If you’re like many fitness-minded Americans, you wake up each morning, head to the gym and hop on the first available treadmill. While this is a great start to a fit life, if it’s the same routine you follow day after day, you’re missing something.
If you’re a workout veteran, you probably know the value of changing up your program. Maybe you do some resistance work, ride a bike or run intervals. That’s great, because changing your exercise routine confuses your body’s muscular and cardiovascular system, leading to greater gains in health and physical appearance. If you’re looking to really try something different that will keep your brain, heart and muscles guessing, try yoga or Pilates.
By definition, yoga is an ancient practice for bringing body and mind into harmony using meditation, physical postures, breathing and exercise. It’s a mode of spiritual meditation that’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years.
To the observer, yoga looks like body-twisting torture. But it’s these moves, done with precision and grace, that help the body reach new physical and mental levels.
There are many ways to practice. You can join a yoga studio, sign up at your health club or watch a video in your own living room. Like any fitness program, the benefit is what you make it, be it physical, mental or spiritual.
One difference between Pilates and yoga is in origin. While yoga has been around thousands of years, Pilates was founded by Dr. Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Yoga was first practiced as a means of spiritual enlightenment, whereas Pilates was primarily developed for physical fitness.
The Pilates system is based on the principle of strengthening the deep core muscles to improve balance, support for the spine and conditioning for the entire body. This is done by what Pilates called The Pilates Principles. They are: proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement.
Pilates is commonly done with the help of an apparatus; the most common device is called a reformer. It’s used to aid in resistance training for various areas of the body. If you are serious about Pilates and want to use one of the different machines, you should contact a certified instructor and discuss the details of the program.
Whether you choose Pilates, yoga or both as your change-of-pace routine, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll wind up feeling re-energized, rejuvenated and much more in tune with your whole being. You might even find out that rather than just a change of pace, you’ll add it to your routine as a permanent part of your daily living.
This week’s easy fit mini recipe can help if your sweet tooth is flaring up – a mint chip smoothie. A trainer friend of mine passed this along and it’s already one of my favorites. Take one cup of ice, a cup of almond milk, one scoop of protein powder, two teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder and a half teaspoon of natural peppermint extract, mix it all in a blender and enjoy.