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Wake up your bum!
(or you could do squats all day and end up with nothing but sore thighs!)
Bottom, buns, peach, boootaaaay!! Whatever you want to call it, we all have one and most of us consider how it looks to be of huge importance nowadays. But have you ever thought about your glutes properly? How they work? What they are for? They’re not just for looking good in jeans and sitting on! The glutes are a huge muscle group made up of three muscles; gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus. The glute max is the biggest muscle in your body and amongst many other roles and responsibilities one of its jobs is to keep you upright and with a good posture. All 3 glute muscles are located at the back of each hip and stabilise the pelvis and lower back. Many back, hip and even shoulder problems can be caused by a sequence of stress travelling up to surrounding muscles because your glutes aren’t working as they should be. Desk and driving jobs are big culprits in allowing your bottom to become lazy and sure enough these are the types of jobs that often see back problems occurring too.
When the body wants to move, be it either a simple movement like getting up out of your chair or something that requires a little more effort like a squat or a lunge, there is a specific ‘firing up’ sequence that should be happening. Even if it’s a movement which the glutes should perform, inactive or ‘asleep’ glutes will happily allow the quads (the big group of muscles at the front of your thigh) to do the job for them. The quads won’t wait around and say, ‘hey man, do it yourself!’ they will be happy to oblige and eventually think that what is actually the responsibility of the glutes is their responsibility and so the correct ‘firing up’ sequence is disturbed. This is how glutes become inactive and Quads become dominant.
So say you’re trying to achieve a nice rounded bottom shape and so you head straight for ye old faithful squats for example (there are many other, better exercises for building a shapely bottom but that’s a story for another day)… you can do them all day long and the only thing you will achieve doing these with lazy glutes is sore thighs – because your thighs (or quads to be specific) are the ones doing all the work! Who wants a flat bum and massive thighs? Nope.
So how can I wake up my glutes?
Mind to muscle connection is the first thing you need to establish when trying to wake up your glutes. As silly as it sounds you have to really listen to your body and think about the muscle you are trying to engage – not the one that seems the most capable. There are many ‘glute activation’ exercises that you can do, initially, every day but importantly just before heading out to bootcamp. (link to book here?)
Here are some examples;
Punch, prod and squeeze the muscle in your bottom, find the muscles with your fingers and build up that mind to muscle connection.
Sitting on your bottom with feet on the floor, engaging your core and sitting upright squeeze your bottom and feel your self lift slightly. Do this for a minute or so and use a mixture of pulse type contractions and also holding the squeeze for a few seconds at a time.
On hands and knees on the floor, again with an engaged core so not to have arched or rounded your spine. Ensuring there are 90degree angles at your hip and arm pit. Lift your heel upwards towards the ceiling, this is known as a donkey kick. The higher the lift of your heel the more you will feel the glute on that side engage. Remember to keep your spine neutral, don’t bend to try and lift your heel higher.
Lying on your side with legs bent and knees and feet together, slowly lift one knee whilst keeping your toes together, this is known as a ‘clam shell’. Open your hips as wide as possible without tilting your pelvis backwards. This movement will be felt more at the side of your hip – gluteus medius
I would recommend doing each of these (on both sides obviously) until you can feel them starting to work. Bear in mind one side is often weaker than the other so may not take as long as the other.
Why should I work my bum?
As I said, the glutes are responsible for a lot more than people realise. Keeping a strong healthy posture can avoid painful back problems throughout life and it also looks after us when we reach a ripe old age and the risk of serious injury from falling is increased. Once our glutes stop working properly our hip flexors tighten at the top of the front of our legs which can also lead to an array of annoying injuries.
Of course not forgetting that working such a big muscle group like your glutes burns serious calories in itself and as a result you are increasing the mass. The more muscle mass we have the more calories we burn whilst at rest. Yes, you heard me, burn calories using your butts so you can burn calories while you’re sat on your butt! You’re welcome!
Want a good butt workout? Head to one of our bootcamps – yes you’ll work your butt off but you’ll also have fun and make friends too. Take a look here and find one near you.
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We want to share with you the greatest exercise secret EVER and it’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to exercising.
Before we let you in on it, let’s just look at what exercise means.
When heard, the word exercise can create different feelings to different people. Some love it and they do it because they enjoy it, some hate it and feel like it’s a burden. Some people ‘can’ do it but would rather not and some people immediately recoil when they hear the word – they don’t exercise because they feel like they ‘can’t’ do it.
The word should mean different things to different people, BUT it should create the same feeling in everyone. Let’s refer to exercise for the time being as ‘moving your body’. Moving your body is life and we should be moving our bodies to feel alive!
If you walk into the gym with your head hanging low with a feeling of impending doom, or if when you’re dragging your heels out running wanting to stop or turn back every second, whatever you may be doing, if you’re forcing your body to move in ways that you hate, you’re triggering a physiological stress response. This stress response increases the output of cortisol and insulin within your body. These two hormones when secreted in excess force your body to store fat and not build muscle – the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve!
So, what’s the secret?
It’s as simple as this; If you don’t enjoy it, then DON’T do it.
Obviously, there are so many ways you can chose to move your body which can be intense and challenging and often associated with a heap of pain and we’re not at all saying to not do that, if, when you sum up the entire experience, you love it.
We are simply saying that if what you are doing is coming from a place of push, force and self-rejection, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
Move your body in ways that make you smile. Move your body in ways which make you feel happy. Move in ways which make you feel good in your own body.
By participating in activities that cause you happiness you are truly able to ‘exercise’ and create a sustainable fitness routine, thus achieving your weight and fitness goals more easily. Having a positive outlook towards your exercise makes you more likely to do it and to stick to it.
At Trailblazer bootcamps we pride ourselves in creating such an opportunity. We have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for people of all ages, sizes and fitness abilities. These people come together and ENJOY a fitness environment like no other and everyone loves our bespoke session formats.
Exercising increases serotonin (natural feel good hormone) production and secretion in the brain leaves you feeling awesome after your workout. So give yourself a head start by knowing you’re coming to a Trailblazer workout and feel awesome before you begin!
We run 14 different bootcamps and classes at different locations around Leeds, check out our full timetable and come and join us, you can book your space now but you don’t need to pay until you arrive.
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A new report recently featured in the Telegraph shows how physical education boosts the brain.
Researchers from the University of Granada, looked at the effects of physical education on children and found that youngsters who exercised for at least three nights a week had more grey matter in areas of the brain linked to reading and verbal communication (aka talking!)
In every case they found that as fitness levels increased, so did grey matter in several parts of the kids’ brains. And the fitter a youngster got, the greater the change. In another group of children who did no extra exercise, there was no change in the brain.
The authors behind the study called for PE to be taught every day in school, because today’s youngsters have plenty of opportunity to sit around and not many to get moving.
At Trailblazer we know all about the benefits of exercise on the brain because we have seen it and felt it first hand, and we’re doing our bit to get kids involved too. We work with a few local schools including Pudsey Bolton Royd primary school, and the Ruth Gorse Academy, and even welcome kids for free at all of our Bootcamps. There are 14 to choose from, and something every single day of the week. So why not come along, bring your kids along and boost your brains?
Fitness is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. And there’s plenty of evidence linking mental health and exercise. People who exercise regularly have added protection against depression, tend to deal with anxiety better and also get better sleep. Studies show exercise even works similarly to meditation to increase wellbeing.
Here’s what a couple of our tribe have to say: (then have a read below to see the science behind it all)
“After going through a very difficult time in my life I decided I needed to do something to help me feel better not just for me but for my amazing daughter. I plucked up the courage to join the 161 killer stairs on a Sunday feeling very unfit and self conscious and with low self esteem I was more than nervous. I’ve no idea why as I was welcomed with open arms. I started to go to the bootcamp on a Friday with my daughter in tow she loved it as much as I did before I knew it we were doing 3 classes a week and I was feeling so much better about myself. I can not thank Antony and Danielle enough they fixed me and gave Grace her mummy back we can not recommend Trailblazer bootcamps enough i just wish they would move to Huddersfield so i can join in again”
“After giving birth to my little girl 16 months ago and suffering with post natal depression, I never thought I would have time to go to the gym or exercise classes. But my friend Kirsty told me about the Trailblazer bootcamps and I was intrigued to see what it was about. At first I was apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to keep up as I was no way near fit enough but Antony was so supportive and only asked that I pushed myself to my own ability, regardless of what others were doing. I immediately loved going to these classes and I had found a way of channelling my post natal depression. I will admit I was unsure at first but now I can definitely say now I am addicted and I love each and every class in it’s on special way. After a few months of feeling so low I had a new found path for personal time. After only a few months of joining Trailblazer my post natal depression soon reduced and I felt so much relief in my home life, as a new mom and my new found love for exercise. I will admit I am a pansy, southerner and hate but cold but I even found myself still going over winter (maybe only once a week) but that was good for me, as I hate the cold! I feel Trailblazer has helped me personally with my post natal depression, get fitter and gain a new confidence, with the addition of course of many new friends for life.”
LYNDSAY (AKA Ninja Warrior):
“4 years ago when I met Antony I was lost and my mental health was at an all time low. 4 years later after attending his personal training sessions, one of the “originals” to join him at the killer stairs and now taking part in Trailblazer bootcamps it has undoubtedly helped me to find me again. It’s not just any bootcamp it’s a Trailblazer bootcamp which is lead by someone who believes you can change through exercise, you meet similar minded people who become your friends and inspire you along the way. Love Ninja Warrior (you also get your own nickname too ?)”
“I started Trailblazer bootcamp nearly a year ago, at that time I had very low self esteem, Trailblazer bootcamps have made me feel stronger physically and mentally.”
“I have a son with special needs and as a lot of special needs parents know this can become a very lonely time and you can become stuck in a rut. I can honestly say that exercising with these lovely people not only increased my fitness but made me walk taller and I became more confident in myself. My son could join me, which was fantastic as I find it hard to find a sitter in my area. We were both welcomed with open arms and it helped us both grow socially, being able to talk to others!! I cannot that Antony and Danielle enough for their understanding and the odd kick up my backside, it changed our lives for the better”
“I’ve been training with Trailblazer classes on and off for over two years now. I originally started after a break up from a long term relationship to help me feel better about myself and to get fit again. I quickly became addicted and was training 3 or 4 times awake. I loved the encouragement from everyone. I felt like part of something, like we were a family and this helped me a lot to feel better about myself. After training for about a year I had to stop training because of health issues, I also split from my new partner and lost a close family member. I ended up in a really dark place. I wasn’t eating, training, missing work. I had a breakdown and ended up suffering with depression and anxiety. Everything seemed hopeless. During this time Antony kept in touch encouraging me to get back training. Eventually after nearly a year I started to come back to classes and everyone welcomed me back. It was hard as I felt like I was unfit again but everyone was so supportive especially Antony, Danielle and my training partner. I train twice a week at the minute and this is helping me to manage the anxiety and depression without having to resort to medication. It gives me a focus for the week knowing i can let all out when I’m training. I have put back on the weight that I lost in such an unhealthy way in just a week. My appetite is normal again and I’m sleeping better on a night now too. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without the Trailblazer family and all there support. Training really does make a difference to mental health, it’s a natural way to manage it and everyone of any age and ability can take part in all of the classes and bootcamps. I would definitely recommend to anyone”
“I heard about Sunday steps almost a year ago when my daughter asked me to take her, we went together and we loved it but that’s when I found out about Trailblazer bootcamps. With severe depression and anxiety I found it difficult to make that step, I felt overweight and had never done exercise before. I thought I would show myself up, I felt self-conscious and embarrassed… Taking that step was the best thing I’ve ever done! I met so many wonderful people that support and encourage you. The workouts are hard but I left feeling amazing and wanting to do more as every Bootcamp has different formats it’s not the same thing each week and every time I felt fitter and happier by the day! Almost a year later I’m 3 stone lighter 4 dress sizes down but most important… I am no longer on tablets for depression or anxiety… I can honestly say it changed my life!”
“I suffered with depression, and also with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the past. SAD is a depression-like state when your body doesn’t get enough natural light or vitamin D. Since starting Trailblazer I’ve not had any of the symptoms. I don’t get SAD anymore – I am constantly outside exercising and my body gets what it needs. I feel great in body and mind.”
“After a long hard days at work, the summer is over, the cold weather sets in wind, rain, snow. The body automatically goes into hibernation mode you become tired and make up excuses. I started going to Trailblazer bootcamps a year ago, the adrenaline and the rush what comes to you gives you a new lease of life, the atmosphere of everyone around you pushing you to reach your goals is amazing making new friends and becoming a family is the best experience for me. Well done Antony, you do an amazing job.”
So how does it work?
Well, we’re no doctors here at Trailblazer, but we do have personal experience. Here’s what we know:
When you exercise you release the feel good chemicals called ‘endorphins’. These natural chemicals produced in your body interact with receptors in your brain to help you feel focused, less impacted by pain and put you in a better mood.
In fact, endorphins have a lot in common with prescription anti-anxiety drugs and opiate painkillers. While it might seem scary to know that endorphins work in a similar way to mood-controlling drugs like morphine, rest assured they provide the benefits without any of the risks.
Exercise is one of the most endorphin-boosting things we can do. Some of the ways that exercise releases endorphins and therefore improves your mood include:
• Increasing self-esteem; we feel good about taking care of our own health
• Giving you a sense of accomplishment as you progress
• Increasing energy levels and helping you sleep more soundly
• Keeping you motivated to keep trying and improving in the future
• Leaving you with a more optimistic, positive and energised outlook on life.
According to a study (link) that looked at research from over one million adults, people who were the least fit were 75% more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.
Another study snappily titled ‘Neurobiological effects of exercise on major depressive disorder: A systematic review’ found out something we’ve always known at Trailblazer – that exercise can also be used to treat depression.
And as if you needed more reasons to get down for those burpees, this study from the University of Sydney found that the brain function improves when muscle tone does. The study looked at older adults with dementia, but the results are clear for everyone. People who exercise have more brain power and a lower risk of depression.
Ant’s top 5 tips
Combat SAD – try a lunchtime walk or jog outside or come to one of our classes or bootcamps
Strong social support is important for those with depression, so try joining a group exercise class. You can’t get much more supportive than our Trailblazers (Just see what Kirsty has to say above), so come along to a class, see how you feel and take it from there.
Find an exercise or class you enjoy – you are much more likely to stick to it.
Make sure you get enough variety – being bored is just an excuse to stop and your brain won’t thank you. Our classes are different every week to help keep things interesting.
Put it in your diary (or phone). Set a time and stick to it. We have classes every day of the week. Choose one that suits you.
Take a look at our classes now and find the one(s) to suit you.
We are really passionate about fitness within the family, particularly children’s fitness and it is our aim to be involved with as many schools as possible, spreading the Trailblazer message that fitness is important, fitness is for life and fitness is FUN!
We work with schools around Leeds, from primary to secondary as part of both curricular and extra curricular activities. We make fitness fun with our bespoke workouts, from full sports days to termly fixtures of weekly hourly sessions. And if they’re brave enough, sometimes we train the teachers too.
What we do:
For the younger ones:
• Get children moving with a mix of our bespoke and traditional team games.
• Focusing on the ABCs – Agility, Balance, Co-ordination and Speed.
• We support children’s in school learning on the importance of keeping active.
• Fully engage children with lots of questions and answers
• Show children just how much fun keeping fit can really be.
For the older ones:
• Boxing sessions
• Bespoke Trailblazer workouts
• Fun competitive team games
Some of the schools we work with:
The latest figures, for 2015/16, show that 19.8% of children in Year 6 were obese and a further 14.3% were overweight. Of children in Reception, 9.3% were obese and another 12.8% were overweight. This means a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese. One of the main reasons for these figures is that children just are not moving enough! They are spending too much time sat in front of the TV, X boxes or tablets. We show children that fitness can be fun and encourage them to get moving, get out side and have fun.
Since Trailblazer Fitness began we have always encouraged parents to bring their children along to our bootcamps. We have lots of parents that choose to bring their children along and it’s really heartwarming to see them working out together, for us this was a natural progression to be involved with schools and getting as many children as possible running around, having fun and loving fitness.
Want to get your school blazing a trail? Please get in touch.