Category Archives: Fitness & Motivation

 

Yes you do.

Core strength comes from proper posture as the body moves.  Like so many things, it’s not so much what you do, but how you are doing whatever it is that you do.

We walk around all day long, and every time our spines are upright, we have the opportunity to engage the core muscles. With a little bit of anatomy instruction, a strong stable torso is just a focused concentration of holding the body into an intelligent and happy-fied place!

Anatomy helps tremendously. The most popularly-known among the core muscles are the rectus abdominus, which are considered the 6-pack muscles. These lovely washboard aesthetics may look nice, but they do not imply core strength. What?! Sorry!

Core strength primarily comes from the transverse abdominus, which is a wall of muscle that spans the abdomen from the bottom of the torso all the way to the base of the ribcage, spanning in width from side body to side body, protecting the vital organs and empowering digestion.

This muscular wall works with the hip flexors and back muscles to hold up the space between the hips and the ribs. And it is one of the most vulnerable in the body for the spine, as only the core muscles are in place to hold up the lumbar region of the spine; no other skeletal support is offered.

So what is the #1 reason Americans visit general practitioners? Low back pain. And the number one reason? Weak core muscles.

Physical therapists suggest strengthening these muscles through various ways, such as leg lifts, gentle lower back extension exercises, yoga, and pilates for sure, but this area of the body can be worked as much as possible — the abdominal muscles can never get too much exercise.

So right now, check in and take a look at your pelvis. Are you drawing your abdomen in or sticking it out? Or was the belly just relaxed? Sitting upright, which is an activity we do quite often, is most efficiently performed with the abdominal wall drawing in as the back muscles balance the back of the spine, holding it up like a wooden spoon in the middle of a pot of soup.

Now, draw in your abdomen, sit up a little higher over your tailbone, and let your tailbone get longer by pulling it down and then readjusting to lift back off of it. You should feel as though you are in a neutral position with your pelvis; that is, you should feel as though your pelvis is neither tilting forward or back within the hip girdle.

This requires your mindful, happy-fied engagement of your low back and abdominal wall.

Now, relax and feel the breath comfortably moving up into the ribs rather than down in the belly. Feel the strength of this, and notice how simply breathing and sitting can help you engage your core if you allow for it. There is no need for 8-minute abs when you can engage your core any time you are feelin’ the happy vibe!

You can do this lengthening of the tailbone and engaging the core just sitting, or standing, walking, running, jumping, jogging, working at a computer, watching television — whatever you are doing — assuming you are upright, you can work to strengthen your core muscles. So what exactly isn’t a core exercise? Nada!

And it sure is a big part of happyfication. The lighter and stronger you are in the middle, the happier you are all over.

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It’s no secret that cross training offers a whole host of benefits for elite athletes. In the pursuit of that Olympic glory, many athletes have turned to Pilates to help them take their sport the next level. Because Pilates offers a balanced, whole-body workout that pulls the mind in line with the physical body, it offers a perfect way for Olympians to add that special something to their regimen, giving them the edge over the competition.

Here are six Olympic athletes who use Pilates to help them go for the gold.

Haley Anderson

The only female athlete swimming in the open water, 10,000-meter event in Rio, Anderson won Silver in 2012 in London. This year she hopes to take home the gold. Since her Olympic debut four years ago, Haley has graduated from college and now trains full time.

She’s added in Pilates as part of her new, tougher regimen to help her improve the balance and stamina that she needs to beat her rivals. Her race takes almost two hours and is the equivalent of the marathon in swimming. That kind of distance is difficult to imagine, and a regular Pilates workout reinforces the stamina necessary to make it happen.

Missy Franklin

One of the most prominent Olympians in Rio is Missy Franklin, a swimmer who owns multiple world records and is swimming in her second Olympics in 2016. In London she took home five medals, four gold and a bronze. This year she hopes to add to that tally.

The core building nature of Pilates helps her to swim stronger and with more balance and she credits that work outside of the pool with helping her to dominate in the water. What’s great about Pilates for swimmers is that it encourages movement that stems from the core and flows out. That focus and control helps swimmers extend their motion and move faster through the water. The bodily awareness is also an important aspect for swimmers, who can learn to tweak their movements more effectively and thereby know how to make adjustments that get them to the wall that much faster.

Andy Murray

British tennis superstar Andy Murray is well known for his stamina and speed on the court that led him to a gold medal on his home turf in London in 2012. After back surgery in 2014, Murray turned to Pilates to build his core and help him to recover in a positive and balanced way. Today he’s a heavy medal favorite in Rio.

Murray has been an outspoken advocate of Pilates in the years since his surgery, talking to the Wall Street Journal at length about the benefits Pilates has given him. He’s even been known to take his favorite Pilates instructor with him abroad to keep his training up as he works out overseas. In the aftermath of his back trouble, Pilates has been a central focus of his cross training for tennis. Those same benefits are available to anyone recovering from an injury, as Pilates is a perfect recovery tool.

Victoria Pendleton

One of the most decorated female athletes in British history, cyclist Pendleton won gold in Beijing, gold and silver in London. She’s also a member of the European Cycling Hall of Fame. Competing in her fourth Olympics in Rio, she’s added Pilates to her regimen for added balance and improved core strength, two of the most important things for a cyclist to develop.

In a 2012 interview with Marie Claire, Pendleton credited Pilates with helping her to get over back trouble and get back on the cycle.  “I’ve been doing Pilates for more than a year, and for me, it’s been a real breakthrough in managing back pain and building my postural muscles.” Cycling is tough on the body, requiring long periods of rigid muscle control at high speeds. The core strength needed to maintain all of that is phenomenal and a regular regimen of Pilates offers a boost to all cyclists, elite or amateur.

Kerry Walsh-Jennings

Beach volleyball is one of the most highly anticipated sports of the Games, and one of its biggest stars is Kerry Walsh-Jennings. Competing in her fourth Olympics in Rio, Walsh-Jennings won gold medals in Athens, Beijing and London. Her dominance in the sport is difficult to overstate, as she is both a pioneer and a still prominent figure on the sand. She’s set to add to her trophy case in Rio, where she’s a heavy favorite.

She credits Pilates with helping her to regain her strength after giving birth, saying  “Pilates gives you such great body awareness. When I got pregnant, I really got into Pilates because I wanted to fix all my asymmetries. I have a new body because of it.” That new body has worked for her and she continues to be an outspoken advocate of Pilates as part of her training.

David Boudia

American diver David Boudia is set to make history once again in Rio. Competing in his third Olympics, Boudia won gold in London on the 10m platform and bronze in the synchronized 10m platform with partner Nick McCrory. In Rio he’s competing with Steele Johnson, a new partner, and has added Pilates to his workout regimen for added flexibility and strength as he goes for the gold once again.

Divers in particular get a lot out of Pilates, as they need a great deal of control to form their movements perfectly. Pilates encourages a bodily awareness that’s hard to beat, something that just isn’t there with other cross training methods. Synchronized diving like that practiced by Boudia requires it even more, as both divers have to simultaneously be aware of their movements and those of their partner.

Begin your Pilates journey

You don’t have to be a world class athlete to get the benefits of Pilates. No matter what your age or skill level, starting a regular Pilates practice can help you to feel better, do more and be healthier. Begin today with a simple, free download of our 100s to Happiness app, a seven day starter package with a new Pilates lesson each day!

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Think about it – your spine is the center of your body. Its physical placement is right there in your middle, connecting you from your head all the way down to your bottom. From your first breath to your final, your spine is an integral part of you and one that is a key to maintaining good health in every stage of life.

Sensing the centrality of your spine

Take a moment to feel your spine right now, to sense how it is a part of you.

Wiggle your fingers – you can sense that connection as the signal to create motion comes from your brain and cascades down your spine, through your shoulders and all the way down the length of your arm to the tips of your fingers. Now do the same with your toes and you’ll get that same sense of the way that those signals travel from your brain, down your spine, past your hips, running all the way down your leg and through your feet until reaching your toes and wiggling them.

Roll your head around, then shift your ribcage back and forth, and finally shake your hips a bit (right there wherever you’re reading this – don’t be shy!) All of that movement comes from your spine–not just in the sense that the signals are traveling down your spine from your brain to spark the movement, but also in a more concrete sense, as you are articulating your spine intentionally and that movement sends out other movement in your body.

The spine’s role in overall health

Though the spine is a key player in the health of the body in terms of movement and sensation, its importance doesn’t stop there. That centrality in the body means that the spine is connected to every vital function. The integrity of your spine is very closely tied to the overall integrity of your health. The more effectively your spine functions, the more effectively the rest of your body will function as well.

Your spine was designed to protect and house your spinal cord, which is the partner to your brain in your central nervous system. These two work in tandem to make it all happen. All other nerves and sensations make up the peripheral nervous system, which sends and receives signals from the brain and spine. To put it simply: Without your spine, all your other nerves and muscle movement would suffer greatly – so you want to keep it healthy and flexible!

This is way more important than just comfort and ease of movement: The spine sends and receives signals from your vital organs as well. Without your spine, your stomach can’t digest your food, your lungs can’t contract and expand, your heart can’t beat. Those nerves maintain your body temperature and your blood pressure, control your sexual function, tell you when to feel hungry or tired, allow you to feel the cool breeze on your cheek and the warm sand between your toes. Nerves from your spine innervate all of you, making your body function. Everything about the way that your body functions and interacts with the world around you is controlled right there in your spine.

Keeping those bones in line

Your spine is composed of 33 bones called vertebrae, small bones that are stacked on top of each other and house the bundle of central nerves that make up the spinal cord. Those nerves from the spinal cord reach out through the spaces in the vertebrae on the way to their destinations through small holes called foramen. When the bones in your spinal column are pinched, tight, or out of alignment, then those nerves can become compromised, and it’s something that’s all too common, especially as we age.

The bones of the spine are supported and controlled by ligaments, muscles and other tissue that surround them. When we talk about strengthening your spine, we’re not talking about actually doing anything to the bones themselves – those are what they are and can’t be modified without surgery, which of course we want to avoid. Rather, when we talk about “strengthening the spine” or “aligning the spine,” what we’re really talking about is strengthening those muscles and the surrounding tissue in such a way as to pull those bones into alignment and to relieve any pressure that might be on those nerves that are reaching out of the vertebrae.

Maintaining the integrity of your spine through the right kind of fitness is an important part of keeping your body healthy. Using an exercise system like Pilates that focuses on working with the spine to keep it properly aligned and easily mobile is a key to maintaining overall health, both for you in terms of your ability to move with ease and in terms of your body’s ability to function at its best.

Spine health and aging

We hear about back pain so often that it is practically an expectation that we will have it in some form as we age, but this is by no means a discomfort that we should simply live with. There are ways to prevent and reduce back pain as we age.

Many of those common aches and pains come from a spine that’s compressing nerves because it’s not properly supported with strong core muscles. The good news is that there is something you can do about it–whether you’ve never experienced those aches and pains or whether they’re old familiar friends. Improving posture and core strength through exercise is a proven way to take the pain out of the spine and thereby to improve overall health.

As the years pass it’s easy for the stresses of life, both physical and mental, to take a toll on the spine and cause us to feel older than we are. Exercise that focuses on improving the functionality of the spine isn’t just about getting your body to move with ease in the sense of making you more limber and agile – it’s about taking the pressure off of those so important nerves and allowing them to do their job of supporting your vital bodily functions.

The good news is, you can start today! For the next 100 days, I challenge you to strengthen your spine and your core through our quick, simple daily challenges. Just download the app!

It’s just as important today as it is for your future – because after all, you’re only as old as your spine.

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Though it’s a widespread belief that mindful mediation is a thing in which people sit down cross-legged and stay still and silent for hours on end, in but the truth is that mediation is so much more than that. Mindful meditation is about being here and present in this moment, without thinking about what’s coming next or what’s come before. Particularly today with the swirl of electronics and the sway of mounds of tasks to occupy our minds, it’s a monumental challenge for us to feel as though we’re right here and now. Our bodies our in one place and our minds completely another.

10 Benefits of pairing mindfulness with fitness

 

Adding mindful meditation to the workout has a wide variety of benefits, allowing for improvements in physical, mental and emotional health.

Stress reduction

 

It’s well-documented that just one month of practicing mindfulness brings down stress levels dramatically, both in the sense that people feel less stressed and in the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) that can be found in their bodies. Working out is already a powerful way to reduce stress, but adding in mindfulness offers a perfect pairing, increasing the results.

Clearer thinking

 

Mindfulness leads to more focus and clearer thinking. Working out sends much needed blood flow to the brain, washing it in oxygen and mind building nutrients. Adding mindfulness into the mix increases verbal reasoning skills, working memory and concentration.

Knowledge of self

 

Who are you? What do you want out of life? It’s easy to just plug in and keep going, without realizing whether or not this is the kind of path that you should be on, the one that really makes you happy. Practicing mindfulness gives the mind the chance to slow down and get thinking about what’s really important instead of being constantly focused on task lists. There’s a chance to realize flaws within yourself as well as opportunities. That clarity is far more valuable than many of us can imagine without it.

Better form

 

Attaining great form is an important part of any workout routine. It prevents injury and leads to results. However attaining great form doesn’t happen when you’re constantly thinking about something else. In order to improve form and perfect technique, presence is a must. Adding mindfulness to the regimen helps to keep the focus where it should be – on the body.

Improved awareness

 

Somewhere along the line it became cool to hate being active. The couch potato culture that’s been snowballing for decades is something that everyone has to wrestle with, and that causes many people to actually fear activity. Mindfulness shows us that there really isn’t anything to fear – being present in your body and in this moment is not only perfectly alright, it’s actually pretty amazing! Instead of trying to escape the occasional discomfort of exercise, mindfulness helps us learn to enjoy our bodies even as we push them to change and improve.

Easier weight loss

 

Regularly practicing meditation is linked to improved outcomes for people who are trying to lose weight. That’s right, sitting still and clearing your mind can help you to reach those weight loss goals. Why? For all of the reasons that we’ve listed here that mindfulness is great for you! Bodily awareness, improved focus and attention, better understanding of self, etc. These reasons and others that we perhaps can’t even put our finger on are all contributing factors for hitting those goals when it comes to bodily changes.

Fewer sick days

 

Nothing challenges the great groove of a workout routine like getting sick. Mindfulness meditation is directly linked to lower incidences of illness, and for those that do get sick the duration is shortened. Now that doesn’t mean that if you meditate that you’re never going to get a cold, but a regular practice will make you less likely to catch that virus that’s running rampant through the gym.

A better night’s sleep

 

Getting a solid amount of sleep is an integral part of staying healthy and supporting those workouts. When the mind regulates itself more effectively, it’s less likely to be out of control at bedtime when the brain needs to be taking a break. As working out regularly has a similar effect, when the two are put together it’s a perfect recipe for getting the right kind of sleep in order to stay healthy.

Self improvement

 

Meditation and mindfulness actually make us better people. Though it may seem a little outlandish, it’s actually true that practicing the art of mindfulness increases empathy, in those who practice. What does that have to do with working out? Success in life isn’t just about the self, and in order to get the most out of your workouts you’ve got to be able to connect with others. People who really become passionate about health and fitness aren’t just concerned for themselves, but for the people around them who deserve to be happy and healthy. Mindfulness helps to take the workout mindset out to the wider world, inflaming your own passion for getting fit.  

Long lasting effects of mindful meditation

 

One of the truly amazing aspects of meditation and mindfulness practices are that they have these incredible effects that stick with you, they are there for long after the meditation session is over. Once that meditation session is over, the brain continues to have improved emotional regulation and attention span. We can really see here how much meditation is like working out – the results are something that we can count on. Working out and mindfulness are two parts of your health and fitness life that you want to stick with you for today and for the years to come.

While Pilates and mindfulness go hand in hand, thanks to the body-mind connection that is a focus of Pilates, mindfulness is something that can be incorporated into any workout system. Adding a mindfulness practice into your workout routine helps to created a well-rounded experience, one that promotes health and wellness in holistic way.

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Being a parent can be tough. We’re seeing more and more kids being diagnosed with what were once adult diseases, things like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. That’s not to speak of the dramatic social and emotional problems like attention issues and lack of motivation that are also running rampant through young people and which are equally important aspects of health and wellness.

Today’s society is full of influences that don’t just reach in from the schoolhouse and the neighborhood, but also reach in from televisions, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. These influences often cause unhealthy habits that can follow children well into adulthood. Shaping the health and wellness of our children, therefore, has become a huge challenge.

How can parents raise fitness minded kids? The solutions are surprisingly simple, yet can be difficult to carry out. Take heart! This is doable for every single family out there and though it can be a challenge at first, families quickly find that making changes offers such tremendous benefits that they were well worth it – for everyone involved.

The basics of fitness-minded kids

There are a few things that kids need in order to grow up as fitness-minded adults. Some of these are quite easy to make happen, while others are tremendously difficult. Keep in mind that you don’t have to get this all done at once – it’s ok to begin with just one!

60 minutes of physical activity each day

For many families that number can seem overwhelming given the high amount of time that kids spend in school however keep in mind that the time spent active does include physical education time at school or activities like dance, karate or soccer that happen after school. Recess is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past and that physical movement time is something that families must make time for. When you get this piece incorporated you’ll be amazed at how well kids do, and the improvements that you see in sleep patterns, focus skills, dietary habits and more.

Tip: Go for a family walk after dinner, enjoy a quick game of soccer together in the backyard or try out some exercises like those from 100s to Happiness together. You can even throw on a physically active video game. These are great ways to connect with kids and strengthen your family bonds as well.

Moderation in moderation

There are very few things in life that have to happen 100% of the time. Not leaving a child in a hot car, turning off the stove and looking both ways before you cross the street are just a few examples of things that have to be done without exception. However kids need to understand that health is one of those things that allows you to indulge in as long as it’s in moderation. So having a cupcake a birthday party or noshing on some holiday candy is perfectly fine, but a candy bar every day is too much. The same goes for working out or physical activity – it’s ok to take a bit of time off as long as it’s in moderation.

When you’re working together as a family, it means that means that everyone has a voice. Allow your kids to have autonomy when choosing when and how indulgences happen to help them learn to self regulate moderation.

Tip: Agree to family rules about moderation to make it more plug and play, taking the pressure off in moments of struggle. That could mean taking one day a week off from exercise or going out for an indulgent family mean every Friday night. Having those systems in place is critical to everyone’s success.

Customize your child’s fitness

Getting excited about fitness is a lot easier when you’re doing something that you’re excited about. Allowing a child to have a say in what they do for fitness helps them to make it their own. Any kind of physical activity will do. For some kids it might be gymnastics, for others it could be soccer. Swimming is a wonderful physical activity to encourage or you could even try rock climbing or gardening. Think outside of the box and allow each child to learn to express themselves through fitness.

The key part here is to make it regular and help kids stick with it. Finding a long term way to stay physically active doesn’t have to mean signing up for a sport, though that’s a traditional and perfectly valid way to get it done. There are also lots of great workout programs for home that kids can get excited about. Classes at a gym are great for kids who are twelve and up and can participate effectively in adult classes even if there aren’t special classes offered for their age.

Tip: Parents shouldn’t forget that they’re the role models when it comes to customizing fitness. Finding out the kind of fitness activities that motivate a parent will spur the child on to get excited about it themselves!

Environment is everything

What truly shapes young minds and bodies is the environment in which they live. That goes for the home environment and the school environment. In order to for kids to grow up health conscious and able to make great fitness choices, they have to be surrounded by a positive experience that puts an emphasis on the right kinds of food decisions and exercise habits. We even have an app that can help guide you for 100 days of fitness and wellness, making fitness fun, easy, and accessible on your handheld device!

It cannot be overstated –

Parents play the key role in the choices that their kids make and the behaviors that they act out.

 

Children are looking at their parents. At every move that they make, everything that they do. With children, there is no hiding, there is no way to pull the wool over their eyes. They are going to reflect the parent. That magic mirror is a beautiful thing, but also a sobering realization. In order for kids to be fitness minded, parents have to be.

Creating a fitness minded environment that values the importance and benefits of getting healthy is the central pillar of raising fitness minded kids. That focus simply has to be there, and everything else is going to stem from that focus. The great news – creating that environment means that everyone in the family gets to benefit!

 

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The hardest thing in life is to begin. So often we can clearly see the image of what we need to do in order to move forward in life, be it by improving our health or letting go of emotional baggage. Seeing what’s wrong is most definitely not the problem.

The stumbling block is in the doing – in the making it happen.

Why 100?

This is a number that seems outrageous to say the least. How can you possibly get a list of 100 things to take control of your health with? Isn’t that far too many? Could you ever even hope to accomplish this much? Aren’t you just going to set yourself up for failure with this ridiculous goal?

Actually 100 is a perfect number simply because it does seem to be so daunting and impossible. Life is daunting and seemingly impossible! When you create a list of 100 and then start accomplishing what’s on it, you magically find that you’re able to do all kinds of things that you never imagined were possible!

Anyone who is familiar with Pilates knows that there is a central exercise called “the 100”.  To do this central exercise, you basically lie flat on your back on the mat, then roll your shoulders and head up off the floor, lift your legs into the air, then straighten you arms and pump them up and down by your sides one hundred times. At first it’s grueling. Just as in this list idea, the idea of doing 100 seems to be completely outrageous. Just as in the list of 100, the 100 in Pilates is the warm-up for the workout that’s to come.

However that’s one of the truly amazing things about Pilates – it teaches us that we have a control over our bodies that is far more than we ever thought to be possible. By starting out here, with this incredible number, you’re already jumping in and overcoming this huge hurdle before you even begin, which makes the whole process even more easy and intuitive.

How to get started

“Were man to devote as much time and energy to himself as he has devoted to that which man has produced, what astounding and unbelievable progress would be made; a progress eclipsing all he has so far successfully accomplished…” – Joseph Pilates

Sit down, grab a pen and paper (or type it up if you’d prefer) and get ready to move forward. The first step in any journey is the most powerful – absolutely. Realize that you need to take time to devote to improving yourself, and that this is time that’s well spent and incredibly important for you to be the most that you can be. Too often we spend all of our time focused on getting everything done for everyone else, neglecting the importance of taking care of ourselves.

Create your list around a theme, somewhere that you want to focus in order to take control and improve your life. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.

  • 100 health improvements
  • 100 wellness goals
  • 100 ways to improve yourself
  • 100 ways to get more out of your Pilates routine
  • 100 ways to increase your family’s health
  • 100 ways to let go
  • 100 things that aren’t working in your life
  • 100 things you love about yourself

 

Think of your list as a bit of a “brain dump” – you’re getting it all out and down on paper to allow you to get started.  Here are the basic tips for how to get that list of 100 going.

Think of your list as a bit of a “brain dump” – you’re getting it all out and down on paper to allow you to get started.  Here are the basic tips for how to get that list of 100 going.

  • Create a Framework

Number from 1-100 first, then add in entries for each number.

  • Go for speed

This whole process should be done at one sitting, in one single go. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour. Actually, it will probably take you considerably less time than that!

  • Write in shorthand

Don’t worry yourself with complete sentences, just get it down as quickly as you possibly can. You don’t even have to use complete words as long as you can decipher it later. You can even draw pictures or mention resources.

  • Ignore the numbers

Once you’ve numbered your paper, just completely forget about which number you’re on and blow through that list. Get in a mode of generating the ideas and just go forward. The more you get into a flow and work without losing time to check where you are, the easier the whole process will be. You’ll actually likely find that you could easily get even past 100 if you just let it flow.   

  • Repetition is fine

It does not matter if you repeat some entries – it’s almost impossible not to. You can go back and see which ideas popped up more than once and you’ll know that those are more important or those that you’re putting too much emphasis on.

  • Don’t judge

It’s important that you don’t evaluate things as you go down the list – just go! You’ll be able to weed it out later.

Customizing your list and using it

You taking the time to take control of your health isn’t being selfish – it’s the best way that you can care for the people that you love, because it ensures that you can offer them the best you that’s possible.

To get started, just create the space to fill up with your goals. When you open up that space, it will naturally start to grow. With this list you’ll be able to start moving forward to the changes that you want to make in life.

To use the list, take the 100 things that you’ve put on it and separate them out into categories, then get into your mind when and how to tackle them. When you come back to evaluate them, you might find that some were not terribly useful and that others are for far off in the distance.

100 is a number that can lead you to fulfillment and empowerment. It’s a number that can help you to take yourself to the next level and to accomplish things that you never thought were even remotely possible. 100 is a path to happiness.

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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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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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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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