Friday, October 27, 2006

Interview - with Dr Carla Sottovia

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 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

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 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?
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

1. Spriet L L, Graham T E (1999) Current comment on Caffeine and Exercise Performance. American College of Sports Medicine Current Comments
2. 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
11. Jackman M, Wendling P, Friars D, Graham T E (1996) Metabolic, catecholamine and endurance responses to caffeine during intense exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 81 (4): 1658 – 1663
12. Kalmar J M, Cafarelli E (1999) Effects of caffeine on neuromuscular function. Journal of Applied Physiology 87 (2): 801 – 808
13. Plaskett C J, Cafarelli E (2001) Caffeine increases endurance and attenuates force sensation during sub-maximal isometric contractions. Journal of Applied Physiology 91: 1535 – 1544
14. O’Conner P J, Motl R W, Broglio S P, Ely M R (2004) Dose-dependant effect of caffeine on reducing leg muscle pain during cycling exercise is unrelated to systolic blood pressure. Journal of Pain (109): 291- 298
15. Davis M J, Zhao Z, Stock H S, Mehl K A, Buggy J, Hand G (2002) American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 284: 399 – 404
16. Falk B , Burnstein R, Rosenblum J, Shapiro Y, Zylberkatz E, Bashan N (1990) Effects of caffeine ingestion on body fluid balance and thermoregulation during exercise. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 68: 889 – 892
17. Wemple R D, Lamb D R, McKeever K H (1997) Caffeine vs caffeine free sports drinks: effects on urine production at rest and during prolonged exercise. International Journal of Sports Medicine 18: 40 -46

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, or visit the site at

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 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

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.