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Simple Pilates Moves for More Energy ?

I’m always getting requests for workouts, exercises to help this or that…and the one I get a lot of is: “What simple pilates moves can give me more energy?”

Trick Question.  They all do.  The breathing, the focus, the centering and the control you put into your pilates work returns the favor and you feel invigorated after most pilates workouts.

I went on a search to find some of the better pilates video workouts you can find online.  Some you will need to purchase, others you can watch streaming, and still others come in the form of Iphone Apps.  Take your pick; they all do the trick.

Ultimate Pilates Workouts is a fabulous site for all types of pilates workouts.  Sign up for the free membership and you can watch several mat workouts without downloading them.  If you have a home reformer, then you’ll be able to download reformer workouts for a nominal fee.  I never thought I’d purchase the workouts, but after seeing the quality of the mat routines, getting on their mailing list for the frequent video podcasts, I knew I could do no wrong with the reformer download purchase.  And I was right! Challenging, easy to following, and just the right length.  Check them out!

Erin Huggins is an energetic, inspire pilates instructor based in Los Angeles.  I discovered her on YouTube and now love to visit her blog.  Check out her reformer & mat video workouts here!  After checking out the videos, make sure to spend some time on her blog.  She has a complete approach to health and offers coaching for nutrition, mental wellness, as well as pilates and personal training.  You can find her blog at:  ErinHuggins.com.

Video Jug also has some short mat pilates videos worth checking out.  I find them a bit slower paced, so if you are just starting out, comb through their collection and see what others are saying!  Each video breaks the movements down methodically — detailing the breath, the starting point, the movement and how to finish.  Pilates beginners will love the pace and descriptions.  Make sure to start with their Pilates Essentials video.

About.com’s Pilates site is a superior site that brings a lot of resources together for all pilates lovers.  Marguerite Ogle
is an amazing resource for beginners and teachers as well.  Definitely check out the videos and workout explanations on this site.

Sarah of Diet.com also has a great YouTube channel worth checking out. There is a series of pilates videos that most will really enjoy–she breaks them out into different areas of the body–Core, Sexy Legs routine, Butt & Thighs, Toning Arms.  Sarah’s down to earth style and approach to fitness will connect with people used to traditional gym workouts as well as anyone interested in pilates.

Do a simple search for Pilates Iphone Apps and you are going to get many to choose from.  Everything from Pilates on the Go to Pilates for Pregnancy to Pilates for Beginners.

The one I’ve been looking at recently is a free lite app that goes with a posture device.  It’s called IPosture.

Iposture is a full application that comes with a monitor that you wear.  It tells you when you posture is less than ideal.  Not sure I could deal with that, but hey, maybe you can!

The free version of the application is great! It includes:

  1. Full List of Exercises – Grouped by Exercise Type
  2. Learn Section – with a bunch of great posture-related articles.
  3. 3 Routines – Beginners, Advanced, 10 minute Power Core

If anyone has the actual device, I’d love to know more and might pick it up myself..since it is related to teaching pilates!

Now that you have a few video sources for pilates workouts online, get to it.

And if you want to increase your energy – focus on your breathing, your controlled movement and the slow engagement of your muscles as you move through the exercises.

Are You Pushing Yourself Too Hard?

(When enough is enough…)

Ok…so I know I am usually trying to push you to lead healthier, happier lives…I want you to work out, eat clean, and change the way you think… I’m constantly working on this for myself.  Actually, sharing with you my outlook on motivation and eating keeps me on track too.

While I won’t downplay the importance of achieving your fitness/health goals…. it’s also important to be constantly striving for balance in your life.

Are you letting your fitness journey consume every single aspect of your life?  Are you headed for burnout or injury or big breakdown?

Here are some simple ways to determine if you are taking your exercise & diet program a bit too far…and what you can do to dial your intensity back just a bit.

THE SIGNS

Are you unhappy, cranky and tired most of the time?

I hope you know that no matter how much you work out and eat right…if you still don’t feel good…it’s not going to get better by pushing yourself further.  Your body and mind are probably trying to tell you something.

SLOW DOWN.  If you are focusing on exercise and diet all the time and neglecting things like, oh…your spouse, your pets, your children, your friends, your neighbors…your hair…then your life may have spiraled a bit out of balance.

Each day you should try to do a few activities that put you in touch with your peeps (whoever they may be)….sit on the lawn outside your house, go to a bookstore, sit at a coffee house with a friend, go on a date with your husband, go see some live music, WATCH DEXTER!  I don’t care what it is…but make it something fun you haven’t done in awhile…something that isn’t about pushing you to that next goal.

Are you stepping on the scale every five seconds? Constantly checking your appearance in the mirror?

Ever heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils”?  Obsessing about your weight isn’t going to get your to your goal any faster.  While it’s important and useful to keep tabs on your progress, set a specific time every few days to see where you are… If you need to do it once a day fine, but try to limit yourself to that 1x per day to do measurements, scale, whatever.  As long as you can tell yourself that you did your workout, you are eating fine…then do something else.

Another tip: Keep a journal for your food, activity, and a quick list of challenges/success for the day.  Review the day as you write down what you did. Now…go do what something else.

Read a book.  Play a video game.  Set up a tea party for you, your daughter and her stuffed animals.  Go for a walk. Learn a new language.

Are you spending too much time alone?

This one kind of goes along with the first one.  When you spend too much time alone, you might be stuck in a rut.  When you let any part of your life go…you run the risk of going off track in those areas you were doing great in.

So, consider this…you might be really focused on your 6-pack and just as you achieve it, you look around to see that all of your friends are unavailable to help you celebrate.

I firmly believe that you need a social network to survive mentally and emotionally.  Whether it’s your immediate family or people in an activity-related club, it doesn’t matter.  Having people around to help you celebrate success and conquer challenges is so important and really makes your struggles that much more worth it.

Do you have any new, unexpected nagging pains in your body?

Um yeah…that is clear sign to stop whatever it is you’re doing and make some changes.

If you have any aches, pains, or broken bones…this is an obvious stop sign.  Listen to your body and take some time to change your normal activities

After reading through these questions and answers, is it possible you have been pushing yourself too hard in one area of your life?

As I mentioned early, I’ve been feeling a bit edgy…not too happy, unbalanced, and to be honest…spending a bit too much time in front of the computer.  I realized that maybe I have been pushing myself too hard over the last month since Christmas.

Here are some of my own signs I’d been missing:

  1. I was allowing annoying tasks to overwhelm me instead of finding a way to eliminate or outsource them.
  2. I wasn’t doing pilates…clients were on vacation, so I wasn’t even getting small spurts during sessions.
  3. I haven’t been playing music or singing or doing any songwriting!
  4. I’ve been spending too much time on the computer.
  5. I’ve been worrying about things that have no positive effect on my life.
  6. I’m not spending time enjoying the company of my close friends and family nearly enough!
  7. I started feeling ached and strain in my lower back!


SO WHAT NOW?

Maybe.

Well, you want to focus on those things that are important to you.  Your health & fitness are important, but they include every aspect of your life.

Take a moment and think about your life.  Are there any aspects that are floundering a bit, maybe that you have ignored for awhile?

Financial, Career, Home, Recreation Time, Relationships, Physical, Personal Growth, Community…think about these different areas and see if you come up with something that might need a bit of attention.

Some ideas:  take a cooking class, go on a hike every weekend, volunteer with a local organization one day per month, plan a vacation, jam with your ex-bandmates.

Ok, now it’s your turn…

Rainy Day Pilates with Lynda Lippin

As a teacher, I sometimes have to remind myself that I STILL have many lessons to learn.

(Thank goodness for that!)

I teach pilates day after day, going through the exercises, coming up with new ways to present the work…but the best method for me to enhance my clients’ experiences is to do pilates workouts myself.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m dealing a bit of lower back strain from lifting my daughter improperly.  To get myself back on track, release some of that tension and still get a great workout…I decided to do a pilates-based workout.  Here’s what I did on my rainy Tuesday!

TODAY’S WORKOUT: Lynda Lippin’s Pilates With Ring & Roller MP3 workout.

Lynda has a few other workouts and also offers 2 Free E-books for pilates back pain and should/neck tension.  I highly recommend those titles as well.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Purchase a pilates magic circle and a one of the many styles of foam rollers. I also use a bit of a thicker pilates & yoga exercise mat.  I’ve got a bony back and it feels much better than even the carpet.

If you don’t have a laptop or some type of mp3 player (Ipod, Iphone, or other), you will need one.  Most cell phones even let you put mp3s there, so get something you can play mp3’s on and make sure you have enough space for a basic exercise mat.  I had my laptop in the livingroom with my mat on the floor nearby.  Keep your set up simple.

Do some sort of movement preparation or warm up.  Simple dynamic stretching and even just taking a 10 minute walk will get your body warmed up for the workout.  I did a quick search for “dynamic stretch warm-up” and found this site…but I saw many others!

First, you will notice Lynda has a very commanding voice.  You will thank her for this clarity later…because often audio workouts are really tough to follow!  She will guide you through the exercises very clearly.  And even if you are used to doing a pilates dvd or taking a pilates class, you should have no problem following Lynda.

THE WORKOUT

Part 1 is the Magic Circle or Pilates Ring workout.  The moves are simple, but not easy.  You will definitely feel them the next day.  The last time I did this workout, I felt them later the same day!  The entire sequence is a great butt/thigh tonight workout…sure to get you that lifted pilates bum you’ve been looking to achieve.  You’ll also get the some great arm exercises that you won’t want to rush through.  Follow Lynda’s pace and you’ll gain the benefit of maximum core activation.  It’s been some time since I did magic circle regularly, so this was a huge change for me.  I loved how focused I had to be in order to feel my abs working along with my arms (or butt/thighs).

Another huge benefit to doing the magic circle work for the butt and thighs is that it will strengthen your pelvic floor too.  Ladies, even if you don’t do your kegels (which you should do daily), this will help you remember them and stengthen the muscles in a different way.

New mommies…do not skip this part of the work out.

The Pilates Ring workout flows from working out the butt/thighs to arms, to side lying legs/hips, and core work with the roll up and hundreds.

Next up is the foam roller section of workout.  If you have tailbone issues (and usually you know who you are) put some sort of cloth, towel or very thin padding over the roller.  Some rollers come a little squishier than others, so don’t be afraid to try them out.

The series starts out with pilates principles to get you moving  & stabilizing your hips first and then your shoulder girdle.  I often add a similar sequence to my own clients workouts…but this movement series focused on warming up the lower back just a bit more and I loved that!  Right now, I’m working through some lower back strain, so Lynda’s descriptions and flow through the moves really got me warmed up.

POST WORKOUT

If you generally do a lot of gym workouts or workout with weights…without a lot of stretching…then you will love the 2nd half of the foam roller workout.  Lynda guides you through stretches for your lower back, uppper back, thighs, hamstrings, and calves.  She also has other mp3 workouts that might be more suitable for you if you have neck/shoulder pain or lower back pain, so definitely check these out.

After you complete the 30 minute pilates workout, your body will feel stretched out, warmed up and really ready to start the day.  Drink a lot of water after these types of stretching and muscle release sessions to avoid any soreness later.

The mp3 workout is very inexpensive and totally worth the purchase.  I highly recommend this workout specifically for people who travel a lot, find themselves sitting a bit too much or anyone who has a very physical job.  The foam roller provides so much muscle release and relaxation!

Let me know if you buy it and get a chance to do the workout! I’d love to know what you thought too!

If you like this audio workout, you’ll also want to check out Lynda’s other audio workouts:

Pilates for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Pilates for Lower Back Pain

Also, you can always find a bunch of shorter text/video workouts at:

About.com’s Pilates Site

If you have tried other pilates mat or pilates reformer audio workouts, please let me know! I’d love to know about them.

Growing Pains

Newsflash: Babies Grow Fast.


One day my daughter is so small I can barely figure out how to hold her because she’s so small…and the next I’m running away from her before she can throw sand at me! Each time my daughter has had a major growth spurt or strength increase, I feel the pain. Well, it’s either me, my husband, or both of us actually, but usually I get the brunt of it.  What does this have to do with pilates or staying in shape or anything?  Why am I whining about this?

Well, after the most recent growth of my daughter, I’ve had 3 days now of nagging lower back pain.  I decided to come up with a few pilates exercises that will help me move more properly even when I’m NOT doing pilates.  This is the beauty of pilates and the reason why the benefits are so life changing.  You don’t just do them in a class or on a machine or on the floor of your livingroom.  You walk away from class standing a little taller, using your abs a little more in everything you do and you learn to do movement the right way.

Here are some common movements I do with my daughter and the pilates exercise that I do to counter balance any potential changes in her weight or strength.

Movement#1: Bend forward and Pick her up…

  1. Basic On All 4’s – Focus on pulling belly up to the spine into a neutral position.
  2. Cat on all 4s – there
  3. Quadruped Balance – Balances the body out using opposition – arm and opposite leg reach & hold, keep hips steady, keep lower belly engaged and pulled up from the ground.  Try not to arch your lower back


Movement #2:  Breastfeeding
(even though I don’t do this anymore…I wanted to add it because it can have a big effect on your posture!)

  1. Swan Prep: On Belly, Press into Elbows and Lift Chest up into Back Extension.  Lift elbows by sides for a moment and then back down. Open legs a bit and press hips into ground if lower back is tight.
  2. Breaststroke: On Belly.  Reach forward and circle arms out and back alongside body, lifting up chest a little higher as your hands reach alongside your body toward your feet.
  3. Chair Back Extension: If you can’t be on your belly comfortably, sit in chair, hands behind head. As you inhale lift chest and lean back slightly to open and stretch the chest.

Movement #3:  Lifting from a Seated Position

  1. Footwork on Reformer. Engage Belly and then press with legs.  Belly, then legs.  If you don’t have a reformer do squats with a ball behind you on a wall.  Try to keep pelvis neutral, but some believe a slight tuck of the tailbone does protect lower backs that are already strained.
  2. Side Lying Leg Series. You’ve done this series on the reformer and in the mat class.  When on your side, don’t collapse into the floor.  Lengthen your torso, keep your chest open.  I suggest doing this with your back up against a wall or sturdy piece of furniture.  It shows you what a neutral, supported position looks/feels like.   Belly always stays slightly depressed as you lengthen the sides of your torso.

Movement #4: Carrying (before bed, for any length of time, etc.)

  1. Pelvic Clock:  This is more of a fundamental to help you find a neutral pelvis/spine position. Lay on your back and move your pelvis back and forth. Exhale as you press your low back into the floor and inhale as you lift your lower back off slightly arching your back.  Try this even when you are standing too.  Try to stand in neutral when you are carrying your child.  It’s hard I know – you may be pushing your hips forward or even rolling your shoulders forward, but try to bring your body back to neutral.  Main thing here…don’t hold your child on your hip. Please. Make sure she is at least centered across your body, so her weight is evenly distributed.
  2. Shoulder Placement: Another pilates fundamental to look at.  After the pelvic clock, do some shoulder shrugs and some shoulder forward/backward movements. Find the mid point for all of these.  You don’t want to have your shoulder blades squeezed the whole time, but you do want them slightly back and depressed down.  To help drop your shoulders, lift up your chest/breastbone slightly.  You do this naturally when you inhale.  The ribs rise.  Try to stay lifted even as you exhale.

Those are just a few reminders to keep you thinking about your posture, how you are performing every day activities, and how to get rid of (and maybe avoid) any strain associated with your growing child.

If nothing else, doing these very basic pilates moves will keep you mindful of your movement.  The danger is often just forgetting to think about what you are doing … since you might be rushing to get out the door or to the next activity or reaching to get your son or daughter before they run into trouble or fall. Pay attention to yourself too!

I can’t promise a video of these this week, but if you’d like one, leave me a message and I’ll do something fast!