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A below is article by Joanna if you are also interested in contributing you can contact us here: write for us

Martial Arts have been a part of my life for almost a decade.

I first became involved because my children wanted to be like Jackie Chan, so I took them along to a local class and, because it was parents and kids, we all did it together.

Two years later, they had both moved on to other hobbies whilst I found myself hooked.

As an anorexic, it was great for weight loss, with three full-on sweat sessions a week involving lots of co-ordinated arm, leg and core exercise but my body changed in a way that it never had as a result of aerobics classes.

The muscles became so much more pumped and defined. I grew a six-pack and my bottom was tight as a drum. I looked fabulous, but what I didn’t realise was the problems that I was setting up for the future.

Five years later, with a first degree black belt wrapped around my waist, I noticed sharp pains in the tops of my arms. After trying to train around the pain, I consulted a professional and was diagnosed with impingements in both shoulders.

It would seem that all those sit-ups had distorted my body shape and pulled my trunk forwards, altering the angle of my neck and shoulders and creating the beginnings of a dowager’s hump. Continually hitting things just compounded the problem.

That’s when I discovered yoga and Pilates. At first I wondered how I was going to be satisfied with such apparently gentle exercise, but then I started to understand. Yoga is an on-going study that will last for the rest of my life and Pilates is a skill that needs to be learned if you want to retain optimum movement into old age.

Both work the body just as aerobically as my previous sweat sessions but in a much more focused way. Slow movements into asana that are held for a period of time require just as much effort from specific muscle groups as their more energetic martial counterparts.

I think this was brought home to me most forcibly last week when two new young males came to my Pilates class. Both in their 20s, they seemed to struggle to do even the most basic level of core strength exercises and were most perturbed to notice that ladies who were old enough to be their grandmother were managing without difficulty. It was most revealing.

What I’ve learned from my studies and what I notice in my body is that repeating the yoga postures or Pilates exercises every day has changed my body once again.

The definition is still there, but it is softer, less pumped and, therefore, less damaging because each muscle works in conjunction with the rest of the body rather than being exercised individually. There is no knock-on effect from over-stimulating one set of muscle fibres to the detriment of another.

For the first time in years I am standing up straight and, if you take a look at any of the photographs on my site, you’ll know that my body is in fabulous shape.

Joanna Cake writes about love, sex, intimacy, parenting, health and everything else that life has to throw at her in her blog at Having My Cake and Eating It Too

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