Category Archives: Learn Pilates

 

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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Pilates can be intimidating. It’s easy to see how a beginner may see the exercises as too difficult. However there are some easy, effective and fun exercises for Pilates beginners that are accessible for even those who have never stepped onto a mat.

To show you just how accessible Pilates is for newcomers, here are the six best Pilates exercises for beginners.

1. Rolling like a ball

Starting off with whimsy is never a bad idea. This move is playful and simple, not to mention it offers a great massage for tight back muscles and a perfect warm-up for those abs. One reason that it’s great for beginners in particular is that it teaches you how to get that rounded spinal shape that is central to Pilates. The core engagement is also phenomenal, pulling in the muscles all the way around the midsection.

  • Sit down just forward of center on the mat, knees bent and feed pointed. Toes should be barely touching the floor.
  • Place the hands on the back of the thighs, then lift the legs slightly off of the floor. Ensure that the knees remain shoulder width apart.
  • Lower the head slightly between the knees and inhale as you pull the belly button towards the spine.
  • Stay in this position for two cycles of breath.
  • On the inhale, rock back all the way to the upper back and shoulders, stopping before the neck while keeping the head off of the floor.
  • Exhale, rocking back up to the seated balance position.
  • Repeat four more times for five total reps.

 

2. The Saw

Learning how to form a solid base can be a challenge for beginners, but the Saw offers a perfect way to practice that skill. Posture is a key ingredient to great Pilates. The Saw also loosens the shoulders and upper back, opening up the chest to allow for easier breathing.

  • Sit upright in the center of the mat, legs straight out with feet touching either side.
  • Extend the arms out from the body to the sides, straight and with fingers pointing. Inhale deeply.
  • Exhale, and in one fluid motion twist to the left as the right arm stretches toward the left foot, pulsing three times.
  • Inhale, pulling back up to center.
  • Repeat to the opposite side, then repeat the whole cycle twice more for three total reps.

 

3. The Criss-Cross

Pilates doesn’t have to be a complicated or heavy kind of workout. The great thing about this exercise is it involves simple movements – with profound effects.

  • Lie on your back on the mat, pulling your knees to your chest with your hands behind your head (or place a towel underneath to give a bit more of a boost).
  • Extend the right leg out straight, keeping that left leg bent as you inhale.
  • Exhale as you twist toward the left leg, engaging the core to draw the upper body off the ground.
  • Inhale back down as you switch legs.
  • Repeat three times to each side.

 

4. The Mermaid

The sides of the body are often neglected and easy to ignore, but stretching them out can feel positively magical. Relieving tension and offering a wonderful lengthening to the side body, the Mermaid not only does some great toning bout also feels fantastic.

  • Sit down on the mat with the right hip towards the ground, legs folded to the left side.
  • Place the left hand around the ankles, then inhale as you reach the right arm up into the air with the upper arm next to the ear.
  • Exhale as you pull the straight right arm forward, then swoop it out to the left as you feel the stretch in your side body.
  • Repeat twice on this side.
  • Staying in the same position, reach your right hand down to the ground and do the same movement with your left hand.
  • Switch your legs to the other side and repeat the entire sequence in reverse.

 

5. Single-Leg Circles

A big trick to Pilates is keeping those abs engaged while the body is moving. That’s no small thing to do, but it is a powerful door to unlock. The single leg circle sequence offers a serious boost to the core while also exploring how the legs work together with it. If you need to, it’s okay to bend the leg slightly. In fact it’s better to get a slight bend on the leg than it is to lift the hip off of the floor at all. Another option is to bend the stationary leg that’s on the floor, offering a bit more stability and grounding.

  • Lie down on the mat, legs either bent with feet on the ground or extended out straight and together.
  • Extend the right leg straight up towards the sky as you inhale.
  • Exhale, circling the leg across the body towards the left edge of the mat and back around to the right edge, stopping center.
  • Inhale has you pause, consciously keeping the abdominals fully engaged.
  • Repeat five times, then switch legs.

 

6. The Hundred

There’s no way around it – the hundred is a core of every Pilates practice.  This movement is a challenge for many beginners, but it keeps the blood pumping and is a perfect warm-up. If one hundred reps proves to be too ambitious at the beginning, then it’s absolutely permissible to keep it to fifty, then work up to the full 100.

  • Lie down flat on the mat, drawing both legs up to the chest and rolling the head and upper back up to create a tight ball as you inhale.
  • Exhale, pulling the legs up to a tabletop position with the knees directly over the hips and the shins parallel to the floor.
  • Stretch the arms out by the sides and pulse them ten times, inhaling for five and exhaling for five counts.
  • Repeat the pumping nine more times without a break, for a total of ten reps and one hundred counts.
  • Inhale as you roll your head and shoulders back down the floor and rest your head flat.

 

Pilates Exercises can be Easy!

Pilates is a form of exercise that truly should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their level or comfort. Starting something is always the hardest part, but with these moves it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

The First Step on your Pilates Journey

Another easy way to begin your Pilates journey is with a single step – downloading our 100 day challenge app! We provide you with a simple, but impactful, short exercise video each day with a new Pilates move. At the end of 100 days, see what benefits your mind and body have unlocked!

 

 

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The 100 is an exercise that is simultaneously simple and intimidating. It’s a defining exercise for Pilates and the heart of the mat workout.

The Basics of the 100

First off, let’s lay out how to do the 100.

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent to form a right angle and hips at a right angle, or for the advanced form with legs outstretched and feet six to eight inches off the floor. Toes pointed.
  2. Inhale as you reach your arms out.
  3. Exhale as you roll your head, neck and upper shoulders off the floor, imagining an orange between your chin and chest. Draw your belly button towards the floor to engage your abdominals.
  4. Inhale deeply as you pump your arms for five controlled beats, pulling the air deep into your lungs as your ribcage expands laterally.
  5. Exhale for five beats with control as you pump your arms with each beat, using percussive breaths as you say “shh, shh, shh, shh, shh.” Be sure to completely empty your lungs by the fifth exhale.
  6. Continue this cycle nine more times for a total of ten cycles and 100 beats. Again, keeping the movements controlled and rhythmic.
  7. Slowly lower your head and shoulders to the floor, then your arms, and finally your legs.

If this exercise seems familiar, it’s because you see an animation of it at the beginning of each 100s to Happiness challenge!

It’s common for those who are new to the practice of the hundred to find that their neck and shoulders become strained. To prevent this, focus on using the core to pull the head and neck off of the ground.

Breathing for Pilates exercises

Breath is extremely important in Pilates exercises. In fact, breath control is a pillar of the system as a whole. That importance is very much true when it comes to the hundred, as it encourages practitioners to engage breath in a focused way during a challenging exercise.

In the 100, breath becomes a tool for empowerment, pulling you through the exercise. Rather than being an overwhelming beast of one hundred counts, the hundred is boiled down to just twenty breaths – ten in and ten out. When viewed from that lens, the whole thing doesn’t seem nearly so intimidating. Exercise is in many ways about perspective, so changing perspective through the use of breath control offers a way to look at things in a whole new way.

Deep breathing encourages slower and more controlled movements. It releases tension, allowing the body to work more efficiently and with less strain. Pilates is all about control and precision, things that are greatly improved with proper breathing.

Another piece here is that deep, lateral breathing during the hundred pushes oxygen to all parts of the body. Flooding the body with oxygen during a tough exercise allows you to have a greater ability to go further and to feel better through exercise.

Controlling the breath through this strenuous exercise pulls the mind and the body closer in sync with one another. It focuses the mind on the task at hand, and pushing out all other distractions.

The Mechanics of the Pilates 100

Starting off a workout with this exercise is a great idea, because it offers a full body warm up. When done correctly, the 100 pulls in all of the major muscle groups and pushes them to get to the next level. It’s one of the reasons that beginners find the hundred to be so challenging, but by that same token it’s the thing that makes the hundred so wonderful. Arms pumping, legs engaged, head up, toes pointed and core on fire, the hundred is fittingly a centerpiece of the mat workout, though it’s great to do any time with any fitness routine to get you started and ready to go.

What makes the 100 different from other ab exercises is that it uses both the upper and lower body to create resistance for the core.

Think about the 100 in contrast to a sit-up, where the lower body stays still and only the upper body moves. By only engaging half of the body, only half of the core is utilized. The same is true for a move like flutter kicks, which only use the lower portion of the body and therefore only engage the lower half of the abs. By using both the upper and lower parts of the body, the 100 engages more than either one on its own.

Why 100?

One hundred of anything is a big number, and that’s part of the magic of this exercise.

The hundred is different from everything else that Pilates created in his exercise system, which he called “Contrology.” His emphasis in every other exercise was on doing just a few repetitions, but doing them with absolutely perfect form so as to get the most out of the body. The hundred is the only exercise he created that pushes repetition to such a high level. It’s important to recognize that though the exercise goes to a high number, perfect form is still of central importance. Arm pumps should be controlled and rhythmic, body still and breaths deep.

Joseph Pilates was a master not only of the science of exercise, but also of the science of motivation. A central reason for the success of his system is that he captured what makes us want to get things done, what motivates us to mold our bodies.

Mastering the 100 pushes us to see how amazing our bodies are, what incredible things they’re capable of. Though for beginners the movement can seem intimidating, with practice it quickly becomes a comfortable and wonderfully awakening exercise. By breaking it down into just twenty breaths, Pilates offers students a way to see things in a new light, empowering them to get more out of their bodies.

The uniqueness of the 100 is part of the reason that we love it so much. Doing the 100 every day is not only a way to a fit body, it’s also a way to a fit and empowered mind. In fact, it’s what our 100s to Happiness app is named after. Check out our app for 100 days of Pilates exercises just like this — if you can do this, then you can do anything. The hundred can really take you to happiness!

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Many athletes are surprised to discover that a basic groundwork in Pilates provides many benefits across a great number of sports, including tennis. In fact, incorporating cross training with Pilates can help tennis players to improve their speed, stamina, balance and control. Whether casual tennis players or competitive athletes, there are lots of great reasons that that Pilates and tennis work well together.

Here are four Pilates exercises for tennis players you can try right now!

These four mat based exercises will help tennis players to get more out of their game. None of these moves requires anything in the way of equipment – other than the mat. For great results, use these exercises to form a mini-routine that you practice every day or a few times a week. With just a few minutes of effort, tennis players will find that they get a great bang for their buck in the pursuit of making their tennis game better.

1.   Hip Circles

Stability on the court is an essential part of the puzzle for tennis players in order to prevent injury and to allow for more controlled movement in pursuit of the ball. Hip Circles will help tennis players to strengthen the upper body as well as the core and thighs.

  • Sit on the mat, arms bent behind you at shoulder width. Palms are on the floor with fingers pointed back, away from the body.
  • Bend the knees and shift the weight to the arms as you pull your belly button towards your spine.
  • Pull the legs in firmly together, inhaling as you draw your legs up towards the ceiling until they are at a 45 degree angle.
  • Extend the arms behind you and press the palms down into the mat, fingers still pointed behind you.
  • Point the toes straight up towards the ceiling and exhale as you swing the legs together in a clockwise motion towards the floor but not touching it. Inhale as they come back around in a large arc towards the starting position.
  • Repeat the same process going counterclockwise for one full cycle.
  • Start by completing three total cycles, pushing yourself to ten over time. Each circle should be bigger than the previous one, with more stability in the upper body.

 

2.  Side Bend

The Side Bend helps tennis players to take better advantage of lateral movement through improved core and inner thigh strength. This is another move that improves stability, which again is a key to great tennis.

  • Sit on the mat, legs folded in to one side.
  • Extend the legs out, placing the top foot on the floor in front of the bottom foot.
  • Place the palm of the lower arm on the floor.
  • Push down from the hips, using the top arm for stability.
  • Pulling in the abs in, allow the shoulders to drop down and the spine to lengthen.
  • Inhale, pressing the lower palm into the mat as you lift the upper arm and straighten the legs to lift the pelvis off of the mat.
  • Preserve that long line, exhaling as you reach the top arm in a wide arc over your head. Pull the shoulder blades back as your arm reaches the top.
  • Be careful not to either lock or hyper-extend the elbow of the lower arm.
  • Inhale, lowering the arm and gently returning the hips to the starting position.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side.

 

3. Pilates Push-up

Great tennis is all about powerful, controlled movement. This variation on the classic push-up will give tennis players stronger core muscles, shoulders, back and legs for total body challenge that will offer more speed and control on the court.

  • Stand up tall on the mat, arms straight overhead.
  • With control, allow your arms to lead your head, neck and shoulders as you roll down towards the mat.
  • Tighten the core muscles as you roll, pulling the abs in towards the spine.
  • As your arms reach the ground, bend your knees and walk your hands forward, inhaling deeply and slowly.
  • Exhale when you reach plank position.
  • Inhale, bending the arms straight back along your ribs. Keep shoulder blades steady and firm on the back. Controlling this part of the exercise will improve stability in the shoulders and torso.
  • Exhale, lifting the abs and push up slowly, the body in one continuous line.
  • Inhale, pushing up and walking the hands back as you reverse the movement. Try to keep the legs as straight as possible. Extend the arms all the way above the head
  • Repeat for ten total reps.

 

4.   Rocker with open legs

To finish off this mini workout, the rocker with open legs is a lot of fun. The core is the focus of this movement, and building these muscles will help to preserve the muscles through strenuous exercises like tennis. Fatigue is a serious issue for tennis players, and it’s important to build the right muscle groups in order to keep that stamina.

  • Sit up on the mat, back straight, legs long in front of you and arms to the side.
  • Bend the knees, then scoop out the stomach by pulling the belly button towards the back.
  • Grab your ankles and lift first one leg, then the other.
  • Maintain head and neck control, with both staying up.
  • Inhale, rolling back towards and then onto your shoulders, keeping that belly button pulled in.
  • Exhale, rolling back up and balance, legs extended up.
  • Repeat 8 times, then bring the leg back down.

 

Final thoughts

Pilates exercises are focused on control of the body and should push to the point of being a challenge, but never to the point of pain. Take as much time as you need to with each exercise and keep it slow and simple. Slow down and ease up if you feel that an exercise is too much for your body, then build up to more challenging movements.

Though tennis is a fast-paced game, Pilates is a slow jam that allows players to learn control of movement in an environment that’s far less stressful and hard on both the body and mind. Regular Pilates is a wonderful way for tennis players to enrich their game. Improved bodily awareness, stability and control, along with a tremendous boost in mental clarity mean that tennis players not only get a better game with Pilates, but also that they enjoy themselves on the court even more.

Try spending as little as 5 minutes a day for the next 100 days, and let us know how it improves your game!

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Lightweight, portable, inexpensive and challenging, the Pilates Magic Circle is a great addition to the repertoire of anyone who wants to help center themselves and get a great workout at the same time.

This flexible ring was created by Joseph Pilates as a way to create balance and encourage even development of muscles and control. At 12-14 inches in diameter, the ring is small and lightweight, made of plastic, metal or rubber and features to side handles to allow you to squeeze it between the arms and/or legs. While building tone and core strength, the Pilates magic circle is fun addition to any routine. Also known as the Pilates circle, exercise ring and fitness ring, the magic ring has a lot to offer.

Look for a circle that gives mild resistance, but isn’t too difficult to squeeze. If possible, it’s great to try out the Pilates circle before purchasing. There are a wide variety of brands that each have slightly different padding configurations and styling. However all of one thing in common – they bring added challenges and stability to classic Pilates movements.

Eight-Step Pilates Ring Workout

One of the most innovative things about the Pilates magic circle is that it allows for variations on familiar exercises like the hundred and the roll back. It can also provide some structure for those who are new to Pilates but who aren’t ready to dig into more complex equipment work.

Check out these eight Pilates ring exercises to get started.

Upper body sequence

  • Standing tall, engage the core and place the circle between both palms, even with the waist.
  • Slowly and with control, push the circle in rhythmically for ten reps, holding for just a moment at the closest point.
  • Moving up the body, repeat at chest height, at shoulder height, and over your head while constantly engaging the core.

 

Magic Circle Pilates hundred

  • Lie down on the back on the mat.
  • Extend both legs, placing the circle between them and just above the ankles, squeezing slightly.
  • Raise legs to a ninety degree angle, rolling the head, neck and chest up as well as you gaze toward your navel.
  • Lifting the hands off the floor, pump the arms up and down for 100 reps, inhaling for five count and exhaling for a five count.
  • To increase difficulty, try lowering the legs down to 45 degrees.

 

Straight arms

  • Standing with feet together, squeeze the inner thighs together while pulling the navel towards the spine.
  • Hold the circle with both hands, directly in front of the chest, hands open with fingertips pointing away and elbows slightly bent. Don’t squeeze the circle.
  • Press the circle in with control for ten reps.
  • Next, squeeze the circle as you count to ten and move the circle above your head, reaching ten when it’s directly overhead.
  • Lower the circle down towards the hips while counting to ten. Repeat four times for five total cycles.

 

Behind the back

  • Standing with feet together, squeeze the inner thighs together while pulling the navel towards the spine.
  • Hold the circle with both hands, directly behind the back, hands open with fingertips pointing down towards the ground and elbows slightly bent. Don’t squeeze the circle.
  • Press the circle in with control for ten reps.
  • Next, squeeze the circle as you count to ten and move the circle up as high as it will go, reaching ten when it’s at its peak.
  • Lower the circle down towards the hips while counting to ten. Repeat four times for five total cycles.

 

Side leg press

  • Lying on your side, bend the elbow closest to the floor and rest the head on the hand.
  • Placing the circle just above your ankles, stretch the legs down and point the toes away. Stack the hips vertically, with legs slightly in front of the body.
  • Draw the navel towards the spine, fully engaging the core.
  • Reach the top arm up and out, stretching the full length of the side body and further engaging the core and back.
  • Inhale, then exhale and squeeze the circle as much as possible. Inhale to release.
  • Repeat ten times then switch sides.

 

Roll back

  • Sit down on the mat, bending the legs in front with the feet flat on the ground.
  • Place the circle between the legs, just above the knees.
  • Sitting tall and with arms straight out in front, inhale deeply.
  • Exhale, tucking the lower back and pelvis under as the abs pull in.
  • Squeeze the circle between the legs as you lower down until the spine touches the ground and the air is fully released.
  • Inhale and exhale.
  • Inhale as you roll back up with control.
  • Repeat for ten total reps.

 

Whole body raise

  • Lying on your back, place the circle just about the ankles between the legs.
  • Pull the legs up to a ninety degree angle.
  • Draw the arms behind the head, supporting, but not pulling in any way.
  • Gently raise the head, neck and shoulders off the floor as you gaze into your navel without straining the next or back muscles.
  • Inhale, lowering the legs down halfway to a forty-five degree angle.
  • Exhale, bringing them back up to 90 degrees as you pull your abs in toward the spine.
  • Repeat for a total of ten reps.

 

Bridge

  • Lie down flat, resting the arms by the side and placing the feet flat on the floor.
  • Place the circle between the legs, just above the knees.
  • Inhale, squeezing the circle in.
  • Exhale, lifting the hips towards the ceiling.
  • Hold at the top, inhaling to squeeze the circle even tighter. For more of a challenge, hold for three breaths.
  • Exhale, lowering back down with control as one vertebrae lowers to the floor at a time until the bottom is resting on the floor.
  • Repeat for twelve total reps.

 

With the Pilates ring, it’s important to focus on form. Allow the ring to act as an extension of the body, increasing awareness and moving towards a more centered practice. Then take it with you anywhere, along with the 100s to Happiness digital app for your smartphone or tablet, to help build on and improve your Pilates routine.

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Tennis and Pilates are a perfect match. Both are whole body workouts that require a strong core and incredible balance. For tennis players, be they novice or professional, Pilates offers the perfect way to develop both the physical and mental strengths that are required to take the time on the court to the next level. Whether done in the studio or on the mat, Pilates is the best way for tennis players to cross train.

How can Pilates improve your tennis game?

Here are seven ways that Pilates makes your tennis game more competitive and enjoyable.

 

  • A stronger core for a stronger game

The central point of Pilates as a system is the strengthening of the core, though it does balance that core focus with development all over the body. Tennis requires quick, balanced and precise motion. All of that movement comes out of the core, from footwork to racket movement. The stronger the core, the more easily and fluidly movement comes through the rest of the body. Core strength also improves stroke power. Pilates is one of the best ways that tennis players can create better stability as well as ease of motion.

 

  • Increase your stretch

There is a great deal of stretch and reach that goes into playing tennis at any level. Players often find themselves reaching to return a ball from a less than perfect position. Getting there to return an incoming ball could mean stretching the body far forward, well over to the side, or lower and higher in space. The ability to move quickly and effectively through space is greatly improved through the practice of Pilates. That’s going to mean returning more serves and allowing the opponent to get fewer points.

 

  • Developing kinetic awareness

Feeling what’s happening in the body doesn’t always come naturally, but developing a sense of where the body is in space can help tennis players to move their bodies with more intention and improve their game. By demanding that practitioners concentrate on precise movement, Pilates encourages improvements in form and fosters a mastery of movement. Pilates is a form of exercise that helps individuals to develop kinetic awareness through focus and detailed motion. That kinetic awareness translates from the mat to the court, improving muscle control and focus for tennis players.

 

  • Whole body changes

Tennis is fast paced, whole body game. Though Pilates focuses on the core, where movement comes from, it also works muscle groups and flexibility all over the body. What happens in one section of the body affects all other parts, particularly in a game like tennis with heavy levels of impact coming from one source. Pilates balances the functionality of the body, allowing tennis players to move in new and more effective ways, thus becoming more competitive in their game. The kind of movement required to hit the ball with force and accuracy is easier when the entire body is developed through Pilates, so that players can draw from more than just the primary muscle groups.

 

  • More power

Tennis is in many ways about power – the powerful shot, the powerful leap, the powerful serve. Pilates helps tennis players to increase their power by strengthening key muscle groups as well as improving muscle control. Shoulder and arm strength in particular are fostered through Pilates work, which are integral aspects of the game. Much of tennis is about using the racket as a lever, pushing the speed of the racket head faster to increase the velocity of the ball. Improving the functionality of that lever through increased strength and control is a huge boon to tennis players. By adding in cross training through Pilates, tennis players are able to become more powerful than by practicing tennis alone.  

 

  • Better balance

With the fast pace of tennis, it’s important that tennis players are able to stay on their feet, as well as to change direction quickly when it’s necessary. All of this requires a great deal of balance and control. Integrated into the Pilates regimen are a wide variety of balance developing exercises that integrate strength and flexibility as well. Pilates is a perfect way for tennis players to improve their balance, a boost that will improve their game and extend their ability to take on the ball without losing their footing.

 

  • Injury prevention

Something that’s a top priority to all athletes, be they amateur or pro, is preventing injury. A major key to preventing injury is improving muscle tone and flexibility. Hyperextension is a serious risk for tennis players and Pilates strengthens the ancillary muscle groups that can help to prevent it. The repeated use of the same muscles over and over again in tennis means that the opposing muscles aren’t developed, throwing the body out of balance and increasing the risk of injury. Strains on tendons and ligaments can be effectively prevented through cross training.   

Tennis players incorporating Pilates

Pilates for tennis players is nothing new, in fact many major tennis stars have used Pilates as their secret weapon on the court for years. In particular, tennis powerhouse Roger Federer has used Pilates to help him reach new heights of the game, pushing tennis to the heights at which it can be found at today. Star Andy Murray has also cited Pilates as having had a dramatic effect on his game, saying in a 2012 interview with the Daily Mail  “I started Pilates a few weeks ago which I think has already helped. My body feels good compared to the last few years.”

Those benefits don’t just have to be for the rich and famous – they’re there for the taking for every tennis player out there! This cross training method can help amateurs and team players, college students and professionals. Whether it’s at home with the 100s to Happiness app, in the studio or at a group class, regular Pilates sessions are a proven way to help tennis players improve their ability to be competitive on the court, getting more out of the game and out of themselves.

 

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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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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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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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