Spring is here in the Southern Hemisphere and this is the time of year that people start to prepare their bodies for summer. The warm weather for lovely day dresses, summer shorts and of course bikinis is quickly approaching.
A well rounded exercise program teamed with a clean eating program will move you towards achieving optimal results in terms of weight loss and an overall happier state of mind.
Practicing regular Pilates will increase your overall body strength and specifically increase your core strength. The stronger your core and overall body strength is the more efficiently your body will work during exercise and during your daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, even carrying your shopping. The more muscles you contract during movement and exercise and the greater the intensity of your contractions, the more calories you will burn.
Most Pilates teachers will cue you to ‘engage’ your muscles as you practice an exercise. For example as you commence a chest lift, it is beneficial to engage or gently contract your abdominal muscles prior to lifting your ribcage off the ground. A cue such as “gently draw your belly button down towards your spine so you feel a wrap of your belly” prior to lifting your head and shoulders off the ground will ensure a great abdominal contraction.
I highly recommend working in at least one (but hopefully two) Pilates class to your weekly exercise program. Pilates will greatly compliment walking, running, dancing, yoga, boxing, swimming, surfing, weight lifting and many other forms of exercise.
There are also a number of Pilates exercises that will increase your heart rate like The Hundred. During your next Pilates session you might like to ask your instructor if it is possible to have a cardio focus. Increasing the cardio component of your session will increase your heart rate and calories you burn.
Many studios offer hybrid forms of Pilates now such as Cardiolates, Fitness Pilates, I even teach a Boxilates class. The combination of Pilates with other cardio training is formulated to incorporate a greater cardio component to your traditional Pilates class.
More of a purist form of increasing your intensity during Pilates is by partaking in an advanced class. During most advanced classes you should progress through the classes at a faster pace, feel a higher intensity during each exercise and enjoy a greater number of exercises.
What ever form of Pilates you choose to do, concentrate on every movement in every exercise, try to feel your muscles contract. Feel free to talk to your instructor at an appropriate time if you would like to increase the intensity of your session.
Happy spring cleaning!
Lots of special wishes,