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Powering future

Category Archive : Health Fitness

Holistic Harmony – 200-Hour Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training

200-Hour Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training

Our 200 hour yoga and meditation teacher training is a fully-rounded program that offers you everything you need to take your practice and teaching further. This includes a deep and comprehensive study of the physical asanas, pranayama, mudra, bandha, mantra, guided self inquiry, meditation, and lifestyle practices. We believe that yoga is a powerful and empowering path of self-discovery and transformation. We want to provide you with the tools and confidence to share this wisdom with others in a way that is authentic to your own experience and expression of yoga.

Our teaching philosophy and methodology is based on the Akhanda Shakti method of yoga. This is an integrative fusion that incorporates both the Ashtanga and Integrative Vinyasa modalities. It is a highly experiential, embodied learning process that provides you with the skills to teach yoga to’real’ bodies and’real’ people as a tool for holistic healing and emotional well-being.

We are committed to creating and supporting thoughtful, open-minded inclusive teachers. This is why we have created this yoga teacher training with the belief that you do not need to be an expert at yoga to join us. It is important to be a wise and conscientious student before becoming a teacher, and this training gives you the opportunity to develop just that.

Holistic Harmony – 200-Hour Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training

This is why we have designed our 200 hour yoga and meditation teacher training to be a combination of in-person and online learning. We understand that not everyone has the ability to travel to the mountains of North Carolina for a teacher training, so we have created an online component of our program that will allow you to learn from the same teachers you would have in-person, but at a more convenient location and at your own pace.

The online component of our yoga teacher training consists of the pre-recorded modules and the live calls where you meet your fellow trainees and learn with them. We recommend that you start the pre-recorded modules as soon as possible so that you have time to go through them before the first live call.

During the live calls you will have opportunities to ask questions, discuss topics, and get feedback from your teachers. We also encourage you to participate in the discussion and to share your experiences with other students. The most valuable part of the teacher training is the interaction with your fellow trainees and the support that you receive from them throughout the process.

We have found that the optimal group size for a 200 Hour yoga teacher training is between 15-24 students. Any more than this and you may begin to feel like just a number and less likely to form close bonds with your peers. This can also make it hard to have quality time with your teachers and to be able to interact with them as they are teaching.

Walk and lose weight now

Walk and lose weight now

Walking is a great way to lose weight. It is one of the best ways to lose weight and it is an effective technique. But many want more… so you should look for another physical activity to lose weight, or you can walk more and lose weight.

how to lose weight walking

The good news is that the amount of weight you lose can actually be increased, there’s no reason to try other exercises if you don’t want to. But how can you lose more weight?

• Walk quickly. Ok, the obvious, but it works. Increase your walking speed and also increase the number of calories you burn. You can then carefully choose your own pace according to your desired rate of weight loss.

• Walk on. Even more clearly, perhaps, but he is the perennial favourite. Increase the distance you walk and burn more calories.

• Up hill. Walking uphill can help you burn more calories than walking on a flat floor. So if you want to start burning more calories than you can imagine walking uphill.

• The surface. Did you know that the type of surface you walk on can have a dramatic effect on the number of calories burned while walking? On a less smooth surface, the body must work harder to walk, so concrete burns fewer calories than soft mud and sand, in particular. So if you want to burn more calories and thus lose more weight, try using a soft surface to walk on.

• Move your arms. Strange advice, but it really works. Move your arms as you walk and you’ll burn more calories and work muscles that otherwise wouldn’t have been worked; an increase in body surface area for walking is exhilarating.

• Mix things up. The human body is an amazing thing, and you get used to doing the same thing over and over again, it becomes more effective, and therefore expends less energy (calories) to do it, which is far from ideal. So instead of keeping your body guessing by varying speed distance, grade, etc. If you don’t do the same thing over and over again, your body won’t be able to get used to it.

• Walking with weights. The weight of riding feet or hands, the legs make the body work harder, which means you burn more calories with each step. These weights are easily purchased at many department stores, sporting goods stores, and even online stores.

Of course, there are other techniques to increase your weight loss and there are exercises to try if you still want to lose weight, but these techniques will help you walk with weights.

Strength conditioning training for fighters

Unlike most sports, wrestling has a propensity to provide its athletes with everything they need to succeed. Many legendary athletes received their status from everything they got from the wrestling hall and nothing more. However, the insatiable hunger for an edge continues to push the boundaries of performance science. Added with anecdotal evidence of ‘what works’, new methods become the norm and soon what worked in the past no longer works. The fact is that in today’s extremely competitive environment, only coaches and athletes who are willing to risk trial and error with the latest methods will succeed. Also, athletes who rely completely on what happens in the practice room are quickly defeated by those who also employ other techniques. The best fighters continue to search and study to incorporate new physical training methods to also improve speed, power and endurance in relation to their sport.

Strength training for wrestlers can be broken down into three separate but synergistic components, power, strength conditioning, and speed/agility. While some teams choose to focus on just one or two of these, the most well-rounded athletes include all three in their programs. Power training is any type of weight lifting with the goal of improving outright strength. To get the best results in this area, rep schemes and program concepts borrowed from weight lifting are most effective. Speed ​​and agility are easy to improve with a combination of footwork, plyometrics, and speed drills borrowed from sprinters and conditioners used on the soccer field. Strength conditioning is a type of training that will build stamina and toughness in every fighter. The concepts here can be seen in cross fit and top soccer programs, however most wrestling coaches are very familiar with this type of training. Whether power training is lifting heavy weights for low reps, speed training is lifting extremely light weights, or bodyweight exercises performed explosively, strength conditioning are exercises performed in the 8-20+ range.

To further define it, strength conditioning is any type of training that will develop both strength and conditioning at the same time. While wrestling is very much a combination of these two components, training to improve them at the same time makes a lot of sense and produces quick results. If a fighter had to choose just one of these components, strength conditioning would produce the most noticeable results (if done correctly). Due to the extreme demand on the body and the high potential for injury, power training should be limited to the off-season, however this is not the case with strength conditioning. This style of training can be done any time of the year both in the weight room and on the wrestling mat. Increasing your strength conditioning weeks before the start of wrestling season is a great way to get in shape, improve functional strength, and build physical endurance the envy of any serious combat athlete.

While there are many different types of strength conditioning and many different ways to do it, keeping an open mind and experimentation is key. A good start is to use as many compound exercises as possible performed with and without moderate to light weights. Maintaining drills and drills specific to the movements found on the wrestling mat will be a key element in producing functional strength here. For example, a set of 15 burpees or 10 light power cleans directly before executing 5 straight takedowns. Perform this superset 3-4 times for a great workout that builds strength and stamina. You can build great strength conditioning by adding resistance with light weights or bands to certain movements you perform when fighting. For example, shooting (without an opponent) against the resistance of a band attached to a chest harness is a great way to build a more explosive takedown. For more explosive leg or core power, combine a set of front squats while holding a kettlebell for 12 reps with 12-15 pull-ups with band resistance. Add 3-4 of these supersets to the end of a practice for an awesome finisher.

Another great concept to add to your strength conditioning program is Chaos training. Chaos training is a group of sports specific exercises to help you prepare for any “chaotic event” that may arise in competition. A chaotic event is described as anything that could cause you injury or loss. For a powerlifter, one of those events that a smart lifter will train to avoid is falling forward while squatting. If a lifter falls forward during the squat and is unable to recover, he could fall on his face and sustain a very serious injury. To prepare for this chaotic event, certain exercises must be performed so that the lifter can prevent this from happening. For example, exercises like good mornings, heavy core work, and many arch strengthening exercises will build the musculature strength the lifter will need to stay upright at all times. In wrestling, an instance of a chaotic event is being caught! If you are on your back and can maintain a strong enough spinal arch for long enough, you may be able to make it through your period. To strengthen the musculature that will help you do this, do plenty of heavy neck extensions, trapeze work, and exercises to develop your lumbar and gluteal erectors. Holding the bow with your partner’s body weight on you for a while is also a great exercise to do in the practice room.

Simple ways to transform your health

In the Power Tools to Success podcast episode, we spoke to Ronald Abvajee, a health and fitness expert, to ask how you can transform your health and fitness in just ten days. The subject of health and fitness is not an easy one, there is too much conflicting advice for diet and so is exercise programs. In life you are successful when you do what you love and enjoy. The strategies we share with you are intended to help you start fitness and exercise from a place of enjoyment. Only after you begin to enjoy physical activity and exercise can you begin serious exercise programs. The truth is, there are simple ways to transform your health and fitness that you can start using today, right away. Here are some of them:

  • Don’t eat for pleasure, eat for sustenance. Eating for pleasure leads you to eat not only unhealthy meals but larger meals as well. So try to eat for energy so you can get on with your day and get your work done every day.

  • Get up from the sofa every day, walk, walk with your children, or walk your dogs or walk with your partner. A simple walk every day can lead to a calorie burn of up to 250 and helps you reach your health and fitness goals. You don’t have to limit yourself to walking, maybe you can do what you like, play tennis with a friend if you want, run or play rugby. Whatever gets you off the couch and physical, do it. The funnier, the better.

  • Avoid sugary drinks. Rather, drink raw fruit. Invest in a juicer. Drink lots of water too.

  • Vegetarians are more likely to lose weight than meat eaters. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but you can go without meat for a week or two and see if doing so helps with your weight. For most people, it helps to go a few days without eating meat in their diet. When they don’t eat meat, most people eat less than normal. This can help a lot in reaching your weight loss goal.

The above strategies will help you improve your health and fitness in as little as ten days. Once you’re motivated enough, you can start a formal exercise and diet program to help you reach your fitness goals.

Dietary Fiber: Is Processed “Fake” Fiber Added By Food Manufacturers Good For You?

American food manufacturers know that smart, health-conscious consumers want more fiber. Consequently, they are adding fiber to just about anything that comes in a container. This includes ice cream, shakes, yogurt, juice, snack bars, cookies, cakes, pasta, brownies, drinks, dietary supplements, and even jelly beans. The higher the grams of fiber, the better! A good fiber goal per serving is 2.5 grams. An excellent one is 5.0 grams or more.

High fiber counts are sometimes jokingly referred to as high fiber instead of high fiber. This is because it is achieved by “magically” adding a variety of powdered or gelatinous substances into packaged food recipes. The substances can be any combination of chemically treated, synthetically created, and/or pulverized natural fiber sources. All of them conform, 100%, to the FDA’s definition of fiber, which is a substance of plant origin that is indigestible or resistant to digestion.

Fifty years ago, before the marriage of high technology and agriculture, most people thought of fiber as “roughage,” the woody, indigestible part of a plant found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. In addition to providing bulk without calories, roughage also provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Strong scientific evidence links fiber to almost all types of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by raising HDL (healthy cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). It can prevent or help treat type 2 diabetes by slowing digestion, dissipating high blood sugar levels, and preventing insulin resistance. It can lower blood pressure. It can prevent certain types of cancer, especially colon cancer. It can prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. It can prevent overweight and obesity by suppressing hunger and creating a feeling of fullness in the stomach. The list of advantages goes on. You understand the essence.

That said, most Americans don’t eat enough fiber to get these benefits. The recommended daily goal for women is 25 grams of fiber, but the typical girl only eats around 13-14 grams. The recommended daily goal for men is 38 grams of fiber, but the typical guy only eats around 15 to 17 grams. Herein lies the sales pitch for food manufacturers who make increasing your daily fiber intake fast, cheap and easy.

Here also lies the controversy for consumers. Does a processed fiber substance really work or count in the same way that raw whole forage works? In many cases, the volume is reduced and the antioxidant, vitamin and phytochemical properties are removed or drastically changed. Do you get the same protections as unaltered “real” food? All we know for sure is that processed foods never end up being good for us. Fiber, however, is not normally recognized as a food that could be processed. Rather, all fiber is perceived as good and desirable.

A handful of studies are beginning to hint at important differences between processed and “real” fibers. Contrary to claims, many processed fiber products, for example, do not result in a feeling of fullness after eating them. Consequently, they do not help control hunger or control weight. Also, depending on the type and amount of processed fiber eaten, results are mixed regarding the promise of better digestion and regularity. And there’s a growing sense that more grams of processed fiber may be needed to match the effect of unprocessed fibers.

Clearly, more research is needed. In the meantime, education is your best tool for evaluating fiber claims made on product labels and in commercials. Please note that Nutrition Facts labels only provide a total fiber count. They do not distinguish between whole and processed fibers or between real and chemically altered fibers. The most useful skill is learning to distinguish and identify the types of fibers found in packaged foods and beverages. The only place to find this information is in the ingredient list. The ingredient list is likely to be the smallest print on the package, and is sometimes hidden under a flap.

Here is a brief overview of common ingredients that could be included and are technically counted as fiber:

Pulverized natural fibers are derived from a wide range of forage sources including psyllium, flax, rice, oats, fruits, wheat flour, bran, seeds and others. These pulverized substances can be of any consistency, from a flour-like powder to something that is more granular or coarse.

Modified starch is a white powder derived from starchy vegetables, most commonly corn, but can also be potato, rice, barley, or other sources. Modified starch is physically, enzymatically, or chemically treated to convert it into a resistant starch (making it indigestible). Starch increases the viscosity of foods and improves stability due to temperature variations.

Inulin (not insulin) and oligofructose are creamy-white, gelatinous substances. They are grouped together because they have a similar chemical structure dominated by fructose molecules. Inulin is generally derived from chicory roots. Inulin and oligofructose are not digested in the stomach (the reason for labeling them as fiber) and instead go directly to the colon, where bacterial growth is promoted. Due to bacterial action, these substances are also known as probiotics. Inulin is often found in dairy products.

Polydextrose is an odorless white powder made synthetically by connecting chains of glucose (dextrose) with chemical bonds that are resistant to digestive enzymes. (Again, this is why it’s called fiber.) Polydextrose is also a low calorie substitute for sugar and/or fat.

Vegetable gums are indigestible powders. They include guar gum and gum arabic.

Another option is to simply eat your vegetables. Vegetables are always available as whole, unprocessed products. See below for the big dose of fiber you get from just a half cup of roughage, the old-fashioned but still relevant and useful term for fiber that hasn’t been altered by a chemical or machine.

Fruit: 1.1 grams
Dark green vegetables: 6.4 grams
Orange vegetables: 2.1 grams
Vegetables: 8.0 grams
Starchy vegetables: 1.7 grams
Other vegetables: 1.1 grams
Whole grains: (1 ounce) 2.4 grams

Use Dumbbell Cardio instead of an aerobic workout

Most athletes wouldn’t even consider using dumbbells for cardio. In fact, most athletes don’t even use weights at a fraction of their full potential. Well, that’s about to change… if you decided to take my advice.

Training programs are traditionally divided into resistance training (such as weight lifting) and cardio (such as jogging, rowing, or biking). Or these two types of workouts are done on separate days. And without a doubt, most exercisers choose aerobic exercises like jogging, biking, and rowing for the cardio part. I don’t see people lifting weights when it’s time for cardio.

Over the last year, most trainers (myself included) have moved away from aerobic exercise in favor of anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise is high intensity exercise for short periods of time, repeated. Think sprint intervals.

Evidence shows that anaerobic activity is better than aerobic activity for improving endurance, strengthening the heart and lungs, and even burning fat. Not to mention, it helps you become more athletic and preserves your hard-earned muscle. Unfortunately, not many athletes have made the switch because they have been programmed to do aerobic training in their “target heart rate zone.”

So it’s no surprise that the jump to dumbbell cardio hasn’t caught on. A dumbbell cardio workout is when you do a series of dumbbell exercises in a circuit with as little rest as possible between exercises. I also call them “dumbbell intervals” because you do one interval of exercise, followed by rest, and then more intervals.

Dumbbell cardio is a better choice for a great cardio (and full-body) workout for many reasons. First, and the simplest reason, is that you don’t need expensive equipment like stationary bikes, rowing machines, or treadmills. All you need is a set of dumbbells and you’re ready to go. This is also great if you work out in a crowded gym (yuck!), where the cardio machines are in constant use.

Second, dumbbell cardio activates your heart and breathing using your WHOLE body, not just one part of your body like your legs. Your heart has to pump blood to the muscles in your legs, core, and upper body. This prepares the heart for more real-world activities than just jogging.

Third, aerobic exercise works against building your physique. Yes, it burns fat while you do it… but it also tells the body to do whatever it takes to lose weight. This means that your body also sacrifices muscle to reduce weight. On the other hand, using dumbbell cardio sends the signal to get rid of fat, but in a way that preserves muscle throughout the body because they are needed to complete workouts.

So, the next time you’re looking for a great cardio workout that will really help you build a lean, athletic, high-performance body, skip past the cardio machines and grab a pair of dumbbells instead. Also, you may find how effective dumbbells are as a complete training tool. Try dumbbell cardio instead of boring aerobics.

5 tips to eliminate sugar in your children’s diet

I have two beautiful children, with lots of energy and boundless joy. My only son was having some behavioral difficulties, I suspected some food allergies so we tested him and we are now a gluten free household.

Obviously, being a Sugar Mama myself and doing 7 day sugar cleanses with my clients, we are now a gluten and sugar free family. This journey of finding alternative foods for the usual social event, birthday party, holiday gathering, school outing, can be a challenging endeavor.

I assure you that with a little meal planning and healthy conversations with your children, all of this can be accomplished.

Here are some tips to help you cut sugar out of your child’s diet:

1. Eating in Libra:

Every time you eat, make sure you have protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. The carbs in my book are vegetables and no more than 2-3 servings of fruit a day. An example of a balanced snack could be;

Almond butter, 1/2 apple

Organic goat cheese, cranberries and 1 slice of nitrate-free turkey.

Hummus and vegetable sticks and chicken thigh

When you eat in balance you will control your blood sugar and insulin levels. This will control cravings, mood swings, improve behaviors and brain productivity for better learning.

2. Eat a balanced breakfast and ditch the sugary cereal:

When it comes to sugar, breakfast cereals are a key offender, with two-thirds of the top 100 classified as “high in sugar.” Understand that 4 grams of carbohydrates is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Alternatively, swap out your cereal for protein in the morning. Fantastic ideas for breakfast are:

A. Eggs, sweet potato sautéed in coconut oil, spinach sautéed in coconut oil.

B. Green Smoothie: Kale, blueberries, banana, organic yogurt, and hemp seeds.

C. Gluten-free oats, sliced ​​almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, berries or sliced ​​apples with vanilla coconut milk and stevia to taste.

3. Become a label detective:

Adding white sugar to our food is not the only way to get sugar into our diet. Most of the sugar we consume is found in pre-packaged foods (including deli meats, condiments, yogurts, bread, crackers), which means the only way to know is to read the labels.

Note the many names for sugar. Some are: maltodextrin, corn sweetener, corn syrup, cane juice, dextrin, any word that ends in “ose,” any word that ends in “tol,” which is a sugar alcohol. Stevia would be an acceptable sweetener without raising blood sugar levels.

4. Moisturize naturally:

From vitamin water to fizzy drinks, fancy syrup-sweetened lattes and sugary cocktails, beverages are as guilty as they come for containing sugar, with numerous studies linking sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity.

Be careful with drinks that say they are sugar-free. They may have substituted artificial sweeteners that will disrupt our hormones and cause damage to our cells. Many of these artificially sweetened drinks will trigger cravings even though they are calorie-free.

Healthy drink options are: plain filtered water, coconut water, herbal teas, sparkling water, cultured buttermilk water, kombucha.

I will put a gallon of water in a glass container with a spout and fill it with cucumbers, berries, sliced ​​apples, and fresh herbs like mint, ginger, etc. This is a refreshing way to enjoy drinks.

5. Commit to Loving Upgrades for your favorite foods.

Incorporate the above elements for a week and notice the changes in your body, mood and energy. You will be surprised how much better your children will respond. It’s not about eliminating or avoiding, but about displacing the foods that don’t work for you and adding the foods that do work for you and you love. You will find that your children will want the most nutrient-dense foods.

Do a pantry cleanout by donating the items from your pantry that don’t work for you. If you need more help in this area, hire a health coach to do the purging for you and support you in choosing healthy replacements.

Do you have cravings? Consider the Yin and Yang of your food

It’s 10 am, you’re at work and you’re bored. The bagel you had for breakfast earlier wasn’t nearly as satisfying, and the woman in the cube next to you has a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses on her desk. You walk past the chocolates a few times, and finally go ahead and grab some. At lunchtime, he buys a deli sandwich that comes with a bag of chips and a brownie, and eats while answering emails. A few hours later you start to fall asleep at your desk. You have a craving for sweets and a trip to the Snickers bar vending machine helps you stay awake and end your day. By the time you get through the afternoon rush hour and head home, you feel “road rage” and want something to eat NOW. So you pour yourself a bowl of cereal and head to the couch to watch your favorite TV show.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. Most Americans live their lives this way, jumping from craving to craving, feeling completely out of control with what they eat. However, there is an easy way to control your cravings. There is a way of eating where you are in charge of choosing your food, instead of feeling like the food chooses you!

People often feel bad about their cravings. They see them as a sign of weakness, or think their bodies are “out of control.” Why else would you give in to a bag of chocolate chip cookies, when you could resist them all week?

Actually, your body is very smart. He always knows exactly what to do. For example, your heart never misses a beat. Your lungs expand and contract as needed. When you’re hot, you sweat, and when you’re cold, you shiver. Your body knows what it needs to do and when it needs to be done.

Likewise, if your body craves a certain food, there’s probably a reason for it! Your desire is a sign of an underlying imbalance. It is a solution, not a problem. It’s your body’s way of telling you that it needs something. Your job, then, is to be a kind of “food detective”: find out what the craving is really about.

There are many reasons why your body might need something and send you a craving. One perspective on food cravings uses the concepts of “yin” and “yang.” Yin and yang simply refer to “complementary but opposite forces.” We see examples of yin and yang all the time in our daily lives: up and down, in and out, black and white, female and male, hot and cold, night and day. Things in life that are opposite but complement each other.

Yin and yang can also be applied to food. In this app, “yin” refers to foods that create feelings of lightness, happiness, and satisfaction in the short term. Yin foods cause an elevation of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, leading to feelings of well-being, followed by a sharp decline and feelings of weakness and emptiness. The predominant component of yin foods is white sugar. Other yin foods include white flour, white rice, alcohol, juice, caffeine, fats, and oils.

At the other end of the spectrum are yang foods. Yang foods create short-term feelings of strength and increase physical and mental power. They include salt and protein-rich animal foods, such as red meat, eggs, and cheese. Yang foods cause an elevation in the neurotransmitter dopamine, making one feel highly alert and aggressive, followed by feelings of sluggishness and bloating.

Your body is always trying to maintain balance. If you eat a lot of yin, you will look for yang. If you eat a lot of yang, you will seek yin. For example, after eating a meal rich in extreme yang foods, such as steak, baked potatoes with sour cream, and buttered vegetables, you may feel heavy and blocked. You can reach for something that helps you feel light and unblocked, like a sweet dessert and coffee.

So the key to decreasing food cravings is to eat foods that are neither extremely yin nor extremely yang. Imagine that there is a food continuum between extreme yin and extreme yang foods. Foods that fall in the middle of the yin-yang continuum include vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Fruit is also close to the middle, although slightly yin, while fish and birds are slightly yang.

By the way, the concepts of yin and yang can be used to describe your day or your state of mind. If someone is being very yin, he is relaxing, daydreaming and napping. An example of being yang is when someone gets angry with the person they just passed in traffic. Yin and yang can explain why after a day of watching TV (yin), you might not feel like speaking in front of a group (yang), and why at the end of a long and hard day at work (yang), you might want a drink (yin)!

If you experience cravings throughout the day, consider what you’re eating and where those foods fall on the yin-yang continuum. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is dominated by extreme yin and extreme yang foods, such as sugar, white flour, salt, and red meat. We learn to eat this way at a young age and it becomes commonplace. Eating these types of foods may be causing you to crave more food later on, without you realizing it! Also consider what experiences you have throughout the day, and how those experiences might make you feel “yin” or “yang,” leading you to crave certain foods. By paying attention carefully and eating foods primarily in the middle of the yin-yang continuum, you CAN control your cravings once and for all!

Higher Expectations: The MoDa Experiment

Heather looked from the stage over the crowd of unfamiliar faces, wishing she could be somewhere else. At fifteen, skinny and bespectacled, she could be as daring as the next teenager, but she didn’t want this kind of limelight. Between her and those expectant faces was an Olympic bar with plates as big as manhole covers on each end, one hundred thirty-five pounds, more than she weighed and certainly not part of her everyday world; she wasn’t an athlete, she didn’t even play any sport! How had she gotten herself into this? Closing her eyes briefly, she crouched under the bar, feeling it almost immovable against her shoulders.

The lead up to this situation had come a half year earlier, when a mom told me that her daughter Amanda, a seventeen-year-old senior at a nearby high school, had stopped her off-season efforts to improve her strength in the school gym. As Amanda says, “many times” we found that the weight room was closed to everyone except the football or wrestling teams. When we could get in, the machines were never free because after using a machine, the guys would stay there until one of the other guys came to use it. They also didn’t like the fact that us girls could lift more with our legs than they could using proper techniques. So they would use heavier weights and do it incorrectly. They would tell us that us we were doing it wrong, that’s why we used more than them. Also, the guys covered their legs with sweatpants since the girls who went to the weight room were soccer and lacrosse players, and they had bigger legs than some of the guys.”

I was hardly surprised: the much-heralded advances in women’s sports have yet to change society’s attitudes toward girls and strength. In my opinion, adolescent boys, subject to the same attitudes and grappling with their own physical identities, were less to blame than parents and coaches. Lots of parents set less-than-stellar examples of fitness (how many moms and dads do you know who can do ten good pushups?) and very few girls’ coaches (most of whom are men, right? that interesting?) really give more than lip service to serious off-season strength training for their athletes. But here was a mother and daughter who got he. “I’ll train her two nights a week at no cost,” I told the mom, “but here’s the problem: you I have to come train with her.” Mom thought about this. “Okay. Can her sister of hers Heather of hers come too?”

A week before Thanksgiving 2006, the girls and their moms (Heather: “Can my friend Tina come over?” Charles: “As long as her mom comes and trains too”) began their training. Initially we focused on free weight exercises; I always do this with new clients because dumbbells are basic, versatile, and available anywhere. The girls learned the correct form, how to identify each other and how to improvise. I would ask them about the mechanics, the “body logic” of what they were doing, and some of it took me a while to sink in. But I was finally able to step back, get out of the way, and watch them work with each other. And what I saw was extraordinary.

Once they got going, a synergy began to emerge, a combination of support and competitiveness, with Mom as the catalyst. Gloria is thin and wiry, always humble and optimistic, and as we all learned, strong. In just a few short months, despite some physical limitations, she was able to squat 135 pounds and even more incredible, bench dips (triceps) with a 45 pound plate on her lap. Amanda and Heather were not about leave this unanswered (“if mother she can do it…”) and soon all three girls were doing it themselves. As predicted, her leg strength blossomed; Tina, a year younger than Heather but stockier, especially enjoyed having heavy chains dangling from the bar when she squatted. And the donkey calf raise (a novelty to anyone outside of the world of bodybuilding) was a favorite of all three.

Later he would ask Gloria how the girls In fact I felt for all this. “They weren’t that interested at first, but after three or four weeks they felt comfortable with what they were doing: no one was looking at them, they were associating with each other, watching the weight gain, even participating in a little competition. They’d never been addicted to fast food, but now they’ve even started giving up Friday night dinners as their food choices changed. That included snacks, with a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a block of cheese replacing bags of Pringles.” A difficulty arose at his school: snacks of any kind are not allowed between 7:30 when classes start and lunch after 11:00. Amanda took some protein powder and it was confiscated. I find it difficult to understand how school administrators expect active and growing adolescents to go almost four hours without eating. something and stay tuned.

In February, what I had seen encouraged me enough to set a goal for the girls: “I’m calling this project ‘MoDa’ -MotherDaughter. And I want to share it with others. In May I’d like you to come with me to the PhillyFIT Bash and show what you’ve accomplished doing squats on stage.” Amanda nodded, Tina shrugged, but Heather gave me a horrified look. “We make have you?”

There were differences in the Bash place that none of us had considered. Unlike the Olympic weights the girls had been using in the study, the ones provided by Velocity Sports were encased in rubber. These tend to slide if the bar is tipped over, even slightly, which of course it did, since instead of a solid floor, we were on a makeshift stage that flexed under the weight. There were no barbell necks available at this time, so even with spotters, the girls experienced a slight “Bongo-Board” effect with that weight shifting over their shoulders. More significantly, they always trained in front of a mirror, which provided visual guidance to the proprioceptive senses; now they were looking from a stage at an audience. The weights that were easily done at my gym suddenly seemed a lot heavier.

So little Heather, who had lifted a lot more in training, dropped less than 135 pounds and couldn’t get back up without help. Tina would initially do the same with her 185. Amanda would have trouble with her 225. This was a white moment. It could have been humiliating, a complete defeat, denying the confidence they’d gained in recent months, undoing my reassurances against the stage fright that had nearly prevented them, especially Heather, from participating. But Heather, fearful of a public that had just seen her fail and a bar that still wanted to bury her, she reached within herself and found something new that had grown along with her sinew in recent months. Settling under the bar once more, she pumped out a confident half dozen reps, her lead leading Tina and Amanda to similarly redeem their initial attempts.

I saw something big happen that day, much bigger than I expected. Even though I told you this, I’m still not sure you understood. These girls had no experience or aspirations towards weightlifting. Even Amanda, although a soccer player, was not an athlete. No high-profile sports leagues or athletic scholarship searches for fans here…just ordinary schoolgirls who took a few moments in the midst of their busy teenage lives to do something few schoolgirls would attempt, and grew in ways they never expected. This does not happen in a vacuum. It took a mother, an unusually independent-minded one, to help make this happen. Is it too much to hope that there are others out there?

Preventing Pilates-Related Injuries

Yesterday I received a question from the Ask Experts site that I feel the need to share, as this comes up more and more with the advent of massive Pilates DVDs and unqualified instructors.

Question: “Hello, I am a beginner in Pilates, when I try to do the V shape or half crunch, I get a VERY painful cramp just below my ribcage on the right side, it paralyzes me. I feel like I will never get rid of it.” of this flabby belly that ruins all my pretty outfits.

First, no Pilates beginner should do the teaser (the V-shape), which is an intermediate/advanced exercise that requires deeper abdominal recruitment to avoid overuse of the hip flexors and external obliques.

Second, there is nothing “Crunch” like it in Pilates. We are not squeezing and compressing the midsection like someone who has buttoned their vest over their pants, but are looking to functionally strengthen the muscles without compression using the pelvic floor and transversus abdominis.

While the Pilates mat is the most accessible form of Pilates, the equipment is actually more appropriate for beginners. Joseph Pilates invented the apparatus to assist and resist movement, allowing people to exercise who otherwise would not be able to move properly. It is not true that one should do mat Pilates before getting on the machines.

Then I saw an ad for “Cardiolates,” a concept that is both fascinating and terrifying. Keep in mind that Pilates is an anaerobic exercise, like weight training. Attempting to combine Pilates and cardio into a single exercise regimen is simply wrong, contrary to the foundation of Pilates exercise, and will most likely result in many injured people feeling like they can’t do Pilates because it hurts.

I hate this mass production of Pilates because it makes Pilates seem like just a group of exercises (that look like other exercises) that you can do fast, slow, or otherwise. Thats not all! Pilates is all about how you exercise; it’s about how you move, breathe and take positions. Pilates is all about balance and proper movement, not just dragging yourself into a certain position.

Pilates performed incorrectly can cause: hernias (from pushing down too much) muscle cramps (from improper recruitment) neck and back injuries (from incorrectly flattening the back and neck causing muscle tension and vertebral compression and from overstretching or overextending back and neck, all from incorrect instruction on how to stabilize the pelvis) rotator cuff injuries (from pushing a wide range of motion in the shoulder joint without proper stabilization of the rib cage) osteoporotic vertebral fractures (from too much flexion forward and other movements contraindicated for osteoporosis ) and other injuries

Listen up: Poorly taught and poorly executed Pilates can cause you injuries that will stay with you forever, so find a certified Pilates teacher to work with and speak up when things hurt or you’re not sure how to do something.