Fourteen years ago, after receiving some money for Christmas, I decided to put it to Really Good Use and hired myself a personal trainer.
Up til then, I thought PTs were for rich or famous people and, being neither, I thought it was a deeply selfish thing. But, it was some of the best use I’d ever put money to. I majorly lucked out with my first trainer, Donovan. He was brilliant. I got into the best shape of my life and he introduced me to exercises and pieces of equipment I’d never heard of but which were brilliant. Then the selfish bastard left to live in Australia.
He’s back now and over the border in Essex, but, sadly, a bit too far for me to travel to otherwise, believe me, I would.
But Donovan introduced me to the benefits of exercising on a Swiss ball (until it was banned in the gym, he’d get me standing – yes standing – on it doing my weights), the Bosu, he’d have me lifting weights I never thought a girl could lift. And he introduced me to the foam roller.
Just Google ‘foam roller’. They are sold everywhere. Spend between about £10 and £20. You don’t need to spend more but do make sure you don’t buy them too cheap or else the foam won’t be dense enough and what you’ll be paying for is less foam, more air. You can also Google ‘exercises using a foam roller’.
I use mine for a few things – you can lie on it and roll up and down (with the foam roller across your body, like in the crucifix position) and massage your back. This hurts.
You can also lie across it and roll it up and down the outside of your thighs. This hurts a lot. I do lots of my pilates exercises lying with it down the length of my back in what I call the lamp-post position. This makes things like doing toe-taps that bit more difficult as you are in an unstable position.
But. Even if you don’t do any of those, a foam roller is great because you can keep it in the corner of your office and every hour or so, you can take three minutes away from your hunched-over the keyboard position and lie yourself on it – in the lamp-post position – down the length of your back and with your head resting on it.
And do nothing. Just lie there staring at the ceiling and let your shoulders unfurl and if you lift your hands up so that your hands are by your ears and your elbows poking out and just let the weight of your arms drop them down, you get an amazing stretch over the front of your chest.
Postscript: My friend and editor Kate wrote this piece in the Guardian last month, about foam rollers, which is really useful and has pictures. Although be prepared to be slightly depressed looking at pictures of Kate – mother of two – looking really gorgeous (very probably with no make up) and her super trim figure. I must go into the office more often with trays of doughnuts for her.