Category Archives: Fitness

Little Sports Coaching – learn new footballing skills

Like most boys born in Manchester, my son has grown up with a football at his feet. He’s not a natural-born striker, but he enjoys having a kick-about in the park and it’s nice to encourage a love of sports at an early age. This month he joined the Little Sports Coaching Mini Soccer programme in Manchester where he hoped to learn a few new skills to show off in the park.

Little Sports Coaching launched in 2006 as a sports coaching organisation.  They work in nurseries and primary schools; run soccer schools, multi sports, dance and gymnastics classes, holiday camps, one to one coaching sessions, children’s parties and even have their own junior football team. 

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

My son has trained with them before at school; so he already knew some of the coaches when he arrived at the Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe, Manchester for his first session. They were really welcoming and gave him his own brightly coloured kit (it’s very bright, so there’s no losing him in a crowd when he wears it).

He got straight in with a warm-up kick about with the other players in his group. There were about 8 children in each group and when the weather isn’t terrible they get to play outside on the astroturf. Some of the kids were amazing and obviously had been attending for several years. Ben got stuck in and made sure he was near the coach, listening and paying attention to what he was told to do.

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

During the Mini Soccer programme players learned a selection of skills including dribbling, passing, shooting, heading and much more; plus each session includes taking part in five-a-side football matches to practice those skills.

The Mini Soccer sessions last for two hours with a short break in the middle. A bottle of water is essential and players are encouraged to bring a snack to eat such as fruit. Although kit is provided, players will need comfortable trainers or football boots if they’re playing outside.

Parents don’t have to stay for the sessions, but you can do if you’d like. I’ll be honest and say we slipped away for half an hour to pick up a few bits from a nearby retail park. He was busy concentrating and probably didn’t even notice we’d gone.

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

At the end of each session the coaches award a player of the week trophy for a player who has shown improvement; or who has tried extra hard, listened well or been a good team player. The trophy is kept for one week and when it’s returned the player gets a certificate to keep. It’s a nice little motivator to do well.

The coaches are engaging, encouraging and professional. You can tell they really enjoy helping to coach these young players. It’s clear from sitting on the sidelines for a few hours that the kids love the sessions too. There’s something special about watching a group of kids form a team and play together; watching them learn new skills and grow in confidence too.

Two hours of football is quite a lot to ask my son to play on a hot June afternoon. He does flag a bit towards the end; but the rest of his team are all still running about and picking up any slack he leaves.

He’s had three training sessions with Little Sports Coaching now and he really enjoys going. When he gets home he’s hungry, thirsty and tired, which is how I think it should be. He’s had a good run around and learned some new football skills. He’s learned quite a lot of other things too; like teamwork, listening skills, he’s concentrated on what he’s doing and what he should be doing and most of all, he’s had a lot of fun doing it. Isn’t that what taking part in sports is really all about?

Little Sports Coaching - learn new footballing skills

Little Sports Coaching offer a wide range of sports coaching including football, dance and multi-sports across Manchester and the North West. Each session of Mini Soccer costs £6 which for two hours worth of coaching is excellent value.

To find out more about Little Sports Coaching, visit their website www.littlesportscoaching.co.uk/mini-soccer.

Disclosure: We were offered four Little Sports Coaching sessions and the kit in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

Fit Fashion: Fitness Gear for him for under £50

My husband is a late convert to exercise. Like many of us he was put off sport and fitness at school. As a result it’s taken him 20 years to put on some fitness gear and get off the sofa. In fairness to him he’s remarkably sporty now. In the last couple of years he’s taken part in Born Survivor (one of those military style races where they roll you in mud and make you crawl under barbed wire). He’s taken up Kettlebells, then had to give that up due to a dodgy elbow. Now he’s joined a running group. 

We’re keen to encourage his sportiness, partly because he really enjoys it and partly because it gets him out from under our feet for a few hours a week. With Father’s Day approaching we thought that giving him some new fitness gear would be a nice supportive gesture.

We thought we’d treat him to a new pair of shorts, a couple of new tops and some running socks. But is it possible to get some decent fitness gear with a budget of just £50? 

We checked out the DW Sports website and found that we could find good quality running gear to suit budgets both large and small. We were pleased to be able to almost entirely him kit out so that he looks the part when he meets with his weekly running club.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

The New Balance t-shirt in heather is £14 (currently reduced from £22) it is lightweight and made from moisture wicking fabric (which takes the sweat off you body and dries quickly). It also has an antimicrobial treatment which resists odours and skims the body, so it’s not too tight and is comfortable to wear.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

It’s always good to have a couple of running tops to choose from, so we also bought this colourful Puma Core Run t-shirt in bright plasma (£12). Again this is a lightweight material, it’s moisture wicking and comfortable. It’s also very, very bright. Much brighter that it appears on the website. It may be bright, but it does make it ideal to wear when running down the road when the evening light is fading.

My husband lives in shorts for about 8 months a year, but he does have a selection of shorts he wears for exercise. With new running tops, he needs new running shorts, so we chose the Nike Dri-Fit Academy Knit Shorts (£15.99) in a lovely shade of blue and white which will go with almost anything. Again they’re made with moisture wicking fabric, Nike call it “Dri-Fit Technology”. They’re a nice length, not too short or too long. They also have an elasticated waist which makes them comfortable to exercise in.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

Last but by no means least, we got him some new running socks. I learned long ago that normal socks are no good for running in. Not only do they wear out pretty quickly, but they often slip down your foot causing blisters and other problems. We went for a two pack of Sof Sole running socks (£7.99). Made from a Polyester material, with moisture management technology, these socks are ideal for anyone racking up the miles. These specially designed running socks minimise movement and friction. 

So for a fraction under £50 we’ve kitted him out ready for his running club. We think he looks really smart. He feels really comfortable and the small boy thinks he’s nailed his Father’s Day presents for this year. And he’s right. 

We’re really impressed with DW Sports. We ordered the products on Friday, they arrived early on Monday and delivery is free when you spend over £40. It’s all brand named products at what I felt were very reasonable prices too.

Note: We were sent these products for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. 

Family Fitness: 5 reasons why your kids should get into golf

One of the fun things we like to do as a family is play crazy golf. Crazy golf is a fun, entry-level introduction to the sport and is something we can all play together. Our family is a rag-tag bunch of fitness and ability levels, but we can all happily enjoy a round of crazy golf.

We like to expose our son to lots of different experiences and hope that he finds something he really enjoys doing. At the moment he plays football and goes swimming. We occasionally take him horse riding, to play tennis and for the occasional round of crazy golf. Should he declare an interest in taking part in any of these sports, or indeed any new ones, then we would encourage and support him all the way.

Family Fitness: 5 reasons why your kids should get into golf

Five reasons why Kids should get into golf

  1. Everyone can play golf. When you’re playing golf you don’t need to be tall, strong or fast or lean. Successful golfers come in all shapes, sizes and ages.
  2. It’s low-risk. The chances of picking up an injury playing golf is virtually non-existent compared to contact sports like football or rugby. Being no-contact, golf is a very safe, respectful sport.
  3. It’s healthy. Golf is a great sport which gives your child the chance to be outside in the fresh air, enjoying the outdoors.
  4. Golf can help to create bonds with friends & family! Whether your child plays golf with family members, friends or takes lessons with a golf pro, mentoring and playing together will help to create close bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime.
  5. Your child will learn important life lessons. Playing golf your child will experience highs and lows, from the first hole-in-one or birdie to a misplaced shot in a bunker. Golf will teach your child that though we can’t always win, we always have another shot in life and skill comes with practice.

Whatever sport your children choose to play; it’s all great for building their confidence, helping them understand team work and all sport helps to build and maintain their fitness levels. There are five good reasons to get into golf. 

OnlineGolf stock a full range of golfing equipment and accessories. 

We were sent a goodie bag in return for this blog post.

Fitness: Spinal Rehab – Getting Fit Again

This year hasn’t been great, I’ve had two surgeries on my back and spent the best part of 8 months lying down in pain or being shunted about in a wheelchair. I’ve got my legs back now and can walk again though I still have back pain and numbness in my legs. I need to focus on my recovery now, on my spinal rehab.

When I look back at where I was 18 months ago I was fit. I’d do around 4 hours of Zumba or other dance a week. I ran a bit and I’d walk for miles and miles. I used to love yoga and I was strong and flexible and most definitely fit.

Eight months of pain meds, biscuits and lying down have taken their toll and I’m as weak as a kitten. My legs shake, I have lost my core stability, I am weak and I hate it. Luckily I’ve got myself on a spinal rehab programme which is trying to make me strong again.

I’m only at the very start of my journey but I’ve got to walk a maximum of 2 miles a day. I’m allowed to return to Pilates as long as that’s done at my pace and I don’t push myself. I must learn to sit again and lie down less. I’ve got to complete my physio exercises daily. I must push myself but not too far. I’ve got to do some basic household chores but I’m not allowed to lift and bend which is tricky with a toddler. I’m not allowed to take him out in his pushchair yet as that’s too strenuous. I am weak.

You’d think that this would be frustrating for me, my inability to function normally, to rely on others to empty the washing machine so I can peg out the washing, but no. I’ve been broken for so long just doing that is an achievement and makes me feel like I’m a more useful member of the household.

I want to start swimming again. I used to be a competitive swimmer and I was super strong and I want to be like that again. My Zumba days are most likely behind me and I’ll probably never run again as any activity which involves impact could further damage my spine. Spinal rehab is a careful balance of pushing yourself but not too far.

I’m 36 and I’ve got to be careful. But I’m grateful not to be in horrendous pain anymore. I’m grateful that when my feet touch the floor more often than not I can feel the floor. I am grateful that I can start to be a proper wife and mother again. I’m incredibly grateful to the surgeons for giving me my life back.

Now I need to take my life and shape it into something that makes me happy and fulfilled and most importantly a lifestyle that suits my ruined spine. Existing can be exhausting and if I overdo it I can be in pain for days. I’m determined to get fit again and I want to be strong. I need to be strong.

So if you go for a walk with me, sorry if I can’t keep up. If you want me to join you in the park with my son, I can’t push him there I’m sorry. If you want me to go clubbing with you I can’t dance. But I’m not going to lie down and rot ever again, not if I can help it.

I’ve been told it’ll be 2-3 years before I’m recovered from the surgeries and that I may always have pain and numbness. I can live with that because I’ve got my life back. Now I just need my strength and fitness.

Fitness: Spinal Rehab - Getting Fit Again

Fitness Shoe Review: Avon Workout Trainers

My friendly neighbourhood Avon lady dropped round my order this morning. I was excited, not just because I like getting goodies, but because I’d ordered the new Avon Workout Trainers and was keen to see what the fuss was about.

Avon describe them as –

“Everyday trainers designed for low impact on joints with increased comfort. Thermoplastic and polyurethane. Super grip flexible sole to provide traction on multiple surfaces. Helps encourage leg muscles to work harder. Designed to help improve overall balance and posture.”

What do I think about the Avon workout trainers?

I was a big fan of their fit-flop style flip flops but having recently had some back surgery I was excited to try these out. Plus the trainers were on offer at only £20, how could I resist?

Fitness Shoe Review: Avon Workout Trainers

My first impression of these Avon workout trainers was they were very pink. I’m not really a pink kinda girl but I’ll soldier on with these. I gave them a good look at all over and noted that the sole was slightly rounded, similar to MBTs but not quite as defined. This would be really great for my back and my posture as I’ve been hunched for months and need encouragement to stand up straight.

I popped them on and they were comfortable, they seem a good size and fit. Because of the rounded soles they took a little bit of getting used to; but after a couple of trips up and down the stairs and round the house it was time to road test them.

I didn’t walk far because I can’t walk far yet, but immediately I noticed my general posture was improved. I was standing and walking straighter and taller. I’m really weak after my surgery but I could feel a pull in my stomach and bum muscles. I know I’ll never look like Jessica Ennis, but I reckon if I wore these for a little while each day they’d help get me stronger quicker than regular trainers would.

I like these Avon workout trainers, I like them a lot. They are very pink, but I imagine Avon will eventually do them in another colour. They are called workout trainers but I wouldn’t wear them to the gym. There isn’t enough bounce in them to protect your joints properly; but they’d be great for pottering about in and doing all the things you do as a busy Mum. Plus for just £20 you can’t go far wrong.

I’m not sure if the Avon Workout Trainers are currently available. The stock on the Avon website seems to be quite seasonal, but they do pop up on a regular basis, so do keep your eyes peeled if you fancy a pair.