BIG Benefits of Extracurricular Activities for Kids

A new school year is here – and we are a few weeks in already!

Can you believe it? Nope, not us either.

Whether your child is school aged or not, now is a good time to start thinking about which extracurricular activities you’re going to enrol your child in. Extracurricular activities outside of the home and classroom provide children of all ages a multitude of benefits like socialisation, physical activity, and so much more.

Read on to check out 4 of the BIG benefits extracurricular activities can give your child

 

Routine

Consistent, scheduled extracurricular activities help children anticipate what will happen next. This provides a sense of security, control, and confidence. For young children, involvement in extracurricular activities also provides structure to prepare them for nursery, school and beyond.

Socialisation

For younger children, extracurricular activities, like Mini FIT or other sports and clubs, provide an opportunity for children to develop and grow important social and communication skills. For older children, extracurricular activities help to strengthen communication skills and build friendships.

Skill Development

Extracurricular activities allow children to explore new interests and skills which can help them find things that they are passionate about. This could be an affinity for a specific sport, playing an instrument, or even an interest in art. Developing new skills, and discovering those you like, can help build confidence and self-esteem.

Active Play

Many extracurricular activities are movement based, these can include team sports, or classes like Mini FIT. Activities that include physical activity not only help to keep children healthy, they have also been proven to help children achieve better performance in the classroom.

It’s important to let your child explore a wide range of extracurricular activities to help them find which activities they like best. This will help them learn a multitude of skills and will set them up for success later on in life!

Here at Family Inspired Training we offer Family fitness classes where you can get and keep fit and bring the kids for their own Mini FIT class, as well as Mini FIT Holiday clubs (next ones will be this October half term on the 22nd,23rd and 24th October and we will soon be running after school Mini FIT classes too!

 

Get in touch for a FREE intro visit or to book onto our holiday clubs. 07544119467 or email familyinspiredtraining@gmail.com

 

Stress! – How to manage it…

Why we are stressed, how it affects us and how to manage it

Dozens of modern studies have found that stress levels are increasing in modern life. With pressures at work, constant connectivity through smartphones, increasing threats of terrorism or other dangers across the globe, and hundreds of other things just waiting to be worried about, it’s no surprise that more and more of us are feeling anxious and struggling to get a good night’s sleep on a daily basis.

It’s important to reduce stress

Stress (and our body’s physiological response to it) is a complex evolutionary system designed to keep us safe in times of danger. It can be particularly useful when you are in genuine danger or are playing sport, but can cause a range of different health issues if you are experiencing stress consistently over long periods of time – usually as a result of modern-day problems or anxieties. For this reason it is important to properly manage stress and take steps to reduce it in your daily life.

The biological process when you become stressed

Many people are all too familiar with the range of biological effects on your body that occur when we become stressed. Your heart rate will increase and your breathing can become quicker and more shallow. Your muscles may become tense and your joints could start to ache. On top of this, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious and irritable – possibly leading to feelings of depression and difficulty when trying to get to sleep.

The process begins with the central nervous system. Sensing danger, this system stimulates the release of adrenaline and cortisol. In response to this your breathing may become quicker – this is your body trying to distribute more oxygen around your body. If you’re asthmatic or have other respiratory problems, these can become exacerbated at this point.

Stress hormones will also cause your heart to pump faster. Your blood vessels will become constricted and your blood pressure will therefore increase. Your skeletal muscles will also tense up in preparation for physical activity – the expected ‘fight or flight’. In men, testosterone levels may also temporarily spike.

When you’re stressed your liver produces extra glucose – this provides more energy (which can be essential if you are actually in a dangerous situation). If this extra glucose isn’t used by the body – for example through physical exertion – then the body reabsorbs it. Stress temporarily boosts your immune system, but as we will see later it can actually weaken your immune response over a long period of time.

The harmful effects of stress on your body

While these effects will not harm you if you only feel stressed every once in a while, they can cause a range of different health issues if you are chronically stressed.

When you suffer from chronic stress your heart works too hard, which increases the risk of hypertension and other cardiac issues like a heart attack or stroke. The repeated re-absorption of glucose can also encourage the onset of type-2 diabetes.

Chronic stress also increases the likelihood of heartburn and acid reflux. Stress itself doesn’t cause stomach ulcers, but it can irritate any existing ulcers. Other negative effects for your stomach can include vomiting and stomach ache, potentially with diarrhoea or constipation. This is because stress affects how food passes through your body.

When you’re constantly stressed your muscle rarely relax – leading to aches and pains. This can especially cause problems around the shoulders, neck and back. This pain can cause many people to turn to pain medication, which can itself make things worse as you enter a vicious cycle.

Finally, the release of cortisol from chronic stress can weaken your immune system and its inflammatory response. This can make you more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold, and can increase the amount of time needed to recover from illness or injury.

Techniques to manage stress

There are a number of techniques for managing stress. Regular exercise and enough sleep are both important to make sure you feel refreshed without letting stress get on top of you. Many people also choose to write their feelings down when they’re feeling stressed – seeing the thoughts in black and white often helps people to realise that they are unnecessary worries and most likely won’t happen.

With work pressures it can be easy to ignore those activities or hobbies that bring us enjoyment. But often when you start to feel burnt out from work, it is these nourishing activities that we need to bring us a sense of calm and inner peace. If you’re struggling to overcome stress, set aside some time to enjoy yourself and you’ll be surprised how differently you approach the stresses in your life afterwards.

Mindfulness as a technique to reduce stress

Mindfulness is the practice of living in (and paying attention to) the present moment. This could be through formal meditations or by practicing during everyday activities – like walking to work, having a shower or eating dinner.

The idea is to notice your surroundings, the way your body feels, and most importantly the arising of any thoughts or emotions. By paying close attention to the coming and going of thoughts, you learn to accept that the mind ‘has a mind of its own’ and that just because you are thinking about something (such as causes of stress in your life) it does not mean that this stressor rules your life. By practicing this, you can come to accept that dwelling on problems won’t solve them – giving you a sense of peace that will in time make it easier for you to make good decisions and take affirmative action to actually reduce the stress in your life.

Healthy body, healthy everything – the growing evidence for physical activity

The benefits of physical development for children!

You may not realise it, but the Department for Education has a role to play in your child’s development long before they set foot in a classroom. It’s the DoE that established the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage, a document that sets the standards for learning and development of young children up to and including 5 year olds. It covers a lot of ground – from language and communication to social and emotional development – in its efforts to ensure every child can develop confidence, independence and resilience.
One thing that is important to take away from this document is the importance of physical development in children.

This isn’t physical development in the traditional school setting – we’re not talking about PE. An understanding of good health and physical exercise is a part of it, but the EYFS definition reaches much further: to dressing and using the toilet independently, to basic hygiene and to ensuring that “children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.”

Learning to play

When you think about it, that makes complete sense. Unless you have an understanding of how your body moves, and develop the coordination of hands, feet and the rest of your body, you aren’t able to draw the picture, score the goal or build the Lego castle that’s in your head.

Play may be an essential part of a child’s development, but even play needs some basic physical building blocks to get started.

Yet the benefits of physical development don’t stop there.

Beyond play

Take this study from the University of Aberdeen, which found a clear link between exercise and a child’s concentration.

Councillor Martin Greig, Vice-Convener of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, said: “The conclusion of the research confirms what many have long believed about the significance of physical activity for learning. The carefully conducted research gives support to incorporating an appropriate amount of exercise into the school day.”

Or how about this article in The Guardian which discusses several studies that show physical exercise benefits concentration, creativity, memory and mental health. It pulls together “a wave of studies exploring the unexpected links between mental and bodily fitness.”

And then there’s this piece from The Telegraph, reporting on a study which also looked at the link between physical activity and concentration in children, and which found “those placed on the programme improved their accuracy on some mental capability tests by twice as much as those who were not assigned to do daily exercise.”

Bringing it all together

Here at Family Inspired Training we believe in the holistic benefits of physical activity for the health, well being and performance of children.

Here’s one very simple example. If you can’t sit still you can’t concentrate. If you can’t concentrate you can’t learn or play. And if you can’t learn or play you can’t develop. That’s why some of the fun activities we’ll include within a session are designed to strengthen the body’s core and hip muscles.

Because when your body has developed the strength and muscle memory to keep you sat up straight, it can devote more energy to everything else.

That squarely aligns with the DoE’s requirement for physical development, but it also ensures that our children are ideally placed to benefit from all the other cognitive, concentration and developmental benefits of physical activity.

Want to give your child that sort of boost?

Why not come and give us a try? Your children will benefit from a fun and active outdoor exercise session with an exciting new theme each week whilst you can get fit at the same time! Take a look here for our session schedule.

The Importance of Creative Play for Kids

Creative play is a vital part of childhood and child development. Through creative and imaginative play children can grow emotionally, socially, intellectually, and even physically

Creative experiences help a child develop these skills and enable them to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Exposing children to creative opportunities contributes to and furthers their development.

Coming up with ways to play creatively doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of time. In fact, over-structuring is the opposite of creative play. Every small step toward developing a child’s skills is a major milestone in their growth and happiness.

 

Here at Family Inspired Training we use creative imagination in every Mini FIT class whilst also giving the children the chance to play & explore in their own way too. If you’ve brought your little one to a class with us you might have seen your child’s instructor pretending to be a monkey, walking slowly on the moon or running around with scarves pretending its a butterfly or magic wand. We create fun and varied stories to keep the children engaged when they are using equipment, to keep structure and flow in class and to help development both physically and in a way that taps into their in-built imaginations. The children learn by seeing and doing but also by using their own imaginations to add new layers to the worlds the instructors have created.

 

What Tools Do I Need?

Ideas for creative and imaginative play are available all around us. Often we overlook the simple things, that to a child aren’t as simple. How often do you see a small child staring at a leaf and turning it over to stare at the details (something we encourage and nurture in all our Mini FIT sessions).

Emotional, cognitive, and fine motor skills develop with the introduction to the simple things. Try using some of these household items to make games, tell stories, or just have fun with them.

·         Sponges

·         Paper

·         Cardboard and boxes

·         Tape

·         Paint

·         Markers, crayons, or pencils

·         Molding materials like clay

 

Emotional Development: Creative play promotes social and emotional development by integrating feelings with tasks. Ask your child to paint, draw, or tell a story, about how they’re feeling. These types of activities help children, who are not able to verbalise, express their feelings. In time, children will learn how to express their feelings safely and creatively, allowing them to integrate into social settings and regulate their behaviour more appropriately.

Why not try these Mindful Monster card games as another great way to help your child’s emotional development.

 

Social Development: Children can grow and increase their social development when given opportunities to play and interact with peers. Singing, dancing, dress-up, and other forms of imaginative play are a few areas where children are able to grow and develop basic communication and social interaction skills. This is something that is integrated in every Mini FIT session.

 

Intellectual Development: Through creative play, children can learn important problem-solving skills. Reading, for example, gives children the opportunity to express their imaginations and explore a world outside of their own, helping to improve both intellectual and cognitive skills. This also forms the basis of reading comprehension and retention and sets the tone for solving more complex problems as they grow and develop.

 

Physical Development: Whether your children are dancing to the rhythm of their own beat, or exploring the great outdoors, creative play helps to grow gross and fine motor skills, coordination, and control. Building fine motor skills requires practice and sets the stage for improving hand eye coordination and muscle memory. You don’t have to be complicated with the movements either, ask your little one to crawl like a bear, jump like a kangaroo or frog, or gallop like a horse. Why not join in to – its never to late to work on our own physical development and you might just have some fun while you’re at it.

Providing children with creative opportunities for play will allow them to develop these important skills as well as provide them with the opportunity to explore and learn about the world around them. Why not come along and try our Mini FIT sessions which are run alongside an adult group exercise classes so you can keep fit, have fun whilst knowing your kids are developing and moving too!

 

Call 07544 119 467 today or email familyinspiredtraining@gmail.com for your FREE trial today!

Yummy Snacks for Snowy Days!

How magical and strange has this past week been?

We were all ready for spring and some lovely warm weather after our awesome Fun Run at the Kingdom, Penshurst at the end of Feb and then…so much SNOW which meant everything was closed or cancelled including FIT & Mini FIT!

We have literally been playing in the snow or snuggling up on the sofa drinking all the tea, coffee and hot chocolate and eating all the food.

The snow is now starting to melt so sessions will be back to normal next week but since it is still the weekend and its still chilly out why not try some of these yummy snack recipes. We have made them all this week and we’ve all loved them – kids included.

 

Homemade Granola

 

Granola is one of my favourite quick breakfast or snacks. I love to eat with coconut yogurt and a drizzle of honey or fresh fruit. But many shop bought granola is packed full of refined sugar and undesirable ingredients like refined seed oils etc.

Here is an easy homemade Granola recipe that will let you enjoy granola whilst knowing exactly what is in it. I add tiger nuts to my granola as it is a really great addition as it has loads of great properties, I’ve added a link for where to buy them too, plus find out more about tiger nuts here.

Ingredients

  • 100ml melted coconut oil
  • 125ml  of honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g rolled oats
  • 100g mixed seeds
  • 100g flaked almond (optional)
  • 100g chopped dates
  • 50g  coconut flakes or desiccated coconut
  • 80g Tiger nuts (soaked and blitzed) Optional

Method

  1. Heat oven to 150C
  2. Mix the oil, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in all the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit and coconut, and mix well.
  3. Tip the granola onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 15 mins.
  4. Mix in the coconut and dried fruit, and bake for 10-15 mins more.
  5. The granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

 

Leek & Potato Soup

 

We recently brought this amazing soup maker. I love soup but I really hate anything that is too much effort to make or can be time consuming, most of you as parents as well as busy working people who are also trying to keep fit and eat healthy can probably relate!

It’s a reasonable price from Amazon, makes soup quickly and easily (about 25 minutes from start to finish) and then there is hardly any washing up!

We have been making so many different delicious soups since buying it.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2-4 potatoes (depending on their size, cubed)
  • 2 medium leeks
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper

 

Method

  1. Chop all the vegetables and add to the soup maker. Fill up until the first line measurement inside the machine.
  2. Add the stock and fill up to the second line measurement.
  3. Put on the lid and choose your soup consistency, I recommend smooth.
  4. Press start and then relax while it cooks & blends your soup to perfection!

 

 

Flapjacks

 

I made these for Pilates this week, but then it was cancelled due to the snow, so we got to eat them at home all week!

Ingredients

  • 120 g unsalted butter
  • 100 ml honey
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup (optional or just use more honey)
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla essence
  • 150 g dates
  • 400 g porridge oats
  • 100 g desiccated coconut

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Line a square tin (or any deep tin you have with straight edges) with baking parchment.
  2. Chop the dates or blitz then in a food processor
  3. Put the butter, honey, maple syrup and dates in a saucepan over a low heat. Melt them together, crushing the dates with a wooden spoon so they break up into the butter and honey etc.
  4. Add in the oats, coconut & vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pack the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown. The flapjacks will still seem soft at this point, but don’t worry – they’ll firm up once cool.
  6. Remove the tin from the oven and leave the flapjack to cool in the tin, then pull it out by the edges of the baking parchment transfer to a board cut it into squares.
  7. They are delicious straight away but also keep in the fridge in a sealed container.

 

We hope you enjoy trying all the recipes and see you back at sessions next week.


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What is FIT Pilates & why you need to try it!

FIT Pilates

In 2017 Lucy trained as a Pop Pilates instructor and has been offering Pilates classes every Tuesday evening at 7.45pm at Speldhurst Village hall (outside in late spring/summer) in Kent. Classes have been a huge hit with our FIT members and each week we have a lovely group of people meeting for a great workout. We also get a chance to relax and chat after class with tea and healthy treats every week!

All you need to do is turn up and bring a mat – first session is FREE.

So what is Pop Pilates?

POP Pilates is an incredible fusion of ab-chiselling and total body defining moves choreographed to upbeat and fun music. The class is an intense, mat-based workout that challenges you to flow from one exercise to the next, developing a rock solid core while leaving no muscle untouched. This format takes classical Pilates to the next level like you’ve never seen before.


While POP Pilates moves and exercises all originate from classical Pilates, the class design, relationship with music, sequencing and reps, differ from reformer classes and traditional mat classes. The fundamentals of breathing, core engagement and powerhouse-based movements are shared, however, the emphasis on moving to the beat of upbeat music is what makes POP Pilates so unique. Participants love that each class is different whilst still developing their strength, coordination, flexibility and having fun at the same time.

Why you should try it!

All the classes are suitable for all abilities as all the moves and exercises have beginner, intermediate and advanced variations. Everyone is working at their own fitness ability and we want everyone to be confident and comfortable throughout the class. The class is a mixture of standing and mat based exercises that will build strength, flexibility and a solid core. Your body will be more toned and challenged week by week!

Benefits

  • Lose weight and tone up
  • stronger core
  • improved posture and alignment
  • alleviated back pain
  • increased flexibility
  • increased agility
  • better body awareness and mind/body connection
  • non-competitive
  • meet new people
  • stay motivated and inspired
  • healthy treats and tea every week!

To book a free introductory class email familyinspiredtraining@gmail.com or message us on Facebook!

Pancake Day – 5 delicious recipes!

So today is Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day!

Here at Family Inspired Training we are open for classes throughout this Feb half term so come along for a fun family activity this week and to keep the kids busy!

We had a session yesterday morning plus another on Wednesday morning 9.15am and Saturday 8am both at Langton Green Pavilion.

Having some other activities to do with the kids during half term is always welcome so if you are looking for some other ways to entertain you and the kids this week why not try one (or all) of these pancake recipes!

We have put together 5 ways to make pancakes for this pancake day – testing them has been fun!

 

Traditional Pancakes

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Ingredients

For the pancake mixture
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter
To serve
caster sugar
lemon juice
lemon wedges

Method

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it (adults dothis so you dont get shell or let the kids do it in a separate bowl and add them).
  3. Wisk the eggs – any sort of whisk or even a fork will do – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.
  4. Add small amounts of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any extra bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the mixture is really smooth.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of the butter into the mixutre and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to grease the pan a little before making each pancake.
  6. Heat the frying pan on a medium heat and add a little butter before adding a ladle of pancake mixutre into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate.
  7. To serve, sprinkle each pancake with freshly squeezed lemon juice and caster sugar.

 

American Pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 350ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Oil, for frying (we recommend coconut)

To serve
maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Whisk the milk and eggs in a jug. The put the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, the sugar and mix together.
  2. Make a small well in the centre and gradually pour in the milk and egg mixture. Kids love to do the mixing, just be prepared for a bit of mess!
  3. Put a little oil in a frying pan (non stick is best) and place over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour half a ladle of the miuxture into the pan to form a pancake that is approx 10cm (4in) in diameter.
  4. Cook until bubbles start to form, then flip the pancake over and cook the other side until golden.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, if you like. Another fun this to do is to use a cookie cutter with the kids and make your pancakes into fun shapes!

 

Paleo Pancakes

(Grain & Gluten Free)

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Ingredients

  • 3 bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp cup nut butter, cashew or almond butter taste best
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Oil for frying (coconut is best)

Method

  1. Heat some coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Combine all of your ingredients in a blender or nutribullet
  3. Pour in the misture a little at a time, you can probably make 3 or 4 small pancakes at a time depending on the size of the pan
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes per side and then flip to cook the other side for 2-3 minutes
  5. Serve and Enjoy

 

Banana Oat Pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 170g plain flour
  • 65g Rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 300ml Whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Banana slices, optional

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.
  2. Mix the egg, milk, banana and oil; stir into dry ingredients but dont over mix it.
  3. Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
  4. Pour the mixture in small amounts into the pan and then add the optional chopped banana slices. Flip when bubbles form on top and then cook until second side is golden brown.
  5. Serve with maple syrup or honey and some moreand banana slices.

 

Posh Pancakes

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Follow any of the pancake recipes above but then have lots of fun topping the pancakes with posh or silly toppings. The kids love this one and its a great chance to get creative!

Ideas for toppings

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Berries
  • Chopped Fruit
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sprinkles
  • Syrup or honey
  • Sauces
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips

 

We hope you have lots of fun trying all these recipes – take some pictures and share them on Facebook or Instagram!

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Chocolate Orange Energy Bites

Super delicious and super simple & easy to make!

These energy bites are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free so are a pretty healthy treat. They last for up to a week in the fridge and you can make larger batches and freeze them for another time.

This recipe makes around 12 energy bites, so double up if you are making more.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts
  • 1 cup of Medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced

 

I bought really cool heart shaped cup measurements from Jeremy’s home stores that are useful when you want to bake quickly and easily without the faff of scales etc. You can also buy them on Amazon, click the image below.

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until you have a sticky mixture
  2. Place the mixture in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to cool/set a little
  3. Roll the mixture into balls around the size of a ping pong ball and place on a tray
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week
  5. You could use some optional cacao powder to sprinkle on top or roll them in some more orange zest or desiccated coconut to add some variety and make them look pretty.