Pilates, yoga and spinning all offer great benefits
By Cheryl Walker
People have been running to the gym to get in shape by lifting weights, using a treadmill and riding stationary bicycles. But recently, yoga, Pilates and spinning have become even more popular.
But how do you know which is best? Before deciding, it’s crucial to first learn about what the exercise really involves.
Yoga is the holistic practice of being able to move easy through movement and stretching. It concentrates on physical postures for the body, but is also a meditative state to refresh the mind.
“There are so many different kinds of yoga,” said Viveca Jensen, a dancer, bodybuilder, aerobics instructor and trained boxer who owns V Pilates in Toluca Lake, Calif. “Yoga is tranquil with a mental calmness. You learn your body in yoga.”
Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I, builds flexibility, strength, endurance and coordination without adding muscle bulk by using non-impact exercises.
“You can do Pilates with or without machines,” said Jensen. “It involves more stretching and with machines you are able to go further with different kinds of stretch. Pilates is more fast-paced. You learn how to use muscles on you never felt on your body.”
Jensen, who has trained notable names such as actress Hilary Duff, is such a believer in Pilates that she created her own exercise form she calls piloxing, which mixes Pilates and boxing.
“Women are wives, mothers, workers,” she said. “There are so many different areas women need to be strong. I wanted women to feel strong but feel sleek, sexy and powerful.”
There are no other exercises that contain two such extremes, according to Jensen.
“The powerful feeling of boxing, throwing solid punches, then transferring your body movements into Pilates and feeling like a ballerina, both are extreme workouts,” Jensen said. “Yet both share the common ground of working from the core region, the core is the heart of both.”
There are also other health benefits to this workout technique.
“Pilates helps with osteoporosis,” she said. “It is a correcting exercise because it all stems from the spine. It improves posture, energy level will rise, you’ll lose weight and it builds muscle tone.”
Spinning is indoor cycling with a group in a class setting. Jonathan
Goldberg created the concept in the 1980s and Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc later trademarked it as spinning.
This form of aerobic exercise involves an instructor who leads cyclists through routines designed to simulate terrain similar to riding a bicycle outdoors. Music is usually used to help with motivation in positions that include hill climbs and sprints.
“Many health clubs and gyms offer these classes and I recommend them to all of my patients,” Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who is certified in sports medicine and has practiced for more than 40 years, wrote in his blog. “Spinning is relatively safe because it is done with a smooth rotary motion that does not involve the muscle damaging road shock of running.”
Although it is called spinning, it’s not how fast that counts.
“The amount of work you do is determined by the resistance on your pedals,” Mirkin wrote. “You perform a lot of work when you spin slowly against great resistance, and do not do much work when you spin very fast against very little resistance.”
As to what a person chooses to do for exercise, the important thing is to
pick any activity that uses continuous motion — cycling, swimming, skating, running, zumba or dancing.
“Start out at a relaxed pace until your muscles feel heavy and then stop,”
Mirkin wrote on his website. “For the first several days or weeks you may be able to exercise only a few minutes. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day at a relaxed pace and not feel sore. Then you are ready to begin your training for fitness.”
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