THE BLOG
04/03/2015 10:51 GMT | Updated 03/05/2015 06:59 BST

Using the Mind as Well as the Body...

So the gloom of January and February has nearly passed and the first shoots of spring are pushing up through the ground, although seeing the news it appears hat a whole sky full of cloud had just dumped its load on the north of England... Winter can seem very long.

However, without appearing too smug, I went off in January and most of February to California... LA to be precise, to get some winter vitamin D and feel what its like to have sun on my back. Yes, I count myself very, very lucky.

But it wasn't all play... I like to go to California to see what is exciting the locals in the way of physical fitness and wellbeing as many of our best exercise programmes all started in California. Although its not all one-way traffic as last year I was here at the Fitness Expo in Anaheim, promoting Fitsteps, to see whether the American fitness community, could get excited by our new dance programme.

But I am always keen to get my ear to the ground and see what's going on with the locals. And as ever, I wasn't disappointed.

What I love about California is that when you arrive in places like Santa Monica or Venice Beach you just see everybody on the move. They are roller blading, power walking, running, surfing, cycling and everyone just seems to be enjoying getting their body to move in some form. What I love about seeing all these people on the move is that it is just so infectious so everyday I was up and the crack of dawn doing something and looking for the next big craze.

This year it was Soul Cycle. Its really an elaborate spinning class but with some fancy dance moves and rhythmns thrown in. It takes place in the dark and high-energy dance music just pumps for 45 mins non-stop.

Great energy waster and there is a communal thing going in as there about 50 people in every class and there is lots of whooping etc. (very American I thought) but you come out drenched in sweat and it feels brilliant. Just watch for it coming to a gym near you any day now.

So as ever I spent lots of time keeping fit and exercising that is just so easy to do when the sun is shining everyday.

And then there is the food.

America is often known as the land of excess of all things bad, everything is sweet and drenched in sugar as there is real problem with portion control!!

So it's easy to understand why so many people are over weight and have dietary problems such as diabetes and heart conditions.

But in LA the variety of health food outlets that only serve salad variations or just juice drinks is simply mind boggling... and delicious! So in such a body conscious culture you have to work very hard to eat really badly.

So being there I was in 7th heaven but it's also a bit like coals to Newcastle. This is what I do and have done for most of my life. I have always enjoyed exercise and training, eating well and getting into the mindset of focus and tuning into the mental zone you need for competition.

So this year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try something else.

I heard about these breathing and 'spiritual psychology and experience' workshop weekends in the desert and I was invited to go along and try it out. Now normally I would dismiss this as being too weird, too LA... and would usually avoid them like the plague! But this time I thought I should be a bit more open minded to new experiences and give it a go and see what its all about.

Without going into too much detail, I couldn't have been more wrong. It was really an amazing experience and I never thought I could get so much out of a silent five mile trek into the desert at the crack of dawn just to see the sunrise. Or learn breathing techniques that were so simple and yet so profound, it really got me thinking about my whole approach to fitness and emotional wellbeing.

To date most of my professional work with health and fitness is using hard impact aerobic/ gym work and swimming of course, which are all good but incorporating this new approach offers a new softer thoughtful dimension to my workout.

Becoming mindful and conscious about how I breathe, for instance, and the use of silence in my routine opens up all sorts of thought and emotional pathways and provides real insight into how I function in the everyday world and how I could improve it.

Taking on this kind of mind and bodywork and combining it with Yoga, showed me a whole new way to approach physical fitness and mental wellbeing that I really hadn't considered before.

I am now incorporating breathing techniques, yoga routines and silence into my everyday fitness programme as part of my holistic "Wellman" approach to men's health.

So watch this space.

Don't worry it won't be all California and LA... my new Wellman Programme will be a very British.

Just goes to show, you really can teach old dogs new tricks.