Fit Mum

Popular local fitness leader and Local Mum Maria Holley is writing a blog for us!  Start the week with some motivation from Maria.




Do you know what day tomorrow is? According to market research it’s “Ditch your New Year’s Resolution” Day. This is because it is the most common date that people break their New Year goal.

But why are we generally so poor at keeping our resolutions? The reason says that much of our behaviour is formed by habit and these habits can be incredibly difficult to break. If you think about your day to day life, you will realise that you are surrounded by those habits on a regular basis. It can be as simple as having a glass of wine after work, or having a cup of tea in the morning when you wake up. While there is no specific need for some of them, they become such a regular part of our lives and we do them without even thinking.

Research says that you need to do something for at least 21 days for it to start to become a habit, which is why mid January is so near, but just not near enough!

Habits can be positive things too, so how about taking a positive decision to do a small piece of exercise a day - for 21 days? This does not have to be an enormous goal, (like running 5km) as it will not be achievable and leave you feeling deflated if you cannot complete it. Try something simple like getting off the train/bus the stop before and walking the rest of the way to work, or just a few simple sit ups or press ups before bed. Whatever it is start with something small so that your expectations are well managed, improvements do not have to be all at once – little steps in the right direction are good too. The only way to get to Day 21 and beyond is to start at the beginning and put the work in – you can do it!

Happy New Year, 

Maria x 

Find out more about Maria and her Local Mums' work outs and fitness sessions here

You can do it!

Breaking bad habits can be very difficult, but if you really want to stick to your NewYear’s resolution of being fit and healthy – then you need to start creating good habits!

It takes 21 days to break a bad habit, so give yourself the best chance by filling the gap with a good habit and setting yourself a fitness goal.

Start by writing down some positive messages on post it notes relating to your goal and stick them around the house -fridge/cupboard door, bathroom mirror etc... Avoid any negative words e.g. Don’t/Can’t etc... instead write what you want to be doing, for example….“eat more fruit and vegetables” or “I’ve just been for a run and I feel great.” I know it sounds obvious but writing notes that say “don’t eat chocolate” can have a negative effect, as over time all the brain hears is “eat chocolate” and then guess what happens.....?!

Losing weight and getting fit are the most common New Year’s resolutions and I would always recommend a minimum of three exercise sessions a week if you want to achieve this. Just the thought of getting up an hour earlier in the morning to work out, or going to the gym after work can be daunting. If I ever feel like this, I visualize how I feel after my workout and that pushes me to go. I have never regretted a training session as I always feel great afterwards (even if I have worked hard!) and this is something worth remembering if you are having an “off” day!

Saying that you cannot do things becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Anyone who watches BBC Sports Personality of the year may have heard this poem, which is an inspiration for achieving the things we don’t always believe are possible.

It Couldn't Be Done - Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat

And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

There are thousands to prophesy failure,

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.



Holiday workouts

Unless you are super strict all the time, putting on a few pounds over the festive period is pretty normal, with the average person gaining around 5lb over the four week period. It’s not just Christmas day that puts the lbs on, it’s all the parties, gatherings either side that usually does the damage – and with all the extra partying etc.. It usually means exercise goes out of the window.

With this in mind, if you do fit a workout in make it count. High intensity workouts are a good idea if you are short of time (tabata classes are great if your gym has them) as this will give your metabolism and energy levels a big boost. Below is a quick workout that you can do anywhere and no equipment is required.

- Knee repeater R leg 20/30 secs

- Burpees 20/30 seconds (with or without jump)

- Knee repeater L 20/30 secs

- Mountain climbers 20/30 secs

- Press up 20/30 secs

- Squats 20/30 secs

- Abdominal curls 20/30 seconds

One round of the above will last between 3-6 minutes, but should leave you breathing heavily! See if you can repeat this 3-4 times finishing with a plank for 30 seconds – it’s short…but it hits the spot!

Remember if 20/30 seconds is too much for you, just adjust it accordingly.

Have fun,

Maria x


Staying motivated in the lead up to Xmas!

Hooray it’s December,  I am really starting to feel “Christmassy” now – especially after my local Frost Fair on Saturday. But how do I keep motivated to exercise when my diary is full of parties, visiting family and shopping? Below are a few simple ideas that will help you to stay focused in the lead up to Christmas. Which means you can allow yourself some time off to enjoy!

1. If you workout in the evenings, try to shift this to the morning. Exercising after work on a cold winters evening takes a lot of motivation – especially if you have had a hard day. Switching your training to the morning will boost your metabolism and give you energy to start the day. Remember – straight after your workout, your body continues to expend energy at a higher rate than it did pre-exercise. This effect can last up to 3 hours after, but is at its greatest immediately after training stops.

2. Lay your kit out (or get your gym bag ready) the night before. Then all you need to do is set the alarm, throw some clothes on and go!

3. Arrange to meet a friend at the gym/park etc...Or better still take it in turns to pick each other up. The thought of letting someone down can be a very good motivator.

4. Lastly, plan your training sessions in advance to fit around your social engagements.

Above all, Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself and following just one of these ideas will help you to stay motivated and feel like you have earned yourself some time off!


Christmas is coming!

I know it has been a while...but the blog is back! Even though the lead up to Christmas is not necessarily a time when people think to start exercising – it is a time when you may eat and drink more than usual!

I realise it is quite difficult to motivate yourself when it is cold and dark outside, but with the extra food and drink in your body you will most probably feel quite sluggish at times and a quick workout is just the job to energise your mind and body.

I won’t go into too many finer details this side of Christmas (That’ll be January’s blog!), but below are a few things to help you stay focussed over the festive period:

1. Arrange to work out with a friend, knowing that someone is relying on you to turn up/pick you up will make you think twice about not going.

2. Pack your training clothes/kit in your bag the night before.

3. Pick exercise that you enjoy, no point in agreeing to go for a run if you hate every minute of it (or… at least compromise with your training buddy on something that you both like)

4. Try a high intensity work out, these are shorter in length, but a lot tougher. Incorporate intense periods of work (30 secs-1min), with a short recovery in between. Aim to work for 15 minutes at around 80% of your maximum heart rate during the intense intervals.

5. Go power walking (great if you have just had a baby) – a general rule is 100 calories per mile are burned for a 180lb person and 65 calories per mile for a 120lb person. Remember to keep your shoulders back and core engaged.

6. The days/evenings that you are not visiting relatives or partying, stick to lighter meals (salads etc..) drink plenty of water and try to avoid alcohol!

If you are exercising at home and do not have a lot of equipment, then sticking to bodyweight exercises is absolutely fine. Squats, lunges, press ups, burpees and mountain climbers all make for a great training session. The important thing here is to enjoy yourself, and to try and have some good days (exercise and healthy meals) in between the indulgent ones. 

Have a fantastic Christmas, Maria x  

Winter sports workouts

Has anyone been watching the Winter Olympics? The skill required for some of the events is pretty amazing.  Watching GB Snowboarder Jenny Jones win her medal, got me thinking… What sort of training do they do (other than their sport) to keep in shape and hone their skills? To be able to twist and turn your body in mid-air, at speed requires great control, posture, coordination and immense core strength! So if you are going skiing/boarding over half term and are in need of a few pointers of the fitness required then why not try my daily work out below. Even if you are not – it’s a great way of getting fit!

1. 25 deep Squats, toes facing forward (or as many as you can manage)

2. 10 split jack lunges, alternate legs (jump feet apart, jump into lunge, jump feet back together)

3. Plank position on toes - jump feet out, then back together again then lift one knee towards your ear. Do this 10 times alternating legs

4. Jump on and off of step/bottom stair front ways and sideways, alternating left and right after every forward facing jump. Do this for 30 seconds

5. Stand on one leg for 20 seconds (or as long as you can) with your eyes closed, then change legs and repeat.

6. If you have time, repeat the whole thing again!

As with any exercise, you must warm up first (remember the one foot on the ground rule!) and work to your own level. If any of the above exercises are too much, here are a few alternatives:

1. Make sure your knees are NOT going over your toes and that they are in alignment as you squat.

2. Instead of split jack lunges, try normal lunges stepping forward with your hands on your hips.

3. Plank - If the jumping out with your feet is too much, just hold the position. If not, lower your knees to the floor keeping your belly button drawn in to your spine.

4. Instead of jumping onto the stair, just step up.

5. If you fall off of your leg immediately you close your eyes, concentrate on keeping it held with your eyes open first!

Have fun, Maria x


Tabata workouts

If you want to freshen up or do something different with your workout sessions after the summer holidays, then how about a Tabata? It’s the new kid on the block at the moment, and with it only lasting four minutes (that doesn’t include your warm up or cool down!) it’s pretty popular!

For those of you that have not yet heard of this type of training, here’s a quick explanation:

It was invented by a Japanese scientist called Izumi Tabata and is a four minute burst of high intensity interval training. In this workout you perform an exercise for 20 seconds absolutely full out, and then rest for 10 seconds – repeating this eight times in total. The idea is that this workout increases your strength, speed and power because it uses your anaerobic energy system, along with improving your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours post workout.

I have used this training approach for myself and also for a few of my clients but it is not for the faint hearted! This is a tough workout and if performed correctly, once finished – you should feel like you cannot carry on. I realise this does sound a bit “full on” but if you want your four minutes to make a difference then you need to push yourself to the limit.

Before you start, be it at home/outside or in the gym – you MUST do a thorough warm up, which I would strongly advise lasting longer than the four minute tabata.  After that (or during the warm up) go through the exercises/moves that you will be doing, so that your body is used to them before the tabata starts. After that - just go for it and remember you get a break every 20 seconds!

Below is a list of bodyweight exercises that would be good for a tabata workout at home:

- Burpee’s

- Mountain climbers

- Press ups

- Tricep dips (bench/stairs needed)

- Star jumps (bending knees and touching the floor as you land)

- Frog thrusts (full plank, jump to wide position with feet, back together then bring knee to elbow – keeping bottom down!)

- Tuck jumps

- Squats/lunges

If you do not have a gymboss timer then your phone or a regular stopwatch will do. Even better, get a training buddy and time each other!

Good luck and most importantly, enjoy!

This workout is not suitable for anyone who is injured, pregnant or has just had a baby.


Have you ever looked at the Swiss balls in the gym and thought “what do you do with those?!”  Stability/Swiss balls are absolutely brilliant for improving your core muscles and if you have had a baby, this is probably an area which needs to be retrained (you may even have a birthing ball from when you were pregnant, which you can use)

Using the stability ball helps to target all the muscles that are essential for good posture, which after carrying a baby for nine months sometimes needs to be realigned. It’s also worth mentioning that your pelvic floor muscles are part of your core- so strengthening one will help the other. 

Below are a couple of simple ball exercises to get you started:


- Lie on your back with your ankles on the ball, arms by your sides

- Draw your belly button to your spine and raise your hips slowly off of the floor

- If you are able, hold this position for a few  seconds then relax back to the floor

- Repeat this about five times, breathing normally trying to build up the amount of time you hold the position

To progress this exercise, try lifting one leg off of the ball or taking your arms off the floor and crossing them over your body – you could even try both!


- Kneel down with the ball in front of you and clasp your hands together

- Bring your elbows in towards your chest and place your forearms on the ball (hands still clasped)

- Now roll the ball away from you, drawing your belly button to your spine. Being careful not to let your lower back “banana”

- Hold this position for a few seconds, then carefully roll the ball back towards your body

Your aim is to eventually hold this position for 30 seconds. If you can do that easily, try this on your toes instead of your knees.

These exercises can be challenging when you first begin but my advice would be to persevere!  After a period of time you will definitely feel the benefit, with improved posture and a reduced risk of injury (especially in the lower back) both in your daily life and when exercising.


With the weather warming up, the legs usually come out! Mine have been hiding away for what feels like ages, so if you are feeling a little unconfident about showing them off – try this bodyweight workout to get them in shape...

1. 10 x wide squats (legs wider than shoulders, toes pointing out)

2. 10 x split jack lunges (jump with the legs apart, then from there jump into a deep lunge keeping the torso upright. Make sure you jump into your lunge on alternate legs)

3. 10 x power squats (feet shoulder width apart, heels and toes in alignment. From the lowest point of your squat jump as high as you can, landing back in the deepest part of your squat position. If you find it hard to keep your balance, place your hands on your hips.)

4. 10 X lateral lunge with knee tuck on Right and Left (take a wide step out to one side onto a bended knee, keeping the other one straight. As you come back up lift the working leg up to a high knee across your body. Do 10 repetitions on one leg, then change legs)

5. 10 X squat thrusts (place your hands on the floor and jump both legs back and then forward again – this equals one repetition)

Try to repeat three to four rounds of this for a real blast on your legs, taking a 30 seconds break between rounds if needed. As you start to fatigue, think about keeping good technique. This way the exercises will be more effective and will help you to reduce the risk of injury.  Lastly, please do remember to warm up first and have fun!


If your children are anything like mine, they will have received quite a lot of Easter eggs recently and being the good parent I am – I may have “helped” them to get through their load of chocolate!

A few large mouthfuls of chocolate can really add on to your daily calorie intake, (especially if you have already eaten your own eggs!) and after seeing the new coca cola advert on TV it got me thinking…How much extra exercise would I have to do to work off my Easter eggs?

A standard smarties Easter egg contains nearly 800 calories (including the smarties inside!), which is almost half of the suggested calorie intake for the average woman. So, how can you burn off 800 calories? Here are a few suggested ideas:

- 30 minutes light cycling – 63 calories

- 1 hours cleaning/gardening – 160 calories

- 30 minutes breast stroke swimming – 367 calories (swimming is a good one as it uses all the big muscle groups)

- 30 minutes tennis – 413 calories

- 1 hours walking at a brisk pace (3.5mph) – 224 calories

- 30 mins running at 6mph (10 minute mile) – 295 calories

I must add that this is a guide, as the amount of calories you burn depends on how active you are generally, your age and your body composition (people with more lean muscle mass, will burn more calories). All this put together is your metabolism, and even at rest your body needs energy (calories) for many functions including…..breathing, circulation of blood and the growth and repair of cells etc.

Gaining weight is mostly due to eating more calories than you have burned. So remember – if you want to lose body fat you need to think about how many calories you are putting into your body, against how many are being burned off.


On a scale of 1-10

Now here’s a question I hear a lot...”I’ve been going to the gym for a while now, but I don’t seem to be losing any more weight – why??”

The answer is your body has become used to the exercise plan you have been working to, and if you want to reach your goal you need to change it!

Intensity is crucial to achieving a fitness goal and sections of your workout should be more than “vigorous”, which means some discomfort at times.

The best way to think of it is a 1 -10 scale. 1 means you have just had a good night’s sleep and have loads of energy. 10 means you have just finished the 100m sprint and have nothing left. I would always recommend that you try to achieve at least a 7/8 (on the 1-10 scale) during the hardest part of your workout. This should not feel easy, and will most probably be around 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate - which is where you need to be. 

A good way of testing is to see if you can have a conversation, at 7/8 you should only be able to get one or two words out at a time!  What you will find is that your performance will start to improve and what used to be your 7/8 might now feel more like 6/7 - which is how you know you are getting fitter.

Everyone’s 1 – 10 scale will be different and it is important you work to your own level and not someone else’s. So…no more chatting on the cross trainer for 20 minutes. Instead do 15 minutes at a higher intensity, you will burn more calories and be home quicker!


Do you know what day tomorrow is? According to market research it’s “Ditch your New Year’s Resolution” Day. This is because it is the most common date that people break their New Year goal.

But why are we generally so poor at keeping our resolutions? The reason says that much of our behaviour is formed by habit and these habits can be incredibly difficult to break. If you think about your day to day life, you will realise that you are surrounded by those habits on a regular basis. It can be as simple as having a glass of wine after work, or having a cup of tea in the morning when you wake up. While there is no specific need for some of them, they become such a regular part of our lives and we do them without even thinking.

Research says that you need to do something for at least 21 days for it to start to become a habit, which is why mid January is so near, but just not near enough!

Habits can be positive things too, so how about taking a positive decision to do a small piece of exercise a day - for 21 days? This does not have to be an enormous goal, (like running 5km) as it will not be achievable and leave you feeling deflated if you cannot complete it. Try something simple like getting off the train/bus the stop before and walking the rest of the way to work, or just a few simple sit ups or press ups before bed. Whatever it is start with something small so that your expectations are well managed, improvements do not have to be all at once – little steps in the right direction are good too. The only way to get to Day 21 and beyond is to start at the beginning and put the work in – you can do it!

Happy New Year, 

Maria x 

Find out more about Maria and her Local Mums' work outs and fitness sessions here

Shaping up for the party season

With fireworks night over, the Christmas party season is nearly here and those little black dresses will be getting an outing (or two!). So lets shape up our shoulders and tone up our stomachs and legs. All you need are two pieces of A4 paper!

Press ups:

As you get into your press up position (see my previous blogs), place a piece of paper under each hand. Now, as you lower to the ground slide one hand out to the side just a little bit further. Then slide back in as you recover and repeat  on the other side. This will improve your core muscles whilst improving your upper body strength. Try 3 sets of 8 – 12 repitions.


Place a piece of paper under each foot and stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands on your hips. Slide one foot backwards on the ball of the foot so you end up in a “lunge” position, then slide back to the starting position. Repeat this on the other leg. Again this will really help you to concentrate on holding your abdominals, whilst obviously toning the thighs and bottom too! Try three sets of 10 – 12 repitions (alternating legs each repition)

These are fairly tough but have great results if performed properly (slow and controlled). I put them in my bootcamp classes and they always go down a treat!

High Intensity Training

It may surprise you to learn that it wasn’t really until the 1970’s in the UK that jogging for exercise became a popular pastime and another 10 years before the first real corporate gyms came into existence. 

Prior to this, most people’s fitness came from manual labour in their day jobs or a mountain of housework at home (that hasn’t changed!) Even then, many fitness approaches focused on mobility, flexibility and stretching rather than building general fitness.

Since then methods have become far more sophisticated, ranging from nutritional advice to watches that can tell you how far you have run!

One of the most recent approaches to come forward is  High Intensity Training (HIT) which focuses on short bursts of exercise with a high level of effort (about 90% of your maximum heart rate) followed by a recovery period (about 50% of your maximum heart rate) repeated a number of times. 

The idea is to work with maximum effort to almost the point of failure in the high intensity periods, as research has shown it will help you to burn fat more effectively. 

It has become popular in our time-constrained lives, and although it can give you the results you want, you must make sure to start a HIT training session with a warm up.

Working at these levels of intensity puts stress on your body and without a warm up it could lead to injury. Ironically, the method was first put forward in the 1970’s in relation to weight training and has grown slowly from there. 

HIT is just one approach. It really depends on the person and their level of fitness as to whether it will work for them. The approach I take with my clients is to try and ensure an element of HIT within their programme - that way they get the best of both worlds.


Goal setting

How many of you have a made New Year’s resolution, then given in before the first week of January has ended?

I know what you are thinking – “It’s September Maria, not January!”

Well, September is a perfect time to set a new fitness goal – The summer holidays have just ended and (sorry to say it) Christmas is just over three months away. The trouble to stick to it? Here are a few tips: 

First of all, what is your goal? It needs to be specific – or else how do you know you have reached it. E.g. “I want to lose weight.” Well that’s fine but how much and within what period. Your goal needs to be something that you can measure along the way to see if you are progressing.

Once you have decided your goal, write it down using as many senses as possible. i.e.” I am looking in the mirror wearing the dress I bought on my honeymoon 10 years ago and I feel fantastic,” then put it somewhere that you can read it every day! 

This can be as simple as sticking it on the fridge, or taking it a step further and carrying them around with you. The reason for this is so that you remember what you are working towards. It sounds simple, but research suggests that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. This is something I have only recently started doing and it really does work, as I can read them whenever I feel I need some motivation.

The next thing is visualisation.  Most top sports people use visualisation to help improve their performance.  Take a few minutes to visualise yourself reaching your goal and enjoying it – what does it feel like?

This bit is very important because if you can’t visualise yourself achieving it – how will you?

If you carry on doing what you are doing, will you achieve your goal? If the answer is no, then you need to change something.


Olympic Glow

If like me you have been enjoying the Olympics, you will have loved all those great moments of success and will have really got a perspective of how much time and dedication goes into making that success a reality.  The theme for the London games was to “Inspire a Generation” and this wasn’t just aimed at future elite athletes but for everyone to get more active and involved in sport and to ensure that our children have the opportunity to take part in sports.

The Olympics made me think about how I can do this with my children through trying to set a good example for them, but also in how we can take part in activities as part of a family whether that be in organised sports or in just playing together at a local park. 

Perhaps it is time to try out a new sport that you have always considered doing or an activity that you have seen for the first time.  Whichever it is, give it a try.  We can’t all be Olympic athletes but we can all have our personal stretching goals and achievements to work to.

On that note, the second thing I found striking about the Olympics was the importance of goal setting in the success of Team GB and other athletes.  This is something I will be talking about in September, so have a think about something you have always wanted to do or achieve and I will help you turn that goal into a reality!


A Circuit

With only one week to go before the children break up from school, there is still time for one last fitness blast before the holidays!  Over the last 9 weeks, I have broken down a number of exercises to focus on particular areas of the body and to enhance technique. 

Now is a good time to pull all of these exercises together (and a few more) into a circuit for you.

Remember, that we need to start any exercise with a warm up which should last between 4 - 6 minutes.  Include some mobilisation of the joints (shoulder rolls, trunk twists and side bends) and always keep one foot on the floor i.e. don’t jump.  When you have completed this, here is the programme I would recommend:

1.     Star Jumps – 45 seconds

2.     Squats – 30 seconds

3.     Spotty Dogs/Scissors – 45 seconds

4.     Squats – 30 seconds

5.     Running on the spot with high knees – 45 seconds

6.     Squats – 30 seconds


Ø  Find a bench in a park if outside or use the steps in your house and do 12 repetitions of tricep dips. Repeat this 3 times, with a small rest in between each set. 

Ø  Do three sets of press ups, 10-12 repetitions in each set with a small rest in between each set.

When you have finished, repeat numbers 1-6 above.  On completion, do 3 sets of 12 -15 repetitions in the following:

Ø  Crunches

Ø  Back raises

Ø  Oblique curls

If you feel up to it, repeat steps 1-6 again and finish with the plank.  If you can’t do another set, just go straight to the plank. Hold the plank position for 30 seconds, and then repeat with a small rest inbetween.

N.B. Spotty dogs/scissors – place one foot in front and one behind, then jump and switch feet. When you land you should have the opposite foot in front. Repeat this at speed, whilst moving your arms with your legs.

Have fun,


Blog entry nine, July 

Keeping fit on holiday

Whenever I have a holiday I always take a step back from my usual exercise regime, and allow myself to relax and have some treats – Wine, ice cream, whatever I fancy. I personally believe that your body needs a break from time to time, and also I enjoy my food, so dieting on a summer holiday is a no for me.

Having said this I do try to fit in a small amount of light to moderate exercise where I can, and this week I will be giving you some tips on how to stay fit and healthy on your holiday, whilst still being able to enjoy yourself!

My first one is NOT to skip breakfast, this is an important meal and keeps you more satisfied until lunch. Without breakfast you may eat more than normal at lunch or perhaps make less healthy choices as you are very hungry. An egg-based breakfast is good as it’s a great source of protein, and one egg only has about 75 calories. It’s good if you have been out drinking the night before (which may well happen on holiday) and it will keep you fuller for longer than croissants and pastries.

Try to take the stairs where possible and not the lift. Depending on how many flights you have to climb, this will give you a cardio workout and also help to tone up your thighs and bottom.

Another one is walking, it is a great way to see the place you are visiting and also burn some calories at the same time. Power walking for half an hour can burn up to 200 calories. 

If you do decide to go for a run, make sure it is not at the hottest point of the day. If you are somewhere very hot, I would suggest first thing in the morning or early evenings are the best times to run as it’s cooler.  

Most importantly take water with you, if you are not sure of the area, you may get lost and become dehydrated, which could be dangerous.

Have a great holiday!


Blog entry eight, July
Press ups are an excellent way of toning and strengthening the upper body, and are not just for men! You do not need any equipment (perfect for your outdoor workout). However strong you are, I will show you a way of achieving and improving your press up.

The three styles I will talk about this week are box, ¾ and full. If you are new to exercise I would suggest box or ¾ and full if you are advanced.

Box: kneel down on the floor and place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, your hips should be directly above your knees. Lower your chest to the floor by widening the elbows keeping your abdominals tight, and then return to the top by straightening the arms.

¾: Kneel down, but as you place your hands on the floor take them slightly further forward than in the box position so you are leaning forward. Your hips will be further forward than your knees now and your hands should be wider than your shoulders. The same as before, lower your chest to the floor by widening the elbows, then return to the top.

Full: With this position kneel down as if you are going to the ¾, then curl your toes under and push your knees off the floor. Lower your chest to the floor by widening the elbows and then up again.

In all positions, you must engage your abdominal (stomach) muscles and make sure your back does not banana. Try not to tuck your chin under and try not to lock the elbows out on the way up.

Try 10 – 15 repetitions three times, with a 30 second rest in between. Remember, it is totally up to you how many you decide to do. Just try to push yourself!

Blog entry Seven, June 
When I was first showed “the plank” about 10 years ago, I thought to myself “well that looks easy!” I soon realised that if performed properly, it was not as easy as I thought, and that the benefits are fantastic.

This is an exercise for core stability which means strengthening the muscles in your torso to give you more stability in your joints (mainly the spine). Having a stable trunk means that you can control your limbs better, reducing the risk of injury to the spine and other areas. Improving your core stability also helps to promote good posture.

The picture below shows an image of someone in a plank position:


If you are new to this position then start by holding it for 20/30 seconds at a time, with 30 seconds to 1 minute rest between each repetition. I would try for repeating this 3 times to start with. More advanced people may want to try holding for one minute with rests of 20/30 seconds – it’s totally up to you how long you hold it for.

Things to remember:

1.     Do not let your back “banana” towards the floor

2.     Keeps your pelvic floor muscles up and your abdominals in.

3.     Try not to tuck your chin under

If you do not feel comfortable on your toes, then just relax your knees down to the floor. Make sure you keep the torso still; this is still an effective way to train your core.

I think it is a great way to end a workout, and you do not need any equipment for it. 

Have great week! 

Maria x

For more information, or to join Maria’s classes, Contact Maria: maria@mariaholleyfitness
Mob: 07860 144051

Blog entry six, 

I find running or exercising outside really invigorating – especially in the rain! And with that in mind (not the rain!) I thought we would look at ways in which you can use the outdoor environment to your advantage.

First think about the route you normally take for your run (If you are not a runner then take a moment to picture your local park).

Are there any benches/railings on route? These are great for tricep dips and/or press ups. Try doing 8-12 repetitions, 2 or 3 times of each exercise if you can manage them and then carry on running/walking. Use the bench to aid you with both of these exercises – with the tricep dips remember to keep your bottom close to the bench and to imagine you are squeezing a balloon with your elbows. This will avoid your elbows going out. 

When performing the press ups, keep your core engaged, your bottom down and try not to tuck your chin under.

Now, where are your hills? These do not have to be very steep for you to really get the benefit of them. Try to power up the hill/incline and recover on the down. A good downhill tip for running is to lean your body gently into hill, relax and let it pull you down. 

Lastly, if we do get some decent weather soon you might want to consider a dry touch sunscreen and a cap when exercising outside. Also, try not to exercise outdoors when the sun is at it hottest, this could be dangerous as you are at risk of sunstroke and dehydration.

Good luck with your workout.


Blog entry five

What with the weather and the short working week, don’t worry if you have not had time to go out running yet. This week we are focusing on some running technique and also interval training, which is something you can take at your own level.

Interval training is when you work at a high intensity for a period of time then revert to a low/medium intensity so you can recover before going back to the higher intensity option. The intervals can be of any duration that suits you, but the shorter the recovery time the more intense the workout is.

If you are new to running, start with a gentle warm up (last week’s blog).   Then, once warm start running at a pace you feel comfortable with. After a couple of minutes, up the pace to either a faster run or a sprint.  Try to hold this for somewhere between 30 seconds to one minute. 

When you have finished, go back to the pace you were running beforehand for two minutes, concentrating on recovering your breath (in through the nose and out through the mouth). When the two minutes is up go back to the faster run/sprint and then repeat these intervals for 10 – 15 minutes, or a time that you think is realistic for your level. 

Think about the intensity you are working at as a scale of 1-10. 1 = you have just got out of bed, 10 = maximal (imagine you have run the 100m sprint!) Your higher intensity run should be around 7/8 of your 1-10 scale, which means you will only be able to get a couple of words out between breaths (or not talk at all). This is a really good way of improving your fitness levels whilst burning calories at the same time. 

How you set the intervals up is totally up to you, do not be afraid to power walk on the low intensity part if want, but just try to keep moving. 

Lastly, when running think about striking the ground with your mid foot and try not to let your arms cross the midline of your body. I always think of trying to keep my elbows back, my chin parallel to the floor and my core engaged. 

Until next week….


Blog entry four

Hi everyone, I hope you have enjoyed the jubilee weekend? It's been a great time to enjoy celebrating with family and friends.

I always think that having a good regular exercise plan and balanced diet allows me to enjoy myself on these occasions, having a few treats now and then does you no harm!

This week we are looking at improving your fitness levels, while also burning calories and fat.  Running is a really good way of doing this.

You do not need any special equipment or belong to a gym, all you need is a pair of trainers and some open space.

Before you start running make sure you do a good warm up of about 6 -8 mins.  This should include some mobilisation of the joints - shoulder rolls and spine twists are good and some brisk walking to start elevating your heart rate. 

You might also want to include the squats that we did in week one; these are good for warming up your thighs. As a general rule, I always say to keep one foot on the floor during a warm up. 

When you feel warmed up go into a gentle jog and see how long you can keep going for. If you have not run for a while, or never run at all, getting started can be daunting. If you feel out of breath, try not to stop, instead walk to recover using the time to regain your breath.  

When you feel ready, start running again. This is called interval training and is something I will talk about more as the weeks go on. 

As for how long to run for, it’s up to you! Just start with a realistic time for yourself and build on it week by week.

Next week I will talk about running technique, and the benefits of interval training. Have a good week!

Maria x

Blog entry three

OK, so now we are in to week three of getting in shape for the summer holidays.  The sun has finally come out, so you could also consider doing these exercises outside.  If you have been doing your squats and abdominals regularly, you should definitely be seeing and feeling the difference now.

This week we are going to do some back raises.  This is a great exercise for improving your posture and will also help to balance the stomach muscle exercises you have been doing.  While this exercise focuses on the back, you still need to engage your stomach muscles while doing it.

Lie on your front with your head facing downwards and put your fingertips by your temples, palms facing down.  Pull in your abdominals, squeeze in your bottom (glutes) and slowly lift your chest off of the floor continuing to look down. When you cannot lift any further, lower your chest back to the floor, repeat this 10 -15 times. After you have finished all your repetitions take a short break (20/30 seconds) and repeat again. Do this three times altogether.

If you are finding this quite tricky, try placing your arms by your sides (palms facing in) and pushing them back towards your feet as you raise up. Alternatively you can make this more difficult by extending your arms out in front of you (palms to floor).

You now have three bodyweight exercises (weeks 1-3), which will give you a good basis to start your exercise programme. Next week we will be focusing on improving your fitness which means we need to get moving!

Have fun and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me –

Maria x

Blog entry two

Hello everyone, how did you get on with last week’s exercise?  You should have seen some improvement and hopefully found it easier as the week went on.  

This week we’re going to add a blast of abdominals to help firm and flatten the stomach.  Strengthening this part of your body is really important as it helps to support your lower back which can often be weaker after having children.

Let’s start with a basic crunch.
Lie on your back bringing your knees up so your feet are flat on the floor.  Place your fingertips gently behind your head keeping your elbows back (you should now be looking directly at the ceiling).  Pull your pelvic floor muscles up and your stomach in as much as you can.  Fix your eyes on the ceiling above you keeping a gap between your chin and your chest and slowly raise both shoulders off the floor whilst continuing to look above you at all times.  When you can’t lift any higher or if you feel your stomach pop out, lower back down slowly.  This is one repetition.  When you feel comfortable with that, repeat 15-20 times.  

Now let’s try an oblique curl.  
Still lying on the floor, drop both knees to the left placing your left arm to the side also, palm down.  Your right arm should stay behind your head.  Now lift both shoulders off the floor, aiming your right elbow towards your right knee and lower slowly.  This is one repetition, repeat 15-20 times.  When completed, switch to the other side (knees to the right) and repeat.

If you can’t manage 15-20 reps, don’t worry, do as many as you can.  Also remember, the slower you work, the harder the exercise!

Add this to your leg workout from last week and complete the whole thing twice a day.

Summer is nearly here and so are our holidays! 

See you next week,

Maria x

Blog entry one

Hi, I’m Maria and I’m writing a weekly fitness blog. I will be giving you expert advice that is easy to follow and will help you stay in shape. 

I live locally with my husband and two boys. After a life of working in the West End as an actress I decided to retrain as a personal trainer.  This meant I could spend more time with my family as the late nights and weekend working wasn’t great with two children!

I work with a number of individual clients who all have different fitness levels and goals they wish to achieve. Helping them achieve those is very rewarding. Over the next few weeks I will be talking to you about how you can fit exercise into your life and achieve your goals too.

Despite the recent rain, my thoughts started to turn to my summer holiday and getting in shape for the beach.  It’s tough to find the time to train when you have a family, but I will be giving you a variety of exercises over the next few weeks that you can do once the kids are in bed that will help you tone up and improve your fitness for the summer.  

One of the biggest motivators for me to improve my fitness after having children was discovering that the fitter you are the more calories you burn while exercising and at rest. I thought this was a better incentive than following another “faddy” diet.

Squats are a good way of toning up the legs and bottom and a great place to start.

Stand with your feet hip width apart with your toes facing forward, bending your knees and pushing your bottom back. Lower as far as you can go (bottom shouldn’t be lower than knees).  You should feel the weight in your heels. When you have reached the bottom of the movement return to standing slowly and smoothly, keeping soft knees at the top. During this exercise your chest should be lifted with abdominals tight and pelvic floor lifted.

Repeat this 24 times, take a 30 second break and repeat again. Try to complete three sets altogether, doing this once in the morning and the evening. If you cannot manage 24, do as many as you can and build up to it. You will soon start to notice the improvement.

Look out for Maria’s new easy fitness tips next week!

Find out how Maria's career in Musicals may have helped her launch her fitness business.

For more information, or to join Maria’s classes, 
Contact Maria: maria@mariaholleyfitness

Mob: 07860 144051

Maria Training Photos 442-1.jpg

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