As mums we often put ourselves last, ensuring first that everyone and everything else is taken care of before we think about tending to our ourselves. How are we supposed to be well functioning human beings when we forget to take time to manage our own needs?
In times like these we need to RE-INVENT SELF CARE, it doesn’t have to be going out to restaurant, a day at the spa or anything fancy at all. These are my go to's for self care at home:
Pilates is stress relieving, REJUVENATING, and RELAXING. Not only is Pilates one of the most versatile forms of exercise, but it's also one of the most enjoyable and therapeutic. No matter what your reason may be for practicing Pilates, it can also be one of the greatest expressions of self care. Our ONLINE STUDIO MEMBERSHIP is just perfect for busy Mama's because you can tune in at any time of the day when you feel called right from your very own home. We have classes of all different lengths and styles to choose from so there really is something to suit every schedule and mood. Please click the link below to find out more about our ONLINE STUDIO.
At its core self care is about taking time away from your responsibilities to make sure your MIND BODY + HEART have what you need to handle another day.
So please, take care of yourself Mama. You can always find your way home.
Written by Jessica Stevenson
We never imagined a time like this. A time where the majority of people would be working from home, socially distancing, and avoiding or simply unable to visit places such a cafes, bars, shops and the gym. The recent COVID-19 Pandemic has really changed the way we live our lives, both currently and most definitely into the future too. We will never again take for granted the freedom of being able to go out for lunch with friends, go grocery shopping without even a thought, or attending a simple group Pilates class.
It is a time where we have all learnt to live with less, and focus on what really matters most - our mental and physical HEALTH + WELLBEING. When we are emotionally and physically fit, we are able to better withstand stress and fight off sickness. At Fleur Wellbeing it has always been our mission to positively impact the lives of our community through health and fitness and we are so lucky to be able to continue this through Online Class offerings. So how do we stay engaged and motivated when working out from home? How to we make time and create space for ourselves? What are the benefits from working out at home? This time now, is an amazing opportunity to learn to take our self care seriously and in turn radiate positivity and health out into the world.
BENEFITS OF WORKING OUT AT HOME
With our online classes, you can choose when to do a class according to your OWN SCHEDULE. Classes vary in length and focus so that you can tune into what your body is needing that day and pick a workout that is best for you and do it whenever it fits in with your day.
We are also FLEXIBLE with props, if you don't have certain props you can always use household items such as canned foods in place of weights, cushions instead of Pilates Balls and dining chairs in place of the Ballet Barre. It's a great time to get creative!
HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED
Schedule it in - PLAN out your day and make the time for yourself to reset. Your body and mind with thank you! You might find that the best time for you is first thing in the morning after you wake up, fitting in a class as a lunchtime reset or finishing off the day with a workout to relieve tension and wind down at the end of a busy day. The possibilities are endless and the choice is yours! Just think of how you feel once you've completed a workout, even if it was a short one - it doesn't matter! You will always feel better and can benefit from some MOVEMENT no matter how big or small.
Clear some SPACE for your workouts - If you have a spare room, perhaps dedicate that area to your workout space, set up your mat and props so that each time you walk in they are ready and waiting for you. if you don't have a spare room, perhaps have a little "Workout Box" where you keep your mat and props ready to pull out when you're ready to move. Make it easily accessible and you are much more likely to feel motivated.
Also, share it with us! We love staying connected with our clients and community, so why not tag us in your social media posts and stories, and together let's inspire others out there to take time out for themselves too! Happiness and health is contagious so why not spread the love! Follow and Tag us @Fleur_Wellbeing and join in the fun. We also invite all members to join our private Facebook Group "Fleur Wellbeing Members Group" simply search for us and request to join.
ONLINE CLASSES FOR EVERYONE
Guided by your Fleur Wellbeing Instructors, we are here to give you a fun and INSPIRING workout from the comfort of your own home. Our online Library of classes are added to regularly, so you will be able to revisit your favourite workout over and over as well as try out new ones as they are added. Many of the online classes are also suitable for prenatal as well and mums + Bubs.
For only $20 per week Direct Debit, you can enjoy unlimited access to a whole range of class styles including Mat Pilates, Barre, Full Body HIIT, Pilates for Dancer's, Prenatal and more. To sign up and get started, simply head to the Online Classes Tab more more info and set up your membership through the Mindbody Booking system.
HOW TO SIGN UP
Firstly, memberships cannot be set up via the Mindbody app, so you will need to do this on your laptop or via the full website version. Access the Mindbody booking system by clicking on any of the links to Mindbody (or click the link below). If you don't already have a Mindbody account, you will first need to create one.
Once you have logged into Mindbody, click on ONLINE STORE then ONLINE MEMBERSHIP to set up your weekly direct debit. You will be able to choose the date on which you wish to start, this will also be the date of your first payment.
Payments will come out that same day of the week, each week following. For example, if you start on a Tuesday, your payments will continue to come out on Tuesdays. You will then have to tick the box to agree to the conditions before clicking MAKE PURCHASE. Click CHECKOUT before proceeding to the payment page where you will be asked to enter payment details and we advise you also scroll down to read through the terms & conditions. Once you are ready, simply click PLACE ORDER.
TO ACCESS THE CLASSES
Once purchased, you will be able to view our online classes, within the ONLINE CLASSES tab at the top left hand corner of Mindbody. You will see a list of links, and to the right a description of each workout detailing the style of the class, possible props to use and whether it is suitable for prenatal etc. Simply click on the link, to view the workout!
SOME TECH TIPS FOR OPTIMAL ONLINE CLASSES
For best results, we recommend using Google Chrome over Safari for your website browser. You may also want to clear your cache & web browser history before trying to access your online classes.
1. On your computer, open Chrome.
2. At the top left, click Chrome.
3. Then Clear browsing data.
4. At the top, choose a time range. To delete everything, select All time.
5. Next to "Cookies and other site data" and "Cached images and files," check the boxes.
6. Click Clear data.
Ensure you have "pop up window blocked" disabled, and the videos do tend to work better on the computer or Ipad rather than the Phone. Ensure your activation date that you choose to begin is the same date that you are trying to access your classes. If you are having any tech trouble, please let us know via email and we will do our best to assist you.
So that's it! We hope you thoroughly enjoy our online classes, and wish you all nothing but HEALTH + HAPPINESS
Ellesse & The Fleur Wellbeing Team x
Barre workouts have grown enormously popular in the last few years, and it's one of those workouts you just can't seem to get enough of! Not to mention the colourful grip socks that come along with the addiction. So why is it so popular? What makes this form of exercise so much fun that it leaves you coming back for more? It's the good vibes, the energy in the room and the amazing results that you gain from a good Barre class that has the whole town talking about pliés, tendus and relevés. At Fleur Wellbeing, Barre HIIT & Barre SCULPT as well as our Mums + Bubs Barre class are by far our most popular classes on the timetable (be sure to book in!) and here's why.
F L E X I B I L I T Y
You don't need to be able to touch your toes or turn into a pretzel to practice Barre, but the movements and stretches involved will definitely help improve your overall range of motion and mobility. This will in turn leave you feeling more free, relieved of stiffness and tension within your joints and allow you to move with more ease and comfort.
P O S T U R E
During a Barre class, your entire body works in every movement. Your deep core muscles work closely with your stabilisers such as the gluteals and lower leg muscles to create stability and balance within a whole range of different exercises. You will feel muscles that you didn't even know existed (they will be on fire), and you will be constantly reminded about your alignment by your instructor to ensure that you are on centre. One of the most common issues clients present with is weak gluts and core, leading to lower back pain. From strengthening and targeting the muscles of the hips, back and core you will soon notice a big difference in not only your posture and the way you sit, stand and walk, but you will experience less back pain, and less tension.
M U S C L E D E F I N I T I O N
Whether you're working the thighs, butt, abs or arms in a Barre class, you will never just be working one muscle. You will be working that muscle group from all angles and everywhere in between. This is exactly why you may even experience that "shake" (after the fifty thousandth plié pulse). By strengthening each muscle group incorporating small hand held weights, elastics and Pilates Balls, you will notice big changes in muscle definition, especially in those often "missed" muscles such as in your upper back and arms. Not to mention give you an awesome butt!
M U S C U L A R E N D U R A N C E
Think of holding a squat, with a ball between your thighs, perfect posture, shoulders relaxed and core engaged, then let's do 16 x tiny controlled little pulses up and down in that position, followed by 16 x inside thigh squeezes, followed by a "hold" for 16 counts while your legs are shaking like a leaf. Do I have you sweating yet? haha These types of small controlled isometric muscle contractions are what increase your stamina and endurance. Embrace the shake guys!
S T R E S S R E L I E F + M E N T A L F O C U S
After a busy day, and lots of built up tension there's nothing better than being able to switch off and have some time out for yourself. Focus on how your body is moving, and have some fun! Your Instructor is there to take the reins and guide you through a good vibes only workout to upbeat music that will leave you feeling mentally fresh, uplifted and calmer when you walk out.
If you love Pilates, a little bit of cardio, a little bit of Ballet, and a lot of good times, then Barre is the workout for YOU! No Tutu's required, just put on your favourite pair of tights, pack your grip socks and let's go!
To book in and try a barre class, you can do so through the MINDBODY booking system on our website. (Click the link below). You can also use the MINDBODY app on your phone and manage your classes straight from your device. For all of our class times, visit the Schedule tab, classes are also up to date in Mindbody.
New to our studio? Why not try out the 10 Day Group class Intro for only $25. See you in class!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
After over 13 years of teaching Pilates to women and men of all ages, I have made it my passion to empower and encourage my clients to live healthier, more confident, pain free and physically & mentally fit lives. Whether they be elite athletes, new mums or mums to be, clients recovering from surgery or injury, my job is to allow them to exercise in a way that is beneficial, safe and long lasting.
One of the areas that I find myself growing particularly interested in, is Pre and Post Natal exercise and recovery and this includes Pelvic Floor health and function. I have often been one of the first points of contact for clients who are affected by compromised bladder control and also pelvic floor prolapse, and so I would really love to boost awareness about about pelvic floor fitness - a topic that is too often not talked about or overlooked. Even if you have never had a baby, you should be aware of the importance of a strong pelvic floor.
For this post I would like to focus primarily on women's pelvic floor health and fitness issues, simply because these issues are much more common in women and the risk factors are also greater.
SO WHO IS AT RISK?
HOW DO I ACTIVATE MY PELVIC FLOOR?
Here's how I best like to cue pelvic floor activation as it's simple and easy to understand.
"Imagine you are trying to stop weeing and farting at the same time! Tighten your pelvic floor muscles gently, drawing up and in." Hold this activation for as long as you can (ideally up to 10 seconds). It is then important to let go and relax afterwards. Be sure not to hold your breath, tense the buttocks, thighs or upper abdominals during activation - all of these should remain relaxed. Incorrect pelvic floor activation or "bearing down" can actually be counterproductive and worsen symptoms as it increases strain on the pelvic floor muscles and intra abdominal pressure.
It is important to practise your pelvic floor exercises regularly and establish a routine. You may wish to practice whilst in the shower, brushing your teeth or even cooking! And even stick a little reminder note or use your phone calendar to set reminders to do it regularly.
HOW DOES MY PELVIC FLOOR AFFECT THE WAY I EXERCISE?
The pelvic floor makes up part of your "core" and works together with the Transversus Abdominus and deep back muscles to support and stabilise the spine and maintain intra-abdominal pressure. When you exercise, this intra-abdominal pressure changes and ideally when load is placed upon your spine, the pelvic floor muscles should lift, deep abdominals draw in and breathing should remain relaxed.
Activation of the TA's or transversus abdominus (abdominal bracing) is especially important in post natal recovery, and it is also important to be first lifting the pelvic floor, then activating TA's.
Always ensure that the Pelvic floor is activating correctly as research has shown that when the pelvic floor is being pushed down or placed under too much strain during exercise, it is not able to withstand the force being placed upon it and may lead to worsening symptoms of prolapse or incontinence.
If you are experiencing pelvic floor issues, it is important that appropriate care and recovery exercises are implemented into your exercise program and that you seek help from a continence professional or women's & men's pelvic health physiotherapist.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY PELVIc FLOOR DURING EXERCISE?
Some helpful tips...
AFTER HAVING A BABY - RETURNING TO EXERCISE
Returning to exercise too soon after pregnancy can lead to reduced pelvic floor strength, long term bladder and bowel problems and pelvic organ prolapse, so it is extremely important to exercise caution and not resume until you are recovered.
Remember that no matter how fit you are, or were before it takes a minimum of 8 weeks before your abdominal muscles are strong enough to support your back and pelvis. You may feel fine on the outside but there is simply no way that your abdominal muscles can go from being overstretched during pregnancy to shortened and strong enough to provide support for your body without time and appropriate postnatal abdominal exercises.
Please be sure to check with your doctor, midwife or physiotherapist before returning to exercise to ensure that you are cleared to return to low impact exercise under the guidance of a fitness professional that has experience in post natal exercise.
Post Natal Exercise guidelines:
0-3 weeks post natal
Walking, post natal TA activation, pelvic floor exercises
3-12 weeks post natal
(after your 6 week postnatal check with your doctor)
Low impact post natal class such as Pilates or Yoga, walking, pelvic floor exercises, light weights.
12-16 weeks post natal
Check in with your physiotherapist for a checkup and pelvic floor testing before returning to higher impact activities such as running.
16+ weeks post natal
Return to previous activity levels provided your pelvic floor muscles have returned to normal and you are not experiencing any pain, heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise. Consult your pelvic floor specialist if symptoms persist.
For more information on pelvic floor safe exercise and where to get help if needed, we recommend visiting the Pelvic floor first website. Please visit http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/
BENEFITS OF A STRONG AND HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR
I hope that you have found this information helpful and that you can implement some of this into your daily life and exercise routine to live with more confidence and awareness. My wish for you is that your coffee, your intuition and your pelvic floor be strong!
HELPFUL INFO & LINKS:
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is intended as an information guide to Pelvic Floor safety in relation to exercise and is not intended as a treatment guide for any individual pelvic floor issues. I highly recommend those with pelvic floor dysfunction or uncertainty please seek help from a GP, continence professional, Women's & Men's Pelvic Health Physiotherapist or continence nurse.
HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease an 18cm round cake tin with butter or olive spray and baking paper.
Place the orange zest & juice, raisins, white mulberries, cranberries and dried ginger into a medium sized saucepan and heat until the juice starts to boil. Simmer for 5-10mins on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Place the almond/hazelnut meal, bananas, dates, spices, vanilla and salt into the food processor or Thermomix and blend until well combined. Combine the raisin mixture and banana mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the cacao nibs, walnuts and coconut. Stir together gently until mixed well.
Pour the mix into prepared cake tin and smooth the top of the cake.. Bake for approximately 30 mins, then cover with foil and cook for a further 15 mins. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 30 mins before removing from the pan. Store in the fridge in a sealed container. Serve warm or cold with Ice cream of your choice!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
WHICH ONE IS BETTER? WHAT SHOULD I START WITH? WHAT IS A REFORMER?
These are some of the common questions we get asked often, and the truth is everyone is different and could benefit from both. Depending on your level of Pilates experience and whether you are working with an injury or pregnancy as well what your strength goals may be. Let's first go into the main differences between Mat and Reformer Pilates and explain exactly what a Reformer is, and how it is used.
The Pilates REFORMER is a traditional piece of Pilates equipment which consists of a sliding carriage, adjustable springs, ropes with loops on the end and pulleys. It looks rather like a bed, yes it's quite medieval and scary when you first look at it, but don't worry! It's super fun, and one of the best and most versatile pieces of equipment you will ever use - PROMISE! The origins of the Pilates Reformer date way back to the original Pilates studios in New York in the 1920's and was designed by Joseph Pilates himself.
In many ways, Reformer Pilates is very similar to Mat Pilates, yet there are some factors which make the two quite different to one another. Reformer Pilates is usually a lot more intense than your usual Mat Pilates class and this is mainly because of the spring resistance being added to each exercise performed. Each Reformer has 5 springs, varying in strength and so when combined can add up to some considerable resistance. That said, there are some exercises, such as inside thigh skater, that when performed with very light spring are much more challenging. So the intensity of each exercise is greatly varied from person to person, making the Reformer an incredibly versatile workout or rehabilitation tool.
If you are an athlete or dancer and wanting to gain a competitive edge in your sport or develop sport specific strength and flexibility, then the Reformer would greatly benefit you. Reformer Pilates focuses greatly on core stabilisation, muscular endurance, peripheral joint stability, balance and co-ordination - all of which are vital to any athlete.
Pilates Reformer can also be of great benefit to anyone working through injury, as a rehabilitation tool. This is because it allows the client to exercise on a horizontal plane, therefore not load bearing vertically through the body. For example, for a client with a knee or ankle injury, they could be working lying down, focusing on stabilising and strengthening the muscles of the leg through a greater range of motion and with lighter resistance than their own body weight - speeding up their recovery through controlled movement. We have seen incredible results with some of our dance students in particular here at Fleur Wellbeing, who although they were unable to dance for weeks and sometimes months at a time, were able to keep building strength and control through Reformer Pilates; returning to dance even stronger than before their injury.
MAT PILATES exercises are very similar to those you will see on a Reformer, however they are performed on the Mat and sometimes utilising small props such as Pilates balls, small hand held weights, Pilates circles, Thera Bands and Foam Rollers to create versatility. So again, there are endless possibilities with Mat Pilates repertoire too - just when you think you've nailed hundreds, we get you to perform the exercise on a foam roller and BAM! abs are shaking all over again!
If you are completely new to both Mat and Reformer Pilates, we would recommend starting with some Mat Pilates classes first to become familiar with Pilates terminology and positions prior to taking it to the next level - the Reformer. We offer a great special for new clients - 10 Days of Group classes for $25. This is a great way to try out all the classes and see what you like!
Once you are feeling comfortable with Mat Pilates, try out some of Reformer classes on the Intro to Reformer special - 3 classes for $50.
We do advise that our Pre Natal clients please attend the dedicated Pre Natal Mat Pilates, Pre Natal Circuit and Pre Natal Reformer classes because of the strong emphasis on core work in our regular classes - please get in touch if you are Pregnant prior to attending your first class by emailing us at email@example.com.
For clients working with injuries, we recommend getting in touch with us to discuss appropriate modifications that may need to be made as well as the possibility of private 1:1 training.
Please book in online via the MINDBODY booking system or download the MINDBODY app from the app store. Our Group Mat Pilates classes have a maximum of 15 people per class and our Reformer sessions are a maximum of 6 people per class so bookings are essential.
If you would like to see some videos and pics of our classes please check us out on social media where you can find us on Instagram @fleur_wellbeing and facebook.com/fleurwellbeing or click on the links below.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
Reference: Studio Pilates.
We all enjoy a sweet treat with our cup of tea or coffee, and this raw brownie is PERFECT for a little sweet something without giving you a sugar crash or leaving you feeling guilty. Made with all natural ingredients, vegan, refined sugar free, and full of superfoods - it's a real winner all round!
I N G R E D I E N T S
1 cup Hazelnut meal
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup cacao powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup rice malt syrup or pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup coconut chocolate spread or homemade raw Nutella
1 cup roasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts + almonds
M E T H O D
Grease a 16 x 26cm slice tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending approximately 4cm over the sides.
Combine the hazelnut meal, coconut, chia seeds, cacao powder and salt in a bowl. Put the coconut oil, rice malt syrup (or maple syrup) and vanilla bean paste in a seperate bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Press the mixture into the slice tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Spread a decent layer of chocolate spread over the top and sprinkle with roasted hazelnuts and almonds before placing into the freezer for 30 mins to set.
Cut the brownie into 18 pieces. Store in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for longer. Bring to room temperature before serving. - ENJOY!
Recipe by Ellesse Hawkins, Owner and director at Fleur Wellbeing Pilates Studio.
Image Credit to bojongourmet.com
Pilates is one of the best possible methods of exercise and relaxation for women during their pregnancy. Pilates and other exercise such a walking, swimming or Barre classes can also make your pregnancy more comfortable and help reduce the chance of injury before, during and after the delivery of your Bub. Another great benefit of exercising throughout your pregnancy is that it helps to relieve stress and manage fatigue.
In particular, Pilates core strengthening exercises focus on the working relationship of the abdominals, back, diaphragm and the pelvic floor muscles which is important for the expectant mum. In order to balance out postural changes that happen as the growing baby develops, strengthening key areas such as the upper back, arms, pelvic floor and glutes as well as stretching these specific areas will really be of benefit.
Here, I will go through some general guidelines which may help guide you through your pregnancy and exercise journey safely and with confidence. It is important to note that prior to commencing any physical activity during your pregnancy, that you first consult with your doctor, and the exercises should not cause any discomfort, nausea or dizziness.
If you were physically active prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activity with moderate intensity. Now is not the time to be pushing yourself or reaching personal bests, it is all about nourishing and taking care of your incredible body and doing what feels good for both you and your baby. I would also like to mention here that it is of vital importance that you also allow your body the time it needs to recover post birth. Speak to a pelvic floor specialist as well as your doctor prior to returning and don't rush back into exercise - just enjoy this precious time with your little one!
Don't push yourself, keep exercise intensity moderate.
Due to cardiac changes, the body is already in an exercised state and even at rest the body is working harder than normal to sustain itself. Try not to increase your heart rate too much by limiting the exercise difficulty and giving yourself longer breaks. Vigorous activity and exercise during pregnancy can not only place yourself at risk but also your baby by causing a diversion in uterine blood supply to the skeletal muscles, meaning less blood and oxygen to the baby.
Keep Cool and Hydrate
Avoid hot and humid conditions, wear loose and comfortable non restrictive clothing. It's a good idea to stand next to a fan or the air conditioner during class if possible as your baby is unable to regulate its own body temperature.
Remember to keep your fluids up and drink lots of fresh water, taking a drink bottle with you to class.
Avoid Prone and wide lunge / stance positions & twisting movements.
You want to be avoiding anything that is placing extra strain and stress on your pelvis, as the pelvic girdle and surrounding structures are already compromised during pregnancy. Keep lunges shallow, plies and squats smaller and make sure to always ensure correct glute activation and a neutral pelvis.
Activate Pelvic Floor
We want to ensure that the pelvic floor is properly activated during all exercises and work on increasing pelvic floor strength, especially in those earlier stages of pregnancy when it is easier to activate and maintain strength. As your pregnancy progresses, pelvic floor activation becomes harder to feel.
Stop Immediately If you are feeling unwell and be sure to properly warm up and cool down.
It is important that you don't place your body at increased risk of injury, that you warm up prior to class and cool down and stretch afterwards. This can also alleviate cramps and muscle soreness.
You know your body best, and if something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. Notify your instructor immediately if you are feeling unwell or dizzy. Sit down and take rest whenever and as often as you need to.
DURING FIRST TRIMESTER
Reduce the amount of "sit-up" type abdominal exercises. Performing too much exercise that increases the strength of your Rectus Abdominis or "six Pack muscles" may increase the risk of developing Rectus Diastasis (Abdominal Separation). Reduce your exercise intensity and maintain a moderate heart rate, keeping cool and just taking it easier than usual.
DURING SECOND TRIMESTER
Avoid abdominal work, except for Pelvic floor and side lying oblique work. Focus on keeping those deeper pelvic floor and core muscles strong and bring more attention to stability and alignment. We also want to limit inside thigh work, as the pregnancy progresses. For some women they may experience Pubic Symphysis pain (groin pain) as their joints become more lax and the pelvis begins to widen. Too much inner thigh work or one legged work may lead to increased discomfort and cause the pubic bone to separate even more. Avoid all exercises laying on the belly and on your back, your instructor will be able to modify these exercises for you. For many women, laying on their back will cause dizziness and discomfort due to the weight of the baby compressing the Vena Cava, one of the main blood vessels to the baby.
DURING THIRD TRIMESTER
Cease all abdominal work, including oblique work, and exercise intensity will be greatly reduced. Throughout the third trimester the mother's posture can be compromised as a result of the weight of the baby. It is therefore important to be strengthening the upper back muscles and glutes as well as stretching the quads and chest muscles to help alleviate any discomfort associated with a more lordotic and kyphotic posture (rounded shoulders and curved lower back.) Simply continue exercising for as long as you feel comfortable, there is no reason why you can't continue for the full duration of your pregnancy, as long as you are paying attention to your body and feeling good.
At Fleur Wellbeing, our special Pre Natal Pilates classes have been designed to focus on safety and strength and are recommended for women at any stage of their pregnancy, however we advise all our pre natal clients to also stop or adjust if something doesn't feel right and to listen to their own bodies.
The Pre Natal Pilates circuit class is a unique and fun workout incorporating the Reformers, Therabands, weights and balls into a circuit style class that will help to strengthen your pelvic floor and postural muscles, and relieve tension and stress.
The Pre Natal Mat Pilates class is a group type setting where everyone will be performing the class at the same time with the instructor and incorporate small props to add an extra challenge and help you to get the most out of each exercise.
If you wish to get in touch with us about joining some of our regular classes also, please get in touch with our friendly team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss which classes would be best for you. We can't wait to join you on your pregnancy journey!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
Recently I have been feeling drawn to finding more CREATIVITY in my life, and after reading Brene Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability" I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this. I feel it's so important to express that anyone can cultivate more creativity in their life, you don't have to be artistically gifted or talented. It's about finding ways to express yourself and have trust in your own unique and beautiful way of doing things that feed and nourish your soul, especially in our busy lives today It is more important than ever.
Creativity can be defined as the ability to use your imagination or original ideas to create something new, innovative, individual and meaningful. In fact, many of us are already tapping into our creativity, yet we just don't realise it.
In order to express our creativity we must let go of comparison to others, fear that our work is not good enough, and self criticism. Having the courage to be vulnerable and step out of your comfort zone is key and as Brene Brown says, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change" for "There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people, there are only people who use their creativity and those who don't".
DISCOVER YOUR OWN CREATIVE OUTLET
Everyone's creativity is different, and we all like to express ourselves in different ways, whether it be through cooking, painting, drawing, knitting, dancing or writing - it can be anything at all. For me, I love to dance, paint, make candles, bake cupcakes, weave dream catchers for my friends and family, arrange flowers and collect beautiful objects such as feathers, stones, crystals and shells to bring into my home and surround myself with beautiful things. For you it might be tattoos, solving maths problems, fashion, or playing an instrument. Everyone is unique and different, and so is their creativity. Find what you love, and make time to do more of it. (Which leads me into my next point...)
MAKE TIME TO BE CREATIVE
It's too easy to say oh I don't have time, or I'm too busy. But once you let go of these self limiting thoughts and embrace your creativity, you will notice that it flows into all areas of your life including your work, your relationships and your home. Taking the time for yourself to have space to express your creativity must be made a priority as once you do, you will be rewarded with so many benefits including the sense of fulfillment, connection and contentment within yourself. If you have children, get them involved and create something special together. I myself was so lucky to grow up looking up to a very creative inspiration, my mother, who was always putting her love and energy into making spaces beautiful, gardening, cooking and creating art. I used to have a drawer stuffed full of lace trims, sequins, glitter, paint and paper of all colours and sizes. (Yes, I was that child who was constantly making weird and wonderful objects to give to everyone for Christmas or birthdays. And nine times out of ten, it was covered in glitter).
3 WAYS TO SPARK CREATIVITY TODAY
1. Create a vision / Dream board
Creating a vision board can be helpful to a lot of people to help them stay motivated and inspired to reach their goals. You can cut out images and articles from magazines, add photos, art or drawings that inspire you and that are a representation of what you would like to cultivate and bring into your life. Add photos of places you want to travel, fashion you love, or interiors to inspire you to create your dream home.
2. Write a Journal
Remember, no one ever has to read it. Buy yourself a beautiful book that you can keep on your bedside table and just start writing. Jot down ideas, goals, feelings and dreams and see where it takes you!
3. Get Crafty
Go sit out in the sunshine with a bunch of paint and a canvas and just see what happens. Close your eyes if you want! Just embrace your inner 3 year old and enjoy creating something new. I recently returned from a beautiful weekend retreat where we did exactly this. It was absolutely incredible to see everyone create such unique and different artworks, no two were the same just like no two of us are the same! And thats the true beauty of it.
For me, I went back to my childhood and did one of those paintings where you just splat a whole bunch of colours that you like onto the canvas, fold it in half and squish it, then open it up and reveal the masterpiece! Turned out beautifully! (Check it out below, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself)...
As a dancer myself, I would like to leave you with one of my favourite quotes by one of the pioneer's of contemporary dance, Martha Graham.
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open."
Reference: 'The Power of Vulnerability' written by Brene Brown.
This post was written by Ellesse Hawkins.
WITH FABIOLA AGUIRRE
(Physiotherapist at Fleur Wellbeing)
Injuries are no fun.. We can all most likely put our hand up and recall an injury that has occurred in our lifetime. For some, the injury may have lasted 2-3 days and you can no longer remember whether it was your left or right side! And for others, your injury set you back months, even years, and significantly changed your way of life. For most however, it usually leaves a lasting mark and changes the way we approach certain types of movement or exercise. And that is very normal and beneficial! It's our bodies way of protecting us.
But what if we could go that one step further and be that little bit more aware of factors that can double, sometimes triple fold our likelihood of having an injury. What if we took a few extra steps along our exercise journeys to help decrease our chances of an injury? Well let's explore the 5 key indicators that you can start asking yourself and doing from today.
1. KNOW YOUR LIFE STAGE
Sounds pretty basic, I know. But being aware of what is currently surrounding your life and what stage of life you are at will help to give you some awareness on what sort of things to prevent injury from.
There is so much change occurring during adolescence, and in particular from a musculoskeletal point of view, the changes in hormones that occur. At puberty and post puberty we see changes in neuromuscular control (ie. Jumping and landing technique), where boys undergo a significant neuromuscular control spurt whereas girls do not. For instance height increases (especially in leg length), strength increases (particularly in males), and ligament laxity is altered resulting in girls being more lax (loose) in joints. Many injuries occur for the first time during adolescence- and many of these can have long term implications.
The most common adolescence injury is patellofemoral pain – AKA anterior knee pain; followed by apophysitis of the lower limb (aka ‘growing pain’), ankle injuries, instability of the shoulder, neck pain, headaches and stress fractures (especially lumbar spine in gymnast and dancers). These injuries usually occur with the load that you are putting through your body- either by the amount of training or the amount of plyometric (jumping) activity their completing.
How to prevent an injury: Making sure you have a clear training plan that is an even mix of jumping/ strength/ stretching/ neuromuscular control (Pilates). Not doing too much of the one type of training- especially if you are going through a growth spurt. Also using a mirror or receiving feedback from your coach/instructor on ‘perfecting’ the landing from a jump. The aim is to land as quiet as a mouse and pretend the ground is made of soft foam and is melting your landing.
Now the importance here is not so much in the 20-22 gestation week mark, as most ladies will usually modify their exercise routine. I am talking more of the initial 6-20 week period where it's still early and most women have very few physical signs and restrictions to their exercise. But take note of these.
If persistent vomiting is present there can be dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and thus your body may feel not only the effects at a symptom level such as fatigue and weakness, but this also happens at a cellular level. Muscles will be more inefficient in exchanging nutrients and can lead to increase cramps and muscle strains. So simple measures such as natural or electrolyte drinks are a good alternative, but always chat to your GP or an accredited dietician if its persistent. Postural changes begin as early as week 8 and continue to change as the pregnancy continues. One of the biggest causes of pain and ceasing of exercise is lower back and pelvic girdle pain. This happens mainly due to the way our body moves with the new changes (biomechanics) rather than hormonal. Learning the ‘new ‘ safe and best posture to exercise in, in the early stages will allow you to exercise safely and pain free well into your 3rd trimester. Seeing a Physiotherapist to give you these postural strategies in the very early stages of exercises will ensure injuries are minimised entirely.
And lastly getting yourself a heart rate monitor watch or learning how to take your carotid (neck) pulse will allow you to monitor your heart rate.
MENOPAUSE + PRE MENSTRUAL
Exercise has a strong positive link with increasing bone density and decreasing the effects of osteoporosis in our 50-60+ age group. There is emerging strong evidence to show that stress fractures (which are fractures caused by maximal and repetitive loading on the long bones of the body) have a link to menopause and pre hormonal changes in the body. What does that mean from an injury prevention? If you are pre menstrual or irregular in your cycle, really focusing on good technique and not doing too much of the one exercise is important. Ladies going through menopause, it’s a good idea to check in with your GP and find your bone density measures prior to commencing new or repetitive physical exercise -moderation is key.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
This may sound self explanatory and easy to do, but how many of us have pushed through our pain barrier to get to the last repetition?! Pain during exercise can be our single best indicator that your body is not enjoying the intensity/position/load that your body is being exposed to. Our bodies create pain as a warning flare to us that something is not right and could lead to injury.
Now let's not confuse fatigue pain with actual pain. Sorry everyone but that pain is good for us! Fatigue pain will almost always occur around the site of your body that you're working on and it will always settles with stopping.
The pain signs to watch for is if it is pain localised to an area of the body you're not exercising, for instance your getting back pain but your completing a clam exercise for your glutes. If your instructor has not told you what muscle group you should be targeting (which at Fleur Wellbeing, you always know) then ask them. Or stop...
Look for other pain signals such as sharp pain, painful clicking, pins & needles, or a burning pain moving from up to down (for instance from the bottom down to the ankle)
Sometimes stopping and changing your body positioning is the easiest way to avoid pain leading to injury. Always ask your instructor or a health professional if it keeps occurring.
3. WARMING UP THOSE TISSUES
Warming up before exercising has many well researched benefits such as creating vasodilation (widening) of the capillaries and arteries that feed into muscle and connective tissue. It essentially ‘wakes up the body’ and kick starts the engines for many of the muscle parts used in exercise. Another important wake up call it creates is the notion of wiring the brain to body connection. Better known as neuromuscular connectivity. This is an essential part of going into any exercise that involves plyometric, bounding, change of direction and large dynamic movements. When this doesn’t work well things like knee, foot and ankle, spinal and shoulder positioning can be put into injury provoking positions.
How to address this for injury prevention? There are many ways we can do this but 2 of the best ways are completing small to larger upper and lower body movements and increase the either speed/complexity/ range of the movement. So for instance to warm up before a walk we would want to warm up or ‘wake up’ our ankles, calfs, quadriceps, arms, glutes etc. And we would do that in small movements ie. A butt squeeze and release, to a large movement ie. Squat with knee lift. But if we were warming up to play a game of netball our body would need to wake up our body positioning and add some intensity and change of direction etc. Again your coach, trainer, Physiotherapist can give you a warm up routine that is specific to your sport/exercise routine.
4. UNDERSTAND THE INJURY CYCLE
Let's say its too late and you have already suffered an injury to your body. You definitely don’t want to hurt yourself again, but when is the right time to return to exercise, and how to avoid re-injury?
The best way to approach your injury is to understand a little about the tissue healing process and general timelines for injury recovery. Most injuries will follow this stage of healing: degeneration (actual injury), inflammation (the reaction to the injury- causing pain and swelling), repair (the magic window), and fibrosis (scar tissue formation).
Generally, muscular injury during exercise falls under muscle strain or ‘pulled muscle’ or a contusion (bruise) and the actual stages of healing mentioned earlier take up to 4-6 weeks before you reach the last fibrosis stage. The question can you exercise in that time? Of course you can!
The real question is what should I do at what stage. For most the first 24-72 hours can be quite painful and uncomfortable to do any form or exercise. So its crucial to use this window to reduce your swelling, maintain some gentle movement and loading of the muscle, and look at what factor/s may have caused the injury. If in this time the pain or swelling persists, then getting to your Physiotherapist sooner rather than later can help determine a more specific guideline for your injury. The ‘danger’ for most muscular injuries lies in that week 2-4 when your symptoms significantly reduce and sometimes go, so you return to exercise. The site of injury and the surrounding muscles may not have the strong scar tissue that forms after injury and the surrounding muscles are not strong enough to hold, so this is where you can end up with a re-injury or worse more injury.
So it's important to take note of your injury date, create a rough timeline, know your ‘danger window’ and progress your exercises accordingly to your injury window. So by the time you reach week 4-6 you want to be almost at full pre injury capacity and training. The good news is that you can and should continue training throughout your injury!
Again this is where your coach and Physio can guide you with specific exercises and tests to see where your injury and whole body is at, and help monitor your progress.
5. COOL DOWN THOSE TISSUES + RECOVER
Injury prevention also lies in not just what we do before exercise but also what we do after. All exercise goals will aim to create more muscle, change muscle to lean muscle, increase our fitness, flexibility etc. For this to happen, your body will actually undergo a very microscopic injury to the muscle (including our heart) and bones, in order for it to repair, change and improve. So it's important for us to understand and respect this process by way of gentle stretches, walking, foam roller, large (but slow) dynamic movements. Most of these are best done straight after your exercise but others can certainly take place at a later point in time. This is where recovery lays an important role in injury prevention.
A lot of our ‘repetitive strain’ or tendon injuries (achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, in children Oschgood Schlatters) come from too much load and not enough recovery phase. Allow your muscles and joints to have a day where you complete lots of different stretches, use your trusty foam roller, massage ball or exercise ball, and where you just take the intensity right out of your exercise of choice. Maybe you might choose to do all the easy modifications on one day and that’s all it can take for your body to recover and prepare better for the next time you go hard!
Well that’s it in a nutshell on injury prevention. I hope you can all take something from this and use it in your next exercise class or sport. Happy to answer any other questions regarding the above or something else you have to add or ask too!
Written by Fabiola Aguirre
Fabiola is available for appointments at Fleur Wellbeing on Monday & Friday's.
To make a booking please contact Fabiola directly
via email: email@example.com or phone 0423 684 052
We all know that having some well sculpted glutes looks great right? But have you thought about the real benefits of having a strong butt? How well activated glutes can affect your posture, improve your athletic performance and reduce your chance of injury? For many individuals their glutes remain 'inactive' or 'switched off'. Inactive glutes can mean that the muscles are weak and are not relied on as much as they should be during exercise.
Glute activation refers to 'activating' or 'firing up' the muscles in order to strengthen them. If you're keen to learn more we are holding a GLUTE ACTIVATION WORKSHOP on Wednesday the 26th June at 6:30pm at Fleur Wellbeing Newcastle, hosted by our lovely Instructor Cat Magin. During this workshop we will explore some simple biomechanical tests to screen for poor glute activation and then review myofascial release techniques, strength exercises and neurological cues to get this group of muscles working properly and getting you on your way to a better butt and essentially a better life!
WHAT ARE YOUR GLUTES?
Your 'glutes' or your 'gluteal muscles' refer to the muscles in your butt. Specifically there are three major muscles in this area: your Gluteus maximus (the main, large muscle that shapes your backside), your Gluteus Medius and your Gluteus Minimus (two smaller muscles that assist your body in moving your body). Together the glutes work with your other core muscles to support your spine and maintain your posture.
WHAT CAUSES WEAK GLUTES?
There are many possible reasons for why someone may have weak glutes, however one of the main causes is that many of us are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Many jobs now involve people sitting down for a large part of their day, or after a long day of work we come home and sit on the couch; this means that the glute muscles can become dormant more than they should be. Another reason why someone may have weak glutes is because of poor form and generally over-relying on other muscles during everyday movements, which contributes further to the muscles remaining inactive. Or the glute muscles may just be overtight due to either too much sitting, overuse or overexertion in athletic performance and so it is important to know how to release these muscles in order to relieve tightness and ensure proper muscle activation.
WHY IS GLUTE ACTIVATION SO IMPORTANT?
Learning to activate your glutes properly is important so that you can strengthen them. The strength of the glute muscles can have a major impact on the overall strength of your body; your glutes support your core, help to support a range of exercises and compound movements, as well as help avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to decreased muscle mobility.
With so many of us having to spend the majority of our day "glued" to a chair, we are in danger of contracting the "sitting disease" which can lead to muscle degradation and a bad back. By strengthening your glute muscles your spine will have more support and your pelvis will automatically begin to stabilize. Both of which are essential to improve posture.
IMPROVED ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Your butt is actually capable of generating an incredible amount of power! Strengthening your glutes can lead to improved speed, acceleration and explosive power - athletes with stronger glutes are stronger and faster than those with weak glutes. The same goes for dancers, those with strong glutes can perform higher jumps and safer movements than those with weak glutes.
REDUCED CHANCE OF INJURY
Strong glutes play a vital role in reducing your chance of injury and having strong glute muscles can prevent serious injuries to your knees, lower back and hamstrings, all of which are essential to simple daily activities. Weak glute muscles can also cause poor lower back alignment which can lead to some serious injuries including sprains and tears in your back muscles.
So if you're keen to get working on those glute muscles and want to learn more, we'll see you at the Glute Activation workshop on the 26th of June, or in one of our many classes including Mat and Reformer Pilates, Barre or TRX where we will work closely with you to ensure proper technique, activation and alignment.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
It's all too easy to burn the candle at both ends in this always connected world that we live in, & when energy levels are low we need to ensure we are fuelling our bodies with sustainable & natural sources of energy (not a dozen cups of coffee & sweets). So here are 5 of our favourite foods to fight fatigue & boost your energy. To learn more about eating with balance & the chance to chat with our beautiful Instructor & accredited Dietician Ruby Beezley, come along to our Nutrition W O R K S H O P next Tuesday the 21st of May at 6:30pm for our "Navigating Diet Culture Workshop" at Fleur Wellbeing. Tickets available for purchase through our Mindbody Booking system. (Click on the link on our homepage).
The next time you're feeling drained, have some H20! Dehydration may actually be the root of your fatigue & it can also lead to headaches, ruin your concentration & put you in a bad mood. Take a water bottle with you throughout the day & sipping on herbal tea in the cooler months is also a great way to stay hydrated.
These small & mighty little seeds are full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants & they also provide fibre, iron & calcium. The combination of fat, protein & fibre in chia seeds means that they are digested relatively slowly, providing long, slow release energy to keep blood sugar levels stable.
This potassium packed fruit is an excellent energy boosting snack & is not only healthy but extremely delicious! Bananas are rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, fibre & also rich in antioxidants.
Spinach is an extremely nutrient rich vegetable that is also loaded with antioxidants too. Spinach is an excellent source of many vitamins and nutrients including:
Iron - Helps to create hemoglobin which brings oxygen to your body's tissues, giving you more energy.
Magnesium - Important for regulating muscle & nerve function, blood glucose control, protein synthesis & blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is essential for energy production & muscle recovery.
Vitamin C - A powerful antioxidant that promotes skin health & a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is also essential for the proper absorption of Iron.
Green tea holds a whole range of health benefits as well as pepping up your energy levels. It is also packed with antioxidants & nutrients that have some powerful effects on the body.
The combination of caffiene & L-theanine found in Green Tea gives you a much more sustained energy without the jitters & research suggests that green tea can also boost your brain function & helps to reduce your risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. Green Tea helps to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and developing cancer.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins.
There are many benefits to regular stretching, and they're not all based on flexibility and touching your toes. Not only can stretching help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of any fitness routine, but it can also improve your posture, improve your performance in physical activities, reduce body aches while allowing the body to move freely with no pain, discomfort or impingements, stretching also helps to heal and prevent back pain (and knee pain, and shoulder pain, and neck pain... I could go on and on).
Stretching has many physical benefits but also stretching is wonderful for mental health, stress relief and reduction, productivity, calming of the mind and also controlling emotions.
Not all stretching is created equal, and over the past decade there has been extensive research into stretching, the different types of stretching, when it's most beneficial to do each type of stretching to get the best possible results and recovery. These discoveries have changed the concept of stretching and really high lighted the importance of a diverse stretching routine.
There are several types of stretching techniques, including dynamic, static (Yin Yoga), passive, PNF stretching and active stretching. The most common forms of stretches are static and dynamic stretches, which we will outline below along with PNF.
STATIC STRETCHES involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for a period of time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise. This type of stretching flows into the concept of Yin Yoga, where poses are held for a minimum of 3 minutes. That is the time it takes for the fascia (soft connective tissue that covers the entire body, kind of like a full body stocking, fascial lines can run from the big toe to the crown of the head) to melt away, and really get down deeper into the stretches and allow the body to soften and find flexibility naturally without force.
DYNAMIC STRETCHES are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement for example: high knees, butt kicks, leg swings all warm up the hips and increase mobility around the joints. Flow Yoga is also a type of dynamic stretching.
PNF ( proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation ) STRETCHES are said to use receptors to improve the neuromuscular (related to nerves and muscles) response of the body. For example, to perform a hamstring PNF stretch, stretch until you feel a slight discomfort, contract the hamstring isometrically (without moving) for 3-5 secs, relax the muscle and slowly deepen the stretch using your quadriceps (opposing muscle). Repeat the cycle 3-4 times. PNF stretching is the fastest way known to improve the range of motion or flexibility.
More on the benefits of stretching
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come along with ageing.
Stretching can help to improve your range of motion and increased range of motion means more freedom in your movements as you are able to move a joint through its full range.
Stretching helps to improve Posture. Muscle imbalances and tightness are common especially in people who work desk jobs and can lead to poor posture. A combination of strengthening (such as Pilates) and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment, which in turn will help to improve posture. (This also helps to minimise risk of injury due to poor alignment).
And who would have thought that stretching could improve your mental health? When you're experiencing stress, your muscles are tense and tight. That's because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on stretching areas of your body where you tend to hold onto stress such as your neck, your upper back and your shoulders. Stretching will help to calm your nervous system which triggers a physical response to "let go and relax".
Performing stretches on a regular basis will also help to improve your circulation which increases blood flow to your muscles. This can help to shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
Overall, stretching has so many benefits for both the mind and body and can be done basically anywhere with little to no equipment. If you're new to a regular stretching routine, take it slow and give your body time to get used to the stretches that you are performing. You also want to make sure you are performing the stretches with proper form and technique to avoid getting injured.
On days you exercise aim for 5-10 mins of dynamic stretching prior to your activity (hip warm ups on the barre before class make your class much more enjoyable!) and then do another 5-10 mins of static or PNF stretching after your class.
On days that you aren't exercising, still plan to schedule at least 5-10 mins of time for stretching, I suggest before bed. This helps to improved flexibility, reduce muscle tightness and pain, and also slow down the mind and prepare you for a restful sleep.
Join Cat on Wednesday evenings at Fleur Wellbeing studio at 6:30pm for our dedicated "Simply Stretch" class which focuses on stretching your entire body from head to toe. A great addition to your workout routine and perfect for mid week. Please ensure to book ahead of time through our Mindbody booking system as places are limited. And the guys can join this class for only $10 cash on the night! So ladies, bring your hubbies, brothers and guy mates!
Cat is a trained stretch therapist, and has a world of knowledge on all things stretching, to find out more about Cat, visit our "About Us" page and "Meet our Instructors".
Written by Cat Magin.
There are so many reasons that people choose to take up Pilates. Whether it be that they are an athlete wanting more power in their sport, a new mum wanting to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles post baby, or an office worker suffering from lower back pain - Pilates can be beneficial in so many different ways and for so many different reasons.
Here are some of the ways Pilates can help you:
1. PILATES FOR ELITE DANCERS
Dancers spend an enormous amount of time per day in the studio, honing their technique, pushing their bodies to the limit and dedicating their lives to their art form. It is important for dancers to re-balance, re-align and re-connect to their bodies outside of the studio. Quite often dancers can become asymmetrical due to technical habits formed in their dance classes or due to injury and Pilates can help to balance out these imbalances. Pilates training helps to build deep core strength and rehabilitate injuries to help prolong the career of a dancer and support the physical demands that they place upon their bodies.
2. PILATES FOR BACK PAIN
Back pain is extremely common and quite often work related, whether it be an occasional niggle or a chronic pain that is ongoing, strengthening your deep core abdominals through regular Pilates training can really help to both alleviate and prevent this discomfort. Pilates teaches you to engage your deep core abdominals or Transverse Abdominis to support your spine, and engage the correct postural muscles to keep you in proper alignment. Pilates can also help to support more severe back injuries such as disc injuries, SIJ dysfunction, and scoliosis in a safe way.
3. PILATES FOR PELVIC FLOOR STRENGTH & PRE & POST NATAL MUMS
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is super important both during and especially after your pregnancy. Having a strong pelvic floor will help to prevent pelvic floor prolapse after pregnancy, supports the pelvis and provides a strong base of support for your spine which can also assist in preventing and alleviating lower back pain. The pelvic floor or "stabilising" muscles support your bladder, bowel and uterus and provide lumbar-pelvic stability and there is a strong emphasis on pelvic floor activation along with deep core muscle activation in Pilates.
4. PILATES FOR MINDFULNESS
Pilates really requires you to focus on your breath as well as your body, and how they work together, so it's no wonder you leave a class feeling refreshed and a lot more "clear headed". There is no time to think of bills, to do lists, and other drama when each and every exercise requires so much focus and concentration. Focus on you for an hour, and forget about all the other stuff!
5. PILATES FOR BRAIN POWER
The founder of The Pilates method, Joseph Pilates, once called his workout method "the thinking man's exercise". Research has shown that regular Pilates classes can help to improve neural network activity, cognitive function and memory performance and it is believed that Pilates may even hold the potential as a treatment option for people with brain-degenerative diseases and cognitive dysfunctions.
We have a range of Pilates classes at Fleur Wellbeing including both Reformer and Mat Pilates. Speak to us about your specific goals and how we can help you achieve success in your Pilates journey. For more info on our class times and descriptions please visit the Schedule + Classes tab on our website.
Written by Ellesse Hawkins.
Where is your ultimate place of calm and serenity? For me there is no place more peaceful than on top of a mountain. Whether I'm hiking or skiing I feel true bliss and inner calm when I'm on top of the world, with nothing but clear fresh air, wide open spaces & breathtaking views.
My husband and I just recently returned from a month long trip in the Canadian Rockies for our honeymoon, where we did nothing but adventure and hike to some of the most incredible places I've ever seen. The highlight was our multi day hike to Mount Assiniboine in the Kooteney National Park, South of Banff (pictured above). A place I will never forget and where I hope to one day visit again.
Now that we are home and back into the full swing of life, I often find myself reminiscing about that incredible place, where I felt so amazingly free and at peace. I immediately feel that sense of calm again, just from revisiting in my thoughts and remembering that I can feel free from stress no matter where in the world I may be.
How amazing it is to climb back into the resolve of my mountain, anywhere, anytime with no hiking required...
It is no doubt that the daily hum of life has us stressed up to our earlobes sometimes, we all feel that way and there's no denying it.
When we're stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the "fight or flight response" in which our heart rate goes up, we breathe more heavily (requiring more oxygen) and our blood vessels constrict. While in the pre-civilization world, the increased blood flow to our heart and muscles helped us escape from predators and dangerous situations, we find ourselves in a very different position now. Our bodies can't tell the difference between an approaching Grizzly Bear and a ticked off spouse or a particularly epic traffic jam, so our stress response is triggered when there's no imminent danger. Instead of helping us to escape, this can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension and headaches, as well as mental health concerns like depression and anxiety disorders. What's more, stress can make other conditions like asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia worse.
Our spinning minds, impossible expectations and run-away lives are fuel for chronic stress, and our pause on our mountain helps us find our way back to a healthy inner ecosystem.
The next time you’re facing a pile of house work, heap of laundry, have a particularly yukky meeting at work or find yourself on the precarious precipice of something new, remember your mountain. As the saying goes, “If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t appreciate the view.”
Here's 10 simple ways to help keep your stress in check, and put you on a path to your "inner Mountain" or calm space.
1. Go for a 10 min walk
While just about any walk will help you to clear your head and boost endorphins (which, in turn, reduce stress hormones), consider walking in a park or close to "nature" (I personally love walking along Merewether Beach with my fur babies each day) which, in turn, can actually put your body into a state of meditation known as "involuntary attention" during which something holds our attention, but simultaneously allows for reflection. Watch the waves (spot a few whales!), breathe in the salty sea air and listen to the seagulls - its amazing.
2. Eat a snack (mindfully)
The connection between the gut and brain is huge - called the 'gut-brain axis' and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response. After all, stress is a brain and immune system mediated phenomena, and your gut is the largest organ in your immune system. Pick a snack that will fill you up, like half an avocado, a handful of nuts or a hard boiled egg - because nothing is more stressful to the brain, than feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment. Take your snack away from your computer and go sit someplace peaceful. Focus on your food: its texture, the way it tastes, how it makes you feel. Now you’ve turned your snack into a meditation. No wonder they're called "bliss balls".
3. Fill your home or Office with Plants
Houseplants aren’t just beautiful air purifiers - they can actually help calm you down. Researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relaxation response. One Washington State University study found that a group of stressed-out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure, while a comparison group who didn’t see plants dropped only two points, Prevention magazine has reported.
Need some advice on what to buy? Peace Lillies, Rubber plants, Aloe Vera, Snake plant, Bamboo palm, Golden Pothos (devil's Ivy) and Philodendrons are some great plants to start with. I can't seem to help the ever growing collection of greenery in my house lately. I even have plants hanging from the ceiling in my bedroom and a plant in my bathtub!
4. Step away from your computer screen
Uninterrupted computer use has been associated with stress, lost sleep and depression in women, according to a study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In the same study, late night computer use was also associated with stress in both men and women.
Make sure you take frequent breaks during your day of computer use, and try to shut offline at least an hour before bed time - same goes for your I phone!
Make a cup of herbal tea, light some candles and start to wind down instead.
5. Spend less time on your phone all together!
There's no doubt that our mobile phones stress us out. The constant dinging and ringing, notifications and reminders. Go to your notification settings and adjust them so that you're not getting constant pop ups all the time for unnecessary apps. You'll get to the important stuff in time, you don't need to be reminded every time someone likes your posts or comments on something you commented on and so on and so forth.
Better still, if you can keep your phone on silent then do it! And don't feel like you have to reply to messages straight away - remember the days when we just had landlines and didn't even know what a text message was? ahhh simple times.
Mindless scrolling of Instagram and Facebook fits into this category too...
6. Listen to some music
Classical music has a particularly calming effect, it slows your heart rate and decreases the levels of stress hormones in your body. Personally I love the "Chill out" or "Most Beautiful Songs in the World" playlists on Spotify, we often play them in our Pilates classes. Really any music that you love will flood your brain with feel good chemicals like dopamine.
Or try cranking up your favourite tunes on the drive home!
7. Get into Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great way to de stress and there are so many ways you can incorporate them into your daily life. Try diluting the oils with some fractionated coconut oil and rubbing a small amount on your pulse points, temples or into your palms and taking some slow deep breaths. You can also try adding a few drops into a diffuser, to your bath or on your pillow at night. Lavender, Bergamot, Lemongrass, Orange, Ylang Ylang and Frankincense are some of my favs!
8. Get creative and Crafty
Repetitive motions, such as the fine motor skills used to knit, make jewellry, paint or draw, can sooth anxiety and be a meditation in itself. When I'm feeling like a bit of chill out "me time", I love to make dream catchers for my friends, make soy candles or make beautiful bath salts and body scrubs with my essential oils and even sometimes coffee grinds! Plus the action of then gifting your gorgeous creations to the ones you love is even better! Don't say you're not creative or artistic, if you can make a cup of tea, you can mix some epsom salts, essential oils and coconut oil together in a bowl - voila!
9. Practice Yoga regularly and stand in Mountain Pose!
Exercise is a very useful way to relieve stress, but yoga is different from HIIT class or weight-lifting in that it powerfully combines both physical fitness with an underlying philosophy of self-compassion and awareness. One of the main concepts in yoga is being non-judgmental toward both yourself and others, which is a powerful tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with others.
I make sure that I get to at least one or two Yin Yoga classes a week, where I am able to really slow down, put my "to do" list aside, focus on my breath and stop "doing" for that hour that I choose to take for myself and my mental health. It really is incredible!
You can also try standing in "Tadasana" or "Mountain Pose". With your feet hip distance apart, your spine elongated, stand nice and tall with your shoulders down and back and your palms open at your sides - feel your feet grounded and connected into the earth as you take long, slow, deep breaths. Allow this to be your moment for pause and reflection. As you stand here, centered and grounded, the outside world continues to buzz and swirl around you. People come and go, clouds pass and the sun creates shadows and light. Yet your mountain remains unwavering in its stillness.
10. Do a Pilates or Barre class
This is where coming along to your regular Pilates or barre classes is so important. Pilates and Barre incorporate both mind and body to build strength, improve flexibility, restore proper alignment, and reduce stress by bringing you into a healthier and more positive emotional and mental state of mind.
Pilates and barre can improve your concentration and minimise distraction within the mind, teach you to breathe more deeply and intentionally, and also help you to practice mindfulness throughout class as you focus your attention on the present movement and moment!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
The Pilates method is built upon 6 core principles which when applied create the foundation of the Pilates discipline. Once understood and practiced throughout your regular Pilates practice, you can quickly observe them flowing over into every day life becoming part of your lifestyle.
All Pilates exercises radiate from the center. This is a core-strengthening and conditioning program. It also serves to connect the body and give a focal point from which each movement comes forth. By ensuring this center is strong you can also provide good protection for the spine and pass on power to each movement. This is your Pilates ‘powerhouse’.
Joseph Pilates described his program as ‘Contrology’. This central theory is what umbrellas the other Pilates principles. The premise is that controlling your muscles and movements allows for you to better exercise and move in a way to benefit the body. This is basically the opposite of a chaotic approach where you exert lots of energy but don’t control the movements, thus weakening or losing any real benefits. Contrology is not just about the physical body either. It’s also about the mind and how to become body aware and let the mind take the lead.
You might enjoy mindless exercising while you watch a screen or listen to some music at the same time. Pilates however demands your attention. It is not enough to simply go through the motions. Because Pilates is all about how you do exercises it is vital that you keep your mind on each movement to ensure you are performing the proper form. Mindfulness can help relax the body as thoughts and judgements flow away. Joseph Pilates saw his techniques as “coordinating mind, body and spirit.”
Movement precision builds on concentration. Precision is achieved by clearly moving, directing and placing the body and its parts. Realise that every movement has a purpose and every cue or instruction is important to the success of the movement.
Pilates, like yoga, calls for complete, thorough and purposeful inhalation and exhalation. But in Pilates, unlike in yoga, inhalation is through the nose and exhalation through the mouth. Conscious breathing and specific breathing patterns assist movement by focusing the attention and direction of the body and by delivering oxygen to the muscles being used. Full breathing also assists in removing non beneficial chemicals that may be stored in the muscles (Pilates 1945) .
Pilates may have an emphasis on form but the movements are not robotic and there is a flow created which helps to build a workout that challenges the body. The breath sets the rhythm and this is used, alongside the sequence of movements, to flow seamlessly from one position to the next. The connection you feel during sessions and the momentum each movement creates gives Pilates a sense of flowing energy.
So next time you're in class, see if you can being to mind these 6 important principles and enhance your Pilates training!
Written by Ellesse Hawkins
Our Blog posts are a written by our Instructors at Fleur Wellbeing Studio, to share in knowledge and inspire our community.