A Class for Every Body

Andrea Morris, Director of Group Fitness

Group fitness classes are a great way to get connected with others and become committed to a healthy lifestyle. At Greenwood, we offer classes for people of all levels and abilities, each designed to challenge and inspire you. We’re here to provide motivation, results and experiences for every body.

With so many classes at Greenwood — from yoga to Boot Camp, barre to indoor cycling— it’s easy to find what’s right for you. Don’t get caught up in the perceived difficulty level of the class. Instead, think about the benefits you’re looking for — balance, stability, flexibility, cardio, strength — and the formats you enjoy. Whether you’re a beginner, advanced, or somewhere in between, every class can be modified to meet you right where you are.

It’s always best to speak with your instructor before class about any injuries, limitations or goals you have. Once your instructor is aware of your needs, they will provide options during class that will work for you.

Never feel pressured to do what your neighbor is doing. If you come to an exercise that’s not right for your body on a given day, leave it out and wait for the next one that’s right for you. We want you to love the music, the workout and the coaching that leads you safely through the class at a level that suits you.

As instructors, we want you to choose the option that allows you to maintain great technique and then progress or regress that movement in accordance with the coaching provided. These adjustments might include the amount of resistance, the range of motion, the position, speed or intensity.

Most classes will begin with the simplest version of a movement or exercise and gradually add complexity and intensity as an option. This allows beginners to remain at their comfort level, while advanced participants get the appropriate challenge.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle can be hard to achieve on your own, but as part of a group, motivated both by the instructor and the community in class, you are far more likely to succeed. Whether you’re already involved or new to the club, we look forward to welcoming you into the group fitness community. We’ve got something for every body.

Andrea Morris, Director of Group Fitness
303.770.2582 x312 | AndreaM@GreenwoodATC.com

Pilates vs. Yoga. What’s the Difference?

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

Pilates and yoga have many of the same goals in mind, and many see the value in both. So, what’s the difference?

The purpose of yoga is to unite the mind, body and spirit. Yoga teachers see the mind and body as one. Yoga is considered a therapeutic activity: it can be a way to heal the body and find mental harmony. It gives your body more flexibility and promotes relaxation even in the most stressful of times. Many people start taking yoga to reduce stress.

In yoga, several movements are performed on a yoga mat and the weight of the body is used as resistance. This takes a great amount of focus, and the flow in and out of each position is fluid. There are many types of yoga classes available, from very athletic Power Vinyasa to very gentle Hatha.

In Pilates, the focus is on the core, specifically the spine, so the rest of the body can move freely and grow stronger both inside and out. The work is geared towards balancing flexibility and strength, resulting in a stronger body. The major difference from yoga is, in addition to mat work, Pilates incorporates difference exercise machines.

Using Your Breath

  • Yoga might be the most effective exercise to combat depression or anxiety because it focuses on the mind as well as the body. In yoga, the breathing exercises help you to achieve relaxation. Throughout a yoga routine, it’s important to continuously concentrate on how the breath is being employed. Sending the breath to areas that may be tight or are holding stress can help relax these specific muscle groups in your body.
  • In Pilates, the breath is guided by the direction of body movement. For example, you would inhale when the body extends and exhale when the body flexes. The breath is used as a technique to provide muscles with the energy needed to exercise effectively. Concentrating on breathing technique throughout Pilates will help you engage the deeper stabilizing muscles in the body. When doing Pilates, one movement connects to the next with the mantra that movement heals.

Developing Abdominal Muscles

  • Yoga and Pilates both contain several poses and exercises that are suitable for toning the abdominal muscles. One of the best Pilates exercises for the core is the first exercise in the mat work named the Hundred. The jump-board is another way to target the deeper layer of abdominals. In yoga, every time you do a plank, you are using your abdominals.

Dealing with Back Pain

  • For individuals with back pain, both yoga and Pilates poses can provide results for stronger and more supportive back muscles. Care has to be taken with some yoga poses and Pilates exercises, as they can actually make the existing problems worse. Be sure to talk with your instructor prior to a session.

Improving Flexibility and Strength

  • Yoga can be used for improving the flexibility of the body, and it will also gradually increase the flexibility of your joints. Pilates focuses on trying to relax tense muscles and providing strengthening and connecting to the deeper stabilizers in the body.
  • Yoga and Pilates are both wonderful for toning and strengthening all of the muscles groups in your body. Pilates equipment uses springs, which provide a resistance on the body that will help build muscle and prevent bone loss.

In the end, the easiest way to decide whether Pilates or yoga is best for you is to have a go at both! Try one class of each and see what you think. You may also find you like both, as they pair well with each other. Both Pilates and yoga strengthen your muscles, get your body in better shape, relieve stress and expand flexibility.

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates
303.770.2582 x375 | SaraT@GreenwoodATC.com

How to Achieve Optimal Chair Positioning at Your Desk

By Sara Talbert

As a Pilates instructor, I think of myself as a teacher of posture. When my clients walk in the door, I look at their posture and ask myself, “what are the best exercises for this person today?” When I teach Spin classes, my cues always involve “sitting tall” and “keep your neck” meaning don’t let your shoulders take over your upper body. When I ask my clients what they think is causing their back pain, they often reply with “sitting at my desk.”

Your chair is perhaps the single most important part of a healthy working environment. I’ve put together some guidelines for achieving optimal chair positioning for long hours at your desk.

1. THE BASICS

You should be able to sit comfortably in the chair, using as much of the chair back as possible for support. The lumbar support should fit comfortably into the curve of your lower back and your feet should be flat on the ground (use a footrest if necessary).

Posture Image 32. CHAIR HEIGHT

Start with your seat at the highest setting and then adjust downward until your legs and feet feel comfortable and the back of your knees are at an open angle (90° or slightly greater and not compressed).

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3. SIT BACK IN THE CHAIR

Adjust the height and/or depth of the lumbar support to provide comfortable lower back support.

 

 

4. ADJUST THE RECLINE

If the chair has a recline lock, set this at a comfortable position. Remember to unlock this periodically allowing the backrest to move with your back as you change posture. It’s generally better to be slightly reclined, as this helps relieve tension from your lower back. If the chair allows you to, adjust the recline tension as you move back and forth so that the chair provides consistent support.

5. ADJUST THE SEAT PAN

When sitting back, make any adjustments to the seat pan (e.g., seat pan tilt) to reach a comfortable position. The seat pan should extend about an inch on both sides of your legs and should not apply pressure to the back of your knees.

6. ADJUST THE ARMREST

If possible, adjust the height, width and position of your armrests to one most comfortable for how you work. Keep in mind that armrests will be used only between typing sessions, not while typing or using your mouse. Consider lowering or swinging the armrests out of the way when not in use so as to not inhibit your movement.

Poster Image 2 Arm Rest

7. CLEAR OBSTACLES

Make sure that the chair casters (wheels) move smoothly and that nothing obstructs your ability to position the chair in front of your desk and computer. Lastly, try and get up frequently and walk around. Find the water station at the other end of your work space to fill up your bottle. Your body will thank you.

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To learn more about posture, check out our schedule for available Pilates classes at Greenwood Athletic Club, or contact Sara Talbert for more information.

How to Improve Your Tennis Game with Pilates

As those summer months get closer, now is the perfect opportunity to head into our Pilates studio and improve your tennis game by working on strengthening your body, improving your balance, enhancing your flexibility and building your core strength. Whether you have tried Pilates before, or are interested in it for the first time, our upcoming Pilates for Tennis six-week workshop is the perfect opportunity for you to boost your tennis techniques off the court. Pilates programs are always ongoing and available for you to take and improve your tennis game.

Under the guidance of our talented instructor Erica Bruenton, you will use the six principles of Pilates as a foundation for drawing connections between the fundamentals of both Pilates and tennis.

  1. Concentration: Pilates is contingent on developing the connection between the mind and the body. Just like in tennis, you are never focusing on one thing at a time. It is particularly important to learn how to focus on your body’s powerhouse, the transverse/oblique/rectus abdominis, as well as the inner thighs and glutes. A big piece of bringing that together is the ability to concentrate and think about how the different muscles of your body are working together. You are engaging in similar activities on the tennis court, such as concentrating on multiple areas including stroke mechanics, swing speed, follow through, and recovering back to a ready position after you return the ball.
  2. Centering: In Pilates we initiate movement from our powerhouse–all movement comes from the center. The core is equally important in tennis. If you visualize yourself on the court, there is a lot of rotational movement. Pilates encourages you to think about the kinetic chain of movement, where you are transferring energy from the ground, through your legs, core, and then into your shoulder, arm, wrist, which ultimately results in racquet head speed. Finding your center, as well as learning how to move it efficiently, will help increase your technique for generating power on the tennis court.
  3. Control: Pilates helps strengthen your understanding of how to coordinate the movement of your body. For example, various Pilates exercises work on moving your legs and arms while keeping your abs engaged and pelvis stable. Control is equally important in tennis. On the tennis court, you utilize the split step to feel in control of your body as you get ready to take your next shot.
  4. Breathing: Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you play tennis, as you hit the ball or react to get in position for a shot? This is a common issue among many tennis players, and an area in which taking Pilates can be extremely beneficial. Pilates teaches you to link your breath with movement. As a tennis player, this teaches you to incorporate breathing techniques to enhance fluidity in your movement on the court.
  5. Precision: As a tennis player, when you hit the ball you visualize where you want your shot to go. Similarly, in Pilates we build on concentration and control to achieve precision in movement. Pilates teaches you to engage your abdominals to stabilize your pelvis. Achieving stability and mobility that allows your joints to move through a healthy range of motion is very important, not just on the tennis court, but in your everyday activities.
  6. Flowing Movement: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of tennis is being able to put all of your techniques together. In a tennis lesson or in drill, this might mean transitioning from baseline groundstroke, to a down the line approach shot, to a cross court volley to finish the point. When it comes to a match, you have to be able to put everything together to get the win. The concept of flowing movement within Pilates is the ability to move through a repertoire of exercises with fluidity. In Pilates, this is achieved through transition exercises, like teaser and the roll up, where you build strength while continuing to flow between different exercises.

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(These images feature a progression series, where Tennis Professional Suzette Riddle is using the reformer’s straps to work through a progression of exercises that work on concentration, centering and control).

In the Pilates for Tennis class,  the majority of your exercises on the reformer, which is the spring-loaded apparatus. The color coordinated springs represent the different amounts of tension that are used during the workout.

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On the apparatus itself, you will be moving through a variety of positions. The videos below, featuring Tennis Professional Suzette Riddle, show different exercises that can be performed on the reformer that will help you build strength and coordination both on and off the court.

Sign up for Pilates for Tennis to secure your spot. There is no equipment necessary, just come willing to work with Erica! We are excited to offer two classes, one on Tuesdays @ 12:00-12:55pm from April 4 to May 9, and then other on Saturdays from 8:00-8:55am from April 8 to May 20 (with the exception of the Saturday before Easter, there will be no class on April 15).

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If you can’t make it to this course, Erica Bruenton is always more than willing to work one-on-one with clients, feel free to contact her to schedule a session!

Sitting Is The New Smoking

These five words will change your life: “Sitting is the new smoking.” This simple phrase sums up much of what you and I struggle with today. We sit at our desks typing and interacting with computers. Our bodies were simply not designed to sit for that long. We don’t move as much throughout the day as we need to and we eat sugar-packed foods in hopes of an energy burst. It’s a really destructive downward spiral.

When I picked my kids up from sleep away camp last summer, the owner mentioned this is the first generation of kids that spend most of their time indoors. Indoor play comes with iPads, iPods, video games and computers. For adults, our eight hour work days have become 10 and 12 hour days. We are finding less and less time to live the healthy lifestyle that our bodies require. Even if we make time to get up at 5:00am and go to the gym, that great work is met with a much largely sedentary lifestyle and low energy levels. Physically, people who sit all day develop “Tyrannosaurus Rex” posture, with the head and shoulders shifted forward, arms forward, glutes non-existent and hips and hamstrings tight and sore.

The concept that smoking is bad has been drilled into all of us. If we further associate the act of sitting with that of smoking, look out! We would engage in more shutterstock_141129619lryoga classes, Pilates classes, swimming laps, walks around the block and riding bikes with our kids.
At first glance, you might think that not sitting at work would be extremely difficult. Chairs are everywhere-at your desk, in your conference room, in the break room and just about anywhere you want to be.

If you can start to associate sitting down with smoking, you’ll pop out of your chair and get your blood flowing–which is exactly what you need.

As you move, you release endorphins (just like when you exercise) and your energy increases. You feel more alive and that increased feeling of power is brought in everything you do. Your whole attitude changes when you are full of energy and fully engaged. Self-confidence improves when you strengthen muscles that help you stand tall, including your glutes, core, upper back, etc.

Sit less. Do more. Empower others to do the same. I’m signing off by getting out of my chair and asking my kids if they want to play outside!

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

Has Holding on Gotten Out of Hand?

upperCVIOne of today’s popular fitness sayings is “go hard or go home.” This obsession with intensity tempts us to do whatever it takes to up the ante and could potentially make our workout less safe and less effective. This mindset shows up in all forms of exercise from weight lifting to cardio. In a cardio setting, it is not uncommon to see the stair stepper or treadmill running at top speed. Speed must equal the most effective workout, right? This level of speed has its place when done in good form. However, all too often the stair stepper and treadmill are running at full speed with individuals rounded forward and holding on for dear life in order to maintain speed. The treadmills are revolving fast, really fast, with pounding that is notably loud. While the spirit of working hard exists, what impact does poor form and posture have on the body and are results and efficiency achieved? So much of our day is already spent in front of a computer or in a chair rounding our bodies forward. We wouldn’t hit the start button if we weren’t after results. It has been found that continuous light handrail support during exercise reduces physiologic responses to exercise up to 6%! Aerobic benefits are reduced and suboptimal benefits from exercise are seen. In order to take in more oxygen, burn more calories, increase the heart rate and decrease the chances of injury, you must use your core. This means climbing the stairs and running on the treadmill without bending forward or handrail grasping even if it means slowing down. To increase the many benefits of submaximal exercise on the treadmill or stepper, let go and stay light on your feet. You might have to turn your iPod down to hear yourself. Standing tall requires you to use all of your senses and core muscles, balances your muscle recruitment and keeps you aligned. All in all, don’t feel bad if you have to slow down to let go. Studies show you will benefit!

Adding activities like Pilates or yoga to your exercise routine can enhance your balance, strength, coordination and flexibility; tapping into those important core muscles and  preparing your body and your mind for the rigorous demands of daily life.

Sara Talbert,
Director of Pilates

WHAT ARE THE PILATES LEVELS?

Pilates studio blogJoe Pilates didn’t teach levels, he taught people. He adjusted each exercise and apparatus to the body in front of him. The division of the method into basic (L1), intermediate (L2) and advanced levels (L3) is more recent and slightly artificial, but that’s not to say that it isn’t useful in a health club setting.

The levels are a template or guide, not a competition. Pilates is not a sport, it is a practice. In fact, Pilates is corrective exercise with roots in therapeutic modalities. The exercise levels are made up of developmental goals and a way of moving rather than exactly what exercises you do. Because Pilates is progressive, mastering the basic exercises is vital. The basic exercises are the foundation to the work and aren’t dropped from the repertoire as it increases. Rather, an advanced class is classified L3 due to the number of exercises completed in the hour, the coordination of the exercises, tempo and the strength, stretch and stamina needed to perform the exercises.

The levels are most obvious in a mat or equipment class since in private sessions the work is customized to you.

L1 These classes teach you the basics of the method through a series of simple, challenging exercises. The goal for this level is to find your powerhouse, to begin to find lift in the body and to even out the alignment of the torso. You will start to feel the benefits of Pilates.

L2  When your body has absorbed the basics, you are ready to take intermediate level sessions. The aim of this level is to strengthen and deepen the powerhouse. Some new movement patterns are introduced (e.g. back bends) and other patterns already present in the basic level are expanded upon. What makes you intermediate is not how long you have studied, but how much your body has absorbed and remembers from session to session.

L3 – At the advanced level the focus is on increasing the stamina of the powerhouse. More upper body exercises are introduced with the aim of working the upper back and connecting it more deeply with the rest of the powerhouse. The advanced level is where complete flow and synchronization with the breath takes place.

To be the best version of you in Pilates, there is nothing to be gained by rushing ahead in your progress and practice. Impatience means that you will simply not get as much from your classes as you could. If you have an injury or illness, it is advisable to have private sessions before you join a mat or equipment class to ensure your needs are properly addressed.

At Greenwood, our staff is trained to teach multi-level classes within each level. Additionally, our goal is to build a working Pilates vocabulary in the body and learn Pilates concepts and principles. All of our classes include fundamentals with flow, building block progressions and extra stretches to keep you moving- developing stability, strength, flexibility and stamina.

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

 

FLEXIBILITY VERSUS RANGE OF MOTION

Everyone knows flexibility is a key component in fitness, but what does it actually mean to be flexible? Flexibility, as defined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, is the ability of the neuromuscular system to allow optimum extensibility of the appropriate tissues in the right range of motion, while providing optimum neuromuscular control through that range of motion. This means allowing muscles, tendons and ligaments to work in conjunction to allow normal range of motion of a joint. This requires that the soft tissues are free of tears, adhesions (scar tissue found in tendons and fascia) and are not overly excited due to a muscular imbalance. Those first two components are common results of exercise and training or injury. The last component, muscular imbalance, is commonly due to postural deviations. For example, if we lean too far forward in our normal posture, our hamstrings must fire twice as much as normal to hold us upright.
The second part of the definition of flexibility, while providing optimum neuromuscular control through that range of motion, is not only the ability to stretch muscles and connective tissue, but the control of that movement in that particular range of motion. I have seen very flexible people not be able to do some basic movements because they possessed neither the control nor the strength to work in that range of motion. For example, if you want to lift your leg past your hips, you not only need to work your hamstring flexibility, but you also need to have the muscular strength to lift your leg above your waist level. It is that combination of neuromuscular control and strength, as well as joint stability, that defines what our joint range of motion is to be.
This means that not everyone will have the same flexibility or range of motion, due to neuromuscular, joint or genetic restrictions. Excessive or inadequate range of motion in joints leads to issues in bio-mechanics. Flexibility and range of motion are different for each individuTRXal but can be improved through activity, active range of motion exercise, passive stretching and soft tissue manipulation.

Contact Vic or one of GATC’s personal trainers for assistance in achieving your best, both in flexibility and range of motion, goals which can also result from the practices of Pilates and yoga.

Vic Spatola, Director of Personal Training

FIVE REASONS MEN SHOULD DO PILATES

There is a reason the females in your life can’t get enough Pilates–it works! From a stronger core to feeling better on a daily basis, here’s why Pilates is great for guys too.

Pilates, created by German born Joseph Pilates, was JoePilatesoriginally developed for men. Mr. Pilates lived in England working as a circus performer and boxer, when he was placed in forced internment in England at the outbreak of WWI. While in the internment camp, he began to develop the floor exercises that evolved into what we now know as the mat work. As time passed, Joseph Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. Unhealthy as a child, Joseph Pilates personally studied many kinds of self-improvement systems. He drew from Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism, and was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man perfected in development of body, mind and spirit. On his way to developing the Pilates Method, Joseph Pilates studied anatomy and developed himself as a body builder, a wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier and diver. While women tend to dominate mat classes, Pilates holds plenty of benefits for men who rise to the challenge. Yes, it’s hard! Whether you’re a weight lifter or prepping for your first marathon, a Pilates class can help fine-tune your performance.

Exercises are made up of subtle, concentrated movements that can help you do the following:
1. Connect with often neglected muscle groups. Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others, and a big part of Pilates is focusing on those muscles that don’t typically get a lot of attention. During Pilates you consciously move in certain ways to build muscles that you don’t hit while lifting.
2. Improve flexibility. In general, the more muscle mass you have, the less flexible you are. Pilates’ focus on lengthening helps prevent injuries and muscle strains, and increases range of motion.
3. Build core strength. Every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to initiate movement in your limbs. Pilates also hits your transverse abdominals, the base ab muscle under your six-pack.
4. Live more consciously. Pilates forces you to pay attention-you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrate on proper form. After a Pilates session, you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed, which can even carry over into the next day.
5. Prevent injury. This kind of core training makes Pilates an excellent technique for whole-body fitness, as well as a foundation for cross training with other kinds of sports and exercise to balance out the way you move all week.

StrengthCondwebAt Greenwood, we offer a Men’s Only Pilates class where it is just you and the guys. The class is geared to meet the needs of men, including heavier spring loads, upper back and hip stretches and many exercises for the core. This class is offered on Thursdays at 1:00pm. Sign up the day before class and reward yourself with a discount!

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

In movement, everyone has a story. At birth, our story begins and continues to develop to be what it is today. Although it takes time and history to create that story, there is opportunity to redefine how your story reads in the future. You might be asking, what story?

Our bodies have shaped to our habitual activities. No two bodies are the same; it is our musculoskeletal system that provides each of us our unique shape and story. Our bodies are shaped not only by genetic code, but from the experiences (physical and emotional) we have encountered. We are shaped by the sports we play and have played, the jobs we perform, our hobbies and the injuries we have sustained. Often, the things we love to do, or things we have done repeatedly in the past, create imbalance.

With every client who Pilates studio blogwalks in the Pilates studio comes a physical shape that tells a story about their life. Picture the man who spent years in an office rounded over a computer and who was also a weekend warrior on a road bike. Sometimes the story comes free of pain but in most cases, people are dealing with discomfort or pain on a daily basis.

THE FACTS:

• Sedentary lifestyles lead to disease and imbalances throughout the musculoskeletal system
• Injury reverberates through the entire body leading to faulty movement patterns
• Depression and stress “pull down” posture and negatively affect our movement
• Routine leads to the over-recruitment of some of the muscles while others are under-utilized
• Improper training programs exacerbate muscular imbalance

As a result, our bodies forget how to move properly and the brain recognizes movement patterns, not muscles or muscle groups, and these basic patterns of movement build sequentially, beginning in infancy and developing throughout childhood. Pilates is a great way to reverse the patterns, providing a workout that restores muscle balance, movement efficiency and builds endurance in the deep intrinsic muscles that support the skeleton and spine.

Pilates was developed decades ago to help align imbalances. It is the perfect form of exercise to deconstruct negativity in the body. As a form of exercise practiced on a regular basis, Pilates examines the integration of movement and impact on function. Instructors are trained to study the functional and dysfunctional patterns in the body and are skilled at constructing series of exercises to create balance. It is our mission to cater to individual needs with a plan that will gradually change what might currently be a negative (imbalance) into a positive (balance).

Remember that the body is always learning, with every workout and every movement. Therefore, the quality of movement dictates the outcome. Pilates is a powerful way to improve stability and movement efficiency. When practiced alone or in combination with traditional fitness modalities, it educates and creates body awareness. The simple words “change happens through movement and movement heals” underscore the fact that the body learns by doing. What story is your body telling you or are you telling your body?

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates