How to Improve Your Tennis Game with Pilates

As those summer months get closer, now is the perfect opportunity to head into our Pilates studio and improve your tennis game by working on strengthening your body, improving your balance, enhancing your flexibility and building your core strength. Whether you have tried Pilates before, or are interested in it for the first time, our upcoming Pilates for Tennis six-week workshop is the perfect opportunity for you to boost your tennis techniques off the court. Pilates programs are always ongoing and available for you to take and improve your tennis game.

Under the guidance of our talented instructor Erica Bruenton, you will use the six principles of Pilates as a foundation for drawing connections between the fundamentals of both Pilates and tennis.

  1. Concentration: Pilates is contingent on developing the connection between the mind and the body. Just like in tennis, you are never focusing on one thing at a time. It is particularly important to learn how to focus on your body’s powerhouse, the transverse/oblique/rectus abdominis, as well as the inner thighs and glutes. A big piece of bringing that together is the ability to concentrate and think about how the different muscles of your body are working together. You are engaging in similar activities on the tennis court, such as concentrating on multiple areas including stroke mechanics, swing speed, follow through, and recovering back to a ready position after you return the ball.
  2. Centering: In Pilates we initiate movement from our powerhouse–all movement comes from the center. The core is equally important in tennis. If you visualize yourself on the court, there is a lot of rotational movement. Pilates encourages you to think about the kinetic chain of movement, where you are transferring energy from the ground, through your legs, core, and then into your shoulder, arm, wrist, which ultimately results in racquet head speed. Finding your center, as well as learning how to move it efficiently, will help increase your technique for generating power on the tennis court.
  3. Control: Pilates helps strengthen your understanding of how to coordinate the movement of your body. For example, various Pilates exercises work on moving your legs and arms while keeping your abs engaged and pelvis stable. Control is equally important in tennis. On the tennis court, you utilize the split step to feel in control of your body as you get ready to take your next shot.
  4. Breathing: Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you play tennis, as you hit the ball or react to get in position for a shot? This is a common issue among many tennis players, and an area in which taking Pilates can be extremely beneficial. Pilates teaches you to link your breath with movement. As a tennis player, this teaches you to incorporate breathing techniques to enhance fluidity in your movement on the court.
  5. Precision: As a tennis player, when you hit the ball you visualize where you want your shot to go. Similarly, in Pilates we build on concentration and control to achieve precision in movement. Pilates teaches you to engage your abdominals to stabilize your pelvis. Achieving stability and mobility that allows your joints to move through a healthy range of motion is very important, not just on the tennis court, but in your everyday activities.
  6. Flowing Movement: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of tennis is being able to put all of your techniques together. In a tennis lesson or in drill, this might mean transitioning from baseline groundstroke, to a down the line approach shot, to a cross court volley to finish the point. When it comes to a match, you have to be able to put everything together to get the win. The concept of flowing movement within Pilates is the ability to move through a repertoire of exercises with fluidity. In Pilates, this is achieved through transition exercises, like teaser and the roll up, where you build strength while continuing to flow between different exercises.

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(These images feature a progression series, where Tennis Professional Suzette Riddle is using the reformer’s straps to work through a progression of exercises that work on concentration, centering and control).

In the Pilates for Tennis class,  the majority of your exercises on the reformer, which is the spring-loaded apparatus. The color coordinated springs represent the different amounts of tension that are used during the workout.

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On the apparatus itself, you will be moving through a variety of positions. The videos below, featuring Tennis Professional Suzette Riddle, show different exercises that can be performed on the reformer that will help you build strength and coordination both on and off the court.

Sign up for Pilates for Tennis to secure your spot. There is no equipment necessary, just come willing to work with Erica! We are excited to offer two classes, one on Tuesdays @ 12:00-12:55pm from April 4 to May 9, and then other on Saturdays from 8:00-8:55am from April 8 to May 20 (with the exception of the Saturday before Easter, there will be no class on April 15).

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If you can’t make it to this course, Erica Bruenton is always more than willing to work one-on-one with clients, feel free to contact her to schedule a session!

Sitting Is The New Smoking

These five words will change your life: “Sitting is the new smoking.” This simple phrase sums up much of what you and I struggle with today. We sit at our desks typing and interacting with computers. Our bodies were simply not designed to sit for that long. We don’t move as much throughout the day as we need to and we eat sugar-packed foods in hopes of an energy burst. It’s a really destructive downward spiral.

When I picked my kids up from sleep away camp last summer, the owner mentioned this is the first generation of kids that spend most of their time indoors. Indoor play comes with iPads, iPods, video games and computers. For adults, our eight hour work days have become 10 and 12 hour days. We are finding less and less time to live the healthy lifestyle that our bodies require. Even if we make time to get up at 5:00am and go to the gym, that great work is met with a much largely sedentary lifestyle and low energy levels. Physically, people who sit all day develop “Tyrannosaurus Rex” posture, with the head and shoulders shifted forward, arms forward, glutes non-existent and hips and hamstrings tight and sore.

The concept that smoking is bad has been drilled into all of us. If we further associate the act of sitting with that of smoking, look out! We would engage in more shutterstock_141129619lryoga classes, Pilates classes, swimming laps, walks around the block and riding bikes with our kids.
At first glance, you might think that not sitting at work would be extremely difficult. Chairs are everywhere-at your desk, in your conference room, in the break room and just about anywhere you want to be.

If you can start to associate sitting down with smoking, you’ll pop out of your chair and get your blood flowing–which is exactly what you need.

As you move, you release endorphins (just like when you exercise) and your energy increases. You feel more alive and that increased feeling of power is brought in everything you do. Your whole attitude changes when you are full of energy and fully engaged. Self-confidence improves when you strengthen muscles that help you stand tall, including your glutes, core, upper back, etc.

Sit less. Do more. Empower others to do the same. I’m signing off by getting out of my chair and asking my kids if they want to play outside!

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

Has Holding on Gotten Out of Hand?

upperCVIOne of today’s popular fitness sayings is “go hard or go home.” This obsession with intensity tempts us to do whatever it takes to up the ante and could potentially make our workout less safe and less effective. This mindset shows up in all forms of exercise from weight lifting to cardio. In a cardio setting, it is not uncommon to see the stair stepper or treadmill running at top speed. Speed must equal the most effective workout, right? This level of speed has its place when done in good form. However, all too often the stair stepper and treadmill are running at full speed with individuals rounded forward and holding on for dear life in order to maintain speed. The treadmills are revolving fast, really fast, with pounding that is notably loud. While the spirit of working hard exists, what impact does poor form and posture have on the body and are results and efficiency achieved? So much of our day is already spent in front of a computer or in a chair rounding our bodies forward. We wouldn’t hit the start button if we weren’t after results. It has been found that continuous light handrail support during exercise reduces physiologic responses to exercise up to 6%! Aerobic benefits are reduced and suboptimal benefits from exercise are seen. In order to take in more oxygen, burn more calories, increase the heart rate and decrease the chances of injury, you must use your core. This means climbing the stairs and running on the treadmill without bending forward or handrail grasping even if it means slowing down. To increase the many benefits of submaximal exercise on the treadmill or stepper, let go and stay light on your feet. You might have to turn your iPod down to hear yourself. Standing tall requires you to use all of your senses and core muscles, balances your muscle recruitment and keeps you aligned. All in all, don’t feel bad if you have to slow down to let go. Studies show you will benefit!

Adding activities like Pilates or yoga to your exercise routine can enhance your balance, strength, coordination and flexibility; tapping into those important core muscles and  preparing your body and your mind for the rigorous demands of daily life.

Sara Talbert,
Director of Pilates

WHAT ARE THE PILATES LEVELS?

Pilates studio blogJoe Pilates didn’t teach levels, he taught people. He adjusted each exercise and apparatus to the body in front of him. The division of the method into basic (L1), intermediate (L2) and advanced levels (L3) is more recent and slightly artificial, but that’s not to say that it isn’t useful in a health club setting.

The levels are a template or guide, not a competition. Pilates is not a sport, it is a practice. In fact, Pilates is corrective exercise with roots in therapeutic modalities. The exercise levels are made up of developmental goals and a way of moving rather than exactly what exercises you do. Because Pilates is progressive, mastering the basic exercises is vital. The basic exercises are the foundation to the work and aren’t dropped from the repertoire as it increases. Rather, an advanced class is classified L3 due to the number of exercises completed in the hour, the coordination of the exercises, tempo and the strength, stretch and stamina needed to perform the exercises.

The levels are most obvious in a mat or equipment class since in private sessions the work is customized to you.

L1 These classes teach you the basics of the method through a series of simple, challenging exercises. The goal for this level is to find your powerhouse, to begin to find lift in the body and to even out the alignment of the torso. You will start to feel the benefits of Pilates.

L2  When your body has absorbed the basics, you are ready to take intermediate level sessions. The aim of this level is to strengthen and deepen the powerhouse. Some new movement patterns are introduced (e.g. back bends) and other patterns already present in the basic level are expanded upon. What makes you intermediate is not how long you have studied, but how much your body has absorbed and remembers from session to session.

L3 – At the advanced level the focus is on increasing the stamina of the powerhouse. More upper body exercises are introduced with the aim of working the upper back and connecting it more deeply with the rest of the powerhouse. The advanced level is where complete flow and synchronization with the breath takes place.

To be the best version of you in Pilates, there is nothing to be gained by rushing ahead in your progress and practice. Impatience means that you will simply not get as much from your classes as you could. If you have an injury or illness, it is advisable to have private sessions before you join a mat or equipment class to ensure your needs are properly addressed.

At Greenwood, our staff is trained to teach multi-level classes within each level. Additionally, our goal is to build a working Pilates vocabulary in the body and learn Pilates concepts and principles. All of our classes include fundamentals with flow, building block progressions and extra stretches to keep you moving- developing stability, strength, flexibility and stamina.

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

 

FLEXIBILITY VERSUS RANGE OF MOTION

Everyone knows flexibility is a key component in fitness, but what does it actually mean to be flexible? Flexibility, as defined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, is the ability of the neuromuscular system to allow optimum extensibility of the appropriate tissues in the right range of motion, while providing optimum neuromuscular control through that range of motion. This means allowing muscles, tendons and ligaments to work in conjunction to allow normal range of motion of a joint. This requires that the soft tissues are free of tears, adhesions (scar tissue found in tendons and fascia) and are not overly excited due to a muscular imbalance. Those first two components are common results of exercise and training or injury. The last component, muscular imbalance, is commonly due to postural deviations. For example, if we lean too far forward in our normal posture, our hamstrings must fire twice as much as normal to hold us upright.
The second part of the definition of flexibility, while providing optimum neuromuscular control through that range of motion, is not only the ability to stretch muscles and connective tissue, but the control of that movement in that particular range of motion. I have seen very flexible people not be able to do some basic movements because they possessed neither the control nor the strength to work in that range of motion. For example, if you want to lift your leg past your hips, you not only need to work your hamstring flexibility, but you also need to have the muscular strength to lift your leg above your waist level. It is that combination of neuromuscular control and strength, as well as joint stability, that defines what our joint range of motion is to be.
This means that not everyone will have the same flexibility or range of motion, due to neuromuscular, joint or genetic restrictions. Excessive or inadequate range of motion in joints leads to issues in bio-mechanics. Flexibility and range of motion are different for each individuTRXal but can be improved through activity, active range of motion exercise, passive stretching and soft tissue manipulation.

Contact Vic or one of GATC’s personal trainers for assistance in achieving your best, both in flexibility and range of motion, goals which can also result from the practices of Pilates and yoga.

Vic Spatola, Director of Personal Training

FIVE REASONS MEN SHOULD DO PILATES

There is a reason the females in your life can’t get enough Pilates–it works! From a stronger core to feeling better on a daily basis, here’s why Pilates is great for guys too.

Pilates, created by German born Joseph Pilates, was JoePilatesoriginally developed for men. Mr. Pilates lived in England working as a circus performer and boxer, when he was placed in forced internment in England at the outbreak of WWI. While in the internment camp, he began to develop the floor exercises that evolved into what we now know as the mat work. As time passed, Joseph Pilates began to work with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. Unhealthy as a child, Joseph Pilates personally studied many kinds of self-improvement systems. He drew from Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism, and was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man perfected in development of body, mind and spirit. On his way to developing the Pilates Method, Joseph Pilates studied anatomy and developed himself as a body builder, a wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier and diver. While women tend to dominate mat classes, Pilates holds plenty of benefits for men who rise to the challenge. Yes, it’s hard! Whether you’re a weight lifter or prepping for your first marathon, a Pilates class can help fine-tune your performance.

Exercises are made up of subtle, concentrated movements that can help you do the following:
1. Connect with often neglected muscle groups. Some of your muscles, like those that dominate your daily movements, are stronger than others, and a big part of Pilates is focusing on those muscles that don’t typically get a lot of attention. During Pilates you consciously move in certain ways to build muscles that you don’t hit while lifting.
2. Improve flexibility. In general, the more muscle mass you have, the less flexible you are. Pilates’ focus on lengthening helps prevent injuries and muscle strains, and increases range of motion.
3. Build core strength. Every Pilates exercise focuses on using your core to initiate movement in your limbs. Pilates also hits your transverse abdominals, the base ab muscle under your six-pack.
4. Live more consciously. Pilates forces you to pay attention-you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrate on proper form. After a Pilates session, you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed, which can even carry over into the next day.
5. Prevent injury. This kind of core training makes Pilates an excellent technique for whole-body fitness, as well as a foundation for cross training with other kinds of sports and exercise to balance out the way you move all week.

StrengthCondwebAt Greenwood, we offer a Men’s Only Pilates class where it is just you and the guys. The class is geared to meet the needs of men, including heavier spring loads, upper back and hip stretches and many exercises for the core. This class is offered on Thursdays at 1:00pm. Sign up the day before class and reward yourself with a discount!

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

In movement, everyone has a story. At birth, our story begins and continues to develop to be what it is today. Although it takes time and history to create that story, there is opportunity to redefine how your story reads in the future. You might be asking, what story?

Our bodies have shaped to our habitual activities. No two bodies are the same; it is our musculoskeletal system that provides each of us our unique shape and story. Our bodies are shaped not only by genetic code, but from the experiences (physical and emotional) we have encountered. We are shaped by the sports we play and have played, the jobs we perform, our hobbies and the injuries we have sustained. Often, the things we love to do, or things we have done repeatedly in the past, create imbalance.

With every client who Pilates studio blogwalks in the Pilates studio comes a physical shape that tells a story about their life. Picture the man who spent years in an office rounded over a computer and who was also a weekend warrior on a road bike. Sometimes the story comes free of pain but in most cases, people are dealing with discomfort or pain on a daily basis.

THE FACTS:

• Sedentary lifestyles lead to disease and imbalances throughout the musculoskeletal system
• Injury reverberates through the entire body leading to faulty movement patterns
• Depression and stress “pull down” posture and negatively affect our movement
• Routine leads to the over-recruitment of some of the muscles while others are under-utilized
• Improper training programs exacerbate muscular imbalance

As a result, our bodies forget how to move properly and the brain recognizes movement patterns, not muscles or muscle groups, and these basic patterns of movement build sequentially, beginning in infancy and developing throughout childhood. Pilates is a great way to reverse the patterns, providing a workout that restores muscle balance, movement efficiency and builds endurance in the deep intrinsic muscles that support the skeleton and spine.

Pilates was developed decades ago to help align imbalances. It is the perfect form of exercise to deconstruct negativity in the body. As a form of exercise practiced on a regular basis, Pilates examines the integration of movement and impact on function. Instructors are trained to study the functional and dysfunctional patterns in the body and are skilled at constructing series of exercises to create balance. It is our mission to cater to individual needs with a plan that will gradually change what might currently be a negative (imbalance) into a positive (balance).

Remember that the body is always learning, with every workout and every movement. Therefore, the quality of movement dictates the outcome. Pilates is a powerful way to improve stability and movement efficiency. When practiced alone or in combination with traditional fitness modalities, it educates and creates body awareness. The simple words “change happens through movement and movement heals” underscore the fact that the body learns by doing. What story is your body telling you or are you telling your body?

Sara Talbert, Director of Pilates

 

TRY SOMETHING NEW

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Hopefully you have been receiving our email requests to complete the Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club survey. We have read and answered over 1600 surveys and more come in daily. Please be sure we have the email address of the adult members on your membership so we can hear from everyone. The survey has given us an opportunity to hear feedback and concerns from members. More importantly, it has allowed me, our AGM Barbara Lubbers and other managers to really get to know many of you via email, phone or, even better, in person. I have had the privilege of hearing the good and the “not so good,” all with the intent to make your club better! We read every survey, answer your questions, forward your positive comments and consider your suggestions and concerns.

Via the survey, emails and personal conversations, we have heard success stories from members completing the Fitness Challenge. We have had many types of challenges over the years but this one seems to have been the most successful! Members are telling me how their workout routines have changed; classes they have added, trainers they have worked with for the first time, their venture into our mind-body area to try Pilates, all the while gaining measurable results in weight loss, strength gain, or increases in endurance and flexibility. Greenwood is a 153,000 square foot athletic and tennis club with something for everyone. It’s easy to get “stuck” in a routine, but when you commit to trying something new (with the Fitness Challenge) the end result can be amazing. Here’s what a couple members had to say:

“I have had a great time during the challenge, love PowerFit and TRX. I had taken TRX with Kenny so I will continue that. I am so impressed with Brandon. I never had an opportunity to work out with him before. He is a terrific instructor, tough but kept an eye on all of us. I am going to make an effort to get to his classes. The Saturday morning PowerFit classes were fantastic. I trust Vic and Rob to kick our butts and keep us from harm. It was very nice to have the opportunity to meet the other trainers/staff as well. You all did a wonderful job. Thanks.” Carol Storey

“The fitness challenge has been wonderful. It’s provided the opportunity to see what other classes are offered and the opportunity to meet some of the other trainers. The weekend PowerFit classes have been great and Brandon’s Friday morning PowerFit class is fantastic too. He takes an interest and corrects your movements and encourages/challenges. What a fun program this has been. Thank you.” Susan Carr

I love to run, but my body has adapted to that workout so I need to do other things to see improvements. Our bodies are amazing pieces of machinery that need to be taxed in different ways in order to see gains. So, attend a BodyPUMP® class, try a new machine, meet with a trainer, do yoga, try a Pilates Reformer class or swim laps. Next time you are in the club, take a risk and TRY SOMETHING NEW!

Paula Neubert, President/General ManagerPaula Neubert 12