I love planks in all its forms. This series on the reformer is fun and challenging.
Let me know if you try these variations. Enjoy.
Below are two specific movements that are taught and many times mentioned in Pilates classes.
The C-Curve describes the shape of the back after the deep abdominal scoop. This is also a great stretch for the spine. One classic Pilates exercise that uses this shape is the Spine Stretch Forward.
In this position you are balancing slightly behind your tailbone. The key in maintaining this perfectly balanced position is to engage or pull in your deep abdominals. Another classic exercise that uses this position is the Rolling like a Ball.
In the next few weeks I will explain a few more of these Pilates movements.
The weather is nice and an increasing number of cyclists are out, whether they are riding for fun or riding for a cause or riding in a studio/ gym class. Cycling is a great low impact form of exercise, however the downfall of cycling it often times leads to imbalances in the body. When cycling, the main focus is on the lower body, as a result this leads to overly developed quads and calves, tight hamstrings and low back, overworked and tight hip flexors and the bent over or rounded shape of the spine and shoulders leads to poor posture, resulting in rounded shoulders and thoracic kyphosis, and low back pain.
It is recommended to add cross training to your routine in order to work different muscles. By doing this you will strengthen the areas that are weak, stretch where you are tight and as result balance your body. Yep, I am saying it, adding Pilates to your weekly routine will help with your overall performance.
The focus on the “power house” or “core” in Pilates will allow cyclists to have more “oomph” or power from their lower body to pedal along with improving flexibility and strength and proper alignment. Your upper body strength will increase, low back pain will be prevented, improved balance, with the different types of breathing used in Pilates sessions the ability to ride for longer periods of time will improve and as mentioned before any imbalances in the body you may have will be corrected.
I will be sharing a few Pilates exercises both equipment based and ones performed on the mat for those of you that are not able to make it a studio.
Part One: Mat Work
Great for spinal articulation and strengthens the low back.
Increases spinal rotation and strengthens the core. Great stretch for back .
Leg Pull Down:
Stretches the Achilles Tendon, strengthens the core, the scapular and lumbopelvic stabilizers, hip flexors, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.
Works the powerhouse and hamstrings, back extensors and glutes.
Stretches and strengthens the quadriceps, increases torso stabilization, and strengthens the back.
Kneeling Side Kicks:
Strengthens the abductors hip flexors, shoulders, lats. Great for hamstring flexibility and stabilizes pelvis.
Strengthens the back and hip extensors and works the glutes at the same time. Great for pelvic stability.
Side Leg Bananas:
Strengthens the hips and obliques and great for torso stability.
Single Leg Kick:
Strengthens the hamstrings,back extensors and glutes. Stretches the quads and improves the stability of the shoulders.
Strengthens the entire body and improves upper body strength.
Side Leg Bicycle:
Strengthens the hips and glutes and improves the stability of the pelvis and torso.
Great for balance and coordination. Fantastic massage for the spine and just plain fun.
These are just a few of the Pilates mat exercises that can be included in your daily routine. Stay tuned for part two , equipment based Pilates exercises in the next few weeks.
There are two popular quotes from Joseph Pilates that many are familiar with and if you have never seen them or heard anyone say them here they are:
” You are only as young as your spinal column.”
” If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.’
When you really think about it, it makes complete sense. Our bodies/spines are designed to move with freedom not with restrictions. The exercises in Pilates works all the movements of the spine to keep it healthy, flexible and strong.
The spine is worked in extension ( backward bending), flexion (forward bend), lateral flexion (side bending), rotation (twisting). By working the spine in all different directions we create a proper balance and maintain proper alignment and posture.
Before I show you some of the exercises that goes along with each spinal movement, I would like to explain axial extension or lengthening. All the movements in Pilates focus on lengthening the spine or creating space, we do not collapse or sink into the movements. We always want to think of lengthening.
Below are a few of the exercises that goes along with the above mentioned movements.
Chest Lift, Hundred and The Roll Up.
Side Bend Twist, Spine Twist, Criss Cross
*important to note the rotation comes from the spine not the shoulders or neck*
Mermaid, Side Bend.
Swan, Swimming, Leg Pull Up, Shoulder Bridge.
Hope you enjoyed this weeks post. Feel free to share.
This is a slightly different post from the norm. This past weekend I was able to combine two of my favorite things ( other than Pilates:)) and that is going to one of may favorite fitness apparel stores, Athleta and taking a Barre3 class. Athleta is an awesome fitness apparel store that has three locations here in Houston and they offer different free fitness classes in their stores.
As many of you know I like to change my exercise routine often, cross training is definitely something I promote, go ahead mix up your training routine.
A little background /insight on the workout, from the Barre3 website:
“We draw from multiple influences to create innovative classes that focus on length, grace, and a healthy body.
Sadie Lincoln, barre3 founder, works closely with a team of experts including yogis, professional dancers, doctors, and athletes to craft highly efficient workouts. Focusing on a unique combination of dynamic movement and isometric holds, the sequences work strategically to transform the body and develop long term postural benefits. A continuously evolving variety of movements keep the classes challenging, fun, and fresh. Whether you work out in the studio or at home, barre3 fits your life while enhancing it with greater functional strength, higher energy, and a sense of ease.
Athleta and Barre3 partnered up to allow fellow Houstonians to experience a live Barre3 class. Liz Fitzgerald, the Franchise Development Manager and Master Trainer Allison Beam came down and hosted/taught the classes this weekend, these two ladies were just so very nice and you could see their passion and love for the workout. Their excitement for upcoming session was contagious!!
Full disclosure, I have taken quite a few in studio Barre3 classes and the workout is phenomenal. This weekends class did not disappoint, yes I felt the burn and the shaking muscles. The workout is based on isometric holds, which work your muscles to their deepest point, the one inch moves increases your body temperature ( hello sweat!!) and the dynamic moves raises the heart rate.
If you are not able to experience a live class, (they have a few studios here in Texas), you can order the DVDs from their site or sign up for the online subscription classes. If you would still like to learn more, connect with them on Facebook .
What was your highlight from the weekend?
A Pilates routine is not complete without the Pilates Hundred. I like to include the ball in the sessions to keep the lower body still.
Lie on your back with legs in table top position keep your shins parallel and curl up keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Pump your arms inhale for 5 breaths and exhale for 5.
Keep your abs engaged and keep your eyes on your thighs.
Have a great week.
Our feet are our foundation and the Pilates Method can help us keep our feet strong and flexible. We tend to “forget” about our feet until they start to ache.
Just like the rest of our body we need to “exercise” our feet regularly. We have 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles in our feet so lets give our feet a workout. Go barefoot sometimes and feel the earth beneath your feet, wiggle and spread your toes to get the blood flowing trust me it’s a glorious feeling.
Did you know a lot of foot injuries are a result of a weak core? Having a weak core can cause you to compensate by changing your gait. As I have mentioned in a previous post the footwork series on the reformer as well as on the other pieces of Pilates equipment used in class, helps to mobilize and strengthen our feet and always in Pilates we are working our core.
If you are not able to take a Pilates class here are a few exercises for your feet that can be done anywhere and anytime.
1. While standing, lift your toes and spread them apart.
2. Curl and uncurl your toes.
3. Use your toes to pick up marbles.
4. Lift and lower your big toe only.
5. Lift and lower your baby toe only.
6. Glide your big toe away from the other toes and back again.
7. Repeat the above move but with the little toe only.
8. Stretch your toes with pedicure pads, this also helps to realign the bones of the feet.
Lets keep our feet healthy and happy.
For todays post I thought I would share a video of Joseph Pilates working out using the Spine Corrector. This piece of Pilates equipment stretches, strengthens and aligns the spine and it is great for opening up the chest which allows for deeper breathing and preventing that computer posture ( think rounded shoulders etc). While improving our posture by strengthening the back extensors, you will also be stretching your trunk flexors. You are able to work your entire body in every range of motion.
Movement is medicine.
These exercises are a continuation from the previous post.
As always check with your doctor before engaging in any exercise activity.
( This exercise is great for increasing back extension as well as strengthening the back extensors, hamstrings and gluteals).
Lie on your stomach, palms on the mat. Lift your upper body into extension as you press your hands into the mat. Reach the arms forward while rocking your chest towards the mat.
Bring your hands back underneath you and catch your body in the Swan position.
* Remember to keep head, neck and spine in alignment, keep your abs engaged the entire time. *
Side Kick Kneeling
( Great for challenging your balance, torso and pelvis stability, improves hamstring and hip flexors flexibility, strengthens shoulders and lats and strengthens the hips).
From a kneeling position,lean over to one side until your hand touches the mat. Extend your leg to the side to hip height. Keep your bottom hip pressed forward so your torso is as straight as possible.
Kick the top leg forward and back, 6-10 times is sufficient and switch sides.
( Increases spinal rotation, back flexibility,scapular stability and core control.)
Lying on your back, straighten legs to the ceiling. Tilt your legs to one side,allowing your hips to lift off the floor. Allow your legs to swing down towards the floor, circle through center and up the opposite side. Keep your legs together, shoulders anchored, and make smooth even circles in both directions.
( Strengthens gluteus medius.)
Lie on your side, heels are in line with the gluteals. Hips flexed at 45 degrees, knees at 90 degrees. Abdominals are engaged and your pelvis is neutral.
Keep your ankles and feet glued together as you abduct the top leg, without allowing your hips to roll back. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.
( Stretches and strengthens quadriceps, core control.)
Kneeling with your ares extended, parallel , hinge back keep pressing the pelvis forward, leading with the pubic bone. There should be no movement in the body only at the knee joint.
I hope you enjoy this little sequence.
Have a great week and stay warm!