5 easy ways to achieve your fitness resolutions for 2016

5 easy ways to achieve your fitness resolutions for 2016

With the new year upon us, it’s time to set some resolutions to get healthy and fit! But instead of just talking about resolutions in the abstract sense, you really need to take some tangible steps to focus on and achieve your objectives. Over the next 12 months, here are some definite strategies you can use to help you reach your fitness goals.

1) Get on a schedule

Whatever fitness routine you practice, turn it into a habit. By definition, a habit is “something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.” Therefore, you need to pick a specific time every day to exercise.

The World Health Organization recommends “at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week” which breaks down to 30 minutes 5 days a week, while strength training activities should be done 2 or more days per week.

2) Intensify your workout

Whether beginner or advanced, you always have the capacity to progress in the level of your workout. Motivate yourself by setting small goals to increase the intensity of your workout on a monthly basis.

For example, if you start out doing 20 sit-ups a day, write down the goal to increase it by 5 more sit-ups each month. By next year, you’ll be doing 80 sit-ups a day – imagine your abs!

Also, you don’t necessarily need to increase the amount of time you spend working out. For example, you can increase the intensity of your fitness routine by increasing the resistance levels in strength training and Pilates.

On the Pilates Power Gym, you have the option of using between one and four resistance bands on each exercise. Why not set a goal to increase the number of bands used every 6 months? As a result, you won’t be working longer, but harder resulting in a much more toned body.

3) Follow a nutrition plan

The logic is simple, yet it is the hardest thing to do – eat less calories to lose weight. But how do you decrease your calorie intake without feeling hungry?

Many nutrition experts recommend eating more protein and less carbs, and also eating smaller meals and snacks six times per day. However, instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s easier to follow a meal plan that has been created by a fitness and nutrition expert.

For example, when you purchase the Pilates Power Gym, you get a guide to  weekly nutrition plans for 9 different calorie levels (ranging from 1200 to 2000 calories per day). This weekly nutrition menu suggests foods for 3 meals and 3 snacks per day to teach you how to eat healthier and lose weight in the process.

4) Add variety to spice up your workout

Don’t fall into the trap of getting bored with an effective workout! There are many ways you can add variety to an exercise routine by either trying new equipment or new exercises.

For Pilates fans, there are a multitude of apparatus and accessories you can utilize to make your workout new and exciting. Pilates equipment includes the ladder barrel, the Wunda chair, the Cadillac and the Reformer. These pieces of equipment, like our own Pilates Power Gym, offer a wide range of additional Pilates exercises not possible on the mat.

On the Pilates Power Gym reformer alone, you can add a cardio rebounder, a pushup bar and even get more intense resistance bands to diversify your workout.

5) Incorporate body, mind and soul

If you’re not doing any form of yoga or Pilates in your fitness routine, make this year the time to start! Aside from the physical benefits, Pilates and yoga teach you how to connect your mind to your body through concentration and meditation, respectively.

Taking time to relax and focus your mind can relieve stress, something that we all need. According to the American Yoga Association, “yoga helps you to access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life.” By building coping skills with a daily routine of exercise, breathing, and meditation, yoga can reduce stress.

Furthermore, the creator of Pilates (or “Contrology”), Joseph Pilates, believed that deep mental awareness of your breathing, working your core, controlling your movements, fluidity of motion, precision of exercises and being mentally present during your workout were essential to physical health. Exercise without mental concentration, he thought, was literally a waste of time.

(Note: Always consult your doctor when you implement any changes in exercise and eating habits)

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Pilates exercises to flatten your belly over the holidays

Pilates exercises to flatten your belly over the holidays

Over the holiday season, you may be visiting relatives out of town and feel like exercising is not possible. Without access to your everyday Pilates workout equipment or DVDs, what are you to do?

Celebrity Pilates and yoga instructor, Kristin McGee, believes that you can practice fitness and Pilates exercises wherever you are. As a busy traveler, Kristin shares on her social media accounts some of the most unlikely places to stretch out her muscles – including the airport!

While you may not feel the need to flex your muscles while waiting for a flight, there are plenty of exercises you can do in a hotel room or relative’s home. Kristin shares with us some of her tips to stay in shape while on the road, and even work on a flat belly while you’re at it!

The Hundred—This move is great to get the blood pumping and the breath flowing. Start lying on your back and lift your head and neck up off the mat. Extend your legs out to a forty-five degree angle and stretch your arms long at your sides. Hover the arms off the floor and start pumping them vigorously up and down five times on an inhale and five times on an exhale. Repeat 10 times for 100 pumps. Amazing for a flat belly!

Climb a Tree—I like this move for massaging the internal organs and for creating space in the sides of the waist and hamstrings. Lie down on your back and lift your right let straight up in the air. Inhale and start to climb up the back of the thigh until you sit up nice and tall. Exhale roll back down one vertebra at a time. Repeat three times and then switch to the opposite leg. Awesome way to scoop out lower abs and lengthen the body.

Single Leg Straight Leg Kicks—Lie down on your back, lift your head up off the floor and both legs straight up to the ceiling. Lower your left leg ten inches from the floor as you pull your right leg towards you and pulse it twice, then kick the left leg up and do the same pulse. Continue switching sides for ten repetitions. Single leg kicks really work the abdominals and get the legs moving which aids with digestion. I think of this move as a walk or run on your back initiating the movement from your core. You will definitely stimulate digestion with this exercise and flatten the belly.

The Saw—Any twisting motion is great for stimulating digestion and massaging the internal organs and entire core region. I particularly love the saw because it feels so good for the entire body and stretches and strengthens the obliques and lower abs. Sit up nice and tall with your feet hip width apart. Open your arms to your sides and twist towards your right foot then imagine sawing off the right pinky toe with the left pinky finger. After three little pulses, scroll up through the spine and twist in the opposite direction and repeat. Do each side five times.

Swan Dive—Finish with the “swan dive” to really massage the entire front body and help stoke the digestive furnace. Lie face down on the mat with arms overhead. On an inhalation, lift the entire body up off the mat. Exhale, and lower back down. Repeat five times. If you are very advanced you can try rocking back and forth in this position.

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Why Celebrities Love Pilates

Why Celebrities Love Pilates

Celebrities Love Pilates

When Kim Kardashian posted a message on Twitter recently asking her followers for advice on the best Pilates machine to use, it got us thinking about why celebrities love Pilates.

From Lady Gaga to Jennifer Aniston to Madonna, a wide range of celebs incorporate Pilates into their fitness routine. The best way to explain why they love Pilates is to hear from the celebrities themselves:

“I’ve been doing it for 15 years and I think it strengthens from the inside. When your core is strong, everything else starts to lift up.” – Kate Hudson

“I live for Pilates reformer class. I go at least three times a week. It’s a great way to lengthen your muscles, stretch, and kind of relax your mind.” – Shawn Johnson, gymnast

“I’m a Pilates person. It’s great. I had a hip problem. I had a chronic back, a pinched nerve and a hip problem and it’s completely solved all of it. I love it. It makes me feel like I’m taller.” – Jennifer Aniston

“At-home Pilates is the best workout I’ve ever tried.” – Kristen Bell

“I was doing Pilates before people even knew how to spell Pilates… It pulls your shoulders back, tucks in your pelvis, makes you walk straighter, and gives you great posture.” – Vanessa Williams

“It’s a great way to exercise because you use so many muscles and get a really good workout. I use the machines, not mat Pilates, and it just works for me.” – Paris Hilton

“I was a fitness fiasco — until I found Pilates . . . It’s been the most gentle on my body… I’m longer and leaner and much more graceful. I can honestly say it’s changed my body — and my life.” – Chelsea Handler

“What do I like most about Pilates? The fact that I can really feel my body working. I might do 250 crunches but my body is so used to them that I don’t really feel them. With Pilates, I can really feel [my abdominals] even if I only do six or 12 repetitions.” – Joan Collins, who has been doing Pilates for over 30 years

“Pilates introduced me to muscles I never even knew I had. Soon I started to feel longer and leaner. Ten years of Pilates has really changed my body for the better.” – Lucy Liu

“I also discovered Pilates when I got pregnant, as people kept saying it’s a great way to stay in shape, and now I can’t get enough – it’s amazing. It helps with aches and pain and, even for non-pregnant people, it’s a great way of getting those lean muscles.” – Olivia Wilde

“I’m a huge Pilates fan. Pilates relies on isolated, controlled movement and has allowed me to build up my core and strengthen my legs and arms.” – Karlie Kloss, Victoria’s Secret model

Pilates “is such a great way to get in shape in a loving way. I feel like I’m both challenging myself and healing my body at the same time.” – Kerry Washington

By the way, we were happy to accommodate Kim Kardashian with our favorite mini reformer, the Pilates Power Gym. We can’t wait to hear her feedback!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Pilates

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Pilates

Attention Pilates fans, here are five facts about Pilates that you may find surprising:

1) Pilates was invented for WWI prisoners of war

Joseph Pilates was a German living in England when World War I broke out. He was placed in an internment camp where he started helping prisoners to stay fit by implementing a unique method of muscle toning and strengthening. Pilates taught exercises that he had created for himself to his fellow inmates, including those who were bed-ridden. He got his inspiration for the future Pilates reformer by using bedsprings to create resistance.

2) Pilates is a great form of physical therapy

Pilates has been shown to help people with various injuries and diseases rehabilitate their bodies. The low-impact and focused method of muscle strengthening with emphasis on the core can help people who are recovering from car accidents, cancer, athletic injuries and even those living with multiple sclerosis.
[Note: Check out our Pinterest page for more articles about “Pilates as therapy”]

3) In Pilates, control of the mind is equally as important as control of the body

The original name of the Pilates method was “contrology” which emphasized the use of the mind to control muscles. Pilates believed that deep mental awareness of your breathing, working your core, controlling your movements, fluidity of motion, precision of exercises and being mentally present during your workout were essential to physical health. Exercise without mental concentration, he thought, was literally a waste of time.

4) Pilates is a great complement to yoga

Celebrity Pilates and yoga instructor, Kristin McGee, explains why the two fitness methods of Pilates and yoga work well together:
“Yoga aids in flexibility which allows Pilates practitioners to go deeper in to their practice and connect easier with their core (when your limbs are loose you can access your powerhouse easier). I also think yoga adds a lot of standing work that you won’t find as much of in Pilates so you can find your core when your practicing your balance standing. The two are very complementary to each other and I love them both.”

5) Pilates was intended not only for mat work but also on equipment

Throughout his life, Joseph Pilates created many forms of apparatus to practice his contrology exercises. In addition to workouts on the mat, there are a multitude of exercises which can be done on various pieces of Pilates equipment including the ladder barrel, the Wunda chair, the Cadillac and the Reformer. These pieces of equipment, like our own Pilates Power Gym, offer a wide range of additional Pilates exercises not possible on the mat. – T.Y.

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