The New Shoulder Bridge – tum and bum workout


The new Shoulder Bridge – Have two for the price of one with this move.

Muscle group used:  The core, bottom and hamstrings


A total tone-up that’s great at home or in the gym, the shoulder brige really drills the stomach and bottom. The Glutes are quiet strong, so the traditional move can gradually become less challenging, which slows results. This new way allows you to add extra resistance, which you can adjust using the band, so you can continue to see the results.



  • Lie on your back with hips and knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Remember to find neutral spine (read previous blogs). Loop a band around your right foot and extend your right leg toward the ceiling.
  • Take hold of the band and keep both elbows resting on the floor. There shoudl be a small amount of tension in the band.
  • Push through your left foot and lift your hips off th efloor to forma a straight line from your left knee to your shoulders.
  • Hold and breathe in and out of your chest then slowly lower your hips to just off the floor and repeat, keeping your hips level as you lift and lower.



3 x times a week.

The resistance is set using the band, which you can adjust between sets if it is too easy ro difficult. So to make it harder, increase the tension in the band by holding it closer to your foot, or using a different coloured band with a higher tension setting.  You could also do five small pulses at the top of the movement with each rep.


Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher


Energise the winter months

Energise the winter months

Not everyone enjoys the winter months. Long dark evenings make it difficult to get out in the fresh air, wind and weather encourages you to stay indoors, low temperatures turn you to comfort foods and the combination of central heating and frosty outdoors can make your skin dry and tight.

But it doesn’t have to be like that! Here are some ways to energise the winter months so you look and feel great.

Winter-proof your skin

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and moisturising really well. Eat lots of antioxidants to keep your skin bright and exfoliate once a week to get rid of the dead cells.

Brighten your mood

The winter can dampen the liveliest of spirits – researchers believe it’s the lack of light that interferes with the hormones in the brain and reduces serotonin – the feel good hormone.  But even on the worst day there is 30 times more light outdoors than in, so even if its bad do try to get outside every day even if its only for a short time. Make the most of natural daylight by pulling back curtains, and sitting by windows. If you suffer really badly from lack of light, consider a light box.

You can also boost your mood by eating foods rich in tryptophan which your body uses to make the happy hormone serotonin. Eat fish, turkey, chicken, cheese, beans, tofu, oats and eggs. Taking a supplement of something like St Johns Wort may also help brighten your mood.

Boost your immunity

Most adults get 2-5 colds each winter when we’re cooped up indoors.  Build up your defences by eating foods rich in Vitamin C- citrus fruits, berries, red peppers, tomatoes – and Zinc – seafood, meat, liver, wholegrains.  Getting enough sleep is also important, as is taking some regular aerobic exercise.

Protect your Heart and Lungs

Asthma, respiratory problems and heart attacks are more common in the winter because colds and flu can be a trigger.  The best way to keep your heart and lungs healthy is to exercise aerobically as much as possible – at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week. You can also eat oily fish and other foods that provide Omega 3 fatty acids which help against heart disease.

Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer & Pilates Teacher

What is functional training

Functional training is an effective form of exercise that trains several muscle groups at a time. While training several muscle groups, you execute movements performed in everyday life that can improve balance, core stabilization strength and flexibility. Whether you are a marathon runner, a triathlete, or simply a homemaker who wants to carry their children without injury, functional training can help.

If your training for sport or for general fitness, you should conduct exercises that are compound and functional in nature. Compound exercises are defined as movements that require more than one joint and one muscle group. These exercises help to build muscles. Functional movements integrate all major muscle groups from head to toe, primarily when standing up and engaging in more than one plane of movement. They do not require heavy, expensive machines, and can be performed almost anywhere. think about it , we don’t live our lives sitting in leg-press machines or leg-extension machines.

When you talk about functional exercise many people think its just exercise that uses stability balls, bands, medicine balls, foam rollers, etc.

This is not always the case. While these are common training tools their use does not constitute functional training by itself. You can train “functionally” with free weights and bodyweight exercises as well. The key difference is in the way in which the exercise is completed.


Functional Training Helps Improve Your Joint Stability And Muscular Balance.

Because physical therapy focuses on types of exercises that do their best to restore your body to its therapists choose exercises that fit your specific needs. More often than not, the functional training exercises they choose focus on restoring your joint stability and muscular balance, especially if you’ve been lying in the hospital for an extended period of time. The more time you spend lying around recovering, the more likely your muscles are to grow weaker. In order to strengthen them, doctors will often refer you to a physical therapist, someone who specializes in trauma rehabilitation. It is also important to attend physical therapy sessions to keep your joints active.

Functional Training Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Skills.

In physical therapy, it is also common to use functional training in order to improve cardiovascular skills. Excessive movement keeps your cardiovascular system active, helping you to stay healthy longer. Aerobic exercise can be included in your functional training to boost the progress of your cardiovascular skills. Functional training exercises are key to a good workout when aiming to improve your recovery rate, which is why physical therapists rely so heavily on functional training in their sessions.


Lunge with back row
Functionality: This exercise will improve your posture by strengthening the muscles in your upper and mid back, shoulders, and arms while also toning and strengthening your legs and improving your hip flexibility.

Medicine ball squat with overhead lift
Functionality: Even though you lift things — like groceries, your kids, and other objects — with your arms, your legs and back are also key players. This exercise strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders. Exercise: Stand with your feet wide, holding a light medicine ball in front of you in both hands.

Stair climb with bicep curl

Functionality: Whether you have stairs at your house or have to climb them elsewhere, using stairs as part of your fitness program will keep your legs conditioned — not to mention toned. Partnering stair climbs with bicep curls will strengthen your arms and improve your ability to carry things up the stairs.

Push up with hip extension
Functionality: This exercise strengthens your chest, shoulder and arm muscles (primarily triceps) as well as your core muscles and glutes. Exercise: Get on your hands and knees, hands wider than shoulder-distance apart.
Exercise: Get on your hands and knees, hands wider than shoulder-distance apart. Extend your right leg straight back and pull your belly button up towards your spine, tightening your core muscles. Keeping your leg lifted, lower your chest to the ground until each of your elbows is at a 90-degree angle then push up. Repeat 10 to 15 times for each leg. As you get stronger, increase the angle of your hips, increasing the distance of your knees from your hands. Eventually perform exercise with straight legs, one leg lifted, the other positioned on your toes.

Torso rotation with medicine ball
Functionality: Having strong obliques is key in avoiding lower back injuries. This exercise improves the strength and coordination of all of your core muscles — and will improve your tone and tighten your waist. Exercise: Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, holding a medicine ball at your chest with both hands. Lean your torso back away from your thighs, increasing the angle at your hips and pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Maintaining your hip angle, rotate your torso to the right, moving your right elbow towards the floor behind you. Return center and rotate to the left.

Sarah Pennicott
Personal Trainer and Pilates Teacher

Personal Trainer Sarah Pennicott’s Top Ten Tips for a 6 pack

January 1st…so what’s your goal for 2013.women abs

Over the years, this has to be the most popular question I am asked and normally clients will say, can you recommend me some good tummy exercises. Getting a flat tummy isn’t all about doing abdominal exercises; there are many other factors that you need to do to achieve this goal.

My goal for 2013 is quiet simple….aiming for a six pack, or 8 pack to be exact. If I’m being totally honest, it’s not simple, well it is, but it’s going to be very hard. Two ways to get a flatter tummy is to train hard (that’s the easy part for me) and look at what your eating (this is my weakness), even Personal Trainers have a weaknesses and food is one of them for me.

So let me begin and let’s share this journey together!!

1: Cardio –  high intensity interval workouts

Cardio workouts are an important step to get six pack abs:  This is a MUST!!!!     You need to lose some of that extra fat over your abs.  Even if you work your core and abs hard, if there is still a layer of fat over them no one will ever get to see them.

Cardio workouts are workouts that raise your heart rate for a given set of time. I personally would recommend Kettlebells which are great for burning off fat as you are getting a great cardio workout whilst using resistance…….perfect for burning that fat away,  but you can also take up jogging, dancing, rowing etc….aim for at least 3 x a week, 30 minutes. Remember, if you concentrate on just running, you may lose some body a fat, but it isn’t enough to produce a 6 pack…more work is still required.

2: Lift weights – the whole body area

The more muscle your body has, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. I can’t stress enough the importance of doing some resistance work for the whole body,  plus, resistance training is important to limit the amount of muscle mass lost whilst reducing your calorie intake. If you only do cardiovascular exercises (running, playing basketball, football) without weight training then you may lose the muscle mass, including the muscle in your abs. Think of Jessica Ennis, she doesn’t get a six pack from training on the athletics track, she also, lifts weights. You have to think of the whole package, but just the tummy area. iStock_000016435018XSmall

3: Build Muscle

So like above, you need to build muscles up around your tummy, however, do plenty of abs work in an upright position which is more functional: it’s no good teaching your body to activate your core only when lying down.

  • Medicine Ball Woodchops Keeping your hips fixed forward, hold a 3-5kg medicine ball with your arms fully extended to one side at head height, then power it diagonally down in a wood chop action. Do this for  30 seconds on one side, 10 seconds rest, and then 30 seconds the other side.
  • Rollouts One of the best ways to train your rectus abdominis is with rollouts, which can be performed using a Swiss ball or Power Wheel. Rollouts have been shown to work better than crunches, sit ups and even hanging knee ups for activating both upper and lower abs.
  • Crunches. We all love our crunches. It is very important to not lift your entire back off the floor when performing crunches as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. The most important part of the crunch is the initial flexing of your abs as you lift your shoulders off the floor. As soon as you begin lifting off the floor exhale through your mouth, ending with a gasp once your shoulders are off the floor. Then pause for a second once you are at the top of the crunch and exhale the last bit of air from your diaphragm while flexing your abs. Now lower back down slowly and controlled while inhaling through your nose, just until your shoulder blades touch the ground. Do not let your head touch the ground.
  • Sit ups. Lie on the floor, feet on the floor, knees up and hands crossed on your chest. Have someone hold your feet down, or wedge them underneath something heavy. Sit all the way up, lifting your lower back off the floor along with your shoulder blades. Keep your back straight (no hunching). Lower yourself down. Repeat. Once this becomes relatively easy for you (i.e. you can do a quite a bit with ease) start adding more challenges. Find an incline bench. Do weighted sit ups. Hold a weight on your chest while you do these. As these become easier, hold heavier and heavier weights.

There are many more exercises which I will put a video together to show you some examples.

4: Core strength 


You need to train your entire core. To build really great abs it’s important to first understand what abs do. Their full name is ‘rectus abdominis’. Contrary to popular opinion, the abs’ primary job is not to curl you up into a ball, but they work together with the back muscles to maintain correct posture and stabilise your spine. So the best exercises for abs are ones that force your entire core to go into overdrive to support your spine. Some exercises that do this are squats and deadlifts. These exercises will train your entire core to work together to do what it is designed to do. At the same time they will also train a lot of other muscles such as glutes and quads.

Finding a good Pilates class will also work the core muscles as well as activating other supported muscles,  building your back muscles and improve your posture.

You can also add complex core-movements to your workout. This will boost your overall body constitution tremendously. You could try and combine push-ups with rows. Go into a push-up position on two dumbbells. Now don’t do a push-up, but instead start to row alternating dumbbells. See how much power you need only to hold balance? Combine exercises! Be creative. Tension is your friend.

5: Train your oblique muscles.

It’s not as important to work on your oblique muscles at first, but eventually you’ll want to start working these too. These are the muscles to either side of your stomach. There are multiple ways to do this and anything that includes twisting your torso against a resistance counts. There are twisting machines at gyms, you can twist while you do sit-ups, you can do side bends, you can twist side to side with a medicine ball in hand, etc.

  • Bicycle crunches. Lift your feet off the ground while doing the crunches by alternating each leg in the air. Bring your left knee up toward your right shoulder and then your right knee toward your left shoulder.
  • Pull-ups hanging from a horizontal bar. You will be amazed at the number of muscles around your stomach working with pull-ups. Do 5 pull-ups with your palms facing away from you and 5 pull-ups with your palms facing towards you. This will also build your pectorals and biceps at the same time.
  • Stability ball. Do your crunches on the ball to introduce instability to your workout, which will improve your balance too. Do this as often as you are comfortable or at times when it won’t look weird.

6: Eat breakfast.

Many people skip breakfast because they don’t have time for it or they think fewer calories will help to lose a few pounds. I am surprised the amount of clients that. See never eat breakfast. The harm of skipping breakfast from a weight loss perspective is it makes you eat a huge lunch since your body hasn’t had anything in the past 12 (or more) hours. When you eat a huge lunch you get that after meal drowsiness so now you’re both unproductive and inactive. Cereals don’t take much time to prepare and consume, and most of them are very healthy nowadays, but do take a look at the sugar content. If you are extremely pressed for time, consider grabbing a box of breakfast bars or a smoothie and throwing one in your bag when you leave for work. Some breakfast bars out there are also excellent sources of fiber. Even an apple or a yogurt is better than nothing.

Ideally, your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, lunch the second, and dinner the smallest.

7: Keep metabolism steady.

Eating one small meal every three hours that you are awake will not speed up your metabolism, rather, it will keep it going. Your metabolism goes and slows with your food intake and eating something small every three hours will keep that metabolism burning calories and will help you lose weight. Every meal should include lean protein, so that your body won’t need to break down your muscles for fuel, which would shrink your abs as well as slow down your metabolism. Fresh fruits or vegetables are excellent choices for curbing appetite not to mention other health benefits. A handful of nuts might do the same. Drink a large glass of water before sitting at the table will also help.

8: Drink more water every day.

An average person should be drinking 2 litres of water a day. It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but you get water from the food you eat, and you can drink teas and pure fruit juices to make up some of the quota.

Drinking too much water (several liters, especially while sweating) can dangerously dilute certain salts and minerals. If you are exercising heavily and sweating a lot, you will need to replace your salts as well as fluids. Supplement your water drinking with a sports drink or potassium rich fruits such as bananas and apples.

9: Swap refined grains for whole grains.

A diet rich in whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body, which hastens the melting of fat, and visceral fat, that deep layer of fat, is easier for your body to burn than the subcutaneous fat under your skin (the fat that you can see and grab). In a scientific study, people who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more belly fat than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains. Not only will whole grains help reduce fat, it also helps digestion issues.

10: Essential Fatty acids – Omega 3 & 6  omega36

So we need to lower our fat intake but we also need to ensure we have the correct balance of essential fats…….these are also known as the good fats. These oils Significantly increased lean mass and decreased fat mass

Fat has to be the most debated part of food, however, fat is an essential part of our diet if we are to function properly.
Omega 3 and 6 are the two essential fatty acids which help the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous system to function as well as being involved in manufacture and repair of all membrane cells.

Omega 3 fat sources help with brain function. These foods are found in oily fish such as Salmon, Mackerel,Sardines & herrings
Oils – linseed oil, whetgerm, walnuts, rapeseed oil and soya beans.

Omega 3 fat sources have anti inflammatory properties so it is good for joints and injuries.

Fish oil (the best source of Omega 3 fats) increases basal metabolic rate helping you burn more calories overall. Fish oil also improves the use of fat as a fuel source during exercise meaning you use less muscle glycogen and more fat for your training. This means you lose body fat faster.

Omega 6 fats are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and whetgerm.
These are a healthier fats. They are believed to reduce cholesterol and help reduce heart disease and offering some protection against cancers.

Sarah Pennicott

Personal Trainer and Pilates Teacher!/pages/MASTER-FITNESS-PERSONAL-TRAINER/117149741672024