Tuesday, December 19, 2006

News - Christmas and other stuff...

With the christmas weekend nearly upon us it is time to reflect on the past year and what has been an exciting 12 months here at Aegis. It hasn't been without its challenges that is for sure, but we hope that the worst of those are now well behind us and we can go on from here to greater things.
We are exceptionally proud of the outstanding team that is developing here at Aegis and believe that nowhere is that reflected better than in the results our clients are getting. Aside from some staggering changes in body shapes and sizes, we have also seen many people gain relief from injury and illness over the past year and it has been inspiring to share a part in that.

So, we look forward to 2007 and are very excited about what lies ahead. The continued development of Aegis, both as a personal training centre and also as a training provider to the fitness industry. It will also see the release in July of Graeme's first book - Stronger and Fitter for Life, published by A & C Black
.
Other plans will include the development of new products, many available free of charge, such as Podcasts of workouts and exercises so you can take us with you on your Ipod wherever you go! There is also the regular monthly newsletter, keeping you up to date with news and views on health and fitness along with fantastic recipes, articles, playlists, and bonus funny's from the internet.

We continue to build this business with all of your help, please do remember that we are only an email or a phone call away if you need to speak to us about anything.

Email us on info@aegistraining.co.uk, call 0800 2 888 635 or simply visit us at personal trainers london

See you all in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feature - Studio Playlist

Hi all,

Hope you are all enjoying the latest posts on the blog. A few people have been asking about the music that we play in the studio so here for all of you is my latest training soundtrack. Check out the tracks, hope you enjoy them!

1. Chris Cornell - You Know My Name (Casino Royale theme)
2. Bright Idea - Orson
3. America - Razorlight
4. Only Human - The Departure
5. Blood - Editors
6. Living for the Weekend - Hard-Fi
7. Let it Slide - Keane
8. Spitting Games - Snow Patrol
9. Ashes - Embrace
10. Munich - Editors
11. Naive - The Kooks
12. All These Things That I have Done - The Killers

Each month I'll be bringing everyone some of the new music thats out there and my monthly training soundtrack...

While you are it, get a listen to our album of the month from Albert Hammond Jnr....not great training music but a fantastic album...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Recipe - Ed's Christmas Delights

Christmas Menu

Welcome one and all to my December recipes, I hope you
are all well and that you are experimenting in the
kitchen.

I really like Turkey at Christmas, so I wont start
saying that we should not cook “boring” Turkey, but I
will try to give you ideas for reasonably healthy
alternatives to the traditional Christmas dinner. I am
convinced that you should enjoy the festive period and
not worry too much about over indulging a little, just
try not to go too far.

Christmas is about making things a bit special, I have
put together a three course menu which should stand
out but wont leave you in need of new trousers
afterwards.

All dishes should be accompanied by copious amount of
alcohol for the cook!


Truffled Celeriac Soup

1 Celeriac - Peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
1 Large onion - Peeled and chopped
2 Sticks Celery - Chopped
1tbls Olive Oil
2 tbsp Truffle Juice or Oil
800 ml Semi-Skimmed Milk
Salt & Pepper
1 Small Truffle (Optional)


Begin by sweating the onion and celery with the olive
oil until soft, add the celeriac and a good amount of
pepper and cook for five minutes. Add the milk to
cover the vegetables, you may need slightly less or
slightly more depending on the size of your celeriac.
Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked, blitz
everything in a blender and pass through a fine sieve
back into a clean pan. Add the truffle juice or oil
and season with salt to taste. This will keep in the
fridge and can be reheated to serve, just shave the
truffle on top of the soup if using or dot with a few
more drops of truffle oil. Serve with some fresh
wholemeal bread.


Risotto of Fines Herbs with Grilled Seabass

1 Large Whole Seabass - Scaled, Filleted & Portioned

1 Medium Onion - Finely chopped
1 Clove Garlic - Finely Chopped
300g Carneroli or Arborio Rice
100ml Vermouth/Dry White Wine
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 litre Chicken Stock
50g Unsalted Butter
50-100g Parmesan Cheese - Freshly Grated
2 Hands full of Fines Herbs (Parsley, Chives, Tarragon
& Chervil) Very Finely Chopped
Salt & Pepper
In a pan bring the stock to a boil and keep hot, in a
large pan sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil
for five minutes then add the rice. Stir for a further
two minutes until the rice turns slightly translucent.
Add the vermouth or wine and cook until it has all
gone. Begin adding stock a ladle at a time and stir
continuously only adding more stock when the last has
disappeared. It should take about twenty minutes to
cook fully, the rice should have a slight bite but not
a crunch, do not undercook it.

When half the stock has been used start to preheat the
grill. Have your fish skin side up and seasoned with
salt and pepper underneath on a tray brushed with oil.
Brush the skin with oil and place under the grill when
the risotto is nearly cooked. Finish the risotto by
adding the parmesan, herbs, butter and season lastly
to taste. Place a lid on the pan and leave off the
heat for 2 minutes.

Check the fish is fully cooked, spoon a good helping
of the risotto into a large bowl and place a portion
of the bass on top and serve.

If you wish reduce 300ml of Port and 200ml or Red Wine
to a thick syrup and drizzle around the edge of the
risotto to finish.


Baked Apples with Homemade Mincemeat

4 Large Bramley Apples - Cored

200g Bramley Apples - Peeled, Cored and Chopped small
125g Raisins
125g Sultanas
125g Currents
100g Vegetarian Suet
150g Unrefined Brown Sugar
Juice and Grated Zest of 1 Orange and 1 Lemon
2 tsp Mixed Spice
¼ tsp Grated Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cinnamon
60ml Brandy

Place all the mincemeat ingredients in an oven proof
dish but only add half the brandy, and place in an
oven at 120c for 2-3 hours. Remove and leave to cool
stirring now and again to ensure the fat is mixed
through. Stir in the remaining brandy.

Place the cored apples on a buttered baking tray and
preheat the oven to 180c. Spoon the mincemeat into the
apple cavity and cover loosely with foil and bake for
35-45 minutes until soft. Baste every ten minutes with
any juices on the tray.

Serve on its own or with ice-cream.


I have cooked all of these dishes and can assure you
that you will not be disappointed, have a great
Christmas and New Year and you will be hearing from me
soon.

If you have any questions or suggestions then please
do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can
pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as
quickly as possible.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Article - Training after a muscle strain

I am a trainer, cyclist, runner and instructor. I believe I strained a gluteal muscle which prevents me from running. I know I need to rest the muscle but still need to train. Please advise what exercises I can do.

Getting injured just prior to competition is always going to make preparation for the event difficult. There are several different aspects that need to be considered in this scenario to ensure a speedy recovery and to minimize any potential de-conditioning effect, which will be the main danger to event performance.
Firstly it will be useful to get an accurate idea of what your injury actually is. In runners, hamstring strains, hip rotator strains and gluteus medius strains are all common injuries, mainly due to the key role they all play in successful running. Being able to isolate a cause will also play a big part in deciding upon rehabilitation and avoidance of further injury in the future.
In the acute phase of an injury (<72 Hours) the use of cryotherapy (ice) can be very effective in helping lessen the effect of the strain, beyond that time period you can use thermotherapy (Heat) to help warm the involved area prior to activity. This can be difficult to achieve effectively in the glute region due to the subcutaneous fat being a poor transmitter of heat, but should be attempted prior to exercise.
There are other options for when an injury stops you doing your chosen sport, you should try to find activities that mimmick the energy demands of your chosen sport, for example swimming, rowing and skipping all have aerobic demands similar to that of running or cycling and as such can often be valuable tools for maintaining aerobic conditioning when an injury prohibits your chosen discipline. Your main concern is going to be a loss of aerobic conditioning prior to your event, so you should try to keep your training duration at one similar to that which you would normally use.
There are many different factors that can affect how you recover though it is critically important that you don’t stress healing tissues beyond their tolerance, worsening the injury. This will only serve to frustrate you and delay a return to race/match fitness. You should be able to return to your running training once you can bear full weight on the involved limb with no pain and no limp. Ensure that you moderate your running and graduate the return to your training distance.
There are many factors that can contribute to sustaining a lower extremity injury, anatomical abnormalities, changes or sudden increases in training protocols, muscle imbalance, and lack of flexibility/stability or strength can all contribute, ensure that when getting back to full fitness you pay attention to adequate hamstring flexibility, pelvic and leg-length symmetry, hip rotator strength and flexibility and sound mechanics through the kinetic chain. This is particularly important if you find this injury recurring.
To summarise this, use alternative activities as suggested for a similar duration to maintain aerobic conditioning, use a graduated and moderate return to running only when you can bear weight without pain or limp, warm the area thoroughly before any exercise and don’t stress healing tissue too much or you will slow your return further.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nutrition - Mood Food - Top Tips!


The brain uses 30- 50% of total energy derived from the food we consume, more when used actively. So it's not just physical exertion which can be taxing if energy is not at optimum levels. Improving your energy will improve your brain power and your mood.


We know that a high sugar diet lacks the micronutrients needed to turn it efficiently into energy and because it is so ‘high octane’, it disrupts blood sugar levels.

The foods which allow the human body to function efficiently, with stable blood sugar control, and an ideal all-round supply of the many nutrients involved in maintaining a consistent energy, are the very foods we evolved to eat - unrefined, organic, nutrient-rich wholefoods with an emphasis on lots of vegetables and fruit.


Balancing your blood sugar by eating small regular meals including protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal is required for good energy, brain function and balanced mood (see diagram). Good mood also requires a diet high in tryptophan (precursor to serotonin) and Omega 3 fats, which aid the transmission of nerve impulses needed for normal brain function and help improve memory. The brain is made up of 60% fats!


The main mood modifying neurotransmitters include serotonin - which keeps us emotionally and socially stable, reduces anxiety and influences sleep - dopamine and nor adrenaline, which tend to make us more alert and responsive but anxious if in excess – and acetyl-choline, which keeps our memory working well. These are built from the amino acids: tyrosine, tryptophan and choline, using up specific B vitamins in their conversion; hence a good dietary supply of these is essential.

Depressed, anxious, moody individuals unfortunately often resort to junk food (of poor nutritional value) and comfort eating, or may miss meals due to a lack of self-interest – which further exacerbates the condition. Top tips for eating for better mood are:

• Balance your blood sugar by eating small regular meals including protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal.


• Eat nutrient-rich complex carbohydrates - whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, to combat depression and insomnia.
White or processed foods may cause serotonin depletion and thus depression.


• Eat protein with meals for tryptophan – rich in: fish, eggs, soya protein, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, sesame seeds and lentils. Avocadoes, oats and bananas are also good sources.


• Eat Omega 3 essential fats found in - cold-water fish (mackerel, anchovies, trout, salmon and tuna) and nuts and seeds (hemp, linseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds)


• Eat more tyrosine containing foods (precursor to dopamine and adrenaline and will help to rebalance apathy, depression and anxiety, keeping us motivated) - leafy vegetables, beans, spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese and avocadoes.


• Magnesium and Calcium are known as the calming minerals and help regulate mental health, energy production and sleep cycles. Good sources include: dried figs, cabbage family, brown rice, brazil nuts and almonds, dark green and leafy veg, watercress, sweet potatoes, sunflower and sesame seeds, quinoa, lima beans, peaches, fish and meat.


• Avoid aspartame – marketed as NutraSweet and found in many soft drinks, as it may block the formation of serotonin.


• Reduce your intake of processed, pre-packaged foods – these are high in chemicals, additives, preservatives and colours which research has shown to affect mental function and mood, often severely. Read labels, if you see many ‘E’ numbers (the worst: MSG or E621; E635; E211; E220; E104; E133; E110; E12; E124; E132) or other odd ingredients, avoid the food!


• Limit fried foods, hydrogenated and saturated fats – from meat, dairy and processed food. Avoid trans fats, as they cause blood cells to become sticky and clump together resulting in reduced circulation to the brain. To counter this, ensure a high intake of colourful, antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.


• Close to bedtime avoid tyramine (this increases levels of noradrenaline, that has stimulant properties and can contribute to insomnia and anxiety) – found in: Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, tobacco, cheese, chocolate, sauerkraut, wine, bacon, ham, sausage, aubergine, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.


• Avoid stimulants and all forms of sugary snacks and junk foods as the quick burst of energy supplied by these simple carbohydrates is quickly followed by a slump which exacerbates depression, anxiety and irritability. This includes caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

In addition to the above consider investigating the possibility of food allergies or intolerances and rule out toxic metal contamination, by testing. These contribute to poor brain function, mood and concentration.

Q & A - Gardening - Is it enough exercise?

Q - I love gardening and do about a morning's worth once a week. Is this
enough exercise? Should I perhaps try to do some every day instead of once a
week?

A - Gardening can be an enjoyable and rewarding way to get some activity into your life, it incorporates many movements that were once integral to our life, pushing, pulling, squatting and bending. To really get the benefits of an active lifestyle though, you’d be right in thinking that trying to do something active most days is more beneficial.

The British Heart Foundation tells us that 7 out of 10 adults are not active enough to benefit their heart, despite regular exercisers being twice as likely to survive a heart attack as those who do nothing.

Modern society is making it easier and easier to be less active, but this sedentary type of lifestlye is now being recognised as a risk factor for the nations biggest killer, Coronary Heart Disease. There is good news though, you don’t have to sweat it out for hours at the gym to protect yourself against this and the many other chronic illnesses that are associated with it, such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Osteoporosis and even some forms of Cancer.

For many of us, changing our lives to incorporate some kind of fitness routine can be the biggest obstacle of all, while many have contemplated it or are aware of the benefits of being more active, far less actually do, overcoming this and taking some positive action is the first step to a healthier, more rewarding life.
There is a saying, use it or lose it, and this applies to our body well, in the same way that exercising can stimulate positive changes, doing nothing can lead to degenerative changes in muscle, bone and organ function. In some cases even daily activities can become tiring and hard work. In fact many of the changes that people associate with ageing are in reality down to inactivity rather than age.
However, it isn’t all bad news and you don’t have to put yourself through the mill at the local gym to benefit from a more healthy lifestyle. Simply by being more active in your daily life and finding hobbies that get you moving you will feel benefits. These benefits aren’t just physical either, exercising has been shown to positively affect moods, anxiety, stress and even help depression. All this by being active for a total of 30 minutes a day (and you don’t have to do it all at once, research has shown these benefits can come from accumulating exercise throughout the day)
This means that by gardening, hand washing the car, walking to the shops, walking the dog, taking a bike ride, or playing recreational sport you can benefit your health, protect yourself against illness, feel better within yourself and be better able to enjoy your life to the full.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recipe - Ed's Simple Seafood Starters

Welcome back, this month I have decided to look at cooking some simple seafood dishes that will impress but are in fact extremely easy. I love seafood of all descriptions but I think many people are frightened of cooking fish, well not anymore. These simple recipes will give you confidence and hopefully some real enjoyment.

I have chosen three starter dishes using Mussels, Monkfish and finally Scallops, which I think are one of the finest foods you can get.

Whenever you buy fish be sure that it is fresh and doesn’t smell fishy, if you are ever unsure about fish it is probably best to avoid it. Always feel the fish, it should be firm and when pressed it should spring back and not leave an indent. If buying whole fish then the eyes should be bright and not dulled and the skin should not be slimy.


Classic Mussels with White Wine

1kg Washed Mussels – Discard any that wont close when gently tapped
2 Shallots – Finely Chopped
1 Clove Garlic – Very Finely Chopped
1 Handful Parsley – Coarsely Chopped
200 ml Dry White Wine (I prefer Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tbsp Oil
Salt & Pepper

Place a large pan with a lid on a medium heat and soften the shallot and garlic, turn up the heat and add the white wine, when boiling furiously throw in the Mussels and place the lid on for 2-3 minutes or until all the Mussels are open, throw any that remain closed. Strain the Mussels and put the liquid back in the pan add the parsley and bring to a boil, season and taste. Pour over the Mussels in large bowls.



Steamed Monkfish with Red Pepper and Balsamic Dressing

2 x 150g portions Monkfish
100 ml Balsamic Vinegar
2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Shallot – Finely Chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Bake the peppers in an oven for 12-15 minutes at 180C place them in a container and cover with cling film until cool, they will then peel easily. Throw away the seeds and stalk of the peppers and dice into 5mm chunks. Place the Balsamic Vinegar in a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat to a syrup consistency. Season the Monkfish well with salt and pepper and place the monkfish in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes, you may need a little longer but check it earlier rather than later. The Monkfish should be fairly firm but not rigid, there should be a little give and will be slightly underdone. While the fish is steaming sauté the shallot in a pan and add the diced red pepper, cook until quite mushy and season to taste. Place a good spoonful on the centre of a plate and slice the monkfish and top the pepper, drizzle the balsamic glaze around the plate.


Seared Scallops with Soy, Ginger & Sesame Dressing

3 Large Scallops per Person
3 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds – Lightly Toasted in the oven or a dry pan on a medium heat
1tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
2 Spring Onions
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Sea Salt Flakes

Place the Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil and Ginger in a small pan and warm to infuse the flavours. Heat a non-stick fry pan or griddle until smoking hot, whilst heating chop the spring onions at an angle. Coat the scallops in the oil and place in the pan; they need no more than 30 - 60 seconds each side depending on their size. Place the scallops on a plate and spoon over some of the warm soy/ginger dressing and sprinkle with the spring onions and Toasted Sesame Seeds. You can serve any green vegetable with this dish, particularly steamed broccoli or Pak Choi, lightly seasoned.



I do hope that you enjoy these recipes; they are very simple and yet so tasty. Everyone should enjoy mussels cooked at home, they really do taste so wonderful and the cooking liquor has so much flavour you will want to drink a pint of it!

Next month I will be trying to give you all some alternative ideas for a healthy Christmas Dinner, but it is Christmas so I don’t have the heart to make it too healthy – just don’t tell Graeme or Greg!

If you have any questions or suggestions then please do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as quickly as possible.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Article - Osteopathy, what's it all about?

Aegis Osteopath Ben Ludlow explains the what, when, how, and why of Osteopathy...

Osteopathy is an established system of diagnosis and treatment that recognises the role of the musculo-skeletal system in the healthy functioning of the body. The musculo-skeletal system is a key element in maintaining health. This system makes up two-thirds of the body's mass. It impacts and reflects the condition of all other systems in the body.
Osteopathic theory involves the concept that structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) are inter-related. If the structure of a joint is distorted in any way, this will affect the normal mechanics of the joint resulting in dysfunction, which patients often feel as pain and stiffness.
The body has a natural ability to self-regulate and self-repair. Osteopaths rely on this innate healing ability to return their patients to good health. Osteopaths also promote good nutrition and fitness to sustain healthy body systems. It uses no drugs. Instead, osteopaths work with their hands using a wide range of treatment techniques, such as soft tissue and neuro-muscular massage, joint mobilising techniques and corrective manipulations designed to improve the mobility and range of movement of a joint.

With their highly trained sense of touch, osteopaths use these manual techniques both to discover underlying causes of pain and to carry out treatment. Its main strength, however, lies in the unique way the patient is assessed from a mechanical, functional and postural standpoint and the way that treatment is planned to suit the needs of the individual patient.

What happens when you come to me for treatment
• The process is similar to visiting any Registered Medical Practitioner.
• The appointment will be in private in a treatment room.
• I will ask you about how the symptoms began, and factors that affect them; and record your full details and case history.
• When attending for your first appointment please bring details of any medication currently being prescribed.
• I will ask you to undress to your underwear in order to give you a postural examination. I may ask you to perform a simple series of movements.
• This will be followed by a structural examination to identify functional abnormalities.
• I may also give you orthopaedic, neurological or circulatory examinations (e.g. reflexes, blood pressure, etc.) to aid the diagnosis.
• X Rays, blood tests and MRI scanning may be required in certain circumstances, for which I will refer you back to your GP.
• I will explain the assessment I make, the appropriate course of action and treatment for your specific requirements. I will begin any treatment required.
• I can also suggest exercise programmes to both improve and maintain flexibility, strength and core stability, as well as advising on work space ergonomics and working practices. These measures are designed to help prevent a recurrence of your problem.

How does my osteopathic support integrate with your experience of the Aegis concept
If you have an injury you will fall into one of the following categories:

New Client with injury:
• A full case history will be taken with emphasis placed on current injuries.
• I will also establish with you a history of past events which may aid the diagnosis and biomechanical assessment.
• All systems will be checked i.e cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine together with a brief analysis of diet and current physical activity.
• After a diagnosis has been reached, a treatment plan will be developed with short and long term aims.
• I will usually prescribe some form of rehabilitation programme.
• After the initial injury has begun to resolve, you will be given the option to carry on the rehabilitation programme with one of the highly qualified personal trainers.
• I will recommend a trainer that best fits your needs recognising the various interests and areas of expertise the different trainers possess.
• I will then liaise closely with the trainer to formulate the most appropriate training regime which will also assist you in understanding your injury better; and why the trainer’s advice on exercise is critical to recovery.
• I may also refer you to the experienced sports therapists at Aegis with whom I would liaise closely on your progress.

Existing Client who sustains an injury:
• The same assessment and treatment procedure as above for the new client will be followed.
• However, there will be a greater emphasis on returning the client/patient back to training as soon as possible through intensive treatment and rehabilitation. Such treatment has been shown to be beneficial for musculoskeletal and joint injuries.
• I will liaise closely with your trainer/therapist to ensure your safe and effective recovery. This may include me being available to talk through any rehabilitation issues jointly with your trainer and yourself.

Existing Training Client at risk
• Occasionally, a trainer may see a potential gait problem or movement pattern which has not manifested in an injury but may have the potential of doing so. In this case, osteopathy could be useful as a preventative measure rather than a treatment for a specific injury.
• The client may also feel that something ‘isn’t quite right’ and feels that they may benefit from having a biomechanical assessment and provision of some preventative exercises which would improve performance and prevent an injury occurring.

I will always be contactable throughout your rehabilitation process. I believe that with proper education, careful planning and good liaison between yourself and the professional team at Aegis, most musculoskeletal and joint injuries will respond well.

News - Ben Ludlow B.Ost.Med joins Aegis

We are very pleased to officially welcome Ben to the team at Aegis. We have known Ben for a while now and are very happy to be able to add to our services at Aegis with his input both as an Osteopath and also as part of our new corporate health team. Look out for an article explaining more about Osteopathy on this months blog as well.

Ben explains how he first discovered Osteopathy...

"When I was 19 I sustained a serious back injury which curtailed my sporting activities for around 2 years. After seeing a number of practitioners of different disciplines, I found that only osteopathy provided treatment that supported my recovery and enabled me to return to participation in sport.

With the obvious impact this had on my life, I decided to undertake a profession which would help me to understand more about my condition and to develop the ability to treat others who were also suffering injury and pain"

Ben is highly qualified holding the following -

• Bachelor of Osteopathic Medicine (B Ost Med). This is a 5 year full time course; and few practitioners hold this qualification.
• Qualified osteopath registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).
• Diploma in Naturopathy
• Advanced Diploma in Fitness and Sports Therapy

He has a very keen interest in sport and in particular mixed martial arts training. His holistic treatment approach involves working closely with other fitness and health professionals to get the best results for the client. Do feel free to stop and have a quick chat with him if you see him at the studio, alternatively you can reach him by phone on 0781 2541080

Friday, October 27, 2006

Interview - with Dr Carla Sottovia

Factfile:
name- Carla Botelho Sottovia
age- 43
location- Dallas, TX, USA
job- Senior Personal Trainer/ Exercise Physiologist
employer- The Cooper Fitness Center
fave food- Italian Pizza from Venice, Rome, Torino
fave film- When Harry Met Sally
sporting hero- Fernanda Keller ( Pro Brasilian Triathlete)
fave type of exercise- Swim, Bike, Run, Hike
hobbies- Traveling to far way lands...
pets- Dog: mixed lab/chow/ huskie - Safi, 8.5 years.

Hi Carla, great to talk to you, how have things been since you won the IDEA 2005 World Personal Trainer of the Year Award?
Things have been busier than ever. I am involved in several different projects including publishing my first book; major research project in Brasil involving children and physical fitness/ activity; teaching workshops.

Q - Can you tell us about what you do at the Cooper Clinic? (and what the cooper clinic is renowned for)
The main campus is actually named the " The Cooper Aerobic Center" which host 5 different departments: a) a preventive medicine clinic- The Cooper Clinic;b) a research center : The Cooper Institute; c) Wellness Program ; d) Spa; e) Hotel; and f) a fitness center- The Cooper Fitness Center.
I spend about 80% of my time at the Cooper Fitness Center as the Director of Personal Training. We have a team of 25 full time trainers ( including myself) who trained an average of 30 hours per week. I personally average about 30 hours of week...I also am in charge of our continuing education program; staff training/hiring; and other special projects.
I am also part of the Cooper Institute Faculty - continuing education department where I teach several certification types courses for Fitness Professionals. And finally, representing the Cooper Aerobic Center as a international presenter/ researcher.

Q - How did you originally get into fitness?
I originally wanted to go to medical school ( having been denied several times in Brasil). From there I decided to focus on the prevention side of medicine. My first degree was in Physical Education and I fell in love with my first Exercise Physiology class. At the moment I knew I had found my path....I decided that I was going to apply for my masters in Exercise Physiology in the US ....I actually was able to transfer as a Junior in College and from there on proceeded with my other degrees.
Along the way, I started to work as a Fitness Specialist ( since personal training did not exist in the late 80's early 90's) and gradully moved towards personal training in the early 90's. My first official client was in 1991.
I have always been an active person having danced for many years, semi competitive swimmer and during college marathon running/ Ironman triathlon up to this day...

Q - What was the last book you read?
The Bridge Across Forever- Richard Bach

Q - What is your biggest passion in fitness
Making a difference in people's life: the way they feel; their health; their overall outlook in life.

Q - what is your training ethos?
To give your best at all times!

Q - what does the next few years hold in store?
To continue to expand my educational services to other professionals ( workshops; books; research projects) specially in the overseas market ( where the level of information and service is at a times below to what it should be)

Q - what was the last workout you did?
A couple of hours ago: brasilian dance class - Pagode-; then cycling for 60 min.

Q - what was your PHd in and what research are you currently working on?
I have a PhD in Exercise Physiology. I am currently involved in a children's research project in Brasil . We are at the moment ( as we speak) collecting data on 200 kids ( pilot) on fitness/ Activitiy level. WE are using a software developed by the Cooper Institute- FitnessGram- for children.
The participants will then undergo an activity program ( 3 times per week/ 6 months) led by professionals with the purpose to enhance, educate, and hopefully plant the seed of the benefits of being active. They will be retested at the endof the study. The study will also include a nutrition component. The participants are young children from 1st to 4 th grade.
Eventually, the project will expand to a larger school ( 1000 children) and hopefully state and nation wide.

Q - any plans to visit London?
Possibly this fall but for sure next spring during the Fitness Conference in BlackPool:)

Q - And finally how was it working with Graeme for three days in Colorado? bearable :-))
Graeme is such a sweet "boy" ....really, awesome! I am so glad we met!! Looking forward to visiting your studio in London in the near future:)

Exercise Pilates 2 - Try this mobility exercise at home.



A more advanced version.

** Please get clearance from your exercise professional or medical pratitioner before attempting this exercise. **

Try the same exercise with your feet against the wall, knees in line with feet, hips in line with knees.

Exercise Pilates 1 - Try this mobility exercise at home.



** Please get clearance from your exercise professional or medical pratitioner before attempting this exercise. **

Lie on your back, arms by your sides, legs bent up, hip width apart, feet flat on the floor. As you breathe out tilt your pelvis, imprinting your lower back onto the floor, and lift your hips as far as you can sucking your tummy towards your spine-into a ‘ski slope’ position. Breathe in at the top and then breathe out as you roll the spine from the chest vertebrae by vertebrae, allowing your bottom to come down last . Imagining your spine is a string of pearls you are laying down on the floor one by one.

Watch out not to push up onto the shoulders, taking the movement only up to the middle of your upper back.

Article - Pilates by Susie Wilson

Everyone deserves a good body and good health.

Pilates is such an exciting discovery into the body. You will discover which parts of the body are the weakest and which parts need to be more flexible. You will start to feel a connection with your body and develop a desire to nurture it as opposed to carrying it around on a cocktail of nurofen and caffeine to ease your aches and pains.

It seems we wouldn’t think twice to take our cars in for an MOT, but don’t give as much care and attention to our own ‘vehicles’.

If you are spending long periods sitting badly, the chances are you need to improve your posture and your flexibility. Do you always hold the telephone with the same hand or carry your shoulder bag or briefcase on the same side? Repetitive movements affect the symmetry of your body so that you become more developed on one side than the other, which can affect your posture and muscle balance and lead to aches and pains.

Pilates rebalances your muscles for better body alignment, and in doing so improves your posture.
When you finish you will feel relaxed, reinvigorated, more grounded and ready to face new challenges.
You have probably heard that Pilates alleviates back pain. You may not have heard that it lengthens muscles, giving a longer, leaner look to the body, dramatically improves posture and adds inches to your height.
You’ll be standing taller and your abdominal muscles will be held in better. You will breathe better, which will improve your circulation, metabolism, skin tone. Pilates will clear your mind, improving the level of your alertness, making you more able to take in and process new information.

In Pilates every movement originates from the core (mid-section of the body). Strengthening the core or ‘powerhouse’ allows everything to move freely, in harmony as a body was designed to, and results quite pleasingly in a flatter stomach. Learning to recruit the core at the beginning of each exercise will stop the risk of injury in any workout or sport, which is why Pilates is favoured by most of the top dancers and athletes alike.

After only a few sessions you will start to feel an improved difference in the way you carry yourself and the way you move. You will probably feel better about yourself than you have in a long while.

Being in touch with your body gives you an inner confidence from the inside out which radiates into everything you do. Taking time to listen to your body has a relaxing quality that greatly reduces the effects of stress.
Pilates requires concentration to isolate individual muscles which is a great way to focus your mind on your body and take your thoughts away from day to day worries.

You only get one body-so take care of it!

The next course of Pilates classes start on Wednseday the 1st of November at 1pm. Check out http://www.aegistraining.co.uk/pt/prices.html for prices

Article - Hypnotism "Who The Hell Does Abraham Weintraub Think He Is?"

This is an article kindly submitted by one of our clients, Thanks Sandra

Did you know that most of us hypnotise ourselves many times a day?

Hypnosis works with ‘suggestion’.

You simply tell yourself something. It can be a negative suggestion.
‘I’ve never eaten it, but I know it will taste awful.’
It can be a positive suggestion. ‘I feel great, I’ll have the time of my life.’

You may not always be aware of it, but that suggestion keeps popping up in the back of your mind day in and day out. Again and again and again. It can take place while you are eating a plate of fish and chips, driving your car down the motorway, or standing in a supermarket queue. It takes place every time you dissuade yourself from doing a new or frightening thing.
Happily, suggestion also works in reverse.

When Abraham Weintraub woke up, brushed his teeth and put on his shoes on Sunday, 22 April 2001, he made a suggestion to himself. When he found himself outside, jostling for elbow-space with a load of strangers.He made the same suggestion again.

He had been making this same suggestion for weeks and
months previously, until it became second nature to him.

It took him 7 hours, 3 minutes and 41 seconds to do it.

But he did it.
He crossed the finishing line of The London Marathon. Not bad for a man of 91.

When I am trying to avoid a task I often think, ‘What would Mr Weintraub do?’

Unfortunately, not everyone had the cast-iron will of Mr Weintraub.

Hypnotherapy gives your suggestions a helping hand.

Sandra Dunkley
Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy with Distinction.
Member of the British Council of Clinical Hypnosis.

Nutrition - Fat that make you thin ..... K!

Since the beginning of processing and hydrogenation of oils during the 1930’s to mass produce and preserve food for longer, many of the beneficial Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) naturally present in nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and their oils have been lost, as they are very susceptible to damage by heat, light and oxygen.

Much of the benefits of oils are found in their natural or unrefined states and when processed they are destroyed and can lose nutrients such as sterols and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, needed for the use of fats in the body but also many functions, including the correct regulation of blood cholesterol and triglyceride fat levels.

The food industry likes foods that are cheap and have a long-shelf-life and so use processed fats in abundance. The hydrogenated and ‘trans’ fats found in processed foods are ‘deadly’ fats, damaging to health and to be avoided; they also interfere with the use of the ‘good’ natural EFAs in the body.

Fat has been blamed for its part in contributing to heart disease and weight gain to name a few and yet recent research disproves the popular perception that all fats are bad. It is the quality of fats that matters and if you have been avoiding fats it is time to rethink and perhaps increase your intake but of the right fats, the EFAs.

The EFAs cannot be made in the body and are known as essential fatty acids as they must be obtained through the diet from fresh nuts and seeds and their oils, vegetables and oily fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon. They are vital for energy, achieving ideal body weight, healthy skin, good mood and memory, brain and mental health (60% of the brain is made of fats) and protecting against infections. They also help to reduce pain and inflammation, balance hormone production, and are vital for a healthy heart, lungs and all cell membrane structures.
For all these reasons, research has shown that we are programmed to eat fat for survival. However, if our needs are not satisfied with essential fats and we consume saturated or processed fat alternatives, the need for the ‘good’ fats is never met and we will continue to crave and eat fatty foods. Eat enough EFAs and the balance between taste versus satiety should eventually be restored, as the body’s fat requirements are met.

EFAs are destroyed in foods such as margarines, frying oils, supposedly healthy ‘low fat’ spreads, and all the biscuits, baked produce, ‘ready’ meals and junk foods they are used in; even the healthy Omega 6 and 3 EFAs (polyunsaturated fats) that these products contain have been damaged by the processing and turned into hydrogenated fats, trans fats and other toxic substances which the body cannot recognise or use for vital EFA functions.

Think healthy Mediterranean diet, with olive oil and unsaturated fats like fish, nuts and seeds, whole grains and wild or free-range, organic meats and dairy produce vs. ‘supersize’ me processed foods. The significance of this is hugely important as studies have revealed the latter, with these damaged fats are known to increase the risk of degenerative diseases including various forms of cancer, adversely affect immune health and weight control, compromise infant development and raise the risk of heart disease.

The truth is that the beneficial, health-giving oils, high in EFAs, have a short shelf-life, should be used fresh and should never be used for cooking, as destroyed by heat. They should be cold-pressed oils, stored in dark glass bottles, in a refrigerator to prevent oxidation damage, and consumed in a higher ratio to other fats, as saturated fats (from meat and dairy produce) can stop them being used in the body – the exception is those found in oily fish. For cooking it is best to use other healthy oils, which are less damaged by heat, therefore cold-pressed virgin olive oil, canola oil or a little organic butter.
The EFAs can be divided into two groups, the Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. The Omega 3 oils are found in oily, coldwater fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout, sardines and anchovies. However, these can contain high levels of mercury so it is best to limit your intake to about three times a week, the smaller the fish, the less mercury it will have accumulated. Also go for wild, organic fish where possible and limit your intake of farmed fish, especially salmon, as the latter has been found to be high in industrial toxic wastes, which have been dumped in the sea. The best vegetarian sources are flax (or linseed), hemp and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and their cold-pressed oils. The Omega 6 oils are found in hemp seeds, evening primrose oil, borage oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and their cold-pressed oils. Nuts, except peanuts, are also good sources.

Some roles EFAs play in the body:
• Vital energy source: providing more than twice as much energy than one gram of carbohydrate or protein, the energy produced is stable and sustained unlike energy from sugar or other stimulants.
• Increase metabolic rate: good for weight loss because it means more calories are burnt.
• Decrease cravings: obtaining the right nutrients stops us from craving ‘wrong’ foods.
• Brain health: 60% of the brain’s weight is made up of EFAs, primarily in the form of the Omega 3 DHA and EPA fatty acids found primarily in oily fish. They have been shown to elevate mood, mental ability and memory. They are crucial during pregnancy and breastfeeding for healthy development of the child and during infancy for growth.
• Heart health: help lower blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure. They may also make blood platelets less sticky rendering them less likely to form clots – this therefore protects us from heart attacks and strokes.
• Immune health: EFAs protect us from free radical damage caused by pollution, oxidation and natural respiration (increased during exercise), which can lead to diseases such as cancer. They also reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.
• Skin health: keep skin, hair and nails healthy and flexible by providing a waterproof sheath. EFAs can also provide relief from eczema, psoriasis and other skin complaints.
• Detoxification: some toxins require EFAs to be detoxified by the liver and removed from the body.
• Digestion: can help prevent leaky gut and food allergies. May help to reduce cravings and addictions.

Embarking on a low-fat diet not only reduces the amount of harmful saturated fats (although we need some for energy and building cell membranes), but also the essential fatty acid intake which can have disastrous consequences. If you have avoided fat because of previous dieting advice or popular opinion, this may be the time to rethink. If you wish to reach your ideal weight, improve energy, reduce aches and pains, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, skin complaints like eczema or dry skin, food allergies, recurrent infections, poor mood, memory and concentration, cravings for junk foods, or just protect against degenerative disease –start eating daily servings of EFAs.

This does not mean loading up on margarine, supermarket frying oils and lard, but looking at foods like a handful of fresh nuts and seeds a day (add to fruit smoothies, salads or warm, but not hot, soups), avocadoes, olive oil and oily fish (ideally at least 3 portions a week), which may have previously had the “high in fat” tag forced upon them. These foods which many people avoid are superfoods; they contain an incredible array of nutrients as well as extremely beneficial fats, minerals and the vitamins, A, D, E and K which can only be absorbed and transported in the body by fats, hence risk being deficient in low-fat diets.

The recommendation for normal circumstances remains to get no more than 30% of your calories from fat (so for a 2000 calorie a day diet, that is 600 calories from fat, or 67 grams worth) however follow these tips:
• Make sure your EFA, polyunsaturated fat, intake is adequate, perhaps 60% of total fat
• Reduce saturated fat to no more than a 1/3 of you total fat intake (fat from meat, milk, cheese and butter. Opt for lean, organic cuts of meat and natural sources such as free-range eggs or dairy, as these contain less antibiotics and hormones, those harm the body, and more of a good fat called CLA, conjugated linoleic acid)
• Make sure your diet is rich in nutrients that help the use of fatty acids: magnesium, zinc, vitamins
C, B3 and B6 (found in whole grains, fruits, green leafy vegetables, pulses, seafood, nuts and seeds)
• Never use omega 3 fatty acids for cooking* (try instead a little butter, olive oil or canola oil)
• Avoid hydrogenated and trans- fats (reduce processed and per-packaged foods; check food labels)
• Avoid margarine and ‘low fat’ spreads (use omega 3 spreads or olive oil spreads instead)
• Avoid fried foods where possible as these contain damaged fats (‘steam fry’ instead by adding a little water to olive oil to lower the frying temperature and cause less damage to the fat)
• Ensure that the diet contains antioxidant-rich foods that help the body to use fats and may help to protect brain membranes (including vitamins A, C, E and the minerals zinc and selenium; we will look at these in the future).

Q & A - Delayed onset muscle soreness

Q – I recently got back into weight training and have been getting very sore several days after, is this normal?

A – It sounds like you are suffering from a case of DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

This usually occurs between 24 – 72 hours after exercise and is often experienced after an extended layoff from training or after taking part in an activity that you aren’t used to.

It is a relatively familiar situation amongst both novice and elite athletes and most of us will experience it to some degree at some stage after exercise. Some of the common symptoms of DOMS include, tenderness, pain, restriction in range of motion, inflammation and a temporary loss of performance. Despite research in the area an actual etiology (cause) for the condition is still unknown, though there are several theories. Some suggested causes include lactic acid, muscle spasm, connective tissue or muscle damage, and more recently the role of free radicals. It is more likely that combinations of several of these theories are the cause rather than a singular one.

Though the exact cause of DOMS is still unclear, what is known is the type of muscle action that is primarily responsible. Eccentric muscle actions are those when we lower weights (such as the down phase of a squat), or have to slow down movement (running downhill for example). These types of movement cause the muscle to be lengthened under tension and the amount of soreness will be dictated by the intensity and duration of muscle action.

Treatment of DOMS is tricky, as many conventional approaches such as ice, stretching, homeopathy and ultrasound seem to be ineffective. Some reduction in reported symptoms has been shown with the use of NSAID’s (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen). Though one of the simplest ways to ease the soreness is with physical activity. To maintain your training programme focus on working different movement patterns or body parts in your training sessions and avoid training areas or movements where you have painful soreness. Exercise training helps protect and reduce DOMS in subsequent exercise.

To help prevent painful soreness get back into your weight training with lighter weights and build up to higher intensity levels.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

News - Course Programme out soon!

Last month was the busiest so far at Aegis HQ and this month promises to be even busier. We are pleased to welcome on board a new member of the team in Glenn Parker. More on Glenn to follow in forthcoming posts. Next month we are also set to be joined by another very highly skilled and qualified CHEK Practitioner - Leigh Brandon, who we are very pleased to have working with us.
The training school is now open and we will be kitting it out over the next week with furniture and training equipment. We are now starting to finalise dates for upcoming training courses over the next few months and into next year. Courses on offer include the following:

The Egoscue Method Workshop - Posture, Pain and Performance. A one-day workshop to introduce this highly effective conditioning system from the USA. This is new to the U.K and we are exceptionally pleased to be offering it first here at Aegis Training. Dates T.B.C

Functional Fascial Taping - Presented by Ron Alexander from PhysioUK, this workshop is aimed at physiotherapists and other clinicians dealing wanting to improve and develop further skills in fascial taping. Dates/booking at www.physiouk.co.uk

Programme Design For Personal Trainers - Aegis' own REPS accredited training course brings personal trainers and fitness instructors one step closer to designing more effective programmes of exercise for their clients. This one-day workshop explores all aspects of programme design from sets and reps, through to exercise selection and sequencing. Date T.B.C

Emergency First Response - CPR Certification/Primary Care - Aegis instructor Karl Van Zwol will be leading our programme of first aid instruction into 2007 beginning with this one-day course in first aid training. Dates T.B.C

Please do contact us at info@aegistraining.co.uk for more information on our training. Keep checking back for our full course schedule which will be listed shortly.

Team Aegis

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Article - Paula Radcliffe and running while pregnant

Graeme brings us his thoughts as printed in The Daily Express on Paula Radcliffe and running through pregnancy...

The fact that Paula has continued to run during pregnancy may well have raised a few eyebrows, but exercise is such an individual thing that it is impossible to say whether or not it would be safe for everyone.
Let’s remember that we are talking about one of the world’s elite athletes, someone whose body is trained and conditioned to the highest level for running. There are in fact many women who continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy, although like Paula they generally find that the intensity they train at tends to reduce as the pregnancy progresses. One study found that nearly half of women of childbearing age report exercising during pregnancy and express a strong desire to continue to do so.

The obvious challenges in researching this area mean that there are more guidelines than definitive answers to how much or how long you should exercise for. The first rule though is to learn to listen to what your body is telling you, as it has a way of letting you know when you are doing too much.
Fortunately there has been a lot of research on the general benefits of exercising through pregnancy and on how the body alters to accommodate the baby.

Contrary to what some people may think, it has been shown to have a multitude of benefits to both mother and baby. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) who are the worlds leading authority on exercise and pregnancy strongly support exercise as part of a future mums lifestyle. However, as with all exercise, the benefits need to be weighed against the risks and workouts altered to match. Things to avoid include activities that may involve contact or falling (such as skiing, skating, rugby), those with little research such as scuba diving that could potentially be dangerous, and anything that raises body temperature excessively. There are many other changes in the body during this time and they include the release of a hormone called Relaxin that can cause an excessive amount of laxity around the joints (hypermobility). For this reason, if you are going to run it is best to avoid uneven ground where it may be easier to sprain an ankle or knee.
If you haven’t run before then it is best not to take it up while you are pregnant. You should start with something very gentle and progressive under the guidance of a professional. You should also speak to your doctor or consultant first to ensure that you have no conditions that may make extra activity dangerous such as high blood pressure or anaemia. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest a multitude of physical and psychological benefits to women from exercise during pregnancy, not to mention those who do exercise tend to keep it up afterwards and continue to enjoy improved health and wellbeing. With all this in mind we can see that Paula Radcliffe is an example of how being pregnant and exercising can actually work very well together.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Article - Common Colds


Q. Should I be exercising with a cold?

A. Adults on average suffer from between 2-4 colds a year. Most of these occur between September and May.
Contrary to what you might think, researchers don’t put this down to winter weather. It is more likely that they are spread more readily, with people spending longer indoors together during the colder months.
Colds and Flu are often confused, though they are different types of infection. Symptoms of the common cold are a stuffy nose, sore throat and maybe some slight aches. Flu is generally far more severe with fever, aches and pains and feelings of exhaustion. Chances are if you are feeling like this, you won’t want to exercise. If suffering from flu, avoid exercise until a week after it has cleared up to ensure you are fully recovered. If you are in any doubt over symptoms, speak to your doctor first.
Whether or not we suffer from colds is largely down to our body’s ability to fight infection. Many different factors can affect this. Smoking, stress, poor diet and lack of sleep all reduce our protection, making us more vulnerable to illness.
By taking regular exercise and eating a healthy diet we can improve our immune system. Research has consistently shown that people who stay active suffer from fewer colds.
Colds are highly contagious and easily spread in places like health clubs. If you’re not feeling well then help prevent spreading it to others by staying away from the gym altogether. The American College of Sports Medicine advises avoiding all high intensity exercise, such as running until a few days after the cold has cleared up. Mild exercise like walking shouldn’t cause any problems, and may even help relieve some of the symptoms.
Certain medicines are important to be aware of as well. Many common cold medicines that are available over the counter contain a substance called pseudoephedrine, it is commonly found in decongestants. This drug will affect your heart rate and blood pressure. This is very important if you suffer from a heart condition. If in doubt, consult your doctor for advice.
The general rule for exercise with a cold is that as long as symptoms are above the neck – a runny nose for example – then moderate exercise should not cause a problem.
However, if you are suffering from the flu then contact your doctor and stay away from exercise until fully recovered.
Here are some simple guidelines to help if you are suffering from a cold –
• Stay out the gym – nobody will thank you for sharing your infection
• Drink plenty of fluids
• If symptoms are above the neck then some moderate exercise is fine
• Avoid high intensity exercise for a few days after recovery
• If you have had the Flu avoid high intensity training for 2-3 weeks afterwards
• Listen to your body, if you are feeling out of sorts then give it a miss.
• If you are at all unsure, consult your doctor first.

Feature - All about Caffeine and Sports Performance


The author would like to highlight from the onset that this review considers caffeine in an ergogenic, or performance enhancing, role within the body. It is not intended to be used as a reference for caffeine prescription nor to reflect the role of caffeine as a dietary substance in the general public, as there are many areas where the effects differ. The author hopes this article will help to further understand the role of caffeine in sport.

Caffeine is so prevalent in modern society that it’s role as an ergogenic (performance enhancing) substance is sometimes overlooked. This article will look at how effective Caffeine is a sports supplement, how it affects the body and the ethical issues surrounding it’s continued use within the sports community. It has recently been removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WA.D.A) list of banned substances and is only a Controlled Substance by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) and the International Cycling Union (I.C.U). W.A.D.A is considering revising it’s decision though, after George Gregan, Australian Rugby Union Captain admitted using caffeine before games and gaining a reported 7% performance increase. As we’ll see later, many factors mean that the limit for caffeine ingestion may not prevent athletes using it or gaining significant benefits from it in competition and training.

Caffeine can be found all around us, in products ranging from beverages to over the counter medications, and it may well be the most widely used stimulant in the world today (1). So what exactly is it? The U.S National Library of Medicine lists it as a Central Nervous system stimulant that is also used in analgesic’s and respiratory system stimulants (2). It is (in scientific terms) part of a group called methylxanthines, drugs often used for respiratory illness due to their vasodilating effects.
Caffeine though is neither a typical nutrient nor is it essential for health…we can all survive without it! It is in fact a socially acceptable, legal drug consumed by all groups in society (1). So if it is non-essential for life, not produced naturally in the body and used for it’s stimulant properties why is it still treated so liberally by sporting bodies?
The answer to this may still be unclear at the end of this review but hopefully it can shed some light on what exactly caffeine does and why and whether or not it works. It is important at this point that we remember that we are considering caffeine in it’s role as a performance enhancing supplement rather than it’s role in cold medications or the everyday diet although you could argue it functions as an ergogenic aid for many there as well.
How does it actually work?
The exact reason why caffeine is such a powerful ergogenic is difficult to pinpoint and is more likely down to several different interactions on the neural and metabolic pathways in the body. Costill et al (7) originally attributed performance increases to a “glycogen sparing” effect, largely due to the increase in fatty acid metabolism that was observed with a general dose of caffeine (330mg). Later studies have investigated caffeine supplementation on a body weight basis, typically using between 3mg and 9mg per kg of body weight. Interestingly a 70kg person would have to ingest around 9mg per kg of body weight to be over the I.O.C legal limit. Many studies have shown clear effects on performance at levels beneath this (3,8,9,10,11,12,13,14).
Caffeine was for this reason originally thought of as an ergogenic aid specific to endurance based events, though recent studies have highlighted that it is not exclusive to this sort of event and can benefit shorter duration activities by reducing perceived exertion, lowering the pain response and increasing mean power output. These effects were seen in studies where the short duration of activity ruled out glycogen sparing as the method of performance increase. It is likely that Caffeine’s role in adenosine receptor antagonism may be key in it’s role as an ergogenic aid. You are probably already familiar with Adenosine as a component of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). Without the phosphate, Adenosine itself functions as a neurotransmitter and has been revealed as a key messenger related to sleep, it plays an important part in regulating blood flow and inhibits the release of excitatory neurotransmitters such as Dopamine (15). Caffeine works directly on the receptors for Adenosine, blocking their action on the body. This is certainly likely to play a key part in caffeine’s ergogenic function and it is now clear that glycogen sparing is not the sole (and may not be at all) mechanism by which caffeine can increase performance.

Isn’t it a diuretic?
A lot of the discussion surrounding Caffeine is about the potentially deleterious effects on the body’s hydration levels. Caffeine and methlyxanthines are listed as having a diuretic effect, and Caffeine itself is a potent diuretic (5) However whether or not this is also applies during exercise is unclear with studies by Graham et al (3) and Grandjean et al (4) contradicting this. There does not appear to be any basis for the common concern that caffeine will dehydrate your athletes (6) These findings agree with studies by Falk (16) and Wemple (17) neither of whom reported increased diuresis as a result of caffeine intake.
We should also remember that this is talking about caffeine not coffee! When the two have been compared it was found that the ergogenic effect of caffeine was largely lost when taken in as coffee, therefore we cannot extrapolate the ergogenic effects of caffeine to coffee as it would appear that the many thousands of compounds within coffee serve to negate this effect.
Perhaps one of the most insightful things to take from the study by Grandjean et al was the overall levels of dehydration across all subjects. Subjects in the study consumed an average of 1745mL but 78% of them suffered a loss in body weight through dehydration. Taking this finding in the context of the relationship between fluid and disease* in the body we might be well advised to promote more fluid intake in general for our athletes and our clients!
Of course there are other side effects besides the purported diuretic effects, caffeine can produce restlessness, headaches, insomnia, irritability, muscle twitching and arrythmias (5) These effects vary tremendously among individuals and are important to consider in a sports context where they might well contribute to an increase in state anxiety prior to or during competition.
* Michaud and colleagues conducted a prospective study over 10 years and with 47,909 participants to examine the relationship between fluid intake and disease. They determined that participants consuming over 2391mL per day had a 49% lower incidence of bladder cancer than those consuming under 1398mL.

Ethical Concerns
Depending on your point of view, this is where things are a little less clear. It is well documented that benefits, often significant, can be gained from taking a caffeine supplement. It is also clear that these benefits are very evident at levels below doping regulations. However the widespread use of caffeine in society makes the classification of it complex. Most of us would agree however that taking a pure substance with no purpose other than to gain an advantage over competitors would be unethical. There may also be a deeper issue here, that acceptance of one performance enhancing substance may lead to further abuse of banned substances. Does advocating caffeine use serve to facilitate the path to more dangerous substances? By not making Caffeine a banned substance in competition is the practice of “doping” in sport being condoned? Gregan’s comment’s sparked a debate into this with several prominent figures showing their concern of the message that advocating substance use in sport can send out. Should a sports star who is a hero to many junior athletes promote using substances to increase performance? Or should he be commended for his honesty in highlighting it’s use? The effect of this is yet to be known and is surely difficult to determine but surveys tell us though, that the desire to win in an athlete is powerful, Weinberg & Gould (7) cite studies where 98% of athletes asked said they would take a performance enhancing substance if they would win and not get caught. In another survey the Canadian Centre for Drug Free Sport found that 27% of youths between 11-18 years old had used a caffeine-containing substance for the specific intent of enhancing performance. Are these youngsters therefore at higher risk of being exposed to more dangerous and damaging substances as a result of sports lenience to caffeine?
Conclusion
So the evidence for caffeine is clear, it is a proven and potent ergogenic substance, yet the exact reasons for this still remain somewhat equivocal. It would seem that caffeine exerts it’s effects through several different mediums both peripherally and centrally on nerves and metabolism.
Though initially regarded as an aid to performance in endurance, recent studies have demonstrated an effect across a variety of performance protocols, including short burst activities, this in part appears due to a reduced perception of pain. This review only considered studies where full-text’s were available to try to provide a clear and accurate reflection of research.
Though on several bodies controlled substance list, caffeine has been shown repeatedly to have powerful effects at levels well below the legal limit, and Conway et al (9) highlighted in 2002 that urinary doping tests may not accurately reflect the dose or plasma levels of caffeine, as so much can be dependant on individual sensitivity and the time and type of caffeine dose.
Concerns over dehydration during exercise may be unfounded as it seems that the effects of caffeine on a person at rest are not reflected during exercise, blood pressure for example will be elevated at rest after caffeine but this trend is not reflected during exercise (14).
So as an ergogenic aid, the research shows caffeine to be effective, it is relatively safe to use at levels that improve performance, it’s cheap, readily available and tolerated by most sport governing bodies. It is not without drawbacks, such as the long-term effects of supplementation, ethical issues, and the need for increasing dosage as subjects become more tolerant. These issues, combined with individual sensitivity and side effects such as palpitations, nausea, dizziness, insomnia and tremors continue to keep the debate controversial over Caffeine’s role as an ergogenic aid.

Graeme Marsh

References:
1. Spriet L L, Graham T E (1999) Current comment on Caffeine and Exercise Performance. American College of Sports Medicine Current Comments www.acsm.org
2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov US National Library of Medicine Website
3. Graham T E, Hibbert E, Sathasivam P (1998) Metabolic and exercise endurance effects of coffee and caffeine ingestion. Journal of Applied Physiology 85 (3): 883-889
4. Grandjean A C, Reimers K J, Bannick K E, Haven M C (2000) The effect of caffeinated and non-caffeinated, caloric and non-caloric beverages on hydration. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 19 (5): 591- 600
5. McArdle W D, Katch F I, Katch V L (2001) Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Performance. Baltimore MA, 5th Edition.
6. Graham T E (2001) Caffeine and exercise – Metabolism, endurance and performance. Journal of Sports Medicine 31 (11): 785- 807
7. Costill D L, Dalsky G P, Fink W J (1978) Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Med Science Sports 10: 155
8. Bell D G, Mclellan T M (2002) Exercise endurance 1, 3 and 6 hours after caffeine ingestion in caffeine users and non-users. Journal of Applied Physiology 93: 1227 – 1234
9. Conway K J, Orr R, Stannard S R (2002) Effect of a divided dose on endurance cycling performance, postexercise urinary caffeine concentration and plasma paraxanthine. Journal of Applied Physiology 94: 1557 – 1562
10. Cox G R, Desbrow B, Montgomery P G, Anderson M E, Bruce C R, Macrides T A, Martin D T, Moquin A, Roberts A, Hawley J A, Burke L M (2002) Effect of different protocols of caffeine intake on exercise endurance and performance. Journal of Applied Physiology 93: 990 – 999
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Recipe - Vanilla & Almond Risotto with Baked Fruits

I’ll start by talking about next month; I’ll be looking at barbequing as promised last month and look at some simple ways to make a barbeque more interesting without too much extra work.
So this month it leaves me thinking about desserts, we haven’t done a dessert yet so here goes.
Healthy desserts!
“That” as my old Head Chef would say “is not possible”.
I think it is easy if you look at the wide range of fruits, dairy alternatives and other ingredients available to us in the shops and specialist markets now.
This recipe is really rice pudding but cooked on top of the stove like risotto, you can vary the fruits used and use just berries, just plums or a complete mixture. You can also use lemongrass to infuse with the milk and not vanilla and serve with mango for a more tropical finish, just omit the almond. You may require a little more or a little less liquid as the type of rice can vary in its absorption.
Please bear in mind that although this is for four people you will probably want to make more, trust me on this!
Ingredients – Serves 4
200g Pudding Rice or Risotto Rice (Arborio/Carneroli)
600ml Soya or Almond Milk
120g Ground Almonds
1 Vanilla Pod
1-2 tbsp Honey
2 Peaches
1 Small Punnet of Raspberries
4 Large Plums
Begin by infusing your milk, split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out all of the seeds into a pan with the milk and the split pod. Bring to the boil and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
While the milk is infusing preheat your oven to 180 C and halve the peaches and plums and remove the stones, slice them into quarters.
Place 200ml of the milk in a pan and add the rice, cook over a low-medium heat stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed. Now add another 200ml and repeat and finally the last 200ml plus the Ground Almonds.
Continue until the rice is cooked, about 25-30 minutes in total.
If you need more liquid then add a little water.
Stir in the honey to taste, take off the stove and mix in the raspberries, cover and leave.
Place your Peaches and Plums on a tray and bake for 8-12 minutes until softened.
Spoon some of the rice pudding into a bowl and then top with the fruits – fabulous stuff – and no sugar, butter or cream in sight!

If you have any questions or suggestions then please do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as quickly as possible.

Recipe -BBQ - Bonus Issue

Well! I think it is fair to say that summer is here, it has put me in such a good mood that I am giving you a selection of beautiful summer recipes. I’ve been promising some barbecue ideas but have been waiting for the weather; now there is no excuse, get outside and really enjoy this simple party food. Barbecues are such a great way of entertaining and you can create really interesting dishes just out of your imagination and this is what I would encourage you to do.
I am including a selection of ideas here which should be fun and easy to make and will be different from “burgers and sausages”, and remember barbecuing is one of the healthiest ways to cook.
I will start with a simple marinade and salsa which can really make the barbecue a flavour sensation. Use one of the recipes or use all of them, remember you don’t have to cook everything and feel free to play with the ideas and add more or less spice or use different ingredients - there are no rules to barbecuing!
Ginger and Soy Marinade
100 ml Dark Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Honey
1 inch square Grated Ginger
2 tbsp Sesame Oil
Salt & Pepper

Salsa Fresca
6 Tomatoes - deseeded and diced
1 Red Onion - finely chopped
1 Clove Garlic - finely chopped
1 Green Chilli - deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Bunch of Coriander - roughly chopped
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mix all the ingredients together and taste, you may need more lime or chilli, serve this with anything!

Char grilled Sardines or Mackerel
The best fish for barbecuing, use whole fish.
Ensure the fish are gutted and cleaned and use 1 mackerel or 2-3 sardines per person, season the fish with salt & pepper and douse heavily with either Pernod, Vermouth or Dry Sherry. Grill on both sides until cooked - about 4 minutes per side for sardines and 5-6 minutes for mackerel.

Chicken with Ginger and Soy
Take any portions of chicken you like and marinate them overnight in the Ginger and Soy Marinade. Cook them, turning frequently, until done, cut a piece through, the juices should run clear.

Grilled Balsamic Onions
Slice 2 large red onions into 1 cm rounds and skewer them end to end, season and cover with balsamic vinegar and oil and sprinkle with some fresh thyme, grill for about 5 minutes per side, remove and drizzle with more balsamic.
Char grilled Corn on the Cob
Boil the corn in salted water for 2-3 minutes and cool in cold water. Brush with the Ginger and Soy marinade or just some oil and copped chilli and grill for 5 minutes, until charred all over.

Char grilled Pineapple with lime, honey and chilli glaze
Quarter a medium pineapple and remove the core. Mix the juice of 1 lime with 3 tbsp honey and 1 very finely chopped chilli - as hot or as mild as you want. Brush this over the pineapple and grill for 5 - 10 minutes until charred, drizzle over remaining glaze.
My mouth is watering having written this. Go out to the shop, buy a small barbecue and cook the corn on the cob - char grilled corn with bring a smile to your face, enjoy!


If you have any questions or suggestions then please do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as quickly as possible.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Aegis One-Year Anniversary

That's right, next month we will have been open for a year! It does seem to have flown by and the time has certainly seen some changes in both the direction of the business and the scope of our services. We are very proud to have a developing and constantly improving team of trainers and therapists working with us. We even more excited about the year ahead, which sees us becoming a recognised training provider and working with companies such as physiouk offering professional development courses to a range of practitioners.
To celebrate this and the opening of our new multi-function space, which will have a prime role as our training school, we will be inviting along all our clients and friends for drinks on Wednesday 22nd November. Look out for an email arriving in your inbox about this very soon. We really hope you can come along and join us.

Till then, remember to keep checking back on the blog as we are constantly updating it with news, views, articles, and recipes from the Aegis team. Remember, we welcome your comments, so please do take a minute to write something, perhaps if you have tried one of our recipes, or want to show interest in something we have covered.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

News - Lunchtime classes

We are excited to be able to now offer the option of lunchtime Pilates and Yoga, which will be running in the new Aegis studio in weeks to come. Pilates is taught by the excellent and experienced Susie Wilson (featured in last months newsletter), while Yoga is taught by our resident Yoga guru Belle Greenwood. Booking is essential via the email address below.

Yoga begins at 12p.m on Wednesday and runs for 1 hour. Cost £10 per class.
Pilates begins at 1p.m on Wednesday and also runs for 1 hour. Cost £10 per class.

For more information drop us an email on info@aegistraining.co.uk, or visit the site at www.aegistraining.co.uk.

Monday, October 02, 2006

News - Expansion Update


Those of you who come and visit us at the studio will probably notice a bit of a change. No, it's not Graeme moving things around again. It is the missing wall as you come in our main door, that now leads through (open plan style) into our new space. For those of you that are wondering, we will be extending into a new office and reception space, as well as a multi-purpose training school/studio space.
Exciting times and we are especially pleased to be able to announce that we already have a training provider who is going to be working alongside Aegis Training in the new studio. To find out more grab Graeme or Greg for a chat or drop us an email on info@aegistraining.co.uk and we'd love to tell you more.

Article - The truth about aerobics...

Time to forget steady state aerobics...

Walk into any health club on just about any evening and you’ll be greeted by the sight of row upon row of cardiovascular exercise equipment with people practically queuing up to get in their “fat burning zone” for the next hour or so.
But what if I told you that steady state aerobics is about as much use for fat loss as an accordion is for deer hunting, and that the “fat burning zone” is one of the biggest exercise myths still believed to this day?
While aerobic exercise is a good way to get more active, and helps improve our general health, achieving a lean and athletic physique simply won’t come through doing it. Worse yet, as the body adapts you’ll need to keep going longer and further to get any results. There is more bad news too, prolonged aerobic exercise depresses metabolism, and promotes the release of cortisol, a hormone that leads to the burning of muscle as fuel for exercise. This means that up to half of your weight loss with cardio can come from lean muscle NOT fat.
The myth of a fat burning zone came about when research showed that at a lower intensity of exercise we use mainly fat for fuel. Well guess what, as you are sat at your computer reading this, you are also using mostly fat for fuel, but it’s not likely to get you lean and mean is it?

So, what should you be doing? Firstly, start lifting weights, and I’m not talking about 20 minutes at the end of your run spent on the exercise machines and abdominal trainers. Resistance training will kick start fat loss by adding lean muscle to your body, and guess what? By adding muscle you will burn more calories throughout the day and given that 75% of your daily calorie usage comes from your resting metabolism we’re talking about a serious difference. In fact by adding five pounds of lean muscle you will burn the equivalent of one pound of body fat extra every 18 days.
Stay off exercise machines that isolate muscles as these are dinosaurs of the 1970’s bodybuilding craze, instead get yourself some dumbbells and start doing whole body exercises that chew calories, boost metabolism, and build strength and fitness. In no time at all you’ll find yourself well on the way to an athletic and toned physique without those hours of mind-numbing cardio work.

Good luck!

Recipe - Cumin Roasted Squash

Cumin Roasted Squash with Tomato Quinoa & Spinach


I hope everybody is enjoying cooking my recipes; this
month I wanted to produce a completely vegan meal to
show everyone that that you can enjoy a variety of
flavours, textures and nutrients without the need for
meat and dairy products. Quinoa is actually the dried
fruit from the Chenopodium Herb family and is a
complete protein as well as being high in Potassium
and a good source of Calcium and Iron.

Equally as important as the nutritional aspect of this
dish is that it tastes great. When you roast squash it
takes on a beautiful, almost nutty, sweetness; you
will not be disappointed. I have cooked this for
friends who often feel that dinner isn’t dinner
without meat and two veg, but they have been
converted!


This serves 2 people

1 Large Butternut Squash
1tsp Cumin Powder
1tsp Coriander Powder
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

100g Quinoa
150ml Vegetable Stock
60ml Passata / Pureed Tomatoes
1 Clove Garlic
1 Small Onion or Shallot
1tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

2 Good Handfuls of Washed Baby Spinach

Preheat your oven to 190C and begin by peeling the
squash and cutting in half lengthways. Scrape out the
seeds and then cut each half into four lengthways
leaving you eight ‘spears’ of squash. Pour the olive
oil over the Squash ensuring the oil coats it fully
and place on a roasting tray. Mix together the Cumin
and Coriander and sprinkle over the squash then season
with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast,
turning halfway, until the edges turn golden brown,
about 20-25 minutes in total.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and sweat off in a
pan with the oil. Add the Quinoa and the stock and
cook on a low to medium heat for 10-12 minutes then
take off the heat, stir in the passata/tomatoes and
stand with a lid on for ten minutes. Season to taste
then stir in the spinach which will wilt in the heat
of the Quinoa. Spoon onto the centre of the plate and
top with the roasted squash; superb!

As an extra, you can roast another squash place it in
a pan with some onion and stock to cover, boil for 10
minutes and blitz for a fantastically tasty soup to
keep in the fridge.


If you have any questions or suggestions then please
do not hesitate to contact Graeme or Greg, they can
pass any comments directly to me and I will respond as
quickly as possible. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

News - Hello and Welcome

To our new online blog site! From now on we'll be using the Aegis online blog to archive all our articles on health and fitness. Each month there will be regular updates on all things health and fitness along with news and views from the Aegis team.
We will also be posting updates on our training courses, studio developments, promotions, and much more. As always, we welcome your feedback so please do contact us using the link to our home page to the right. Till then, happy reading from Graeme and Greg and the Aegis Team.