Nov 15

How Pilates Fits Into Total Fitness Program

While it absolutely is true that some physical activity is better than no physical activity at all, people that want to get truly healthy cannot rely on just one type of physical activity alone. When it comes to Pilates, for example, there are those who believe doing some stretching and strength conditioning are enough to work slowly toward complete physical fitness, but while Pilates is a great activity for toning up muscles and aligning the spine, it is not enough all by itself to help someone become truly healthy.

Building a Well-Rounded Fitness Regimen

So how should one approach a total fitness program? Like everything else, the best approach is a holistic one, which includes a number of different activities, such as:

Pilates

The health benefits of Pilates are plentiful, but in terms of physical fitness its biggest assets are strength training and improved flexibility. Of all the muscle groups Pilates works, the abs, lower back, hips and buttocks (“core” muscles) are the most affected, and after a good amount of time practicing these exercises it is not uncommon to see real changes in those areas of the body. Pilates also can improve posture, stabilize the spine, and improve lung capacity through deep breathing. In other words, it does a lot of really positive things, but true health comes from adding other aspects of a workout regimen.

Weight Training

Working with weights is one example. Using Pilates to tighten up the core muscles is a great start, but there obviously are more muscle groups that need work beyond those in the middle of your body. Doing work on your arms, legs, shoulders and back all are effective ways to further tone and strengthen the rest of your body. When it comes to weight lifting, set a baseline with whatever lifts you are planning on doing, and record your progress as you increase weight and reps from week to week. Seeing progress in some of these other muscle groups may also help you see progress in your Pilates program. It certainly will move you closer to overall health.

Aerobic Exercise

The third group of essential fitness activities are aerobic in nature. While Pilates certainly can inspire deep breathing and get the heart pumping, it does not count as aerobic exercise. That’s why it is so essential to make sure you are pairing your strength training with some cardio workouts to pump oxygenated blood to the muscles. This can be as easy as working in a few brisk walks over the course of the week, or it can be more intensive in the form of running, bicycling or swimming. These are very different types of workouts that, combined with Pilates and weight training can have a tremendous effect on physical fitness.
Well-rounded exercise is the best approach to getting completely healthy, to say nothing of the importance of a well-rounded diet, and while Pilates here at YogaCoreFit certainly can help, the best exercise regimens are those that tick off all the boxes. Start with exercises you love, then add the ones that will help you become the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Nov 01

Yoga Poses That Can Strengthen Your Knees

Everybody has a different reason for getting into yoga, ranging from stress relief to weight loss, but some people start practicing yoga because they have very specific pain in very specific areas and they believe these exercises can help. Take, for example, knee pain, which according to Catherine Guthrie of the Yoga Journal affects over 11 million Americans every year. If yoga can help, why not give it a shot?

Four Yoga Poses Focusing on Knee Strength

There are certain poses that can help strengthen knees and relieve the pain that affects so many people, but they need to be performed efficiently and effectively to have the intended consequence. There is no question that certain poses can be pretty hard on the knees, but the following will serve to strengthen the knees (and other areas) if practiced enough:

Chair Pose

One of the first and most rudimentary poses most yoga students will learn, this one is ideal because it keeps a student’s weight in their heels and hip sockets rather than the knees, while also adding strength in the hips, thighs and calves, all of which work together to take pressure off of the knees. The stronger those other muscles are, the less work the knees have to do on a daily basis.

Peaceful Warrior Pose

This pose, which has the student step one foot forward, toes straight, with the other foot turned 90 degrees to the side, includes a pretty significant lunge. While reaching with one arm overhead and looking to the ceiling, a person will feel the pull in their hamstrings, their quads, and their rear ends. Once again, these are leg muscles that, when strengthened, remove stress on the knees since they will be doing more of the work.

Bridge Pose

In lying face-up, knees bent and shoulders bearing most of the body weight, yoga practicers are able to work a lot of the aforementioned muscles as well as the IT band, which runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to just below the knee. This elastic connective tissue often is the source of nagging knee pain, especially in runners, and the bridge pose works to stretch and strengthen the IT band to relieve some of the pain people feel in their knees.

High Lunge Pose

Like any lunge, the high lunge pose is going to work just about every muscle and joint in the leg. This one also involves raising the hands toward the ceiling, leaving the legs to do all the work. One tip in using this pose is to allow a slight bend in the back leg to relieve some of the tension in the knee. If knee pain is the issue, then locking that back knee won’t do any favors. A little bit of slack still allows for all that strengthening in the leg muscles without putting as much tension on painful areas.

Here at YogaCoreFit, we are happy to help anyone put together a series of stretches to help with trouble areas, but these exercises can be especially great for those experiencing knee pain. Feeling relief there is about getting stronger in the areas that can take pressure off of the knees, and that is exactly what several yoga poses do.

Oct 15

Is Barre Pilates Cardio?

For good health, you need a mix of strength training and cardio. Many people considering barre Pilates wonder whether this workout conveniently checks off both boxes. The truth is that barre was created specifically to be an all-body workout that provides intervals of cardio, strength and stretching to give you a more thorough and balanced workout.

What happens at a barre class?

Generally, a barre class will involve some time on the mat doing warm up exercises that can include planks and push-ups. This will be followed by a series of arm exercises and a section that focus on muscles in the lower body. The movements are generally small, a few inches at a time. While it may seem like such small movements can’t possibly be an adequate workout, you will begin feeling the effort right away. Our classes are fast-paced and infused with music that makes you move, so you’re sure to get the cardio workout you need.

How can you tell whether you are getting a cardio workout?

Cardiovascular exercise is all about raising your heart rate. You are getting a cardio workout when your heart rate gets up to 50 to 75% of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is easy to calculate. The quick and dirty trick is to subtract your age from 220. So, if you are 36 years old, your equation will look like this: 220-36=184.

From there, you can find your cardio rate with a bit more math. Fifty percent of 184 is 192 (184*.5). To find 75%, multiply 184 by .75 (138 beats per minute).

An inexpensive heart rate monitor worn during class can tell you whether you are hitting the cardio zone during your barre Pilates workout. Fitness monitors like Fitbits will, if you input some basic information into their associated apps, calculate your cardio range for you.

What are the benefits of cardio?

When you work out your cardiovascular system, they get stronger just like any other part of your body. Your heart and lungs get a workout, making them stronger. Plus, you get into a zone where your body is burning calories more rapidly, which is a boon if you are working out for weight loss.

Stronger hearts and lungs don’t have to work as hard to do their job, which means less stress on your system overall. Cardio is associated with living longer and staying healthier, too.

What if I’m not getting a cardio workout?

If you are new to barre Pilates, you may be going easier on yourself than you will once you’ve gotten more experienced. Give it a few classes to see how your endurance and your ability to push harder develop over time. You can also talk to your instructor about how you can focus more on cardio during class for a more balanced workout. You can also mix up your class schedule to incorporate a blend of classes that involve strength, flexibility and cardio workouts for the most well-rounded practice.

Oct 01

Does Yoga Burn Belly Fat?

People take up yoga for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most common is slimming and toning their bodies. our belly may be one of those stubborn spots where your body stores fat. Are there any yoga moves that can “spot tone” that area to burn fat?

We’ll get this out of the way first thing: no. There is no exercise, pill or diet that will specifically address fat deposits on any one area of the body.

What yoga forms like aerial yoga, hatha and others can do, however, is help you burn calories and build up muscle tone. These two together can make you slimmer and stronger. A few of the way that these work together:

1. Burning calories equals burning fat.

While the relationship between body fat and calories is not 100% without complications, for most people, regular aerobic exercise increases metabolism. If you are burning more calories than you are taking in, your body will look to its stored calories for energy. Body fat is where those calories are stored, so you’ll lose it over time.

2. Yoga tones.

When you look at the gentle and graceful movements of yoga, it can seem, from the outside, like a practice that just involves stretching and some increased flexibility. However, once you’ve gone to a few classes you realize that yoga can be an intense workout. This is especially true in classes like our Vinyasa yoga classes and our Rock & Flow.

Regular yoga practice strengthens muscles, particularly in your core. This, in turn, creates definition that can make you look slimmer and more confident even if your belly is one of the places your body loses fat last.

3. Yoga improves posture.

A lot of us spend large portions of our lives sitting and desks and peering at computer screens. This does a number on your posture. Yoga makes you more aware of your body and can naturally improve the way that you hold your body.

Anyone who’s ever stood in front of a mirror and watched the image in their reflection change as they stood up straighter knows how effective this one move is at improving the appearance of belly fat. When yoga is part of your regular practice, standing up straighter becomes a natural habit instead of something you need to concentrate on consciously.

Every one of our bodies has its quirks and its flaws. One of the most powerful benefits of yoga is that it improves our minds and bodies at the same time. When your yoga practice becomes an everyday part of your life, you will find that you love your body more in any shape even as its shape is coming closer to your personal ideals.

There’s no one “right” body for practicing and enjoying yoga. Have you been hesitant to sign up for a class? There’s no need to worry. We have classes on our schedule for every skill level so you can start today.

Sep 15

Do You Need Extra Protein When You Work Out?

When you are working to make yourself stronger and increase your abilities, you begin to look at every aspect of your life. Do you sleep enough? Are you under too much stress? Are you getting the right mix of macronutrients?

Many people think that someone who is engaging in workouts like barre Pilates needs more protein than they otherwise would. However, the truth is a little more complex than that. It’s a common misperception that most people are not getting enough protein. Other people think that you need significantly more protein on a day when you have an exercise class. The truth is, if you are getting enough calories, you are probably getting enough protein.

Getting enough protein each day.

Each individual’s protein needs are different. They will depend on your age, your body fat percentage, your daily activity level, your gender and your age. In general, most people need up to a gram of protein for every kilogram in body weight. So, if you weigh 130 pounds (58.9 kg), you should get a little under 60 grams of protein every day.

Protein doesn’t have to come from a single source or a single meal. Most people get a bit throughout the day through regular meals and snacks. Vegetable sources will have what are known as “incomplete” proteins, because they do not contain the mix of amino acids that meat sources have. However, by eating proteins from a variety of sources throughout the day, you’ll get all the nutrients you need.

Choosing the best protein sources.

It’s not uncommon for people to think that they need to eat special protein shakes or smoothies to get the right protein mix. Food sources of protein, however, are best. We like the lean protein that comes from sources like fish, lean meat, chicken breast and vegetable sources like quinoa or whole grains. Throughout the day, you can get protein from snacks that include Greek yogurt, nuts and cheese.

Protein-rich foods make a great snack or meal on the days when you are on the go from work to barre class to other obligations. Start your day with some overnight oatmeal made with milk and some added nuts or seeds, for instance. This can help you feel full longer and can provide the energy needed to meet all your demands.

In the end, the best thing to do is to pursue a balanced diet with a wide range of food choices. By eating a variety of foods, you can best ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need for the performance that you want. Include leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and lean protein sources to keep up your energy while nourishing your body.

Sep 01

Why Balance and Flexibility Pay

Aerial yoga, like other yoga practices, offers a wealth of benefits. It helps you relax. It can battle pain and muscle tension. It can help you become stronger and more fit. It also has a benefit that can keep you safer now and as you age: increased balance and flexibility.

Doctors consider these two of the most important physical skills for both athletes and older adults. Balance and flexibility both decrease your chance of falls or other injuries. They can also keep you from getting hurt if you do experience a fall, twist or overextension.

See benefits immediately.

At Stanford University, the football team added a new training regimen in 2007. In addition to the expected weight training and cardio, players engaged in regular training in both balance and flexibility. The benefits were seen immediately: the injury rate dropped by 87% the first year. In the most recent year that we have figures for, only two players had serious injuries requiring surgery during the football season.

They also saw and increase in performance on the field. A team that, in the previous season, won a single game went to the Bowl Championship Series four times in a row.

Athletes in other disciplines may also find that adding a practice like aerial yoga that offers increased balance and flexibility can help them avoid injuries on the field while improving their performance in general.

See benefits for years to come.

As people age, they typically see a reduction in their muscle mass. And, if they have not been working regularly to keep their balance good, they may find that it gets even worse with age. When balance fails, falls become more likely. Falls can also become a greater danger as we get older, as reduced bone mass makes injury more likely.

Many yoga poses already call on a good sense of balance. In aerial yoga, there’s a need for even better balance skills. These skills don’t just make it possible to achieve graceful poses. They transfer to your life outside the yoga studio, making you more agile and less likely to trip and fall, no matter what age you are.

Additionally, aerial yoga allows you to relax even more fully and deeply into each pose. By allowing gravity to aid you, you gradually increase your own level of flexibility.

Yoga is a practice that is worthwhile on its own merits. The benefits to our health and our outlook are significant. The improvement in balance and flexibility that you take with you are just a bonus. We like to think of it as one of the many ways that yoga practice augments and becomes a seamless part of your life instead of just a break from it.

Has it been awhile since you’ve been in the studio? Check the schedule. We have classes in many time slots throughout the week to meet your needs.

Aug 15

How Exercise Helps the Immune System

Want to feel more energetic and avoid those occasional bugs that lay too many of us low? Getting regular exercise can help make your immune system stronger and keep you going all year long. A few of the reasons exercise can be so valuable:

1. Exercise may flush bacteria from the lungs and airways.

Researchers theorize that elevated respiration like you experience during the tougher parts of your barre Pilates workout may flush bacteria out of your system, decreasing the chances that you will get sick. Getting out and moving could be the ticket when a summer cold starts making its way around the office.

2. Exercise changes the activity of your white blood cells and antibodies.

When you exercise, these cells circulate the body more rapidly. Researchers believe that this can result in faster detection of illnesses than you would otherwise experience.

3. Exercise slows down your body’s release of stress hormones.

When we have higher levels of our bodies’ stress hormones circulating, it makes us more vulnerable to inflection. Lowering the levels of stress hormones in your body can make you less susceptible to illnesses. The affects of stress hormones is cumulative: we lower them each time we exercise, so regular workouts are key.

4. Exercise makes us crave healthier foods.

When you are getting to class regularly, hydrating before and after and doing other good things for your body, you’ll find yourself craving more of them. Our minds go through something that scientists call the “transfer effect.” Healthy habits in one area make us more likely to desire improvement in another. So, when you get out of a tough barre class, you are more likely to pick a dinner that has healthy servings of fruit, vegetables and complex carbs than you are to pick up a burger on the way home.

5. Healthy habits help control your weight.

When you are exercising regularly and observing healthy eating habits, you are more likely to attain and keep a healthy weight. People who are neither underweight nor overweight have better resistance to illnesses than people who’s weight is outside the healthy range. By keeping your weight within that healthy range, you can make it more likely that infections will pass you by.

6. Exercise briefly raises body temperature.

The rise in body temperatures can make your body less hospitable to invading viruses and bacteria. The effect is similar to what happens when you get sick and develop a fever. The good news is that the temperature rise from exercise is temporary and healthy.

While colds and flus are most common in the winter months, they can strike any time of year. By keeping your body healthy and your immune system primed, you can lower your chances of getting sick and keep yourself active and energetic.

Aug 01

What to Bring to Aerial Yoga Class

If you are gearing up for your first aerial yoga class, it’s natural to be a little nervous. Feeling that you’ve properly prepared for the class can help ease your nerves and allow you to engage more fully. To be prepared for class, make sure that you have brought the right items along and left the ones that are intrusive or not-needed at home:

1. A water bottle.

Bring along a bottle of water so that you can rehydrate immediately after class. Try to avoid drinking too much water immediately before class begins. Inversions may be uncomfortable with a full stomach. (For the best results, hydrate regularly throughout the day.)

2. A yoga mat.

Even though you will be in a hammock for most of the class, you still need to bring your mat along to an aerial class. The mat will be used for floor exercises and as a soft surface below your hammock.

3. Toe socks or yoga socks.

While many people prefer to practice barefoot, yoga socks are good to have if you are worried about slipping during practice. For your first time in the hammock, it’s better to have them along with you and not need them than to wish you had them when you left them at home.

4. Form fitting clothing.

When dressing for your class or packing your bag, make sure that you have the right clothes for a good experience. Clothing should have at least short sleeves and come below the knee to avoid abrasions or rubbing. Make sure that clothes are form fitting so that they do not ride up an inopportune moments during inversions.

5. A bag to keep it all.

Your yoga bag doesn’t have to be something fancy. Any duffel bag or gym bag will do to keep everything corralled during class. This ensures that it’s easier for you to keep everything together and that you haven’t left something behind when class is done.

 

Aerial yoga classes also have a few “don’ts.” Leave these home for a better experience:

  • Perfumes and lotions. These can stain or weaken hammocks. Additionally, strong scents like perfumes or essential oils can linger in a hammock after you’ve gone.
  • Jewelry and belts. All jewelry should be removed and either left at home or kept safely in your bag. Jewelry can snag or tear hammocks, leading to expensive damage.
  • Your phone. Be sure to turn your phone off or set everything to silent before class begins. Buzzing and beeping can be invasive and can take people out of the experience.

Aerial yoga can allow you to get deeper into positions and more fully relax. By ensuring that you have taken care of the small bits of preparation before you come to class, you can enjoy the experience more fully and without any lingering worries that can get in the way of your practice.

Jul 15

How and Why to Work on Your Posture

Poor posture doesn’t just look bad. It can cause back pain, self esteem issues and can contribute to back and neck injuries. Is your posture less than perfect? Consider these tips and practices to improve your posture and your health.

1. Work on your core.

Your core muscles support your torso and make it possible to have a tall, straight posture. The benefits of barre pilates and other core-focused cannot be overstated. Regular barre classes will help you develop these muscles and support your weight properly.

2. Practice sitting up straight.

Do you tend to slouch at your desk at work? Make a point of sitting up straight every time you realize that you are hunched over. It will feel unnatural and a little uncomfortable at first. However, you will find over time that you sit up straight naturally once you adjust.

3. Get plenty of vitamin D and calcium.

We get vitamin D from fortified milk, sunlight and, if need be, multivitamins. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and muscles. Calcium builds healthy bones and can help preserve bone health as you age. You can get calcium from dairy products, leafy greens, beans and from canned fish with the bones like sardines or salmon. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.

4. Lift weights.

Many people focus on stretching and cardio, but weight training is important for health, too. Weight bearing exercises like weight lifting, stair climbing and swimming can help you develop the muscle mass to support your body correctly. They can also help cut down on issue like thinning bones as you age.

If you are not getting enough of these important nutrients, it can become harder over time to maintain good posture.

5. Correct the way that you stand.

Poor posture when standing comes from a combination of improper body mechanics. To ensure good posture when you stand, start from the feet up. Your weight should be held primarily on the balls of your feet. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart when resting. Knees should not be locked and should be kept very slightly bent. Tuck in your stomach and hold your shoulders pulled back. This will be a lot easier if you have built up your strength with regular exercise.

Poor posture is not something that you can correct overnight. If you have years of slouching when you sit or stand, it will also take some time to develop the sort of posture that is better for your health. Regular workouts, like our ballet barre pilates, can help you develop the strength and muscle support that makes good posture natural. By committing yourself to healthier posture now, you will enjoy a lower incidence of injury, less back and neck pain and good health even as you age. Ready to be healthier? Sign up for a class today.

Jul 01

Best Aerial Yoga Moves for Stress Relief

Many people think of aerial yoga as an acrobatic and highly athletic practice. However, it can be one of the most relaxing yoga styles, as it allows you to sink more deeply into poses and enjoy practice without pressure on the parts of your body that come into contact with the mat. Looking for stress relief? Put emphasis on these poses and strategies to get the most out of your aerial yoga practice:

1. Deep breathing.

Yogic breathing, known as pranayama, plays a huge part in yoga’s soothing nature. Your breathing should be deep and even as you go through each pose. The key is to keep the intensity at a level where you do not have to breathe hard or hold your breath. Keep under that level of exertion and focus on your breathing throughout the class.

2. Cross position.

This position involves letting your hammock support your upper back while you lean back and spread your arms wide. This position is great for stretching tense back muscles that have been hunched while you work all day. It opens the chest and shoulders, allowing tension to flow away.

3. Star inversion.

Many people are nervous about inverted poses when they first start aerial yoga. There is no reason to worry; you are not very far above the mat and are securely supported by the strength of the hammock. In the star inversion, your waist is supported by the hammock while your arms and legs spread open. This position relieves pressure on the spine, leading to excellent back pain relief. Like other inversions, it helps calm and center your mind, which can push stress and intrusive thoughts away.

4. Bridge pose.

In both floor-based and aerial yoga, this is an excellent pose for relieving the tension you carry in the muscles in your back and neck. While being supported by your lower back, arch your back and let gravity help. This stretch is credited with relieving headaches that are caused by tension. Relax fully and extend so that you get the full benefit of this pose.

5. Aerial lunges.

Are standard lunges sometimes rough on your knees? Aerial lunches provide support and allow you to get a deep, full lower body stretch. Stand close to your mat so that you can easily slide one leg into the U of your hammock, keeping the other leg at the center of your mat with your toes pointing forward. From there, gently lean into the lunge to stretch your quads and your hip flexors. Repeat with the other side. You’ll find that the tension you hold there dissipates and you will experience less pain and tightness after.

Regular practice leads to better flexibility and lower levels of stress. you use a break from your hectic day? Add an aerial yoga class to your schedule. We offer classes throughout the week at times that work for you. Sign up and schedule some relaxation today.

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