Hi there! Today marks a very special beginning for me, that I wish to share with you all. I have decided to do something about myself that is long overdue; something that I was never into, but always knew that I should do – working out! I kept on hoping that I would get around to it, but I never really meant it and obviously, never really made a serious effort to go about it (apart from a couple of months in a gym some 14 years ago). But enough is enough and spending countless hours in front of a monitor isn’t going to get me anywhere health-wise! Luckily though, I was blessed with an opportunity and I would be a fool not to seize it. I met a wonderful Greek – Canadian mom and fitness instructor, Ifiyenia Koskina, who’s about to change my life around… And she’s good! She talked to me in a way that no one else has so far and managed to convince me to start looking at fitness as a way of living – not lifestyle! – but real living, only stronger. So, guys I’m setting out on a fitness journey, starting from scratch, and I will be sharing it with you, hoping to inspire any of you who like myself have settled in a comfort zone for way too long…
Meet my fitness instructor :: Ifiyenia Koskina
Tell me a little about yourself. How did you get into this “line of business?” Did you always have an “athletic – orientation” that perhaps your parents encouraged?
I come from a very athletic family; both my parents were athletes. My dad, Konstantinos Koskinas, was a Greek swimming legend and my mom did track and field. Both of them, have university degrees in physical education. As you can imagine, sports were always in our lives. I have tried many sports but I ended up being a competitive swimmer like my dad. I remember myself swimming and training for the biggest part of my life. I have won the Greek national championship a couple of times and I have participated in many international swim meets. After ending my swimming career, I was able to focus on my degree and completed my bachelor’s degree in physical education at the University of Athens. I specialized in exercise Health and Wellness. At the same time I completed my training for the complete Pilates method.
Do you have a favorite training style?
I don’t have one favorite training style because I love trying with new methods all the time. It is a little bit like music, you don’t always like to hear the same music. It depends on your mood. That’s how I do it. For example, one day I feel like I need to have an intense workout so I do Muay Thai or some hiit training (high intensity interval training) and the next day I might feel like taking it slower and do pilates or yoga. I do anything that keeps me moving. Swimming is still where I find peace therefore, I don’t choose to do it for training but mostly for relaxing.
Do you work out every day?
There are periods in my life where I train 4 to 5 times a week, but since I became a mother I can’t always fit it in my schedule so I try to train a minimum of three times a week. The days I don’t train, I squeeze in some exercises while I do my everyday chores or sometimes I’ll do some exercises along with my clients.
Does it really make you feel better? (Could you tell me an instance that being un-fit became an issue for you).
The difference is huge! Since I have trained very intensively most of my life, my body and my mind do not handle being inactive very well. When I consistently train I am more focused at my job, my personal life and in general I function a lot better. Plus I keep my stress levels low.
There have been two times in my life where I was un-fit. The first time was when I was overcoming a Hodgkin’s lymphoma, because I couldn’t believe that something like that would ever happen to me and I had to go through a very nerve wrecking, both mentally and physically, painful procedure for nine months. I gained weight and I had no energy and was in no mood to train. It took me almost two years to get my self together and feel strong again. But it is to bounce back from a situation like that. It is a decision I made.
The second time was when I got pregnant where I could only swim because I had lower back pain, due to my pregnancy that made me uncomfortable, so I decided to listen to my body and do only what makes me feel happy and comfortable and swimming was what did it. My postpartum body was a shock for me because I didn’t expect to see my body change this much and see it loose so much muscle mass, but it was a choice as well whether I would hurry and get in shape quickly or take it easy. I decided to take it easy so it took me some time to loose the extra weight (14kgs) but I didn’t stress too much over it. If I could do it once under the “bad” circumstances I knew I could do it again. And I did.
Do you follow a healthy diet?
I generally follow a very healthy diet and I don’t buy junk food at home. But I love food and I indulge in cheat meals every now and then. I mostly love food and not desserts, so if I do overeat sometimes I will level it out the next day.
How do you stay motivated? And keep others motivated as well…?
What keeps me motivated to follow a healthy lifestyle is the way it makes me feel. When I get out of my healthy habits for a long time I start feeling unwell and agitated. Something else that keeps me motivated is setting goals. Short term and long term goals. When I have a challenge or a goal I go for it. That is my advice to my clients as well. Set your health, fitness and wellness goals and I am right here to help you achieve them through my guidance and my training. It is not normal to live and be OK with pain that comes from a bad posture or a sitting lifestyle. These things are easy to change and feeling good should be our priority.
What are the components of health and wellness?
I believe in balance. At the risk of sounding too cliche, it is what a human body and mind needs. Our bodies always tell us what they need, but we don’t always listen. If we did listen, everything would feel better. Balance in our eating habits (healthy-junk) in our working/resting hours, time for ourselves/time for everyone else and of course, self-care.
Everyone is buzzing about the benefits of working out. So why is it really important?
The benefits of exercise are countless. The most important ones are the physical health such as low blood pressure, lower risk for heart disease, lower rates of cancer, weight control, strong and pain-free bodies. When we are strong, we don’t put too much effort in doing our everyday chores. Top that with the mental benefits such as lower levels of stress and depression, better night sleep routines and less insomnia, better concentration and productivity.
There are so many more that cannot fit in a post. The bottom line is that there is a fitness plan for everyone, no matter what our abilities or our disabilities are.
How should one like me begin? How do you start when there are so many different styles out there?
First of all as I said earlier I believe that you should set a goal. After that you can try “baby steps” such as doing a few squats while you brush your teeth or cook. Or try to hold your back straight while you are working in front of the computer. Take the stairs and not the elevator and try to walk as much as you can. Walk everywhere. Walking is extremely beneficial when starting to add physical activity in your life. After trying those few tips, browse the internet and check what looks fun to you from all the available methods. Find a class or a trainer and try it out. If you like it stick to it, if not try something else until you find something that suits you… I promise you that when you start feeling better you will wonder why it took you so long to start.
Should I get a personal trainer?
I would recommend a personal trainer if you like to train alone and if you have issues that need extra care. If you have injuries then it is wiser to have a program that is exclusively made according to your needs.
How often should I train?
I would recommend two to four times a week. Our bodies are built to be active, so being inactive for long periods of time creates problems. Don’t forget that by walking fast and climbing stairs you are still doing things that keep you moving therefore, if you can add it to your weekly routine it adds up. It is not hard to find ways to keep moving – just put your mind to it and listen to your body.
Give me some homework: a little daily routine that I should do every day… I want to get hooked!
Ok so every morning when you are still in bed I would like you to stretch. Extend your arms and legs and stretch on your bed. This is a great way to wake up all your muscles. Your body will love you for doing it. Turn on your stomach and put your hands under your shoulders, then push your chest off the bed and do it 30 times. Then while you brush your teeth put your back against the door and hold a wall squat (imagine you are sitting on a chair but without having one, your knees should be in a 90° angle) for as long as you brush. If it is too hard take small breaks in between by extending your knees.
After that, turn around face the door or wall and stand a few steps back. Next, start doing standing push ups on the wall stand as straight as a stick. Don’t let your pelvis drop forward and engage your core (hands across your shoulders). Do 10 of them. The further back you move, the harder it gets.
Then open your arms to the side into a T position and do small arm circles 10 one side and 10 on the other side. Repeat 3 times. Following that, with your arms by your ears, lift one knee at a time up to your stomach and alternate. Exhale deeply from your stomach every time you lift a knee. Do two sets of 20 times each. Finally, bring your arms to your side, keep elbows straight, palms facing out and lift them all the way up to your ears then twist your palm facing out and push them through all the way down to your side again. Repeat 20 times.
WAKEY WAKEY ROUTINE #1
- on your stomach push chest off the bed
- wall squats while brushing teeth
- wall push ups
- arm circles in T position
- knee tucks with arms by ears
- arms straight up and down from the side
This is a good start. Enjoy!
Need a visual, then watch video #1: the wakey wakey routine…my intro to fitness and get started along with me!