Practise is an endless adventure....

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I was super-inspired yesterday.

Staying at my folks in London for a couple of days and as I was working all afternoon I was able to faintly hear the beautiful sound of their neighbour practising the violin.

He was practising for HOURS...

The neighbours are younger than my folks, I reckon late 50's / early 60's. He's a professional violinist and plays with a nationally-recognised orchestra, so it's serious shit.

I remember growing up as a child listening to him practise his violin on the other side of the wall. That was a long time ago. And I'm sure he was practising for years before they moved in next door. So that's a lot of years of practise, much longer than I've even had something that I wanted to practise at!

That's not to say we all have to go off and practise something daily for hours on end. But if there is something you love to do, find the time to put that practise in - even 5 minutes is better than nothing! But not just that, make it 5 minutes of focussed and enjoyable practise. Something you want to work on, not something you think you should do.

Listening to my neighbour has definitely made me determined that in 10, 20 years from now I'll still have something in my life that I'll want to practise regularly, whatever that may be. Since starting to dance nearly 13 years ago, movement practice has been the gift that keeps on giving. I'm always discovering new things about how my body works, things I can do to improve myself and how I can help others to do the same. I'm excited to see what further developments I’ll make in the future.

If I'm honest I've had a bit of a struggle to practise this week due to a bit of lurgy. However this weekend I'm getting back on the wagon practising for some upcoming ATS performances, finger cymbal drills and starting a new fitness programme.

I'd love to know what's on your practice plan this weekend! Or perhaps if you didn't have anything in mind - can you fit in a sneaky 5 minutes somewhere?
Or perhaps you've been practising loads and have planned some well-deserved rest and relaxation this weekend?

Comment below!

Enjoy the holidays!

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Enjoy the holidays!

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this is traditionally a time for reuniting with family and friends and sharing food and drink.

If you have been working on developing healthy eating habits and a regular movement practise, these can be disrupted by multiple roast dinners, buffet finger food, free-flowing alcohol and a busy schedule of visits.

And why not?

It's the end of a busy year that has been for most of us full of ups and downs and you deserve to have some fun. Guilt-free. Get stuck into the roast potatoes and have a second helping of ice-cream!

Even though you're going to be devouring a mince pie or two without a care, I'd like to offer a few suggestions to incorporate over the festive season, which will help to keep your healthy habits ticking over and allow for a smoother transition back to your normal routine as 2019 kicks in.

- Make sure you have plenty of fruit and veggies on hand and visible so you eat them - your body still gets the nutrients it needs and can function well to process the less nutritious stuff
- Go for a walk instead of vegging-out in front of a movie - or perhaps a walk and THEN reward yourself by sitting down to a movie :)
- Drink a glass of water with every alcoholic drink
- Practise mindful eating - take a bite and really savour it, taking in all the flavours. This will slow you down so you start to feel full sooner. Pay attention to this too and stop eating when you feel full.
- Avoid chemical-laden fizzy mixers - choose fresh juice, soda water or straight up!
- Squeeze a short (10 minute) workout / movement practise in at the start of the day before someone puts a mimosa in your hand - there's plenty of videos on youtube and I have done a series of short sequences just for you - click here to sign up to my mailing list and gain access

Consider what you have planned over the next couple of weeks and what your default holiday habits are. Then pick one or two that are realistically achievable for you. I'd love to know what they are! Even something that's not on my list - comment below!

Happy holidays!

Hello world...

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Hello world. Welcome to my first blog. Ever.

I’ve been grappling with how to present myself to the world in my new fitness venture.

How do I put myself out there into the land of Instagram bodies and their feats of epic strength and flexibility? The girl who was last to get picked for the sports teams at school.

In everything I read, the advice is always to be “you”. Be authentic. Be vulnerable.

Sounds terrifying.

*deep breath* So here goes...

I've been teaching dance for 9 years and for the majority of that time I've felt under pressure to show up each week and be a perfect example for my students. If I made a mistake with a combo or choreography I was teaching I'd feel self-conscious about it for the rest of the class, worried I wasn't giving the dancers the standard of training they deserved. That I wasn't good enough.

Then, when I was training with Belly Dance legend, Rachel Brice, I discovered the Growth Mindset principle (more on that in future posts). Amongst the many things it taught me was that I was actually doing my students a disservice by covering up my flaws. For real growth to happen, making and learning from mistakes is an important part of any success story. Learning comes from that uncomfortable place of struggle and error. Being open when I make a mistake shows my students that it’s okay to make their own, and that’s where the true lessons lie. From correcting mistakes comes development and progress.

Ironically, I originally discovered belly dance because I was looking for an alternative to going to the gym. However, as my passion for dance grew it quickly became clear that I would need to cross-train to improve my fitness, so I delved into yoga, Pilates and eventually into the gym courtesy of a programme called Dance Stronger, by Monika Volkmar.

She was the first to inspire  in me the idea that we are human before anything else and humans need to move.

So this is why I'm here. To help other humans move their bodies.

I've gone from a semi-sedentary, drinking, smoking party animal to a health-conscious dance teacher and fitness professional in 12 years. The party animal is still there though… I'm not ready to let her go and I don't know if I ever will.

Do I enjoy healthy, nourishing food? Yes, of course. Do I eat pizza? Yes. I love it.  But gone are the frozen supermarket pizzas and greasy takeaways. I'm lucky enough to have a partner who loves to cook and is intent on creating the perfect, fully home-made pizza.

Is it the healthiest, “cleanest” thing to eat? No. But it's my favourite food and it makes me happy and warms my soul.

Do I drink like I did in my twenties? No. Do I still enjoy a drink? Yes.

What's changed? I couldn't have achieved what I have if I drank the way used to. Boozy nights and early mornings are not compatible for me. Consuming that much is not going to allow my body to perform in the way I want it to. It wasn't an overnight transition by any means, more like a slow, steady change in habits. I now enjoy a cold beer after class (beer is another of my favourite things) or a glass of red wine with a meal. I’ll maybe have a little more when I'm not working the next day. Then occasionally I’ll have a blow out.

Is it perfect? No. Might I perform better if I were teetotal? Maybe. But for me it's about finding balance and it makes me happy to let the party animal know she has not been left behind and forgotten.

So this is me putting myself out there as I really am. I'm no fitness guru or nutrition goddess. I’ve definitely undergone a metamorphosis in the past 12 years and I have aspirations for further transformation.

What I'm trying to say is that fitness doesn’t need to be perfect. Just moving the body a little more and making small tweaks to nutritional habits will gradually add up to some big, lasting changes.

Yes it involves effort. Struggle. Willpower. Mistakes. Failure.

But the knowledge that I'm doing what I can to allow me to live to a happy, healthy, active life fires my passion to continue the work and to help others on their journey too.

I would love to know your thoughts. How do you define fitness? What aspirations do you have for your future self?

Please comment below and let me know if you have any questions.

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