Are you ready to have a ball?!

This blog is mainly for those who are interested in Fitball exercise classes (Pilates and other classes involving the use of a Swiss ball) or those who would like to do some ball exercises at home.

What are FITBALLS? And no they are not your kids space hoppers 🙂 (though they do look very similar). Apart from numerous benefits (like strengthening core muscles, balance etc) Fitballs are great fun to use and they are quite a challenging piece of equipment at the same time.

The biggest benefit of using swiss balls is that they are very effective at targeting core muscles, those muscles that are essential for stability and good posture but are often overlooked when exercising with fixed position equipment such as those found in gyms. Fitballs are designed to help improve the core muscle groups by focusing on strength, balance, weight distribution, posture and coordination. By developing the core muscles and learning how balance and posture affect these muscle groups, the user can gain a better understanding of how the human body moves and through this understanding learn how to avoid injury.

BALANCE is another major benefit of using the balls: one of the primary purposes of a fitball is to help learn balance. The round shape of the ball makes it inherently difficult to balance on. This creates a need for the user to work harder while exercising as they must not only develop the strength and coordination needed to perform their normal exercise routines, but must also learn to balance on the ball at the same time. This requires the use and toning of even more muscle groups and can greatly enhance the overall benefit of a workout.


       As opposed to performing isolation exercising standing up (targeting just one muscle group) when working out on the ball, which is unstable, your body needs to recruit additional muscles in order to stay balanced. This means that, for example, if you perform a bicep curl whilst sitting on the ball, your body will recruit your deep stabilising abdominal muscles (also known as core muscles), thereby toning your tummy while you tone your arms.

Below is a Fitball size chart. But you will find that not all 65cm balls are actually 65cm (not all 75cm ones are 75cm), some of them will be smaller, some  – bigger (even if it says that on the box). So my advice would be: keep your receipt, inflate the ball, sit on it and check that it is the right size for you. If it is not – deflate and take it back to the shop. If you are not too tall I would always go for a 65cm one, I find 55cm ones are too small.

Your height Ball height
< 150cm Junior 45cm
150 – 165cm Small 55cm
162 – 183cm Medium 65cm
180 – 200cm Large 75cm
198cm + X – Large 85cm

fitball chart

The classes will be starting in Dingwall from May. Please check www.natalliasfitness.com for all the news and updates.

Have a good day!


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Foot cramps are very common in people who practice Pilates regularly. In this blog I would like to go through the possible causes of foot cramps and the ways of getting rid of them. I run 3 Pilates classes a week and from my personal experience at least 2-3 people in each class are regularly getting cramps. Factors that may lead to muscle cramping include muscle fatigue, lack of flexibility, exercising in the heat and imbalances of the electrolytes in the blood.

Other causes of cramps are :


 – Dehydration

–  Lack of magnesium

–  Lack of potassium

–   Lack of calcium

Cramps can also be caused by a variety of other reasons such as:

–       pointing the toes,

–       flat feet,

–       tightness in the feet,

–       tightness in the ankle,

–       excessive standing or walking during the day.

Muscle spasms and cramps are more common in the summer because your body loses electrolytes and minerals as you sweat. With a few precautions though, you can enjoy active fun in the sun, hot yoga class or a toe pointing Pilates class without the agony of a sudden cramp.

Cramping can also occur because muscles and tendons are programmed to stay in a fixed position. Pilates and Yoga practice puts our feet in different positions from the average person’s daily activity. Foot massage might help to release the tension. You could use a small, but sturdy, rubber ball, or a tennis ball and roll it under the bottom of your foot. You could sit on the couch or in a chair and lightly place the weight of the leg and foot down onto the ball. Roll the ball under the bottom of the foot with a linear motion, going back and forth, as needed, to massage the bottom of the foot.

tennis ball

 Whether the cause of the cramp is dehydration, injury to a muscle, vigorous exercise, repetitive movement, or holding a prolonged position, stretching can prevent or stop most cramps when they occur. Gently massaging the muscle, firmly pressing the tendons at the end of the muscles or using a warm compress can help the muscle to relax and the cramp to subside.

What Else Can You Do to Alleviate Muscle Cramps?

1. Hydrate. Try and drink a glass or two of water in the morning. If you are a coffee drinker it is important that you realize that coffee will dehydrate your body, so you need to replenish fluid after the coffee as well. I would also recommend having a glass of water before the session ( not immediately before the lesson) You can also bring some water to the workout for continual sipping. If you must have coffee or tea in your day, try to avoid drinking before your Pilates workout as it can advance dehydration which could bring on that hated muscle cramping.

2. Eat Foods High in Magnesium

Banana 34 mg

Dried Figs 44mg

Black Beans 120 mg

Cashews 148 mg

Pumpkin Seeds 151 mg

Almonds 156 mg

Whole Wheat Flour 166 mg

**Banana is high in potassium and magnesium (not the highest score but it does have magnesium in it), so you get two benefits with this one!


3. Eat Foods High in Potassium

Banana: 467 mg

Orange Juice: 496 mg

Tomato Juice: 535 mg

Dates: 542 mg

Raisins: 544 mg

Dried Apricots: 814 mg

4. Eat Foods High in Calcium: dairy products, flax seeds, nuts, green veg.

Hope you found this blog informative and here’s to the non cramping Pilates classes next week!

Have a fab non crampy weekend 😉



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Would you rather be FIT or SLIM?

Would you rather be FIT or SLIM?

Have you ever wondered why you are not managing to keep your weight off for long enough without drastically cutting down on your calorie intake and exercising to the point of exertion?  Do you know what happens when you eat little and exercise a lot? Yes, of course you will lose weight but will it be fat?? Maybe some of it will be, but most of it will be water and muscle mass. What happens to the people who are on low calorie diets? Most likely they will lose weight, but are they going to be lean? Is there going to be any change happening to their body shape? Most likely not. They will just shrink to a smaller version of their bigger selves and will still have the wobbly bits and loose skin and less lbs.


What would happen to the ‘fat losers’? Their body shape will change, they will become leaner and their weight might not change (they might even put on some weight because as we know muscles weigh more than fat!) and this can be maintained by following clean eating 80-90% of the time and appropriate exercise regime.

Without going into too much detail, here are just a few tips on how to turn your weight loss into fat loss:

  1. Know your carbs! Not all carbs are the same.  Try to cut down on carbs if you are on a fat loss/weigh loss mission. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, quinua, couscous, root veg, rye bread etc are a good choice. You can still have your ‘white’ carbs but limit their consumption to a few bites per meal.

2. High PROTEIN diet is the best diet: meat, eggs, poultry, fish are a great source of protein and will keep you full for hours.

3. Know your fruit! Berries, apples, pears and grapefruit are your 1st choice if you are trying to cut down on sugar. Have them as your snacks.

4. Fill up your plate with veg (it has minimum sugar and high fiber content)

5. Exercise on an empty stomach or after fasts (full or intermittent)

6. Do WEIGHTS! Resistance training will help you to turn your fat into muscles.

7. Diversify your workouts: weight training,  cardio and walking/Yoga/Pilates are the best combo.

8. Sleep well and stress less!

And do have a treat meal once a week (or more depending on what your goal is)! We are all human and we like out food and wine so do treat yourself to a yummy meal and some wine or something else.

I find it hard not to eat some certain foods so I mostly stick to this 70%-80% of the time BUT I am going to try and be very good for the next 7-8 weeks, and see where it’s going to take me. I love food, and I love chocolate but I’m lucky that I also love all the veggies and fruit so I will give it my best (and since I’ve actually written it here I will have to stick to it!). I will try different exercise regimes and will hopefully come up with something more or less ideal for my lifestyle.

You can do it as well. Write down all your meals, snacks and exercise regime daily and then compare the notes and your measurements every week and see what has worked better for you. If you feel tired – up your protein and carbs intake (especially protein), if you feel great and are happy with the changes your body is going through and with your foods – don’t change anything!

Remember: we eat to live not live to eat!



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