I love seeing pictures of people hitting the gym on Facebook just a couple of days after New Year’s Day. “Day 1 of my New Year’s resolution…”. Makes me jelous.
I lay there in bed waiting for my 18 month old daughter to stop shouting at me and for my 3 year old to stop asking for “just another book mummy”. 8.30pm arrives and they’re just about asleep. One slight movement and I’m in trouble at this point. I sit in bed for another 10 minutes (yes, we all sleep in one room), at which point, I can get to the door. I wait a further minute or two before I can slowly pull the world’s noisiest door open. I slither out like a snake.
By the time I’m downstairs, it’s 9 o’clock and I could curl up and die. Going for a jog isn’t an option because:
1. It’s dark
2. It’s cold
3. There are strange, scary men outside
4. I have not shaved my legs and my running trousers are not full length.
You might ask what my day consists of? If I’m not working, I’m running around after the two most adventurous children in Sheffield, or working on FunMeFit. As most parents of a toddler and a soon-to-be toddler will know however, days are hard!
One day, yesterday actually, my husband wasn’t at work (for a change). I’d decided that I quite wanted to go back to my Kickboxing class that I’d not attended since 2008…I don’t think I’ve ever ached so much after an hour of physical activity in my life. I thought all the walking I do with the kids and running up and downstairs would’ve kept my in good physical condition – obviously not.
Therefore, and because I can rarely get out of the house without the kids, I’m planning on trying out an ethos. My plan is to tone up and loose a little weight by imitating my active children; playing games, running around, jumping and just being generally daft. Worth a try.
I’ll post photos and blogs of my progress over the course of January and let you know how I get on. I’m sure we can all learn lessons from our little ones.
Watch this space…And your kids!
A Recycled Christmas
By Kate Hill
It’s nearing the time to be merry and most of us are already Christmas shopping or just dreading the thought of spending all that money. A select few have proudly boasted that their Christmas shopping was completed in October…thanks for making the rest of us feel lazy and disorganised.
The economic downturn doesn’t seem to have slowed many of us from buying brand new, expensive gifts for loved ones at Christmas, probably on credit. For the past 12 years, I’ve been a culprit of going to the shopping centre and piling my basket up with gifts I think people ‘might’ like. Since having two children and adopting a mortgage, I’ve had to alter my thought processes because casual Christmas shopping is not affordable. I’ve had to become a ‘mindful’ shopper.
I watched a brilliant programme, The Twelve Saves of Christmas on ITV a couple of weeks ago (12th November 2013) presented by Martin Lewis – the ‘Money Saving Expert’ (love that guy) – about how much money we waste on buying expensive presents because we feel compelled to do so. It reminds me of the resentment I’ve felt in Christmases gone by, after buying an overpriced wash set for a family member and watching them smile and say a blank ‘thank you,’ before throwing it onto a side pile of other pointless presents. The programme also pointed out that there are savings to be had and discounts to be taken advantage of if we wait for certain dates before shopping; why pay more when you can pay less? An excellent point!
This article doesn’t focus on buying new items at discounted prices (which is great if you can keep up with it all) but on how to have a recycled Christmas – how to have a traditional Christmas, re-using, re-selling and re-creating genuine happiness out of the simplicity of what we as children loved about Christmas.
I heard a story last week about how as a child, a friend of mine had been given a used Star Wars set for Christmas from a neighbour. He explained that instead of being worried about playing with something brand-new, he loved it and played with it so much it had formed a huge part of his childhood memories. Why buy presents for our children if we are scared of them playing with (and breaking) them?
This year, I’ve tested my hypothesis that a recycled Christmas is a happier one. Christmas is not about perfection, it’s about happiness. I’ve been dreading opening up brand new presents from family members, feeling like my presents in return wouldn’t compare due to our less fortunate position. I’ve worried about my little boy (who’s 3 on New Year’s Day), getting cheap, tacky presents from me that would break after a day of play.
So, instead of worrying, the solution for our family is a recycled Christmas. My son has a huge love of Disney Pixar Cars characters; the diecast models are clearly the best and worth the most. Instead of forking out for brand new, packaged characters (some of which I’d pay upwards of £30 each for), I’ve opted for putting bids in on eBay for used, played-with toys. I’ve just received a large collection that brand new would’ve cost over £150 for £26. They have a few scuffs and scrapes on them but my son won’t even notice. All he will see is the familiar characters that he bases his imaginative world around and I can’t wait to see the giddy excitement in his eyes. Secondary, is the fact that I don’t have to worry about him taking them outside to play. He’ll have more fun, I’ll not worry so will ultimately have more fun.
You may ask how I’ve funded spending £26 on model cars. Recycling of course! Selling unwanted Christmas presents and household items from over the years – having a good clear out and organising all the junk that might be another person’s treasure. Turns out you’ll have plenty of items that may be useless to you but worth something to someone else. I’ve just sold a travel cot bag on its own without a travel cot inside it because someone obviously needed one and couldn’t afford to buy a whole new travel cot. It’s about looking at what you’ve got and thinking whether someone else might use it. Toys aren’t the only items to which the ‘A Recycled Christmas’ rule applies.
What might others want/what could you buy?
- Reclaimed stone & bricks
- Old fireplaces
- Old kitchen units
- Used toys & clothes
- Packs of Nappies
- Man and a Van
- Cleaning products
- Party products
- Used bags, shoes & coats
- Wash products (new) i.e. Christmas presents bought but not wanted.
- Perfume & Aftershave – used & new.
- Car accessories
- DVD’s & Games
- Outdoor Items
- Pet care items
- Healthcare items (excluding tablets & medication)
- Antiques, historical items & books
Where to buy and sell
Many people have a pre-conceived idea that only new fashion and electrical goods can be sold on buying and selling sites. In fact, millions of people flock to the big sites like eBay to find any items that they need but that they can buy cheaper than new. But these sites aren’t the only place to go to buy and sell. Here are a few other tips about where to buy and sell:
Local Facebook Wanted, For Sale Groups
Local Discussion Forums & Community Websites
The most positive outcomes of having ‘A Recycled Christmas’ for your family is that you’re helping to reduce the post-Christmas landfill, saving the earth’s resources and saving your own money. Why constantly buy new when the world is full of items that others don’t want that may be on your wish list? Yes, we all need to buy new sometimes to keep the economy going, we just don’t have to pay so much to get what we need.
Recycling at Christmas for the community too
If you have pointless presents tucked away, ready to wrap, there are appeals like Hallam FM’s ‘Mission Christmas’ where in Sheffield, we’re asked to buy an extra new present for a child in the area who wouldn’t otherwise receive anything during the festive season. If you’ve overbought on food shopping, local food banks are under increasing pressure at this time of year to help families who can’t afford basic food, tins and many packaged goods can be dropped of there. Local charities are always happy to receive quality items to sell in their shops if you don’t necessarily need the re-sell money.
By enjoying a more traditional Christmas where presents were passed down, recycled and only given to those in need, surely we’re moving away from the consumer-driven Christmas rush and re-aligning ourselves with what Christmas should mean to all of us. Thinking of others, watching the children’s happy faces while they play and not stressing about money or what we’ve bought for others.
Wishing you and your family a Happy, Recycled Christmas!
Sheffield fitness trainer launches Fit Club to get school-run-mums out of their cars and into shape for Christmas.
Sheffield-based fitness trainer, Stacey Jacques has set up Fit Club at Wisewood Sports Centre to get busy, local mums driving in the right direction for a healthier, happier Christmas.
With Fit Club, Stacey aims to offer a more personal option for women who want to get into shape but who are put off by big gyms, full classes and vigorous exercise. Now running on Monday mornings at 9.30am – 10.30am, it’s the perfect time for those school drop-off mums to meet some friends, have some fun and get into shape with the Pilates-influenced body conditioning class that includes personal evaluations and a private Facebook challenge group for all of its members.
“The best thing about Fit Club workouts is that they are perfect for any body. We focus on cardio and exercise variations that suit any fitness level so if you’re getting in shape after time off or if you’re already in the swing of things there will be challenges just to suit you.
“Above all we celebrate having fun, having more energy and feeling good, exactly what a busy mum needs!” says Stacey.
For those who want a tougher challenge, Stacey also offers an Armageddon Fitness class for men and women on a Wednesday evening 7- 7.45pm at Wisewood. The Armageddon Fitness concept was launched by Richard Callender, a Trainer on ITV1’s ‘The Biggest Loser.’
“Along with weight loss, those who participate in regular Armageddon Fitness workouts have noticed substantial improvements in both their physical and psychological health. It’s a great workout for all types of people: elite athletes, students, the military, severely de-conditioned individuals and everyone in between,” said Richard.
Fit Club is an easy-going class to get started with for women who may not have exercised properly in a long time and a great way to drop those few pounds before the little black dress comes out at Christmas: “If you want to lose those few pounds you should come and join on a Monday morning and on Wednesdays as well, Stacey is brilliant! I have been training with Stacey for months and I have lost weight. Got to say she’s absolutely brilliant,” said Faye Meggison, one of the Fit-Clubbers.
Contact: Stacey Jacques, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stacey’s Facebook Group can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/ArmageddonFitnessSheffield
References: Press Release for Armageddon Fitness (June, 2013) http://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/trainer-on-tvs–the-biggest-loser-launches-new-fitness-workout-to-battle-the-bulge/s66/a553138/
Press release by Kate Hill, FunMeFit Ltd. www.funmefit.com the online community network that promotes well-being in the community & offers business, marketing and PR services to small businesses.
“Girls at school would do the dangerous ‘fainting trick’ to avoid Physical Education. I won’t go into detail for fear of someone trying this but the action involved getting a couple of friends to push on a certain part of your body until you fainted – effectively slowing or stopping your heart for a second. It scared me then and it scares me even more now to remember how dangerous this was.” (Anon, August 2013)
As a female and a mother to another female (even though she is only 1), I can’t help but blog my mouth off about the issue of us girls and getting actively involved in sport and exercise. In this post, I hope to shed some light on why, in my experience and opinion, young women and children of the female gender, may be discouraged, embarrassed by and put off from doing exercise, especially if it’s called ‘sport’.
The main issue in my experience of life is parents. Whether we like it or not, some of us mums and dads are gender-typing our children. Boys are the active ones who will make money one day from sport, girls are the caring ones who like to look after babies and help mum around the house. I have a girl and a boy who are close in age and I admit, I’ve been guilty of gender-typing on the odd occasion – getting my little boy into football, buying my little girl a toy baby. Once my little girl is at walking age however, I’ll be actively encouraging her to try different sports, get outside and see exercise as fun.
I remember that as a young girl, I was exposed to very few sporting female role-models. That’s why Sally Gunnel became such a heroine to me, she was the only woman I saw achieve things in sport on TV. Apart from Sally, I cannot remember seeing a plethora of famous sporting females on the telly or in newspapers. This was reflected at home. My mother used to be fit and healthy because she did everything around the house and took us to the park regularly. She wasn’t involved in sport and rarely talked about it. There was no one else around me who was female and sporty. Even my dad wasn’t sporty, he still isn’t.
At infant and junior school, I don’t recall seeing any females take part in sport. My twin sister and I were the first girls in our year to start playing football with the boys – many girls followed in our footsteps later.
Although I tried ballet and tap as a 5 year old and karate later on, I never understood why sport was important or what it could do for me. No-one at school taught me why sport was important and I was never encouraged to join a team of any kind. I knew as a child that I found sports games like football fun. Playing with the other children (or the boys), feeling like I was involved in something big, running around for ages and the rough and tumble of a childhood game of football were highly appealing to me. I never knew that there were girls football teams or girls teams for any other sports such as basketball, cricket, rounders…
Everyone complains about media; about TV and reality shows, about the lack of female sport in the news. I agree that women need to be covered more widely in the news but that isn’t exactly going to attract younger participants now is it? We need to look at teen magazines, look at how girls are using social media, look at why girls are more engaged with what their friends are doing and posing in ‘selfies’ photos. If you’re young and you want to look good, exercise and eat well. There’s too much emphasis on young women being singers, models and just plain beautiful. There are millions of beautiful girls out there but the ones people remember are the ones who stand out from the crowd and achieve in sport or in great careers. Vying for public attention constantly does nothing for self-confidence.
In my opinion, the problem with many teenage girls (like I was once) is that they lack so much self-confidence. At school as a teenager, I loved sprinting, I won every 100m and 200m race on sports day, without fail. I was in the Air Cadets…Which was the only institution to push my running further where I ran for my region and eventually my county. I was due to run a final race to be entered for the national championships when I fell down the stairs before school and banged my lower back meaning that I couldn’t run. That was the end to my running career, maybe I could have been running alongside Jess Ennis-Hill…
The point here is not what I achieved or didn’t achieve but the fact that I had to fight against low self-confidence and self-doubt just to go to training. This was ultimately my downfall, not the fall down the stairs. I was complacent because I didn’t want to go against the ‘norm’ of what my piers were doing after school. It’s only when you reach 28, have gotten married and have two kids that you realise the things that could have been.
The very few girls I knew at school (I can only count one in my class) who were into sports and achieved in sport were the confident ones. They were self-assured, organised and seemed generally a lot happier than my friends who were using the ‘fainting trick’ to avoid any exercise whatsoever. I was always in the middle, always wanted to take part but never wanted to take the next step. I had no confidence to do so.
Looking back, what I find most annoying is that teachers could see my potential but never tried to support me. I played hockey and scored goals but always felt like the spare part. I would never have even known to join professional sports clubs or had the confidence to ask.
In part-conclusion (as I’m sure I’ll be writing further blogs on this issue), I realise now that sport enables young women and girls to develop, to grow, to be comfortable in their surroundings and opens their lives up to opportunities and experience. I hope times have changed now in schools but in my experience, I had no help, no support and was mainly ignored by teachers.
As a parent now, I see how difficult it is to get children involved in sport – the cost, the time, the travel. This was initially why I set up http://www.funmefit.com, to help parents find ways to get their kids (and their girls) active and see what opportunities there are. Now though, I see that times need to change before more young women can feel encouraged enough to take part in sport. They need to know about the opportunities around them, encouraged that sport will help them stay young and healthy as they get older, help them make new friends and build self-confidence. I wish I could take the 14 year old me, shake her and say: ‘You can do it! Running is what you can do. Don’t worry if you get set back. Get off your backside and go to training. Keep trying!’
My daughter will not befall the same fate. It is my ambition to open doors for her, help her see how fun sport can be. Help her find what she’s good at, whether that be football, hockey, running, gymnastics, dancing, horse riding, basketball, skating, rounders, tennis or your less popular sports. Attitudes have to change all together, families have to change, the media has to change and girls themselves have to be given the confidence to try something new, take a chance. Don’t do the old ‘fainting trick’ to avoid PE!
This blog post was inspired by the recent BBC News article (22/08/2013)
Children need more exercise – especially girls, study says – by Nick Triggle.
This article was written by Kate Hill, Founder of FunMeFit.
Please contact email@example.com
The importance of getting outside to exercise is often overlooked. The difference between exercising in the gym and getting exercise outdoors is that outside, you’re getting what your body naturally needs – fresh air in your lungs, stimulation for the mind and body as well as the mental health benefits, which are being brought up in a lot of new research. Revitalize Fitness is right here, make the most of the summer while it lasts, we don’t know how long the winter will last.
Fun Me Fit Guest Blog by our member @Nancercize http://www.funmefit.com/category/news/
Just the other day, someone asked me how I thought of the idea to use park benches as exercise equipment. There’s no simple answer, but clearly a starting point was my desire to help as many people as possible get more active in fun ways.
Although I’m a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor, with my livelihood depending on paying clients, I love saving money and using my imagination to make the most out of very little. I encourage others to do so, too. (Must be my Dutch and German heritage!) As a public health professional, I’ve learned how difficult it is for many people to find the time to be more active–often money is an issue, and time as well, with parents especially feeling torn between spending time on their own health and being with their families. Often, adults are advised to just walk a lot to satisfy their fitness requirements. But after a while, just walking can get a tad boring… and it doesn’t begin to satisfy our need to strengthen our midriffs and upper bodies!
Sound familiar? Miraculously, a simple park bench can help us get over all these fitness humps.
In my eight years of providing outdoor fitness programs in New York City Parks, I’ve discovered that many people who say they don’t like to exercise actually don’t like exercising in an indoor gym or health club. But almost everyone loves escaping the stuffy indoors for the fresh air and freedom of being out in a park. And once you’re there, you can take advantage of the park’s secret supply of exercise equipment–benches being my favorite in addition to walls, railings, curbs, and so on.
At a loss for ideas? No worries. I’ve created a free motivational 14-minute video that shows you how to use a park bench for strengthening exercisers such as push ups, dips, and leg lifts, as well as stretches that feel delicious. They’re all based on good old-fashioned calisthenics and yoga, with a little dance, pilates, and martial arts thrown in for variety. And, if you’d like detailed instructions for the exercises, they’re all in my book, “Nancercize: 101 Things to Do on a Park Bench.” The great news is that kids love these exercises too–a local mom told me her toddler knows every one of them, and plays the video everyday!
Here are 12 reasons to make a park bench part of your fitness life:
1. They’re outdoors, and it’s healthier for us all to spend more time outdoors each day.
2. They can be used to make an exercise or stretch easier; for example, if you don’t have much strength in your upper body, you can still do push ups by placing your hands on the bench back (easiest) or seat. Women, you’ll be glad to earn you don’t need to get on your knees to manage a push up!
3. They can be used to make an exercise or stretch more intense; for example, make a push up more challenging by placing your feet on the bench seat and your hands on the ground.
4. They are free!
5. They are almost always available, unlike gym equipment.
6. They are easy to find and are often in playgrounds, so while your children play, so can you–on your own equipment!
7. Everyone–the whole family, regardless of ability–can so something on a park bench, from leaping over it to doing a gentle seated stretch.
8. Benches are versatile–unlike outdoor gym equipment, which is designed for one exercise with perhaps a few variatiomns.
9. Benches encourage creativity.
10. They often are placed where there’s a nice view.
11. They encourage group use and socializing.
12. You can sit down and take a rest when you’re through!
Cycling in Sheffield – Then and Now
Dr Jim Walker
This year’s Olympics, and characters like Bradley Wiggins, have inspired a resurgence in interest in cycling – even in the hilly terrain of Sheffield. The challenges faced by enthusiasts are not new…..
In June 1869 local papers had a new epidemic to report:
In Sheffield and vicinity, the symptoms of that alarming malady, the bicycle fever, are becoming daily more strongly marked and developed…
which might require ‘additional accommodation at the medical institutions of the town’ such as ‘extra facilities for the treatment of casualties’. Undeterred, the fabulous Browne Brothers appeared at the Alexandra Opera House in a display of bicycling dexterity, and in the same week the fever spread:
A Bicycle Club is being formed at the Shakespeare Inn, Gibraltar Street, and there is every prospect of its being a complete success.
(2 June 1869)
Tracing the beginnings of the fever leads us back a month earlier, when a Bicycle Club and Grounds were founded at Sharrow (near Wilson’s Snuff Factory), with a public launch at a crowded Pomona Hotel, with hundreds gathered outside to see a velocipede contest in which a bicycle of local firm Beck and Candlish of Brown Street was proven superior to one imported from Pickering of New York.
Prior to this, however, on April 20th 1869, the ingenious inventor Benjamin Gorrill had been first to announce his own make of ‘bicycle and tricycle velocipedes, of the best materials and workmanship’. He was the son of a scissor-maker of Eyre Street, and started as a scissorsmith, branched out into Orrery making and announced his new-fangled velocipedes (his son John Gorrill was an early rider in the Sheffield contests) from Cadman Lane, Sheffield. Elaborate planetary gear systems were a speciality, as noted in the Independent:
A most ingenious, skilfully constructed, and beautiful mechanism, showing the movements of the earth and sun, with other celestial phenomena, the work of Benjamin Gorrill, has been lent to the Museum…
The Brown brothers from Liverpool (before they added an ‘e’ to their name on the Alexandra stage) must have infected many with bicycle fever in a series of outdoor public displays on the 18th May, although the town’s physical geography posed a challenge:
Since the brothers have been in Sheffield they have tried to mount some of our hills, and have succeeded in getting up Snighill, Pond Hill, and have gone from Norfolk Street to Broomhill. In the afternoon of today they intend to try Paradise Square.
Crowds of locals held their collective breath as the brothers ‘made an attempt to rise Paradise Street’, noting that ‘from Westbar, all the way up, it is very uneven, being paved with very rugged boulders’, but they ultimately failed to conquer the final dozen yards near the top.
Henry Swan, curator of John Ruskin’s Museum which opened a few years later on Bell Hagg Road, Walkley, was another early pioneer of cycling, but Walkley’s uncompromising gradients presented the same problem and were only to be attempted by the truly dedicated. Swan promoted the benefits of athletic exercise, took in the invigorating air, maintained a strictly vegetarian lifestyle and was an advocate of the Cold-Water Cure.
His employer, however, was a critic of all mechanical transport, to be avoided ‘where it supersedes healthy bodily exercise’, famously denouncing steam engines but also objecting to bicycles:
I not only object, but am quite prepared to spend all my ‘bad language’ in reprobation of the bi-, tri-, and 4-,5-, 6 or 7 cycles, and every other contrivance and invention for superseding human feet…
Heavy steel velocipedes may not compare well to the carbon-fibre machines of today, but there were some early fore-runners. Surveyor Frank William Smith of the Hawthorns, Carr Road, Walkley, knew all about the state of the local roads (soon to be appointed Surveyor of Highways for Sheffield); and for health, comfort and practicality on the hills of Walkley he pioneered a bamboo bicycle (a London-based company advertised a ‘Special Racer’ weighing only 25lbs). His testimony in The Graphic, using words of heresy in a City of Steel, conjures an image of him gliding lightly up Blake Street or Bell Hagg Road past bemused steel-workers:
Riding a Bamboo is indeed a pleasure which, to the riders of steel machines, is unknown.
(Walkley, 15 March 1897, the Graphic)
Bamboo never caught on, however, presumably because the cycles didn’t last – so ultimately the steel-makers had the last laugh….