Physical exercise

Perform Better with Pilates

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Whatever you do, you will perform better with Pilates.

I talk to people every day about the benefits of doing Pilates.

I mean, who doesn't want to be stronger, look better, feel better? Everyone I know loves the idea of a tighter tush, flatter abs, and leaner legs.

But those are just the obvious benefits. There are other "behind the scenes" benefits that increase your ability to perform well throughout your life.

Breathing

Pilates is all about the breath. Joseph Pilates was asthmatic and had a hard time breathing, so he knew how detrimental it is to not breathe well. With a regular Pilates practice your lung capacity will increase, as will your ability to move and function.

perform better with pilates

Balance

Let's face it, balance is a huge issue for us bipeds, especially as we get older. Better balance leads to more activity and to more confidence. As we learn to navigate our bodies and the springs, balance improves and we become more confident and active movers.

Coordination

Coordinated movement requires  an awareness of our bodies and parts in space, as well as enough strength and flexibility to use our bodies in specific ways towards specific goals.

For example, playing tennis requires that you be able to see what the other player is doing, judge where the ball will land, get to that spot and properly swing your racket to hit the ball back over the net. There is a lot going on!

In Pilates you are always aware of where your body is, what the parts are doing, and whether you are breathing or not. And sometimes you are balancing at the same time. It's a lot - a lot like life!

Whether you are training for sports, for a hiking trip, or simply to keep up with your kids and stay active, Pilates will help you do things better.

Try it!

 

The Benefits of Pilates for Beginners

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The Benefits of Pilates for Beginners

As the national battle against obesity in the US continues to gather momentum, so does the fight in the UK. Hardly a week goes by without a new brand or food item being placed under the microscope. This week it was soft drinks giant Coca-Cola's turn in the UK media spotlight, with their controversial plans to fund a £20 million anti-obesity fitness drive in 70 of the country’s regional parks. This is despite the fact that soft drinks such as Coke are considered to be key contributors to the rise of obesity in the UK.

While the debate surrounding unhealthy food and drink items continues to rage, there is ample opportunity for individuals to make informed decisions about their fitness and nutrition, developing a more active lifestyle. Exercises methods such as Pilates offer a relevant case in point, as they can be easily learned and practiced from the comfort of your own home.

UK Retailers such as Fitness Warehouse carry the specific items of equipment you will need to start your home exercise program.

Consider the following benefits of pilates for beginners.

Improve your Posture and Alignment

While the majority of us exercise to lose excess weight or improve our strength and conditioning, there are other benefits of enjoying regular physical activity. One of the greatest benefits of Pilates is that it helps to improve your posture, by aligning and balancing your skeleton so that each individual muscle is held at its ideal length.

Should you live the majority of your life with your body out of alignment, there is a significant risk that you will place undo strain on your ligaments, joints, and spine. This can cause significant pain when you are older, so it is important to consider this from an early age.

Enhance Movement and Flexibility

If you are an avid weight trainer, you may already be on the way to developing a strong and well-conditioned body. However, it is important to develop a balance between strength and flexibility when exercising. Pilates offers an ideal opportunity to focus on this balance.

Pilates will help to loosen your muscles and improve mobility as the strengthen, which in turn minimizes pain and assists you in developing greater levels of stamina. This will also help you to negate the physical impact of aging.

Improve Levels of Physical and Mental Endurance

On the issue of endurance, Pilates is an excellent way of improving your levels of physical stamina and mental performance. After all, endurance is often drawn from your reserves of mental strength, and by consistently practicing Pilates you will develop greater levels of focus and enhance your capacity to complete a range of physical activities.

Pilates therefore enables you to operate from a foundation of strength.

(in collaboration with Fitness Warehouse)

Fitness Falsehoods, Celebrity Edition

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Fitness Falsehoods Abound In the World of A-List Celebrities

If you think that regular folks like us have issues with our bodies and fitness, you have only part of the story.

Just when I thought I had heard all of the brain-exploding double speak and craziness in the fitness world, one of my pilates clients pointed me in the direction of the latest "Spring Break Edition" Goop newsletter, courtesy of the lovely and talented actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. This issue features an interview with her uncertified fitness trainer, Tracy Anderson.

"Lynda, you have got to read this week's Goop. Seriously, Tracy talks about puréed food as being pre-digested. You'll love it!"

Here are just a few of the myths I found in this interview.

1. Crash Diets Are Fine - IF You Also Workout Every Day

Q. We know crash dieting isn't ideal, but is there a safe and effective way to speed up the loss of 5-10 pounds?

A. Of course there is, but I'm not a fan of this, as I really want people to learn how to plan. Everything you choose to put your body through has a direct impact on your health, appearance, and mental function. For example, I do not advocate people juicing to drop a quick five pounds if they cannot yet show up regularly for their workouts. Otherwise, you will lose five pounds and then gain eight to 10 pounds back the next week. [I bolded that.]

So drastically reducing calories and food consumption is only OK if you also exercise? There is NO EVIDENCE that exercising while fasting or juicing will help keep that weight off once you start eating again.

FACT: You are better off eating a balanced diet, exercising, and slowly losing the weight (1-2 pounds per week) in a way that is maintainable.

2. Puréed Food Is Pre-Digested and Helps Weight Loss

I created a pureed menu years ago as an alternative to juicing so that people could have access to more nutrient-dense, freshly-made foods that are pre-digested but still fiber-filled. Pre-digested food slows the digestive process without stopping it.

This is the infamous "Baby Food Diet" that was floating around a few years ago. Puréed food is easier to digest (that's why we give it to babies), but is not "pre-digested".

FACT: Frankly, vomit is pre-digested food. We have all watched momma birds go off, eat food, and return to the nest to vomit the pre-digested food into their babies' mouths. I will just leave that for you to think about.

Adults should eat whole foods, unless they are sick.

3. You Are NOT OK Just The Way You Are

If something is out-of-balance with my health or in my body, I don't believe in embracing it—I believe in fixing it. This is a tough conversation for all of us to have with ourselves, and a hard middle ground to find: It's easy to alternate between wanting to accept ourselves as we are, full stop, and then becoming obsessive, or seeing this as an exercise in vanity.

Somehow, this idea that we can fix obesity, illness, and other imbalances in our bodies simply through good old hard work is still floating around. This view ignores other important factors, such as endocrine (hormonal) imbalances and environmental and emotional factors.

FACT: Negative judgment promotes negative body image and self image. It does not promote a healthy body weight and fitness level. Love yourself!

4. Traditional Functional Strength Training Promotes Imbalance

The brain maps muscle movements, which means that muscles get very smart, very quickly. Performing new patterns that have the same outcome but different ways of getting there is powerful. Performing new patterns of movements that all have different outcomes is messy. Performing the same patterns while adding weight leaves room for weaknesses and builds strength in an unbalanced way.

First of all, muscles don't get smart. The brain controls muscles, and I am not sure what "mapping" means in this context. In fact, this entire paragraph is meaningless.

FACT: Functional training prepares the body for movements it will have to do in daily life. For example, squatting teaches you how to sit down and stand up, which is helpful for getting up and down from the toilet. Lunging helps with stairs, walking, and kneeling to pick things up. Shoulder presses help us put boxes on higher shelves, or bags in overhead compartments.

Unless you can pay people to do chores for you, functional training is key!

5. Muscle Sculpting Is More Important Than Strength

When you just lift heavy weights with your limbs as a lever against your core there is a depletion, which causes micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Training muscles by lifting heavy weight creates a cycle of repairing, rebuilding, and ultimately, muscle growth. Yes, this creates strength—but in isolation, and in a compartmentalized way. I pair certain resistances with certain movements for certain people very carefully—after all, our muscles are tools to create incredible art with our bodies.

This makes me feel like how I look is more important than how I function. And that is just plainly false! This also equates lifting heavy weights to getting bigger, which for the majority of women is just plain wrong. Finally, the idea that we can spot-tone has been debunked time and time again over the past 30 years.

FACT: Lifting heavy weights will not make women larger. Lifting heavy weights will strengthen your muscles and your bones. Muscle is denser than fat, so it takes up a lot less space. And bone and muscle strength is crucial for avoiding osteoporosis and joint degeneration.

Lift heavy and focus on form!

 

 

Obese Adults Get No Exercise

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Obese Adults in the US exercise less than 4 hours per year!

At minimum, for basic health, human beings should get about 20-30 minutes per DAY of vigorous, sweat producing exercise.

According to a recent study, obese Americans get about 1-4 hours per YEAR.

Basically, they move from chair to chair, rarely exerting enough to sweat or elevate their heart rates.

This finding shocked researchers!

"They're living their lives from one chair to another," said Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We didn't realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it's offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive."

Basically, people drive or ride the bus or train to work, and then sit at a desk all day. Then they drive or ride home, read or play some video games, and go to sleep.

All I can say is, Wow! This is some serious sh*t we have gotten ourselves into.

Fitness pros, what can we do to change this?

We tend to preach to the choir and work those who already exercise.

How do we reach the mass of people who don't leave home or office?

 

Review - The Firm Zip Trainer

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My Review of The Firm Zip Trainer

The Firm Zip Trainer is a good exercise tool. I wish the videos were better.

3/5 Stars

I am not quite sure how the Firm videos have been so popular for so long. This is the second firm equipment/video set I have received, and both had really badly done videos.

The workouts are quick and the instructors are way too perky. The instructors are good, and I suppose motivating for some people, but I don't do well with people who are way too happy and perky.

The Firm Zip Trainer is a ball made of high density foam that unzips to act as a "Step" and balance trainer, and holds a weighted ball in the center. The Zip Trainer alone weighs around 5 pounds, and it comes with a 3 pound ball that can be used separately, or placed in the center of the Zip trainer to add more weight (a 7 pound ball is sold separately).

The Zip trainer can be used like a large medicine ball, held, pressed, stretched on, stepped on, and balanced on.

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I love the Zip trainer itself, and have actually incorporated it into my Pilates mat workouts, like a weighted magic circle. I use it to add challenge to my bridging, planking, and ab exercises.

Regarding the videos, you do get a decent number of workouts, but I find the Firm workouts to be too fast and friendly for me.

If you exercise at home and are looking for an inexpensive tool to give you a bit more variety and resistance, this a great tool. If you already love the Firm workouts, you will also love these.

Marketing 101 for Personal Trainers

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Marketing 101 for Personal Trainers is much needed education that you won't learn in the gym or in your certification course.

One thing I never learned in any my fitness or pilates certifications was how to market myself and my services.

Seriously.

I learned how to teach and perform exercises, safety consideration, etc. But nothing on how sell this knowledge.

And things are even harder now, since there are so many more trainers and pilates teachers on the market right now.

To make things worse, most of the entrepreneurs who want to help trainers market know nothing about our business or our needs.

Now, I am lucky at this point to be in a rarified level of trainer where my clients consistently and happily pay $125-$250 an hour for my services. I rarely discount deeply (maybe 5-10%). And I am full with a waiting list for standing appointments.

And the fitness professionals that I learn from are all at my level. One of my favorites is Dax Moy, whose Fitness Marketing Made Simple FB group is one of the most brilliant forums for learning and coaching that I have seen.

We don't screw around with discount sites and selling. We just do what we do very, very, very well and give our clients consistent results.

Yes, that's right - we give our clients consistent results.

We don't lie to them, we don't sugar coat, but we also respect our clients. We get to know where to push them, when to coddle them, and what results they are looking for.

And when they need help that we can't give, we refer them to people we know can help.

Marketing 101 for Personal Trainers begins with knowing your skills and being solid in them and knowing your clients and how you can help them.

Note that I use the word "help" and not the word "fix".

No matter how much we get paid, we are helpers.

So, what are your best skills and how do you help others? Once you identify this, you can think about how to market.

Pilates Plank on Real Alignment Mat

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Pilates plank on Real Alignment Mat is a fabulous, full-body, core strengthening exercise.

I posted a little while ago about Pilates being a full body system that includes all of the usual exercise suspects, including lots of planks.

My colleague Alycea Ungaro has developed a mat that is beautiful and shows where to place your body parts for optimal alignment when doing any exercises.

Now, you can do this pilates plank anywhere, but it is interesting to see how Tori is able to maintain such good alignment due to the layout of the mat.

Try it!

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