Browsing category: pilates
We all have the best intentions with regard to our fitness programs. We try to be consistent and focused and avoid long breaks or disruptions in our routines. But alas, life happens. Work, travel, illness, kids, household responsibilities can prevent us from making it to that scheduled fitness class or gym session.
For a recreational exerciser — someone who works out two to three times a week – it takes roughly two to four weeks of inactivity for there to be a notable change in your conditioning. The more serious athlete, such as a marathon runner, may feel this decline more acutely, but losing your fitness bookmark happens in proportion to how much effort you put into getting in shape in the first place.
I find that for myself and some of my clients, it’s more of a mental distraction or disappointment that occurs when a routine gets temporarily derailed. In my opinion, that’s the most serious type of disappointment! We come down on ourselves for taking a step back in our progress and that can set us back even further.
For the past decade I’ve had several clients that maintain a regular schedule with me in my studio but have occasional obligations that require a break in their routine. In an effort to prevent set backs in the results we’ve achieved in the studio, I’ve found myself writing down a Pilates routine for them to take on the road or even filming a short video or series of photos for them on their ipad or smartphone. I’ll send them on their way with that mobile knowledge and an exercise band and hope for the best! What I find most pertinent about taking your fitness program on the road is that we tend to be more conscious about what we’re eating and drinking as well. Almost as if there’s a little fitness angel sitting on one shoulder wagging a finger at the devil on the other.
With all this being said, I’m excited to introduce “Pilates En Route” very soon. A website designed to keep the Pilates enthusiast on track by bringing the studio to the home, hotel room, or wherever they may be. Stay tuned!!!
Keep Calm and Pilates on!!!
For over 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching Pilates to all types of fitness enthusiasts. From prenatal/postpartum women to injury or surgery rehab patients all the way to professional competitive athletes and several types in between. Every individual has their own goals for what they hope to acquire from a Pilates regimen and as an instructor I aim to not only help them meet those specific goals, but also to teach on a comprehensive level striving to go beyond those specific goals and see them benefit from the countless and positive results Pilates can bring.
While I truly enjoy all of my clients, I’ve always specifically enjoyed working with athletes. I find that the more intense the athlete is about their regular conditioning program, the more skeptical they are initially about the effectiveness of Pilates and how it will actually improve their physique or athletic performance. Will it be too simple, or too slow? Will I actually feel or see results? These are some of the questions I’ll get. Being an athlete myself and knowing how beneficial Pilates can be for improving overall athletic performance, I almost salivate at the opportunity to prove how effective it really can be!
“Pilates helps athletes develop core strength, increase flexibility, assist in rehabilitation after injury and create muscular balance throughout the entire body,” says Moira Merrithew, Executive Director of Education for Stott Pilates.
Of course each type of athletic performance will benefit a little differently from Pilates depending on the specific movement and strength required for that sport but there are are a few general advantages all athletes will benefit from. In my experience, the most important thing anyone can gain from Pilates is a stronger core. When the core is fit, the poster improves and movement becomes more aligned and more effortless. Often times when a muscle is used repeatedly and stressed as it is in many sports, the body in general, not just those muscles, will get fatigued and that’s when injuries occur. A volleyball or tennis player may suffer from lower back pain from an upper body movement when the core is not strong enough. Even though the spike or the forehand swing is coming from the shoulder, the root of the power should come from the abdominals and when they are weak, the back muscles can be used improperly and strained.
The next most important acquisition an athlete can gain from Pilates in my opinion, is increased flexibility. When muscles, ligaments and tendons are tight and they are used in an impactful movement, strains, sprains and tears can occur. When a golfer lines up and swings his or her club, a lot of torque and rotation is involved in the core and upper body. No matter how strong the golfer is, without flexibility, each swing can be a disaster. The back, hips, shoulder, neck, you name it, are sitting ducks! Extreme and repeated rotation in the body requires the ability to be mobile and without flexibility, mobility is limited.
Finally, another huge benefit obtained from Pilates that can assist in athletic performance is balance. Balance is needed in everything from simply walking down the street to running a marathon. When you transfer weight from one side of the body to the other, the pelvis and gait should have stability. Otherwise, over time one side of the body will be overused causing long term problems. Tightness and strain in the piriformis and psoas muscles, which bridge your lower and upper body and connect your legs to your spine, can lead to instability and pain in the hips and back. A stable pelvic girdle comes from a strong pelvic floor which is one of the focuses of every Pilates regimen.
The many benefits that athletes get from integrating Pilates into their regular conditioning program are incredibly beneficial and more and more athletic trainers and making it a regular part of their athlete’s mandatory work outs. It’s no wonder so many professional athletes are swearing by it and seeing that Pilates, when done regularly, really does work!
We all have busy schedules. Kids, jobs, travel are a few reasons we give ourselves for why we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. Basic wellness can come from simply taking time each day to sit and pay attention to our bodies and minds. We need to take care of ourselves! It’s our most obvious and basic responsibility and it’s a daily job.
You’ve heard the references to treating your body as a temple. And, in a perfect world all of our temples would be shiny and grand but it is not a perfect world! So instead of envisioning the Taj Mahal, let’s start with a small steeple or a small boat. They’ll hold up fine for the most part when left at status quo but the elements and wear and tear will eventually take its toll. A little maintenance will go a long way to preserve and increase longevity in these small but effective structures. Taking 15 minutes a day to focus on 3 basic activities – breathing, movement, stretching – can do wonders.
Choose a time in the day, preferably the same time daily, where you can be alone in a quiet space for 15 minutes. Dress in comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and create a small place on the floor that is padded enough to lie down on (use a yoga mat or the likes).
Let’s start with the most basic of the 3 activities, breathing. We do it all day long but we don’t always take advantage of the healing effects of the breath. Lie flat on your back with your head slightly raised on a towel or pad so that your head is in-line with your spine or slightly higher. Bend the knees so that the feet are flat and the back is in a relaxed neutral position. Place your fingertips gently on the ribs and close your eyes. Try and take your self out of any stressful situations or chaos that maybe occurring in your life. Use visualization if need be and mentally transport yourself somewhere where you feel at peace. When ready, take several long breaths inhaling through the nose and gently exhaling through the mouth as if blowing out of a wide straw. As you inhale, concentrate on not only filling the lungs but also the entire torso and into the back. Oxygen is as important to survival as is water. Replenish the tissue and organs of the body with the air you take in and purge the toxins and unwelcome energy out of the body as you exhale. Spend about 5 minutes doing this. You’ll be amazed at the energy and clarity that come to the mind in this mere 5 minutes.
Open your eyes and keep yourself in this peaceful alignment. Keeping your knees bent and feet planted on the floor, place your arms along your sides and rest them at a 45 degree angle. Take a big inhale and turn your head to the right slowly as you fully exhale. Repeat on the left side and do this a few times. Next, shrug ur shoulders up toward your ears and then back down a few times allowing the shoulder blades to raise and lower. Next visualize a clock in your torso with the belly button being the center, the pubic bone 6:00 and the rib cage 12:00. With the knees bent and feet flat, tilt the pelvis towards 12:00 flattening the back. Then gently tilt the pelvis back towards 6:00 creating an arch in the spine. Repeat both positions gently quite a few times holding each one longer then the last and inhaling and exhaling throughout the movement. Finally, keep your left foot on the floor and raise your right foot off the floor. With the knee still bent, hold on gently to the right kneecap with the right hand and move the leg in a circular motion. 5 to 10 times each direction trying to keep the rest of the body perfectly still. Repeat on the other side. As you draw the circles, realize that the top of the leg connects to the hip in a “ball in socket” fashion and should move gently and smoothly. These simple moments should also only take a mere 5 minutes but will effectively improve mobility in your neck, shoulders and hips.
Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion in the joints and ligaments which can enhance regular movements, athletic performance and prevent injuries. It also increases blood flow to the muscles. Even a little can go a long way. Start by remaining on your back with the knees bent. Place your right foot on top of your left thigh, just above the knee keeping the left foot on the floor. Gently apply pressure to the inside of the right knee opening up the hips. Release and repeat a few times, inhaling and exhaling throughout the movement. Then, keeping the light pressure on the right knee, use the left hand to pull the back of the left thigh and move both hips closer to navel. Increase the stretch gradually as you continue to breathe. Repeat on the other side. Next, stand up tall keeping the shoulders nice and low away from the ears. Slowly drop the right ear towards the right shoulder lengthening the left side of the neck. Repeat on the other side. Center the head again and raise the arms at chest level keeping them long and straight. Push the finger tips forward allowing the shoulder blades to widen and the pull the arms back bring the blades back together. Repeat a few times keeping the neck muscles relaxed. Finally, drop your arms back down to your sides and complete the 15 minutes with roll-downs. Standing with feet hip width apart, drop the chin and begin rolling the upper body down toward the toes rounding the back as if you have a beach ball pressing against your stomach. Careful not to lock the knees. Once you reach your lowest point, begin to roll back up keeping the back rounded and the head and arms heavy the entire way up until you are standing completely upright. Repeat one more time being sure to take long breaths throughout the movement.
Notice how you feel after taking 15 minutes to breath, move and stretch. Look in the mirror, most likely you’ll see a healthy flush in your cheeks, a longer better posture and an overall refreshed look. Take one more long cleansing breath and charge forward through your busy day knowing that no matter what comes your way, you contributed 15 minutes to your own wellness… Peace out…
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