Mel Collie | Your Brain Tells a Story

Mel Collie | Your Brain Tells a Story

Most of us have a mobile, laptop, i-pad or something similar. Not that Im going to give you a lecture on posture, though I do help fix peoples posture and bad backs, I am going to shine some light on using the computer and our past stories.

When we are looking at the screen our eyes, narrow, our inner corners of our eyes become stronger, telling our brain that our world is only as wide as the screen. This reduces our movement and range. Our brain believes what our eyes are telling it, it has to, it relies on the messages the eyes send back in order to ensure that you don’t over do a real with your arms or you might hurt your shoulders.

Does that make sense?

So, your brain creates limitations around what it is used to, and this shows in the way you move and feel. Your joint mobility, flexibility and strength.

A child from an unhappy home harbours those memories as they grow up. The brain is like a computer, it doesn’t forget anything that it believes is a threat to your survival.
It remembers the “don’t do that” or the “you are too stupid do do that” or the ” you will never be good enough” or the ” keep out of my way”.
Without even realising it, as an adult, your responses to people around you will be affected because your brain remembers.
It creates the story and plays it over and over.
The amygdala is the alarm bell, it holds the stories, as your brain sees it, its recalling them to keep you from doing any damage, from threatening your survival, thats why we can lose strength and feel like curling up when stressed.

Your brain is like velcro for bad news, and teflon for good news, its hard wired for suffering. So much so that its how we live our lives, barely seeing the happiness in every moment we have, always looking for the next new shiny object to make us happy, when the happiness can only happen when we look inside of ourselves.

So, be more aware when you are next anxious, in pain, feeling depressed. Your brain is uncertain of the future, of whats going to happen next, its searching (its searching Google if you like!) for all the past experiences that it can relate to. Its slowing you down ultimately, so you find it hard to find a solution, stops you from getting out from under the duvet and living life to the full.
Nowadays we numb it, through food, alcohol, Facebook.
Im not going to tell you to read positive quotes, but instead Im going to do what is so simple, I think Ive emailed you about it before

Thats it
Just breathe into your lower belly for 1 minutes a day x 10.
the oxygen will tell your brain its not under threat, and will calm down the nervous system.
We need oxygen to function, and its reduced when we are anxious, we breathe into the upper chest then, its shall breathing, our brain worries we are under threat of survival, it closes you down, slows you down.

Its part of our survival programme we created for survivors of abuse to boost self esteem, wellness, fitness, a holistic approach. You can find out more about this amazing programme here.

Mel Collie

Mel Collie | Esther Rantzen & My MOT

Mel Collie | Esther Rantzen & My MOT

My car had to be fixed, or there was no car, no mot no driving.

It made me realise that even though life chucks you all the crappy stuff its down to you to react how you choose.

You can have a tantrum and throw the toys out the pram, stamp the feet, have a screaming rant, have a few drinks and a whinge.

They all raise the blood pressure, increase a hormone called Cortisol which increases belly fat and increases sensitivity to pain, so joint pain, back pain can also increase at times of stress, worry, anxiety. Many years ago, stress was the thing that kept us alive, running from the lions and tigers, hunting them down for something to eat. These days its the opposite and is slowly making us sick and tired. Stress can come from the memories we harbour and relive, opening a gas bill, from a demanding job or heavy training regime, lack of sleep, dehydration, a poor diet, constant negative thoughts, poor posture. (and many more!)
Stress is a big buzz word these days.

Its easy for me to say “step back and see it for what it is, accept it, realise and release it” but all of that can take time, some people never release worries and fears, old beliefs, because they don’t realise how stuck they are, or that their beliefs are the very things holding them back.
My “realisation” or little spiritualisation/break down happened a few years ago when a relationship broke down and I was heartbroken enough to have a long weekend away in a silent meditation retreat, it was pure heaven, loved every minute…after spending the whole of the first morning in tears. (silent ones…)

I learned the value of silence, breathing, relaxation and looking after myself, so I could be there for others, but, above all, I could be strong enough for me.

One thing you can do right now that won’t cost you a thing (don’t panic, we aren’t going to meditate, though we will talk about that in another email ) is this(you are pretty switched on so maybe you’ve done this already) Start a diary, or , in the one you already use, write 3 things you are happy about, 3 things you have around you that you are grateful for.
My 3 would be..happy I had the ways and means to pay for the MOT, happy that the guy who did the MOT has a bad back and will now be a client of mine ( I help people with back pain too..) Im happy that the sun was shining, the blossom tree next to the garage was in full bloom and I could see those colours.

Simple things we see and do everyday we take for granted are those very things we don’t see anymore. Does that make sense?
As human beings we live our lives, we gauge our life by suffering and pain, its how we have evolved. We tell each other about the crappy day we had at work rather than the great things that happened, because we gossip, chatter, judge each other, but how different it would be if we did the opposite.
I can’t see that changing in my lifetime, but I can make little changes to my mindset, which changes my day and how other people speak and act towards me, which helps shape my life.

What are your first 3 things? Would you make a new list everyday? Try it for 7 days.
Let me know how it goes, if you notice any mindset changes.

Mel Collie

Mel Collie | Do you tell your kids to stop being a fidget?

Mel Collie | Do you tell your kids to stop being a fidget?

Im sure you’ve lost count how many time you were told to sit still as a kid, do you now say it to your kids ? Maybe your nieces or nephews too?

Ok, stop it now…

Break the habit and the old belief that kids should not fidget, they will spend many years sitting at a computer, just like you are now, don’t steal their mobility just yet.

As for you, move as much as you can during the day, especially when you are at that desk, stand up, walk about,jump about, swing your arms about your body, tap your joints all over, jiggle your booty, rub your feet, shake your hands as if you have water on them, move your fingers around in circles. Move the computer position, dont sit feet up on the sofa with the laptop every night as you watch the tv – move positions often if you do this certain kind of sofa training :)

Make proper use of Microsoft outlook if you have it, or post it notes, and create a reminder service on your laptop to remind you to get up and move every 30 minutes, its going to do you no harm at all.

Be a fidget, and enjoy it, its what your body loves the most.


Mel Collie | Do you Really have One leg Shorter?

Mel Collie | Do you Really have One leg Shorter?…

Most people do have one leg shorter than the other…true story! And standing on one leg will tell you why that is. Well, one of the reasons..
Its called the Trendelburg ( Described by german surgeon Friedrich Trendelenburg in 1895) sign,  heres a picture for all you visionary learners.

Try it –  lift your left leg, does your pelvis shifts out towards the right side, so your right hip pushes out, you would find it tricky to keep a straight leg.
The opposite on the other leg too, so try it by standing on your left leg and lifting the right one.
This means that when you lift that left leg, for example, and your hips sway out on the right, your glutes arent helping you stay in a neutral pelvic position. They are a little bit weaker on that side.
This will be noticeable when you walk.
Now, when walking,  you push the body forward in walking pattern,from the ball of the back foot the knee and hip flex as the leg comes through, the pelvis is supported, but when it isnt because the glutes and TFL are weak and the flexion in the hip isnt as it should be, your pelvis shifts and drops.
Because everything affects everything, your upper body will also shift across too, affecting shoulders and head, ribs and breathing.
Try this simple 1 leg balance test, what happens to your pelvis?


Mel Collie | Can You Lose Belly Fat By NOT Exercising?

Mel Collie | Can You Lose Belly Fat By NOT Exercising?

Well, yes and no…but..if the YES answer is the one that YOU want to hear, then get these 2 tips into your life right now:

1.Reduce your caffeine intake – thats tea as well as coffee, but also diet drinks containing caffeine too. Why? Well caffeine can increase a hormone called cortisol, which isn’t a bad hormone, we do need cortisol, but when it remains high due to caffeine intake plus stress (which can range from getting the kids to school on time to opening a gas bill to your boss giving you a deadline for a report at work, to being dehydrated) So a mix of multitasking (stop it now…) and caffeine can increase your cortisol production which can stay in your body for up to 18 hours. You might also find that any joint inflammation or pain you have will reduce as well, as caffeine can increase inflammation, worth a try if you suffer from arthritis (for example) This could be because of the chemicals in the coffee (especially ground roasted type) so if you LOVE your coffee, choose an very good brand of organic coffee bean that you ground and filter yourself. The same for tea, choose an organic leaf, as for diet drinks, theres no organic alternative, because its just aspartame and caffeine, so swap those for water or start your herbal tea addiction. I started with peppermint tea, discovered I hated fruit teas, but loved mint teas, tulsi tea, some of the clipper teas (sleepytime is lovely) and green tea

2. Sleep. Increase the quality of your sleep and your belly fat will react in a good way. Sleep is the number 12 factor in reducing your belly fat, improving your hormonal balance and reducing carb cravings the following day. Get to be by 10.30 about 5 times a week, you can do all 7 days if you want to. So lights out by 10.30, but get off the laptop/mobile an hour beforehand, take some Magnesium tablets, ensure your bedroom is really dark (blackout blinds are great if you live near street lights) turn the digital clock around to face the wall (the glow can disrupt sleep), put the mobile away from the bed or outside the door.Have a cup of Sleepytime tea (clipper) or Valerian tea – a herb that helps you sleep, so dont drink it during the day or if you are about to go for a long drive 😉

3. OK – an extra tip – Breathe deeply 10 times. Sounds easy doesnt it. OK, so as you focus on breathing deeply into your lower belly, keep the focus on the breathing, bring it back as soon as your mind wanders, this is better than counting sheep…it helps to calm the brain down, relaxing you, ready to fall off to zzzzzzzzz land.

Enjoy :)

Mel Collie

p.s. if you hate exercise, change the word, as exercise can be a horrible word describing painful things that you might really not like. Try “movement” or “mobility” or “oiling the joints” or “age defying shapes” or “keeping young time”. Move your body more, and use those 3 tips, and see some serious changes for the rest of your life, as this is the only one you will be getting on this spinning rock.

Mel is a Pilates and holistic coach in North Wales helping clients from back, shoulder , knee and ankle pain, posture issues,  fat loss, anxieties and improving sleep :)

She only does 1:1 sessions because thats where the magic happens, every session tailor made for your brain & body, not someone elses.



Mel Collie |What do Sudoku & Flexibility have in common

 Mel Collie |What do Sudoku & Flexibility have in common

I have a client who hates Sudoku, to the point where we did a test on his strength and found that it reduced after he had been trying to do one of the puzzles…how did that happen?well, as we chatted about it, it turned out that he was bullied by his maths teacher at school many many years ago, and now any kind of pressure to perform in a maths environment, his brain sees as a threat to his survival, so it has to shut down areas of his body, his strength was one of those areas that was closed down, it affected his respiration which reduced abdominal strength.

Never underestimate what your body can do, your brain is the boss, and if you cant interpret brain talk, then you might not be seeing the results from your training that you are trying so hard to see

When it closes your strength down, its telling you that the nervous system has had enough.
You can test it during every exercise set if necessary.
After each set of press up, chin up, sprints, bench presses, ab curls, side kicks, extensions.

You can use your computer screen as a tool to help your strength, I will show you how in the next email.

Test, assess, dont guess.

Mel Collie

Mel Collie | Is the Plank really as dangerous as the Daily Mail says it is?

Mel Collie | Is the Plank really as dangerous as the Daily Mail says it is?

Hold your horses, before you all get on the Daily Mail bandwagon…lets take a deep breath..and calm down.

1. If you hold your breath whilst doing any exercise, you are increasing the likelihood of an injury, over straining muscles, pain. If you are holding the plank for a long time, you must be aware of your breathing. Tendancy is to hold the breath and then when you do breathe, you take shallow breaths using shoulder and neck muscles which increases the likelihood of an injury in the upper body.

2. Its not a new fad that is “suddenly sweeping pilates classes”, that made me laugh…its been around for centuries, if not longer…theres no “suddenly” about it, and even she stated in her article she had been doing this for a year. Its also not a “pilates” exercise, nothing really is, Joseph Pilates created his system on taking movements from many different areas of movement he was studying and put them together to create his own method – he was a gymnast, a boxer, martial arts, yoga. If you study all of those and practice them in depth, you will notice the connections.

3. I used to go to a Pilates class in a gym with 25 people attending, and the instructor, in a bootcamp style, would encourage you to plank for long periods of time – up to 8 minutes at one session, needless to say not only is that incredibly boring but a totally incorrect way to work your core, which loves to move, so if you are looking for great core exercises, planking for 8 minutes isnt one of them.

4. Try the jack knife instead (use a stability ball, and dont do loads of reps, do just 1 really well and if you cant do the next one as well as you did the first, then stop), or if you have access to a medicine ball, use that to do upper body twisting exercises, do woodchopper movements (using the body in all planes)but….in all honesty..I have seen guys with 6 pack abs whose core muscles have a really weak connection, overtight backs and shockingly non existant belly breathing. After a posture assessment, doing a simple breathing assessment can correct this, improving core strength immediately and effectively, more than a plank will do…but breathing doesn’t make money so you get these celebs selling exercise dvds and models posing on front of magazines in their cropped tops looking awesome, and we expect to be just like them, truth is to be true to yourself and do what you like, not what some celebrity is doing. They will never tell you the whole truth.

5. You can train your core in so many ways, which means that there isnt one specific way to train them, or all the other ways wouldnt exist, we tend to over complicate things. Keep it simple. Listen to what your brain is telling you, the feedback from your muscles to your brain ( its a bit like a department reporting back to the boss at the office ) and if your muscles arent on full alert and working well, your brain will give you pain and slow you down. Pain isnt the end of the world, its a warning sign that somethings overworking because other muscles (for example) arent showing up, just because you have them doesnt mean they are firing on all cylinders. get checked out by a specialist, you might just be surprised at what they find.

6. Plank – move it – change it – do it on your knees,(float the knees off the floor by and inch for as long as you remain in control of your posture, and that may not be that long at first) plank position and then move the hips from side to side or alternate dipping the hips to the floor, do it on a stability ball (feet on the ball) and then bend the knees bringing the ball to your chest, then straighten the legs back out again(the further the ball is away from your centre the harder the exercise is – so watch your posture). Always watch your neck and shoulders, the tendancy is to overwork these for stability when the core isn’t connecting, which is probably what happened to the writer of the article in the paper. Its more important to keep good posture than to time yourself doing the plank. Isnt that common sense? (please say yes….)

Mel Collie | Pilates

Is the Plank really dangerous

Plank – It isnt the be all and end all , but people love it because its a challenge, personally I dont like it because for me, its boring and theres so many alternative ways to get your core working.

Explore the difference. Enjoy movement.


Mel Collie | Do Foam Rollers Really Work?

Mel Collie | Do Foam Rollers Really Work?

Foam Rollers – all the rage, and I bought 8 of them a few years ago and used them in Pilates classes and on myself too, however, I have recently looked further into foam rolling and the science behind your brains reactions to this trend, and this is what I found..

Once you get to know your nervous system, what it sees as a threat, and reactions, foam rollers may not be your first choice in releasing tension & massaging to those painful trigger points and heres why…

1. The Foam roller is used a lot for massaging the outer edge of the thigh. This area is called your Tensor Fascia Latae, a band of fascia (web like connective tissue that is predominantly water – big hint there on how to help it be less tight) The muscular part of the TFL is at the pelvis , the iliac crest, between glute medium and sartorius. Anyhow, seeing videos on You Tube massaging the outside of your thigh on these white foam things (other colours are available..) can be doing you no favours at all. Your TFL is tight for a reason, a bit like your hamstrings, they won’t let go until they are happy that another muscle in your body is doing its job, so you may have some imbalances in your pelvis and thighs, possibly ankles and feet too. Get checked out and get a posture assessment. :)

2. Your nervous system is your CEO, its in charge, and will send tightness to your muscles if it feels you are under threat. So , imagine then, if you then go an massage your tight muscles with a hard foam roller, what does your brain think is going on if it feels pain? It will sense that you are under threat, won’t release tightness, will reduce movement and range, sending you back a step, rather than forward a step, which is where you want to be.

How can you assess yourself? Test your range – for example:

Standing with feet either together or hip bone distance, put your arms out in front of you, just lower than shoulder height and place the palms together, like my fellow climber in the picture below.

The turn to your right(keep pelvis and feet the same though, just turn upper body) then back to centre and to your left, note how far you can turn to on each side, there will be one side you find tighter or a reduced range of movement. Don’t hold your breath, keep good posture also.

Do you have a foam roller?

Do you have a foam roller?






Then , perform your foam rolling session, once you have finished, re assess your movement with the same drill.(this can be substituted for a toe touch as the forward bend range can be reduced if the nervous system feels threatened – think tight hamstrings and painful lower back)

You can do the same assessment when you exercise. A client came to me with nagging right side and right shoulder pain. During assessing him, we did some push ups , which were his usual warm ups and training exercises, and found that after the push ups, his rotation had decreased considerably which meant that he was either doing too many or his form wasn’t perfect during each push up.

Practicing his posture, breathing, and doing vision drills (which all help in push ups, especially if you keep the head in alignment but use your eyes to down as you descend, and up as you come back up – the down eye movement facilitates the flexor muscles in the thoracic, the up eye movement does the opposite)

Keep assessing your reactions, then you can tell if your brain is sensing threat, reducing your performance, increasing the possibility of injury.

Train safe for the best results, overtime, why would you choose not to?


Personal training, Pilates , nutrition and neurological training all rolled into one for the best results.


Mel Collie | Your Nervous System is All Powerful!

Mel Collie | Your Nervous System is All Powerful!

Whilst the planet is still stretching hamstrings, expecting them to “let go” (which they wont , because they are tight for a reason…ever wondered why?) ..theres a small section of the fitness industry that searches for the truth and asks “why” and searches for the truth, trying to change the industry to avoid the untruths that still abound on the internet.

Anyhow..heres the thing, I went searching for more answers, mainly to help my hamstrings lengthen, help my glutes work (squats do work, but only if the muscles are responding well)  and to understand exactly how the body responds to exercise and nutrition.

Heres what I discovered : the body is a complex system ( No surprise there) but at the same time, it responds to simple ways to re-boot it.

Heres one – your nervous system is in charge, you know that I am sure, but if you didnt, it means to check with your brain that its happy before checking with your muscles.So, with that in mind, heres one way to get your brain to let go of your restrictions…(see your brain at the CEO, and the rest of your body as the departments, if the departments are short of staff or have issues, their reports back to the CEO will warn it of a reduction in the workforce, which means reduced production which means reduced performance )

Quantum Scone | Climbers Brain

So…the CEO see these things as a threat :




Spatial Awareness


(not necessarily in that order)

Whats a threat to the brain? Now thats the question, because it varies from person to person as your are unique, so a threat can be :

Financial worries


Nutritional Stress

Family stresses (getting the kids homework done, cooking, planning holiday, car needs an mot, keeping everyone happy etc etc)

Lack of Sleep

Judgemental comments from other people


Failure at work

Past Injuries (the brain doesn’t forget you broke your toe at 5 years old or fell over at 2 years old)

Athletic performance (worried about strength, falling, stamina, failing)

Its a little known fact that something as simple as lack of hamstring length can be improved by massaging the head and forehead, a focus on deep breathing for a minute x 10 a day, improving vision with simple exercises and spatial awareness drills.

All of this and more you can find in an hours assessment, online or at my home studio in Llanberis, Snowdonia.

Its so fast and so amazingly simple, its like that illusionist, Dynamo, looks simple, happens quickly, leaves a lasting impression.



Mel Collie | Stick Your Neck Out

Mel Collie | Stick Your Neck Out

Since moving to Wales, my hair has grown so fast, it needed cutting, the fringe was really driving me crazy, getting in the way, and when my hair gets too long, it bunches out at the sides, hate that look…

Anyway, besides the fact that the heaves opened on may way back from the hairdressers, so I walked home in a massive hailstorm, it was a lesson for me about me neck.

Reminded me about this little video, a simple way someone taught me on how to prevent neck pain, as when you are in the hairdressers, you move our head this way and that, but then keep it still for a moment , as you sit there patiently, trying not to fidget like a little kid

Here is the link, have a watch, only takes up 2 minutes of your time, and best done at the laptop or mobile, as your head is in a weird position right now as well.

Mel Collie