Shape Up for Summer: Get the most out of your Cardio!!

woman-runningSo we’ve talked so far about shaping your arms, your abs and waistline for summer, but the main ingredient to this Shape Up for Summer Recipe is CARDIO!!!!  Despite the hours you may put in toning your body and sculpting your muscles, if you do not burn the fat that might surround them, YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR BEAUTIFUL MUSCLES!!!!  At our Pilates studio, we encourage our clients to cross train with cardio, to the extent that we have cardio equipment in the studio and offer CARDIOLATES® classes so that more cardiosvascular exercise may be integrated into a Pilates workout routine.  However, success with cardio exercise depends on many factors other than the type of cardio fitness plan that you choose.

cardio-dvdSuccess with a cardio routine depends on three factors:  frequency (how many times per week), duration (how many minutes) and intensity (degree of difficulty), and they are all interrelated.  For example, a cardio routine that is of super high intensity may be sustainable for as long a duration as something that is of moderate intensity.  And there is also the enjoyment factor!  For example, something like climbing stairs is VERY intense, burning up to 150 calories in ten minutes for someone my size (click here for more information); however, if you loathe climbing stairs and cringe at the sight of a stairmaster, you may not be likely to stay on the stairmaster for a sufficient duration to see great results.  On top of that, torturing yourself with cardio you hate will likely make you feel justified in skipping your workout the next day (frequency).  However, if you love walking, even though it burns less calories when compared with that of other, more high intensity choices, you will most likely increase both the frequency and duration of your workouts, burning more calories over the long term.  Some of our clients over the years who are the tiniest are the ones who walk all the time!!!

Plan your cardio routines over a week, not each day, so that you give yourself some leeway.  Don’t worry about having to burn 500 calories in a single workout session, especially if you know that you typically can only squeeze that killer workout in twice a week.  Wouldn’t it be better to do something that burns only 300 calories, but actually has you doing it 4-5 times per week?  That’s a net gain of 200-500 calories per week.  And everything adds up.  EVERYTHING!  So, find a form of cardio that you love to do, because then you’ll do it!!

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured, and that goes for cardio, too!!!

New CARDIOLATES® workouts will be up on www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com next week!!!

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May 4, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Can Pilates help reduce cellulite?

small-ball-toning-workoutThough Pilates was designed to re-align the body and re-balance muscle groups, many people — namely women — use Pilates for vanity!  From sculpted arms to toned abs to tighter hips and buttocks, Pilates definitely helps prepare the body for bikini weather!

But many people seek to “spot tone” and accomplish cellulite reduction in specific areas.  At our New York studio, second only to questions about weight loss, women ask “will my cellulite go away?”  Unfortunately, spot toning is not possible with Pilates or any other exercise system.  Cellulite reduction occurs only with fat loss.

Factors that contribute to one’s susceptibility to cellulite development are gender, race, age and body composition.  Women are more prone to cellulite development than men.  This is due to structural differences in the connective tissue that lie below the skin in men and women.  If you think of connective tissue as fish net stockings lying under the top layer of skin, men have smaller squares per inch in their fish net stockings, and the “netting” is thicker and lies more horizontal to the skin’s surface.  On the other hand, in women, the squares are larger, the netting is thinner and the strands of the netting lie vertical to the skin’s surface.  Thus, more fat breaks through the squares and produces the dimpling effect on the skin’s surface.

Moreover, studies have shown that caucasian women are more susceptible to cellulite development, whereas African American and Asian women are less susceptible.  Just as darker skin tones — those with more melanin — display a stronger resistance to UV rays, so to do darker skin tones show more resistance to cellulite development.  As the levels of melanin, and thus skin tones, can vary greatly among caucasians, an individual’s susceptibility to cellulite development will depend on genetic make-up.  The more an individual tans naturally, the more melanin in their body, and the more resistant to cellulite development they naturally are.  Redheads with blue eyes have the least amount of melanin in their bodies, while African American women with dark eyes have the most.

Next, the natural process of aging causes a decrease in firmness of the skin.  The older one is, the more susceptible they are to cellulite development.  Research indicates that most women start noticing cellulite most after the age of thirty.  This should not be new information to anyone, as wrinkles start to appear “suddenly” after age 30 as well.

Finally, body composition plays a part in cellulite development.  Bodies with a lower body fat percentage will be less susceptible to cellulite because the fat simply is not there!  Increasing your body’s lean mass (or increasing muscle tone) will not only help that percentage, but also increase the body’s metabolism, or capacity to burn more calories, even when the body is at rest.

Pilates helps increase muscle tone, so in a very indirect way, yes, Pilates can help.  But if your goal is to rid yourself of unsightly cellulite, you must do more than Pilates.  Both engaging in cardiovascular activity and consuming a sensible diet are key components that can not be overlooked.  As you know, we recommend CARDIOLATES, but any physical activity that elevates the heart rate is effective.

Losing overall body fat and increasing overall muscle tone will help you lose the unwanted cellulite!  So keep up with your Pilates, take a brisk walk a day and watch what you eat!

April 7, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.