22 December 2014

how to improve flexibility

Hannah, Little Miss Flexible

Right, before we start, I'd like to mention that I'm not trained in any of this, therefore I take no responsibility for injuries you may sustain. I'm simply sharing what works for me!

To start off, you need to warm up. In class, we usually do at least 15 mins of cardio. At home, I tend to do jumping jacks, allegro and other ballet jumps, or a little running/jumping routine.

This routine starts with running on the spot to each direction for 8 counts, then 6, then 4, then 2 (twice) then 1  (four times). You could then repeat the exercise jumping instead of running. This is possibly one of my favourite ways to warm up.

Now we can start stretching. Out of class, I like to start at the top of my body and work my way down. Before you start, just know that this will be a very lengthy post with a lot of pictures. Although, these aren't all of the stretches I do, just the easiest to take photos of at home.

Section 1: Neck Stretches

Start by tilting your head to the left, and then to the right. Hold each for 8 counts and repeat a few times. Do this slowly as you don't want to stretch too much.

Then look to the left, and to the right, following the 'rules' as for the tilt.

The last neck stretch involves looking up and down, with the same counts as before.

Section 2: Arm and Side Stretches

Swing your arms in circles: forwards, backwards, together, 'swimming', and arms going the opposite ways. Sorry I forgot to picture these, but I think they're pretty self-explanatory.

Follow these steps in the following order:
Top left: Lean over to one side
Top centre: Lean over but ensure your back is flat and as parallel to the floor as possible
Top right: Lean down to your leg, trying to touch your face against your shin
Centre: Put your head as far between and behind your legs as possible
Lower left: Lean down to your other leg, trying to touch your face against your shin
Lower centre: Lean over but ensure your back is flat and as parallel to the floor as possible
Lower right: Lean over to the other side

Repeat this but start on the side you just finished on. Hold each position for 8 counts. Then start again but hold for 6, then 4, then 2 and finally 1 count.

Section 3: Legs/Hips

Butterfly Stretch (and Variations)

Top left: Butterfly stretch.
Lower left: Keeping your back as flat as possible, bend at the waist and try to put your face on your feet.
Lower right: Push the thighs down towards the floor until they're as flat as you can. Hold for 30 seconds. Shake legs out and repeat.


Centre: Open your legs out to straddle. Lean forwards, bending at the waist and keeping a flat back, and reach, trying to get your chest to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds; shake legs and repeat.
Left: Repeat as before, but leaning to the left and trying to put your face on your knee.
Right: Repeat as before, but leaning to the right.

Top left: Lean over to the side and try to get your ear to your knee. Hold for 30 seconds, shake out legs and repeat.
Top right: Repeat on the other side.
Lower left: Fold one leg in. Try to put your ear and face to the extended leg as before.
Lower right: As above, but on the other side.


Hold for at least 30 seconds.


Walk your legs out until they are straight and on the floor. If this is too easy, hook your hands around your feet and lift your heels off the floor. Another variation is to keep your nose on your knees as you walk your legs out. Hold these ending positions for 30 seconds.


Left: Deep lunge, ensuring that your knee doesn't go past your foot. Either hold this or bounce in this position for a short while.
Right: Deepen this stretch by putting your elbows on the floor. Again, either hold or bounce this.

Slide back into the splits, ensuring both legs and knees are straight. Go as low as you can, and don't worry if you aren't flat yet. I'm only just flat.

(Not pictured): Lean forwards over your front leg for a deeper stretch.

Repeat on the other side for the same amount of time. You must always stretch both sides equally. As you can see, this is my worse side, but I'm doing the same stretches. Also, if you have an injury, like I do, go a little bit easier on yourself. You don't need to make that any worse, so just rest it.


Find something to rest your foot on; I found this step-stool in my brother's bedroom. You can place it under either your front or back foot, or if you have two things, e.g. chairs, then you could put one under each leg. I prefer the latter option.

Found this picture from the summer; oversplits with two chairs

Excuse the blurriness, but you can also lean forwards to stretch even further. If your back is flexible, stretch backwards too.

Centre Splits

Lay on your back against a wall and push your legs down, letting gravity doing the work. I sometimes sit and read, or even study, like this. I found this from this video. Subscribe the channel as well, it's got some good tips!

Slowly go into your centre splits. I've never been able to do these, and probably never will, but it doesn't hurt to stretch them.

Imaginative Splits Stretches

This is an amazing stretch! Try to lean into it as much as you can. Another variation is putting your back leg up a wall behind you, but I find this difficult since my back is so weak and inflexible.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post, please share this around and use it as much as you need. If you have any questions or would like some more stretches for other parts of the body, just let me know! Be safe and have fun!

20 December 2014

getting fit

Both school and my exams have now finished until January, which leaves me with a couple of weeks to do not very much. The friend I normally meet up with is heading home to Japan to see family over Christmas, which means that I may have to settle for other friends!

But I'm so excited about Christmas, you know? This past month has seen my head stuck in a revision book in every free minute of the day, so to be able to finally look up and realise that Christmas is less than a week away is pretty exciting!

All of this studying means that I've missed out on most of the festive cheer this year, but I'm determined to make up for that in these upcoming few days.

Usually, during school holidays, I don't do a lot at all. Dance classes take a break, school pretty obviously takes and break, and that only leaves chores. But other than that, there's pretty much nothing to do. Sure, I'll have to revise quite a bit and finish some coursework, but the Internet can often prove to be quite a pain.

But I'd like to use these next couple of weeks as an opportunity to start working out more, seeing as I'll have plenty of time to kill. Today I started the Blogilates Decemburn calender, but I only have time for 2 of 5 of the workout videos because I also had dance class. I'm so glad I did it though, because my core and arms were sore for so long.

Another great thing is that I've managed to rope my brother into joining me in working out! I think be might just be starting to think about fitness, as he does some of his own accord anyway without a club, which is great. Workout buddy!

16 December 2014

mock exams

If you are or have been a student in the UK, then you will know that GCSE mock exams take place just before and after Christmas, with AS level mock exams following shortly after.

My GCSE mocks started last Wednesday and continue through until the first week back after Christmas. I have 23 exams in total! Then in February sometime, I'm sitting my Creative Writing AS mock exam.

As of today, I've sat 13 of these 24 total exams, and I'm so relieved to have gotten so many out of the way. I have four exams tomorrow and one on Thursday, even though we finish school at 12pm, since it's the last day.

Over Christmas I'll have much more time to post, as I'm really missing it right now, but I have to be dedicated to my school work. 

7 December 2014

diy vintage photo effect using gimp

You may have noticed that on Picmonkey, if you want some of the really pretty effects, you have to pay. Which I have nothing against, at all. But sometimes, you just don't have the money to spend on little privileges, especially when you can easily do it yourself with a little effort.

One of my favourite Picmonkey effects is called Shiro. I set it just to see how my image would look.

It looks quite pretty, don't you think? If you would like to achieve this effect on your own images, I'm just about to show you.

Step 1.
Open your image on your editing software. I use Gimp, because it's so quick and easy to use.

Step 2.
You're going to want to head to the Brightness-Contrast option. For this image, I set the brightness to 10 and the contrast to -3. Basically, you just want to make the image lighter and with less contrast. Experiment and find the one you like best.

Step 3.
You could either do this step now or at the very end. Do it now if you feel like you know what you're doing, but you can always readjust if you don't like the final image.
Either way, you'll have to use the Curves tool. I dragged the highlights-counter past the lightest 'bulge' on the histogram to 164. This made the whole image pretty light. Like I said, you could leave this step til last if you like.

Step 4.
For this final step, you need to find the Colorize tool. Because I wanted this to be pretty vintage, I found a brown-ish hue that wasn't too yellow (18), and decreased the saturation right down to 16. Then just to finish I increased the lightness to 7, to lighten the darkness of the leotards and tights.

Here's the final image, and some others in the 'series'.

And there you go, how to get your own 'Shiro' effect from Picmonkey using Gimp! Enjoy :D

3 December 2014


Well I've been even less active on here than normal recently:/ I'm fast approaching mock season, which means endless revision! Anyway, this has been in my head for days now! Enjoy ;)