- Each student will be prescreened prior to entering for their appointment by answering the following questions: have you come in contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, have you experienced a cough, shortness or breath, difficulty breathing, unexplained rash, fever, chills, sore throat, loss of smell or taste in the past 14 days.
- All appointments will be 45 minutes to allow for proper cleaning of equipment, and for clients to gather items and exit the studio prior to the next class coming in.
- We ask that you arrive 5 minutes prior to the beginning of your class, and when the class prior to yours has left, we will allow you to enter.
- All students must wash hands prior to entering and leaving the studio.
- Only 1 student will be allowed in the office to gather items at a time, and there can be no congregating in office or hallways. We must enter and exit quickly to make room for the next class.
- Cancellation Policy: we are waiving our late-cancellation fee for the foreseeable future. We ask that you notify your instructor if you cannot attend your class. The health of our students is of utmost importance to us; if you feel sick or believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19, we kindly request that you do cancel your session and recommend you follow CDC guidelines on self isolation before returning to the studio.
- In addition to increased cleaning protocols of all equipment, we will be cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in the studio throughout the day, such as door knobs, faucet handles, counters and cubbies.
By Sumathi Reddy,
As the new coronavirus continues to spread across the country, having an optimally functioning immune system is more important than ever.
Medical professionals say it is important not to rush to buy supplements and vitamins that promise to enhance your immune system; there isn’t much evidence that such products do any good. Instead, they say, stick with the more mundane, but proven, approaches:
• Keep your stress levels down. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, of course: The more you stress about the virus, the more likely you are to suffer from it. “Stress can certainly hurt your immune system,” says Morgan Katz, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University. “Do not panic, try to minimize stress.”
Andrew Diamond, chief medical officer of One Medical, a nationwide network of primary-care providers, says the stress hormone cortisol turns off cells in your immune system. He recommends engaging in activities that people find relaxing, such as meditation.
• Exercise. Low- and moderate-intensity exercise naturally lowers cortisol levels and helps with immune-system function, says Dr. Diamond. One Medical recommends 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. If you’re apprehensive about germs in the gym, walk or run outside.
But it is important not to go overboard. A recent study found high-performance athletes have an increased risk of infection, says Elizabeth Bradley, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. “Exercise helps boost the immune system, but we have to be careful not to overexercise because it can weaken your immune system,” she says.
• Get adequate sleep. For adults, that means getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Children should get more, depending on their age.
• Make sure your vaccines are up-to-date, especially the flu vaccine.
• Eat plenty of plain yogurt every day. “It’s really an easy way to boost your probiotics and help support your microbiome,” Dr. Katz says. “It helps to support the good bacteria that live in your body, which help to fight bad bacteria or viruses.”
Dr. Katz also suggests avoiding antibiotics unless you must take them because they deplete the good bacteria in the system, leaving you more vulnerable to other infections.
Other foods that can help support the microbiome include garlic, onion, ginger, sauerkraut and fermented foods, says Dr. Bradley.
Dr. Bradley recommends eating lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and berries, as well as nuts and seeds, and to minimize foods with sugar and trans fats, which aren’t as nutrient-dense.
Your immune system needs fuel, so avoid ultra low-carbohydrate diets, experts say. In addition, drink lots of water and reduce alcohol consumption, which can disrupt your sleep.
• Stop smoking or vaping. Smokers and those with respiratory disease have a higher rate of serious illness and complications from coronavirus. “Anything that is challenging to your lungs is going to work in the wrong direction,” says Dr. Diamond.
By Ella Riley-Adams, Jan 7, 2020
I quit Equinox, tired of dreading the gym while paying hundreds of dollars for it. My problem wasn’t the place—I’ve started and stopped Blink, Crunch, and ClassPass since moving to New York City—but more a feeling of isolation and occasional intimidation that came with attempting to be a better version of myself, by myself. I craved a new fitness routine and the strength I used to feel in high school, when I was a soccer player and horseback rider with flat abs and toned calves.
I knew the next workout I chose would have to be something I could stick to, one that didn’t trigger my old social anxiety of being the last to finish an exercise in P.E., but still gave me the happy-tired feeling of being physically spent. As it was, I felt like a crumpled version of myself, sometimes literally: I found it so hard to get out of bed in the morning that after hitting snooze seven times, I’d leave the house with sheet marks still on my cheek.
When the founder of the technique, Joseph Pilates, opened his Manhattan studio in 1926, the method gained traction in the dance community before going mainstream in the late ’90s. A low-impact workout that emphasizes core strength, flexibility, and alignment, it has a continued association with the long, lean muscles that dancers display. And despite New York magazine’s 2015 “Pilatespocalypse” story that reported the technique was fading as the boutique fitness market boomed, a quick search of Tribeca shows five Pilates studios in a four-block radius. When high-speed, data-informed workouts are overwhelming us from all sides, perhaps a slower form of fitness feels just right.
I worried I might not be the Pilates type. (I imagined that type to be the aforementioned perfect specimens, or simply a bean-thin woman with matching workout sets for every day of the week.) And, used to team sports or spin, I was skeptical that Pilates would give me the feeling of release I wanted in a workout. Still, I packed my best leggings and made my way to Lisa’s softly lit Union Square space.
In our first session, she introduced me to the equipment: the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair, the Reformer. We started with mat exercises so I could orient myself to the form required for Pilates before working with any straps or seats. I was so used to fitness instruction backed by a soundtrack of dubstep Beyoncé that I feared a more conversational, one-on-one approach would drag on, but as I worked to coordinate my muscles in new ways according to Lisa’s steady instructions, I was surprised at how quickly our hour together passed. It was a meditative way of moving that, Lisa explained, would work from “the inside out.” (I noticed its outward effects, too, as later my legs trembled when I bent down to tie my shoes.)
When Lisa asked how, exactly, I’d like to tone my body, I realized my goals went beyond sculpted arms or a whittled waist. I wanted to pop up faster while surfing and finally address the shoulder ache that plagued me since I became a desk-bound employee. Lisa noted that the versatility of Pilates meant it could work on all of those levels. “You can do it on a restorative level,” she explains, while the performers she works with “do it to keep their stamina and to keep their body looking good, but also to stay in touch with their physicality for their work.” Because Pilates is low-impact, women can do it while pregnant, and Lisa’s clients range from 26 to 84 years old.
Joseph Pilates has a famous quote: “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a whole new body.” I committed to 30 sessions, which broke down to about three times a week over three months. Lisa and I saw each other in the morning before I went to work, which meant I had to change my relationship with the snooze button. But it turned out that meeting an instructor one-on-one had a much greater effect on my accountability than any late fee could. Plus, by the fifth session or so, I started to look forward to Pilates. I didn’t break a sweat in the same way that I would in a HIIT class, but that was part of the appeal: I was able to get a workout that gave me results without feeling anxious that any moment of weakness would make me fall behind.
Every session was varied (the classical method of Pilates involves more than 500 different exercises), shaped around my answer to Lisa’s reliable question: “How is your body doing?” When I was sore after a run, she helped me loosen up. Post-travel, we worked out the imbalance I felt between my shoulders and in my hips after a night spent on a plane. She said that all of her clients that day were coming from traveling. Even if I couldn’t identify what exactly was out of place, Lisa was able to observe any tightness or fatigue and offer opportunities to stretch and strengthen.
I felt different early on. I started to notice which muscles carried me through the day. I felt a greater sense of stability while surfing, but also just while walking up the stairs from the subway. My shoulder pain faded, and a weird collarbone cramp that used to pop up on jogs stopped happening. As I got further into the sessions, my connection to and control over my body increased. I went running in just a sports bra and shorts. (Had I become a Pilates Type??)
By 20 sessions, I did look different. My abs were defined, and my body was longer. My crumpled self had been smoothed. I noticed more space between my head and shoulders, which seemed to have a sharpening effect on my jawline. As for a whole new body? The before and after pictures show more metamorphosis than complete transformation. But committing to more sessions, or any other routine, would be easy: I finally found a workout that made me want to wake up early—and renewed my faith in myself.
These benefits are seen throughout the lifespan, including among those living with serious mental and physical health challenges. That’s true whether their preferred activity is walking, running, swimming, dancing, biking, playing sports, lifting weights, or practicing yoga.
Why is movement linked to such a wide range of psychological benefits? One reason is its powerful and profound effects on the brain. Here are five surprising ways that being active is good for your brain—and how you can harness these benefits yourself.
1. The exercise “high” primes you to connect with others
Although typically described as a runner’s high, an exercise-induced mood boost is not exclusive to running. A similar bliss can be found in any sustained physical activity.
Scientists have long speculated that endorphins are behind the high, but research shows the high is linked to another class of brain chemicals: endocannabinoids (the same chemicals mimicked by cannabis)—what neuroscientists describe as “don’t worry, be happy” chemicals.
Areas of the brain that regulate the stress response, including the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, are rich in receptors for endocannabinoids. When endocannabinoid molecules lock into these receptors, they reduce anxiety and induce a state of contentment. Endocannabinoids also increase dopamine in the brain’s reward system, which further fuels feelings of optimism.
This exercise high also primes us to connect with others, by increasing the pleasure we derive from being around other people, which can strengthen relationships. Many people use exercise as an opportunity to connect with friends or loved ones. Among married couples, when spouses exercise together, both partners report more closeness later that day, including feeling loved and supported.
Another study found that on days when people exercise, they report more positive interactions with friends and family. As one runner said to me, “My family will sometimes send me out running, as they know that I will come back a much better person.”
2. Exercise can make your brain more sensitive to joy
When you exercise, you provide a low-dose jolt to the brain’s reward centers—the system of the brain that helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope. Over time, regular exercise remodels the reward system, leading to higher circulating levels of dopamine and more available dopamine receptors. In this way, exercise can both relieve depression and expand your capacity for joy.
These changes can also repair the neurological havoc wreaked by substance abuse. Substance abuse lowers the level of dopamine in your brain and reduces the availability of dopamine receptors in the reward system. As result, people struggling with addiction can feel unmotivated, depressed, antisocial, and unable to enjoy ordinary pleasures. Exercise can reverse this.
3. Exercise makes you brave
Courage is another side effect of physical activity on the brain. At the very same time that a new exercise habit is enhancing the reward system, it also increases neural connections among areas of the brain that calm anxiety. Regular physical activity can also modify the default state of the nervous system so that it becomes more balanced and less prone to fight, flight, or fright.
The latest research even suggests that lactate—the metabolic by-product of exercise that is commonly, but erroneously, blamed for muscle soreness—has positive effects on mental health. After lactate is released by muscles, it travels through the bloodstream to the brain, where it alters your neurochemistry in a way that can reduce anxiety and protect against depression.
Sometimes, the movement itself allows us to experience ourselves as brave, as the language we use to describe courage relies on metaphors of the body. We overcome obstacles, break through barriers, and walk through fire. We carry burdens, reach out for help, and lift one another up. This is how we as humans talk about bravery and resilience.
When we are faced with adversity or doubting our own strength, it can help to feel these actions in our bodies. The mind instinctively makes sense out of physical actions. Sometimes we need to climb an actual hill, pull ourselves up, or work together to shoulder a heavy load to know that these traits are a part of us.
4. Moving with others builds trust and belonging
In 1912, French sociologist Émile Durkheim coined the term collective effervescence to describe the euphoric self-transcendence individuals feel when they move together in ritual, prayer, or work. Moving with others—for example, in group exercise, yoga, or dance classes—is one of the most powerful ways to experience joy.
Psychologists believe the key to producing collective joy is synchrony—moving in the same way, and at the same time, as others—because it triggers a release of endorphins. This is why dancers and rowers who move in synch show an increase in pain tolerance.
But endorphins don’t just make us feel good; they help us bond, too. People sharing an endorphin rush through a collective activity like, trust, and feel closer to one another afterward. It’s a powerful neurobiological mechanism for forming friendships, even with people we don’t know.
Group exercise has managed to capitalize on the social benefits of synchronized movement. For example, the more you get your heart rate up, the closer you feel to the people you move in unison with, and adding music enhances the effect. Breathing in unison can also amplify the feeling of collective joy, as may happen in a yoga class.
We were born with brains able to craft a sense of connection to others that is as visceral as the feedback coming from our own heart, lungs, and muscles. That is an astonishing thing! We humans can go about most of our lives, sensing and feeling ourselves as separate, but through one small action—coming together in movement—we dissolve the boundaries that divide us.
5. Trying a new activity can transform your self-image
Every time you move your body, sensory receptors in your muscles, tendons, and joints send information to your brain about what is happening. This is why if you close your eyes and raise one arm, you can feel the shift in position and know where your arm is in space. You don’t have to watch what’s happening; you can sense yourself.
The ability to perceive your body’s movements is called proprioception, and is sometimes referred to as the “sixth sense.” It helps us move through space with ease and skill and plays a surprisingly important role in self-concept—how you think about who you are and how you imagine others see you.
When you participate in any physical activity, your moment-to-moment sense of self is shaped by the qualities of your movement. If you move with grace, your brain perceives the elongation of your limbs and the fluidity of your steps, and realizes, “I am graceful.” When you move with power, your brain encodes the explosive contraction of muscles, senses the speed of the action, and understands, “I am powerful.” If there is a voice in your head saying, “You’re too old, too awkward, too big, too broken, too weak,” sensations from movement can provide a compelling counterargument.
Physical accomplishments change how you think about yourself and what you are capable of, and the effect should not be underestimated. One woman I spoke with shared a story about when she was in her early 20s and found herself severely depressed, with a plan to take her own life. The day she intended to go through with it, she went to the gym for one last workout. She deadlifted 185 pounds, a personal best. When she put the bar down, she realized that she didn’t want to die. Instead, she remembers, “I wanted to see how strong I could become.” Five years later, she can now deadlift 300 pounds.
Clearly, we were born to move, and the effects of exercise on our psychological and social well-being are many. So, why not start the new year right and add more movement to your life? No doubt you’ll feel better, be happier, and have better social relationships because of it.
This essay is adapted from The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage, by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.
So, how do you find that balance? These quick tips will help you plan ahead, prepare yourself for any eventuality and provide workouts to help you stay active this holiday season.
If you’re traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what your options are so you’re ready for anything. Just a few ideas:
- Search for walking, running or park trails nearby
- Look up information about the hotel you’re staying at and find out if they have an exercise room
- If you’re staying with family, ask if they have any fitness equipment
- If that’s not an option, find any nearby gyms and ask if they let guests use their facility
- Talk to your family in advance and suggest taking a walk or doing something active together
- Plan simple workouts (see below) that don’t require much space or equipment. If you’re traveling or have visitors, you may be able to sneak in a workout in the basement without bothering anyone.
Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand. Even if you have to change it (which is likely when you’re traveling), you’ve already made a commitment to exercise. It’s easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to squeeze it in later.
If you’re not sure about your schedule or whether you’ll even have time to get in a workout, plan for the worst-case scenario. That may be staying in grandma’s basement with no equipment and only 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. Try these quick tips for squeezing in a workout even when you only have minutes to spare:
- Bring a workout plan with you. Plan a 10-minute routine you could do right in your bedroom. For example, you could choose 10 exercises and do each for 1 minute (squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks) or check out the holiday workouts below for other ideas.
- Bring resistance bands. They travel well and you can use them for quick strength exercises whenever you catch a few minutes.
- If you have a laptop, bring along a workout DVD or try streaming workouts online.
- If guests are staying with you, move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.
- Wear your running or walking shoes as much as you can. You may find a 20-minute window when people are napping or before dinner for a quick walk or run.
Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. If you find there’s just no way to get in a workout, get creative and find ways to move your body any way you can:
- Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.
- If you’re hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag or hide and seek.
- Offer to help with the housework, shoveling snow or raking leaves.
- If everybody’s sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some situps or pushups. If that’s too weird, try isometric exercises — squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes or even press the hands together to engage the chest.
- If you don’t have equipment, pick up some full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses. Something is always better than nothing.
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1883. Living in England at the outbreak of WWI, Pilates was interned as an “enemy alien.” During his time in the internment camp, he developed a fitness regime for himself and his fellow prisoners. At the end of the war he returned to Germany, where his fitness method, which he called “Contrology,” became popular in the dance community. In 1926, Joseph Pilates emigrated to the United States and opened a fitness studio in New York City. This co-production of PBS American Experience and Retro Report visits Pilates’ original fitness studio and explore the surprising backstory of the popular workout.
The Reformer. You’ve heard of it but aren’t quite sure what it is. It’s a hefty machine that consists of a sliding carriage rigged with springs, bars and straps. You lie, kneel, stand and sit on the Reformer to create a balanced body and strong core — or “powerhouse,” as creator Joseph Pilates called it.
At the spring end of the Reformer, there is an adjustable foot bar to utilize with your feet and even hands during your workout. The Reformer also has long straps with handles on the ends that attach to the top end of the frame and can be incorporated to your workout with arms and legs. Body weight and resistance of the springs are what affect the mobility of the carriage; you adjust the Reformer to your body size and skill level by changing the springs on the machine.
So now that you know what the Reformer is, let’s look at what it can do for your body. The benefits of the Pilates Reformer are endless and will leave you wanting more!
5 Reasons to Try the Pilates Reformer
- Full Body Workout. The Pilates Reformer works your entire body through a range of movements targeting groups of muscles in your torso, arms, legs and shoulders. Additional benefits include improved muscle tone as muscles are lengthened and strengthened without appearing bulky.
- Increased Core Strength. Exercising on the Pilates Reformer requires proper form and technique within the core, your abdomen and lower back muscles. By conditioning the core muscles, they will contract with all movements to stabilize and align your spine. A strong core will increase the effectiveness of all exercises due to your ability to maintain proper alignment. Core strength increases your ability to generate power to your muscles and decreases the risk of injury.
- Improved Flexibility. Through deep stretches and slow transitions between controlled movements and balance on the Reformer, your muscles will strengthen, and your posture will improve, but most of all your flexibility will increase. Flexibility is vital for your overall health and fitness and will help prevent injuries as you increase activity.
- Improved Posture. Workouts on a Pilates Reformer will improve spinal alignment. With improved alignment, your muscles will strengthen and increase spinal support and stability. Improved posture will lengthen your joints giving you a taller appearance. Muscular imbalances will be corrected decreasing the risk for injury, especially to the lower back. Awareness of proper posture during exercise will carry over to awareness of proper posture when performing everyday movements.
- Reduced Body Fat. Exercise increases your metabolism, your body’s ability to burn calories. Increased muscle mass increases the number of calories burned. When the amount of calories burned is more than the amount of calories eaten, excess body fat is burned and used for energy to meet the increased demand.
In addition to many of its own unique benefits, the Pilates Reformer can step up the positives a Mat program provides, including better back health, flexibility and body awareness. Check out our schedule and register for a class today. Your body will thank you for it!
(Sources: www.livestrong.com, www.verywellfit.com)
Join us on Thursday, July 20 at 6pm for Pilates & Prosecco! Enjoy a one-hour mat class followed by a glass (or two) of Prosecco! This is a fun way to learn about Pilates and enjoy an evening out with some friends. Class size is limited, so signup online today! $15 includes class and Prosecco.
250 Pollock Street
2nd Floor, above Peacock’s Plume
New Bern, NC 28560