80% of North Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life and since 1997, those experiencing back pain has increased year over year. Suffering from back pain is the worst and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that makes you automatically feel older than you are than when your back is causing you grief...
“Crunch” – the act or sound of crunching
Synonymous with words such as hurting, suffering, snap, crush and distress.
And yet, thousands of gym-goers, fitness enthusiasts and personal trainers do and prescribe ab crunches each and every day...
If you’ve ever taken a Pilates class or done a video, chances are you have done the Hundred. This was the first exercise in Joseph Pilates classical repertoire, and the first exercise that we see in his book, Return to Life.
This post was originally posted in May 2015. We celebrated my biggest little turning 9 this weekend and without them, fitilates would likely not exist. To mark the occasion, I am resharing how fitilates came to be. As a bonus for reading the fitilates story, I'm giving you my free 6-steps to mastering the ab curl checklist - don't miss it!
I would harbor a guess that almost everyone has heard of ‘doing a kegal’. I would harbor another guess that most of you are doing it incorrectly, if at all. Dr. Arnold Kegal was one of the first to address the importance of strengthening of pelvic floor muscles, particularly in postpartum women. Kegal exercises quickly became popular in people with incontinence issues, and physicians and media began to tell ladies of all ages that strengthening the pelvic floor was important.
I still clearly remember the first time I discovered my piriformis – I was running a lot at the time. I had just completed my first marathon and was set to run my second one less than six months later. I would be out for a run and have to stop for traffic, but as soon as I stopped my piriformis cried out and the only thing that seemed to give me relief was to actually press on it (in other words look like I was completely holding my own butt cheek) until I started running again. And although it would twinge a little while running, I never found it bothersome until I stopped or would just start moving again after a period of sitting.
There’s nothing worse than transitioning seamlessly from one exercise to the next when WHAMO. A cramp grabs a hold of your calf or foot and takes you hostage. You spend the next two minutes trying to shake it out and breathe throughout without the rest of the class looking at you like you’re an alien.
Joseph Pilates included the push-up as one of his final exercises in the mat repertoire. Besides the necessary strength and stamina required to maintain a proper plank position, the push-up also requires you to be able to lower your body to just off the ground and then press back up to the plank position.
Last week we talked about Perfecting Your Plank (in case you missed it, click here to read) and the common mistakes that are made. Now that your plank is feeling pretty good, it's time to progress. Remember once you can hold a plank for 30 to 60 seconds it's time to up the ante. You are a dynamic being, make your plank dynamic too!
The plank has become one of those exercises that I can’t help but love to hate. Don’t get me wrong, I can see value in this exercise as, when done properly, it truly aligns and engages our entire core plus more. But maybe it was the “planking” fad that put me over the edge, it just seems that the world is now filled with ugly, held way longer than they should be, planks! My original intent was to write a post about all the variations of the plank you can do, but before we can dive into the world of variations, we really just need to get the foundation correct. (sneak peak: next week's blog is all about plank variations).
Butts are often a big problem for your overall health and fitness, and we are not talking about the size of your cheeks. With over 20 years in the fitness industry, I have never had a client go to Physio for one reason or another and come back saying, “the physio told me my glutes are firing awesome!!” Most of time (and by most, I mean all), they are told that their glutes are not firing correctly and that’s leading to whatever pain they may be experiencing.
Abdominal (or core) training has been on the rise for at least a decade. We do exercises to make our core strong, make our abs look good and to make activities of daily living easier. In fact, regardless of your fitness goal, it’s undeniable that to be successful, some element of core training must be incorporated.
But what exactly is core training??
You've just got to your fitilates (Pilates) class and laid your mat on the floor, the class hasn't quite started yet so you stretch out on you mat and close your eyes to focus on your breathing. Deep breaths in through your nose, expanding the rib cage like a balloon and exhaling through pursed lips feeling the connection of the deep abdominals as you fully exhale.
The above scenario is a great example of how to warm yourself up mentally for the class ahead. You can choose to lie down, sit cross-legged or even stand up but bringing awareness to your breath is perfect. Often we need to shut out some of the world around us and closing our eyes is a great way to do that. But once class officially begins, in the world of Pilates, it's eyes open. Always.