A little over 2  years ago I was ahead of the game in seeing that we needed to find a way of using & buying less stuff  and making less waste. I started simply by refusing to buy any more cling film once the current roll was finished – I still have that roll of clingfilm, so I guess that was pretty successful.   I covered open food with plates whilst remembering fondly  the fridge of my childhood. 


. I purchased expensive beeswax covers for when that wouldn’t work (which isn’t often) – with the promise of them lasting between 12 and 18 months – they are finally losing their gusto and faced with throwing them away – hello, no – I have discovered that I can either  ‘gently cook’ them in the oven and they will refresh or grate over a vegan beeswax and gently cook – worked well but took some time to get off the baking trays.

I put to use all the plastic containers I already had – I figured if they had already been produced they were far better served in my kitchen than in landfill.

Taking my plastic containers to the shops for meat and fish – not so successful – remembering is the problem but I will keep at it.

Shopping at the local farm shop & organic  butcher and only visiting the supermarket for what I can’t get there, which is surprisingly little.  Trying not to buy anything wrapped in plastic, no matter how delicious.

Fed up with the plastic pots that yoghurt come in I have started to make my own, sometimes great results, sometimes not – I find it a very temperamental substance that can all too easily turn into a revolting hybrid of cheese/gloop.

Growing more of our own produce (ok I am lucky - I have a little space in the garden, and the garden is a huge part of maintaining my mental health in a busy work life)


I already cooked almost everything from scratch – we had more or less ditched processed anything and sugar for health reasons – supported local honey and baked with dates. I am not keen on meat so no problem there and both our digestions seem to be happier with alternative milks.

Personally I don’t want to see dairy (or any) farmers put out of business –and  I am not entirely convinced that the footprint of a locally raised and kindly kept cow is less than the wrecked forest and habitat to grow almonds for milk.  Despite the hideous videos shared on social media to the contrary – it  is completely possible to raise animals kindly – I have farmer friends.   Our eggs come from farms, where the chicks are free ranging and very local.

Lordy this makes me seem so straight!!   But I drink gin and wine – and frankly have no idea of the eco footprint of that – need to find out., or best not to know?

All of this has had some lovely side effects:  my skin is really good, everywhere!. Despite thyroid issues I am managing to not yo yo quite so much with my weight.

So how has the recycling thing worked out with the dance and fitness business?  Surprisingly well as it turns out.   I had a super comment from a parent during our show preparations that she ‘thought it was brilliant that we effectively recycle most of our costumes each year.’  I hadn’t even realised we did this.  But, yes, on a two to three year cycle – costumes get used again, they may get a complete rework and be unrecognisable but they do come round again.  Similarly all the art equipment we use for our creative clubs is reused and increasingly our projects are biodegradable or recyclable too.  The company I use to supply us uses limited packaging so win win.

For work the aim for this coming year is to decrease the amount of ink and paper we consume – the ink to make financial savings, the paper to decrease waste.  This probably  means embracing some online register and invoicing technology before the end of this school year – simply terrifying – I love writing and I simply cannot get on with an electronic diary – I absolutely need to see before me what a week looks like and to be able to tinker with a pen, but never say never …………………………………………………

At home, I have to tackle my clothes………. Good at clearing out and giving away I think it might be time to see what is good enough to keep and wear again and again or get that sewing machine out and rework it into something else – this will be a massive challenge.


Keeping it balanced

So many of my friends teach, in schools, out of school hours, in specialist areas, the arts, fitness & sports and often  as volunteers at Brownies or Scouts on top of a  full time job. 

A famous saying says 'fail to prepare then  prepare to fail' and it can be so true.   But oh, the prep time it takes to be ready for action! Fellow teachers you will know that an hour of delivery often equals  a further hour - or more - at home.

This can be quite a demand on both a person and their family.  Of course, half terms and the longer Christmas and summer break offer some chance to recharge batteries, but make no mistake as you read this - teachers will be working, often into the evening and always some part of a weekend - even though school may have finished, the leisure centre closed - the gym in darkness.  

Teaching is a vocation job. A passion. For the passionate, think carefully before a criticism of a teacher. Walk in their shoes I say. 

A work life balance is essential for us all.  I struggle  to  achieve that balance, but I am improving at trying.

Here are my top tips:

Aim for one day each weekend that is absolutely free of work related things.  And one whole weekend a month free of the same.

I use my 'I am out of office'  I am not, my office is my home, but it enables me to choose what to reply to and what to leave until Monday morning.

I try to get outside -tending  a garden makes you feel fabulous and free

Friday evenings are for friends or a date night  - failing that, the sofa, a nice glass of wine and undemanding TV or a gripping book.

I am eating more vegetables, bizarre, I thought I was pretty good but joining in one daughters Veganism and two other family members allergy helping diets is making all of us eat even more plainly than before - and the energy I have is quite extraordinary.  With an added bonus of reducing our families carbon footprint by eating less meat.

Finally, I am going to try and do some things that make me laugh - too much responsibility seems to have set that aside a bit, I would love to reclaim that side of me.

roast it, zap it in the food processor and turn it into soup - (tomatoes, olive oil, honey, rosemary, red onions, garlic) vegetable stock and blend it to the consistency you prefer - yummy - more vegetables please

roast it, zap it in the food processor and turn it into soup - (tomatoes, olive oil, honey, rosemary, red onions, garlic) vegetable stock and blend it to the consistency you prefer - yummy - more vegetables please

The beautiful river Wye in Wales - get outside - all the time

The beautiful river Wye in Wales - get outside - all the time

Here's to 2018 and goodbye to Injury!!

I was asked recently, what were my New Years Resolutions for 2018. It made me consider last year first .......................

It seems that my intention (not quite a resolution)  last year was to write more, amongst other things this blog.  So I finish with a third post that may be of help to those frustrated by  injury and  with better intentions for 2018 blogs

A small, yet very painful,  shoulder injury (tendonitis) scuppered  my personal  fitness challenges. Excellent NHS care and physio kept me working.  I was a very good patient and combined with my own knowledge evolved exercise solutions which I share below


REST:  yes I know, I have said to keep going, but most of the time you need to rest the injured area.

DO YOUR EXERCISES as prescribed - this is key

PAIN RELIEF WHEN REQUIRED  under the advice of your doctor, pharmacist or physio - crucial to allowing you to sleep, move and not have a constant scowl on your face

GET A MASSAGE - sports and just a relaxing one too. Locally I recommend Recommend Julia Hazlewood (works from the Abbey Clinic and privately) and Sunrise Beauty Marlow - Swedish Massage,  always excellent whoever the practitioner.

MAINTAIN FULL RANGE OF MOVEMENT WHERE POSSIBLE there were times when to circle my shoulder in its full range of movement was excruciating but doing this slowly and carefully enabled me to keep an almost full range of movement - always seek advice of physio for your own situation and injury in relation to this.

YOGA - avoid all down dog positions and anything that takes the weight of your upper body.  This is challenging and requires both the sympathy of the teacher and most importantly some blocks to support you and enable you to continue some sort of practise. And when the physio says no Yoga, obey.  And BREATHE in a yogic fashion to calm the nervous system.

BOOTCAMP, CIRCUITS AND FLOOR WORK IN ETM CLASSES - if you must persist then no weight taking at all. NO added weights (use your resistance band to do your prescribed physio exercises whilst the rest of the class use weights or balls). The squat and lunge is your boring but constant companion. HIIT is also great mix and match the exercises you can do for a burst of high powered exercise that doesn't take long at all!

TRY:  30 secs effort and 30 secs recovery or 40 secs work and 20 secs recovery on better days = 15 - 20 minutes is all it takes - Joe Wicks, The Body Coach really does have it sewn up!! 

HIIT & CARDIO:  high knees,  squats with jumps, lunges forwards and back, jog on the spot,  (avoid burpees, Mountain Climbers etc)  ABS:  planks (see below) crunches - working from the lower end of the body is good. Obliques, knees bent feet on floor tip legs to one side and do your curl up from the centre (avoids having to twist at the shoulder). Repeat other side.

PLANKS - can be adapted by keeping lower half of legs on the floor - thus decreasing the load into the shoulders, a pretty decent plank can be achieved like this.  It is also a great way to get into planks if you are beginning.  

RUNNING - no good for me - every beat on the floor pulsated pain through my shoulder and arm!!

CYCLING - in moderation this was good, and spinning, in particular was helpful - just don't press into those handlebars.

WALKING AND DANCING - both of these were fabulous for me

Happy New Year to you all from all the team at JDFD and look forward to seeing you in our classes in January - we have Dance &  Yoga to get you started  x

A lovely ride  through Southern Germany July 2017

A lovely ride  through Southern Germany July 2017

Let's Stretch!


Let’s Stretch

The type of stretching we do most commonly in exercise to music classes is known as “static stretching”.

During the course of a 25 year career in fitness & dance, stretching has always been much debated. When, what, and how long for. Research has been contradictory over these years and I always read the latest 'current thinking' with interest. I would observe that for my area of fitness delivery I do see evidence of the benefits of stretching both once the body is warm (preparatory stretches) and at the end of the workout. Both for my body and for those of my clients. 

Some reports state that there is little, if any, evidence that stretching pre- or post-participation prevents injury or subsequent muscle soreness. Recent research further suggests that whilst the stretches at the end of a warm-up may not be necessary for a general population (seniors are recommended), the stretches after a workout remain a good idea. Therefore the qualified and experienced teacher must make a decision based on their knowledge and experience, the age of the class and the type of activity followed during a class as to how best to prescribe stretching.

Stretches should be taken once the body has built some heat: 10 – 15 minutes into activity, even longer if it is very cold. At this point you hold them for 8-10 seconds only. Then at the end of a lesson, or activity, stretches should be held for 20-30 seconds. The correct alignment and posture is crucial. Stretches can be taken standing, seated or lying down. 

It is a good idea to instigate a simple stretching programme into your everyday routine and it is a little known fact that a warm bath is a sufficient warm-up to just stretch your muscles – indeed if you feel agile and safe enough some stretches can even be taken in the bath, but be very careful!!

Here are some stretches, (most definitely not taken in the bath, phew!) for main muscle groups that you can use, if you are unsure make sure you catch a class for full instruction which will give you the confidence to practise these safely:



Post Christmas Fitness Panic

So here we are first week of January - panic stations as you view the small food baby that has taken residence on your usually flat tummy... Christmas has come and gone with relative restraint on the food. Fast forward one week, when the compulsion to empty the bursting fridge so as not to be wasteful, takes over.  You find yourself eating food you would never normally touch. Oh Yummy, cranberry sauce and brie in a pitta bread, with a side of reheated (lets be honest - cold) parmesan parsnips. What was I thinking?

So January. New year. New start. New habits.

New research suggests the exercise we do in our forties and fifties has a direct correlation to the standard of health we can expect in later life. My own experience of teaching seniors for over 20 years bears this out with top tips being:

- Stay slim - most important for joints &  heart.

- Maintain lean toned muscles - to burn more calories as metabolism begins to slow.

- Some cardio for a strong heart - can be achieved with low or high impact exercise (for under 35's lots of cardio while you can)

- Walk, walk and walk some more

- Dance for social, mental & physical wellbeing

- Stay flexible. Dance, Yoga and Pilates all help with this

So what are my new fitness goals for 2017?  perhaps you may like to try them out too

I am going to continue my new hobbies of ballroom and jive dance. Keep at the Yoga. Do some HIIT to surprise my metabolism and get it firing (high intensity interval training - The Body Coach, Joe Wicks has so many great tutorials online). Find a fitness challenge - possibly a long bike ride this year. Keep swimming. For my brain brush up on my French and try some basic Italian as prep for a road trip in the summer. Write a blog ;)

Stay friends with my Polar Fitness watch! It's much like having your conscience on your wrist - how many steps, how many calories burned, fat percentages... It will never be allowed to   monitor my sleep, for if there were an Olympic sport for sleeping I would indeed have the gold.

So what should you do? Anything and everything that brings you joy - of course I want you to come and get hooked on our classes - so by all means do that too...  We are a pretty fit bunch so I reckon we are a good advert for all we offer!

See you soon

Jane xx

Natasha , Victoria, Jane (me) and Claire

Natasha, Victoria, Jane (me) and Claire