Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: The Secret of Zoe's Flat Stomach

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: The Secret of Zoe's Flat Stomach

Article excerpt

Byline: LOWRI TURNER

YOU could have balanced a bottle of lager on it and not spilled a drop. Last week, former ladette now new mum Zoe Ball was pictured on a beach in Barbados with her husband Norman Cook and the flattest stomach in the world - hers not his. Zoe's trim midriff was unveiled barely a year after she gave birth to son Woody. What every mother in Britain wants to know now is: how the heck did she do it?

Almost inevitably, Zoe has attacked her flab by indulging in this year's hot fitness favourite: yoga, the discipline beloved of celebrities from Geri Halliwell to Madonna to Sting.

Still, even if Zoe has managed to get herself along to regular yoga classes in Brighton, can that really account for her amazing new figure?

The real key to Zoe's transformation that she has been working out with weights. Weight training is rapidly becoming as trendy as yoga and it's highly effective. I should know. I shed four dress sizes in six months after giving birth by taking up weight lifting. I went from a size 18 to a size 10.

The way to make this combination work is to use weights to build muscle, thus speeding up your metabolism and the rate at which you burn calories.

Yoga, at least power yoga, is one way to do this. "Yoga is great. It's a resistance exercise using your own body weight," explains strength and conditioning expert Pete Williams.

"But weight training is faster."

Tim Bean, a physique coach, agrees. "Yoga's very good, but not as hard or as fast as weights."

Before I had my baby 20 months ago, I used to do Ashtanga or "power" yoga, the sort that gave Madonna arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger. While it was completely knackering, I can't say that I noticeably transby Lowri Turner mogrified from heffalump to sylph. Yoga alone is unlikely to deliver such dramatic results as Zoe's even though she has been doing it several times a week, which makes a difference. She admits it is hard work.

Yoga is very good for reestablishing "core" strength, and core strength is what everyone needs, whether they have been pregnant or not. This includes strengthening the pelvic-floor muscles, the stomach and back, and yoga addresses that.

However yoga cannot enable you to target particular areas of the body that need specific reducing, although it will reach all areas of the body in time.

Dynamic forms of yoga such as Ashtanga or Bikram burn a lot of calories because you are always working to your limit.

But yoga doesn't only work at a physical level, and this is the most powerful way in which it can help weight loss. Yoga brings mental benefits, and achieving mental balance will make it easier for anyone to shed weight.

Pete Williams - don't call him a personal trainer or he might drop a barbell on you - was the man who shaved the inches off me. …

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