(Willis Lim, Brisbane)
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Do healthier lifestyle habits seem out of reach for so many people because the changes seem too enormous and the results so far away? Just making the decision to exercise is a big hurdle for the majority of gymgoers and fitness newbies.
I always keep empathy and compassion in mind while helping people incorporate exercise into their weekly routine. The last thing a new person in my class needs is to be overwhelmed with movements too difficult to maneuver or exercises beyond his or her capabilities.
Changes can be small and incremental, even gentle, and still be highly effective. It is also very important to built a solid foundation on which your fitness is built. Without that foundation, you will be prone to injury, incorrect form, and less satisfactory results overall.
If you are thinking of getting started on your fitness journey, one thing to keep in mind is that it is never too late. Starting with some one-on-one Pilates, or even small group sessions, will help build your core and overall body strength, eliminate imbalances between certain muscle groups, and improve your posture.
This basic fitness will give you a strong foundation for more intense forms of exercise such as boxing, running, or step classes. The list is limitless.
This week’s movements may look and even feel easy. They are not meant to be complicated. Instead, they provide you with an opportunity to focus on balance, stability, and subtle, deep abdominal recruitment.
I adore quadruped extensions for all of the reasons just mentioned. They are a great start or finish to the day. It is all about aligning your hips, spine, and shoulders. The exercise is gentle but effective.
Keep in mind that change doesn’t have to be drastic to be effective. In fact, if there is too much change at the start, you are less likely to stick with your new fitness schedule. Keep it simple, easy to follow, and easy to maintain. Your success rate for longevity is far greater this way, and when it comes to well-being and healthy lifestyle, consistency is the key.
1. Position your body on all fours (quadruped). Your hands are under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips.
2. Extend your right arm and left leg away from your body at the same time. Repeat four times and then hold your arm and leg extended. This is good for core stability.
3. Bend at the elbow and knee as you bring your limbs underneath your body. Repeat eight times The aim is to keep your back from moving. This is great for challenging whole-body stability and core strength.
4. Put your hand back on the floor and bend your right leg. Have your foot facing the ceiling. Lower and lift your whole leg up and down 16 times. This is called a donkey kick. This will work your glutes and the backs of your thighs (hamstrings). Try to keep your body still, without arching or sinking through your back. This makes it super-challenging.
5. Repeat the whole set on the other side, with your left arm and right leg.
6. The set consists of four times for opposite arm and leg reaches, eight times for bent elbow and knee, and 16 times for the donkey kick.
Getting It Right
The essence of this sequence is stability. Imagine you have two cups of tea resting on the back of your hips and two more resting on your shoulders. Try not to spill any of your imaginary tea.
By keeping your body still, you will work your stomach muscles. This will also strengthen the muscles along your spine and around your shoulders.
Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.