Tag Archive for: Pilates

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.

Amy SmileyAmy Smiley, Age 62

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU

I spent most of my life in California, with a short stint in Sweden in the 1970s. My degrees are in Chemical Engineering and I worked in the biotech industry once I got out of graduate school. I loved working in such a new field at the time. As the family grew, I decided to quit my paid job and stay home with the children. As time went on I realized I needed a creative outlet and took up Plein air painting (with the same fantastic friend who introduced me to Teresa’s classes!). After my family and friends, I love the outdoors, science, gardening, and art.

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN SESSIONS WITH TERESA?

I started classes with Teresa in 2012 and have continued with them ever since. Teresa’s Pilates classes are a priority for me because of the physical and mental benefits they provide. I have celiac disease, which causes any number of inflammatory problems and Teresa’s classes are essential to my ability to manage those issues. When something has to fall off my plate it won’t be Teresa’s class!

 

WHAT MOVEMENT OR PRINCIPLE HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST?

I’d like to choose just one movement or body dynamic principle that I learned from Teresa that has helped me but there are too many!  From ribs down to soup bowl to lifting your toes…I am always learning something new, even ten years later.  I think, for myself, as I continue to become more body aware, I continue to learn in each class.  And, as new issues develop as the years march on, I discover new fixes for them.  Everything that I have learned from Teresa applies not only in class but in other activities and my daily movement.  Not to mention that Teresa is so gracious with her time whenever anyone has a question about alignment or movement difficulties.  She always takes time to answer any questions and I learn from my questions and those of others.  What a fantastic tool!

 

Amy Smiley Testimonial for Aging Strong Pilates

WHAT WERE THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC ON YOUR MOVEMENT PRACTICE?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I dropped the gym and in-person classes.  Although we stayed active, I really missed the benefit and connection of group exercise classes.  I worried about how well I would maintain mobility and strength without the motivation and guidance that Teresa provides.  When Teresa opened her remote classes I jumped right in and was so grateful! Now that some degree of normalcy is returning, having the option of in-person and virtual classes is even better than before.

I absolutely love the energy and camaraderie in the in-person classes.  They are a tonic for the soul.  I can’t think of a single class where I haven’t had a good laugh for one reason or another.  I missed that tremendously until in-person became available again.  But it’s also great to have access to the class online if I can’t make it in person and to have the videos afterward.

 

Picture of Teresa's hybrid Pilates classIn Pilates, you’ll often gain optimal results from an exercise when you make your movements smaller rather than larger.  You’ll also gain more when you focus on the principles of Pilates: Concentration, Control, Centering, Breath, Precision, and Flow. It’s this attention to detail that makes Pilates a Mind-Body Practice.

As with most things in life, “less is more.”  We live in a world where we drink from coffee cups large enough to fill our gas tanks, we eat muffins capable of feeding a family of four, fast food orders are supersized, and Costco supplies us with enough peanut butter to last for years.

Bigger is not always better.

According to Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, “Thanks in part to the pandemic, many people’s exercise priorities have shifted from intense, calorie-burning workouts to activities that also foster a mind-body connection.”

Is Pilates as Good as Everyone Says?

The strength and flexibility workout is having a moment.

What can — and can’t — it do for us?     Enjoy this recent illuminating NYTimes article.

This workshop is for you if you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or if you have healthy bones and want to keep them that way! In this 90 minute session you will discover how to move safely with bone loss.   You’ll learn to find your ideal posture, how to lift safely, what exercises help with hip and spine bone strength, and how to avoid fractures.

I’ll share my easy to remember BoneSmart ABC’s for bone health, which will be the foundation for you to live a  bone healthy life.

Bonus:

Along with the workshop, you’ll get free access to my Private Forum on the BoneSmart Pilates website.  You can ask any exercise-related questions that you have on the forum. Your password will be emailed to you when you register.

This workshop is presented by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, licensed PT, nationally certified Pilates teacher, former professional dancer, ambassador for the national organization American Bone Health and creator of the award winning DVD series BoneSmart Pilates®

This workshop is a great balance of research and information, along with exercise and practice. I highly recommend this workshop if you are 50+ whether you have osteoporosis or not. Brilliant!

– Linda A.

Purchase the workshop here!

I want to thank you, my clients, for bearing with me as I’ve transitioned to a new online appointment scheduling system. After 2 decades of pen and paper documentation, I’ve finally taken the leap. There are the inevitable road bumps and you’ve been so patient during my learning curve. I anticipate more hiccups and ask for your patience as we charter this new territory together.

Below are 3 separate video tutorials I’ve created to help you navigate the new system. Each video is dedicated to the type of class you’re interested in whether it be New Client Welcome packages, Group Classes, or Private Sessions.  I hope you find them helpful but as always, I’m only a quick email away to lend a helping hand!

Step by Step Tutorial for booking online virtual classes

This tutorial above targets orienting New Clients to the new online scheduling system, those of you who have never taken a class from me but are curious.  Perhaps you have one of my DVDs, like my teaching style, and want to try out a Zoom class.  There are some amazing Welcome Packages for newcomers and a Free Consultation to answer your questions and discuss your goals.

Need a gift idea? Welcome Packages can be purchased as Gift Certificates to print or share electronically ranging from $25-$50, They make an exceptional gift of health for a friend or loved one. Details in this video. Single group class certificates are also available for $20 and a 3 pack of Express Private Sessions are available for $175

 

 

 

Follow along as I guide you in the steps to purchase/register for Virtual Group classes on my new online scheduling platform at  bonesmartpilates.as.me

This is for those who are taking group classes with me and need a little extra guidance to navigate this appointment software. This is also appropriate for those of you new to my group classes and who are ready to commit to an active aging class.

 

Online Scheduling for Private Clients of BoneSmart Pilates

Need a little help booking your Private Appointment? Follow me above in this step by step tutorial on how to purchase and book private appts with my new online scheduling system located at BoneSmartPilates.as.me

 

 

Do you ever wonder how the hunchback of Notre Dame got his hump? And do you worry that you are heading toward the same fate?  If you spend too much of your time sitting, driving, doing computer work and/or texting, you just might be. Or, if you’re a breast cancer survivor experiencing surgical tissue tightness across the front of your shoulders, you might collapse your chest in subconscious protective posturing.

These activities all promote a forward flexed spine which can restrict our mobility, impair our balance and breathing, and cause all kinds of problems we don’t want to deal with—including the dreaded hump!

How often do you extend (bend backward)? Unless you change lightbulbs for a profession, I bet not very often. Extension is especially crucial for those with osteopenia or osteopososis-a silent disease of low bone density.  Decreased bone density can lead to a forward flexed spine due to common undiagnosed spine compression fractures.

Extension exercises will help to decrease that forward curve inclination. Those with decreased bone density are more susceptible to fractures, especially from falls. Upright posture is associated with decreased falls and studies show extension exercises build stronger bones in the spine. Added bonus, extending the spine just feels great!

In this workshop, discover the secrets of spine extension exercises to

  • Improve your posture and prevent falls
  • Build bone in your spine
  • Promote healthy aging to continue to do what you love

Learn how to do spine extension correctly, avoiding common pitfalls.  Experience simple extension exercises in multiple body positions, to unleash your optimal posture and bone health throughout the day.

You’ll receive a printable follow-along guide that you can also reference afterward to remind yourself of all the things you’ll learn in the workshop.

Extend Yourself!

PURCHASE HERE

This is just shy of the 7 month mark-2/3 of the way through my Recode clinical trial.

I continue to feel strong, alert, and energized.  The lead investigator was thrilled with the improvement in my recent 6 MONTH cognitive testing.

I’m at and maintaining what I feel is an optimal body weight for my frame and I’m happy to have finally lost my belly fat with this program. I’m even comfortable wearing crop tops and athletic bras, something I would not have considered a year ago.

 

Nutritional adjustment due to Osteopenia

With my recent diagnosis of osteopenia, my doctor has added Vitamin K (specifically Designs for Health Tri-K, vitamin K in three synergistic forms that help the Vitamin D keep the calcium in the bones) to my already existing Vit D supreme (also Designs for Health brand) which is important for Ca++ absorption.

Exercise Adjustment with Bone Health in Mind

Because my spine is more compromised than my hips which are just over the borderline into osteopenia, I’m adding more spine extension exercises into my repertoire to address this deficit.  Think the Bird Dog exercise on all 4’s with the opposite arm and leg reach and the following 2 extension exercises.

Calcium Sources

Because this clinical trial does not allow dairy, I’m hard-pressed to get sufficient Ca++ through my diet as I’m not a big fan of sardines or tofu, two non-dairy high Ca++ options. In addition to my oat milk which has a decent amount, I’m independently adding Bone Builder Forte by Metagenics, a good bioavailable Ca++ supplement.

Ketone Levels

My blood ketone levels are finally consistent at the ideal levels of over 1.0 for the study. This is thanks in part to the addition of exogenous ketones, specifically Designs for Health Keto-Nootropic.

Keto Support Group

I belong to a local Keto lifestyle support group where we learn from each other as we share our trials and triumphs. Some of the topics we recently discussed I thought might be of interest to you.

What am I eating?
I start the day with an oat milk latte (which has a good amount of Ca++)

Lunch is typically an omelet with veggies and salmon or sometimes a slice of bacon and a whole avocado drizzled with plenty of olive oil.  Other times it’s a soup with extra olive oil for the increased healthy fat with an avocado.  A Sunday brunch favorite is almond flour waffles topped with crushed berries and nuts.

Dinner can fluctuate between chicken, fish, sometimes beef, with a side of veggies and salad.  Our zucchini crop is abundant so I’m having a lot of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with various toppings like ragu sauce or pesto.

 

Sauna
There are studies linking positive cognitive function with regular sauna use.  I’ve been without a sauna for the last 3 months as a result of the COVID lockdown. My friend recently invited me to use his own far infrared sauna so I’m adding that back in which feels wonderful.  I’m grateful for this detox opportunity.

What’s the Key?

“What do you think is making the most difference?” is a question I get asked a lot.

Honestly, I believe it’s a combination of many factors including:

  • Improved quality and quantity of sleep
  • The addition of targeted supplementation and balancing my hormones
  • Intermittent fasting for regulating my metabolism
  • Getting the junk out of my diet!
  • Consistent and varied exercise has been key including my Pilates, HIIT workouts 2x/week, dancing, walking, and biking.
  • Online brain training because I’m seeing objective improvement and I can see my focus and processing speed improving.

So can I point to one thing?  No. That’s why the Recode Protocol is a multi-modal approach and why a single pill will not address cognitive decline.

Question posed by a Reader

I wanted to share a question that one of you had which as requested, I posed to my doctor.

“If you have osteoporosis, can the Keto diet be followed? Everything I read is that it is acidic and you need an alkaline diet”

The doctor’s response:
“If you follow the keto diet according to our protocol, then it will be fine because ours is more of a Plant-Based diet with less emphasis on meat, especially red meat.  This keeps it less acidic.”

What I’ve learned independently is that eating too much animal protein also can leach calcium from your bones, so if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, you should limit red meat to two times a week and keep portions small – 4 to 6 ounces.

A study published in Advances in Nutrition in January 2017 found that cutting down on red and processed meats as well as soft drinks, fried foods, desserts, and refined grains all had a positive impact on bone health.

According to the research, the best diet for the prevention of osteoporosis includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, fish and poultry, nuts, and legumes.

After this study is over

With my DXA (bone test) results, I will personally be adding pasture-raised dairy and A2 milk back into my diet after the study is over, to support my bones.  I’ll also be checking in with my doctor on which supplements I should stay on for the long term to support my cognition.

If you’re on or starting the Keto lifestyle or the Mediterranean diet, share your struggles and wins here.  I’d love to learn from and celebrate with you!

What are your top concerns as you age?

For me, it’s the loss of my mind, my memories, my sense of who I am.
This clinical study I’m in (and Dr. Bredesens’ book) looks at Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) as not being caused by amyloid plaques or neurofibrillary tangles, but instead as a protective response to three different processes…
  • Inflammation (from infection, diet, or other causes)
  • Suboptimal levels of nutrients, hormones, and other brain supporting molecules
  • Toxic exposures (like heavy metals and mold)

ROOF with 36 HOLES

Dr. Bredesen uses the analogy of a roof with 36 holes. When you’ve patched enough of the 36 holes, it will be sufficient to protect the house from water damage.  Similarly, there are 36 factors that affect whether the brain goes down a synapse-destroying pathway that ends in AD.

We don’t know which holes will make the most difference so you want to address as many as possible to affect a change.  This analogy makes it clear that no single pill can address or patch all the holes that contribute to AD.

That’s why the ReCode approach is multimodal addressing sleep, nutrition, intermittent fasting, diet, hormone balancing, toxicity, infection, brain training, and mindfulness training.  People may have difficulties with one or more of these approaches but they’ve found that if you plug enough holes, it will make a difference.

My Progress So Far

I feel fortunate that I was accepted into this clinical study and receive excellent all-around support. When I started this 9-month trial, I fell squarely in the category of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which is a precursor to AD. After just 3 months on this protocol, I tested out of MCI, so much so that I wouldn’t have qualified to enter the study with the new score I got.

If you’re wanting to try this approach, I’d recommend that you start with the NY Times bestselling book,  The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline as a great first step.  I think there’s even a more recent version you might want to check out.

I’d then google Bredesen protocol-trained practitioners in your area.  The protocol can be overwhelming but doable with the right guidance.

Everyone’s treatment is individualized for that person’s unique biochemistry so there’s no blueprint treatment plan. With specialized tests that need to be run and interpreted by a medical professional, it’s daunting to even consider doing this protocol on your own.

 

Plug Those Holes

Our brain, our sense of who we are is priceless.  We know now that AD is a silent disease with pathology in the brain starting decades before clinical symptoms become apparent.  I think it benefits all of us to start plugging those holes as soon as we can and as best we can!

 

Webinar I Presented on the Brain

I recently presented a webinar for a Wellness Wednesday Series on the subject of Brain Power: Protecting against cognitive decline through a targeted research-based exercise program. Plainly speaking, it explores how to exercise and help your brain simultaneously.  The material in this webinar comes from my own research and what I’m learning through the ReCode (Reverse Cognitive Decline) clinical trial that I’m in.

Dual-Task Training

Key takeaway: Aerobic exercise is critical for brain health but there’s more.  Our ability to dual task-deteriorates with age. That’s our ability to perform two tasks that have separate goals-a necessary part of our complex life. With increased age, we see slower reaction time, reduced walking speed, increased run-ins with objects, and increased fall risk.

Research-based solution?  Dual-Task Training– combining cognitive activity with physical activity to promote neuroplasticity!  Check out the webinar for demonstrations.

“We assume, that physical exercise increases the potential for neurogenesis while cognitive exercise guides it to induce positive plastic change”
~ Bamidis et al, 2014

 

To keep us connected and moving, Teresa is currently offering Quarantine Remote BoneSmart Pilates classes, 55 min long, all classes bone safe/spine safe.

Registration links for the classes will be sent when BoneSmart Pilates receives payment. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa at teresa@bonesmartpilates.com

Participating in these classes will require that you create an account with zoom, it is free at https://zoom.us.  When you pay, please include a note in Paypal or by emailing me, indicating which class/classes you wish to register for. Be specific noting the DATE and time of your desired class.

Schedule is subject to change.  Classes will run through the end of April and we’ll re-evaluate then.

Payment Information:

$20 per class and must be paid in advance in order to receive the registration link. After doing that you’ll receive another email with the actual link to the class so don’t delay the registration step.

**If you’re experiencing financial hardship and just can’t swing it right now, I still want to support you. As a licensed physical therapist and movement educator, I’ve been blessed with a gift that I want to share so please just donate what you can, no questions asked.

Options to pay:
www.paypal.me/BoneSmartPilates/   Preferred method (this requires a PayPal account)
Enter the amount appropriate for the number of classes that you are registering for. For example, if it is just one class, fill in $20.  If it is 3 classes, enter $60 and so on (or enter your donation amount)
Note: You must include a note when you purchase in PayPal (or email me separately), indicating which class dates and times you’re requesting. Be specific

Venmo.com  @Teresa-Marchok (also you must include a note with the specific class, date and time you’re signing up for.  Include your email address with your venmo note so I can send you the registration link.