Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Intrepid exerciser 3- Pilates and Yoga -- Head to Head

Intrepid Exerciser 3

With all the superbowl hoopla the intrepid exerciser had to stage her own "physical challenge."

So she decided to do only yoga and pilates for a couple of weeks. IE took yoga at The Pad in Bon Aire's Greenbrae Center;


and Pilates at Mindful Pilates on 3rd street in San Rafael.

Lets start with yoga. My favorite challenge class was Cindy Fernandez's 9:30 Power Yoga.

Her rigorous technique class delivered an exquisite burn while still pulling us into the heated, sweaty, drama of listening to your body/mind. Cindy doesn't use music, so as you hold the pose, (forever) she guides your focus.  "HMM" she croons, as she walks through the room amidst the groans,"keep holding the pose, let your mind help you come inside yourself."  When we are done, she adds humorously, "you didn't think you could do that did you?"

Ed Levinson, by contrast, used the coolest music--think shavasana (corpse pose) to a metalish mix. Every track seemed to pulse and drive you deeper into focus. It reminded IE of a contact jam, but instead of everyone flying thru the room, the bodies are contained (gratefully) by individual yoga mats.

Ellie Bowman is a thorough Iyengar teacher who conducts an almost-flow class. She often had us doing shoulder openers, which even though IE detests, she needs desperately. She also shed some light how to gracefully gracefully glide thru the sun salutation's primer 


moves of down-dog-up-dog.

Then it was on to Pilates at Mindful Pilates with studio owner and teacher Angie Larson. I took three days in a row and was a bit sore and shaky in the final class. The upside was I am finally able to remember some of the exercises and can replicate a shadowy reformer workout on my own. 

As Angie says, "This is not your grandmothers Pilates."

The Mindful Pilates machines have a smoother, sleeker design but the work you do on them is essentially the same. There is a quick and strategic warm up, leg work in extension then rotation work, abdominal work, arms toning then stretching and 55 minutes later, you are done.

IE loved class with Alyssa and the jump board. The exercises are much the same except you do them with a box affixed to the end of the carriage so you can "jump." This is Pilates with an an aerobic component, especially when you do exercises like "peter pan," where you have one leg in bent and pointing to the knee in passe, and the other stretched a la seconde, you really get the sense of jumping high and flying, even if you are still horizontal. Strange I know, but true. 

In my final class with Angie we did a lot of the same exercises, but put a small squishy medicine ball under the sacrum to challenge the core's stability and to give the lower back some lift and allow more extension and hip rotation. 

At the end of the square off, IE felt taller and maybe even a little bit leaner. Both disciplines provide ample strength work but more importantly call for greater body awareness while moving. That's what IE really loves and what she keeps coming back for--no matter what the class!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Intrepid Exerciser 2

Working it out at Not Just Fitness

It's not just about fitness says Shelly Weatherby, owner of Not Just Fitness, a new boutique gym in Sausalito.  Shelly started Not Just Fitness as a way to bring her lifetime interest in exercise and training to people.

So when the living social coupon for five free classes and a half hour massage came up--the intrepid exerciser snatched the challenge. In addition to her trainer certifications in ACE, and TRX, Shelly has a background in the Asian Martial Art Kenpo and several years of military service in the Navy. A class with Shelly is a lively combination all of these when she pushes like its boot camp but she also gives real-person modifications, and encourages a close awareness of breath and form.

The best part for the intrepid exerciser was the small studio
and personalized attention.
Shelly likes the idea of specialized 10-15 people classes where she can give everyone her focused attention for some part of the class. I liked the camaraderie of everyone enjoying the music and the exercise. It’s a great sign when we're all sweating and smiling!

As a dancer it’s always exhilarating to move in different ways, integrating new information, building and layering knowledge from various physical disciplines. Shelly recognizes this and by watching each student closely (including the intrepid exerciser) she challenges one to recognize a limit and work thoughtfully and energetically beyond it.

The intrepid exerciser had a lot of fun—as the video and photos attest. All of Shelly's trainers are great too. 

Check out the video of the intrepid exerciser and Zumba teacher Hilary Kretchmer:

Jump the 101 and get out of a rut, try something new at Not Just Fitness.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Why do we dance?

With the New Year comes resolutions and revolutions. Why do we do what we do? What do we want to do differently? What would we do more of if we could? Check out this new short film with Annie Rosenthal Parr--in collaboration with filmmaker John Vigran.

Annie is the owner of Roco Dance, with studios in Mill Valley and Fairfax. Her thoughts, as well as her teachers, and students are fresh and inspiring.

Watch their video:  http://vimeo.com/55651084

Why do we dance?