Be Fit to Stay Frisky

Recently one of my students who is in her seventies said, “If you want to age well, you cannot stop doing anything– not even for a second! I’m doing more now than I was 15 years ago.”  Every week she comes in for a Pilates workout with me. At home she lifts weights and TRX® trains. And twice a week she meets her friends to play a few rounds of tennis.
Holly Furgason, Blue Sparrow Pilates

I believe she’s absolutely right.  We need to keep active to stay healthy, and diversifying our activities creates more balance in the body.

What we’re really talking about is cross-training. Cross-training can improve your overall performance in a sport or activity, and in your daily life. Cross-training refers to combining various kinds of exercise to work various parts of the body. Really, the body likes new challenges and any one activity works only certain muscle groups. Cross-training works different muscles, different planes of motion, and best of all it adds variety for more enjoyment.

I recently started training for an annual bike race that is part of the professional Tour of California. To be completely honest, when I began training there were not enough days on the calendar before the race to train. So I decided to train differently this year. I ride as much as I can, but I am also taking CORE™ Classes, GYROTONIC® sessions, running on the elliptical, walking, and of course doing Pilates. I won’t know how my training pays off until the end of April when I attempt the bike race, however I can already tell you that my overall fitness increased at a surprising rate, and cross-training was key.

So get out there and hike, bike, run, walk, swim. AND get in here for STOTT PILATES®, GYROTONIC®, TRX®, and CORE™.


Don’t Pull Your Hammy


HamstringsStretching is important for our muscles’ health. There are two kinds of stretching important to understand: dynamic and static stretching.

Dynamic Stretching increases range of movement, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to working out. Dynamic stretching before your workout can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. Dynamic stretching should raise your temperature a few degrees, warming you up and preparing your body for exercise.

  • Many STOTT PILATES® and GYROTONIC® exercises could be consider dynamic stretches, so do you homework!
  • Keep moving the entire time with controlled, steady movements.
  • Never be forceful, move in a jerky manner, or mobilize to the point of pain.
  • For an example of a dynamic hamstring stretch, do a light kick: Swing a straight leg forward with little explosive acceleration, gradually increasing the height.

Static Stretching tends to be what people think of as stretching. Most of us learned them in grade school. With static stretching you should feel your heart rate drop a few degrees and begin to cool you down. And are typically best to do after you exercise.

  • Use your breath to softly deepen into a stretch
  • Listen to your body and never stretch to the point of pain.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds while emphasizing breathing, deepening the stretch on the exhale.
  • For an example of a static hamstring stretch, sit on the floor with legs extended out in front of you, and gently reach for your toes.

Back to the Basics

With the holidays fast approaching I have been racking my brain to think of a simple plan to offer as a way to prevent holiday weight gain. Then I thought, lets get back to the basics, like grade school basic.

Growing up I remember once a year having to take the Presidential fitness challenge in gym class. Climb a rope, do some pull-ups, run around a track, and perform a forward stretch. Not the most practical fitness training.

Today’s Presidential Active Lifestyle program is much more applicable for a lifetime of health. This program could be something you continue for the rest of your life no matter if you start as a child or as a senior citizen! It’s super simple. Add physical activity to your life and improve your eating habits. That’s it! Get active and eat better, and you’ll feel better, too.

Your goal is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks.

Eight weeks from today will get you through the holidays and into the new year. Hopefully by the end of the 8 weeks you’ll have fallen in love with taking care of yourself! The holidays are about friends and family coming together, so get them moving too!

Read more about the Presidential Active Lifestyle Program & Track your program:

Striving everyday!

Going for Gold

Watching the Summer Olympics is inspiring! I’m so impressed with the drive of these athletes. It makes me want to push myself just a bit harder. To do that, I’d like to re-model some of my behaviors after the Olympians.

They develop intrinsic goals. Intrinsic goals should speak to your internal experience, such as “feeling stronger,” instead of external goals like “to look skinnier.” The kind of goals that motivate you to get up and out of your regular routine – that gives purpose – that drives you to do things because they matter.

They train everyday. For us novice athletes, training everyday would be 60 minutes of exercise a day, as recommended by the American Council on Exercise. This could be anything from walking to playing soccer with friends to gardening. Do what you love and what gives you joy. Read More

Possible vs. Impossible


<h5>Where do you draw the line between possible and impossible?</h5>

Growing up we are told what we cannot do. You’re not tall enough to be a dancer, you’re too short to be on the basketball team, and so on. We are told “no” over and over again.

As adults who is really saying “No”? You may realize it is you, your fears and your self-imposed limitations. You’re the one saying you cannot. Physically challenging yourself is a way to say “yes I can.” “Yes,” to pushing yourself beyond what you think achievable, whether you’re dreaming of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, running a 5K, or doing 10 good pull-ups. Sounds a bit cheesy, but it really doesn’t matter what it is you choose, it just matters that you try.

At the end of April, I attempted L’Etape du California, the Queen stage of the professional cycling Tour of California. The ride is about 100 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing. Any good cyclist would call it nothing less than a very big day.

To better paint the picture, the race begins at 7:00 am with 16 mile climb, with 3,400 feet of elevation gain, and gradient of 9.5-15 percent. This was only the beginning of my excruciating battle. I faired well through the morning but by 12:00 pm I was on the back side of the mountain in the full sun, heat, elevation, and beginning to really suffer. I reached the final climb by 3:30 pm and my riding partner hurt his back. We were only 3 miles of switch backs at 20 percent gradient away from our finish line but we called it quits.

At first I felt terrible about not finishing the race. I was completely focused on what I did not do.

Then I tallied the numbers for what I actually did do:

I rode a bike for over eight hours;
I rode 98 miles and climbed 9,800 feet;
Rode further than I’ve ever ridden;
Climbed more than I’ve ever climbed;
Was one of less than 60 women who attempted the ride (out of 1000 total riders);
Trained as much as I could with the time I had;
And I gave it everything I had that day.

And by any measure these are epic accomplishments.

<h5>It’s not about the end result but about the continuous effort over time, gradual changes, mini-wins, and daily “yes’s”.</h5>

What a noble way to honor yourself: Create a goal, train towards that goal, and attempt it. For me, pushing beyond what I knew I could accomplish moved the line between possible and impossible. I now know more is possible and I’ll keep pushing that line of impossibility further and further away. Where do you draw your line?