Tag: Core Strength

Improve Your Balance, Stability and Strength with a Bosu Ball

The Bosu ball is an excellent piece of equipment that can be incorporated into any exercise routine. Whether you are an elite level athlete or simply want to increase your balance and stability, the Bosu will help in a wide variety of ways.

As with any balance exercise, make sure that while using the Bosu ball you have something that is anchored to the ground close by. You will be purposely placing your body in unstable situations and you may lose your balance throughout the exercises. Having something close by will make you feel more comfortable and progress more smoothly through the exercises until you develop the needed strength. Remember, safety first.

Bosu stands for Both Sides Up, meaning you can stand or place your hands on either the black side or the blue side. Both sides change the degree of instability in different ways.

When standing on the blue side of the Bosu you recruit more ankle and foot stabilizing muscles since the foot does not have a solid place to make a balance point. This is great for runners who are training on variable of surfaces or people who may be worried about falling or twisting an ankle. By subjecting the foot to the instability of the Bosu you will train it to be prepared to react quickly when placed in a similar situation. This can be anything from hitting a rough spot in the ground, a tree root, or, of course the worst of all, holes. The Bosu will help you train for injury prevention as well as treatment of ankle or knee injuries.

The black side of the Bosu focuses more on the knee to hip complex and less on the ankle (the ankle will still be very much active). Since the black surface is perfectly flat, the ankle no longer has to struggle for stability. However, since the blue side is now touching the ground, the rest of the body must work together to maintain balance.

Exercises to Try:
Single Leg Step-up (blue side first then progress to the black side)
Place the foot directly in the center of the Bosu on the blue side. Let the circles on top of the ball guide you to proper foot placement. Contract the muscles through the leg that is on top of the Bosu and step up bringing the opposite knee up to assist with balance. When you first start, the goal is to get up and touch back down in the same spot. As you get into a rhythm, start holding longer at the top of the movement, testing your balance.

Basic Squat (blue side first then black)
Blue Side Facing Up: Stand on top of the blue side of the Bosu with both feet. You want your feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Find your balance by relaxing your legs and extending your spine up from the crown of your head. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat.

Black Side Facing Up: While holding on to a secured object place one foot on the black side of the Bosu, fully tilting it to one side. Contract the muscles of that leg as you press yourself up and place the opposite foot on the other side of the Bosu. Your toes should be pointed forward and your feet should be a little wider than hip width apart. Relax the legs and extend the spine up. Maintain this spine length as you bend at your hips and knees to lower down into a squat. Your legs will most likely shake as they struggle to find stability (this is why we stay close to an anchored object) but as you progress in the exercise your muscles will calm down and the shaking will subside.

Basic Gymnastics Workouts, No Spandex Singlets Necessary

When you think of gymnastics maybe you think of little girls doing flips or young men doing the pummel horse. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you see it as something that is specialized and not for you. But I’m here to tell you this is not the case. The great thing about adding in basic gymnastic exercises is that you get to test your strength, range of motion, balance, stability, and core strength. You need little to no equipment and you get to be creative and use your body as a weight. Some amazing basic movements you can try are;

  1. The gymnastic push-up. This is a variation of the push up, finger tips face back towards your toes and hands move from directly under your shoulders to a new position closer to your hips. This allows you to build strength while at the same time increasing wrist flexibility, shoulder stability, and core strength. The closer you can get your hands to your waist the harder it is.
  2. Pistols also known as a one legged front squat. In this exercise the goal is to lower yourself down all the way to a full squat position (butt to heel) while keeping your foot flat, spine extended, and all the while keeping the other leg fully extended in front of you. This exercise is great for balance, increasing range of motion in your ankle, knees, and hips, increase of strength in the quad muscles, and can really elevate your heart rate. If you can’t get to full depth or can’t descend to the bottom position without the heel coming up you can use the TRX for assistance.
  3. Handstands. If you think this exercise has nothing to do with your goals of strength and looking good you couldn’t be more wrong. A handstand is a great tool for opening up your shoulders, using your core for stability, increasing balance, and of course improving your full body strength. I recommend starting against a wall plant hands no more than 2 inches away from the wall, making sure to press out of your shoulders, keep your toes pointed, keep your hips tight and core engaged, and keep the top of your head pointed towards the floor. There are many variations and other ways to increase the difficulty of this exercise before you move away from using the wall.
  4. Ab roll-ups. In this full body exercise you will be focusing on using your abs to generate force and power, this is not your basic crunch! Starting on your back pull your knees into your chest (using your abs) and then throw your feet down to the floor and finish the movement by using that force and speed to stand up. The main keys here are to keep your abs engaged, use the power from your tuck, and make sure to stand up with your hips down and chest up (think a good full range of motion squat, don’t dump your chest forward or round your back). To make it easier use a medicine ball to add more weight and increase speed and to make it harder keep your hands on your chest and don’t let your arms punch forward.

In addition to these body weight exercises there are endless basic exercises you can perform on gymnastic rings, everything from ring dips to pull ups to skin the cats and back levers. Learning the basics of gymnastics can open a new door to more fun and challenging workouts and can help you make leaps and bounds towards increasing core and joint strength. Seems that Mary Lou Retton really knew what she was talking about. Be strong, be powerful, learn how to move your body through a full range of motion, and finally you can use that chalk!

Yoga Pose of the Month: Ardha- Half (twist)

Let’s Do the TWIST!!
Ardha- Half
Matsyendra- Lord of the Fishes

Twist Benefits

  • DeTox’s liver and kidneys, relief for stiff upper back, neck and shoulders, energizes the spine, stimulates digestive fires, and some relief for sciatic discomfort.
  • You know that feeling when you stand up and stretch after a long period of sitting? Ahhh…you can almost feel it!
  • That’s what twisting feels like for your back and internal organs. Monday yoga practices at the SAC, I have been dedicating to the concept of detoxing the body from toxins. Twisting is one of the best ways to use your yoga practice as a tool to feel healthy from the inside, out.

Seattle Yoga StudioTwist it UP!

  1. To start, grab a blanket and fold it firmly under your sit bones, there by elevating your hips, and tilting your pelvic bone forward for more flexible ease in the hips.
  2. Bend one knee, then; step the other foot over the top of the “bent knee” leg. If you have supper tight hips, you can modify by stepping the foot near the ankle.
  3. Exhale as you lengthen the spine and twist the torso towards the bent knee-as if you are wringing out a dishtowel. Keep lifting up through the spine and avoid collapsing the chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute for max twisting benefits.
  4. Counter twist by lying on your back for Bridge Pose or Happy Baby.
  5. There are many variations of twisting poses in a yoga practice. As always I like to plug our wonderful staff of teachers at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown who come up with there own variations of the Twist.

About Tonja Renee Hall
Is a yoga instructor at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown, and for professional sports teams. She uses her 10 years teaching experience here, internationally and in many disciplines of dance, cycling sports, and equestrian sports to inform her teaching. She uses humor and discipline to encourage her students to reach for their personal best. To schedule a private yoga lesson, please refer to her website www.tonjareneehall.com or contact Anna Miller, Group Exercise Director at Seattle Athletic Club Downtown.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Double Leg Stretch

Purpose: As the second exercise in the Stomach Series, Double Leg Stretch continues to challenge your coordination, work the powerhouse and stretch your body.

  1. Lie on your back and hug both knees into your chest, hands reaching toward ankles, head and shoulders lifted off mat.
  2. Inhale and reach the arms overhead back by your ears and your legs straight out in front of you. Raise them off the mat at about a 45 degree angle. Back must not arch off floor.
  3. Exhale and circle the arms around as you bring your knees back into your chest. Remain still in your torso; head and shoulders lifted throughout the exercise.
  4. Repeat 8-10 sets. To finish, hug both knees in toward chest, put head and shoulders on mat.

Seattle Pilates
Visualization: imagine the center of your body thinning out like taffy.

Checklist:

  1. Support your neck by keeping your chin toward your chest as you stretch long.
  2. Squeeze your buttocks and upper inner thighs tightly as you extend your legs to support the lower back.
  3. As you inhale and stretch out, keep your arms straight.
  4. Your abs hold you down on the mat.

Modification: For a sensitive low back, begin with the legs at a 90 degree angle and gradually advance to 45 degrees. Abbreviate the arm movement if you have a delicate shoulder.

Progression: Move directly to Single Straight Leg Stretch – which will be previewed in next month.

Lunch Box Express 45 Minute Workout

Last year Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown talked about the benefits of High Intensity Training. Her latest “Get It Done” lunch time workout applies these principles in a quick 45 minutes.

If you are ready to take your lunch workout to the next level contact Adriana today!

Yoga Pose of the Month: Bridge

Setu = Bridge
Bandha = lock, or bind

To keep the internal fires stoked, a strong yoga practice that includes a little external heat, and back bending is a great way to stay healthy as cold sets into our joints.

Bridge pose is a simple and easily performed backbend. For intense athletes like you, back bending is key to healthy low back and hips.

Let’s Begin:
To start, warm up with a few Sun Salutations or 10 minutes easy pace on the Elliptical or Treadmill machines. Gather props, such as block and blanket if wanting a more restorative pose. Lay down supine on your mat, and begin by drawing your knees up to your chest and with feet at least hip width apart, set your feet firmly down on your mat. I like to begin with “Dynamic Bridge” before settling into the pose. If you have tight hips, feet are as wide as your mat to begin. Push down on your feet; inhale, as you raise your hips and arms up off the floor. Hold for one count, connect with your core and inner thighs, Exhale, and slowly release everything to the floor. Do this 3x’s. Lift your hips the final time, and leave your arms on the floor, push into your feet again as you shimmy your shoulder blades together. As you hold the pose, soften your glutes, and connect more with your inner thighs. This will take the pressure off your low back, and allow for lengthening in the front body. Hold for 5-10 breaths, release.

If your traps and pectoral muscles (major muscle group that contains your chest and upper back) are tight, I suggest you lengthen your arms toward your feet instead of clasping your hands behind the back, otherwise to increase intensity, lift your hips as high as you can and clasp your hands. Be sure to continue lengthening your neck away from your chest so you can breath naturally.

Restorative Variations:
If you have injury in neck or back, or need to relax instead of effort try these restorative alternatives.

  1. As you lift your hips, slide the block under your tailbone for support and fold your weight over the block.
  2. Roll the blanket under your neck for support
  3. Roll the blanket long like a burrito, and lay supine on the roll with your legs straight on the floor, or knees bent if you have low back pain. The roll will lift your chest and shoulders and put pressure on the back of your lungs in a very calming slight back bend variation of Bridge Pose.

Counter pose:
To relax the back after any back bending, twist, or a gentle forward bend. If you have tightness in the hamstrings, roll your blanket under your knees before you forward bend.

Winter Health Tip, from Yoga wisdom:
Most of us contact with winter viral infections, and to stay on top of your health, try a Neti pot; an ancient ayurvedic method for health in winter. A Neti pot looks like a small teapot with a long snout, that you set inside one nostril as warm, slightly salty water pours through your nasal passages, back of the throat, and blows out the other side. You can buy Neti pots from local yoga boutiques, or use a method I do at home. First thing as you waken (before coffee, sorry) mix a tiny dash of salt and warm water in your hands, then slurp up your nose while closing the glottal muscles of the back of your throat. Blow out mixture forcefully. Ok, so the first few times you may feel like you are drowning, but hey, what’s good for you isn’t always fun the first few times. Remember broccoli? Yeah, now you love it!

For extra winter credit, oil up your nose with either sesame or olive oil, after the Neti process.
Let me know how it goes!!

Pilates Exercise of the Month: The Jack Knife

Purpose: This is an advanced mat exercise. It builds strength in your abdominal muscles and stretches the muscles of your back and shoulders.

  1. Lie on the mat with arms long by your sides; palms down. Lift both legs to a 60 degree angle from the mat, keep a slight turn out in your legs.
  2. Inhale, lift the legs to a 90-degree angle, arms continue to reach long, shoulders pinned down. Use your abdominals to roll over- bring your legs over your head and peel your spine off the mat. Your legs remain together and go no lower than parallel to the floor. The weight is on your shoulders, not neck.
  3. Exhale, raise your straight legs upward toward the ceiling, using the strength of your buttocks to support your position. At the peak of the exercise, your feet should be over your eyes. Neck is long; arms continue to press firmly into the mat.
  4. Inhale, start to roll down vertebra by vertebra, slowly resisting gravity. Exhale, to finish, bring the body down to 90 degrees and return legs to starting position. Repeat 3 times.

Checklist:

  • Anchor the back of the head, shoulders, and palms solidly into the mat.
  • Distribute your weight between the shoulders – not on the neck.
  • During Step 2, aim the toes for the wall behind you and don’t allow your legs to separate throughout.
  • Keep squeezing the back of the upper inner thighs and buttocks to support your lower back.
  • On the decent, keep the feet over eyes.

Note: Omit this exercise if you have a bad neck, shoulder, or back.

Visualization: In Step 3, raise your legs to the ceiling, as if opening a Swiss Army knife and snapping it into place.

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Diversifies with TRX

Recently Fitness Anywhere highlighted the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown’s commitment to diversifying workout options for our members.

Located one block north of the historic fish markets in Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Athletic Club (SAC) opened in 1982 and quickly became downtown Seattle’s premier health and fitness destination. Under the direction of internationally renowned squash pro Yusuf Khan, the club drew squash enthusiasts from across the region and is still recognized today for its superior squash program. In addition to squash, the club offers athletic training in a variety of other areas including court sports, MMA, triathlon, golf and youth training, and on the group exercise side, their robust curriculum boosts programs like BODYCOMBAT, BODYPUMP, BOSU Blast, Endurance Cycle, Power Sculpt, Sports Conditioning and Zumba.

SAC prides itself on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends. They pay close attention to clients’ demands and interests for new classes and equipment, which keeps the club evolving with the industry. One such client request was TRX Suspension Training, which SAC introduced in March 2009. Members lapped up this latest offering.

“After my first TRX training, I was hooked!” says member Cathy Garrison. “In a 45 minute workout, TRX strengthened my core muscles to the point of fatigue and at the same time provided an amazing cardio workout. TRX has stepped up my fitness level.”

Currently, three instructors at SAC have taken a TRX Suspension Training Course, which has proved invaluable to them as they continue to incorporate the TRX into their clients’ workouts on a daily basis. “The TRX adds more diversified training for our members. More tools in the tool box helps the members reach their goals,” says personal trainer Katrina Yniguez (performing the TRX Pike above).

The SAC trainers perform circuits with the TRX and other equipment such as kettlebells, jump ropes, BOSU, medicine balls, agility ladders, cones, hurdles, etc. Because the trainers have different areas of expertise, they each work with a unique demographic on the TRX, from young athletes to clients in their mid 30s to 50s to seniors. Regardless their skill level or goal, all clientele have achieved noticeable results from TRX Suspension Training.

Member Margie Duckstead frequently recommends TRX to her fitness-minded friends, citing it as one of her favorite ways to strength train. “I feel less likely to get injured than I do with certain free weights and equipment,” says Duckstead. “It provides great results and is enjoyable in the process.”

From its initial launch, the TRX class offering at SAC has evolved in multiple ways: increased frequency from three days a week to five days and now including one-on-one training sessions; increased visibility to a higher traffic area at the club; and improved anchoring with the TRX MultiMount, which allows up to 10 people to train at once.

Seattle Athletic Club stays committed to continuing to offer members ever-evolving and improved fitness programs and equipment, and the versatility, effectiveness and fun afforded by the TRX Suspension Trainer goes hand-in-hand with this mission.

Visit our TRX Playlist on our YouTube Channel for more great exercise demonstrations.

If you are interested in trying out the TRX Suspension Training, contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway at 206-443-1111.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Pilates Push-Up

Purpose: Pliates Push-up concentrates on the shoulders, chest, arms and upper back. The exercise also stretches hamstrings and challenges abdominals.

  1. Stand tall with your heels against the back edge of the matt; toes turn out in the Pilates V.
  2. Keep hips over heels as you; inhale; pull your navel into your spine and roll your torso down toward mat. Place hands on mat slightly more than shoulder width apart. (Knees can be slightly bent.)
  3. Exhale; walk your hands out onto the mat until your palms are beneath your shoulders and heels over your toes. Your body will be in a Push-up position (or Plank) — a straight line from head to ankles.
  4. Perform 3 Push-Ups (bend and straighten arms) with elbows close to the sides of the body. To come out of the Push-Up, fold up in half, bring your chest toward your legs; press your palms and heels into the mat. Pull your navel in and give yourself a gentle stretch.
  5. Inhale, walk your hands back toward your feet; try to keep your legs straight.
  6. Exhale; roll your body back up to a standing position.
  7. Work up to 3 sets of 3 Push-Ups.

For an advanced challenge, perform the entire Push-Up sequence while balancing on one leg. The same steps apply for the Single Leg Push-Up, but remember to keep your leg lifted throughout the entire exercise. Don’t forget to repeat the exercise on the other leg!

Checklist: In the Plank-body should be in one line, eyes to floor; long neck, hands under shoulders, firm buttocks, heels over toes.
Maintain a firm center, with navel into spine. Don’t allow your middle to drop; that places too much weight on your shoulders.
In the Push Up- elbows into ribs, hips in line with body and legs pressed together.

Note: Omit this exercise if you have a bad wrist or shoulder.

Modification: Bend both knees and kneel on the mat.

Visualization: Imagine the body as a strong, sold bridge or ramp that will not budge under weight.