Our mothers are more relaxed about aging because there was less pressure on them to continue looking young whatever the age-as we stand now every female magazine, talk shows, radio programmes and especially ads-women are bombarded with information about staying young, often with the help of plastic surgeons, but is it really relevant?
Kathy Smith is very well-knows American fitness instructor and even though I have never done any of her fitness routines, I have seen her face in American magazines and on American morning TV, so when I heard that she is releasing her new DVD called ‘Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong’ I was slightly intrigued.
I will admit that to start with, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to try it, considering my age (30s) but then I thought that starting some subtle changes now might benefit me long-term and having tried the workout, I have to say my expectations weren’t wrong.
The workout is divided into five sections, each lasting 15 minutes, so no-one would really be able to say that she doesn’t have the time to do it:
-glutes (i.e. bum)
-a bonus, stretch section.
Kathy herself looks quite ageless-she can be in her 40s or 50s and while I suspect she possibly had some work done on her face, she looks fit in a real, achievable by exercise alone way, which I guess is a testament to what she does.
I really enjoyed watching a Q&A section with her, where she explained that maintaining the muscle mass is particularly important as we age and women need to use weights to keep their bones strong, especially considering the havoc our hormones fluctuations and pregnancies have on our bodies.
The information that one gets from the press or surfing the web can be confusing-some people say you need to use weights and others say you shouldn’t unless you want to bulk up.
Well, I have broad shoulders and narrow hips, so personally while I want to stay fit, I have no desire to make the top of my body look big and from my experience, you do need to use weights if you want to maintain fitness levels and work your muscles and bones and maintain muscle definition, so I completely agree with Kathy on this one. Just don’t use heavy weights, which will make you bulk up.
Kathy has been working within the fitness industry for over 30 years and has published books and released fitness tapes. This DVD was inspired by Kathy’s desire to help women age gracefully and allowing them to remain strong and vibrant, so their bodies wouldn’t fall apart and they would be able to continue to have an active lifestyle.
As we age we start getting aches and pains, which are often the result of the lack of exercise, so I would say this DVD is ideal for women from 40 onwards, however, I enjoyed doing each section and learnt some new tricks and modifications, which I have started integrating into my usual fitness practise. As Kathy says ‘give me 15 minutes and I will keep you in the game of life‘-isn’t that a great motto?
Kathy herself possesses the light and vitality, her eyes shine, her smile is big and infectious and looking at her, you really don’t mind the idea of ageing as much. She says that one needs to stay consistent and mindful, for example why not pause after an exercise routine, to see how you feel and evoking this ‘feeling good vibe’ when you feel lazy and look for excuses not to exercise? She also makes an important point that if you don’t work on your balance, it starts getting worse over time and some people ‘stop participating in life’ because of that. She made two points that particularly resonated with me during her Q&A that is a separate section on her DVD:
1. every woman needs to look after herself as females are giving by nature, so you need to think about yourself too and your loved one or colleagues will only benefit from this.
2. Our lives are a constant race but each one of us needs to stop thinking about a finish-and we all do that every day, when we have to cram too many things, commitments, errands in our day-and just put one foot ahead of the other-if that is not a perfect meditation mantra, I don’t know what is.
The arms section: you do exercises like ‘superman to the cobra’-not telling you what it is, but it’s great fun and effective too, one arm rows (which also help to engage your core), arm rotations, supermats, bicep curls and pulses (killer exercise for me) plus triceps extensions and planks which come in two variations, depending on your initial strength.
Legs section: Kathy starts with kick backs, which flows into lunges with balancing options (keep an eye on a very effective modification here), various ice-skating moves-who doesn’t want legs like Katarina Witt?-pop-ups, jumping leaps (hard but effective), hamstring curls and stretches. Kathy is very good at motivating you and if she gets out of step, she laughs and corrects it, adding a reality element to the workout.
Glutes section: here you do hip lifts, leg lifts (be gentle, as it’s a very active move), clam shells ( I love this exercise and so do many pilates instructors as it is incredibly effective if you stick with it), hamstring weight lifts (working each side in turn, obviously), dips, ‘penny in the pocket’-what I really like about this section is the change of pace, which adds a challenge to your muscles that you might not necessarily work otherwise.
Core section: you start with opposite arm/leg extensions (which really engages lots of the muscles all over your body and helps you strengthen your core), cobra stretch, arm/leg lifts, tummy pulses with upper body off the mat, plus arm crosses modification (it’s the first time I saw this move and even thought you need to concentrate, it really gets your abs working), followed by rowing exercises that work your waist, table tops bicycle, hip and leg lifts, side planks and sitting up twist-looking at Kathy during this section I had fleeting visual reminders of Donna Mills and Geena Davis (a clue-both are American actresses who were huge in the 80s).
Kathy also makes an important point here, saying you need to pay attention to your core throughout the day-by doing this regularly you will have a strong core and back long-term.
Stretch section: Kathy starts with a sitting down on the chair and then does the stretches for pretty much every part of your body- calves circles, back and front of your legs, spinal twists , hip stretches (particularly good for people who run as part of their exersice routine), chest openers (good for expanding our lung capacity, hence oxygenating our bodies better), tricep and shoulder stretches and a clever little exercise called ‘tucking under’ for hip flexers. I swear to you that in this section there are times when Kathy looks like she is in her 30s and that made me think that not only will I get this tape for my mother, but for quite a few of my girlfriends and I honestly don’t rule out doing this tape myself from time to time because not only did I like the exercises but I also liked how it made my body feel-after all, as Coco Chanel said as we age, we get the bodies and the faces we deserve.
‘Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong’ , released on August 22 by Acacia (£15.99)