fitness, refuel, stress

Is fitness information overload leading to an increase in negative stress levels?

I’ve had an active interest in health and fitness for a very long time now, and having completed my fitness trainer qualification a year or so ago my knowledge is now much greater than it was.

There’s one thought that’s been on my mind for a while now though, and having read the following excellent article yesterday, recommended by the talented writer M.P. Baecker, it brought the thought to the forefront once again: Is the vast amount of fitness information on the internet actually contributing to our levels of negative stress?

For example, a quick look at the fitness section of leads me to read (titles only): ‘The truth about how much exercise you need to lose weight’, ‘6 smart (and Sneaky) ways to exercise at work’, ‘Running might be the closest thing to the fountain of youth’, ‘Should you do ab exercises every day if you want to see results? ‘What happens to your body when you start exercising regularly’ etc etc.

I’m sure some of these have some very valid information included (I didn’t actually go on to read the articles), but the point is it’s just too much, and I really believe such information puts far too much pressure on us, even if we don’t realise it.

Questions start to crop up: Should I be doing that? Am I doing enough exercise? Am I doing the right exercise? Why don’t I look like that? Why do I find it so hard when they make it sound so easy?

How can I fit this all in when I have so much else going on?

And that’s a huge contributor to the negative stress all of this information causes – time. There are only so many hours in the day, and many dream of a life where each day consists of an early morning run followed by yoga on the beach, a trek in the mountains and dancing in the evening, but the reality is far from this.

So what should we be doing?  Well it would be wrong for me not to say here Refuel’!

But in all honesty we should be enjoying our lives in an active way.  This doesn’t have to mean one particular physical activity or another. It means we should find active activities we enjoy and do them. And what we enjoy could also change on a regular basis. Just because we enjoy Cross Fit or Yoga now, doesn’t mean we have to do that for the rest of our lives. If we can only spare one hour a week then why not mix it up? Alternate weekly or monthly, combine them both somehow. Then try something completely new.

Or if you simply prefer to walk then walk! But add some variety: walk faster, take a steeper route, race a friend, build some squats into your warm up and do some yoga stretches to cool down. Life is about enjoying, and if we enjoy something then we want to do more of it!

And we don’t need to spend hours – it’s common knowledge that exercise stresses the body in a positive way, but if we do too much this can quickly turn to negative stress and have the opposite effect. Everything in moderation, which is perfect when we don’t have much time anyway!

So the point I’d really like to make here is ,when it comes to keeping fit, please just try to have fun. Of course if you’re working towards very specific goals then the very best thing to do is to talk to a professional trainer who will identify what’s right for you. But outside of this, yes please do keep yourself active and fit, but only in a way that you enjoy.

Don’t panic when reading all the information that’s out there. Don’t feel you have to prioritise one type of fitness training over another (unless you have specific needs/goals as mentioned above). Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Do find what’s right for you.

It’s about balance, enjoyment and doing the best you can in the time that you have.



Why live music?

I previously wrote about how important music is to me (see here), and my last entry highlighted some of the benefits of live music vs recorded, but I haven’t actually addressed the full ‘why’. Why live music?

Well firstly you just have to look at the cost of any live concert – to see some of the most popular artists live can cost a small fortune. And why do we pay? Because we know how many hours that artist has put in to be able to share their passion with others? Because we truly value their time? Or is a large part of it actually for selfish reasons – we love the way experiencing live music makes us feel. I’ve no doubt there’s an element of both, but unless we’re musicians ourselves we often forget the sweat and tears a musician experiences daily in order to perfect their craft. All we see is the final product and we absolutely love it. It’s a feeling we don’t often get to feel.

But what if on a smaller scale we could get this feeling more often? Take live concerts back to their purest routes – simply a musician/s playing right in front of us, sharing their passion, and even better, we could keep ourselves fit and active at the same time.

Which brings me onto fitness. I’d challenge anyone to name somebody who hasn’t used music when exercising – music is motivating, distracting and has so many positive effects. But how many people can say they have exercised to live music? Dancing yes, and this is of course a form of exercise (likewise is jumping up and down at a concert). But really working out to live music?

I know it has been done (in particular with Yoga), and it’s a trend I’m seeing more of, but with Refuel the live music isn’t simply an add on. The workouts are designed together with the music programme, so music and movement unite for an even greater effect on body and mind, with increased motivation, increased distraction and enhanced positive effects. Add to this the ability of the musician to adapt – together with the trainer – in response to the participants and the current mood (as is also the case with live music concerts), Refuel becomes a unique experience every time.

I’m going to finish off with some more facts, as it’s always good to have further back up!

  • Research from the Royal Albert Hall found that 69% of UK adults are ‘happier’ and ‘more stimulated’ when listening to live music. Of those surveyed, 68% considered themselves ‘more engaged’ and 59% thought they were ‘more sociable’ when live music is playing. Source here.
  • Recorded music will always be a substitute for live. This article here is a brilliant summary of live vs recorded music, written by a professional performer and journalist: Source here.
  • An IRB (Institutional Review Board)-approved study by UCLA found that students’ ratings of stress were significantly lower after exposure to live music. Source here.
  • Participants of Refuel have said they actually ‘feel’ the music, not just hear it. Feedback has included ‘what makes it different and extra special is the live music, it adapts to the tempo of the movements and the sound can be really felt (not just heard).’ ‘A total new approach to body exercise, taking the rhythm and instrument resonances of live musicians playing into a great exercise program, creating a completely individual flow.’ Further testimonials can be found here.









Thank you for the music

Since embarking on Refuel, I have been lucky enough to start meeting amazingly talented musicians. Music has always been so important to me, but it’s something I often find myself not dedicating nearly enough time to. Music is the one thing that can always drive me to tears – there’s something about it that resonates deep within, something which I can’t even explain myself but there’s an emotion that emerges which I really can’t control.

Launching Refuel hasn’t been easy, and it’s going to be a long haul to get people to love it as much as I do, but every time I’m lacking motivation I listen to my favourite music, and I remember again how much of an effect it can have on the mind and emotions, and I know through Refuel I can bring that kind of emotion to other people too.

Musicians dedicate everything they have to their craft – I can’t even express how much I admire them for how much time and hard work they put in, to bring something truly beautiful to other people.

Although some people may at first see Refuel as another fitness craze, this really isn’t what I intended it to be. Refuel is many things, and I find it difficult myself to describe it just in one sentence – that’s why body and mind seemed the best choice if I must give a summary. Yes, the body is being trained, but at the same time Refuel is a platform for people to reconnect with how powerful music can be, and how we often forget exactly how much work and dedication is put into that music that we so often ‘ignorantly’ hear during our day to day lives.

In conclusion, I’d like to say thank you so much to the musicians I’ve been working with so far, and to those I’ll hopefully be working with in the future! Here’s a link to a piece which I absolutely love listening to when I need inspiration and motivation: