Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review - Pilates Body Kit

I've been a long-time fan of Brooke Siler's book, The Pilates Body. This book was actually my introduction to Pilates, over 10 years ago now. Her clear pictures, instructions, and explanations of what an exercise should feel like really made them come alive for me - much more so than most exercise books usually do. I actively used the book at least 3 times a week for over 4 years. This was before my back injury, and after that happened, I was unable to do Pilates for many months. Sadly, this was the end of my good habit that I had built.... Since then, I have continued to do Pilates exercises from time to time, but I never got back into such a regular routine again. I must admit that I miss it! Pilates never fails to make me feel great, and unlike other exercise routines, not overly tired or in pain, yet it still strengthens my muscles.

I've tried some Pilates videos, which I enjoy, but I would really love to find one by Brooke Siler - apparently she does not have one (at least not yet). I have had her "Pilates Body Kit" on my "wish list" for some time, and recently someone gave me one as a gift. (I had debated buying this, as I wasn't sure how helpful the CD format would be.... I have gotten really used to working out to videos, as I find they give me the best examples of proper form, as well as motivation and fun.)

So I tried the kit a couple of days ago, for the first time, and....I love it!

Brooke Siler's Pilates Body Kit
The kit consists of two audio CDs, a workbook to track your progress, and about 70 flash cards - each card containing an exercise, pictures, tips, and do's & don'ts for that exercise.

I was very pleasantly surprised with how well this works. The CD really gave me good instruction and guidance, and I found it very helpful for pacing. (I tend to go too fast, which lessens the effects of the exercises, as well as possibly making me more prone to injury.) Having Brooke guide me through each exercise at the right pace, and with reminders of what to focus on, was very helpful. I did find it worked best to review each card before doing the exercise, and I found myself hurrying through these while the audio was playing. Next time I think I will pull out the cards for the exercises I will do for that session, and review them all before I start the audio. Then I can just quickly glance at each card when it comes time for that exercise, and will already be familiar with the form.

She says she tried to set it up like an actual class, but I just did the preliminary exercises the first time (that was plenty! My whole body was sore for 2 days!) - so have yet to get to the "mat class" portion. It did almost feel like being in a class though, and I very much enjoyed it. I am already familiar with most of the exercises and the way she does them, since they are the same as the ones in the book. However, I think the kit will actually prove to be even more helpful to me than the book, easier to follow (and hopefully stick with) - and more fun! 

I highly recommend it, whether you've ever tried Pilates before or not. She is very good about giving beginner tips and modifications, so you can start at your own level and work your way up to the more advanced exercises. If you've been wanting to try Pilates but haven't gotten around to it, or you don't feel comfortable going to a class, this will give you more guidance than the book version, and probably an even better work out.

If you want to check it out - you can usually find it super-cheap on Amazon.com.

Other Good Pilates Resources by Brooke Siler:
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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Video - Ab Exercise - The Plank

Here is a short demo video of one of the exercises we mentioned on Tuesday - The Plank. It's a very simple exercise, but GREAT for the abs, and strengthens many other muscles as well. This video also gives some tips for correct form to avoid injury or strain.

Check it out, and get those abs working!

Ab Exercises: The Plank
For more free online exercise videos, visit befitandstrong.com. Don't be fooled by this ab exercise. You may not be moving while you do it, but I guarantee your muscles will be screaming for mercy.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Six Poor Stomach Exercise Habits

As with all things, there is a right way to go about working for a flatter midsection, and several wrong ways. Working out the wrong way can lead to no physical improvement or worse, serious injury. When doing stomach exercises or any other exercise, be sure to consult a professional, warm up properly, and remember the following tips.
Keep Your Knees Up
When doing crunches, you want your knees to bent and your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are centered and pointed upward. Keep them centered and up, not to one side. If you drop your knees to one side, you are unnecessarily compressing your vertebrae, which can lead to a painful back injury.
SAN DIEGO (June 15, 2007) - Sailors take turns...Image via WikipediaSit-Ups
Traditional sit-ups actually do very little for the abdominal muscles. Even when done properly, the strain is mostly on the hip muscles. There is also the tendency to pull the torso up with the arms, which of course is not the point of the exercise. Further, when sit-ups are done very quickly, as people have a tendency to do, it is momentum that mostly forces the torso up and down, rather than any muscle groups. The crunch is a good alternative to old school sit-ups.
Straight Leg Lift
Another traditional "stomach exercise," this move actually works the lower back more than any muscles in the midsection. This is also another way to put strain on your back, possibly leading to injury.
Too Many Reps
There is never a need to do more fifty reps of a stomach exercise. If fifty reps is not giving you results, doing more than that will not help. As you build strength, if you feel the need for a bigger challenge, try a more difficult exercise as an alternative to adding reps - OR do them more slowly - slowing an exercise down creates more resistance, more control, and lessens the risk of injury.
Sleeping BoyImage by Sam Calma via FlickrSleeping
Believe it or not, how you sleep has an effect on your stomach exercise routine. If you sleep in a position that cause back pain, it will make it much more difficult to work on your midsection in the morning. Sleeping mostly on your stomach is one of the best ways to cause back pain, as it forces your back to arch, often resulting in annoying back pain. The best way to avoid this is to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. (Or on your side with a pillow between your knees.) This will help keep your vertebrae in line, prevent back pain and allowing you work out pain free in the morning.
No Resistance
All stomach exercises need resistance to be effective, whether it comes from a resistance band, an exercise ball, or just gravity. Exercises that do not use any resistance, such as standing broomstick twists, will not be all that beneficial to your midsection. The good news is that this particular exercise will not do any harm and is actually a good warm up for your trunk. Just do not expect it to flatten out your stomach.
Proper exercise technique is important. These are just a few tips to help you avoid wasting time and potential injury. Be sure to research thoroughly before beginning a new exercise, and always consult your physician before beginning any physical fitness routine.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stomach Exercises For A Flatter Tummy

The weather is warming up, and for many people, that means it is time to work on that little bulge that has been taking up residence around the midsection since Thanksgiving! These simple exercises can help you shed that excess winter weight and flatten out that stomach in time for beach season. As with any workout routine, be sure to consult a professional before beginning and always warm up properly to avoid injury.

pushup IImage by John Niedermeyer via FlickrThe Plank
For this stomach exercise, you will need to lie on a hard, flat surface, such as the floor. You will be lying in your stomach, so you may want to use a mat or towel to cushion your knees. Prop your upper body up on your forearms so that your elbows make a ninety degree angle and are positioned directly below your shoulders. Now lift your body up off the floor so that your lower body is supported by your toes, while your upper body remains supported by your elbows. Your body should basically be a straight line, with no arch or drooping through your back. (Like you paused in the middle of doing a push-up.) Hold this position for twenty-thirty seconds, then lower your body back to the floor. One repetition is sufficient.

The Side Plank
This stomach exercise is a variation on the previous one, and begins in the same starting position. Once you are positioned properly, roll to your right side, keeping your torso supported with your right forearm. You will have to raise your hips and roll your feet so that your left foot is on top of your right. As in the plank, your body will be a straight line, but this time you will be on one side. Place your left hand on your hip and hold the plank position for five seconds. Return to start and repeat on the left side (5 times each side). (If you do Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown workout, this one is included in there.)
The Ball Roll
If you just quickly glanced at the title, you may have gone to find a ball before reading on. If you did, you can go put it away, because in this stomach exercise, YOU are the ball! First, sit on the floor and hug your knees to your chest. Roll back slightly so you are balancing on your tail bone and your feet are off the floor, toes pointing downward. Pull your abdominals inward while rolling onto your lower back and the upper part of your butt. Contract your abdominals and roll yourself back to the starting position. The goal is to do this smoothly and without jerking, and not let your toes touch the floor when you reach the top. Loosening your arms up may help if you find this exercise too difficult at first. Repeat 4-5 times. (The Pilates Body, and Yoga Booty Ballet both feature this exercise.)
The Standing Crossover
As the name implies, you will need to stand up for this stomach exercise. Position your feet a few inches apart. Put your arms out to the sides and bend your elbows at a ninety degree angle so your fingertips are pointing to the ceiling and your palm are facing forward. Contract your abdominals and lift your right knee toward your left elbow, while at the same time bringing your left elbow down toward your right knee. Touch the two joints together, pause, then return to start. Switch sides and repeat for an entire set (10 on each side).
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For More Pictures and Demos of These Great Ab Exercises, See:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Video - Transurfing Yoga Examples

This new yoga craze utilizing weights is becoming more and more popular - but some people are wondering exactly what this might look like. This video gives a quick overview of some of the exercises and poses in the program.  Check it out, and for more information on Transurfing Yoga click the link below the video.

Transurfing Yoga with Dumbbells.
www.TransurfingYoga.com Transurfing Yoga - be your own personal trainer.
• If you are a girl who wants to lose weight, get a lean sculpt body, then this Yoga is for you!
• If you are a guy who wants to challenge your muscles strength, then this Yoga ...

If you think Transurfing Yoga is something you might like to try, click here to learn more....
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Transurfing Yoga - Flexibility, Balance, and Weight-Loss + Fun!

TRANSURFING YOGA is the latest breakthrough in fitness training, the fastest and most efficient way to lose fat, gain strength, and beat aging.

Fitness Model posing with dumbell. Photo by Gl...Image via WikipediaSo why has Transurfing Yoga with Dumbbells been called “The latest breakthrough in fitness training”?

BUT this book is not for everyone! You will benefit from using Transurfing Yoga Guide only if you answer "yes" to at least one of the following statements:
  • You want to burn fat
  • You want to build your core strength and get a six-pack
  • You want to improve your balance, coordination and flexibility
  • You want to increase your energy level
  • You want to look 10 years younger in the next 30 days
  • You want to strengthen and tone every major muscle in your body
  • You want to improve your mental focus and finally achieve peace of mind
So, if these are your goals and you are serious about them… then you might want to try this new, hot and sexy yoga style.

Transurfing Yoga is a powerful combination of traditional yoga poses with resistance training. It utilizes dumbells of various weight (0.5kg-5kg) depending on your goals and fitness level.

ATTENTION GIRLS: You’re not going to bulk up (unless you want to) after doing yoga with dumbbells! It only works on strengthening your muscles to give you a lean sculpt look, and you can always vary the intensity of the workout.

This workout works your whole body - head-to-toe. (Flexibility, strength, balance and Core work … all at the same time!) As you will  need to give 100% of your concentration to the workout, this will help calm your mind and melt your stress away.

>> Click Here for Instant Access – Start Losing Weight and Get Healthy in Minutes from now! <<

Transurfing Yoga uses the principles described in the book called "Reality Transurfing" by Vadim Zeland, principles similar to the Secret and Law of Attraction, to help you get fit, lose weight, get a better health and look younger. Transurfing Yoga techniques are so powerful because they combine mental, psychological,  and physical attributes to attract your goals faster, whether it be a dream body, or a dream lifestyle.

Find out more about this fun and effective type of yoga here....
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Got a Few Minutes?

Ina Marx at 68, looked 35, and could do things with her body that a 16-year-old farm hand can't do, but she wasn't always fit-as-a-fiddle.

At the age of 30, while pregnant, she was forced to jump from the third story of a burning hotel. She landed on concrete, fractured her spine and pelvis, broke several ribs -- and lost her child.

A yoga class.Image via WikipediaOver the next 10 years Marx tried nearly every kind of regimen to rescue herself from this state. Nothing worked, and she eventually reached such desperation that she attempted suicide, twice. Then she discovered yoga -- her salvation.

With new confidence and a new lease on life, she began teaching yoga and has also written two books, ''Yoga and Common Sense'' and ''Fitness for the Unfit.''

With her special yoga program, she combines the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga with Raja Yoga, the meditative side.

Her method is specially designed to reach out to all those who have been left in the dust of the high-energy, high-impact state of modern fitness programs, and those who need to relax and unwind in a short amount of time to relieve a lot of stress quickly.

What's more, the best thing about Marx's form of practical yoga is that a few stretches a day, for a few minutes a day -- at home or in the office -- can lead couch potatoes and grouches to a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Practical Yoga Resources:

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Video - What to Eat After a Workout?

As a follow up to Thursday's post, here is a quick video addressing this question in a bit more detail. This is useful advice not only for a workout, but also for those who are involved in sports. Learn what to eat after working out, and why. Keep in mind this is mostly for a cardio or high-intensity workout, and it is also a good choice if you have to eat late at night.

Sports Nutrition - What to Eat After a Game or Workout
Get the answer to a commonly asked sports nutrition question - "what do I eat after my game or workout?" The answer to this exercise diet question might surprise you.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eating And Exercise

Anytime you exercise, you are most likely trying to achieve and/or maintain good health. You also know that you have to eat as well, so your body will have the energy it needs to exercise and maintain for the everyday tasks of life.  For making the best of your exercise, what you eat before and after you workout is very important.

No matter if you are going to be doing a cardio workout or a resistance workout, you should always make it a point to eat a balanced mix of protein and carbohydrates.  What determines the percentage of carbs and protein you consume is whether or not you are doing cardio or resistance exercise and the intensity level that you plan to work at.

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...Image via WikipediaThe ideal time for you to eat your pre-workout meal is about an hour before you start.  If you plan to work at a low intensity level, you should keep your pre-workout meal small - down to 200 calories or so.  If you plan to exercise at a very high level of intensity, you will probably need your meal to be between 400 and 500 calories - or even slightly more.

Those of you who are doing a cardio session will need to consume a mix of 2/3 carbs and 1/3 protein. Doing so will give you longer sustained energy from the extra carbs, with enough protein to keep your muscle from breaking down while you exercise.

For resistance exercise, you'll need to eat a mix of 1/3 carbs and 2/3 protein, as this will help you get plenty of energy from the carbs to perform each set you do and the extra protein will help keep muscle breakdown to a minimum while you exercise. 

Eating after you exercise is just as important as your pre-workout meal.  Anytime you exercise, whether its cardio or resistance, you deplete energy in the form of glycogen.  The brain and central nervous system rely on glycogen as their main source of fuel, so if you don't replace it after you exercise, your body will begin to break down muscle tissue into amino acids, and then convert them into usable fuel for the brain and the central nervous system.

Once you have finished a cardio session, you'll need to consume mainly carbohydrates, preferably those with high fiber.  Rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, and northern fruits are excellent sources. Try to consume 30 - 50 grams of these types of complex carbs after you exercise.  After your cardio workout, it is fine to eat within 5 - 10 minutes.

Muscle fascicleImage via WikipediaOnce you've finished a resistance workout, you will need to consume a combination of carbs and protein.  Keep in mind that during resistance exercise, you'll break down muscle tissue by creating micro tears.  What this means, is that after a workout, your muscles will instantly go into repair mode.  Protein is the key here for muscle repair, as you don't want muscle breaking down even further to create fuel.

You'll need protein to build up and repair these tears so that the muscle can increase in size and strength.  The carbs will not only replace the lost muscle glycogen, but will also help the protein get into muscle cells so it can synthesize into structural protein, or the muscle itself.

After your resistance exercise, you should wait up to 30 minutes before you eat, so that you won't take blood away from your muscles too fast.  The blood in your muscles will help the repair process by removing metabolic waste products.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Get Started: Overweight to Healthy

Here is an article which may be helpful for those struggling to lose weight (and let's face it - this is a large percentage of our population these days). Sometimes it can seem so overwhelming to think about trying to lose  weight - especially if you are much heavier than you would like to be. But implementing little, simple, daily steps into your routine can get you where you want to be - and keep you there - often much more easily and successfully (and less painfully!) than going on a drastic crash diet, or trying to change your whole lifestyle all at once.

On overweight man's waistline.Image via WikipediaThis article gives some tips and ideas for some of these simple, small steps - just start with one - pick your favorite from the list here, and follow the tips for implementing your first step into your daily life. Once you are comfortable with that (and you probably will already be seeing some benefits!), try adding another step. And be sure to check back on this blog frequently for fun exercise ideas to get you moving and keep you motivated! You can also visit http://www.newholisticliving.com/exercise.html for some more ideas and resources.

Get Started: From Overweight to Healthy | zen habits
If you're overweight and unmotivated to change your life drastically, just make a tiny change. You're not alone. There are more overweight people today than ever before, as a percentage of our population and in sheer numbers. ...
Publish Date: 05/06/2011 11:36
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Melt Away Fat and Prevent Heart Attacks in Just 12 Minutes a Day

Are you ready to ditch those tiresome aerobic workouts? Well, guess what - they’re actually making your heart and lungs smaller – and increasing your risk of disease. And jumping around for 45 minutes to an hour or more is not helping you lose weight, either!

PACE® proves once-and-for-all that a great body and vibrant health does NOT have to be difficult, time consuming or boring. You can get and stay fit in just 12 minutes per day - and this is total-body fitness. You’re just seconds away from unleashing the killer body and disease-free life that only Dr. Sears’ PACE® program can give you…

Click HERE to find out more...

More PACE Resources:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buying An All-In-One Exercise System

These days, more and more people are turning away from memberships to gyms and instead choosing to invest money in the convenience of a home gym.  You can put a home gym in a spare corner of your home, or even in the basement if you wish.  Along with helping you save money by combining several different types of equipment into one machine, these types of equipment can easily fit into small spaces and take up a lot less space than their individual counterparts.

Jon's BowflexImage by Zepfanman.com via FlickrWhen you are considering to buy an all-in-one piece of exercise equipment, you should first think about your goals.  You should consider what you hope to achieve from exercising and just how well this piece of equipment will benefit you.

There are several types of all-in-one equipment for exercise on the market and almost all of them are advertised well on television, in magazines, and on the internet.  The most popular types on the market are those types that are geared towards individuals who are interested in lifting weights.

Two very popular types of all-in-one exercise systems are the Bowflex and Total Gym brands.  The Bowflex system uses resistant bows that bend instead of the traditional weights that simply lift.  Bowflex is designed to fit a wide variety of budgets and needs, it's widely adaptable and extremely popular as well.

To make things even better, you can store the basic Bowflex system in small and tight places, even under a bed if you choose.  The larger and more expensive Bowflex system competes with the types of professional equipment that you can find in gyms, which allow you a quality workout on quality equipment.

Total Gym 14000 modelImage via WikipediaThe Total Gym system, advertised by martial arts legend Chuck Norris and supermodel Christie Brinkley, is great as well.  It is less expensive than the Bowflex and uses gravity and resistance instead of traditional weights. By using this system, you have the ability to adapt the machine to a wide variety of exercises that will work many different areas of your body.

When you make that decision about buying an all-in-one exercise system, you must also decide on price, features, brand, and just who will use the machine.  If your family plans to use it as well, then you'll need to get a system that everyone will agree on.  You obviously wouldn't want a machine that is too complicated for others in your home.

Even though Bowflex and Total Gym are currently the 2 most popular types of all-in-one equipment, there are several others out there as well, from brands such as Weider, Pilates Power Gym and many others.  Before you make your choice, you should look at several to see which one offers you more for your money.

More All-In-One Exercise Systems:
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Budget-Friendly Exercise Gadgets

Here is a great article that can help not only your waistline, but your pocketbook!  Remember that exercise can be fun, without being expensive. This featured article offers some suggestions for a number of helpful tools for keeping in shape - many for around $10.00 or less.

Check these out, and see how fun (and cheap) getting in shape can be! (Note: If you like exercise videos, like I do, you can also find a lot of these for $10.00 or less - visit http://www.newholisticliving.com/exercise.html, scroll down and click on "Videos" for some fun suggestions.)

10 Budget-Friendly Exercise Gadgets
Tight budgets are no excuse to let yourself get flabby. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to exercise. Some won't even cost you a thin dime.
Publish Date: 11/09/2009 3:00
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More Fun & Affordable Exercise Gadgets: