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How Pilates Benefits Runners

8 Ways Pilates Benefits Runners – Why Pilates is Important to Reduce the Risk of Running Injuries

Pilates Benefits RunnersAre you passionate about running?  It doesn’t matter if you’re super-speedy or slow, if you love to run just to run or if you’re a little more competitive and plan your life around your favorite races.  If running is your #1 workout of choice, it’s going to be the one thing that’s going to happen regardless of how crazy your life gets.  But how many running buddies do you know who are plagued with aches, pains, and injuries?  Maybe it’s an Achilles tendinitis issue, plantar fasciitis problem, knee pain, a pulled hamstring, hip pain, or SI Joint and low back pain problems.  I often hear runners say, “It only hurts a little bit. Once I start running I don’t notice it so I’m not going to stop running…”  The problem is they are actually ignoring the signals the body is sending them and are making things worse instead of better! Luckily, I’m here to tell you that Pilates benefits runners!

It’s hard to stop doing something you love. Especially when it’s something that helps de-stress your body, gets the blood pumping, fills you with endorphins, and makes you happy.  But wouldn’t it be even better if you could run without pain or fear that you’re going to aggravate an old injury?  Would the extra time cross training with Pilates be worth it if it could help you improve your core support, free up your hips, improve the mobility of your hamstrings, help your knees, and fix your feet?  Pilates benefits runners because it has so many excellent whole-body health benefits.  If you love to run, Pilates can help keep you in tip-top shape to make the most of your miles whether you’re pounding the pavement, hitting the trails, or sprinting on the track.

Personally, it’s difficult for me to call myself a “runner” since slow-mo is my M.O. But I do enjoy getting out there and I have even done a couple of half-marathons.  For me it’s not about being competitive, but the act of moving, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and getting some cardio accomplished with a little extra impact to help keep my bones strong.

When I was younger (in my teens and twenties), way before I knew anything about Pilates, I basically ran from injury to injury!  I’d get inspired to want to add more running to my weekly workouts and as I upped my mileage, or attempted to speed things up. Inevitably, I’d end up with something hurt.  Never the same part of my body; sometimes it was a foot issue, Achilles tendinitis, sprained ankle, or plantar fasciitis problem.  Sometimes my knees would hurt. Sometimes my back would go out. Other times I’d pull a hamstring.  It was annoying, frustrating, and made my attempts at running as successful as yo-yo dieting!  But this was BEFORE I started doing Pilates.

While I wasn’t looking at Pilates as an activity to cross-train and improve my running when I started, it’s had miraculous affects on my ability to maintain an active lifestyle with fewer aches and pains.  Now I rarely, if ever, have an activity halting injury.  I’m sure the Pilates clients I have that are runners will all agree that Pilates has made a big difference in their core support, body alignment, and ability to find and use the right muscles for a healthy stride.

As a runner, the one activity you want to focus all your time on is running.  But if you’re willing to invest a couple of hours a week to do Pilates, you’re going to gain the benefits of a more balanced body and fewer aches and pains. Aches and pains that never seem like a big deal until you can’t run because you’re injured.

This is a general statement, but most of the runners I know hate to stretch.  Tight, strong quads, hamstrings, and calves are contributing factors to an increased risk of injury.  Then there’s the repetitive motion of running.  Your dominant “running” muscles are getting stronger while the rest of your body is getting weaker.  When the imbalance becomes too great, an injury will result.  And you can’t forget about the feet…a very important part of a healthy stride.  If you tend to pronate or supinate – even if you’re wearing shoes that are supposed to help correct this – the primary corrections need to be with how you’re using the muscles from the toes, thru the foot, to the ankle, calf, and all the way up to the hips!  This can be very challenging to correct when you are full weight bearing with years of ingrained running habits. Plus, it’s difficult to make changes when you’re moving quickly during a running workout.

Unless you’re being coached at a very high level, or are a genetically gifted, mutant runner, you might not even realize the imbalances or poor body mechanics you’re using when you run, walk, and move through life.  Finding, feeling, and fixing these functional movement patterns is what Pilates is all about.

Here are 8 ways Pilates Benefits Runners

  1. Pilates equipment is spring-tensioned providing both assistance and resistance to help improve functional movement habits. The springs on the Reformer, Cadillac and Chairs help you find and use new and better muscle habits that eventually will transfer back into running workouts to improve your stride.  By working with the springs, you can learn how to better strengthen your abs and back and free up the legs to swing freely from the hips.  You can also gain great insights for shoulder strength/mobility to better understand how to integrate healthy movement habits through your whole body.  Pilates is an excellent way to connect both mind and body to re-train and re-educate your body for better health.
  1. Every Pilates exercise is a combination of both strength and flexibility. Just stretching isn’t ever going to help you get the strength and support you need in the opposing muscle groups for the too-tight muscles to let go.
  • If you’ve been running and stretching for years and can’t figure out why you’re not getting more flexible – lack of balanced muscle development might be the reason why you’re seeing improvements.
  • If you’ve been running and NOT stretching, doing Pilates exercises will take you through a full range of motion to improve mobility in a fun way that’s more effective than just “holding” a stretch.
  1. Pilates also helps build strength with length. Instead of focusing on the larger, bigger surface muscles, Pilates gets to the deeper, smaller, postural muscles and works the body from the inside out.  Pilates can help you learn how to use your overdeveloped muscles a little less and your weaker muscles a little more.  Balanced muscle development = a reduced risk of injury.
  1. Pilates can improve your breathing habits. Breathing is kind of important if you’re wanting to run or do other intensive cardio activities.  The more efficient your breathing habits are, the easier it will be to pace your runs and maximize your oxygen availability.  Better breathing habits can also help your back, arms, and shoulders move more easily for a healthy stride.  If you’re back gets tight after a run or you end up with neck and shoulder pain, there’s a great chance that by learning Pilates posterior-lateral breathing skills you’ll free up your entire upper body, reduce back pain, and be able to breathe easier during your runs.
  1. Pilates can enhance body awareness. This is a concept that gets lost on a lot of people. Better body awareness is key to avoiding injuries.  By becoming aware of your good and bad movement habits and doing Pilates exercises to help reinforce good body mechanics, you will gain the confidence needed to know when you’re moving in a healthy way or doing something that might get you hurt.  Our muscles don’t have mouths.  The only way the body can communicate with us is to send a pain signal.  It’s important to learn to listen to the body.  Pain is a signal that something is not quite right.  A quick adjustment (if you knew what to do) might be all that’s needed.  If making an adjustment or modification doesn’t eliminate a pain signal and we ignore it and continue, the risk of injury is imminent. 
  1. Pilates improves both functional movement and stability. Every activity we do involves work and release.  This requires our muscles to be proficient to support us for movement and stability.  Learning how to gain control over work/release patterns and knowing the difference between when to use a muscle group for stability vs. movement can help avoid “tug-of-war” issues that can lead to injury.  Stability in the right spots also means freer movement where it needs to happen.  This helps improve both strength and flexibility and assists with balance and body control. 
  1. Pilates is a barefoot activity. By exercising barefoot, you can become more aware of how you’re using your arches, ankles, and toes to help activate your feet and improve your alignment.  Working against the springs on Pilates equipment helps stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles.  There are lots of targeted foot and ankle exercises in Pilates that can help reduce the risk of ankle sprains, Achilles tendon issues, and plantar fasciitis problems.

 *(All of my Pilates running clients also have a Centerworks® Runfit Kit at home, with extra foot fitness training tools and exercises for targeted foot care that can be used to warm-up and cool-down after a run or other fitness workout.) 

  1. The things you can learn and improve with Pilates are limitless. Pilates is never boring if you’re working with a well-qualified Pilates Teacher who understands how to help you progress and fine-tune your form.  An ideal Pilates workout is done on the Pilates Reformer, Mat, and supplemental exercises with the Cadillac/Trapeze Table, Chairs, and Barrels as needed.  There are over 500 Classical Pilates exercises, and thousands of additional modifications, variations, and additional exercises that can be incorporated into a Pilates workout.  By knowing your goals, as well as strengths, weaknesses, and past injuries, your Pilates teacher can help guide you step-by-step into a new and improved stronger, fitter, and more flexible runner.

By incorporating both Pilates and running into your active lifestyle you will gain the benefits of great cardio training for your heart and lungs, and the right combination of strength and flexibility to keep your whole-body healthy.  Pilates benefits runners so learning how to be mindful during Pilates can help you pay closer attention to what your body is doing while you’re running.  By incorporating Pilates concepts for better breathing, body alignment, improved posture, functional movement, and support, you will be able to make every stride more efficient, enjoy maximum benefit from your running workouts, and minimize the risk or aches, pain, and injuries.

If you haven’t made Pilates a part of your weekly workouts to enhance your running program, now is a great time to get started with Pilates.  Find a well-qualified Pilates teacher and schedule a private session to get started.  Next to a great pair of running shoes, it just might be the best investment you can make to enjoy a lifetime of injury-free running.

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RunFit Foot Fitness Kit™To take good care of your feet, and be sure you’ve got the resources you need to stretch, and strengthen your ankles, arches, and toes – I recommend you get a Runfit Kit.  The Runfit Kit contains all my favorite foot-fitness exercise tools and toys to help keep your feet in tip-top shape for better health. (Running is not a requirement, to get benefits from the foot-care resources in this helpful foot-care kit!)

If you already have a copy of the book Fantastic Feet, and have been doing your exercises, you can purchase the rest of the foot-care resources separately in the Foot Fitness section of the Centerworks store.

Posted by administrator in Pilates, Running.

7 Training Tips for Better Upper Back Mobility to Improve Posture and Reduce Arm and Shoulder Pain

Upper Back MobilityHow is your upper back mobility? Is it easy to arch, bend, and twist your spine? Or, do you feel kind of stiff, sore, and tight?

Ever wonder why it’s a challenge to improve how you move for a healthy spine and pain-free arms and shoulders?

Are your Pecs on overdrive?  Do your Anterior Deltoids do too much work? Are Your Lats on Lock-down? Do tend to hold up the weight of the world with your shoulders?  Are your low abs pooching out more than pulling up, back, and in? Do you tend to get grippy with your Hip Flexors, or do way too much with your Glutes?

Heck, in the one quick paragraph above, I’ve given you at least 7 reasons why your upper back mobility might be compromised and why your neck and shoulders might be giving you grief when you’re exercising.  Or maybe you aren’t exercising because they hurt!

You might not even realize that the bad habits you’ve been using are creating the posture problems you’ve developed.  Perhaps you’re thinking, “but I used to be able to _________________  (fill in the blank),”  “and then one day my (upper back, neck shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, hip, knee, foot) started hurting.  I have no idea what I did to injure myself?”

Or maybe you DO remember the moment that your poor posture and bad functional movement habits caught up with you and your body reached the tipping point of no return and said, “I can’t take it anymore!”  And poof… pain or injury occurred.  You might not have realized that it was a lifetime of bad body mechanics that’s landed you in the state you’re feeling yourself in now.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re lifting weights, lifting children, or pulling straps in Pilates, if the balance of work and release for proper muscle support and free range of movement is not quite right, sooner or later the wear and tear is going to get you.

Proactive is always better than reactive.  But sadly, its usually not until we hurt that we start looking around trying to figure out how to feel better and get our life back.  A part of this includes taking responsibility, becoming aware of good and bad habits, listening to the body better to ensure that the new and improved muscle habits you’re working on are actually moving you towards better health.

One of the perks of Pilates is that we’re not just working on strength with the spine in a stable position, like you should be doing in the weight room.  But instead, there’s a focus on improving spine mobility.  Not just upper back mobility, but improving both support and mobility through the entire spine – to flex the body forward, arch and extend the spine back, side bend, and rotate the back segmentally and sequentially. Sometimes this is done independently without the arms involved, but more often exercises involve multi-tasking where the back is moving in conjunction with the arms and shoulders moving too!

Here Are My Top 7 Training Tips To Help You Get Started on Better Upper Back Mobility:

  1. Improve Your Standing and Seated Posture Habits
  2. Improve Your Pilates Posterio-Lateral Breathing Habits
  3. Improve Pelvic Floor and LOW Core Support
  4. Work to Release the Pecs and Strengthen the Serratus
  5. Find and Use the Lower Trapezius to Actively Pull the Shoulder Blades Down
  6. Wake up the Posterior Deltoid and Activate the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock arm position.
  7. Let the Lats go (so the spine and ribcage can swing freely from under the arms)

All of this involves teaching the spine, ribcage, shoulder blades, and arms how to work independently of each other and with each other effectively depending on the action and the movement needed from the body.

Globally, these are the seven big concepts that can transform your body for better upper back mobility.  There is not a quick fix, but changes can happen quickly once you’re aware of what’s needed and can start feeling and finding the changes happening as you work at it.

There are a million little nit-picky pieces to each of these seven concepts that can provide you with lots and lots of valuable things to pay attention to not only during your workouts, but throughout the day, at work, at home, and when you’re exercising.

The best place to start is Posture, Breathing, and Pelvic Floor/ Low Core.  Without these three KEY components in place, getting the rest of the upper body to play nice and work right is going to be an impossible challenge.

But get confident with Posture, Breathing and finding/using your both your Pelvic Floor and Low Core, and this will take a huge chunk of stress out of your neck, arms, and shoulders (not to mention the positive health benefits to your feet, knees, hips, and back!).  I’ve seen the positive results of following these strategies repeatedly with my clients who’ve come thru my door complaining of shoulder pain problems.

Once you’ve got a grip on the three key concepts of Posture, Breathing, and Pelvic Floor/Low Core, it gets easier to tackle the focus and fine-tuning needed to get the final 4 concepts that really matter for strong, flexible pain-free shoulders and better upper back mobility.

I know, you started reading this looking for the one magic “exercise.” Well, there isn’t one!  It’s everything you do in life, done as efficiently and effectively as possible by maintaining good posture habits while you find and use the right muscles to move.  Re-educating your body for better body mechanics will help you more easily improve not only upper back mobility, but strength and mobility for your whole body.

It can be overwhelming to think about all seven of these key training tips happening at once, so take it a step at a time. Keep in mind that it’s a process…and it will be easier to practice the exercises needed to make lasting improvements for better upper back mobility and eliminate arm and shoulder pain once you’ve got more awareness of body alignment, breathing and better support.

There is never going to ever be one be-all, end-all exercise that’s the magic pill because there are a lot of moving parts and pieces to the upper body and shoulder girdle that need to integrate and work as a team.  And the one exercise that makes the most sense to you, might not be the one that helps the next guy figure out the same thing…  But on every exercise incorporating good posture, breathing, and body mechanics will give you the opportunity to improve strength and mobility for better health.

If you are weaker in your “low center” chances are you’re using “high center” to support AND move.  How well does your car function when it’s high centered?  Guess what, your body doesn’t work too well high centered either.  Are you ready for a change?

Get the concepts first, and the right exercises will follow.  I’ve got a few favorites to help improve upper back mobility that I’ll share in future posts.  If you want an action step to get started, take the Centerworks Posture Quiz and see what you discover about your current posture habits.  It just might reveal some interesting clues you never knew were compromising your whole-body health and restricting your upper back mobility.  You don’t have to live with a stiff back and painful arms and shoulders (or chronic aches and pains anywhere).  Once you start improving your body posture and movement habits, it becomes easier to let go of stress where you don’t need it, and find support where you do.

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Take the Centerworks quick Posture Quiz Today!

Sign Up for the Centerworks Wellness Success newsletter and get more information, training tips, inspiration, and updates to help you enjoy a healthy, active life!

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Posture Improvement.

6 More Fitness Myths

Fitness Myths

It’s interesting what gets spread around and accepted as fitness “facts” when in truth they’re fitness myths, or misinformation. Or as some folks like to call it, “FAKE News!”

Whether it’s fitness, health, nutrition, religion, or politics, sometimes it can be challenging to know what’s a myth or truth.  With almost anything, a Google search will give you some sort of answer, but then we must ask ourselves, “was it a good answer?”  This is especially true for health topics or finding specific exercises to “solve” a pain or injury problem. There are many fitness myths and it seems there is not one right answer that will be the magic answer for everybody.

Here are a few more Fitness Myths that I’d like to help shed some light on…

  1. MYTH: Static Stretching Should Always Be Done Before a Workout

Static Stretching done pre-workout can reduce performance and power.
(Static stretching is when you get into a position and hold it.)

Static Stretching can still be done at the END of your training session to improve flexibility but it’s best to warm-up with dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretches are active movements that take the body through a comfortable range of motion without “holding” a position.

  1. MYTH: Pilates is only for your Abs

While it’s true that a strong emphasis is placed on using good core support with every Pilates exercise, Pilates is a WHOLE-BODY Workout.  It’s more about connecting mind and body to develop whole-body health – balanced body development, breathing, posture, concentration, control, centering, precision.  Pilates can help your feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck… It’s a lot more than just abs!

  1. MYTH: Pilates is only for fit, young, healthy people

Pilates is for EVERY body!  But just like any other type of activity, it’s important to start with basics and have a well-qualified expert help you develop your workout program.  Not every exercise is safe and appropriate for every body.  But everybody young and old, fit or unfit, athletic or never-exercised a day in their life, can benefit from learning and practicing Pilates.

In the past 25 years of my Pilates teaching career, most of my clients started because they had an injury or chronic pain problem.  Rarely have I had a young, fit, healthy person walk thru my door to get started.

  1. MYTH: Sugar Causes Diabetes

If you do not have diabetes, sugar intake will not cause you to develop the disease.  The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes are a diet high in calories, being overweight, and an inactive lifestyle.  If you have diabetes, work closely with your physician and dietitian to help manage your blood sugar levels to stay healthy.

  1. MYTH: Running is Bad for Your Knees

There is no research that shows a greater instance of joint issues or osteoarthritis in people who run versus those who do not.

Women are prone to more knee issues, but it’s a biomechanical issue, not pounding the pavement that is the primary factor in knee pain.

Have you seen my knee cap tracking video? If you’re knees make that crackling sound when you bend and straighten them, it’s due in part to the kneecap not gliding in it’s groove.  And this can be caused by a muscle imbalance through the quadriceps.  Check out my Knee Cap Dance exercise on YouTube

  1. MYTH: Walking isn’t as good as Jogging

Not only is walking as good as jogging, in some ways it might be better.

A study done by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, revealed that over 6-years and nearly 50,000 participants, researchers found that:

  • running reduced the risk of high blood pressure by 4.2 %
  • walking reduced high blood pressure by 7.2%
  • running reduced high cholesterol by 4.3%
  • walking reduced cholesterol by 7%
  • running reduced heart disease by 5%
  • walking reduced heart disease by 9%

In addition, walking is one of the best whole-body activities that you can do to enhance functional movement (if you’re using the body correctly).

Interested in learning more about how I re-educate my clients to walk well?  Snag a copy of Pilates Walk – Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride.  And get started improving how you move to maximize the benefits of your walking workouts.

Are any of these 6 fitness myths something you believed to be a fact?  Have you always started your workouts with static stretching?  Have you been afraid to try Pilates because you’re not “fit enough?”  Were you thinking that walking for fitness wasn’t worth your time?  I hope this post helps shed a little light these fitness myths.  Make smart wellness choices and find the best ways to fine-tune what you’re doing to stay healthy!

Missed my previous installment about other fitness myths? Read about them here.

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness.

Exploring Whole Body Health and the Mind, Body, Spirit Connection

Upgrading and Downgrading Your Health:  How Imbalances Can Affect the Performance of your Body to Maintain and Enjoy Optimal Whole-Body Health

Whole-Body Health

Most of the time what I write and share on my blog are my thoughts, comments, and exercise tips and perhaps an occasional guest article post.  But today, I’ve got something special!  I’m blessed to have had many wonderful health practitioners and healers come in and out of my life.  Some are life-long friends, some have helped me on my journey to re-gain whole-body health, and some are only acquaintances that I’ve met briefly during my studies of Pilates and other mind-body alternative health care practices.  The bottom line is that as health care practitioners, we’re all striving to keep our bodies healthy and pay it forward to help others too!  Optimal whole-body health for some is easy to achieve.  Yes, it takes hard work and dedication, but for some it seems to be no big deal to make it happen.  For others, there always seems to be something wrong, out of balance, or “off” just enough that the body hurts.  It’s learning to pay attention and take the steps needed that can help us quickly re-balance and make whatever corrections are necessary that can help us achieve and maintain better whole-body health.

My friend, Eric Goodbar, from Fast Track Pain & Mobility Solutions  (who is an amazing guy if you ever need his help!) shared what I’m about to share with you, in a Facebook post a while back.  It really resonated with me, so I saved it and Eric has been kind enough to let me share it with you!

As a Pilates teacher I’m 100% committed to helping my clients improve whole-body health.  I’ve studied Touch for Health, Kinesiology; Rossiter® Stretching; BiGu Qi Gong and have spent years getting in touch with my Spiritual, psychic self.  I understand that there is a huge connection to mind, body, and spirit.  But in the fitness world, we focus primarily on the body.  With Pilates, the mind, body connection gets a little more action.  But for the most part, the Spiritual aspect of things doesn’t really get discussed.  It’s a little tricky to toss “Spirit” into conversations because it can quickly become religious which is not the direction it’s meant to go.  Personally, I’m very spiritual, but not too religious – and I struggle, as I’m sure a lot of folks do, with bringing more Spirit into the conversation because “preachy” feels pushy to me.  In a similar way, it’s sometimes challenging to talk about the emotional component that can be a part of pain patterns that might be restricting our ability to truly achieve whole body health.

Eric very eloquently explains the difference between whole body health functioning optimally, or in a downgraded way, and has a pretty cool “Spiritual” connection to add to it.  I’m to the point of babbling aimlessly now, so am just going to cut and paste his entire post in here for you to enjoy.

“People don’t really recognize how everything is connected in so many ways. A little wordy but hang in there….

Some of my clients have gotten a quick blurb from me about how everything in your body works together as 100%, whether in an optimal way or a downgraded way in function. So, if ANY part(s) in your body that is “off” or downgraded (working either too hard or not hard enough) to some degree from it’s normal, or neutral, or center, then the whole body will downgrade in performance accordingly. How much these parts are “off” will determine how much the performance (output) of the whole body is off.

Therefore, if ANY part(s) are brought ANY closer towards functioning more normal, neutral, or center to work better than their current state, the whole body will upgrade in performance accordingly. You will likely never get everything working completely normal, but the closer you get back to normal, or neutral, or center in ANY fashion, the more your whole body will be upgrading to a more optimal state and function better.

So, remember if you ignore a back pain, neck pain, poor movement in a joint, or really any problem, just remember that it’s affecting 100% off you in a downgraded way. Improve the problem ANY and improve everything too.

What I came across this morning that was so cool was that while I was in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 I saw scripture that made me think of what I just wrote out above. Lines 25 and 26 say

“25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

That was definitely inspiring to me as a bodyworker, so I wanted to share and maybe will inspire some of you in some way. This truth can really be applied to everything in your life.”

Thanks Eric, I’m super-happy that you opened your heart to share these powerful truths with your friends and clients.  And I’m pleased that you’ve let me share these enlightening words with my tribe too!

Are you working on upgrading your whole-body health, or putting up with compensation patterns that are keeping you functioning at less than optimal? Strive to connect mind, body, and spirit, and take the steps necessary to get your body in balance.  It’s your birthright to enjoy optimal whole-body health!

Posted by administrator in Mind-Body Health.

What Are Your Excuses to Avoid Taking Care of Your Health?

Are you stuck in a cycle of Unhealthy, Sick, Tired, Injured, In Pain, or Full of Complaints?

excuses

What’s your excuse? Or are there multiple excuses getting in the way of you taking responsibility and care of your body and your health? Is it easy to complain about what hurts, not ever getting around to doing something about it? Or, the plan is to rest until nothing hurts and then you’ll start exercising? (Meanwhile, your body is getting weaker, stiffer, heavier, more lethargic…and the aches and pains you started with don’t seem to be getting better at all!)

Excuses I often hear people say are: “Pilates is so expensive.” “I can’t afford private lessons.” “I’m too busy, and don’t have time to schedule Pilates 2-3 days a week.” “My job keeps me working long hours, I’m too tired to exercise.” “My kids have a lot of extracurricular activities and I’m the one that has to be their chauffeur.”

It’s not just doing Pilates that these excuses come up for, it’s anything that might be a positive step to take better care of your health, regardless of how you choose to do it!

All these excuses are keeping you from living your optimal life! There are a million reasons that can steal your time, and one big reason to make time and take care of you anyway.

Your #1 Priority Needs to be YOUR HEALTH! Today, Tomorrow, and Always.

Think of it this way… If you’re not healthy, how the heck are you going to be able to earn a living, take care of yourself, your kids, your family? Do you really want to spend a good chunk of your income on doctors, medications, surgeries…things that aren’t really going to improve your quality of life? I’m not saying to stop taking your medications. There are reasons why we need medicine! But the healthier you are, the less likely you are to need as much and there may be a chance that (under doctor’s supervision) you can get off your meds completely!

I spoke with a friend recently, someone I really look up to as a health professional. We’ve known each other for more than 20 years. And over the last few years, his health has taken a turn for the worse. He was the last person I’d ever expect to really get sick. In the process, he almost lost everything. But with a determined attitude and a shift in priorities, he’s put himself first – but it was because he had to! And the comments he made to me that made the biggest impact, “With everything else I’ve had to sacrifice, I never compromised on what I’ve been eating.” As tight as his budget has been, without money to spend on necessities – he never sacrificed eating clean, healthy, organic, nutritious foods! And now instead of “working” and helping clients for 8,10, 12 hours a day, he might work 3-4 hours. What takes up the other 20 hours a day? Taking care of himself. Diligently striving to regain the strength, health, and mobility he lost by not listening to his body and doing something about it sooner!

Can we recover from serious injuries, accidents, and illnesses – YES. People do it all the time. The people that enjoy a full recovery don’t let excuses stop them. They are motivated to keep a positive attitude and do whatever is necessary, whatever it takes, to get well and stay well.

The conversation with my friend really stuck with me. On some level, we all know that “You are what you eat!” and that “The body is a Temple.” But truly, how well are we really taking care of ourselves? Do we really rest to fully recover when we’re sick? If we get hurt, do we go to the doctor – follow recommendations – stop doing things that hurt to aggravate whatever injury we’ve incurred? Avoid eating the things we know are un-healthy, or that we’re sensitive or allergic to? Are we pro-active to get check-ups, eat healthy, exercise, get adequate rest to ensure that we’re doing all we can to maintain our good health? Or is life spent partying like there’s no tomorrow, until you’re facing the fact that your body can’t handle the stress and abuse you’ve put on it and there might not be a tomorrow?

I’ve battled with depression and more weird, physical ailments that I can count. Some years I’m in pretty good shape; other years the ride is a rollercoaster of emotions and physical health challenges. It’s almost a game of bouncing between pro-active and reactive! When the body feels good, it’s easy to just coast along, do whatever you want and not worry about how it might be affecting you. Until the moment that something hurts or isn’t functioning properly, then the mindset shifts into reactive mode, scrambling to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it – willing to spend every cent to make the pain go away. How much of this could be prevented with a more proactive lifestyle and a few less excuses?

It’s not just exercise, it’s not just diet, it’s not just getting enough sleep, it’s not just managing stress… It’s about being more responsible to take care of everything. To balance work and play, rest and exercise, social time and alone time. It’s about nourishing body, mind, and Spirit.

Sometimes we really do know what to do, we’re just not doing it. Other times we need a little extra support, advice, counseling, or expertise to help guide us in the right direction.

Getting to the point where we confidently understanding what to do to start bridging the gap between thinking about doing it – and doing what’s required with dedication and consistency will lead us to the happy, healthy life that each of us is destined to live.

Exercise has always been a priority in my life. But I must admit that in other areas, I’ve not been quite as diligent in the self-care arena. What excuses are you ready to let go of? What areas of your life are important to re-evaluate, and prioritize to be more pro-active to take better care of your health? What can you start doing today to release the excuses that have kept you stuck in a cycle of unhealthy habits? The time is NOW to move yourself up to #1 on your priority list – You are Worth It!

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Sign Up for the Centerworks Wellness Success eNews – Enjoy motivation, inspiration, and exercise tips to keep you moving forward to a healthier, happier YOU!

Posted by administrator in Health.

Sit or MOVE? Which One is Best for Your Body and Your Health?

And why does it matter if you sit or MOVE anyway?

Sit or Move

Let’s face it, we’re spending way too much time parked on our rumps, not thinking about whether we sit or move.  You know it’s bad when they start naming new health problems that are directly related to how much we’re sitting.  Have you heard of gluteal amnesia? It can be directly related to lack of movement and muscle atrophy because we’re not doing what we need to be doing to activate, strengthen, and use our muscles to MOVE! Sit on your butt for too many hours a day and your glutes get lazy, hips, hamstrings, and quads get tighter which leads to more low back pain, as well as hip pain, knee pain, and problems with your neck and shoulders.

It’s so “relaxing” to park your butt in a chair and chill out, but is this really in the best interest of your body and helping to maintain your good health? Or, would a wiser choice to be getting up and doing something a little bit more active?

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or moving, good posture matters to keep your muscles working well.  And if that’s not enough motivation for you, studies have shown that the more you sit, the higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. We have to decide to sit or MOVE more to help improve whole-body health.

A quick 60 minute workout 2-3 days a week isn’t going to undo 8-10 hours with zero movement and poor posture while you’re tush is parked at your desk working all day.  Sit with good posture and you’re a step ahead to keep your body strong, fit, and flexible. Get a little extra time standing up and moving around and your body, and brain will be even happier.

Do you find yourself exhausted from a long day at work? How is sitting in front of the TV going to perk up your energy level?  Chances are it’s not. But, maybe that snack you grab will do the trick. Unfortunately, you’ll likely end up burning fewer calories because you’re too sedentary, while eating more because you’re desperate for energy.  Did you know that standing burns 30% more calories than sitting and you can up that number even more if you move! We have to make a conscious decision to sit or MOVE throughout the day.

Our muscles only get stronger when we use them.  We only get more flexible when we work our joints through their full range of motion.  Our circulatory system (heart), respiratory system (breathing), and digestive system all function better when we are active so whether we sit or move, our bodies are impacted.

Shift Your Mindset from: “I HAVE to Sit Down” to “I just need to MOVE for a Minute.”  Then I challenge you to follow the wise advice that just came out of your mouth and do it.  Set a timer, get up, and move for at least ONE Minute (every hour of the day)! 

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Looking for a quick 10 minute workout to re-energize your whole body for better health?  Check out the ebook: Pulse Power! The Daily Dozen

 

 

 

 

 

Interested in getting better benefits from every step you take?  Discover an easy to learn system to help you enhance your whole-body health by fine-tuning your gait with Pilates Walk: Tips, Techniques and Exercises for a Healthy Stride.

Posted by administrator in Alleviating Pain & Chronic Health Problems.

Centerworks.com Ranks as One of the Top 75 Pilates Blogs

How cool is this?  To get an email, out of the blue telling me that Centerworks.com has been ranked by Feedspot as having one of the Top 75 Pilates Blogs on the web for 2017.

Then to find out that out of 75 Pilates blogs, Centerworks is ranked 11th!  Woo Hoo!! I love teaching Pilates, and for all the people out there that can’t make it to my studio to take Private lessons and classes with me, I’m glad you’re finding and reading my blog posts.

I truly hope that whether you are a fellow Pilates teacher, avid student, or just getting started discovering what Pilates is, what it can do, and how it can help improve your whole-body health, that reading the articles on my blog spark an idea, educate you to think about how your stand, sit, and move, or inspire you to delve even deeper into paying attention to how your body is put together to move well.  Better posture, breathing, and body awareness to improve functional movement and achieve wellness success is the message I want to help spread to the world.  I strongly believe that the Pilates Method is one of the best systems available to help maintain good health.

Our bodies were designed to move.  When we’re moving well, nothing hurts, and everything stays healthy.  Life throws us curveballs and challenges which is why Pilates is a practice.  But with so many wonderful Pilates exercises and such brilliantly designed Pilates equipment to play on – every workout can be a health-enhancing experience.  Plus, I consider Pilates to be a “rabbit-hole” of opportunities to further develop the mind-body connection while improving strength, flexibility, and fitness.

It’s hard to believe that I’m now twenty-five years into my full-time career as a Pilates Teacher and studio owner.  And still, every single day I learn something new about the body that can help me help my clients improve their health!

My goal with the Centerworks.com blog is to share some of these little ah-ha moments with you!  If you’re a fan of Centerworks and my blog posts – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! Blogging is a lonely job… I don’t always hear from my readers to know who’s enjoying my posts, but I’m very glad you’re out there.

If you’re interested in gleaning more tidbits of health inspiration from other experts in the Pilates industry, and are curious to see who else made the list. I hope you’ll check out this article to learn more — Top 75 Pilates Blogs.

And, if you want to stay in the loop for what’s happening at Centerworks – I hope you’ll get on the list for my Wellness Success eNews and updates.  I’ve never been one to clutter your inbox with mail – but do promise to give you good usable content to help you keep moving in a positive direction to improve your health.

Posted by administrator in Book Reviews, Pilates.

Healthy Recipes: Protein-Packed Chocolate Pudding with Blueberries

Chocolate Pudding

This protein-packed chocolate pudding really is one of my favorite “comfort” desserts (also great for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon snack!). Eating this brings back memories… When I was a kid, my Aunt Rachel made the best Chocolate Cream Pie on the planet!  For every holiday, birthday, or special family get-together, she always made me a chocolate pie.  In the early years, she’d ask what I wanted for dessert.  But after a while it became obvious that she could ask, but my special request was always going to be her amazing chocolate pie!  I miss both her, and her pie, dearly…I suppose that’s why I have such sweet memories every time I take a bite of this pudding I whipped up one day on a whim.

I keep thinking that I’m going to get some of my favorite recipes compiled into a cookbook.  But when you’re somebody that cooks by the seat of your pants, rarely making the same thing twice…it’s a challenge to nail down a recipe.  Recipes to me are more like suggestions!  A springboard from which to start making changes.  And, since over the years I’ve dealt with tons of food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances, the question of what CAN I eat that my body will take and use appropriately continues to be a moving target.

So, if you’re anything like me, the ingredients below for my yummy protein-packed chocolate pudding with blueberries will be recommended “suggestions.”  Feel free to modify and adapt based on your body’s desires and needs for the right foods.

This is a sugar-free recipe (until you add the blueberries!). So, if you’re looking to cut sugar completely out of your life, you can still enjoy this chocolate pudding, just skip the fruit.

Remember – it’s a-ok to swap out ingredients and find the right combination of things that work best for you!  Sometimes I leave the chia seeds out… Sometimes I leave the protein powder out…  Sometimes I add more protein powder…  Or more yogurt and no water… You could add different berries, cacao nibs for a little crunch.  Eat with a gluten-free graham cracker for that “pie” feeling.  Or add a dollop of coconut or cashew cream for an extra kick!  The possibilities are endless.  Here’s my base recipe to get you started:

Aliesa’s Healthy Protein-Packed Chocolate Pudding with Blueberries

Ingredients                                                                                                                

  • ½ Cup Plain Yogurt (I used to use non-fat plain Greek yogurt… currently I prefer a dairy-free Coconut yogurt, or other Nut milk yogurt – homemade when I have time to whip up a batch.)
  • ½ C water
  • 1 T Chia Seeds
  • 1 t Cacao Powder (Hershey’s Cocoa Powder works fine too)
  • 4 drops liquid stevia dark chocolate flavored (more or less to taste)
  • 2 T Sunflower Nut Butter (I use Organic SunButter – it’s just nuts no added oils or sugars)
  • 1 Fuxion Ganomas Cappuccino packet (dry)
  • 1/4 package of Fuxion BioPro Active Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Powder (dry)
  • ½ Cup fresh Blueberries

Directions

Place all ingredients in a bowl, except blueberries. Use a spoon to hand mix until thoroughly blended.  Add blueberries, stir, put on the lid, and refrigerate to let the chia seeds soak.

Helpful hint – I usually make this in a Mason Jar.  It’s easy, serving sized, and quick to make ahead to grab and go.

Serving Size and Calories

It depends on how many calories you’re counting to calculate a serving size.  For me, the recipe above is 1 very generous LARGE meal-sized serving (I estimate approximately 432 calories with a whopping 28.1 g of plant-based protein).  Or 2 Medium-sized servings (approx. 216 calories).  If you were into a 2-bite dessert you could probably make this into 4-6 servings!  I happen to be a pudding pig and this usually becomes a high-protein, morning or mid-afternoon meal for me.

Getting All the Ingredients

Don’t have the Fuxion products in your kitchen pantry? Swap it out for something else (but I can’t guarantee the taste!). If you’re interested in ordering the Ganomas Cappuccino mix, and BioPro X Active Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Powder that I used in this recipe, or trying some of the other healthy sugar-free Fuxion functional beverage drinks that I enjoy and cook with regularly,  click here to visit my Fuxion virtual shop scroll thru to find the products you want, and order a box today!

It’s not my Aunt Rachel’s chocolate cream pie.  But I know it’s better for me!  Quick and easy, and oh so yummy.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Posted by administrator in Food and Nutrition, Recipes for Healthy Eating.

You CAN Eliminate Back Pain with Pilates Core Exercises

Use Pilates to help eliminate back painAre you ready to kick your back pain problems to the curb?

Get ready to eliminate back pain… You can start feeling better fast!

Back pain is a significant problem in the USA.  There can be a variety of different reasons to end up challenged with back pain problems, and it can be extremely aggravating to figure out how to feel better.  But there are lots of different exercises that can be done to eliminate back pain, and Pilates can be an excellent choice in the process of improving posture, strength, flexibility, and developing healthy movement habits to enjoy life.

I was recently contacted by Natalie, at Runway Pilates to be a contributor to an article she was writing 11 Pilates Instructors Reveal the Best Core Exercises For Back Pain.  It was awesome to be asked to share my insights.  Then I realized that I needed to be succinct in my response! With my own personal low back issues, and having worked with lots of clients over the past two-plus decades of teaching Pilates, I’ve got so many thoughts to share on the subject of eliminating back pain problems.

Posted by administrator in Back Pain, Pilates.

The Many Ways Pilates Improves Your Health

Pilates ImprovesInherently, all physical fitness systems work, in one way or another, toward improving the health of anyone who takes them up. However, Pilates is head and shoulders above most fitness programs when it comes to health benefits, achieving them in a much less strenuous way. Pilates improves whole-body health without straining muscles and joints.

Since its introduction by Joseph Pilates all those years ago, Pilates has earned a reputation as a great way of strengthening the “core,” which mainly refers to the abdominal and trunk muscles. This incredible fitness system, however, does more than just give you great and strong abs, which many people (mistakenly) believe is what Pilates is solely about. Let’s look at the many ways Pilates improves your health. You might be surprised at what it can do for you.

Pilates improves your posture

If you know people who have been doing Pilates for some time, you will notice that they have good posture. That’s because smoothly doing Pilates exercises requires laser focus, and this level of concentration makes one more naturally aware of their posture at all times. Eventually, Pilates enthusiasts automatically correct their posture and spinal alignment even when they’re outside of classes and going about their daily lives.

Pilates improves circulation

Pilates emphasizes deep, proper breathing. With this kind of breathing, the flow of your blood becomes freer, and the delivery of precious oxygen to your organs and muscles becomes more efficient resulting in improved function.

Pilates lowers blood pressure

A 2015 study had 44 hypertensive women split into two groups as subjects, with one group performing twice-a-week, 60-minute Mat Pilates sessions for 16 weeks, and the other group maintaining their daily activities without any special exercise training. The results were encouraging, as it found out that Mat Pilates “reduces clinical and ambulatory blood pressure.”

Pilates improves your balance

Many Pilates exercises constantly make use of apparatus and props that promote stabilization. As your core muscles gain strength and your spine realigns, your balance, as well as your coordination, improves as well. Pilates is absolutely great for the elderly since improved balance means lesser risk for falls.

Pilates helps with back pain

If you’ve been suffering from chronic back pain and traditional treatments didn’t work for you, you might want to give Pilates a try. There are specific Pilates exercises that are designed to relieve back pain, and there have been studies that say they can be more effective than conventional back pain treatments. Many Pilates enthusiasts already claim that the system has given them relief for their back pain, which Pilates can also help prevent.

Pilates improves flexibility

Every single Pilates class will require you to perform multiple active stretches all throughout, which will improve your joints’ range of motion with every session. Your body will feel looser and relaxed, which is always a good thing.

Pilates boosts spinal strength and health

With all the multiplanar core exercises that you will have to do in Pilates class, you will feel your spine become stronger, more flexible, and better aligned. A 2014 study also affirms that there is a link between spinal health and Pilates.

Pilates enhances joint mobility

Pilates exercises strengthen and elongate muscles as well as improve the mobility of your joints. They can also reduce your risk of suffering from stiff or weak joints. As Pilates exercises also help to balance the musculature within your joints, you will become less prone to arthritis.

Pilates lowers stress levels

Deep, proper breathing, which is a core Pilates principle, plays a huge role in reducing your stress levels. With deep and proper breaths, your blood gets more oxygen, and the improved circulation makes delivery of oxygen to the brain more efficient. When your brain gets its fair share of oxygen, a response telling it to calm down is triggered, and that should relax your brain enough to keep your stress levels down.

These are just some of the ways Pilates can improve your health. If Pilates intimidates you, know that anyone can do it, no matter what your age or weight. Pilates Improves It may prove challenging at first but you will get the hang of it eventually, and you will soon achieve the health gains mentioned above, and more.


Guest post for Centerworks® by Cindy Ayres.

Owner/Instructor, Cindy Ayres, excels at challenging the most seasoned of athletes, but she also has made it her life’s mission to help bodies that hurt, regularly working with students with injuries, special conditions, and functionality issues. Beyond Fit Pilates in Scottsdale, Arizona was created to teach all levels of high quality Pilates instruction, write fitness and wellness content, and speak in health and fitness forums.

Posted by administrator in Pilates.

 

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