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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pilates with Kids by Bridget Sandorford

Whether you want the kids in your pilates class to get out of the house or to improve focus in school, pilates has as many benefits for kids as it does adults. The trick, however, is getting kids interested in pilates. Here are three tips from Kim Carruthers, head of the studio Physical Perfection and founder of Pilates in the ‘Hood program for kids from underprivileged families.

1.Make it fun

Any school teacher will tell you that the hardest part of teaching is getting—and keeping—kids’ attention. With pilates, we can do this by making pilates fun and relatable. Try naming exercises after animals. In fact, let the kids name the exercises!

2.Everyone is different

Some kids will be able to touch their toes; others will not. Some will be able to stand one leg without wavering; others will not. Allow children to learn at their own pace and encourage them with praise and tips where appropriate. Let the children teach each other—this will build social skills as well as camaraderie and self-confidence.

3.Don’t make it about weight

Some children who are exposed to weight concerns from their parents, teachers, or other children can develop more tendencies to become disordered eaters in the future. Fitness and pilates shouldn’t be just about losing weight. Emphasize the other benefits of pilates: concentration, focus, posture, alignment, flexibility, and strength. Kids want to be strong like their favorite basketball player or flexible like their favorite dancer. Teach kids to use deep breathing and concentration techniques when stressed, such as before a test.

Bio: Aside from school and working part-time as an Assistant Chef, Bridget Sandorford is the resident Culinary Schools blogger where recently she’s been researching New Orleans culinary colleges as well as culinary colleges in Washington DC. Her passion for food and has followed her research into many different areas, such as fitness, organic foods, gardening, and cooking on a budget. She lives outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pilates and Pregnancy by Alexis Bonari

Pilates and Pregnancy

Pilates is a great way for many women to keep in shape by staying toned and flexible. However, with all the changes of pregnancy, some pregnant women may wonder if it's a safe exercise, given their special needs. Many pilates instructors and fitness experts agree that not only is pilates safe to practice during pregnancy, but it is actually one of the best exercises for pregnant women because it is low impact and adaptable.

Some Benefits

Exercise throughout pregnancy has many benefits, which are good for both the mother and the developing baby. Many studies show that women who exercised during pregnancy gave birth to children who were more likely to be leaner and suffer fewer health problems throughout their childhood.

Here are some of the benefits of practicing pilates during pregnancy:

Increases energy
Improves muscle tone and strength, which will make labor easier and speed recovery
Improves balance and align posture
Strengthens pelvic floor
Decreases back pain
Helps regulate hormones, especially stress hormones
Stabilizes mood

Each woman will respond in different ways, but in general, practicing pilates will help improve overall well-being and fitness so that you can expect to have an easier delivery and a faster recovery after childbirth.

Modified Plan

Because of the changes that take place during pregnancy, a pilates practice will need to include some modifications to prevent the risk of injury.
Exercises that involve laying on the stomach or flat on the back should be avoided near the end of the first trimester and after. Laying on the stomach will put too much pressure on the increasing abdomen, and laying on the back can risk cutting off blood flow to the baby and the placenta. Exercises should be done seated, standing, on your knees, or lying on your side.

Avoid any jerky movements. Your body is changing and ligaments and tendons are moving, so any intense or sudden movements can cause injury or pain.

Do not do deep stretches. In pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released which allows for muscles, tendons, and ligaments to move and grow. Therefore, it may be more difficult to assess how far your body can safely stretch as it will be able to stretch farther than it normally could. You risk overstretching or pulling a muscle.
In general, if you feel any pain, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, or headache, you should stop what you're doing and rest.

Suggested Exercises

Though you should adopt a program that suits your individual needs, the following are exercises that are safe to try during pregnancy:

The Saw. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you spread slightly apart. Hold your arms out at your sides, parallel to the floor. Twist to the right and put your left hand on your right foot. Exhale as you stretch through your chest and inhale and you sit up, pulling your abs in. Repeat on the left side.

Spine Stretch
. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you spread slightly apart. Exhale, drawing in your abs and contracting your pelvic floor, then inhale and reach forward, extending the spine. Repeat.

Side Kick. Lie on your side with your head resting on your arm. Keeping your abs tight, exhale and move your top leg forward until your knee and foot are in line with your hip. Repeat and switch sides.

Hip and Thigh Opener. Lie on your side with your head resting on your arm. Keep both legs bent in front of you. Keeping your abs tight, exhale and lift the top leg as high as you can. Focus on your core and keep your hips steady. Repeat.

Finally, before you begin any exercise program during pregnancy, you should consult your doctor to make sure the program is safe for your specific circumstances. Be sure to visit a pilates instructor who has experience with pregnant women.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching leukemia scholarships. Whenever she gets some free time, she enjoys watching a funny movie or curling up with a good book.