Pilates Reformer Sessions and What I Learned From It

photo by: Balanced Body Video

I finished up my Pilates reformer private sessions and I enjoyed them, much to my surprise. I had never been a huge fan of Pilates, I’ve taken mat classes here and there over the years. They never excited me enough to go regularly but injuries and insistence, uh I mean encouragement, from my cousin had me give it another shot.

Theses sessions had me working hard and they were an eye opener. It’s always humbling to start a new exercise and realize that even though you’re in good shape there are things you need to improve. I was aware that I had imbalances but this definitely highlighted where my strengths and weaknesses lie.

I would not say my core is my strongest part of my body but it has gotten stronger with a variety of core targeted exercises and mat Pilates classes. The reformer sessions really took things up a level and I can see why people get hooked. I was also able to try the Pilates chair and have signed up for small group classes so I can keep working on my imbalances and strengthen my core.

I noticed that it helps in my running, I can feel my glutes engaging more as I run. Before I run I add in a set of marching bridges to my warm up to fire up my glutes. Having a stronger core also helps with my running form and makes breathing easier. Gotta love that.

In general it helps more with my posture, both in daily life and while working out. I sit at a computer for large chunks of time where I slouch and hunch over. This causes tight hip flexors and lower back pain. It’s been a while since I haven’t had back or hip pain, I’m working on changing that.

As with most classes I do recommend taking one with a live teacher before you do dvd or on-demand class. They can help you adjust your posture and do the moves safely and correctly. For instance, I tend to hike up my hip in Warrior III, which can exacerbate the imbalances and add to injury. Now that I know this I am much more aware when I practice on my own.

What new exercise have you tried lately? Did you like or dislike it?

Are you fan of Pilates?

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When Water Isn’t Enough After Working Out

I have been taking a particularly tough spin class twice a week. Once a week I take a Pilates mat class directly after. I have about 5 minutes to change my top, grab water, and get to the next class. Because I sweat a lot I add an electrolyte drink tablet to my water. It’s been noticed and I have been asked about it by a few women in both of my classes.

We often hear that you don’t need a sport drink when working out for an hour or less. While I do believe that in general there are cases where water alone is not enough. If you are working out hard for an hour and see salt streaks on your skin you probably need to replenish your electrolytes.

There are various options including coconut water or enhanced flavored waters. I use the electrolyte tablets for the sake of convenience, I keep a tube in my gym bag so I can just pop one into my water bottle as needed. I also like that there isn’t added sugar with these. I do prefer a sport drink when running distance but don’t find that I need it for a spin class.

Replenishing what you lose during class without taking in more calories than you spent is key. I see people sipping a sugary sport drink when doing moderate weight lifting and it’s just not necessary. In that case, water will work just fine. If you aren’t a fan of the taste add in a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange to give it a bit of flavor.

Occasionally I will eat half an energy bar in between classes or the whole thing if I didn’t have time for breakfast. I choose one that’s a mix of nuts and fruit. Fruit gives you the quick sugar energy burst and nuts provide a longer term energy with a mix of healthy fats and protein. I stick to bars with ingredients I can identify and are lower in sugar. ( for reference: 4g of sugar is a teaspoon).

Your body works optimally when you fuel it properly. While different eating plans work for different people, clean nutritious choices are a win no matter what dietary plan you follow.

Do you need help figuring out what foods work best for your body and lifestyle? Email me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com to see how I can help you find that happy spot.

Fit Not Thin and What Are We Telling Our Kids?

The other day in the gym one girl told another she used to hate her thighs. Now I hear this self loathing talk fairly often but this young woman was maybe a freshman in college, but more likely in high school. Both women wore shorts and sleeveless shirts so it was easy to see they were both athletic and fit looking. The positive note was that she used to hate her thighs because they were muscular.

Recently a woman asked me if my thighs got bigger from running and spin class. She wouldn’t attend spin since someone told her it would make her thighs bigger. Another well-meaning relative told me not to do a workout by a popular fitness instructor because she had big thighs and I was sure to get them as well.

My thighs did not get big from doing the workout video nor did they get big from spin class or running. They did tone up quite a bit and I have more muscle definition. I don’t consider that a bad thing, it’s nice to see the results of hard work.

That  young woman and I both have the same thought: our bodies can do amazing things. These legs have run over a dozen half-marathons, hours of running practice, 5Ks, 10Ks, and cycled hundreds of miles. I can squat, lunge, and dead lift weights.It makes every day life, such as picking up a child, dog, or groceries, a heck of a lot easier. It’s also empowering.

Which is the gist of what I told my niece when she was 8 and said to me, “look how big my legs get when I sit down.” At 8 years old! After showing her that everyone’s legs did that we talked about what she liked to do and how being strong helped her accomplish that.

Which leads me to wonder what messages we’re sending to those around us, including children and teens. Would you rather they viewed themselves as strong, fit, healthy, and capable or as slaves to the scale and worried about looking too big? Do you express verbally or non-verbally unhappiness with your weight or your body? Kids notice this and mimic that behavior.

It helps to talk positively about what you like about yourself. Praise your kids for what they accomplish and the effort they put in, rather than focusing on how they look.

What makes you feel fit and healthy? What do you like about yourself?

Need help with eating in a way that supports you and your lifestyle? One where you can feel fit and healthy? Email me at janinemchale@gmail.com to see how I can help you.