Goal Setting


Are you embarking on a fitness challenge for 2019? It would be worthwhile setting some goals and targets to achieve the goal.  The quality of your goal needs to be SMART (Specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, time-framed).  First, consider the fitness challenge you would like to do, run a marathon, a 10K race, climb a mountain as a few examples.  The goal needs to be realistic, to be set within a time frame otherwise it won’t be achieved.  However, if it is not challenging enough you could lack the motivation to do it.

Goal Intensity – refers to the effort required to set a goal and how that individual is committed to the goal.  Research has shown that by setting specific, difficult goals, this can lead to a higher performance, rather than a vague goal.  Further studies outline the importance of a challenging goal to that individual, resulting in a focused approach to achievement.

Functional Strength Training


Ageing is associated to physiological changes and declines in muscles and joints which could contribute to falls, frailty and disability, the term for this condition is known as ‘sarcopenia’.  Factors include a loss of muscle mass and strength.  Current research has shown that by engaging in regular strength training programmes 2-3 times per week, exercise can help combat muscle weakness, build muscle strength and improve bone density.

Osteoporosis & Healthy Bones


The condition of osteoporosis or (porous bones) affects at least one in two women over the age of 50 in the UK.  As women enter the menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases.  A disease which leads to a deterioration in bones and their structure which could result in fractures.  Some of the common sites are hips, legs, arms and the vertebrae of the spine, which could result in a reduced quality of life. Exercise has been known to improve bone health and research studies show that a high, free resistance training of the upper body, together with higher impact activities of the lower body as being effective for improving bone mass.

Benefits of Short Intensive Summer Courses



Short courses can take place in winter, summer or throughout the academic year, delivered as a professional or academic course. Maybe you are looking to add an ‘extra flair’ to your study or would like to pursue a practical course in an academic subject combined with practical subjects, which is flexible, less connected to the regular curriculum, but is a course of interest.

A short course can not only enhance your skills, knowledge, but it enables you to specialise further, study from a different perspective or look into a different field of study you may of thought of as a hobby or interest.

An Intensive course gives you freedom, if you are looking for a job or seeking better opportunities, a short course will not only enhance your CV but enrich your study experience.

Classic Camino-Frances


Considering walking the Camino-Frances.  Why not start in Sarria – known for its fabulous hospitality and local traditional food.  As you begin your walk, you will pass through stunning scenery, picturesque villages, hamlets and many beautiful landscapes, in rural Galicia.  The atmosphere is unique.  Once you arrive in Santiago, a UNESCO world heritage city, visit the cathedral, claim your certificate from the Pilgrim office. There is plenty of time to explore, reflect on your journey and relax in this stunning town.  visit http://www.fitness-excel.com/home to view our video of Sarria-Santiago.

Study Experience Abroad

Studying abroad and undertaking a work experience placement is an incredible opportunity.   It not only develops the individual personally, but also from an academic point of view.  Spending 2-3 weeks or longer enables students to gain insight into a different culture, learn a new language and grow as a person.  Other benefits include getting out of your comfort zone, boost your personal and professional skills.  The Erasmus program is one way students can gain a new experience.  One of the main reasons and benefits of Erasmus is it helps students enhance their CV and make them stand out in the job market.  About 64% of employers consider an international experience to be important for recruitment.  Furthermore, the student develops other skills such as flexibility, time management and using their initiative.

Take a look at our video project, involving students from two schools, learning vocational training linked to sports and fitness, Spanish and work experience in Tenerife.   visit http://www.fitness-excel.com, training and education.


Walking & Mental Health

Walking has often been recommended as a form of physical activity, some of the reasons to include that it is widely accessible, it does not cost, reduces weight, it has a low risk of injury and could be associated with improving mental health, calming the mind, relieving stress, anxiety and depression.

Research into the field of mental health and physical activity is growing and many studies have been conducted between links in walking, mental performance and cognitive functioning.  Kramer, et al (1999) found that those who undertook walking or some form of cardiovascular fitness showed substantial improvements in mental cognitive functioning, for example, the speed and how quickly they could process and switch tasks.  Further evidence supporting Kramer, may lie in the findings of Weuve et al (2004) who found that higher levels of regular, long term physical activity and training the cardiovascular system were associated with better cognitive performance, especially among older women.  Other factors in the study included a better quality of life, self-esteem and general mood.  By engaging in regular physical activity, can not only help with weight loss, an promote a sense of well-being, but may prevent mental health disorders.


Why Walk The Camino de Santiago de Compostela – Sarria to Santiago April 2018

What better way to set yourself a fitness challenge for 2018 and walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Walk.  During the past decade the number of pilgrims commencing their journey in Sarria has increased rom 39,583 to 58,554.  Pilgrimage is experienced on many different levels.  There is the physical challenge of walking a long distance in a minimum time.  How deep we choose to make the experience, is entirely left to us, by slowing the walking pace and the extended periods of silence allows time for reflection and introspection which can lead to greater insights, change and growth.  Spring is an ideal time for taking up this challenge, the sun is warm, flowers are appearing, it can be windy, but the route is not over crowded.

How long does it take?  It is roughly divided into 5 stages, about 23 km per day.

Preparation – Start to walk and build up your miles.  Invest in a pair of good walking boots.  Pack a light rain jacket, the weather can be unpredictable.  Take a sun hat and sun cream.  April can be very warm.  Your backpack should weigh no more than 10 kilos.  Foot care is essential to avoid blisters, make sure socks are breathable.

To enhance the experience – do not bring.  Your mobile phone, unless you are a solo traveller and you may need this for an emergency.  Your watch – you can learn to navigate and adapt to your natural clock.  Travel light and get rid of  excess clutter.

Language – It is very useful to learn some basic Spanish words.

Pilgrim Passport – This document is a credential of the places you visit along the way.

Food & Drink – A minimum daily intake of 2 litres per day to avoid dehydration.  Isotonic drinks containing sodium and potassium are useful.  Pilgrims should eat high-energy foods (chocolate, dried fruit, figs, flap jacks).

Basic first aid kit – (antiseptic cream, gauze, band aids, sunscreen, adhesive tape, nail scissors, plasters, Vaseline.




Role & Function of Core Stability

Core stability is a system of muscles including the transversus abdominals in the front, the gluteals and paraspinals in the back, together with the pelvic floor and hip girdle muscles.  The aim of core stability is to help stabilise the spine and pelvis during movement.  Weakness in the core can lead to inefficient movement, overuse, imbalance, poor coordination, overuse and injury.  Furthermore, it is important to master the basic core stability exercises as they are the foundation of more advanced movement patterns.  Academic researchers, Hodges and Richardson state that it is important how the deep abdominals are recruited , not that they are. Those with lower back problems can sometimes find it difficult to engage the deep lower muscles early enough to stabilise the spine.  In order to gain maximum benefits, a thorough individualised program to assess and address imbalance along with monitoring sufficient recruitment would prove beneficial.


Having coached and trained numerous students, whether it is wellness, Pilates, academic or vocational work over the years, one of my goals was to increase students to become more independent learners. Having realised that the majority of students have some digital skills, I have encouraged students to incorporate some of their learning via on-line lessons.  Students studying for vocational qualifications now have a learning platform in which they can study modules on-line.  In addition, they can link in with other students on the course and become more involved with collaborated learning with their peers in-between face-to-face interaction.

Furthermore, students undergoing coaching, face to face or Pilates can also benefit from having on-line lessons which will enable them to achieve their goals in-between group led classes.

Kolb’s learning cycle is a simple model which demonstrates that people learn best through experience.  Kolb uses four stages of learning:

Experience:  By participating in a new experience like digital learning can be positive.

Reflection:   Student reflects on the experience of the digital on-line lesson and both the positive and negative aspects.

Comparison: Students compare the experience, as to what works well.

Experimenting:  Students try out what they have learned and apply it.

To conclude, there are many issues surrounding the success of learning, however, students undertaking some form of independent learning in-between group lessons enables a new, richer experience