Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Concise Cues

The words we say as a teacher move the class.  A good teacher says very little and is cautious with word choice no matter if its a group or private class.  In a few words an instructor has to provide action, explain what body part is moving (or not) and give a direction.  Most people are visual learners so to be able to process words into movement can be a challenge.  We all interpret phrases different ways.  

A basic way to cue Footwork would be:
"Lengthen the spine away...bend the knees to return"
"Press the knees out...pull the heels toward your seat"

It's also important to make sure the cues you use are more gender neutral.  They should express common images to show us how Pilates relates back to our daily life activities.

100s: "Stand in the air"
Overhead: "Stand on the ceiling"
Coordination: "As a gymnast pressing into the rings (handles)"
"Puncture the mat with your elbows"

Rowing 4: "Park your hands next to your hips" 
"Slide off you pants"

Lifting or Shaving: "Imagine you have 400lb dumbbells to press"
"Raise the roof/Resist the ceiling from caving in"

Mermaid/Side Bend: "Scrape your fingers against the ceiling"
Short Box/Spine Stretch: "Inflate your spine"
Heels Beats/Leg Springs: "Clap your heels for a job well done"

Get creative with  imagery cues or jazz up your normal class lingo by avoiding common phrases such as "pull your navel to your spine".

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Magic Circle Challenge Workout

Take your Mat class to the next level by adding in a magic circle challenge.  Your clients will be encouraged to work their powerhouse throughout the session and best of all this will help improve tricky exercises such as the Teaser.  This routine with fancy transitions will test stability and provide a fun change to the original series.  Below is the 10-20 minute workout: 
  1. 100s (in ankles)
    1. Double Knee Folds
    2. Curl Ups
    3. Add in leg extensions w/squeezes
    4. 100s (leg lower lifts or squeezes for advanced)
  2. Bridge (above knees)
    1. Lifts
    2. Hinge and squeezes
      1. Challenge- on tip toes
  3. Ab Series (in hands or ankles)
    1. Single/Double Leg Stretch
    2. Scissors
    3. Hip Lifts or Roll Overs
    4. Double Leg Lower/Lifts
    5. Obliques- Twists, Corkscrew, Tick tock
  4. Roll Up (in hands)
    1. Challenge- arms stay by ears
  5. Single Leg Roll Up (one foot in pad, hands hold opp. one)
  6. Rolling (hands hold one pad, feet in other)
    1. Challenge- straight leg version
  7. Fold Up Teaser (in hands)
    1. Modified- Single leg or bent knee fold up
  8. Open Leg Rocker (in ankles)
    1. Modified- bend knees
  9. Can Can (in ankles, hands or forearms on mat)
    1. Variations- Hip circles, bend/press, leg lower/lifts
  10. Side Leg Series (in ankles)
    1. Variations- top leg press down/lift ups, both legs lift, upper body lift/reach
There are many other ways to use the magic circles.  Learn more by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Health Advice: Race Day Fuel

Q:  I am training for a marathon this year.  Food before, during, and after is important to my success and recovery.  What meal ideas do you recommend?

A:  There are lots of energy bars and sports drinks and supplements out there for endurance athletes.  This can make it hard to choose which is best for you.  When you think of race food you probably think spaghetti dinners but there are better choices.

If you are looking for a pre or post workout meal idea I would suggest oatmeal as a big staple food.  Add in some cinnamon, cherries, walnuts or bananas and its even better.  Oatmeal provides fiber, carbs, protein and has a low glycemic index (has a sustained release of energy into the bloodstream).  Cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory and helps to lower blood pressure.  Cherries are also an anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants.  Walnuts have good Omega-6 fatty acids, fiber and are great for bone health (also good as a snack).  Bananas have lots of potassium to help replenish electrolytes and help regulate digestion (these are commonly found at the end of races for a reason).    

A great lunch or dinner idea would be to have a kale salad with wild salmon and sweet potatoes.  We've all heard Dr. Oz rave about kale and its good fiber and antioxidant levels.  It's true.  You can add some into a salad mixed some spinach (extra iron), sunflower seeds and dried cherries for an extra nutrition kick.  Sweet potatoes provide a high vitamin and mineral content (including potassium, iron, manganese and copper).  Lastly, wild salmon (not farmed) is one of the most nutrient dense proteins.  It's great for cardiovascular protection and full of essential Omega-3 fatty acids.  

Stick to good nutrition and you will have a very successful race day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Grueling Foam Roller Workout

It's good to mix up a class format and use an unstable surface for a challenge.  The foam roller is a versatile tool that can mix up any fitness or Pilates session.  Below is my favorite format for an intermediate/advanced student (10-15mins):

  1. Bridges (roll under feet)
    1. Hip roll/lifts
    2. Oblique hip lowers
    3. Hinge at hips
    4. Marching w/bent knees
    5. Single Leg Versions- Leg lower/lifts, Hip roll/lifts, Leg circles
  2. Leg Pull Back (roll under calves)
    1. Hip lifts/holds
    2. Leg lifts (same side or alternate)
  3. Forearm Planks (roll under forearms)
    1. Balance Sticks/Cat and Cow
    2. Modified/full planks
    3. Leg lifts
    4. Scapula slides
  4. Extension/Swan (on belly, roll under wrists)
    1. Shrugs/Swans
    2. Heel beats
    3. Swimming (prep or alternate arm/leg lifts than full version)
    4. Child's pose (stretch)
  5. Push Ups (roll under quads or shins)
    1. Push Ups
    2. Knee Under/Pike ups
    3. Alternate (push up and knee under)
    4. Mountain Climbers 
  6. Side Planks (roll under shin, propped on elbow)
    1. Hip Dips
    2. Rainbow top arm/Thread the needle
    3. Leg lifts/hold in Star shape
  7. Palm Pass/Push Ups (roll under one hand)
    1. Holds in modified or full planks
    2. Pass
    3. Push Ups 
    4. Both together (push up than pass it)
The foam roller can also be used for personal massage and stretching.  Learn more by clicking here.