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Latest "Functional Movement" Posts

Push-Up Pull-Up: Tips to Improve Upper Body Strength for Push-Ups

Did you know that by practicing the Push-Up Pull-Up phase of your push-up exercises you can improve upper body strength and successfully do a great, get all the way down and back up again push-up?  

(This post with tips to improve your push-up pull-up technique is Part 3 of a four-part article series to help you improve your Push-Up Exercises)

Improve Upper Body Strength for Push-Up ExercisesIf you haven’t read my previous articles in this series, you might want to check those out first; Push-Up Prep and Practice Better Push-Ups.

I was helping a client improve their Push-Ups recently and had a cool A-Ha moment. We were working on improving her upper body strength to maintain a better Push-Up position, working in a full range of motion to lower the body down in one long, strong piece.  We spend almost ALL day using our arms in front of the body. Push-Ups, Bench Press in the weight room, or Chaturanga in Yoga class are all different forms of a Push Up.  I see so many people struggle with good form to get down (and back up) for a good Push-Up.  Who has ever cued you to pay attention to the work that’s happening behind your back — with your arms, shoulders, and upper back to control lower the body down for your Push-Up Exercises?  Let’s talk about the Push-Up Pull-Up phase of this exercise…

It’s funny, I like to do hanging Pull-Ups in a Plank Position for my circuit workouts at the park on the playground equipment.  And when my husband joins me for a workout, he hates this exercise.  It’s difficult to do a hanging Pull-Up because it’s basically a rowing exercise against your body weight (a reverse Push-Up because the back is doing all the work).  On the Pilates Cadillac, we have a version of this exercise too; usually reserved for more experienced “advanced” clients and a slightly easier version standing on the Cadillac (the Spread Eagle).  After 40 plus years of coaching experience and 22 years of teaching Pilates, I have a newfound appreciation of hanging Pull-Ups and the huge benefit they can offer to help you improve your Push-Ups.  Are you ready to take your understanding of Push-Up exercises to the next level?

Not everybody needs to dash out to the park to play on the playground (although if you feel inspired after reading this, go for it!). However, I do want to share with you some things to think about from a technique standpoint for why paying attention to the Pulling/Lowering Phase of your Push-Up exercise is important.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips.

Core Conditioning – Are You Listening to Your Body to Improve Core Strength and Whole-Body Health

Core ConditioningCore conditioning is a multi-faceted jewel that is key to enjoying a healthy life.  On so many different levels we need to be more focused on improving core conditioning.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I believe that at least 95% of “issues” related to poor health are a result of a core challenge.

For years I dealt with an abdominal muscle tear that made doing sit-up exercises impossible!  I felt like a hypocrite, spending all day teaching my Pilates clients how to find and use their mid-sections, and mine was so broken I couldn’t even roll over in bed!  But what I learned through the process of recovering from this injury, was how many other muscle groups, besides just the fab 4 abdominal (Transverse, Internal & External Obliques, and Rectus) muscles are necessary for healthy movement.  And I was forced to listen to my body and act accordingly.  You see I had about 10-12 years where flexing my rectus, or doing 1-sided exercises caused me immediate abdominal pain, and prohibited my injury from fully healing.  I had to get creative in finding other muscles to help support movement so I could continue to be active.  I had to make smart exercise choices that allowed me to enjoy full body workouts without causing strain and pain on my abdominal tear.  I had to let go of my ego and be happy that I was able to do something, and not whine about what I wasn’t able to do.  Then I had to do what I could do regularly, listen to my body, and just work at my own pace.  And patience…. lots of patience.

Now I can pretty much do what I want with my abs without fear, pain, or negative repercussions.  But it was a looong time getting back to this point.  Even when I work with clients who have never had an abdominal injury – it can be quite the journey trying to find, feel, and activate the right muscles to maximize healthy movement.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement.

Bye-Bye Back Pain By Practicing this Simple Back-Opening Breathing Exercise

Reducing Back Pain with Breathing Are You Ready to Take Action and Do Something About Your Back Pain?

Back pain can be anywhere along the spine from the tip of your tailbone, all the way up to the base of your skull.  Regardless of where it hurts, or what you’ve done to aggravate it – the truth is, that all anybody ever really wants is a quick fix to make the pain go away.

I know personally how life-altering it is to live with chronic back pain.  I was born with defects at L5-S1 and that instability has made maintaining my core strength a necessity to keep me healthy.  And if you’re low back is out of alignment, nothing stacked on top of that is quite right either so back pain can result anywhere from the bottom to the top.

If it’s not your low back that’s bothering you, it might be your mid-back, or upper back / neck and shoulders.  It’s nice if a chiropractic adjustment can get you back in alignment, but then the question remains – how long will your adjustment hold before it hurts again?  Pills and shots tend to mask the pain so you feel amazing while you’re medicated, and worse off when it wears off!

There are 2 critical things to pay attention to that can quickly begin alleviating your back pain problems. 

  1. Better Posture
  2. Breathing

Ideally our spine is designed to move freely in all directions.  When the bones are “out of balance” it restricts movement.   Muscles get into tight over-holding patterns, and the daily activities we do over and over sometimes only make it worse.  Muscles move bones, so getting the right muscle balance to maintain healthy body alignment for better posture really does matter if you’re serious about fixing your back pain problems.  We need stability AND mobility.

It’s nice to think, “ If I could just “relax” my back would feel better.”  But the truth is, it’s a combination of both work and release that will make the biggest difference to improve your health.  Right now that work/release balance for good posture is out of whack, and the only way your body can tell you there’s a problem is with a pain signal.

Improving posture is going to be a long-term project…  There is lots to become aware of, bad habits to replace with better habits, and never-ending opportunities to incorporate posture-improving exercises into your weekly workout program. If you’re interested in getting started paying attention to your current posture habits click here to take this Posture Quiz.

Now let’s talk about breathing: Keep reading and take in a few deep breaths.  Notice where the air is going inside your body.

  • Does your low belly stick out when you inhale?
  • Does most of your air rise up into the front of your chest? 

(Both of these not-so-hot breathing habits are contributing factors to low back pain.)

  • Are you able to take a full, deep breath, or are you a shallow breather?

If your back really hurts you might be compensating by not breathing deeply enough to avoid more pain (when in fact this choice is only making the lock down effect worse, and creating more tension.) 

  • Do you breathe evenly into BOTH lungs?  Or tend to fill one side more than the other? 

(Not breathing evenly, back muscles are not working/stretching evenly.)

  • When you inhale do you lift your shoulders up around your ears, or is the ribcage lifting and the shoulders are just riding along on the lift of the cage?

(If you’re actively hiking your shoulders up, you’re jamming your head/neck into your body compressing the cervical spine.)

Since so many people these days have forward head posture your poor neck and shoulder muscles are already on over-drive to keep your head from falling off your body, which is a part of why your shoulders want to hike up to begin with and why you may be dealing with neck pain, mid-back pain or both.

Poor neck! Poor shoulders! Poor back!  Have I gotten your attention yet?

Posted by administrator in Back Pain, Breathing.

Alleviate Shoulder Tension with These 10 Healthy Movement Habits to Help You Feel Great

Alleviate Shoulder TensionAre you sick and tired of aggravating neck and shoulder pain, and ready to change your habits to help alleviate shoulder tension?

I’ve had the opportunity to help so many clients over the past 20+ years teaching Pilates who have walked thru my door complaining of neck and shoulder tension, stress, chronic pain, or rotator cuff injuries.  It’s amazing how quickly things can improve with a better understanding of posture, breathing, body alignment.  Then getting the right exercises into your weekly workout program to reinforce healthy new movement habits and alleviate shoulder tension is the ultimate way to keep the pain away.

It’s a 3-Step Process to get your brain and body in sync for better health.  We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s impossible to make corrections or improvements with our movement habits to alleviate shoulder tension if we don’t realize we need to change, or have never been shown a better way to stand, sit, breathe, or move.

Step 1: Your brain has to be able to send the right message to your muscles. Cognitively understanding what needs to happen is the first step. If you don’t even realize that there is something you’re doing with a daily habit, task, or exercise that is creating the pain, OR that there is actually something that you can do about it, how on earth can you ever fix it? Your brain is the master controller for the rest of your body.  Your body sends a message to the brain that there is pain…  The brain is then supposed to help the body fix it!  How often do you ignore the pain and just keep doing what you’re doing? (or try medicating & masking the pain with a pill – so you can ignore the problem and hope it will just go away?)

Step 2: Improve Your Body Awareness. Being able to find and feel things working differently in your own body is step 2.  It’s important to be able to notice when you’re doing things right or wrong so you have an opportunity to make adjustments for better health.  There is a level of trust that needs to be restored between your brain and body, to improve confidence that if there is a problem, you acknowledge it, and will take action to improve the situation.

Step 3: Practice Good Posture and Healthy Movement Habits.  By applying better body mechanics to every physical activity you do, you get to put your new-and-improved posture habits into practice to help re-train the right muscles to support healthy pain-free movement; reducing your risk of injury and ensuring that whatever activity you do it’s safe and effective to help you stay healthy.  This not only helps alleviate shoulder tension, but helps develop a well-balanced body to keep your whole-body healthy!

Even when we’re sitting still, doing nothing, it can be challenging to alleviate shoulder tension!  Just thinking about things that increase our stress level can effect the amount of neck and shoulder tension we’re holding onto.  Being cold and shivering will wrap your shoulders up around your ears quickly also, and you might not even realize why it’s happening.  Too much time in front of your computer, sitting in a recliner watching TV, or bending your head forward to text message on your phone all are daily life activities that may be contributing to neck and shoulder tension problems.

If you’re tired of complaining about neck and shoulder tension and ready to start paying attention to what you’re doing along with learning how to take better care of your body, there is something you can do about it.  Yes, getting a massage might help you enjoy some temporary relief, but for lasting results it’s time to take control of your body and be pro-active to improve how you stand, sit, and MOVE.

Here are 10 healthy movement habits you can start incorporating into your daily routine to help alleviate shoulder tension.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Shoulder Pain.

Shoulder Tension, Stress, and Shivering: How Winter Weather Affects Your Health

Shoulder  Tension, Stress, & Shivering

Have you ever thought about relationship being cold has on the amount of shoulder tension and neck stress you’re holding onto in your body?

If you’re in a colder climate do you seem to feel worse in the Winter, and not-so-bad in warmer months?  Are you one who usually blames the stress of the Holidays for your neck and shoulder pain?  Lack of sunshine might not be the only reason your body is feeling more tight and achy than usual.

This year it has seemed quite a bit chillier here in Kansas, and maybe that’s why I’ve noticed how the winter weather is effecting shoulder tension. It seems a lot of my clients are catching on to the connection too.  The body’s natural reflex response when cold is to shiver.  These little micro, muscle contractions are designed to create heat and energy to keep us warm, maintain our internal body temperature.  These micro, muscle contractsion are a great reminder that hypothermia might be where we’re headed if we don’t do something soon to warm up. However, in the process, we end up creating lots of internal shoulder tension we might not be taking the time to clear out of our system.

Think about it; If you just sit in your chair reading this and “pretend” your cold, how does your body react?  Do you slouch more, trying to curl up in a fetal position?  Did you draw your shoulders up and forward around your ears?  Did you head drop even farther forward off your neck?  Did you slump into the pelvis and collapse the ribs and back?  Did you start shivering a bit while you were “pretending” to be cold?

Here’s the thing… If this is what happens when you’re “pretending” for only a minute, how long are you hanging out in this awkward poor posture position throughout the day? Or, for days on end? But what if we hang on to this awkward, poor posture position throughout the cold winter months? Aren’t we just reinforcing bad body alignment and creating chronic neck pain and shoulder tension?

Awareness is the first step in taming winter neck and shoulder tension.  Pay attention to your posture, because there’s a very good change that YOUR posture habits are creating the problem!

Is it possible to just never be cold so you don’t shiver? Probably not. But knowing that the posture you put yourself in while shivering is wreaking havoc on your health, means that taking the time to bundle up to stay warm when you’re outside is important, and taking a little extra time to “undo” the effects of shivering will do your body worlds of good to help keep your neck and shoulders happy and stress-free through the winter while we await warmer months.

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Have you taken my quick Posture Quiz?  Improve body awareness for better posture to help get those shoulders down away from your ears.  For more low center support (and fitness for whole-body health) get a copy of the e-book The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen – 10 minute Workout.  The Pulse-Power Daily Dozen exercises are easy-to-learn, and great for a warm-up, cool-down, or as a stand-alone quick whole-body conditioning program to deepen your mind-body connection and help you get more from your core to help keep your shoulders away from your ears to reduce shoulder tension.

Posted by administrator in Functional Movement, Posture Improvement.

Heart Health and the Benefits of Pilates to Improve Your Quality of Life

Heart Health and Pilates to Improve Your LifeHeart Health is More than just Cardio.

Yes, the heart is a muscle and it’s important to do activities that get our blood pumping.  To keep our heart strong and work on improving heart health with exercise it’s important to do at least 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity (walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, elliptical, hiking, skating, dancing…) Any activity you enjoy that gets your body in its optimal target heart rate zone for aerobic activity, at least 3-5 days a week.

You’ve got lots of options to improve hearth health.   And there are good reasons to do Pilates, because a vigorous Pilates workout IS improving heart health. (In more ways than just strengthening the heart muscle and improving blood flow.)

Yes, it’s true that Pilates is not considered an aerobic activity.  But here are ten good reasons why doing Pilates regularly IS important for your Cardiovascular activities to help improve heart health.

10 Ways Pilates Can Help Improve Heart Health and Enhance Your Quality of Life

  1. Pilates helps develop better posture. With better posture and good body alignment, there will be less wear and tear on your body while you’re “pounding the pavement” and getting your cardio workouts done.
  2. Pilates helps improve body awareness to find and use the right muscles to move. (Regardless of the activity, overusing the wrong muscles ultimately will lead to injury. And most cardio training activities involve repetitive movements.)
  3. Pilates posterior-lateral breathing improves breath control. Pilates breathing helps you get more nourishing oxygen INTO your body, and more waste out.  Better breathing habits makes it easier to enjoy cardio training plus you will get better benefits from your efforts.
  4. Pilates helps improve balanced muscle development to avoid injuries. If you’ve ever had an injury or accident, or have dealt with chronic to foot, knee, hip, back, shoulder, or neck pain problems, getting your body in balance matters to stay healthy!
  5. Pilates connects mind, body, and movement to help boost confidence, and learn to trust AND listen to how your body feels. By paying closer attention to what you’re doing when you move, how you move, what you’re using to move, and how you feel, it becomes easier to adjust, and pace your workouts to stay safe, healthy, and injury-free.
  6. Pilates is a system to MOVE well for better health. Pilates isn’t just a bunch of exercises done on a mat or machines for a “workout.”  Your ultimate goal is to take what you learn with Pilates out the door into your daily life activities, and other fitness workouts.
  7. Pilates takes stress OFF the joints while helping you get an effective whole-body workout.
  8. Pilates combines strength and flexibility into each and every exercise.
  9. Pilates improves core support. Which is much more involved than just working your abs.  Effective use of your core helps stabilize the pelvis, improves gait, strengthens the back, takes the stress off hips, knees, and feet, helps shoulder mechanics, and supports healthy movement habits.
  10. Pilates helps lift your Spirits, reduces mental stress, and improves your life! So many people during cardio workouts put on their headphones and jam, watch TV on the treadmill, and completely tune-out what they’re doing with their body during cardio.  Pilates helps improve your focus to pay attention to what’s going on INSIDE the body during your workouts, so you can take good care of yourself!  Do this enough, and regardless of external stimulus, you will always make smart choices to stay safe and healthy.

On a historical note:  Joseph Pilates did incorporate jogging, jumping jacks, and more vigorous calisthenic exercises into his workouts – take a peek at some of the old historical films, and you’ll see how much he believed being outdoors to breathe in fresh air and move was a part of his philosophy for better health.

Then there is the jump-board option on the Reformer… Although 20-60 minutes on the jump-board (in my opinion) does not fall into the 3-5, up to 10 rep philosophy of working the Pilates system for a whole-body workout in an hour.  But it can be a great lower-impact option to work some intervals into your Pilates workouts.

Whatever you choose to do… Take time to take care of YOU!  Get your weekly cardio workouts in, do Pilates, get regular health check-ups with your Physician.  Your heart health matters – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  We’ve only got one ticker, and it doesn’t get a break, the beat must go on. Enjoy better health with a healthy heart.

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Interested in adding Pilates to your weekly workout routine?  Want to try something fun and new to challenge your cardio workouts?  Contact me for details to get started at Bodhi Body Pilates – A Centerworks Studio with our Pilates programs and Coreglide Cardio+ class.

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness, Pilates.

Top 5 At-Home Pilates Training Tools

At-Home Pilates Training ToolsHow to Have FUN with your Fitness Program and Make the Most of Your At-Home Workouts with Pilates Training Tools

I have a client, Donna, who has probably purchased at least 5 foam rollers!  She wanted one to use at home in-between her studio workouts.  But the funny thing is, every time her kids and grand-kids come over to visit, everybody is fighting for time on her foam roller.  The kids think it’s something fun to play with; the adults realize the value in the tool for posture, core support, and better health. Because Donna has shown them some of the exercises that she uses it for, her at-home Pilates training tools have aren’t just for a workout but are also fun!  Because she cares about the health of her family, Donna always ends up sending them home with her Foam Roller, buying another one from me the next time she’s in the studio.  Maybe this trend will slow down one day, but in the meantime, she’s sharing the love and passing on the “joy of toys” with her family for health improvement at home.

Every fitness training tool and toy you purchase is an investment in your health.

It’s important to make smart buying decisions.  Ask yourself the following three questions before purchasing anything.

  1. Do I believe in the value the product offers to help me improve me health?
  2. Do I like and trust the seller?
  3. And most importantly – Will I actually USE the products? Because there is no sense in spending your money on anything if you’re not going to actually use it!

With that said, we have lots of parts and pieces to organize to keep strong, fit, and flexible.  We focus on cardiovascular conditioning – walking, running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, swimming, elliptical machines…  You can do strength training with weights, balls, kettle-bells, or bands.  There are at-home video programs like P90X, Body Beast, Beachbody, and a million others… All of these are training tools and resources.  If you are a Yogi, chances are you’ve got a good mat, a strap, a couple of Yoga blocks, and probably a bolster and blanket at home to assist you with your practice.  Most of my Pilates clients have at least a few training toys at home.  And while they might not use them all every day, they’re in a good rotation to be able to supplement their workouts, and take care of what they feel their body needs on a day-to-day basis.  It’s empowering to be independent and self-sufficient, even if it’s only for a quick 15-20 minutes of “home-work” a couple of times a week.

Here are the top five at-home Pilates training tools I find my clients purchase, and use regularly for their Pilates workouts.

Top 5 Pilates Training Tools to Use at Home

  1. A nice thick Mat
  2. A Pilates Magic Circle (link includes my Magic Circle Mat Audio workout)
  3. A FULL Foam Roller (although not a classical Pilates prop.)
  4. A Fitness Ball (again not a classical Pilates toy, but very useful for at-home workouts)
  5. The Pilates Arc Barrel Combo (aka Spine Corrector) which includes a copy of my book A Barrel of Fun.

Whether you do Pilates in a studio or just at-home, these at-home Pilates training tools can help you have FUN with your fitness workouts.  And if you’re having FUN, there’s a really good chance your workouts will be longer and more frequent, which are important key factors to enjoy wellness success.

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Note: If you are 5’6” or taller, you might prefer the lightweight Pilates Arc available from Balanced Body.  I get nothing from this product endorsement. (They don’t allow me to resell their product online.) Shorter people can use this barrel too, so please note it’s an option! But you’re going to want a copy of my Barrel of Fun book too with easy-to-follow exercises to help you maximize the use of your Pilates Arc barrel, so please order these products separately if it’s more appropriate for you!

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness, Pilates.

6 Fitness MYTHS & the Fitness Truth: Keep Your Workouts on Track

Fitness MythsHow often do you think you understand exactly what you need to do to improve your health… and then discover that you’ve been given some slightly incorrect information?

These fitness myths are just that, misinformation that’s been spread across the globe, that in some cases might do you more harm then good for maintaining your health.

Check out these 6 mind-over-matter fitness myths and learn the fitness truth to help keep your workouts on track. Discover why you might not be getting the results you want from your health and fitness program.  Change your Thoughts, Improve your Actions, and Celebrate your Wellness Success! 

FITNESS MYTH 1:

Pilates and Yoga aren’t really “workouts” that can improve muscle strength like lifting weights. 

FITNESS TRUTH:
Both Pilates and Yoga are whole-body workouts that involve a combination of both strength and flexibility.  While it’s true that you probably won’t build muscle “bulk” with these workouts, you can develop wonderful amounts of strength, with length.  These workouts focus on whole body function which means rather than just targeting the larger muscle groups like you do in the weight room (chest, back, shoulders, biceps & triceps),the smaller muscle groups that are deeper and closer to the bones work diligently to support and stabilize healthy movement.  Because of this, as you gain strength with Pilates and Yoga, your muscles will appear stronger, longer, and leaner.  The added benefit of Pilates training is the fact that springs are involved.  Spring resistance acts in the same fashion as your muscles, to contract and release.  This added resistance makes Pilates training an even more effective strength training workout.

 FITNESS MYTH 2:

The only way to get benefits from your workout is to “feel-the-pain” or “go-for-the-burn.”

FITNESS TRUTH:
PAIN is the body’s way of telling us there is a problem that we need to pay attention to.  Ignoring it can quickly lead to injury.

By the time your muscles are “feeling-the-burn,” chances are the muscles you thought you were strengthening are too fatigued to fire.  The result: you will develop compensation patterns and begin using other muscles that really shouldn’t be involved.  The brain remembers the last thing we do. So, if you’re using the wrong muscles, the brain will remember and recruit them first next time you go to do that exercise.  The result over time becomes bad body mechanics, over-developed bad movement habits, increased wear and tear on the body, and a much higher risk of injury.

FITNESS MYTH 3:

An aerobic workout will boost your metabolism for hours after you stop working out.

FITNESS TRUTH:
True!  But the calorie burn is only about 20 extra calories a day.  If you think you deserve to eat more for dinner after a hard workout because you “earned” it… chances are you’re going to consume way more calories than you burned for your workout and end up gaining weight instead of losing.

FITNESS MYTH 4:

Doing a million crunches or sit-ups will get you 6-pack Abs.

FITNESS TRUTH:
Lots of time doing sit ups, crunches, or other ab machine exercises might get you more muscle in your mid-section, help alleviate back pain, and improve posture. But if you want to see a sexy 6-pack, and not look like you’ve been drinking them, you’re going to have to reduce your overall percentage of body fat.

FITNESS MYTH 5:

Target-Training to Spot REDUCE will get results every time!

FITNESS TRUTH:
We can’t pick and choose where we want to lose body fat, or target only one piece of our body to change our shape/size.  ONE specific exercise will never give you that “whole new body!” The ads promote: get miraculously thin thighs, develop buns of steel, get ripped abs by next weekend…  It just doesn’t work this way unless you opt for liposuction.

Cross training with a variety of exercises and activities that work the whole-body for BALANCED muscle development, eating a healthy diet, and adopting an active lifestyle are the best ways to enjoy living in the best body possible.

FITNESS MYTH 6:

If you aren’t sore the next day, your workout wasn’t hard enough.

FITNESS TRUTH:
Muscle soreness is inflammation and the body’s chemical response to that inflammation.  Measure progress toward your goal instead of soreness to know you’ve had a good workout.  Some Olympic athletes haven’t felt soreness in years! Judge your workout by your workout and, keep in mind, you don’t have to have soreness to gain muscle size or strength.

I hope you’ve gotten some new insights to help you improve your health.  It might be nice if some of this was true, but these 6 fitness myths need to be put to rest.  Focus on what you CAN do, and what IS possible, and you’ll get the results you want from your wellness program.  Take good care of your body; it’s the only one you’ve got.

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Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness.

Strength vs Flexibility: Which is Better for Health Improvement?

Curious to know what might help you improve your health quicker, focusing on strength vs flexibility?

Strength vs Flexibility for Better Health?Which is better for health improvement, strength vs flexibility? Have you ever wondered which part of your fitness program you should really be focusing most of your time on? It’s an interesting question, and while I might spark some controversy with my comments on this topic, I truly believe it’s relevant to helping you make the most of your workouts and can make a huge difference to help you reach your wellness goals.  But before I share my thoughts with you, I have a question…  Which of these two aspects of fitness do you PREFER to focus on – Strength or Flexibility?  

Posted by administrator in Flexibility & Stretching, Strength Training.

Pilates Strategies to Eliminate Boring Workouts

Eliminate Boring WorkoutsAre you dreading boring workouts?

There are so many things to pay attention to for healthy movement habits that there’s no way we should ever have boring workouts!

Do you realize that there are 206 bones in the human skeleton?  (Actually 270 at birth and, as some fuse together, we’re left with 206 bones as adults and amazingly one-quarter of these are in the feet!) We have 640 skeletal muscles, and almost everyone is one part of a pair of identical bilateral muscles found on both sides, which equals 320 pairs of muscles to support our structure and help us move through life.

Now let’s talk senses… do you know how many senses you actually have?  Most of us are taught that we have 5 different senses:  sight, hearing, tough, taste, and smell.  But did you know that many neurologists identify nine or more, and some believe we may have as many as 21 different senses.

The sense of touch combines several “somatic” senses including the perception of pressure, heat, and pain.  Then we have “interoceptive senses” which help us analyze information from inside our body, including balance (body alignment), needs (like hunger or thirst), and proprioception (being aware of the position of our body parts in relation to space.)  All our senses are designed to keep track of everything that is right or wrong with our bodies.

Let’s face it we have a lot of moving parts and pieces to organize and keep in alignment for good posture and healthy movement habits.  Your mind-body connection, and being able to sense what is going on, inside and outside your body is VITAL for preserving your good health.

Why is all this important?  Well, LOOK at how many parts and pieces you have to PLAY with!  How can you possibly get bored with 640 different muscles to work and stretch, plus a set of lungs and your heart to strengthen, joints to keep mobile, and a brain to train.   Add paying attention or “sensing” what is happening with your body, to your body, how you feel when you use your body, or when you tweak and exercise, what else is affected by the change…how do you think paying some amount of attention to all of this might affect your boring workouts?

It can be MIND Blowing, what focusing attention on the little details of what you’re doing can actually do to help you maximize results from your health and fitness program.  When you’re actually paying attention to what your body is doing, it’s honestly quite difficult to be bored.

Which is why I love Pilates!  With Pilates, the goal is to always make the last repetition your best one!  Which means you learn to leave your muscles with good memory, or the sense of how to do the movement correctly – to the best of your ability.  By sensing your fatigue level, and knowing when you stop (before you’re too tired to finish on the best rep ever), the body learns how to pace your workouts, sense the difference between effort/work, and overwork/pain which can lead to injury.  With the right muscles doing the work, the body is learning how to move well, which long-term means improvements in strength and flexibility, less wear-and-tear, and a greatly reduced risk of injury.  In addition, Pilates exercises are done lying down, seated, standing, kneeling, side lying, prone, right-side up, and upside down, so the body has to learn how to use the right muscles regardless of where the body is in space.

I’m going out on a limb here and want to say it’s impossible to be bored during a Pilates workout.  (If you’re with a good teacher who is focused on keeping YOU focused, and challenging you with the right exercises and cues to fine-tune your form.)  But this Pilates philosophy for mind, body, and movement isn’t just for Pilates, it can be applied to everything you do!  Pay attention, and actively participate.  Engage your brain and body on every exercise you do.  When you make this connection, you will never trudge through any more boring workouts.  In effect, by zeroing in on what you’re sensing during both exercise and daily life, you can learn to “TRUST” yourself.  And trust is a very powerful ally to keep you on track for making healthy decisions in life.

Here are my suggested 6 Pilates Strategies to Stop Boring Workouts:

  1. Focus on your Breath Patterns for every exercise.
  2. Pay attention to improving your Posture and Body Alignment.
  3. Sense what you Feel when you work & release your muscles, and how it affects your movement. Can you feel the opposing pairs of muscles working in harmony?  Are the right muscles doing the work?  Is there any unnecessary tension held anywhere? Are the right and left sides of your body putting forth and equal amount of effort?
  4. Strive to make the Last Repetition of every exercise the BEST Rep.
  5. Stay Focused on what your body is doing to move well! Minimize distractions, and concentrate.
  6. If you really don’t enjoy the activity you’re doing, switch gears, find something else to do. You have lots of options, make a better choice.

Put your brain and body to work during every workout and I promise you will never have to worry about boring workouts again!

*****

Pilates Arc Barrel & Centerworks Barrel of Fun Training Guide

Add a little fun to your fitness program with the Pilates Arc Barrel and “Barrel of Fun” training guide from Centerworks.com.

Posted by administrator in Exercise and Fitness.