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Featured in the December 2020 issue

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

You may have noticed that in all my exercises I have a little help (and he really is little help) from my dachshund Harvey. Because it’s Christmas, this month I have a tasty vegan recipe for gingerbread Harveys. Keeping with the Christmas theme, I thought we would set ourselves a musical challenge this month, so what better way than to do a festive workout where you can sing along? (That’s if you can get your breath after the exercises!) I’ll explain some of the newer exercises once you all know the words.

Altogether now:
On the first day of Christmas, my exercise will be,
A jump squat and a burpee.

On the second day of Christmas, my exercise will be,
Two dirty dogs, a jump squat and a burpee.

On the third day of Christmas my exercise will be,
Three touch-toes, two dirty dogs, a jump squat and a burpee.

On the fourth day of Christmas my exercise will be,
Four deep squats, three touch-toes, two dirty dogs, a jump squat and a burpee.

On the fifth day of Christmas my exercise will be,
Five hip swings (deep breath!), four deep squats, three touch-toes, two dirty dogs, a jump squat and a burpee.

…you know the drill by now, for each day, add the following, for an increasingly challenging workout!
Six kneeling press-ups
Seven core crunches
Eight lunging pulses
Nine mountain climbers
Ten jacks a jumping
Eleven flutter kicks
Twelve high knees
Don’t forget to sing nice and loud, and where the exercise is for legs, the number is per leg – no slacking!
Regular readers will be familiar with some of these exercises already, but here are some details for the newer ones.

JUMP-SQUAT AND BURPEE
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold your arms at your side and stand with your knees straight. Bend at your hips and knees to lower yourself into a squatting position. Continue to lower yourself gently and in a controlled way, until you can touch the floor with your hands.
Place both hands on the floor in front of you, roughly shoulder-width apart. Once you feel steady, quickly kick both of your feet back, so that your body is straight, and you are in the plank position. Hold this for a few seconds, then jump to return your feet to the original position, keeping your hands on the floor. Once your feet are back under your body, jump straight upwards, lifting your hands and arms above your head as high as you can.

DIRTY DOG
This is an excellent exercise for improving mobility and range of motion in your hips, and when done correctly it also allows you to fire up your core muscles, making this an excellent choice for an abdominal workout.
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor, hands directly beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift your right leg away from your body, keeping your knee flexed at a 90° angle, moving then away from the body approximately 45° or as high as flexibility allows. You’ll see why this exercise gets it name, but don’t feel you need to be near a lamp-post when you perform it!
Keep your upper body and pelvis still, as the movement should stay restricted to your hips. Do not allow your waist to drop. Hold this for 3-5 seconds, then reverse the movement by slowly lowering your knee back towards the floor, pausing briefly, and repeating before going on to the other side.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
Get into the plank position by lying on the floor face-down, extending your legs out behind you and balancing on the balls of your toes, whilst placing your hands directly under your shoulders and holding yourself up, keeping your body straight. Hold your arms strong and straight, but don’t lock your elbows. Then lift one foot and bring your knee up towards your mid-section in one smooth motion, between the front of your body and the floor, before returning your foot to the starting position. Repeat on the other foot and keep alternating, making sure you always keep one foot on the floor.

VEGAN GINGERBREAD

After all that song and dance, you’ve earned some delicious gingerbread! I’ve made mine with a dachshund-shaped cutter, but you can improvise your own designs and make a scene for the big day. For this version, you will need the following:/i>

INGREDIENTS
After all that song and dance, you’ve earned some delicious gingerbread! I’ve made mine with a dachshund-shaped cutter, but you can improvise your own designs and make a scene for the big day. For this version, you will need the following:

350g plain flour
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter (for the vegan version, there are some great plant butters available from your local ‘free-from’ section)
175g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp whisked juice from a tin of chickpeas (or 1 egg can be substituted as a dairy alternative)
4 tbsp golden syrup

METHOD
In a large bowl, mix the flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda. Cut the butter/alternative into chunks and rub into the dry mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the soft brown sugar. Add the chickpea juice/egg to the golden syrup in a separate bowl and mix together, before adding to the main mixture.

Once you have achieved a dough consistency, sprinkle some flour onto the worktop and knead it. Preheat your oven to 180oC/Gas Mark 5. Roll the dough out to around 5mm depth, and cut out your shapes. If you’d like to use your Harveys as tree decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each shape.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, then decorate to your heart’s content! Obviously these are for humans-only, but it doesn’t stop Harvey watching every move I make when baking them!

Happy Christmas everyone – and see you in the New Year, for some healthy resolutions!

Ian Eassom is a Lincoln based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private online one-to-one sessions, with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. As lockdown restrictions ease, he’ll be able to offer individual training sessions in your own garden or public space once again, all following the latest social distancing rules. 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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