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Pretty Gritty Camps 

'Flourish Together, Individually Bloom'

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Join us on a Pretty Gritty camp - An experience you will not forget!

 

Our camps for 2023 are now open for booking. You can find details of the current options below. If you would like to find out more or reserve a space on any of these retreats, drop us a message! (Contact us here)

June 20th - 23rd 2023 - Escape to the Sea retreat.

A 3 night camp based in Guisborough, North Yorkshire. Our beautiful accommodation is set right in the heart of the town. We can accommodate up to 15 women and all of the rooms are twin ensuite (there is room for 3 friends to share in a couple of the rooms which also have a sofa bed). We are a stones throw from Saltburn-by-the-sea where we will enjoy daily dips. The yoga sessions will be outdoors in inspiring locations wherever possible. The walking will see us explore the North York Moors and coast and the longest hike will be around 10 miles. 

Breakfast and dinner daily as well as all activities are included in the price. To secure your space we require a £100 deposit. Please contact us to confirm. 

July 22nd - 24th 2023 - Cycling in Cumbria camp.

A 2 night camp at one of our favourite locations - Sedbergh in Cumbria. Our stunning accommodation is in some of the most magical countryside with quiet winding lanes and some cheeky climbs easily accessible! The house is a wonderful place to return to after a day out exploring on two wheels. We can accommodate 12 Women at this venue in twin ensuite rooms and a couple of double rooms for single occupancy. Suitable for intermediate cyclists who are comfortable riding up to 50 miles. 

Breakfast and dinner as well as guided cycle rides are included in the cost of the camp. To secure your space we require a £100 deposit. Please contact us to confirm. 

July 24th - 26th 2023 - Hiking, yoga & wild dipping in Cumbria retreat.

A 2 night break in beautiful Cumbria. Our base just outside of Sedbergh is a wonderful house with a studio space for yoga as well as an amazing deck in the magical garden that can be used for yoga. Our daily hikes will take in some amazing scenery as well as stunning wild dipping spots. The longest hike will be around 10 miles in length. 

Breakfast and dinner and all activities are included in the price. This camp is currently full but get in touch if you would like to be on the reserve list. 

Check out our camp video.

The COVID-19 crisis has sidelined millions of athletes, from professionals to high school students to weekend warriors. Athletes have lost their primary source of mental wellness, their sport. As a therapist who works with athletes, I know how important sports and exercise are for mental health. So far 2020 has been a brutal year for sports, but with some creative strategies, athletes can get back in the game.

THE SHOCK

In March, college basketball was halted in its tracks. Next, the Boston Marathon was called off for the first time in its 124 year history. Then the Olympics was postponed until 2021. Like falling dominoes, the event after the event was canceled. At first, athletes were disappointed, but hopeful. Maybe their seasons would resume later in the year, they thought. But the precedent had already been set: 2020 was to be the year of canceled sports. Reality hit, and with it came a profound sense of loss.

GRIEVING

Sports connects people in deep and personal ways, and for many athletes, sports is their identity. When something this powerful is taken away, it’s traumatic, almost like a death. Grief can be caused by any kind of loss. In her book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross breaks down grief into stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Athletes right now may be experiencing any one of these stages of grief. Left unaddressed, these feelings can lead to more serious mental health problems.

CONCERNING TRENDS

Mental health professionals are noticing increased anxiety and depression among athletes. Referrals for counseling have increased, and athletes are reporting overall declines in measures related to the quality of life.

Coaches are concerned about their athletes too, especially children and teens. Lack of routine and isolation from peers can be devastating for a young person who hasn’t yet developed the coping abilities of an adult.

Even superstar athletes are not immune to the psychological effects of COVID. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, who has struggled with depression, said in a recent interview that the pandemic has been incredibly challenging for him emotionally.

Another concerning trend is substance use. Since March of this year, alcohol use and drug overdoses have increased at alarming rates in the overall U.S. population. Athletes, absent their normal routines, could turn to substances to ease their stress.

ADAPTABILITY

While prospects look dim for sports returning anytime soon, athletes can adapt and make the best of a bad situation.

The great Michael Jordan can serve as an example. In his second season in the NBA, Jordan missed 64 games due to a foot injury. He desperately wanted to play, but his coaches said no. Instead of sulking, Jordan hit the weight room. He adapted and came back stronger than ever.

Athletes can adapt, and so can sports franchises and teams. Major League Baseball adapted. Instead of scrapping the entire season, they instituted a modified schedule with no fans. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

The New York City Marathon also adapted. This year it’s a virtual race. In the fall runners will complete the 26.2 miles alone in their local area and submit their official times. For athletes and teams, 2020 is the year to pivot and get creative. A positive, can-do approach is what’s needed.

STRATEGIES FOR ATHLETES

Even with a positive attitude, athletes can get discouraged. Here are some strategies for athletes (and non-athletes) to boost their mental game during this unprecedented time.

  • Have a routine.
    Athletes accustomed to showing up for regular practice now have to create their own structure. Working out at the same time every day is key. This creates a sense of control, which can ease anxiety.

  • Mix it up.
    Now is a great opportunity to explore different sports. Football players might try yoga, or swimmers might try cycling. Variety keeps things fresh and reduces burnout.

  • Create connections.
    Human contact feels good. Schedule regular activities with family, friends, or teammates. Of course, use common sense and refer to your local social distancing rules. Even virtual meetings help maintain a sense of connection.

  • Adjust your standards.
    Athletes set high standards for themselves, and are often disappointed when they fall short of their goals. There isn’t much that athletes can do right now except train. Accepting this fact will temper unrealistic expectations.

  • Get help if you need it.
    A good coach helps injured players by referring them to a sports doctor. Likewise, athletes need to ask for help if they’re feeling off emotionally. This could mean calling a friend or reaching out to a mental health professional.

 

CONCLUSION

The world of sports, and the world at large, is going through unprecedented times. It’s normal to feel anxious, depressed, even defeated. It’s also okay to mourn the loss of your sport. But it’s important not to give up. Keep training. Sports will be back. For now, be creative, adapt, and reach out for help if you need it.

 
Long-distance Run

On the Sidelines: Athletes and Mental Health During COVID 19 Pandemic.

Image by Limor Zellermayer

How to Approach Strength Training During Menopause (And Why You Should)

 

The way we perceive strength training today has dramatically evolved over the past decade, especially around the subject of weight training for women.

Yes, men and women respond differently to strength training, but it doesn’t mean one sex benefits from it more than the other.  While lifting weights may carry the stereotype of being more beneficial for men, due to the link between strength training and boosting testosterone levels, it’s a habit that’s extremely beneficial for women of all ages.

 

Throughout their lives, most women will experience menstruation, menopause, and potentially pregnancy. These big shifts will not only impact their sex hormones and reproductive system but practically their entire bodies.: mood, cognitive response, sleep, metabolism, you name it. By adding in another stressor, such as strength training, their bodies will experience more tissue damage and spikes in select hormones which will impact their systems in a variety of other ways.

 

Sometime after turning 45 years old, a woman’s ovaries will slowly begin to decline in oestrogen and progesterone hormone production: a process most commonly known as menopause. When it comes to menopausal women, there’s a lot of misguided information around whether not they should incorporate a strength training regime at this stage in their lives. Luckily, strength coach Molly Galbraith, CSCS and Dr. Helen Kollias of Girls Gone Strong helped us clear the air with some of the most relevant facts and science behind strength training and menopause.

Menopause and Your Hormones

Oestrogen plays a key role in regulating the absorption and breakdown of collagen while also assisting one’s bladder function (holding and releasing urine specifically).

“Changes in oestrogen levels during menopause can have an effect on the pelvic floor,” explains Galbraith. “This may mean that women are more susceptible to urine leaking post menopause due to the reduction in oestrogen.”

Therefore, adopting a strength training routine may aid in maintaining good pelvic floor health and decrease the risk of urinary incontinence. For example, performing exercises such as squats, glute bridges and kegels with intentional, controlled contractions can help reinforce stability and proper muscle engagement in the pelvic region.

 

Symptom wise, menopause is most commonly associated with hot flashes, night sweats, and chills, otherwise known as vasomotor symptoms.

 

“The vasomotor centre is a part of the brainstem involved in regulating blood pressure via blood vessel dilation and contraction,” says Dr. Kollias. Changes in the hypothalamus (the area of your brain that regulates your body temperature) can initiate hot flashes and fluctuations in a menopausal woman’s internal temperature. Given the relationship between exercise and healthy oestrogen production, a few studies have shown that adopting a regular training regime can reduce the severity of sleep quality, insomnia and depression. As far as these particular symptoms go, the evidence is mixed as to whether or not exercise helps to reduce hot flashes. However, it has been shown to improve psychological well-being and decrease amount of weight gained during this phase.”

 

Bone Density & Muscle Mass

Regardless of age, strength training benefits the retention of muscle mass of any female. It’s really no secret that following a consistent exercise routine improves one’s cardiovascular, metabolic and psychological health.

 

One of menopause’s consequences is the acceleration of tissue aging throughout the body (muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons).(7) Given the majority of women will enter this phase around the ages of 50 to 55 years old, strength training won’t just decrease their risk of osteoporosis but if adopted early on in life, it can also aid them in achieving the highest possible peak bone mass when premenopausal.

 

So, one could suggest that if you’re under 45 years, it’s smart to incorporate a resistance training routine to benefit as much as possible from it before fully shifting into menopause. However, the good news is that there’s no such thing as being “too old” for strength training or starting “too late.”

Now, we already know that once a woman enters menopause, her ovaries start decreasing the production of oestrogen and progesterone. Research shows oestrogen acts as a regulator of muscle energy metabolism and muscle cell viability. It does so by inserting itself into cells, like muscle membranes, in order to stabilize them and help protect them from tearing. Therefore, strength training to increase the size of muscle fibres can help to mitigate these effects by combating age-related sarcopenia (a reduction in muscle strength and size) and maintain the current health of their bones, muscles, and joints.

Although a healthy lifestyle does not increase the amount of estrogen in circulation, it reduces the risk of deterioration and development of chronic health conditions.

Recovery

We already know estrogen’s role goes beyond a woman’s reproductive system. On top of helping regulate the menstrual cycle, oestrogen is crucial to preserving muscle mass and is instrumental in bone formation. As oestrogen production starts to decline, premenopausal and menopausal women’s bone rebuilding process will, in turn, start to slow down. So, in this case, strength training is a great way to help maintain a healthy skeletal and muscular system. That said, it’s important to really prioritize proper recovery.

“While most trainers focus on weight gain and weight distribution during this time, they really need to be focusing on recovery,” explains Galbraith. “During menopause or postmenopause, women have a decreased capacity for physiological stress.”

 

This is largely due to vasomotor symptoms. These symptoms (often called hot flashes), are described as a sudden increase in blood flow mostly to the face, neck, and chest, that cause the sensation of extreme heat and excessive sweating. When a woman experiences these symptoms at night, these “night sweats” can cause significant sleep disturbances. These can be caused by the decline of oestrogen, which help you fall and stay asleep by controlling levels of cortisol, and a lack of melatonin, which regulates body temperature for sleep. All the more reason to ensure proper recovery.

Galbraith’s tip: “Being mindful of how your clients feel during and after exercise, ensuring they can take breaks and have plenty of water to drink if they are experiencing hot flashes, and monitoring their overall recovery is incredibly important.”

Potential methods of recovery include:

Wrapping it Up

Why should a menopausal woman opt for strength training rather than solely relying on aerobic work as a form of exercise?

“Just like anyone, a combination of strength training and cardiovascular training is best for retention of muscle mass, improved bone density and health, cardiovascular health, and overall health and well-being,” Kolias states.

Along with preserving muscle mass and increasing bone density, menopausal women that opted for strength training as their primary method of exercise noticed tremendous psychological changes in and outside of a gym setting. Many of Galbraith’s clients experienced these benefits as well. “We’ve noticed that women feel appreciably stronger, more capable, more confident in their bodies and their abilities, and more in control of their overall health after adopting strength training. Particularly in a time in their life when they may feel as though their health is a bit out of their control.”

 

Although the stigma of strength training being “bad” or “too intense for older women” still exists, experts like Galbraith and Kolias will continue to passionately educate the fitness community on the benefits of adopting this style of exercise routine—regardless of age and gender.

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WHAT'S BEHIND THE BRAND?

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As well as our coaching, we have a real passion for stylish sportswear: after all, if we are spending a lot of time wearing it, we want to look and feel good in it and so we have developed our own ‘Pretty Gritty’ branded apparel. We aim to deliver our brand, beyond what we do locally so that all women can wear unique performance wear that is stylish and meaningful.

Our crocus logo and the name ‘Pretty Gritty’ represents determined women in the sports sector and is an analogy of the crocus flower itself: A tough, yet striking flower that brings much needed vibrancy and colour to its surroundings. In greater numbers they flourish and bloom.

We feel our Pretty Gritty apparel gets you noticed for all the right reasons and more and more women are wearing it proudly. Our products are perfect for both training sessions and events alike.

EOS, A GODDESS OF THE DAWN AND NEW BEGINNINGS 

Greek Mythology states that the Goddess Eos had an insatiable appetite for adventure and would circle the world every morning bringing the dawning of each new day with her gift of light.

 

We think she can be assimilated to all women, making changes and embarking upon something new, fresh and exciting and 'lighting' the way for other women to follow.

The ‘Pretty’ aspect of our name, not only lends itself to the radiance of a Goddess but particularly to the delicate blossoms of the hardy, crocus flower whose golden stigmas, were offered to Eos as a sign of worship.

 

The crocus not only survives, but prospers in the face of hardship and even manages to offer a cheerful and uplifting effect on onlookers. These might be the type of characteristics that a 'Pretty Gritty' woman works to achieve; and like the crocus flower, they bloom together while they individually flourish.

The ‘Gritty’ part, embodies the Goddesses’ power, strength and courage often associated with many of them. Goddesses were the pinnacle of feminism; held in high esteem for the positive attributes they possessed.

Our all female group can inspire each other to be better versions of ourselves; making small and incremental positive changes invigorating a ‘Dawn of a New Beginning’ whilst seeking out new adventures in life.

There is no better time than the moment you are in, to start anew. Being 'Pretty Gritty' is within all us women.

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