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L + L at Home: Hip + Glute Series

Follow along with KerryLyn as she shows us her favorite series to do while she’s out on the road to strengthen and stretch her glutes. Holey socks not required. 😉

KerryLyn loves this series because “it fires my gluteus medius which helps stabilize my S.I. joint.  I have a lot of S.I. joint mobility and I can’t risk it slipping out of alignment while on the road for multiple days of teaching and performances. The “clam” exercise activates my glutes quicker and more efficiently without having to add resistance. My glutes are the most important muscle to me.  Dancing requires a lot of power and I get that from a strong core and base!”

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L + L at Home: Modified Front Row

Welcome to the first post in our series of Long + Lean At Home Favorites! To begin the series, all the Long + Lean instructors are sharing their absolute favorite exercises to do at home!

Founder Hayley’s favorite exercise to do at home is a Pilates Reformer exercise modified for the mat that is great for posture and feels amazing. Here’s why Hayley loves doing Modified Front Row at home:

“This exercise gives me everything I need right now (and always): it stretches my back and hamstrings, opens my chest and shoulders, gives me gentle work in my abs and spinal extensors, and feels invigorating.”

Want to try the Modified Front Row for yourself (you totally should)? Here’s how to do it:

Setup
Sit with your legs extended out in front of you. Make sure you are sitting on your sitz bones with a neutral spine (let your knees bend slightly if you cannot sit up straight with your legs extended). Flex the ankles so your toes point up to the ceiling.

Steps

  1. Round your spine one vertebra at a time, starting from your head, as the arms reach forward towards your feet. Feel the back ribs pull back while energy from the fingers and the heels shoots forward. Think of widening the shoulders on the back, but don’t let them sneak up to your ears. Feel the abdominals gently pull the belly button towards the back as your spine rounds.
  2. Stack the spine up one vertebra at a time, returning to neutral, while carrying the arms straight up overhead. Keep those shoulders relaxed down and the ribs relaxed, not popped forward.
  3. Circle your arms down to the starting position. Feel the pinky fingers reach away from you as though your arms could reach the walls. Repeat 3-5 times.

 

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5 Reasons to Love the Pilates Reformer

Photo by Katie Africano

Everyone knows what a Pilates mat class is. We all see them at the gym, on videos, even outside in the parks during the summer! You’ve got the mat class down, but did you know that Pilates was created with many pieces of equipment including the miraculous machine: The Reformer? If you haven’t experienced Pilates on the Reformer, you have not yet discovered all that Pilates has to offer, and trust me, you should! Here are just 5 of the many reasons you will absolutely love Pilates on the Reformer:

1. You Can Do It!
The number one reason to love Pilates on the Reformer? No matter what your age or fitness level, you can do a Pilates workout on the Reformer! The Reformer’s spring resistance system allows your trainer to adjust the Pilates exercises to meet your abilities and needs. Resistance can be added or taken away in a snap to assist you through an exercise or make it more challenging. The machine may look a little intimidating, but after the first time you get your feet in the straps, the anxiety will pass. You will leave feeling more confident than when you walked in the door because you will have put your legs over your head, stood up on the Reformer, and worked new muscles like a champ!

2. A Truly Full Body Workout
Pilates mat classes are notorious for working the core. Although I absolutely love the Pilates mat workouts, some people find they want more leg and upper body work. The Reformer answers those needs. With a full repertoire of upper and lower body exercises that emphasize core engagement throughout (of course), you will feel every muscles of your body work during each and every Pilates Reformer workout. After only a few sessions, you will experience a more balanced feeling in your body as all of your muscles begin to find their synergy after working together throughout your workouts.

3. Two Words: Eccentric Contraction
The unique spring resistance system forces you to work during all portions of the Reformer exercises, including the release. You will contract your muscles concentrically to perform each movement, and then release with control to engage them eccentrically. This strengthens your muscles in a very functional way that will help you in your day-to-day life, improves the flexibility of your muscles, and helps develop that signature Long + Lean Pilates body.

4. Workout Variety
Have you ever gotten frustrated with a workout that includes 4 moves repeated 50 times to exhaust your muscles? I have! Although that method does build strength, it can be incredibly boring and hard to stick with. Pilates Reformer workouts take you through a whole series of workouts, repeating each movement only 6-12 times. You will often work the same muscle group in multiple exercises, but in a different way each time. There is a beautiful flow to the Pilates Reformer exercises that keep you moving and guessing what will come next. Each Long + Lean Pilates Reformer session is a bit different from the one before it. Whether it’s changing up the order of the exercises, or trying new variations, your Pilates Reformer workout will never feel like the same old thing.

5. It Just Feels Good!
The beauty of the Pilates Reformer workout is in its ability to work all of your muscles without exhausting them. You build strength without reaching fatigue while also creating improved range of motion in your joints and improving your flexibility. Each session will leave you feeling energized, relieve stress, improve your posture, and relieve joint pain. Many people say they feel longer and taller after their Pilates workouts and Pilates is famous for relieving back pain and rehabilitating injuries. Bottom line? You will feel soooo good after your Pilates Reformer sessions!

Ready to feel amazing and try Pilates on the Reformer for yourself? Contact us today to set up your introductory appointment at our Allentown Studio on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo!

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Core Strength: What’s the Big Deal?

Reason numero uno for doing Pilates is always….”amazing core strength!” Pilates is a method built around strengthening the core and just about everyone out there tells you to increase your core strength. But why? What does increased core strength give you?  First let’s talk about what the core actually is…

Yes, the core includes your abdominal muscles.  That means not just your six pack muscles (the rectus abdominis), but also your internal and external obliques, and your transverse abdominis. Pilates works all of these abdominal muscles, thank goodness, because they are all integral to having strong and flat abs. But your core goes beyond your abs. Also included (and worked in Pilates) are the pelvic floor, glutes, multifidi, diaphragm, psoas, lats, and quite a few other muscles of the back and hips that stabilize your pelvis, spine, and shoulder girdle. The important thing to know here is that a strong core means more than six pack abs.

Pilates is such a great workout because it works all of those muscles listed above in every exercise. Each and every Pilates exercise is designed to work your core and train your body to stabilize your limbs with those support muscles. Pilates devotees all have super strong and efficient core muscles. When I say efficient I mean they’re quick to engage and support you when the body needs to move and do all the crazy things your life asks you to do.

So let’s talk about why that’s so important…the core muscles, especially the deep ones like the pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, and psoas, are the muscles that turn on just before your mover muscles (quads, pecs, etc.) start performing. The deep core should work intuitively to protect your spine and support your pelvis while your limbs are moving freely. That’s another thing about core strength: when you have it, your other muscles don’t have to try to compensate so they’re free to do their own job easily and effectively. Movement efficiency means you work less to get the same thing done, which is so amazingly important for athletes but also for everyone else too.

As I mentioned before, core strength supports your pelvis and protects your spine. Which will, in turn, protect your from injury and keep you free of back issues and pain. Injuries can occur to anyone, not just athletes and weekend warriors. You can hurt yourself twisting to get a bag in the car, bending over to pick up your toddler, walking down your driveway. Also, core strength will improve your balance and coordination, meaning you won’t fall as easily or you’ll be able to recover from a stumble without spraining your ankle.

Beyond all of these benefits that will make you move better and feel better, core strength will help you look better too! Not only will focusing on your core muscles give you a flatter belly, slimmer thighs, and a toned behind, core strength also helps improve your posture and make it easier for you to sit up and stand tall without having to work too hard at all.  A strong core will give you the ability to maintain great posture without even having to think about it. Woohoo!

Are you convinced that having a strong core is well worth it? Great! Now come do Pilates with Long + Lean and start strengthening that core!!