Tag Archives: newspapers

“Is Yoga Safe?” – This dilemma puts off the uncertain and provides an excuse for the procrastinators

I spend quite a bit time convincing people to try yoga. I want to convince those that think it is some wacky religion that, in fact, it is a great form of exercise. And if they want to take it further, a healthy way of life. For those, especially men, who think it is too easy, I tell them about power yoga. To people who think it might be too hard I talk to them about less arduous forms of hatha yoga.

is yoga safe?

The fact is that there is a form of yoga to suit everyone’s individual needs. But whichever you choose, your strength and flexibility will improve. You’ll find your posture gets better, and you will feel you have higher energy levels. If you explore the meditative aspects of yoga you might feel calmer and more relaxed.

Despite the obvious positive benefits people often ask, “Is yoga safe?”. In fact Google those three words and you will find it is a question asked frequently all over the world. I think this has been prompted by some alarmist articles published in the media over the last year claiming that people have been hurt doing yoga. There was a particularly doom and gloom piece in the New York Times which was quoted all across the globe in many more newspapers.

We really need to read such articles in context. Everything we do in life carries a risk. You don’t stop boiling a kettle because there is a possibility you might get scalded. You just keep your hands clear of the spout when the steam comes out. Crossing the road might not be the safest thing to do, but we look right, look left and look right again before we cross in order to be avoid being hit by a car.

Thousands of people are hurt or killed in car accidents each year but we don’t stop driving, we just buckle up and take care.

is yoga safe?

The newspaper article in question quotes a very small number of yoga injuries. Hundreds of people actually also get hurt running, weight training and cycling but the journalist did not offer this comparison. Yoga is no more or less unsafe than any other form of exercise as long as you take care as you would with anything else you do in your daily life.

Check with your Doctor first if you have any issues or injuries, or you are pregnant (and yes yoga is safe for pregnancies). And then as long as you have a good qualified teacher who can give you options to suit your own range of motion, and you don’t seek to exceed your abilities, or be pressured into exceeding them, then yoga is safe. This simple checklist is the yoga equivalent of buckling up.

Sadly articles like that one in the New York Times just give uncertain people another reason not to give yoga a try. And for those genuinely looking to procrastinate, they can provide the perfect excuse to stay on the sofa.

Over to you: If you are a participant how have you found your yoga classes? Were you put off by worries about safety? If you are a yoga teacher what do you do to over come these fears? Please leave a comment and let’s have a debate about it.

If you liked this blog here are some other yoga topics:

Yoga is good for you despite what the newspapers seem to think.

The New York Times published an article with the sensational headline, “How Yoga Can Wreck your Body” at the beginning of January. Great timing when many people are looking to start a New Year with a determination to get fit. What a great way to put off anyone considering Yoga as their resolution. The article naturally caused outrage amongst Yoga teachers and many rebuttals have appeared since.

Yoga is good for you

On 29 Jan The Sunday Times published their own version. Since then I have seen Internet forums flooded with questions like, “Is yoga really safe?” or,  “Is Yoga dangerous?” People have even stayed behind after class to voice their concerns and seek advice.

Should they be worried? No – yoga is good for you but let’s be clear. Newspapers love sensational headlines. They also love to scare us. The Daily Mail is always running stories that one day claim something causes cancer and then next day that the same thing prevents cancer.

When you see a headline claiming that eating a certain type of food increases the chance of cancer by, say, 78% naturally you think that is a worrying figure. But they never publish the base statistic. If the incidence of that form of cancer is one in a million. Then a 78% increase means the incidence is still pretty close to one in a million. But it scares you none the less.

The Yoga article quotes 46 people who have suffered back problems, spinal issues and joint pain. Oh my God so every one should stop practicing Yoga immediately then, just in case. At the same time we should stop eating, drinking, going to the cinema, riding bikes, flying kites, taking dogs for walks, stroking cats, playing football and having sex. In fact curl up in a dark room and shut out the world.

There is risk associated with everything we do in life. And I mean everything. You may sprain your ankle running for the bus. You may trip and fall down the stairs and break your arm. It’s possible you might burn your hand severely whilst cooking your dinner.

Now consider what that 46 injuries really means in context. In the UK in 2010 nearly 2000 people died in car accidents. 22,600 were seriously injured. 184,000 were slightly injured. But newspapers don’t recommend you stop driving even though the fact remains that you are many more times more likely to be hurt driving to a Yoga class than you are to be hurt in one.

“Yoga is good for you.”

As long as you have a qualified teacher who gives you clear instructions, doesn’t over exert, extend or stretch you, then yoga will be of amazing benefit to your body’s strength and flexibility. Like any form of exercise take it at your own pace, grow in confidence, and enjoy it.

Don’t worry about what you read in the papers. Yoga is definitely, really good for you. Come along to a class and feel the benefits.

Over to you: If you are a yoga teacher what do you do to make your clients feel good, safe and confident? Are you a participant? Do you ever feel that yoga is not doing you some good?

Press Release Tips for Fitness Professionals

The world of the media may seem like a scary place, especially with celebrity scandals, phone hacking, and high profile publicists mauling each other for column inches. It certainly doesn’t seem very relevant to personal trainers and fitness businesses. But away from the hyperbole of the National Media, local newspapers and radio stations are much less daunting. Most importantly they can be a useful method for raising your profile in your own area.

Press Release Tips for Fitness Professionals

Journalists and editors are constantly looking for interesting stories, especially something a little bit different or out of the ordinary. You will have already defined the unique services you offer, and may be advertising these via your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter or other media. Putting together a series of press releases highlighting these unique and interesting services can raise awareness and drive customers to your door.

The key is finding the hook that will draw the journalist’s interest. They may see many press releases every day, and ignore announcements about Bootcamps or Zumba classes. But one which also offers a Nutrition Planning Service may catch their attention. A release about generic personal training might be ignored but one focussing on new mothers regaining their figures following childbirth might stand out. Try putting together three or four stories that you can release over a month or two.

“Press release tips that help fitness professionals increase their local media profiles.”

Writing a press release is like any form of communication it needs to draw the reader’s attention and motivate them into a course of action; namely a journalist contacting you to discuss the story. Try using the following structure. Headline; Body Copy; Contact Details and Notes for editors.

For the release you need a powerful headline which sums up the entire story. “Local man and wife fitness team bring bootcamp and dietary planning to Worthington Park”, for example already provides a mass of information.

It’s outdoors in a park. A husband and wife team so it’s accessible to both sexes. Sounds like hard work but there’s dietary advice as well.

You should write the body copy of the release in a relaxed and informal style. It can come across almost as if you were saying it out loud. Provide some background about the service you offer then go into the specifics. You can deliver one or two pieces of information in the form of a quote which the journalist may well include in their article. “Fitness expert and local DJ David said, ‘Our bootcamps will improve your fitness and provided you take the dietary advice as well you will see changes in your shape'”.

Then include your contact details, mobile, website, Facebook and twitter. If you have any videos of yourself in action on YouTube provide links to these as well.

Finally prepare a notes section where you give more detail, such as your qualifications, the time of your sessions and the cost. Here you can invite the journalist to attend one of your classes. They may even send along a photographer as well.

Once you have drafted your releases, email them to your local newspapers (daily and weekly versions including any free papers) and radio stations. Google will reveal the contact details of most publications. Include your headline as the title of the email as well as on the release itself.

Sometimes the release may not generate any interest, or the publication may just copy and paste your words. Obviously the best result is for them to contact you to discuss the release. This is your opportunity to develop a relationship which could lead to more coverage later. You are the expert in your line of work so you could offer to supply more copy in future for feature articles, or just offer yourself as a spokesperson on fitness related issues. It could be the start of a very rewarding relationship – and maybe even a regular fitness column in the paper.

Thanks to the internet, even your local area is a clutter of information overload. But the media have a thirst for stories that stand out. Give them what they want and your fitness business will benefit from the investment of your time as more clients seek out your services.

Over to you: What do you think of these press release tips? What would your press release headline be? Please leave a comment and let me know.

A version of this article first appeared in FitPro Network Magazine


The Preposterous PR of Porn on a Plane – Ryanair PR Stunts

Okay I’ve had enough of this. I have dealt with journalists for over 15 years. I know how to write a decent press release and to get a story out there either in-print or on-line. There is spin and there is super spin. There are true stories and there are tall stories. But the latest RyanAir PR stunts tale is so preposterous I can’t believe anyone picked it up let alone a national newspaper.

I don’t know whether I love or loath Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryan Air. You often see photos of him looking like a manic gibbon with a smile so wide you could land a Boeing 737-800 in it. And such a photo accompanied this Daily Mail article claiming that Ryan Air will put Porn on Planes. Yes that’s right. Passengers will allegedly be able to rent porn films on their journey.

ryanair pr stunts

O’Learly acknowledges that it wouldn’t be fair to put porn on seat back TVs. No it would instead be available on discreet hand-held devices that the porn watching passenger could angle away from his fellow travellers to spare their blushes. Perhaps the device would come in a big plain brown paper bag to add to this discretion. I doubt it.

And anyway in true Ryan Air style the cabin crew would announce it’s availability in their customary style, “Today ladies and gentlemen we have some filthy dirty mucky films for you to hire. Just ring the cabin crew call bell and we’ll bring your own personal porn player to your seat. Only £10.99 per hour and an extra £2.99 for a packet of branded tissue wipes.”

This is of course complete twaddle. But the Mail reported it as fact.

Why are intelligent journalists taken in by this PR posturing? Do the Ryan Air press releases include a footnote informing readers that the word gullible is not actually contained within the Oxford English Dictionary along with a suggestion to go and check. Obviously not otherwise we would have seen a tabloid headline claiming it’s true along side a photo of a giggling Mr O’Leary giving the thumbs up.

They fell for the statement about Ryan Air introducing charges to use to use the toilet on board. They fell for the frequent releases about introducing stand-up seating. Or more sit down seating made available by taking the toilets out completely.

Anyone with five minutes to spare can find that the 737-800s that Ryan Air use are already at their largest capacity under the Boeing certification and various Aviation Authority evacuation rules.

So it would be easy to debunk the stories. But they report it as fact whilst Mr O’Leary sits in his office cackling insanely and having a right good laugh at those he has duped yet again, and revelling in his free publicity – good or bad.

Personally I won’t fly Ryan Air because I was once kidnapped by them. There was a meeting in Dublin I was going to but after a 4 hour delay on the flight there was no point travelling as I’d missed the meeting and it couldn’t be rearranged for later. I asked to get off the plane (the doors were still open) but they refused and I had to travel all the way to Dublin for no reason. And then come back again. As a result if I had a choice between flying direct to Paris with Ryan Air or via New Zealand with another airline, I’d take the kiwi route every time.

The near genius of O’Leary’s PR is that the public know that flying Ryan Air is a pretty miserable experience and that they will get fleeced for extra charges, so O’Leary’s PR stunts fit so well with people’s perceptions of the airline that they almost could be true.