How to Un-lazify your Bum

November 29th, 2016

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If you have a job that requires sitting for at least four hours a day, you probably have a lazy bum. Even if you exercise a lot, sitting down for long periods of time everyday, reduces your brain’s subconscious ability to activate your glutes.

You might think, so what if I have a lazy bum?! Well the glutes are the biggest muscle in your body and one of the main stabilising muscles of your pelvis, which joins your legs to your torso to make the body a whole unit. Lazy glutes result in poor pelvic stability, and poor upright alignment, which can lead to all sorts of biomechanical problems.

If you think about your body as a factory production line, and each group of muscles (i.e. calves, quads, hamstrings) is one engine or machine on that line. Your gluteal muscles are the biggest machines and they are right in the middle of the production line. If the biggest machine is not pulling its weight, the rest of the machines have to work harder and they end up breaking down. (i.e. knee pain, back pain, tight hamstrings etc.)

Glute Activation

Glute activation is about waking up the connection from your brain to the muscle, so that and the muscles are fired up and ready to do some work.

We can increase the amount of work done by our glutes by activating them with some exercises before your workout.

Here are three simple exercises to wake up those glutes!

  1. Pelvic clock

This is a prep before your glute activation exercises to improve body and joint awareness and relax the hip flexors and other potentially tight muscles around the hips.

  1. Glute bridge
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be about sit-bone width apart.
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that only your upper arm is on the ground.
  • Press into your heels, tilt the pelvis back and peel the spine off bone by bone until you come up to the widest part of the shoulders. Keep tilting the pelvis back so you don’t extend your lower back
  • Make sure your legs are parallel and your knees don’t drop in or flare out to the side.
  • Squeeze your glutes for 3 seconds at the top and then roll the spine down again slowly with control.
  • You should feel this move in your glutes and hamstrings and not in your low back.
  1. Modified Clamshell
  • Lie on your side with your head resting comfortably.
  • Your bottom leg should be straight, with your top hip bent up to ninety degrees so your top foot rests behind your bottom knee. Your hips should be forward, and should remain in this forward position throughout the entire movement to come.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your knee off the ground, keeping your top foot rested on your bottom knee (make sure your top hip doesn’t roll back because it most certainly will try to do so).
  • You should feel this exercise approximately where your jeans pocket would be.

 

So start activating your glutes today!

 

– Wong Zi En, Instructor

 

Pomegranate Festive Sparkler

November 29th, 2016

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Festive season calls for a celebration! For those who are health conscious, toast to the holidays with this Pomegranate festive sparkler that is tasty and nutritious – perfect for parties!

This recipe here uses pomegranate seeds and fresh raspberries containing antioxidants and vitamins, which is not only refreshing but also gives you an extra health boost.

In a glass add the pomegranate and raspberries. Squeeze the lime juice over and pour in the sparkling water. Top with ice cubes and a sprig of mint. Serve and enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
  • ½ lime juice
  • ¼ cup raspberries, smashed
  • A Sprig of mint
  • 2 cups of mineral water or sparkling water
  • Ice cubes

 

Recipe and image courtesy of movenourishbelieve.com.

 

Another Rewarding Weekend in Peru

November 1st, 2016

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As you all know, our Director has been continuing his charity work with the Peruvian children’s charity, Intiwawa. Daniel has shared with us some insights of what he has most recently been working on, read his short yet inspiring story here!

I just got back from a very long but rewarding day travelling to a local town to help some elderly with food donations and improvements to their houses.

Each Sunday, a group of volunteers from Intiwawa in Ariquepa, Peru, travel three hours to the village of Coporaque, to help the children in the community, but also some of the elderly residents of the village known in Spanish as “abuelitos”. These abuelitos often have no family support as their children have either travelled to the larger cities for work or are unable to help them due to social or economic problems. To add to their existing problems, a large earthquake hit in August this year, causing severe damage to their stone and mud-brick houses.

So today we travelled to Coporaque, rising at 4am, to purchase some basic food supplies for five abuelitos and delivered it to them. It was an eye opening experience as their living conditions were quite harsh with some sleeping on the dirt floor and some sleeping in tents waiting for the pre-fabricated replacement “houses” to be completed. As they are elderly, some suffer health conditions such as severe arthritis, making it impossible for them to walk down the rocky hill to the village plaza. The local coordinator reminded me that the visits were more than just helping them with food and repairing and cleaning their houses; it is also about the social support and giving them someone to talk to, and that they very much look forward to the weekly visits.

While we were delivering the food we also built a chicken coop and purchased live chickens, so that they can have a sustainable source of fresh eggs. We also wind-proofed one of the small stone houses from the bitterly cold evening winds.

Overall, the day was not only fruitful, it was an insightful experience into how some communities live. 

If you would like to help Intiwawa continue to support the children and elderly in poorer parts of Peru, please feel free to click here to donate.

 

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– Daniel Dittmar, Director and Head Instructor.

 

 

 

Getting It Right – Bridging

October 27th, 2016

 

The Pilates Bridge is one of the best exercises for creating length in the spine, relieving back tension, and strengthening the hamstrings, inner thighs and glutes.

There are a few simple techniques to performing this exercise correctly so you can get the most out of this movement. Watch our short video from Director, Daniel and Instructor Wan Yin on how to perfect your Pilates Bridge!

 

 

Buckwheat Strawberry Waffles

October 27th, 2016

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This weekend, skip the expensive café food and try out this Buckwheat Strawberry Waffle recipe we’ve sourced for you. Buckwheat, a plant seed that is high in protein and fibre is gluten-free as well. It’s amazing health benefits include prevention of diabetes, and improving heart health and the digestive system.

Top it off with fresh strawberries and you will be in for some wholesome goodness!
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • White of 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, diced

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine salt, baking powder, buckwheat and whole wheat flour.
  2. Combine mixture with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Heat waffle maker and pour mixture in with strawberries. Alternatively, you can heat up a pan and make pancake, if you don’t have a waffle maker!
  4. Top the waffle/pancake with more strawberries and serve.

 

Recipe and image courtesy of naturallyella.com.

 

 

Swan – Getting it right

September 29th, 2016

The Swan is an elegant exercise with a suitably fitting name, which works the back extensor muscles to create length in the spine.

Watch our short video by Daniel and Wan Yin for tips and guidance on how you can perfect your ‘Swan’ at your next Pilates session.

 

 

 

Going Healthy with Homemade Hummus

September 28th, 2016

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Everyone knows how good hummus tastes, but what’s even more amazing is the benefits it brings with it. The chickpeas used in making hummus are rich in protein, fibre, iron, folate, phosphorus and vitamin B. Hummus is an especially good source of nutrients for vegans too!

 
A few great ways you can enjoy hummus is by spreading it on your toast, use as a dip for your snacks such as with Pita or even as a salad dressing. This recipe is easy to follow, we’re sure your taste buds and body will thank you for it!

Ingredients:

  • 200g canned chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 100ml tahini
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika

Method:

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  • In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and tahini. Blend until smooth.
  • In a bowl, sprinkle the hummus with paprika and drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

 

 

Mermaid – Getting It Right

August 22nd, 2016

 

The Pilates Mermaid movement may seem easy, although there are some common mistakes that we see in our classes.

Follow our Director, Daniel and Instructor, Wan Yin for a quick overview on how you can perfect your Pilates Mermaid pose!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Black Bean Protein Cookies

August 22nd, 2016

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There is no reason why we can’t indulge in sweet treats occasionally, especially when it is something that is homemade and (somewhat healthy), as long as it’s in moderation.

Enjoy this delicious Chocolate Black Bean cookie recipe, which produces a batch of treats that are high in protein and antioxidants. Perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth without the high sugar content or additives of store-bought biscuits!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans (approx. 440 grams), drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 serve (30 grams) chocolate protein powder
  • 3 tablespoons Manuka honey, melted
  • 2 tablespoons millet flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 50 grams 80% dark chocolate

 

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, fan bake. Line a tray with baking paper.
  • In a food processor, place all ingredients except for the dark chocolate and process until smooth.
  • Roll the mixture into balls, place them onto the tray and press down gently, using the back of a spoon.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and set aside for the cookies to cool.
  • Gently heat the dark chocolate in a pot over a low heat, once melted drizzle over the cookies.
  • Once the chocolate has hardened, store the cookies in an airtight container for up to one week.

 

 

Recipe and image courtesy of juliaandlibby.com.

 

 

Common Cycling Injuries (and how to avoid them!)

July 26th, 2016

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The wind in your hair, sun kissing your skin and pedaling at your own pace, cycling is a great low impact sport that is gentle on the knees and ankles. What’s more, for those using public transport for their daily commute, cycling offers an awesome alternative to get around Singapore.

For those of us who are cycling buffs, we know how wonderful and enjoyable cycling is; however, we also know that a poor bike set-up, improper clothing, lack of strength in the core muscles, insufficient bike drills and limited experience can lead to accidents and injuries.

As a professional physiotherapist and long-term road cyclist, I have put together the three most common cycling injuries, with some tips on how you can prevent these from occurring.

 

  1. Neck Pain

During a ride, in order to focus on the road we are required to hold the weight of our heads in extension for a long period of time, often causing the muscles to become fatigued and strained. Tightness occurs in the shoulder and at the front of the neck, and on occasion this prolonged hyperextension can lead to more serious conditions including spinal stenosis or a nerve impingement.

 

How can you reduce the risk?

  • First and foremost, make sure your bike fits you: the position of the handle bar, bike stem and seat need to be adjusted.
  • Check your form on the bike, making sure you draw the abdominals in, elongate your torso, keep your shoulder blades down and the chest slightly lifted. Allow the neck to be in a neutral position by keeping the chin tucked in and gazed at 45 degrees in front.
  • To make your ride more comfortable, make sure your helmet is properly fitted helmet, try loosening your grip on the handlebars, and during easier sections of your ride carry out gentle neck and shoulder stretches to relax the muscles.

 

  1. Lower Back Pain

Long hours in a spine flexed position, lack of core strength and an improper bike fit, are the major causes of lower back pain when cycling. Excessive flexion in the lumbar region of the spine can lead to more serious conditions such as a protruded disc and sciatica, which would require physiotherapy.

 

How can you reduce the risk?

  • A good core-strengthening programme should be part of every cyclist’s routine. Cyclists should look into targeting specific core muscles such as the gluteus medius, the transverse abdominals and multifidus during exercises. Balance between the muscle groups is also important, so after your ride, remember to stretch the front hip muscles and abdominals. Pilates on a reformer is an easy and effective way to target those muscles!

 

Because the muscles that generate power when cycling, connect the spine to the pelvis, lack of strength in these muscles decrease your ‘pedal power’ and also the ability to sustain a faster pace, causing pain in the lower back by forcing supporting muscles to compensate for the weakness of others. Strengthening the core will help cyclists to maintain these riding positions for longer periods of time while also increasing balance and power.

 

  1. ITB Syndrome

The ITB (Iliotibial band) runs from our hip to the outside of the knee. The repetitive motion of cycling, including bending and straightening, the knee can lead to ITB irritations and pain resulting from this is known as ITB Syndrome.

 

How can you reduce the risk?

  • ITB Syndrome is another injury that is related to a poor bike setup. Ideally the saddle height should be set to allow a small knee bend when the pedal reaches the very bottom of the revolution. As the saddle height dictates the knee position whilst riding, too high will cause the knee to over straighten, while too low will cause the knee to over bend. It’s also better keep the knees pointed at the second toe, be sure to avoid turning the toe in as that increases the stress on the ITB.

 

If you’re struggling with a sore ITB, it can be supported through some taping and soft tissue release, ask your physiotherapist about this. Moreover, ITB tightness relates to decreased strength in the outside stabilising muscles and inner thigh muscles, so make sure you get back to your Pilates class and strengthen these!

If you are unsure of your ailment it is best to consult with a physiotherapist, especially if pain is severe or becomes worse with time. Be smart and listen to your body!

 

– Claire HY Wu, Physiotherapist