The Flat Belly Pilates blog is filled with helpful health and fitness information, practice tips and tutorials.
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New to Pilates? Keep reading to find out what the buzz is all about!
WHAT IS PILATES?
Pilates is a form of exercise that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. He called his method Contrology which refers to the way the exercises encourage the use of the mind to control the muscles. These exercises focus on awareness of breath, alignment of the spine, and strength of the core postural muscles.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PILATES?
There are many benefits to Pilates that may include improved core strength; increased flexibility and strength; and improved posture, balance and stability; flatten belly and toned body; and increased well-being and state of mind.
IS PILATES JUST FOR WOMEN?
Did you know that Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates for men? When he first opened his New York studio, many of his clients were men who were boxers, wrestlers and other athletes of varying disciplines. Despite its slow, careful movements, Pilates isn’t just for women. Many men including professional athletes benefit from practicing Pilates. It is a challenging workout that emphasizes the importance of core stability, strength, balance and flexibility to prevent injury and improve athletic performance. Many men will be surprised at how sore they are after a Pilates session. Pilates is one of the most challenging and rewarding workouts given how it can transform your body.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Pilates is not suited for everyone. Before practicing Pilates, discuss your medical history and fitness goals with your physician so that you can make an informed decision about your health.
If you choose to practice Pilates, remember these tips for practicing safely.
First, breath is an important part of your Pilates practice. It involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Full inhalations and exhalations are important because they aid in movement control during difficult abdominal exercises. Avoid holding your breath at any point during your workout. As you inhale, breathe in slowly and allow the air to fill the upper part of your chest to your ribs to your lower back. Take care to inhale without allowing your chest or shoulders to rise. As you exhale, let go of the breath with control. You can also try to practice this breathing exercise off the mat when you have a moment while driving in traffic, working at your desk or taking the dog for a walk.
Many beginners unknowingly limit their breathing when they become tense in their upper body and face. Shoulder and facial tension can limit complete exhalations, preventing you from expelling carbon dioxide. You'll be less efficient and tire much faster. Holding your breath can also raise blood pressure and, as a result, you may feel lightheaded or even pass out.
Never hold your breath in any pose. Be aware of how you are breathing throughout your practice and use it as a guide. Are you holding your breath? Can you hear your breath as you breathe in and out completely? Are you inhaling and exhaling at the appropriate times? Relax your shoulders and face and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Be sure to use full inhalations and exhalations to aid movement control as you move through challenging poses. Breathe out as you exert effort and breathe in when the pose is less challenging. If you feel your breath become jagged, that's your cue to back off and try a modification. Ask your instructor for a modification if you feel a pose is too strenuous. She should have multiple options that are safe and effective.
Second, neutral spine is the natural position of the spine when the body is in proper alignment. To find neutral spine, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and as you exhale push every back bone into the mat. Inhale and as you exhale and arch your back allowing for enough room to place your hands under your back. Again, exhale and imprint every bone into the mat. Inhale and arch your back. You will find neutral spine somewhere between these poses. When you’re in neutral spine, there will be only enough space for a grape or two or three fingers in the hollow space (also known as the “grape space”) under your lower back. Try to maintain neutral spine throughout your practice.
Third, the powerhouse primarily consists of your core postural muscles including your abdominal and back muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms alongside your body. Inhale and allow your belly button to drop towards your spine. Then, pull in your abdominal muscles and breathe normally. Your powerhouse should always be pulled in and up, in this way, like you’re trying to pull on a tight pair of jeans.
Finally, move only in a range of motion that you can control. For example, if you find that it is difficult to make large circles during the One Leg Circle exercise, try drawing small circles the size of a dinner plate on the ceiling.
You should never feel strain or pain in any pose. If you feel an exercise is too strenuous, ask your Pilates instructor for a modification. She should have several options for safe and effective practice.
That’s it! Follow these tips for safe and effective Pilates practice. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to Flat Belly Pilates by commenting below or connecting on Twitter or Instagram.
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You've promised yourself you'll keep up your fitness regime, but don't get around to going to the gym or find other things take priority. Does this sound familiar?
Setbacks are common in any practice. A difficult pregnancy, an injury, illness, or an emotional upset can take the steam out of your practice. There are times, too, when life just gets in the way. With all that you have to do — children to raise, aging parents to care for, jobs and chores to do, committing to practice isn't always easy but even those of us with lapses of months or even years can make a successful return to the mat. By taking time to examine the reasons you stopped and your motivations for returning, you can ensure that this time around, your practice remains a permanent part of your life.
If it's been a while since you've seen your mat, try the following:
Identify and address your reasons for having left so those same issues won't thwart your attempts to return.
Make adjustments. If a major life change precipitated the end of your routine, you may have to make significant alterations to succeed at a new start.
Do not skip a scheduled workout. It’s a slippery slope. You skip one and soon you begin to miss two or three. Then, you’re not working out at all.
Plan your workouts in advance and make sure you have a contingency plan for bad weather and unscheduled meetings. You're more likely to work out if you have strategies to overcome obstacles.
Jot down the details of your workouts. Note what works for you and what doesn’t, modify accordingly so that you will continue to work out consistently. Use the positive results as motivation.
Set goals. Once you've explored your history, you can begin to specify your present intentions.
Flat Belly Pilates is making things easier for you by delivering classes at the time and location you need in the Atlanta, GA area. If you’re not in the Atlanta, don’t worry. You can still reap the benefits of personal training from Flat Belly Pilates with our comprehensive guide. This guide is now available through Amazon for anyone who would like to practice on their own and get studio results. I am so pleased to be able to share this guide with you. In this guide, I've compiled some of my favorite belly-flattening poses for you along with color illustrations, step-by-step instructions, helpful modifications and challenging progressions as you advance in your practice so you’ll have a flat belly in less time than it takes to binge-watch Orange is the New Black!
Here’s a free peek into the Flat Belly Pilates Comprehensive Guide! See the quick routine below that works your upper, lower and traverse abdominals in just a few minutes.
Single Leg Stretch
Lie down on your mat with your arms at your sides. Scoop your abdominal muscles in and up and keep them there throughout these five poses. Bend your knees and bring them to your chest. Lift your head, neck and shoulders. Place your hands on your right knee and extend your left leg out to a 45-degree angle and switch sides. Complete for 10 repetitions on both sides.
Double Leg Stretch
From the previous pose, keep your head and shoulders lifted. If you’re new to Pilates and still building strength, you can rest your neck between poses. If you want a challenge, keep your head, neck and shoulders lifted throughout these five exercises. Curl both legs in and lightly place your hands on your knees. Inhale and extend arms and legs in opposite directions. Exhale and return to the starting position. Complete for 10 repetitions.
Keep your head and shoulders lifted. Extend both legs to the ceiling and reach up as far as you can on your right leg. Pull it in for two short pulses and then switch legs. Be sure to climb up your leg and not pull it towards you as you complete 10 repetitions.
Keep your head lifted, bring your knees to your chest. Extend your left leg out to 45-degree angle and twist towards the bent right knee. Switch sides. Aim for 10 repetitions on both sides and be sure to keep your shoulder blades off the mat.
From Criss Cross, keep your head up and place your hands at the base of your neck. Extend both legs up to the ceiling. Slowly lower legs to a 45-degree angle. Then, return legs to a 90-degree angle. Aim for 10 repetitions.
- Easy-to-read, step-by-step instructions
- More than 50 color illustrations
- Challenging belly-flattening routine
- Guidance on proper Pilates form
- Helpful beginner modifications
- Challenging progressions as you advance in your practice
- Practice tips for creating a Pilates studio in your home
- Pilates Glossary
The information in this guide allows you to learn at your own pace, practice comfortably in your home, tailor the poses to your individual needs, enjoy the many benefits that come from Pilates including a flat belly! Buy it today. What do you have to lose except for the hard-to-lose body fat? Who wants to keep that anyway?