My Hugely Popular F.I.T Classes Are BACK Tonight!

Last year I took on a new challenge, delivering women only fitness classes for students and staff at Manchester Metropolitan University. I gave the classes my all and ended up leading consistently the most highly attended fitness classes across all of the uni all year!

I wanted to create fitness classes that motivated women to get fit in a non-judgemental and fun environment. Most exercises in the Legs and Bums and Ab Attack F.I.T Classes had easier versions for people new to fitness, and more advanced versions for regular gym goers.

Week 1 had an alright turn out. Here’s our post-workout photo! Happy faces and The Cheerleading Society setting up in the background!

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Week 2 OMG people must have told their friends to come along! I was so glad I had a microphone!

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I created an uplifting female fronted music playlist, featuring music from inspiring women musicians like MIA, Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, Rihanna and The Slits. I wanted all participants to leave the sessions feeling really empowered, and like they’ve had a damn good workout!

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I love it how as the weeks passed, the post-workout photo started to look more and more like a sports team!

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Sometimes the classes had specific themes. During Uni Mental Health Awareness Week, I ended the Ab Attack F.I.T Class with 15 minutes of yoga. I turned the music down, whacked the more relaxing playlist on (Bjork, Cocteau Twins, Portisead) and encouraged a show of hands to see who had never done yoga before! It was great to see that many of the participants were new to yoga. I spoke about the benefits of yoga for the mind, body and soul, and ended with key poses that are specifically designed to help the body relax and wind down, such as child’s pose.

Here we are balancing in tree pose!

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I also invited all participants to give themselves a pat on the back, because turning up to fitness classes whilst at university is really great for reducing stress levels, along with reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as giving everyone a boost of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones, and helping everyone get a good nights sleep!

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By January the class participation had grown beyond belief! It was truly great to see so many people up for getting fit after over indulging over the festive period, but from then on, we had to cap the class number at NO MORE THAN 70!!!

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Even though people had to be turned away every session, people still kept coming back for more! I recommended people who had to be turned away go home and smash out a 30 minute legs, bums and tums workout on their bedroom floor, incorporating exercises they have learned in my sessions! It was an incredible feeling seeing the same faces come back week in week out, and to see people’s fitness levels increase, along with their bodies becoming more toned and their confidence levels improving too.

Because of the popularity of these classes, MMU Sport HQ decided to add another F.I.T Class to the fitness timetable. We welcomed @bex.hellyer to the F.I.T Class fam and she started to teach classes on Thursday evenings at Sugden Sports Centre, focusing on weight training. Bex’s F.I.T Classes have also been highly attended, and students kept telling me that they love the combination of my bodyweight and plyometric Ab Attack and Legs and Bums classes, along with Bex’s weightlifting classes. People were really starting to see results!

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During @ThisMMUGirlCan Week I encouraged everyone to do their research and check out This Girl Can, if they’re not yet aware of this incredibly inspiring and successful fitness campaign. Before the first session started, Abi Dean and I showed the participants a This MMU Girl Can banner and invited everyone to sign their names on the banner, pledging on inspire and encourage other women and girls to become more physically active. I love my job!

I ADORE This Girl Can and I can still remember the shivers-down-the-spine psysiological affect that seeing the first This Girl Can video in 2015 had on me. Such a fantastic campaign to inspire more women and girls to become more physically active. It was just so refreshing to see women of all shapes and sizes, ages, colours getting physically active, and enjoying themselves! SOUNDTRACKED BY MISSY ELLIOTT’S GET UR FREAK ON. SO MUCH LOVE!

Never before had I seen a fitness video like this! I know so many people who have been inspired by this campaign. Whatever your gender, if you find yourself needing some exercise motivation, watch this video! Get up and go!

I also love the newer This Girl Can video. Even more ridiculously energising and inspiring footage of women in various types of exercises and sports, doing their thing, in conjunction with a recording of legend Maya Angelou reading her Phemomenal Woman poem. Perfection.

At the end of the This MMU Girl Can Week class I suggested the idea of channelling our inner goddess for the post-workout photo!

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Here we are holding Warrior 2 yoga pose at the end of Legs & Bums class. Warrior 2 (AKA Virabhadrasana II) is a standing pose that enhances strength, stability and concentration, whilst stretching the legs, groin and chest.

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It’s wonderful that some people made the time to keep coming to the F.I.T Classes during the exam period. Did you know that exercise, specifically weight training, frazzles your central nervous system in a way that you are less likely to experience stress and nervousness for the next 24 hours?! Shoutout to weight lifter Kath Shack who told me this awesome piece of information!

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At the end of the academic year, I thanked everyone from coming to the classes and bringing such high energy, and wished all students the best of luck for their exams!

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Now that Freshers Week is out of the way and lectures have started this week, my classes are starting up again tonight!

I am so excited to welcome all the new faces and say hey to the regulars from last year! Expect new playlists, some new exercises and some of the same! Let’s see how long people can hold plank for to measure where your core stability is at today, and let’s take it from there!

If you’re a female staff member or student at Manchester Met, come to Brooks sports hall, bring your ID card, your water bottle and get involved.

F.I.T Class Legs & Bums 18:00-18:30

F.I.T Class Ab Attack 18:30-19:00

The classes are free as part of Active Campus, the fantastic drive to get more staff and students physically active on campus.

Roll On YEAR 2! LET’S DO THIS!

 

DANCE UPDATE!

So the Spice Girls Dance-A-Thon was loads of fun!

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Here’s a photo of everyone who stayed dancing right until the end! Well done! Thank you everyone involved, the Spice Up organisers, box office staff and the Manchester Central security team. Big love to one of the security team who joined in! I loved *every minute* leading the Spice Girls dance session! I encouraged everyone to sing along as well as give it their all dancing, and they did!

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Some of my amazing friends came along, check out my ILL band mates posing with me in the Spice Bus! The Spice Up exhibition has been extended until the end of September and can now be found in The Great Northern!

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My Zumba classes are going from (high energy) strength to strength. Just received some lovely feedback from Chloe: ‘I LOVE IT! Really enjoyed being offbeat and free styling and it felt like a space to be able to do that too. You’re really great Fi’

THANK YOU CHLOE! SO ARE YOU!

My next Zumba challenge will be learning the officical Zumba Instructor Network choreography to the sizzling Level Up track by Ciara. It’s such a cool track, it was no surprise when I learned that Missy Elliott had been involved in the creative process. What a track, about self-improvement and getting better and better at whatever you do.

If you like this video (I love it) you should watch the ‘making of’ video. The video is spellbinding and showcases how extremely far music video choreography has come in the last few years.

Watch how the dancers learn and MOVE! So much respect for PARRI$ what a legend!

But don’t be scared off, my Zumba classes will soon feature this track musically, but with moves way more accessible than in this video! You don’t need to be a professional dancer to enjoy dancing with conviction in a Zumba class, you just need to be ready to have fun!

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Everyone (18+) is welcome. My Zumba classes are every Wednesday 6-7pm at Platt Lane Sports Complex in Fallowfield. Prices: Public £4.70 / MMU Student £4.20 / Other students, MMU & MMC Staff £4.40 / Concession £2.45

TODAY I GOT A BBC RADIO SHOUTOUT FROM ONE OF MY HEROES, TALKING ABOUT DANCE (IN CAPITAL LETTERS)! I am so excited to go dancing at Lucky Cloud Sound System this Sunday in London with my friend Caroline. I’m still buzzing from hearing Lauren Laverne do a BBC Radio 6 Music shout out to us today, when talking about listeners weekend plans! LISTEN AGAIN 25 mins in:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/m0000fjf

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The featured photo at the top of this blog is me posing with another one of my heroes: FIERCE DANCER / Manchester legend / northern powerhouse / Mother of The House of Ghetto Darren Pritchard. After one of Darren’s most enjoyable Vogue Workshops I’ve ever experienced, part of Superbia, during Manchester Pride Weekend, we were *totally feeling ourselves* and we had just been told that there was steam coming from the room!

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Photo by JA G Wallis

I also have some really exciting news coming up about a dance event I will be leading at Halloween! Stay tuned! 💀💃🏻⚡️💋

 

Tomorrow I’m leading a DANCE-A-THON at the Spice Girls Exhibition!!!

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Last Sunday I walked around SpiceUp, the brilliant exhibition of Spice Girls clothing, records and memorabilia at Manchester Central. It brought back so many happy memories of my sister (age 7) and I (age 10) collecting the sticker books, making up dance moves to Who Do You Think You Are, and watching the Spice Girls VHS on repeat. The Spice Girls made us feel like we could be confident, loud, proud and have fun. Their music is so uplifting, it is a real honour to be creating a dance / fitness extravaganza where people can dance together to their favourite Spice Girls hits!

I am absolutely thrilled to have been telling everyone I know that tomorrow (Sunday 2nd September at 4pm) I will be leading a 30 minute high energy DANCE-A-THON to back to back Spice Girls tracks. Everyone is welcome to attend, get involved and/or watch, and cheer us on. Everyone is encouraged to sing their hearts out too!

Of course, we will be doing warm up exercises at the start, to If You Can’t Dance, to get everyone psyched up and ready for action (cue Mel C’s high kick) and then the all important cool down stretches to the more relaxed tones of 2 Become 1, to reduce muscle soreness the following day.  It’s recommended that all dancers come early and stay for the full 30 minutes!

I’ve really enjoyed the choreography process this week. As a fully qualified Fitness Instructor and Zumba Instructor, who LOVES DANCING, I’ve incorprated all of the original Spice Girls iconic chorus dance moves, along with aerobic and toning exercises. The session will be a real workout and a highly enjoyable one too!

The exhibition is fantastic. Congratulations Alan Smith-Allison and everyone involved. It’s great to see all the 90s fashions, and iconic outfits that were seen all over the planet. And who knew that there were so many different kinds of Spice Girls dolls made and circulated in different countries?!

I urge all Spice Girls fans to go on one of the guided tours with the oh-so-fabulous and knowledgaeable Alex Lodge. He has met every single Spice Girl, he knows his facts, and he will blow your mind!

So bring your dancing shoes (PLATFORMS AND HIGH HEELS MUST BE TAKEN OFF FOR THE DANCE SESSION!) bring some water and come and have a dance! All fitness levels and abilities welcome. All ages welcome. Tickets are available here. Get to Manchester Central early so you can have a look round, come find the DANCE-A-THON inside the exhibition space, and get down!

SAY YOU’LL BE THERE!

More Awesome Feedback from my Zumba Classes!

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“After your Zumba class I couldn’t stop dancing when I got home!”

“I feel amazing after your Zumba classes, and the high lasts all night and the following morning until lunchtime!”

“It really is true what group exercise and Zumba can do for the soul, I’m coming back every week!”

“I can’t believe that was an hour! It went so quick!”

“I’ve sweat more in your class than I have ever sweat in my whole life!”

“I experienced different pains in my legs the following days after my first Zumba class with you, but my legs are already getting fitter, the soreness has definitely reduced.”

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My Zumba classes are 6-7pm every Wednesday at Platt Lane Sports Complex. All fitness levels welcome!

Public £4.70 / MMU Student £4.20 / Other students, MMU & MMC Staff £4.40 / Concession £2.45

My First Ever Zumba Class was a HIT!

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Lots of shiny happy people hugged each other, expressed their thanks and congratulated me after my first Zumba class last night! It was so much fun!

We had to wipe steam from the mirrors to take a photo in the reflection! We got drenched in there! Such a good workout.

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Lots of great open minded energy and smiles from the start. I enjoyed it so much and already can’t wait for next week!

I LOVE the feedback from last night:

John: ‘Slightly surprised to still be alive after that, but feel properly great now.’

‘… It’s brilliant. The music’s bonkers. Like the Macarena, only with a massive bass drum and a really angry man shouting at you over the top.’ 😂😂😂

‘Absolutely no way I’d have got through that when I was smoking. It is serious business.’

Chloe: ‘I LOVED IT!!!!! So much fun and vibes Fi, you bring the ENERGY as always.’

Steph: ‘Fiona just totally smashed her first Zumba class, I know, I was there and it was awesome sweaty fun! Much better cardio than running on a treadmill!!’

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My Zumba classes are open to everyone (18+) and are £4.70 per session or included in the gym membership at Platt Lane Sports Complex. Monthly direct debit for gym membership is £18.50 per month for members of the public / £13 for Manchester Met students / £16 for other students, MCC & Manchester Met staff.

Zumba is incredible for so many reasons, but one of the best things about a Zumba workout is the FUN and self expression involved. Take a look at the 2 videos below. 2 dancers in the first video dancing to the same Zumba track as the 2 dancers in the next video. Same choreography, but because of the way they dance and how they choose to style out the moves, they bring something different. It’s all about how you go with the flow, how you bring it and how you OWN IT!

Same track, same choreo, yet with a slightly different essence in each video! If you’re interested in coming to one of my classes, stick one of these videos on and have a go! Just keep practicing and it will get easier and more and more enjoyable when you’re able to lose yourself in the moves!

If you’d like to book onto one of my classes at Platt Lane Sports Complex, feel free to call the reception: 0161 247 5605

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Delivering my FIRST EVER ZUMBA CLASS tonight! Wish me luck!

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If you know me well, if you’ve read my blog before, if you’ve seen me on a dance floor, or if you’ve bumped into me at Platt Lane Sports Complex talking about the new Zumba classes, you will already know… I LOVE TO DANCE!!!

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I am honoured to have been trained by totally inspiring Mexican Zumba instructor Sandra Bayliss in April 2018, with the hope of bringing Zumba classes to Manchester Met students and members of the local community at Platt Lane Sports Complex!

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The training day was 8 hours, combining highly energetic dancing, and sitting down writing notes on genres, rhythms, specific dance moves and all kinds of visualisations to help us remember moves. Visualisations like landing a plane, rubbing your boobs up a wall (lol) for the body roll, chopping the sugar cane, carrying a candle… And for me, these visualisations have really helped with the learning process.

And my is it a learning process?! I have spent hours and hours listening to the different tracks, identifying intros, verses, bridges, choruses and breakdowns all in a language I don’t yet understand! Then came the watching of the Zumba Instructor Network DVD On repeat. Throughout summer, watching and practicing, even drawing little stick men with arrows in different directions to help me memorise portions of tracks.

A major springboard moment in the learning process was when I enjoyed dancing to a free Zumba-for-everyone class in the streets of Columbia, where Zumba comes from! This was a recent trip and dancing with everyone in the streets to Zumba, was a real life affirming moment! It gave me a real boost for the mind, body and soul, it gave me more confidence in my Zumba dancing, and I learned some news moves too!

 

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I felt so happy to see all ages of people , all genders, getting right into it, and it was FREE! Apparently this happens every Sunday in the Trinidad Square in Cartagena. How’s beautiful is this? GOALS! Loads of people were wearing the yellow Colombia football team shirt, and there was a real electricity in the air, because Columbia had just won their first World Cup 2018 game that afternoon! They were out a few weeks later, but hey, people still experienced pure excitement and pleasure in the moment, that lifted their souls.

Which brings us back to the power of DANCE! Specifically Zumba! Zumba Fitness really is ‘the most joyful money machine on earth’ Haha.

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And there’s a reason why Zumba is the most successful dance class in the world. In fact there are many:

Not only do you lose yourself in all the intoxicating, colourful, vibrant rhythms of reggaeton, salsa, cumbia, merengue and more… You also reap these benefits: Calorie and fat burning, improved coordination, full body workout, aerobic benefits, anaerobic benefits, confidence boosting, increasing self esteem, it gets you hooked on exercise, anyone can join in, it is social and IT IS FUN!

I learned on the Zumba course that your participants might not really remember how to execute correct technique, but they will remember how you made them feel. I love this.

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During my first ever Zumba class, I got the giggles at the start, but a few tracks in, I was lost in the music, I had lost all my inhibitions, I was FEELING THE  MUSIC and I started to notice my mood was getting more and more lifted with each track. The intensity varies between each track, to create an interval training session, better for fatburn and preserving energy for more intense moves! But gradually the moves get more intense and complicated, as you pick them up and own it!

There is so much to say, but I must dash. I am so ready for tonight’s session! All fitness levels welcome. From experienced dancers to complete beginners (18+) come and give my Zumba class a go!

Wednesdays 6-7pm at Platt Lane Sports Complex, Fallowfield, Manchester.

£4.70 per session or included in the gym membership.

Bring a water bottle and a towel! See you in the fitness studio in the Leisure Dome! LET’S DANCE!

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Here’s the brand new Platt Lane Sports Complex fitness class timetable. See you there!

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MMU Sport Photoshoot!

Lots of exciting changes are coming to the fitness timetables across MMU Sport, very soon! Sports photographer Molly Darlington (she’s really good, check out her Instagram: @mdarlingtonphotography – do it) took some photos of me leading various classes and PT sessions in the gym at Platt Lane Sports Complex, for the new timetable launch. Stay tuned for more info!

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How low can you go? Make sure those glutes are activated!61BF4372-132D-4E4F-B0CE-93EAC8F572E0

Shoulder press:99195FD5-4F0B-4236-BE79-92131B305CCD

Working the cross-trainers:E35B310F-6F49-4AF0-8A00-7590C4BD536B

Lat pull-down… Exhale on the pull, keep your back straight, and keep that core engaged!69BAA389-39A5-45DD-AE47-EAFCC46E37E3

Checking squat technique with the bar before we add weight! 609A8331-F63C-4673-AC3C-23380E889948

Making the ‘Y’ from the legendary ‘YMCA’ in military press!7FC7256B-F2AB-4536-A454-66F1925C4166

 

New Boxing Equipment!

Shiny new gloves, pads and skipping ropes from @ProBoxUk for our Box Fit sessions at Platt Lane Sports Complex!

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I’ve been learning some awesome new drills & skills for my Box Fit sessions, thank you @pullinpt 💪🏼 & @joc_sport 🥊

We currently run 3 Box Fit sessions every week:

Mon 17:30-18:15, Wed 09:30-10:30, Fri 18:15-19:00

New to boxing training? Seasoned professional? Everyone welcome! Call @plattlanemmu reception: 0161 247 5605 to book onto a class!

 

Wonderful feedback! Thank you and WELL DONE Georgia!

One of the students I helped train for The Great Run – the much loved Manchester 10K – did the run IN EXACTLY ONE HOUR! I saw the evidence from the GPS tracker on Georgia’s Instagram live! THIS IS AMAZING!

Here’s Georgia (in the purple T-shirt) on the day of The Great Run, Sunday 20th May 2018, raising awareness and funds for The Hospice of The Good Shepherd.

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A few months ago she told me that she would be doing the 10K Run for the first time, with members of her family. They have been raising funds for the hospice that helped Georgia’s auntie before she passed away. This is incredibly moving and such a positive thing to do, in the context of losing a much loved family member.

Georgia is one of the regulars in my fitness classes at Platt Lane Sports Complex and I have really enjoyed working with her, enhancing her cardiovascular endurance and stamina, increasing leg and core strength, training for a safe, enjoyable run, with the hope that she could get a good finishing time in her first 10K event.

It’s such an awesome feeling to see that she did the run in such a brilliant time and that she will continue to run from now on!

Georgia: “After telling Fiona I would be running the Manchester 10K, she offered to help me train for it and having had no previous running experience, this was something I came to be extremely grateful for.

We had 10 weeks to train before the run so we had one personal training session per week and she even let my two housemates who weren’t doing the run join in.

Fiona taught me different exercises and techniques that would improve my running style and help build my stamina, along with teaching me lots of different facts about running.

I managed to run the 10K in exactly 1hr which is something I would never have been able to do without the help of Fiona.

I can’t thank her enough for the amazing support she gave me in the run up to the event and she’s even motivated me to do more running in the future.

THANK YOU!”

THANK YOU GEORGIA! BIG RESPECT TO YOU AND ALL OF YOUR FAMILY! (And your mates who turned up to the training sessions!) Keep up the good work!

When was the last time you made time for real relaxation?

To mark the end of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 2018, I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my favourite pieces of deeply relaxing music.

This week The Mental Health Foundation chose to raise awareness around stress.

If we make time for relaxation, we are less likely to experience stress. Stress can be seriously bad for our health. It is so important to be able to feel calm, and to know – in such a ridiculously busy world – that we have the ability to find moments of peace.

E7E16B09-632A-48FE-A7B4-B366447F17A7I know for a fact that chilling out to music, meditation and exercise (specifically yoga and swimming) can really help me to feel relaxed.

I also love the healing power of gong vibration detox (group relaxation with large gongs being played around you). Click here to listen to my radio interview with Manchester based Gong Spa Practitioner Martyn Cawthorne.

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But if you’re struggling to find peace, make it simple. Run a bath, light some candles and play these tracks below! No bath? No worries! Simply make time to lay down with your eyes closed and listen!