Pilates Mat Class Seattle

Vintage Pilates Video

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Holiday Special! $50 off all Intro Packages!

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Upstretch – Much More Than a Stretch

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Planking is all the rage and with good reason! It strengthens arm, shoulder, abdominal, back, and hip muscles. Want the specifics? Or course you do! The following muscles are utilized during your basic plank when practiced in good form:

  • Transversus abdominis (if you remember to contract it)
  • External obliques
  • Rectus abominus
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Erector spinae
  • Gluteus medius and minimus
  • Anterior deltoids
  • Pectoralis major
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres major and minor
  • Serratus anterior
  • Rhomboids
  • Lower trapezius
  • Biceps brachii
  • Brachialis
  • Triceps

That’s an awful lot of muscles for just one exercise and this is with just a basic plank. Think of all the additional muscles groups that are added as you modify your plank. In the video above I am demonstrating one of my favorite planking exercises called up stretch. As you can see, it is really much more than a stretch!

Can Pilates Help Your Yoga Practice?

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Why yes, it can! Really, Pilates enhances one’s performance of any physical activity or sport. This video is of Dr.Oz performing a classic Sun Salutation flow. Dr.Oz does an overall great job of this invigorating sequence and his coach provides some important reminders like to breathe deep and engage your core. With this said there were some elements of Dr.Oz’s flow that deserved some more detailed feedback. For those of you who have taken Pilates, you will recognize this to be an intrinsic and critical element to any Pilates practice – detail. You can think of Pilates instructors as your anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology geeks of the fitness world. This geekery may cause us to be a little on the type-A side, but the best instructors also teach this attention to detail with creativity and empathy. With this said, here is a critique of Dr.Oz’s Sun Salutation through the eyes of your very own Pilates instructor, moi!

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.40.46 PM

Given the above issues with alignment, here is a list of the corrections that need to be made:

1.      chaturanga dandasana

  • Correction – protract scapulas, pull cervical vertebrae posteriorly as if making a double chin, bend elbows less so they just touch the ribcage.

4.      urdhva mukha – went from dorsiflexion to plantarflexion in both feet simultaneously.

  • Correction – Plantarflex one foot at a time, less general extension to facilitate less lumbar and cervical extension and more thoracic extension.

 

Too little movement or too much food?

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Take a Booster Break!

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booster breakHow do you spend your work breaks?  Do you find yourself munching on M&Ms, smoking a cigarette, or even working more?  A qualitative analysis conducted at the University of Texas investigated the effectiveness of structured work-break activities designed to enhance physical and psychological health.

The study involved 35 subjects across 5 worksites and was conducted over a period of 6 months to one year.   While Booster Breaks may involve physical activity, meditation, and rhythmic breathing, this study focused on using physical activity oriented breaks to reduce sedentary behavior.  Subjects were required to participate in one 15-minute physical activity booster break per work day.  Researchers found three themes among the subjects response:

  • Reduced stress and increased workplace enjoyment.

  • Increased health awareness and facilitate positive behavior changes outside of the workplace.

  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships with coworkers.

Subjects noted two barriers to participation in the interventions:

  • Desire for greater variety in intervention’s activities.

  • Lack of permission, encouragement, and support from managers and supervisors.

To support workplace health promotion, Bodytonic Pilates is now offering 30-minute private sessions!  We hope your bosses support you in creating a healthier, happier, and more efficient workplace.   See our rates page for more pricing details.  For a limited time we will be offering a booster break promotion:

3 30-minute private lessons for $99!

 

References

Taylor W. C., King K. E.,  Shegog R., Paxton R. J., Evans-Hudnall G. L., Rempel D. M., Chen V., Yancey A. K. (2013).  Booster Breaks in the workplace: participants’ perspectives on health-promoting work breaks.  Oxford University Press Health Education Research, 28(3), 414-425.   doi:  10.1093/her/cyt001

 

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PNW Hikes

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summerlandI’ll admit it, when it comes to outdoor exercise I’m a fair-weather friend.  I consider myself, of course with the proper skin protection, much more of a sun bird than a snow bunny.  Yesterday was the most gorgeous spring day I can remember in Seattle with temperatures reaching the mid-80s.  All this sunshine has me really excited for an amazing Pacific Northwest Spring and Summer full of beautiful and temperate, outdoor exercise.  In my enthusiasm, I created a pinterest board of hikes within a 3 hours drive from Seattle and with a minimum roundtrip distance of 5 miles.  All of these hikes feature waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and/or wildflowers.  I guess I’m a sun and water bird!

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The Limitations of “No Pain, No Gain”

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23physed-tmagArticleA New York Times article published on April 23rd, 2014 references a study conducted at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City that investigates the the relationship between neuromuscular activity and perceived as opposed to actual fatigue.  During the study mice were injected with equal amounts of lactate, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and other chemicals.  The scientist found that the neuromuscular response demonstrated in the mice varied depending on how much lactate, ATP, and other chemicals were injected.  Next, the scientist injected the abductor pollis brevis muscle (thumb) of ten humans.  The scientists produced three different dosages of these chemicals to simulate the amounts that would be found in the muscle during moderate exercise, strenuous exercise, and finally muscular exhaustion.  Following the moderate exercise dosage, subjects reported feelings of fatigue, puffiness, and tiredness in their thumbs.  The strenuous dosage was associated with increased fatigue and the onset of slight pains and aches, and the muscular exhaustion dosage was associated with considerable soreness.  The findings as interpreted by NYT reporter, Gretchen Reynolds (2014), suggests that “Each subsequent increase in the levels of lactate and other substances amplifies the sense of fatigue, Dr. Light said, until the substances become so concentrated that they apparently activate a different set of neurons, related to feelings of pain”.  Furthermore the article suggest that working through some levels of fatigue and achiness is associated with improved physical performance, though working through symptoms of pain can cause muscle damage.  Hence the adage “no pain, no gain” is not the wisest strategy to use in improving athletic performance.

I appreciate and agree with Reynolds conclusion that “no pain, no gain” is an antiquated training approach.  She references the original article (which unfortunately was not available in it’s full version on pubmed) and sought out to personally interview a researcher associated with the study, which lends to the article’s credibility.  Though one issue takes away from her credibly; she states that ATP is released during muscular activity, whereas according to sliding filament theory, it is actually hydrolyzed during muscular activity.  In other words, Reynolds suggestion that ATP is released or produced during muscular activity is incorrect, rather ATP is consumed and broken down during muscular activity.

Aside from the details relating to sliding filament theory, I like and appreciate this article.  I believe the attitude “no pain, no gain” has cummulative negative effects on the physical activity levels of communities.  The belief that exercise should be painful not only discourages people from participating in physical activity, it also creates more injuries and prevents people from exercise.  It’s important for people to have healthy and realistic expectations for themselves with regard to athletic performance and understand that experiencing some fatigue and mild to moderate discomfort can improve athletic performance, but acute pain is more frequently associate with damage and injury and will likely impede, if not recede athletic performance and health.

Reynolds, G.  (2014).  The Limit’s of No Pain, No Gain.  The New York Times.  Retieved from: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/with-exercise-the-limits-of-no-pain-no-gain/?partner=rss&emc=rss

 

Exercise and Your Pleasure Center

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09well_physed-tmagArticleYesterday, the New York Times published an article titled “Are you programmed to Enjoy Exercise?”  The article reports on a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia and published by the Journal of Physiology that investigates the genetic and environmental influences that impact the subjects behavior surrounding exercise.  In this study, the subjects were rats who were bred and divided into two subgroups; one group consisted of rats who spent hours on running wheels and the second group consisted of rats that spent zero to little time on running wheels.  The NYT article implies that active rats were hypothesized to produce active offspring and inactive rats were hypothesized to produce inactive offspring.  It was discovered that a portion of the brain called the nucleus accumbens was more developed in the rats who liked to run as opposed to the rats who did not like to run.  The nucleus accumbens is the portion of the brain, sometimes referred to as the “pleasure center” and is associated with motivation, pleasure, and addiction.  Two other noteworthy facts were discovered: 1) regardless of running behavior, the rats who were bred to run had a more developed nucleus accumbens than those rats who were bred for malaise and 2) when the non-running rats were encouraged to exercise on the running wheels, they started to develop more mature neurons in their nucleus accumbens.  In essence, both genetic and environmental factors influenced the rats behavior with regard to physical activity, and specifically the environmental factors may have a long-term influence over genetic factors.

Examples of Rehab-Pilates in action!

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Check out this great video produced by the Pilates Method Alliance featuring their new intiative “Heros in Motion”, which is aimed at the rehabilitation of people with conditions that include, but are not limited to polytrauma, vestibular disorders, prosthetic limb(s) and traumatic brain injury.

 

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