A collection of MBFR featured editorial from some of the most trusted and established publications and print.
A collection of MBFR featured editorial from some of the most trusted and established publications and print.
It’s mental health awareness week and it’s fantastic that the stigma has now been removed from both men and women and people are talking about their struggles. There are a myriad of paralysing conditions that are a normal reaction to this fast paced modern life; from depression, anxiety, stress, panic, insomnia and more. Within any group of friends there will be sufferers.
Feelings influence movement; this is obvious. But what is more amazing is how your movement influences your feelings. This incredibly allows us all to give some self prescribed therapy and simultaneously look after both our mental and physical health.
Exercise simultaneously soothes and improves the functioning of our central nervous system and releases endorphins meaning we feel good. Dr Carolyn Clark ‘movement is one of the simplest ways to reduce anxiety and stress and promote feelings of well being’.
Of course it is not, ‘one size fits all’ but anything that raises your heart rate a little, gets you outside, allows you to find flow or even forces you to not check your phone and be fully engaged is hugely beneficial. Doctors in Devon and Cornwall are prescribing surfing to young children who are suffering from poor mental health. There is also overwhelming evidence from a 2014 study on veterans with PTSD who found nature based physical therapy transformed their lives. This doesn’t have to be structured, formal or huge, just grab some trainers and take the first step.
The mind-body is one and the bi directional effects are so huge. Although our retreats appear predominantly focused on physical activity and health, without a doubt our overall goal is to promote well being; both mental and physical. We are not interested in aesthetics or measuring weight loss; we are passionate about natural movement in the natural world, genuine connection and feeling good. We offer a varied, challenging programme in beautiful settings and aim to offer a fun and supportive environment to maximise enjoyment. A week to focus on your well being, find your flow and give yourself a break from your habits.
I've mainly been skiing! My Autumn's for the last few years have always been focused on race training for my final ski instructor exams, which I've finally completed!! For those who know, I've been working my way up through the levels (annoyingly I'm too competitive with myself to stop till I reach the top) and I'm now done, I'm pleased to say! ;-)
Passionate about skiing, we've grown our Winter Ski Fit Retreats this winter here in Verbier and it's be fantastic to take clients uphill for once! Giving them a chance to experience the mountains in a new way, raising their heart rates, teaching them the specific ski touring techniques to make them more efficient and most importantly giving them a good workout!!
I tried something new just last week by entering a skimo race (ski mountaineering - basically going uphill on skis as fast as you can and then skiing down on these super lightweight skis, over bumpy, icy terrain! Makes for some hilarious ski 'styles' coming down) and I learnt a very good lesson!..
The realisation that completing a race/event without any time or goal pressure can make it much more enjoyable, doesn't set you up for disappointment and makes the duration a lot more fun.. I've finally realised the most important aspect sometimes is taking part & enjoying the sport for what it is, rather than adding pressure & worry.
With a spontaneous decision to take part in this skimo race last Saturday, I was unprepared and hadn't thought of a timed goal for this event. I didn't even have all the race regulated equipment which hadn't even crossed my mind when signing up, so had to beg & borrow from friends! A clear example of all the gear & no idea.. ish! Complete opposite to how I'd usually approach a race or challenge, and it was quite refreshing! Usually one to beat myself up about going my fastest, getting within a certain position of other competitors etc, this had always put way too much pressure on me, leading up to a race and during it. The end result being.. I'm usually left feeling deflated and wishing I had gone even faster.. basically always chasing a higher goal each time. But having no expectations made this race so much more enjoyable.. maybe it was down to doing it with a client, who is always up for a challenge, having some time to do something for myself in a long time (winter season in Verbier is busy busy) Or the fact it was a beautiful sunny day.. who knows but I'm sure most of the enjoyment came from putting no pressure on ourselves to hit a certain time or come within a certain place in the pack.. it left us to enjoy the ride, take in the views and just go with the flow.. something I'm trying to master now!
So it's taken time but finally I've learnt a new approach, that it's not always about a time or position, but more importantly about taking part and enjoying the sport because it makes you feel good, clears the head and it's still getting the fitness done. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to give up all timed goals and targets each time you train or compete, but just try to mix it up.. you may find it leaves you in a far better state mentally than before, which is an important aspect of your health. So if this sounds familiar, then try it out for yourself.. it's liberating!
Now for the next skimo race to book onto ;-) The lycra's coming out!
As early at 3000 BC the Ancient Greeks were promoting physical education with a clear understanding of the link between ‘sound body, sound mind’. The belief was that PHYSICAL EDUCATION WAS A NECESSITY. The goal was to create a ‘man of action’.
In France in 1913 PE the ‘Herbetist’ way was a based on the concept; “BE STRONG TO BE USEFUL”. Pupils were not taught about aesthetics but about acquiring skills and physiological adaptations so they could be CAPABLE.
Natural human movement comprises locomotive skills such as walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, or swimming; manipulative skills such as lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching; and combative skills such as striking and grappling. These are evolutionary ways of movement that we must replicate to keep ourselves physically competent. Living in the mountains it is beyond apparent that you need to BE STRONG TO BE USEFUL. You can get stuck in a tree well in the powder and not have the core or upper body strength to lift yourself. You may need to dig or bootpack and it is fundamental for survival that you have the cardio strength to be capable to do this. As we all age we have to work harder to maintain this. But it’s as we age we need this more and more for survival.
It is clear throughout history that natural human movement was regarded not as an aesthetic option but a necessity. Now it is clear that there are huge cultural discrepancies in what is ‘attractive’. The motivation for movement has become distorted and is about the aesthetics and measurements as opposed to how you feel and function. It is clear now that the modern gym is entirely bizarre and unnatural and perhaps that is the underlying reason for lack of attendance. Running watching a screen on a hard flat surface with lack of visual stimuli or fresh air is a recipe for clock watching. Modern movement is constricting our bodies and our souls. Machines isolating muscle groups is a reductionist and restrictive approach to physical development, and slavishly following a mind-numbing routine for end goals is distracting us from the process and leaving our spirits flat. Using our bodies intuitively - like our monkey ancestors immersed in nature and in line with our evolutionary past is fundamental to efficient movement.
We hand pick our locations on our retreat so that they inspire you. The natural environment is so fundamentally important, from climbing mountains to barefoot sand sprints, par cours vita in the forest to sea swims you will test your body through functional movement. Working out in nature on varying terrain forces you to engage your mind. No physical competency is possible without awareness, alertness and focus. Mindful movement is an opportunity to reconnect the mind and body to the moment and your physical performance will benefit beyond measures. On our retreats we aim to create natural strength, agility, speed, balance and a body that is FIT FOR PURPOSE and injury free.
If exercise was a pill then everyone would be taking it.
Are you sitting comfortably? Well don’t ! Get up, get moving! There has been a lot of press recently about mental health and its prevalence is now understood to be an epidemic in modern life. In the west we have always treated the mind and body as separate entities, but really this perception is short sighted. Whatever is good for your physical body is going to overspill positively onto your mental health.
Our busy modern lives are plagued with sedentary living, overstimulation and lack of daylight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out there is an obvious mismatch between our evolutionary past and the way we live now. It also doesn’t take a scientist to spell out how exercise makes you feel. However we all love some facts and if we know it is scientifically proven to boost our well being and overall health perhaps we are more likely to get up off the couch.
We all know we should move more and sit less for our physical health to benefit but really the evidence for the positive impact on our mental health is even more overwhelming. The fact is regular exercise directly affects the brain. It promotes a better blood supply and improves neuronal health; just think of that as you are doing star jumps! The brain fog dissipates and you get a mood boost too. Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well being; reduce stress and anxiety and increase our self esteem. It is an alternative treatment for depression and anxiety and one that comes without any scary side effects. It’s also free. A brisk 30 minute walk in your lunch break, preferably uphill will get the blood pumping and endorphins flowing.
But if you want a double whammy feel good dose get moving outside. The effects are magnified in nature, its true green exercise makes you happy!
A study by Urban Mind show that there has been an even stronger finding between exercise and well being when it is done outside in nature. This positive effect can last up to 7 hours. So if you head out in the morning for 30 mins you can stay in good spirits all day in the office. Imagine if the whole country took part. Perhaps our NHS bill would come down. Mind.org has introduced eco therapy, an umbrella name to describe activities in nature or ‘green exercise’. There is outstanding ‘evidence that portrays the protective effect of greenness on depression’.
In 1982 the Japanese made forest bathing part of the national health programme. Not as strange as it sounds and not actual bathing! The purpose of this initiative was to get people to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the forest. An 8 year extensive study found just 30 mins of this had a significant effect on the stress hormone cortisol. The forest environment appeared to decrease activity in the sympathetic nervous system which triggers our fight and flight response.
Your green prescription doesn’t have to be over implicated. Outdoor exercise isn’t merely a treatment for the modern health epidemic; most fundamentally it is a huge protective blanket that we can all use freely to keep our mind and body healthy.
Outdoor fitness is the core to all of our retreats. Our locations have been handpicked so we can literally step out to the most incredible training ground. We use the natural environment as a playground and have created a timetable to ensure you move in a varied and functional way that is akin to our hunter gatherer ancestors. If you can feel the benefits after 30 mins just imagine how you would feel after a week on retreat!
Is a fitness retreat what you need right now!?… Incessant emails, an overflowing to do list, relentless rushing, fatigue, a fleeting mind; is the treadmill of modern life taking its toll? If you feel a desire to breathe, restore, move, be inspired, escape or simply press the pause button on this relentless ‘on call’ lifestyle then a fitness retreat based around an uninhabited remote beautiful island might be just what the doctor ordered!
All of our locations have been carefully hand-picked due to their unique natural environment. So what is so special about being on an island? Perhaps it’s the immersion in the expansive sea that puts everything into perspective? Perhaps it’s the unique views in every direction or perhaps it’s the feeling of slowing down and getting away from it all that modern living has prompted us to all crave.
This stunning archipelago is immersed in crystal clear turquoise waters, it has some of the most incredible hidden white sandy beaches, fantastic wild trails and breathtaking views in every direction. Our training takes places on the uninhabited island of Caprera. The rugged and wild landscape allows you to feel completely disconnected from the digital world. We explore this magical place by foot, by boat and by bike. Each mode testing your fitness and offering you a unique perspective.
We have searched for the perfect villa located on the water’s edge allowing a complete sense of calm while looking over the uninhabited islands. We have consciously designed the timetable to to be synchronised with the healing powers of nature; think sunrise yoga on a deserted beach, a plethora of wild trails, sea swims, sunset meditation from the highest lookout point and more.
These islands suspended between north east Sardinia and Corsica have something really special. A raw natural beauty, a unique energy and magical colours that are hard to describe. Here you really do feel like you have been placed in another world, and that in turn allows you to take some time out and view your own world from a new perspective. Our programme has been systematically structured to test your fitness but also give you some ‘me time’ to slow down, restore and reflect. This archipelago arguably has some of the most incredible beaches in the Mediterranean, if not the world. We have designed a retreat that we are so passionate and excited about we cannot wait to share it with you! To find out more click here!
Why wait for January!
So there is a distinct nip in the air, the fire is on and the woolly jumpers out. There is a tendency for us all to want to hibernate, miss your workouts and suspend all good intentions until January. We have 6 weeks until that dreaded hangover kicks in and instead of being faced with fear why don’t you kick start your regime now and defy the trend and head into 2018 already feeling fantastic.
Think like Rocky, toughen up and use this cold weather training to your advantage. Both your body, mind and xmas party dress will thank you for it. There are numerous benefits to working out in the cold. Clinical trials have proven that endurance sessions in cold temperatures burns more fat. Bye bye belly. Not only this you can strengthen your heart. The plunging temperatures forces the heart to work harder to distribute blood; therefore preparing your heart for more strenuous endurance sessions in the future. Not only will you soak up your daily vitamin D you will also benefit hugely from the endorphin effect. The harder you work the more feel good rewards you will reap.
Hippocrates first used the word “thalassotherapy” to describe the healing effects of seawater, the Ancient Greeks appreciated the health benefits of this mineral-rich water and bathed and soaked in seawater-filled pools and hot tubs.
There are a myriad of health benefits, in addition to enhancing your mood, a swim in the sea can help increase your immune system function, improve circulation, hydrate your skin and most importantly promote overall well-being. Some even argue it leads to a longer life.
The brave who can swim in it will also benefit from the endorphin boosting properties. Magnesium-rich seawater purportedly can also reduce stress and help induce sleep as well as leading to an increased sense of calm. Perfect for those on the retreat looking to escape daily stress. Seawater used to be used as therapy, rivalled to Prozac in its ability to improve well being. Swimming in warm seawater not only decreases aches and pains but in addition it activates the body’s healing mechanisms to fight conditions such as asthma, arthritis, bronchitis and asthma.
Sea water contains vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms that can produce anti biotic and anti bacterial effects to help promote a healthy immune system. Even inhaling a sea mist filled with negatively charged ions or molecules that attach to the lungs also boosts your immune system (which is good news for those who feel the cold). Swimming in seawater promotes the opening of pores allowing the absorption of minerals and the expulsion of toxins from the body.
Your skin’s appearance can also benefit from the magnesium in seawater leading to increased hydration. Perfect for those urbanites who have been exposed to air conditioning and environmental pollution.
So not only a dunk in the sea is perfect post exercise. You have heard of athletes having ice baths, well this reduction in inflammation allows them to recover faster and therefore train harder the next day. The salt water combats inflammation because the magnesium in the salts reduces swelling. On our Cornwall retreats we encourage a daily dunk (even if only waist deep) to allow your largest muscle groups to recover and therefore perform better the following day! Most diseases are correlated with inflammation, so this has a double whammy effect on being good for you!
Seawater enhances the circulation in the body. Bathing in seawater also restores all the essential minerals that are depleted by stress, pollution and modern living.
Sometimes it can be hard to train smartly and when motivation and adrenaline kick in there can be a tendency to go for it and push oneself to the max in every workout. Steady and progressive training plans are so important, not only to prevent injury but also to build good fitness foundations and to stay motivated.
There are times when it is opportune to push and times when you need to back off to allow for adequate recovery. It is therefore important to know your body’s limits and respect these.
Is an important part of any fitness program as it allows for muscle growth and repair. When training, especially if you are toning or building muscle, the muscle fibers (myofibrils) tear and break. It is in the rest phase when these tears are repaired and the muscles increase in size. If you don’t have adequate rest days then the muscle fibers never get a chance to repair and your limbs can feel constantly tired and sore, therefore not allowing for productive training sessions. This can also lead to injury as tired limbs mean that exercises aren’t executed in a correct form.
A common fault also resulting in injury is trying to get quick results. It is very important to build a base, get good at the technique required and then add distance, time, weight or reps to your program. No good things comes fast, be prepared to invest time into your training and build up gradually. If training for strength then start with low weight and high reps then progress to higher weight with lower reps. Injuries can also be prevented by increasing flexibility, so stretching after a workout is very important.
Is imperative at the start of any program. Athletes who go straight into speed training HIIT for example won't have aerobic endurance, meaning their fitness will last a few weeks before deteriorating.
Incorporating rest days and low-intensity steady state (LISS) workouts will help keep the motivation and interest in training. Those who push themselves tend to burn out which can result in resentment towards training and then backing off substantially.
Come and join us on a fitness retreat this summer, kicking you back into shape with a systematic and natural approach to training, focusing on your individual goals!
An easy recipe to make your very own natural seeded oat bars… no preservatives or nasty sugars like in most shop bought bars! 100% natural ingredients. You can substitute different seeds in or dried fruit to put your own tasty stamp on the recipe… enjoy!
Makes 8-10 bars | prep time 10 mins | cook time: 25 mins
2 tbsp sunflowers seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp dried cranberries
100g stoned dates chopped up
1 tbsp wholemeal flour
Preheat oven to 180C
Blend all seeds until roughly broken down (I use a Nutri Bullet)
Mash bananas in a bowl
Add seed mixture and remaining ingredients to bananas
Line a loaf tin with grease proof paper and pour in mixture
Spread evenly and bake for 25 min or until golden brown, et voila!
During our Mountain Beach retreats we always spend part of the sessions focusing on strength and using weights to facilitate this as well as body weight. We work with clients who have varying goals from muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle volume) right through to toning muscles and not wanting to bulk up. Weights can be used for both these goals and it is all about training in the correct manner to ensure the correct goal is reached for each person. The usual worry which arises especially for women is the fear of gaining big muscles, and below we explain the benefits of strength training and techniques to avoid this.
Strength training is anything that places a demand on muscles and central nervous system and exerts a force against some form of resistance, such as free weights. Body weight training lies at the core of this and is the stepping stone to improving circulation, coordination, balance, bone and ligament strength.
BUT I’M A WOMAN - I DON’T WANT BIG MUSCLES!
Old fashioned misconceptions associated with weight training are that women would produce bulging muscles and/or they would risk seriously injuring themselves lifting weights. However this idea is completely flawed as it is very difficult for a woman to produce large muscles due to the fact that women generally have high levels of the hormone oestrogen.
Strength training is an important part of overall fitness and the fastest way to improve muscle strength and endurance. Allowing you to carry out daily tasks and cope with stress placed on the body. Key benefits are reduced body fat, increased lean muscle mass and the ability to burn calories more efficiently. We recommend stretching before exercise to prepare the joints for motion, help avoid injury and increases the range of motion of the area being stretched.
TECHNIQUES FOR STRENGTH TRAINING
Doing Too Much Too Soon. It’s tempting to think more reps, more sets, more weight. Gradual conditioning prevents injuries such as torn ligaments and tendonitis, because your muscles and connective tissues have time to adapt. Try a three-step progression. Initially use body weight. Do 15 reps with proper form, then add weight, stick to one set with light weights for two weeks or until you feel comfortable. When you can complete nearly all of your reps with proper form, add more weight or another set (increase weight by roughly 10 percent each time).
Correct body alignment is an important component of strength training. Focus on having equal weight in each foot and executing each rep with good technique. If you’re breaking form for those last few reps they are worthless and will cause you negative effects with increased risk of injury instead!
Proper breathing techniques are essential when training. Never hold your breath. Inhale at the beginning of the lift and exhale during the release of each weight.
Balance Opposing Muscle Groups - Strength imbalances can make you prone to injury. This can be a result of your lifestyle, hovering over a desk all day tightens and weakens your hip flexors while your glutes become overstretched and inactive. Or by not equally working the body, i.e. focusing on moves that rely on your quads but not your hamstrings. Ensure for every exercise that works the front of the body (chest, biceps, quads), you do an exercise that targets the rear (back, triceps, hamstrings). For example, pair stability-ball chest presses with dumbbell rows, or step-ups with deadlifts.