Blog from our Creative Director

“Write a blog he said”, “what about?” I said, “I don’t even know what one of those is!!”

“Just write about the studio, you, fitness, your journey” (I hate that word but it’s a good one)….

Well here goes

They (whoever they are) say to engage your audience you should start by grabbing their attention within the first few sentences, I hope as you have read this far I have achieved that.

Before we start, I must inform you that I’m not an expert in anything but me.  So here goes……

As far back as I can remember in my adult life, every morning, I wake up and I don’t feel like IT……..

By IT, I mean exercise!, ‘but that’s crazy’ I hear those of you that know me say, it’s what you do, its your job and has been for over 20 years, you are a PT and a fitness instructor, you have your own business, you have taught thousands of people, some high profile, you have run marathons, ridden tens of thousands of miles etc etc.

Yeah, all true

But still don’t want to do it when I wake up. You know, those few minutes, the alarm goes off, or the sunlight wakes you or maybe you woke early and lay thinking, “nope don’t want do it today”. But then I drag my body out of bed, put on my kit and shoes and head out to the studio.

I’m on auto pilot at this point. Now what I haven’t told you, but, you may have guessed is that I suffer with my mental health; confidence, self-worth and so on. So routine and being on auto pilot actually works well for me here, it feels comfortable, I am SAFE.

But then you have to speak to people, be the life and soul, strong, focused and happy and this is all quite tiring! However, something good is happening, something quite magical, you start to feel good, people are happy to see me and smile and ask if I’m okay and they are excited for the class I am going to deliver and then….

OMG…… what? ……have I practiced? do I know my music? I can’t remember the routine! It’s not going to be a great class, I’m not going to be good enough, you are all going to hate it, you won’t come back and you may say something that will be negative!

No choice though as my audience is waiting, and I have to go on stage, plug in my music, and it’s time for the class but wait I need a panic pee!

50 mins later I’m on a high, I can’t tell you if it was good or not but the audience say they loved it, high fives all round and “thanks” and “same time next week” and “can you tell me the name of that track” and “that was the best class ever”. I’m smiling and I feel amazing.

What just happened?

This is the magic of exercise. We have heard it enough times that exercise lifts the mood and it really truly does. The hardest part of any class is the decision and effort to turn up. Our amazing bodies and minds do the rest.

I am passionate about exercise and the benefits I get from it mentally and physically. For years I never really understood my connection with it other than I felt better for it, it was part of me, my day and the way I coped with life.

Exercise and mental health

I have read my fair share of an ever-growing body of literature that recognises the positive effects exercise has on anxiety, stress and depression through biochemical and physiological mechanisms including mitochondria, endorphins and the target of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis which has a positive effect on mood improvement.

I have spent time in counselling, CBT and on what I nickname my ‘happy pills’ however, nothing has helped as much as my ongoing and consistent relationship with exercise.

In a study on exercise and mental health by Kathleen Mikkelsen et al (2017), which supports the latter, it was found that  psychological mechanisms influence the effects of exercise on mood states, as suggested by both the distraction hypothesis and the self-efficacy hypothesis.

Exercise has also been shown to reduce inflammation via several different processes (inflammation, cytokines, toll-like receptors, adipose tissue and via the vagal tone), which can all contribute to better health outcomes in people suffering from mood disorders.

Why does this matter?

So how does this link back to the classes I teach? Well I now focus my experience as a fitness instructor on teaching indoor cycling. I like to design and structure my classes, so we ride to the beat of the music. Resistance is encouraged but it’s for the riders to add what they feel is right for their personal challenge. During class I actively encourage my riders to connect with their bike, become one, know that it is because of their effort that the bike is performing.

I ask them to focus on themselves and be in the now, to forget about everything else in their life and give time for themselves during the class. For me, the most important part of my class is the 3-4-minute section where I give my riders the opportunity to think about their achievement and lose themselves in the moment. Encouraging a state of mindfulness before we finish the class with a celebratory high energy climax track.

My studio? Well you just have to visit us to experience what goes on in there that adds to the whole show. Until next time …. DO IT x

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