The Point of Pilates (and How It Differs from Yoga)

The Point of Pilates (and How It Differs from Yoga)

For people that love to work out but running around the block or hitting the elliptical aren’t their favorite activities, yoga and Pilates can be go-to exercise programs. Both programs take a gentler approach when toning the body and stress the importance of specific breathing patterns. Some fitness classes will combine the two activities, a hybrid of aerobic and non-aerobic exercises. But there is a difference in the way the two programs approach their objectives.

The biggest difference between yoga and Pilates is the spiritual element incorporated into yoga practices. Yoga brings the body and mind together with three main elements: exercise, breathing, and meditation. Structured, static poses are designed to put pressure on glandular systems, promoting overall body efficiency and total health. Yoga was originally designed as a path toward spiritual enlightenment but today has become popular as a gentle form of exercise and stress management.

Pilates was inspired by yoga, calisthenics, and ballet and was originally developed to help injured athletes and dancers. An emphasis is placed on the quality of posture in each exercise rather than the amount of reps. There are 500 Pilates exercises, each designed to put your body in an unstable posture and then challenging you by moving your limbs.There are two different types of Pilates: mat Pilates which consists of exercises performed on the floor using gravity to your body weight to provide resistance, and equipment-based Pilates which uses a spring-loaded machine that you push and pull along tracks. Dumbbell weights can be used in Pilates exercises as well for more resistance.

The lack of spirituality certainly doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of Pilates. Its main objective is core strengthening, requiring intense concentration and breathing techniques. Workouts tend to run in the 45-90-minute range, with 5-10 reps per exercise, incorporating precise ranges of motion, rhythm, and breathing. Like yoga, it can help improve muscular and postural strength, but because of the focus on the core has the added benefit of toning abdominals more quickly. Although it is more active than yoga, muscles are never worked to exhaustion and Pilates lengthens and stretches all of your major muscle groups in a balanced way.

Compare them yourself! LA Fitness offers both yoga and mat Pilates classes all week. Check out the schedule here.

Schedule a complimentary Pilates by LAF workout today!

Sources:

  1. Department of Health & Human Services. “Pilates and Yoga – Health Benefits.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 31 July 2013, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pilates-and-yoga-health-benefits.
  2. “PILATES VS. YOGA.” Energy Pilates Fitness Yoga, www.energypilatesfitness.com/pilates-vs-yoga.html.

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The Best Foods to Eat Pre and Post-Workout

The Best Foods to Eat Pre and Post-Workout

If you ask any fitness maven walking (or more likely running) down the street, they will immediately condemn the idea of “fasted cardio”, referring to the method of not eating before a workout in order to burn and lose body fat.  They will tell you it is ineffective and potentially dangerous, and then probably start describing the simply seasoned chicken breast or protein-packed omelet (depending on what time of the day it is) they chowed down before they laced up their sneakers.

In order to get the full benefits of exercise, you need a healthy and balanced diet.  Whether you’re hiking outdoors or sweating it out in a spin class, the right foods before and after a workout provide you with more energy and aid your body in recovering faster.

The best food pre-workout is going to be packed with carbohydrates and proteins. Carbs are your muscles’ main energy source and protein helps to improve your muscles’ growth and recovery. You want to avoid eating too much fat before a workout as that will cause you to feel more sluggish and heavy, although healthy fats like avocado have been shown to be a good source of fuel for moderate-to-low intensity workouts. Ideally, you’ll want to eat 2-3 hours before a workout, so that your body has time to digest. Good sources of protein pre-workout include:

  • Apple wedges with peanut butter – Apples are a source of natural sugar, and combined with a protein like peanut butter can still be a great energy source
  • Chicken – Baked chicken is best.
  • Greek yogurt
  • Omelets
  • Homemade protein bars – Homemade is a great way to control what goes into your body!
  • Protein shakes

As your pre-workout time ticks down, eating a meal that contains mainly carbs and some protein is ideal to ensure digestion. Simple carbs like bananas, dried fruit, and fruit smoothies with a dash of protein powder provide a quick energy boost for a 30-60 minute workout, whereas complex carbs are slow releasing energy sources and have a slower metabolism rate.

Sources of carbs include:

  • Rice – Brown rice is ideal, combine with the chicken mentioned above and some veggies for a balanced, pre-workout meal!
  • Porridge/oatmeal
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Sweet potato
  • Pasta

Many of these foods can double up as energy sources post- workout as well. Complex carbs and proteins are a necessary foundation as the body rebuilds itself post workout. Proteins are key to help repair and rebuild muscle tissue. It’s recommended to eat your post-workout snack/meal within 30 minutes after the treadmill slows to a stop. And of course, make sure you are replenishing fluids to further help your recovery. So, get cooking, get running, happy workout and bon appétit!


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I Took a Body Works Plus Abs Class, and It Was One of the Best Workouts I’ve Ever Had

I Took a Body Works Plus Abs Class, and It Was One of the Best Workouts I’ve Ever Had

If you had asked me a year ago if I knew what a Body Works Plus Abs class was, I would have told you it sounds like something to avoid at all costs. Now, I’m a moderate gym user who goes a few times a week. But I’ve had a lot of non-starters when it came to regular exercise; canceled gym memberships, workout clothes gathering dust in my dresser, yoga mat stashed in the back of the closet. I had to literally drag myself to the gym and I would go alone, put my headphones in, and chug dully along on the elliptical.

It was a sad sight.

Then, I discovered group workout classes, and I finally found a fun and challenging exercise experience that I actually felt motivated to do.  Whether it’s Yoga, Zumba®, or Pilates, Group Fitness classes are mini-communities that are forces of positivity and personal growth.

That’s what led me to the Body Works Plus Abs class at my local LA Fitness one Tuesday night. I had skipped a few sessions, so I was ready to work hard and push myself. The class opened with some light stretching, followed by digging in with everyone’s favorite – squats. Upbeat tunes blasted through the speakers as we moved up and down, followed by lightly jogging around the room to stretch our legs; our sneakers pounding against the floor to the beat of the music.

Then, our instructor broke us into pairs and had us work out together. My partner and I high-fived our way through a series of exercises: planks, sit-ups, lunges, and everyone’s second favorite – burpees. Fully feeling the effects of the high-energy leg workout, we had just conquered, we sat down on our mats and moved onto the second part of the class, the abs. For this section, our instructor took us through 10 ab exercises in 10 minutes, one minute per exercise.

This section of the class is the true test of how much you push yourself. We grinded through the fifth exercise, working to maintain the same amount of energy we had in the first exercise. It was exhilarating and hard, yet I felt empowered. What makes Group Fitness classes so appealing is that you have the energy of the rest of the room working with you to push yourself towards the finish line.

And by the finish line, I mean a good long stretch as soon as the last crunch is done. We laid on our stomachs and arched our backs into Cobra pose; slower, more relaxing music played above us then.

 

There is truly no greater satisfaction than the feeling after an intense workout; I now understand why cats and dogs love doing it so much.

 

What I love most about group workout classes is the camaraderie that comes with them and the LA Fitness experience is no exception. The instructors are energetic and supportive, you get to meet more of the LA Fitness community, and it’s a solid workout whether you’re looking to relax with some Yoga or shake it out with Zumba®.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out the schedule here.


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