posture

Foam Roller Stretching Galore

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, Pilates, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , , ,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We once again revisit the Foam Roller because it is one of the most versatile, beneficial inexpensive training props available.  Not only can almost anyone use it, but also it can be harnessed for both active exercise and strength-training purposes as well as stretching and relaxation.  In specific, the Foam Roller is fantastic for stretching out the spine.

Why stretch the spine?  Well…for one, it supports our head, our limbs, and many of our organs and so it needs TLC.  But more so, we spend so much time stooped over, in a state of flexion (think rounded shoulders, sitting at a desk, in front of the TV, or in the car) that moving in the opposite direction is vital to long-term spinal health and functionality.

As far as accurate, medically sound resources go, YouTube can be hit or miss; however, there are a number of short videos devoted to stretching the spine, especially in the Thoracic region (think ribcage area), that are easy to follow and impart sound advice.

Check out these spine stretches!!

If nothing else, lolling around on a foam roller for a few minutes before bed is a nice way to step away from the day and into ‘I really want to experience sleep soon’ mode.  Get ready to sleep tight…or better yet, sleep loose!

To strengthen that spine, and make those stretches even more rewarding, begin a fantastic Pilates program today! As we approach the holidays take the time to give yourself and your loved ones the gift of sound mind and body.  It will last a lot longer than a trendy sweater!

 


The Importance of the Pilates Method for Children

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, News, Pilates, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the following article on learning healthy habits at an early age / Pilates for kids written by Javier Bceiso Blanco of Body Arts and Science International (BASI) in Spain (there is even a photo of him / student in action) –

 

It is critically important to begin instilling healthy habits at an early age. That is probably how  I would sum up everything I have learned as a teacher and as a father.

I have worked with children for 15 years, and observing their physical, mental and spiritual development has been one of the great joys of my life. For me, the Pilates method has proven itself beyond any doubt as an essential aid in the development of children into socially-integrated adults with full physical and mental skills.

It’s a fact that the brain needs to lean on the physical self as it develops a solid basis for cognitive abilities. An example is the child’s use of the fingers when learning to count.  At the same time, a healthy mind-body connection contributes to less tangible, but just as important, skills, including open-mindedness, receptiveness to people and healthy habits of discipline. These, together with a strong pedagogical environment and a healthy family environment, create those important educational values which, unfortunately, seem to be on the wane nowadays.

Pilates is just as important for healthy children as it is for those with motor issues. For the latter, it assists in balancing the imbalances caused by their injuries, improving their muscular tone and building coordination, balance, breathing, ROM (range of movement), flexibility, strength and endurance – all of which are just as important for the healthy child. And, of course, all children need to understand their own bodies and develop self-awareness, control, concentration and discipline. Pilates helps every child avoid the modern evils of a sedentary life and obesity – along with all the problems that they entail.

Physical Education and sports as currently taught at school do not cover all the physical and mental dimensions that are necessary for childhood development. And, in many cases, schools reduce the time spent on these activities is favor of more “academic” subjects. At the same time, the US National Association of Physical Education has estimated that 300,000 people die every year due to deficient physical activity and bad diet. This number exceeds the number of people who die as a result of infections, car crashes and substance abuse.

This is the background to BASI’s Pilates for Kids: Healthy Development workshop, which integrates the Pilates method as an extracurricular tool in order to complete the physical education provided in school and to instill healthy habits into young bodies and minds.

The workshop focuses less on education (or re-education) than on maintenance. Children have a natural, inborn movement instinct which automatically reinforces their musculature and, in most cases prevents them from experiencing serious injury. The objective of the workshop is to strengthen and guide this instinct; to prevent it from falling into disuse, which is what happens with most adults.

The program is adaptable to all children and all phases of development, from psycho-motor development at an early age, which enables the child to acquire balance and coordination, through the development of elastic qualities and muscular strength to the development of coordination, fine skills, aerobic capabilities and, finally, maximum muscular strength.

It is important to emphasize that Pilates practice at an early age will avoid – or reduce – potential musculo-skeletal problems in childhood or in later life, as a consequence of bad posture, lack of flexibility, inadequate muscular tone, wrong breathing and bad joint mobility.

If parents and educators were aware of the importance of instilling healthy habits from childhood, many common adult diseases could be avoided. As Dr. Valentin Fuster writes in this book The Health Science “heart attacks suffered from the age of 45 begin to develop in childhood. Between 70% and 90% of the time, they are caused by an unhealthy lifestyle acquired since childhood”.

Pilates for Kids: Healthy Development teaches Pilates professionals to both build programs for children throughout the developmental cycle and to lead them through the process of acquiring discipline and healthy habits in a fun and healthy way.

Learn more about the BASI Pilates for Kids: Healthy development workshop.

 


The Importance of Good Posture

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Pilates, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , , ,

As fitness professionals it is often assumed that good posture represents itself in one way, namely correct skeletal alignment with respect to the plumb line, seen here:

While the plumb line is very important, the point that this article makes is that good posture involves the active use of ones postural muscles.  What does this mean?  Well, postural muscles support our daily movements (these are the core muscles utilized in PILATES class).  These muscles help us to sit up straight, or walk in a bio-mechanically sound way because they support our joints and therefore our skeletal system.  For example, when a person sits at a desk all day the lower abdominal muscles do not get to work, and muscles that do not get exercised stop properly functioning altogether.  Then it becomes the responsibility of other body parts to do a job they are not meant to do, which sets into motion a chain reaction of over-taxing certain parts of the body while under-utilizing other areas.

The point is, we need to exercise out muscles, especially postural core muscles, to keep them conditioned and on call to do their job!  Without them we end up with pain and, over time, potentially serious conditions.

If you live in New York you are in luck: Rachel Rettman will help you move your body in all planes of functional motion in order to preserve and build vital core musculature.  Other things, like food choices, daily habits, and more all go into this topic of posture.

Have you ever seen someone slumped over, stooping while either standing or sitting?  Do they look happy?  Usually not!  Our posture is also a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and the world around us, and proper (and improper) posture sends important messages to those with whom we come into contact.  When considering two equally qualified job applicants, you can bet the person with the great posture who stands tall and conveys confidence will have an edge over a counterpart who is slumped over and shrinking away from the world.

Lesson: remember to stand up, be proud, and most of all exercise those core postural muscles so that you can remain upright and pain free!  Head to our Individual tab to get going on some Pilates sessions!


Installment 8 of 10 ‘Benefits of Pilates’

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8. Promotes Weight Loss and Long, Lean Appearance

If you practice Pilates regularly, it will change your body. Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports beautiful posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel very fit.

If you want to lose weight, the formula for weight loss remains the same: Burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates help will help you do that. Combined with aerobic activity, Pilates becomes a prime weight loss and body toning tool.

The simple fact is this: muscles burns twice as many calories as fat.  Pound per pound, a body with more muscle mass is far more efficient than one composed of more fat.  Since Pilates is primarily a strength-training regimen designed to build long, lean muscles, this is the routine for someone who wants to shed fat and look svelte!


Installment 7 of 10 ‘Benefits of Pilates’

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7. Increases Energy

It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.

What are we talking about here?  That’s right…ENDORPHINS!  To quote the award-winning movie Legally Blonde, ” Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”  Admittedly we are discussing endorphins in a different context, but the idea is the same: Pilates is great exercise, and exercise increases endorphins.  Endorphins give you a much-needed energy boost, and who does not want more energy!

Click here to get your very own (awesome) Endorphins t-shirt: http://rachelrettman.com/shop/


Installment 6 of 10 ‘Benefits of Pilates’

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6. Improves Posture

Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Starting with Pilates movement fundamentals and moving through mat and equipment exercises, Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony. You can see this in the beautiful posture of those who practice Pilates.

As a Pilates instructor, I am often asked if I am a dancer.  Although there are moments when I want to say ‘why yes, I have been for 15 years’ the truth is I have no dance background at all.  But the fact that people think of Ballet dancers when they see someone who practices Pilates is a testament to the postural benefits of the discipline!


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