Group Fitness And Healthy Ageing

“Exercise is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for” according to the NHS. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of chronic diseases, stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity becomes even more important as we get older, improving self-esteem, energy, mood and sleep quality. Recent research has shown that having an exercise companion means you are more likely to exercise and that group fitness classes have benefits that go beyond weight loss and muscle gain. Here are a few popular classes to get you started.


Over 5000 years old, yoga is a popular form of exercise which focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing. Yoga increases joint flexibility, reducing muscle soreness, stiffness, and achiness and increases muscular strength. In turn, this improves balance and reduces the risk of falls as you get older. Yoga can also be effective in preventing or slowing bone density loss. Moreover, yoga has great benefits for the mind and relieves stress and the symptoms of depression.


Aquafit is a high energy aerobics class which takes place in the shallow end of a swimming pool. The movements are the same as in a normal aerobics class but with added benefits due to working out in water. Aquafit is a low impact activity where water supports your body putting less strength on joints and muscles. There is also less strain on the heart by being in the water which in turn moves blood around the body, improving cardio fitness. It builds muscular strength due to the added push of the water and the impact of gravity is reduced by the water allowing a greater range of motion and improving balance.


Zumba is a relative newcomer to the fitness class circuit, being created in Columbia in 1990. Zumba combines Latin music with moves from Latin dances such as salsa, mambo, merengue, and samba. Zumba has been described as a workout in disguise as the dance moves mask an intense cardio workout with free flowing movements. It is a great way to alleviate stress, reduce symptoms of depression and improve self confidence. Zumba also improves strength, posture and flexibility as well as benefiting coordination and balance.

These group classes all have one common advantage; they offer the social and motivational benefits of exercising with like-minded people. Exercising in a group reduces stress and increases quality of life at the same time as improving fitness levels.

Written by Jane Sandwood

Why You Should Stay Hydrated During Your Workouts

The NHS recommends drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, roughly 1.2 litres of fluids to keep the body hydrated. However, the amount of fluid needed by the body when working out increases, and many people still only drink water when they are thirsty during exercise. Keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise is essential for overall health and lack of water or fluids may have detrimental effects,

Effects of Dehydration on Performance

During exercise, the body’s performance is impaired when dehydrated. Studies have shown that performance is inhibited by approximately 30 percent when the body is dehydrated. Dehydrating cells also results in raised histamine levels in the body leading to inflammation and pain. Water revitalises the body at a cellular level by transporting oxygen in and waste products like carbon dioxide out. Without water, all cells, including muscle cells, would be poisoned by these waste products leading to loss in strength. Sticking to water is healthiest but an electrolyte filled energy drink can be added as dehydration and heat combined can lead to muscle cramping.

Effect of Hydration on Bodily Health

As your body is made up of over 60 percent water, the more you replace during exercise, the better. Dehydration induced before exercise has been shown to increase heart rate, body temperature and even reliance on carbohydrates as a source of energy. This is particularly worsened in hotter environments according to a 1999 study published on the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Chronic dehydration can result in fatigue and energy loss, both of which will decrease motivation for exercise. Other adverse effects include high blood pressure and obesity due to craving foods to replace water.

Effects of Hydration on Appetite

Have you ever noticed you feel fuller when drinking fluids during or before a meal? It is not recommended that fluids replace meals entirely as we retrieve some of our daily fluid intake from food too. A 2010 study published in Nutritional Review shows that the total energy intake at meal times decreased with increased fluid intake.. Lack of fluids also increases craving for sweet things. The liver uses water and reducing this may reduce its ability to function and release glucose into the bloodstream. As a result, you may eat more sweet foods such as chocolate to compensate.

The body can survive without food for longer than it can without water showing how essential it is to get enough fluids. Avoid drinking only when thirsty and try to drink as much water as possible. Your body will adapt to the extra fluids and will thank you for it.

Thanks to Jane Sandwood for this great contribution

Get your Tax, finances and funding sorted to get 2017 off to a great start.

Ever changing rules, regulations, policies and laws are a constant challenge to the self employed. And the last 12 months are no different. So now’s a good time to start looking towards the year ahead and getting yourself sorted.

We’ve taken a look at some of the things worth thinking about now, but remember, when it comes to tax, its always worth consulting an accountant to make sure your OK and doing things right.

  1. Tax Return Deadlines.

Unfortunately, one of the first things you need to think about in 2017 is tax. 31 January is the deadline for paying the balance of any tax from 2015/16, as well as the last day to file your income tax return for 2016/17 … and of course pay your first installment. The tax year 2016/17 finishes on 5 April, and the second installment of tax for the 2016/17 period needs to be paid by 31 July. Additionally, as of April 2017, tax free personal allowance will rise to £11,500. So take some time now, get it right and consult a professional so you don’t fall foul of HMRC.

  1. Register for Self Assessment

As well as paying tax, if you’re new to being self employed, you need to make sure you’re registered for self-assessment and ready to file your tax return. If you filled in a self-assessment tax return for 2016, then you won’t need to re-register. However, if 2016 was your first year, or if you didn’t fill one in for whatever reason – if you ceased trading for a period of time, for example – then you will need to register by 5 October. The deadline for filing your tax return will then be 31 October for paper tax returns, or 31 January 2018 if you file your tax return online.

  1. Universal Credit – are you eligible? It could supplement your income as you start up.

When Universal Credit was rolled out, it was billed as a way of helping the self-employed supplement their income while getting set up. There are some drawbacks, however, in that you must provide extensive documentation in order to qualify, otherwise you may be required to seek alternative employment if you want to receive Universal Credit.

If you’re considering going down this route you may want to check what criteria you need to meet and perhaps pick up part-time work instead while your business is in its infancy.

Universal Credit is being rolled out in phases, so it’s worth noting that at the start of 2017, you will only be eligible for Universal Credit as self-employed if you live in: Bath, Bridgwater, Croydon, Frome, Great Yarmouth, Hammersmith, Harrogate, Hounslow, Inverness, Lancaster, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Musselburgh, Newcastle, Purley, Richmond, Runcorn, Rugby, Ryedale, Southwark, Sutton, Thornton Heath, Wells, Widnes.

  1. Get access to funding

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond said he planned to invest £400 million in the British Business Bank in order to give small companies the chance to grow – but how can the self-employed actually access that?

Well, as it turns out, lending to small businesses is currently at an all-time high, so you may find that going through the traditional route for business funding might not be as difficult as recent economic changes might suggest.

On top of that, the Treasury announced a scheme earlier this year that would allow small business owners who’ve been turned down for a loan to secure alternative finance through one of three platforms.

If you want to know more about securing small business funding through the British Business Bank then check out their website for what they have on offer.

Changing careers to become a personal Trainer! UK Fitness Certification explained

With 2017 now upon us, it is not just the time of the year to start picking those weights back up or hitting the treadmill, but it is also the time of the year where you may evaluate what we are doing with your career and where you want to be come the end of 2017.

The fitness sector is no different, more and more people enrol onto a personal training diploma in January than any other time of the year as the festive fun closes and New years resolutions kicks in. If you are dreading going back to work, fed up of working the mundane 9-5 and want a career that yields your passion for fitness, then becoming a personal trainer could be just what the doctor ordered. Before jumping head first, you need to know what you are actually looking for and to fully comprehend how fitness qualifications work in the UK, so you can find the right course for you.

Our guest Blogger this week is Luke Hughes, the Managing Director at Origym who will help you navigate your way to a new career. Visit for more info.



One of the most commonly typed in phrases in Google each month is “how to become a personal trainer”? Often companies’ websites are loaded with marketing jargon, inaccuracies and frequently there are terms that mean effectively the same thing, which causes confusion on what you actually need to get personal training qualified and what the best route to take is.

Well, this is where I am going to simplify things and show you what is needed to become a personal trainer and what fitness accreditation and level of certification that is required to start your career the right way.

There are two fitness certificates you need, your level 2 gym instructing qualification and your level 3 personal training award. This is the minimum requirement needed to be able to qualify as a personal trainer, whether you want to start applying for jobs, set up your own online personal training service or run freelance circuits classes, you need these two certificates to bring your aspirations to life.

You might be wondering though, where is the level 1 fitness qualification? Well, there is such thing as a level 1 course in physical activity, however you do not need this qualification to progress onto your level 2 gym instructing course also known as level 2 fitness instructing. Once you have achieved level 2 gym instructing you need to progress in chronological order up through the tiers of certificates on offer e.g. you can’t skip from level 2 gym instructing to completing a level 4 course in lower back pain management for example.



Firstly and most importantly, you need to know the accreditation you actually need in the UK to be able to get yourself insured and be in the knowledge that you are fully certified and can start legally conducting one to one personal training sessions.

There are four major awarding organisations within the United Kingdom, Active IQ, YMCA Awards, City & Guilds and OCR, there are a few other awarding organisations that provide fitness certificates, but these are the most common for the fitness sector. The awarding organization is the company that is actually being printed on your certificate, not the company you actually purchase your personal training course from. The company you actually purchase your personal trainer course from is an approved test centre of one of those awarding bodies, called training providers, who deliver the training in correspondence to the guidelines set by the awarding organization. To maintain the approval of the governing body they have to undergo vigorous checks, sampling of work and regular visits to make sure they are delivering the fitness courses the right way. Always, always, always check the website of the training provider to see which governing body is stamped on their website as this is what qualification you will receive. The UK has a standardized the fitness qualifications about 10 years ago to ensure every personal trainer has covered the exact same core modules irrespective of which awarding organization or training provider of those awarding organisations you elect to do your course via.

Most fitness education companies tend to use Active IQ or YMCA awards as they are the most well known for fitness certification and are very industry specific governing bodies. This being said, this does not mean that City & Guilds, OCR or any of the smaller awarding organisations are not equally as valid or recognised by prospective employers and you will have no trouble gaining employment from certificates from those governing bodies.



You may have heard or someone has mentioned the name REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) to you as an awarding organization. This is a very common mistake, REPs are not a an awarding organization, REPs provides a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the health and fitness industry’s agreed National Occupational Standards.

REPs is owned by SkillsActive, which is the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure and Learning. It has been established by Employers in Sport and Recreation, Health and Fitness to sustain quality in training and qualifications in the UK. When you hear the term “REPs recognised courses”, this means that training providers that have had their courses regulated from REPs and SkillsActive get a stamp of approval and with every major gym chain in the UK partnering with REPs you need to pick a “REPs recognised course”, otherwise when going for employment you will be turned away, regardless of the level of qualification you present.

If you ever need to check if a course provider delivers REPs recognised courses, you can contact REPs themselves or view SkillsActive’s list of approved centres and also a list of centres claiming to be approved. Spending some time doing your due diligence may save you a lot of heartbreak in the long run.



If personal training qualifications are standardized then why is there such a difference in price from one company to the next? Firstly, although the core modules are exactly the same within every personal trainer course, this does not mean that add on courses and extra modules are not included, which can influence the price you pay.

Secondly the service you receive from the training provider varies vastly, in terms of quality of tutoring, level of help and support, speed of support, quality of learning resources, if they have an aftercare program such as helping with interviews with gyms, the list goes on to what is going to determine the value that course provider concludes their service is worth to how much you are going to pay for that service. Think of it this way, if a Ferrari is the same price as a fiesta, you would buy the Ferrari every time, right? Why is that, they do the same job, get you from point A to point B. The reality as we know is very different and a Ferrari is about hundred times the price yet people still pay it. This is because of the quality it provides and the intrinsic value it generates and fitness qualifications are no different. Although the fitness qualification you come out with can be the same, the experience and quality of service you receive can be completely different from one provider to the next. As a general rule of thumb the more expensive the provider normally the more qualifications and higher levels of service you will receive. This being said, like any walk of life you can find personal trainer courses vastly over priced at one end of the spectrum or completely undervalued at the other end.

The third and most important reason that determines cost of personal training qualifications is the actual study method you choose to learn via. You can’t contrast the price of one provider that only offers full time personal trainer courses with an online personal trainer course. Full time courses will always cost more regardless of service or anything else for that matter, the provider would need to supply a tutor everyday and a venue everyday; therefore they cost significantly more. With online personal trainer courses, apart from paying for certification and registration to the awarding body, the overheads for a provider are minimal, hence why the course is normally less than half the price of a full time personal trainer course.

Finally you will find “personal trainer courses” on the web that have no accreditation, no stamps from any authority organisations and are not regulated by any governing body. These ”qualifications” unfortunately are not worth the paper they are written on and no employer or insurance company will legally back you.


Author Bio

Luke Hughes

Managing Director


Luke is the Managing Director of fitness education course provider Origym. He is passionate about everything education and fitness. As a cycling enthusiast he can often be found cycling up and down the hills in the lake district.

Top tips to boost your fitness motivation

We’ve all been there – you’ve got all the best intentions of getting up and going to the gym, sticking with it and becoming the toned god or goddess you’ve always known was inside you, but somehow it never quite seems to happen because life gets in the way. Check out some of our top tips for getting motivated:

Fitness classes near me

Fitness classes are a great way to ease yourself gently into gym-going, but don’t expect them to be a walk in a park. The motivation of being in a class full of people can be very powerful; all but the least competitive people find it hard to stop for a breather when everyone around them seems to be doing fine.

Find fitness classes near you to maximise your chances of attending; even better, find some that are near your work. That way you’ll have no excuse not to swing by for a bit of cardio on your way home from work, or attend yoga classes in the morning before you start.

Once you’re attending a class regularly you’ll build a relationship with the instructor and feel bad about letting them down by not attending, which is always good motivation. Even better, add other members of your fitness class to your social circle for added accountability.

Buddy up

If you’ve got a friend who’s also looking to get fit, going to the gym together can be an excellent way to stay on track with fitness goals. Your friend will be able to give you a pep-talk when you can’t be bothered, and you can do the same for them.

Someone to talk to could also help to make the gym more interesting for you because you can help one another out and work towards common goals – you might even find yourself looking forward to your sessions on the treadmill.

Create a personal reward system

We all respond well to rewards, and it’s a good way to psychologically programme yourself to enjoy the gym if you’re looking forward to a treat at the end of it. Why not book yourself in for a facial or a massage after every 10 or 20 gym sessions?

You’ll find yourself working towards it with much more enthusiasm – just try to keep your treats healthy and don’t make them all about food – sabotaging your exercise with too many sweet treats could cause your progress to stall and may create an unhealthy relationship with food.

If you’re looking for fitness classes near you to help you keep on top of your fitness goals, take a look at our yoga, pilates and zumba options, all of which will help you to burn calories in a fun environment.

Everything you need to know about the different types of yoga

Yoga may be an ancient art, but its popularity has been retained through a number of revisions and adaptations. New styles focusing on certain elements of yoga or teaching it in a specific manner mean that the simple term ‘yoga’ can cover a huge range of exercises and activities. Depending on your body, age, and the type of exercise you’re looking for, you’ll want to find a class that suits you and gives you exactly what you’re looking for from yoga. There are certainly some common features – all share the same ancestor from thousands of years ago, and all should help you find relaxation and peace. This guide will give a brief explanation of the different styles so that you can find the one that suits you best.

Iyengar yoga

One of the most common forms of yoga, Iyengar is a good style for beginners as props can help you make sure you get things perfect from the off, even if you’re not able to hold some of the more advanced poses. Emphasis is placed on alignment, precision and detail, especially with regards to posture and breathing.

Ashtanga yoga

This is a more energetic style of yoga, where poses are held for short periods of time and moved through more quickly. A variation of this style of yoga, Mysore, allows a traditional learning method of one-to-one tuition as students arrive within a certain time-frame to practise in the presence of their teacher.

Kundalini yoga

Kundalini yoga often includes some of the wider aspects of yoga and, as well as poses and physical exertion, includes meditation and special breathing techniques which can help to reduce stress and make the student feel more relaxed. This form of yoga is also known as the ‘yoga of awareness’.

Jivamukti yoga

Although this style of yoga was only founded relatively recently, it has a much wider scope of the ancient practices of yoga, including music. It teaches students to embrace the whole philosophy and apply it to their lives, as well as hold the poses.

Hatha yoga

The antithesis of Jivamukti yoga, this style focuses precisely on the physical activity of yoga, minimising the attention paid to the traditional and philosophical aspects of the art.

Bikram yoga

One of the more esoteric styles of yoga, this style focuses on a specific set of poses which are run through in a heated (usually around 40 °C) environment to give students a thorough physical workout.

While you may find that some styles suit your needs best, all types of yoga are open to absolute beginners, even the more physical styles, so it’s worth giving a few a try. Once you’ve decided which style you like, see if you can find yoga classes near you.

If you employ anyone, get to know the National Living Wage .. now!

If you’re employing personal trainers or any staff in your business, then hopefully you’ll have heard of the UK’s National Living Wage that came into force on the 1st of April. If you haven’t, read on as you could face serious penalties if you’re not sticking to the rules…

The National Living Wage (NLW) of £7.20/hour is a compulsory minimum wage for employees who are at least 25 years old and will be reviewed in April each year. For workers under 25, the National Minimum Wage still applies.

If you haven’t already, the Govt recommends you follow these four steps:

  1. Check you know who is eligible in your business. Find out on GOV.UK’s employment status
  2. Take the appropriate payroll action. Find useful guidance in HMRC’s
  3. Let your staff know about their new pay rate.
  4. Check your staff under 25 are earning at least the right rate of National Minimum Wage.

The penalties for not paying can be severe. HMRC have set up a new enforcement team to prosecute employers who don’t pay their employees the new rate. If caught, you’ll be liable to pay 200% of the money owed, up to a maximum of £20,000 per worker. Employers can also be banned from being company directors for up to 15 years.

Why Take a Friend To Your Boot Camp Classes

In many aspects of life, making a decision to do something can be the toughest part. But when the decision you’ve made is to find a boot camp class in your area, and really put the effort into getting fit and staying in shape, it can feel like a huge step! Finding a class is easy, finding the courage to go can be a lot more difficult – and if you feel that you need to get back into exercising, you may not be feeling all that confident.

Boot Camp Classes – Easier With Two!

boot camp classes

Taking a friend along is a great way to get over that shyness and self confidence barrier; you’ll have someone to talk to (if you have enough energy for talking once you get going with your boot camp class), and you won’t have to face walking in on your own. Fitness instructors understand why you take part, and at any class you should be made to feel welcome, but a back-up plan doesn’t hurt! You can find a list of boot camp classes here.

Turn Your Boot Camp Class Into a (friendly) Comp!

Once you have been a few times, and you are comfortably settled into your class, a friend will make sure you stick with it! There’s a really useful article here:

As well as company on the way there, when there are two of you, you start to rely on each other, offering motivation and encouragement, sharing goals, and maybe pushing each other just a bit harder than you might work out on your own. You’re much less likely to cancel a scheduled class than an impromptu session, and you’re even less likely to cancel on your friend, because it is inconvenient for them.

If you have a companion, it also makes the session much more fun and through the fun of your classes you may well find that a casual acquaintance ends up becoming a good friend. So what are you waiting for? Team up with a friend and get going to those boot camp

A beginners guide to attending local yoga classes

Signing up to local yoga classes is a great way to improve your general wellbeing, meet new people, and de-stress in a world where day to day existence can feel far too fast-paced. However, if you expect overnight results, you’re likely to find yourself feeling frustrated, rather than reaping the benefits of relaxation. Here are our top tips for ensuring that you get the most of your yoga sessions when you first dive into the world of asanas.

Attending Local Yoga Classes

different types of local yoga classes

Going to your first yoga class can feel daunting, particularly if you are unsure what to expect. If you’ve signed up for small, local yoga classes, it is likely that you will be able to contact the teacher beforehand in order to address any concerns. However, as a rule, you will want to wear comfortable clothes, and no shoes or socks. People often think that baggy clothes will be the most comfortable, but the nature of some poses may make baggy tops ride up, or allow loose trousers to slide down. Try a few basic movements in your yoga attire before class – you don’t want to spend the session worrying about exposing yourself!

Comparing Yourself to the Experienced Yogi

There’s really only one rule here: don’t! Comparing yourself to more experienced classmates is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel incompetent, and is likely to set you on a road towards giving up. Local yoga classes are likely to be popular with regulars who have been practising yoga for years. Additionally, people often think of yoga as being easy because it doesn’t involve the same type of vigour as other athletic endeavours; however, it takes time, practice, and dedication to master even the most basic poses and asanas.

Practicing Outside Class

Yoga is truly enjoyable, and it’s likely that you will want to get some practice in addition to your allotted classes. Selecting poses before you start will encourage flow in your routine, and will help you to stay focused – Googling ‘sun salutations’ in the middle of your session is likely to distract you. Some find it helpful to write, or even draw, sequences of positions they want to do before they begin their home practice. The Yoga International guide to home practice as a beginner includes a few simple, but effective, poses, and can be found here: Finally, remember to practise Savasana (the relaxing corpse pose) at the end of each home session.

Can’t wait to get started? Find local yoga classes here.

Building a Business as a Personal Trainer

Personal training can be one of the most rewarding career choices you could make. How many other jobs give you an opportunity to help people to actively turn their lives around and make real improvements in their health and wellbeing?

With the UK fitness industry currently worth over £4 billion and rising, it’s also a potentially lucrative market to break into. Some independent personal trainers in London are known to earn six figure sums through successful franchising and high-end client work.

However, there’s a lot of competition on the market, and for every successful personal training business, there are others that fail at the first hurdle. At, we’ve put together some simple guidelines that could significantly improve your chances of seeing your business thrive…

1. Get the right qualifications to be a personal trainer

The legal requirements for advertising yourself as a personal trainer are something of a grey area, but it goes without saying that in order to succeed in this industry, you need to be able to prove that you know what you’re doing. A personal training qualification of level three or above from a recognised body such as NASM, CSCS or AVE is considered the minimum to work at most gyms. Make sure you’re signed up to the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and are fully insured for the style of personal training you plan to offer.

2. Have a diverse skill set

With so much competition on the market, the more styles and methods of personal training you can offer, the better. Some personal trainers prefer to focus strictly on one specific discipline, but this can limit your audience. Consider training to teach Yoga classes, Zumba or Pilates on top of your core speciality. Learning additional skills can also help you to offer better, more rounded health and fitness advice to all of your clients.

3. Be a good ambassador for your brand

It should go without saying, but in the world of personal training, first impressions count for a lot. Potential customers will often make a snap judgement based on how well you appear able to apply your training skills to yourself, so stay on top of your own health and fitness, and always make sure you’re dressed appropriately – whether it’s for a workout or a business meeting.

4. Make realistic pricing decisions

How much you charge for your services is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make when starting out your business. If you overcharge, you’ll limit your customer base, but if you under-charge, your business isn’t going to be sustainable and you’re likely to spread yourself too thin. Take time to research the competition, and put together a pricing structure that reflects the time you put in and your level of experience and qualification.

Also, you might want to avoid pay-as-you-go pricing plans when starting out. Customers may find a no-commitment policy appealing, but in terms of effectively managing your time, it can be a nightmare, as there’s no insurance for clients who simply don’t turn up to a pre-booked session. Consider offering a free first trial, followed by a commitment of a small block of sessions upfront, which should be paid for in advance.

5. Focus on growing your business as a personal trainer

The most successful personal trainers don’t spend all their time on face to face client work. Once you have a solid presence with a loyal following of regulars, look at how you can develop your brand through referrals or franchising. You should never be in a position where you need to turn a potential client down flat because of time. Pass them on to other trainers, or bring in additional staff to deliver sessions on your behalf. Many of the most famous fitness brands started out as small operations, so if you’re ambitious and think strategically, there’s no limit to what you could achieve.