Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have a Ball!

Ball workouts remind us that its okay to play and enjoying fitness.  Here are some ideas to toss into you workouts to make them more challenging for both your mind and body.

Stability Ball: Great for engaging your core throughout!

  • Seated on ball Twist/Side Bends/Half Roll Backs/Leg Lifts/Hula
  • Planks/Push Ups/Knee Unders/Pike Ups w/ball under thighs
  • Roll Overs/Tick Tock/Corkscrew w/ball in-between ankles
  • Roll Up/Spine Stretch/Twist/Teaser w/ball in hands

Tennis Ball:  This one is excellent for travel!  

  • Place the ball under your feet and roll out the kinks (especially in the arch).  Pause on a point and get a great calf stretch.  
  • Place the ball just under your collar bone to one side of your chest and lean against a wall or post.  Massage out your pectoral muscles to prevent rounded shoulders.

Small Weighted Hand Ball: Makes the shoulders stronger in no time!
  • Seated Scoops/Hugging/Shave/Salute
  • Rowing Series
  • Pulling Straps 1 & 2
  • Twist
For a DVD approach try: Balance Ball for Weight Loss (Gaiam)

Click here for more Pilates DVDs to add to your collection. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Break It Down: Push Up

Nothing says core strength and stability like the Push Up.  This is often the dreaded final exercise in the mat series, however it is important to pull the whole body together for one final, functional movement.  Woman need to be stronger in their upper body and the Pilates Push Up is the move to achieve this. 

Purpose- strengthen entire body, works alignment, stability in hips 

Preps- Quadruped, Prep for Long Stretch, Wall/Ballet Bar Push Ups, Scapular Push Ups 

Form- body is in a straight line from heels to crown of head, minimal rocking in hips, bottom active, abs lifted up and in, shoulders reaching back and down, elbows in tight by ribs for push up (more triceps)

*May not be appropriate for those with shoulder issues

Modifications- walk out to plank and back w/out the push up, only go slightly down in push up or do scapular push up instead, hold plank position, push ups on knees

How to Advance- increase number of reps (example: 3 sets of 5 push ups), go down for count of 5 than push up for count of 5 (slow intensity), put feet on a stability ball

Challenge- do a single leg version, half way hold push ups, bring hands closer together in diamond shape 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pilates Principles: Breath

Yoga is known for stressing how breath aids in movement.  The same principle applies to Pilates.  Too anything in life.  If you're not breathing you're not moving.  When in doubt breath more.

Close your eyes while taking in a few deep breaths right now and see how much lighter you feel.  Breathing is the body's natural way to get rid of toxins and fuel you cells with clean oxygen so they can work more efficiently.  This is a principle we don't think very much about even though it is cued throughout class.  

We take for granted that our body will breath on its own.  However, when we take in a full breath that really fills up the lungs we are using more muscles and able to take in a greater amount of air.  This allows for effortless movement that looks more graceful.  Breath in through you nose and exhale out your mouth.  Take a moment to get in touch with the rhythm of your body during you next Pilates session.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Things Your Instructor Might Not Tell You

Ever wonder what your instructor is thinking while watching you workout?  Here's some insights you might find interesting:

  1. We can tell what you do for a living by your posture.  Tight hips? Chances are you have a desk job.  Tight calves?  Your job requires you to wear heels.  Rounded shoulders?  You work with computers.  
  2. Clients that have goals will stick to their workouts more often and for a longer period of time than those without.  Write down you goals on paper to make them concrete and make sure you communicate them to your trainer so we can help you reach them.
  3. We give you "homework" for a reason...because you will get results.  Simple at home exercises or stretches in between sessions makes all the difference.
  4. The more you disclose to me (injuries, diet, stress, goals, financial limitations) the more I am able to help guide you in the right direction.  
  5. It's just as hard for me to budget time for workouts and nutritional meals as it is for you.  We trainers have crazy schedules (sometimes more than a 12hr day with random breaks along the way).  I might eat dinner one day at 7pm and the next at 3pm.  We even do half hour sessions between clients to sneak in more activity.
  6. I only instruct you what to do...ultimately you are the one putting in the time and doing it.  You are stronger than you think.  I provide the knowledge and you provide the effort.
  7. We love when you ask questions.  Those lead to teachable moments; even if its in a class setting.  It also lets me know you're paying attention.
  8. My goal each time we meet is to see you sweat.  That doesn't always mean we are doing intense cardio.  It means that I want your body expending everything you have in scooping, stabilizing, squeezing, ect. 
  9. We can tell what sport you did or currently play.  One side stronger than the other?  Baseball, hockey, golf, tennis.  Super flexible?  Dance, gymnastics, martial arts.  
  10. We are completely invested in you because we are a service business.  Without you we don't have a job and are unable to pay the rent. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fore Your Golf Game

Want to get on the green?  Improving your game can be as simple as looking at your posture when you swing.  Some of the most common problems during your game are caused by physical limitations in your body.  These same limitations can cause pain in different areas as well.    

Here are some examples of common swing faults that can be helped with proper exercises specific to your swing:

Loss of Posture or C-Posture (think hunched over)
This will cause a limitation in your backswing and lack of rotation resulting in limited distance and lower back pain.  Work on torso rotation and back exercises along with stretching the chest muscles.

Early Extension (your butt comes away from the back line)
Your hips are coming closer to the ball during the downswing which causes the upper body to lift up and results in inconsistencies with ball striking.  Work on balance and stability in the hips.

Simple at home exercises
  • Lift up into a bridge and hold one leg out hip height for up to 20 seconds each side.  This will improve hamstring strength.
  • Balance is key when it comes to golf.  You should be able to balance standing on one leg at a time for at least 30 seconds each.  Now challenge yourself and repeat by doing it with your eyes closed!    
  • Lift your body up into a bridge.  Activate your glutes by holding up there while you lift the toes than heels, alternating a few times.  
  • Improve hip mobility by doing side lying leg series such as clam, lower/lift, circles, and side lifts with both legs together.
  • Torso rotation is necessary when it comes to being able to take a full swing.  Lay on one side of the body to allow your head to rest on the ground with bent knees and elbows (fetal position).  Open your top arm to the opposite wall with a bent elbow and gaze at the ceiling. Ideally you want to be able to touch the ground with the arm while keeping your hips stacked.  Make sure you repeat on the other side!
  • Lat mobility helps you swing better.  Sit back over your heels in a child's pose and flip you hands to face the ceiling.  Try lifting one arm off the ground at a time than both together.  Too difficult?  Place one fist under your forehead to give you more leverage doing one side at a time. (Hint: do the torso rotation exercise from above then repeat this lat one to see improvement)
Click here for other golf specific Pilates exercises.