Coaching Corner

Coaching tips from our team of experts. Tips will range on a wide variety of exercise and health topics.


More than 70 health studies which followed more than 2.5 million people for up to 24 years has shown that every 4 inches of excess visceral fat (that is fat stored around the waist and belly) is associated with an 11 percent higher chance of dying prematurely.

This is because visceral fat sits around vital organs including the liver, kidneys, intestines and pancreas.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal and suggests that people should be more concerned about their waist measurement than focussing only on their weight or BMI. The study author Tauseef Ahmed Khan of the University of Toronto said: “Visceral fat is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke”.

At Gymophobics we now include the RFM Index which compares the waist / height ratio. Ideally, the waist measurement should be less than half the height measurement.


Yes. Applying hand cream after using sanitiser is essential to protect our skin and it will prevent bacteria.

We can be so focussed on stripping our skin of germs that we are inadvertently thinning our hands of the outermost layer of skin which is a natural barrier that stops bacteria from entering our bodies!

Sanitising without moisturising can lead to dryness, redness, itching, flaking and dry cracks in the skin giving bacteria an entry point.


Sit on the floor with your Back against the wall.

Now bend forward to touch your toes. If you are over 40 and can’t get near them you could be more at risk of heart disease according to a 2009 study in Japan.

This found that middle aged and older people with poor flexibility also had stiff arteries which may be due to less movement of blood and oxygen in the body, including the heart.

If you are concerned about poor flexibility, your Instructors will be able to help.


Your resting heart rate is an excellent guide to your cardio vascular health. Place two fingers on your opposite wrist just below the thumb and count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiply by four. A super fit person will have a resting heart rate in the low 60’s but any thing below 75 beats per minute is respectable. If you are getting out for a brisk walk or jog most days and getting a little out of breath (what we call cardio vascular exercise) you will soon see your resting heart rate slowing down. That’s an excellent sign as it means that your heart muscle is growing stronger and enabling more blood to be pumped into the arteries with each beat.


See how long you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed. Get someone to time you and take an average of three attempts. In your 40’s you should manage 13 seconds. In your 50’s you will do well to get over 8 seconds and at 60 plus you will probably manage about 4 seconds. Studies have shown that this test is an important predictor of long term heart health.


 Sit in a chair without arms and see how many times you can go from sitting to standing in one minute. Ideally you should be able to do it more than 36 times. Don’t worry if you can’t however, just do as many as you can each day and you will be surprised how quickly you will improve!


One orange a day gives you double your daily target of vitamin C which is vital for your immune system and is a good source of fibre.

In studies, the super nutrient ‘nobiletin’ in oranges helps reduce obesity in mice as well as lowering insulin and cholesterol.

Although unproven as yet, an orange a day may help with your weight loss plan and is a great way to notch up one of your five a day!


Fish is a tasty way of getting the protein we need for repairing our muscles and boosting our immune system. Oily fish such as salmon or sardines contain omega-3 oils and vitamin D which reduce the risk of heart disease and are crucial for our mood and strong bones.

Aim for two to three portions weekly.


A study of older people found that regular cardio exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, improving powers of recall by 50 percent.

A simple workout schedule resulted in dramatic changes in their grey matter after just 12 months.  MRI scans have revealed that exercise increases oxygen levels in two key areas of the brain linked to memory and can even reverse problems.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Older ladies who are regular exercisers at Gymophobics will acknowledge the benefits to their mental alertness and memory.


Our metabolic rate is the number of calories we spend at rest and during activity every 24 hours.

It varies from person to person of course but on average a female of normal weight will spend around 12 or 13 hundred calories at rest over a 24 hour period. As she will not be at rest for 24 hours (presumably) she will spend additional calories in activity.

If she is a mostly sedentary person she will spend an additional 500 or six hundred calories over 24 hours so her total 24 hour expenditure will be not much more than 1800 calories.

If she is an active person she will spend in excess of 2,000 calories depending on just how active she is. An athlete for example can spend in excess of 3,000 calories in a typical 24 hours.

A calorie is simply a unit of energy (the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree centigrade) and all food contains calories. If we consume more calories than we need for energy, the rest are stored away in our fat cells for when we need them!  If we never need them, they remain in the fat cells as fat.

To lose weight therefore is quite simple. Spend more calories than we consume to make the body release some of the stored energy in our fat cells.

To lose one pound of fat from our fat cells each week (that’s four stones in a year) we would need to spend just 500 calories each day more then we consume. That’s because every pound of fat in our fat cells is actually 3,500 calories.  So in simple terms what that means is that someone who has a metabolic rate of (say) 2,000 calories per day, just needs to consume no more than 1,500 calories each day to lose a pound of fat each week.

For more info on how your diet should be based on your metabolic rate, ask your Instructor who will be happy to help.


Each muscle is composed of thousands of fibres which react positively to being exercised. The more we use them, the more toned and stronger they become.

The phrase ‘Use it or lose it’ applies to muscles however so if we don’t use our muscles they very quickly atrophy, meaning they become weak and sag. In fact muscle fibres start to atrophy within just 72 hours of inactivity!

At any one time some of our muscle fibres are permanently switched on while others are permanently switched off but we can increase the number of permanently switched on fibres if we use our muscles often enough. Using our muscles every day makes a lot of sense therefore and when we do so we ‘switch on’ some of the fibres. How many we switch on is of course dependant on how hard we work them.

The benefit of increasing the number of switched on fibres in a muscle is two fold. The more switched on fibres that we have means that the muscle is toned. It looks good and holds us in, in all the right places.

The second benefit is that switched on fibres are burning calories 24/7 so the more toned our muscles are, our metabolism is working in overdrive, even while we sleep.

Of course the opposite applies if we allow our muscles to atrophy as this slows down our metabolic rate and contributes to weight gain.

One final point to bear in mind about allowing muscles to atrophy is that they shrink. A non exerciser will lose 10 percent each year of the muscle they had on the body when they were twenty years of age. So by the time they are seventy they will have lost half the muscle they once had!

So muscle atrophy has nothing going for it. By using our muscles on a regular basis we can avoid muscle loss, burn more calories, maintain muscle strength and keep our body looking toned and lean. That’s why a half hour session at Gymophobics two or three times each week is so important.


For decades, people have avoided fat- and cholesterol-rich items, such as butter, nuts, egg yolks, and full fat dairy, opting instead for low fat substitutes like margarine, egg whites, and fat-free dairy in hopes of bettering their health and losing weight.

This is due to the misconception that eating foods rich in cholesterol and fat may increase your risk of various diseases.

While research has disproven this notion, myths surrounding dietary cholesterol and fat continue to dominate headlines and many healthcare providers continue to recommend very low fat diets to the general public.

This  article by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD expels five of the most common myths.

Myth 1. Eating fat leads to weight gain

A common diet myth is that eating high fat foods causes you to gain weight.

While it’s true that eating too much of any macro-nutrient, including fat, makes you gain weight, consuming fat-rich foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet does not lead to weight gain.

On the contrary, consuming fat-rich foods may help you lose weight and keep you satisfied between meals.

Numerous studies have shown that eating high fat foods, including whole eggs, avocados, nuts, and full-fat dairy, may help boost weight loss and feelings of fullness. What’s more, dietary patterns that are very high in fat, including low carb, high fat diets, have been shown to promote weight loss.

Myth 2. Cholesterol-rich foods are unhealthy 

Many people assume that cholesterol-rich foods, including whole eggs, shellfish, organ meats, and full-fat dairy, are unhealthy. Yet, that’s not the case. In fact, many high cholesterol foods are chock-full of nutrition.

Myth 3. Saturated fat causes heart disease 

Recent research has shown no link between saturated fat intake and heart disease and has demonstrated that certain types of saturated fat may increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol.

Myth 4. Eating fat increases diabetes risk

A 2019 study in 2,139 people found no association between the consumption of animal- and plant-based fat or total fat and the risk of type 2 diabetes.  In fact, certain fat-rich foods may help protect against the disease’s development.

Myth 5. Fat-free products are a smart choice 

While processed low fat foods on the supermarket shelves might seem like a smart choice, these foods aren’t good for overall health. Unlike naturally fat-free foods, such as most fruits and veggies, processed  fat-free foods contain ingredients that can negatively affect your body weight, metabolic health, and more.

Despite having fewer calories than their regular-fat counterparts, fat-free foods are typically much higher in added sugar. Consuming high amounts of added sugar has been associated with the progression of chronic conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

What’s more, many fat-free products contain preservatives, artificial food dyes, and other additives that many people prefer to avoid for health reasons. Plus, they’re not as satisfying as foods that contain fat.

Instead of trying to cut calories by choosing highly processed fat-free products, enjoy small amounts of whole, nutritious sources of fats at meals and snacks to promote overall health.


Scientists at Universities in Sydney and New South Wales in Australia have found that fenugreek leaves and seeds which is a spice widely used in dishes such as Madras, can improve lean muscle strength and reduce fat!

In tests, 138 subjects who ate daily fenugreek supplements (Testofen), saw lean muscle tissue increase and fat decrease.

Researchers think that this works by increasing the release of testosterone in the body.

Whatever the reason, we need never again feel guilty when eating a Madras!


When NASA decided to send man to the moon they called in a top health scientist Kenneth Cooper MD to work with the astronauts. His job was to ensure that they were going to be able to withstand the enormous pressure that walking in space would put them under.

Cooper researched the effect of exercise on the heart, lungs and blood vessels and eventually was able to show that only one form of activity has a major impact on our health and longevity. We call that activity cardio vascular exercise and put simply it is any exercise that will get us puffing.

Of course when doing cardio we need to know the three simple rules: Frequency (how often?), Duration (how long each session should last) and Intensity (how tough should each session be?)

You will notice that the type of exercise you do is irrelevant. All that matters is that whatever you do, the frequency, duration and intensity has to be right. At Gymophobics we recommend that our members do a jog or a walk, both of which can be done in the open air of course which is surely much better than using a treadmill inside four walls?

FREQUENCY:  Cooper tells us that we should be doing some cardio five or six times per week.

DURATION : Twenty minutes (or more) is ideal but beginners should build up to this gradually.

INTENSITY : No need to go mad and push yourself like an athlete. As long as you are going fast enough to raise your heart rate and get you puffing a little bit you are doing fine. If you are a technical type of person, you might want to purchase a wrist monitor which measures your heart rate as you go along. Cooper tells us we should aim to get our heart rate up to 65 percent of its maximum.

At Gymophobics we aim for a lower figure however. Unless you are super fit! please aim for 55 percent of maximum HR. To determine what this is, simply detract your age from the number 220, then use a calculator to tell you what 55 percent of that number is. Then try to maintain that heart rate throughout your walk or jog.

Note: The only exception to the above is for someone with a history of heart problems, angina, etc. Your heart rate target should be lower at 50 percent of maximum instead of 55 percent and of course you should have your Doctor’s permission to exercise in this way.

So what do the stats show us? Research around the world all come up with the same result. Those people who perform cardio in the way outlined by Cooper live far longer on average than those who don’t!

They have two thirds less strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. So getting in your daily cardio session has a lot going for it!


At Gymophobics our Instructors prescribe four different exercise modalities and in the coming weeks we will explain exactly what they are.


Callisthenics can be performed anywhere, although your Instructors will always include two or three as part of your Gym sessions. They will also provide three or four for you to do at home.

There is no need for equipment when doing callisthenics as your body provides all the resistance your muscles require. Doing a ‘sit up’ for example involves using the weight of your upper body to ‘work’ the tummy muscles.

There are some 70 plus callisthenic exercises and your Instructors will select the ones most appropriate for your needs. Very important to do them correctly of course or you can easily end up working the wrong muscles or even injuring yourself!

Your Instructor will ensure that you learn how to perform each callisthenic exercise correctly, making sure that you know when to inhale and exhale.

Incidentally, many callisthenic exercises that we used to do in PE years ago have subsequently been shown to be dangerous, i.e. straight leg lifts when lying on your back! The ‘Plank’ is another dodgy exercise which Physios report is the cause of so many lower back problems that they are treating.

So when you start your callisthenics prescription, always follow your Instructor’s advice.

To finish on a positive note. Just ten minutes of callisthenics performed daily on the bedroom floor can make a huge contribution to the strength and tone of your musculature. Never underestimate the effect it can have on your figure in just a few weeks when you perform callisthenics each morning in conjunction with your Gym sessions.


At Gymophobics our Instructors prescribe four different exercise modalities and in the coming weeks we will explain exactly what they are.


Before the arrival of Gyms in the UK in the early 1960’s the only way to tone and tighten the body was to perform Isometric exercise. This was usually done at home in the bedroom having responded to adverts in newspapers and magazines which offered an Isometric workout.

Once Gyms arrived on the scene however it put an end to Isometrics as people much preferred to work out in a gym environment and use machines.

For many years it had been assumed that Isometric exercise was a poor alternative to Isotonic (resistance) training but it turns out that nothing could be further from the truth!

New technology  which makes it possible to measure muscle fibre contraction during exercise shows that Isometric exercise is a very effective way to tone and strengthen muscles and if this is combined with Isotonic exercise, it becomes incredibly effective – far more so that when performing either on their own!

That of course is why Gymophobics Instructors prescribe both modalities, knowing that by combining the two their members will achieve even faster results.

Isometric exercise is simply muscle contractions. By squeezing and holding a muscle in a contracted state for (say) seven seconds, then relaxing and performing a number of repetitions, the muscle is strengthened. When this is done in combination with Isotonic resistance exercise  the effect can be quite dramatic.

Combining Isotonic and Isometric exercise has been developed by Gymophobics over the past few years and is now called ‘Resisted Tension’. Eventually a Trade Mark was applied for and achieved which makes it a unique system not available in conventional Gyms.


Our older members might remember adverts which told us to go to work on an egg.

Sadly this all came to a stop when the ads were vetoed in 2007 because we were told that eggs failed to provide a balanced diet and that eggs raised cholesterol and was a major cause of heart attack and stroke.

A new study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal however, concludes that eggs will do nothing to raise those risks after all. The study was by Harvard

University researchers who studied 210,000 Americans and found that there was no association between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease.

Dietitian Dr. Carrie Ruxton who acts as an adviser to the British Egg Information  Service  says: “ Eggs are rich in protein and are nutrient dense providing one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D. It’s great that we can now put people’s mind to rest”.



At Gymophobics our Instructors prescribe four different exercise modalities and in the coming weeks we will explain exactly what they are.

                        ISOTONIC EXERCISE

Isotonic exercise is the most commonly prescribed activity in most Gyms.

Quite simply, isotonic exercise is working muscles against resistance. So whether you use hand weights (dumbells) or are using a piece of gym equipment, if you are resisting the muscles being exercised then you are performing isotonic exercise. The more resistance you are using when exercising, the more muscle fibres are being used and the more effect it will have.

Isotonic exercise is designed to strengthen and tone the muscles being used so providing it is performed regularly you can expect to see flabby muscles toned and inch loss.

It is crucial that the right amount of resistance is used of course. Neither excessive strain nor too little resistance and that is where your Instructor comes in. How much resistance she will ask you to use on each exercise and how many repetitions she will ask you to do will determine how effective the exercise will be and as the weeks go by, she will adapt her advice according to how well you are doing.

In our next report we will explain ISOMETRIC exercise and how this is integrated into your programme at Gymophobics.


If you are trying Gymophobics Low Sugar Diet (LSD)  to lose weight your Instructor will have recommended that you start off on about 60 grams per day. Once you find that this works she will suggest that you gradually increase the daily income as you may find, as many members do, that you can continue to lose weight even when you increase carb intake to as much as 120 grams daily.

Follow these simple rules to help you stick to your low carb target.

  1. Reduce or eliminate sugar and all high carb foods. That includes breakfast cereals (yes, really) ,bread, pasta, rice, crackers, oats, cakes, sweets and all sugary drinks.
  2. Load up your meals with non starch and salad vegetables such as Kale, broccoli or peppers to help you to feel full.
  3. Eat ‘good’ fats. These include oily fish, coconut oil, avocado and animal fats as they are good for your metabolism and help you feel full.
  4. Pick low sugar fruits such as berries and apples.
  5. Eat protein at every meal.
  6. Stop snacking. Fasting between meals and overnight helps your body’s response to Insulin.
  7. Drink two litres of water each day.


As we get older it is quite common to see an abnormal rounding of the upper back which throws the shoulders forward and is sometimes unkindly called ‘dowager’s hump’! Its proper name is Kyphosis.

If you have spent years hunched over a desk this can be the result as can carrying heavy items like shopping bags which pull the shoulders forward.

For better posture try this simple remedy every day.

  1. On a soft carpet Kneel with your bottom on your heels. If this is difficult, pop a pillow under your ankles.
  2. Let your body reach forward from the waist and aim to touch the floor with your forehead, with your arms stretched in front of you as straight as possible.
  3. Stay there for as long as you feel comfortable taking a few deep breaths. You will feel the stretch throughout your body.
  4. Relax before repeating the stretch and perform up to five repetitions when starting. Later you will be able to increase the repetitions and will soon see and feel the benefit.


Today’s simple advice is to consider cooking just once a week Instead of having to cook every day.

Why not have a cook day where you prepare delicious meals in advance for the whole week which can then be stored in your freezer?

Many people find this much better than struggling to decide ‘What will we cook today?’ And of course it leaves you free the rest of the week to focus on other things. All you have to do each day is to look in the fridge to decide which mouth watering meal you are going to select.


Being overweight increases your risk of developing sleep apnoea, a disorder that causes you to stop breathing many times during the night, leaving you as tired when you wake as when you went to bed the night before.

Sleep apnoea occurs when muscles at the back of the throat relax and temporarily restrict airflow as you sleep, restricting oxygen to the brain.

Signs to look out for include snoring, gasping or chocking noises during the night and feeling unaccountably sleepy during the day.

The best treatment is to lose excess weight – fast!

Follow our LSD Diet in conjunction with our 5/2 Diet. Your Instructor will no doubt have prescribed these to you but if you are unsure you should email your Centre for advice.