Category Archives for "Fitness"

Member Testimonial – Claire Palmer

I need to make a confession………………………………………………………………………………..

I joined Inspire Fitness earlier this year.

It sounds so easy doesn’t it, but it wasn’t.

I had booked with Carolyn to come and look round after Christmas. I had been unwell for a few months and recently been diagnosed as perimenopausal. Having read lots about the vast array of symptoms I was suffering there were lots of indications that exercise can really help with the mental issues as well as the physical.

But lockdown came again. The gym was closed and my health took a turn for the worse. I started on HRT – the first type was horrific and I was worse than before. And my work stress became so overwhelming I was signed off.

Things were pretty bad there for a few weeks.

And then Carolyn contacted me to say the gym was going to be able to re-open with covid safety measures in place and did I want to rebook to come and take a look round. I tried to explain that I had been unwell and that due to severe anxiety at that point I hadn’t actually left the house for 2 weeks.

She was so kind and understanding I felt a bit silly turning down her offer. Armed with new HRT and pulling on my big girl pants I decided that I didn’t want to live like this anymore and I was going to have to really dig in and try to help myself.

So the day came. And I’m stood outside of the gym racked with nerves (I was actually shaking!). I HATED the gym. What was I thinking? I’m fat and unfit! I’m going to look like an idiot! All these negative thoughts ran through my head and I nearly turned around and walked home.

I’m so so glad that I didn’t.

The gym (and the HRT!) has transformed my life. Without the HRT I wouldn’t have had the emotional capacity to try something new and without the gym, I wouldn’t have scrambled together the resilience to become a less anxious and more confident person.

I train 5 times a week – sometimes 6! And it turned out I’m strong and I love weights! All along the staff team has coaxed and encouraged me, supporting my victories and providing words of wisdom on days when it’s been a tough session. One of the coaches quickly realised that I wasn’t working at capacity and chatted me through the different programmes offered, and recommended something she thought might be a bit more challenging for me.

I’ve been a member of Inspire for less than 5 months and I’m so grateful for the support shown to me by the team and the other members. The friendship and comradery I found have been amazing, it really is like no other gym!

I have increased my strength and flexibility, developed my cardio and improved my metabolism (just love seeing my stats on the app!!). I am about to complete the Athletic programme, it’s been very challenging, but hugely satisfying.

Oh. And I’ve lost 46lbs. So lockdown and menopause can do one – this lady is determined to be fit and fierce at 50.

I am now a certified gym bunny – there I said it!

The Importance Of Strength Training

resistance training for health benefits

When we think of strength training we often think of muscle-bound puffing out their pumped up arms and chests, eating chicken, rice and broccoli day in day out.

And even when we do some resistance training it’s often more for aesthetical reasons that health gains but, having an optimal amount of lean muscle tissue is important for many more reasons other than looking like a movie star.

Having a good proportion of muscle tissue in the body carries a wide array of benefits for everyone.  In fact, it’s essential to ensure you continue to lead a fit, active and independent life for as long as possible.

So, let’s discuss a few reasons why increasing lean muscle tissue is important for more than just looking good on your family beach vacation!

Increased Caloric Expenditure

Most of us know that in order to prevent excess weight gain, the number of calories we consume must be equal to or less than the amount consumed. This is a very straightforward equation. However, when thinking of ways to put this into action, we tend to do one of two things. The first idea is usually attempting to burn excess calories through some form of exercise, usually cardio. The second method is to cut back on the number of calories consumed each day.

While both of these options are beneficial in that they will get the job done, having more lean muscle tissue in the body also burns calories, but in a much more passive way.

Not only does muscle have relatively high oxygen and nutrient demand, but it also maintains a higher temperature than fat or skin. Because of these requirements, lean muscle mass burns a pretty significant amount of calories even at rest. Put simply, the more lean muscle present in your body, the more calories you will burn doing absolutely nothing. Consider this the anatomical version of passive income.

Maintained Vitality With Age

As we age, there are some inevitable declines throughout the body. One of these unfortunate processes is a decrease in overall muscle tissue. As this deterioration of muscle mass happens it puts you at risk for a wide array of injuries and decreased physical ability.

The solution to this issue is to ensure you work on maintaining your existing muscle mass.  However, this does not mean you should try to pack on as much muscle as possible in your younger years and cease working out at a certain age. At every stage of life, we still have the ability to gain muscle as long as we adhere to the basic principles of this process: regular exercise and sufficient nutrition. Long story short, the more muscle mass you have to lose, the less of a decrease in vitality and function you will experience over the course of your lifetime.

Enhanced Immune Function

The immune system works day in and day out to ward off almost constant threats of illness. When illness does occur, this system fights the intruder head on to maintain and restore normal function in the body. When thinking of ways to fortify the immune system, we often turn to vitamin C supplements and other pharmaceuticals to get the job done.

Another method for strengthening the immune system is to increase lean muscle mass. During periods when the immune system is working overtime to maintain your health, there is often a shortage of fuel.

When this occurs, the body actually begins breaking down protein stored in muscle tissue to keep pushing forward. Naturally, the more lean muscle tissue your immune system has available to pull from, the stronger the system becomes as a whole!

I know that there will be some people reading this who will be thinking, but I don’t want to get bulky.  TBH I’m talking about ladies here.  Well, you won’t.  Although you can improve your body composition and increase your muscle mass with a couple of half our resistance sessions a week, it’ takes much, much more to bulk up.

Bodybuilders that you see workout A LOT and they eat masses, absolutely masses of the right foods at the right times.  It takes years of dedication and extremely hard work and control of your diet to look like that and the majority of us just can’t do it, even if we wanted to.

Why you need to resistance train with a coach

resistance training helps you stay strong, get better results with a coach

Someone recently made a tongue in cheek comment to me that “real men don’t do cardio!”  The inference was that men strength train and women use stationary bikes!

Well, we all know that’s not really true but it got me thinking about the types of training we tend to do and how we do often favour one type of training over another.

At Inspire we are extremely focused on strength training because a) it’s crucial for health and independence as we age, b) it’s a useful tool in weight management and c) we believe that for most people cardio is a lot easier to take up.  You can walk, jog, run, cycle, swim etc.  They’re all pretty simple and low cost and providing you don’t overdo it while you’re starting out, there’s a low risk of injury.

Resistance training, on the other hand, is more complex.  You need to think about how to challenge your muscles.  What’s the right weight to lift, how often, how many reps?  Which exercises should you do?  What about existing imbalances and how that affects you?  How often should you change your programme?  What equipment should you use, dumbbells, kettlebells, bars, suspension trainer, bodyweight?  And it’s a lot easier to injure yourself through poor technique or inexperience with equipment.

See, it’s complex!

It’s unlikely that if you’re going to take up jogging, you’ll need a personal trainer to get you started.  A phone, the couch to 5k app and a decent pair of trainers are all you really need but if you’re going to start resistance training, and you really should, then it’s a great idea to get a coach.

First, why should you?  And, why does the World Health Organisation recommend at least two thirty-minute resistance training sessions a week as part of our overall activity?  Because the benefits are well worth the effort and if you want to stay fit and active and independent for as long as possible, it’s essential.

Resistance training and increasing your muscle mass:

  • Helps the body regulate blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity
  • Improves blood pressure
  • Helps prevent falls
  • Increases the number of calories your body burns so helps manage weight
  • Reduces the signs and symptoms of heart disease, arthritis and Type II diabetes
  • Improves bone density reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Improves sleep
  • Can reduce depression and anxiety
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Improves gait and balance, also helpful in falls prevention
  • Reduces back pain
  • Helps manage blood cholesterol
  • Reduces body fat
  • Improves confidence

Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it?

So now you’ve decided to add a bit of strength training to your weekly workouts where DO you start?  As we said, working with a personal trainer or coach is a really good idea when you’re starting out.

At Inspire, our programmes are specific to the individual.  Not just based on where you’re starting from but also taking into account what your goal is and if you’ve got any existing injuries or muscle imbalances that need addressing.

We also regularly assess your progress to ensure that your programme develops at the right pace for you.  This helps avoid plateaus in your training and keeps you safe.

The rest of your exercise will still be recorded in our free fitness app.  Cardio is still important too and we want to recognize and reward your activity but we’ll give you much more help and guidance on your strength training programme because we want to make that as easy as cardio for you!

Post Workout Rituals For Better Fitness Results

If you have a regular and consistent workout routine, then I applaud you.  This effort places you in an ever-decreasing percentage of people who are using their precious time and energy to take care of their physical health.

There are a few methods that you can practice supplementing the effects of your workouts.  The rituals I will mention below will help you to really maximize the benefits already available to you for prioritizing exercise in their daily lives.

Consistent as you may be with your workouts, this habit only includes a small fraction of the day as a whole. You’ve probably all heard the usual remarks about how real progress is made outside of the gym.

If you are going to devote precious time out of your day to exercise, the last thing you want to do is negate the benefits you have certainly earned! Here are some small tweaks to your post-workout routine that will serve to enhance those hard-fought gains.


If you’ve ever been to a conventional or bodybuilding gym then you’ll have undoubtedly seen the gym rat that lumbers their way around the building completely incapable of any movement aside from the occasional bicep flex or head nod.  You know the ones, they always seem to walk as if they are carrying several large boxes underneath each arm.

While I’m sure you don’t fit into this description, there is a good chance that you are not emphasizing mobility enough. Resistance training is a great way to build strength and improve your overall appearance. However, all the muscles in the world don’t provide much benefit if you can’t use them.

Increasing muscle mass has many, many benefits but also leaves the body more susceptible to overall stiffness and decreased mobility. Not only does this hinder functionality in day-to-day life, but it also increases the risk of injury. Instead of just focusing on the strength work (which is massively important), take some time to perform a basic stretching routine.

This doesn’t have to include complex yoga poses and backbends, simply stretching those worn-out muscles will do a world of good!

Don’t Neglect Those ZZZZ’s

Sleep is by far the biggest factor in maximizing your workouts. You can be an absolute workout warrior, but if you are not providing the body with proper recovery time, the progress you desire will perpetually allude you. Sleep is intended to repair the damage our bodies accrue throughout the day including damage done to muscles during a workout.

A slew of hormones and biological processes are revved up during this time period that allows us to hit the ground running each morning. This is especially true for those of us who consistently ask more of the body in terms of vigorous exercise.

While the specific amount of sleep needed to ensure full recovery differs slightly amongst individuals, 6-8 hours is the general consensus. After working out for a while, you can take note of how you feel each morning and adjust this equation to suit your personal needs.

Don’t minimize your physical progress by staying up binge-watching Netflix after a knockout gym session. Prioritize your sleep the same way you value exercise.

Fuel Your Progress

Many individuals, including the avid gym-goer, use working out as an excuse to consume whatever food craving they desire.

While life is meant to be enjoyed and the occasional milkshake or pizza buffet is certainly warranted, it is important to consider what your body needs after a workout session.

Consistent workouts followed by junk food marathons are nothing but an endless cycle of stagnation. If you want your body to function like an Italian sports car, you better be filling up with premium gas!

The occasional cheat meal is perfectly okay as long as your overall dietary habits are promoting the physique you have in mind.

Eating correctly after working out means focusing on carbs and protein and maybe some fat.

Eating right means:

  • Decreasing muscle protein breakdown
  • Increasing muscle growth (protein synthesis)
  • Restoring glycogen stores
  • Enhancing overall recovery

Protein repairs and builds muscle (i.e.: chicken, meat, beans)

Carbs help the body recover (i.e.: fruits and grains)

Fats Can Help Too: One study found that whole milk was better than skim milk for muscle growth (17Trusted Source)

Pat On The Back

While not technically a “workout ritual,” we can make it one. Say congrats and pat yourself on the back for doing a great workout. Positive reinforcement helps tremendously in sticking with and succeeding in fitness for the long term so acknowledge the efforts you’re making on a day to day basis.

5 Tips on How Exercise Can Help Reduce Your Chronic Stress Levels

exercise, stress and health

Imagine a life with no stress!  We think that would amazing but as great as it would be to live a life without any type of stress, it just doesn’t seem possible anymore. As soon as one source of stress seemingly fades away, another rears its ugly head.

Although it’s not often practical to or possible to remove yourself from the sources of your stress, there are several steps you can take to limit the effect that your stress has on your life. One of the best methods of reducing the amount of stress in your life is exercise!

Here are five ways that exercise can help lower the impact that stress is currently having on your life!

Exercise Releases Endorphins

When you participate in physical activity, your brain naturally releases the “feel-good hormones” known as endorphins. According to the Mayo Clinic, the release of endorphins from your brain during exercise naturally improves your mood and can also help to reduce physical pain within the body.

Endorphins are so powerful that the effects that they can cause in the brain are comparable to those of hardcore drugs like morphine.  Even if you’re exercising at a low intensity and you don’t think you’ve experienced that endorphin rush, commonly referred to as a “runners high”, just trust that those hormones have been released and are doing their stuff!

Exercise Shifts Your Focus Elsewhere

Sometimes the best way to relieve the stress that you’re currently experiencing in your life is to focus your attention elsewhere. When you’re not actively thinking about the stress, it’s less likely to impact you both emotionally and physically.

By participating in some type of physical activity that you enjoy, you’ll be able to take your mind off of your current stressors and focus on the workout you’re doing. When you intentionally place a focus on your exercise performance, you’ll be more successful in your workout while simultaneously being less stressed.

Exercise Helps to Reduce Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the natural endorphins and other psychological and physiological effects that occur during exercise can help to promote an anti-anxiety effect. In addition to having less anxiety, you’ll also be able to improve your mood in general.

When you exercise and reduce the amount of anxiety that you’re experiencing throughout your day, you’ll also be more likely to get a good night’s sleep at the end of the night. With better sleep, you’ll have better focus and less stress come the next morning.  Win win!

Exercise Can Improve Your Mood

When you consider the release of the endorphins that occur during exercise, you’ll understand why exercise can help to boost your mood, even when the stress in your life seems unbearable. Mood improvement will allow you to focus on the positive aspects of your life and reduce the attention you give to the stress you’re experiencing.

One of the greatest methods of reducing stress is simply not letting it bother you, which is obviously easier said than done. Yet, a positive attitude encouraged by exercise can help to reduce the effects of stress.

Exercise Burns Energy

When you’re exercising, you’re burning calories, but you’re also helping to burn off whatever energy your body has left over from the day. This can help to physically tire you out and reduce the mental stress that you’re experiencing.

Most importantly, having less energy means you’ll be more likely to be able to fall asleep at night. If chronic stress frequently keeps you up at night, exercise might be the perfect way to improve your sleep quality and your fitness.

Final Thoughts

Exercise isn’t just great for the physical body. It also has the potential to completely overhaul the functioning of your brain to boost your mood and reduce the stress that you’re experiencing in your daily life. Exercise won’t remove the source of your stress, but it’ll make it much easier to deal with.

How to Sneak in more Exercise at Home

Nearly all of us have had much more time than normal at home recently and some of us still are.  Lack of time has always been a big barrier to exercise but this pandemic has shown us that it’s not the only reason!  When you can’t exercise in your normal community or at your gym you might have to try a bit harder to get more active at home.

Know How Active You Are

To start with, it helps to be more aware of how active you are. It is really easy to either under or overestimate your activity level, which might keep you from adding exercises as needed. If it is possible, get an activity tracker like a Fitbit or Apple watch. These can be worn all day and will show you the number of steps you take, how many calories you burn, and the general activity level. They’ll soon tell you if you should be trying a little harder, or if it is okay to take it easy.

Movement While Doing Other Things

In addition to your workouts, you can also increase your activity every day simply by combining movements with other things. For example, if you are brushing your teeth, you are usually just standing there. You can be squatting or walking in place during this time, and it won’t affect your teeth brushing.

Some other options include walking back and forth or doing lunges while on the phone, standing or walking while playing fetch with your dogs instead of sitting, doing some movement in the kitchen while your food is cooking or squats and counter-press-ups every time you boil the kettle.

More Chores Means More Movement

Another great way to get more exercise at home is by choosing chores around the house that get your body moving. Now is a great time to clean out your closet, which can actually burn quite a few calories and work up a sweat. Maybe you want to clean out the garage or the refrigerator, organize your cabinets, do some deep cleaning, or just more physical chores in general.

Sneak in 5-10 Minutes in the Morning and Evening

When you start and finish your day, sneak in about 5-10 minutes of extra exercise. Something gentle that is easy to do and doesn’t require equipment or turning on your computer. Maybe this is a gentle stretch in the morning, and some nighttime yoga, squats or lunges, walking for a few minutes or doing something active with your kids.

Being more active isn’t necessarily about fitting in more workouts.  Finding ways to sneak in movement snacks throughout your day can really add up.  If you’d like more help with this please get in touch and we can talk to you about how we can help you be more active.

Member Feature – Heather

member feature


This month we want to feature one of our new members who in her first month has lost 9.5lbs and 9 inches… but more importantly, she’s managed to get off of a blood pressure medication. This is an awesome result in any time frame but achieving it in just one month is incredible.

Heather did not want her photo taken but did want to encourage others to take the step to be more active and so wanted to have her thoughts made public.

Initially Heather was apprehensive about joining a gym and using unfamiliar equipment, she’d put off joining for quite a long time but then her daughter decided she wanted to join as well and that was the push that Heather needed.

Heather said that she found the induction put her at ease because everyone at Inspire was so welcoming and friendly. Also, everything was explained clearly and the whole thing was spread over two sessions so that she had time to process the information and wasn’t overwhelmed.

According to Heather, the best thing about joining has been seeing positive results such as her clothes fitting better and feeling so good in herself. She loves the equipment and the easy to follow programmes and says there are absolutely no negatives to joining. She’s already recommended Inspire to a couple of friends and says anyone thinking of joining should just pick up the phone and book the induction.

On a final note, Heather said the fact that every time she comes to workout she’s greeted by name makes a world of difference to her, it lets her know that she matters and makes her feel so welcome.

We’re so happy that Heather is loving the gym so much and we couldn’t be prouder of her for the hard work she’s already put in and the results she’s achieved. We’re looking forward to seeing Heather’s transformation going forward.

Member Feature – Debbie Ash

member feature
This months member feature focuses on Debbie Ash who’s quite a bit awesome!
Debbie is an absolute inspiration to anyone who’s suffering a chronic pain condition that’s going to require surgery to resolve it.  She shows how sensible, focused exercise can prepare you for the surgery and assist with recovery afterwards.  Debbie worked so hard to get ready for her operation to minimise the recovery time and as soon as she was able to get back to activity she was back in the gym doing rehab which as so effective she’s now back to her previous abilities… but this time, without pain!
Q. How Iong have you been a member at Inspire and what were our initial reasons for joining?
I’ve been a member at Inspire now for almost 18 months. I actually came across a competition on Facebook, and the first prize was free membership at Inspire gym. To be honest I had never heard of it, but at the time I was feeling as though I’d like to do some more exercise so decided to enter.
Not long after, I received a phone call to tell me I had won the second prize of a posture evaluation. I decided to go along really not knowing what to expect, but once I was there I really liked the look of the gym, mainly because it small and more personal than a large, conventional gym.
Q. Did you have an concerns or worries about joining a gym and if so how did that work out at Inspire?  
I’ve always felt nervous of gyms, and have never joined one before because of this. I had many concerns and worries in the days coming up to my initial appointment. Will I fit in with the other members? Will people like me? Will I understand the equipment and use it correctly? Will people stare and snigger at me?
From the moment I was in I felt at ease and very welcomed. It surprised me how much I enjoyed my induction, and it gave me such confidence I signed up straight away.
And, how wrong I was with my initial concerns and worries. Everyone is friendly, and nobody stares. After all we’re all there for the same reasons. To become more healthy and active.
And the new equipment encourages you to work even harder so I enjoy it even more. I come as often as I can now and really feel confident and happy when I’m in.
Q. You had an operation recently on your knee, can you tell us about that?
Over the last 6 years or so, I became a keen walker. The feeling you get from a nice brisk walk in the fresh air really boosts your mood, but it was becoming more and more painful for me over the last few years, and so after an MRI scan it was confirmed that I had osteoarthritis in my right knee. In October 2018 I had an arthroscopy, which is keyhole surgery to remove any loose debris that maybe causing some discomfort. This actually made my knee more uncomfortable, and so it was decided that my only option was to have a patella replacement. So, I now have a titanium knee cap, with a piece of plastic acting as my cartilage (as this had completely crumbled away). I’m 6 months post op now, and things are going well.
Q. Do you think being fit before your operation made a difference?
I was having regular physio before my operation, and he would always tell me, “the stronger you can get your leg before the operation, the easier recovery will be”. My consultant said the same, so I worked hard concentrating on my legs to get them as strong as I could. Generally too, I felt like I had more energy and felt healthier, so yes I definitely think it made a huge difference.
What was our experience of returning to exercise after a major operation?
After my knee operation I didn’t come to Inspire for about 3 months — I really missed it and was looking forward to returning and getting back to my routine. I put a stone on in weight from not being active, which also lowers your mood.
When I returned, Ruth and I spent some time chatting about the best way for me to gently re-introduce exercise, and the things I should avoid. For a while I concentrated on my upper body, until we both felt I could incorporate the leg machines again. Slowly but surely I was able to do more, and now I’m confident I will soon be back to my best.
I have been told that the inflammation around my knee could take up to a year to settle, so when I’m doing my workout, I listen to my body. If it doesn’t feel right, I’ll stop and try something else. I’m taking it one day at a time, and thanks to all of the coaches, there is always someone available to advise me with any issues I might have.
Q. What would you say to anyone else who’s thinking of joining Inspire?
I would say, stop thinking about it, and do it! I’ve never regretted my decision to join, and in fact it’s probably one of the best things I have ever done. I never thought I would get the ‘gym bug’, but I honestly absolutely love it and look forward to every time I go. It lifts your mood and energises you. I always arrive and leave with a smile on my face, and I’m even starting to notice a bit more definition on my body, especially my tummy and arms. Not quite Arnies standards yet, but there’s still time!
Q. Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would like to thank Ruth and the team of coaches, for all of the support they have given me during my recovery. Ruth and Carolyn have both been particularly encouraging, and have given me some great advice, which I really do appreciate.  THANK YOU LOVELY LADIES xxx
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