Jive with the Big Five!

What's the number one reason you don't exercise?

If I asked my friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, and/or people I meet off the street, I believe the following answers would appear:

I don't have enough time.
My job prevents me from exercising.
It makes me sweat, and I don't like that feeling.
The gym is too far away.
When I get home, I don't want to leave again.
I don't like exercising.
I am not fit enough or flexible enough.
I don't have the energy to do it.
I have an injury (knees, hips, shoulder, ankles, wrists,...)
My kids need me.
I don't have any money.

I just really don't like it, but I want to be fit, have long lean muscle, and look great!

I agree with all of those excuses. In fact, I have used all those excuses. When I weighed 221 pounds, I would have added, my workout clothes make me feel uncomfortable, and I am embarrassed.

However, "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten or stay where you already are."

Yoga has so many benefits, and it can be done anywhere...at home (where I started back in the mid '90's), with a group of friends, outside when the weather is pleasant, and in our low cost studio. We would love to have you!

Our yoga/Pilates classes incorporate all five all these Big Jive Exercises, and we would love for you to join us on a regular basis. However, if you cannot, then incorporate them into your day in some reasonable way.

1. Squats.

Why Is It Important? Most trainers agree that squats are one of the best exercises you can do. Squats work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves all at once.

How to Do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes facing straight ahead or angled slightly outward. Slowly bend the knees and lower hips towards the floor, keeping your torso straight and abs pulled in tight. Keep your knees behind your toes; make sure everything's pointing in the same direction. Do not go lower than 90 degrees. Do this move for 12-16 reps. In yoga we call it "chair pose" or "Utkatasana"

2. Push Ups

Why Is It Important? Push ups, like squats, are compound movements using almost all the muscles of your body. You'll work your chest, shoulders, triceps, back and abs.

How to Do It: Position yourself face down on the floor, balancing on your toes/knees and hands. Your hands should be underneath or a little wider than shoulders, body in a straight line from head to toe. Don't sag in the middle and don't stick your butt up in the air. Slowly bend your arms and lower your body to the floor, stopping when your elbows are at 90 degrees. Exhale and push back up. Variations include incline, decline, wall pushups or, for over-achievers, one-armed pushups. Do this move as many days a week as possible and add a rep each time you do the exercise. In yoga, we call it "Chaturanga."

3. Lunges.

Why Is It Important? Like squats, lunges work most of the muscles in your legs including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

How to Do It: Stand in a split-stance (one leg forward, one leg back). Bend knees and lower body into a lunge position, keeping the front knee at 90 degree angle and your back leg with a soft bend (not locking it out). Keeping the weight in your heels, push back up (slowly!) to starting position. Never lock your knees at the top and don't let your knee bend past your toes. Variations: front lunges, back lunges and side lunges. Do this exercise for 12 to 16 reps. In yoga we do these as part of our Sun Salutation C "Surya Namaskar" or in isolation as a low lunge "Anjaneyasana" with the option of the knee on the floor to modify or straight back leg.

4. The Plank.

Why Is It Important? The plank (or hover) is an isolation move used in Pilates and Yoga and works the abs, back, arms and legs. The plank also targets your internal abdominal muscles.

How to Do It: Lie face down on mat with elbows resting on floor next to rib cage. Push your body off the floor in a pushup position with body resting on elbows or hands. Contract the abs and keep the body in a straight line from head to toes. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat as many times as you can. For beginners, do this move on your knees and gradually work your way up to balancing on your toes. In yoga we use the plank continually in various forms (side plank, inclined plank, forearm plank, walking plank,...), Phalakasana in Sanskrit.

5. Lat Pulldown

Why Is It Important? The lat pulldown works on the major muscles of your back (the latissimus dorsi), which helps you burn calories and, of course, strengthens your back.

How to Do It: If you are at a gym or have a home gym, sit on the lat pulldown machine and hold the bar with palms out and wider than shoulders. Pull your abs in and lean back slightly. Bend your elbows and pull the bar down towards your chin, contracting the outer muscles of your back. Do this exercise during the week using enough weight to complete 12-16 repetitions. If you don't have access to a gym, try a one-armed row with a dumbbell. Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana), Locust pose (Salambhasana), and Camel pose (Ustrasana) are all frequently used postures in yoga that strengthen the lats.

If you have a busy schedule, incorporating these five moves 3 times a week or more will help strengthen your muscles and bones, as well as burn more calories. Stretching afterwards with the counter pose is a must! The great thing about yoga is that you can add it into your everyday schedule with a home or class practice.
Remember to get some cardio exercise as well with a quick walk, slow jog, or power yoga class!

So, let's make the change in 2011 that we want to be! Come jive with our fab five!


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