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Meet the fitness freak on Spain’s Costa del Sol designing boxing classes for women who survive breast cancer

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A WOMAN from Malaga is behind a new form of exercise that is helping women rebuild their lives and get back to peak fitness after overcoming breast cancer.

Sportswoman and entrepreneur Clara Santiago created Sincrobox, an exercise regime based on indoor cycling combined with martial arts that has specific benefits for cancer sufferers.

Speaking to the Olive Press to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month, Santiago revealed she adapted the sport for women who had breast cancer surgery after a family member was diagnosed with the disease. 

Sincrobox Con Gente
Clara Santiago in one of her classes (Image: Sincrobox official page)

“My cousin had breast cancer and I realised that I could improve her quality of life with my method if I adapted it,” she said.

Santiago explains that Sincrobox is shaped and designed to be beneficial for everyone, from people who haven’t trained for a long time, or people looking for a new challenge, to those with a high level of fitness. 

Adapting to the ‘new normality’ of the pandemic, Sincrobox is available online for anyone regardless of where they are, “through personalised training in Malaga and through free programmes for Andalucia sports teams”.

Sincrobox Por Internet
Image: Sincrobox Official page

The fitness regime has won international recognition for the benefits to breast cancer survivors after it was included in a scientific study overseen by a multidisciplinary team of health professionals.

This sport was endorsed in 2018 by two international health journals, the International Journal of Sports Medicine and the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

Clase Sincrobox
Image: Sincrobox Official site

“It was a great achievement due to the difficulty involved in getting into a journal of this magnitude,” said Santiago. “It was great news that we received with great enthusiasm after all the work done over the years”.

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READERS’ TIPS: How do you keep warm during winter in Spain?

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WHAT comes to mind when most people think of Andalucía is the warm Mediterranean, stretches of olive groves and palm tree-lined white beaches. The heat defines the region, where even the structure of the working-day revolves around a siesta.

I was escaping the dark damp days of London for Andalucía and I knew it wasn’t going to be sunbathing weather, but I was quite unprepared for just how cold it would be.  

I found myself in a traditional home in a pueblo blanco, with views stretching across rolling hills down to the coast. 

While these houses are designed for the scorching heat of summer and do a fantastic job of retaining the cold, they utterly fail to be comfortable in winter when the mornings and evenings can be surprisingly chilly.   

With tile floors and no carpets, little roof insulation and  no central heating I soon discovered I would need jumpers, scarves and slippers to keep warm inside.

Was it just me feeling the cold? How do the locals keep warm? I started to ask around and even reached out to readers of the Olive Press to share their tips.

My colleague Elena Gocmen, a 25 year-old who lives in Marbella, described an ingenious piece of furniture that has pride of place in her grandmother’s village house during the winter. 

Called a ‘mesa Camilla’, this table has a specially designed base with a hole cut out to store a brazier for hot coals. A heavy blanket is draped over the table trapping in the warmth so that those seated around it can ensure their feet and legs are kept toasty.

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The ‘mesa Camilla’ belonging to Elena’s grandmother is the tradition way to keep warm in Spanish villages.

Other tips from Spanish friends included ‘constant supplies of hot drinks’ while others insisted on swathing themselves in dressing gowns and blankets when at home, and one admitted she wears bed socks that sometimes stay on her feet for days.

One young Spanish man said his family do put carpets down in winter as a protective layer against freezing cold stone floors – but roll them up again come spring when they are packed away in storage until the autumn.

I also reached out to the expat community to see what advice I could glean from those who had experience of swapping well-heated homes back in Blighty for a villa in the sun.

Expats Maureen Croft and Anne Crosskey agreed that the best investment they made was an electric blanket. “After 14 years in Spain and a recent bout of sciatica, I have just bought one and it is absolutely the best thing for the winter.”

 Jennifer Santolla admitted to wearing ‘hooded PJs as a winter uniform’.  “My flat is SO COLD in winter we skip showers often. it’s an ice box in here,” she wrote on The Olive Press Facebook page in a discussion about keeping warm in Spain. “A heater doesn’t do much to warm these cement walls.”

Fellow expat Jenny also wraps herself up. “A vest, 2 sweaters, fleece trousers, knee length socks, furry slippers and a scarf which does a good job of keeping the heat in. Pretty much what I used to do in the UK as I didn’t have central heating there either.”

Janice Groom revealed she had made an ingenious alteration to her drapes:  “Thermal backed curtains have made a big difference in my cold apartment.”

While Sonya Llewellyn admitted to using every available tool in the fight against the cold:”A gas fire, a blanket, thick pyjamas, a hot water bottle and an electric blanket.”

Kevleigh Bastin said he had to use more drastic measures to keep warm in his home: “There is nothing worse than being cold and I did not come here to do so,” he wrote.

“Most Spanish houses do not have insulation in the roofs, we made sure that we bought a house that needed a new roof and made sure that good insulation went in when it was reformed, otherwise you are just throwing money away trying to heat a place that has nothing in the roof and fighting a losing battle,” he explained.

One thing that seemed to be universally agreed upon was to spend as much time as possible outside with your face turned to the sun.

“Go out more as it’s warmer outside,” was the final word from one reader.

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READERS’ TIPS: How do you keep warm during winter in Spain?

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WHAT comes to mind when most people think of Andalucía is the warm Mediterranean, stretches of olive groves and palm tree-lined white beaches. The heat defines the region, where even the structure of the working-day revolves around a siesta.

I was escaping the dark damp days of London for Andalucía and I knew it wasn’t going to be sunbathing weather, but I was quite unprepared for just how cold it would be.  

I found myself in a traditional home in a pueblo blanco, with views stretching across rolling hills down to the coast. 

While these houses are designed for the scorching heat of summer and do a fantastic job of retaining the cold, they utterly fail to be comfortable in winter when the mornings and evenings can be surprisingly chilly.   

With tile floors and no carpets, little roof insulation and  no central heating I soon discovered I would need jumpers, scarves and slippers to keep warm inside.

Was it just me feeling the cold? How do the locals keep warm? I started to ask around and even reached out to readers of the Olive Press to share their tips.

My colleague Elena Gocmen, a 25 year-old who lives in Marbella, described an ingenious piece of furniture that has pride of place in her grandmother’s village house during the winter. 

Called a ‘mesa Camilla’, this table has a specially designed base with a hole cut out to store a brazier for hot coals. A heavy blanket is draped over the table trapping in the warmth so that those seated around it can ensure their feet and legs are kept toasty.

Other tips from Spanish friends included ‘constant supplies of hot drinks’ while others insisted on swathing themselves in dressing gowns and blankets when at home, and one admitted she wears bed socks that sometimes stay on her feet for days.

One young Spanish man said his family do put carpets down in winter as a protective layer against freezing cold stone floors – but roll them up again come spring when they are packed away in storage until the autumn.

I also reached out to the expat community to see what advice I could glean from those who had experience of swapping well-heated homes back in Blighty for a villa in the sun.

Expats Maureen Croft and Anne Crosskey agreed that the best investment they made was an electric blanket. “After 14 years in Spain and a recent bout of sciatica, I have just bought one and it is absolutely the best thing for the winter.”

 Jennifer Santolla admitted to wearing ‘hooded PJs as a winter uniform’.  “My flat is SO COLD in winter we skip showers often. it’s an ice box in here,” she wrote on The Olive Press Facebook page in a discussion about keeping warm in Spain. “A heater doesn’t do much to warm these cement walls.”

Fellow expat Jenny also wraps herself up. “A vest, 2 sweaters, fleece trousers, knee length socks, furry slippers and a scarf which does a good job of keeping the heat in. Pretty much what I used to do in the UK as I didn’t have central heating there either.”

Janice Groom revealed she had made an ingenious alteration to her drapes:  “Thermal backed curtains have made a big difference in my cold apartment.”

While Sonya Llewellyn admitted to using every available tool in the fight against the cold:”A gas fire, a blanket, thick pyjamas, a hot water bottle and an electric blanket.”

Kevleigh Bastin said he had to use more drastic measures to keep warm in his home: “There is nothing worse than being cold and I did not come here to do so,” he wrote.

“Most Spanish houses do not have insulation in the roofs, we made sure that we bought a house that needed a new roof and made sure that good insulation went in when it was reformed, otherwise you are just throwing money away trying to heat a place that has nothing in the roof and fighting a losing battle,” he explained.

One thing that seemed to be universally agreed upon was to spend as much time as possible outside with your face turned to the sun.

“Go out more as it’s warmer outside,” was the final word from one reader.

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Andalucia

Brothel creeping politicians of Andalucia – funded by the EU!

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IT was a fund set up to stimulate employment in Andalucia, the region with the highest jobless total in Spain.

But in reality it did little more than feather the beds of politicians and their friends and families.

As well as paying millions for thousands of fake training schemes that never took place, millions more were squandered on golfing trips and even on prostitutes at brothels.

“The number of irregularities is incalculable,” said a former civil servant who first exposed the fraud behind the appropriately-named FAFFE (The Andalucian Fund for Training and Employment).

Speaking at a commission set up to investigate the scandal this month, Teodoro Montes, added that the only purpose of the quango was to make money for the PSOE party and its friends.

“It was set up to syphon off enough money for everyone to benefit,” he insisted.

But, as far as former PSOE socialist leader Susana Diaz is concerned she ‘knew nothing’ about it.

She told the judge at Sevilla’s Court Number 6 that she ‘wasn’t there’, despite the fact that her leadership overlapped by three years with the FAFFE.

Candidate To General Secretary Susana Diaz, Attends The Regional Meeting Of Equality In Mijas, Spain 28 May 2021
Susana Diaz was questioned on Friday. Archive image © Francis Gonzalez/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire/Cordon Press

She was being questioned about the case that saw thousands of workers in the dodgy quango moved in 2016 to work in the SAE employment service around the region.

Set up in 2003 the FAFFE opened up 52 separate offices around the eight Andalucian provinces.

Mostly set up by close friends of the then PSOE socialist-run Junta, at least 200 senior executives were close to the party or the unions.

They were happy days with tens of millions coming in every year from the European Union, ostensibly to train the local unemployed that in some regions reached 50%.

But, in truth, the majority of courses were either far more expensive to run than they should have been or they never took place at all.

There was so much money swilling around that it paid for golf trips for ‘important friends and family’ to Sotogrande and Granada costing tens of thousands, while at least €30 million was spent on entertainment, including nightlife and prostitution through its bosses.

One executive alone, Fernando Villen, was discovered to have spent at least €32,566 in five different brothels around Sevilla. In one, Don Angelo, he spent €14,757 in 2010 alone.

To make matters worse, the former director employed his wife, sister-in-law and a nephew in one part of the quango, which was used to buy political favours.

Another senior director paid his brother-in-law’s plumbing company Inmohel a staggering €700,000 in one year for catering, courier and rubbish disposal services.

Meanwhile, police believe at least 60% of agreements struck by the quango were done without the correct legal tenders.

The Junta itself discovered irregularities in 8,844 contracts signed between 2009 and 2011.

“The vast majority of the courses set up by the FAFFE had irregularities,” Montes told the court. “Many courses simply didn’t take place despite the grants being paid.”

He added that most of the offices hired by the FAFFE around Andalucia cost ‘three or four times’ over market value. “There were innumerable irregularities,” he continued.

Dozens of senior political figures have been linked to the fraud, including former leader of Camas, Eduardo Cabeza, as well as the ex-mayor of Lebrija, Antonio Torres.

Manuel Chaves 1
Manuel Chavez denies involvement. Archive photo: Cordon Press

The most implicated are Manuel Chaves, the former president of the Junta between 1990 and 2009, and his successor Antonio Grinan, between 2009 and 2013.

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