Bum’s the word!

Personal trainer (and former chef) Ian Eassom shares his tips on staying fit and healthy, with the occasional treat…

It’s shaping up to be a typical summer – what mixed weather we’re having! Thankfully we still have the light nights and I’m making the most of them by eating outdoors whenever I can. This month I am making these tofu satay skewers, which are delicious whether you’re vegan or not, and are great for outdoor garden get-togethers, as a starter or a main meal. They are quick and easy too, so you’re not spending all your time in the kitchen when you can be out in the garden relaxing.

These are tasty served on a bed of mixed leaves or some seasoned brown rice; not only are they packed full of protein, but you can customise and adapt them to your own taste.
1 block of tofu
3 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp light soy sauce
A pinch of chilli flakes
Red pepper
Juice of one lime
3 cups of brown rice
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 small piece of ginger (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 tbsp roasted peanuts (crushed)

Dry the tofu by wrapping it in a sheet of thick kitchen towel, and leave it for 10 minutes with something heavy on top to squeeze out any remaining liquid. Tofu can be a tricky ingredient to master, but the drier it is the better it crisps up later.
Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli flakes and lime juice together into a bowl.
Slice the tofu up into large chunks (1-2 inches) and gently place them in the mix, coating each piece and taking care not to break them. Leave them to marinade for 30 minutes.
Now is a good time to cook the brown rice to your usual taste.
Chop the courgette and red pepper into similar large chunks, then put the tofu chunks and sliced veggies onto skewers. Place them on a baking tray and grill for four minutes each side on the highest setting, until nicely browned.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a small pan on the hob and add the garlic, ginger and honey and sizzle for one minute. Serve the skewers on a bed of brown rice and drizzle the dressing over the top just before serving, with a wedge of lime for garnish. I love these straight from the grill, but they’re also tasty served cold too.

During lockdown it has been easy to slip into bad habits, and we’ve all probably spent more time sitting than we normally would. This month we’re going to firm up those thighs and buttocks, giving you a confidence boost to rock your summer wardrobe.

To get us warmed up, we’ll start with a single leg donkey kick. We start on all fours, with your hands shoulder-width apart and arms straight. Firstly, we’ll use the left leg. The goal is to keep your leg the same shape and angle all the way through, so by lifting your leg up behind you, try to keep that 90º bend in your knee, so when your upper leg is horizonal, your lower leg is pointing upwards. Return to the starting position of both knees on the floor and that is one repetition (rep). See how many you can do on each leg. I try to do 25 before swapping legs.

Secondly, we’ll try a hip thrust, for all you disco lovers out there. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you, feet hip-width apart and propping yourself up with straight arms by your side, hands underneath your shoulders. Bring your feet back and squeezing your buttocks (glutes), lift your hips into a tabletop position, all the time keeping those glutes nice and tight. Focus on keeping your head up and shoulders back. Hold for the count of five and slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat this 10 times.

Lastly, we’ll finish with a sumo walk. With your feet just over shoulder-width apart, get into a squat position, bum sticking out, hands clasped together and feet facing forward. Keeping in that squat position, take four steps forward each side, then four steps back to where you started. As soon as you get back to that starting position, do 10 low pulses, where you allow yourself to momentarily drop a little lower, then quickly return to the squat position (imagine you’re gently, but quickly, bouncing on a gym ball). Only stand up fully when you’ve completed the walk and 10 pulses. This is a hard one, but well worth the effort, so take a short rest before repeating the whole exercise up to 10 times.

This last exercise I do with my clients and after three weeks they can really notice the difference, not only in their physique, but also their fitness levels and flexibility. It does get easier with time (trust me!), so it’s worth persevering.

Next month, we’re getting intense! We’ll be doing a high intensity routine, dealing with your core and upper, followed by a healthy fish supper.

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