St. Louis friends: I’m so excited to share this powerful, inspiring workshop with you! My friends at The Vault Luxury Resale in Brentwood are graciously hosting this women-only event in their beautiful space, please see the details below. Online sign up opens on April 3rd, but you can pre-register by emailing email@example.com. Space is limited!
I love the holidays! I love finding that perfect, thoughtful, creative, gift for people in my life. No matter how big or small your budget, here are some ideas for everyone on your list!
My tips for giving the perfect gift:
Spoil them: Choose something they wouldn’t normally splurge on for themselves – a spa service, a jewelry box, cute PJs…
Inspire them: A journal, a book, a gift certificate for healthy meal delivery, etc. can be the spark they need to live better. (As you’re not pushy).
Personalize it: Add their name, nickname, initials or monogram. (Can’t wait til the last minute though!)
Here are some of the things I’ll be shopping (and hoping for) for this year.
FOR THE HOMEBODY:
- A plush bathrobe – Spoil them with this warm, luxe one from Ugg.
- Cozy slippers – You don’t need an exact shoes size or to spend too much to find the perfect pair like these from Urban Outfitters.
- A luxurious blanket – You can’t go wrong with this silky, soft (totally affordable) throw. And you can never have enough of them!
FOR THE FITNESS ENTHUSIAST:
- TRX Suspension System– Easy to set up, portable and perfect for all fitness levels, you can get a killer workout at home or anywhere.
- The perfect gym bag – Lululemon has stylish and functional choices for men & women.
- A sleek water bottle – Swell bottles are durable and come in just about every color, pattern, style you can imagine. And they’re perfect to personalize. (Pictured right fromCha Boutique in St. Louis).
FOR THE JETSETTER:
- A cosmetic case or dob kit – I have been givingStephanie Johnson cases as gifts for as long as I remember.
- An eye catching luggage tag– You’ll want one of these for yourself too.
- Travel size skin and hair care products – Mini versions of luxe products for men and women (like these for him from Jack Black or this set for her from Drybar) are instant winners.
FOR THE ATHLETE:
FOR THE KID (OR KID AT HEART):
- An arcade game – Definitely a big ticket item but hours of fun. For everyone. If you ever can’t find us, we’re in the basement playing Golden Tee. (Pictured left, one of many tournaments in our basement).
- Coloring kits– Who doesn’t love to color? A cure for boredom, coloring is also a great stress reliever. Don’t forget a set of colored pencils or fine tip markers.
- A puzzle – You can find one to suit just about anyone. ( I like this 80’s themed one.)
- FOR THE BEAUTY PRODUCT JUNKIE:
- Dyson hair dryer– A total splurge but give this to a girl with long hair and you’ll change her life forever.
- Foreo– This tiny but tough, portable facial cleansing brush comes in every color.
- Luxe gift set – Every year Chanel does a set of mini lip glosses and every year I buy it. (For myself).
FOR THE HOST/HOSTESS:
- A great bottle of wine – We received a bottle of Papillon as a gift and it is gooooood.
- A designer candle – Voluspa candles are the prettiest and smell amazing!
- A game – A pretty deck of playing cards or a raunchy Cards Against Humanity. Just know your crowd…
You’re not lazy. You’re willing to put in your time. You’re not afraid of hard work. So why is it so hard to get your shit together?
Too general. Too broad. What’s the WHY? The “why” helps you set a goal. Are you in debt? Are you in a dead end job? Do you have kids to put through college? Do you feel undervalued? All very different situations which will likely require a different path.
Question for you…Have you actually set goals for yourself? Have you really identified what you want and just as importantly, WHY you want it? It’s more difficult than it sounds. Try writing down a clearly defined goal. For example, you want to lose weight. Ok.
I want to lose 20 pounds.
I want to find a nutrition and fitness program that fits well into my lifestyle and allows me to maintain a healthy weight, have energy to ______, and feel proud of my physical appearance.
See the difference? You have the what and the why. And now you can actually figure out what steps to take to get there. You can seek out a nutrition coach, or research different programs to decide what seems like a good fit for you. Same goes for choosing a gym. Going back to your set goal, your clearly defined, written goal, will help you make better decisions. You’ll be less likely to get sucked into a trendy “diet” that you know will be miserable for you. You won’t join a gym that’s inconvenient for you. Or sign up for workouts you dread. That wouldn’t be serving your ultimate goal. It wouldn’t set you up for success.
How about another one?
I want to make more money.
I want to get out of debt and become financially stable so that I can save money for the future.
I want to find a career that allows me to work in a field that I enjoy with upside potential to grow and…buy a home….take family vacations…support my family…create personal wealth.
I want to create a budget that allows me to save money to provide for my kids’ education.
I want to earn a fair salary for the work that I do and feel valued.
The steps you’d take for each goal would be very different. You may need to find a new job, a new career even, or look into an additional source of income. You may need to seek help creating a savings plan for a specific goal.
I speak from experience. I’ve failed to reach many goals. Mainly because they didn’t really exist. I had ideas of what I wanted, but an idea is not a goal. If you don’t know what you’re really after, or why, it’s like running on a treadmill – not very inspiring, easy to lose interest and tough to stay on it for long. (On another note, for an effective, less boring treadmill workout, click HERE.)
This is just a start. But you can’t skip the first and most important step. SET A GOAL. Define it clearly. Write it down. Read it daily. Only then can you start to map out your plan.
The concept of “pre-hab” is becoming increasingly popular in sports. A nickname of sorts for injury prevention, this type of training is not only sought after by athletes, but organizations as a whole are beginning to incorporate various methods.
“Pre-hab” can be defined as a proactive approach to avoiding pain, preventable injury and unnecessary surgery. This is accomplished through a balance of strength and stability. By training the most vulnerable areas and focusing on efficient movement patterns, athletes can help increase their chances of staying healthy while improving performance.
For years, Pilates has been quietly used by elite athletes to enhance their training. Athletes in various sports, and professional teams, have embraced Pilates and its popularity continues to grow.
How does Pilates work as “Pre-hab”?
•Teaches proper activation of trunk stabilizers to promote efficient movement
•Combines mobility and stability to improve functional performance, posture and alignment
•Balances strength and flexibility to increase agility while strengthening smaller, supporting muscle groups
•Helps correct muscle imbalances, posture, recruitment deficiencies and poor movement patterns
•Aids in recovery without contributing fatigue
•Increases blood flow to help the body remove lactic acid and other waste products
•Helps relieve pain and soreness through targeted, active stretching
In addition, and possibly one of the most important benefits of Pilates is the enhancement of the mind and body connection. Pilates requires an athlete to execute complete control of their movements, improving body awareness.
Combine the physical benefits with a strong mind-body connection, and Pilates can be an invaluable part of a complete training program.
Tap into your “Powerhouse” with Pilates
Pilates has gained tremendous popularity in the athletic world as a means to prevent or rehabilitate injuries, increase flexibility and keep athletes at peak condition without any additional stress on their bodies. Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James do it but why should YOU?
Let’s begin with a crash course in the Pilates Method. Pilates, named for its creator Joseph Pilates (Joe – a man), was created about 100 years ago. The method promotes efficient movement through muscular control, balance, endurance and strength. The exercises may be done on special equipment such as the reformer, the Cadillac (or trapeze table), the chair, or on a mat. Movements focus on the core or “powerhouse” as Joe called it (actually powerhaus – he was German), initiating from the deep musculature of the abdominals, the back, the hips and glutes and flowing outward to the rest of the body.
What’s the difference between Pilates and yoga?
Joseph Pilates actually took inspiration from several yoga poses but in general, Pilates tends to be more dynamic while yoga poses may be held anywhere from several breaths to several minutes. While both integrate a strong mindful practice, yoga has deep spiritual roots and a meditative element not found in Pilates. (You won’t hear Sanskrit language or chanting) And while Pilates can be practiced on the mat like yoga, the unique, spring based equipment can offer assistance with alignment and support or can increase the intensity of the exercises.
Train like a pro (Sport Performance)
Think rotational movements for golf, tennis and baseball. Balance challenged unilateral movements mimic the demands of ice hockey, skiing or boxing. Squats and lunges both assisted and resisted with spring tension teach the body to initiate movement from the core which translates to more power, speed and agility. So whether you’re an NFL running back or taking part in a 1-mile fun run with your 9 year old, everyone has a competitive streak.
Air brushed abs (True core strength)
If you want to increase core stability, reduce your risk of injury, protect your back and improve your posture, skip the crunches and get on a Pilates Reformer. Dynamic planks done slow and controlled on a moving carriage supported with only light springs will have you in a full sweat. Don’t expect to “power through” a Pilates workout. Micro adjustments have a major impact and allow you to work beyond the superficial muscles and tap into the transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of the abdominal wall.
No skipping “leg day” (Uniform muscle development)
Chances are that when you hit the gym, you favor certain exercises. And those exercises are probably the ones you do well. Hockey players love “Speed Skater” on the reformer. Lateral movement with abduction is natural for them. In a single Pilates workout, you’ll train opposing movements through all planes of motion. Each “series” of exercises does a great job of balancing movement. In the “Long Stretch Series” you’ll get both spinal extension from “Down Stretch” and spinal flexion from “Elephant”. Don’t worry, your instructor won’t expect you to remember the silly names. Just try to keep a straight face when you get to try “Colitis” aka “Ferris Wheel”. Pilates training will challenge those oft neglected muscles groups which will improve your posture and increase your overall strength.
Be invincible (Injury prevention)
The combination of flexibility and core strength, promotes long, strong and pliable muscles which decreases the risk of injuries. Many Pilates exercises challenge balance as well which not only helps reinforce core stability but strengthen the smaller muscles, tendons and ligaments that protect the joints. While a static lunge can improve knee stability, taking it to the reformer and adding dynamic movement, recruits more of the supporting muscles and increases the functional strength of the knee. Because let’s face it, how many knee injuries happen while standing completely still?
Touch your toes (Flexibility)
Pilates incorporates both passive and active stretching as well as static and dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching techniques have been shown to improve subsequent performance and can be beneficial prior to a workout or sport competition. Static stretching, in correct form, can improve sustained flexibility over time. The bars, springs and straps of Pilates equipment promote proper alignment to elongate muscles safely and effectively.
Do EVERYTHING better (Body awareness)
Pilates training can be frustrating at first because it requires a mind-body connection. Breathing techniques, alignment, core engagement, oppositional movement and awakening neglected muscles can seem overwhelming at first but the payoff is big. For example, most women know what a “kegel” is, however many men don’t know how or why they need to strengthen their pelvic floor. The muscles in the pelvic floor support your internal organs, allow for deeper core engagement, can improve bladder and bowel health and may even improve sex. If you’re not sure how to engage your pelvic floor, imagine stopping the flow of urine without contracting your glutes, legs or abdomen. When you feel a slight pulling sensation, you’ve found it. Stronger pelvic floor muscles will strengthen another important muscle that men wish they had more control over in that region. Now that’s functional strength.
If you’ve decided that you need Pilates in your life, be sure to find a certified Pilates instructor that has completed a comprehensive Pilates training program. There are a variety of teaching styles so check out different studios and share your personal goals to get matched with the right instructor. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated! It may take some time to the hang of it so stick with Pilates for at least three sessions.
If I look at my initial notes for any of my athlete clients, almost every single one has listed flexibility as a goal they wish to achieve through Pilates. And flexibility is definitely a key component of performance improvement and injury prevention. But flexibility without stability is a fast track to the DL.
Some of us are born with excessive range of motion in a joint but anyone can develop hypermobility. Any stretch routine should focus on creating pliable, agile muscles and be accompanied by exercises to strengthen the structures that support the joints.
Many classic “hip openers” such as a deep low lunge, straddle stretch or pigeon pose, are an example of stretches that may feel good, and provide a feeling of release. However, without including stabilizing exercises to work the gluteus medius and minimus, the cartilage and ligaments that support the hip joint can end up stressed, leaving the hip vulnerable to injury. Exercises such as kneeling side kicks in Pilates, Warrior III pose in yoga or simple lateral band walks are just a few examples of exercises that engage the glutes and can help increase hip strength.
Excessive stretching without balancing flexibility and strength, hinders performance and can put the athlete at risk for injuries just as muscle imbalance, tightness and inflexibility does. Many Pilates and yoga classes can help improve range of motion, joint stability and core strength which are all essential to peak performance and injury prevention.
Tips for choosing a safe and effective flexibility program:
Look for a facility and/or instructor with advanced knowledge of anatomy, an understanding of the principles of strength training and experience working with athletes.
Many sport performance programs/trainers now partner with, or provide Pilates and Yoga classes on site that compliment training programs.
Instructors should be comprehensively trained in their modality with a minimum of 400 hours.
One on one instruction, especially when just beginning a flexibility program, can be extremely beneficial and provides a personalized approach.
Choose a time and day that compliments your training schedule. Pilates and Yoga are supplements to strength training, not a replacement.
Always listen to your body. Challenge yourself without pushing yourself into poses or positions that feel painful.
Pay attention to how your body responds to the session. You should feel relaxed but energized rather than fatigued or sore.