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10th Oct 2017

15th Birthday

Takeshape Health is 15 years old this October!

In this time I’ve seen all sorts of health and fitness crazes / fads come and go, such as ab rollers, insanity, power plate etc. Also, ideas that were laughed at initially that are now mainstream such as gluten free, free weight training. Furthermore other ideas, such as saturated fat and breathing techniques helping you lose weight are still to take hold!

The key element I have taken is that, although theories and ideas change, the body doesn’t. We evolve 0.01% every 100,00 years and there are some keys concepts such as daily movement and nourishing food that we just can’t get away from. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix!

The problem is that we are attracted to the quick fix promise of ’10 minute abs’, ’10 day fat loss’ etc. The trick is to appeal to need for early results to help our motivation but […]

4th Sep 2017

Antifragile

I first heard the term ‘antifragile’ from Nassim Taleb’s book ‘Antifragile’ and I realised is exactly how we transform clients at Takeshape.

Fragile – Robust/Resilient – Antifragile

Anti-fragile is the opposite of fragile and a step further than robustness and resilience. Fragile breaks easily, robust stays strong up until a point and is then overwhelmed – the scenario of a water dam being overwhelmed by a freak and unpredicted flood. This is also exactly what happens in many peoples’ bodies. The body robustly resists illness and injury until it is overwhelmed and disease sets in. I have described this in terms of adrenal fatigue previously.

Antifragile describes a system or organism that actually gets stronger from the random (disordered) stresses that are placed on it. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same whereas the antifragile get better.

“Some things benefit from shocks; they […]

29th Aug 2017

Values

Values are your compass in life whether they are conscious or unconscious. Values drive thoughts, words, deeds. They shape your perception, your choices, your actions and how you feel. Values reflect your purpose, what you have come to learn in your lifetime.

Values determine how you spend your most time and most money as well as your discipline, commitment and focus – all very important when you want to get healthier. They also determine where you spend these the least.

‘invariably you run out of time/energy/money/resources for that which is
least value to you’

The challenges you face are when you are not clear about your values. If you are not living your own values (either consciously or unconsciously) and are trying fulfil someone else’s or society’s values, you will have inner conflict and incoherence. This causes tiredness, anxiety, depression.

Values are reflected by body/mind relationship and lead to symptoms and […]

15th Aug 2017

Diaphragmatic Breathing

(Belly/nose breathing)

Optimal breathing is breathing in through your nose with your belly coming out, then breathing out (through your mouth or nose) with your belly coming in. When we inhale, the normal pattern of abdominal wall action is such that with inhalation, the abdominal wall should relax and expand so that the diaphragm has the ability to push the organs downward. This is an essential means of creating negative pressure in the lungs to draw fresh air in with inhalation.

Tip: Watch a baby breathe – they do it right instinctively.

Most people have an inverted breathing pattern, i.e. their belly coming in when they breathe in. With an inverted breathing pattern, as a person inhales, his/her abdominals remain tight, or tighten more! This blocks the diaphragm’s ability to contract effectively, and stops the organs from being able to move downward with inhalation.

When someone has an inverted breathing pattern, there is over-recruitment of the scalene muscles in the neck, which help lift […]

31st Mar 2017

Pain Teacher

The pain teacher is one of the best teachers I’ve met. Do not mess around, daydream, or skip her classes or you’ll never reach your full potential, resulting in, ’Could do better’ reports all round!

Even worse is to do what most people do, and ignore the pain teacher by taking ‘treatments’ to muffle her. Treatments are generally painkillers in drug format, but can also be any treatment including the complementary ones. Killing the pain teacher is akin to taking out the bulb on a warning light on your car. It gets rid of the symptom but does nothing for the cause nor for your long-term performance (and health).

“Do you take medical drugs? If the answer is yes, what have you avoided or ignored that led to a weakening of your ‘self’ to the point of needing/wanting medical drugs? Allowing your life to become too stressful is the primary reason for all medical drug consumption and lost time from work!” – […]

30th Mar 2017

Natural Movement

The Take Shape Obstacle Course opened in the Summer of 2003 and each year it evolves with new obstacles/activities. We currently have over 30 obstacles, with hundreds of variations and games. Summer 2015 saw the new barefoot path.

The 10 acre course has a 500m grass track, mown weekly, and is set in picturesque countryside.

The obstacle course fits in with the principles of Frenchman, Georges Hérbert’s Method Naturelle (c.1900) which has been the inspiration and foundation for new activities such as parkour and free running. These principles are now being engaged by the top health professionals in the world for health and performance.
10 natural ‘utilities’

Pursuit – walk, run, crawl
Escape – climb, balance, jump, swim
Attack – throw, lift, fight


These are best performed outside and are non-competitive. “Exercise only with the intention to carry out a physical gain or triumph over competitors” Hérbert believed, “is brutally egoistic and just […]

21st Mar 2017

Set Points & Future Proofing NOT Calories

People really struggle when a I say that calories are pretty irrelevant when it comes to weight loss and health. They mistake our incredibly complex bodies for a simple machine where calories in and calories out determine our weight and fat stores.

This is understandable because:

  • we need to simplify the information on health otherwise we cannot do anything about it
  • all the information we receive from the media and government still focuses on calories
  • business is heavily invested in the idea of calories for health and weight loss
  • starving people are not fat

Let’s take the last one first. People in famines and concentration camps lost weight because of calorie restriction / starvation. Yes, but they had choice taken away from them over a long period of time. You have choice over very short periods of time. Our complex brain and body has evolved over 4 million years to become one of the […]

14th Feb 2017

Instant gain = long-term pain

The quicker you get results, the less likely they are to last

Weight loss is the obvious one, with set points (see next months blog), muscle wastage, dehydration, cellular changes (to store MORE fat) and lack of long-term behaviour change. But, we also see this with fitness and the popularity of HIIT classes promising instant results. These will most likely lead to injury as you will not have had to the chance to build a foundation of biomechanical alignment, posture and core support.

What do you want to do with your body in ten years time?

Is the first question we ask at Take Shape. We then build a programme backwards from this. Before you panic, yes, you get results in just a few weeks and, no, you don’t have to pay for ten years of training! Instead we change an instant fix mindset and teach you how to sustain your own personal health and fitness programme.

95% of […]

20th Jan 2017

Ski Fitness

By Ollie Martin

First published on ‘Where to Ski & Snowboard’

Although general fitness can be helpful in preparing for a ski holiday, such as walking, running, cycling, if you actually want to get better, it is best to undertake a periodised conditioning programme, unique to your needs.

Periodised just means ‘stages’ but more on this later. A generic programme, or just skiing itself, does not change any postural problems, weaknesses or compensations that you have in your body, in fact it will just exacerbate them. A conditioning programme will identify the weak links in your chain of movements and strengthen them enabling better performance, quicker recovery and a reduced chance of injury.

Myth: The best way of getting fit for skiing is to ski – WRONG

The best way to get fit for any activity is firstly, to become a fitter, stronger, better aligned ‘human athlete’ and secondly, to tailor your training specifically for your activity/sport.

Fitness […]