If you've never tried Pilates, there are many reasons why you might want to add it to your fitness routine. One of the biggest reasons for this is that it helps you form a foundation for your fitness routine by focusing on core strength and stability. To help you have a better understanding of what Pilates is all about, the following is a primer to get you up to speed.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I when he was held in an internment camp. While there, he devised a fitness training regimen for other prisoners and hospital patients using various props. When the war was over, Joseph continued to refine his regimen, and over the years, his workouts have become the "go to" workout for dancers around the world.
Pilates focuses on helping you tone your muscles rather than build bulk. Because of this, Pilates is popular with people who want to be strong, stable, and flexible. During workouts, there is a strong emphasis on breathing and instructors often give students cues on when and how to breathe at different times. In addition, every workout begins with some form of abdominal engagement and spinal alignment — making sure you have good form is key. While Pilates is not an intense cardio workout, know that you will likely work up a good sweat as you work through each move or pose.
Types of Pilates Classes
There are different types of Pilates classes: mat and reformer.
Mat classes require limited equipment and are a great place to start for beginners as the learning curve is not as steep. In a mat Pilates class, you are likely to work through a mix of core exercises like various forms of sit-ups, planks, and balance routines.
Reformer classes involve working with a piece of fitness equipment that has a movable carriage on rails where you are seated, standing, or laying on during the workout. Your movements are regulated by your body weight and resistance from the springs that work to keep the carriage in place. In a reformer class, you will also use straps and pulleys to work through different exercises. While a reformer class works your core, it is also better at working your arms and legs.
Here at Evolve Fitness Studios, we offer a variety of mat and reformer classes for people of all abilities. Check out our class schedule online and sign up for a class today. We'd love to see you!
by Tina O'Sullivan, Certified Pilates Instructor
If you know me at all you know I LOVE to be upside down, and I usually get one of two response when I share my inverted experience… either ‘WOW’ or ‘OW.’ Although I want everyone else to be as excited as I am to get upside down, I totally understand the initial “OW” reaction.
Inversions are not all about being flashy on Instagram, and showing off how cool I look with all the blood rushing to my face… #joking. There are actually many benefits to getting a different view of things every once and a while (on and off the mat).
***Practice SAFELY and under the supervision of your personal trainer/instructor.
Don’t let all the beautiful half-naked women on Instagram intimidate you. You don’t need to be able to hold a handstand for a minute to get the benefits of being upside down. You can use different props/equipment to help you gain a better understanding of the “upside-down.”
My recommendation is to take it slow and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It took me over 3 years to even be able to hold a headstand without support. I am still working on my handstand daily, its a process, and enjoy the ride!!!
by Skye Nacel, Certified Personal Trainer (MovNat Level 2), Certified Broga Instructor
The Steel Mace is an ancient training tool dating back over 2000 years ago. It was an important part of training for Hindu Warriors who used the Gada as a weapon and the Mace as possibly the first ever cross training tool (albeit for war). Early versions were usually a long bamboo stick with a heavy stone attached to the end. This style of training continued to be used for generations but has just entered a renaissance of sorts with there now being several modern manufactured versions available.
We are pleased to announce that we have steel maces at Evolve and have been using them regularly in our classes ranging from Fit Fusion to Movement Fundamentals as well as with personal training clients and physical therapy patients. The benefits of steel mace training are numerous! Since the mace holds almost all of its weight in the ball head, this results in an uneven weight distribution which really engages stabilizing muscles around our joints.
Core strength is required to keep the mace in position as we move through positions which includes lots of rotation. Grip strength is also a very huge benefit and as we know, there are several research studies linking grip strength and mortality. We think of it as one of the most functional tools you can possibly use which is why we brought them in and trained the staff in their usage.
We have a range of 10 and 15 pound Set for Set Steel maces. Feel free to ask one of our trainers about them and arrange a short demo so you can see some ways to use them. Feel free to check out this video by our friends Anthony Rock and Set for Set to see them in action.
by Brandy Krumdieck, Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), CoreAlign Instructor
There are a lot of health benefits associated with inversion (being in a position where your heart is above your head), and I believe that everybody should reap some rewards by inverting regularly. To many people, inversion is seen as a scary advanced/acrobatic-like form of exercise. And it can be, yes, but inverting can be as simple as lying on your back with your legs resting up against a wall.
Some of the benefits of being upside-down include:
Improved Blood Flow & Brain Function
Being inverted increases blood flow to the heart, giving it a break from having to work hard to pump, making your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Blood flow increases to the brain as well, giving it more oxygen and nutrients. This allows the brain to function more efficiently, improving concentration, memory, observation and clear thinking. Stagnant blood from the legs and feet is also moved while inverted, which decreases inflammation and leg pain (I do the legs-up-the-wall pose as recovery after an intense lower body workout).
Improved Hormone Production
Being inverted stimulates all of the glands of the body (adrenal, thyroid, pituitary, etc.), increasing hormone production and balance. We rely on hormones to regulate our mood, skin, bones and metabolism. Yes, spending a little time in inversion can boost your mood and metabolism... and it’s been thought to help clear your skin and improve hair growth. Cortisol (the stress, “fight or flight” hormone) is also decreased while being inverted, which calms the body and mind. If you have trouble sleeping, try inverting right before bed. It will make a difference.
Unlike the circulatory system with the heart, the lymphatic (immune) system doesn’t have an automatic pump to circulate lymphatic fluid throughout the body. Being upside down increases lymphatic drainage, boosting your immunity. Do you get sick a lot? If so, start inverting daily!
Being inverted increases movement through the bowels, helping to clear your digestive system. When you’re dealing with indigestion, spend some time upside down.
Improved Upper Body Strength
Headstands (when supported correctly), forearm stands, and handstands require a lot of work from your shoulders/arms to keep you supported. If you invert in either of those positions regularly, your upper body strength will increase.
If being upside down scares you, it’s okay. Like I mentioned above, inverting can be any position where your heart is above your head. If you work on progressing to a more difficult inversion, conquering that fear will greatly increase your confidence, improving your awesomeness. If you have no desire to progress your inverting, that’s okay! You’ll notice a difference in how you think and feel after regularly inverting, which will also improve your awesomeness. It’s a win-win!
Important things to keep in mind… if you deal with neck pain/issues, be very careful. If you do a shoulder stand, DO NOT turn your neck to the side. If you’re doing a headstand, have your weight on the crown of your head, NOT YOUR FOREHEAD! There should be NO pain or strain anywhere, so please be cautious and listen to your body. Also, you shouldn’t stay inverted if you start to feel dizzy, or like your head is about to explode. Invert at your own risk. Start simple, then progress from there.
Now get upside down!!
by Beth Ballantyne, Stott Certified Pilates Instructor
Hungry and short on time? Here is my go-to pick-me-up smoothie. It also makes a great breakfast on the go paired with some protein.
Favorite Green Smoothie
Blend, pour into a jar with a well-fitting lid and off you go.
Besides being a veritable cornucopia of vitamins and minerals, spinach is low in fat and cholesterol, has a dash of protein, and is a great source of dietary fiber.
Mint has been associated with health benefits in many areas: digestion, nausea and headache, respiratory disorders, asthma, breast feeding, depression and fatigue, skin care, memory loss, weight loss, sterility, oral care, allergies and hay fever, and cancer.
Vitamins B6, A, and C. These are also a good source of natural sweetness and dietary fiber.
Just go easy on these as they are mostly sugar. You can choose to use more water and less juice if you are watching your sugar intake.
by Skye Nacel, Certified Personal Trainer (MovNat Level 2), Certified Broga Instructor
Happy New Year everyone! And you know what that means right?! A barrage of New Year's Resolutions bombarding our lives — from coworkers talking to social media feeds and everything in between. But you did get the memo right? ...The one about resolutions waning and failing? ...The one showing statistics citing less than 10% of those promises were kept by years end with 80% failing by February? But why? Is there any hope? What's the deal?!
Here are 3 ideas to help you embark on your New Year's Revolution.
1. No Zero to Hero
Losing 50 pounds off the couch in 3 months, qualifying for the Boston marathon despite not being a runner, or quitting smoking or sugar or alcohol cold turkey without a real plan, the list goes on. It is great to dream big but think about making smaller, more bite sized, realistic goals that allow your physiology to adapt, setting you up for longer-term success. Build new habits that become interspersed with your day-to-day life. Famous Kettlebell Coach and legend Pavel T used the term, "Grease the Groove" to describe his formula for building strength. Pavel recognized that strength is a skill and therefore must be practiced to produce neurological adaptations. You need to practice your habits as skills so your body makes permanent changes. All of these smaller changes, practiced regularly, can equal some massive long-term changes. As Will Durant said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
2. Buddy Up
We are social animals. We thrive around tribe and community and the energy of others. So, before embarking on your Revolution this year, assemble a team and prepare to have each others' backs and build accountability. The South African term 'Ubuntu' has many meanings but one that is very important is "a person is a person through other people", which means I am strong because we are strong. And by this, I truly mean buddy up...in person. We are human and we need real connection — not just via social media. Social media may be one small part of this connection, but it would be a mistake to make it the sole way to bond with someone. If you can't high five it, then it's not real!
Keep it simple...you know the rest and no, I didn't just call you stupid! Kind of like #1 above, we need to make this stick and the more streamlined we can be, the better chance we have of success. Keeping it simple doesn't just mean with choosing your goals, but also in your approach. Set yourself up for changes that stick by simplifying the process and paring down the distractions and barriers that may get in your way. Simple doesn't mean small or weak, it just means refined and stripped to the bare elements that allow for a concise plan of attack. Remember as Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
4. Action Jackson
Having a plan is key and some studies have backed up the importance of physically writing our progress and dedicating time to the process. It may be easy to just 'wing it' for some people, but in reality, writing down our goals is more effective. In a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, gathered 267 people together — men and women from all over the world, and from all walks of life, including entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare professionals, artists, lawyers and bankers. She divided the participants into groups, according to who wrote down their goals and dreams, and who didn’t. She found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis. This was attributed to, again, the brain and the importance of connection between the left and right hemispheres. So write that $%^ down!!
So, here you go — as promised — a few ideas to help you really spark a Revolution in YOU by achieving, not just dreaming. The work and dedication is up to you (and your tribe) so get out there and make it happen and make 2018 your best year yet!
When you hear people talk about the "core muscles" do you know what they are talking about? In simple terms, your core is just about everything on your body except your arms and legs. This means you can think of your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, inner abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and scapula as your core. Your core is where your power is generated in order to carry out any movement. While abdominal and inner abdominal muscles do play a large roll in core stability, they don’t make up the core all by themselves.
What does the core do?
Your core most often acts as a stabilizer and force transfer center rather than a prime mover. Yet consistently people focus on training their core as a prime mover and in isolation. This would be doing crunches or back extensions versus functional movements like deadlifts, overhead squats, and pushups, among many other functional closed chain exercises. By training that way, not only are you missing out on a major function of the core, but also better strength gains, more efficient movement, and longevity of health.
So, with all this in mind, it's a good idea to keep your core at the top of the "to strengthen" list.
Watch the video below for 5 great core exercises you can do today.
If you'd like personal help in strengthening your core, contact us today to schedule time with one of our certified personal trainers.