Pointe Studio grip socks, Om Shanti leggings

Dress For It
Just as you have a wardrobe for your work life and your weekend life, you need one for your workouts. This isn’t something to dread! This is the really fun part. Everyone from Dotti and Supre to Chanel has workout options so you are spoilt for choice. Spend on workout gear that will last through lots of washes, plenty of stretching and sweating without losing colour, elasticity and shape. My favourites are perfect for yoga, pilates, barre, BodyPump and then running around town to meetings and chores.
We can’t all live in sneakers (I try, I really do) but since you’ll be wearing them day in, day out – buy ones you love and that suit your activity. I used to think the Nike Free were a great alternative to thongs but in fact, they are great for low-impact workouts like BodyPump, weights, elliptical trainer, Spin and so on. I order from Eastbay because there’s a zillion options to choose from and if you order two pairs at a time (or hook up with a friend who wants to order too) the postage is worth it. For really flattering fit and eye-grabbing prints, my fave brands for yoga and barre workouts are:
Onzie (LA based yoga brand that is spot on for fit, colour and prints)
Om Shanti (always gets me noticed - can't go out in these without someone asking about them! Great prints, great cut, eco friendly)
Pointe Studio (if you love barre, you need this brand. Grippy socks and cute slogan tank tops are a must - equally good for pilates and yoga)
BrasilFit (some say Italians Do It Better, but when it comes to leggings and bikinis, Brazilians Do It Better By Miles)
DharmaBums (Aussie, Chic, yoga gear for surfer girls)
and DivaFit Sportswear (because who doesn't need sparkly mermaid print leggings in their life?)

Keep an eye out for a Pointe Studio barre/yoga/pilates grippy socks giveaway!

Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
I love SoundCloud. As I’m gulping down coffee and responding to emails in the morning, I’m also madly seeking new music to power my own workouts and my classes. I share what I really love on my own SoundCloud profile 
Some mixes you can download, but there’s an endless number of streaming lists and stand alone tracks. You might also subscribe to Spotify or Pandora, Apple Music or Google Music. Whatever your predilection, stock up on tunes that you WANT to listen to. Don’t feel you need to listen to grinding, ear splitting drum n bass just because you think that’s what you’re meant to run to. I have racked up my best times listening to Hole, Faith No More and even ABC Radio National Breakfast.
Attach your music to you. Carrying your phone around is bound to end in either losing it or damaging it. One dropped dumbbell and bam.
While out shopping for a hands-free car kit for my phone (one fine later...), I discovered Belkin ALSO do kickass fitness accessories. I snapped up the new Fitness Belt and Armband for iPhone (what chance did I have of refusal? It comes in pink!). The belt is a good alternative if you don’t like wearing an armband while working out and vice versa. The bonus with the belt is that you can also put your locker key, car keys and ID cards in your belt and feel secure knowing your valuables aren’t vulnerable.
Do you need those fluffy, furry Dolce & Gabbana headphones? Probably not. Find headphones or those behind-the-ear hooks for your earphones to prevent them constantly dropping out (so frustrating mid-run/weights set).
Be Accountable
It took me years of gym time before my curiosity and desire for more diversity drove me into a group fitness class. As someone who prefers to workout alone, it was a revelation to walk into a class (feeling totally intimidated!) and find that about 10 people wanted to help me set up, whispered little tips when I was doing things that were easily fixed, and cheered me on when I got through the tougher tracks. This is what got me addicted to BodyPump and later provided the catalyst for me to train as a BodyPump instructor and become a group fitness devotee.
No matter whether you thrive in communal situations generally or you’re a lone wolf, there’s something really uplifting about being part of a united effort if only for an hour a few times a week. There’s so many options too – from CrossFit to Yin Yoga, Latin Dance to Animal Flow to the classics of Step Aerobics and BodyPump.
Be adventurous – resolve with a friend to try at least 3 new classes in a month. It might be how you discover a class you become hooked on for life.
The other great thing about classes is that if you go regularly for more than 2 weeks, you’re considered a regular and people will wonder where you are if you don’t show.
 Introduce yourself to the teacher. Teachers love knowing your name and your reason for coming.
Feeling really adventurous? What about enrolling in a short course of classes in trapeze, circus skills or martial arts? The beauty of searching on Google!
Set A Routine
There’s no ideal time to go to the gym that applies to every single person everywhere. Just as there is not a single workout style and length that is uniformly effective. That said, establishing a routine is the best way to ensure you maintain your workouts. Especially when you first start out, or you’re returning after a break, having a set time and place helps. How?
You don’t need to wait for that elusive motivation to appear. It doesn’t. You just do it. Sometimes it feels fantastic, sometimes it feels like a grinding horrible never ending lifetime of yuck. But you do it and if nothing else, you’ll feel accomplished afterwards.
You don’t need an expensive Training Diary or 20 Apps to track your workout, calories, mood, sleep, heartbeat, bowel movements and whatever. A simple weekly/monthly calendar where you pencil in the classes you’ll go to is ideal. Put reminders in Google Calendar to pop up an hour or so before your workout or class so you can get your water bottle, your sneakers on and your hair up.
Preparation is key.
Pictured: Goodies from my new obsession, Ricky's NYC - so much makeup. So New York.
Not everyone advocates makeup to the gym. That’s cool. It’s part of my routine for getting ready and having a routine to prepare puts you into the mindset of “this is my routine, whether I feel excited about it or dreading it.”
I get onto Soundcloud, put on whatever I feel like listening to, drink my coffee (make sure you leave half an hour between last coffee and starting your workout – tummy will thank you) and then when I am suitably caffeinated and emails have been responded to, I put on my foundation (very fussy about this – since I’m gonna be sweating, it MUST not make me break out or melt into my clothes!) and lip colour. If I’ve got another 5 minutes to spare, I go all out and brush bronzer and highlighter on too. Life is too short not to make use of all the colours. If you are a makeup junkie too – I recommend mineral makeup and using lip stains or long-lasting rather than goopy gloss. Since it’s likely to blur and go shiny – don’t overdo the bronzer, blusher or highlighter if you’re doing that. Just between you and me, Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse, Dior Star and L’Oreal Lumi Magique are safe bets for no spots and irritation during and post-workout.

Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge
Do I need to explain this? I don’t think so... keep a printed copy on the fridge or pinned up behind your screen at work or at home. Circle the classes you can make. Look up timetables online. Keep links to them on your desktop or phone.
Reward Yourself and Don’t Deprive
Not with food.
I am utterly and entirely against linking workouts to food. It’s just not mentally healthy to “allow” yourself A,B,C foods because you did a certain type or amount of exercise. You will hear people doing this all the time. Don’t buy it.
Working out requires adequate fuel and if you want to feel good generally and look good too, eat a variety of foods in moderation and go for vegetables, fruit and lean meats, seafood or whatever your protein of choice is as your staples. Don’t think you need to give anything up that you really like. Not even the half a bag of jelly snakes at 3.30. Working out and being fit isn’t about depriving yourself and abstaining from anything joyful. Equally, it isn’t license to eat like you’ve been locked up and starved for the past 2 years.
If you’re totally bewildered at how to eat well for your body – see a dietitian. Find an accredited dietitian on the DietitiansAssociation of Australia site. 
Get a manicure – you’ll be seeing those nails a lot while you’re lifting dumbbells.
Get a massage – looking after your body is essential to your wellbeing.
Buy another pair of leggings. Can you ever have enough?
No.



Glad to Be Back From Phuket

I'm back! Or, as the pilot said on landing... "G'day".

I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach barre and flow yoga and also to do some personal training with men and women of all nationalities, ages and abilities.
While I admit, Phuket is not for me as a non-drinker with no interest in seeking massages, beer, manicures and $1 thongs and singlets daily, ever day. If this is your deal on holidays, you will love it. Beer, pedicures, massages until you collapse...perhaps from the heat, perhaps from the drinking.
Anyway, I digress.

Teaching yoga and barre to men who have never done it before and speak only French or Korean is not a piece of cake, but it was a fabulous challenge and one I really rose to. I had my class in perfect wide plies, pilates single leg extensions and Warrior 2 positions daily and it was incredibly satisfying! I was also able to schedule some one-to-one sessions and work on more difficult poses, or even perfecting squat and lunge technique.

I would recommend the opportunity to teach overseas - to challenge your cueing and sequencing, adaptability and demonstration skills - to any and all fitness instructors. It is a deep joy to discover that yoga, dance, barre, pilates and training in general are universal to a degree. Find the right WAY to show and explain - using hands-on and demonstration - and you'll discover new ways to teach and a new appreciation for the body and spirit.

In future, I would do more consideration of WHERE I was teaching and the rules, regulations and approach to classes and teachers. While I appreciated the great respect shown for my style and ability as a teacher, the approach to fitness was "whoever shows up, whatever they're wearing, they're paying guests so they can do the class".
While I was very fortunate to have committed and enthusiastic class members, I also had people wandering in with 4 toddlers "just wanting to watch" or dressed in jean shorts and filling in time before the bar opened.

I would also opt for somewhere I really wanted to explore and feel part of during my stay. I felt in my natural environs when travelling in Ubud and Barcelona recently and I would easily and enthusiastically teach in both cities again. The mix of architecture, artistic and expressive individuals, great food, coffee and vintage clothing and music boutiques, outdoor fresh fruit, veggies and seafood markets and sacred sites all in one big mix was so appealing.

Having said all that, again, the opportunity to teach to international participants and to make use of some very basic French and German (thankyou high school!) skills was fabulous. I also completely ignored my stern note to self: No More Ink. If you're in Phuket, I highly recommend Hanuman Tattoo Studio.