Physical/Fitness

Benefits of Pilates

“In 10 sessions you will fee the difference;
in 20 sessions you will see the difference,
and in 30 sessions you will have a new body”

– Joseph Pilates

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I tried my first Pilates reformer class about 7 years ago, and have been hooked ever since.  I didn’t play sports growing up, don’t have the best coordination, nor am I a gym rat, so finding a form of exercise that I really enjoy, challenges me, and has me seeing results can been difficult to find. And since I’m kind of a short fry I tend to bulk up easily with certain workouts, but Pilates helped to get my body really lean, and elongated my muscles in a way I never thought possible.

There are a lot of benefits to practicing Pilates. Not only does it help raise your own body awareness, it helps to lengthen and strengthen your muscles without adding any bulk, creates a strong core (abs and back), helps improve posture, aids in weight loss, increases flexibility, decreases neck and back pain, and basically it just makes your body look amazing!  I’ve even been taking classes about twice a week during my pregnancy (with modifications) and it’s seriously kept me super lean and toned throughout my whole body.

Honestly, I’ve found that Pilates matt classes at gyms and at-home videos are super boring, not that challenging for me, and I never really saw the same results that I did as reformer classes so I def reccomend classes over anything else if you can.  I’ve been to over a dozen different Pilates studios in San Diego, and these are my top three:

Club Pilates: This is definitely my favorite studio in San Diego. There are locations all around the county (and even popping up around the country!!), the classes are really affordable (and they always have amazing specials through Groupon, Living Social and their website), and they offer a ton of variety because they use the reformer, spring board, ballet bar, EXO chair and more in the classes. http://clubpilatesstudio.com

The Pilates Room: This is where I first tried and fell in love with pilates. They have a variety of great non-traditional classes like power classes, abs/buns or arms/abs classes and much more, and have locations popping up all around. http://thepilatesroomonline.com

Core 40: Not your traditional pilates class, this is a 40 minute faster, higher intensity routine that’s also great for men looking for an added challenge. http://www.core40.com

If you don’t live in San Diego, ask around to see what studios people you know are going to, or what I like to do is go to one of the deal websites like Groupon or Living Social to see what Pilates studios are offering good packages and then see what their ratings are on yelp or other websites and check out their feedback.  I love trying out new studios or workouts through these sites because not only are you getting a huge discount, but if you don’t like it then you don’t feel as bad as you would if you were paying full price.

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31-Day Squat Challenge

I’ve always seen these workout challenges posted on social media that challenge you to do a workout challenge for a certain number of days of some sort (abs, butt, push-up, etc.) but have never partaken in one until now. I saw a post about a 31 day squat challenge posted by The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans http://shrinkingjeans.net/2014/06/squat-challenge/ and figured I’d give it a shot since I can always use some help in toning my butt and thighs . . . I mean who can’t right?!

It’s as easy as it can be – they’ve set a schedule of how many squats you need to do for each of the 31 days, and you have a rest day every 5th day. I’m on day 2 so far and have been squeezing my squats in during times I’m just standing around waiting for something – i.e. while I’m blending my protein shake, checking emails, waiting for the water in the shower to heat up, etc. If you need a little bit of an extra challenge, you can add in some hand weights or a kettle ball, or if you’re having a harder time completing them all at once, break them up into smaller reps throughout the day.

Workout Options While on Vacation

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All you need to bring is your favorite pair of sneakers

We are all in need of vacations and getaways to relax, re-set and explore new places.  The last thing on your mind is usually how you’re going to keep on track with your workouts or how to eat healthy foods, but when you get back home you usually feel a few pounds heavier and completely behind on your workouts, which makes it much harder to jump back into your normal routine.  You don’t have to give up on your healthy habits on vacation, and with these tips you can still relax and indulge while you’re on vacation, without setting yourself back in terms of your diet and exercise routine:

  • Plan Ahead:  Before you leave, see what kind of exercise facility options you have available to you.  See if there’s a gym at your hotel or if your gym has other locations that you can use in the city that you’re in, or check out local studios that offer your favorite kinds of classes like yoga, pilates, spinning, or bootcamps.  No gyms or exercise studios? No problem!  Look at area maps for great running/walking paths that you can use to explore the city and get some extra sight-seeing in as well.
  • Balance Out Your Meals:  There’s no doubt that one of the best things about going on vacation is eating a bunch of delicious, regional food.  Every time I travel, I always research the restaurants in the area and plan a good portion of my trips focused on food, but always feel like I indulge the entire time and end up coming home with a few extra pounds and feeling like crap that I indulged more that I should have.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to eat heavy, calorie ridden foods the entire time.  If you know you’re going to a special dinner one night, by all means indulge and enjoy it, but eat a lighter breakfast and/or lunch that day.  Try to keep your treat meals to one a day and eat whatever you want without guilt or remorse, but try to keep it a little lighter and healthier for your other two meals.
  • Choose Your Cocktails Wisely:  I love me some pina coladas, but don’t love me the calories that come with them.  Most mixed drinks are filled with sugary mixers, juices and are loaded with extra calories that we don’t need and can easily avoid.  Treat yourself with your favorite cocktail as your first drink, but move on to more calorie conscious cocktails after like vodka or tequila sodas with fresh lime, light beers, or ask your bartender to make you a low calorie version of your favorite cocktail.
  • Walk, Walk, Walk:  In my opinion, the best way to get around and really get to know a city is by walking.  Skip the cabs and tour busses, throw on some comfy walking shoes and hit the streets.  You never know what gems you’ll find off the beaten path, so take to the streets and explore!
  • Do the Basics:  Can’t find a gym or can’t go outdoors due to weather or location? No problem!  Stick to the basics – do a few sets of sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, lunges, squats and planks for a full body strength training workout.
  • Pack some Healthy Snacks:  It’s always a wise idea to bring some healthy snacks along with you when you travel.  Bring some protein or meal replacement bars, nuts, dried fruit or protein powder for shakes along with you for a healthy and quick snack or meal on the go.