Wouldn’t it be great to have a healthy body for life? Imagine feeling strong and confident no matter what your chronological age. Think about this: Whether you’re healthy or not, you only have one body. It’s your body for life. It is my hope that you will feel empowered to build and maintain well-being!
“The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor.” ~Martha Graham.
Are you aware of your body? What do you think of it, and do you know how to speak its language? Let’s start this exploration of our body and its health with some questions and some simple, straightforward answers.
What is Body Awareness?
Body awareness is a term that refers to knowledge and attention to what the human body can do. When we practice body awareness, we think about things like transferring weight, flight, and balance.
“The mind’s first step to self-awareness must be through the body.” ~ George Sheehan
What is Body Image?
Body image is the perception we have of our own body. Do you love your body or hate it? Or do you have feelings somewhere in the middle of these two extremes? Body image can be positive or negative and is often influenced by the standards society sets about how we should look.
“Research suggests that in general, women have slightly lower self-esteem overall when compared to men. But when it comes to body image, there is an enormous gender gap, with women reporting an overwhelmingly greater body dissatisfaction when compared to men,” says Denise Martz, PhD, a clinical health psychologist, and professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
When you consider your knowledge and feelings about your body, is there room for improvement?
What is Body Language?
Your body is always sending signals about you to others. Take a look at yourself in a mirror or a window reflection. How do you think another person would perceive you right now? Are you slouching and trying to hide, or are you standing tall?
Look at your facial expression. Are you smiling? As Martha Graham said, “The body never lies.”
Fall in Love With Your Body for Life
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” ~ Buddha
If you want to have a strong and healthy body for life, practice Pilates or yoga. Pilates and yoga both work to unite the mind, body, and spirit. With commitment and dedication to either of these practices, you will eventually discover better physical awareness.
Feeling healthy and fit can improve your body awareness, which can improve your body image. With these improvements, your body language may change as well. Instead of hiding or showing the world that you are not feeling secure, your body may begin to say I am confident and beautiful!
The first step toward better health and fitness is always the hardest. With desire and dedication, it can be done. It’s your body for life. Self-confidence is the best outfit. Wear it. Own it. Rock it!
What is your exercise personality? Do you know that finding out may lead to your success or failure? Studies suggest that people are more likely to follow through with a workout routine and get results when they enjoy what they’re doing. It makes sense if you think about it. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll want to do it more often!
So, you’ve decided to start exercising for one reason or another. Whether it was your doctor’s warning, an upcoming vacation where you’ll be on the beach wearing that dreaded bathing suit, or an upcoming high school reunion, something motivated you to take the first step and start.
Now what? How do you set yourself up for success? Remember you are doing this for you, so you’ll want to find something you enjoy enough to stick with it. This is where knowing your exercise personality comes into play. In short, no one else is going to exercise for you!
How to Determine Your Exercise Personality
An important thing to keep in mind when thinking about your exercise personality is the idea that what works for one person does not work for everyone. So, if you know someone who swears that yoga has changed her life, that doesn’t mean yoga is the right kind of exercise for you. Similarly, you may know an elite athlete who thrives in competitive team sports. But competition and intensity may not your thing.
It’s okay. You don’t have to try to be someone else. We all have unique personalities and needs, and the exercise programs we gravitate towards depend on that uniqueness.
You can determine your exercise personality by answering some simple questions.
- Do you prefer the solitude of exercising alone, or is companionship more motivating?
- Are you more attracted to activities that require great mental alertness and quick bursts of energy? Or are you more attracted to workouts that promote tranquility?
- Do you thrive on competition? Do you enjoy participating in team sports?
- Would you rather be indoors or outside? Perhaps it depends on the weather.
- Does your previous experience with exercise programs lead you to believe you will like or dislike a certain activity?
Your responses to these questions should offer insight into your exercise personality.
Finding your exercise niche
The key to success when it comes to exercise is to keep trying. And remember that even if you try a type of exercise—like Pilates—there are unique styles and teachers. If one experience doesn’t quite fit, you may want to try another before you give up and move on to something else.
In the end, no matter what your exercise personality may be, it’s important to take time for you. In other words, do something! Many people make time to take care of others but don’t make time to take care of themselves. In the end, this leads to burnout and makes you less effective as a caretaker.
Instead, make your “you” time a priority, and don’t miss that exercise appointment with yourself. Exercise will help you stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Don’t skip it. Your health is your life!
Pilates Facts: Principles for the Complete Coordination of Body, Mind, and Spirit
Pilates is a form of exercise that emphasizes balanced development of the body. This is achieved through core strength, flexibility, and awareness that supports efficient, graceful movement. In short, the goal of Pilates is coordination of body, mind, and spirit. When considering Pilates facts, we need to look at the six core principles that Joseph Pilates set as the foundation for the practice he developed. First, though, let’s look at a couple of other selling points that make Pilates such an appealing exercise modality.
Adaptability and Development of Core Strength
Pilates is an adaptable method, meaning it is possible to modify the exercises so anyone can do them. Modification is the key to Pilates exercise success with a variety of populations. Joseph Pilates developed every exercise with modifications that can make a workout both safe and challenging for a person at any level.
Development of core strength is the foundation of Pilates exercise. The core muscles are the deep, internal muscles of the abdomen and back. When the core muscles are strong and doing their job, as they are trained to do in Pilates, they work in tandem with the more superficial muscles of the trunk to support the spine and facilitate movement.
As you develop your core strength, you develop stability throughout your entire torso. This is one of the ways Pilates helps people overcome back pain. Stabilizing the trunk properly relieves pressure on the back. The body can then move freely and efficiently.
No discussion of Pilates facts is complete without looking at the six Pilates principles. In fact, if we want to understand Pilates facts, we need to start here.
These six principles—centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow—are the foundation of the Pilates approach to exercise. Applying the principles to the Pilates method of exercise is part of what makes Pilates unique in the fitness world.
With this in mind, let’s look briefly define each principle.
Centering – Physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, which is the area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from center, or the core.
Concentration – Placing full attention on the exercise and performing it with full commitment to obtain maximum value from each movement.
Control – Using muscles completely. In Pilates, we do not leave any part of the body to its own devices.
Precision – Sustaining awareness throughout each movement with detailed attention to the appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.
Breath – Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. He advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows and using them strongly to pump air fully in and out. Proper breathing is an integral part of a Pilates workout. Most Pilates exercises are performed in coordination with the breath.
Flow – Moving with fluidity, grace, and ease. The goal is to use the energy of an exercise in an even way to connect all parts of the body.
Knowing these Pilates facts and applying them to your practice is your key to success. In other words, like anything else, you’ll need to take the time to understand the foundation of Pilates practice. Know your Pilates facts, and your practice will thrive!
You have decided to try Pilates. Welcome to a whole new world! Some people understand and appreciate the benefits of Pilates right away, while others may need more time. These Pilates tips are for you if you feel like you are just not “getting” it or are not seeing results as quickly as you hoped to. My goal is to encourage you!
“In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you’ll be on your way to having a whole new body.” ~ Joseph Pilates
Four Pilates Tips That Will Help You Get Results Sooner
- Be patient. Always be kind to yourself, and most of all, be patient. It takes time for your body to learn new things. Pilates is a whole new way of moving. One of the most important Pilates tips I give my clients is to look at it like learning a new language. Focus and do your best. In time and with patience, you will feel and see results.
- Be persistent. Don’t give up. Stick with it. It’s worth it. I’ve had many clients tell me they finally “get” what I’m teaching them after months of instruction. They may have begun to feel like they’d never catch on, but they persisted. Persistence pays off. Think long term fitness and wellness. There is no time limit. Pilates is a workout that is gentle enough to do anytime for the rest of your life.
- Practice. There is a reason for the expression practice makes perfect. And while reminding you to practice may seem too obvious to be on my list of Pilates tips, the reality is, you can’t succeed if you don’t work on perfecting your practice. It’s also important to understand that Pilates is not a performance. It’s a personal activity that belongs to you and only you. Don’t try to keep up with anyone else, and don’t worry about what you look like. Just strive to do your personal best. I strongly encourage you to practice at home as well as in class. Doing “home-work” helps you learn faster and see results quicker.
- Be present. You need both your body and your mind to do Pilates. So, the final piece of advice on my list of Pilates tips is leave your worries at the door! Difficult, yes, but possible (especially with practice). It’s important to be in the here and now. You want to participate in the practice, not just go through the motions. When you are distracted during your Pilates practice, you will not get results. When you are present, you will see the benefits. Everything on your mind before class will still be there after your workout. But maybe you will have a fresher, clearer perspective once you’ve focused your mind and moved your body. I know this is always true for me.
Mat Pilates is a Great Way to Begin
I suggest mat Pilates as a great way to begin. On the mat, you’ll learn the fundamentals without the added confusion of working with new apparatus. Pilates mat exercises will help you gain strength and confidence. It’s just you, your mat, and your body.
Whether you choose Pilates on the mat or on the apparatus, don’t give up. Pilates is worth the effort; that I know for sure!
If you attend fitness classes, do you work out with a teacher or instructor? If that seems like a strange question, read on. While it may seem like teachers and instructors are the same, there are some important differences.
Teacher or Instructor: What’s the Difference?
Consider this quote:
If you learn only methods, you’ll be tied to your methods, but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
As the quote suggests, there is a difference between needing continual guidance from an outside source (an instructor) and learning how to learn under the guidance of a teacher. When it comes to choosing a teacher or instructor, there are benefits to both, but eventually, you’ll want to be able to function on your own.
Let’s look at the Merriam Webster’s dictionary definitions of both teach and instruct. This will help you decide whether a teacher or instructor is right for you.
Definition of Teach
- to show how to do something; give lessons to
- to give lessons in
- to give knowledge, insight, etc. to
Definition of Instruct
- to teach, educate
- to inform
- to order or direct
If you look closely at these definitions, you will see a clear distinction, even though they are similar. Which method is more effective for you? Do you learn better when you are taught or when you are instructed?
The Difference Between Teaching and Instructing
The definitions above suggest a major difference between teaching and instructing. Teaching involves guidance, example, and mentoring. This requires a deeper level of both subject matter knowledge and skill in caring for the student. Teachers invest in their students on a personal level.
Instructing, on the other hand, does not really require an investment or deep level of care for the student. Instructors simply impart information authoritatively, often by order or command. On a superficial level, this can be effective. If you need information quickly, your relationship with the source may not be so important. However, the skills and abilities that stick with us throughout our lives tend to come from teachers, not instructors.
Do You Want a Pilates Teacher or Instructor?
Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing. ~ Albert Einstein
In terms of Pilates or any kind of fitness classes, instructors and teachers serve distinct roles. Sometimes a person can function as both a teacher and an instructor depending on the situation. In certain situations, a set of instructions guiding students through a series of exercises may suffice, especially for familiar routines.
A good teacher can help students move forward so they can continue to progress and improve. In other words, deep, lasting learning requires a teacher—someone invested in you and your success who can help you tap into your own abilities and identify what you need to do in order to thrive.