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The World Cup: Coleen Rooney, WAGS, and Pilates

Sport Core Strength Chris Hunt Pilates

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Any excuse to talk about football and I am there. I am a lifelong passionate fan of Arsenal and Barcelona. When I lived in London I was a regular at Highbury and then the Emirates, and now I am blessed to be in Barcelona watching one of the most beautiful football teams in the world. I played football for many years as a boy and young man, so applying my knowledge of Pilates to footballers is something I naturally enjoy.

Before the serious stuff, you might have noticed that the World Cup is almost upon us, and whilst the players are going through their final preparations, so too are the wives and girlfriends (WAGS). In the UK there is always s big fuss about the WAGS and their impact on the players.

Queen of the WAGS. mother of two and wife of England striker Wayne Rooney is Coleen Rooney. She took to twitter this week to tell us all about her fitness regime, which includes gym sessions, interval training and of course Pilates. She said “I always wear a bikini on holiday, they’re the first thing I think about packing. I have drawers full and I always take far too many away. But like anyone else I have to be careful about what I choose. There are certain shapes I’ve found that make me feel confident, so I stick to those. I tend to avoid anything too skimpy on the bottom half and I look for halter neck styles on top. My main problem area is my love handles so I don’t want to wear anything tight around my hips. Thin, stringy, tie-side briefs aren’t flattering so I always go for big bikini bottoms.”

With these inspiring words in mind, let me turn to the serious point of my blog today. I love to work with sportsmen and women. Whilst I get a massive sense of satisfaction when I see someone rehabilitate from injury or improve their posture, I also love to work with athletes to help them to improve even further their game. In Barcelona I am working with people involved in sports such as golf, surfing and rock climbing.

We are all very familiar with the benefits that Pilates brings, and specifically for football Pilates is relevant because it can help to: improve  flexibility, improve mobility, improve co-ordination, build overall fitness, improve endurance, build body awareness and focus, reduce the risk of injury, and help to rehabilitate after injury

Football demands rapid directional changes, often at near maximum pace, and the delivery of controlled power from unbalanced body positions. As our understanding of the demands placed upon footballers develops, so has the approach to training and injury prevention. The quiet revolution in training techniques is now not so quiet, with modern-day managers acknowledging the crucial importance that stretching, suppleness and flexibility gives their players. Pilates meets these demands perfectly, so an ever growing number of footballers use Pilates to improve their core strength, their co-ordination, mobility, flexibility and technique, as well as for prevention and rehabilitation from injuries.

Pilates is also a perfect form of warm-up prior to playing, and cooling down post-match. Any out-dated opinions of Pilates being a sedate pursuit for ladies only have long been extinguished, with many Premiership Football Teams including Pilates in their training schedule. The benefits are also used by other top sportsmen and women, such as the All Blacks Rugby Team, and individuals such as Tiger Woods.

Pilates is not only appropriate for the professional player. Youth players, semi professionals, and weekend players, whatever their age, sex and ability, would all gain enormous benefit from a regular Pilates’ routine.

I developed Sport Core Strength (http://www.sportcorestrength.com) in London and now in Barcelona to encourage more sportsmen and women to include Pilates in their regimes. Whilst working one-on-one is always a very effective way to teach (especially when most players will have their own specific issues), it is a lot of fun to work with whole teams as well, creating exercises in pairs and groups.

If you want to chat about Pilates for sports (including golf, football, cycling, surfing, tennis, skiing/snowboarding, running rock climbing etc), about Sport Core Strength, or about Pilates in Barcelona then please contact me.

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?

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Full Plank Chris Hunt Pilates

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My latest Snap Video shot on location in La Molina, Spain.

Keep the shoulder and pelvic girdles engaged and maintain a neutral spine at all times.

For more click on the link above.

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Chest Push Up Chris Hunt Pilates

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My latest Snap Video is the Chest Push Up. Super slow movements, no bouncy, total control of muscle recruitment at all times. For more click on the above link.

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Criss Cross Exercise Chris Hunt Pilates

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My latest Snap Video is Criss-Cross, which focuses on the abs and especially on the obliques, all essential if you want to be the best boarder of skier that you can.

Lie on your back with a neutral spine. Bend your knees and bring your shins up so that they are parallel to the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Keep the neck relaxed and your elbows nice and wide. On the out breath curl the chin and shoulders up to the base of the shoulder blades. Keep your arms relaxed, let the abs do the work. Take the right shoulder towards the left knee ensuring a good rotation, then on the in-breath return to the starting position. Repeat on the left.

Roll Down (in the snow)

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Roll down (in the snow). It was a bit chilly, but here I demonstrate a roll down, a great way to improve spine and back mobility. Roll downs are not appropriate for everyone though, so ask your Pilates teacher first.

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Getting to the Core of the Winter Olympics

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The more medals that are won at the Sochi Winter Olympics, the more medal winners come out of the closet and admit a dark secret: they regularly practise Pilates. From medal winners Kaetlyn Osmond to Julia Mancuso, it’s becoming very apparent that core exercises in general and Pilates in particular form a vital part of the athlete’s training. As a Pilates presenter and snowboarder myself, I know from personal experience just how true this is. But why is Pilates so relevant for alpine sports?

Skiing and snowboarding bring their own special demands on the body (check out http://www.skicorestrength.comfor more). If these demands are not adequately considered, then the skier or boarder, whatever their level, will reduce their performance potential, and thus reduce their success and enjoyment. By carrying out a specific Pilates training program, benefits can be gained such as:

·               Improved endurance, so ski and board for longer

·               Improved strength in the appropriate muscles

·               Improved flexibility and agility

·               Improved balance and control

·               A reduction in the risk of injury by strengthening areas such as the lower back and knee joints and muscles.

The fundamental skills needed to ski or board successfully are balance, rotary movements, edging movements, and pressure control. Most muscles of the lower body are used, as are the abdominal muscles and some upper body muscles. A planned training program carried out during the off-season can make dramatic improvements. Also, warm-up and warm-down routines can help before and after skiing and boarding.

In order to complete a turn, there must be adequate strength in the core, buttocks, lower back and legs. Flexibility is needed, especially in the hips. Pilates gives all of these things. Skiing and boarding places great demands on the lower body, which can lead to overuse injuries. The most obvious place for such injuries is the legs, and especially the thighs. It is not so obvious that the core has a vital role to play in keeping the body upright and balanced, and enabling the hips to turn.

The shoulders and back can also become fatigued, and are prone to falling injuries. Such injuries can be reduced by strengthening these areas. This also applies to hand and wrist injuries, which can again be reduced by strengthening the forearm and wrist.

I will be hitting the slopes of the Spanish Pyrenees this weekend, and whilst I will never have the ability or talent to snowboard for team GB, as a Pilates and functional trainer presenter, I know that my body is giving me the best possible chance to enjoy the mountain experience. If there was a competition for drinking Hot Chocolate, then I would definitely be in with a shout!

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Reverse Woodchop: Chris Hunt

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In the latest of my series of snap videos shot in location at La Molina, here is nice way to use your snowboard to get your obliques and your quadriceps warmed up for Snowboarding.

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Reverse woodchop is an exercise you have probably seen in the gym. There are many ways you can perform it using cables or weights (my favourite is using TRX). The rotation and lift builds a connection between your upper and lower body that is ideal for boarding or skiing, and it also strengthens the core.

If you want to know more about how Pilates can help your snowboarding or skiing then click on www.skicorestrength.com

 

 

Michael Schumacher, my F1 hero

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As a keen snowboarder and a life-long fan of Ferrari, I have many reasons to read about Michael Schumacher’s condition tonight with a heavy heart.  Michael who is still only 44, was airlifted to Grenoble after falling heavily and hitting his head while skiing on an unmarked slope at the Méribel resort with friends and his 14-year-old son.

Of course I want to begin this blog by hoping that Michael will make a full recovery and all of our thoughts are with him and his family, especially his son.

There has been a lot said about the dangers of skiing, but skiing itself has proportionately fewer fatalities than cycling or swimming. The figures suggest that the death rate for skiing is 2.07 deaths per million people skiing, compared to 29.4 per million cycling, and 72.7 per million swimming. When it comes to injuries, there are about 2-4 injuries per 1,000 days spent on the slopes.

Backcountry skiing, also called off-piste skiing is skiing on ungroomed and unmarked slopes or pistes, including unmarked or unpatrolled areas either inside or outside of a ski resort’s boundaries, sometimes in the woods. Unlike groomed cross-country and alpine skiing, the land and the snow pack are not monitored, patrolled, or maintained. It is considered by some to be more dangerous than staying on the usual runs. The reasons are that there are more avalanches off-piste, there can be more hidden rocks and precipices off-piste, and off-piste slopes are not groomed by snow ploughs, so rocks, precipices and cliffs may not be easy to spot, especially in poor visibility. Off-piste is booming as more people look for the thrills it provides, but having said that, it is reported that the off-piste area where Michael was skiing was close to a Blue Run and in quite gentle terrain, so not way off the beaten track in the wilderness. The picture above is allegedly the area where Michael fell. If it is, then clearly this looks like a freak accident and not anything reckless.

Having said all of that, collisions with people are far more likely on crowded pistes, and there are many who believe that off-piste skiing and boarding is actually safer than sticking to the runs partly because the majority of people who go off-piste are more experienced and use better equipment. But without doubt the biggest risk off-piste is avalanches. Skiers were warned as recently as last Saturday to exercise extreme caution after a series of deadly avalanches across resorts in the Alps claimed seven lives in just two days. Heavy snowfall and mild temperatures over Christmas have meant that whilst conditions are near perfect for skiing, they are also particularly conducive to triggering avalanches. The French authorities did not ban off-piste skiing outright, but they advised skiers and boarders to stay on marked runs.

Whilst Michael hit his head, this is also common on piste. In 2009, the actress Natasha Richardson died after hitting her head on a beginner’s piste, supposedly the safest place to be. Of course she was not wearing a helmet which would have almost certainly saved her life, and Michael’s doctors have confirmed that had he not been wearing a helmet then he would have almost certainly died immediately.

Head injuries can happen whenever there is a fall, on or off the snow. But there is nothing cool about not wearing a helmet on the slopes and there is no excuse not to wear one.

My very best wishes to you Michael, you I hope you make a full recovery. I have so many memories of you behind the wheel of a Ferrari, and I hope you will have the chance to create more memories in the future.