Exercise and Fitness: Questions & Answers
Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Gina Jackson, who is our resident exercise and fitness expert and who is available to answer all your questions about exercising and fitness. Gina has a private practice and is available for consultation.
Gina answers all your exercise and fitness questions below:
Q: I am a healthy 48 year old woman. I am a runner and I also attend a gym. At the gym I do pilates and yoga. Twice a week I do consecutively two classes. I do one hour of pilates followed by one hour of yoga. I feel great after I complete this workout. I also believe I receive many health benefits.
The administration at the gym informed me that I am harming myself by doing two classes together. They told me to choose between the two classes. I disagree with this as the two classes are very different. The instructors are very good at explaining all levels of the exercises.
Do you believe that I benefit or hurt myself from this?
A: Congratulations for going against the grain! You sound like me, a 52 year old woman that does everything and dares anyone to tell me different! However, I have been teaching pilates for 7 years and work as a private fitness trainer for more than ten years. I occasionally will take a semi-private studio session (using the apparatus with a master teacher) and follow it up with a Mat class and a different mat teacher. I know when and how to modify an exercise at any point and have the support of the teachers conducting the class in the process. Even as such, I am generally wiped out at the end of the two hours.
I also have been know to run for 45 minutes using my Kangoo Jumps, (either inside or outside, depending upon the weather) and follow it up with a trek into NYC and take a semi-private session with my trainer/teacher. But, again, at the end the session hour, I cannot do anything but re-group with lunch and a break for a couple of hours before I can teach my next session.
Yes, while pilates and yoga are different disciplines, they do require focus, concentration, control, stability, and depending upon the level and/or teacher, a little dynamic movement. Most yoga classes are 90 minutes in length, while a pilates class is generally 55-60 minutes. It is tough for the average fitness consumer, in a gym class filled with 8-15 other participants, to work out with conscientious form for that length of time and not compromise their form and therefore their own potential for injury or that of the others in the room (given the instructor's need to split his/her attention). Privately, I could see it, as the instructor can modify any particular exercise based on your body's circumstances. But in a group setting, it would be next to impossible.
That being said, and not laying one eye on you or your form in your sessions at the gym, I would encourage you to do three things:
1. Honor your body and its messages
Everyday day and every week does not need to be the same. You will not lose any strength or flexibility if you give into missing a session or perhaps alternating the days of each class. Sometimes our "mindful will" can get in the way of our "physical reality." It sometimes takes another to see (or show you) what your mindful will is doing to your physical body
2. Honor the instruction and guidance of the teachers
They, more than anyone else, are witnessing your form, execution, posture, balance and energy. If they have instructed or "suggested" you slow down or minimize the class participation, it is for a reason. Each is certified in their respective discipline. Please note and understand that they probably talk to each other and/or certainly to the administration/management of the gym. I suspect the manager is speaking on behalf of the teachers who do not want to be put on the spot with you, the client.
3. Honor the insight and support of the gym management / administration
They want to maintain your membership in the facility and make sure you are enjoying the experience while getting/staying healthy.
Lastly, I would recommend that you continue to pursue each class, however alternating the day of the week that you use it regularly. For example, one week, take the yoga class and follow it with a cardio workout. The alternate day of the week, take the pilates class and follow it with a cardio workout.
This way you get the a) benefit of both wonderful disciplines that you love, b) you build strength and lengthen your muscles with regularity and consistency and, c) you build your heart muscle with cardiovascular training as well. As an extra added benefit: you get off the "watch list" of the gym management!
I read this yesterday and it seems appropriate to share it with you,
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recognized in 400 B.C. “All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly; but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly.”
Moderation is the key word. You don't want to exercise to the point of diminishing returns.
Let me know what happens! Won't you?
Engage in more fitness for your health!