Your List of “Things To Do”

“So much to accomplish in 24 hours.” “There is never enough time in the day.” “I do not have enough time to exercise.” “I wish I could fit a workout into my schedule.”

Yes, daily life is truly a balancing act. If you are like me, we start off the day with a long, ambitious list of things to do. It feels like there is plenty of time to get through the list but then one more thing is thrown into the mix, or there’s a change of plans. Traffic, sick kids, cancelled train… The extra stuff I always refer to as speed bumps. If you get side tracked or slowed down, time flies away but the list does not get shorter. On days like this a good friend of mine always say “Calgon, take me way” (knowing this phrase dates me, I’m sure). By the time we are at the end of the day, we look to de-stress. Exercise is a great way to do that but too many things get in the way. Often at the end of it all, you’re just plain exhausted.

Exercise may start high on the priority list but it often is pushed to bottom or just removed from the list. But TBH, (as my son would say), exercise needs to not only stay on the list; it should remain at the top. When I think of or discuss the importance of exercise, I refer to my high school biology class and “The Seven Signs of Life” – The seven signs of life are moving, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition. All of these activities are present in living organisms. Note the first sign on the list. To maintain our living bodies, it is essential that we keep moving. Staying strong (to the best of our abilities) helps in every aspect of our daily lives.

Exercise improves the quality of our lives in every way and is a necessity, not a luxury. When making your list of things to do, try putting exercise at the very top. If you can make it the first thing you do in the morning, even better. That way, it’s done and nothing else gets in the way. If it’s later in the day, that works too. Try to exercise at a time of day that feels best for your body. Wherever exercise falls on your list, make it a top priority. Most of all keep your workout on your list; not only do you need it, you deserve it and you will feel better for it!

– Lesa McLaughlin

(Photo: http://pilatesnerd.com/product/notepads-first-i-do-pilates/)

What Are You Waiting For?

Wishful Thinking Won’t Make You Fit

Pilates Profile: Bill Trapmann, Age 65, Retired Economist

Bill Trapmann Reformer2

I’ve been practicing Pilates for slightly more than four years. I practice with regular sessions in the Excel studio at least once a week, except when I’m travelling. Between the formal sessions I try to include some Pilates exercises into my own personal workouts. As well as improving my technique, I find Pilates exercises to be a good way to warm up the body core.

Initially, I was curious about Pilates because I thought it might be helpful to augment my usual routine with something different. Over the years, I’ve found multiple benefits to changing my exercise regimen. Varying my exercises provides different challenges for my body, improves my strength, helps counter any physical imbalance from underworking any one part of my body, and gives me renewed interest in my overall exercise program. I’ve had my share of injuries over the years, and I appreciate the expert guidance and oversight provided by the instructors at the Excel studio. Their expertise imbues in me a confidence to attempt challenging exercises that I probably shouldn’t even consider, much less attempt, on my own. Thanks to the instructors, I have surprised myself more than once with what I am able to do.

Bill Trapmann Reformer1Since I began practicing Pilates, I’ve noticed improved core strength and greater flexibility overall. I consider core strength to be an important benefit because it provides me a more stable platform for other activities such as swimming, biking, and running. Also, I’ve gained a better awareness of the interrelation of the core and the rest of my body, which has enhanced my performance in each of these other activities. In addition to the direct physical benefits, I’ve found the practice of Pilates to positively influence my mental outlook. Feeling stronger and more capable provides a degree of personal confidence that is actually comforting to me. I know these results are the product of the time and effort I’ve invested in the work, which I find very gratifying.

As for which Pilates exercise is my favorite: one answer is the last exercise of the session, especially on a day when the workout didn’t come easy. But to be more specific, I suppose my favorite exercise is the Short Spine Massage. I found it difficult initially, but as my form and movement have improved, it’s come to represent a personal success. In doing it, I feel greater strength and flexibility. Perhaps my second favorite is the Teaser because it’s the one I love to hate. Most often I don’t do it very well at all. On the rare occasion, though, I almost look good. It makes me nuts. The challenge is good for me.

Bill Trapmann Barrel1I greatly value having a good quality of life. Being well and active is at the foundation of my quality of life, and this motivates me to continue my Pilates practice. Good health and fitness are not things that simply occur—I must work for them. I believe that if you want to be active, you must stay active. I’m not familiar with many quotes from Joseph Pilates, but I’ve seen a few that resonate with me. I like, “Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” On a similar note, “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.”

That being said, my self-motivation only goes so far. Another motivating factor for me is to have good instructors. The instructors at the Excel studio are clearly knowledgeable, as well as helpful and encouraging. Their interest in my performance inspires me to try harder. (It also helps that they all seem to have the patience of Job. I still don’t remember the exercises well, much less do them properly. They continue to have faith in me.)

Over the course of a Pilates session, I enjoy the physical challenge as I warm up and then perform more challenging exercises. After a workout I feel invigorated. My energy levels are higher and I feel satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I’ve told my friends about how Pilates makes me feel, and how the results enhance my performance in other activities in which I’m interested. Additionally, a stronger body and increased awareness of my body help me avoid injuries.

So what are you waiting for?