Clearing the Next Hurdle

The desert offers a myriad of exercise options

JUDD SPICER Health & Wellness 0 Comments

Couples, mother-daughter pairs, and families exercising together as “yoga buddies” encourages accountability and commitment to fitness plans.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KATHLEEN GEIBERGER

 

CHRIS MILLER/IMAGINEIMAGERY.COM

Bronwyn Ison of Evole Yoga in La Quinta offers "Gentle" classes for every age and fitness level.

 
TAKE THE FIRST STEP

Just getting out of the blocks can be the toughest hurdle for fitness novices looking to get in shape. According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise, but better health can begin with about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week.

If a bustling gym or bounding boot camp class aren’t your style, practicing yoga can be an excellent first step toward a healthier lifestyle.

“I think one of the biggest motivators is a physician ‘prescribing’ yoga for fitness,” says Bronwyn Ison, owner of Evolve Yoga in La Quinta, where the “Gentle,” introductory class is among the studio’s most popular offerings. “People may be looking for something that isn’t too strenuous, and they hear that yoga is good because it will help strengthen. A lot of people come in and say, ‘My doctor told said I should be doing yoga. I’m completely stressed out and I’m inflexible.’”

Yoga enhances flexibility and offers a soothing and supportive environment that’s accessible for all; in fact, Ison’s clientele ranges in age from students in their 30s to those in their 80s.

At Evolve, Ison also sees couples, mother-daughter pairs, and family members across her class schedule. “There’s accountability with a ‘yoga buddy,’ when you’re telling that person you’ll meet them there at a certain time and you’re committed to doing it,” Ison adds. “They end up working together, and it becomes a bonding time.”

 

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PILATES PLUS PALM SPRINGS

The training regimen, created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s and practiced by amateur and professional athletes alike, uses various machines and low-impact exercises and stretches to efficiently tone core muscles and boost strength.

 

SHAKE UP THE ROUTINE

A recent study from the University of Florida showed that those who repeat the same exercises again and again are more likely to toss in the fitness towel than those who try variety in their weekly workouts. Even if you already have a regular routine, you can make better use of your gym time and boost motivation with a few tweaks.

“To make the workout a bit tougher for the person who is looking to take it to the next level, I suggest a lot of interval work,” says Frank Gustafson, owner of Gustafson Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in Palm Desert. A veteran of more than three decades in certified athletic training, physical therapy, and sports medicine, Gustafson has worked with Olympic athletes, professional golfers, and everyday clients looking to regain form.

For those seeking an enhanced and more economic workout, Gustafson suggests alternating hard exercise with quick breaks. “For example, do as many push-ups as you can for 30 seconds or a sit-stand routine to work those leg muscles — and there’s not a lot of rest in there,” he says. “We call it a ‘1-to-1’ ratio, where you work for 30 seconds and then take a 30-second break. You don’t get to rest for two minutes. Going through that cycle is an amazing workout.”

You can also freshen a your workout simply by altering technique, he says. “When a person is sitting with good posture and pulling toward their body, they get used to just sitting on the machine and pulling the weights toward them,” says Gustafson of a typical pulley exercise. “They might try that same exercise while standing and pulling the weight toward them with just one arm. Now, balance and core muscles come into play. Without even adding resistance, standing can take it to the next level.”

 

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PILATES PLUS PALM SPRINGS

Pilates Plus in Palm Springs offers certified Pilates instruction.

 

BUILD UP CORE STRENGTH

What do top athletes like Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James have in common? They test themselves with Pilates training. Named for Joseph Pilates, who created the exercises in the 1920s, the training includes low-impact exercises and stretches — often performed using specialized equipment — to improve physical strength, balance, posture, and flexibility.
“People looking to increase core strength — whether it’s pro basketball players, golfers, or tennis players — find it helps them get to that next level and heighten the intensity of exercise,” says Ron Duran, co-owner and certified instructor at Pilates Plus in Palm Springs.
Duran recommends a goal-oriented approach and notes that his clients trend toward his advanced classes to build abdominal strength, flexibility, and an efficient use of diverse muscle. “You’d be surprised how many ‘gym rats’ come to Pilates,” Duran says. “They may be strong in terms of weightlifting, but in terms of their core strength, it’s not so easy, because they don’t know how to recruit all the muscle groups.”

 

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

A few more suggestions for incorporating healthier habits into your daily routine:

DRINK UP: Have water with meals instead of soda; most soft drinks pack more than 100 calories.

WALK IT OFF: According to Forbes, just 20 minutes of brisk walking is good for a 100-calorie burn. Headed to the shopping mall? Don’t park at the entrance; instead, seek out a spot that offers a good stroll. See an option between stairs and an escalator or elevator? Go for the stairs. Playing 18 holes? If the course allows, leave the cart behind for a 5-plus-mile walk.

CURL UP: When carrying those grocery bags to the car and into the house, do some arm curls. Every little bit helps.

EAT WELL, SLEEP WELL: A good night’s sleep is vital for overall health. Though experts sometimes disagree on best eating habits before bedtime, the consensus calls for avoiding caffeine, fatty foods, large portions, and snacks with high sugar content or a high glycemic index to ensure sweet dreams.

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