Thursday, April 26, 2012

On being sick

Even the healthiest people get sick sometimes.  For me, as a Pilates instructor and workout nut, it is so frustrating to take a break.  For one, I hate to cancel classes and disappoint my students.  Also, I like working out.  I like sweating, getting my heart rate up, and feeling my body work hard.  But I have learned from experience to not push myself too hard.  A couple years ago I kept right on teaching through ear and sinus infections.  It ended up in a less than ideal situation that left me with double ear infections, a deep sinus infection, and a jumble of nerves and anxiety.  My body needed a break and was going to get it.

This week, starting Sunday,  I felt exhausted and nauseous.  By Wednesday I had a sore throat and the kind of body aches that go along with a fever.  I headed to the doctor and found out my ears are as close to being infected as they can be with tubes in them.  Plus I am getting over a virus that was causing the sore throat.  So, I cancelled my classes last night.  I couldn't find subs but I still knew I needed to take the night off.  Eat some fattening food.  Get lots of fluid.  So I did.
Today, I was back teaching Pilates.  But left out my normal sprinting practice.  I will teach Reformer and Yoga tonight and that will be it.  I will cycle a bit tomorrow and hopefully be ready for a long run on Sunday.

Being back in Pilates today felt great!  I was a little more tired than normal, but it was nice to workout again.  As a trainer I have seen many students call off because they were sick only to get knocked completely off and never return.  I can see how easy that would be if it's not your job to work out :)
It's scary.  Will you go back to soon?  Will you make yourself sick again?  Every body is different, and if you have a major illness, always ask your doctor first.  But, speaking from experience, you gotta jump right back in!  Take a couple days to recuperate and make sure you are well hyrdrated.  Pick an easy class or an easy workout.  Stop early if you need to.  But most of the time I feel even better once I have gotten that first workout in.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Running happy

It's funny how our perception of something is really what decides our feelings towards a given situation.  I have been training for an upcoming 10K in June.  The Saturday before Easter I set out for my long run for the week.  About a mile in to the run I decided to do a nearly 4.5 mile route with a massive hill.  I had ran the same course early in the winter and had to walk right around the 4 mile mark.  I not only completed the 4.5 mile course, I felt great afterwards!  I could have kept going but what I have learned from running in the past is that it is best to stop at the goal point rather than to keep going and possibly get too tired or strain something.  So, I ended that run feeling awesome, like I could take on the world, and that the 10K in June was going to be easy as pie.
Flash forward to this past Sunday.  I had mapped out the same course plus an extra half mile to make a 5 mile run.  My own personal style of race training is to try to do the full race distance with about a month to spare.  I have a tight/troublesome right IT band that does not do well unless I slowly build to my goal.  The day was very windy but other than that, beautiful.  The first couple of miles felt great.  By the third mile I was running into the wind, which completely changes my stride.  By the fourth mile my IT band started to hurt.  The outside of my right leg, from my knee to my hip, begins to get a cramp, then pain, then I sometimes have to stop.  Not wanting to overdo it I decided to start walking.  Immediate thoughts of failure pop into my head.  I began doubting if I should even do the 10K.  I finished out my run by alternating running with walking, and "only" did the 4.5 mile path.  A distance that was, just one week earlier, an exhilarating accomplishment had now become a let down.  As I was cooling down I tried to focus on the positive.  That I was able to do 4.5 miles.  That I went out to run even though I knew the wind would be in my way.  I also recalled what my hot yoga instructor always mentions as we practice tree pose, a pose where you stand on one leg.  She reminds us to not focus on the fact that we may be wobbly on one leg, but to be thankful, that if needed, we have two strong legs to stand on.  I indeed have two strong legs to stand on, that allow me not only to run but to walk, practice Pilates and Yoga, carry my children, drive my car, ride a bike, and do so many other things that I take for granted.  I moved past my pity party and enjoyed the beautiful spring evening.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Belly Fat

When I first started as a personal trainer a co-worker of mine would tell clients that everyone has a six-pack, it's just buried under different layers of fat.  This is true.  It may not always feel like it, but everyone does have abdominal muscles, just like we all have muscles in our arms, legs, etc.  You may be tempted to do hundreds of crunches to get a wash-board tummy, but, unfortunately, it's not crunches alone that will make that happen.  Below are a few tips on how to get your body ready to bare for summer.

1)  Your workout needs to be well-rounded.  Crunching away will build muscle, but it will not burn fat.  You need to do cardio to burn calories/fat.  Find something you love to do.  Whether it's running, biking, Zumba or walking, you have to like it or you will not be motivated to continue.  For me, a combination of running, cycling and the elliptical work best.  I don't get bored because I keep changing what I am doing. I also try to throw in something different, like Zumba or a hike, every now and then.

2)  A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.  We have all heard this, or some variation of this quote.  There is truth to it.  You can workout hours a day but if your nutrition is bad, you may never see the results you desire.  Cut back (way back!) on sugars.  The refined kind, like candy and soda, can go all together or be very limited.  The kind in fruit is a-okay.  Cut back on white flour.  Add healthy protein AND fat.  Fat?  Yep.  Olives, Avocados, nuts, and, if you so choose, meats. Keep healthy snacks on hand so you never get too hungry, which will cause you to reach for unhealthy snacks.  Cut veggies, salt-free nuts, greek yogurt are just a few of my go-to's.  If you can buy it from a vending machine or drive-thru, avoid it!

3)  Work the core, not the abs.  Yes, the abdominal muscles are part of the core, but you need to work the entire core.  This also includes the obliques and the back muscles.  Sculpt the obliques (the muscles on your sides) and this will help pull everything together.  Work the back (upper and lower) to give better posture and define your core even more.  How do you work the entire core?  Pilates, of course!  A true Pilates workout works the core and the limbs, sculpting and toning the entire body.  Yoga and Tai Chi in some instances do the same.  There are other balance activities, such as Indo boarding or BOSU training that do the same.  But I am a little biased and think Pilates does best!

Let me know if these tips are helpful.  What are your favorite healthy snacks?

This photo is me right after returning from my 4-day PPS-II training.  8 hours of, give or take, of practice plus eating only healthy foods (except my dinners!) gave me picture-perfect abs.  Those jeans were tight when I bought this day (it's been about 6 months since the picture) they are still on the loose side!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Everyone does Pilates!

Sometimes it feels like everyone does Pilates.  Other times, in my little Midwestern bubble, it feels like no one has even heard of Pilates.  Today, on my way to work, I was listening to a local radio station, 96.5 the Buzz.  It is an alternative radio station and they had an interview with Jane Curtin.  Click on this link to hear the interview.  You will have to scroll down the page to find her picture.  The sound clip will be there.  When asked what she does in her free time the second thing she mentions, after walking her dogs, is doing Pilates!  I love hearing anyone mention they do Pilates, especially older individuals that are in great shape.  I shared this with all of my students today, and one of my older students said that, as she has aged, she has found that it is necessary to continue to keep moving, and Pilates is an excellent way to do that because it challenges the body without exhausting it. Start Pilates now and you will see results your entire life, which will hopefully be long and healthy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Some classes have a beautiful flow to them.  Some don't.  Tonight marked the start of a new 6-week session for my Reformer classes.  In one class I had 3 students.  Two of them new, and one of them brand new.  I like for my students to take at least one private session before starting a group class.  This gives them a chance to learn about the equipment, learn the basic work, and for me to see how their body moves and what cues work best for them.  When a student does not have that first private session sometimes they get frustrated very quickly in a group class.  It also makes my job harder as a teacher ;)
This was one of those nights when I felt like the flow of my class was completely off.  Having 3 students at different levels can be very challenging.  At times it felt like we were creeping along.  At other times, I felt like they couldn't hear me at all!  I fell back on to my Peak training several times tonight.  Stopping to get everyone on the same page.  Using my voice to set the pace for each move.  Even reminding the students "Simon Says", which is a nice way of saying "Hey, listen to ME!"
They all enjoyed the class, had great questions afterwards, and did great, overall, with the cues and corrections.  I can't wait to see how they do over the next six weeks.  Seeing them tonight it is hard to imagine that they will be flowing through the class work all together, but experience has taught me otherwise.  I will share their progress with you!

Instructors--have you ever had this feeling?
Students--have you ever felt like you didn't understand what the instructor was trying to teach you?
What did you do to help remedy the situation?

One last thing.  I know it's Wednesday.  I know I promised Workout Wednesday, where I will be interviewing someone each week about their workout, nutrition, etc.  I have NOT forgotten this and I promise to have it up and going very soon.  I think about it all the time and I am working on grabbing pictures and interviews with my first few people.
Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Growing as a teacher

To continue to grow and stay motivated as an instructor is something I would like to write about to help my readers.  If you are an instructor or just an avid student this will hopefully help keep you motivated.

My favorite way to continue to stay fresh as a teacher is to be a student myself.  I teach, on average, 15-17 classes per week.  Some are group classes, some are private sessions.  I love teaching, watching my students grow, seeing those "A-ha!" moments when the mind and body connect to perfect an exercise.  A successful instructor knows how to use words, phrases and imagery to help their students make those connections.  Sometimes, though, I feel like I become a broken record and I use the same terms class after class.  This is just one of the reasons I love to go be a student.  Just a few weeks ago I was in an AcroYoga class.  To achieve proper wrist alignment in many of my classes I will say "thumbs with fingers."  The instructor that was teaching me used the term "mitten hands."  Same idea, same cueing of the body, but a fun new term.

If you are feeling like your teaching is becoming stale, GO take a class and "just" be a student.  If you don't have time to get to a class, pop in a DVD of an instructor that motivates you.  There is nothing, for me, like watching Jackie Warner to give me new ideas for my Cross Training and personal training.  Rodney Yee has given me so many great points to think about.  "Be engaged by not rigid" is a term that I use quite often that I first heard when watching one of his yoga DVD's.

Don't get so focused on teaching that you forget yourself!

Who motivates you?