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FOAM ROLLING FAN GIRL (hint: it's got nothing to do with the hot, happy guy below...)

Claire Chitham

ROCK N ROLL : Our very happy trainer Vinnie from  Suna Pilates  uses a foam roller daily.  Mostly with his shirt on though.

ROCK N ROLL: Our very happy trainer Vinnie from Suna Pilates uses a foam roller daily.
Mostly with his shirt on though.

Our switched on LA contributor Nicola Alpe shares how and why she’s become a Foam Rolling Fan Girl. Here’s what you need to know…

Everyone is foam rolling. My physiotherapist friend is telling me to do it. My friend’s husband is swearing by it. My architect friend does it at the gym. Even the delivery guy who came to the door in the middle of my rolling workout does it.

 Despite purchases of foam rollers and all these people telling me the benefits, I never really got it. I mean huh? You loll about on this roller doing the same moves over and over, usually targeting my IT band which everyone says is too tight and is the cause of my back pain. One word comes to mind – boring. The next word that comes to mind is painful. Having your body weight rolling over your IT band is not pleasant.

 It wasn’t until I was reading the Goop newsletter one day that I learned about Lauren Roxburgh, who Gwyneth Paltrow calls The Body Whisperer. Say what you will about Goop, but they know their stuff when it comes to fashion, food, restaurants, skincare and fitness. My love of Goop runs deep, deeper still now that I actually live in LA and can visit the gorgeousness of the Goop Lab in Brentwood.

 Back to Lauren Roxburgh. A past college athlete who has become an expert in therapeutic bodywork techniques, Lo Rox as she is known to her devotees, extolls the benefits of R + R – rolling and rebounding. From a friend’s couch I quickly signed up to her 10-week Taller Slimmer Younger programme. Sounds like just another vanity sign up, I mean who doesn’t want to turn back the clock and glide around gracefully like a lithe and gorgeous being? But my motivation was more than that.

 Having had periods of back injuries sustained playing tennis at high school, instructing aerobics at university and then playing far too much tennis at too high a level for far too long whilst pregnant, I needed help. Waking up in the morning was dreadful. Much groaning and sighing accompanied shuffling to the bathroom where I could barely bend at all. If I gave my husband a dollar for every time I said I felt soo old and my spine soo compacted, he would have at least been able to go out for a slap-up dinner and bottle of Champagne! I figured paying a couple of hundred dollars for an online programme I could do anywhere and in my own time was a small price to pay for some relief from my misery.

 Each week the programme focuses on a different part of the body and after the first short workout (all 13-20 minutes long) I literally felt euphoric. It was a blessing that week one focuses on the back. I felt gently stretched, I felt space between my vertebrae and I felt a sense of lightness. Not in my weight, but in my frame. I felt like my bones were finally given a break from carrying around deep aches in my muscles. The aches and pains were still there but they quietened down for a few hours and gave me an air of positivity for the first time in nearly three years.

 Fast forward about nine months and I have entered foam roller fandom, or perhaps I should say Lo Rox Fandom. I have completed the ten-week Taller Slimmer Younger programme three times and have since joined her online studio, where more specific workouts are posted. I roll first thing in the morning because if I don’t, my body lets me know with stiffness for hours. I sometimes roll last thing at night and the deep and restful sleep that follows means I wake up feeling my actual age in the morning instead of that of my dearly departed Grandmother.

 I have taken Lo Rox’s advice to the next level and am channeling my mother circa 1989 and have invested in a Bellicon rebounder. I have to fight my daughter at times to get on the thing, but a 30-minute choreographed bounce and a roll make for a sensationally low impact and effective workout. Gone are the pounding joints from running on pavements to get the cardio fix.

 The benefits of foam rolling and specifically the Lo Rox method is that your connective tissues that wrap each muscle, called fascia, are gently lubricated, stretched and hydrated. Rolling encourages movement in your lymphatic system and works hand in hand with rebounding for noticeable lymphatic benefits. Deep core muscles are stretched and massaged and the roller acts as a prop allowing for deeper engagement and deeper stretching. Ironically enough, a few weeks into this programme a tuned in therapist found the root of my problem – my left quadratus lumborum muscle, QL for short. Your QL muscle is the deepest abdominal muscle, wraps around posteriorly and is often mistaken for a back muscle because that is where the pain comes from. Once this darling muscle was found to be the problem, two week later there was a QL release on the roller for that week’s workout. I nearly wept tears of sweet relief at finally knowing what the issue was and I’ve worked on the roller to alleviate the hot, sharp and constant pain I had been experiencing for years.

 These days it depends on what time I’ve gone to bed as to how long I dither about before I get up but if I roll in the morning it makes for a much easier day ahead of me and if I am travelling I take a travel roller with me. Who doesn’t want to feel supple and able to move with ease all day? The great thing about Lauren’s method is that it works all parts of the body and regardless of which programme you sign up to, you will receive so much material, advice, support and workouts for it.

 The gift of movement without pain is something to be cherished and appreciated and thanks to ‘Lo Rox’ I am about to embark on a new decade feeling much more in control of my body’s destiny.

To get started with foam rolling in NZ you can buy yours online from our #goodmates SUNA PILATES

To find out more about why pilates is #goodforyou watch this now


Claire Chitham


A pilates instructor for more than 10 years, Claire knows a thing or two about how well the body responds to this combo of stretching and resistance training.  

So why is Pilates so good for you? Well, the short answer to that question is – because it helps build strength and tone while you’re body is in its most ideal postural form. This improves your overall health and longevity and ability to live a pain-free life. Boom! There’s a reason this form of exercise - one many called a fad back when it first appeared - is still going strong today. 

Pilates can create strength and flexibility (without bulk) in a way that supports all functional movement and structural health. And one of the positive upsides of that is that when we build tone from a place of correct posture, we're also shaping the body in its most ideal way too. 

After doing regular pilates classes for eight months,  I literally stretched myself taller. Yep, I had lengthened my spine by 1.5cm and the marks are still on the wall to prove it! 

I first started pilates in 2003, when I was looking for an exercise regime that wasn’t about doing weights at a gym. I hated exercise. But I desperately needed to get fit if I was to hold down the career that I had going on. I was about to do a four-week season of a demanding play six nights a week, whilst shooting Shortland Street full-time during the day, so I needed energy. I was also sick of seeing my terrible, slouchy posture on screen. Once I tried pilates, I loved it so much that a year later I began training as an instructor and the following year I taught my first-ever class. 

I’ve now taught in different cities and countries over the years and been exposed to many different philosophies and styles. And the one thing I can say, is that I still love the method and style that is taught at my home studio in Auckland - Suna Pilates - the most. Their focus is firstly on educating you about your own body and how it works and then building strength to support your best posture and shape. From there, we make sure to change it up and keep it fun so that boredom doesn’t have a chance to sabotage your #fitnessgoals. 

I love that we have clients of all ages, shapes, sizes and genders. We have taught All Blacks, Tall Blacks and 85-year-old legends all in the same class. The coolest thing is that everyone finds it challenging in their own individual way.

Pilates is also great if you are post-physio, trying to prevent an old injury from flaring up, trying to stay strong for a particular hobby or sport - such as golfing, skiing riding, running or tennis. Really it's an antidote for anything that requires functional movement that you know can be tough on the body. Pilates is also amazing at helping the body perform better. The exercises taught help build strength fro the inside out because it ALWAYS starts with activation from your core. This builds strength around your spine and bones. Plus everything else just flows better once your core has switched on.

More than anything I love the body awareness that pilates has taught me. I know when my posture is letting me down, and what to do to correct it. 

- Yours In Health and Happiness, CC 



Claire Chitham

Meet Nicola Alpe - our Good For You crew on the ground in Los Angeles. Nic will be writing a regular feature called L.A. Story, reporting on the latest health and wellness trends taking the City of Angels by storm. A superb storyteller with a passion for balanced living and a wealth of experience to share, Nic is based in Los Angeles - the healthy living capital of the world. 

For her first assignment, Nic gives us the lowdown on her favourite weekly classes at The Dailey Method in Venice Beach. It's a unique mix of barre ballet, yoga, pilates and a bit of cardio - all mixed up in a way that focuses on finding alignment and building both physical and mental strength to achieve a little more flow. From classes by candlelight and dreamy playlists mid-week to Friday afternoon Sweaty Barre sessions, Nic shares why the environment is super-fun, empowering and addictive...

“Changing the world one butt at a time” sounds like a very LA Instagram bio and while it may imply surgical sculpting, it aptly belongs to Tenaya Figueria, certified Dailey Method master instructor who - alongside her friend and fellow instructor Michelle Lazarus - co-owns The Dailey Method in Venice. It's one of my favourite places in Los Angeles to work out. 

Not only is it because of the studio's awesome vibes and amazing community but it's also because the programme is really unique and always stays interesting. 

The Dailey Method is a ballet barre-based fitness concept that was first developed in San Francisco over 17 years ago by founder Jill Dailey. There are now 60 studios across four countries and its popular because it truly is an inspired fusion of the effective disciplines of ballet barre, yoga, pilates and cardio... sometimes... only cardio sometimes! The classes are also infused with just enough mindfulness and discussions of intention that this is a workout that, I reckon, is perfectly designed to benefit just about anyone. 

So how does this wonderful work-out differentiate itself from the hundreds of other offerings in this health-conscious, top-of-the-trend city? For me, having embraced many different exercise techniques through my moderately successful work-out career, plus having trained as a bouncing and shrieking aerobics instructor in younger years, at Tenaya and Michelle’s studio the workout and the instructors come hand in hand. The workout focuses on non-impact small movements sometimes performed at the ballet barre that are layered on top of each other and work deep to create a leaner, stronger physique and increase mobility through the spine and entire body. Sounding a lot like the usual spiel? Maybe. But couple that with wonderfully unique ways to work your abs, challenging choreography, the perfect playlist and top-notch instructors and you have this Venice studio. 

Dailey Barre is the 60-minute full body hero workout using hand weights, resistance bands and balls. Dailey Interval is an addictive 45-minute class and features four lung-busting intervals. Dailey Fusion is a 60-minute mix of the two, with a full slew of abdominal tracks, upper body and a few cardio intervals thrown in between. The Dailey Method also offers Dailey Baby, a gorgeous way to workout with your baby and regular childcare. 

For more updates from Nic, follow her @mrsalpe


Claire Chitham

Big Apple Business: Claire catches up with GFU's New York reporter Renee Mundy, who will bringing all the action from the City That Never Sleeps.

Big Apple Business: Claire catches up with GFU's New York reporter Renee Mundy, who will bringing all the action from the City That Never Sleeps.

Meet Renee Mundy - our Good For You crew on the ground in New York. She'll be writing a regular feature called Notes From NYC, reporting on the latest health and wellness trends taking the Big Apple by storm. Dunedin-born, the international journalist and storyteller is based in Brooklyn and mum to two beautiful boys. You'll find her blowing off steam in a pilates class.

For her first assignment, Renee takes GFU inside the SoulCycle revolution - a fitness craze that's taken America by storm and sounds so good we can't wait for it to go global...

It's one of those cold, dreary Sunday mornings in New York. Seven degrees below zero outside and it must be at least 50 inside. The oven, an ambitious boiler and a family about to crack it from cabin fever are all dialling up the heat. The boys are starting to implode and I can hear all sorts of dramas happening downstairs. Sigh.

I need to get out, I think to myself. I’ve got to move my body or I’m gonna go a little crazy today. A text interrupts my thoughts. It’s my ‘Mom friend’ who’s also in need of an escape from her beloved family. “Need to get out. Going to SoulCycle. Meet me there?”

Ahhh, yes. Sunday just got a whole lot more interesting...

Since arriving in New York a year and a half ago I’d heard so much about the ‘SoulCycle Revolution’. Almost every second person asked me if I’d tried it and the 'SC' tribe seemed seriously devoted - cultish even. I wasn’t into cycle-based fitness, but I admit I was intrigued by rumours of dark studios and loud music where ‘working out feels like clubbing’. Yet I’d never managed to step foot inside a studio.

But my moment had clearly arrived. Seize the day and all that I think as I leap out of bed, peel on my leggings, lace up my sneakers and throw on my big down coat. I run out into the cold air bracing myself for both the low temps and a new adventure.

I am suffering from chronic lateness (again) today and my 40min subway ride to Williamsburg does not help my persistent condition. Still, I’m excited. And maybe a tiny bit terrified. Will I have to dance? Is there crazy choreography I need to master? Do I need to have rhythm?

My mind flashes to scenes of dancefloor antics from my 20s and I shudder. "It’s JUST a cycle class," I reassure myself as I step off the subway and dodge all sorts of super cool hipsters and twenty-something Williamsburg types. I feel out of my depth - in every sense.

"I’m so sorry! Am I late?” I blurt out at the girl behind the gleaming white desk as I stumble in the door.

“Mmmm.. A few minutes, but you’re fine," she says. “You’re done it before right?”

“Err, no,” I say. “But I’ve done Spin and I run and… I’ll be fine!”

I shoot her a bright, charming smile, hoping she’ll let me in. I feel like I’m 18 again trying to charm a bouncer.  She suggested that perhaps I come back for a later class after I’ve been shown the ropes.

“No thanks,” I tell her, “I’m jumping in!”

“Okay!” she says. She looks like she loves my enthusiasm. If only she knew I was packing it under that smile.

"Here, give me that,” she offers and scoops up my gear - coat, shoes and phone.

"Shall I charge it for you?" she asks.

“OMG yes. Thank you!” I'm super impressed. So far Soulcycle is ticking all my boxes.

She hands me a pair of shoes. They look like they’re for an Olympic cycling team. I frown.

How the?!... How do they even?!... "What on earth should I do with these?" I think to myself.

“Strap ‘em on, and I’ll show you how to ride!” she says.

My heart rate jumps a few beats as I follow her into the studio with my weird clickity-clackety shoes. I’m buckled up and ready to go.

The door opens and I’m plunged into darkness. Deep bass and beats shake me to my bones. My head hurts and I am literally blinded by the lights.

I notice shadows as I step inside and sense something in the darkness. Bodies maybe, or bikes, I really can’t be sure. I can’t see a damn thing.

Are there even humans in here? How many? How big is this room? And where is my friend?! Panic kicks in a little.

A warm hand grabs mine. It's my girl. She leads me over to my bike. I’m grateful for some guidance. I feel like I’m drunk and lost on the dancefloor. I launch myself up onto the bike. Her hands wrap around my ankles and snap my shoes into place on the pedals. That’s it. I’m locked in here now. I couldn’t run, even if I wanted to.

I look around me and slowly start to realise I’m in a room full of people. More than I thought, 20 or 30 maybe. I see flicks of blonde hair, and there is the instructor! Rising up on her bike under gleaming golden lights like some kind of gilded wellness deity.

I notice the darkened mirrors in front of me and spot my friend two bikes along from me. I breathe a sigh of relief and I wave like an excited three-year-old. One who’s just laid eyes on her Mom in the playground. I’m waving like mad but I don't think she sees me as everyone else seems to have their hands in the air too. I'm trying to catch her attention with an array of different expressions and then realise that probably ain't so cool.

Concentrate. Do your thing. Just ride, Ren.

The class pumps through some demanding choreography. I rise up and down on my cycle and throw myself back and forward over the handlebars like the instructor does. I wonder what kind of pain I’m going to be in tomorrow after doing all these ridiculous moves.

Just as well it's dark in here. I feel like a prancing peacock. I try to keep up with the timing. The music is goooood. My heart rate is rising steadily and - after 20mins or so - I find myself fully into the cardio, singing along loudly with my head down as I pump, pump, pump my legs.

I’m doing it! Yup, I'm feeling it. I'm a Soul Cyclist!

We get to the end and the instructor takes us through a few inspiring meditations about gathering up the good vibes from the class and taking them with us into our weekend.

We stretch. We salute the sun. We give thanks to ourselves. We are grateful.

I turn and grab my friend’s arm as we walk out. We are both dripping with sweat. To be honest, I've never been so obviously sweaty before. I'm kinda taken back by the sweat level, I mean I worked hard but I could have dialled it up a bit, if I wasn’t so distracted by... everything.

Feeling impressed and invigorated, we are beat. And beet. Bright red and every shade of pink.

But we are also smiling. Glowing. Happy. We are filled with oxygen. We hug each other with wide smiling eyes, exchange stories about the crazy room, tease each other for being so wet and stinky and laugh as we wander out under clear blue skies into the crisp, freezing air of New York. We totally nailed #selfcaresunday.

For more updates from Renee, follow her @bondixbrooklyn