Try This!

TRY THIS! GRAB A TOWEL AND GO!

I know how demanding life can be with family, work, and social responsibilities. Sometimes the thought of working out is an unappealing and impossible feat. I hear the reasoning and the excuses all day every day!

Making fitness a priority, setting time aside, and being as efficient as possible to maximize the little time you have is the key to getting your workouts in. There is no longer a need for 90 minute or 2 hour workouts. If you have the time, then more power to you! But if you’re limited on time, like I am, then you have to make good with what you have.

There are so many options these days that don’t require you to even leave your home for a kick ass workout. YouTube videos, on-demand workouts, TRX exercises and so on.

Check out my workout that requires 3 things: (1) YOU (2) 20 minutes (3)¬†2 small towels. Perform these 5 exercises back to back with minimal break in between and feel the burn. ūüôā

#1 SLIDING LUNGES 

lunge

Stand with your feet hip width apart. Place the towel under the right foot and begin to slide the towel back, bending both knees into a right angle. Track your front knee in line with your toes, making sure it does not move in front of the shoelaces.
DO: 20 repetitions on each leg. GO!

 

#2 MOUNTAIN CLIMBING

moutaincimbers

Start in plank position with one towel under each foot. Make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands, body is straight and abdominals are engaged. Slide right leg in to your chest, then slide it back. Slide the left leg in and back. Begin to move faster while maintaining a straight body in plank.
DO: Climb for one minute. Option to widen your legs on the last 15 seconds. GO!

 

#3 SIDE GLIDE LUNGES

side lunge

Stand the feet together with one towel under the right foot. Slide right foot out to the side keeping the leg as straight as you can, while left leg bends and hips lower into a squat. Keep the chest up when lowering your hips. Engage the adductors (inner thighs) and slide the right leg back to the left leg. Repeat and then switch.
DO: 20 repetitions on each leg. GO!

 

#4 PIKE UPS

pikes

Start in plank position with both feet on a towel. Shift your weight forward into the arms and start to draw your abdominals in to slide your feet to the hands, keeping the legs as straight as you can. Slide back into plank pose to start again. Engage your abdominals to avoid the hips from dropping when sliding back to plank.

DO: 15 repetitions. GO!

 

#5 KNEES IN / KNEES OUT

knees in (1)

Start in plank position with both feet together on a towel and shoulders directly over the hands. Use your abdominals to pull both knees in towards your chest then extend legs back out into plank. Slide both knees to the outer right arm then slide back to plank. Repeat on the left and then back to the middle. Keep your weight in the hands and your arms strong throughout the set. Slightly round the back to engage your Serratus anterior muscles and refrain using the lower back for support when sliding back to plank.
DO: 15 repetitions (middle, left, and right is considered 1 rep). GO!

 

There are so many exercises you can do with a towel but these are my fave.¬†This workout gets your heart rate up and targets several different muscles groups. Challenge yourself and perform these exercises back to back for 4-5 sets with minimal break in between. There’s no way you won’t get a sweat going!

Great workout – Minimal Time – No Equipment – In Your Home! What’s better than that? LET’S GO!

home_be_more_flexible_larger

Hey Man…You Need Yoga!

In the female dominated world of yoga, I’m actually seeing more men attending my yoga classes. Although the classes I teach are more of a power yoga style, they’re still coming week after week and I love it. It shows me that the old association of yoga being touchy feely, only for women and for hippies is finally making its breakthrough. Men are understanding the importance of adding yoga and stretch to their fitness routine and those who are consistent are seeing results.

With my experience in teaching yoga and performing personalized¬†stretch sessions, it’s evident that yoga and stretch are great for the body and can increase potential in very specific activities. Here are some examples!

Mike Loves Yoga & Stretch
My good friend and trainer, Mike plays football and in order for him to be faster and more agile on the field, he needs to move in different planes of motion at max speed. If his hip flexors and rotators are tight, his ability of moving quickly and easily is limited to a very specific range. He can lack power in agility or move too quickly when tight which can cause an injury. Mike stretches with me once a week in addition to taking yoga classes.  Great job, Mike!

Manuel Loves Yoga & Stretch
My man loves his overhead squats! This CrossFit exercise requires specific muscle mechanics in order to execute safely and properly. So much mobility, flexibility, and stability is required in the shoulders, hips, hamstrings, glutes and adductors. Without a full range of motion or flexibility in those muscles, this exercise becomes increasingly difficult and unsafe to perform. Manuel spends at least 15 minutes after his workout to stretch, takes my power yoga class, and will grudgingly take a class with me. Yay Manuel!

Jonathan Loves Yoga & Stretch
Jonathan¬†owns a finance company and barks orders all day long to over 100+ employees. He is consistently in demand and pulled in every direction. The stress and tension he feels every day is unbearable at times and the only way he can wake up the next morning to handle the pressure all over again is to create space in his body and mind. But that doesn’t come without challenge. In our stretch sessions, he is forced to succumb to specific yoga poses, stretches, and breathing that help release physical and mental tension. Without this, he would not perform at the peak level his work demands of him.¬†Way to go, Jon!

There you are…solid proof that yoga does a man’s body good.
Here are 4 poses/stretches that all men can benefit from. So whether you perform agility sprints, deep squat, or run a successful company, these are the go-to stretches that will change your life!

LOW LUNGE (ANJANEYASANA)

lunge

Low Lunge

Benefits:
1. Stretches hip flexors (illiopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius) and rear of the hips (piriformis and glutes)
2. Strengthens quadriceps of the front leg, helping to support and increase stability in the knee
3. Promotes balance and mental focus

Make sure to:
– Align your front knee above the ankle
– Drop your hips down, engage your abdominals to protect the lower back, and lift the chest up

DOUBLE PIGEON (AGNISTAMBHASANA)

doublep

Double Pigeon

Benefits:
1. Stretches outer hips (gluteal group, tensor fasciae latae) and lateral rotators (piriformis, quadratus femoris, gemellus, obturators, psoas, sartorious)
2. Increases range of motion at the hips
3. Therapeutic for stress relief and anxiety

Make sure to:
– Sit as far forward as you can on your sit bones or in front of your tailbone.
– Align your foot directly on the knee and bottom foot directly below the knee.
– Flex both feet to protect and stabilize the knee joint

DOLPHIN POSE (MAKARASANA)

dolphin

Dolphin Pose

Benefits:
1. Opens upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and feet
2. Strengthens core, arms, and legs
3. Calms the brain and helps to relieve stress and tension
4. Great prep pose for forearm stand inversion
5. Relieves headache, back aches, and fatigue

Make sure to:
– Keep the legs as straight as you can and press the heels down to the floor
– Keep a neutral pelvis and slight arch in the lower back
– Press firmly into the forearms to stabilize shoulders and upper back
– Draw shoulders blades down to relax the trapezius from overworking

RECLINED SPINAL TWIST (SUPTA MATSYENDRASANA)

spinaltwist

Reclined Spinal Twist

Benefits:
1. Stretches mid to lower back muscles, pectorals (chest), shoulders, hips and glutes.
2. Stimulates and detoxifies the organs
3. Lengthens, relaxes, and realigns the spine
4. Encourages blood flow and aids with the health and function of your digestive system

Make sure to:
– Adjust your hips to align with your spine before dropping your knee to twist. For ex: if you drop your left knee to the right, move your hips slightly to the left before doing so.
– Relax your neck and try to connect both shoulders to the floor
– Breathe deeply when you twist

There are so many more stretches and yoga poses that are beneficial but these are perfect to do when limited on time. They target the hips, shoulders, lower back and chest – the most commonly tight areas in men. Women can absolutely benefit from these stretches, too. All stretches are great as long your body is set up properly and they’re performed safely.

Yes…yoga and stretching can be boring, monotonous, time consuming, and painful. But we work so hard all day to compound, contract, and tighten our muscles with daily activity, workouts, and simply living life. Take the time to create space, lengthen, and reverse those effects so you can move freely and never feel limited in the potential of your body! Spend some time stretching after your workouts, take a yoga class or learn more about my Stretch Sessions. Now…Go Stretch!

2a_Train_Strength(8593)

SERRATUS EXERCISES = STRONGER CORE

Since my last blog post on the “secret core muscle” and why it’s so important in our workouts, I’ve been obsessed with teaching my students how to target and strengthen the serratus anterior muscles. I want them to understand and feel the recruitment of these muscles and how they help increase upper body strength and develop a stronger, more efficient core.

Here are the exercises and tips that I’ve been teaching to strengthen and tap into the power of the Serratus Anterior.

SERRATUS PUSH UPS
I heart this exercise and love to challenge my yoga students by adding them to the sequencing. Not only does it help with deep breathing but it creates a drawing in effect that will instantaneously make you feel lighter.

 

ktszs

Targeting Tips:

#1 Stack shoulders directly above the elbows and keep body weight forward.
#2 Initiate the movement from the shoulder blades to isolate the upper body only.
#3 Press the forearms into the mat to round the upper back as much as possible.
#4 Avoid lifting or dropping the hips. Engaging the abdominals, glutes and legs will help.


CABLE  CHEST PRESS

The primary muscles worked are the pectorals (chest) and secondary muscles are triceps and shoulders. Simply adding scapula protraction and retraction is a great way to get the serratus anterior to engage making this upper body exercise a core workout, too.

cable pull down

Targeting Tips:

#1 Step one foot forward and engage the abdominals to maintain a forward lean.
#2 Begin to extend the arms ending in protraction (rounding) of the shoulders. Squeeze the shoulder blades together when releasing the arms to stretch the chest.
#3 Refrain from moving the hips. Keep movement in the upper body only.
#4 Exhale and round the upper back to fully engage the serratus and abdominals.


KNEELING CABLE CRUNCH

This effective exercise recruits the help of several muscles. Your entire upper body and hips help to stabilize and support the movement while the rectus abdominis and serratus are the target and synergistic muscles.

Pulldowns

Targeting Tips:

#1 Focus on articulating the movement from a flat back to a rounded back. Bring the elbows to the legs by curling the upper body down to the lower body.
#2 Keep back and abdominal muscles engaged when allowing the resistance to lift your torso.  This will help to avoid a swinging motion.
#3 Hips and neck remain neutral and stationary through the exercise.

TRY THIS!
3 sets of 15-20 reps of each exercise. Add weight or resistance to develop more strength and power.
Add to any upper body workout and get the core working. Add to a yoga sequence to discover deeper breathing and a drawing-in effect when coming up to inversions.

We’ve all heard it before “…working muscles that we never thought we had”. The Serratus Anterior are one of those muscles. ¬†Focusing and strengthening this secret core muscle¬†will create mind-body awareness and help you harness an untapped resource. ¬†HAVE FUN!

 

trx

Stretch with TRX

Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) is a suspension training program that’s known for its strength workouts. The exercises are functional, effective and all dynamically challenge your core by leveraging gravity and your bodyweight as resistance.¬†Here is a great TRX exercise that gets the heart rate up while tapping into your core.

As much as TRX is known for its intensity, it also serves as a great tool to assist in exercises so one can develop better and stronger form. I love using TRX for my workouts but more recently discovered its assistance for getting deeper into yoga poses. Check out these great yoga stretches to try with TRX!

UPWARD FACING DOG
This pose is a back bend and requires strength in the abdominals, legs and upper body to hold the pose. Using the TRX will allow the hips to drop lower giving a better stretch in the abdominal wall and chest. Shifting the weight forward into upward facing dog can be challenging so be sure to engage the core and press firmly through the arms to help stabilize when moving.
Keep in mind! (1) Set up so that the straps are directly under the anchor point (2) Lengthening the straps will deepen the stretch but will also require more core strength (3) Press hands into the handles to push back to standing

updog

fur1w

LOW LUNGE TO STANDING SPLIT
One of my favorite hip openers is Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge). This pose stretches the hip flexors particularly rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) which are both very tight muscles due to prolonged sitting or overuse in exercise. Standing split is a balancing pose that challenges the core and leg strength while stretching the hamstrings. So combining the two poses is not only a great warm up but a great way to open up two very commonly tight areas (hip flexor and hamstrings). The release in both will immediately alleviate lower back pain and tension.
Keep in mind! (1) Twist the handles together so they make one big handle/one strap and line up directly under the anchor point (2) Keep the back leg in strap straight when in low lunge pose (3) Keep the front knee slightly bent when in standing split (4) Make sure to keep a flat back and chest up when in low lunge

Lunge

lowlunge

HALF ANKLE TO KNEE (PREP FOR TIP TOE POSE)
A very challenging hip opener as it requires flexibility in so many areas. All muscles in the LPHC (lumbo-pelvic-hip complex) must be open to sit in the full Tip Toe Pose. However modifying with half ankle to knee helps to release tension in the glutes and hip external rotators. The TRX straps will help with balance so that you can sit as low as you can while keeping a straight spine. Moving from seated to standing position will warm up the hip but also strengthen the quadriceps of the standing leg. This stretch will also help deepen your Pigeon Pose and Seated Ankle to Knee.
Keep in mind! (1) Keep your back straight and chest up (2) Very important to flex the foot placed on the knee to protect the joint (3) Move hips back (as if sitting in a chair) when bending the knee (4) Don’t be afraid to use the arms to help pull up to standing

ankleknee

Stretching is an essential part of being fit. Without full of range of motion, your body is restricted to complete any exercise or pose in its proper and ideal form. Find time to incorporate stretching and/or a yoga practice into your weekly fitness routine. Using fitness props such as TRX straps, blocks, yoga straps, bolsters will aid tremendously on modifying and assisting so the body is aligned and working safely, efficiently and pain free. Now…Go Stretch!

Header_blog

Workout Before (& After) You Pig Out!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s when I really take the day off, hang with my family, laugh, play games, and relax. I know most of us love all of the above but let’s face it…we’re more excited about gorging our faces with multiple servings of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie. I’m not for pigging out but I know how delicious the dishes are on this holiday (my mom makes the most amazing stuffing…hands down!). So if you plan on stuffing face all day long and consuming, what the news has reported, well over 3,000 calories in one sitting, then working out is a MUST!

Here’s a quick and effective workout to do before and after your feasting marathon:

Blast the Calories with Cardio: 20 minute treadmill workout

3 min     5.0 Р6.0 speed at 5.0 incline
2 min     6.0 Р6.5 speed at 8.0 incline
1 min     6.0 speed at 3.0 incline
2 min     7.0 Р11.0 speed at 3.0 incline
1 min     4.5 Р5.0 speed at 3.0 incline
2 min     5.0 Р6.0 speed at 6.0 incline
2 min     6.0 Р7.0 speed at 8.0 incline
1 min     6.5 Р7.0 speed at 1.0 incline
1 min     7.5 Р11.0 speed at 1.0 incline
1 min     3.5 Р4.5 speed at 1.0 incline
2 min     6.0 Р7.5 speed at 3.0 incline
1 min     5.5 Р6.5 speed at 1.0 incline
1 min     4.0 speed at 1.0 incline
*Please modify by decreasing speed only when needed.

Blast the Belly with Core Work: 3 sets back to back

1. Elbow Plank to Hand Plank: 1 minute total
Stay in elbow plank for the first 30 seconds then press up into hand plank for another 30 seconds.

2. TRX Mountain Climbing: check out my post for instructions. Can also be performed without TRX.

3. Alternate leg raises: 20 reps on each leg
Support your neck with your hands then press your lower back into the floor to lift your shoulders up. Lower one leg down then switch legs. 

4. Elbow to side plank: 10x each side
Start in elbow plank. Shift your weight onto your right side, stacking your feet into side plank. Then go back to elbow plank and switch to the left side.

5. Hand plank reverse crunch on stability ball: 15 reps
Set up in hand plank with your shins on a stability ball. Perform a reverse crunch by rolling the ball towards your chest while keeping your shoulders on top of the wrists. Extend your legs and repeat.

Let’s get¬†to work! Work hard, burn those calories, and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal…guilt free! Have a happy one!

 

IMG_6918

Burpees, Push Ups, Squats…OH MY!

I’m a one-on-one trainer at heart but I’ve been leading more classes lately to expose myself to groups and to tap into a different side of my teaching. One of the main reasons I stick to personalized fitness training is because I can focus on teaching form and technique to make sure my students move safely and in alignment. But as of late, I’ve struggled with coaching several people performing exercises in ‘eh’ form and most in terrible form. I cringe when I teach these classes and I have to force myself from stopping the class so I can show the proper form. Instead I try to emphasize what muscles to use and the importance of correct form. But I’m losing this battle and I’ve come to terms that I can’t force people (or their bodies) to cooperate in these classes.

The three exercises that are most commonly performed in poor form are burpees, push ups, and squats. And that’s not only in a class setting but also on the gym floor and in training sessions. They’re all challenging exercises that require full body strength and range of motion so it makes sense why they are often done incorrectly. Let me explain the proper form for each with the help of my student, Nadia, in the video clips and images below.

BURPEES: A dynamic and full body exercise that requires strength and cardio endurance. A burpee should only be done by someone who has already developed a foundation in strength and balance and can understand how the body should land and exert force.
Most common mistake: Jumping back and landing in plank. There is too much compression in the spine when jumping back into a plank pose. Repeated jump backs into plank can create lower back pain and possible spinal disc injury.
Fix it! Once you jump back into plank, quickly jump forward again. In the advanced version, once your feet are off the ground to jump back, bend your elbows right away to land your chest to the floor.

Modified Burpee

Modified Burpee

Advancedburpee

Advanced Burpee

PUSH UPS: A calisthenic exercise that requires a pressing up of the entire body weight in plank pose. The muscles in the upper body and core are essential for strength and stability. Another exercise that requires full body strength.
Most common mistakes: Those not strong enough to perform a push up will usually (a) sink their lower back which shows minimal or no core engagement (b) less than 45 degree bend in the arms which shows weakness in the upper body (c) bobbling of the head which shows they’re not moving from a solid foundation and just trying to get through the exercise.
Fix it! Nadia shows us a perfect push up below. If your upper body is not quite strong enough, drop your knees to modify. Another great alternative is to elevate your platform which will decrease the load you have to press up.

Perfect push up

Perfect push up

Pushup_platform

SQUATS: A compound, full body exercise that requires strength primarily from the lower body and isometrically from the entire body especially the core and upper body. I was always under the impression that squats were only for the legs and glutes. But this exercise requires full body engagement and is used as a great assessment to show strengths and weaknesses in the body.
Most common mistakes: If the body is not fully engaged, you will most often see (a) knees collapsing towards each other (b) deep lower back arch (c) heels lifting up and knees falling forward past toes.
Fix it!¬†There is no shame in using a stability ball for support in perfecting your squat. Place the ball against the wall and position your back against the ball. Align your feet hip distance, bend your knees to lower down into your squat. Make sure your knees don’t go past your shoe laces and your lower back keeps its natural arch and rolls against the curve of the ball. Using TRX is also a great way to work on your squats. The TRX straps assists to keep your spine erect while your lower body can focus on proper form. Using these modifications are great ways to build strength so eventually you won’t need them.

Squatversions

It’s not anyone’s fault that they can’t perform these 3 exercises in perfect form. ¬†They’re all really tough exercises. ¬†Most people don’t have enough knowledge or information on how to do so. Or more than likely, their bodies may not be able to move that way that day. So modify, move with consciousness and effectively. This will ensure a safe workout so you can continue your workouts…pain free!

julia-01

Practice to Make it Perfect..For You!

Taking classes and working with a trainer is a great way to get motivated and achieve your fitness goals. An experienced teacher instructs your every move so no need to think about what exercises to do and how to challenge yourself. However an important component of working out is to understand what your body needs. Creating your own workouts and yoga practice is essential to figuring out what you need so you can make your body work better for you!

I had lots of comments and questions from my blog post about my weekly workouts on how I build my own yoga practice. It actually took me awhile to do this. I was unsure of what poses to do and what to do next. I remember taking yoga classes when the teacher would ask everyone to work on their own and do what our bodies needed. I always looked around the room for ideas on what poses to do and exchanged confused looks with others in the room. But practice made it perfect for me!

So where do you start in building your own yoga practice?

FIRST: Sit and observe.¬†Close your eyes for a moment and pay attention to your body. Acknowledge what feels tight, what’s in pain, or what you’d like to stretch and lengthen.

SECOND: Pick 2 things you want to work on.¬†Any more than 2, your focus will get lost. Once you’ve identified the areas of attention, then go ahead and start moving. Think about the stretches and poses you did in class and get right into them.

THIRD: Who cares! Pay attention to only what you want and need. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what others think about your pose or sequence. This is all about you! The less you care about how you look or what people think, the more you are tapping into what you need!

LASTLY: Just breathe. Connect every move with a breath and breathe deeper when holding your poses. Try to stay in each pose for 5-8 breaths. Breathing helps deepen your poses and keep you connected to your body.

Here is a brief clip from my own practice this morning. My focus was on opening the hips to release my tight lower back and quadriceps while creating heat with some core work.

If you need a little guidance, here is a great sequence to get you started! Have fun!

 

3

A Week in the Life of My Workouts

A question that all my students ask me is “What do you do for your workouts?” I answer vaguely so to not take up too much of their time talking about me. So I’d like to finally break down the week in the life of my workouts!

Header_blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY:¬†Most dread Mondays but I get excited for it because I get to run with my dog, Drogo. Weather permitting, I start the day off with a brisk walk to the park and once I get to Bridle Path in Central Park, it’s full speed ahead. I get bored easily so I mix things up with variations of running (sprints, skips, tip toes, backwards) and always add shuffles (regular and criss cross). I also find an area where I can do some resistance training. Some great exercises that can be done on a park bench: push ups, step ups, tricep dips, leg raises, mountain climbers, planks, and side planks. I add in walking lunges, squats/jump squats, frog squats and side lunges to make it a full body workout.

TUESDAY: This is my HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) day. I have very little time so I make sure every minute counts. My warm up is 20 minutes on the Stairclimber (with rotating steps). This helps get the heart rate up, warm up my legs, and gets me pumped for what’s to come. I love kettle bells and TRX so I make sure I incorporate both. Here is an example of a routine that I’ll work on.
– 30 walking lunge steps with kettle bell or free weights
– 15 TRX single leg lunges (each leg)
– 20 kettle bell swings
– 15 single arm rows with kettle bell
– 20 TRX Jump Squats
– 15 close grip push ups
– 10 single-leg plank to arm core exercise (each side)
– 25 leg raises
– 1 minute plank to side plank
– Forearm stand
– 5 minute jump roping
REPEAT! I’m in and out in an hour!

WEDNESDAY: This is a dual workout day that gets both the fire and water side in me. I train with my friend and professional boxer, Emmanuelle Brujan at Work Train Fight Gym and punch his mitts senseless for an hour. Not only is this a great cardio and strength workout but he keeps me on my toes and teaches me how to react quickly to defend myself. Later on in the day, I find time to work on my own yoga practice. I use this self practice as a way to tune in, give my body a break, and create some clever sequencing and techniques to teach my students for the week.

THURSDAY: This is my day to focus on strength training. I’ll warm up with either the stair master, a run in the park, or some TRX squats with some dynamic stretching. I focus on the larger muscle groups and work on developing them with more weight, less reps and with super sets or drop sets. I’ll do a sequence of 5-6 exercises back to back then jump on the treadmill for a 3 minute sprint and then rest/stretch for a minute before I start again. Most sequences are done in 3 successions and then I’ll move on to another muscle group. I usually hit legs, back, core, and arms for this workout. I walk out feeling like She-Ra but am sore for days after.

FRIDAY: This is probably my fave day of the week. Friday class at Katonah Yoga with Phillip Askew closes my week. It’s anything but restorative or easy but it’s necessary after all the lifting, pushing, and pounding I do all week. I get to stretch, lengthen, and practice my inversions with the “Inversion King”. I leave class feeling long, lean, and accomplished.

I like to rest over the weekend but if up to it, I’ll sneak in a quick run in the park. My weeks don’t always pan out as planned but the workouts do remain the same. I may throw in a class here there (I love Barry’s Bootcamp and BollyX) and try to explore other fitness studios (Brick’s BX class is next on my list). Variety in your workouts are important not only to challenge your body but to keep you interested and sticking to a routine. A combination of power/strength workouts with stretching and lengthening sessions work for me. So whatever floats your boat, always listen to your body and be sure to rest. It will only make you better for next week’s workout.

2d_Train_all

The “Tipping Point”

After years of teaching and doing yoga, I still struggle with inversions. So much so that I included it on my first post of 2014 as one of my New Year’s “explorations”. I have been practicing “Going Upside Down” several times a week and have finally understood the “tipping point” of inversions which has served as an epiphany in my practice.

Stand up straight and visualize an arrow. Imagine the very top of your head as the arrowhead, your body as the shaft, and your feet as the fletching (feathers). The shaft of the arrow will run directly down the center of your body, very much like your spine into your pelvic floor. Like Mountain Pose (Tadasana), where you are standing at the top of the mat, you want to maintain that very same line and structure when attempting inversions. Before you go completely upside down, you have to bring your body to stack, which is the hardest part of inversions. Stacking is when your joints are aligned so they can rely on each other for support. Once you’re stacked, you will immediately feel the “tipping point” where your centerline will find its natural place. Falling out of inversions won’t happen as often because you will be able to catch your body before it does.

Check out my video! I demonstrate in headstand how the “tipping point” can help you find your center in these very challenging inversions. Try it and let me know how you do!

Barefoot-Running

The Power of Barefoot Workouts

Since Christopher McDougall‚Äôs ‚ÄúBorn To Run‚ÄĚ launched and Vibram‚Äôs ‚ÄúFive Fingers‚ÄĚ hit the stores, fitness workouts have evolved into what is now a trend. It may seem as if we‚Äôre going back in time, before the technology of footwear with all the bells and whistles of sneakers, where all you need is simply your two feet.

The fitness science of being barefoot is that the foundation of your entire body’s alignment starts with your feet. How your foot lands and connects to the ground shifts placement of the muscles up. For example, pronation of your feet (your arches rolling in) will slightly turn your knees in. Your hip flexors will begin to follow creating a pelvic tilt. That will lead to a slight tug in your lower back. Should this misalignment continue, back pain will begin and more than likely become a chronic issue. Who would have thought your two little feet could be so problematic?

The concept of barefoot training is forcing your feet to work out. Sport stores carry an array of sneakers all geared for specific reasons (pronation, stability, high arch, flat feet and so on) but what they all have in common is that they prevent your feet from moving so the rest of your body does all the work. The job of your feet is to provide balance and absorb some of the shock so that your knees and hips don’t have to. So the stronger your feet, the more they can help keep your body safe and pain free.

Here are some reasons you should consider going barefoot in your workouts:

  1. Stronger feet = better yoga practice

Once your feet start to work, you will find how crucial they are in your yoga practice. Notice how often yoga instructors will instruct you to ground your feet, spread your toes, and connect to the 4 corners. Consciously think about your feet and press firmly into them and you’ll see that Tree Pose can be a breeze!

  1. Lift your arches = tighter booty

I am certified to teach EBFS BARE, which is an entire workout barefoot. This workout is not a piece of cake! Simply pressing into your big toe will lift your arches, forcing you to use the deep rotator muscles in your hip and firing up your Glute muscles. Keep that up during your workouts and you’ll have a tighter booty and stable hips. Woohoo!

  1. Stable ankles to prevent sprains.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned my ankles because of cute wedge sandals or a night out in stilettos. Training your feet will help to build strength and stability in your ankles helping you bounce back from those sprains or prevent them all together.

  1. A runner’s must!

If you’re a runner and wear those heavily supported sneakers, you are just pounding into your knees and hips. Consider a lighter shoe so your feet can start to absorb some shock. Your feet will also help keep the rest of your body in alignment and force the muscles in your legs to work more. You will see a difference not only in your strides but your overall strength and definition in your legs.

 

There are so many opportunities for you to try barefoot training through classes (Pilates, Barre classes, BARE) or just purchasing the right shoe (I love New Balance’s Minimus). Remember when you introduce something new to your body, take it slow, and observe how your body responds to this change. Definitely seek the help of professionals or research the information before you fully jump into it. But this is a change well worth it! Have fun!