Pilates with Weights

The latest video is a short mat Pilates workout utilizing hand weights. I recommend using 1-3lb weights and no more. The weights add some resistance to the workout, allowing you to deepen the work in the powerhouse. The actual workout is short and begins after the introduction in which I talk about the weights.

Please feel free to view, share, like, comment and subscribe.

The Pilates Teaser Exercise

large_josephpilatesteaserThe Pilates exercise known as the Teaser is the shining star of the Pilates series of exercises. Almost every exercise, including the Roll Up and Open Leg Rocker, that is done in the mat series up until this point prepares you to perform the Teaser. Joseph named this exercise the Teaser, because he felt it was a “teaser” of all that his exercise method worked towards.

The goal of the Teaser is to use your core, hip flexors, and spinal flexors to come up into the position as you balance on the sit bones. Notice in the picture above of Joseph doing Teaser, that there is a bit of a curve in the back, especially the low back as you hold the position. This exercise is different from Navasana or Boat Pose that you see in Yoga, which has a more neutral spine.

Read all about the Teaser and give it a go over the weekend! Practice makes PERFECT!! Get ready next week for “Teaser Tuesday”. I would love to see your best Teaser posted in the Facebook group page, or on your social media and tag me (Twitter @Om_Boy1 and Instagram @Om_Boy) as well as using the hashtags #TeaserTuesday and #PilatesEveryDamnDay.

Benefits of the teaser include:

  • works the obliques more than traditional crunches
  • engages and strengthens the hip flexors
  • stretches the hamstrings
  • increases abdominal strength
  • focuses on balance
  • improves spinal articulation and strength

Tips on the Teaser:

People often struggle with the Teaser not because of core strength, but because of poor hip strength/flexibility or tightness in the back and hamstrings. As you work up towards the Teaser, the goal is to start with and keep the legs in one position (typically out at a 45 degree angles as seen in the picture above) as you articulate up and down through the spine. Having tightness in the hamstrings or hips makes it hard to maintain the position of the leg. You can work up towards this by keeping the legs in a position you can hold, or start with a slightly bent knee.

There are many variations of Teaser that you can try. Start with One Leg Teaser (also known as Teaser Prep) as a modification until you feel strong and flexible enough to move into Teaser 1 (or Full Teaser). Below are two videos on performing different variations of the Teaser.

A Brief History of Pilates

Joe-doing-1001One of the things that I absolutely love about Pilates (other than how amazing it is as a form of movement) is the history behind it. Compared to Yoga, which is 5000 years old or something, Pilates is relatively new to the health and wellness world. It’s very easy to trace back it’s origins to the man it is now named after, Joseph Pilates.

Joseph Pilates was from Germany, and as a child he was in very poor health, suffering from asthma and rheumatoid fever. In the earlier 20th Century he devised his physical fitness system, originally called “Contrology”, which was inspired by gymnastics, martial arts, calisthenics, yoga and ancient Greek workouts (all which he practiced personally). Even at a young age, he worked as hard as he could to improve his health.

joes_roll_upb1dcfbDuring World War 1, Pilates was living in England and interned in a prison camp as a “enemy alien”. During his imprisonment he used his system of exercises to train his fellow Germans in an effort to rehabilitate them from injuries, as well as to keep their health vital and their bodies strong. It’s interesting to mention that during this time there was an outbreak of influenza. Thousands of people died from this epidemic. But, not one of Pilates trainees died. A great compliment to his system of mind, body and spirit health.

Also at this time, Pilates created some of the original apparatus that is still used today such as the reformer. In order to help some of the prisoners that were confined to beds, Pilates detached a hospital bed and used the springs to give some resistance to the moves the prisoners performed. It’s even been said that Joseph Pilates ripped the metal ring off of a beer brewing barrel to create what we know now as the Magic Circle. Even today, much of the apparatus we use was originally created by Joseph Pilates.

Joe-Double-Leg-Pull_0001

Eventually, in the mid 1920s Joseph Pilates moved to the USA, and settled down into an area of New York City. At first his fitness studio was a place where Pilates used his method to train boxers. As the studio was located near lots of dance studios and companies, eventually some of the dancers came to Pilates with injuries that needed rehabilitation. This is how it later became known to some as “the dancer’s workout”.

It’s always been funny to me that so little men do Pilates; thinking it’s “just stretching” or “something dancer’s do”, when originally the system of exercises was used to train soldiers and boxers! I love that currently we are starting to see more men coming to the practice, including many professional athletes.

Pilates wrote two books on his methodology, “Pilates Return to Life Through Contrology” and “Your Health”. Today, a new generation of teachers carry on his legacy by teaching the system to people from all walks of life throughout the world. As more and more people come to learn about the Pilates method, it continues to grow in popularity. Pilates is now practiced in studios, gyms, community centers, and homes across the globe.

Some interesting facts about Pilates:

  • “Control” is one of the Pilates principles. The exercises are not meant to be done in a fast paced manner, but rather to move the body with control. No wonder it was originally called “Contrology”
  • Pilates has been proven to be effective in relieving symptoms of fibromylagia, and osteoarthritis
  • A recent study from The Appalachian State University shows that Pilates improves your quality of sleep
  • Joseph Pilates used to be a circus performer before being detained in an English prison
  • A study on the effects of Pilates on low back pain showed that practicing Pilates actually decreases pain and discomfort in those with back pain. By strengthening the core and focusing on lumbar stabilization we can ease the discomfort of back pain

Pilates Every Damn Day Mat Series

It’s here! It’s here! Pilates Every Damn Day starts today. Here is the video of the short mat series that you can do everyday as part of the challenge. Remember throughout the month I will be posting more Pilates videos that you can use as add ons to this one. For the challenge, the least is to do this video below, but feel free to do more if you feel so inclined.

Pilates Mat Series

The “Pilates Every Damn Day” Challenge kicks off tomorrow, Monday, December 1st. I wanted to give you a little information on the exercises that I will be including in the video. I am recording and editing the video today so will have it posted to the Facebook group either tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.

The video will feature a short Pilates Mat series up until the exercise Spine Stretch Forward. Do this series everyday as part of the challenge. Here they are in order and the benefits of each one. Make sure to check back here or on the Facebook page tomorrow for the video of how to do each exercise. If you have any questions please feel free to post here in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Hundred

The Hundred

Benefits: Promotes circulation, strengthens abdominal muscles, centers mind and body

Roll Up

Roll Up

Benefits: promotes articulation of the spine, develops spinal mobility and flexibility, strengthens abdominal muscles

leg circles

One Leg Circle

Benefits: lengthens and tones the thighs, develops control of the hip flexors, stretches and relaxes muscles around the hip joint

rolling

Rolling Like a Ball

Benefits: Releases lower back muscles, deepens abdominal work, massaging effect on spine, increases circulation

single leg

Single Leg (One Leg) Stretch

Benefits: strengthens abdominals, develops stability in pelvic-lumbar region

double leg

Double Leg Stretch

Benefits: strengthens and builds endurance in the abdominals, teaches working in opposition, develops trunk stabilization

scissors

Single Straight Leg Stretch (Scissors)

Benefits: lengthens legs and stretches hamstrings, increases hip flexor flexibility, strengthens abdominals

lower lift

Double Straight Leg Lower Lift (Lower Lift)

Benefits: lengthens legs, engages and strengthens hips flexors, strengthens abdominals

criss cross

Criss Cross

Benefits: strengthens abdominals, specifically the obliques and challenges trunk rotation

spine stretch

Spine Stretch Forward

Benefits: stretches lower lumbar spine and hamstrings, develops core control and trunk stabilization

Pilates Every Damn Day Challenge

boat2I love a good challenge! Especially a specific fitness related challenge (30 Day Plank Challenge anyone?). They keep me focused and motivated. I had a lot of fun doing the OktoberFIT challenge in October and thought I’d run another one for the month of December. I don’t like when a challenge has too many details though. So I wanted this new challenge to be straight forward and simple. One of the things I have decided to focus on right now is deepening my personal Pilates practice. This will include some new training, workshops, studying, taking classes with other instructors, etc of the Pilates movement system. Not just to become a better student, but to also become a better teacher of the movement.

Then I thought, “Even better! Let me share this experience with others!” So the idea for the “Pilates Every Damn Day Challenge” was born.

In-10-sessions....Joseph Pilates said about his exercise system “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see a difference and in 30 you will have a whole new body”. He also said that everyone should do at least 10 minutes daily of the mat Pilates exercises. Romana Kryzanowska was one of the first students of Joseph Pilates, and later inherited his studio. Romana has been known to say that if you only have time for a short workout, to do everything in the mat series up until the exercise Spine Stretch Forward. So that is what we are going to do!

The “Pilates Every Damn Day Challenge” will focus on short Pilates workouts every day. Through doing these short workouts every day we will build strength and flexibility, as well as the other benefits of Pilates.  Commit to at least 5 to 10 minutes of Pilates practice every day. If you want to do more, then GREAT! If you want to go take a class, either mat or on the Pilates apparatus, that will count as well. Just do a little bit of Pilates everyday through the month of December. Easy, breezy, beautiful!

I think this challenge will also be great for beginners to try out Pilates for the first time. What do they say about building a habit? “It takes 21 days!” You can use this challenge as a starting point to build a Pilates practice. If you are already someone who practices Pilates regularly, allow this challenge to take you deeper into the world of Pilates.

So how is it going to work?

The challenge will kick off on Monday, December 1 and run until the end of the year. On Monday I will post a video of the mat exercises up to Spine Stretch Forward here on my blog. This video will be the base of the challenge. You just need to, at the least, do this video every day. Also, throughout the month, I will post other Pilates videos (between 5 – 10 minutes long) that you can add on to your daily workout, or to do instead. I will also keep you motivated throughout the challenge by checking in with you, and providing some great information and fun facts on Pilates.

Everything for the challenge will be posted here on my blog, as well as shared on my Facebook page. I have also created a Facebook Group page where we can share and motivate each other. Please feel free to join the page so we can connect. I will also be doing different bits of the challenge through other social media such as Twitter (follow me @Om_Boy1) and Instagram ( follow me @Om_Boy). For example, I may ask on a day for you to post a pic of yourself in one of the Pilates exercises/poses. Teaser Tuesdays!! Anytime you post about the challenge on any social media outlet use the hashtag #PilatesEveryDamnDay so we can find each other.

I’m looking forward to doing this challenge with you, and also connecting more with you all. Get ready!

Attitude of Gratitude

gratitudeThis week is the holiday Thanksgiving. A time that we get together with family and friends, eat a big meal, and give thanks. I have always struggled with this holiday. Why do we wait until this one “special” day, surrounded by more food than we can eat, to allow ourselves to be grateful?  As I mentioned in my post “10 Spectacular Things Happening Right Now” I strive every day to have an “Attitude of Gratitude”. Every morning, as part of my daily ritual, I take the time to acknowledge and be grateful for all that I have in my life to be thankful for. I then use this “Attitude of Gratitude” throughout the day to keep myself centered. I find taking the time to be grateful, even for the small things, can be like a mini meditation.

For instance when you are stuck in traffic, and feeling anxious that you may be running late, you can take the time to center yourself by connecting to your breath, and be thankful for the car that you are driving. If you feel overwhelmed at work, connect to the breath, and be thankful that unlike so many, you actually have a job. Within every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

Within your practice of being grateful, remember to find self gratitude. Be thankful for the body you have, and all that it can do. Be thankful for the life sustaining breath that runs through your body, be thankful for the mind that is capable of thought, creativity and expression. Be thankful for your lips that are able to speak your truth, and be thankful for the freedom to do so. Be thankful for the courage and strength within you to go out into the world and be the amazing soul that you are meant to be. Be thankful that you can achieve whatever your heart desires through persistence and perseverance.

Take the time from today and for the rest of your life to express gratitude. Not just to or for others, or for things, but to and for yourself. Let an “Attitude of Gratitude” pervade your life everyday, not just on one special day a year. As I have done, make this a part of your daily ritual. As you prepare for the day ahead of you, make a list of all things you are grateful for. Remember to include yourself on that list. Be grateful! Namaste!