Winsor Pilates

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Domenii: Alte Domenii, Engleza

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Tips to Remember

(exercises follow)

by Nicole Dorsey

Pilates-based mat moves are the ultimate at-home method for strengthening and lengthening your body without machines, says Brooke Siler, certified Pilates instructor and author of The Pilates Body (Broadway Books, 2000).

"The stomach, hips, lower back and buttocks are the powerhouse of your body and [are] instrumental in maintaining good posture and alignment," she says. "You will be using and toning these big muscles during every step of the mat exercises."

As you move through these sometimes challenging calisthenics, keep in mind these basic tenets of the Pilates philosophy:

- Breathe deeply and naturally to fuel and replenish your body. Don't hold your breath at any point, especially during the more taxing abdominal exercises.

- Always do the exercises with precision, concentration and control. Avoid quick, jerky movements and keep all exercises fluid and graceful, as a dancer would.

- Listen to your muscles, especially when you initially start exercising. Depending on your present fitness level, some exercises may be too demanding to complete fully the first few times through. "Don't give up if you can't get the moves right away," says Siler. "Regular Pilates practice takes patience and persistence."

- Also, remember to breathe deeply and stop exercising immediately if something causes acute pain. If you have lower-back problems, see your physician before beginning this regimen.

The Exercises

by Nicole Dorsey

You'll start the mat exercises with simple, preparatory moves and progress to more difficult maneuvers; so when in doubt, do the exercises in order. Practice the easier ones until you feel confident in your body's ability to take the next step, and only then move onto the following exercise.

Brooke Siler, certified instructor and author of The Pilates Body, suggests you read through all the instructions first and visualize each movement before you begin the exercise. "Always find your powerhouse muscles -- abs, butt, lower back and hips -- and use them to strengthen and support you," she recommends. To maximize your form, look for Brooke's expert tips, excerpted from The Pilates Body, at the beginning of each exercise.

The Hundred

This is a warm-up exercise which begins to circulate oxygen through your blood and prepares your body for exercise. Make sure you breathe with every pumping repetition.

1. Lie back with knees bent slightly over chest (at 90-degree angles with the floor) and bring arms alongside your body, palms down. Maintain a flat back and let your belly sink into your spine.

2. Lift head and neck off the mat and begin pumping your arms straight up and down in tandem as if you were slapping water. Pump your arms and breathe simultaneously for 20-30 breaths, and eventually work your way up to 100 repetitions with your head raised.

Rolling Like a Ball

Inhale on the roll-back, exhale on the roll-up, and do not use your shoulders to propel your body.

1. Sit tall with knees into chest and place a hand underneath each thigh, bringing knees close to your chest. Tuck chin into chest, keep elbows wide and lift feet slightly off the floor using your midsection muscles to balance.

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