Get in shape for summer with the brownbookproject and look cool on modes of public transport at the same time.

At the age of 20 I was off work with a bad back due to incorrectly lifting parcels during my job as a delivery driver for ParcelForce.  I was shocked into doing something about it as I didn’t want to be Bad Back Bob all my life. My physiotherapist identified I was stressed due to lacking direction in life, and whilst suggesting some exercises that would strengthen the muscles around my particularly long spine, she made me realise I needed to do something with my life. I enrolled in university soon afterwards, yes, but more importantly I started to consider looking after myself beyond pumping iron and only smoking when drunk.

For the last nine years I have tried various regimes, when the opportunity has arisen, that have focused on strengthening the core muscles that improve posture and balance. You will recognise them Yoga, Pilates and Qigong. I can recommend all of them as excellent ways to feel great and their principles are now applied in every facet of the exercise industry.

When swimming, for example, it is advised to bring the belly button to the spine in order to be able to rotate the body as you front crawl. In Spin class we have to suck our bellies into our spine and keep our upper bodies still as we climb the mountain (in the last stage of the Tour de France I imagine to myself), and any personal instructor will tell you to tense your stomach muscles as you lift weights.

But what about outside the gym? It’s no good just sucking your belly button into your spine for three hours a week. It has to be all the time. Ok well not all the time as that’s a bit much, but the bbp can offer you just a few scenarios where you can concentrate on engaging your core muscles.

Public transport is a perfect place to practice. How many times have you lost your balance or seen people lose their balance when preparing to exit a mode of public transport? Sometimes it is so busy that you have to leave your seat early and as the train/bus/tram lurches you can lose your balance. Not if you engage your core muscles when on public transport. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this: or

on the trains because people aren’t engaging their core muscles. Next time you see someone stumble or lose balance, just whisper in their ear: ‘engage your core muscles.’  They’ll thank you for it.

Another scenario where you can hit your abs with your glutes (bonus) is walking up stairs. Instead of using the knees to power your body up stairs try flexing your butt muscles with each step. This transfers the strain away from the knees and gives your botty a work out. Add in the engaging of the core muscles and you’ll be flying up the stairs.

In no time at all you’ll notice a difference and when summer comes and it’s time to strip down for the beach you’ll discover a toned stomach.

Try it and let us know how you get on.

Happy Bank Holiday!


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