2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: Zumba

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day!

As I am sure most of you know, tomorrow is the day allocated to Mental Health. This year’s focus is on suicide prevention, which we are lucky not to have much personal experience with. I do realise we are all not so lucky, and I think it is great that it is being highlighted. Here is a link to the World Health Organization site with more information and suggestions on what you can do to take part. It is shocking to hear that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. 

There are a lot of ways to help someone, or yourself, who is not feeling mentally well. We want to share our own experience using our chosen outlets: cycling, Zumba and boxing for Helen, and yoga and nature for Rosita.


As many of you know I like my fitness and exercise. It keeps me happy and keeps me fit. However, it is also an outlet for me when life gets stressful. I do many kinds of exercise as well. My top three would have to be (in no particular order) cycling or indoor cycling, Zumba and boxing. These are the main ones that keep me happy.

Cycling (or indoor cycling)

First, it is how Rosie and I met. We would cycle around the parks in London, eat ice cream and chat. I like how cycling can take me places. It can take me from A to B as a work commute, it can take me to a place I have never been before or it can take me on a night-time cycle ride for charity. There is nothing better than huffing and puffing to get up a vertical hill and then speeding down the other side while you catch your breath.

While I was at PT school, I had the chance to do the indoor cycling qualification. I thought with a love of cycling it would be a good thing to do. I love my spinning whether it is my own class, or I am taking part in someone else’s. The variety it has from sprints to hills to jumps to whatever the instructor can squeeze in before cooling down and your legs are about to give up.


Whoever has read my Zumba blogs will know that with my two left feet, lack of coordination and terrible balance I still give Zumba a good try. The music, the way the body moves and all the steps it must create the dance is enough to put a massive smile on my face. Even better is when I am facing away from the mirrors in the gym and I can pretend I know exactly what I am doing. That is the thing. You don’t need to be good at it, you just need to try.


This is an interesting one as I do boxing both as a personal trainer taking a class/client and as part of my own workout. I find it is a great stress buster for both clients and myself. I mean where else can you hit something and not get told off for it. Imagine you have had a crazy day at work. Your manager is demanding the report in for five o’clock that evening and you lets you know at a quarter to five. Your partner has just called to say they will be late home from work which means that dinner reservation you had now needs to be cancelled. The childminder has just texted to say your little one is sick and needs to go home urgently and reception have just emailed to say that your business client is waiting for you downstairs. Stressful? I would think so. Now take all of that stress down to the gym and put on a pair of boxing gloves. Hit the boxing bag, hit it again, and again and again. Now how do you feel? All the stress has been left in the bag and you start to feel better. It’s as easy as that. Once you have let go of the stress then you can start working on technique, the moves, the cardio side of the exercise, the core (abs) side of boxing and so on. It takes time but it is fun at the same time.

An outlet

Here is my point. Mental health can make us feel unwell, not wanting to do anything, angry, upset and so on. But when you have an exercise outlet (in my opinion) you can switch it around to feeling awesome!



There are a lot of things I can do to try and stave off my depression and anxiety, however there are 2 main things: yoga and nature. 


Going to a yoga class is something I wish I could do every day. I do yoga at home but it is not always the same, and some days you really need someone to tell you what to do! What I like about yoga is the physical workout, and also the breathing. Physically I feel amazing afterwards, it feels as if the body has been reset and I can do anything. The breathing helps me relax, and it is something I use at other times too, particularly when I get anxious or stressed. Taking a few seconds out to breathe and relax the mind is so beneficial. It might sound corny to you, but I urge you to give it a try. When I say breathe I mean inhaling through the nose for 4 seconds whilst allowing your belly to rise, then exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds. Next time you are stressed or anxious, why not give it a go? 


Nature has an amazing way of helping me feel relaxed. Most of the time it does not matter what I do when I am outside. It can be a mixture of things, physical outdoor activity or simply sitting in the sun. Going outside when I’m feeling a bit down or anxious really does help me feel better. 

Another contributing factor is the me-time that comes with both yoga and being outside. It helps me to look after myself, which is also so very important. Having spent a lot of time looking after others, I am now getting better at looking after myself.


#MovementForHealth #yoga #WorldMentalHealthDay #meTime #Zumba #boxing


The well-known dance aerobics style exercise. Great music, dancing, an instructor leading from the front of the class and a fantastic workout for the full body. What more could you want after a stressful day at work?! I started Zumba around seven years ago at our local leisure centre in London. My first session I was wondering what I had let myself in for. I have two left feet, no sense of rhythm no dance experience and absolutely no idea on what Zumba was. But I was open to trying new experiences and that day several years ago and after a stressful day in the world of conference organisation (past career) I was willing to try anything to dance away those stresses.

I did Zumba in two or three different places in London with several different instructors and many dance styles. I then moved to Scotland where life took over and I had to stop going. I lost the passion for it. I thought it would be a nice thing to do every so often but didn’t really do anything about it. Then there was a promotion for our local sports centre in Cumbernauld. I checked the class timetable and took my free pass to the reception desk.

What if?

Next thing I knew I was standing in a massive hall with loads other people waiting for the Zumba instructor to turn up. I found myself a little corner at the back of the room where no one would really see what I was doing. Going through my mind was what if there are steps I don’t know, what if everyone else is better than me, what if I fall over mid-class, what if my shorts and t-shirt is not the right thing to wear, what if, what if, what if.

The music started

Then the music started. Well that was it, I was off. My feet started to move, my arms started to move, I followed the instructor as best I could, and I danced until I could dance no more. Halfway through the class I moved from the safety of my spot at the back to the front of the room. I had found my Zumba shoes again. That day I was feeling negative about the day, frustrated at what was going at work and annoyed at the fact life was throwing me curve balls with no break and it wanted me to keep going. By the end of the class I had a completely different frame of mind. I went home and by the end of the afternoon had done the admin that I had put into the “to do later” pile, tidied the house, been to the supermarket, made healthy snack bars, had dinner in the oven and was waiting patiently to talk to Rosie so I could tell her all about my day. Later that evening I was speaking to Rosie about a gym membership so I could do more Zumba classes. By the end of the next day I had a membership, a class timetable and was already booked into two further Zumba classes the following week.

The instructors

Now, these are the guys and girls who can make or break a Zumba class. These are the one that must put together the dance routines then teach it to the class participants. At our local sports centre there are a good handful of instructors. Some of them dance, some of them chat and one person makes you dance and laugh at the same time. I did her class a few weeks ago and I laughed from start to finish. This instructor brings a tongue in cheek approach to it and can have the class in hysterics. If you are not laughing or just smiling at the end of one her classes, then something is very seriously wrong. I feel it takes a great person to have such a unique quality and with her energy it is hard not to move your feet.


Today I Zumba around two to three times a week. To be honest I would probably Zumba seven times a week if my schedule allows but it unfortunately doesn’t. When the musics starts I just go with the flow. I fully admit I’m the person facing the wrong way during the songs, going left when everyone else is shuffling right, making up my own steps and trying my best to keep up with everyone else. But here is my point, it doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are jumping, waving, smiling, burning calories and having an excellent time dancing away those life stresses.

So, this is a very long way around to say go and try Zumba. Dance, laugh, burn calories and have an excellent hour away from life stresses. I guarantee you will feel better at the end of it all and ready to face the next challenge thrown your way.


Ps. I always welcome a buddy with two left feet to stand next to me at a class!

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