Extending Your Way to Better Posture

Modern technologies like cell phones and computers have certainly made our lives easier, but they’ve also wreaked havoc on our postures! Sharing that selfie on Instagram may keep you connected with your friends, but did you know that hunching over a phone brings the head into a forward flexion, and adds up to 50 pounds of extra strain on the neck? It also puts stress on the internal organs, and can reduce vital lung capacity by 30%.

Of course, no one is suggesting you give up your technology! Extension exercises, like those in our Pumped Up Pilates Mat classes, are a great way to counteract the negative effects of too much forward flexion. Pilates exercises such as Swan, Swimming, Hanging Back, and Breaststroke focus on strengthening the spinal extensors and maintaining muscle balance to keep the spine in its ideal position.

As with any exercise program, care needs to be taken when doing these extension exercises, to avoid lower back injury. Pulling the lower abdominals upward helps to stabilize the lower back and keeps the focus on strengthening the upper back muscles, both of which help to prevent or correct the slouched posture that can come from spending long hours hunched over computers and phones.  

Sign up for a Pumped Up Pilates Mat class or a private session to begin strengthening your posture for your health!

TRX Burns Big!

By: Emma Aguirre, TRX Coordinator

ACE, the American Council on Exercise, concluded in a recent study that not only does TRX burn significant calories as well as build strength, flexibility as well as injury prevention, it also can shave inches off your waist line and bring down that body fat. 

Sixteen healthy men and women took part in the study, one of the first of its kind. Researchers from the Western State Colorado University and ACE wanted to determine the effectiveness of an eight-week TRX program on its own, and how that might other aspects of exercise. Participants attended three, 60 minute TRX classes for eight weeks, and the results speak for themselves. 

Researchers considered the majority of the class time featured “vigorous intensity” exercise, and that the class burned an average of 400 calories. This is considered on the higher end of energy expenditure goal set out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The Metabolic Equivalent (MET), also developed by ACSM, was 5.81 on a scale between 3-6, defined as moderate intensity exercise. 

Participant lost almost 2% body fat and about 1.5 inches from their waist on the program, and dramatic changes were also seen in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Ultimately, participants got faster, got leaner and could lift more weight. 

Join one of our TRX classes today to take your workout to the next level! 

Get The Most Out of Your Pilates Practice

Six Things to Focus on During Your Next Pilates Class

 

Centering

In Pilates all movements originate from the center of the body- what Joseph Pilates referred to as the powerhouse. The powerhouse includes the muscles from the bottom of your ribs down to the bottom of your pelvis. When the powerhouse is strengthened it creates the foundation for all other movements. During your next Pilates class take a deep breath and when you exhale imagine that you are wearing a tight corset. This will help you stay connected and centered through your trunk. 

 

Concentration

Pilates is not a form of exercise where you get to mentally check out for an hour. Pilates demands your attention and concentration. Joseph Pilates was adamant about conscious control over the muscles. It is important to bring this awareness and mindfulness into daily life for more effective movements. 

 

Control

Pilates focuses on control over the body and mind. If you feel yourself using momentum to get through an exercise, slow yourself down and focus on having control of the muscles used to perform that exercise. 

 

Precision

Pilates exercises are meant to be performed with precision and attention to detail. Each exercise should be performed with purpose, alignment and correct form. When you are in class pay close attention to your instructor’s cues to make sure you are performing the exercise properly! 

 

Breath

Joseph Pilates believed that, "before any real benefit can be derived from physical exercise, one must first learn how to breathe properly. Our very life depends on it". Proper breathing ensures that you have enough blood flowing to the muscles that you are using. Want to practice effective breathing? The Pilates 100 is a great exercise to get you breathing deeply! 

 

Flow

Grace. Ease. Fluidity. Pilates exercises should not feel robotic. Pilates exercises should always feel smooth and dynamic. 

Join one of our Pilates classes today!

Celebrate March MATness 2017!

By: Kim Burgoon-Luchs

It’s time for… March MATness! Started by Benjamin Degenhardt, March MATness is a social media campaign that pays respect to the traditional Mat exercises as Joseph Pilates described in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology. Joseph Pilates believed in doing at least a few minutes of constructive exercise every day, and this campaign is a great way to discover, or rediscover, the benefits of Pilates.

Each day corresponds to an exercise (or sometimes 2 exercises), and is presented in the original order. For the full list, check out marchmatness.com/join-the- movement.

You can participate by posting a picture, video, drawing, etc. to social media with the exercise hashtag on the day assigned to the exercise as well as the hashtag #marchmatness2017. Feel free to go through the list and skip the ones that are beyond your level. Also, you can celebrate March MATness by taking Pumped Up Pilates Mat classes at Happy Belly Studios.

Check out our schedule for Pilates Mat classes here. 

An Introduction to TRX Suspension Training

By: Emma Aguirre, TRX Coordinator
Photo Credit: Grace Laird Photography

The fitness business is filled with of buzz words and terms geared to get members and clients excited HIIT, core, post workout burn, muscle confusion, strengthening vs toning, fat-burning zone, macro dieting…it can all be a little overwhelming. Functional training is one of those words, the difference? It works. 

Our goal with the TRX suspension training program at Happy Belly Studios is to create a workout that emphasizes fitness gained from exercise into everyday movement and sport activities, i.e.  functional training. Therefore, bending to take groceries out of your car, or lifting your little one, or even sitting at a desk all day, should become easier and less stressful on your body utilizing the TRX program. 

Traditional machine-based strength training focuses on isolating muscles, whereas functional training through TRX, the body operates as one coordinated system, blurring the lines between stability, movement, flexibility, strength, power and cardio.  We are ALL CORE, ALL THE TIME! TRX covers all the bases using your own body weight as well as a few key principles; vector (angle from the anchor), stability (base of support) and pendulum (assist or resist the starting position), allowing you to find your own challenge point.

Join one of our TRX classes today to take your workout to the next level! 

How to Work Smarter with Pilates

It's not just about sharing juice recipes and stretching in patterned spandex, although we all wish that was the case! Pilates is about a lot more. The benefits of Pilates and yoga go way beyond the studio, popping up to guide you through that 8am meeting right up until that 3pm deadline. Pilates and yoga teach you the following benefits to improve your work life: 

1. How to focus: Just 10 weeks of Pilates practice has been linked to improved brain function, can improve your focus and help you process information faster. Posture practices are effective for concentrating and drowning out other distractions. 

2. How to sit smarter: Text neck is a real thing! Pilates improves your posture and the strength of your core and back, which makes sitting more comfortable. Solid posture is also linked with more efficient breathing, fewer headaches, and less stress, which - in my opinion - is one of the best benefits of Pilates and yoga there is. You can strengthen your lower back at home through superman holds, use dolphin planks to build up your core and get a really good back and shoulder stretch with upward facing dog. 

3. How to chill out: As far as stress boosters go, yoga and Pilates have proven to be the brain's natural anti-anxiety drug of choice. Yoga has been linked to a boost in mood and reduced anxiety, thanks in part to an increase in Gaba receptors (neurotransmitters linked to stress relief) in the brain. Meanwhile research shows the mindfulness techniques used in Pilates have been linked to lower stress and improve sleeping habits. 

4. How to breathe through a situation: Breathing is, thankfully, one of those automatic functions done without thinking. But there are times when focusing on your breath (and not holding it) can serve you well. In both Pilates and yoga, both breath awareness and intentional practices (like a long exhale) make practicing controlled breathing in real life a no brainer.

5. How to focus in the moment and forget about your day: When I focus in the moment during my class, my to-do list melts away. Students are in that room - both physically and mentally and when the workout is over, students are refreshed, relaxed, reinvigorated and most of all DE-STRESSED! 

Start living the benefits of Pilates and yoga today! Become a Founding Member, only $199/month.

 

8 Ways To Stay Fit While Traveling

Our normal routines get completely thrown out the window when traveling and staying true to your fitness routine on the road may be the last thing on your mind as you negotiate the airport or highways this holiday season. Exercise, however, could be your best defense against holiday stress, illness and the dreaded holiday weight gain. 

The best exercises are often ones you can do with your own body, you can leave your dumbbells and weight resistance bands at home. Here are 8 tips to stay fit while traveling: 

1. Exercise needs to become your constant while traveling. Make a commitment to yourself that you will find 20 minutes every other day to exercise - NO EXCUSES! 

2. Work out where you can. You might have a decent hotel room, you might need to do lunges in your mother's hallway, or maybe you can find a park or school playground somewhere. Turn any environment into your personal gym. 

3. On travel day pack some healthy snacks with you in your bag. Apples and almonds are my go-to.

4. If you're going out to eat, find the restaurant online and decide what you're having before you get to the restaurant. Stick to high protein and veggie options. Doesn't hurt to ask for double veggies on the side. 

5. Ask around the neighborhood for a nearby boutique gym or studio that takes walk ins and join in on a class or two. 

6. Go on walks. Walking is a great form of aerobic exercise almost anyone can do anywhere. If you're driving take the rest stops at parks or near a trailhead, and take a brief walk before hitting the road again. 

7. Wear comfy sneakers to the airport and get your steps in. Walk instead of taking the shuttle or moving sidewalks. 

8. Yoga is a great way to stretch after a long and cramped flight. Some airports offer yoga or meditation rooms to help you create your moment of zen. 

If you follow these few tips and understand the importance of keeping up your regular routine even while traveling, you'll be able to come back without skipping a beat. We are creatures of habit at the end of the day. Add a workout to your calendar, set up an appointment reminder, do whatever it takes, but don't take no for an answer. 

Happy Holidays! 

Real Men Do Pilates

LADIES, stop what you're doing, grab your man and start reading! 

To my loving husband who refuses to go to my pilates classes with me,

There's a reason why your wife can't get enough of her pilates classes. Whether you're a power lifter, a golfer, a swimmer or even a marathon wannabe, a pilates class can help fine-tune your performance, even in the bedroom! ;)

Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates, a MAN. Pilates was a boxer and gymnast who trained military personnel. Pilates was first created as a workout to help wounded soldiers with limited mobility rehab from their hospital beds. Today, Pilates is for a number of male professional athletes, including LeBron James. Pilates will leave you feeling challenged, refreshed, leaner and longer, without feeling the draining side effects weight training and other "manly" exercises have on your body the next day. 

1. Pilates helps you develop new muscles. Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others. Pilates focuses on your neglected muscles - muscles that don't get a lot of attention.

2. Pilates helps improve your flexibility. Fact, the more muscle mass you have the less flexible you are. Stretching helps prevent injuries, negates muscle strain and increases your range of motion. 

3. Pilates helps build core strength. Every Pilates exercise utilizes your core to power movement to your limbs, specifically your transverse abdominals (that base ab muscle under your six pack). 

4. Pilates improves your golf swing. Sometimes the key to a better swing isn't on the green, but on the reformer. Pilates has been proven to help golfers hit the ball in a straighter direction, hit the ball more accurately and even further distances.

5. Pilates improves your sex life. As mentioned above, Pilates helps strengthen your core but also helps strengthen your pubococcygeus (PC muscle). In other words, you'll have greater control over your pelvic region - need I say more?!

So there ya have it. Pilates can get you better sex, a better golf swing, builds out your core, improves your flexibility and helps develop new muscles. Real men do Pilates. I encourage you to try a reformer class on us to discover what real strength feels like. 

Get moving today! Use promocode movember2016 at check out. Click here to sign up. 

 

 

 

 

School + Schedule = Time for Fitness

School + Schedule = Time for Fitness

This week the kids headed back to school and whether you were the mom that cried in the parking lot or the mom the popped some bubbly to celebrate it's impossible to deny this school year brings with it a flurry of activities and with that less "me" time.

Below are tips to maximize your time and energy this school year and be the fittest and healthiest mom you can be! Tips apply for all working moms, homeschool moms, wannabe trophy wives and ordinary women just like me! 

Teaching Privates made me a better person.

Teaching Privates made me a better person.

How teaching privates made me a better overall person and a more well round teacher.

I thought I knew alot about teaching. I had been a teaching since I was very young, starting at the  Ymca, then a captain of my soccer team and dance team, and then on to dance for the Milwaukee Bucks.  Movement was a way of life.  But I didn't know anything until I started teaching privates.

Massage: Get in touch with it's many benefits

Massage: Get in touch with it's many benefits

Massage can be a powerful tool to take charge of your health and well being. With every touch, the benefits of massage go much deeper than rest and relaxation. In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body's natural ability to heal itself. 

So what exactly are the benefits to receiving massages on a regular basis? 

Kids Mindfulness

Kids Mindfulness

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which means that classrooms everywhere are exploring the ways fitness can cultivate healthier, happier, and more productive students.   On a recent trip to the Brightwood Education Campus in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Education (ED) observed an entire student body committed to mind-body awareness and health. Many schools around the country and beyond have already incorporated yoga and meditation into their curriculum, so this news might seem old hat for those of us in the mindful community. But how often does the Department of Ed actually drop by these mindful classrooms and experience the effects first-hand?

“Consistency” Wins The Race

“Consistency” Wins The Race

Committing to a fitness regiment doesn’t mean running for five miles on one day only to avoid exercising for the next two weeks. Committing to a fitness regiment means mapping out a plan that can be done, and yes you’re going to hear me say this word a lot, a plan that can be done “consistently.” 

Creating a workout plan will help you achieve greater consistency and improve your overall health and well being. 

Aromatherapy for Perfect Balance in Every Season

Aromatherapy for Perfect Balance in Every Season

Aromatherapy, in the form of floral and herbal extracts and incense, has always been an integral aspect of ayurvedic healing. From sandalwood incense to enhance the benefits of meditation to water infused with holy basil for purifying the environment, aromas have been a pleasant way to infuse the human psycho-physiology with the healing wisdom of plants.

Cuddling, A Springboard for Deep Relaxation and Transformation

I am usually shocked when a person tells me they were not shown affection as a child growing up. When someone tells me they were never touched or hugged by their parent, I shutter. I shutter because as a Holistic Practitioner and Intuitive Healer, I know what happens when a child is not shown physical affection by their parents. Our source relationships (parental connections) set the programming for how we live the rest of our lives. That does not mean our life path is set in stone, we can ALWAYS change our programming. However, some programs are more difficult to change than others and the ones that involve physical abuse and/or neglect can be some of the most difficult programs to change.

 

In his book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, David J. Linden says, “Child-rearing advice of the 1920’s from the psychologist John B. Watson (the founder of psychological movement called Behaviorism) cautioned parents about spoiling their children with physical affection: “Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them. Never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task.” 

 

This was in the 1920’s, so anyone that subscribed to this philosophy when raising young children, would have raised children that did not know what it was like to be touched or shown physical affection, possibly resulting in mild to severe disorders in their human development.

 

In Touch, David Linden goes on to say, “…when deprived newborns of social touch, as occurred in grossly understaffed Romanian orphanages in the 1980s and 1990s, disaster unfolded: Growth is slowed, compulsive rocking and other self-soothing behaviors emerge, and, if not rectified, emergent disorders of mood, cognition, and self-control can persist through adulthood.” After only an hour per day of touch and limb manipulation from a caregiver, these debilitating problems can be circumvented if applied early enough in life.

 

Simply put, touch is a necessity for human development.

 

Cuddle therapy is becoming widely popular all over the world for the reasons previously mentioned and for the research that is being done worldwide. Researchers at the Metropolitan University in England found cuddling lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and generally combats stress. The study also found a third of the population receives no hugs on a daily basis, but 75% want more. Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that couples that hugged for prolonged periods had higher levels of oxytocin -- the so called "cuddle hormone." Oxytocin creates feelings of calmness, eases depression, and reduces stress.

 

Cuddle sessions cannot be mistaken for anything other than cuddling. Cuddle space is non-sexual space.  Clothing stays on at all times. Establishing boundaries and open communication are essential for creating a space conducive to emotional healing and relaxation.

 

So, what if someone gets aroused while cuddling? Arousal is a natural physiological response and much like a meditation, just because we have an itch, does not mean we must scratch. Changing positions and/or taking a break is sometimes helpful in this situation.   

 

Being held in a safe, relaxing, open, and honest environment could help to begin the healing process. It allows us to be vulnerable and therein lays tremendous strength. In our patriarchal society we have been taught that weakness and vulnerability are synonymous. Many men (and women) do not allow themselves to cry, fail, hurt, grieve, or show emotion of any kind. There is now a safe place to do that. 

-Brandy D.

Join us Sunday February 14th for our Cuddle workshop.  Details can be found at www.happybellystudios.com or by emailing Info@happybellystudios.com