One realizes how many hours there are in the day when our normal routines are interrupted; working at home, working less hours, or not working at our normal job at all and taking care of others. We spend more time in our home, finding more time for new projects, or simply looking after our homes and our selves. With our local gyms and studios being closed, we all have had to find our fitness routine else where. We schedule time for our stretches, cardio, weight lifting, and the latest body weight exercises. Even after the re-opening of gyms, restaurants and other public spaces and the on going rise in the virus, many of us have elected to forgo those gym visits.
The new now looks like we will continue to take care of our own health and well being outside of the studio or gym. In my opinion, there is no better way to achieve an ultimate workout than with the Pilates reformer. Reformer workouts will give you triple crown results – with cardiovascular, strength and flexibility – all with no undue stress on the joints. Reformers now come in easy to use, lighter weight, yet durable formats ideal for home use.
Not only is it a great workout, it is a great body tune up. Pilates helps restore, align and rejuvenate the body. Like massage, chiropractic, osteopathy or a good physiotherapy appointment, Pilates can help re-balance muscles, relax and release tight muscles and fascia, re-activate weak or poorly functioning muscles, restore alignment of the spine and joints and help establish better overall stability or help our body feel more ‘put together’. You should feel energized and happy, stand a little taller and move more freely after a Pilates session. You should not feel totally exhausted or worn out.
Pilates helps us feel better in our bodies and move well. It can help reduce the natural wear and tear our bodies under go during the demands of our daily routines. Pilates with its focus on deep breath, helps oxygenate and cleanse the body, giving us a sense of being centered and calm. Not only will it build strength, but also relieve tensions.
Like a vehicle that drives better when the tires are aligned, the air pressure is at it’s optimum and the oil and filter have been changed, our bodies function best when our right leg is as strong as the left, when our front strength matches our back strength, when our spine is in proper alignment, when our joints are free to move and when our muscles and ligaments are flexible. The Pilates reformer will help you achieve a more balanced body.
The reformer workout is also ideal for improving our ability to perform sports, especially those rotational activities. Sports such as tennis, golf, hockey, baseball, any activity where one arm throws, shoots or swings, or where we move repetitively in one direction like snowboarding or surfing, can be hard on the body. Repetitive rotational forces can pull on our hips, pelvis, spine (low back and neck) and shoulders causing one side of the body to be different than the other.
For instance one hip or shoulder can become rotated or higher, muscles on one side can become over developed, eventually flexibility can be affected and repetitive injury or strain can result as the body is no longer balanced.
Thus, why sports coaches encourage basketball players to become ambidextrous or shoot with both hands and drive to the hoop going right or left. Snowboarders are encouraged to ride regular and fakie. Surfers learn to surf rights and lefts. We don’t often see a tennis, hockey or baseball player or golfer change hands. We do see though, more and more athletes practicing Pilates.
Reciprocal movements are important for our bodies. Reciprocal movements mean that the left side alternates with the right side mirroring the same actions. Walking, running, bicycling, dance, yoga and Pilates are examples of reciprocal actions. These movements create a natural symmetry of and flow between, the right and left sides of the body and make you feel good. This is why dance or Barre, Pilates and yoga are such popular fitness choices.
The National Academy of Sport and Exercise has recommended a dance based exercise routine for our Kupuna (seniors), as it is a fun, safe and effective reciprocal movement based exercise routine. The Silver and Fit signature series of classes use basic foot work of dance steps with upper body strengthening to get both sides of the body moving reciprocally and provide a cardio and balance challenge. Do not under estimate the power of weight transfers and dance as it is the way to train balance and avoid falls! When I was recovering from an knee ACL repair, I danced or rather shuffled from foot to foot, before I could walk again. Read more about the biomechanics of keeping your feet under you- the key to staying vertical click here.
Developing safe and effective exercise programs for our seniors is becoming a high priority as the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, enter retirement. The majority of growth in our senior population will happen between 2012 and 2030 and by 2060 23.5% of our population or 1 in 5 will be over 65.1 The US Census Bureau reported that 67% of these Boomers say that exercise is a priority.2
1,2, Academy of Sports Medicine. Senior Fitness Specialist. Optimal Performance Training for Seniors (2012).
High impact sports and activities like running, jumping and hiking, especially on those step, unruly trails in Hawaii, can be hard on our feet, ankles, knees and hips and eventually the low back. Years of running or participating in high impact sports can take a toll. Ligaments and tendon injury are common in athletic, active people, older adults and those that perform repetitive movements, click here to learn more about ligament and tendon health. Some aging athletes may not be able to continue with this type of activity through their senior years. That is okay – it takes care and love to create a vintage vehicle!
Like dance, Pilates creates safe, low impact, reciprocal movements to develop greater strength, flexibility and balance, without stress on the joints. The reformer allows variability with different spring settings, to provide a gentle therapeutic workout to a more athletic, intense workout, making it appropriate for different fitness levels. It is done lying, sitting or standing with the reformer. There is a very low risk of falling, plus reformer work will improve overall ability to balance. It is predicted that reformer workouts will continue to grow in demand with our aging population.
Reformer workouts focus us on integrating our breath while contracting the core, shown in the diagram, and other muscles that help keep our spine and joints in an optimal position. This training translates over to our daily lives, helping us move better while performing our daily activities, sports or work. When we practice Pilates with mind-body awareness we develop better memory of joint placement and spinal alignment, we restore normal movement patterns and break faulty ones, helping us reducing the risk of injury or re-injury.
“Change is achieved through movement and movement heals.“
With a mindful Pilates practice, of consciously engaging the core we develop deeper strength and ability to stabilize those parts that sometimes don’t like to stay stable – the pelvis, lumbar spine, cervical spine, rib cage and the scapula. This can help the body turn on the appropriate muscles for the activity. Sometimes we over use certain muscles in actions where that muscle really isn’t required, especially if there is an underlying injury. We must unlearn this or learn to relax and turn off some muscles and activate the desired ones. This is called muscle re-patterning. All of this is why Pilates is a powerful source of therapeutic exercise within the physical rehabilitation industry.
Put Pilates into your daily routine.
Pilates follows a holistic approach addressing the body through it’s exercise routine from head to toe, literally giving you a full body workout. The reformer is made up of a carriage which has four wheels attached to it. The carriage wheels roll on two rails or the frame allowing it to move precisely and smoothly out and in. 5 springs, consisting of a variety of heavy, medium and light tensions, are attached to the bottom of the carriage. These springs can be connected by a hook to the gear bar located under the foot bar. We workout by moving the carriage out and in with resistance from the springs and our own body weight.
Here are a few examples of some basic exercises on the reformer.
Footwork: Here as we straighten our legs, we push the carriage out with our feet pressing against the foot bar and pull it back in with our bending legs and core. We workout in various foot positions – like the different ballet stances or positions. It will strengthen the toes, ankles, calves, knees, quadriceps, hamstrings and hips, plus help stabilize the low back. Get those Hawaiian strong feet! Strong feet equals a strong back and legs.
Feet in the loops Here we move the carriage out and in with our legs as our feet are in loops connected to a rope. The rope is attached to the carriage. It will target mobility of the hip, lengthen and strengthen the hamstrings, strengthen the adductors and quadriceps, plus improve the ability to hold neutral of the lumbar spine and pelvis.
Hands in the loops Here we move the carriage out with our arms. It will increase shoulder, upper back, elbow, wrist mobility and strength. Hands in the loops with a curl up will deeply activate the abdominals integrated with arm and leg extensions.
Lying prone on the long box exercises will open and strengthen your back and arms and lengthen the abdominal wall.
The sitting and standing sideways on the reformer will strengthen your lateral body and core and improve lateral flexion and rotation of the spine.
The kneeling, squat to plank and lunging exercises facing the foot bar will improve strength and endurance of the core, legs, hips and arms, lengthen and strengthen the muscles along the spine, especially the all important psoas muscle, plus will improve knee mechanics and mobility.
People often ask me what this workout feels like. I can compare a reformer workout to swimming, surfing or snowboarding where your entire body becomes completely engaged with the movement. Now, not everyone likes to swim or can snowboard or surf. But everyone can do Pilates on a reformer or a mat. It is safe, efficient, highly beneficial and rejuvenating.
If you are an athlete, a senior or anyone in between and would like to put Pilates into your life, I invite you to contact me, schedule a private or group session. Age gracefully, add life to your years and function with vigor. Do Pilates you will feel and see the difference.
Join our 6 week Beach Pilates Challenge and research project. Participate in 2 Pilates mat classes per week for 6 weeks, complete our wellness survey before your first class and after your 12th class and receive 10% off each class. We are looking at the affects regular Pilates classes have on your sense of wellness and ability to perform your daily activities. Your results will remain anonymous. Collective results will be presented to the Pilates Method Alliance’s annual conference.
Start Pilates with Aloha today, find out for yourself why everyone loves this exercise!
To schedule a class or private session visit Hawaiian Sands Fitness-Pilates Equipment Shop on Vagaro.com by clicking the scheduling button below: