Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Pilates on the Ball- Work Out for Beginners
With Lizabeth Garcia
“Instructor Lizbeth Garcia fuses pilates with the stability ball for an effective yet enjoyable workout. Results include improved balance and posture, increased energy and stamina, and strengthened and toned muscles.” 35 minutes.
I myself am a huge fan of doing pilates-type exercises with the physioball. When I taught at Body Tonic Pilates Gymnasium in Brooklyn, I taught a ball class for three years straight! So I'm pretty familiar with all the different things you can do with an exercise ball, and there are many, many different possible positions and exercises.
The ball is a challenge no matter what level of fitness your body is in. Balance is always an issue, which causes the body to recruit every and any muscle in order to complete an exercise without falling off. This is the main reason why working out on the ball is hard, the movements of the exercises don't even have to be complicated.
So I think this video is titled "Beginner" because the movements of each exercise are not overly complex, though anyone would get a good, full body workout from this video because that is the nature of the ball.
Lizbeth appears to be a really great fitness instructor with pilates experience. She continuously gives very detailed instructions, she has a nice personality with very good energy, which gives great flow to the exercises. My favorite thing about her is that she continuously emphasizes the idea of working the whole body for each exercise.
She has many other dvds to her name, such as, "SHAPE Pilates Workout, Firm Up From Head to Toe" and "10 Minute Solution, Prenatal Pilates".
The video opens with Lizbeth taking the time to instruct viewer on how they will feel during a pilates workout. She encourages you to be present in the moment and work at your own pace. She gives details on how to set up for your workout (bare feet, sitting position, alignment details), which is very good for beginners so they feel comfortable, because pilates and the ball can be daunting!
The workout begins seated on the ball, with very simple pelvic tilting movements to get a feel for how your body can move the ball and how the core controls it. The workout continues for the next 35 mins to include exercises for the legs, arms, core, and upper back. She does a very good job at including many exercises in all types of positions for the full body.
In the Special Features Section, there is a Bonus Workout Blast. This includes more complicated stability movements that might be good for an advanced student to add in at the end or for a beginner to progress towards.
The music is low key enough so not to be at all distracting, and it helps with the flow of exercises. There is also an option to play the workout without a narrative, just music.
Level of Student Who Would Like This Video:
This video might be best for someone who has a little pilates experience, to get an idea of what her exercises are based on. Previous experience in any kind of pilates or exercise that requires flowing movements while following instructions would probably be helpful. There is no downtime between each exercise, which makes for a great workout, but could confuse a 100% beginner. A complete beginner who has never done pilates or any type of exercise might feel lost because of the quick flow.
An intermediate or advanced pilates student would also feel the benefits of this workout because simple movements on the ball are hard, though there are more complicated moves that can be done on the ball that an advanced student might be interested in. Adding weights or a Magic Circle to many of these movements could intensify the workout for an exceptionally fit person.
Pros and Cons:
Pros: Like I said, this is a great workout with a great instructor.
Cons: The biggest problem I see with this video is that there are no modifications given for anyone with weak abs, low back problems, neck problems, or any problems for that matter! There are a number of common exercises with the ball done in this video that would not be good for someone with a neck issue, for example. At no point during the video does the instructor suggest modifications for any of the exercises.
She is also completely alone while working out. Some videos use students in the class as examples of how to make an exercise easier, more challenging, or how to modify for an injury. I think this video could have benefitted from more people in the room exercising at different levels, so viewers at home could see their options for each exercise.
Pilates purists may become annoyed at this video because it uses the name "pilates" in the title but there are actually very few real pilates exercises in it, and the pilates-exercise-order is completely obliterated. The Hundreds aren't done until halfway through the workout, which is odd because the Hundreds are a warm up exercise. In order to enjoy this video, a pilates purist would have to look at it as a core fitness workout, not really a true pilates workout. Of course, that should speak for itself because using the ball isn't really pure pilates anyway :)
Great video in general. For beginners with some pilates or exercise class experience, this is a really great at-home workout. For intermediate or advanced students, a great workout with no rests between exercises, so it is a challenge for sure, despite the fact that most movements are not that complicated or truly pilates.
Pilates on the Ball, with Lizbeth Garcia on Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Pilates-Workout-Beginners/dp/B00009W0VM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1229263731&sr=8-1 Read more!
I'm starting a new feature here on the blog! Students are always asking me what videos I recommend for doing pilates at home. To be honest, I've hardly ever even seen a pilates video!
All that is about to change. I will be Netflixing and reviewing pilates and pilates-hybrid videos. I'll let you know what I think about each video, who the video would be good for, pros and cons, and how true to classical pilates each video is. My hope is that my reviews will give alittle assistance to anyone who is wondering which videos to buy for home use as a suppliment to their studio or gym workouts.
Of course, as a pilates instructor, I know that nothing beats taking classes in person, at a studio, with a certified teacher. But its also good to have a couple dvds laying around the house for days when the weather is keeping you in doors or you can't make it to class. Read more!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I received this email question recently, and thought it was a very good and interesting question:
I'd like to ask you a question. Why do we do exercises with round and flat back? What is the difference between the two? For example we do the short box series or knee stretches in both positions...
Love this question because its so great to really think about why we do things in pilates and what are the benefits of doing different exercises in various positions. So here are my thoughts on this subject, and of course if anyone out there has their own opinions about this question, I welcome input!
Let's start with why we would do exercises with a round back (spinal flexion). Many exercises that we do with a round back (for example, Roll Backs on the mat, Rounding Back over the short box/barrel, and Short Spine, to name a few) use the round position of the back as an initiator of spinal articulation. We start in a somewhat neutral position, then round the spine and proceed to articulate one bone at a time along the mat.
Practicing spinal articulation is very beneficial for a few reasons. The careful movement of the vertebrae along the mat is great practice for body awareness and core control. More obviously, it serves as a nice back massage!
But, there are other exercises (Rolling Like a Ball and Stomach Massage, and as Eva points out, Knee Stretches and Short Box) that we hold the rounded back position throughout the whole exercise, never moving through spinal articulation. Why would Joe Pilates create exercises like this?
Joe thought of pilates as the ultimate form of exercise, not only because it changes the outward appearance of the body, but he also thought that pilates movements massage our internal organs and promote internal health. Stomach Massage, for example, is named so because Joe believed the movements "massaged" the stomach organ. Rolling Like a Ball "massages the spine" and with the rolling back and forth movement, aids digestion.
Exercises done with a straight, or neutral/natural spine such as Straight Back on the Short Box and Chest Expansion, recruit different muscles than the round back exercises do. Since one of the main aspects of pilates is balance, it makes sense that Joe would create exercises that work the body in both round and straight positions, to balance everything out.
Then, as Eva mentions, there are exercises that we do in both a flat and round back. Knee Stretches and Short Box are Eva's examples. Let's talk about Short Box first. I would assume that we do Short Box with both a round and a neutral back because each position recruits different muscles and coordination. There are so many possibilities for Short Box, that it makes sense to use them all- rounding, straightening, twisting, reaching circling, arching, etc.
We should also remember that the reformer was created after the mat work, as a piece of equipment for bodies too weak to do mat work. Joe intentionally created a number of exercises that recreate his mat exercises on each piece of equipment. If Neck Pull on the mat came first, then rounding back and hinging back on the Short Box came second, perhaps as a way of learning Neck Pull or assisting a body that could not do Neck Pull.
For Knee Stretches, I believe that Joe actually called them Tiger Stretches. He taught a round back version, and an arched back version, with the round back blending right into the arched back without stopping the carriage and legs from moving in and out. When I was going through my certification, I remember being taught the arched back version, though now I've seen that its changed to a flat back (probably safer).
Anyway, with a name like Tiger Stretch- it makes sense that it would be done in two different catlike positions!
Any other thoughts out there? Read more!