Saturday, February 26, 2011

Break It Down: Breathing

A common warm up on the Cadillac/Tower, Breathing is an exercise that challenges the body to work as a whole.  You can also do this one on the mat with bent knees and press arms like resisting through water.  Let's break down this exercise:

Purpose- integrate the body to work as a unit to build coordination in moving separate and together

Preps- Hip Escalator, Lat Pulls, Chest Expansion

Form- lift from the pelvis, feet in V in sling of trapeze, wrists slightly forward to keep long in the arm

Modifications- knees bent on mat or arc, lower/lift only hips or arms individually

How to Advance- lift hips and press arms together, hold for a few breaths at the top

Challenge- hold in bridge while pressing the arms only, add Circle with knees bent (can extend one leg out from hip for more stability work)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Break It Down: Rowing 1

Rowing 1 is the foundation of the rowing sequence.  In place of or advancing off of Pulling Straps this exercise will test your body's range of motion and control.  

Purpose- shoulder rotation, core stability, posture, grace with coming in and out of tension, hamstring flexibility 

Preps- Roll Up, Short Box series, Feel Good Arm Circles, Chest Expansion, Half Roll Backs, Spine Stretch, Pulling Straps

Form- Seated position facing away from the footbar with legs extended long and fists together in front of chest. Round back halfway, pause, open your arms wide to the side than dive forward nose to knees as you sweep the palms to the small of the back.  Butterfly circle the arms overhead to touch the toes before stacking back tall to the starting position

Modifications- perform only arms (posture work such as chest expansion, muscle man, bicep curls), perform only half roll back, do not use tension, use only 1-3 lb hand weights

How to Advance- Move smoothly through 3-4 rounds without allowing the reformer to make any noise

Challenges- Combine the sequence with all 4 rowing exercises back to back (3-4 rounds each)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Post-Pregnancy Conditioning

You have gone through the miracle of childbirth... Congratulations!  Now that it has been over 8 weeks from that special day and you have found a more normal sleeping schedule, it is time to start thinking about your body.  
*Important: Make sure your doctor has given you the green light to start working out again.

Time to strength your pelvic floor and restore your core muscles!  During pregnancy the abdominal muscles will stretch to over 50% of their original length and create a diastasis after about 20 weeks.  This means your core has separated (can be several inches) and it will take patience before you will have the strength prior to pregnancy.  

This picture shows how the core separates to make room for the baby

Ease into working out again gradually and always listen to your doctors restrictions.  Make sure you take time to review all the Pilates principles such as breathing and scooping.  I suggest starting off with privates before jumping back into a group class.  This will ensure you are working efficiently and safely.  Basic warm ups will feel different since your body has changed rapidly in the past few months.  In time you will begin to feel more connected in your core and confident.  Below is a sample mat routine to use as a guideline.
Prenatal Mat Workout:
  • Neck rolls (standing/seated)
  • Modified Roll Up/Down (curl ups/bridging)
  • Modified 100 (kneeling or only one leg at a time in tabletop)
  • Spine Stretch
  • Saw
  • Rowing 1-4 (arm weights optional)
  • Spine Twist (standing/seated)
  • Cat/Cow
  • Thread the Needle
  • Chest Expansion (standing/seated)
  • Mermaid
Click here for more Pilates for new moms.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reformer for Men

Pilates was made for men, so why not provide a challenging class men deserve?  I have a handful of men that I currently teach and took the opportunity to attend a Stott workshop titled "Reformer for Men".

Men typically have tighter hips and lower backs which create tight hamstrings.  This results from their anatomy of having a deeper hip socket compared to females.  The deeper socket does not allow the leg to move as freely.  Guys want a challenge and have a competitive nature.  Make sure they feel each exercise.  Sometimes I allow a guy to put on more weight initially so he can feel it and then I remove springs to challenge his stability.  This lets the client experience the exercises at different levels of intensity.  

Men will push themselves throughout the workout so be careful about form.  They enjoy being able to change the resistance themselves, move their box or get props.  Educate them about how the machine works and they will develop a greater respect for their workouts.  Another element to keep in mind is verbiage used through class.  Make sure you are using more masculine terms or relating exercises to sports.  Such as: "draw baseball side circles from the shoulder", "move your legs as you would biking", "glue your legs together as if there were magnets in between" or "have your spine be stiff as a board".  The more relatable your clues, the better their execution will be.  

Make sure you work a muscle group and stretch in one full exercise.  Adding knee bends before Elephant helps to stretch the hamstrings first.  Seated half roll backs before Rowing will loosen up the low back to increase range of motion. 

Exercise Ideas:

  • Add weighted hand balls to Footwork (chest press, fly, arm raises)
  • Add a maple pole through straps to Rowing work or 100s preps
  • Long Stretch + push up combo
  • Side Splits + Speeding Skating combo (can hold circle or pole for challenge; add in twisting)
  • Scooter + Thigh Stretch 

Lastly, be open to modifications.  Lying on a Long Box may be too much on the back so allow men to bend their knees and cross their ankles.  Seated may be too much on the hamstrings so prop them up on a platform.  Men can be dedicated clients so work to provide a challenging workout and they will keep coming back when they see the results!

New Year, New You: Update

A little over a month into the plan and feeling great!  My legs are feeling more toned and the ab work feels much stronger already.  I'm shaking less with the ballet bar work so that has to mean that I'm progressing.  I will admit the running was challenging at first, but thanks to Hulu I'm able to watch my shows and get the time in before work.  I've already checked online and am planning for a half marathon by the end of this year.

I've also started to expand my career by getting into TRX (certification in March) as well as learning personal training.  That means I'm doing a Pilates session or TRX once a week and it has been kicking my butt.  I've never felt core so much!  

Stay tuned for more updates and the final results in the months ahead!