Sunday, 20 December 2015

Learning About Yourself With Ponies-Horse Heard and Lead Change

What this pony doesn´t know about management...
Not being experienced with horses, Evan Burgess never thought his next management teachers could be called Fluffy and Rusty...
Horse Heard and Lead Change are two concerns with the same staff. The different hats the staff put on both focus on building effective communication, but with different audiences in mind. Horse Heard is a social enterprise that helps among others people who come under the NEET classification (not in education, employment or training), and people who show clear talent, but are economically deprived. Lead Change has helped develop or refine communication and leadership in some very large companies, such as Motorola. All whilst using an equine helper!

Teamwork could make guiding a pony easier or harder...
Ponies are said to be a mirror of your own emotions. With a heightened sense of their environment, a pony can often sense the mood and feelings of a person. In fact, recently there has been a drive to recognise horses as a sentient being. This is because they seem to have the most socially orientated brain in the animal kingdom. By communicating successfully with a horse, one can develop their own sense of awareness.

We ventured down to Highworth for the express purpose of navigating an obstacle course with some lovely ponies, without any harness to guide them. It was our intention and ability to build a connection with the animals that would direct them alone. What could this tell us about our communication skills in general? Though this could be seen as a rather abstract concept, it was rather practical in understanding how we relate to the outside world through a fresh medium.

Not an average office.

As I guided my “teacher”, a small pony called Rusty with my voice and intentions alone, I realised when things didn’t work out, it wasn’t just because the pony was being disobedient. I hadn’t shown enough clarity in my actions to make the pony keep interest and follow. Though Rusty looked rather harmless, as he tried to steal my iPhone and shoulder barge me out the way, I realised how much I had to get him onside if I wanted to go through the maze of obstacles with him. Even with reigns I couldn’t have directed him if he didn’t want to come.

It was a fascinating challenge, and I can see how it can help people in such diverse circumstances. To find out more about these enterprises, see below.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Six Days at Elite Health & Fitness: Article III

Exercise makes you happy.

Evan Burgess has first hand experience of having trained at Elite for six days in a row. Find out how a tailored program can work for you...

I will attempt to describe how my experience has gone so far. The legs will always receive some kind of attention, being the largest muscle group in the body. However, nothing could prepare me for the burn on the initial three days of my first 6 day week at Elite. What happened after though, was even more revealing.

45 Minutes is all you Need
Legs day at Elite is intense, with plenty of squats. The average squat is a simple exercise, but even an air squat can be boosted to challenge you in ways you never expected. Lowering down for 5 seconds and holding for three, only to burst up to standing, is a guaranteed method of making an air squat much harder. Doing that for three sets of 10, you’ll feel like a well hammered piece of metal in a forge.

This is done in a group class, and will give anyone the base strength for more complex movements, or heavier loads. Activating the quads and glutes for what is to come, don’t be surprised to find yourself hitting a wall. Shake it off, you’ve got more in you! This is easier said than experienced, but the key to this volume of exercise is to find your rhythm, and keep going. Your frame of mind will help you vastly in going beyond what you knew was possible, a lot of exercise is about having a frame of reference to work within. If you can see what you might interpret as pain as learning, you will be well underway and see dramatic athletic changes in a few weeks.

But sometimes a trainer helps to remind you to smile.
After a great deal of intensity, at the end of 40 minutes, you can relax. It is time to stretch, those 40 minutes can feel a lot longer, but as you leave the gym and realise you still have time to do other things in the evening, a sense of accomplishment takes over. Group classes run frequently at Elite, and they can be a great way of meeting people as well as sculpting the body you desire.

An Hour of You Time

With private or semi-private sessions at Elite, you have an hour just for you. Sounds nice doesn’t it? You will have given your trainer an instruction of what you want to achieve, so if things get tough, you’ve no one to blame but yourself. This might seem a bit masochistic, but after 6 weeks at Elite, I have experienced some rather impressive improvements in my ability. This has taught me humility when I’ve been left spluttering on the floor. Finding myself spluttering on the floor after doing a few body weight exercises, I learn a lot about myself. I can lift more than my own weight when lifting weights, but when it comes to moving my own weight fast and fluidly, I’m just a beginner. However, from being able to do almost no pull ups, I can now manage three to four full range of motion pull ups. Carrying 95kg isn’t easy, so this private time has clearly paid dividends. In my case I have been doing two semi-private sessions a week that target all my weaknesses, as well as build on my strengths.

Going Through the Wall

As I mentioned earlier, my legs were hurting me by the third day. But on the fourth day, I gained a newly found freshness. This second wind was unexpected and rather well enjoyed. Personally, I have used a degree of acupuncture and spot massage, as well as foam rolling to help any aches and pains. This has helped me increase my range of motion.

Saturday Social

Some people might see Saturday as a day of rest and relaxtion, an hour of friendly faces on Saturday taught me that some people find exercise relaxing!  What better way to start a day then by a solid hour of circuits? Just imagine that time invested in an hour’s lie in, and the money of the class spent on cakes? Accumulated over a year, your body won’t be thanking you later. In the moment, the intensity of the exercise is thrilling even though it can be hard. As I have a broken big toe on my right foot, I find some exercises like lunges hard due to balance issues. It would be tempting to quit them, but instead I see them as a chance to learn. The body has many miraculous ways of achieving things, and other muscles can be taught to compensate for the imbalance. After a few weeks of this, I will look forward to updating you with my progress.
Find out more about Elite here!:

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Relax and Learn French with Club Des Amis at Le Beaujolais

Thom Keen tries Club Des Amis, photo L. Kittel

 Leilani Kittel and Thom Keen discovered the perfect way to keep their French skills up...

Centrally located Le Beaujolais is the monthly host to Cirencester’s premiere French club, Club Des Amis. Occuring on the last Tuesday of every month, November’s meeting also welcomed members of the Cirencester Twinning association. With 20 attendees, around 12 advanced speakers sat together, whilst the more entry level learners helped each other on a separate table. Creator Thomas Kidman has noted that of the 200 members, it is always a surprise regarding
Supporting each other, photo L. Kittel
which ones show up on any given meeting. This variety adds a rich melting pot of personalities and opinions, all blended together for a reasonable £12.50 that includes a two course self service meal. Drinks are extra, and dietary needs can be catered for if advanced warning is given.

Thom Keen and Leilani Kittel visted on the Cirencester Scene’s behalf, and discovered a club full of friendly members.  With the bar opening at 19:00, there is plenty of time to mingle and introduce yourself if you are a new comer. At 20:00 food serving begins, and often during this time items of French media are happily swapped in a trusting exchange. Every attendee receives a free copy of ‘Ici Londres’, a British based French language publication.

Free magazine and lovely food! Photo L. Kittel
If you are interested in France, learning French at school or just curious about the experience, January’s meeting will be on Tuesday 26th. Places must be booked in advance, which can be done by contacting Le Beaujolais via phone or e-mail.
01285 644440
Le Beaujolais is located at 37 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD

Friday, 20 November 2015

Elite Health & Fitness Article II-Practical Magic

  Elite is helping our writer increase his physical capacity. Evan Burgess looks at the Pieces of Equipment that will transform your day to day life too...
A personal training session at Elite may be one of constant surprises. The gym utilises space to store an array of goodies (or torture equipment) for the benefit of any program. The names of some of the equipment can be more or less intimidating. The equipment with the more elaborate names however, are designed to build day to day strength that imitates motions found in life, rather than so called “target” training of a particular muscle. The prowler, the grappler, the sled and power bags are all quality items of equipment that offer practical strength training as well as targeting specific muscle groups.

The Prowler

The Prowler being dragged
The prowler is useful for both pushing and pulling movements. The pushing element of the equipment is useful for people such as Rugby players in a scrum. Attaching a rope to the prowler allows a subject to develop strength related to rope climbing. The prowler has two posts on it that allow weight discs to be added. This allows for an almost unlimited amount of strength to be developed for the same exercises. The exercise is simple, but executing it becomes immensely difficult under circuit conditions. What starts off easy soon turns into a mind over matter exercise of stamina, rather than just raw strength. This is excellent for conditioning, and on Elite’s plush astro turf track, everyone will learn the delights of this piece of kit.

The Grappler

The grappler is a great tool for building back strength. A bar with two grip handles attached on the top, this device allows one to develop the strength needed to pull someone or something up from the ground. This is useful for hands on jobs like being a paramedic, a fire man or a soldier. Due to the nature of the contraption, good form must be maintained to achieve satisfactory balance. 

The Sled

The sled like the prowler, is a rather simple
Pushing the prowler
apparatus. It has a clear benefit to running speed and can help build strength without so much need for recovery time. A lot of muscle size is built due to the decline or eccentric part of an exercise. As the sled doesn’t have this, muscle may not be built as large, but at the same time the pain two days after isn’t so extreme. This is useful for endurance athletes and still builds total body strength.

Power Bags

Power bags are weighted bags with an array of handles on them. This allows a multitude of dynamic motions to be carried out. Either simply lifting and carrying, or even throwing, the power bag can be used individually or in a duo. The fatigue of throwing or carrying a power bag will develop great stamina and resilience.

Find out more about Elite at the following links:

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Get Involved With Cirencester Stroke Club

Photo from Wilts Glos Standard.

Find out More About the Cirencester Stroke Club

This is a self funding club meeting at Beech Home Court Community Room, on Mondays 9.30am -12 noon.

It is run by volunteers and the aim is to improve the quality of life and increase self-esteem of stroke survivors, by encouragement and group self support and to provide useful information.

We aim to provide a friendly, happy atmosphere. The morning starts with coffee and biscuits, followed by speakers in a wide variety of topics, or music, singing and/or exercises. Outings are arranged including carers. Recently on Oct 12th, thirty nine members, carers and volunteers had a day out including lunch at Cotswold Wildlife Park, we had a very happy time with wonderful weather.

Transport for the club can be provided by Dial-a Ride if the trip is within the Cirencester area. Do come and join us.

Contact Margaret Knapp on:
01285 821 481