peteA little while ago I persuaded a guy to start training with us at Wellbeing Fitness. Part of the deal was that I allowed him to write down his HONEST thoughts about the process and I would send it out as an e-mail every month. He called himself Peter Lucas, because he didn’t want his name going public. Later on, his wife (we called Pam) joined in. The emails were not only very funny but also quite inspirational. I thought it would be worth while re-running the series. This is the first one.

Hi. Pete Lucas here. I’ve been receiving the Wellbeing newsletter for months now but it wasn’t until I was on holiday recently and I was looking at all the middle aged fat bastards round the swimming pool that it suddenly dawned on me – hey, I’m one of them. It gave me a shock I can tell you. So I decided to do something about it.

Now to be honest, Wellbeing Fitness sounds a bit too good to be true – everybody enjoying exercise and it all being so much fun etc etc. I HATE exercise - always have. That’s why I threw down this challenge to the Director, Ian Ryves (not a bad chap – good salesman). I can write what I like: no holds barred. So here goes.

I had two appointments this week, one with Nigel, the dietitian and the other with one of the personal trainers, Mitchell. I’d expected the worst from Nigel: I thought he’d give me the usual old crap about not eating anything I actually like and that makes life worth living – in other words, a diet of rabbit food.  But he didn’t. He’s a very down to earth chap and what he said sort of made sense. Anyway, I agreed to give it a try.

And then the exercise. Now I’m not going to say I enjoyed it because I didn’t but Mitchell did seem to know what he was talking about, leaving aside the fact that he looks as though he’s only just out of nappies. There’s no boot camp style about him which is what I thought it would be – he just kept gently nudging me and by the finish – well – there was a kind of sense of achievement. And what did surprise me was that the hour went by more quickly than I’d thought it would. But at the end I was sweating buckets and my face looked as though I was about to explode – thank God I was the only one in the gym so no one else could see me puffing and groaning. I’ve got another session tomorrow – I don’t know how I feel about that. But I’ve said I’ll give it a chance and I will.

I’ll report my progress (or otherwise) next month.





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The TWENTY-SIXTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE LOWER BACK EXTENSION


The muscles in the lower back are often forgotten about in exercise programmes and the lower back is the most common area for problems, particularly as we get older. It’s important to strengthen these muscles because if we just concentrate on the abdomen, it causes an imbalance between the anterior and posterior of the body, and hence – problems!




Lie face down on the floor and put your arms down by your sides with the palms facing upwards. Stretch your legs back and lift them a couple of inches from the ground. At the same time stretch forward with your chest and raise it a few inches. The idea is NOT to bend yourself like a banana – doing that doesn’t bring any extra benefits. It’s the stretching and lifting of the chest and legs a few inches that makes the exercise work well.


Ian Spiby at 71 years of age - proof that you're never too old to do exercise.  

The interview below was done almost a year ago but I thought I'd remind you of it as next month I'm going to interview him again. Is he still getting fitter and stronger or is age beginning to take its toll? See what he said last year.  





The TWENTY-FIFTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE LEGS-UP CRUNCH

This is a similar exercise to the simple crunch but it helps to keep the lower back flat on the ground (thus protecting and strengthening it) as well as targeting the abdominal muscles. It’s excellent for developing a hard, flat stomach.  

Lie down flat on the floor on your back. Lift your feet up so that your knees are pointing straight up to the ceiling and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. There should be a series of 90 degree angles – 90 degrees between the torso and the upper leg and a 90 degree angle between the upper leg and lower leg. 

Place your hands LIGHTLY either side of your head, preferably just using the finger-tips. This is to stop you pulling your head forward when you do the exercise.Press the small of your back into the floor, and crunching up your stomach muscles, SLOWLY lift your chest off the floor, hold for a few seconds and then SLOWLY lower yourself back down. Your head should stay in line with your chest. DON’T pull your chin forward onto your chest.








The TWENTY-FOURTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE FULL SQUAT HOLD

This exercise is renowned for being difficult even though it seems very simple and to look at it, you don’t appear to be doing very much at all. But you’ll be surprised how effective it is and how quickly you’ll feel the muscles start to burn. It works the gluts, (muscles in the buttocks) quads, (muscles at the front of the thighs) and hamstrings (at the back of the thighs). It also targets the core muscles around the abdomen and helps strengthen the muscles around the hips and knees.



Stand against a wall with the feet shoulder-width apart, feet facing forwards. Cross the arms loosely across the chest.  Keep your back straight and pull the shoulders back, drawing the shoulder blades down. Lean against the wall so that your back and head are as flat against it as possible. Have your feet about 18 inches away from the wall.

Keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, slide down the wall until your upper legs are about 90 degrees with your lower legs – as if you’re sitting on a chair. If you find that your feet are too far away or too near the wall, adjust them. Then HOLD the position. That’s all there is to it but as I said above, you’ll soon feel your quads start to burn. When you’ve held it for the required length of time, slide yourself up so that you’re standing straight again.





The TWENTY-THIRD in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE STEP-UP

This exercise is quite simple. It works the leg muscles but it’s a good one to start a programme with because it also gets the heart and lungs working so that you become a little bit out of breath. You need to use a step but it doesn’t have to be a specialised piece of equipment. The bottom of the stairs will do or even a door step – just make sure that you can get at least the ball of your foot on it.


Stand up straight and tall in front of the step. Make sure your shoulders are back and hands are by your sides. Step up with purpose and then step back down again. Don’t just use your toes, try to get as much of your foot as possible on the step. Remember to keep your head up and your chest out. Avoid the temptation to lean forward as you do it. Establish a nice easy rhythm as you step up and down. That’s all there is to it!






The TWENTY-SECOND in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE STANDING RUSSIAN TWIST

The Standing Russian Twist works the oblique muscles, which are the muscles running down the side of the body but also helps with spine rotation. Developing flexibility in all parts of the body, but particularly the spine and hips is absolutely vital to mobility.




Stand up straight and tall with the feet pointing forwards, about 12 inches apart. Make sure that the chest is out and the shoulders are drawn back and relaxed.

Hold your arms in front of you with the hands pointing towards the ceiling.Twist slowly to your right, return to the front and then slowly to the left. Return back to the front.

Two essential points. Try not to let the legs move – you are twisting from the hips. And also don’t move your head further round than the rest of your torso.

To get the most out of the exercise DO IT SLOWLY WITH CONTROLLED MOVEMENTS. Don’t be tempted to swing from side to side wildly. It will bring no benefit.



As many of you may know I’m a keen cyclist, and have had some success in time-trial riding. And I’m proud to say I’ve qualified to enter the World Master’s Championship, which is being held in France this year.ian bikeI put down a lot of my success to the nutritional advice that I’ve been given by a Registered Dietition, Darren Barclay who by telling me what exactly to eat on a day-to-day basis has improved my performance considerably. He specialises in training sports people who are aiming at improving their performance and taking it to a higher level.

He lives and works in Heidelberg in Germany but after a lot of arm-twisting, has agreed to come over to England to do a clinic at Wellbeing Fitness on Wednesday 21 June where he will do one-to-one appointments.

If you would like to see him, there are limited slots available: he only has time to see six people and three of the appointments are already sold.

If you are a keen cyclist, runner, triathlete or just want to get the most out of the training that you do, then I would heartily recommend that you see Darren.

This is what he will do for you

Pre assessment This involves a nutrition-activity diary where you record your nutritional intake (food diary). You can do this in one of two ways.

Either on the “My Fitness Pal” app which you forward to Darren together with your log-in details. Darren can then retrieve the data and review it before your face-to-face meeting.

Alternatively, Darren can send you his templates for a food diary over five days, which you send back to him, again, before the appointment so that he can analyse it and review the data.


He will also need training information. He can access your “Training Peaks” account or any other training programme data-bank if he has your log-in details. He can then look at your weekly training load. From this he can assess both what you’re doing and what you are eating in order to create the correct nutritional plan for your particular situation.


Face-to-Face Assessment In the face-to-face meeting Darren will conduct a Bio-Electrical Impedance Analysis, which is a method of assessing your body composition and involves the measurement of fat in relation to lean body mass among other things. BIA is an integral part of a health and nutrition assessment and is an essential aspect of the face-to-face assessment. It provides a lot of information on your condition and steers Darren’s recommendations and advice. (It’s also a particular area of his expertise)

In conjunction with the pre-assessment information that you have provided, he is then in a position to recommend particular and specific nutritional strategies.


Post Assessment After you leave the face-to-face session, Darren will then put everything together to provide a bespoke practical plan with specific guidance for training and competition. It involves individual custom-made meal-plans around your training, taking into account “hard” training days, “easier” ones, rest-days etc. This will be sent to you as soon as possible after the face-to-face assessment.

Follow –up phone call Darren can also arrange a short phone-call with you if you need to talk things over after you receive the information.


Cost: £160.00 which includes the face-to-face interview of between 90-120 minutes together with all the pre and post assessments, follow-up calls and advice.

If you are interested or would like more details, please 01327 351110


Below is some more information about Darren Barclay himself

Darren Barclay is a registered dietitian with over seventeen years of clinical experience and has worked as a nutritionist with sports people and individuals with active lifestyles for over 12 years.

Darren is a passionate cyclist in all disciplines. He has over 25 years of elite cycle-racing experience.  He has a total of five National Championship Medals, with his first medal in the National University Student Road Race Championship. He then went on to take third place in the National British Road Race Championships, then later in his career took both the Silver and Bronze in the National Team Trial Championships and third place in the Master’s Individual Time-Trial Championships.

In the late 1990s he represented Great Britain in the Road and in the Cyclo Cross at the highest level. He has ridden for some of the UK’s top teams and lived and raced at professional level in France.   His wins and podiums-places go into hundreds and regional medals into double figures.

Darren continues to race at Master’s Level and continues to win on the road and has recently won divisional time-trial championships in Germany.

He has extensive clinical knowledge in nutrition but is able to blend this with the mind-set of an athlete. He works with active individuals through to professionals, riding at the highest level.
Her currently lives in Heidelberg and continues to race at Elite Master’s level.

Darren is registered with the Health and Care Professional Council and is a member of the British Dietetic Association.






The TWENTYFIRST in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE PLANKING JACK

This exercise targets that all-important “core”. It provides a basic strength for the body and prevents common problems such as lower back issues. Essentially though, it tones the midriff and reduces those unsightly “spare tyres” that we all try to hide. In addition it adds power and a cardio vascular element to it, raising the heart rate and increasing lung capacity



Start by kneeling down. Lean forward until you are resting the forearms on the ground in front of you. Then stretch the legs back and lift yourself up onto your toes, feet together. The aim is to make the body as straight as possible (like a plank!) Squeeze the stomach muscles to prevent the two common mistakes. You don’t want to either let your midriff sag towards the floor and you don’t want to lift your behind up high. Both of these mistakes can put a great deal of strain on your lower back – something you want to avoid at all costs. Keep the body in a straight position with the gaze down to the floor.

Now, keeping the body as straight as possible, jump the feet out until they are between two and three feet apart. Then jump back so that the feet are together. It’s important to brace the stomach muscles as you are about to jump and also important to try not to let the behind raise too much into the air as you jump.





The TWENTIETH in our series of Exercise of the Week is THE COBRA

The term “Cobra” is taken from yoga and it’s called cobra because presumably it imitates the cobra snake raising itself up ready to strike. It’s a great exercise for stretching out the abdominal muscles and strengthening the muscles in the back as well as increasing the flexibility in the spine. Anything that helps us bend and stretch easily is a good thing.

The Cobra is done in TWO stages.

For the first stage, lie face down on the floor. Put your forearms in front of you so that they are parallel – this will involve you lifting up your chest a little and resting yourself on your forearms. Stretch your legs back and then concentrate on making sure the muscles in your behind (gluts) and the back of the legs (hamstrings) are relaxed. This is important.

When you’re sure that they are relaxed, raise your chest a little. Check that your gluts and hamstrings are still relaxed and then raise yourself a little more. If this is easy and you can’t feel a stretch, then you can lift your chest more by pressing on your hands and raising your elbows. Don’t try to straighten the arms fully because this is likely to be too much unless you’re very bendy.

It’s important to take this exercise gradually in stages and concentrate on keeping the gluts and hamstrings relaxed throughout.

Lower yourself down SLOWLY and then repeat.






The NINETEENTH in our series of Exercise of the Week is the LUNGE JUMP

It is a particularly good exercise because it targets a whole range of muscles: the quads [thighs], the gluts [buttocks], the hamstrings at the back of the leg as well as the calf muscles. But to do it properly you have to activate the core muscles to keep you balanced and also the cardio-vascular system and deep breathing. So with the Lunge Jump you definitely get more for your money!



First of all stand with feet together, shoulders back and chest out. Put your hands in front of you to help the balance. Take a big step for3ard with the LEFT foot and then lower your RIGHT knee until it is just a couple of inches off the ground. Make sure you are balanced: if necessary make your feet a little wider apart – that will help with your stability.

Now – powering yourself up with your LEFT leg, jump up and swap legs so that when you come down your RIGHT leg will be in front and your LEFT knee will be a couple of inches off the ground.

Repeat it slowly until you can do it and remain quite stable (in other words so that you don’t fall over!) Once you’ve gained stability and confidence, try to do the jumps in a fluid motion so that you don’t stop to rest between each one. You’ll quickly find that your heart rate starts to increase and you’ll need to breath more deeply.

When you do this exercise, take it easy to begin with, especially if you’re not used to working out. If you overdo it at first, you’ll put unnecessary strain on your muscles. So GRADUALLY build up the number of repetitions. Do it regularly though, and you’ll quickly see a marked improvement.





Yes, we’re open in Brackley! After weeks of brick dust and painting and cleaning and scrubbing and chasing suppliers to make sure all the new equipment will be here on time, we actually opened this morning. And though I say it myself, the place is looking pretty good – different from Towcester but I’m pleased with it. Have a look below and see for yourself.


And our very first customer this morning was someone I was delighted to welcome back. I’ve known Jeanne Robinson for a long time now and so it was great to see her again. Jeanne is someone I admire more than I can say because she does things that most people would shy away from. Despite not having a natural runner’s build she is training for her second (or even third) Half Marathon. And as she said to me this morning: “I don’t run, I plod.”

BUT SHE DOES IT!!! And that’s an inspiration for everyone.

She told me a great story this morning, which I know she won’t mind me passing on. She was out doing a run early one morning when she was suddenly confronted by a man in his dressing gown, shouting at her to stop, and waving his forefinger six inches in front of her nose. He then accused her of cracking the pavement in front of his house!! She told him to “go away” (but in rather stronger terms than I have indicated here).

But here’s the best bit. She was at an aerobics class a few days later and told the other ladies there of her experience. At which, as one, they all trooped down to the man’s house and did their exercises on the pavement outside. Jeanne said the man was peering at them through the window but he didn’t dare come out and confront them.

Now those are the sorts of women I admire! 

If you happen to be in Brackley, do pop in and see us. We’re at No 3 Oxford Court, which is on St James Road, just past the Fire Station and next to the Police Station. We’ll be delighted to see you.

Best wishes


Ian Ryves. Wellbeing Fitness 3 Oxford Court, St James Road, Brackley, Northamptonshire NN13 7XY E-mail:        Tel:01327 351110

Wellbeing Fitness, Unit 4, Lucas Bridge Business Park, Old Green’s Norton Rd, Towcester, NN12 8AX. E-mail:        Tel:01327 351110


Last week I wrote about going to a lecture where I learned that exercise is FOUR TIMES more effective than anything else in helping us to have a long and healthy life. (If you missed it scroll down - it's below)

Yesterday, my colleague Ian Spiby, who is a member of staff at Wellbeing Fitness, celebrated his 71st birthday. He began as a client and then after a couple of years started working with me – and to be quite frank he’s one of the fittest 71 year olds I know. And what’s more impressive is that he didn’t start doing any exercise until 7 years ago when he was 64.  So I decided to ask him what effect doing exercise has had on him during that seven years.

I think you’ll find it interesting – and inspiring. I know I did.


Do you know what? There are so many myths to do with getting healthy and staying healthy. Here’s one that I think will surprise you. And it was reported as a myth in the medical journal, Lancet so I reckon it’s pretty accurate. Here goes:

It is a myth that we need to drink eight pints of water a day, even though everybody you speak to repeats it as an irrefutable fact. Lancet could find no evidence at all to support the statement. Of course, it’s in the interests of the bottled-water companies to keep perpetuating the myth because it boosts their sales and profits. And of course, it doesn’t mean that we should stop drinking water – it’s just plain common sense that we need to keep hydrated. But we don’t need to be guzzling it every hour of the day. 

So why am I going on about myths? Well, I’ll tell you – and it rocked me back on my heels when I learned it.  A little while ago I went to a talk at Northampton General Hospital given by Dr Tom Yates who is a senior researcher in health at Leicester University. He’s been collecting all the evidence to do with the causes of death in mature adults. All the usual suspects were there: 

Smoking: yes that’s pretty bad and contributes to a good proportion of deaths. 

High cholesterol: yes that was there too.

High blood pressure: yes.

Obesity: yes, but further down the list than I would have expected. 

Alcohol: yes, a bit. 

But the highest factor – so high it was nearly off the scale and FOUR TIMES higher than the next cause was: wait for it – LACK OF EXERCISE. 

Let’s put it another way. You can smoke, drink, eat all the wrong foods and be overweight, but if you do exercise, you are four times more likely to live a long life than if you did all of those things but didn’t exercise. 

In order to be healthier, live a longer life, and actually feel better you need to do exercise – and without wishing to boast, that’s what we do best.  Apart from a very small percentage, most people don’t actually find exercise easy, particularly if they try to do it on their own. That’s why regular gyms make so much money. People sign up for a year in a rush of enthusiasm but after a few weeks, stop going.  At Wellbeing Fitness, we not only tailor the fitness programmes to suit you personally but we provide the motivation and encouragement, not only at the beginning but for every session. I’ve hand-picked my personal trainers because not only are they good at their jobs but they are likeable and personable: they are good at motivating and encouraging: making the exercise sessions enjoyable and fun. 

So, as my Lancashire Grandma would say: “Think on!”

We’re running a campaign at the moment which is really putting my reputation (and bank balance) on the line. Basically you come for three personal training sessions and one way or another, you get your money back at the end…

Click here to see the details. 

Best wishes


Ian Ryves. Wellbeing Fitness, Unit 4, Lucas Bridge Business Park, Old Green’s Norton Rd, Towcester, NN12 8AX.

E-mail: Tel:01327 351110