The sun is rising later and setting earlier now. All the indications of autumn are making their presence known. Shifting gears into this season means adjusting to different temperatures, changing over to soups and comfort foods, and tuning-in to your favorite TV series with fresh new episodes. While those shows have you hanging on the edge of your seat, it’s also an ideal time to revitalize your workout and check-in with your body! Here are 5 ways to tune-in for a tune-up:
Use your SMARTs
A little over 9 months ago you may have set some SMART goals in motion. Rather than wait until the end of the year, why not look at what you wrote down and evaluate where you are in the scheme right now? Take the time to acknowledge and congratulate yourself on what you’ve accomplished. And, for those items still lingering on the list, think critically about whether or not they still make sense, or if you need to revise them. Examining these now will help you shape the direction for the end of year. Plus, checking them out early and re-focusing keeps you in the positive; steering you clear from the upset or frustration that might occur, had you not realistically adjusted your goal.
Create a new challenge
Remember the 60-second streak? Refresh with just one new move or skill that is really tough for you to do. Recently one of my clients shared with me that he’s set a personal goal to reach: a cumulative 10 minutes, daily, of deep squatting to improve lower body and hip flexibility. As you approach anything new, in starting out, I recommend beginning in small chunks of time. So for instance, instead of completing a full 10 minutes the first day – I would say break it down to, say 1-2 minutes, and then after a few days, increase the time and test your effort. Gradually increase to meet whatever level you are trying to master.
Revisit your plank
Classic core exercises in the Pilates repertoire include positions where you need to hold yourself up against gravity. Thus the plank is some serious work. As I like to say – “an oldie, but a goodie” J Remember that it’s important to check your form with these techniques. Already have the plank in your workout program? Then tune it up and add these variations that will further develop your core, strengthen spine muscles and up-the-ante on balance skills
- Alternate lifting one leg up off the floor, while maintaining form
- Reach a single leg off the floor in good form, and hold for 10-20 seconds; then switch to the other side
- Alternate lifting one arm off the floor, minimize shifting.
- Reach an opposite arm and opposite leg off the floor, maintaining balance on 2 points. Hold for 5-10 seconds and then switch sides.
Order a Side with that!
Along with the Ab Series as outlined in the Tips for Runners blog, there’s a series in the Mat work that even I am guilty of skipping out on. And that is the Side-Lying Leg Series. Appearances are deceiving on this because you are lying down on your side, and it looks as though you can just zone out while you wave your leg in the air.
But make no mistake; because of the fact that you are indeed side-lying you must use your core, and your coordination, and your balance and maintain a steady position. Great series to work both core stability and flexibility in the hips, while targeting the powerful muscles in that region. It’s tougher than it looks! If you aren’t being monitored by an instructor for correction, I recommend doing this with the aid of a mirror to make sure you’re working within proper range and you can check your alignment.
Here’s a great demonstration with friendly and clear instruction:
Pilates Side Leg Series – with Kimber (11:03). What’s covered:
- Kick forward and back
- Leg Circle
- Staggered lift
- Double leg lift
- Lateral flexion – legs and torso both lift
- Clams (external rotation)
- Side leg abduction with the knee bent at 90 degrees, plus variations with flex band placed above the knee joint
Tune In to Your Inner Channel
As a Pilates Instructor, I expect my practicing students to instinctively weave breath with conscious and concise movement. Varying your sports and recreation helps fine-tune the physical body. The mindfulness piece gives you dexterity and intuition. What’s great is that you can simply use your imagination to keep developing this skill. Review the Mental Floss article to find some examples. Tune out of the busy-ness of the world and your to-do list, and just give yourself 2 minutes.
Be careful NOT to zone out. But rather tune in. Without judging yourself, just be in your body, with your breath and your heartbeat.
We’ll see you for your next tune-up in the studio!