Five Easy Ways to Build Pilates and Fitness Into Your Day
Time and again clients say that while they love how their spine feels after a Pilates session, they find that, a couple days afterward, their posture deteriorates, their muscles tighten, and by the time the next Pilates class rolls around, they’re back to their achy-necked selves. I get it: it’s so easy to forget the lessons of Pilates while out and about, dealing with the responsibilities of modern life. But what I love about Pilates is that its principles can be practiced daily. Even through the most menial of chores, you can work on strengthening your core and burning calories. Whether stopping by the bank, folding laundry, or just showering, incorporate the five tips below to keep your body toned and balanced throughout the week.
We’ve all had that disorienting experience of walking into a store, glancing at a TV perched above the entrance—and realizing that the person onscreen is you. Use the heightened security to good effect: with that new perspective, check out your posture. Are you hunched forward? Is your neck crooked one way or another? Is your purse or backpack so heavy it’s twisting your whole back? See how your posture changes when you draw your navel to your spine and lengthen up, pulling your shoulders down and back. Getting a visual of that change—from slumped to tall and strong—serves as a reminder to make the lessons taught in Pilates class stick. (No worries if a security guard raises an eyebrow your way; he’s just jealous of your superior posture.)
Most of us spend workdays sitting at a desk, so absorbed in our computers that we forget about posture. Throughout the day, shoulders creep up to ears, navels disengage from spines, and soon we’re left with a back full of knots. To remind yourself of spinal alignment, create an alarm on your phone or computer to go off every hour or two at work. When the alarm sounds, evaluate your posture and how your back feels. Has your neck sunk into your shoulders and chest? Is your lower back starting to ache? Are you putting more weight on one hip or another? Bonus: use the alarm as a reminder to do a minute or two of hip and back stretches. Odds are that taking that time to stretch will improve your workday endurance, keeping annoying aches at bay.
Wish you could justify staying in the shower for just a minute longer? Today’s your lucky day! While showering, take a minute to stretch. With hot water on your back, inhale deeply, pull your navel in, and slowly reach down to touch your toes. Then let the hot water hit your lower back, stretching you out. Showers are the perfect time to stretch; the heat helps loosen up muscles. If you have any body part—say, your neck—in pain, let the water contact that area too.
The best way to keep your body feeling post-Pilates good throughout the week is to keep active. Do this by building exercise fixes into your daily routine. There are the obvious ones: park at the far end of the lot, or chooses the stairs over the escalator. But even the little things can count: instead of emailing or texting someone in your office, go and speak to him or her in person. When you take a call, use it as an opportunity to stand up and walk around, or even to take the call outside. Stretching is just as important. If you’re waiting for the bathroom or are standing in the elevator alone, stretch your calves or quads or triceps. It all adds up!
Make it social. Meet up for a friend and bike around the neighborhood. If you’re at the bar, play pool or darts or any other activity that’s not sitting around getting wasted. If you’re going to have a party, include an activity in it. This might mean dancing, swimming, Wii games, Twister, a piñata, making crafts, and so on. I realize this sounds like your niece’s 6th birthday party, but hey: the more you make an event like a kid’s party, the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll stay active. At the very least, hide some of the chairs to get everyone standing!