Tag Archive for: BoneSmart Pilates ABCs

Exercise can feel like drudgery when you frame it as something you “have to do” rather than something you “get to do.”

As a movement educator and motivator, I’m always searching for ways to infuse joy into the classes I teach. Why? Because it makes it fun. If movement isn’t fun, why do it?  It should feel good and help change your outlook in some way.

The way I teach is informed by science and research. I’m particularly influenced by the research findings of Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and author of “The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage.”

Across cultures and ages, there are specific movements that both express and elicit joy. Think about hitting a goal, winning a race, or accomplishing something important to you. The universal physical sign for joy is arms thrown overhead in the air. This is seen with young and old, internationally, and even with blind people who’ve never visually seen that movement. It’s a universal physical manifestation of an emotion.

 

 

 

If we listen to music in a group, we might notice people swaying their arms overhead, often in unison, expressing joy and connection.

The feelings you derive from a class can have lasting positive effects. For instance, if you felt strong and capable during certain exercises when you encounter a challenge later in the day, you are already armed with the sense that you are strong enough to handle it. You’ve altered your outlook even outside of class. That’s a powerful way to use movement to foster a positive mental state.

 

Celebrate what you CAN Do!

Sometimes we become so focused on our limitations that we forget to celebrate what we CAN do! Maybe it’s just moving to your favorite music in a way that makes you smile. That’s an absolutely legitimate form of exercise, and you should incorporate whatever kind of movement brings you joy. Movement in any form should be viewed as a gift to celebrate.

Try these Incentives

Use one of these three ideas to feel good during movement: music, nature, and/or people.

Add some motivating music. According to McGonigal, music is a “powerful evoker of joy” and can help release endorphins and dopamine. Endorphins and dopamine are both chemicals in your body that make you happy, but they function in different ways. Endorphins relieve pain naturally. When they attach to your brain’s reward centers (opiate receptors), dopamine (a mood-boosting neurotransmitter) is then released. For example, endorphins will naturally help soothe a runner’s achy muscles.

 

 

“Green Exercise”, working out in nature has an immediate effect on mood and can help people feel calmer and happier, improving mental health.

 

 

 

 

Moving Together
As Barbara Streisand so eloquently sang, “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”   As a former professional dancer, I felt firsthand the power I experienced dancing, moving, and even breathing as one in a group. The sensations and emotions you experience, whether they be strength, joy, or discovery, are amplified tenfold in a group setting.

 

 

I’ll never forget my first time back teaching in-person group classes toward the end of the pandemic. One of the participants came up to me with tears in her eyes after class. She shared how deeply moved she was by being able to exercise in connection with others again, breathing, laughing, and moving together. This revelation both surprised and touched her.

Track Progress In a Novel Way

Give your trackers a break for a bit. Maybe be a little less data-driven; find a word that best describes how you feel after a workout. Track that instead to support a mindset of joy.

During one of my recent Signature BoneSmart Pilates® Standing Strong classes that I teach, I asked the participants to note how they felt before class with just one word. Some of their words included: “discombobulated, vulnerable, stiff, tired, flustered, and exhausted.”

After an hour of moving together with beautiful music and supportive cues, they each shared a word describing how they felt. These descriptions included solid, confident, invigorated, hopeful, and free. The evolution that occurred with each individual is a testament to the transformative power of movement to elicit joy and optimism.

In Conclusion
The process of moving (even over Zoom) with a joyful mindset and perhaps some motivating music can be transformative and set you up to have a fantastic day!

 

Depending on where you live the summer heat may be approaching or is already at its height. Staying active becomes a challenge, especially for people over 50. Exercising in hot weather requires additional precautions to ensure your safety.

My aim is to provide a comprehensive guide for my BoneSmarties over 50, offering tips and strategies for staying fit while minimizing the risk of heat-related illnesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Stay Hydrated:     Hydration is crucial when exercising in hot weather, as your body loses water through perspiration. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration due to decreased thirst sensation. To combat this, it’s essential to drink water before, during, and after physical activity. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you and sip regularly to maintain proper hydration levels.  Consider infusing your  water with electrolytes or swap out for a sports drink.  Electrolytes help you replenish minerals  lost through sweat. That’s why water alone is not enough if you’re exercising outdoors in the heat.

  2. Time Your Workouts:    When the sun is at its peak, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the heat is most intense. It’s advisable to plan your workouts during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. This reduces exposure to extreme heat and minimizes the risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
  3. Dress Appropriately:    Wearing the right clothing can make a significant difference in staying cool during exercise. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow air circulation and aid in moisture-wicking. Loose-fitting clothing in light colors reflects sunlight and helps in maintaining a comfortable body temperature. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses protects against the sun’s harmful rays and reduces heat-related discomfort.
  4. Protect Your Skin:   Exercising outdoors increases exposure to harmful UV radiation. Individuals over 50 are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin damage. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher with broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if sweating excessively. Seeking shade when possible or exercising under tree cover can provide additional protection from direct sunlight.

    You should always wear sunscreen when you go outside, but you should be even more diligent about it if you plan on being out during peak hours.

     

  5. Check the thermostat and your ceiling fans:  Most gyms/health clubs set their thermostats so the air conditioner runs often and keeps the humidity (and sweat) out of the air!    If you have your home A/C set to an economical setting, and you’re doing a high intensity class like HIIT – you may want to make sure your ceiling fans are on and lower your AC for the time it takes you to do a class.

Have you ever contemplated getting studio Pilates equipment for your home workouts?

What if I told you that you may already own something that lends itself wonderfully to Pilates work? This month I’ll share with you a Pilates workout that I designed to be performed on…an Ottoman!

Perhaps you don’t have the money or inclination to purchase big Pilates equipment for home use. Well I’ve discovered to my delight that my padded ottoman is the perfect surface for so many Pilates exercises. Here’s a way to do some Aging Strong Pilates® in the comfort of your home and notch up the level.

The video below is my personal quick and dirty ~15 min workout that I do in my bedroom before or after a shower about 2-3x a week. I do it in my underwear for maximum skin to leather traction so I have good grip and don’t slide. Some of the exercises are extremely challenging so proceed with caution. They are safe but difficult, so listen to your body and proceed at a level and pace that matches where you are today.

At the end of this blog post I’ve included a full written list of the exercises so you can print it and repeat on your own with your choice of music.

Note: Your ottoman should not be on wheels or have a base that swivels.

My ottoman has a slope to it. Depending on the direction your lying on it, the slope can make a particular exercise easier or harder. If your ottoman is sloped, try and drape yourself on it in the same angle I do in the video. I demonstrate the exercises at the angle that facilitates each movement.

For example, for the beginning chest lift core series I’m positioned on my back with my buttocks on the low edge and the lower tips of my shoulder blades at the top of the slope. This is the easier orientation but you’ll see quickly that it is by no means “easy”. If your ottoman is level, that’s fine as long as it has nice padded edges so it doesn’t dig into you. If you choose not to do it in your underwear then add a shelf liner to the surface so you don’t slide.

This workout includes all ranges of motion, Flexion (just from Extension (back bending) to Neutral (straight line) so it’s safe for conditions where flexion is contraindicated) Rotation, Side Bending, and Extension. I incorporate wonderful stretches after working the muscles in all these planes of motion.

I have to admit this is one of my favorite routines. It’s a Bad A_ _ Core workout that energizes me and makes we feel worked in a short amount of time!

The planks are extremely challenging but if you have stiff feet or bunions that make it difficult to curl your toes under for planks on the floor, having your feet elevated makes that part actually easier since you don’t have to tuck your toes under. Remember, the more leg you have on the ottoman, the easier it will be, so position yourself wisely.

 

The two sections that I do face down (opposite arm and leg reach, swimming and swan) are great for strengthening the muscles that strengthen the hips and support good posture. Firing those upper back muscles has the added benefit of stimulating bone growth in the spine.

 

Here’s a full list of the exercises so you can repeat them on your own with your favorite music. Note that as you see in the video – you don’t have to do a lot of repetitions to make it count. If you want to get feedback from me on your technique, purchase a 30 minute online Skype session and I’ll ensure you’re moving safely and effectively!

Go slowly. Be Precise. Breathe. Have fun!

Ottoman Pilates Exercise List

On your Back (face up)

  • Big X Stretch
  • Chest Lift Series
    • Center
    • Oblique twisting toward the lifted tabletop leg
    • Advanced: knees lift, lift, lower, lower, alternating lead leg
  • Finish with Big X Stretch to lengthen the abdominals

On Your Belly

  • Opposite Arm leg reach (ottoman under pelvis and belly)
  • Swimming
  • Final extension hands interlaced reaching toward feet-rotating head as you breathe w/ease
  • Child’s pose/Rest position (knees open wide if you have osteoporosis or herniated discs)

Side Lying

  • Leg lifts (bottom foot on floor, top leg lifts and lowers) Waist positioned at middle of ottoman
  • Side Kick top leg, keep hips stacked vertically.    Shift body so hips at middle of ottoman
  • Hover body parallel to floor and hold (head in line with spine)
  • Top leg lifts and lowers
  • Side-Lying Stretch (shift yourself so it’s comfortable for you, grab top wrist with bottom hand)

Repeat above on the other side

Face Down

  • Planks (first with lower thigh and shin on ottoman) Hold position
  • Add pushups if desired
  • Walk further out so less leg on the ottoman-increased challenge
  • Side Plank (one on each side-move slowly and hold/breathe)

Face Down

  • Swan (begin with breasts/chest hanging over the front edge, hands on the floor, feet on floor against base of the wall) Activate core and legs then Inhale as  you rise, Exhale as you lower
  • Child pose/rest position

 

 

We all have our postural faults, especially if we lose focus. Mine is rib flaring, that tendency to jut the bottom ribs forward in a faulty attempt to open the chest or lengthen the body. This often results in excess back tension and pain.

With mindfulness and an awareness of this tendency, I can better control this common error and so can you!

The secret is, no surprise, “connection”.  I like to use the image of 2 vertical bungee cords connecting my front bottom ribs with my pelvis.  Watch the video to test if you’re a rib flarer and learn 2 exercises to help fix it.

For those of you nowhere near me or former clients that have relocated, there is a viable way to create or keep our connection through Pilates!

I’ve been using Skype to reach my clients when they’re on vacation as well as to work with new clients. I particularly enjoy working with users of my BoneSmart Pilates® DVD’s who want some encouragement or personal feedback on their form and technique.

Virtual Skype Pilates means that you can literally do Pilates whenever and wherever you like, while having a qualified instructor like myself, guiding you through your workout, demonstrating as needed, and checking to make sure you’re moving correctly and not risking injury.  You’ll quickly realize that the 2-way conversation is far superior than watching a video. We have an open dialogue and a few laughs in the process. It’s like having a coach and workout buddy in one!  

In addition, you’re not wasting your time searching for just the right workout only to find in the middle of the workout, that it’s the wrong level for you.  You might discover midway that you really don’t like the instructor and there’s no modifications offered for your sore back, shoulder, knee or wrist. You may find that many of the exercises are too easy or too difficult. Having me there to give you feedback live through Skype is a game changer and mitigates all those issues I just mentioned.  As a physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor for the last 20+yrs, I can modify or change the workout to meet your mood, desires, fitness level and health status.  

Still on the fence?  As a summer incentive – I’m offering 15% off for Skype sessions purchased through June 15, 2019. (sessions purchased in this time frame can be used after that date)  Enter code “SKY” at checkout.”

In my 2 decades of running my business I have discounted my products but have never discounted my coaching time.  This is a one time golden opportunity.


You can do this in 3 Easy Steps:

1) Purchase either one or maximum two 30 min sessions at this discount. Each online coaching session is either 30 min or combine two 30 min sessions for an hour long appt. 

2) Schedule your appt. via email with Teresa to secure a mutually convenient time.

3) Download the Skype application to your computer if it’s not there already then at the time of your session – make sure you’re logged in to Skype, grab your mat, have your questions (if any) ready and let’s do it!

So if you don’t know, know you know”!   (from my beloved Broadway show “Hamilton”)

I hope to see you in the SKY(pe)

If your feet were on your face would you take better care of them? Our feet are a marvel of architecture, each one has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.  We shove them into all manner of shoes, some narrow and unaccommodating, pound them endlessly and on occasion adorn them with nail polish. They need more than a pedicure! 
Our feet are what connects us to the earth when we stand.  I believe that when we have strong, malleable feet they become the foundation for a strong and stable body.  If our feet are weak, immobile or out of alignment, it can have adverse affects up the kinetic chain to our ankle, knee, hip and even spine.

You’re never too old to improve your foot health. Even if your feet are stiff now, studies show that your flexibility can be improved at any age. Give your feet a breather and walk barefoot in your home. Make daily outdoor walks a regular habit and include foot strengthening and flexibility exercises into your routine. All 3 of my DVD’s include standing and resistance band exercises that improve the strength of your feet and the malleability of your ankles.  

In my first DVD, BoneSmart Pilates: Exercise to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis, I introduce myofascial release of the feet using custom cut 1/2 tennis balls. The goal is to improve blood flow, circulation, resilience and to enhance proprioception (the body’s ability to tell the brain where your body is in space).  This is particularly helpful for improving balance and decreasing your risk of falls. The reason I use 1/2 tennis balls and not full tennis balls is two-fold.  The 1/2 tennis ball is pliable, has give, and will compress when you press your body weight on it making it tolerable for those with sensitive feet.  A full tennis ball, has less give and is more resistant to compression so it may feel more painful than using a 1/2 tennis ball.  The other important reason is that since it has a flat underside surface, it won’t roll and will not pose a trip hazard by slipping out from under your foot. That is a risk when working with a full small round ball.

BoneSmart Pilates AGING STRONG VOL I,  introduces you to the Myofascial release ball (affectionately referred to as the “purple pickle”). 

This prop kicks up the stimulation to your feet with a textured surface and an oval shape that molds to the longitudinal arch of your foot. We focus here on both a light, stimulatory massage and a deep kneading motion that heightens sensory awareness of the soles of your feet, shuttles blood back towards your heart and helps prevent conditions like plantar fasciitis. In addition, we introduce inversion and eversion of the forefoot, a gentle twisting motion, that is helpful for preventing ankle sprains and maintaining a resilient foot and ankle. 

Show your feet some love ❤️. Start your day this way and you’ll feel energized, connected and grounded!

 

 

Studies show that just 5 minutes of daily balance training will significantly reduce your risk of falls. Practice this unique exercise designed by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, licensed physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor.  Improve your bones, balance, strength and mental acuity!

Teresa Maldonado Marchok, physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor, shares BoneSmart Pilates® Healthy Supported Sitting Tips when you want to sit at the back of a chair.

Having a husband and son who are hard core hikers,  I’ve  had to figure out how to keep up. With much encouragement  (and trepidation on my part) I made it up Yosemite National Park’s iconic Half Dome for the first time just 4 years ago.  Since that extremely challenging hike which literally wiped me out, I’ve discovered the magic of trekking poles and it’s made subsequent hikes so much easier!

What are some of the advantages of trekking poles?
  • Stability and balance-you’ve just added 2 more points of contact on the ground in addition to your 2 feet.
  • Power-as you pull yourself forward with your upper body, it creates more power and force to propel you
  • Integrated workout– you find you’ll use your upper body, core and hips in an integrated full body work out as you propel yourself forward in space.
  • Strengthening myofascial connections-For those interested in fascia, the connections of the posterior oblique fascial sling are magnified as you engage your latissimus dorsi on one side simultaneously with the gluteal muscle on the opposite side of your body. As the right arm extends back-you fire that right latissimus muscle, at the same time you are extending your opposite hip (left) gluteal muscle. They work in tandem in a powerful way to propel you forward.
  • Aesthetics-you look sporty!
When I ascend a steep hill, I’m working both my upper body and my hips and legs. The extra support from the poles and recruitment of my upper body almost feels like someone is offering me a boost from behind. It’s a tremendous help.
When I descend, the poles take some of the weight off my joints helping relieve possible overuse and stress to my knees.
Since incorporating trekking poles into my hikes, I feel more powerful, have better endurance and feel more stability with the enhanced balanced provided by additional points of contact with the poles to the ground.  I’m more sure of my footing as I’m able to test the terrain with my forward pole.
The mechanics of walking with the poles is simple but requires awareness and practice.  As you step forward with your right heel simultaneously the left pole touches done in front and vice versa.

Try this now with me.  As you step forward with the right heel, your upper body is rotated toward the front (right) leg-left pole on the ground in front.  Then your left lats fire as you pull back w/your left arm, rotating your upper body to the left as you shift your weight onto your rt leg and your left leg swings forward.

The kinetic chain continues with firing of the opposite right gluteal muscle in a diagonal pattern.  This is the myofascial posterior oblique line of connective tissue in action, firing in a coordinated fashion to promote healthy gait.

Recently my husband and son hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up in 1 day.  Though I had no desire to put myself through that, I joined my daughter and the rest of our friends for some challenging hikes offering breathtaking vistas and with every facilitated step I was grateful to have the poles ease impact on my joints during the descent and have the poles assist me to power my ascent.

The collapsible poles that I own provide absorption of forces, increased power to propel myself, and more stability and balance to reduce the risk of falls.  Poles come at set heights and adjustable heights.  If you’re buying ones at a set height- make sure your forearm is parallel with the ground when you’re holding them (elbow at a 90 degree angle).  If you want to share your poles, it’s better to buy adjustable poles where you can vary the height.

For me, the features most important were collapsibility (to 24 inches) and weight. I wanted to be able to tuck them in a backpack or hang them from a carabiner on my fanny pack and wanted them to be very lightweight.  I have no ties with any trekking pole company. I just wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it might inspire others to get moving more and enjoy the amazing beauty we have at our fingertips.

Stay tuned for my next blog post and video where I’ll share helpful stretches and warmups for hiking using the trekking poles.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear – I just don’t have time to get to a fitness class as often as I want to.     Here’s a quick workout that you can do in your kitchen.   It’s a short, time efficient standing workout you can do in your kitchen between latte’s! This workout targets hip and leg strength, core, flexibility and balance – great for when you’re tight on time and want a quick fix!   Let me know how you like it!