Published August 18th, 2014 by

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You may be wondering what a boxing-related article is doing on a pilates-based website, but gains seen in each activity can actually cross over and benefit each other. In other words, the two compliment each other. I will describe some of the basic rationale behind this notion, and will also provide some of my own personal experiences of dipping my toes into each activity.

I originally heard of pilates via word-of-mouth, but then began digging deeper after learning more about it in a stretching and relaxation class. I was intrigued by the benefits of pilates, such as increased core strength and endurance, strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles, and increased flexibility. I also enjoyed the body-weight aspect of it (e.g. not using heavy dumbells, but instead learning how to move efficiently). When I finally joined a pilates class I immediately fell in love with the exercise. It was tough, probably one of the most challenging exercises I ever participated in, but I could see myself improve and the benefits were noticeable, so I kept coming back.

Eventually, as I began to incorporate physical activity more into my “free” time, I found myself desiring a higher-tempo exercise, but didn’t want to stop going to my pilates classes, and I didn’t want something that would negatively impact my pilates. A close girlfriend of mine introduced me to boxing a couple years ago, and ever since then, the combination is everything I could have asked for.

Boxing is an intense workout that will leave you panting after every round. Although it’s a very different style from pilates, I’d say it’s just as challenging, and maybe even more fun! I have to admit, I was intimidated going into the boxing gym for the first time, but the atmosphere was fun and supportive, the monthly membership was cheap, and the gear was also inexpensive when compared to other sports. Since I was new to the sport, shopping around for the right equipment was a little overwhelming, but talking to your trainers is the best place to start. I also found the website www.tomatocanchamp.com to be very helpful, too.

After about a month or so, I started noticing that I was trimming down even more than I had from just pilates. This was due to the high-intensity cardio-heavy exercises we would do for 3 minutes at a time with 1 minute rest in between. Switching the exercises up every few rounds kept the workout interesting and target virtually every muscle group in my body. I even tried my skill in the ring by sparring with a couple other people. This is really when I realized how safe and controlled boxing is, but more so how exhausting it can be to go toe-to-toe with someone for even just one round!

One of the primary benefits of boxing that I saw was the decrease in fat and simultaneous increase in muscular strength and endurance. Core strength is very important in boxing, and this helped me improve during my pilates classes as well (and vice versa)! Boxing doesn’t usually require lifting heavy weights, and most exercises are done with your own body weight. Stretching is also a key aspect of boxing training, and all of these together really helped me embrace the combination of pilates and boxing. I’ve never been in better shape!

In summary, don’t be fooled by stereotypes of each activity. They both have incredible benefits to your health and fitness, many of which cross-over! I highly recommend boxing gyms instead of home equipment, but you can find various pieces of equipment for your own home that can help you get the workouts in if you’re really short on time (e.g. a heavy bag stand with other workout features).

Whatever activity you choose, the main thing is that you enjoy yourself and it’s good for your health. Each activity I talked about is great for you, but if you’re looking to double-up, this is definitely my recommendation! Enjoy!

Published August 8th, 2014 by

Health and wellness isn’t just about eating healthy food, exercising regularly and doing pilates. That is a big part of it, yes, but one main factor is often overlooked when considering your overall health.

What actually goes on inside your mouth? How does your oral hygiene affect the rest of your body? Your mouth is where your health and digestion all begins. If you were to not properly take care of it, it can be a highly contributing factor to any issues going on in the rest of your body. The bacteria in your mouth is generally harmless, however were you to take poor care of your teeth and mouth, the bacteria can become overwhelming and damaging. This is where tooth decay, bad breath, gum disease, and even heart disease can find their way in. So what can you do to keep your mouth clean and healthy?

1) Brush twice daily.

You’ve heard this ever since you were a kid. Your parents didn’t tell you this for their own benefit (well, maybe to reduce the dental bills), but they were well informed. Brushing twice daily (or preferably after each meal) is the main and most important thing you can do to maintain your oral health. Be careful not to brush too soon after you eat, as some acidic foods can soften the enamel on your teeth, and brushing during this time can scratch or damage the enamel. Brushing also cleanses your whole mouth, ridding of bacteria and food stuck in your teeth. Don’t take brushing for granted, you have one set of adult teeth your whole life.

2) Floss daily, every time you brush.

This is where most people are a little too aloof. Flossing your teeth is just as important as brushing, as it gets into the small areas that brushing doesn’t reach, and removes the cavity-causing bacteria. You know those visits to the dentist where the hygienist flosses your teeth and you start to bleed? Yeah, that’s because you aren’t flossing enough at home, not because she’s pushing too hard. The bleeding and swelling of your gums can be early signs of gingivitis, which can eventually lead to other oral health issues, and possibly farther into your body causing stomach or heart problems. I know flossing can be a pain in the you-know-what, but it doesn’t have to be. With more options out there now, you can find what’s comfortable for you. There is your standard, thread floss, thinner, flatter tape floss, floss sticks, threading floss, and water flossers. The first five options listed are generally the same, just with different methods of application basically. Water flossers don’t actually use any type of thread or pick, it’s exactly as it sounds. A small jet of water comes from the end of the toothbrush-like unit, and you can get into all the nooks and crannies that you can’t reach with normal flossing (your hands can only go so far inside your mouth). Take a moment to check out the options for water flossers and more traditional flossing methods to see what’s best for your lifestyle.

3) Eat healthy, non acidic or sugary foods.

Keeping acids and sugars away from your teeth (and your body) are going to benefit you greatly. It will reduce the wear and tear, decay and abrasions on your teeth, and your body will thank for not digesting harmful foods. This should be the beginning and a firm habit in your healthy lifestyle, as it’s benefits carry over from your mouth to the rest of your body.

Published July 18th, 2014 by

Reformer

The beautiful thing about Pilates and Yoga is it doesn’t have to be expensive. Can it be expensive? Absolutely, there are a number of high end yoga and pilate gyms that’ll cost you. Can those types of gyms be worth the price of admission? I think so, but again I’m a fitness fanatic and I believe spending money on your health is always money well spent.

Exercising At Home

If you’re going to skip the gym or studio and start practicing in your home there will be still be an upfront investment required.

Required Equipment List:

1. A Yoga Mat. This is the most basic piece of equipment. Can you do Pilates on your carpet or hardwood floor? Sure. It’s not going to be very enjoyable. The goal is to recreate the atmosphere that you’ve come accustomed to in a studio or a gym. It’s obviously not going to be perfect; the goal here is to get it close.

Yoga mats are relatively cheap and can be priced for as little as $20 and as high as $100. It really depends what you’re looking for. If you sweat a lot you might want to consider a high end yoga towel as well!

2. A Foam Roller. Foam rollers are incredibly versatile. You can do so many things with them and I always recommend that you have one in your closet. I don’t care if you’re not into pilates or yoga you probably still want one. If you’re a runner a foam roller is a must. Pretty much if you play any sport or participate in any physical activity I would recommend buying one of these. They’re super cheap, they start at about $9.99 and go up to $70 or $80 for higher ender rollers.

3. A Water Bottle. Treating the place more like a studio and less like home is a terrific way to create a studio type atmosphere. Bringing a water bottle is a great way to do this. Think about it, when you’re the gym or in a class you HATE it when you forget your water bottle. The same should be true if you’re at home. Pretend you’re in a class full of strangers and in order to go water you’re going to have to get up and go get a drink which would be awkward so you’ll just not.

4. Blocks and Straps. This is more for yoga, but sometimes in pilates we’ll make use of blocks and straps as well to tighten and tone troubled areas. These are like foam rollers, I would recommend having them in your arsenal. Having a good quality strap makes a world of difference when you’re trying to stretch those hammies out :).

That’s the basic equipment, of course you’ll also need either a DVD or a routine to follow. I find DVD’s work best for this just because then you’re forced out of your comfort zone.

Did I miss anything else? What do you bring to your home studio pilate sessions?

X0X0

Published July 17th, 2014 by

Lifestyle 101

Pilates is a fantastic way to get the exercise you need in a day. No matter what method you practice, we all know that Pilates is not only an effective form of exercise but one that is safe and can be a lot of fun. However for those who are looking to achieve certain goals, Pilates alone can sometimes be not enough.

Allow me to share a story of a client of mine who began taking Pilates classes in an effort to lose weight. She was quite heavy the first time I had met her and she made it clear that her goal was to lose 50+ pounds. She chose Pilates as her exercise option and did three classes per week. Not surprisingly, she didn’t see the results she wanted as quickly as she wanted and she began to get frustrated, even threatening to quit at one time. Worried that I was going to lose a client, I had a consultation meeting with her to find out what else she was doing beyond her Pilates.

One of the first things we looked at was her meal plan and how she was eating throughout the week. I discovered that she was eating huge carbohydrate filled meals before AND after her Pilates class as she figured she was burning it off in her workouts. Unfortunately, her diet plan didn’t meet her goals and we worked on a plan to help curb her diet to a place that would better help her achieve her goals. Instead of having pasta and bread before workouts she was replacing her meals with high-protein low carbohydrate options such as protein shakes and vegetables. This small change helped her to completely reverse her trend of actually putting on more weight than she was losing and soon she was starting to feel like a completely different person. In fact, this small change actually snowballed into more changes with her eating habits as even the little tidbit of information regarding carbohydrates allowed her to apply that knowledge to other meals throughout her week. Today, she has surpassed her goals and lost over 65 pounds!

The above is an example of lifestyle design and it’s a type of personal training service you should be on the lookout for if you have specific goals you hope to reach. One of the best things I know I can offer my clients is some lifestyle design coaching as many of them often overlook key components of their overall health plan.  As in the story above, this can be the difference between reaching your goals or putting on additional weight.

Published July 15th, 2014 by

If you are struggling with staying motivated during your pilates workouts, or they seem too daunting and long, do not fear. A simple tool may be the answer to get your mind refocused and back on improving your body and wellness. That tool is the stopwatch. Next workout bring a stopwatch and see your motivation and drive peak. Stop watches that let you know at any given moment exactly how long you have been working at something is an invaluable aid.

Short Intense Moments in Workouts

You may be involved in exercises that consist of short but intense “sprints” that involve maximum physical effort — even within pilates. High energy and fat burning exercises consists of bursts of energy and working out, so using a stopwatch would help you know how long to stay in a certain position and for this may be crucial in your results. You can benefit by being able to determine how much time you are applying with your hard work.

Long, Continuous Training

Marathon or long distance training needs a stopwatch in order for you to properly train correctly. To improve your time, you may want to look up other marathon completion times, set yourself a goal, and then use your stopwatch to reach that goal. With a stopwatch monitoring how long it takes for you to run a certain amount of distance is crucial in knowing who much you’re improving and what you need to work on more.

Set Time Goals

Next time you are working out, set a goal for when you want to complete your workout for the day. When do you want to finish your laps? How fast do you want to run that mile? How long do you want to hold that plank for? Give yourself reasonable goals that you want to follow through on use your stopwatch to compare your real time and your goal. Who knows, you may even be better than your goal and making new ones in no time!

Map Out Your Sets of Exercises by Time Intervals

Scientific data has proven that there are levels of energy production, which are optimal for an individual as they work to lose weight, tone muscles and gain better overall fitness. Part of the equation of understanding what your maximum level is, is to know exactly how much time you are spending on your efforts.

A Collection of your Best Times

Some sport and athletic stopwatches are designed to hold your times and information. This can be retrieved at a later time to see your improvement and progress in your health and workout so far. There are a variety of stopwatches available that suit specific needs, such step counters and number of miles recorded, and you can easily find a stopwatch that can assist you in reaching your workout goals and fitness plans.

Published July 5th, 2014 by

ySUPOn a recent vacation I was swept away by a new experience. Well, not entirely new, it was more like two experiences rolled into one. That experience(s) was Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. It was one of the most invigorating, challenging and awe-inspiring things I’ve done in a long time.

There is just something about that back drop – blue ocean that seems to stretch forever. The sun beating down, while you expel toxins doing one of the most relaxing activities you could possibly be doing. Yet, you’re actually working those tiny stabilizer muscles and balance takes an entirely different meaning.

If you’ve never tried SUP Yoga before I strongly recommend finding a class in your area. If you’re in a stand up paddle board hot spot you’ll have absolutely no issue. If not, you certainly can read up about the sport and make up your own yoga routine. Remember to keep the poses as simple as possible. Things like downward dog and warrior are easy to do on a board. Other, more challenging poses will be extremely tough. As a rule of thumb, if you struggle to balance in a pose on a dry land don’t do it on a SUP. You’ll probably end up falling in the water :). Not that, that is such a bad thing.

Okay so what do you need?

I would suggest you’re at least a beginner in both sports, obviously this isn’t a requirement but if you’re just trying either Yoga or Stand Up Padlde Boarding for the first time I would do them separately.

The Board

A solid paddle board. Find a big, stable paddle board with a soft top. A lot of different paddle boards have an EVA top which is basically yoga mat material. However, others have harder wood surfaces – avoid those. There are certainly boards that are better than others for this sport. Inflatable paddle boards often make a perfect ySUP (Yoga Stand Up Paddle Board) as they have soft forgiving surfaces to get bendy on.

Aside from size (11′+ is perfect) and a soft top other things to consider. Does the board have a place to store things? Lots of boards come with the elastic straps which can hold clothing, paddles, etc.

Attire.

Dress for the occasion. Once you get moving around you’re probably going to get hot. That means you’ll want to shed layers. Obviously a bathing suit is a must but don’t forget the screen. Just because you start with a long sleeve doesn’t mean you’re going to end with a long sleeve shirt on.Hats are great but can get in the of some poses. All things to keep in mind when you’re getting bendy on your board.

The Paddle &  A Leash

Paddle Board accessories are vital. You’re going to need a paddle (no, it’s not the same as a canoe paddle). A leash is another handy item to have. If you fall off you don’t want to let your board run into others enjoying the ocean (or lake). Keep it nearby with a slick little leash.