Use These Pilates Moves to Build a Stronger Core

The key to a better run can be found in the deep core muscles you’re not working—yet.

By Lauren Bedosky FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2018, 11:44 AM

Your core is a dynamo. From typing away at your computer to powering through the last mile of a (very) long run, all the muscles in your core are working overtime to stabilize your spine, which in turn keeps you stable and upright.

But if your idea of a core workout is crunches at the end of your run, you’ll wreak havoc on your lower back and, ultimately, your running performance.

That’s why you should consider adding Pilates. Every Pilates move targets not only the “six-pack” ab muscles (namely, the rectus abdominis and obliques), but also the glutes and the deep core muscles that support your spine. As a result, you build greater core strength and control, which leads to improved posture and a more efficient running form. In fact, researchers at The Ohio State University found that when runners had weaknesses in the deeper core muscles that support the spine, it led to increased risk of lower back pain over time.

A weak core will also cause you to hunch over, ultimately leading to inefficient running form. “What [hunching over] does is cut off your breathing, and you’re draining energy reserves trying to fight that bad posture,” says Sean Vigue, a Colorado-based Pilates instructor and author of Pilates for Athletes. But once you strengthen your core, you’ll have a lot of extra energy because you’re not fighting gravity all day.


Showing Up For Your Life

If you show up for yourself in your life, the universe will show up for you.

The way we walk into a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk into a room curious about what’s happening, willing to engage, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer, then we have really shown up to the party. When we walk into a room with our eyes down, or nervously smiling, we are holding ourselves back for one reason or another. We may be hurting inside and in need of healing, or we may lack the confidence required to really be present in the room. Still, just noticing that we’re not really showing up, and having a vision of what it will look and feel like when we do, can give us the inspiration we need to recover ourselves.

Even if we are suffering, we can show up to that experience ready to fully engage in it and learn what it has to offer. When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. If we need healing, we begin the process of seeking out those who can help us heal. If we need experience, we find the places and opportunities that can give us the experience we need in order to do the work we want to do in the world. Whatever we need, we look for it, and when we find it, we engage in the process of letting ourselves have it. When we do this kind of work, we become lively, confident, and passionate individuals.

There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people that are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.


L. Q., the Love Quotient for Success

This Is the Secret of Success, According to Self-Made Billionaire Jack Ma (Hint: It Isn’t IQ or EQ)

At a recent event, the Alibaba founder explained the importance of “LQ.”

By Jessica Stillman

Jack Ma.

Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (think of it as his country’s Amazon), knows something about what it takes to succeed despite long odds. He grew up poor, failed his university entrance exams (twice), and was turned away from dozens of jobs. Now he’s worth something like $29 billion.

What does he credit for his success?

In a recent talk at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, he explained that while IQ is certainly helpful, and EQ is also beneficial for getting ahead, his rags to riches story was possible only because he possessed another extremely valuable quality — LQ. “If you want to be respected, you need LQ,” he told the assembled bigwigs.

Our secret weapon to beat the machines: LQ

What’s LQ? It’s “the quotient of love, which machines never have,” Ma explained. In a world of rising technology, what will allow you to succeed isn’t sheer mental horsepower — computers will always be faster and more accurate, after all — nor is it just basic EQ, like regulating your own emotions and recognizing others’. What sets humans apart is love, i.e. our feeling for justice, our creativity in the face of challenges, our ability to empathize deeply and respond wisely.

“A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have soul, and [a] machine does not have a belief. Human being have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines,” he insisted.

The problem, according to Ma, is that we’re training young people to try to outdo machines in areas where we’ll never beat them. Instead, we should be nurturing children’s LQ. “We have to teach our kids to be very, very innovative, very creative,” Ma said. “In this way, we can create jobs for our own kids.”

Unlike Elon Musk, Ma is optimistic about the future of humanity in an A.I.-filled world as long as we prepare the next generation properly by nurturing their souls as well as their analytic and computational skills. “Human beings should have the self-confidence,” he concluded. “Human being[s] have the wisdom. Machine[s do] not have the wisdom.”

The Radio City Hall Rockettes do Pilates!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, the effervescent Rockettes kick and dance and move in a fluid motion! I announced to my hubby, “I bet they do Pilates!” … thanks to Google, of course, I instantly discovered blogs, and websites describing the strict regimen of these leggy ladies… and Pilates is definitely in their maintenance programs!

“… Variety is the key to these dancers’ cross training routines. Pilates, yoga, and different styles of dance classes are at the top of these performers’ lists for maintaining technique throughout the year. Getting active while enjoying nature is also vital to their fitness regimen and allows them to stay in shape without feeling like they’re working out. Water sports and hikes were the most popular outdoor activities among the Rockettes we spoke to.” -Dance Spirit [blog]

Former Rockettes twin sisters opened Pilates on Fifth, a Pilates studio in New York City.

So enjoy your family gatherings, eat, drink and be merry … then get back to Pilates next week! <moan with a grin>

Pilates: Monday Motivation

Pilates can be intimidating, but it is possible! Here are some easy ways to get started from home!

Article and Video: 11-13-2017 From KARE TV Channel 11, Minneapolis, MN

You see other people at the gym doing it. Your friends talk about it all the time. But when it comes to actually trying that new exercise, it can be really intimidating! That’s why for the month of November, we’re using Motivation Monday to show you those bullish fitness beasts aren’t so scary afterall.

Our first victim: Pilates.

Joseph Pilates served as a nurse in World War 1, and developed this regimen to help rehabilitate patients. In the early 1900’s, he then took his techniques to the America and trained dancers. His method eventually caught on worldwide. He once said “In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body.” Thank you for the wise words, ol’ Joe!

Pilates is a low-impact yet effective exercise that focuses on strength, form and stability. Unlike yoga, it is faster paced and more structured. GetHealthyU’s Chris Freytag says pilates are perfect for anyone who is recovering from injury, or who is injury prone. It is also good for those of us who need to work on strengthening our core muscles.

Freytag suggests if you are a pilates beginner, take a class first. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you prepare:

Fit Facts: Pilates Primer

Are you wondering what all the fuss over Pilates is about? Used traditionally by dancers for deep-body conditioning and injury rehabilitation, Pilates (pronounced Pi-lah-teez) is an 80-year-old exercise technique first developed by German immigrant Joseph Pilates. Only in the past decade has it migrated from its long-held position at the fringes of traditional fitness methods such as aerobics and weight training. Hollywood has been a key factor in turning the spotlight on Pilates, as numerous models and actresses pay homage to Pilates for their beautifully toned, fit bodies.

Focusing on the Core

The abdominal, hip and back muscles are often collectively referred to as the body’s core. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen this core by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. In addition, the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility and build strength.

How can one exercise technique claim to do so much? The Reformer, a wooden contraption with various cables, pulleys, springs and sliding boards attached, lies at the foundation of Pilates. Primarily using one’s own body weight as resistance, participants are put through a series of progressive, range-of-motion exercises. Despite the appearance of this and several other equally unusual-looking devices, Pilates exercises are very low impact. Instructors, who typically work one-on-one or with small groups of two or three participants, offer reminders to engage the abdominals, the back, the upper legs and buttocks to stabilize the body’s core. Exercise sessions are designed according to individual flexibility and strength limitations.

Pilates exercises are not limited to specialized machines, however. In fact, many gyms across the country now offer Pilates mat-based classes that feature exercises that also stress the stabilization and strengthening of the back and abdominal muscles.

Connecting With Pilates

The mind/body connection associated with yoga and meditation also plays an integral part in Pilates. Unlike exercise techniques that emphasize numerous repetitions in a single direction, Pilates exercises are performed with very few, but extremely precise, repetitions in several planes of motion.

What will all this focus and stabilization get you? Well, according to its adherents, Pilates can help you develop long, strong muscles, a flat stomach and a strong back, and improve posture. Of course, these changes are dependent upon other lifestyle factors, such as a well-balanced diet and regular aerobic exercise. (Though some may claim that Pilates is all you need to develop stamina and endurance as well, an additional cardiovascular component is advisable.

An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to pinpoint strength and flexibility weak spots. This is also the time to become familiar with Pilates’ unique breathing patterns, which don’t always follow the exhale-on-exertion pattern of traditional exercise. Sessions typically run 60 minutes, at a cost of $50 or more for private sessions, and $10 to $30 for group sessions. If you’re more comfortable exercising at home, there are numerous Pilates and Pilates-type videos currently available.

Several home versions of the Reformer also are currently available on the market. Whether you work out at a studio or on your living room floor, Pilates is an excellent way to challenge your muscles, improve flexibility and incorporate the mind/body element into one effective exercise session.

Selecting a Pilates Instructor

Finding a fitness instructor who is a good match for your goals and personality can be challenging. The Pilates Method Alliance suggests asking the following questions of any instructor with whom you are considering working.

  • Was the instructor trained through a comprehensive training program?
  • Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?
  • How many total hours were spent in the training program? (The Pilates Method is a knowledge-based method of exercise and training. Time spent in certification training produces qualified teachers.)
  • Does the instructor have any other movement-related teaching experience?
  • How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
  • What is the instructor or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and rehabilitation?
  • Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all types of apparatus?


Original Article from Ace Fitness 

The Body Benefits of Pilates

 By Regina Boyle Wheeler, HealthDay Reporter, U.S. & World News 
If you’re looking for an exercise that’s gentle yet challenging and works your core like no other, consider Pilates.

Created by Joseph Pilates, a German gymnast and bodybuilder who immigrated to the United States in the 1920s, this fitness method uses controlled movements that can help flatten your stomach, strengthen your back, and give you better posture and flexibility.

Pilates combines exercises with a special breathing technique and concentration, so it connects the mind and body, and can help relieve stress and anxiety.

Pilates can be done on the floor using a mat and your own body weight as resistance. This so-called “mat Pilates” follows a sequence of moves that flows like a dance — in fact, dancers were the first group to embrace the activity for the performance benefits it gave them.

Other exercises involve special equipment developed by Pilates himself, with springs and pulleys to create the resistance. Best known is the unusual bench called the Reformer. The tension can be adjusted, so “machine Pilates” is good for both beginners and advanced enthusiasts.

You can learn Pilates from videos, but consider taking classes or private lessons to get started. An experienced instructor can make sure you’re using proper positioning and breathing and help guide your development.

Of course, check the credentials of potential instructors to be sure they were trained by an established Pilates association, like the Pilates Method Alliance.

Also, keep in mind that while Pilates is a great core workout, it’s typically not considered an aerobic exercise. Don’t forget your heart: Work Pilates into an overall fitness routine that also includes cardio, like walking or swimming.

Hanging Around In A Cadillac 

The Cadillac is an amazing and flexible piece of equipment that offers something for people of all ages and abilities. 

Originally devised by Joseph Pilates to help rehabilitate bedridden patients, the exercises range from gentle spring-assisted sit-ups to advanced acrobatics that involve hanging from the upper bars. 

The Cadillac also offers many options to assist in building the core abdominal muscles, as well as increasing flexibility of the spine,  while strengthening the shoulder girdle and back. 

One of its greatest benefits is the ability to stretch your whole body. This type of stretching exercise can be one of the most invigorating, yet will leave you completely relaxed and refreshed. Hanging from the upper bars in a plank is no doubt one of those!

Power of Music… 

“… Everything that lives is in flux. Everything that lives emits sound. But we only perceive a part of it. We do not hear the circulation of the blood, the growth and decay of our bodily tissue, the sound of our chemical processes. But our delicate organic cells, the fibres of brain and nerves and skin are impregnated with these inaudible sounds. They vibrate in response to their environment. This is the foundation of the power of music. We can set free these profound emotional vibrations. 

In order to do so, we employ musical instruments, in which the decisive factor is their own inner sound potential. That is to say: what is decisive is not the strength of the sound, or its tonal colour, but its hidden character, the intensity with which its musical power affects the nerves. [Music] must … elevate into human consciousness vibrations which are otherwise inaudible and unperceived… [bring] silence to life… uncover the hidden sound of silence. …”  -Frank Kafka (July 3, 1883–June 3, 1924) 

Pilates, as a practice, accelerates the changes, growth, chemical processes that Kafka references. In that, we connect even deeper to our own subtle sounds and vibrations bringing us more “in tune” with both personal and collective consciousness. The body, mind spirit connection enhanced by the power of sound… and music.