This column is written by Gigi Gould, a certified Pilates and group exercise instructor at the Montclair YMCA and a certified breast cancer exercise specialist.
We've all watched them at some point, I am sure: Poised, with total concentration, at the back of their spring board, and then suddenly those couple of perfectly placed runs down the board, with a spring onto two feet at the board's end, precisely aligned in parallel upon landing.
The synchronized movements of the arms with the body into that bounding jump before the swift somersault into the direct downward dive into the water. A higher score achieved for the least amount of splash. It's all over in a matter of seconds but the amount of concentration, energy and precision to attain the dive is undeniable.
Which brings me to Pilates.
There is a definite similarity here. To properly perform Pilates one requires concentration and precision. The result is like the dive: powerful, graceful, efficient movement.
One may ask, "How does this help me get fit? I just want to workout, not perform dives or be a dancer."
Yet there is your answer! Those qualities of precise, efficient, powerful moves may be attained by practicing Pilates. And the beauty of Pilates is that the training that your body acquires carries over into everything else you to do, whether it is running, playing tennis, golfing, lifting weights or sweating it out in a cardio class — only you will perform them better! It's a win-win situation.
And while I do preach the benefits of Pilates, it also important to make sure you get a good variety of exercises into your routine.
When one does the same workouts over and over, the body gets used to those actions and is no longer so challenged. Often times the muscles of the body become unbalanced. For instance, if you only run, over time you may find areas of extreme tightness and underused muscles can become weaker, even as you workout more.
That's why it is important to step outside your comfort zone sometimes, and challenge yourself to new fitness routines and exercises. Often the ones we dislike the most are the ones we most need to do!
If you are a runner, try a Zumba class to get the hips moving in a different way.
Work out on the machines a lot? Give Pilates a shot to experience using the same muscles in a more synchronized way.
So you always work it hard in spinning classes? How about experiencing yoga to stretch out the body for a change?
Be daring, take another look at that schedule and try something new this week.
YMCA Workout Schedule
Click here for the group exercise schedule at the YMCA of Montclair, located at 25 Park St. The YMCA is open Mondays through Friday between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The Geyer Family YMCA, located at 159 Glenridge Ave., is open Mondays through Thursdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Fridays between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.