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Meet the free-spirited grandmother

When she is not running Strathaven Airfield with her partner, Marta Briongos loves to do acroyoga, trapeze and ‘inversions’. Here the 55-year-old describes why.

What is your exercise routine?

I am not a routine person at all but most weeks I will do yoga – which I’ve been doing since I was pregnant with my son (who is now 28) – a couple of sessions of acroyoga and some aerial work, using a trapeze or silks. I am not a gym person; I find that boring. I like exercise that is social – and I love to dance and I have since I was a little girl growing up in Spain.

How would you describe acroyoga?

It’s a combination of acrobatics and yoga. You work with another person to do moves. One person acts as the ‘base’ (on the floor with their legs in the air), taking the weight of the ‘flyer’ who does off-the-ground movements such as horizontal planks, straddles or vertical pikes. There’s a lot of trust involved to do the moves and to flow between moves. You can watch videos on YouTube but don’t let that put you off. You learn what your limits are. I go to festivals or immersion courses where we spend up to five days doing acroyoga and it’s such fun and very social. We are modern hippies.

And what’s the appeal of trapeze?

I started doing trapeze six or seven years ago when we began building our house. [Marta and her partner Colin MacKinnon built a house on Strathaven Airfield, which was featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs.] Trapeze is fun because it’s challenging – you do things high up like inversions (upside-down movements) using the ropes of the trapeze. With silks you use lengths of material hanging from the ceiling or a pole to help you do acrobatic movements. Both are fun because you get a burst of adrenalin. They’re also very social activities and you get fit.

Why is exercise important to you?

A healthy body is important and I’ve always paid a lot of attention to mine. It’s important to have a good diet, to exercise and be happy. I feel good after exercise but I have to do something that makes me happy. I used to be a runner in high school and ran 3k and cross-country in national competitions. It involved lots of serious training and we had to train to win. But it was too stressful. I stopped because it made me unhappy and I played handball instead. I enjoy teamwork and being sociable.

You recently broke your foot – how have you managed?

I’ve continued to exercise. I have a stool that helps me do inversions and when I’m upside down I don’t put any pressure on my foot. It helps with my circulation, which I think has helped my foot to heal quickly. On my stool, I get up on my shoulders and do some leg stretches and I lower my legs towards the ground and then raise them back up which works on your tummy muscles and core. And sometimes I just relax with my legs up and I hold that position until I get bored.

What would you say to anyone thinking of taking up these acrobatic sports?

If there’s something that makes you giggle and you enjoy it then you should do it. You don’t have to be perfect. My philosophy in life is that you have to enjoy what you’re doing. Life is very short so go for it.

Although moderate physical activity is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a history of heart disease, asthma, lung disease or diabetes.


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