What a wonderful time of the year! It is so great to be able to workout outdoors and enjoy the sun and the breeze (of course not between the hours of 10am and 2pm…well possibly until 5pm here in Tampa)! Now may be the perfect time to assess your workout and decide if it’s time for a change of scenery…both for your mind and your body! Remember muscles have memory and there is a lot to be said for the idea of muscle confusion. Varying your workouts and challenging yourself with new movements will be sure to get you looking and feeling great, especially in a bathing suit!
Personally, I choose workouts that use many muscle groups so that you are more able to workout in less time and burn more calories doing so. Of course, the perfect combo to any great workout plan is to include both cardiovascular activity with strength training.
Cardio is important to burn fat and strengthen your heart. Strength training is important to build and tone muscle. I am a huge fan of the heart rate monitor…so you can easily track which zone you are in during a workout. Anything that is 60-65% of your maximum heart rate is the fat burning zone and 80-85% of your maximum heart rate monitor is the heart strengthening zone.
Now, here’s where my love for Pilates comes in…Pilates is such a challenging workout that, if done properly, you can easily workout in the cardiovascular fat burning zone AND strength train your muscles all at once!! I admit that last statement sounds very infomercial-esque; however, it is the honest truth! Whether it be a fast-paced reformer (equipment) or pilates mat class, you most definitely will be able to break a sweat and feel totally connected to yourself during the hour (my heart rate monitor does not lie)! Breathing is a big thing during a pilates class. In my opinion, breath truly creates that connection between your mind and your body. It makes you aware of which muscles to engage and turn on, which essentially, makes pilates a very precise workout!
For those of you that are a little confused about what exactly Pilates is, here’s some history: Joseph Pilates, pronounced Pi-la-tes, was born in Germany in 1880 to a mother who was a naturopath and a father who was a gymnast. Throughout his childhood, he suffered from asthma and rickets (which is a vitamin C deficiency) and was determined at a very young age to transform his body. As a young adult, he studied yoga, gymnastics, meditation, and weight training. He concluded that bad posture, inefficient breathing, and unmindful living was the cause of poor health. As a result, he devised a series of exercises to transform the body and the mind. During his work with injured soldiers during WWI, he devised equipment made of springs and pulleys. This is now called the pilates reformer.
In 1925, Joseph Pilates immigrated to the United States and met his wife, Clara, a nurse. Together they opened a studio in New York City working specifically with dancers. Originally, he termed his method “Contrology,” because it related to encouraging the use of the mind to control muscles. He believed that to focuses attention on core postural muscles, the body will stay balanced and spine will be supported. In particular, he stressed the awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, and in particular strong deep torso and abdominal muscles. Joseph lived until he was 84 years old!
So to recap, you should definitely consider incorporating Pilates into your workout plan if any of the following seem important to you:
Blog postings by Natalie Maddox Rougie, AP, DACM owner of Palm Wellness in Tampa, FL.