November 15, 2023
In this installment of Wellness and Pilates thoughts, we begin with Friends. You can catch up on any posts you might have missed here.
We are currently battling a loneliness epidemic in this country. Friends are the cure. You don’t need to have a ton of friends, one good friend who lifts your spirits can be the difference between a bad day and a great one! Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). So, take a minute today to connect or reconnect with a friend who makes you smile. Your tribe is your vibe. It is said we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with, so curate that list of friends for maximum joy.
Sensory deprivation tank therapy, commonly known as float therapy, involves floating in a tank or pod filled with salt water. Reducing external sensory stimuli helps you relax and focus on yourself. Preliminary research suggests that float therapy may be useful for reducing stress, easing anxiety, helping with pains and aches, and improving sleep, among other benefits.
Footwork and Frogs (arm frog, frog facing chair, frog facing out)
The various positions of footwork appear across the entire system in Pilates. We have the footwork on the reformer, standing footwork, seated footwork on the chairs, the foot corrector, and more.
We pay so much attention to the feet in Pilates because we need to operate from a strong base.
We also love a good frog in Pilates. You will see frogs in straps, springs, and barrels, on the chair facing in and out and standing. The work that we see repeated everywhere in the system should be an indication of the importance of the exercises being done.
If you hate cardio, rest easy – all is not lost. Studies have shown that strength training is more beneficial for burning fat. And Pilates is strength training. Specifically, spring-based resistance (strength) training. Don’t get us wrong, cardiovascular health is important and interval training is best for that. Guess what? Pilates does that too! Get the heart rate up and bring it back down efficiently. Think Knee Stretches into Running on the Reformer as an example. Heart rate up and then down, training cardiovascular health. Pilates, walking, and eating a varied and clean diet are your trifecta and key to fat loss.
Flexibility is just as important as strength for overall wellness. This often-overlooked aspect of fitness enables a full range of motion in your joints thereby reducing the risk of injuries. That said, we don’t want flexibility over strength. The key is a body in balance and Pilates’ main focus is to bring the body into balance. Romana Kryzanowska, Joe Pilates’ protégé is quoted thusly: “You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with Strength and Control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind.”
From my 25 years of teaching, I can tell you that more people struggle with the stretch portion than the strength.
- making someone satisfied or happy because of fully developing their character or abilities.
I don’t think people spend enough time on the introspection needed to see if you are living a fulfilling life. Feeling fulfilled is a key wellness concept and
a harmonious balance of fitness and wellness allows you to reach your full potential, thus resulting in fulfilling your destiny to live your best life.
One of the coolest and most challenging full-body exercises in Pilates is fencing. I love it when we see exercises and can clearly see where the inspiration came from.
Fencing is one of my favorites to show how many different disciplines Mr. Pilates was inspired by.
The concept of forgiveness is huge to wellness. Anger and resentment are toxic and finding forgiveness in your heart ultimately benefits you more than the person you are forgiving. You can forgive someone and not want to have them in your life. This can be freeing and allow for real forward growth. Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Forgiveness allows us to heal and move forward with life without allowing anger, hurt or unproductive rumination to waste too much of our mental or emotional energy.
Foot bar, foot strap, frame, fuzzies, frame rails (ladder barrel)
Lumping together all the apparatus parts begins with the letter F so you will be better oriented in the studio during your session. Having the right language or names for things is the key to being successful in navigating the Pilates Playground like a pro. Book a private session so we can show you the ropes!
Ever wonder why fireplaces, candles, and fire pits have such a calming effect on people? Mindfulness or the ability to be fully present with relaxed awareness and minimal distraction, is good for mental health. Gazing into a fire is a particularly effective way to practice mindfulness, great for someone like me. Who struggles with meditation.
It quiets your thoughts and engages your senses to help keep you in the moment.
This exercise done on both the Cadillac and the Wunda Chair is one of the big extension exercises in Pilates. I find the Cadillac version to be the ultimate as most common cheats are impossible, so it measures true back strength and extension. There is a lot of flexion in the Pilates system, so all the extension exercises deserve special attention.
One of the first things we learn as Pilates instructors are “Bad Back – Keep Flat”. That doesn’t mean no movement, it means moving in a flat back position to protect the back as you strengthen the muscles around it. You may have noticed on your Pilates journey that many exercises have both round-back and flat-back versions. Depending on your posture, one will always come more naturally to you. We tend to focus on improving the one that presents the greater challenge. To create balance in the body is something we discussed when talking about flexibility and strength. It’s all about balance.
Food and wellness have a tricky relationship. Food is one of life’s great pleasures, but at its core, it is fuel and human beings can abuse it for other purposes. Having a healthy relationship with food as fuel frees you from making easy/bad choices.
There are so many things that fuel us. When you focus on food as fuel, specifically energy, and nutrients, we can find something else to fuel our emotional needs. Diet and nutrition can be yearlong topics of their own, but if you give yourself simple guidelines or mantras and bring mindfulness to your eating, it will release the hold food may have over your emotions. For me, I had a mantra of “I will not get my pleasure from food” when I was doing a strict elimination diet. I had a list of other things I would turn to for that emotional fix. Another thing I try to do is eat foods in as close to a natural state as possible so that I don’t fall prey to big food and pharma getting me addicted to sugars and additives. I try to avoid packaged foods at all costs. But nothing is ever off the table for me.
Speaking of food and fuel, we are about to head into the most festive time of year. We want you to take part in as many festivities as you can handle without feeling overwhelmed. Go in with a plan so your hard work doesn’t get derailed during the last month of the year.
We spoke earlier about the importance of friends and the loneliness epidemic. So, when you get included in a festive occasion go (with a plan) and have some fun.
This list is less than complete, but a place to begin! Join us every few weeks as we dive into Pilates and wellness topics to bring you a little closer to your best self in a way that might be sustainable.
Each post will tackle another letter of the alphabet and 14 topics that begin with that letter. You can experiment with any or all the topics over the next 14 days and keep the ones that work best for you. Stick with it as we add the next letter. Before you know it, you will have habit stacked your way to wellness one letter at a time.
The road to wellness is about the journey, not the destination. We often focus on the body, but true wellness is mind, body, and spirit. I’d like to be your wellness concierge in addition to you Pilates instructor.