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exercise

General Fitness and Well–Being Travel

Travel-Sized Fitness and Well–Being Items

December 11, 2015

As it’s holiday season, here’s a compiled list of some essential ‘travel-sized’ fitness and well–being items.

After hours of getting to the airport, standing around, and flying you’re bound to be exhausted, dehydrated, and pretty sore. Travelling requires being (somewhat) prepared before, during, and after. This could also mean remembering to adhere to your fitness and well-being needs. Here are a few essential fitness and well–being items that could be beneficial for pre, during, and post airplane travel, although these items could be used for any other mode of transport as well. Here’s to Zen, Rock and Roll, and feeling refreshed.

travel-sized fitness and well-being items

Snoozing Must-Haves

Ear Plugs 

Protect your ears, drown out chatter and outside noise, and get a good snooze.

Eye Mask

Continue said snooze by drowning out that awful cabin light while refreshing the skin around the eyes (win/win).

Neck Cushion

Maintain proper sitting alignment by providing support for your neck to avoid awkward spinal positions.

Essential Oils

Try soothing scents, such as Chamomile, to help you relax and rest.
Poignant scents, like Grapefruit, can also help with jet lag and staying alert.

Comfy Gear

Gone are those days of high heels and your best threads. Embrace your favorite workout gear or oversized sweater.

Headspace/Mediation

Very helpful for nervous travellers or needing to fall asleep quickly to help adapt to a new time zone.

La Musica

Nearly all international flights now provide a variety of free music (and audiobooks).
Consider making your own off-line playlists.

Water, Water Everywhere

In a previous post, I mentioned the daily importance of staying hydrated. There’s no better time to practice good hydration than on a plane as flights are extremely dehydrating. You can easily give yourself a hydration boost with plenty of water, face mist, lip balm and moisturisers for the face, body, and hair. Vogue has even suggested using a hydrating face mask the night before and steaming your face from the bathroom sink once you’ve reached your destination (ooh la, la).

In addition, most airlines now allow free refills via their drinks cart or water fountain whenever you like during the flight. However, airplane tap water hasn’t received the best reviews due its potential health hazards. So, if you prefer, bring your own (empty) water bottle and help reduce plastic waste. Seize your filtered water journey by researching and comparing these top 10 water bottle filters, for instance. Filtering water helps to kill bacteria, absorb chlorine, and remove heavy metal ions (just to name a few).

Stretch It Out, Work It Out

travel-sized fitness and well-being items

Walking around and onboard stretching is a must, especially for long haul flights. For those who want more full-bodied approach can turn to yoga and GYROKINESIS®, which are especially useful in these situations as they can be done sitting or standing. Both exercise methods involve spinal motions, a core workout, and stretching of the entire body. Moving the spine and stretching the legs are generally beneficial to maintaining good health, so why stop on a plane?

Travelling for work or pleasure usually involves a considerable amount of walking, standing, and/or sitting more than your normal day to day routine. Take care of the body by exercising and stretching a little bit each day. Therabands/Resistabands are travel friendly and can provide a mini workout for the entire the body. Using resistance is useful for maintaining fitness and can be used as an aid for stretching.

Another favorite: tennis balls and spikey massage balls. Both tennis and spikey massage balls can be used to eliminate muscle knots and/or release myofascial trigger points. There are a series of simple exercises that can help relieve major points of the body such as the calves, hamstrings, back, hips, and gluteus, which can be done anywhere standing, sitting, or lying down. Excellent as a quick (and cheap) post-flight ritual.

Injured? Try Air Activated Ice/Hot Packs

If you’re injured or suffer back and joint pain, you’ll may need ice or heat to reduce inflammation or pain. Using air activated ice or heat packs are great way to continue your healing process. They are usually inexpensive, compact and, most importantly, are allowed in cabin luggage. Ask your doctor or therapist whether you should treat your pain/ injury with ice, heat, or both during your travels.

Bring ‘Airplane Food’

travel-sized fitness and well-being items

Another important aspect to consider, in turns of well–being, is the food we eat on the plane. Bringing healthy snacks can help us avoid overeating carbs and sugar. It can also help us feel better, improve potential jet lag, and have less swollen hands and feet. What we drink the plane is also an important factor, of course. Some sources say avoid non-water beverages due to dehydration (as mentioned before), however minimal intake of alcohol, tea and coffee can be all right when followed by plenty of water.

Check out these sources below for recipes and more information about eating and flying:

Deliciously Ella: How to Stay Healthy on the Plane

Packing Healthily

Meals You Can Carry On

Airplane Food and Cabin Pressure

Safe travels & Happy Holidays! xo

Dance Music

Movement Playlist #2: Short Days, Long Nights

November 26, 2015

 Presenting you the 2nd dose of my current musical rotation.

movement playlist 2

About the playlist

I wanted a mixture of tunes to serve as an alarm clock (especially in the pitch black), a motivator (within the 3 hours of sunlight), and a relaxation tool (once I’ve finally wound my self up). So I’ve put together a combination of both gentle and driving beats. The following facts and suggestions have also been an inspiration to organisation this month’s current rotation during these short days and long nights. Shuffle, repeat, keep, and delete as you may.

Morning exercise is often the best exercise

  • Using upbeat music can help motivate your movement and/or morning boogie routine.
  • Early morning exercise can also help lower blood pressure and provide a good night’s sleep later on in the day.
  • Not a morning person? Fortunately, it can take as little as 5 minutes for movement to improve your mood.
  • Make and keep a morning routine, even on the weekends if possible (having a good playlist helps too).

Keep moving

  • Music can help distract the mind from sensations of fatigue (especially during high intensity movements) by narrowing one’s attention.
  • While music may not make the movements easier, the mover is more likely to have more of a pleasurable experience.
  • Using music for exercise is not only good for cardio but for the brain as it enhances our vestibular abilities.
  • Music and rhythm can be used as a therapeutic tool as it works on our autonomic nervous system, which allows the body to subconsciously enhance our well–being.

Calm it down

  • Before bed, choose music with less key changes and slower tempos to help you relax says Dr. Williamson. Getting adequate sleep plays a key role in waking up more refreshed in the morning (obviously, but often difficult to achieve).
  • Modified and slow yoga poses/stretches can help induce the parasympathetic nervous system, which means letting your fast paced, stressful day all behind you.
  • Classical music was previously found to reduce sleeping problems in participants with sleep disorders (oh why hello, Bach).
  • Just like a morning routine, try to maintain an evening routine by creating a ‘wind down’ period because sleep matters… a lot.

xo

Dance General Fitness and Well–Being

Apply Both Movement and Exercise Into Your Daily Routine

November 23, 2015

Doing one activity is enough, right?

As I’ve been a dancer for most of my life, I usually avoided other strenuous activities such as running.  This may be because Ballet and Contemporary dancers, for instance, are often given time in between exercises and/or combinations to go through movements, stretch and prepare mentally and physically.

However, after taking up running for the first time and eventually doing my first 5K, I finally realized what was missing in my dance training all of these years: some good old fashioned cardio. Does this mean that movement and exercise are different? Here are a few reasons why we need both movement and exercise.

What constitutes as movement?

Movement‘ is seen as any physical activity that contracts the muscles to burn calories and requires more energy than resting. However, the goal of ‘movement’ tasks often focuses on how the muscles work together rather than problem areas. In addition, practicing mindfulness can also play a key role in enhancing body awareness, spatial awareness and movement. Using mindfulness during movement, therefore, allows the body to move more naturally and less static.

Practicing mindful movements can provide:

  • Increased parasympathetic relaxation, which reduces stress
  • Mind-body connection
  • Coordination and control
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved postural alignment

How is exercise different?

Exercise can be categorized into 3 assesets: mode (what type), duration (how long), and intensity (how hard).  Therefore, exercise often contains structure and repetition that is specially planned. There are, however, different types of exercises (and many classes to choose from). Fortunately, combining different exercise types (e.g running and dance training) can have significant positive effects on overall health.

Maintaining an exercise routine is beneficial for:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Focusing on problem areas directly by isolating muscles groups and joints
  • Muscular endurance
  • Weight control
  • Bone strengthening
  • and also, stress reduction

Should we practice both movement and exercise?

Combining cardiovascular exercise and movements that allow mindfulness and body awareness can further increase health benefits, such as mood and efficiency, and can be an effective way to improve technique. This also means continuing to engage in human movements (i.e. walking, stretching), whether you have an exercise routine or not, to break up the potential sedentary lifestyle. This can also serve as time for mental and physical recovery and/or a ‘reboot’.

As a GYROTONIC® Trainer, I often remind my clients to ‘keep moving’. Ridding of rigid, restricting movement is the ultimate the goal of each class (and also outside of class) to focus on the mind and body as a whole to help establish both stability and flexibility. Therefore, after learning the order of an exercise, we must continue find both freedom and control within each movement. This could be considered as a ‘guide’ for one to achieve optimal fitness and artistic levels.

Learn More:

Dance Fitness

Artistry and Technique

Cardio and Strength Training

Benefits of Slow Movement

How Exercise Benefits the Brain

Swimming with the Alexander Technique

5Rhythms

Gaga: the movement language

xo

the Gyrokinesis Method the Gyrotonic Method

My Gyrotonic ‘Infused’ Well-Being Routine

August 26, 2015

Are you a practitioner of the GYROTONIC® Method and/or the GYROKINESIS® Method or curious about how to incorporate these methods into your daily routine?

 There are a number of ways to practice both of these methods on and off the equipment (which have seriously changed my life).


From being a GYROTONIC® trainer and dancer for many years, intertwining the GYROTONIC® Method and the GYROKINESIS® Method, mixed dance styles, and other fun and inspiring (yet challenging) techniques helps me to stay focused and interested in learning about why different techniques are important and how to master them in my own way.
Here are some great and simple ways how the Gyrotonic Method and the Gyrokinesis Method can be used interchangeably and within other routines. Check it out.

What the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis Method works on:

  • Narrowing of the Pelvis (deep core activation)
  • Abdominals
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip openings
  • Foot articulation
  • Breathing with intention
  • Stretching while strengthening
How both Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis exercise help each other: Going from the mat to the machine, or vice versa, it is a good way to check in with alignment and strength (also telling sign of other habits).
Within both methods, you are learning complimentary, yet challenging movement and coordination skills. This is beneficial as it connects to other relatable movements such as dancing, swimming, yoga, etc.

The Free/ Can-Be-Done-Anywhere Routine

How the Gyrotonic Method and the Gyrokinesis Method helps: It reinforces neutral postural alignment and reminds us how to relieve pressure in the joints. Arching, curling and twisting are key components to maintain a healthy spine.
It also enhances the internal line (the fifth line) of energy for appropriate direction and force. This provides a great reminder to view and move the body as one entity. This combination of skill and practice can save you from further harm, if previously injured, and clarify movement functionality.

The Dance Routine

  • Ballet
  • Contemporary
  • Improvisation
  • Gaga (the movement language)
How the Gyrotonic Method and the Gyrokinesis Method helps:
It helps to find freedom in moving the skeletal and muscular system as a whole by enhancing a natural and continuous spiraling motion within the body. This becomes especially important when dealing with quick and unexpected movements.
This, in turn, helps to protect the body from unnecessary injury. Moreover, these methods allows one to become freer in movement, improve technique more swiftly, and to let rhythm (i.e. music and breathe) to work as a guide.

The Warm Up and Cool Down Routine

  • Body Awareness
  • Preparation
  • Goal strategy
  • Mindfulness
  • Personal safety
How both the Gyrotonic Method and the Gyrokinesis Method helps: After a Gyrotonic (equipment) class, for instance, sequences are given to do on your own at home, which are essentially part of the Gyrokinesis (mat based) Method.
As these can be done anywhere, it’s a quick and perfect escape from distraction and bad habits (i.e. before or after a performance). These methods focus on body awareness by first slowly to build the nervous system and cognitive input.
After queuing the body to a safe and fluid state, one can then continue with more vigorous, fuller movement as well as recover.
General Fitness and Well–Being the Gyrotonic Method

10 Reasons to Cross-Train with the Gyrotonic Method

May 26, 2015

Here are 10 reasons why you should cross-train with the GYROTONIC® Method.

Excellent for those wanting to expand and improve their existing workout routines.

Firstly, do any of the following (or anything similar)?

Pilates

Yoga

Cycling

Running

Walking

Gym training/Weight lifting

Tennis

Golf

Swimming

Rowing

Baseball

Football/Soccer

GYROKINESIS®

Dance

Perhaps consider cross-training with Gyrotonic to boost your existing routine.

Secondly, what does this ‘cross-training’ mean?

Cross-training is a combination of exercises from other disciplines. It can also be defined as a form of specific or non-specific training or both, which is beneficial for general conditioning and reducing injury risk.

For example, to enhance endurance during your running routine you would need to include cycling rather than stick to a ‘run-only’ routine.

Why else is cross-training important?

By only doing one activity, you are essentially working the muscles that are only used for that particular activity. For example, you may run or cycle almost everyday, which is an excellent workout, but then only to find something like yoga extremely challenging and vice versa.

Not being able to physically interchange between exercises can increase injury risk.  This also means changing the impact, for instance alternating running with swimming. Thus alternating workout regimes will benefit you in the long run (pun intended).

Studies have found in participants with Osteoarthritis in the knee who cross-trained with aerobic, strength and stretching exercises were able to walk and bend the knee more efficiently. This also improved their back and hamstring flexibility and the strength in the quadriceps.

In another perspective, studies have also shown that specific and non-specific cross-training can improve performance quality in endurance athletes. This because these athletes also need anaerobicabilities and strength, which has to do with optimal muscular production and density.

Lastly, why cross-train with the Gyrotonic Method?

  1. Gyrotonic offers a non-impact, circular and three-dimensional workout
    (a perfect match for any other form of exercise)
  2. Uses a mixture of movement styles and principles
    (think swimming, yoga, and tai chi)
  3. Enhances initiation and control of movement 
  4. Relates to the spirals of our anatomical make up
  5. Emphasizes proper core engagement
  6. Focuses on the alignment of the body as a whole
    (which enhances awareness)
  7. Excellent for jointand spinal health
  8. Increases flexibilityand strength
    (which enhances range of movement)
  9. Reduces risk of injuryand pain
  10. Beneficial for rehabilitationand pre/postnatal

Don’t wait until you’re injured and your Physiotherapist prescribes another mode of exercise. Do yourself a favor and build more with your exercise routine sooner than later (pretty please). You can start by seeking Gyrotonic discounts and specials from around the world.

While it’s pricey to keep in your routine, remember you can still benefit even if it’s once every other week. It can provide as a ‘check-in’ with your progression. You will really feel the difference. Maybe consider exchanging your weekly/monthly nail or hair appointment with a private or duet Gyrotonic session instead (wink).

Now, get to steppin’.

xo

General Fitness and Well–Being

Why is Physical Activity Important?

April 22, 2015

Dear Kids and Adults, physical activity is super important.

Studies show that participation in physical activity has been decreasing with age, which we probably have already gathered from out own personal experience. Participating in physical activity (now) will help us to age gracefully (later), your heart and your brain will thank you. Being physical also means that your psychological well-being will be better off in the long run. So let’s all take a step back and go over why we even need to move at all.

Sometime we completely put off exercise due to life demands.

Overtime we become tired, busy, and often lacking the facilities or environment to exercise as much as we want (well, need). For example, sitting in a car for hours to get to work, sitting at work, then the same thing on the way back home, only to then pass out!

Perhaps the real problem lies with not knowing or remembering why we need to move in the first place. With knowing the benefits and incorporating exercise into our (extremely hectic) lives we could increase our overall health and training effectiveness. So what are some benefits you may ask? Let me guide you.

Some Benefits of Daily Exercise:

  • a healthy intake of oxygen to the brain and through the blood
  • joint flexibility
  • muscular strength
  • long-term health

Some Dangers of Being Sedentary:

  • decrease in bone density
  • increases blood pressure
  • muscular pain and tightness
  • more difficult to burn fat (just to put it out there)

Easy ways to get exercise:

  • walking/ jogging/ running (or, take the stairs!)
  • swimming
  • dancing (yes, even at the club)
  • bicycling

Please remember that taking precaution and consulting a professional about pain or discomfort during exercise is extremely important. Besides, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is meant to be fun and help you feel good.

Just for you

Merkel, R., Judge, L., Stodden, D. and Griffin, K. (2014). Importance of health-related fitness knowledge to increasing physical activity and physical fitness. The Physical Educator, 71, 218-233.

Springer, J., Lamborn, S., and Pollard, D. (2013). Maintain physical activity over time: the importance of basic psychological need satisfaction in developing the physically active self. American journal of Health Promotion, 27 (5).

Quantum, M., Tammelin, T., Ebeling, H., Stamatakis, and Tania, A. (2015). High levels of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with good self-rated health in adolescents. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 12, 266-272.