Tag Archives: cardio

Barcelona Pilates Classes: Under the sun with sand in between your toes

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Barcelona has everything. Sun, sea, beaches, restaurants, shopping, mountains, culture, architecture to name just few. And now it has professional fitness classes as well.

I have created in Barcelona, as a subsidiary of my business Barcelona Bienestar, a new venture called Healthy Beach Barcelona. People say that life is a beach, so why not make it a healthy beach?!?!

Healthy Beach Barcelona offers Pilates but much more. To maximise health and wellness, our bodies need much more than Pilates. So with Healthy Beach Barcelona you can get everything you need to be a God or Goddess. We offer functional and cardio training sessions on the beach and on the terrace in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. We also many other services including massage, meditation, NLP, life coaching, nutrition advice and beauty treatments including gel nails and eye-lash extensions. We offer everything you need to help you become the best you can be.

If you live in Barcelona then you can join us every day. If you coming on vacation then join us during your stay. Or even better, come to Barcelona on a Barcelona Bienestar Retreat and let us organise everything for you.

Life is a beach. Come to Barcelona and let us help you to be a healthy beach.

Find out more by clicking on Barcelona Bienestar or click on Healthy Beach Barcelona.

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?

 

Pilates in Barcelona: Do qualifications and experience matter?

Pilates Barcelona

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Barcelona is a multi-cultural City blessed with many things which makes it very popular as a place to live and a place to visit.

When I arrived in Barcelona from London, the first thing that I did was to establish my own Chris Hunt Pilates group Pilates and functional training sessions and also Pilates and functional training personal training sessions. There is a culture in Barcelona of being outside as much as possible, so it is wonderful for me to be able to teach inside, but to also offer classes and training on the terrace, in the park and on the beach.  I have always wanted to have regular exercise sessions on the beach, and Barceloneta, Barcelona’s main beach is just perfect for that.

My article today is not only about Pilates in Barcelona and Spain, but also about my experience of qualifications and experience, and the relevance of these things.

Pilates in Spain is still developing, and in my experience does not yet have the regulation and certification that I have seen in the UK and some other European countries such as Germany. For this reason it is very important to make sure when you visit a health club, Pilates studio or Pilates teacher in Barcelona that the person who will be teaching you has appropriate certification, and also appropriate experience.

In the UK, the days of weekend Pilates certifications are thankfully long gone. Certification is regulated to ensure that the necessary standards are adhered to. This is a vital starting point for anyone who wishes to pursue a career as a Pilates teacher, and a professional qualification is something that any member of public should look for in any teacher who they think about training with. During one of my visits to Madrid some years ago, I met a Pilates teacher who proudly told me that the extent of her qualifications were the four Pilates books she had at home!

A common comment to me here in Barcelona that worries me is that I have been told by several people that Pilates is not an interesting or worthwhile system. No surprises, it usually turns out that they had one or two sessions with a poorly trained teacher and are judging the whole system on that brief experience.

Experience is an interesting component of overall knowledge. I have 20 years experience, but as with many fields of knowledge, to me it’s not enough to say “I have 20 years experience of Pilates”. That could mean 20 years of doing Pilates wrong. It could mean that in 20 years I have not travelled to experience any different or new ways of teaching. It could mean that for 20 years I have been doing the same things. It does not also give any indication as to the type of experience either. For example my 20 years includes group sessions, personal training, matwork, equipment, Pilates for rehabilitation, Pilates for athletes and Pilates for children etc.

Again in my experience (I can of course only talk from my own experience and I fully appreciate that other people will have different experiences) even when some Pilates bodies insist on their students completing sometime many hours participation in Pilates classes, this still does not guarantee a major benefit because often there is no control over exactly whose sessions are being attended.

Whilst I would usually (but not always) say that having experience is better than not having any experience, when I travel around the world to teach my system of Pilates, Pilates EVO, what I look for in a potential Pilates EVO teacher is yes how long they have been doing Pilates, but what I find in many cases more relevant is what they have been doing for the past few years. Often what they were doing 5, 10 or 15 years ago is now of little real benefit to their teaching today. It is also interesting to me that on occasions meeting a newly qualified teacher can be better than someone who has many years of teaching and thinks they know it all. None of us know it all, and if you ever meet anyone who says they do, smile politely, shake their hand and walk away quickly because whatever experience that will follow will not be a good one, trust me.

And let’s return to the question of qualifications. I am sure that we all know someone who has every qualification going, but is incapable of getting that knowledge across to clients in an interesting and stimulating way. So clients soon get bored and stop their training, or move to a different teacher.

It is about balance and common sense. Yes, it is essential that a teacher has a recognised qualification to show they have the basic knowledge of Pilates and anatomy. But this is only the start of the story. I like to work with teachers who have tried several different schools of Pilates, and who have travelled to experience how different Pilates can be in different countries. I also like teachers who have experience of different types of clients, and importantly who have an open mind to new medical and scientific discoveries.

Perhaps the most important thing I look for in potential Pilates EVO teachers is where they teach from; their heart or their bank balance (when I am speaking at conventions, at this point I double pat my heart, and then double pat my back pocket). We all need to make a living and pay the bills, but if this the only motivating factor in what someone does, whether it is Pilates, any form of teaching, or any job for that matter, then after a while (usually a very short while) it is clear to everyone that their heart is not in what they are doing. And if your heart is not in it, if it is not your passion, then you will never be able to be the best you can be.

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?

Pilates, baby tossing and butt training? Alessandra Ambrosio has some explaining to do

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There is something likeable about Alessandra Ambrosio. She is Brazilian, a 33 year-old model and a Victoria’s Secret Angel. But that is not why I like her, honestly.

I like her because she is open and honest, and she loves Pilates. The picture above is of her during a workout last week in a Santa Monica gym. She is also honest about her training and lifestyle. She recently said that she never exercised until after her daughter was born. She said: ‘When I started with Victoria’s Secret at 21, I never worked out. Then when I got pregnant with my daughter, I gained about 60 pounds and had to walk the Victoria’s Secret show three months later. That was the first time I had to really fight to get my body back into shape.’

I am very happy to let celebrities help me to promote Pilates, health and fitness. But I have to say that sometimes their lack of knowledge about training astounds me, and the things they say certainly do not help the public to understand what is important. Clearly sometimes money does not buy good advice.

Alessandra says that she doesn’t “do much” for her arms as she doesn’t think people notice them as much as the rest of her body. ‘When you’re in a bikini, your abs are the most important. I like doing bridges, and I’ll also finish a workout with 100 bicycle crunches. I’ll do three sets of 25 “Superman’s” to tone my back. I don’t really do much for my arms; throwing my kids in the air helps already. Plus, as a Brazilian, I know the last thing a man is going to look at – even after your feet – is your arms! I Spin on Monday, go to Pilates on Wednesday and yoga on Sunday. You have all these other things to put in front of [workouts] that you say are more important, but they’re not. Your health is most important.’

Where to start with these comments…. First let’s start with the positive. Regular Pilates and yoga is of course great, as is a varied fitness regime that includes cardio as well. Also “your health is most important” is clearly a good message to be getting out there.

But in my opinion as a Pilates teacher, a holistic exercise regime is vital, so neglecting any body part is flawed and an inadequate approach to health (throwing children in the air is not a recognisable training method and is probably dangerous and maybe illegal? I am sure that one day someone will try to launch it as a mother and toddler fitness concept…)

The part of this interview that I find most disturbing is the concept of training the part of your body that you think people look at most. Whilst I am sure (and I really hope I am right) that she was saying this with her tongue firmly in her cheek, the idea of training your abs and butt only because that is what men look at is not on any level a good message.

I think I should let Alessandra have the final say on this post: ‘Having a perfect body isn’t everything. I want my daughter to be nice, have a good education and be disciplined. That’s what makes people like her. A perfect butt doesn’t make an amazing person. It’s about feeling confident.’

“A perfect butt does not make an amazing person”. Inspiring words indeed. 😉

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

 

Pilates & Heart Rate: Does Kim & Kanye’s Wedding get yours going?

KMAIN

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So it was the celebrity wedding of the year. The biggest celebrity wedding since, err, well, Kim’s last marriage? But of course being serious Pilates folk, we are not bothered about celebrity weddings are we. What we are interested in is why Pilates was one of the topics of conversation at such an event.

I have been accused of dwelling on celebrity too much. So I have carefully and patiently explained to people who accuse me of this that my life and my love is Pilates. I am therefore happy to use whatever means I can to promote our beloved system to the world out there, a large proportion of whom spend a lot of their time immersed in the celebrity culture that pervades our society.

It’s no surprise that this is not the first time that I have written about Kim. In my post Kim Kardashian: Keeping up with Pilates, I talked about her exercise regime which naturally includes Pilates. She is regularly seen leaving a Pilates studio in LA and regained her famous figure after giving birth by again using Pilates-based exercises. I’ve written before about Pilates for pregnancy, see my article Mila Kunis Pregnancy Pilates for more reasons why Pilates can and should be the last exercises that are done before giving birth, and the first exercises after the birth (with some provisos of course).

Today I want to talk about heart rate and Pilates. Kim practises a fusion of Pilates, weight training and circuit training and it’s done to muscle failure with very little transition to keep the heart rate up.

I am not a believer of so-called “cardio-Pilates”; Pilates breathing should be deep and controlled throughout all the exercises. But can Pilates offer benefits to the heart? A study by the American Council on Exercise reached some interesting conclusions. As well as looking at the actual benefit offered to the heart, the study also looked into benefits in terms of calorie burning, as well as flexibility and strength, by including Pilates in the study’s fitness regimen. This study was undertaken to see the actual benefits that Pilates can provide. It attempted to see if regular inclusion of Pilates during exercise could improve aerobic fitness and qualify as good cardio workouts for women.

Results showed that heart rates rose by 54 percent with basic Pilates, which is below the recommended 64 to 94 percent rise that ensures a good workout for the heart. Oxygen consumption was at 28 percent, which is also below the recommended level of 50 to 85 percent. With advanced Pilates, heart rates rose to 62 percent and oxygen consumption to 43 percent; levels that were still below recommendations. Interestingly, participants’ perception was that their exercising was that of a heavy muscular workout for both the basic and advanced Pilates.

The study was carried out using healthy women participants (where were the men????) who had at least an intermediate experience with Pilates. There is a significant difference between beginner levels and intermediate levels of Pilates training and its effects on the body. Pilates might not have the required cardiovascular benefits, but the exercise regime does improve core strength.

The authors agree that in their study, heart benefits of Pilates were not seen. They suggest that Pilates could be adopted by people who are looking for more strength and suppleness rather than burning calories and benefiting the heart. They said that Pilates is a great form of exercise for most populations especially those looking for some toning and flexibility help. It can be modified somewhat or scaled down to fit everyone’s needs. These exercises make the person feel they are working out harder than they actually are, and there is a major difference in heart rate and oxygen utilization between basic and advanced levels of Pilates. This could mean that each person may choose Pilates according to their fitness levels and benefit by building core strength and stability.

What is your experience with heat rate?

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnivals, Pilates conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

Bikini Body using Pilates? Jennifer Hawkins knows better

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‘Tis the season for Pilates for Bikinis posts and articles. I cannot seem to open my inbox or look at the net without seeing yet another “5 Pilates exercises to get you into bikini shape” article.

I wrote previous about the claims that Pilates claim give you a flat stomach (see Does Pilates create a flat stomach?) and if you read that post you will know how I feel about people who make such claims. So is “bikini Pilates” any different?

Let’s use Jennifer Hawkins as our example today. She has never been shy about her love of working out, and at the weekend she posted on her Instagram account some nice pictures of her doing Pilates with the comment “Fave toy. Ohhh, lil bit of luv/hate for sure!! #caddy #workout.”

Jen

The 30 year-old is an Australian beauty queen, model and television presenter best known for being crowned Miss Universe Australia and later the same year Miss Universe 2004 in Quito, Ecuador. She is currently the host of Australia’s Next Top Model. She previously told Vogue that early mornings were her favourite time to exercise in between her hectic schedule. ‘I’m definitely a schedule person so I’ll get up really early and do a Pilates class or go for a run. Pilates I love. If I could do that three times a week I would but I just don’t have the time.’

So back to Pilates for bikinis articles. Of course such an evocative claim is not far from the truth. We all know the benefits of a regular Pilates exercise regime. Such benefits can and will be increased by integrating other exercise systems (including cardio) into a weekly practice, and by eating a healthy diet. For sure the body will respond over time and for sure you will look better in a bikini. What gets my goat is the headlines about “5 Pilates exercises to get in shape”. This for me categorically goes against the principle that Pilates is a holistic practice, especially as typically those “5 exercises” will focus on abs and butt. Such headlines and articles are simply trying to grab attention, and as is typical in today’s culture, give the impression that you are only 5 exercises away from the body you want.  Jennifer Hawkins has achieved her body thanks no doubt with a little help from genetics, but also hard work over a sustained period of time.

The other dangerous thing is that it is now, in spring/early summer that these same old articles and miracle cures do the rounds, clearly suggesting that you only need a matter of a few weeks to achieve that wonder-bod for the summer. Such claims, in keeping with other “New Year” diet nonsense (see my blog “Another Year, another new diet….) only serve to fuel the misconception that there is a quick fix, and of course this only leads to failed diets/exercise regimes and ultimately disappointment.

The simple truth is that there is no quick fix. Any lasting changes we seek to achieve in life usually take time and lot of dedication and sometimes sacrifice. Whilst “Get a bikini shape in 12 months” might not get me many clicks, it’s a far better target to be aiming for next summer and be able to maintain a body shape change than it is to con people into thinking change is easy.

And as a final point, why do I never see “exercises to get fit for your swimming trunks” articles?!?! I can feel another blog coming on….

Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength.  He also organises Pilates Carnivals, Pilates conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. Read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway? for more.

Beyonce & Paul McCartney are Pilates buddies!

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It doesn’t get any more celebrity than this, Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney doing Pilates together!

Regular readers of my blog will know that as well as more serious articles about Pilates, I also write about famous Pilatistas. My opinion is that anything that raises awareness of Pilates can only be a good thing. In today’s culture, it’s a fact that many people associate themselves with celebrities. It’s not my place to argue the rights of wrongs of this, I just accept it as a fact, and if just one person tries Pilates because of one of my blogs, then I consider this to be a success. If you want a technical Pilates discussion then please click on the link above to my website or my Facebook link below and let’s chat…

So back to Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney. The two music legends were staying in the same hotel, the Four Seasons, during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California.

The famous pair were seen going through their paces at an LA gym, according to the UK press. It’s reported that they hit the treadmills and after some cardio, Macca, 71, and Beyonce, 32, did some Pilates before heading off for a run.

Celebrity gossip aside, this Pilates pairing shows the world exactly how great Pilates can be. Yes, men and women do it! Yes, old and young do it! Yes, you can do Pilates with a friend because it can be done at many different levels as it is possible to modify the movements to make them appropriate for all levels of ability.

It is clear to the world what amazing condition Beyoncé is in, and it is a good job Sir Paul is staying in good physical shape at his age after he added six more dates to the North American leg of his Out There Tour.

Celebrities, love them or hate them, they do sometimes show the world the possibilities when it comes to using Pilates. For that, I thank them.

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Extreme TRX Training

Chris Hunt Fitness TRX 2

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Here I am using TRX to do an extreme chest push-up completely suspended off the ground.

if you have not yet used TRX, you should give it a go. It’s excellent for all Fitness Levels because it so versatile. It will help build functional strength, but will also help you improve anaerobic cardiovascular endurance. You have the choice to perform any exercise at a rapid pace or with a slow and controlled motion. Of course, the faster you go, the greater cardio training potential you will have. There are literally hundreds of different variations of exercises you can use to target every muscle of the body, and it’s really portable.

Suspension training is an excellent way to improve muscle imbalances primarily because of the amount of balance you must have to perform any of these exercise. Because of the constant instability, your body will perform as single unit to maintain the necessary balance. Many training injuries are a direct results of muscular imbalances throughout the body. As previously mentioned, TRX will help correct such imbalances, and can be a great tool for people who are recovering some injury.

Chris TRX

From my perspective as a Pilates presenter I love the way that TRX is an extremely attractive training technique because of its ability to active the core. This is due to the constant instability that the straps provide. You must be able to balance and keep your core tight throughout every movement. TRX can strengthen all muscles of the core including the rectus abdominis (front of abs), transverse abdominis (sides of abs), and lower back.

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All TRX exercises are very low-impact and are excellent for people looking to give their joints a break. This is especially true for runners who tend to get overuse injuries due to repetitive movements. You don’t need to worry about being crushed by heavy weights because the only resistance you use is your own body.

Most of all for me this is a really fun way to train indoors our outside. Give it a try. Let me know if you want any more information or tips, I am here to help.

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