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.

Pilates and weight loss, part 4

runningAs the last article in our series about Pilates and weight loss, we will explore cardiovascular conditioning, the most important element in any fitness regime.

Cardiovascular conditioning not only helps maintain a healthy weight, but also strengthens the most important muscle in the body:  the heart!  If the heart is not strong and conditioned, the flattest abs, the most flexible spine and the tightest buns in the world will not make a difference.  Physicians administer a “stress test” to determine one’s fitness level and will not care about a perfect “Teaser” or “Roll Up“!

The American Heart Association recommends adults ages 18-65 engage in 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week to maintain heart health.  Moderate activity means the heart rate is noticeably higher than it is at rest, but a conversation can still be maintained.  Also, the 30 minutes of exercise do not have to be performed consecutively.  Incremental exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the dog, vacuuming or raking leaves can all add up to your 30 minutes. For more guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, click here.

cardiolates-11Our favorite cardiovascular activity is CARDIOLATES, which we developed to integrate the alignment principles of Pilates with the physiological and cardiovascular benefits of rebounding.  We had noticed in our own bodies that as the years rolled by, we were getting “softer” with the same workout regime (“softer” is a nice way of saying fat was increasing and lean body mass was decreasing), and we needed to add in more cardio to avoid what many consider inevitable weight gain over the years.  Yet our bodies were no longer able to endure the impact of running, aerobics and other common cardio activities.  Because the mat of the rebounder absorbs 87% of the shock to the joints, we could rebound without knee, hip and low back pain.  The CARDIOLATES technique encourages rebounding in as close to ideal or “neutral” alignment as possible, so you can apply these principles to a brisk walk as well.

When starting out with cardiovascular activity, be sure to take it slow and work up to 30 minutes if necessary.  Walking is absolutely free, so a great way to start is walking around your neighborhood so you have an exit strategy!  Shopping malls can be great places to walk too, but resist the temptation to walk into every store!

For CARDIOLATES classes near you, check out www.cardiolates.com for studios in your area that offer official CARDIOLATES classes.  If you are in New York, come by Pilates on Fifth for some fun-filled, heart pumping, fat burning CARDIOLATES classes.  For home exercisers out there, check out our CARDIOLATES DVD which was featured on the Martha Stewart Show!

March 24, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates and weight loss, part 3

obliques-roll-downThis week we have been discussing Pilates, weight loss and the factors that contribute to weight loss.  Stress is often cited as a cause of weight gain — or weight loss — and Pilates is often cited as a stress-reducing exercise system.  So today we will explore the effects stress has on the body and how Pilates can help.

After sifting through all the information available on the internet regarding stress and weight fluctuations, we came to one conclusion:  doctors and researchers disagree on the exact hormonal changes stress induces in the body that could lead to changes in weight.  In short, some believe stress increases cortisol levels which causes weight gain.  But according to the Mayo Clinic, “…there is no evidence that the amount of cortisol produced by a healthy individual under stress is enough to cause weight gain.”  In fact, popular diet pills which claimed to be “cortisol blockers” were recently banned by the FDA for unsubstantiated claims of weight loss, and the companies were forced to pay millions in consumer refunds.  For a review of other diet pills by the Mayo Clinic, click here.

Other sites discuss stress-induced insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome as additional causes of weight gain.  Undoubtedly, stress is damaging to the body, but each individual has his/her own unique health concerns and his/her own predispositions to certain health issues.  Thus, we have included links to the additional information, but would prefer to focus on that which the experts DO agree!

scissorsMost researchers, physicians and nutritionists agree that “emotional eating” or “nervous eating” remains the true reason stress leads to weight gain.  While some respond to stress by NOT eating, many of us reach for the chocolate chip cookie or the entire bag of chips in times of stress.  Because eating healthily — like choosing the carrot sticks over the candy bar — can feel like punishment to the overworked, exhausted, frazzled body, we seek to “take care of ourselves” with food that instantly gratifies us and makes us say “life is good after all!”  The desire to take care of one’s self is a positive act, yet the choices made usually are not the best for the body in the long run.

The good news:  Pilates can help keep stress in check!  It can be hard to shift your thinking to viewing exercise as a reward and a gift you give to yourself, but our suggestion is simple — give it a try!  Wouldn’t it be worth it if you slept better or felt better about yourself after your workout?  Try the Renew and Revitalize Workout from UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com for an energizing, core strengthening workout, or the Strength and Challenge Workout for a more challenging routine that will surely release excess stress!

If you’re struggling with cravings, unfortunately, there is no easy solution.  Try a Hershey’s Kiss instead of the entire candy bar, or buy a smaller bag of chips if you fear you’ll devour a large bag before you know it.  Satisfying a craving is not the problem…the degree to which one satisfies a craving usually is!  You just have to decide “will eating this make me more or less happy in the long run…..”

March 20, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings. Leave a comment.

Pilates and weight loss, part 2

my_first_pilates_workout_watchdog1In our last article, we discussed many factors that contribute to weight loss.   Today, we explain how lack of sleep inhibits successful weight loss.  For all those who force themselves to stay up late and get up early, this article is for you!

The body produces many hormones, two of which are directly related to sleep and appetite.  One is ghrelin and the other is leptin.  Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and triggers hunger, while leptin is produced in adipose tissue and signals satiety, in other words, it tells the body “I’m full.”  In healthy individuals, ghrelin levels are naturally higher before a meal and leptin levels are naturally higher after a meal.

When one is sleep deprived, however, ghrelin levels climb and lower the levels of leptin in the body.  A sleep-deprived body receives signals that it is hungry beause the appetite control hormone leptin has been “turned off” by the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin.  A study in the journal PLoS Medicine shows the correlation between short sleep duration and high levels of ghrelin.  Over a 15 year period from 1989-2004, the study shows that people who consistently sleep only five hours a night exhibit a 15% increase in ghrelin (the appetite stimulant) and a 16% decrease in leptin (the “I’m full” signal).

According to the researcher behind the study, Emmanuelle Mignot of Stamford University, this proves a regulatory problem exists in people of today’s “unnatural” society.  Before the desk job became the dominate characteristic of modern work, the human race engaged in physical activity daily as a natural part of life.  Physical activity both increases one’s appetite and one’s need for sleep.  But today, most of us are sedentary much of the day, yet forgo sleep to try and squeeze more work into the day.  So we’re not getting enough physical activity AND we’re not sleeping!  Thus, the hormone ghrelin is flowing causing us to feel hungry and eat more, though we’re not engaging in the activity necessary to burn the calories of the additional food intake.

Most people tend to brag about how little sleep they get or how little sleep they need.  Somehow, sleeping less has become the sign of a “hard worker” or a “dedicated employee,” but please don’t fall into that trap!  Sleep is good!  You can do the “Hundreds” thousands of times and do Pilates workouts (or any workout for that matter) until you are exhausted, but if you are not sleeping adequately, the hormone ghrelin is most likely thwarting your progress.  Sleep is not only replenishing, it also serves to balance these important hormones — so get to bed — NOW!

Our next article will discuss how stress is related to weight gain so tune in next time!

March 18, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings. Leave a comment.