Self Love & Self Acceptance Through Body Positivity

As someone who has struggled with body image issues for decades, it has been hard to come to a place where I not only accept my body, but I have learned to love my body.  I have let go of the days of skipping meals, doing grueling workouts and hating what I saw in the mirror for true love and acceptance of my body, as it is right now.

Learning to accept my body as it is has also shifted the way I think about my business and how I can be of service to others. Being in recovery for disordered eating for over decade now, I’ve always thought about how I can use my experiences to help others. I think now, through the coaching services that I offer, I am able to do that. At least, I hope that I can do that.

There is still not a lot of exposure for men with eating disorders or that are in recovery for disordered eating. There is still not a lot of exposure for men in the Body Positive Movement (although I think that is changing). It is my hope that I can be a face and a voice for men dealing with body image issues.

In this video, I share what the Body Positive Movement means to me. How it is helping me to love and accept myself a bit more, and how it is inspiring my business as a Yoga and Pilates teacher and a Wellness Coach.

Flab to Fab: What To Eat To Lose Weight

If you are like most people, including me, you have made losing weight a goal for 2018. You may have heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen not the gym”, which means that nutrition is an important factor in losing weight. In fact, 75-80% of your body composition is from what you eat.

But where to start? Knowing what foods to avoid and what to eat to nourish your body can be overwhelming with all the new diet fads and trends that we are bombarded with at the start of the year. Seriously, how many times have you seen Marie Osmond on TV this week alone?

In this video, I offer some simple tips to get started on a clean eating nutrition plan. Clean eating is one of the easiest things you can do. Its a not a trendy diet, instead it teachers you a more sustainable way of eating to help you lose weight and keep it off.

Don’t forget to like, comment, share and subscribe for more in my Flab to Fab Weight Loss Journey video series.

Boston Voyager Magazine – Inspiring Story

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I was super excited when I was approached by Boston Voyager magazine to be featured in their section of “Inspiring Stories” in the Boston and surrounding areas. I think we all have unique life experiences that we should share, and I was more than happy to do so for Boston Voyager.

In the article, I share how and why I became a Yoga and Pilates teacher. In my years of teaching in the Boston and Central MA areas I have met some wonderful people that I have been able to share my love and passion for Yoga and Pilates with. It is my hope that I have been able to touch lives in a positive way through my teaching. That is why I do what I do.

You can read the article here, on the Boston Voyager website.

Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

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Because I’m so passionate about Pilates, I love sharing information about this wonderful form of exercise with my clients, family and friends. I’m always looking for interesting articles about Pilates to share. If you’re following me on social media, you may have seen some of my educational and fun posts. If you are not following me…why not?! Get off over there and hit those “like” and “follow” buttons.

So the other day when I came across an article titled “What are the Benefits of Reformer Pilates?” I was excited to read the article and hoped to have some great information to share with y’all. However, when I opened the article to read it I was more like wah-wah. I was underwhelmed by the article and actually decided to NOT share it. Which inspired me to write this blog post instead.

A lot of people who are new to Pilates get a little overwhelmed with this piece of apparatus that perhaps looks like some sort of medival torture device. I hope this blog post is a great primer to the wonderful piece of Pilates apparatus known as the Universal Reformer and that it takes some of the fear out of starting your Pilates practice because of the unknown.

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What is the Pilates Reformer?

The Reformer is the most recognized and most popular piece of apparatus in the Pilates studio. This is the central piece of equipment used in most Pilates classes and studios. The Universal Reformer, so called because it is used for “universally reforming the body”, creates a balanced workout that is great for everyone regardless of fitness level.

Invented by Joseph Pilates himself, the Reformer is a bed like piece of equipment with a moving carriage. The carriage is attached to springs that give resistance to the exercises performed on the Reformer. The Reformer has straps that both the hands and feet can be placed in for various exercises.

The work on the apparatus focuses on a full body workout with small and controlled movements using the springs for resistance. Just like a Pilates workout on the mat, focus is put on building core strength, but now we work against the springs to focus on control and centering.

Your session on the Reformer will be a full body workout. Classes typically start off with a warm up while lying down. As the class progresses you will focus on specific muscle groups through exercises that have you lying down, sitting, standing and even being in an inverted position. While Pilates on the Reformer is low impact and safe on the joints, you will still find it a challenging workout.

The Benefits of the Pilates Reformer

The benefits of working out on the Pilates Reformer are similar to those from a mat workout. This is a full body workout that will help to lengthen and strengthen the legs, glutes, hips, arms and back as well as strengthening the core.

Benefits of your Reformer workout will include:

  • a stronger core
  • improved flexibility
  • greater balance and posture
  • relief from physical pain such as back pain and stiffness
  • creates longer and leaner musculature
  • builds all over body strength
  • teaches stability

I hope this takes some of the fear out of starting your Pilates practice because you were unsure of that thing in the studio that looks like a torture device.

If you are ready to get started on your Pilates practice, please email me at chrisrobertswellness@gmail.com

Pilates for Runners

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Here in New England we are coming up on the Olympics of running, the Boston Marathon. Despite colder temperatures, harsh winds and snow covered streets, many runners are out and about focusing on their training runs. Besides a bright, sunny, warm, Spring Day there is one another thing that can help you on your runs. A STRONGER CORE!

As you may or may not know, running uses more than your legs. Your core is a huge part of how you move. In fact, everything we do radiates out from our core. A stronger core means a stronger run. A stronger core helps you to maintain form, increases your endurance and helps prevent injury.

However, most people’s idea of a core strengthening routine is a few crunches on the floor while watching an episode of the latest binge-worthy show on Netflix. Sadly, no matter how many crunches you do during the season finale of “Stranger Things” it just isn’t enough. Exercises like crunches work the superficial core muscles such as the rectus abdominus. What you need is a strong Pilates practice.

So how can Pilates help? See, Pilates works ALL OF THE ABDOMINAL MUSCLES; even the deepest of them all, the transverse abdominus. But not only that, Pilates works to build core strength as well as the other supporting muscles of the torso, hips, shoulders and back. You won’t get that from a few crunches.

Pilates not only strengthens the core but also improves flexibility. Pilates is a two way stretch from a strong and stable center. Pilates improves muscle tone, balances musculature, supports correct posture, and teaches you to move with ease and grace, while building flexibility and long, lean muscles, strength and endurance in the legs, abs, arms, hips, and back.

Pilates can also help prevent a lot of running related injuries such as weak and painful hips, IT Band issues, pain in the knees and ankles and piriformis syndrome. Pilates will improve your posture which helps to improve your running form, there for preventing most of these injuries. A better running form will also help in your running performance, allowing you to run farther and faster.

Some of the performance benefits of a regular Pilates practice for runners includes:

  • Increases flexibility and strength
  • Develops coordination and balance
  • Increases range of motion in the hips and shoulders
  • Helps recovery and recovery time
  • Helps to prevent injuries
  • Increases core stability
  • Enhances breathing
  • Improves endurance
  • Helps with posture and gait

Worcester Pilates offers private instruction on all of the Pilates equipment. If you are interested in starting a Pilates practice to help improve your running call or email to take advantage of our New Student Intro special.

What Pilates Isn’t

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In today’s fitness world, many fusion classes are being marketed toward those looking to improve their health and fitness. With names like “PiYo”, “Piloxing”, and “HIIT Pilates” it can be hard to determine what is Pilates and what isn’t.

In my previous post, “What is Pilates?”, I gave a short overview of the Pilates method and the many benefits it offers. But, how can you determine if the class you are interested in taking or are currently taking is Pilates or not?

Pilates is Not Yoga

  • Pilates does not include many standing exercises like Yoga does. So if your class contains standing poses similar to Yoga such as lunges, planks, warrior poses, or even downward dogs then it is not Pilates.
  • Mat Pilates classes most often feature the traditional order of exercises that Joseph Pilates created. When taking a Mat class with a traditional teacher, you can expect a structured class. This helps the student to learn the order and focus on working on proper alignment and progressing the exercises. The focus of the class is a great all over body workout, but mainly the work is on building a stronger core or Powerhouse.
  • In a Pilates class you will move the whole time. The Pilates exercises are not static, meaning you don’t hold poses like you would in Yoga. You are meant to keep the body moving both during the exercises as well as from one exercise to the next. If you are holding planks for long periods of time in your class, it is NOT Pilates.

Pilates is Not High Impact

  • Pilates is a low impact form of exercise that is kind on the joints of the body. The majority of the exercises are done in a supine position and focus on building core strength.
  • In a true Pilates class you will not be asked to do exercises that can be rough on the joints such as burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, box jumps, or other jumping movements. If you are doing exercises like burpees, you are NOT doing Pilates.

Pilates is Not Mindless Exercise

  • Pilates is not a form of exercise where you can zone out and just mindlessly perform the exercises. In fact one of the “Pilates Principles” is Concentration.
  • The Pilates Principle of Concentration is about bringing your full attention to the exercises. Joseph Pilates intended for his method to connect the mind and body and we see that when we are mindful of executing the movements. When you bring your full awareness to the exercise and commit to executing it fully and at your level, you will gain the maximum benefits of each exercise.
  • Every movement in Pilates has a purpose, and you will learn to move with purpose. Pilates is not a mindless form of movement.

Pilates is Not Just a Core Workout

  • While Pilates does work on building core strength, it is not merely a core workout. In Pilates we work to strengthen the Powerhouse which includes the abdominals, the back muscles, hips and shoulders.
  • Throughout your Pilates workout you should learn to move from your center. In Pilates we bring focus to the Powerhouse to stabilize the body and initiate movement. Therefore building greater strength in our abdominals and helping our bodies to move more effectively. Pilates is a full body workout.
  • If you are doing lots of core focused movements like crunches and sit-ups and only movements like these, then you are NOT doing Pilates.

Pilates is Not About Performing Tons of Reps

  • Pilates workouts focus on quality of movement over quantity of movement.
  • Awareness must be used and sustained throughout the exercises on what muscle group you are working, and the other parts of the body that are working in conjunction. Precision must be used in alignment and movement throughout the exercises in order to achieve the maximum benefits of the exercise.
  • If you are performing tons of reps of an exercise then you are NOT doing Pilates. Classes that have you perform 60 crunches, 50 push-ups, etc. are NOT Pilates.

Teacher and Teaching Style

  • Be sure your teacher is actually certified to teach Pilates. Pilates teachers are certified upwards of 600+ hours which includes personal practice, observation, and testing by Pilates schools, training centers and organizations.
  • A certified Pilates teacher will be able to modify the exercises for you and help you to find the proper alignment in each exercise. They can teach you to incorporate the Pilates Principles into your practice and help you progress into a more intermediate or advanced practice.
  • It is pretty prevalent in gym settings to find personal trainers or other fitness trainers teaching Pilates. A personal training certification does not make you a Pilates teacher. Not only are these people giving Pilates a bad name but are causing confusion of what Pilates is and sadly even causing injuries.
  • Your teacher is there to teach, focus on your alignment, challenge you and keep you safe. They should not be practicing alongside you for the whole class. They are there to teach, not get in a workout of their own.
  • A knowledgeable teacher will focus on alignment, anatomy and offer modifications for special cases or injuries. They should also be able to teach all levels of students at once, teaching the exercises so a beginner can do them, while offering progressions of the exercises for intermediate and advanced students in the class

Will fusion classes such as “PiYo”, “Piloxing” or other Pilates inspired classes offer you a great workout? Absolutely! Will these fusion and Pilates inspired classes make you sweat, and build strength? Perhaps! However, they are not Pilates. If you  are interested in trying an authentic Pilates class that will help you to create lean muscles, improve posture, gain flexibility, and gain more strength then give Worcester Pilates a call to set up your “Introduction to Pilates” session now.

Workout Motivation Tips

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I just sent an email out to my “Stronger in 17” Pilates Challenge participants in which I talked about motivation. I was inspired to write about motivation because one of the participants told me she is struggling with just motivating herself to do her Pilates practice, or even finding the time to do it. I thought I’d share the tips that I offered the challenge group here on the blog in hopes that someone else will benefit.

So let’s talk about motivation. Committing to practicing Pilates, or any workout really, is just a stepping stone to a greater reward and that is making a stronger feeling YOU. The only person who can make the change is you. Don’t be upset by the result you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.

This past week I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book:

  • “I’m too tired from work when I get home to do a workout”
  • “I forgot to set time aside to practice”
  • “I had a bad day and just didn’t feel like working out”
However, what I hear from these excuses is really “I’m not a priority”. One of my favorite quotes is from RuPaul and I think it really sums it up.
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Let’s take that even one step further to say “If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you properly take care of others?” We need to set aside some time to practice self care, even if that is only ten minutes a day. Taking just ten minutes a day to focus on YOU will have greater benefits in the end. It will lead you to find a practice of self care and self love.

I know we all have things that go on in our lives, and sometimes life just gets in the way. However, you must take care of yourself first before you are fully able to take care of others. Take this time now to really commit to this practice and  start engaging in some self care and radical self love.

Remember, the only bad workout is the one that you didn’t do.

 

Here’s some tips to help motivate you to hit your mat this week:

  1. Reward Yourself – Set a goal such as “I will do _____ amount of workouts for _____ amount of time”. For instance “I will do three workouts a week, every week for the next three months” Then think of a way to reward yourself at the end of your goal. Maybe you treat yourself to a massage or maybe you buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing. Having a reward at the end will give you a goal to work towards and help keep you on track
  2. Keep a Journal – after every workout, write down in a journal how you felt. When you are low on motivation you can read back over the last time you worked out and how great you felt afterwards. It will motivate you to hit your mat.
  3. Remember Why You Started – Think about why you want to work out or make these health changes. What was your aim in doing so? Keep that in mind and let it be a motivating factor to working out
  4. Set Up Yourself Up for Success – literally set out everything you need to get in your Pilates practice or workout. Keep your mat out in a spot that when you walk by and have time you can just get down and do your practice.
  5. Find an Accountability Buddy – find a partner to do your practice or workout with. Show them the moves and what you have learned so far in the challenge. Motivate and cheer each other on. Also, ain’t nothing wrong with a little healthy competition am I right?
  6. Time for You – set a time each day that is your time to practice self care and get your practice in. Even if you have to get up an extra 15 minutes to do so. Set an alarm on your phone to wake you up early so you can get in your workout. Think of how great you will feel starting your day with a quick and energizing practice.
  7. Check In – Check in with me or someone else daily to let me know you did your practice. It will keep you accountable to finishing strong towards your  goal.
Make the commitment to some self care this week and I hope these tips motivate you to become #strongerin17