Tag Archives: chris hunt wellness

Pilates & Heart Rate: Does Kim & Kanye’s Wedding get yours going?

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So it was the celebrity wedding of the year. The biggest celebrity wedding since, err, well, Kim’s last marriage? But of course being serious Pilates folk, we are not bothered about celebrity weddings are we. What we are interested in is why Pilates was one of the topics of conversation at such an event.

I have been accused of dwelling on celebrity too much. So I have carefully and patiently explained to people who accuse me of this that my life and my love is Pilates. I am therefore happy to use whatever means I can to promote our beloved system to the world out there, a large proportion of whom spend a lot of their time immersed in the celebrity culture that pervades our society.

It’s no surprise that this is not the first time that I have written about Kim. In my post Kim Kardashian: Keeping up with Pilates, I talked about her exercise regime which naturally includes Pilates. She is regularly seen leaving a Pilates studio in LA and regained her famous figure after giving birth by again using Pilates-based exercises. I’ve written before about Pilates for pregnancy, see my article Mila Kunis Pregnancy Pilates for more reasons why Pilates can and should be the last exercises that are done before giving birth, and the first exercises after the birth (with some provisos of course).

Today I want to talk about heart rate and Pilates. Kim practises a fusion of Pilates, weight training and circuit training and it’s done to muscle failure with very little transition to keep the heart rate up.

I am not a believer of so-called “cardio-Pilates”; Pilates breathing should be deep and controlled throughout all the exercises. But can Pilates offer benefits to the heart? A study by the American Council on Exercise reached some interesting conclusions. As well as looking at the actual benefit offered to the heart, the study also looked into benefits in terms of calorie burning, as well as flexibility and strength, by including Pilates in the study’s fitness regimen. This study was undertaken to see the actual benefits that Pilates can provide. It attempted to see if regular inclusion of Pilates during exercise could improve aerobic fitness and qualify as good cardio workouts for women.

Results showed that heart rates rose by 54 percent with basic Pilates, which is below the recommended 64 to 94 percent rise that ensures a good workout for the heart. Oxygen consumption was at 28 percent, which is also below the recommended level of 50 to 85 percent. With advanced Pilates, heart rates rose to 62 percent and oxygen consumption to 43 percent; levels that were still below recommendations. Interestingly, participants’ perception was that their exercising was that of a heavy muscular workout for both the basic and advanced Pilates.

The study was carried out using healthy women participants (where were the men????) who had at least an intermediate experience with Pilates. There is a significant difference between beginner levels and intermediate levels of Pilates training and its effects on the body. Pilates might not have the required cardiovascular benefits, but the exercise regime does improve core strength.

The authors agree that in their study, heart benefits of Pilates were not seen. They suggest that Pilates could be adopted by people who are looking for more strength and suppleness rather than burning calories and benefiting the heart. They said that Pilates is a great form of exercise for most populations especially those looking for some toning and flexibility help. It can be modified somewhat or scaled down to fit everyone’s needs. These exercises make the person feel they are working out harder than they actually are, and there is a major difference in heart rate and oxygen utilization between basic and advanced levels of Pilates. This could mean that each person may choose Pilates according to their fitness levels and benefit by building core strength and stability.

What is your experience with heat rate?

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnivals, Pilates conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

Vanessa Hudgens: Does Pilates create a flat stomach?

Chris Hunt Wellness

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Pilates brings many benefits, most people know that. In my experience most people come to Pilates because they have an existing issue with their body that they want to rehabilitate from, they want to improve performance and quality of life (especially in a sporting sense), or because they want to change their body shape.

Pilates can achieve all these things. But I think it is always vital that clients understand exactly what Pilates is and exactly how it achieves what it does.

I am often asked the question, “will Pilates give me a flat stomach?” To help answer this question, I will use the example of Vanessa Hudgens, as she is a Pilates fan and is regularly complemented for her great figure. She was pictured this week leaving a Pilates studio in LA.

First of all, if you are not familiar with Vanessa, she is a 25-year-old American actress and singer. She rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series and has also appeared in various films and television series for the Disney Channel.

So, back to the question, will Pilates give you a flat stomach? The simple answer is it will help for sure if it is done properly, as the abdominal muscles are trained as part of the holistic exercise system. But, and it is a big but, exercise alone is not enough. I like the saying that flat abs (or even a six-pack) is creates 20% in the gym and 80% in the kitchen. It’s an obvious fact that we all have a six-pack, of course some are genetically blessed with a head-start, but we all have one! The problem is some people’s six-packs are a little shy, they like to hide behind a layer of fat! This is why diet is vital.

I think it is important not to simply equate a stronger core with a flatter stomach. For most people, flatter abs means weight loss as well as exercise. I do not think that Pilates teachers should advertise Pilates simply to get flat abs, as this demeans the whole system. It makes me very angry when I see headlines like “5 Pilates exercises to get a six-pack”. What we should be saying is that Pilates is a holistic system that will make your body stronger, more flexible and healthier. A nice side-effect of this is often a slimmer more toned body and in turn a flatter stomach, something that is also helped by the improvement in posture that Pilates will bring. If most people simply learn and are able to stand up straight in a neutral position, then hey presto their stomach will often flatten.

Also, Pilates is about how to use your body and body awareness. This is what I really stress through NLP and mindfulness when I am teaching my system, Pilates EVO. Pilates can give you swagger!

Something that many gym goers are unaware of is that the abs should also be flexible. It’s a dangerous myth that to be strong and look good muscles should be tight. Nonsense. Every muscle needs flexibility. If we have no flexibility and balance in our bodies then eventually our bodies will break-down, often not in the area of the inflexibility.

As always, if you want more advice on anything Pilates, or about how exercise and diet can help change your figure, then please drop me a line via my website, Facebook or the form below.

 

Barcelona Bougainvillea

 

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When I was younger, my sister lived on the island of Rhodes for 10 years, so every year I went to visit her. One of my abiding memories was of the amazing bougainvillea plants there. So, I promised myself that one day, when I lived somewhere warm enough, I would get my self a bougainvillea. That day has arrived. It’s the small things in life  that sometimes mean the most, the attention to detail that completes the picture.

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Beyonce & Paul McCartney are Pilates buddies!

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It doesn’t get any more celebrity than this, Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney doing Pilates together!

Regular readers of my blog will know that as well as more serious articles about Pilates, I also write about famous Pilatistas. My opinion is that anything that raises awareness of Pilates can only be a good thing. In today’s culture, it’s a fact that many people associate themselves with celebrities. It’s not my place to argue the rights of wrongs of this, I just accept it as a fact, and if just one person tries Pilates because of one of my blogs, then I consider this to be a success. If you want a technical Pilates discussion then please click on the link above to my website or my Facebook link below and let’s chat…

So back to Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney. The two music legends were staying in the same hotel, the Four Seasons, during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California.

The famous pair were seen going through their paces at an LA gym, according to the UK press. It’s reported that they hit the treadmills and after some cardio, Macca, 71, and Beyonce, 32, did some Pilates before heading off for a run.

Celebrity gossip aside, this Pilates pairing shows the world exactly how great Pilates can be. Yes, men and women do it! Yes, old and young do it! Yes, you can do Pilates with a friend because it can be done at many different levels as it is possible to modify the movements to make them appropriate for all levels of ability.

It is clear to the world what amazing condition Beyoncé is in, and it is a good job Sir Paul is staying in good physical shape at his age after he added six more dates to the North American leg of his Out There Tour.

Celebrities, love them or hate them, they do sometimes show the world the possibilities when it comes to using Pilates. For that, I thank them.

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How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Not good? OK, let’s talk…

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On January 1st, millions of people began the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions. Memberships at health clubs and diet programs soar, whilst sales of chocolate and alcohol decline. People take a long, hard look at their spending habits as they sort through the January bills.

Now we a few weeks into the New Year and despite all this good intention, most people will fail at their resolutions. Come February, most New Year’s resolutions will be a dim memory. How can such apparently strong determination fizzle out so quickly? What can we do to increase the likelihood that our desire for change will translate into permanent positive change?

Let’s first examine the psychology of the New Year’s Resolution. During the month of December people tend to overindulge in eating, drinking, spending money and neglecting exercise. Rather than moderate these behaviours, we promise ourselves that after the holiday season is over, we will definitely take control. In the meantime, we give ourselves permission to overindulge without guilt. Our resolve is at its peak when we feel full, drunk, or broke. It’s easy to think about going on a diet as we groan from a bloating holiday meal. It’s no problem to plan to quit smoking when we’ve just had a cigarette and replenished our nicotine level. At this point we feel confident about our New Year’s resolutions because we have not yet confronted any prolonged physical deprivation or discomfort.

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In early January, we are often so sick of rich food and drinks, and feeling so sluggish from lack of vigorous physical activity that it’s not difficult to abstain from overindulgence. In fact, some people look forward to more structure and discipline in their lives. However, a few weeks into the new discipline, our appetites have returned, and we start to feel deprived. It is at this point that we are most at risk for reverting back to old behaviours.

Soon we start rationalizing that this is not a good time of year, what with cold weather and our numerous obligations. When spring comes, we’ll really get into shape. Thus, we make another promise to ourselves, and, now free of guilt, put off habit change for another few months. Chances are that when spring arrives, we will have another temporary surge of motivation, only to abandon it within a few weeks.

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So why do people abandon their resolutions? One reason is that we become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when we find that we are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioural change requires sustained effort and commitment. It is also typically accompanied by physical discomfort. For example, reducing food, alcohol or nicotine intake from a level to which you have become accustomed, results in cravings. Forcing yourself to get off your cosy chair to exercise is often difficult when you’re tired. And of course, it’s easy to procrastinate until tomorrow, so that you can rationalise not disciplining yourself today.

Therefore, if you are going to try to keep your New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure you are ready for the challenge. Here are some tips to maximize your success:

1. Examine your motivation for change
Are you just feeling full and bloated at this moment? Do you have a hangover from last night? Did your last cigarette give you have a hacking cough? Or is there a more enduring reason for your desire to change? If you can’t think of a better reason than the fact that you’re uncomfortable at this moment, then you’re better off not making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep. However, if you are realistic and accept the responsibility of discipline required for change, your motivation will be sustained long after the discomfort from over-indulgence has passed.

2. Set realistic goals
Habits and behaviours that are changed gradually have a greater chance of success.

3. Focus on the behavioural change more than on the goal
For example, if you decide to control your eating, your goal for the day is not to lose a specific number of pounds, but to stick to your program. Such focus on your behaviour will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day.

4. Learn to redefine physical sensations of discomfort
Whenever we restrict ourselves, we have both physical and mental reactions. For example, a smoker feels bodily sensations when his nicotine level drops. However, he has a choice as to how he interprets these symptoms. He can define them as extremely unpleasant, or alternatively he can interpret them as his body cleansing itself of the drug.

5. Make tasks non-negotiable
People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 5:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for organising your closet or taking charge of your finances. One can almost always find an excuse not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be successful.

6. Allow for imperfection.
No one is exactly on target all the time. In fact you should expect to falter every now and then. If you give in to temptation, do not use this as an excuse to abandon the whole program. Learn from your mistake and move on.

7. Do it now.
If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioural change, it won’t happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time.

So I could say good luck, but we all know that it has very little to do with luck. It has everything to do with commitment and planning.
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How to gain muscle and then keep it!

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For many men and women, the toning, creation and retention of muscle mass is a mythical journey shrouded in gossip and hear-say. It is a complex issue dependant on many factors that vary person to person, but let’s try to simply some things.

So many myths… 

I am often asked by worried people, especially ladies, that they will quickly gain muscle size and look unfeminine. It takes time for a muscle to grow in size and strength. It also takes the right combination of muscle stress, recovery time, nutrition, hormones, and genetics. It typically takes people dedicated to muscle growth a lot of time and effort to reach their goals, so relax, you are not going to sprout bulging muscles over-night, although you might notice some quick improvement in strength in the beginning.

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Another common comment is that muscle weighs more that fat. This one is true, so if you add muscle and lose fat, you can add weight, but the muscle will take up less space than the same amount of fat so you’ll look better. Muscle also speeds up your metabolism so you burn more calories day and night trying to maintain that muscle mass. With this is mind, it is clear that no weight loss plan is complete without strength training as well.

When it comes to the number of repetitions, there are some things to consider. Using lighter loads does not necessarily mean longer and leaner muscles. You can lift a weight 40 times without feeling tired, but you’re not challenging the muscle enough to develop good muscle tone or get significantly stronger. Doing high numbers of reps doesn’t get your heart rate up either, so you’re certainly not burning much if any fat. If you use a weight that will cause muscle fatigue after no more than 15 repetitions, this can get the best results in endurance, muscle tone and strength. Also it’s important to mix up your workout by using a variety of weights (from 50% to 90% of maximum capacity) and repetitions (between 5 to 20 per set). Doing higher reps with lower loads helps build endurance; lower reps with higher loads helps build strength. Variety is, as always, the spice of life.

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Some athletes I work with are initially worried that if they grow muscle mass then they will lose their speed. It’s obvious that for some sports too much mass is not required, but weight training, especially at a high intensity or with explosive movements, can actually help sports such as running and cycling by building strong, powerful muscles that can rapidly react when called upon to accelerate. Also, a well-rounded weight training plan can also reduce injuries by balancing key muscle groups and reinforcing vulnerable joints.

One thing that my Pilates clients learn is that doing exercise slowly makes a big difference. It’s not always necessary to load on more and more weight to get stronger. By slowing down the speed while lifting and lowering weights stresses the muscle and forces it to get stronger.

Here is the mother of all myths when it comes to muscles. How many times have I been asked if by stopping weight training, will my muscles will turn to fat? This question does have a simple answer. No! Muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so it’s physiologically impossible for one to “turn into” the other. Muscle will lose tone, however, if it’s not used, which may result in a flabby appearance where you used to be solid, and if you don’t adjust your diet and workout after you quit training, some of that food you’re eating could turn to fat.

Old age comes to us all

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up muscle strength. Not only can adults fight the battle of strength and muscle loss that comes with age, but the Golden Years can be a time to get stronger, says recent research from the USA.

ImageResistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life, Through resistance training, adults can improve their ability to do anything that requires manipulating their own body mass through a full range of motions.

Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year. That only worsens as people age. But even earlier in adulthood; the 30s, 40s and 50s, you can begin to see declines if you do not engage in any strengthening activities.

Recent analyses of current research show that the most important factor in somebody’s function is their strength capacity. No matter what age you are, you can experience significant strength improvement with progressive resistance exercise. This means that the amount of weight used, and the frequency and duration of training sessions is altered over time to accommodate improvements.

Evidence shows that after an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can add 2.42 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25-30%.

Recommendations for those over 50

Anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise. A good way for to start, especially for people who are relatively sedentary, and after getting permission from their doctor to do so, is to use their body mass as a load for exercises. Such exercises you can do include exercises that progress through a full range of motion, such as Pilates and Yoga.

Transition to the gym

After getting accustomed to these activities, you can move on to more advanced resistance training in a gym, with the help of a fitness professional. You should feel comfortable asking a trainer whether they have experience working with aging adults. I suggest that you participate in strengthening exercise two days per week as the minimum.

Don’t forget to progress

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As resistance training progresses and weights and machines are introduced, you should keep in mind the need for increased resistance and intensity of your training to continue building muscle mass and strength. A good fitness professional can help plan an appropriate training regimen, and make adjustments based on how you respond as you progress. Progressive resistance training should be encouraged among healthy older adults to help minimize the loss of muscle mass and strength as they age.

So there you have it, a quick and simple guide that I hope will help and encourage you to reach greater heights this year than ever before. Good luck. Let me know if you need any help.

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Weight loss the basics: Calories, exercise and Pilates

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Weight loss for most people is not easy. There is a reason why people weigh the amount they do, and that reason is usually years and years of consistent over-eating and not enough exercise. Those are not easy habits to change at all, let alone over-night. This is one of the reasons that most diets fail within the first few weeks.

So start simple. In this article I want to give you some simple concepts and explain why I believe that Pilates is the perfect place to start and incorporate into your weight loss program.

The clients of Pilates teachers notice that their clothes start to fit differently. I am often told that trousers feel a little looser around the waist and thighs, and arms feel more toned. But I am often why is it, if this is the case that overall weight can remain at a similar level?

If you want to lose weight, we need to consider some basics. We can (and  I will in my next blog) talk about fasting, the 5:2 diet, the 4:3 diet, but nothing changes the following basic facts.

How To Lose Weight
The principle of weight loss is a complex issue involving many factors, but to help simplify matters, for the purposes of this article we will think that you need to burn more calories than you consume. Your caloric intake needs to be less than your calories exerted. This idea helps many people to begin to understand what they need to do to lose weight. But the key is of course, how do you achieve this? 5:2? 4:3? Maybe. But let’s talk about exercise. Good, old fashioned exercise (in a later blog I will talk about High Intensity Interval Training, but for now let’s keep it nice and basic). So why exercise? It’s possible to consume less calories than you are exerting without exercise, but it’s quite difficult, and exercising gives many benefits.

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Why Exercise?
Exercise is divided into two different groups: aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You need to understand the difference before we move on.

Aerobic exercise is moderate exercise performed for a long duration of time. 

Anaerobic exercise is used to build power and/or muscle mass. These muscles generally have a greater performance under a short duration/high intensity situation.

Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise have numerous benefits, besides helping to burn of those calories to increase weight loss or weight maintenance. These other benefits include strengthening the respiratory and heart muscles,  toning muscles in the body, improving your overall circulation, reducing your blood pressure, and boosting your immune system. Some say aerobic exercise is better for weight loss than anaerobic and vice versa. But the key is to make your caloric intake less than you caloric output. How you achieve that is up to you.

Calories Burned: Pilates vs. Other Exercises

I’ve listed below some popular activities and how many calories they burn during one hour of exercise. These figures are based on someone weighing around 145 pounds.

  • Badminton 288
  • Bicycling : outdoor 512, indoor 448
  • Dancing : general 288, aerobic 416
  • Gardening 256
  • Golfing 288
  • Jogging (5 mph) 512
  • Rope Jumping 640
  • Running (8 mph) 864
  • Skiing: cross-country 512, downhill 384
  • Stair Climbing 576
  • Swimming 384
  • Tennis 448
  • Walking: 2 mph 160, 3.5 mph 243

Studies suggest that a 145 lb person doing Pilates for one hour would burn the following calories:

  • Beginner level Pilates 241 calories
  • Intermediate level Pilates 338
  • Advanced level Pilates 421

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Pilates and Exercise: The Answer

Someone doing a regular form of exercise like jogging (512 calories burned) would still need to watch what they eat because a Big Mac with cheese is 740 calories! This applies to all activities, including Pilates. When Pilates is compared to the general exercise list, the calories burned are in-between both extremes. It is possible to lose weight while using Pilates as a source of exercise, but you have to watch how many calories you ingest.

To put it bluntly, if you are only doing an hour of Pilates exercise each day and no other exercise and you wanted to lose weight, you would really need to seriously count your calories. Remember, calories exerted needs to be greater that calories ingested for weight loss. Not many people eat less than 338 calories a day, which is the amount of calories you will burn in an intermediate level mat workout! So you get my point? Doing Pilates alone is not a viable option. But the beauty of Pilates is that it gives you a foundation from which to go forth and exercise more. And this is crucial for many people, from those exercising for the first time to elite athletes who want to stay on the top of their profession.

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Pilates and Extraordinary Effects on the Body
Pilates does change the shape of your body and your clothes will fit differently. Pilates can tighten your waistline, even if you do not lose so much weight, and it builds muscle without bulk and improves posture, making you seem taller and slimmer. It tones all of your muscles because each Pilates exercise session is a full body workout. All of these benefits perfectly compliment a program that considers calorie intake and exercise.

So the key is that if it is paired with the right program, Pilates will help you to lose weight whilst also keeping your body strong, flexible and toned. There are other benefits too;

  • Creating lean muscle mass, as Pilates does, is one of the best ways to increase your calorie-burning potential.
  • One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have beautiful posture.
  • Pilates creates a leaner look by emphasizing both length and good alignment.
  • Pilates promotes deep and efficient respiration, which is essential for calorie burning and tissue regeneration.
  • Engaging in an exercise program, like Pilates, promotes self-esteem and heightened lifestyle consciousness. Both are associated with weight loss.

So my advice (completely unbiased coming from a Pilates educator of course…) is that everyone should incorporate Pilates into their weight loss regime.  It makes sense doesn’t it?

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