Tag Archives: health

Now anyone can get their dancing shoes on with babyballet …and ‘Big Ballet’ on Channel 4

Thousands of British babies and youngsters have fallen in love with dance – and exercise – over the past eight yeaImagers thanks to Yorkshire mum-of-four Claire O’Connor.

The 40-year-old set up her own song and dance academy, babyballet in Halifax in 2005 and can now lay claim to running the UK’s leading pre-school dance concept.  She has 58 franchisees across the country with over 10,000 youngsters attending 996 classes, and has won numerous awards for her work, including ITV’s Mumpreneur and Best Business Parent.

These days, babyballet is a recognised children’s brand. Alongside classes it has a thriving gift shop selling branded goods, its own distinctive babyballet car for franchisees, and loveable characters Twinkle and Teddy and Fluttery the Fairy who take part in numerous children’s festivals across the country.

Claire, who started theImage company with no capital investment and only a handful of staff, spotted a gap in the market for non-competitive dance classes that not only accepted the best, and has spent the last nine years spreading the word that ballet can be enjoyed by everyone, not just the elite. This year has got off to a great start for her.  She was handpicked to take part in a new three-part documentary, Big Ballet which follows a troupe of plus-size dancers as they realise their dream of dancing Swan Lake.  The Channel 4 series started on Thursday, February 6 and has attracted media attention from across the globe, along with a great deal of controversy.

Here Claire tells us about her involvement in the series and why she believes dance is good for all of us – no matter what our shape or size.

“I think it would be fair to say that taking part in Big Ballet has been the most uplifting and inspiring experience of my life.  My feet literally haven’t touched the ground since word broke about the life-affirming new documentary series, and it feels like the country has gone ballet mad.

I’ve appeared on The One Show, This Morning and ITV’s Yorkshire regional news programme Calendar, along with numImageerous newspapers and magazines.  What’s thrilled me most of all however is the reviews the programme has had from critics. They have called it sweet, heart-warming and a triumph over adversity. It’s certainly been a personal triumph for me.

I was picked to take part in the series because of my painful experiences with ballet. I attended classes ran by my mum, Barbra Peters, but discovered ballet and I didn’t fit because I was the wrong shape. I gave up at 14 and it left me with a lack of self-confidence and poor body image.

I started babyballet because I didn’t want this to happen to others, and while it has been a huge success, I’ve never really laid my personal ghosts to rest – until I took part in the show.  I feel like my life has now gone full circle. I loved ballet, I fell out with it and now thanks to the series not only do I love it again but I have finally accepted my body shape and ability and am happy to be me.

Best of all, the programme echoes the ethos of babyballet, that ballet and dance isn’t just for the super skinny, it’s for everyone, and the benefits are truly amazing.  Whether it’s ballet or ballroom, modern or tap, dancing is a great way for people of all ages and physical abilities to get and stay in shape.  Simply put, dancing just doesn’t feel like exercise but the truth is, dance offers a total body workout using all the major muscles groups and provides heart-healthy benefits.

ImageBabies develop through being active and exploring the environment so moving and grooving activities helps them develop key skills in all areas of their development such as coordination, balance, flexibility and strength.  Being physical in a creative way also helps their self-esteem and self-confidence and encourages them to explore the world around them. babyballet is all about self-awareness and inspiring confidence. Learning to move to dance is quite an advanced skill. It helps develop children’s bodies and brains. Research shows babies are born to dance and really enjoy it.

Dancing is great for other things too as you age, including reducing stress, and because it increases serotonin levels, your general sense of well-being improves. But by far the best news is that dancing makes you smarter.  Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that stimulating one’s mind by dancing improves your memory and cognitive function and can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.  It says that more is better and the sooner you start the better too.

I have seen first-hand how dancing keeps you fit and young thanks to my mum.  She started dancing at the age of two and at 76 is still dancing now.  After Big Ballet I decided I wanted to encourage women to put their dancing shoes back on and I have recently started adult classes, which are proving really popular.

Big Ballet currently goes out at 9pm on a Thursday and stars former Royal Ballet principal Wayne Sleep and ballerina Monica Loughman.  I hope you will tune in to the frank and refreshing glimpse into a world obsessed with size and make up your own minds.”

Click here to find out more about babyballet >>>

Visit What’s On 4 Little Ones to search for babyballet classes in your region >>>

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CALPOL Launch a Unique App for the iPhone

The makers of CALPOL understand how worrying it can be when little one’s are poorly and how everyday tasks can feel trickier to juggle. A recent survey of mums showed that many find it difficult to manage a poorly child along with their daily tasks, which is why the makers of CALPOL have launched a unique app for the iPhone to provide mums with the added support they need during this time.

With all of that growing up to do, little ones are bound to experience a few hiccups along the way so when children are unwell parents’ primary focus is on getting them better. A recent survey reveals that over half of parents feel anxious that they might misinterpret their child’s symptoms when unwell.

In response to parents’ needs, the new CALPOL app includes, among other features, essential advice on symptoms for the most common childhood illnesses. Providing easily accessible information at their fingertips allows parents’ to keep as much of their attention where it’s needed most, helping to take some of the stress and strain away from mums who are caring for their child. The app also includes a handy feature which reads the advice out loud providing mums with the extra support that they need when they are feeling tired.

The new app has been uniquely designed so that it can be used single‐handedly while a parent is holding their child. Created with busy mums in mind, the app features an easy‐to use ergonomic wheel so that even when mums’ hands are full, they have access to the information they need about their child’s ailment.

Other features include:

Dosage diary that enables parents to record the dose given to their child and will remind them when they last dosed. A recent survey of mums showed that parents would welcome information about what medicines to administer and when to make looking after their poorly child easier

Find my nearest pharmacy or hospital – speedy, essential information for a parent wherever they might be with their child when they fall ill

Temperature tracker that helps parents monitor their child’s temperature over the course of an illness

– Soothing lullabies, which parents can play to help comfort their little ones when they are feeling unwell

History – to track dosages given to their child and monitor their temperature

Information on immunisation, including automated immunisation reminders

Information on the CALPOL range

With many mums using iPhones more than any other smartphone and an average of twelve apps being downloaded by them every month, the new CALPOL app is anticipated to be very popular. The app for the iPhone is free and available for download now from the App store.

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8 Amazing Facts about Kids Yoga

image.aspx1) Just like the adult version, yoga will enhances a child’s flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, your child’s concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation will noticeably improve. Teaching your little ones to become more aware of their body, and what it feels like to stretch and relax, will help them create a positive relationship towards their physical fitness the rest of their life.

2) Yoga can help your child concentrate at school. Research shows that the deep breathing exercises may improve children’s focus. Some schools are already introducing mindfulness into the curriculum. Concentrating on the breath or feeling a stretch teaches children to keep their minds settled and focused, preventing negative thought processes and distractions.

3) Yoga teaches compassion and awareness of others. A child’s social-emotional development depends on a harmonious learning environment, which yoga creates. A lot of adults associate their school PE lessons with feelings of inadequacy and competition. Today, more children are turning away from competitive sports and moving towards ‘fun’ activities like yoga, circus skills and dance.

4) Yoga offers a whole range of therapeutic benefits to children. It’s excellent at helping your little ones move through difficult feelings and is often used to help posttraumatic stress disorder. It also helps with attention deficit disorder and is taught to special needs children, children with disabilities and those dealing with anxiety and anger management issues.

spiky_balls5) Start them early. You can introduce your child to yoga as early as — weeks. Baby yoga includes stretching, swinging and rolling, and helps aid sleep, sooths colic, strengthens the muscles and spine, and develops coordination. You can introduce new sensations such as these massage balls from www.yogamatters.com which are rolled across the skin.

6) Yoga helps to develop your child’s emotional creativity. All yoga poses are related to the natural world in some way and perfect for including in stories and adventures, which stimulate the imagination and help make classes fun. By imitating animals they can imagine what it feels like to take on their qualities. This also helps engage your child’s interest as they explore the deeper meanings behind the poses.

7) There are plenty of classes across the UK to choose from. These classes encourage interaction between children and are a good way to meet other aspiring yogis. It’s always a good idea to start out with a qualified teacher. Most studios now offer children’s classes such as London studios www.triyoga.co.uk and www.yogabugs.com who have classes all over the UK.

8) Yoga can be practiced at home. Once you’ve picked up the basics you can try out what you’ve learnt or top up your knowledge with books and DVDs. If you already have your own self- practice you might have noticed their interest towards your mat sparked already. Treat them to their own mini kids mat, which will help with them perfect their alignment: www.yogamatters.com

For more information about local Yoga classes for your children visit www.whatson4littleones.co.uk and www.whatson4schoolkids.co.uk

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