Getting more out of your life by taking control of the health of your mind and body is within your reach. 100’s to Happiness is here to help you with options that fit your level, your lifestyle and your goals with virtual classes. Virtual classes are a core part of what we’re all about, and with good reason. Flexible and accommodating, challenging and exciting, virtual classes are an interface that work for almost everyone. This is a technology that truly enriches your Pilates practice, helping you to make the most of your hard work.  

There are so many marvelous reasons to subscribe to the on the Go Virtual Classes offered by 100s to Happiness, but here are the top five:

1 – Challenge yourself by going beyond 100

Completing 100 challenges is a solid way to kickstart a change in your lifestyle, but they aren’t the end. In order to keep growing you’ve got to keep going.

The virtual classes offered through 100s to Happiness give you the next step in the process, extending your practice from the mastery of a single exercise to a complete routine. Part of the beauty of Pilates is that it’s a system that’s extensive and varied. Thanks to its long history and rich diversity, you can keep developing your practice with new exercises, variations on current moves, form improvements and dynamic combinations of movement.  

2 – Access them anywhere

Virtual classes can be accessed anywhere – from your phone or on the web. That’s important because it means that you’re not limited in where you’re able to get your workout done! We live in a super busy world, one in which it’s not always possible to get to the gym. With virtual classes that you can access anywhere, you can get your fitness routine in everywhere.

In fact, the workouts included in the virtual classes are specifically designed to be done with minimal or no equipment! You can literally sneak one in anywhere that you’ve got just a bit of space just by pulling up the app on your phone and joining in with the video exercises.

3 – It’s cheaper than the gym

At just $4.99 per month, the On the Go subscription is a steal! Your gym membership is probably at least double that, plus there’s the additional cost of getting yourself there. The On the Go subscription allows you to get fit while minding your budget.

4 – Access to Pilates experts

No matter where you live, no matter what kind of Pilates resources are in your area, you can have access to experts in Pilates through these virtual classes. Whether you’re wanting to refine your techniques or to learn the right way from the start of your Pilates journey, you’ll be able to get access to the expertise that you need to do it all right.

There is no substitute for experience, which is something the creators of 100s to Happiness virtual classes have in spades. The instructors that you see in virtual classes and workshops through our online subscription are PMA certified and masters of this craft.

5 – A healthier you!

Your body matters and so does your mind. Pilates helps you to enrich and support them both, empowering you to improve your overall health. There are so many health benefits for people who practice this amazing form of exercise.

Just in case you needed a reminder, here’s a quick refresher on the benefits that you get with Pilates:

  • Increased muscle tone
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved flexibility
  • Enhanced muscular control
  • Spine stabilization
  • Improved posture
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Injury prevention
  • Increased lung capacity through breath control
  • Stress reduction

 

By expanding your practice with virtual classes, you’ll see your health grow through Pilates by leaps and bounds. You’re taking control of your body, becoming more in tune with who you are and giving you a better understanding of your body and mind. You can do it and virtual Pilates classes will make it easier.

Whether you’ve already joined the 100s to Happiness community or are brand new, you’ll find that signing up for virtual classes is easy! Just login (or quickly create a login) through our website or by downloading the free app on iOS or Android devices. Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to access a free virtual classes so that you can try before you buy. From there you’ll be able to enter your payment information and take your Pilates practice to the next level!

 

 

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A company’s success is about more than just hiring people and setting them to work. Employees are real people that need to be healthy in order to perform. The companies that are most successful recognize the benefits of supporting the physical, mental and emotional health of their workers.

There are a wide variety of wellness opportunities for companies such as stress management, fitness programs, weight loss regimens and smoking cessation programs. Promoting wellness within a company doesn’t just mean one thing – it could mean a wide variety of things and is greatly dependent upon the specific needs of the company itself. While putting together a wellness program for a company isn’t complicated, it is critical that business owners look at their people and tailor a plan that fits in with their specific needs.

6 ways companies benefit from wellness programs

So what are the benefits of adding a corporate wellness program to your company? Here are six things that companies get out of looking out for employee health.

  • Improved morale

Though there are many types of initiatives that employers can implement to promote wellness, the single constant benefit is an improvement in morale among employees. People who feel as though the company cares for them are more invested in its success and happier overall thanks to the improvements they see in themselves and their coworkers. Employee wellness programs offer a chance for a company to come together for the common goal of self-improvement.

  • Higher productivity

One of the primary goals of any employee health program is to increase productivity in the workplace. It’s ok for companies to embrace the higher level of productivity that they gain from implementing a wellness program. Being more productive isn’t just good for the bottom line, it’s also good for workers who will derive a higher sense of pride in their accomplishments.

What’s really wonderful about wellness programs is that whether they’re a regular Pilates class, a jogging group, a diet and nutrition program or a smoking cessation program, employees who participate in any health program will have more energy and clearer minds to help them focus on the tasks at hand. Think of higher productivity as a bonus that adds on to all of the other incredible benefits that go along with a corporate wellness program.

  • Fewer sick days

Better health means fewer sick days, which is great for companies. Lowering the rate of absenteeism is a powerful way to improve the bottom line and it’s a natural side effect of starting a corporate wellness program. It’s often the small, consistent changes that reap benefits in terms of health and also keep employees in in the office and out of the doctor’s waiting room.  

  • More responsible employees

Responsibility is at the heart of success. Business owners need employees to be responsible, to take on tasks and then complete them when they say they will. An employee wellness program shows employees that the company cares about them, and in return employees tend to become more responsible in the workplace. When an employee feels valued in the workplaces, they develop a pride in themselves that bleeds out into the work that they do for the company.

Getting healthy is empowering, because making healthy lifestyle choices is something that no one can do for us, we have to do it for ourselves. The more support that employees can have in taking care of their own bodies and minds, the more likely they will be able to take control of their work and to take it to the next level. It’s essential that employers realize that their employees are whole people who have varied and complex needs. Supporting those needs leads to better, more responsible workers.

  • Lower healthcare costs

Reducing healthcare costs is a proven benefit of employee wellness initiatives and the savings are often significant. In fact, the concept of a corporate wellness program is one that came from companies that were wanting to mitigate rising healthcare costs. Health insurance premiums continue to rise each and every year, and more of those costs are being passed down to employees. Insurance costs go down for companies that utilize wellness programs in order to support their employees.

The best part is that this method has proved to be the perfect solution as it both saved the company money as well as providing an incredible benefit in terms of improved health for employees!

  • Loyalty

Turnover in the workforce is a huge cost for companies, in terms of time and investment. It’s expensive to go out and recruit new, high quality workers. It’s also frustrating. Keeping good people onboard is a much better strategy than allowing them to get away.


The holy grail of corporate culture is that feeling of family and connectedness that comes with a high level of employee loyalty. What most companies don’t realize is that company loyalty to and support of workers is the foundation that’s necessary for employee loyalty to grow. Providing a corporate wellness program is a powerful way to build that foundation, as it creates a sense of trust and investment between workers and management.

Employee wellness programs have beautiful benefits for both workers and for those who run a business. There are both hard numbers such as lower healthcare costs and fewer sick days that show this truth, as well as intangible benefits like improved morale and loyalty. Beginning a wellness program in your company offers the best of all worlds.

 

 

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A Pilates Instructor, like any professional, wants their clients and peers to value and appreciate their knowledge and know how. Pilates, though founded by a single individual, has splintered into a wide variety of specializations and it can be challenging to find cohesion and to get the kind of broad recognition that you’re looking for.

Enter the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) and their PMA Certification Program. This group offers a unified way for instructors to find validation while still respecting specific styles and methods.

Understanding PMA Certification
The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) is an international non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 with the specific mission of creating a more unified Pilates community. While Pilates had been around for decades, up until the formation of the PMA there was not a central group to act as a hub of information and professional development for the system. Though there are a wide variety of styles and viewpoints, there remains an overall commitment within the Pilates community to promote the wellness that can be achieved through this amazing exercise system. The PMA brought together experts in Pilates from all styles to establish professional standards in both safety and quality.

In 2005 the PMA rolled out its certification test, the only third party certification in Pilates. Rigorous and comprehensive, PMA certification raises safety and competency standards within the Pilates community. It is the only psychometrically validated and independent measure of competency out there for Pilates instructors. The credentialing process helps to establish legitimacy both for individual instructors and for the wider Pilates community as this form of exercise continues to grow and become more popular. It also helps to mark Pilates instructors as uniquely qualified and set apart from other fitness professionals.

Certification consists of both a test and of practical hours. The certification must be renewed every two years. After the initial test, re-certification involves the instructor completing a minimum of 16 continuing education hours (CECs) every two years. These credits can be earned through activities like completing CPR training, taking online courses, publishing research, attending workshops and more. No additional testing is required, however a fee of just over one hundred dollars is assessed as part of the process.

The PMA offers inclusive conferences and educational opportunities in addition to its certification program.

How PMA certification testing works
There are two steps in the PMA Certification process. The test itself costs around three hundred dollars for instructors to take, in addition to any required coursework or study materials.

Step 1 – Qualification

Candidates must be at least 18 years of age to become PMA certified. In order to be eligible to take the PMA certification exam, instructors have to be trained in Pilates on both mat and equipment based forms. Any style of Pilates training and practice is acceptable.

Completion of a comprehensive teacher training program in Pilates that includes a minimum of 450 hours of training, lecture and self study. Candidates must present proof of their completed course in order to move forward with the testing process.

Step 2 – The test

There are also two testing options for individuals who have qualified to take the 150 question multiple choice test.

These include:

  • Electronic format tests, which can be taken at multiple testing sites all over the world. Test takers are contacted with login instructions and are then able to choose their test location and time.

 

OR

  • Paper and pencil format tests, which are administered annually at the PMA conference and other events held in various locations.

 

Other important information
The PMA certification test is administered through Castle Worldwide, a testing and licensure company that oversees a wide variety of tests across industries. Castle not only handles the test itself, it also handles the initial certification in terms of verifying the training program completion. In addition, Castle takes care of the re-certification process by verifying CECs. This third party aspect of the process is a huge reason that PMA certification is so essential.

According to PMA’s own website, just over 600 people took the PMA certification exam in 2015, and of those 85% passed and were certified. For those who are taking the test, PMA offers practice materials to help students to prepare, including practice tests and a wide variety of study materials.

Why PMA certification is important
There is so much variation out there today in terms of instruction and training, particularly with the rise of self promotion and online education. The bottom line is that there are no guarantees as to the quality or validity of an educational system. That’s important for instructors looking for the right fit for their education in Pilates as well as for clients who are seeking highly qualified teachers. PMA certification and the training that goes with it offer a validated, systematic way for instructors and clients to hold Pilates work to a high standard.

PMA certification is important for instructors because it gives the peace of mind in knowing that they have the highest caliber training and can hold their own as fitness professionals in any venue. It’s also an important stepping stone for instructors who want to strengthen their standing as professionals and ensure the longevity of their practice as a business.

PMA certification is important for clients because it allows them to feel comfortable in the knowledge that their instructor is well trained, knowledgeable and experienced so that they can get the best results possible through the hard work that they put into their Pilates training.

Pilates continues to grow as a profession, and in order for that profession to be taken more seriously and to move forward to the next level, it’s essential that instructors have a high caliber of training and education. The PMA certification process is a rigorous and challenging one, but for instructors who take the time and effort to complete the process, it proves to be incredibly valuable. The re-certification process ensures that instructors constantly improve their practice. PMA certified instructors offer their communities the highest levels of competence and knowledge out there. They are the true Pilates experts!

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Exercising outside isn’t just about a change in scenery – there’s proof that working out in the great outdoors is even better for your health than hitting the gym.

It’s an unfortunate fact that less than a quarter of adults in America get as much time working out as they should each week according to the CDC. That means that simply getting up and working out already puts you ahead of the game. However getting outside to get moving offers even more benefits than just hitting the gym or working out in your living room.

Five benefits of exercising outdoors

How can working out in the great outdoors benefit you? Here are five ways:

The mind-body connection

Working out isn’t just about getting your body fit and toned, it’s also about improving brainpower and boosting your emotional health. The body and the mind are intimately connected and it’s important to create an environment in which both are able to grow and develop. Health is not just about the physical self, the mental and emotional selves are equally important.

Outdoor workouts are a proven way to improve the mind-body connection.

Being outside is shown to offer a wide range of emotional benefits, including decreasing anger, tension and even depression. The outdoors provides a boost in terms of energy and mental revitalization. The bottom line is that you’ll simply enjoy your workouts more when you do them outside versus when you do them behind closed doors, not matter how pleasant the indoor environment might be.

Resilience

Staying on course is by far the biggest challenge with getting fit. It’s easy to get frustrated or become apathetic about the process. In order to combat these serious roadblocks on your wellness journey, try stepping out your front door!


Being outside is a great way to improve your resilience when working out becomes a struggle. If you enjoy your surroundings and experience positive emotional boosts from your workouts, then you’re more likely to stick with them.

 

The other way that working out outside can really help you stay on course is that it offers a change up in your routine. Instead of doing the same workouts over and over again, getting outside will offer you the chance to freshen things up and get you excited again. If you’ve been heading into the same gym over and over again and you’re feeling like you’re losing interest, try mixing it up by heading outdoors. This trick also works if you’ve been working out at home – just take it out to the backyard and you’ll be astonished at how much it can re-invigorate your enthusiasm.

Sunshine

Your body needs Vitamin D in order to be healthy. This essential vitamin supports both metabolic function and bone health. The purest form of this vitamin is something that you can only get from feeling the sunshine on your skin. Your body produces Vitamin D3 when you’re exposed to the wide spectrum of light that comes from the sun.

The other benefit of sunshine – mood improvement. Simply stepping outside and feeling the sunshine on your face offers you an instant boost in mood as it increases the production of endorphins. Who doesn’t love that?

It is important to remember that skin cancer is a serious threat to your health. While it’s essential for health and wellness that you spend a good deal of time outside, it’s also important that you protect your skin against cancer by wearing a good sunscreen when you’re outside working out.

Finances

Not only does working out in the sunshine offer you incredible health benefits, it also saves you some cash. The great outdoors is FREE! While you’ll want to invest in some good sunscreen, comfortable footwear and weather appropriate workout clothes, it’s nonetheless much cheaper than joining a gym. While it’s impossible to put a price on the benefits of a great workout, it’s still an important factor to consider.

Want to keep your gym membership for the winter months when the weather doesn’t beckon you to the outdoors? Instead of cancelling your membership outright, try requesting a hiatus so that you can avoid having to pay initiation fees or increased rates when you return in the fall. Most gyms are willing to work with their members in order to keep that business long term.

If you still feel that you need guidance on your workout, don’t fear – you can stream workout videos like those available through 100’s to Happiness right on your phone while you’re outside!

Self esteem

When you’re at the gym, it can feel like everyone is looking at you. Even though you might be working out in a supportive environment, the fact remains that people are people and human nature is to compare them with one another, even if it’s unintentional.

Outside is a completely different story. When you workout in the great outdoors you’ll get an even bigger boost to your confidence than when you’re working out inside. The birds and the flowers don’t care that you’re making a silly face or that your workout clothes aren’t super high fashion. There’s a freedom not only to push yourself to your limits, but also to take it easier and just keep going when you’re working out.

The solitude of working out in the outdoors offers a freedom and flexibility that’s just not possible inside when you’re surrounded by others. It allows you to be yourself and to figure out what works for you, free from pressure.

Getting started with outdoor workouts

The simplest way to start is to step outside into your backyard, where you’ll feel comfortable and secure. If you don’t have an outdoor space of your own, stake out a local park or green space to work out. Universities often have wonderful outdoor spaces, or try the local botanical gardens or greenway. If you are keeping that gym membership, check to see if they have a space that’s conducive to your workout.

Pilates is a perfect way to workout outdoors! Mat workouts get a beautiful boost when done in the open air. You don’t have to change anything about your routine, except that you might find yourself slowing down as you enjoy the elements.

Long summer days mean that you can even workout after dinner or before work and still enjoy the sunshine. That daily exercise can be a challenge, but you’ll find that by taking your workouts outside, you get even more benefits and have an easier time sticking with it.

 

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Are you a golfer? Pilates can help you take your golf game to the next level through increased strength, stability, flexibility and balance. It’s truly an ideal form of exercise for golfers, whether you are a weekend player or a professional.

Preparing for the swing

Though a lot goes into golfing, the heart of the game is the swing. The golf swing is a complex motion, involving tremendous amounts of force transfer from the body of the golfer, through the club and down into the ball. That moment of impact is everything for a golfer, the touchstone event that is what it’s all about. It be carefully controlled and ultimately precise, whether it’s a putt or a long drive.

The catch is that it can be tough on the body. The force that’s applied to the ball at the instant of impact is about eight times the body weight of the swinger, an impact that cause some serious reverberations throughout the body. Since that moment of impact is so powerful and because golfers spend so much time training for it, it’s essential that golfers work to preserve their bodies in order to minimize the risk of injury.

The goal of Pilates for golfers is therefore double pronged. The idea is to improve the golf game itself by adding in skills and strengths that will take the game to the next level, while also providing for the prevention of serious injury. To that end, there are highly effective Pilates exercises that are ideal for the golfer. These are both easy to do and offer both immediate and long term benefits for golfers, allowing them to enjoy the game even more.

4 Pilates exercises for golfers

Note that these are all mat based exercises – no equipment other than an open space and a mat are required. It’s best to do them all to create a balanced development of the body, though the order doesn’t have to be as listed. Pilates exercises can be simple and straightforward, and a routine doesn’t have to take long.

  1. Bridge

 

This exercise improves tone in the glutes, which will increase power through the swing motion as well as increasing overall stability, an important part of golfing. The pelvis, lower back and core muscles are all improved through the bridge, which will improve all aspects of the game.

  • Lie on your back, knees bent and shoulders pulled down away from the ears. Arms are at your sides with palms down, feet hips distance apart, a comfortable distance from you and flat on the floor.
  • Inhale, filling your entire lower body with air and expanding your ribs out to the side.
  • Exhale, lifting your lower back and bottom off the floor as you press your feet and palms into the ground, holding the hips steady. Draw your core in throughout the exercise as you imagine pulling your bellybutton towards the spine.
  • Inhale, lifting one foot off the floor as high as is comfortable with and eventual goal of pointing one leg towards the ceiling. Hold the hips and lower back steady.
  • Exhale, lowering the leg.
  • Inhale, slowly lowering the back and bottom to the floor.
  • Repeat the process, lifting the opposite leg.
  • Cycle through the bridge for five total reps.

 

2. Pelvic tilt

This beautifully simple exercise increases mobility in the hips, pelvis and lumbar spine. It allows golfers to have improved flexibility through the swing and helps to prevent lower back injuries.

  • Lie on your back on the mat with your knees bent and arms at your sides.
  • Exhale, tilting the pelvis back toward the ground until the lower back touches the mat.
  • Inhale, reversing the motion as you tilt your pelvis back up creating a small arch in your lower back.
  • Complete twenty repetitions.

 

3. Back extension with rotation

One of the things that feels great about golf is that the whole upper body gets involved in the movement. This exercise will help to release and strengthen the shoulders while increasing spine flexibility.

  • Lying on your stomach, place your hands on your forehead with palms facing the floor. Feet are hips distance apart.
  • Inhale, pulling your abs in toward your spine.
  • Exhale, raising your head, shoulders and chest off the floor and keeping your hands on your forehead. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  • Inhale as you rotate your upper body to the left, then back to center, then lower.
  • Repeat on the right, then complete the whole cycle five more times for a total of six repetitions.

 

4. Side leg circles

  • This exercise will help golfers to improve the mobility in their hip joints, helping out their downswing and backswing by reducing those lateral wobbles that can be problematic.
  • Lying on your side, extend your arm closest to the floor out straight away from your head.
  • Inhale, lifting the top leg up as high as you can with control and stability. Think about pulling the leg both up in the air and out away from you.
  • Exhale, circling the top leg as your body stays steady.
  • Pause, inhale and then repeat the motion.
  • Repeat ten total times in one direction with even beats, then circle back in the reverse direction.
  • Lower your leg, pause and roll over to the other side to repeat the whole process with the other leg.

 

Be mindful

It’s important that Pilates exercises are never pushed to the point of pain. Slow down and ease up if you feel that an exercise is too much for your body.

Like golf, Pilates encourages a release of tension in the body and in the mind. Letting go of all of that stress and buildup is an essential part of both processes and is one more reason that these two go together so well. Keep that in mind while practicing these exercises and you’ll deepen the practice of both.

Regular Pilates is a perfect complement for golfers, allowing for increased mobility and improvements the game while supporting injury prevention. The best part is that Pilates feels great, taking what’s already an enjoyable and relaxing pastime to another level by increasing bodily awareness and mental clarity.

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You are more than just your body.

 

While most people think of working out as a purely physical action, both research and experience show the important connection between the mind and body when it comes to fitness.  Holistic fitness recognizes the interconnectedness of a person and that in order to achieve maximum health, it’s essential to be aware of not only what’s going on in the physical body, but also how the mind and emotions are connected to it.

 

We’ve long known that endorphins are released during exercise, offering a sense of euphoria that is often called the “runner’s high.” However new research is showing that exercise can actually help the brain to form new connections between brain cells or even stimulate the growth of new cells. There are also serious indications that exercise leads to higher mental function.

 

With those kinds of benefits, it’s no wonder there’s been a sweeping movement in recent years to turn up the mind-body connection during workouts.

 

How to improve your mind-body connection during workouts

 

How can you improve the mind-body connection during your workouts? Here are five tips that will help you drop in and get all of the benefits that will take your workouts to the next level.

 

1.  Embrace workouts for yourself

 

A workout offers a great chance for you to have “me” time. Getting fit isn’t about your spouse or your children or your parents or your friends or your instructor – it’s about YOU. Embrace this time for yourself, as the perfect time to get to know you a little better than you did before.

2.  Check your internal dialogue

 

What are you thinking about when you’re working out? Are you making grocery lists? Are you contemplating work commitments? Are you counting down the minutes until it’s over?

 

Getting your internal dialogue aligned with your goals is an important part of this process. Your mind cannot be connected to your body if it’s wandering off places that have little to do with the task at hand. Work to redirect that internal dialogue so that it’s right there with you while you’re working out.

 

When you find your mind wandering, gently pull it back to the feedback that you’re getting from your body. The more you’re able experience your body while you’re working out, the more you’ll be able to create a strong and fruitful connection between your body and your mind.

 

3.  Listen to music

 

Calming music that brings you into the moment can be an incredible aid in improving the mind-body connection. Something that doesn’t have words or has words in a language that you don’t understand is best. That’s because when you activate the language centers of your brain, you’re drawing your attention away from connecting to your physical body. Whether it’s classical music or something with a more modern flair, listening music while you workout is something that you can incorporate into your workouts immediately.

 

4.  Practice sensory connections

 

One of the best ways to improve your mind-body connection during a workout is to begin your regimen with what’s known as a “body scan.” Incredibly simple and wonderfully effective, a quick body scan will help you to check in with yourself, aligning your body and your mind.

The process is easy. Sit, stand or lie down, it absolutely doesn’t matter what position you’re in so just make it convenient. Now begin to experience your body in stages, starting with your toes. No judgement, no worry, just a check in to see how each part is doing. Look out for potential injuries or areas of increased stress and consciously tighten the muscles, then release them. Once you’ve gone over each part of your body, relax and try to experience your body as a whole. Notice any patterns that have emerged. With a bit of practice, the whole process should take less than three minutes and should ideally be done before every workout.

 

5.  Focus on breathing

 

Breath is the essence of life. It connects us to the world in which we live, calms our mind and helps us to focus. Pilates breathing is a wonderful way to connect the mind with the body, filling up the deep abdomen before pulling the air out into the ribcage and expanding the chest. There is an instant mental clarity that arises from good breathing.

 

If you’re just huffing and puffing through your workouts without thinking specifically about how your breath is being formed and how it’s shaping your physical exertion, then you’re missing out on some powerful opportunities to connect your body and mind. Simply adding in controlled breathing to a workout routine will offer you some stunning results.

 

6.  Take care of your body

 

Eat well. Sleep well. Hydrate well. These three elegantly simple activities support the mind-body connection in a wide variety of ways. If you’re not eating well, then your body doesn’t have the fuel to keep going and your mind begins to slow down. If you aren’t sleeping well, then you’ll quickly find that it’s more difficult to get your muscles to obey the signals that are coming from your brain. Quality sleep that’s at least eight hours per night is essential. Finally, don’t forget about hydration. The brain and the body are both composed mostly of water, and when they are deprived of it they both function at a far lower capacity than they’re able to.

 

7.  Workout outdoors

 

Nature has a way of pressing the mental reset button. Simply stepping outside of the gym will instantly improve your mind-body connection. Whether you’re going for a run, swimming in a lake, or taking your mat outside to practice Pilates, you’ll find that you access yourself much more readily when the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the grass is under your toes. The smells alone are invigorating.

 

Maintaining the mind-body connection during a workout might sound like a daunting task, but in fact it’s quite simple and straightforward. Devoting just a modicum of time to developing it will not only improve your level of physical fitness, but will cross over into improving your mental and emotional wellbeing as well.

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Your spine means a lot to you. It holds you up, let’s you bend over to pick up a penny and lean back to look up at the stars. It helps you to sway back and forth when you dance and to stand up tall when you walk down the street. The spine let’s gymnasts do backbends and runners go the distance. It holds up the weight of the head and serves as a conduit for signals from the brain that regulate nearly every body function and movement.

For all of the services that the spine offers to us, it’s essential that we take good care of it. Are you doing what you need to do for your spine?

Structure of the spine

The spinal column is a marvel of bioengineering, truly remarkable in its design and structure. Both strong and flexible, the backbone provides an incredible amount of versatility.

There are three basic parts the spinal column:

  • Cervical (neck)
  • Thoracic (chest/upper back)
  • Lumbar (belly/lowerback)

 

Each of these three sections is gently curved and the total curve that they compose together is known as the “S” curve for their shape. This curve is essential, and helps the spine to offer it’s amazing shock absorption, balance and range of motion.

The spine itself is made up of 33 bones that fit together perfectly. Between them are discs filled with jelly-like tissue that cushion the bones. In the center is a hole through which runs the spinal cord, which sends out nerves between the bones that run to the entire body, sending nerve signals to entire body.

Tips to take care of your spine

Spinal health is important because it does affect every part of the body and also because for all of it’s marvelous structure, the spine is vulnerable to a myriad of problems. Taking care of it isn’t difficult, but it is essential.


To keep your spine working well, follow these tips.

  • Wear good shoes for spine health

Good spinal support truly starts from the ground up. Whether you’re simply walking from one place to another or running a marathon, good shoes make a difference in the health of your lumbar spine. When you wear good shoes that provide the right kind of support, it helps to keep your spine in its proper alignment.

The right shoes for spinal support should:

  • Fit the back of your heels snugly, but not overly tightly.
  • Offer arch support to prevent the foot from rolling back and forth, straining the spine.
  • Ideally offer some cushion to absorb some of the shock of movement.

 

Consider orthopedics or inserts in your shoes to help them fit the bill to give your spine what it needs. Often this alone can help to relieve lower back pain!

  • Sleep smart for your spine

Letting your spine rest well while you’re sleeping will not only help you to improve your spinal health, it will also help you to get a better night’s sleep in general so that you feel rejuvenated after a night’s rest.

Sleeping smart for your spine includes two factors:

  • Mattress
  • Pillows

 

There are a wide variety of both that will let your spine rest while you’re sleeping. If you’re experiencing stiffness or discomfort after a night’s sleep, then it might really be time to update your pillows and mattress. Look for those that are specifically designed to offer improved spinal comfort, particularly when it comes to pillows as these can make all of the difference.

  • Avoid sitting for long periods

Did you know that your lower spinal discs take on three times the pressure when you’re sitting than when you’re standing?

Long periods of sitting can cause serious problems for spinal health, aggravating back conditions and throwing the spine out of alignment. People tend to slouch and lean forward when sitting at desks, particularly when they’re tired or stressed.

Some ways to combat spinal strain if you have to sit for long periods of time:

  • Get a supportive chair, a critical key to getting better alignment for the spine
  • Start a regular Pilates practice, which improves posture and strengthens the muscles that support the spine.
  • Move regularly, every twenty to thirty minutes, even if it’s just to stand up at your desk or to walk down the break room.

 

If you have a job that has you in a chair for long periods of time, be sure to pay attention and take care of your spine during those stretches. You’ll find that you think better, work better and feel better if you do!

  • Strengthen the core

The core muscles, the ones that run around the center of the body, are an essential part of spinal health. Unfortunately they aren’t something that we generally build during everyday activities.

Specifically exercising the core muscles can offer some miraculous benefits for the spine, including:

  • Improving spinal alignment.
  • Relieving back pain.
  • Promoting good posture.

 

The more you strengthen those core muscles, the lighter and easier your spine will feel. Pilates is a great way to strengthen the core in a balanced way, promoting increased support of the spinal column.

  • Get a massage

Don’t think of it as indulgence, but rather as an important part of your health. There are so many reasons that a massage is great for you and for your spine.

Some benefits of massage for spinal health:

  • Increased blood flow, bringing healthy nutrients that promote healing.
  • Released endorphins, which will help to combat pain and even help to decrease the need for pain medication.
  • Release tension in the muscles going to the spine, allowing for less strain.

 

If getting a regular massage with a therapist isn’t practical, consider getting a massage chair. While it won’t offer all of the same benefits as the hands on version, it’s still a great way to promote spinal health.

Preserving this natural structure of the spine is an integral philosophy of Pilates. That’s because the spinal health is a key to overall health. It’s a simple matter to take care of and support your spine, and doing so offers a tremendous amount of health benefits.

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Becoming a mother is an incredible time in life. It’s full of tremendous challenges and changes, and yes, it is one of those brief times in life that we look back on and can remember with vivid detail and rich thoughtfulness. It’s precious, and fleeting. In the thick of it though, the whole process can feel chaotic and out of control.

 

One of the best ways for new moms to feel empowered is by working out and getting their bodies to a place that they feel strong and comfortable.

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National Pilates Day takes place this Saturday, May 7th. It’s a great way to celebrate the wonderful benefits of Pilates!

This international, community commemoration is celebrated on the first Saturday of May each year. It’s a day to share our appreciation for the wellness and health that Pilates brings to us, and to deepen our own connection to the practice of Pilates.

There are lots of National Pilates Day events being hosted around the country and around the world that offer participants the chance to connect and to reach out and to simply enjoy Pilates themselves.

Eleven ways to celebrate National Pilates Day

How can you celebrate National Pilates Day? Here are eleven fun and creative ways to make the most of it.

 

  • Start your day with the 100’s to Happiness Challenge of the Day

 

Starting off your day will the 100’s to Happiness Challenge of the Day is a perfect way to kick off National Pilates Day. Open the 100’s to Happiness app and check out your Challenge of the Day, then pull out your mat and try it out! If you haven’t yet, it’s a great day to download 100’s to Happiness for free.

 

  • Invite a friend to join you in the challenge

 

Don’t just do the challenge by yourself – ask a friend or family member to try it out with you so that you enjoy the wonderful benefits of Pilates. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never done Pilates before or if they’ve been doing it for years, getting together to share the 100’s to Happiness Challenge of the Day will allow you to connect through Pilates.  

 

  • Treat yourself

 

Whether you’re new to Pilates or have been practicing for a while, National Pilates Day offers you a great chance to treat yourself. It could be to a healthy treat of dark chocolate, to a new mat that you’ve been eyeing for a while, or even just to a soaking bath. Treat yourself in ways that are great for your body and that enrich your life.

 

  • Share the benefits of Pilates with your friends

 

It might be through social media, over your morning coffee, or by inviting someone over to do a session together, but the point is that this is a great day to share your love of Pilates with your friends. You might find that you can connect with friends through Pilates in ways that you never expected, and that you get to make great new connections.

 

  • Try Pilates outside

 

Take your normal routine into the great outdoors! Pilates is all about challenging yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone and into the sunshine is a perfect way to spice up your practice and to soak up some Vitamin D. Roll out your mat on the front porch or in the backyard, or better yet take it out to the park or with you on a hike. You can literally do Pilates anywhere – take advantage of that fact!

 

  • Go to a Pilates Day event in your town

 

There are Pilates Day events being held all over the country. Today is the perfect day to go out into the community and join in an event at a studio or gym, whether you’ve ever attended classes there or not. Check with local Pilates studios to find out what they might have going on to celebrate.

 

  • Check out a webinar

 

If there’s not an event going on in your town, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate with others! Check out an online webinar or jump in with an archived class. You’ll find some fantastic content right there inside your 100’s to Happiness app.

 

  • Recommit to your Pilates practice

 

National Pilates Day is the perfect time to recommit to your practice, to set some new goals for yourself and to take your health to the next level with Pilates. You might add a day to your Pilates routine, add exercises to your daily workout or just reaffirm that what you’ve got going on is working well for you. If you don’t currently track your workouts, it’s a perfect time to start. It’s also a great time to start a 100’s to Happiness Pilates Challenge to help you kickstart your practice.

 

  • Read a book about Pilates

 

You might be surprised to find that there are a wide variety of books out there on the subject of Pilates. This is a great time to pick one up and dig in so that you can learn more about your practice and extend your knowledge of the art as a whole.

 

  • Throw a “Pilates Party”

 

Put together some healthy snacks and invite some folks over with their mats to workout together, to eat and to talk about your different perspectives on and experiences of Pilates. Getting together with a group will help to enliven your practice and will offer you the chance to feel the celebratory spirit of the day. Fellowship with others who share your passion is what it’s all about!

 

  • Learn more about the history of Pilates

 

How much do you know about the history of Pilates? Even people who have been practicing Pilates for years might not know as much as they could about this incredible system. National Pilates day is a perfect opportunity to learn more about Joseph Pilates and how he put together the exercise that we all still love today. His life was truly extraordinary! You’ll be fascinated by the pictures of those early days of the practice. There are also lots of videos and audio recordings online of Joseph doing Pilates that will blow you away.

National Pilates Day offers us a wonderful way to dig deep and rethink about why we love this practice, to reflect on where we’ve come from and to think about where we’d like to go with Pilates. This is a system that gives us so much in terms of health and personal growth, and one that we’re thankful to be a part of. Enjoy National Pilates Day at an event, with friends, or just celebrate at home on your own!

 

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