Bathonian Bounce: Or where to get fit in Bath

Darling you are looking marvellous, and, so slim!

Hang on! Didn’t I look marvellous and slim the last time you saw me? Is it just me not being able to take a compliment, or are we all the same, aspiring to look fabulous, but only, actually, being able to achieve it 36% of the time, and that is assuming the lighting is dim.

So how do you stay fit and keep slim(ish)? Or don’t you worry about it? Are you waiting until you you hit that middle-aged spread before you join a gym, or take up pot-holing? 

But do you plan on enjoying active holidays (by active – I mean walking) in your 60’s or 70’s? If you are – you better start to exercise and regularly. According to expert Dr Neils Vollaard, Lecturer in Human and Applied Physiology at Bath University, if you don’t, you won’t be able to enjoy these types of holiday in your later years…

Dr Neils: “People tend to get less active either as a result of the inevitable aging process or because of other reasons (busy job, stress, kids etc). Less physical activity will reduce fitness and health.”

However, he goes on; “There is substantial evidence to suggest that any regular physical activity, will, in the longer term improve quality of life and may help reduce risk of developing chronic disease and therefore prolong your life.”

The importance of keeping your body fit and strong today, tomorrow and next year will dramatically reduce physical problems at a later age and ultimately improve the quality of your life right now and in the future.

But there are no short term fix-it solutions to getting fit and keeping healthy, the bottom line is regular exercise, no matter what type of activity you embark on.

Whatever you do, it needs to be a life-long commitment, not just a few months. If you think joining a gym in January and giving up by February will keep you fit – think again, this attitude simply will not cut the mustard.

The key, according to Dr Niels, is to do an activity that is manageable, one that can seamlessly slot into your life and become so regular that you begin to take it for granted and make it part of your day-to-day life: “The less you think about it, the better – make it part of your routine, get used to walking or cycling to work, make it your normal life”.

Fortunately for Bathonian’s there is a plethora of engaging and unusual ways to get, and keep, fit. The city is swamped with personal trainers (PT), exercise studios, gyms, a hot yoga studio, bootcamps and more.

So we’ve taken the opportunity to talk to a few of the local experts to find out what they can, if anything, do for you and share their vitality secrets with us…

Claire Watson, founder and PT at Bath Yummy Mummies, thinks that people tend to spend more time looking after their car than themselves and that having a PT is not just for the famous, the rich or celebrities, but for everyone, because: “they will push the boundaries that your motivation may prevent. People need to place a higher priority on looking after their physical and mental well-being”.

Bath Yummy Mummies, is, according to Claire, the only ladies personal training studio in Bath and offers its clients an entire lifestyle overhaul, specialising at focusing on the ‘whole’ person and not just the physical aspect. Claire says that her clients leave their sessions mentally and physically lifted.

But surely, rather than forking out for a PT or a gym membership, we should just get out there and go for a run? These days with the internet at our fingertips we can enjoy free exercise classes online, we can sweat it out secretly in the comfort of our own home, rather than embarrassing ourselves in front of the uber fit– isn’t this just as good as going to the gym or a Pilates class?

“I understand that some people simple cannot afford a PT so we offer sessions, where a client can share an hourly rate with friends,” says Claire, and she’s not the only PT or studio who will do a deal. Diane Lee at the Bath Yoga Studio is currently offering 10% off and 40% for students. Meanwhile, Zita at Zest Bootcamps offers a trial week for just £10 and a reduction following that.

All of the health professionals maintain that exercising, either one-to-one or in a class is not only the best way to support and encourage yourself and others but also ensures you are working out safely and under the eagle eye of a professional.

Claire’s top tip: “I go with the 80-20 rule, I stear clear of any nasty processed foods, limit sugar, alcohol, drink two litres of water daily and place a high priority on sleep. Have a goal in January to work towards, i.e. an evening out, a new dress, write your own food diary so you really know what your eating!”

Bath Yummy Mummies is just one PT studio in Bath, Alex Silvester offers PT packages which she will do at your home, in a studio or outside, as does Simon Watson at Bath’s YMCA and Helen Pettemerides, who has a PT studio in Batheaston, to name just a handful that have been recommended to us.

Meanwhile, Zita Alves at Zest Bootcamp, offers her clients a structured 4-week programme using a variety of training methods and all based outside, she calls it: fresh-air fitness.

Zita, who keeps her classes small so that the level of coaching is high, readily admits that a simple word like bootcamp is enough to send most people running: “Yes, bootcamp conjures up images of shouting army style drill instructions, whilst making you do 100 press ups in the mud! However, we are far removed from that.”

She adds: “I have been that stressed out, overweight, ill, lethargic, unhappy person so I want to help people feel the best they can. I speak from the heart, I have done it.”

Zita’s secret: “The F.I.T principle: Frequency, intensity, time – makes the difference, doing something really tough once a week won’t get as good results as doing something 3-5 times a week. Also, a good body starts in the kitchen, you cannot train with a bad diet – nutrition is key.”

Meanwhile, Susie Lecomber, of The Osteopathy & Pilates Studio, says that many of her clients wish they had discovered the benefits of Pilates years ago. The practice teaches better posture, strength, flexibility – it helps to reduce back pain and will reduce degenerative changes to joints leading to arthritis. Susie’s oldest client is a 93year-old man who has been practicing Pilates for ten years.

Teachers at the Osteopathy & Pilates Studio also provide sports massage and dietary advice, many of them have worked with the Bath Rugby Team who also use Pilates to help them stretch and ease tightness, they even have their own Pilates equipment at the training ground.

Susie’s top tip? “Try not to binge! Drink plenty of water. Enjoy fresh unprocessed food, the occasional glass of wine, friends to laugh and cry with, fresh air and of course Pilates!

“Your health should not be compromised”, confirms Diane Lee, Yoga Sports Coach and Yoga Teacher at the Bath Yoga Studio, which specialsies in Hot Yoga.

Diane sees a huge range of people from teens to those in their 70’s at her studio, which has various teachers specialising in different styles of teaching and says they have helped five clients to avoid surgery due to praticising yoga regularly. At its core Yoga claims to be a unique form of exercise, which can make you feel better both physically and emotionally.

Krissy at Priya Works in North East Bath, agrees:  “Yoga will lengthen, strengthen, create body and mind awareness, self-confidence, improve your core, boost your emotional network through your breath, posture and strength of mind, release endorphins and ultimately make you feel stronger, well balanced and fitter”.

It is never too late to start becoming physically active, Dr Neil’s says, you can easily start in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or later. So go! Get involved, join a class, run along the canal, discover yoga, pilates, a bootcamp – no excuses in 2015!


Bath Yummy Mummies:

Zest Bootcamp –

The Pilates Studio Bath –

The Bath Yoga Studio –

PriyaWorks –

The DoJo Bath –

SunshineYoga –

Published in Bath magazine January 2014 – by Hannah Sturgeon


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