Full swing into spring!

Easter Walnut and Cranberry Balls

For these tasty balls you will need the following ingredients:
• 300g oats
• 3 medium bananas
• 50g walnuts
• 50g cranberries
• 20g desiccated coconut
• 20g honey
• 15g ground flaxseed
• 90ml dairy-free milk

Four Core Fit Tips
• Brace the core, checking your posture when sitting at a desk, or even using a gym ball instead of your chair, as that balancing motion keeps the core engaged (although don’t let those online meetings make you nod off, or you’ll bounce away!).
• Regular exercise like running, swimming and walking, whilst swinging your arms and watching your posture, will all add to a stronger and more flexible core. Dancing is also a fun one.
• Foods rich in protein and covering all essential amino acids are important to repair and maintain muscles; good fats can be found in flax seeds, whilst oily fish keeps the core flexible too.
• Follow the stretches and exercises in the pictures for best results.

Words by:
Ian Eassom
Featured in:
April 2023

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

April not only brings longer days and milder weather, but it also means that golfing season is here, so this month I am at Pottergate Golf Club with my clients and hosts Gail, Richard and daughter Abigail.

I could quite easily get into this; it’s a great way to make friends and socialise, and it can be a whole family activity too. Not only does golf get you outdoors in the fresh air, but it is a relaxing and generally low intensity form of exercise, which is great for lowering blood pressure, helping anxiety and boosting the immune system.

Investing in golf equipment means we tend to look after it, as it can be expensive, and yet we forget the most valuable piece of equipment we have is our body – and we wouldn’t be able to play without it.

Core values
For example, increasing the flexibility and strength of your core will allow for a bigger range of motion, making your swing more comfortable and lowering your chances of any injuries (often caused from restricted or tight core muscles).

You’ll find you have less tension in your shoulders too, as well as a flatter stomach from improved posture. This is something I’ve been working on with my golfing clients for some time now, so I thought I’d share some advice from the greens.

These four simple exercises will suit you to a tee and can be used at the beginning of any sport (clubs are optional, or you may wish to use a trusty resistance band).

You can try these moves as a ‘stretch and hold’, or as an exercise with reps and sets. These are great to stretch out that tension at other times too, such as when you get out of bed in the morning, or even when working at a desk all day.

Overhead Arm Rotation
This is great for relieving tightness and tension in the neck and shoulders, and very easily performed.

Your flexibility will determine how far back we can work that stretch, but regardless this can be performed standing or sitting, depending on your whereabouts. Holding your club or band in front of you, simply raise your arms upwards until they are above your head. To extend this further, you can always put a simple step out or even a lunge into this movement.

Lunge and Twist
This exercise is great for improving balance, stretch and flexibility in the glutes, hamstrings and quads. The twist movement improves mobility from hips to shoulders, strengthening the core. Again, this exercise can be done as a stretch, or in reps and sets. To perform this go into a lunge (choosing the depth of the lunge depending on your mobility and strength) and once you have one leg striding forward, rotate your core to the direction of the knee. For example, if you stride out with the left foot, rotate the core to the left, then rotate back facing forward before striding back and repeating.

Side Plank (with optional rotation) 
Lie down comfortably on your side with your legs extended in an aligned side plank position, propped on your elbow, with your other arm in a raised position (as in the picture). We now have a number of options here: we can simply hold this position for up to 30 seconds, or do a series of shorter repetitions. To add in an optional rotation, you can either reach your outstretched arm and hand towards the floor in front of you, or you can circle your arm at the shoulder for a few rotations.

Squat and Press
This exercise is a great all-over one for the core, legs, arms and shoulders, targeting the area of muscle a little more intensely. This one can be done with or without weights, and for the golfers you can use a club.

The ‘press’ part refers to holding the club or weight above your head, as you press it upwards. To perform the squat, your feet want to be apart, toes facing forward and as you squat down, you want to envision that you’re sitting back in a chair, which is a little too far away to stop you bringing your knees forward over your toes. This way you target your hamstrings and glutes more, saving excess pressure on the knees. For those with a less flexible core, go into the squat, and then perform the shoulder press on your way up. For more of a challenge, go into the press as you’re going into the squat at the same time.

Easter Walnut and Cranberry Balls 
This recipe was inspired by my clients Sharon and Graham, with a few subtle changes and the addition of wonderful walnuts (which are so good for us in many ways). Also adding in cranberries helps give it that tangy, Easter feel.

• I love this recipe because it’s so simple and can be made using just one bowl to mix everything in. To start, soak the ground flaxseeds in the milk and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Then simply add all the other ingredients; I like to use my hands, just mixing everything in and mashing the banana up at the same time, until you’ve got a nice mix, and the oats are all moist.
• Divide the mixture into 12 balls, popping them on a greased baking tray and into a preheated oven set at 170°C for 15 minutes. Once cooked, these can be eaten warm, or left to cool. They’ll keep for up to five days, but they may not last that long!

Finally, Happy Easter everyone, and for an Easter treat I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Pottergate Golf Club, where they do a cracking Sunday lunch, or even coffee and cake, which you don’t have to be a member to enjoy! Have a great spring and I will see you next time.

Ian Eassom is a Lincoln-based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private individual training sessions (one-to-one, couples or small groups) in your own home, garden or public space, or online, with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. Don’t forget there’s a special offer for Lincolnshire Life readers! For the latest information, visit www.ianeassom.co.uk

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