Finding the True “Core” of Fitness: Making Fitness Goals that Matter

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Finding the True “Core” of Fitness: Making Fitness Goals that Matter

By: Estin Holcomb, 2 months into Pilates training

Many of us think of training in terms of sweat equity. In order for a session to be thought of as a “success,” we should be tired, sweaty, hot, and sore. These symptoms equate to a good workout. I believed this for years, until I stepped into a Pilates mat class at Waveforms Pilates.

My transition from typical free weight resistance training and cardio (mainly running) to Pilates was not an easy one at first. I came in thinking the work I saw being done didn’t appear to be work at all. People who were training weren’t panting and out of breath; they weren’t beat red, dripping with sweat.

These physical signs had become my definition of a normal work out.

 

Stepping Into a Pilates Mat Class

 

My first few mat sessions I felt restless and a bit discouraged by the repeated corrections of my poor form and body posture. My trainer would tell me I was done because my technique was being compromised and she didn’t want me to get hurt, even though I felt I could do a lot more.

Estin Pilates Forward Flexion

The truth was my form was bad, my posture was poor, and my supportive muscle groups were weak. I had decent abdominal definition but my internal core muscles were weak and my low back was suffering as result. When we continue because we think we can do more, it can result in overuse injury, joint problems, cramping, or worse. This was a stark difference from the kind of exercise I was used to.

 

Setting Realistic Goals for Holistic Health

 

As my trainer worked with me my mindset started to change to focus on fitness goals that would increase the overall functionality of my body and improve my sense of well being. I noticed I feel taller and my limbs longer. I’m more flexible; I can bend over and touch my toes, twist and rotate my upper body from side to side, and tension I used to carry in my neck and shoulders has subsided. Most notable, I no longer experience muscle cramps through my shoulder and chest when I run.

img_4124Continuing Body Weight Pilates Training

 

Pilates resistance training focuses on form first, then builds strength and flexibility. Techniques are done slow and controlled. Through this transition, I feel like I’ve worked out without being beaten down and in pain the next day. This is making me more efficient when I train and leaving me with energy for my next session.

 

I am very excited to see what the future holds with my continued training. The beginning stages of a Pilates journey are full of exploration and discovery. For me thus far, redefining my idea of a work out has been beneficial for my overall health and training plan. It’s clear this redefinition has and will continue to be beneficial for my physical accomplishments going forward.


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Pilates, More Than Just Mat (Beyond the Mat: How We Use Equipment for Resistance Training)

Resistance Training with Pilates Equipment

By: Courtney Holcomb, Certified Pilates Trainer, Waveforms Pilates

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Pilates, in the early Millennium, was often depicted in the media as housewives doing high-kicks while lying on their side.  Thank you Denise Austin!

While there is Pilates mat work like her style, it is a small piece of the school of Pilates.  When I explain Pilates, people often tell me they had no idea there is equipment available.

Many people are familiar with the small pieces of equipment used to complement a mat class – such as rings, balls, foam rollers, and hand weights. They’re less familiar, however, with the large pieces of equipment used in Pilates.

Don’t Worry…Looks Can Be Deceiving

Pilates equipment can appear to be quite intimidating and almost appear torturous.  It is the exact opposite!  People love the way it feels to move with the equipment and to experience the smooth and relaxed range of motion. Here’s a bit more insight to break down that barrier.

What Is Pilates Equipment?

Joseph Pilates, father of the Pilates Method, invented and patented over two-dozen pieces of exercise equipment.  Not meant to replace mat work, equipment training serves as a great complement to mat classes.  Some of the most common pieces of larger Pilates equipment include: the Universal Reformer, Wunda Chair, and the Trapeze Table/Cadillac.

In some cases, the equipment provides some precursory exercises to help you build strength for advanced mat work.  In other cases, the equipment exercises make similar mat exercises more challenging by adding resistance.

“I invented all these machines… it resists your movements in just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it. That way you can concentrate on movement. You must always do it slowly and smoothly. Then your whole body is in it.” – Joseph Pilates

 

How Does the Equipment Work?

 

Increased Resistance Training with Springs

Pilates is resistance training, just like weight lifting.  The main difference is that Pilates equipment primarily uses springs as the source of resistance instead of dumbbells or cable weights.  Springs need the user to maintain fluid range of motimg_3767ion from the beginning to end of an exercise.  If you try to “jerk” the range, or use momentum for exertion, the machine won’t function properly – so there’s no cheating! The springs also help you control both the flexion and the extension range, allowing you to use the fullest range of your muscles.

This fluid control causes the muscle to also be stretched during the exercise, which improves flexibility and overall strength.  Resistance can also be increased or decreased based on how many springs you attach and where you attach them.  Not to mention, springs help trigger your deep core muscles as you negotiate finding balance and stability.

Closed-Chain Exercises & Pulleys

Working with the springs and pulleys associated with some Pilates equipment, you are able to perform more closed-chain kinetic exercises.  Closed-chain exercises increase the force on the joint to increase stability.  Closing off the kinetic chain by having a grounding point, helps protect connective cartilage and the joint itself.  These types of exercises also work multiple muscles and joints at a time, making them very efficient.

Anyone who has experienced an injury, in conjunction with, and post physical therapy, working in a closed-chain manner is safer. Other populations that benefit from this type of execise include: those with osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, hypermobility of joints, muscle weakness, and middle-aged to older adults.img_3766

The equipment helps to train and reinforce symmetry in body, by working with even force on both sides.  For example, placing both hands in separate equal-length straps, you must press with even force with both arms in order to move the machine.

Using Gravity and Body weight for Resistance

The higher off the ground you are, the greater the effect gravity has on your body.  With the Pilates equipment raising you off the floor, you experience more natural resistance from gravity.  Just like with mat work, most exercises incorporate body weight resistance and gravitational forces.

Versatility of Pilates Equipment

 

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The Universal Pilates Reformer

Working the Body in All Positions

Exercises on the Pilates equipment mimic movement actions that you use in daily life.  This makes the exercises applicable and practical outside of the gym.  The equipment can be used seated, lying down, kneeling, standing, side-lying, flexing forward, curving backwards, and rotating.  Any possible position you could find yourself throughout the day, there is an exercise for it!  This creates a full-body workout every time and provides functional fitness.

Incorporating Pilates Equipment Training with Physical Therapy

Joseph Pilates made his first piece of equipment working with wounded soldiers by taking two springs from under their cots and attaching them to the bed frame with a pole.  If someone had a leg injury, there is no reason they couldn’t work their upper body!

Many people use time on Pilates equipment for post-physical therapy work, or in conjunction with their physical therapy.  Many special populations such as people with osteoporosis, hip replacements, MS, pregnant women, and people with scoliosis, to name a few, are able to utilize Pilates equipment to perform safe exercises and stay in shape.

Exercises for All Populations

Don’t be fooled though, the equipment can give a vigorous workout!  It’s not just for rehabilitation.  Professional athletes all over the world use Pilates equipment to help with injury prevention, alignment, flexibility, core, and overall strength.  The possibilities truly are endless.  There are modifications to make each exercise more or less challenging based on the client’s abilities and goals.

 

Feel The Pilates Resistance Difference!

 

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The Pilates Chair

The best way to understand the difference between traditional resistance training and Pilates resistance training is to feel the difference!

Pilates equipment trains the whole body instead of individual parts, making for a complete full-body workout every time.  The resistance is smooth and demands control from start to finish to create a fullest range for the muscle.  The fluid sensation created from the springs provides stretch and strength to the body and gives support for the joints.

Sign-up for a session to feel the difference today!

waveforms@yandex.com

(920)740-3085