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I Do Pilates, What’s Your Super Power?
I Do Pilates, What’s Your Super Power?
I’ve been asked to put together a little testimonial of how beneficial I find Pilates, in relation to my sport of triathlon and specifically how Pilates enables me to keep competing.
After many years of hammering triathlon training with little to zero maintenance, I ended up in 2010 having a spinal fusion in my lower back. This included a titanium disc, cage and 4 screws into the spine. I was told never to run again, bike only at leisure and swim predominantly on my back. My passion is my sport so this was pretty tough to take. Along with the back injury I also had a tear in my hip flexor, ongoing patella femoral issues with my knees, and compartment syndrome in my right calf. After a year Id started trying to bike again with moderate success, although id often break down due to one injury or another. Calf and hip surgeries followed across the next several years with swim, bike and run time pretty much non-existent.
Then I was told about the benefits of Pilates, and how it could get me back riding my bike ‘properly’ again. I gave Club Stretch a go and after a couple of sessions I could already feel improvements. I began riding more frequently, faster and was able to go back to group rides after years of being in sporting limbo. Ive been seeing Holly for some time now and the benefits Ive found from Mat and Reformer classes have been staggering. My Pilates classes are such an integral addition to my training now that I’m feel stronger, fitter and faster than ever before. It’s the understanding of how the body works that Pilates also gives me, knowing ‘why’ trans abdominal strength benefits my cycling keeps me super motivated. I now feel if my core is super strong, I can ride through anything.
To give you some tangible insights, last month I biked in the top 4% of all athletes at Ironman Dubai 70.3, setting a PB by 15 minutes.
Nowadays I focus mainly on cycling, and this year I have 4 big road races on the run up to the World Championships at the end of August in France. THERES ABSOLUTELY NOWAY I’D BE RIDING AT THIS LEVEL AGAIN WITHOUT PILATES! Holly is also pretty sensational as a coach and is certainly key to my sporting resurgence. She’s an absolute superstar…
Thanks again, see you at Mat on Tuesday!
Sometimes a break up is the best thing that happens in your life
Sometimes a break up is the best thing that happens in your life
It is an honor and pleasure to let The Club Stretch know about my transition period.
Late July 2016, I weighed 91 KG and felt miserable about myself and the entire Universe.
I decided to do a Scandinavian tour by myself.
For three weeks, I toured Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
I did endless Bikram sessions in Stockholm and Oslo but the weather outside was too beautiful in Copenhagen to go inside a Bikram Studio; so instead, I biked the entire City of Copenhagen for 4 days
I went to Iran (I am originally Persian) in middle of August where I did countless hours of mountain climbing.
Back to Dubai right after my birthday (21 October) where I got into the hot room hours after I had landed.
I have been following a strict diet, minimum one Bikram session a day, zero alcohol and tobacco policy, and some 10Ks of swimming during the week since the first day of November 2016.
I went on a hot yoga retreat in the first week of December in Thailand, where I did 2 sessions of Bikram yoga a day and that really kicked out whatever negative energy residues left in my system.
Nowadays I weigh between 75 – 78 KG depending on the amount of my Chocolate and Cheese Cake consumption!
Thank you ALL at The Club Stretch and… on a personal note : “Sometimes a break up is the best thing that happens in your life!”
Pilates is for Men Too!
Pilates is for Men Too!
As a male Pilates Instructor, I am definitely in the minority in my industry and I have frequently wondered why it is that women make up the majority of Pilates students. After all, Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates and he definitely felt that his method was for everyone!
I think there are a number of reasons why women have embraced Pilates more than men. The most obvious reason is that Pilates has been marketed more to women in the media. This is starting to change but I still find that men are less aware of the many benefits of Pilates and have some common misconceptions about what Pilates is and how it can benefit them. I would like to dispel some of these misconceptions and encourage more men to give it a try.
Let’s start with a definition of what Pilates is about and what are the goals of a Pilates practice. The main goal of Pilates is a concept that Mr. Pilates called “Uniform Development”. The goal of a well balanced Pilates program is to organize all movements from the center and create balanced efficient movements that involve the deeper musculature of the body. A Pilates session (either one on one or in a small closely supervised group class) utilizes specialized equipment like the Universal Reformer, the Trapeze Table also called the Cadillac, the Chair, Matwork, as well as a number of smaller apparatus. Every Pilates exercise involves fundamental functional movement skills and the all have a spinal movement skill. Every Pilates exercise is considered to be full-bodied meaning that regardless of the choreography each exercise encourages the participation of long chains of linked muscles that work together as teams. The arms and legs have specific deeper muscles that link their movements directly to the trunk or core and either directly or indirectly to the spinal muscles. Frequently through overuse or improper movement patterns or poor posture, these pathways get bypassed and can lead to imbalance. If these imbalances are not addressed, they can lead to injury or pain.
In my 17 years of teaching, I have noticed that many of the men that come to me for Pilates lessons come somewhat reluctantly and only after experiencing an injury. They are usually referred by a physiotherapist or other medical practitioner because they are in pain. Sometimes they are also coerced by their wives or girlfriends who already know and have experienced its benefits. As we work together to get them out of pain and back to health and full movement, they frequently tell me that they wish they had discovered the benefits of Pilates much earlier! Luckily we are seeing more and more men in the Pilates studio and are also starting to see articles on Pilates in Men’s magazines. There are also a lot of male professional athletes that are starting to incorporate Pilates into their fitness regimens and are attributing Pilates to their success on the playing field.
Did you know that the following male athletes are also Pilates enthusiasts?
Andy Murray (Tennis Player)
Tiger Woods (Golfer)
Martellus Bennett (NFL)
Jason Kidd (NBA)
Dwayne Wade (NBA)
My male clients tend to see Pilates as a powerful tool to improve their athletic performance or to create structural changes that will relieve their aches and pains or help them to avoid age related postural problems.
So when am I going to see you in class?Brian completed The Pilates Center's Advanced Teacher Training Program in 2001 and The Pilates Center’s Masters Program in 2012. He has been teaching classical Pilates full time since 2001 in Dubai where he introduced classical Pilates to the UAE and opened Club Stretch in July, 2003. Before moving to Dubai in 2001, Brian had a successful practice as a Deep Tissue Sports Massage Therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah for 14 years.
How to Get The Most From Your Group Pilates Classes
How to Get The Most From Your Group Pilates Classes
Joseph Pilates, the German-born athlete and physical therapy pioneer, didn’t teach group classes. It was only on the rare occasion that he would use the mat work in a group setting. His studio was primarily a series of on-going semi-privates. Over the last 20 years, Pilates has experienced the explosion on a global level and it has now become common to see group Pilates classes on offer. Having said that, Classical Pilates group classes should still be a fairly intimate setting, with no more than 8 in a class. Now that you have the opportunity to join group Pilates classes the question arises, how can you get the most out of your group class?
First of all, it helps to have health goals in mind in order to stay motivated. The benefits of Pilates are numerous, such as increased lung capacity and circulation, strength and flexibility, coordination – both muscular and mental, as well as posture, balance, and core strength are all heartily increased. With all that in mind, making goals that are more personal to you is what is going to get you out of bed and into that morning class or leave work on time to get to the evening class because you’ve made that commitment to yourself. For me, I know that I feel my best when I’m strong, agile, mentally present and energized – everything I feel after I’ve done Pilates. This feeling is what has kept me coming back to class for the last 15 years!
Get there early! I can’t highlight this enough! It’s important to meet the instructor, introduce yourself and ask any questions and have the equipment explained to you. Because Pilates group classes don’t allow huge numbers to attend, there is a more personal relationship between you and the instructor and rather than just being a face in a large crowd, the instructor would like to get an understanding of your body/movement history, if you have any injuries (and if Holly is your instructor, where you got your cool leggings from – slight obsession of gym clothing!)
Have an open mind. If you have never done Pilates before it is very different to other forms of exercise. It is not just about your body but how your mind and your body connect. The instructors teach by verbal cues and instruction only, never by doing the class with the students.
“Pilates is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control over your body.” Joseph Pilates
Last but not least, be consistent. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it also wasn’t a half-assed job! Classical Pilates is layered and structured as a system that requires progressive learning and mastery. Turn up, give it your best, and if you can do this a few times a week, enjoy the amazing benefits that Pilates has to offer!
“The Pilates Method teaches you to be in control of your body and not at its mercy.” – Joseph PilatesHolly is an experienced dance performer and teacher who began her dance training since she was five and subsequently studied, performed and taught in Australia. Being passionate about movement all her life, Holly believes that Pilates is an essential part of her dance training to stay fit and prevent injuries. In 2012, she fulfilled her dream and gained her Pilates teaching certification from The Pilates Center.
Are you part of the YIN crowd?
Are you part of the YIN crowd?
I’m the kind of person who preferred a fast-paced intense workout and hot power yoga class. Sweating it out, filled with challenging sequences and stretches, empowered beyond belief. Still do, make no mistake. Practicing this kind of “Yang Yoga” daily, I noticed my energy levels fluctuating. Some days I’d feel overly energized and could not sleep for hours after reaching home – basically bouncing off the walls! Other days I was tired and drained. I was subconsciously seeking balance. Persuaded by my ever-nagging friend, I obliged and took my first Yin yoga class to see what all the fuss was about. Up until then, I presumed Yin Yoga was more for beginners or pensioners. This is where the trouble started. I had no idea what to expect but I thought the name “Yin” suggested a softer practice.
The room was full of people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds. With a smug face, I set up in the front of the room next to the teacher, thinking – “I so got this” The instructor was so incredibly calm and patient. And it brought a sweet-tempered Zenness to the space. The new yoga knowledge he introduced me to was fascinating. Chakras, Meridian Lines, Karmic seeds and Fascia were all a breath of fresh air. After a short meditation, he gently guided us into our first pose: a seated position with one leg bent in front while the other stretched backwards. Royal Swan. I thought, “okay, I recognized this pose from a different Sandskrit name and I feel the target area, so it’s cool!” He then asked us to fold forward bringing our bodyweight over the bent leg into Sleeping Swan and I thought “Hello I.T Band and Glutes!!!” And then he said remain here focusing on the breath in and out through the nostrils. We will be here for the next 5 minutes, on each side.
“WHAT??” I must have had the most outraged look on my face, as he giggled and coaxed us further into the posture towards our edge. He was TOTALLY SERIOUS! I struggled back down with my muscles squealing at me, preparing for what was going to be a very interesting learning curve.
Adho Mukha Kapotasana (pigeon pose as they call it for short in Yang Yoga) had never previously been a challenge to me, and for the first minute or so, it was fine. Two minutes in and I started noticing an old sciatic injury starting to moan. The last minute seemed to last a lifetime. The level of discomfort was notable and while there was no pain as such, I kept thinking, ” When are we going to change poses? ” or ” have we not been in this posture for 5 minutes already? “ and then ” get me out of this posture, NOW! “
My preconceptions of having an easy, restorative, gentle practice were soon diminished after the first pose.
Then came the DRAGON!
A grueling pose with each variation becoming more challenging the deeper we got. This pose is as dreaded as the mythical creature it is named after.
See, during these long holds, when you settle this deep into a posture (particularly a hip opener), a few things may happen…
You have no choice but to observe the body and listen to the monkey mind. Eventually you get uncomfortable the longer you’re in it, so my body would be the first one to want to give up. My muscles would start to tense and I’d have to consciously tell my body to relax. “This isn’t soooo bad, I’m ok, just breathe! It’s only YOGA!”
A few seconds later, my mind would then kick in. “What is this? NO! I can’t sit still, I can’t stop thinking, change something, adjust the props, MOVE, this is ridiculous, it’s way too uncomfortable. I’ll never last the full five minutes.” I started to wonder how airy-fairy the teacher really was, to have forgotten about us and be lost in his own world. I felt my body heat start to rise. My teeth begin to grind. I started to get frustrated. Soon I began imagining a Games of Throne battle scene in my mind. Then out of nowhere, I remembered a deeply buried memory that came up to my conscious mind that I had clearly stored away with the cobwebs. I got sad. I even shed a tear. Slowly I got bored thinking “Right, time to get out of this torture chamber!” Then I started to laugh. “I must be a masochist who enjoys inflicting pain on myself “ Soon I resorted back into wanting to kick the smiling peaceful face looking back at me, once I had the feeling back in my legs that was.
Just as I thought the suffering of my emotional roller coaster ride was over he maneuvered us deeper into FIRE BLAZING DRAGON.
I wont even go there…the name speaks for itself!
Welcome to Yin Yoga… as in, the other side of Yang.
The poses that followed offered more or less the same levels of discomfort, and it always seemed to be around that two-minute-thirty-second mark that my body would decide it had had enough. It was a constant pull between fight or flight mode. Of course, there was no option to end the poses early. As I peeped around the room everybody was as quiet as a mouse and surprisingly looking like they were enjoying the experience.
And then the penny dropped… I soon realized this scenario was MY LIFE. When I experience discomfort on any level—physical, mental, or emotional, I am out of my comfort zone. Feeling uncomfortable and not in control, my body starts to react and complain. Soon my mind jumps in and tries to talk my way out of the situation. I’m tired, I’m stressed, I can’t do this, or this isn’t for me. Those thoughts slowly manifest and I start to believe them, as I plan my escape route. Then finally my mood reflects disappointment by feeling irritated, grumpy, and annoyed at myself. It was like giving up chocolate that one year – A constant battle! A battle I was fighting against myself. Body vs. mind.
It took a few classes before I was able to really appreciate and enjoy the relaxed pace of Yin. I continued to accept the challenge: To get comfortable in the uncomfortable. Slowing my mind down and being guided deeper into my practice. And eventually, it paid off! Yin Yoga brings up a great deal of emotions and allows a truly perfect way to find space to acknowledge our thoughts. Not hanging onto them but rather letting them pass. Letting go of whatever doesn’t serve us. Did I get emotional during class? Absolutely. But I learned that it’s undoubtedly OK. That’s probably why it’s known as the more intuitive side of yoga bridging the gap between asana’s and meditation. When we train the body to become still, we intern train the mind — finding our way home to inner peace. Yin helps us slowly build absolute self-belief and faith in how wonderful we can be, how strong we really are, each and every day and how to take that into the real world! Eventually your practice becomes soothing and healing. A beautiful spiritual lesson! There is something so deep and profound about Yin that will tap into a part of you, in a way only unique to Yin. This practice is a soulful journey for those who may have disconnected from the mind/body/soul connection to reawaken themselves in a gentle, compassionate, loving way. Practicing Yin is like thanking yourself for being so awesome! And by having both a Yin and Yang yoga practice… you are creating a perfect balance within your energy systems. The best of both worlds!
As a Yangster, take time to treat your inner self well, join the Yinsters!
Namaste Love and LightSouth African born, Vanessa dabbled in many forms of yoga and discovered her passion – Bikram Yoga at Club Stretch in 2007 and has been practicing there ever since. With the intention of exploring this new world of well being, Vanessa left her full time job at Emirates and graduated from Absolute Yoga Academy Hot Teacher Training in October 2015, certified as a 200hours Hot Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance (R.Y.T). Read more about Vanessa Roux at www.clubstretch.ae/the-experience/meet-the-team
The Nutrition of a Modern Yogi
The Nutrition of a Modern Yogi
Often, when people find out I’m a nutritionist, as well as a yoga teacher, I get asked the question, “What should I eat for yoga”?
I must admit there’s no simple answer. A lot of people think that to be a true yogi or yogini, you need to be vegetarian or vegan; drink green smoothies and juices; and/or eat only raw foods.
To me, yoga is all about balance, in all aspects of life. Do what makes you feel good. Be healthy, but be healthily bad from time to time too.
A healthy diet should consist of fruits and vegetables for the body to attain all the vitamins and minerals it should. Personally, I consume around 1-2 servings of fruit per day (eg 1 nectarine and a handful of grapes) and around 5-8 servings of vegetables (eg two large handfuls).
Should you juice all your fruits and vegetables to get maximum vitamins and minerals? No! All you end up doing is concentrating the sugars, stripping out the fibre (which is just as important for gut health as those vitamins and minerals are for the entire body) and quite possibly giving yourself an overdose of at least some of the vitamins and minerals you’re consuming, which will simply be expelled again.
Does that mean you should never drink juice? No! A small amount (say 2-4 small glasses of juice a week) from time to time is perfectly healthy.
Are you starting to understand my message of “balance”?
A healthy diet should also consist of some proteins, although there is protein in everything (read the nutrition information on your next loaf of bread). Some meat, fish, eggs or plant-based proteins are important to include. Whilst you don’t HAVE to be vegetarian, the human body doesn’t require meat, poultry or fish every day either.
Personally, I eat a vegetarian diet most of the time, including eggs, beans, lentils and corn. You can get all your eight essential amino acids from beans and corn alone (hats off to the Mexican diet). I occasionally eat meat, fish and chicken, usually if I’m out for dinner or at a friend’s place, or I will very infrequently cook it at home. I eat a small portion of salmon once per week. Mostly because my salmon salad with herbed potatoes is my husband’s favourite meal and I can make it during the day for one of the evenings I teach late.
Amino acids are protein building blocks. There are 8 essential ones that the body cannot make itself; they must be consumed in food. The human body can make all the rest itself, from those 8 essential amino acids after consumption.
Carbohydrates are important but, like everything, should be moderated. When I talk “carbohydrates” I mean, rice / pasta / potato / bread / cereals, etc. I try to keep carbohydrates as unrefined or “brown” as possible and my general rule of thumb is not more per day than a serving the size of my fist at each breakfast, lunch and dinner meal (you should make it the size of your own fist, as then it’s relative to your energy requirement). Note: at each of those meals you can add to that based on my recommendations above, ie for breakfast you might add yoghurt and fruit to cereal or eggs to toast.
Speaking of cereal, most cereals on the market today aren’t ideal. They are often fortified with semi-healthy supplements, so that all sorts of health claims can be made, making you think they are healthy, when the base cereal itself is not. It is important to take care in choosing the right cereal for health. The best advice I can give you for that is, the least processed a cereal is the better, if it looks unnatural you’re probably better to avoid it.
There are two types of fibre, insoluble and soluble. Both are important for the health of your gut. However, soluble fibre not only helps keep your gut healthy, but also inhibits the uptake of cholesterol in the body and aids in the control of blood sugar levels. Including fruits and vegetables as well as nuts, legumes such as beans and lentils and avocados (as a nutritionist I consider this to be a fat as opposed to a “fruit”, but a really good fat) will ensure a healthy soluble fibre intake.
It is also important to consume some fat. Four of the vitamins essential to health are fat soluble, they cannot absorbed into the body without fat. Of course balance comes into play again when it comes to fat. Not just the balance between the so called “good” (unsaturated) fats and “bad” (saturated) fats. But also balance of good fats is important. There is an ideal omega 6 : omega 3 ratio, to help avoid inflammation in the body and aid in keeping the immune and cardiovascular systems healthy.
I could go into much further detail, but I’m afraid that may become boring. Instead, what I will say is this. When cooking at home, trim as much visible fat off meat and remove the skin from chicken before cooking. Use a little bit of butter, as a spread or in cooking from time to time, but use olive oil too as well as other good oils, such as flaxseed, pumpkin seed, avocado, sesame, etc. Eat avocado regularly. Include a healthy amount of omega 3 unsaturated fats in your diet, ie salmon (and other oily fish such as mackerel, trout, sardines, swordfish, etc.), linseeds aka flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. But when infrequently eating out, eat what you enjoy.
To me, food is a pleasure in life. It should be enjoyed along with life itself. Your diet should be like your yoga practice. Be good most of the time, to allow yourself to be a little bit bad when the mood takes you.Having experienced many different styles of yoga over the years, Trudi is a strong believer in the healing power of the Bikram Yoga series. In addition to her training as a Bikram Yoga Instructor, Trudi completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Sports & Exercise Science at Massey University, New Zealand. Read more about Trudi at www.clubstretch.ae/the-experience/meet-the-team