Category Archives: Blog

Do I look fat in this exercise routine?

122530930_6e16f1eb5cExercise is what you do to reduce stress, right? What if we told you that cortisol (the stress hormone) can make you look fat, and that your exercise routine can help do it? Yep. How you exercise can increase unwanted bulge in your midsection. Here’s roughly how it works:

Cortisol and exercise

Cortisol is released during times of stress. Not just when you’re freaking out about a tight deadline, or getting stuck in traffic on the way to a meeting, but also when you exercise. This is because of your body’s natural fight or flight response to potentially dangerous situations. But during these times, cortisol isn’t the only hormone released.

Hormones & your body

Some of the other hormones released during these times are adrenaline, testosterone and human growth hormone – hormones that help you lose weight. Excess cortisone, on the other hand (that isn’t processed by the liver), is absorbed by the great omentum, an organ just behind your abdominals, creating a pot-bellied look.

Preserving your belly

How do you prevent this? Well, it depends on the duration and intensity of your workouts. For instance, moderate intensity workouts that last longer than 20 minutes (like running or spinning classes), usually release the most cortisol overall. Short, high-intensity workouts on the other hand, cause a short spike in cortisol, but in relation to the other hormones, it’s much lower.

Best case scenario

The most recommended routine is one that combines short, high-intensity workouts with longer, low-intensity workouts like Pilates. This is because low-intensity exercise, conversely, doesn’t stress the body enough to release a significant amount of cortisol; helping you get cardio and strength-training benefits, without the overdose of belly-growing cortisol.

And we know just the place to start!

A calorie is a calorie… Or is it?

diet-695723_640A calorie is a calorie, right? Well, yes and no. In a lab, there’s no difference between a calorie of chocolate and a calorie of broccoli. But, when they’re being digested by your body, it works a little differently. For example, did you know that:

  • Compared to the consumption of glucose, added fructose (not whole fruits) doesn’t make you feel as satiated, and is related to insulin resistance, abdominal fat gain, increased triglycerides, and higher blood sugar?
  • Whole foods (like whole grains) require more energy to digest than processed foods with the same number of calories?
  • Proteins need much more energy to metabolise than fats and carbohydrates, and they reduce your appetite?
  • Certain foods (like boiled potatoes, eggs and beef) make you feel fuller than others (like cake)?
  • Low-carb diets decrease appetite and reduce bloatedness and water-retention, leading to more weight loss than low-fat diets, even when the calories are matched?

Yep. According to here and here and here (and many more), a calorie isn’t necessarily a calorie. Though it is possible to lose weight eating junk food when counting calories, there are much more effective ways of calorie counting that will help you get the most out of your weight loss journey… and be less likely to cause a heart attack.

Is caffeine good for your exercise routine?

Do The Job In The Morning Beverage Cappuccino ArtMarch is Caffeine Awareness Month. Who knew your favourite cuppa joe had a whole month set aside to celebrate? Well, actually, it was created so you’d be more aware of the amount of caffeine you consume in your day. But, while caffeine can be risky when overused, moderate consumption can be good for you – especially when you work out.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a central-nervous-system stimulant commonly found in coffee, energy drinks, diet pills, and even chocolate. It not only makes you feel more awake, but it also dulls your perception of effort. In other words: you feel energised, and experience less pain.

Caffeine & exercise

With these effects, it makes sense that it would work well before a workout. But beyond working harder during your training, studies have also shown that drinking coffee before you work out also:

  • Burns 15% more calories
  • Improves circulation
  • Preserves muscle
  • Increases muscle fuel
  • Improves memory

Don’t go overboard

These pros are significant for pre-workout caffeine consumption, but remember the risks. While it may make you feel like you’ve got energy, it doesn’t provide you with the glucose your body needs to function, nor does it keep you hydrated. So, go ahead: have a cuppa before Pilates. But remember to eat, and drink loads of water.

Your spine: an investment in your future

ageging--310x465Your spine is the centre of everything in your body. It’s the foundation of your muscular strength, the carrier of your nervous system, and the basis of your mobility. But, with lower back pain being the second-most-common reason people visit the doctor, and it becoming more prevalent in people under 50, it’s more important than ever to take special care of it.

Not just old people

According to a study by Qi Spine Clinic in Mumbai, business owners (41%) and other working professionals (26%) are the most prone to back pain, with only 3% of retired people suffering from the same symptoms. This suggests that it isn’t just years that accelerate the aging of your spine, but lifestyle choices like bad biomechanics, poor posture and not moving enough.

Protecting the spine

There are several ways to look after your spine, from standing up straight, sleeping on a good mattress, and, of course, exercise.


According to Precision Nutrition, the most effective spine-strengthening routines combine stretching, strengthening and aerobic activity – like Pilates. In fact, flexibility training in particular, has been found to improve spinal mobility in elderly women.

Flexibility for mobility

To reduce back pain and stay mobile into old age, strength and flexibility training is essential. With all the other benefits that strength, flexibility and fitness bring, Pilates and similar exercises are one of the best investments you can make.

The Pilates lifestyle: consistency is key

active-19413_640Staying fit is good for your health. But sticking to your Pilates routine isn’t always easy – especially when the circumstances aren’t ideal. You know, like when the weather’s miserable… *Ahem*

But, did you know that your health doesn’t just pause when you stop exercising? Yo-yo routines are actually bad for you. According to an article in Men’s Health, the physical impact of going from an active to a sedentary lifestyle can result in:

  • Your blood pressure going up after a day,
  • Your blood sugar staying elevated after 5 days,
  • Your metabolism slowing down within a week,
  • Your stamina dropping, causing you to get winded easily within 2 weeks,
  • Your muscle mass decreasing after 2 weeks, and
  • Your brain getting slower after 2 weeks.

Considering this and the well-documented health benefits of a regular Pilates routine, it makes sense that the best results come when Pilates is more than just a fad… they come when it’s a part of your lifestyle.

Pilates: A mind-body routine

woman-954785_640You know Pilates is the exercise for your core muscles, right? It’s also effective at managing ailments like arthritis, insulin resistance, back pain, and multiple sclerosis. But did you know it has proven benefits for your mental wellbeing too? Yep. Studies have shown that Pilates can:

  • Improve your memory and cognitive function
  • Strengthen your nervous system
  • Calm your mind
  • Relieve anxiety and stress-related tension
  • Make you happy
  • Boost your creativity
  • Put you in control of your emotions
  • Build your confidence
  • Empower you to love yourself

Pilates is so much more than a supreme workout; it’s a real mind-body routine. By using your Pilates ‘me-time’ as a chance to focus on your intension and centre your mind, you’ll not only reap the physical rewards, but you’ll be a happier, calmer, and more balanced person too.

You’re welcome.

New year, new space, new Body Divine

sunrise-182302_640The new year has started with a bang at Body Divine. And not just the figurative kind – there’s some banging at the studio too (except at class times – those are always peaceful). What are we talking about? Our new space, of course!

In January, Sarah Laatz, the owner and chief instructor at Body Divine, bought and moved into her own home and studio in Blairgowrie – just down the road from our previous gym. And what a space it is! The new studio is bright, airy, and welcoming; the perfect spot for finding your chi and toning your glutes. And with a second studio for private classes under construction (the banging we mentioned), you’ll have all the privacy you want to really sweat into your routine.

Come over and check it out. We’d love to show you around.

February Boot Camp launch: Sat 28 Jan

Boot_Camp pic

December is about relaxing, spending time with loved ones, sharing, laughing and having fun. But, for most of us, the last thing it is, is a time to watch our figures. But that doesn’t mean losing weight should be a drag. Body Divine has a fun, down-to-earth solution coming up in February that will make taking charge of your body one of the best things you’ve done this year.

How it works

Body Divine’s boot camp is a 4-week challenge designed for people of all fitness levels to harness the strength of a community and fun to get fit, healthy and lose weight. It includes:

  • Pilates classes 6 days a week
  • A Saturday morning walk/run
  • Weekly weigh-ins (optional)
  • The boot camp manual that includes:
    • Goal-setting guidelines
    • Weight-loss tips
    • A healthy eating plan
    • A food diary
    • A progress chart

The classes

A regular Pilates practice improves your flexibility, muscle tone (especially around the waist) and has been said to treat ailments like back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis and even Parkinson’s. Body Divine’s Pilates classes run six days a week and we host a weekly run/walk to add variety to your routine. Have a look at the Boot Camp page for a view of our timetable.

The details

At a cost of just R950 for the full 4 weeks, this couldn’t be a better opportunity to get into shape. And with a team of individuals holding each other accountable and your own fitness expert to support you through the process, you’ll feel like a goddess in no time.

Want to know more? Join us for the kick-off session this Saturday 28 January at 8am in Blairgowrie. Contact Sarah to book your place.

Your body is your temple. Honour it this February with Body Divine.

Is your smartphone making you fat?

Fat smartphoneWe rely heavily on our phones these days, whether it’s to make a call, check on the kids, arrange a meeting or follow the latest happenings on Twitter. So much so that most of us would feel completely lost without them. But could our reliance on our smartphones be making us fat?

Studies have shown that there is a link between heavy cell phone use and over-eating. The distraction caused by your phone makes it harder for your brain to keep track of just how much food you are putting into your mouth. As a result, you might not be aware of the signals your body is sending to tell you to stop eating.

How can you combat this? The simplest way is to ensure that mealtimes are no-screen times. Fight the urge to check Facebook and become a mindful eater by concentrating on fully chewing and swallowing your food. Who knows? You might even lose those pesky love handles.

Should your kids play Pokémon Go?

Pokemon GoYou want your kids to get off their tablets, iPhones and PlayStations and get outside more, right? Weirdly enough, a new mobile phone game called Pokémon Go encourages them to do just that.

The game uses your phone’s GPS and camera to turn the screen into an augmented reality portal, where players explore the real world in search of Pokémon – small creatures made popular by the TV series released in the late 90s.

While the game encourages players to get active and explore, there are some major concerns regarding safety, especially when children are playing the game. But it’s not all bad. The game also has several benefits that some parents swear by. Besides the obvious health perks, it encourages players to make friends and might even lead you to a previously unknown gem in your neighbourhood.

While the game does have a warning asking players to be aware of their surroundings, it is easily missed. Here are some tips on how you can keep your little one safe on their journey.