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

IMG_93062

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cycling Injuries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Get Healthy with Yoghurt

July 20th, 2016

Yoghurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you finish a workout such as Pilates, remember to grab a pot of yoghurt. It is an excellent source of protein and is perfect post-workout, as it aids in muscle recovery, giving you the energy needed to recharge your body.

Loaded with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, which is essential in vitamin D absorption, yoghurt also helps to promote strong bones and teeth. What’s more? This highly nutritious health food contains probiotics, also known as the ‘good bacteria’ to improve your immune and digestive system, which will minimise bloating, giving you a flatter belly! Check out four easy and healthy ways you can enjoy yoghurt:

 

Yoghurt Parfait

A great way to enjoy your yoghurt is by topping it with freshly cut fruit and layer it with crunchy granola. This can be served as breakfast or a mid-day snack!

 

Smoothies

With a thick and creamy texture, yoghurt is a great consistency for smoothies. Blend it with fresh fruit and you will get a quick energy boost – perfect for starting your day right.

 

Healthy Dipping Sauce

Spice up your dish and give it a twist with a Greek yoghurt dipping sauce. For a zesty and refreshing taste, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice or mix it with mint and cucumber for a more flavourful dip.

 

Salad Dressing

Instead of mayonnaise, you can swap it for yoghurt. Not only does it provide a creamier texture, it is also a healthier option. So give it a try on your greens!

 

 

Goodness in a Cup

June 29th, 2016

Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to a good cup of tea, we are definitely spoilt for choice, from traditional Earl Grey to exotic pearl jasmine green tea, and with each variety offering a distinct aroma and variety of health benefits. Not only is tea refreshing, it keeps your taste buds and body happy too!

We have selected our top three tea varieties that are filled with goodness.

 

Earl Grey Tea

A popular morning beverage for many, Earl Grey is a great option to boost energy and health. Earl Grey has the function of improving digestion, reducing the risk of heart ailments and even cholesterol levels.

 

Jasmine Green Tea

Known for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties, green tea is also said to reduce the risk of cancer, improve blood circulation and reduce blood glucose levels. Drinking green tea also aids in weight management, detoxifying and keeping you energised throughout the day!

 

Chamomile Tea

Great for relieving stress and insomnia, this special white tea has a calming effect to help you relax and unwind after a long day at work. If you want to maintain healthy and youthful skin, drink up a cup of freshly brewed chamomile tea. It is also great for keeping your teeth and gums healthy!

 

 

 

Inverted V – Getting It Right

June 23rd, 2016

 

 

Watch our video with Daniel and Polestar trained instructor, Wan Yin on how you can perfect your Pilates Inverted V.

Daniel guides Wan Yin through the exercise, highlighting some common mistakes that we see so you can get it right the next time you are in class.

Enjoy!

 

 

Anytime is a great time to exercise

May 31st, 2016

Pilates Outdoors small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor I have had many clients ask when is the optimal time to exercise? Is there the perfect time that is going to make sure my workout burns the most fat? There are of course many theories encouraging particular times of the day, but when exercise programmes have such a high occurrence of drop out regardless of the time of day, you have to wonder if there is something more important than the time of day you put your running shoes on or climb onto a Pilates Reformer.

I have summed up some of the pros and cons of exercising at different times of the day, and hope you can find one that best suits you!

 

Early Bird Gets the Worm – Morning workout

Research indicates that getting your exercise in before time pressures interfere, for some people gives them a greater chance to adhering to their programme for longer. There tend to be fewer classes in gyms and exercises studios, but that also means the classes are usually much smaller and you get more attention. Fancy a 7.30am Multi-Level Pilates class next week? You’re almost guaranteed a small class!

 

The downside of an early morning workout is that you will need to get out of bed around 90 minutes earlier than usual…

 

Workaround: Set your morning workout once or twice per week in your schedule and stick to it like any other appointment (you wouldn’t miss your hair appointment!). Remind yourself how good you feel to starting your day with a quick burst of exercise.

 

 

Skip That Food Court – Lunchtime workout

Getting your exercise done at lunchtime is ultra convenient as it’s close to the office, it helps to break up the day and gets you moving to refresh your mind for the rest of the afternoon. It also means that when you finish work, you have the freedom to socialise with friends and family.

 

The cons of a workout during lunch, is that it’s easy for things to come up last minute such as meetings and urgent deadlines. Also, if you work up a sweat you have to shower and re-apply make-up which takes more time.

 

Workaround: Book the class into your personal schedule to give yourself that extra boost of commitment and then if your schedule is free, call and book into the class. Our new Express Classes are ideal for a lunchtime workout as they are 45 minutes, and as Pilates is conditioning rather than a cardio workout, any makeup should stay in place.

 

 

A Post-Office Stress Reliever – Evening workout

I know of one of our clients who exercises after midnight, as she works late and finds that it’s the quietest and most focused time for her. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but gyms and exercise studios tend to have a greater range of classes in the evening and it may also be easier to find a friend to exercise with you rather than a 7am jog around Marina bay!

 

Its easy for other time demands to get in your way including a last minute deadline or conference call, and dinner with friends seems so much more appealing! Also, you are much more likely to change your mind if you have had a particularly tiring or demanding day.

 

Workaround: Commit to after-work exercise with a friend or colleague, many studies have show that exercising with buddy improves adherence.

 

 

Are there biological differences in working out at different times of the day?

Possibly, however the biggest influencer on achieving results is consistency.

You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to discover the best time to exercise. Have a good look at your schedule to see what times are you least likely to have your time diverted to other important parts of your life. Consistency is the key to results in any exercise regime, so finding the time and the type of exercise that gives you the least reason to choose to do something else is vital!

 

 

 

– Daniel Dittmar, Director and Head Instructor

 

 

 

 

Spinach and Berry Popsicles

May 25th, 2016

Naturally Ella Popsicles copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather becomes increasingly warmer on our sunny island, one of the best ways to beat the heat is to enjoy a cooling popsicle! And the best thing, is that you can make your own with all-natural and healthy ingredients.

Try this interesting mix we’ve sourced for you, using spinach, berries and cereal, which provides you with essential vitamins and nutrients while keeping you cool and refreshed in this sweltering hot weather!
Tip: You can D.I.Y the popsicle mold by using disposable paper cups and wooden ice-cream sticks(available at any crafts store). To secure the stick, simply cover the paper cups with a cling wrap and push the stick through the middle.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup frozen assorted berries (Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries)
    ½ Banana
  • ¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt or almond yogurt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk or almond milk
  • ½ cup cluster cereal or granola

 

Method

  • Combine the spinach, berries, banana, yogurt and milk in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Using the popsicle mold, add about one tablespoon of cereal into each mold. Pour the mixture into the molds. Add another tablespoon of cereal over the mixture.
  • Freeze for four hours or until solid.
  • Best served within a day or two while the cereal is still crispy!

 

 

Recipe and image courtesy of naturallyella.com.

 

 

 

 

Top Three Pilates Exercises to Relieve Monthly Pain and Tension

April 29th, 2016

Side Lift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working out during that time of the month can seem like a bad idea for some and staying on top of your exercise routine can get disrupted when cramps, back pain and other cyclic symptoms come out to play each month. However not all exercise will add to the pain! Some gentle Pilates moves can in fact help alleviate symptoms in a variety of ways.

Whether its pre-menstrual or menstrual symptoms, both can be relieved by increased endorphins, a boost of oxygen and some simple no-impact mat Pilates exercises (perfect for you to practice at home).

I have put together my top three Pilates exercises which will help to relieve some of the pain and tension many of us experience – try them out and I’m sure you will feel better for it!

 

Exercise #1 – Standing Hip Stretch (Lunge)  

Use this as your warm up to heat the body and prepare it for the following exercises.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step one leg backward and straighten, bending into the front knee. Your knee on your front leg should be in-line with your ankle.
  • Lean your torso forward slightly as you stretch your back leg straight.
  • Keep your hands placed on your hips for support. Alternatively, move your arms forward and backward (as if you were running) as you lunge.
  • In one brisk move, step forward to your starting position.
  • Exhale to lunge out and inhale to return.

Repeat 8 – 10 times on each side.

 

Why it works?

Pilates Lunges get the blood flowing to the larger muscle groups and draw your senses to the periphery of the body rather than the center of the body, which is the source of monthly cramps. Additionally, by targeting the larger muscle groups you’ll increase your metabolism, increase endorphins and rev up your energy combatting the fatigue associated with those particular times of the month.

 

 

Exercise #2 – Side Lift

  • Sit on one hip with your elbow under you for support and legs long out to the side.
  • Lift up your hips into a side plank, balancing yourself on your supporting elbow and with your legs stacked one a top the other, or alternatively step one foot in front of the other to make it easier. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Lower your hip down towards the mat, and then lift back up.

Repeat 5 – 8 times and switch sides.

 

Why it works?

The Pilates Side Lift is a great upper body strengthener and waist whittler for those times when you aren’t comfortable lying on your stomach or chest-down. During that time of the month, abdominal moves that target the Rectus (or six pack) can be uncomfortable so instead, focus on your oblique muscles with the Side Lift. You’ll get a great waist workout without the groaning.

 

 

Exercise #3- Standing Roll Down 

  • Standing with your feet in parallel, hip width apart. Arms long and heavy by your side.
  • Exhale to roll down into a full forward bend moving one vertebrae at a time. You can soften your knees if you need, allowing your fingers to brush the ground. Allow arms and head to relax.
  • Exhale to roll back up, initiating by drawing in the abdominals and tucking the tailbone under.

Repeat 5-10 times.

 

Why it works?

Rolling down will ease the lower back pain that accompanies PMS or your period by relaxing tight back muscles and restoring symmetry. When back pain occurs, muscles tighten up. Use this exercise any time of the day to offset any monthly back soreness.

 

 

– Cha Mijung (Chami), Pilates Instructor

 

 

 

Fresh Fruit Wraps

April 27th, 2016

Fruitwraps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month we want to get all mamas feeling their best! Besides following a healthy workout routine such as Pilates, it’s also important to keep your diet loaded with vitamins. A fun way to do this is to get your hands on this colourful and refreshing fruity wrap idea – which is also perfect for the spring season.

Stock up on your favourite fruits and start rolling!

 

Ingredients

  • 4 rice paper sheets
  • 10 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 whole fresh coconut
  • Half a bunch of mint leaves

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mint, chopped

 

Method:
Place a sheet of rice paper on a plate and lightly sprinkle water over, using your fingers to brush it to the edges (don’t use too much!).

Leave a 2cm gap at the bottom of the sheet and lay your strawberry slices (about four slices). Scoop out the coconut flesh and layer it with the mint.

Fold in at the sides of the rice paper, followed by the bottom and continue to roll your wrap up.

Lastly, for the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Serve immediately while fresh!
Recipe and image courtesy of movenourishbelieve.com.