Saturday, December 26, 2009

At Home Plan Update: Intro

Week 1: This is a challenge! I've done at home workout routines before, but already in the first week I see where this plan is going to get me in the all the tough spots I've been missing. First, let me tell you some alterations I've made to both half hour workouts I've been rotating throughout the week.

Foam roll: I start off with lying down on the roll with some warm ups such as puppet arms, scissors, and circles to loosen my upper body. To keep with a traditional Pilates order I progress to knee folds, abs, bridge work, extensions, push ups, side legs and end with the remaining stretches. This gives the workout more flow and balance. So far, I've kept most movements at a beginner level of one repetition with about 6-8 sets. At the end, if I'm tight from running earlier I use the roll on my legs or IT band for some fascia release.

Magic circle: To give the routine smoother flow in a tradition Pilates order I have kept the workout the same until rolling like a ball. After that I move into the ab series, spine stretch, straight-leg rocker, around the world, extensions, side leg series, hinge curl-down and final three exercises on the list. To complete the routine I do standing side bends and roll downs to even my body out.

Typically, I have shoulders that are rounded forward and the foam roll is already working to open my collar bone. Although, my abs have been sore the next day from those tricky curl ups. Usually I am not a fan of the side leg series but both of these routines keep me mentally focusing on lots of stabilization more than without using props.
My long torso is appreciating the roll over work using the circle to help connect me more to my low belly. I also find the hinge curl-downs to be a great prep for Neck Pull to use with my clients. My overall favorite find has to be the circle pec squeeze (I'm already looking forward to bearing more skin with my New Years Eve outfit!).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Travel Workouts

Over the holiday season people travel to visit with family or friends and are not able to attend their regular Pilates sessions. Strapped for time but looking for a way to fit in a quick routine? Below are some simple exercises that will keep you in shape no matter where you may be this holiday season. Remember: Exercise helps reduce stress (such as preparing the feast for the family or conversing with that relative you haven't seen in years).

30-second anywhere: Breathe and Scoop
Wherever you are (car, chair, standing in line) take a deep breath in through your nose filling up the sides and back of your rib cage. As you exhale out your mouth like you are blowing through a straw focus on pulling your navel toward you spine and narrowing through your waistline. Repeat throughout your day for an instant refresher.

Two-minute stationary: Posture Check
Feel like someone is pulling you by the crown of your head as you gaze straight ahead on an inhale to lift tall through your neckline. Take another breath to lift your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them down as you exhale out any tension. Next focus that breath into your rib cage as you feel it lacing together (as if you were wearing a corset) on your next exhale. Lastly, practice your scoop by drawing your belly button toward your spine and narrowing (as if you had a belt tightening around your torso) with your final breath. Repeat these steps as necessary to "grow taller".
For a more detailed version with a visual explanation check out this UTube video.

4-minute tush toner: Side Leg Series
No matter if you are driving or flying this season, your bottom half could sure use a little lift from all that sitting. Lie on your side with your hips stacked in line with your shoulders. Then swing your legs slightly in front to form a banana shape. Your can be all the way down on your bottom forearm or propped up on your elbow. Just make sure you lengthen through your top leg to put more of the work on the oblique closest the floor. Do circles or small kicks to trim up your thighs and lift your tush.
For a wide range of moves to pick from check out this UTube video.

5-minute waist trimmer: Ab Series
Nothing will get you burning off that holiday meal like the ab series. This includes an array of exercises such as 100s, Single-Leg Stretch, Double-Leg Stretch, and Crisscross. Each movement uses your whole body and stabilizes through your core to warm you up quickly. During each exercise focus on sinking your belly deeper into the mat on each exhale.
For a video version check out this UTube video.

Nothing beats an hour Pilates session, but these quick session can fit into any busy schedule. Safe travels and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Resolutions 2010

It's official! 2010 is upon us leaving everyone in the process of constructing New Year resolutions...including myself. I'm big on reaching goals I set. I currently have a system of writing goals down on note cards I keep at my desk (usually the spot where a picture frame would be) that I look at as a daily reminder. They are diverse and concrete reminders of what I want to accomplish in the future. My current list includes points such as how much money I'd like to save in a year, how fast I want to run a mile and even a reminder to blog once a week.

I have goals for Pilates, but I got to thinking at work one day that I need something more concrete; a way to better measure my success. After over 5 years practicing Pilates and about 2 years instructing its hard to notice the small improvements you make along the way. Your body feels different over time or your clothes fit better. However, I want to set a personal challenge to see how using Pilates props (foam roll and magic circle) at home along with my regular routine can boost up the process.

Goal: Stick to a plan for 90-days to tone up and loose inches through Pilates

Start Date: December 20th
End Date: March 21st

The Plan:
  1. Do the Foam Roll Workout 3x/week (Sun, Tues, Thurs) I found online
  2. Do the Magic Circle Workout 2x/week (Mon, Wed) found in Ellie Herman's book Pilates Props Workbook
  3. Blog every month on how my workouts are going and how my body feels
  4. Continue with my normal weekly routine of Pilates at the studio and running to train for another 5K early next year
  5. Eat what I would on a normal basis without any major alterations
I have done fitness tests in the past when I attended college at Michigan State University and want to use them as a basis of comparison with where I am at now. Keep in mind the '08 stats where taken a year into my training to become a Pilates instructor. Here's my honest measurements as a baseline for this challenge.

Stats as of 10/21/08:
  • Height- 5ft 4in
  • Weight- 145.8lbs
  • BMI- 24.99
  • Waist- 35.4inches
Current Stats as of 12/16/09:
  • Height- 5ft 4in
  • Weight- 140lbs.
  • BMI- 24.03
  • Waist- 31.5inches
  • Bust- 34.5inches
  • Hip- 39inches
  • Thigh- 22.5inches
  • Upper Arm- 11.5inches
After the 90 days I will again take the same measurements and access how my body has changed.

Currently I am feeling a little run down with the holidays approaching and lack of restfull sleep. These past few weeks have kept me busy with a full schedule of clients and social events, but I am excited to start with my new plan for 2010. I invite you to take the challenge along with me or continue reading for updates along the way. Together, let's look forward to a happy, healthy 2010!