Tag: class

Gain the Edge: Pilates Boosts Cycling Performance

If you take regular cycling classes or are an avid cyclist, Pilates can be used as a cross training tool.

Whether performed on the mat or specialized equipment, Pilates increases core strength and stability. If your core is stable, your body can devote energy and power to your legs. When flexibility improves, risk of injury to neck, spine, knees, and lower back is lessened.

Benefits specifically related to cyclists include:

  • Greater effectiveness of pedal stroke
  • Increased upper body strength
  • Prevention of lower back pain
  • Better endurance through focused breathing
  • Correction of muscle imbalances

Next time you ride, think about how your body is positioned on the bike. Proper alignment helps you power up hills and sprint past opponents.

Most common postural faults are:

  • Rounded (hunched) shoulders
  • Excessive curve of spine
  • Forward head posture
  • Tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and low back muscles

Pilates can help correct these faults. It promotes proper body mechanics and postural awareness. Joseph Pilates believed that “the mind moves the body”. Pilates gives you the tools to create that body awareness.

Regular Pilates also helps prevent common injuries and discomfort. For example, cycling works mainly the quadriceps (front thigh). This can lead to a strength imbalance in the leg muscles and to muscle injury. Therefore, having balance between the quadriceps and the ‘opposing’ muscle group— the hamstrings — boosts the recruitment of those under used muscles. The body works as a unit, giving you the edge.

Consider adding Pilates to your workout regimen—it can pay off big; enhancing your performance and enjoyment of cycling as well as the activities of daily living.

Here’s an exercise to get you started: Single Leg Stretch.

What’s the Difference? Mat vs. Equipment

Pilates, a system of exercise created by Joseph Pilates, was originally designed to be a one-on-one personalized workout with an instructor. Nowadays, thanks to late night infomercials and books galore, Pilates seems to be thought of as just a generic “mat class”, but the true intention is to use any and all of the spring-loaded equipment created by Joe, including mat, to find and strengthen weakness in the body. Not every body needs every exercise. The work is most effective when tailored to you.

It may help to understand where Joseph Pilates came from. Joseph Pilates was a sick child, suffering from asthma and rickets, and was determined to create a healthy body for himself. So, he studied yoga, wrestling, gymnastics and acrobatics, and throughout his life put together a series of exercises using a mat. He started teaching mat conditioning, and quickly noticed how nearly impossible it was for most people, so he knew they needed something else to support their mat work.

At the same time, he was German national in an internment camp and many of the people around him were injured soldiers. For the injured soldiers he attached heavy springs to their hospital beds, so they could strengthen their bodies from bed. This design evolved into the “Cadillac” or “Trapeze Table” that current Pilates instructors use to strengthen legs, arms, chest, back and of course abdomen.

The Universal Reformer, or another “bed on springs,” offers additional resistance in order to provide more stability or to provide an added challenge to those who need it. When Pilates is taught one-on-one (the ideal way), the instructor typically incorporates work on the reformer and mat, as well as other Pilates apparatus, based on your needs. The individual session caters to the specific needs of the client, where each exercise is systematically performed and specifically chosen for you.

The focal points of his work are to increase lung capacity, to improve core strength and to use one’s mind to control body movements.

Hence, the six Pilates principles evolved:

  1. control
  2. Centering
  3. Concentration
  4. Precision
  5. Breath
  6. Flow

The work on the mat, where your muscles create the resistance, and the apparatus, where springs create the resistance, complement each other. As you become stronger by working on the apparatus, consequently, the mat work often becomes more challenging and fulfilling. Including private Pilates sessions in your fitness regime will better allow an instructor to focus on your individual needs, and will help you to develop the strength and flexibility necessary to correctly perform and benefit fully from the mat work.

Your workout should never feel easy, but should always present new and different challenges as you work your powerhouse deeper. So, enjoy the “journey” that is Pilates. It’s well worth the hard work!

To introduce Pilates in to your workout regime, or inquire about private Pilates instruction, please contact Pilates Director Danielle Zack.

What is Self-Defense Training?

The martial arts have so many reasons why people participate in them weekly, from breathing arts, to sport arts, to combat arts, and traditional fighting styles. The formats all have self-defense practicality, and lifesaving skills that will be introduced to you from your practice. If you want to do a crash course on self-defense then try a seminar/workshop.

The material is simple to learn, geared towards a fast approach to learning practical techniques for getting out of a provoked situation. You don’t have to have a black belt, or a super athlete to go to one. Most class formats are very welcoming to the public, and please look into the format (some can be military based) and require prior experience. I love to teach these seminars with a key chain tool to give the participant a way to be safe and be confident in practicing. What you should expect is to learn how to build a surrounding awareness, know where you are and who’s with you. Learn tested techniques that will work to getting you safe. You should leave feeling like you can practice, imitate the drills, and not get hurt practicing.

Keep your head up confidence is the #1 tool

What to look for in a self defense class:

  • Group setting to practice hands on
  • Learn to use your voice, and body to be a verbal weapon
  • Key chain device (kubaton) used for getting free from holds
  • Safe drills to help you remember escapes and counters
  • Escapes from grabs, holds, and attacks is usual information given

The Seattle Athletic Club Downtown holds Self Defense seminars periodically during the year; sign up for the newsletter to stay connected with what is coming up at the club, or book a session for yourself and friends with Jody Garcia.