Friday, 9 December 2016

Not in my Name Campaign to end violence against women

Guest blog from Ann Jones, Federation of Wales Chair and NFWI Vice Chair

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence started on 25 November (White Ribbon Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and runs until 10 December (Human Rights Day).

Alarmingly, one in four women in Wales will experience domestic abuse at the hands of a partner during their lives, and 150,000 women in Wales will suffer some form of gender-based violence.
As part of the WI’s commitment to ending Violence Against Women (VAW), NFWI-Wales engaged WI members in the Not in My Name Campaign for the fifth year.  Established in 2012 in partnership with anti-violence campaigner Joyce Watson AM, the Campaign involves the recruitment of male ambassadors in speaking out against VAW and making a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about VAW.

To mark White Ribbon Day 2016, NFWI-Wales hosted a stakeholder debate at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay followed by a candlelight vigil at dusk on the steps outside the Assembly. Members from as far afield as mid Wales joined us for the vigil as well as stakeholders such as VAW third sector organisations, Gwent Police, South Wales Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue and members of UNISON.


The heartbreaking stories we heard from domestic abuse survivors at both events will stay in our minds. Their experiences sent a strong message demonstrating why we are involved in this campaign and why we must continue to campaign to end VAW. 
 
I am encouraged to see Not in my Name gaining strength every year amongst the membership. Candlelight vigils, organised by our members, were held in Carmarthen, Ceredigion and Llandudno as well as a Light a Candle Service in Usk organised annually by Gwent Federation. Pembrokeshire Federation dedicated their Council Meeting to raising awareness about the campaign and federations across Wales forged links with male ambassadors such as rugby clubs, male voice choirs and rotary clubs.

This year, NFWI-Wales launched a prose competition linked to the campaign and I was delighted that members in England as well as Wales took part. Congratulations to the winner Therese Casemore, Llandogo WI, Gwent. Therese’s prose, written from the perspective of a man, was read powerfully by Rhun ap Iorwerth AM at the Candlelight Vigil.

In 2015, the Welsh Government passed the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act. This legislation has the potential to make a huge difference to women’s lives but its implementation must be backed by strong guidance. NFWI-Wales is a member of the Wales VAW Action Group and, as a member of the group, we will continue to monitor the implementation of the Act and play our part in holding the Government to account. We will also continue to use the strong network of the WI to continue to raise awareness about violence against women everywhere.



Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Introducing the experts…Teresa Wheatley

We have been introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week and this is the last update.  Hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from a range of different sports and fitness experts, and you’ve been inspired to try something new.



What do you do?
With almost 25 years of experience in exercise I regularly deliver education and present both nationally and internationally.  I pride myself on combining energy, enthusiasm and expertise all rolled into one and I’m well known for my ability to see and unlock the full potential in others.

How did you get involved?
During my school years I was a bundle of energy and I was always super keen on playing sports and dancing.  After taking a year out to visit Australia I stepped off the return flight and laced up my trainers (almost literally) and started my hugely rewarding career in group exercise by teaching Aerobics.  Since the early 90s when I first qualified I have continued with my education and professional development to a point now where I am regarded now as a specialist in a number of areas and am responsible for educating others within these fields. My working life has never ever felt like work and I feel very fortunate to still love what I do.

Why is sport important to you?
My parents were always hugely sporty and I am grateful to them for instilling that value in me. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to help other parents to be able to give the same gift to their children.

How can more women get involved?
By creating opportunities such as the WI Sports Week there is a greater chance of reaching more people and making sport and fitness more accessible for families. All it takes to find the recipe to your success is a little searching for the secret ingredients which I will be only too happy to provide based on the skills I have acquired over many years of specialising in this area.

Introducing the experts…Vanessa Barker

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…





What do you do?
I’m a personal trainer and I specialise in pregnancy and postnatal exercise.

How did you get involved?
I always enjoyed being active, so when I was at university studying English, I went to the local college and qualified as a fitness instructor.  From there I became a personal trainer, and thirteen years later I’m still working in fitness!

Why is sport and exercise important to you?
Having children of my own has made me appreciate the importance and role of exercise pin helping mums make a full recovery after childbirth. I have two children of my own and it’s made me extremely passionate about helping other mums with their postnatal recovery. I’ve been working with mums on their return to fitness since then.

How can more women get involved?
The mothers I work with often feel confused about what exercise is suitable after having a baby, and struggle to find the time to fit it in!  I think education is key- there’s so much pressure to ‘bounce back’, but when you appreciate what has happened to your body and how long it takes to recover, a more holistic and balanced approach is actually far more effective than rushing back to your old exercise routine. And it only takes 10 minutes a day to do the postnatal core routines I give my clients, plus some walking, which can usually coincide with nap time!

Website: http://www.vanessabarker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessabarkerpt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vanessabfitness

Introducing the experts…Pollyanna Hale

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…




What do you do? 
I help tired and busy mums get in shape and get their body confidence back from the comfort of their own home with online coaching and support.

How did you get involved? 
I was active from an early age as a dancer, but in my late teens I developed an eating disorder and through being so unwell and unhappy, I discovered the incredible value of having good physical and mental health.  I became passionate about healthy eating and exercise, but when I had children I found that a lack of friendly resources for mothers was the reason why many of us can’t access the support we need.  So I developed my own system that fits into the life of even the busiest mum.

Why is sport and exercise important to you? 
The connection between mental and physical health is profound.  Women come to me wanting to lose weight and tone up, and whilst I make sure that is achieved, what they aren’t expecting is how happy and content they then feel, and how much new confidence they have, not only with their body but the self-belief that they can achieve something they put their mind to.

How can more women get involved? 
Media pressure has made women believe they have to do everything perfectly for it to work, which is unattainable and prevents people from getting started.  I try to show my clients that it really doesn’t matter if your meal isn’t Instagram-worthy – keeping it simple and focusing on the things that really matter makes healthy living so much easier.

Website: www.thefitmumformula.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefitmumformula
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitMumFormula

Introducing the experts…Hannah Epps

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…



What do I do?
I teach Pilates and run a small private Pilates studio specialising in women’s wellness mainly classes, mat and equipment and one to one training to relieve back pain, improve Pelvic Floor Fitness, stretching and trigger point release.  I’ma  level 3 CYQ Pilates mat and equipment teacher, a “Pure Stretch” and “Your Pelvic Matters” qualified coach and I encourage daily movement.  Many of my clients are so busy so if they can’t attend classes, my website has videos, online classes and short e-courses. To help get deeper into specific issues, I also run workshops and retreats to make sure we are sociable and approachable so that clients feel relaxed to learn and discuss personal body issues and exercises with me.

How and why did I get involved? 
I have worked in business as a head-hunter and event organiser since 1992, commuting 3 hours to London, sitting all day, running corporate lunches and evenings, and I realised I was sluggish and unhappy.  When 9/11 happened in 2001, I was in the office in London and my attitude and life completely changed.  I decided to hand in my notice, and I became a local Marketing Manager of a Sports Centre in 2001, and I started attending a Pilates class.

I fell in love with the gentle movement and how it made me feel, as it was so much harder than it looks.  After my first baby, I had the car accident in 2004 and Pilates helped not just to get my body stronger but also helped my rehabilitation.  Whilst pregnant with my second daughter, I had had enough of working long hours and I wanted to spend more time with my daughters, and understand how Pilates was helping my back and reducing hip pain, so I trained to become a Pilates teacher and I’ve never looked back.

Why is sport and exercise important to you? 
Pilates is amazing, but I balance it with other forms exercise such as dancing, walking, groups classes and running with my dog.  I know the impact and speed of some fast aerobic classes has made me overuse of some muscles and the pelvic floor pounding means the slow movement and stretching in Pilates is essential for me to isolate the right muscles and focus on my inner core.  This helps support, mobilise my spine and receive my painful achy hip and knee joints.  My posture was very bad after having children and when I work on the laptop, but Pilates helps me work my weak muscles and helps remind me in daily life to draw in my tummy muscles, lift up and lengthen through my spine.  My tummy isn’t perfect but Pilates works my core muscles so they are more toned and stronger to support my back.

Pilates helps strengthen my weak Pelvic floor and tummy and I find Pilates is great for my older clients who have had hip or knee replacement or injuries or sciatica, arthritis, osteoporosis.  It also improves their balance to help prevent falls: a third of all people over 65 fall each year – 3 million people.

I find Pilates very calming in my busy life with a chaotic family and social life and I can get more stressed post menopause as cortisol levels are higher so relaxation and meditation at the end of a class is essential help me create balance.  I swear by my morning Pilates and stretch routine to get me up and moving as I truly believe that you are as young as you feel, so keep your joints moving.

How can more women get involved?
Find a local class - Pilates is so popular for men and women now that classes are run everywhere and remember that although it looks easy, it is important to learn the basics in a beginner’s class or a one-to-one session first.  Good teachers will have a lesson plan but will adapt the exercises to a lower level or appropriate for any injuries that you might have, and a class is more sociable and should always be fun!  You may even make friends through your class – many of my students go for a coffee or drink after class.

Another way to learn is from online videos or courses, or through my website where I have online back care courses.  You can do this in the privacy of your home on your own if you are not confident (but you must check you are doing it right), or involve your family and do it together.

I really encourage my clients to do ten minutes every morning and give daily morning schedules for them as simple exercises, stretches or changing bad posture habits helps your body stay young.  So if you have a persistent back pain or aches and pains or weak pelvic floor that puts you off exercising please contact me, I’m very happy to give you a morning schedule right for you or to help answer questions.

Whatever you decide is right for you MOVE, ENJOY it and MAKE IT PART OF YOUR LIFE!

Website - www.farnhampilates.com
Facebook - https://m.facebook.com/farnhampilates
Twitter - http://twitter.com/farnhampilates


Introducing the experts…Hannah Murphy

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…




What do you? 
My main role is teaching hula hooping to adults and children.  I am also a professional hula hoop performer and perform regularly at events and festivals across the UK and Europe.

How did you get involved? 
I started hula hooping four years ago when I discovered it at a local festival and it quickly became my hobby.

Why is sport and exercise important to you? 
I’m a busy mum with children and exercise gives me lots of energy to keep up with them.  Hula hooping is a great way to get fit and toned and the best thing about it is that it is extremely fun!

How can more women get involved? 
Although hula hoop classes are not yet on offer in every town and city across the UK, they are very much on the rise and luckily it is very easy to do at home or in your garden with your own hoop.  I recommend the lighter dance hoops as opposed to the heavier weighty hoops, these are safer to use and are more effective.  Just 10 minutes of hooping each day (5 minutes in each direction) will improve fitness levels.  Hoops can be purchased from a variety of outlets and I also sell them via Globe Fit.

Website: www.globefit.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanceYourWayAroundTheGlobe/?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlobeFitUK

Introducing the experts…Donna Noble

We will be introducing a range of different experts from WIFE throughout WI Sports Week so make sure you check back in regularly to hear more…



What do you? 
I am a yoga specialist, life coach and radio show host, working to create a movement that shows that every body is a yoga body.   My aim is to change the image of yoga making it more accessible and inclusive.

How did you get involved? 
A friend suggested that I needed a plan B and at the time I was interested in yoga so started a yoga course, with the intention possibly starting become a Yogi when I retired.  Whilst going through redundancy, it became clear to others and later to me that yoga was my passion so I decided to give yoga a go.  I travelled to America – initially for 9 weeks – to become a Bikram teacher and I ended up staying for 6 months travelling to New York and Texas.   Now I am showing that anyone can do yoga regardless of their shape, size, or age.

Why is exercise important to you?
I found that yoga transformed my life in so many ways, healing me both physically and mentally.   Now I help women through yoga and coaching to be compassionate and self confident with the intention of allowing them to connect with their mind and body, which in terms allows them to leading a simpler and stress free life.

How can more women get involved?
I recognise not everyone has time to dedicate time to yoga – the women I work are time strapped or do not feel that yoga is for them.  I help women get more involved in activity by showing that yoga does not take time but gives time and its many transformational benefits in terms of greater concentration, focus and being able identify what you really want.   Even if you only devote ten minutes a day to a practice, it’s possible to incorporate yoga into your life, which will really benefit your health.  The key is to recognise you can get involved even if you have very little spare time in your day and try to create the time.  Simply getting up a little earlier and getting on your mat and if all you do is breathe: that is yoga.

Countering yoga stereotypes
We’ve all seen that typical image of yoga with some body with their legs behind their head looking like a pretzel.   You’ve been there right?

What I love about yoga is that it is a practice that is inherently flexible.  It can be modified to cater for “every body” - regardless of you size, age or sex.  You will not only gain flexibility in the mind but also on the body.

The important thing to remember is that yoga is an equal-opportunity pleasure: whether you are young, old, male or female, large or small.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in a different place in life to start exploring your body’s potential.
Let me list some of the commons excuses for not considering yoga:

1. I am not flexible, so I can’t do yoga

This the primary excuse that I hear from a lot of individuals.  We’ve all seen the bendy yogis on the covers of yoga magazines on the supermarket shelf, Instagram and Facebook.   If you create a consistent yoga practice then you will become more flexible.  I am amazed at how many people come to yoga for the first time and are astounded at how loose they are (as termed by one of my yoga students).   With dedication and a little patience, you will become more flexible when you practice yoga.  Having tightness in your body does not stop you from reaping the awesome benefits of the practice.

Yoga is not all about the postures, so if you are breathing, you can do yoga.   It is essentially about mind, body connection through the use of the breath.

2.  I’m a total novice, I have no experience and I have no skills in the practice of yoga 

I always advise everyone to approach yoga with an open mind.   Being curious, open, and present is key, whether you are taking your first yoga class or your one hundredth.

3.  Yoga will conflict with some of my beliefs

Yoga is a study of the self — helping you to understand your inner world through movement and breath.   Helping you to identify any negative self-thoughts you may have about your body or life.   Individuals of all cultures and religious backgrounds can practice yoga.   It is true that it's generally seen as a spiritual practice but it's up to you to get what you want from yoga for instance its many wonderful benefits.

4.  I am too busy to do yoga

The more crazy life gets and feels, the more important it is to make time for yourself.  Think of likening your time on the mat to plugging your phone or computer into an outlet to get recharged.

Yoga does not take time it creates time!

When you make your practice a priority, you’ll be able to achieve more in my life, in less time.  You will be better able to focus on what is important.  Try to consider choosing something else in your life to be too busy for — like television or social media.  Placing higher priority on yoga will allow you to receive all the beautiful benefits a regular practice provides.

5.  I am too old to do yoga.

Yoga is ageless: the world’s oldest yoga teacher is 97.

There are so many benefits to be gained from a yoga practice: stress relief, healthy benefit, strength, balance, flexibility and mind, body connection.

Hopefully you will not get on your mat and start your wonderful yoga journey!

Website: www.thenobleartofyoga.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donna.noble.yoga
Twitter:  @Donnanobleyoga and @Curvesomeyoga