Tag Archives: hollywood

Felicity Kendal at 67: Pilates better than botox

GH Felicity Kendal L2.jpg

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So it’s my birthday today, but there is nothing I like to do more in life than to champion the benefits of Pilates!

Today I am writing about the British actress Felicity Kendal. She has always looked amazing, and she has now revealed some of her secrets. She naturally uses Pilates as part of her routine, and she says some very intelligent and interesting things about health and beauty. So for once I will let someone else do most of the talking!

She used Botox and fillers earlier in her career to try to halt the ageing process, but last week the 67-year-old actress admitted she has now dispensed with cosmetic surgery, claiming she wants her complexion to ‘match the rest of her body’.

Miss Kendal, who shot to fame in cult BBC sitcom The Good Life in 1975, said she now prefers to use a combination of yoga, Pilates and weightlifting to help maintain her striking looks. Speaking about pressure to maintain her youthful appearance, she said: ‘There is pressure in the movie business, but I’m not in that. I haven’t done fillers or Botox for ages. There comes a point where you have to match bits of you with the other bits, otherwise you get a terribly random situation. All that is off the cards now.

‘I do a combination of yoga, Pilates, and weights. Very often I don’t feel like it, but you get to the point where you either get stiff and stop, or you keep going. And it’s so worth it, because it makes me feel good. If I don’t do it, I feel yuck, the jeans don’t fit, and I’m lacking in energy. I’m fitter and stronger now than I was 20 years ago, and I’ve never felt so good. ‘Women have become incredibly independent. We’ve really come a long way in almost every walk of life in the past 30 years, and society is more equal now. But we’ve still got this hang-up about what women look like. I do it myself. There is still an obsession with women’s looks, and that’s never going to go, but we could be a little more generous.’

As well as appearing as Barbara Good alongside actor Richard Briers in BBC hit The Good Life, which ran between 1975 and 1978, Miss Kendal has made numerous stage appearances. She also starred in the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing where she impressed viewers with her athletic dance routines.

Talking about her approach to staying healthy, she added: ‘My pleasure is a glass of red wine… maybe two. After that, I can’t remember! But I don’t believe in guilt. I used to feel guilty: I should do more exercise, I shouldn’t do this, I should do that… But now I just think, this is who I am, and give into it. There’s a liberation in that. At my age, women get to a point where we don’t make decisions to impress somebody else, but to please ourselves. Like when I got my tattoo four years ago. It was the opposite of trying to be younger and ‘with it’, it was about celebrating the fact you’re not young anymore, so you know what you want to do. It’s something I did totally for myself.’

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.

Vanessa Hudgens: Does Pilates create a flat stomach?

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Pilates brings many benefits, most people know that. In my experience most people come to Pilates because they have an existing issue with their body that they want to rehabilitate from, they want to improve performance and quality of life (especially in a sporting sense), or because they want to change their body shape.

Pilates can achieve all these things. But I think it is always vital that clients understand exactly what Pilates is and exactly how it achieves what it does.

I am often asked the question, “will Pilates give me a flat stomach?” To help answer this question, I will use the example of Vanessa Hudgens, as she is a Pilates fan and is regularly complemented for her great figure. She was pictured this week leaving a Pilates studio in LA.

First of all, if you are not familiar with Vanessa, she is a 25-year-old American actress and singer. She rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series and has also appeared in various films and television series for the Disney Channel.

So, back to the question, will Pilates give you a flat stomach? The simple answer is it will help for sure if it is done properly, as the abdominal muscles are trained as part of the holistic exercise system. But, and it is a big but, exercise alone is not enough. I like the saying that flat abs (or even a six-pack) is creates 20% in the gym and 80% in the kitchen. It’s an obvious fact that we all have a six-pack, of course some are genetically blessed with a head-start, but we all have one! The problem is some people’s six-packs are a little shy, they like to hide behind a layer of fat! This is why diet is vital.

I think it is important not to simply equate a stronger core with a flatter stomach. For most people, flatter abs means weight loss as well as exercise. I do not think that Pilates teachers should advertise Pilates simply to get flat abs, as this demeans the whole system. It makes me very angry when I see headlines like “5 Pilates exercises to get a six-pack”. What we should be saying is that Pilates is a holistic system that will make your body stronger, more flexible and healthier. A nice side-effect of this is often a slimmer more toned body and in turn a flatter stomach, something that is also helped by the improvement in posture that Pilates will bring. If most people simply learn and are able to stand up straight in a neutral position, then hey presto their stomach will often flatten.

Also, Pilates is about how to use your body and body awareness. This is what I really stress through NLP and mindfulness when I am teaching my system, Pilates EVO. Pilates can give you swagger!

Something that many gym goers are unaware of is that the abs should also be flexible. It’s a dangerous myth that to be strong and look good muscles should be tight. Nonsense. Every muscle needs flexibility. If we have no flexibility and balance in our bodies then eventually our bodies will break-down, often not in the area of the inflexibility.

As always, if you want more advice on anything Pilates, or about how exercise and diet can help change your figure, then please drop me a line via my website, Facebook or the form below.

 

Hot Pilates & yoga: Just a lot of hot air?

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Unlike some Pilates presenters, I am not against all new adaptations of our beloved Pilates system per se. The world is always changing, and to stay still is never such a good idea.  If I can see that a new idea brings something new and beneficial without compromising on the principles and qualities that we all know and love, then I am open to try it.

That brings me to the subject of the “hot exercise” craze. We have all heard of Hot Yoga, and many of us have had the pleasure of using a studio after a hot yoga session and having to open windows to disperse the heat and the smell. Pilates seems to be following with hot classes springing up, but is there any proven benefit in exercising in high temperatures that make the body sweat? We have moved on from running in bin bags, but is hot exercise just the same but trendy because they do it in Hollywood?

Having looked at recent research, I have to say that it does not look good for exercising in heat.  Some experts say that it only serves to raise heart rate and blood pressure which for some people will be a lethal cocktail. A study in 2013 conducted by the University of Wisconsin concluded that the effort required to do a Bikram-style yoga class was all but identical to that required to do a normal yoga class (the exercise intensity was on average around 56 to 57% of maximal heart rate, which would classify both as “light exercise not dissimilar to a light walk). Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise said that the benefits of heat are largely perceptual. “People think that the degree of sweat is the quality of the workout, but that is not the reality. It does not correlate to burning calories”.

So as Pete Bee makes the point in her Times article earlier this year, if it does not burn more calories then what exactly does it do? There is some anecdotal evidence that saunas have health and stress-relief benefits and can help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (click to read my article about Pilates and RA). But the importance of sweating can be overplayed. After all it is the body’s heat control mechanism, a vital means of keeping the body cool. It’s the evaporation of sweat that actually cools the body, and as we will all know from our gym experience, no two people sweat the same, but this is not an indication of their fitness or health. There is also no evidence that sweat purifies the body. Sweat comprises mainly water with some electrolytes. It’s the liver and kidneys that filter out the toxins, not the sweat glands. Research by the University of California found sweating eliminates less than 1% of toxic metals expelled by the body, so clearly sweating is by no means the most important.  It’s safe to conclude that sweat is just that, sweat, and nothing else.

From the traditional side of the argument, I know many yoga masters who have a great dislike of hot yoga. They say it drains your adrenals and kidneys. This is one of three subtle energies called ‘Ojas’. In Chinese medicine it is called your ‘Jing’ energy. You are born with this energy, and when you burn it up it is very difficult to get it back. When you drain it you get more paranoia, impaired energy level and quality. Actual Yoga is said to build this energy very slowly over years and years.

They also argue that doing asanas in extreme heat mean that muscles, which would in normal temperatures protect the joint from overextending, become atrophied. The extreme heat makes the muscles flaccid and limp, and then the movement of the exercises hyperextend the joint beyond its normal range of motion. This stretches the tendons and ligaments, instead of lengthening the muscle. This creates instability and weakness in the joint. As a result the muscles have to over overcompensate to do the job that the tendons and ligaments would normally do. The body becomes bendy, but not truly open and flexible and strong. It is good to practice in a warm room, a reasonable temperature of up to about 30 degrees, but to practice yoga is temperatures up to 40 degrees they argue is harmful, and absurd.

When doing Yoga asanas the breath is essentially the thread that ties all the elements together. In the ancient text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is said, ‘the mind is the king of the body, and the breath is the king of the mind.’ So the breath is the master that controls everything – the body and the mind. This works as the nerves that run through the central nervous system are connected to the top of the nose, this point in Yoga is known as ‘trikut́i’. When you learn through your regular practice how to control the breath through the nose, the vital air will stimulate the nervous system so that it slows the rhythmic pulsation of the nerves and then the mind and the body will be at peace and calm. However, if you are doing postures in 40 degrees heat, then the density and atmosphere of the environment will make the breathing techniques used in Yoga asanas impossible. It is argued that the heated, humid and smelly atmosphere is a terrible environment to be in period, let alone do Yoga asanas in.

So which side of the argument are you on? Do you have personal experience of hot Pilates or yoga? Are hot classes just another way to get people into studios? Does it really matter as long as people are exercising? I’d love to hear your opinions.

In my Pilates EVO teacher training I tell my students that they must never switch off from their intuition and be influenced by marketing ploys. I tell them to listen to their body. Your nervous system and your body are telling you all you need to know if you just take the time to listen. You’ll feel the truth there.

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Mila Kunis Pregnancy Pilates

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Mila Kunis’ pregnancy seems to be the worst kept Hollywood secret. Whilst news she is expecting may have broken the hearts of millions of men, she is doing all the right things with her exercise regime. The 30-year-old was spotted leaving a Pilates class last week.

The actress, who is engaged to Ashton Kutcher, is rumoured to be having a girl, but of course we are not concerned with Hollywood gossip, we are concerned with the amazing benefits that Pilates can bring during pregnancy.

So why is Pilates such a great exercise system before, during and after pregnancy? There are many reasons, and I want to keep this blog short and sweet so for the benefit of those who are not so familiar with Pilates, I will try to briefly explain some of the reasons why Mila will benefit from her regular Pilates sessions.

The beauty of many Pilates exercises that can be used during pregnancy is that they can help with body awareness, they can help to maintain good posture, and they can help to reduce some of the typical aches and pains that most women will experience at some point. Pilates is just about the safest exercise system out there and because it can be adapted, it remains relevant and safe throughout all the stages of pregnancy.

It’s never too late to start either. Even if an expectant mum has never done Pilates before (or even any other form of exercise) it will still provide many benefits. Plus it can help to reduce the recovery period after baby is born. Pilates can and should be last form of exercise a pregnant mum does before the birth, and it can be the first exercises she does after the birth.

There are of course some serious considerations that any Pilates teacher should be aware of when instructing pregnant clients as the pregnancy develops, not least minimizing the time spent lying on the back as this can in rare cases cause nausea and dizziness. Supine hypotensive syndrome is where the weight of the developing baby can prevent normal circulation of blood which can in theory lead to a lack of oxygen which affects baby’s blood supply. Of course exercise should be stopped immediately if any pain or uncomfortable sensations occur. It’s also important to ask all the usual questions about health and previous issues/injuries rather than just concentrate on the fact your client is pregnant.

In my system Pilates EVO Pregnancy© (www.pilatesevo.com) the sequences of movements ensure that no more than 5 minutes is spent on the back at any one time. The NLP, mindfulness meditation and meridian aspects work perfectly in conjunction with traditional Pilates to create a full mind and body experience. I also teach how we can appropriately touch and instruct a pregnant client, and all the special considerations that must be taken into account.

There are of course considerations, and it is this attention to detail that makes professional Pilates teachers such experts. But this should not detract from the fact that Pilates can be totally safe during pregnancy, and it is the perfect way to prepare your body and mind.

I’m happy as always to chat in more detail about Pilates during pregnancy and Pilates EVO Pregnancy© so please get in touch via my website or Facebook.

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Kathleen Turner: Pilates helped fight rheumatoid arthritis

Kathleen 2

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It can be inspiring (if not a little tiring) to see an article about another actress with a flat belly that she has achieved through Pilates. My blog today is about a famous actress, but it is an altogether more inspiring story, and another great example of why Pilates has changed so many people’s lives. Kathleen Turner says it saved her life.

The 59-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1992 and has had 12 operations over a 12 year period to combat the painful disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. The main symptoms are joint pain and swelling.  You can find out more by clicking on www.arthritisresearchuk.org.

Kathleen was told that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair after she was reduced to shuffling up stairs on her bottom. However Kathleen, who is currently starring in the new West End production, Bakersfield Mist, says she maintains her strength and flexibility because she practices Pilates. ‘Pilates, baby! Twice a week. Pilates saved my life,’ the actress told The Times Newspaper in London.

Rheumatoid arthritis in women can be common for those in their late 30s and early 40s, after they have given birth. Kathleen was told by a physician that she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, but rather than accept the diagnosis, she fired that doctor and endured a staggering number of surgeries.

She shot to cinematic fame opposite William Hurt in the 1981 classic Body Heat, and over the years has proven her worth in films like Romancing The Stone, Peggy Sue Got Married, and even voiced the animated character of Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Now she is back on the stage and citing Pilates as the main reason why she can still act.

Another Pilates “good news” story. It works for Kathleen, and it works for over 11 million people who regularly do Pilates around the world. 

If you want to find out more about how Pilates can help with many different issues, then please contact me.

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Kim Kardashian: Keeping up with Pilates

Kim

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Anything that raises awareness of Pilates can only be a good thing, right? 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…

Yesterday Kim Kardashian was the latest celebrity to be photographed leaving a Pilates session. The 33-year-old stopped by a Pilates studio in Los Angeles to stay fit. The photographer was more concerned with her curve-hugging outfit for her workout, but that is what sells pictures right?

Kanye and Kim

The model, actress and American TV reality star rose to fame after a sex-tape was leaked with a former partner, and she is not considered to be part of the world’s most talked about couple with her partner Kanye West.

Kim is reported to like to train using a fusion of pilates, weight training and circuit training done to muscle failure with very little transition to keep the heart rate up. So not the purest form of Pilates as intended by Joseph, but then there have been many modifications over the years and regular readers of my blog will know that I totally endorse Pilates as only one part of any training regime. Whilst some of the more recent “Pilates” systems are in my humble opinion not Pilates at all, it is possible to create a system that stays true to the principles and teaching of Pilates, as I have tried to do with my system Pilates EVO.

As always, if you have any questions about Pilates, training, weight loss of diet, then please get in touch.

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Gal Gadot is Pilates Wonder Woman

Gal Godot

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Anything that raises the awareness of Pilates can only be a good thing. In today’s celebrity culture, it is a fact that many people associate themselves with the people they see in magazines or on the screen. I have no intention of arguing 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 technical Pilates information that please click on the link above to my website and let’s chat 🙂

Today’s celebrity Pilates news is about Gal Gadot. The long rumoured role of Wonder Woman for the Man os Steel follow-up has been officially announced by Warner this week, with the Israeli actress taking on the role in Batman Vs. Superman.

Gadot is perhaps best known for her role in the Fast and Furious films, appearing as the character Gisele Harabo in the last three films. In a statement, producer Snyder said:

“Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favourite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”

But how does the 28-year-old former Miss Israel and mother of one maintain her body? Any guesses? In her own words “I just keep active—everything that’s challenging me, everything that I feel like doing. It’s not like I’m only TRX or Pilates. I do sports.”

As I have said many times before, Pilates should be one part of an exercise regime and I agree with Gal about TRX as that is my favourite way to train as well. About TRX Gal says “because everything’s working your whole body,” she said. “I do cardio, but I don’t like it as much. I’d rather do weights.”

Her diet is of course very important but she is human. She says “I try to eat healthy, but sometimes though, I eat cheeseburgers. That’s good for the soul. I make sure to balance everything out. I drink tons of water.”

If you want more ideas about a balanced diet and exercise regime, then contact me via my website link above or by Facebook.

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Model Karena Graham wants to teach Pilates

Karena Graham Miss Irish Sun 2010

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It was reported this week in Ireland that Karena Graham is ready to wave goodbye to modelling and wants to move to LA for a major career change.

The 27-year-old model has decided that after 13 years behind the camera, she was to live in Hollywood and become a personal trainer. The Dublin-based model is also taking on a course to become a qualified Pilates instructor.

“I’ve had an offer to learn how to teach, so to get a job in Pilates when I land in LA would be ideal because working in that arena is what I really want to do,” she said.

“It’s a weird one, but I’m obsessed with fitness, and California is the ideal place to work in that area,” she said.

“I’ve been visiting LA for years and it’s just very me, it’s casual and chilled and I can wear my gym gear all day if I want to.”

About modelling, Karena says “It’s a great job and I’ll do it as long as I can here, but over in the US I want to focus on different things and I do want to get away from it in a sense.”

So welcome Karena to the Pilates family.

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Alessandra Ambrosio is a Pilates addict

Alessandra 1

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Alessandra Ambrosio is at it again with her Pilates practise, and she doesn’t need make-up or a private gym session to burn calories.

The 32-year-old Victoria’s Secret model was barefaced whilst displaying her sculpted physique in a class full of students at her Pilates studio in Los Angeles on Saturday morning.

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The mother-of-two donned hot pink leggings, a white sports bra and loose-fitted printed pastel tank top.

She returned to the catwalk only three months after giving birth, to wear a 20-carat diamond Fantasy bra in the 2012 show. She described her preparation for the feat as ‘intense.’

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‘You work out as an athlete. All your mind, all your everything goes into it,’ she said, before adding, ‘But what better motivation to get into shape than to be wearing a ($2.5) million dollar bra?’

But whether there’s a big runway gig or not, Alessandra appears to always maintain a strict workout routine, frequently seen hitting the gym.

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Sandra Bullock: Pilates defies Gravity

 

Sandra Bullock 2

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Oscar winning movie. Whilst I was wowed by the amazing cinematography and special effects, the most remarkable thing about the film for me is Sandra Bullock. She is simply amazing.

The actress and producer is an incredible 49 years old, and is a testament to the fact that the aging process is not necessarily as unavoidable as many people think.

So how does she do it? How does she look so great? In her own words, “I do a lot of Pilates, kick boxing, and weight training in L.A. and when I’m in Austin I run or ride a bike,” She puts in an  hour at the gym 6 times a week and boy does it show.

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Whilst other actresses claim with some justification that Hollywood is ageist and roles diminish when they get towards 50, Sandra’s career is booming with Gravity being her most commercially and critically successful film yet.

Once again Pilates is at the heart of a successful career, and Sandra is truly an inspiration.

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