Keep Those Wrists Flexible And Limber

Do These Wrist Exercises For Greater Mobility

You don’t have to be a student of body weight training to get plenty of benefit from these easy to perform wrist exercises. They can be done just about anywhere, anytime, and the results could offer significant gains in your Pilates practice and everyday living.

Our wrists are complex structures comprised of bone, tendon, muscle, and nerves. Keeping them loose and limber while we go about our often repetitive daily activities, often using some form of computer or tablet, is a challenge.

This brief video is a great guide to keeping our wrists healthy and in top notch condition.

Pilates For Men? Seriously!

Tony demonstrates excellent Teaser form on the tower apparatus.

Tony is an excellent student determined to wring every possible advantage from his Pilates fitness program. His dedication has certainly paid off as can be seen from his excellent Teaser form.

How Men Benefit From A Pilates Fitness Plan

Unlike running, swimming, weight lifting or many other fitness pursuits where you’re likely to find men working out, Pilates doesn’t immediately come to mind as an option for male physical training. In reality, Pilates is perfect as a solo activity or as the focal point for a broad cross training regimen.

While other exercises are easy to picture, Pilates doesn’t immediately conjure up a physical image. Ha! As we know, when done correctly Pilates thoroughly and completely challenges virtually every single part of the anatomy. And these days you’re seeing more and more Pilates being practiced at the highest levels of professional sports by athletes whose contracts depend on the flexibility and specific strength found in the program.

Balance, Strength, Endurance, Flexibility

Generally speaking, Pilates focuses on building, strengthening, and developing the core. But there’s much more than that, in a progressive training program that at the highest levels approaches the impossible.

Men’s major structural weak points are tight hamstrings, hip flexors, shoulders, and chest. Pilates incorporates stretching these areas in both basic and advanced workouts, with exercises designed to loosen and lengthen the muscles and tendons that cause so much trouble for so many men spending too much time at a desk.

At YPL, I don’t train a lot of male clients, for reasons that mostly stem (I think) from unfamiliarity with the routines and an overall impression that it’s mostly just for women. On the other hand, some of the biggest compliments I’ve received have come from that small percentage of men who are exploring the benefits of a full Pilates training schedule.

If you’ve got a man in your life who could use a low-impact fitness program that delivers positive results quickly and safely, encourage him to check out Pilates.

Eight Ways Pilates Improves Your Life

Pilates is the perfect low impact fitness workout for any bodyEight Pilates Benefits For Everyday Health

This short list of my most popular Facebook posts explains why Pilates is the perfect low impact, all around fitness workout for young and old of both sexes and just about every interest.

Whether you’re a woman dealing with osteoporosis, a professional athlete focused on improving his or her game, a casual runner trying to get the most out of a 5K, or just interested is improving your brain power, there’s something here for anyone who wants to improve their quality of life.

  1. Exercise May Help Knees More Than Glucosamine And Chondroitin This NPR article questions dependence on supplements for joint health.
  2. 6 Ways Pilates Can Improve Your Running I love it when I can show how Pilates may be the best go to all around workout for improving your running routine.
  3. How Your Spine Changes As You Age For women, here’s a look at what you might experience as your spine ages – and tips for prevention.
  4. Pilates For The Professional Athlete Flexibility and stretching are just as important as strength and speed to one NFL player.
  5. Strong Women Make Stronger Women This YouTube video from the International Osteoporosis Foundation offers five ways to decrease the risk of contracting the disease.
  6. Sweat Your Way To A Healthier Brain Is exercise good for the brain? You bet! NPR article proves you can sweat your way to a smarter you.
  7. The Art of Pilates Control This gorgeous video by Munich’s Bluebird Pilates studio is an inspirational example of Pilates control.
  8. Why Pilates Belongs At The Forefront Of American Fitness A well reasoned argument on the low impact benefits of a PIlates fitness routine.

Ready For The Pilates Chair?

Your Pilates Lifestyle workouts include the ChairPilates Chair Offers Advanced Students Benefits

One piece of equipment that nearly always invites questions is the Pilates Chair. Because it requires real body awareness and core control, it’s usually not part of a new student’s workout. Here’s an online review that summarizes a Chair routine.

For advanced students, it offers significant fitness benefits, and there are an astounding number of exercises that can be performed. For instance, for those familiar with a regular gym’s stairstep apparatus, the Chair can deliver a cardio experience that’s just as intense while also including balance that can’t be duplicated on a machine.

In the photo above, Jen is using her abs to lift while balancing with her forearms in a move that requires body awareness while building core and upper body strength.

If balance, cardio and toning from arms to legs is on your checklist, ask about YPL’s Chair workout when you book your next class.

Ever Wonder What Your Fascia Does?

Wonder No More!

Did you know that your entire body is covered in a web of densely packed collagen fibers commonly known as fascia? Well it is…and it’s extremely important to your overall health and wellbeing. We didn’t hear much about it in the past because it’s been difficult to study and describe, but research is beginning to shed new light on it’s importance.

All About Your Fascia

I recently came across this great article in Runners World which explains it in easy to understand language and, more importantly, tells you what you can and should be doing to keep yours in tip-top shape. If you can’t find the time to read the entire thing, at least skip to page 2 which tells you what you can and should be doing on a regular basis.


What Is Pilates?

what is Pilates?

What Is Pilates?

Between boot camps, dance beat workouts, wall climbing and ultra fit weight catching contests, Pilates remains as the only widely recognized fitness method to be named after its founder, thus fitting into that uncommon category of both noun and verb.

But what does “doing Pilates” really mean? Kevin A. Bowen is a co-founder of the Pilates Method Alliance. His definition of Pilates, below, is the best I’ve read.

Stretch, Strengthen And Balance

Developed in the early 1900s by German-born Joseph Pilates, the Pilates exercise method is a program of physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. In 1926 Joseph and his wife Clara introduced their exercise system, originally called “Contrology”, to New York City.

Pilates exercise focuses on postural symmetry, breath control, abdominal strength, spine, pelvis and shoulder stabilization, muscular flexibility, joint mobility and strengthening through the complete range of motion of all joints. Instead of isolating muscle groups, the whole body is trained, integrating the upper and lower extremities with the trunk.

Practice, Practice, Practice

“Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your mental and subconscious activities.” (Joseph Pilates, 1945)

What I like about Kevin’s definition is that it specifically lists the fully integrated low impact approach to fitness and well-being that separates Pilates from the competition.

How Pilates Can Improve Your Running Game

Pilates and running are the perfect match.

Pilates and running are the perfect match.  A solid core supplements and improves a number of areas critical for peak performance.

Runners Get Big Boost From Core Strength

The other day I came across a guest blog over on Brooks (shoes) Running that shows several exercises runners can perform after a run to improve their results. The writer says that, “A strong core helps create a runner’s longevity on the road and can help alleviate back pain.” Fair enough – but wait, there’s more!

Most runners don’t realize how important maintaining the correct posture is to peak performance and endurance. Joseph Pilates’ original concept of Contrology – the method of developing controlled movement from a strong core – is even more applicable today, as we pursue a variety of physical activities on a regular basis. And that’s especially true when it comes to running.

Pilates System Connects Body And Mind

His Pilates System stresses the connection between the mind and the body for maximum efficiency and benefit. Along the way, Pilates practitioners learn to focus on (among other functions) breath control while they build that strong, long and lean core by performing the interconnected movements Joe first described nearly a century ago.

Pilates balance chartRunners – and cubicle workers, and frequent flyers – all benefit from a well developed core, first and most noticeably from an improved posture which in turn leads to more efficient breath control, better coordination, extra stamina, and overall strength.

If you’re a runner, Pilates should be part of your workout. It starts with The 100. But it doesn’t stop there.

Runners: Why Conditioning Is Important

If You’re A Runner This Concerns You

A well rounded fitness program often involves jogging, running, and of course PIlates. The web site Anatomy In Motion offers a variety of ways to monitor what goes on when you’re exercising; here are two very helpful infographics that describe the potential problems faced by runners and how to avoid becoming a statistic.

common injuries suffered by runners

exercises that help prevent runners injuries

Foot Cramps Doing Pilates?

Don’t Neglect Your Feet – Here’s How To Treat Them Right

Complaints about foot cramps while doing Pilates ? Here are some common causes and possible solutions.

  1. Lack of Potassium. The most common solution is to eat bananas which are a good source of potassium. Can’t eat them (or don’t like them) then you might try another good source such as maple syrup, honey or agave. Sometimes supplements containing “ium” can help i.e. potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, etc. (Note: foot cramps can also be associated with taking statin drugs).
  2. Lack of sufficient salt (sodium) – Add a little more salt to your diet or take a supplement (see #1 above).
  3. Dehydration. Water is preferable and is certainly less caloric than other beverages. Sports drinks can also help.
  4. a) Insufficient mobility in the feet. Pilates can sometimes require more flexibility in the foot and ankle than you’re accustomed to. Women who live in high heels with pointy toes take note! More footwork with stretching and strengthening exercises for the toes, metatarsals and ankle may help resolve this issue.
    b) Foot cramps occur most often in the prone position. In plantar flexion of the ankle some people tend to curl their toes causing an overcontraction/muscle spasm. Think about relaxing the feet and lengthening the legs. Also, try pointing and flexing feet slowly for 8-10 reps on a regular basis and hold the final point for as long as possible.
  5. If cramping occurs during rest and not during activity, this may occur because of an imbalance in potassium, sodium and calcium which are needed for muscle activity and relaxation. (See #1 above). Sometimes drinking tonic water can be of help with this.
  6. Oxygen (or lack thereof). Last but certainly not least – breathe!!! Get oxygen flowing through the body to help reduce the build up of lactic acid in the muscles.

Hope this helps you have “Happy Feet” during your next Pilates session.

The Reformer Arc Connection

Pilates Arc Gently Works The Spine For Maximum Flexibility

The Pilates Arc by Balanced Body is a fascinating piece of equipment that took the existing Joseph Pilates original design and adapted it for contemporary use.

Weighing only a few ounces, it’s mostly encountered as part of a vigorous floor routine that focuses on spine flexion. Pair it with the Reformer, and students get an entirely new dimension that’s quickly felt as virtually every part of the body gets a welcome stretch in addition to a new challenge.

If you haven’t yet experienced the Pilates Arc and are interested in the many benefits it can provide, ask about including it in your next Private or Duet. YPL also has a dedicated Arc class – check the schedule for times.