Archive for the ‘Pilates’ Category


A significant amount of Flexibility is important even to non-athletes.

A significant amount of Flexibility is important even to non-athletes.

In a previous post, I stated the benefits of stretching and a couple of different kinds of stretching. A helpful video was also included.

But do you know that like any part of your training, Stretching or Flexibility training should also follow the FITT principle?

Frequency – Ideally, stretching should be done everyday to maximize the benefits and improve overall flexibility. However, this does not always happen especially for busy individuals like you and me. At least include a sensible stretching routine after every workout that you do.

Intensity – A good stretch should feel good. Joints should never be stretched beyond their Range of Motion (ROM) that it becomes painful. The focus of the stretch should be to bring the joint just to a point of slight tension.

Time – As a standard for static stretching, holding a stretch for 30 seconds produces beneficial results. If you are doing a passive stretch (assisted by your personal trainer or someone else) this would be easy to do. You might need more motivation to hold the stretch for every joint for at least 30 seconds if you are stretching on your own. Stretching is usually the part of the workout that gets cut short when time is running out. A good workout design would ensure that this essential part of the training would not be left out.

Type – Mainly, you can do either Dynamic or Static stretching in your workouts. There are other kinds of ‘advanced’ stretches that you can do depending on your need, like the PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretch, AIS (Active Isometric Stretch), etc. Stretching can also be done using other equipment such as elastic bands, yoga straps, foam roller, and even your towel.

 

Here are some tips on how to stretch properly:

  • Work within your limits. Do not try to overstretch your joints and muscles. If you are in a group exercise class such as yoga or pilates, don’t be intimidated by those who can touch their nose to their knees (it sometimes looks weird anyway). Remember that the stretch should feel good.
  • Incorporate breathing to your stretching routine. This works well especially when you’re doing the static stretching as cool down. Do long breaths, exhaling upon relaxation and then slowly inch your way to a greater ROM.
  • Do static stretching only after your muscles are warm. Muscles lengthen more easily when they are warmed up.
  • Try other kinds of stretching activities such as Pilates, yoga, and breathing classes to make your stretching more fun and interesting.

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This week, I’m starting to review for the Canfitpro Personal Training Specialist Exam. I’m planning to take the exam about 3 weeks from now, so I hope I’d be able to cover the topics that I need to study.

UPDATE: I passed my Canfitpro Personal Training Specialist theory exam! Click here for tips for the exam.

I also passed my Practical Evaluation for the Canfitpro – Personal Training Specialist certification. Click here for tips.

Should I take the Canfitpro Personal Trainer Exam? Earlier this year, I tried to apply as a Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer in a premium gym. I am certified in Stott Pilates, which is recognized internationally and has its headquarters in Toronto. I also took up additional courses in Stott Pilates and I am experienced in teaching both one-on-one and group matwork Pilates and I thought it would be sufficient for my credentials. I was also confident of my 5 years of experience in the field of Sports Science – in the fitness industry and coaching in a well-known running school in the Philippines, so I was expecting to make it. But then I realized how important certifications are in Canada, so now I have to be patiently studying and preparing for the exam. I’m hoping to get the CSCS- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification under the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in the nearby future. The exams for the CSCS in Canada is held only twice to thrice a year, and this year there won’t be any schedule near Toronto until June. I want to start my career in the fitness industry and I hope that getting the Canfitpro PTS certification would be the right first step toward my goals.

How to review for the Canfitpro Exam

To review for the course, I borrowed the Foundations of Professional Personal Training book and the study guide from my sister-in-law who is taking up Kinesiology. I am hoping that I’d still be able to dig up some stored knowledge from my 5-year Sports Science degree in the Philippines which was nearly 6 years ago.

Thankfully, some resources can be found in the internet if you search diligently enough. Canfitpro even provides their own sample exam in their website. The best review guide for the Canfitpro Personal Training Specialist exam that I’ve found so far is from www.cram.com. The website contains 202 flashcards for review and also has a sample exam for the written exam. I found the reviewer at cram.com very helpful to prepare me for the 100 points of multiple choices in the canfitpro written exam. You just have to be prepared for a few surprise questions like “#105-What is the meaning of Life?” which I guess were placed strategically to wake you up while reviewing!

canfitpro study guideAs an alternative, you can download a cheaper Study Guide for Foundations of Personal Training at Amazon with free shipping. You can choose to buy a new one if you prefer, or a used one which is around $15 less. In any case, the new one from Amazon is still a bit cheaper compared to ordering from directly from canfitpro. For me, I’m starting to read the Foundations of Professional Personal Training while trying the exam from cram.com once in a while. After reading the book, I’ll start with the study guide.

Hopefully, 3 weeks are enough for me to get ready!

 

UPDATE: I passed my Canfitpro Personal Training Specialist theory exam! Click here for tips for the exam.

I also passed my Practical Evaluation for the Canfitpro – Personal Training Specialist certification. Click here for tips.

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Running is generally a uniplanar activity since the movement occurs mostly in the sagittal plane (moving forward and hopefully not or backward). The muscles that support movement in the transverse and frontal planes are left untrained. Runners should choose a cross-training activity that lets the overworked muscles rest and heal while properly working all the other muscles that are usually underdeveloped. Pilates works the core and the extremities in all body planes that will help runners achieve maximum stability.
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Here are some other reasons why Pilates is good for runners:

  • Pilates is a functional exercise and conditions the whole body through natural and flowing movements. This helps develop a runners coordination.
  • Pilates is a body and mind workout that assists in improving proprioception – knowing where your body and extremities are in space. This is important for runners to keep their balance since the movement in running is done on alternating single leg (imagine balancing on one leg, then alternating between legs at a fast pace). This also helps runners to maintain proper footing especially on uneven surface which would help prevents slips and sprains.
  • The Breathing Principle of Pilates engages the right muscles and would help runners breathe efficiently and maintain correct running posture.
  • Overall stamina will improve as muscular endurance in the abdominals, pelvis, hip, and back increase. This is important especially for long distance runs.
  • Pilates combines strengthening the agonist (contracting) muscle while actively stretching the antagonist (opposite) muscle, which will increase range of motion on joints and improve a runner’s flexibility.
  • Pilates is a diverse exercise that can be very challenging! There’s a widespread misconception that Pilates is only for girls because the exercises are usually done in a mat and doesn’t use dumbbells, and because women usually outnumber the men who practice Pilates. It may be surprising for some to find out that even NFL players do Pilates! The bodyweight resistance component of Pilates is actually what makes it challenging. DeMarcus Ware, a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys said “Power is nothing without a rock-solid core. Pilates is the key to activating it. Guys, don’t be fooled just ’cause women do it. It’s no joke. Try it and you’ll find out real quick.
  • ========== o ==========Many athletes and even Olympians do Pilates as their cross training because of the improvements in strength, flexibility, balance, and control that it offers. Lola Jones, a World Champion Hurdler said “When my core strength is at its peak, I can run more efficiently and maintain that extra edge.

    Also, Lawrence Frank who is the Head Assistant Coach of the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets, with Jason Kidd as the Head Coach at the time of this writing.) said “Pilates [is] an excellent conditioning tool for the NBA. The strength, agility and performance of my players have increased and Pilates has become such an essential part of our workouts that we take a reformer to our away games. I even have a Reformer for my own home use.”

    Leading a Pilates session for Runners.

    Leading a Pilates session for Runners.

    The core training that Pilates offers help improve running efficiency, flexibility, and minimize risk for injury. The dynamic and challenging exercises of Pilates makes it one of the best options for cross-training.
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Pilates Myths

Posted: August 25, 2013 in Pilates
Tags: , , ,

I’m sharing this article named “Top 5 Myths About Pilates” from About.com (I’m reblogging it here so you can read the article without the ads, but you can check the link). Read this to help you understand Pilates more. 🙂

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The increasing popularity of Pilates is a wonderful thing, but like the game Telephone where the meaning of a phrase gets distorted as it is passed along, as word spreads about Pilates, so have some ideas about it that aren’t serving anybody. Here a few of the myths about Pilates that can send Pilates folks into mild hysteria, if not full-on conniptions.


►Myth 1. Pilates is a derivative of yoga.

Ah, this one is causing a gnashing of teeth for both Pilates and yoga practitioners, especially teachers who have students come in thinking that yoga and Pilates are interchangeable. Pilates is not a derivative of yoga. While Joseph Pilates studied many fitness and body/mind disciplines, and may have been exposed to yoga, there is actually no historical evidence that he studied yoga seriously. While Pilates and yoga are very complimentary practices, they are also very different.


►Myth 2. Pilates is just a quick fix for flabby abs.

Well, the truth in this one is that Pilates is a fix for flabby abs. Pilates is well-known for flattening tummys. The reason is that Pilates does focus on working from the core, especially the deeper abdominal muscles. Toning the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles provides stability and freedom of motion throughout the body. This is also one of the reasons that Pilates has been so successful for people who have back pain.

However, Pilates does not stop at abdominal work at all. Structural integration, and learning to create a flexible, strong body that can move freely and efficiently are important goals of Pilates fitness. To this end, Pilates works all body parts in a very balanced way, not just the abs..

The Pilates method is also a practice of mind/body fitness. Developing a body that works as a harmonious whole requires much more than a calisthenic or spot reduction approach to fitness. The Pilates principles – control, centering, concentration, breath, flow, and precision all support an integrative mind/body experience through Pilates exercise.


►Myth 3. Pilates is easy, for wimps.

Hold it while I count to 10, do my breathing exercises, and visualize peace! I’ve been hearing this easy Pilates rumor around lately and it just about sends me into orbit.

I think the idea that Pilates is easy comes from a few places. First, Pilates is very adaptable. It can be easy or very hard, depending on the needs of the individual. The ability to modify exercises for different populations is actually one of the greatest strengths of Pilates. Second, the soaring popularity of Pilates has meant that there are many beginner Pilates classes in practically every gym and studio around the country. This is a good thing, but it also means that people are not necessarily exposed to the intermediate and advanced levels of Pilates. Third, Pilates exercises are often done slowly. There is an emphasis on awareness and control that can make an exercise look easy to the casual observer.

I can think of other reasons that Pilates might seem to be easy. It is a popular form of exercise for pregnant women, it is used in rehabilitation, and people of all ages and sizes can do Pilates. Nevertheless, I assure you that the Pilates method presents ongoing challenges for even the fittest athletes (with whom Pilates is also very popular.


►Myth 4. Pilates is mostly for women.

Pilates has never been “just for women” and its benefits are certainly not gender biased. After all, Pilates was developed by a man, Joseph Pilates, who is said to have been a rather macho man at that. Joe was a gymnast, a boxer, and a military trainer in his early years, and pictures of Pilates even into his eighties, reveal a very strong, fit physique. Men have always played an important role in maintaining the Pilates work and shaping its evolution.

It is true that Pilates is very popular with women, but there is nothing about Pilates that makes it more for women than for men. The adaptability of the Pilates method to different levels of fitness and body types has made Pilates an accessible and effective fitness choice for women. Also, Pilates has attracted a large number of dancers, especially women, and many of them have chosen Pilates as a next career. More women teachers has made Pilates more attractive to women students. Both of these factors may have contributed to a somewhat feminized perception of Pilates. Fortunately, now that the Pilates method is becoming so well accepted in fitness, more men are showing up in studios and training programs.


►Myth 5. Anyone can teach Pilates with a little book and DVD study, or a short workshop.

There is an unfortunate truth in this. Pilates instruction is not regulated at the moment and anybody who wants to can claim to be teaching Pilates. But that’s as far as it goes. Pilates is a sophisticated method of exercise and a qualified instructor will have had a lot of education and apprentice experience.

The education to teach Pilates mat exercises is often just a weekend course, but this should be preceded by extensive time spent as a student. Full Pilates instructor education is much more extensive, requiring the study of anatomy, special populations, teaching skills, and all of the Pilates equipment and mat exercises. Most Pilates instructors have good training, but since the industry is not regulated it is up to the consumer to ask questions and be a discerning student, and the responsibility of prospective instructors to be sure that they have adequate education before teaching a class

Pilates is an exercise method that is starting to gain recognition in the Philippines as people search for alternative ways to get fit apart from just pumping iron in the gym. You may have a vague idea of what it really is, and like some people, associate it with yoga because it’s done on a mat, incorporates breathing techniques, and focuses on flexibility. If you’re a guy, you might have the connotation that this method is reserved for girls since it’s ‘more on stretching‘ and doesn’t use any equipment.

Pilates is developed by a man named Joseph Pilates who was born in 1883 (so it’s a lot ‘younger’ than yoga). His father was an outstanding gymnast, and his mother practiced naturopathy. Joseph Pilates was sickly as a child and suffered ailments such as asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. This did not cause him to be discouraged, but it made him dedicate his life in improving his well being and pursuing fitness. He studied anatomy by himself as he also immersed himself in different physical activities such as skiing, body-building, boxing, yoga, and gymnastics. By age 14, it is said that he had sculpted his physique to such an extent that he poses for anatomy charts!

Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates and Contrology

Joseph Pilates was originally a gymnast, boxer, and circus-performer. He moved to England in 1912 and taught self-defense to police schools and the Scotland Yard. When Britain entered the World War, he was also imprisoned in different internment camps. Despite of the unfortunate turn of event, this was the start of developing his method. During his imprisonment, he taught exercises to his fellow inmates and improvised on techniques. Because of limited resources inside the prison, he disassembled the beds and used the springs for resistance exercises to rehabilitate the injured and sick. Talk about hardcore!

Joseph Pilates doing an exercise for the neck, back, abdominals, and legs.

Joseph Pilates doing an exercise for the neck, back, abdominals, and legs.

A significant effect of following Joseph Pilates’ holistic approach to health was shown during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Crowded internment camps were good breeding grounds for the virus. However, all those who followed his routine survived the epidemic! After the war, he continued teaching police officers and he also worked with dancers and gymnasts. He was asked to train the New German army, but he was disappointed with the social and political condition of his country so he decided to immigrate to New York. On the boat, he met his wife Clara, a nurse. They got married and founded Joseph Pilates’ studio named “Contrology.”

Joseph Pilates doing one of the diverse exercises in Contrology.

Joseph Pilates doing one of the diverse exercises in Contrology.

Joseph Pilates’ method focuses on breathing, proper posture, and rehabilitation of physical ailments. He wrote several books about his method including Your Health published in 1934 and Return to Life Through Contrology published in 1945.  Dancers, gymnasts, physical therapists, and martial artists have benefited from his method.

He trained instructors Romana Kryzanowska and Ron Fletcher, who developed their own methodology (Romana and Fletcher Pilates) since Joseph Pilates doesn’t stick to one way of teaching exercises – he always considers different body types and abilities. Movements from different practices and disciplines have been adapted to Contrology. He even developed exercises that were based from the natural movements that animals do, like the cat stretch, swan dive, and seal. Other exercises have names that people may be familiar with, like the swimming, rolling like a ball, side-bend, cork-screw, jack knife, saw, and boomerang. This makes the exercises easier to remember and understand.

Today, the method continues to improve and evolve. Many techniques are developed and you can find different kinds of exercises based on his method with the addition of modernized equipment, but the main aspects of Contrology are maintained: breathing, proper posture, and balance. To recognize the man behind this holistic approach to fitness and wellness, the method was renamed Pilates.

Pilates is a method developed by a man who was passionate about being fit and achieving control over one’s body. His experience in diverse fields and practices made his method a very dynamic and efficient way to exercise. Pilates helps achieve proper posture and spinal alignment, correct breathing, develop a strong core, and gain flexibility and balance. It trains your body and your mind to work together for a more efficient movement. The exercises require not only muscular strength and endurance, but also focus and concentration. Whether you are a sedentary person or a professional athlete, you are sure to benefit from Pilates.

So if you’re looking for a challenging and holistic workout, Pilates might be for you!

Try Pilates now in your home through this 12 week program!