Tag Archives: heart rate

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

KMAIN

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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.

Hot Pilates & yoga: Just a lot of hot air?


www.chrishuntwellness.com Sweaty Girl

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Unlike some Pilates presenters, I am not against all new adaptations of our beloved Pilates system per se. The world is always changing, and to stay still is never such a good idea.  If I can see that a new idea brings something new and beneficial without compromising on the principles and qualities that we all know and love, then I am open to try it.

That brings me to the subject of the “hot exercise” craze. We have all heard of Hot Yoga, and many of us have had the pleasure of using a studio after a hot yoga session and having to open windows to disperse the heat and the smell. Pilates seems to be following with hot classes springing up, but is there any proven benefit in exercising in high temperatures that make the body sweat? We have moved on from running in bin bags, but is hot exercise just the same but trendy because they do it in Hollywood?

Having looked at recent research, I have to say that it does not look good for exercising in heat.  Some experts say that it only serves to raise heart rate and blood pressure which for some people will be a lethal cocktail. A study in 2013 conducted by the University of Wisconsin concluded that the effort required to do a Bikram-style yoga class was all but identical to that required to do a normal yoga class (the exercise intensity was on average around 56 to 57% of maximal heart rate, which would classify both as “light exercise not dissimilar to a light walk). Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise said that the benefits of heat are largely perceptual. “People think that the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that is not the reality. It does not correlate to burning calories”.

So as Pete Bee makes the point in her Times article earlier this year, if it does not burn more calories then what exactly does it do? There is some anecdotal evidence that saunas have health and stress-relief benefits and can help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (click to read my article about Pilates and RA). But the importance of sweating can be overplayed. After all it is the body’s heat control mechanism, a vital means of keeping the body cool. It’s the evaporation of sweat that actually cools the body, and as we will all know from our gym experience, no two people sweat the same, but this is not an indication of their fitness or health. There is also no evidence that sweat purifies the body. Sweat comprises mainly water with some electrolytes. It’s the liver and kidneys that filter out the toxins, not the sweat glands. Research by the University of California found sweating eliminates less than 1% of toxic metals expelled by the body, so clearly sweating is by no means the most important.  It’s safe to conclude that sweat is just that, sweat, and nothing else.

From the traditional side of the argument, I know many yoga masters who have a great dislike of hot yoga. They say it drains your adrenals and kidneys. This is one of three subtle energies called ‘Ojas’. In Chinese medicine it is called your ‘Jing’ energy. You are born with this energy, and when you burn it up it is very difficult to get it back. When you drain it you get more paranoia, impaired energy level and quality. Actual Yoga is said to build this energy very slowly over years and years.

They also argue that doing asanas in extreme heat mean that muscles, which would in normal temperatures protect the joint from overextending, become atrophied. The extreme heat makes the muscles flaccid and limp, and then the movement of the exercises hyperextend the joint beyond its normal range of motion. This stretches the tendons and ligaments, instead of lengthening the muscle. This creates instability and weakness in the joint. As a result the muscles have to over overcompensate to do the job that the tendons and ligaments would normally do. The body becomes bendy, but not truly open and flexible and strong. It is good to practice in a warm room, a reasonable temperature of up to about 30 degrees, but to practice yoga is temperatures up to 40 degrees they argue is harmful, and absurd.

When doing Yoga asanas the breath is essentially the thread that ties all the elements together. In the ancient text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said, ‘the mind is the king of the body, and the breath is the king of the mind.’ So the breath is the master that controls everything – the body and the mind. This works as the nerves that run through the central nervous system are connected to the top of the nose, this point in Yoga is known as ‘trikut́i’. When you learn through your regular practice how to control the breath through the nose, the vital air will stimulate the nervous system so that it slows the rhythmic pulsation of the nerves and then the mind and the body will be at peace and calm. However, if you are doing postures in 40 degrees heat, then the density and atmosphere of the environment will make the breathing techniques used in Yoga asanas impossible. It is argued that the heated, humid and smelly atmosphere is a terrible environment to be in period, let alone do Yoga asanas in.

So which side of the argument are you on? Do you have personal experience of hot Pilates or yoga? Are hot classes just another way to get people into studios? Does it really matter as long as people are exercising? I’d love to hear your opinions.

In my Pilates EVO teacher training I tell my students that they must never switch off from their intuition and be influenced by marketing ploys. I tell them to listen to their body. Your nervous system and your body are telling you all you need to know if you just take the time to listen. You’ll feel the truth there.

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Chris is an international Pilates and functional training presenter and educator based in London and Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also created Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. He organises fitness holidays and sports holidays in Barcelona, as well as retreats. For more information about training with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? You can also subscribe by completing the form on the this BLOG to receive articles and special offers straight to your inbox.

Chris pays all profits made from this BLOG to his charity partners. More details can be found by clicking on www.chrishuntwellness.com and selecting the “charity partners” tab.