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We have a wide range of articles about fitness, health and events at Active.

Read one of our many articles below by clicking on the title and after you have finished, let us know what you think by submitting a comment. What fitness techniques have you tried that have worked or failed? Is there a new kind of fitness class that we don't currently provide? What more could we do to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle?

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Waste Not Want Not

24131-Active -March -2016-EDM-Waste -not

Meet Ali - one woman who upcycled her life.

This month Fort Regent's, Emma Turner, Social Media manager and blog writer, sat down with Ali from Waste Not Want Not, one of the Fort's very creative kid's activity providers, and quizzed her on all things about recycling, challenges, motivation and what makes her tick. Take note guys this could be you!

I'm sure we all remember The Wombles (or maybe that's me showing my age) and if you venture into Ali's Waste Not, Want Not workshop you could imagine Tobermory and Orinoco busying away creating some magic, just like they did every week, delighting children where the only limits of what could be achieved are the bounds of their imagination.

Today in the workshop Amy, one of Ali's assistants, and her daughter Jasmine who is also a helper from time to time, are engrossed in creating huge letters for a children's party, there are large amounts of the brightest yellow and glowing silver paint being applied and she looks insanely happy beavering away to Justin Bieber - who wouldn't be!

I'm interested to know where the inspiration came from for this wondrous world, which is the workshop, and Ali recounts a journey of determination, taking chances and following your dreams.

"It kind of started a long long time ago when I fixed things out of necessity but also because that's what I believed in". 

Ali had always enjoyed finding creative solutions to problems so if a chair broke how could it be fixed or if it can't be fixed what else can we make from it?

"Over time friends began noticing the things I was making and began asking me to make items for them; encouraged by this I began making things, with my husband, John, to sell in local markets and Waste Not, Want Not was born.  Over the course of the following few years we got to a point where our home was so full of projects we needed to find another space to work in so we moved into a workshop at Devils Hole."

With no formal training in furniture design or creative arts and from a financial background how did Ali manage to get where she is now?

"It didn't happen overnight but I think one of the most important things to me was creating pieces that made me happy and being realistic about what the outcome might be - not putting pressure on yourself, just make it and if you like it great and if you don't, well you don't."

This letting things go where they go approach paid dividends when last year Ali was made redundant and was at a crossroads, find another job, or, make upscaling a full time job.  Ali chose the latter and has never looked back, but that's not to say it was an easy journey.

"Finding a space was obviously a key part of the process, it needed to be accessible, affordable and appropriate to the work I do - when the opportunity came up at Fort Regent it was a perfect fit - even the Fort has been recycled many times!  The other biggest challenge was getting to understand all the regulations surrounding providing activities for children - it was a steep learning curve - and getting over hurdles needed some juggling but we got there in the end!"

Ali spent some time showing me all the amazing things kids have made at the workshop and it's truly remarkable to see all the love and effort that has gone into these cherished items.  Ali explains that this creativity is the highlight of the venture.

"When the children come in I tell them they can make whatever they want, sometimes they are quite surprised 'Really, anything?', some just get stuck in straight away and for others the idea of grabbing whatever you like and just sticking stuff together, just because you can, takes a little more time.  I wholeheartedly feel that the children are the leaders, I can give them ideas but it's all their own work and their imagination.  I try to step in only if they come across a tricky bit with making their vision and need some help to achieve it."

I wondered what happens with all these crafted items when the kid's go home and Ali is delighted to tell me that very often the children return with the toys or inventions they have made or send in pictures to put on the Facebook page.

"It's a genuinely touching moment when a child returns to the workshop to make something new and brings back something they made previously because they want to share it with you and they are proud of what they have accomplished.  I have children who come back regularly; you can see their skills improving and their projects becoming more advanced as they grow in confidence.  They breeze in the door, roll up their sleeves and just start building; they have become part of the fabric of the space, just like they were creating in their own home - which is fantastic."

As a parent myself the appeal of the workshop is immediate - no mess at home and Ali agrees. 

"If you are a busy parent, perhaps with children of different ages, being able to provide a regular creative outlet is going to be problematic, all the different equipment, materials, safety and mess just before teatime is enough to make all of us think twice, especially if you don't feel you are particularly creative yourself.  At the workshop you don't have to worry about all those things and what we have noticed recently is that children are coming to us to complete creative homework projects for school - it's been really interesting to see how the children have approached these."

It would be easy to think that as Ali has been creative all her life and the ideas just flow out of her when she is looking at future recycling projects for the workshop but surprisingly that's not the case, partly because she believes so passionately on the ethos behind Waste Not, Want Not.

"It would be easy for me to recycle all of the ideas, rotate them, but that's not what the workshop is about, it's about imagination and valuing what you have and encouraging people to think differently.  For example, for our children's parties we ask the birthday child how they want to theme it and some themes are very popular, such as Frozen or Minecraft, and as we bespoke each party, thinking up new ideas can be challenging creatively and we get incredible feedback from the children and parents so it's 100% worth putting that extra effort in so the children all get something unique."

So where will the world of upcycling take Ali to next?  Is there room for more recycling at the Fort or in people's lives?  Ali believes there is, the demand for parties is so high she is now looking at bringing parties to peoples' home or perhaps expanding the workshop space but she also feels that bringing adults into the mix would be a step forward.

"I think as adults we sometimes feel that we can't just do something for fun, there has to be a tangible goal, particularly if you are making something.  I'd like to challenge that thought and ask why, why can't we as adults just play, just make something and see where it takes you - I did and I have no regrets."

Wise words indeed and I will certainly be joining one of Ali's adult workshops so I can have my own special moment of sharing my creation with my family.

Ali's Waste Not Want Not workshop is situated in the Piazza Area at Fort Regent.  There is a mix of both drop in and fixed sessions as well as pre-bookable parties.  For details contact Ali via her email: ali@wastenotwantnotje.co.uk or visit her Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/wastenotwantnotjnrs

 

Written by Emma Turner at 09:00

Winning the Weight Loss Challenge


You know that expression - put your money where your mouth is? Well at Fort Regent we are doing just that. 

When I tell people I work at Fort Regent they think I must be a gym bunny but in truth I really dislike exercise.  The personal trainers in the gym are so friendly and I feel guilty refusing the offers of help, but kids, work and life just gets in the way.  They don't need to but it's a good excuse and I'm sticking to it.

My colleague Tom on the other hand, child free and having extra leisure time, loves and is really into his fitness and has an amazingly healthy diet (I know we all hate him already!).

So when he suggested that I join the annual Fort Regent Weight and Fat Loss Challenge you can imagine what I said and you'd be right, I said 'No'.  In actual fact I think I fell of my chair laughing and then I said 'No'.

But then I had a rethink.  I remembered not too far back posting an article about how to keep resolutions and one of the major contributors to success is to let other people know what you are up to.  It was time to put your money where your mouth is. 

So I signed up.

In all 23 staff members took up the challenge and on 11th January we began with an official weigh in with Exercise Referral.  The girls, very coyly, going in separately, the guys, bravely, going into together.  I believe there was some friendly banter and outraged men on discovery of their weights! 

I've always wondered (and been slightly jealous) about how people stay motivated, what's their secret!  Most people can stick it for a week but how do you keep it going? 

In an effort to discover my own secret and remembering that another road to success is to 'Write down your goals' I let Tom talk me into a one on one competition which I would blog.  It's also a bit of an experiment to see what happens.  So here it is; I will be discussing the apps we are using, diet, fitness and how we getting along. 
 

Tech seems to promise to make us all better at everything so Tom and I are using the following apps and websites:

Apps: Myfitnesspal and FitBit - both apps are free.

Web: Plan to eat (annual charge of around £10) and Calorie Count - free

Both Tom and I received FitBits for Christmas, which depending on your model, tracks sleep, steps, calories, movement, heart rate, exercise and tells the time.  It links into myfitnesspal. 

Myfitnesspal is a type of health journal where you log what you've eaten and it works out how many calories you have left - if you have it on your phone it can also log steps but I haven't found this to be very accurate.  It also has forums and advice.                      

The info from myfitnesspal magically appears in your FitBit dashboard and works out how your doing - including how many calories you have left and because your FitBit watch is more accurate you usually get a couple of bonus calories! Yippee.
 

Plan to Eat: An online meal planner making it easier to plan and stay on track.

Calorie Count: Works out how many calories in a meal (accuracy not confirmed!)

Diet method: Emma: Trying to stick to 1200 calories - no cheat days.  Tom: Balancing calories in to calories out and sticking to a percentage of food groups, ie, protein, fats and carbohydrates plus one cheat day.

Exercise method: Emma - working out at home.  Tom: playing sport, walking home from work, weight training, 3-4 times a week, including some sessions with Harry Zambon from Zambon Fitness. 
 

Results after the first two weeks

  Weight   Fat  
#TeamEmma - Starting   63.1kg 28.9%
After week one 62.1kg 26.1%
After week two 61.5kg 28.9%
Loss 1.6kg 1%

 

  Weight   Fat  
#TeamTom - Starting   90.3kg 18%
After week one 87.8kg 17%
After week two 88.1kg 17%
Loss 2.2kg 1%

 

Fortunately we are both down but here's what we did and didn't do!

Emma:

Good: managed to log almost all my food in myfitnesspal, stayed on track with the 1200 calories, only went over on two days.

Could do better: Midweek week two I was having an emotional moment and comfort ate!  I also only exercised twice the entire two weeks.

#TeamEmma - The Low Down

Counting calories is very dull and time consuming.  Myfitnesspal is mainly American foods and even though there are items I have most days (ie, mint tea) it doesn't seem to save them as frequent foods - all the scrolling through lists of food is frustrating and when I'm busy I don't bother so it's easy to lose track of calories consumed; I need something simpler.  From this week I am converting over to 5:2 diet which promises me five calorie free counting days and 2 days of starvation!  I'm nervous as I don't want to put on what I've lost.

FitBit is really helping especially when you achieve a goal and you get a little vibration on your wrist to celebrate!

Exercise: I have no solutions!  We have a new Curve machine so I'm going to check it out - maybe the novelty will persuade me. 

Tom:

Good:  I have been training hard and managed to gain strength on my big lifts (deadlift/squat/bench press) as well as playing sport to get my cardio in.  This has allowed me to consume about 3,250 calories a day and still cut weight. 

Could do better:  Last weekend I overindulged on my cheat day sinking a few pints of lager, eating sushi, a 3 course dinner followed by a muffin and biscuits all in one evening.  I then woke up and treated myself to a full English breakfast! It was a special occasion so I can live with the consequences of a small weight gain in week 2 after a positive first week. 

#TeamTom - The Low Down

Myfitnesspal is a God send for me as I have a monster appetite.  As I prep my lunch the night before I can input all my meals a day early so I don't have to worry about not recording data accurately or missing anything out.  This also stops me from being tempted to visit the vending machine or grab some fast food from the café as I have already prepared my food for the day.  Breakfast is easy to record as it is the same most days; either overnight oats, Weetabix or salmon and poached eggs on toast with avocado.  You can save regular meals in myfitnesspal so you don't have to constantly search for individual ingredients.  This gives me more flexibility in the evenings to eat tasty home cooked meals without worrying too much about the nutritional value as I have already eaten well balanced and "clean" meals all day. 

I love my new FitBit, It has encouraged me to get more sleep and start to walk when I can.  The app you get for your phone allows you to compete with fellow FitBit wearers to get the most steps in a week.  I am trying to keep up with some Personal Trainers and PE teachers so I have started walking home most days, which has also saved me in petrol money!  Wooop!

I have really upped my training recently.  I already had a good base fitness, however my PT Harry has really pushed me hard to increase my strength and ensure I stay on track with my goals.  My technique has also improved on my big compound movements.  I hate running on a treadmill or plodding away on a cross trainer as I get bored very quickly.  Instead I get my cardio in through sports.  A game of 5 a side for an hour can burn a good 700 calories and be very enjoyable at the same time.

So there's the background - from now on we'll be posting snippets on how we're doing - you can follow our progress on this blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! #TeamEmma and #TeamTom

 

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Written by Emma Turner at 00:00

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New squash and racketball club helps you get fit and have fun... Guaranteed!

Regent Racquets Club is a new squash and racketball club opening in September at Fort Regent for all levels from complete beginners through to improvers, intermediate and elite players for both juniors and adults. 

Mike -Hopkins

Resident coach Mike Hopkins came in to tell us more about this new club and why you should be involved.

The new club is opening in September, tell us about it?
The idea for Regent Racquets Club came about after players I was coaching suggested it. They wanted a friendly and welcoming club open to all level of players where they could get together for regular leagues, tournaments, coaching and socials and have fun based at Fort Regent. We decided the best way to encompass all of this that the best way was to set up a club using Fort Regent squash courts. 

So what kind of experience do you need?
Absolutely none.  Even if you have never picked up a racket before we encourage you to come and have a try at one of our coaching sessions. We put players together in groups of the right ability so you will never feel out of your depth, and we buddy people up so that you get to know your fellow players and build up a relationship with them really quickly.  

What about if you are already an experience player, do you have players at all levels?Yes, we certainly do - there really is a level for everyone here. 

And what about starting ages?
We take children from the age of 3, if the child wants to play.  It's never too early. Junior group coaching age is from 3 to 16 years.

So it's an activity for the entire family?
Yes! And that is why we have a family membership option available.

So Mike what is Racketball?
Well, it's very similar to squash in some ways as it's played on a squash court but it has some important differences which can make it a more accessible game than the more fast paced squash.  The racket is shorter, but the head is larger, and it's played with a larger bouncier ball, which means the game is much slower. 

Does that make it easier to play?
It's still a challenge but, yes, essentially as the game is not quite as quick, it is easier to play - it's easier to get rallies going, which a lot of people find really enjoyable.  People who may be retiring from squash, or those who may have physical injuries or reduced mobility, ie knee injuries, find this an easier and gentler way to continue to play squash, although many people who play have never played squash before.

What are the benefits of playing squash and racketball?
It is a great way to get fit, burn calories and alleviate stress. Squash burns on average 500 calories in 30 minutes. You are also improving hand eye co-ordination, agility and balance. With the stop sprint movements you are having an intense cardio vascular work out using both upper and lower muscles, which boosts stamina and endurance. And it is a great stress buster and lots of fun too.    

Is it a big commitment?  Do I have to come every week?
No, not at all. We understand people have busy lives and we have created our club to make it possible for people to play at the level and commitment that's right for them.  We will have regular Team Leagues, Summer Leagues, various tournaments, mens only, ladies only, age groups, juniors, doubles, club night - you name it we will have it!

What can people expect if they join the club?
First and foremost a group of really friendly and welcoming players.  The club is new but already has a fantastic group of players who are really keen to welcome new members of all ages and abilities. It will be fun with socials too.

Do you need to be a member or can you just turn up and play?
If you just want to see if you like it then you can come along and give it a go at one of our group coaching sessions or at a club night. The annual Regent Racquets Club membership is £60 a year for non-Active members and £50 for Active members with also the option of a family, student and junior membership. There are then membership discounts on coaching, tournaments and league entries.

I'm interested what do I do now?
You can call on 07700 714333 for an informal chat or email the membership secretary on info@regentracquetsclub.com  We have a website for further information at www.regentracquetsclub.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter https://twitter.com/regentracquets  

Membership forms are available from the website and Fort Regent

Written by Emma Turner at 00:00

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