5 Pilates Moves for EVERYDAY!

myfitnesspal 5pilatesmovesforeveryday2static.squarespacePilates is for everyone. It can be modified and progressed to fit the needs of each individual’s body. I found Pilates after many years of sports, high intensity exercise, and lots of running. My body was in need of something a little more balancing that would focus on proper alignment, stretching, core strength, length, and better posture. Pilates is a perfect compliment to any exercise you are currently doing, and with these five powerful moves you can improve your overall posture and strength, and feel healthier and happier, too.

myfitnesspal Plank exercisePlank: Come into a position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your focus slightly in front of your fingers, legs engaged, shoulders broad on your back and down away from your ears. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing up and in towards your spine, keeping a flat back. Keep your body in one long line, reaching energy out through the crown of your head and through your heels. Hold strong through your core, and continue to breathe!

myfitnesspal swan exerciseSwan: Begin by lying prone (on your belly) with your lower body relaxed, and your hands directly under your shoulders. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and engage your triceps. Then, lift your upper body by engaging your upper back muscles to extend the spine. If you feel compressive in your lumbar, lessen the range of motion. The purpose of swan is to engage the upper back and middle back muscles, and to stretch the front line of the body. Keep your head and neck in line with your spine, making sure not to strain your neck muscles.The

myfitnesspal Saw exerciseSaw: Begin by sitting up tall, right on top of your sitting bones, with your legs extended hip-width distance apart and feet flexed to stretch the back line of your legs. If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees to allow yourself to sit upright.  Bring your arms out to a “T,” inhale turning to your right and exhaling to reach your left hand towards your right foot, while reaching your right hand behind you.  Take a breath into your rotation. Inhale while rolling up in your rotation, and exhale return to center. Repeat on the other side.  Make sure to take your gaze with you, and keep both hips heavy.

myfitnesspal Pelvic Press exercisePelvic Press: Begin with your feet hip-width distance apart, inner thighs engaged and upper body relaxed. Start by taking a pelvic tilt, and roll your lower back up towards you, rolling up all the way one vertebra at a time, and making sure to move through both sides of your spine evenly. Roll down, imagining your spine as a string of pearls, and place one vertebra down at a time. This is a nice stretch and massage for your entire spine.

HUNDRED: Start on your back with your knees in tabletop position (90/90). Reaching your arms along your sides, begin to curl up into an upper contraction. Begin to pump your arms, engaging your triceps, and breathing in for two counts, then out for two counts (for four counts); repeat 5x for a total of 20 counts, then extend your legs straight to the ceiling. Breathing just as you did for 20. Next, lower your legs a third of the way to the ground, and pump your arms for 20 counts. Then, lower another third for another 20 counts. Finally, lower the last third for 20 counts—for a total of 100! Only lower your legs as much as you can without feeling strain in your low back. You can complete this entire exercise with your head on the ground and your knees in tabletop if that feels better for you.

myfitnesspal TheHUNDRED

Ready to add these Pilates moves to your daily routine? Try them and tell us which one is your favorite!

 

jacquelyn-fitsouffleJacquelyn Brennan is a health and wellness expert who shares her knowledge daily at Fitsouffle. She holds a degree in kinesiology, and currently teaches Pilates, group exercise, and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Jacquelyn loves inspiring others to get moving, stay healthy, eat well, and learn how to exercise effectively. 

The 2 Running Workouts You Need to Drop Pounds Fast!

myfitnesspal 2 running workouts to lose weightPEAR Sports

Like most runners, I run first and foremost because I enjoy it, and only secondarily for the many health benefits that come with it. But those benefits are nothing to sneeze at. Running is proven to boost cardiovascular health, keep the brain youthful, and reduce the risk for chronic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes. Running also happens to be the most effective form of exercise for weight loss. Studies show men and women who run shed more pounds than those who spend an equal amount of time walking or swimming. Still, many runners don’t lose as much weight as they could because of one simple mistake: they’re not training at the right intensity. Fortunately, you can avoid this trap with heart-rate based workouts.

According to research, there are two types of runs that are especially effective for weight loss. The most powerful program is one that combines the two: fat-burning runs and high-intensity interval runs. Fat-burning runs are slow, steady runs undertaken at the intensity where the muscles rely most heavily on fat for fuel. This type of run torches more fat than any other type. High-intensity interval runs feature multiple short bursts of very fast running. These workouts promote weight loss by keeping the body’s metabolism elevated for hours afterward.

If you’re like most runners, you spend very little time running in either the low-intensity zone that maximizes fat burning or the high-intensity zone that boosts post-exercise metabolism. More than likely, you’re running between these zones, at a moderate intensity that is not as effective for weight loss. Why? It’s probably because most of us tend to run by feel, and it just so happens that the natural running pace for a majority of runners falls in the moderate-intensity range.

Heart-rate based workouts offer a way out of the moderate-intensity trap. With a heart-rate monitor, running in the maximum fat-burning zone or the high-intensity zone is as easy as targeting your correct heart-rate range. In the five-zone system I use as a coach, for example, the zones are based on lactate-threshold heart rate (not maximum heart-rate), and can be established by running a 30-minute time trial and noting your average heart rate during the last ten minutes, or by using the Pear mobile app. The zones break down like this:

Zone 1: 75-80% of lactate threshold (LT) heart rate (HR)—Very easy effort; use this for warming up.
Zone 2: 81-89% of LT HR—The fat burning zone! Comfortable enough to hold a conversation.
Zone 3: 96-100% of LT HR—“Hard-ish” effort; you can still speak in short sentences.
Zone 4: 102-105% of LT HR – Hard effort; the pace is sustainable, but talking is not.
Zone 5: 106%+ of LT HR—The high-intensity zone! This pace can only be kept for a few minutes.

Here are two simple workouts that tap into the power of heart-rate based training to add to your weekly routine:

Fat-Burning Run: Warm up with 5 minutes of easy jogging in Zone 1. Next, increase your effort slightly to Zone 2, which is where the maximum rate of fat burning occurs. Stay in Zone 2 for at least 20 minutes and then cool down for 5 minutes back in Zone 1

High-Intensity Interval Run: Warm up with 5 minutes of easy jogging followed by 5 minutes of comfortable running in Zone 2. Next, increase your effort to Zone 4. After 2 minutes, reduce your effort to Zone 1 and recover for 3 minutes. Repeat this pattern—2 minutes in Zone 4, and 3 minutes in Zone 1—four times. Finally, cool down with 5 minutes of easy jogging in Zone 1. [Note: Your heart rate will climb through at least the first half of each 2-minute interval, and it may not reach Zone 4 until near the end. Don’t try to run faster to get your heart rate into Zone 4 sooner. Instead, run at the slowest steady pace that is sufficient to elevate your heart rate into Zone 4 before each interval is complete. Likewise, your heart rate will steadily fall during each 3-minute recovery period. Don't worry if it doesn't get all the way to Zone 1 before the next Zone 4 interval starts. Just run slow enough so that your heart rate would reach Zone 1 eventually.]

What do you say, ready to try heart-rate based running? What’s your favorite running workout? 

 

Matt FitzgeraldMatt Fitzgerald is an award-winning endurance sports journalist and bestselling author of more than 20 books on running, triathlon, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss, including Brain Training for Runners and Racing Weight. His byline appears regularly in national publications including Men’s Journal, Outside, and Women’s Running. An experienced running and triathlon coach and certified sports nutritionist, Matt serves as a Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports. His FREE One-Week Weight-Loss plan is available on the PEAR Sports app in the Channels section. Get the PEAR Sports app on iTunes or Google Play

So You Want to Start… Working Out at Home

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Coach-Stevo-Logo.pngPicture in your mind a regular exerciser: Someone who works out nearly every day, as easily as you and I brush our teeth in the morning. Now picture them working out. Where do you see them? In a gym? Try again! According to surveys conducted by the National Institutes of Health, that person is more than likely working out at home.

What’s a gym anyway? A building with a bunch of heavy things that charges you to get through the front door—there’s nothing magical in there. Working out at home can be just as, if not more, effective—especially for those of us with jam-packed days full of errands, commutes, jobs, and families. So with a few heavy things of your own and some simple strategies, you can start the habit of working out at home today.

Find a Program You’re Excited About The most common barriers to exercise are lack of time, motivation, and fear of doing it wrong. Since working out at home is going to help save time, finding a program written by a professional that you’re excited about will take care of those other two barriers. There are lots of books, DVDs, on demand TV workouts, and YouTube channels that will ease you into proper form, loads, and volume. Still, for those of you who find Internet searches daunting, I recommend “Coach Stevo’s Pick Up a Heavy Thing Every Day Program.” Here’s how it works…

Get a Heavy Thing Whether it’s for an exercise DVD or “Coach Stevo’s Pick Up a Heavy Thing Every Day Program,” you’re going to need a heavy object. Any good program will have specific recommendations that you should follow, but for my program I’m not picky. If you think it’s heavy, it’ll do. If you think it’s too heavy, find something less heavy. Obvious examples would be kettlebells, barbells, and dumbbells.  More readily available examples (and these are things actually used by my clients) include dutch ovens, stacks of Bibles, sacks of dog food, potting soil, duffel bags filled with old shoes, and, my personal favorites, babies and dogs. (Hey, if they’re chubby, they count.)

Be Reasonable The goal of this program is to do it every day. That means 1) not getting hurt because you won’t be able to do the program from your bed and 2) being reasonable because if you go too hard you probably won’t want to do it again (because you’ll be sore in bed). So be reasonable.

Remind, Routine, Reward Finally, the way we are going to do this program every day is to make working out a habit. Habits work on a simple loop performed daily: get reminded, do the routine, then reward yourself. So here’s the program:

Day 1:

Step 1) Set a reminder based on something you already do every day, like making coffee.

Step 2) When you are making coffee, pick up the heavy thing and carry it around until you’re done. How do you know when you’re done? As soon as you have the thought, “I think I’m done.” You’re done. Put down the heavy thing.

Step 3) Reward yourself! Say, “Good job!” or “I just got stronger!” or “I’m awesome!” or anything else that makes you feel good. Maybe have a nice, long sip of that fresh coffee. Countless habit studies have shown that rewarding yourself is absolutely crucial to forming new habits.

Day 2 & Onward:

Just like Day 1 except you pick up the heavy thing and carry it further.

Invite Friends I am writing this post in the morning. In a few minutes, I know there’s going to be a knock on my door and then I’m going to go to my backyard and pick up something heavy. That’s because I work out with anyone who shows up at my house at 9:00AM every day (except Sunday). I depend on the willpower, discipline, and focus of my friends to keep my health habits on track— and I do this for a living! You want a reminder? Invite your friends. You want a routine? You can all do it together. You want a reward? What’s more rewarding than spending quality time with people you love?

Working out at home is a great way to become a regular exerciser, because it comes with the lowest barrier to entry. Even something as simple as “Coach Stevo’s Pick Up a Heavy Thing Every Day Program,” will help you get stronger and put you in the habit of working out. And if you already work out sporadically, nothing will keep you in the habit more effectively than sharing your sweat sessions with friends and family (remember, your kid counts!). So look around your house and find something heavy. We start today!

What heavy thing are you picking up today? Think you can stick to a working-out-at-home habit?

 

Coach Stevo is the nutrition and sport psychology consultant at San Francisco CrossFit. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, and is finishing his MA in Applied Sport Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. His specialty is habit-based training and he contributed to Intervention by Dan John in 2012. 

Easy Ways to Make Exercise Happen

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If you’ve been lacing up your sneakers and breaking a sweat a few times per week for a while now, you’ve got a great fitness routine going—good on you! But what happens when things go haywire? Say, your calendar fills up with work deadlines, the babysitter cancels, or a tire goes flat on the way to the gym. Cut yourself some slack, and try one of these tricks to keep some activity in your day.

Put it on the Calendar—in Pen! Schedule your workouts the same way you plan your week around your favorite TV shows. Yes, you can TiVo those episodes to watch on your time, and—guess what!?—you can do that with a run or power walk, too. Find a time that works for you and make fitness happen!

Make it Fun Stop thinking of exercise as something you have to do. Fitness should be fun! Find an activity that you love—adult kickball, soccer, roller skating, anything!—and make that part of your routine. You’re more likely to stick to an exercise plan that makes you smile than one you dread. Plus, there’s no rule that says you have to spend an hour a day slogging it out on an elliptical machine, while staring at a wall. Open the door and…

Get Outside! Skip up a hill—don’t laugh, it’s a calorie-torching workout! (Or do laugh—it’s great for your abs!) Invite your friends for a power walk around the neighborhood and some girl time. Or turn your 2:15pm touch-base with a coworker into a walking meeting, and do a couple laps around the building. (Don’t forget to log that walk in your MyFitnessPal exercise diary.)

Don’t Aim for Perfection Instead of getting bogged down with doing the perfect workout or signing up for the trendiest class, simply add more movement (any and all movement is great!) into your day.

Just Keep Moving! You’ve heard these little suggestions before: Take the stairs, park in the furthest spot possible, get off the bus one stop early—all that extra movement really does add up. Being more active in general will increase your calorie burn and enhance your weight loss efforts.

Time for a group share: How do you slip extra activity into your day? 

More than a Weight Loss Tool—Exercise Makes You a Better YOU!

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naghar fonooni logo

Everyone knows exercise is important—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, helps keep weight off, and even improves sleep. But knowing the health benefits isn’t always enough to get us to put on our sneakers and hit the gym.

When I ask women why they don’t exercise, the number one reason I hear is: “I don’t have time.” Trust me, I get it. Mom, entrepreneur, coach, wife, writer, chef, dog-walker—these are all hats I wear on a daily basis, so I know what busy feels like. And I know how tough it can be to fit exercise into all that hustle. But I also know that I’m a better me when I manage to squeeze in a sweat session.

With just a few minutes of exercise each day, you’ll actually be more capable of completing your other day-to-day activities—you’ll have more focus and energy for even the most mundane ones. Why? Exercise increases energy and immunity, not to mention the requisite physical strength to tackle daily tasks. But there’s a catch, you only see these benefits when you actually workout. Bottom line: Exercise needs to be a priority.

My philosophy on exercise is that more isn’t always better—BETTER is better. Spending more time working out is not necessarily better than being more efficient while working out. Which means, you really can fit it in! A quick 15-minute session with a kettlebell is all you need to improve your strength, balance, and mood.

If kettlebells don’t ring your, um, bell, then find something else you love. Pure enjoyment is really the thing that keeps me exercising. Honestly, if fitness isn’t fun, why bother doing it?!

There are tons of different ways to work up a sweat and make fitness fun. Yoga, bike rides on the beach, trampoline jumping, rock-climbing—just get out there and mix things up. Exercise can bring pleasure and a much needed change of pace from our ordinary, everyday routines. Most of my clients have a hard time sticking with a fitness routine because they’re bored, but I promise it doesn’t have to be that way!

Trying something new can be intimidating, but those little pangs of fear in your gut are good for you. Doing something you’ve never done before builds confidence.

I remember the first time I stepped into a weight room. I was 17 years old and had just started working as an administrative assistant at the YMCA (I knew way back then I was interested in building a career around exercise!). I was one of the only women brave enough to step into that room, and I had NO CLUE what to do. I picked up a few things, and put them back down again, with no plan or purpose, terrified someone would call me out for being a fraud. But I had done it—I had stepped through that door! And I kept doing it—even though I didn’t fully get what I was doing until I started studying to become a personal trainer years later. Today, I confidently squat and deadlift alongside men three times my size, but I’ll never forget the initial intimidation I felt and the pride I still have for feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

If the idea of weight lifting unnerves you, or seems too intimidating, start small. Head to the free weight section of the gym, grab a kettlebell, and have a ball (or should I say, “bell?”)! I guarantee you’ll notice a better YOU in no time!

What do you think? Does working out make you a better partner, parent, co-worker, or friend?

 

Neghar-FonooniWriter, fitness expert, entrepreneur, and mom, Neghar Fonooni is passionate about helping people empower themselves to live a vibrant, fulfilling life. Her intention is to teach women how to find and cultivate their inner radiance, living a lifestyle of their own design.