Hi all. As a former professional actress I learned a lot about walking and talking... you see, when you watch a tv show where the characters are moving around and speaking, you have no idea how difficult it can be for them to deliver lines and hit their marks. (Marks are the spots they are told to stop at when they reach a certain point in the dialogue). It's a lot to coordinate and think about. It's the same thing whenever you apply more than one action from the body at a time.
This week a former dance student of mine hired me to choreograph her set for her jazz/pop music live act. She was doing pretty well on her own moving the way she felt intuitively while singing, but she needed a little extra something to punctuate her feeling and help her to look extra fabulous. In comes Moi. It was important to me to not overdo the movements...they should look as natural as walking and talking on a tv set, right? So, I gathered some motif movement elements to differentiate between the verse and the chorus and waited to fill it all in when I saw her.
I wanted to get a feel of HER. Not how I would do it, but how she would do it naturally. She started to sing and as I taught her the choreography, I also watched how her body interpreted it. It was then pliable, like clay so that it could be formed specifically for her. Some stuff I kept as I imagined it, some movement I adjusted so it suited her better. It was also important to me that she not have to overthink her movement. I get it. I'm a performer.
All of this brings me to this: talking and moving is an important kinesthetic step for our brains and bodies to fire together simultaneously. It seems like it should be as easy as riding a bike, but it can be challenging. When I run with the LA Leggers group on Saturdays, I am amazed at the people who can talk nonstop while they run. It takes some lung capacity for sure, but it is also a great exercise for the brain to do more than 1 thing at a time. Not just talking and moving, but doing any activity in which one body part moves a different way from another is good exercise for the brain. It's like getting my client with muscular dystrophy to tell his brain to move his hips to the left while his arms reach to the right. Sometimes the movement is simple, other times it's a challenge to make the brain tell the body what to do, but either way it's exercise for the mind and body. My dance teacher in NYC had multiple sclerosis and I think he lasted longer because he was teaching jazz up until the end. The were moments where his body did something different from what his brain was telling it to do, but that exercise of his mind talking to his body kept him moving longer, for sure. It's so great this topic has come up this week as I'm preparing to teach a one off Fosse inspired adult jazz class next week!
Here is a brain/body exercise for you... you know how you can take 2 weights and do a biceps curl? Now try doing that while single leg balancing and switching to an overhead press, changing legs, like walking as you go... Balance is a great challenge! See the video below.
Nutrition Tip Of The Week
EAT TOMATOES... Tomatoes are full of lycopene which aids in helping your brain function better. So let's think italian and have my version of a caprese salad...
sliced multi colored heirloom tomatoes... from the farmer's market of course!
extra virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, basil and mozzarella with aged balsamic vinegar.
Healthy, filling and full of antioxidants that keep you sharp.
REMEMBER: Moving one body part one direction and another body part in a different direction creates a kinesthetic step for our bodies and brains to fire together simultaneously telling each other which way to go...the result promotes a healthier brain and a more moveable body and overall, a better YOU.
I work with many female clients over the years that have different issues connecting to their abdominal muscles because of various reasons... One has had fibroid removal surgery and has built up scar tissue, one had a baby that was too large for her body and resulted in an abdominal split, and one had cysts removed from her uterus. Whatever the issue, it is important to find the way that is right for YOU to feel your abs. The best way is to first hire me to help you :) seriously you should, I have a knack for this, but if you are not able to have a personal trainer, here is a tip that MIGHT help you though not everyone can do an abdominal crunch. IF the back aches during your crunch, put your feet in the air in table top with knees bent over your hips, ankles in line with knees, feet together.
Many people, men included, do not know the proper execution of an abdominal crunch and since this is the standard "ab" workout for most and the best old school way to create definition in that abdominal wall, I am re posting an old video my good friend, Octavia shot last year...See below. Keep in mind, we had some audio issues, so listen carefully. :)
If you are not able to do a crunch because of neck issues, table top those legs and put your arms flat on the floor. As you inhale let your legs go away from you without arching your back, as you exhale draw the legs toward you, pulling your naval to the ground.
NUTRITION TIP OF THE WEEK
EAT A PEACH
Peaches are great for you! Eating a stone fruit like a peach is healthy because it low in calories, has no fat and is full of minerals that your body needs such as potassium, magnesium and iron. Peaches are a great source of fiber, help belly bloat go down and they give you energy. Try having a peach for dessert tonight. If you get one from your local farmers market it will actually taste the way it should as well. :)
Having a strong core is vital to maintaining a healthy, moving body. Your core is the center of your being, your powerhouse of movement, and its strength creates a better alignment of your bones. Your abdominal muscles are a major part of this...keep them strong so that you look and feel your best you.
As many of you may know, most of my work is done in a rehabilitative fashion. I help those who have ailments, whether they be injuries, recent surgeries, or diseases to empower them to move and heal. I am very fortunate this way. I began my career under the tutelage of an amazing physical therapist and then worked in another amazing environment for 8 years thereafter... a chiropractic office with everything from physical therapy to massage, to chiropractic care and more. Another way I feel fortunate.
SO, not to digress, I do love telling stories :) I am writing today about the fact that I have a couple of clients that do not indeed have the above hinderances AT ALL... they simply need the rehabilitative movement therapy because they have everyday ordinary tightness and weakness in their bodies from computers, offices, cars, you name it!
This morning a mid-fifties, male client I've seen for a few years doing mostly high intensity interval training after rehabbing his post op hip replacement came in and asked, "Ginger, can I learn more about the foam roller today? I saw a trainer at the gym using it and I want to loosen and stretch my muscles." I said, "OF COURSE."
The foam roller is a wonderful tool for loosening the myofascial tissue that serves as connective tissue throughout your body to provide support to your muscles and bones. It is also an amazing tool for exercises that involve lengthening muscles through your body and activating the core muscles. Here is a great exercise for opening the shoulder girdle and getting in touch with your core muscles:
Lay lengthwise on the foam roller with both your tailbone and your head on it, aligning it with your spine. Feel your shoulder blades open around the foam and keep your knees bent, feet flat. Take anywhere from 1-8 pound weights in your hands (my client uses 8 pounds as he is strong and has big muscles) and straighten your arms so that you can see them over your chest. With an inhale, press your shoulders up to the ceiling and then exhale, shrugging them down around the foam. Try to keep your arms fairly straight the whole time. This opens the chest and shoulder girdle. Do this for 10 reps and then place the weights by your side, letting them go. Open your arms onto the floor and roll to the outside edge of one shoulder, allowing your head to fall that direction and then change. This releases the myofascial tissue that lays on top of your muscles and bones. Finally, center your body and draw your legs up into a table top position, knees over hips and feel your spine in a neutral position. Take an inhale through the nose and as your exhale through the mouth, draw your belly button down to your spine. You will see how tricky the balance is in this position.
My client this evening who is a 37 year old male came in with a tight psoas. Since I discussed that a couple of weeks ago, (see previous blog) I will tell you another technique in loosening this connective tissue that surrounds this deep muscle. I have a Coregeous ball that I got from Yoga Tune Up and I use it for loosening fascia.
Lay on your back and bend your knees, feet flat and bridge your hips into the air until you can take the ball and put it under your back, just above your lower lumbar area on either side of your psoas muscles. It is a soft medium sized ball, so allow your body to sink into it. Slowly straighten one leg and then the other, allowing the weight of your legs to drop into the floor and allowing your hips to release downward into the floor. This can be a bit tense and discomforting if you are not used to using balls and such so GO SLOW. Slowly then allow the front of your abdomen to relax and open, allowing the fronts of your hips to drop and lengthen through your feet. Your back is also releasing into the ball. When you want to stop, which by the way, this should not be held for more than 1 minute, slowly bend your knees, feet flat and bridge again, removing the ball. STAY IN THE BRIDGE and sequentially role down onto the floor through your spine. Hug your knees into your chest and gently rock side to side. WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:)
Nutrition Tip Of The Week...
Eating For Your Muscles
So I eat mostly vegetarian as you might have guessed, BUT I love seafood. Salmon in particular is great for anti inflammation. Here is a great meal that is full of antioxidants and anti inflammatory ingredients.
A "Ginger" Dinner Recipe:
Wild salmon pan seared in olive oil with rosemary and garlic wrapped in kelp with a side of broccoli. It's easy to find kelp at health food stores and wrap it around the salmon after cooking. This is all about feeding your body goodness....
Follow it with a cup of blueberries sprinkled with cinnamon... I do love sweets so I get the dessert thing, but I try to have fruit when possible. Blueberries are an amazing source of antioxidants with anti inflammatory properties and cinnamon helps to balance your insulin levels.
REMEMBER: You are in control of what you do with your body and what you put into it. You have the ability to make it feel good all the time by simply LOVING YOURSELF and providing yourself with movement and nutrition that allows goodness into your being. Of course you can be decadent on occasion and have your favorite food, or lay down and watch your favorite program as long as you supplement your body MOST of the time with adequate LOVE in the form of MOVING AND EATING GOOD STUFF.
Hello and happy week to you all!
So as many of you know, interval training has become rather significant to a workout these days.
What is interval training? Well, basically it means that you alternate between 2 different exercises that usually vary in speed and degree of difficulty. If you are a newbie to exercise, then your interval training might be simply to walk briskly and then do short bursts of jogging. Another example would be 1 1/2 mins of "burpees" and then 1 min of push ups. The point of all of this is to burn more calories faster and more efficiently. However, I also think intervals are important to help build strength in your muscles and endurance in your cardio workouts. Most importantly, it is more interesting and fun to switch up your routine. Below is a video of 2 different intervals that you can integrate into your workout this week. Here are the instructions:
Burpees Ginger Style
Run forward with a sand bell and jump and throw it down.
Pop out into a plank and pull one leg in and then the other, being careful to keep your tailbone down in line with your head. THIS WORKS YOUR CORE
Pick up the sand bell and put it over head as you jump and then run backwards to the starting position. This should be done for about 1 1/2 mins.
Push ups by Ginger
Can be done on knees or with feet pressed
Tail bone in line with your head, push ups for 60 seconds. Can take a tiny break if you need in between. Women: Push ups like yoga, with elbows in for extra triceps accentuation.--We all need this as we get older! Men: Wide hands for extra chest/pectoralis emphasis.--We women like a solid chest on a man. :) Remember, push ups are not just for arms and chest...USE YOUR CORE as well by pressing your belly button into your spine every time you press upwards.
Fast walking for 1 1/2 minutes followed by jogging for a minute. Notice I started this set with low intensity followed by high intensity. As long as you alternate, you are good. I always think with walking or running it's a good idea to start low intensity for warming up purposes.
Nutrition tip of the week:
Eating for intervals:
I have been driving this home week after week in my blogs that you need carbs for fuel and energy because if the amount of carbs stored in your muscles is low, you will not be able to produce enough power to get the most benefit out of your workout. It's all about balance and moderation when eating, which sounds easy but clearly is not for most. You CAN eat healthy food that is also delicious. Here are some examples:
Pre workout snack: 1 cup nonfat greek yogurt with granola and dried fruit.
Post workout snack: Protein powder with spinach, banana, almond milk and cinnamon- throw in a blender and drink it down! There's a reason Popeye ate spinach, ok. I am making it yummy by putting it into a drink that is also sweet so if you don't like eating greens, you will barely taste them this way! :)
Remember: Little by little as you add an exercise or you add speed or duration of movement, you are stacking building blocks of strength for your body, mind and spirit. These blocks, as they are growing taller and stronger will make YOU more able to take on anything that comes your way, but you also need proper nutrition to complete this total being synergy. Only then can you be unstoppable.
Happy first week of August everyone!
After running around on stage, performing last week, I am thinking about energy, both physical and mental and the importance of knowing how to tap into the chemicals that promote sustained stamina while moving. Sounds a bit scientific today, right? However, I assure you, I am no scientist. I've just utilized a lot of different mediums of movement to discover that I need different levels of "energy" depending upon what exactly it is that I am doing. You see, on stage I get a rush from the outward energy I feel from the audience and I can use that to my advantage by pulling from it and channeling it into my body for movement. I am also thrilled to be performing, so it comes up as a natural stimulant in my body chemistry as well. There have been times in my past where it has been hard to sustain because of too many night gigs in a row and feeling a bit tired, but I find that breathing properly truly helps this process along. Breathing while you are singing and dancing is a bit like breathing and talking while running....it can be difficult, but the more you practice, the more you condition your body to grow stronger, the easier it gets. This brings me to the way you are taught to breathe when performing "the hundred" in Pilates. Though I breathe and teach this method in a 5 count, the true authentic way is a 10 count: with legs in a table top, laying prone on the floor or hard surface, curling the head and tops of the shoulders off of the floor, extending through the arms past your hips, keeping the tailbone down/no pelvic tilting, pressing the ribcage into the floor, you inhale through the nose: 1,2,3,4,5 exhale through the mouth: 1,2,3,4,5. This pattern of breathing most definitely helps you to build strength in controlling your breath and also helps you to focus to your abdominal muscles: the exhale helps you to engage them and thus strengthen your core. Another way of saying this is the breathing pattern here helps you to be aware of your breath, strengthen your diaphragm muscle and create the energy you need to keep moving no matter what activity you are doing. ENERGY occurs when the body has a sustained stamina created by the harmony and synching of our body functions. Below is a video of a Pilates hundred...
Nutrition Tip of the Week:
Sustained Energy Eating:
I am advocating the importance of whole grains this week because they give you ENERGY. My favorite breakfast before I train a client is 1 cup of oatmeal (whole grains) with 2 tablespoons of nonfat greek yogurt, small palm size of raw, sliced almonds, 1 teaspoon of black chia seeds in almond milk, 1/2 peach as they are in season, 1/4 banana for potassium and sweetness and a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. It is good and packed with energizing ingredients.