Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Workout Wednesday: Modifying Workouts and The Hundred

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for stopping by for the start of my new blog series- Workout Wednesday. Every Wednesday I'll be breaking down a Pilates Exercise for you with modifications- up this week is The Hundred. Before we get to the exercise, let's talk about why modifications are important.

One of the reasons I love the Pilates method is it is perfect for everyBODY. Regardless of age, fitness level, body shape, injuries, and wellness goals- Pilates is for you.

"But I have a knee injury or back pain or scoliosis or you fill in the blank, I can't do Pilates..."
Let's time out just for a minute for a little Pilates history lesson. Because I believe it's important to give credit to good ole' Joe. Joseph Pilates created his method because he was trying to improve his OWN health. As a child, Joe was very sickly and suffered both from asthma and rickets. Fun Fact- Joseph Pilates also developed much of the method during the First World War. To rehabilitate patients in the hospital on the Isle of the Man, he attached springs to a hospital bed to help strengthen patients who were unable to walk due to their injuries.

Above is one of the original designs for the Pilates Reformer. 

So there is no real reason why you can't do Pilates. You can modify the Pilates exercises to meet your current fitness level and needs. So whether you are a trying to to get back into shape after having a baby, rehabilitating a knee injury, or feeling like you're in the best shape you've ever been- Pilates is for you.

Why Modify Pilates Exercises? 
As a Pilates teacher, I strongly believe in modifying exercises as needed to help you build strength, utilizing proper alignment and technique without creating or worsening any current injuries or aliments. Pilates is all about engaging and activating muscles correctly and working out efficiently over doing so many repetitions incorrectly with poor body alignment. Your body gets absolutely nothing from working out this way except for injuries. So one last thing before we get to The Hundred- for each exercise I show you for Workout Wednesday, use the modifications I give you as needed.

The Hundred:
The Hundred is the first exercise in the Pilates Mat Series. This exercise focuses on breathing, getting the blood flowing, and warming you up for the matwork.

1. Lie flat on your back on the mat and fold your knees into your chest. Arms are long by your sides. Drop your tail bone and feel each part of your spine connected to the mat.
2. Inhale, then on your exhale curl your chin into chest (lifting your head, coming up to around the tips of the shoulder blades) and extend your legs either into a table top, to ninety degrees, or forty five degrees (or lower.) It takes practice, but your goal should be to find this position in one motion with one breath.
3. Pump the arms straight up and down as if you were giving the floor an imaginary High Five. (Hands don't actually hit the floor. Arms stay lifted off of the mat.)
4. Inhale for five counts and exhale for 5 counts- This makes one repetition.
5. Continue pumping the arms with the same breathing pattern while keeping the abdominals working for 10 repetitions.
6. After your last repetition, fold your knees into your chest and give them a hug.

1. If you have a neck injury or neck pain, keep your head down on the mat for the entire exercise.
2. Place your legs in a tabletop position, if:
        a.) this is a new exercise for you- learn the proper form then advance the exercise by lowering the  
             legs to ninety degrees and then lowered towards the floor.
        b.) you are working on regaining strength in your abdominals for various reasons such as surgery  
             or postpartum mommas beginning to exercise again after baby.
        c.) you feel tension in your back when the legs are extended out long or there is a gap or
             "daylight" between your back and the mat.
3. Once you've become comfortable with The Hundred, try first extending the legs to ninety degrees (up to the ceiling.)
4. Then as you gain abdominal strength, try lowering the legs to forty five degrees.

Teacher Tips:
1. If at any point during the exercise you feel tension in your neck, put your head down on the mat. A small pillow or rolled up towel can be used here to rest the head and neck.
2. Keep your belly "scooped" by pressing your belly button into your spine, pushing the back of the rib cage into the floor, and thinking of sinking the belly to the floor. Each time you exhale, imagine you are trying to hollow out your abdominals.
3. Work up to full repetitions. If this a new exercise for you, you may want to begin with 2 to 5 repetitions.
4. Reminder: one repetition= 5 counts of breathing in through your nose and 5 counts of breathing out through your mouth.
5. Keep yourself honest and use the modifications to help yourself get stronger!

The Hundred is a great exercise for you to add into your current fitness regime- not just when you are doing a Pilates mat workout. Maybe give it a try before/after your run or before Yoga class or even first thing when you get up in the morning. Join me back next Wednesday for another Pilates Mat exercise.

Thanks again for joining me for Workout Wednesday!

P.S. for a sneak peek video of The Hundred with all modifications follow me on Facebook here

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