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Tuning into gym'll fix it; Forget crash diets to get that perfect figure, MERLE BROWN meets a duo with different ways of keeping in trim.

Byline: Merle Brown

Name: Nick Loening

Age: 36


Yoga instructor and founder of the Yoga Centre in Edinburgh NICK LOENING loved yoga so much he set up his own centre - but he doesn't spend all his time hanging around in strange positions.

"I have always enjoyed yoga since I first practised and studied it in India, and subsequently I decided to open the Centre in Edinburgh five years ago.

I had always done sport, but I found yoga combined the physical elements of sport with a much more spiritual side to it, and it was more about how you feel - and it can make you feel good.

After doing yoga in the morning, I feel pleasant for the rest of the day, rather than wound up and stressed.

We teach Astanga yoga, which is the more popular type, the one Madonna does. It's physical yoga and you get more of a workout with it.

I was one of the stiffest people you could ever meet when I started yoga. I could just about touch my knees to be honest. I also had a bit of back pain and wanted to become more supple.

I remember when I first touched my toes after six weeks in India, it was amazing, like a miracle. I was hooked.

Yoga is fun, and I think that's why people do it. If you really want to make any progress you should practice three times a week.

Going to class once a week is one step forward, two steps back really. Once you get into yoga, if you stop doing it, you get a bit grumpy so you will always want to do more.

Our centre is really busy these days because yoga is just so popular. In fact I have friends in London who have closed their waiting lists.

I usually teach about two classes a week nowadays, as we have lots of great teachers in the centre now and I don't need to be so hands-on.

I teach mainly beginners - most yoga students are beginners because of its popularity. Basically, you are a beginner in yoga for about six months to a year.

I don't live and breathe yoga, though, I enjoy hill-walking, and sometimes I love to spend the weekend watching TV - after I've done my yoga, of course."

Name: Julie Carswell

Age: 32

Occupation: Housewife and

gym fanatic

WHEN Julie Carswell joined a gym two years ago to lose weight after childbirth, little did she realise it would play such a big part in her life.

"I became a member of my gym after the birth of my second child. I needed to lose that last bit of weight, and thought it would be the perfect way. Now it plays a big role in my life.

I have always been sporty. I used to play tennis or squash before the kids came along, but in between them - my eldest is four - I didn't do a thing.

But I felt I had to lose this bit of weight so I joined Esporta because it's handy, as well as having great facilities. I gave aerobics a go and I loved it.

I now go three or four times a week after I drop the kids off at nursery. I usually do whatever class is on around that time in the morning, be it aerobics or body pump. If there's nothing on that takes my fancy I just get into the gym and on to the machines.

I am addicted to it, but it's not a bad thing. It keeps me healthy and it makes me happy. I get a kick out of it, although getting to the gym some mornings can be a struggle.

We all have days I am sure when the last thing we want to do is exercise. But once I am there I'm fine, and when I come out feeling good I am glad I went.

I usually have a quick swim and then a steam room after my class, and that's a perfect morning for me.

Plain old aerobics is my favourite class. I like it because you get into a real sweat, and it's fun. It's enjoyable, I don't find it boring at all because of that music and the energy I guess.

It can be difficult, and I do notice a difference between the male instructors and female instructors - the guys make it more physically challenging.

I go in mornings as I am most awake then and too tired in the evening to be bothered with it.

I know a lot of the girls at the gym and tend to see the same faces all the time. A lot of mums go and it's very sociable.

I've lost the weight but continue to go because I enjoy it so much."

Spilling the beans...What is your favourite form of exercise?

Nick: Sex. Can I say that? Seriously, it would have to be yoga but I like to cycle too.

Julie: Aerobics, it's difficult but enjoyable at the same time.

And your least favourite?

Nick: Anything in the gym. I'm not into all that pumping iron.

Julie: I don't like running. I have tried it, but I find it boring.

What is more important to you - diet or exercise?

Nick: I think they are equally important. I am vegetarian and I don't drink but I never did that before I took up yoga.

Julie: Exercise. I eat healthily but enjoy my food too much to diet.

What's the longest you've gone without exercising?

Nick: When we moved to our new centre, I was involved in hard labour for six months and really didn't do any yoga at all.

Julie: Two weeks at Christmas when there was so much going on with the kids there was no time.

Which exercise-daft celebrity do you think has the best body?

Nick: My friend Hamish is lucky enough to teach yoga to both Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow when they're in London and he tells me that they both look pretty good.

Julie: Geri Halliwell looks great in her Raining Men video, however I don't think she should be taking vitamin injections. But I still think she has an athlete's body - she looks amazing.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 21, 2001
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