The Pilates Method was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I as a form of rehabilitation for ill and injured soldiers. Pilates has become a beneficial mode of exercise which focuses on whole body control and an integration of strength, stability, flexibility, breathing and alignment. Based on the principles of breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision, balanced muscle development, rhythm and flow, whole body movement and relaxation, Pilates exercises stress quality of movement.
Author: Amber Davenport, PT, DPT, Certified Pilates Instructor
The Aspen Club is extremely excited to announce our official partnership with the Aspen Shakti. Jayne Gottlieb, Owner and Founder of Aspen Shakti, states, “This unique collaboration will help us create world-class yoga and mindfulness programming in both our fresh studio and at the newly redeveloped Aspen Club Campus. This is also an opportunity to incubate a brand in Aspen that inspires ALIVE living everywhere.”
The union will create a culture that is connected, vibrant, healthy, and inspired, benefitting Aspen Club, and Aspen Shakti studio members, community, and unsurpassed teams. Together, we believe that the Aspen Club and Aspen Shakti can accomplish something that is far greater than the sum of its parts. We can create an unsurpassed experience for the collective Aspen Shakti and Aspen Club members.
Michael Fox, Owner and CEO of the Aspen Club, expressed, “As the Aspen Club begins to realize our vision for a renewed and revitalized Aspen Club Campus, we are extremely excited about our official partnership with Aspen Shakti. This collaboration has a central purpose: to create incomparable yoga and mindfulness programming that sets new industry standards.”
Aspen Shakti and the Aspen Club share a collective mission, which focuses on creating groundbreaking mind-body experiences that heighten every primary element of eat, breathe, move, and connect. We look forward to celebrating this union, making a defining statement, revolutionizing movement, and inspiring each other.
Author: Dr. Jeremy James
With ski season fast approaching, it’s time to start training for maximum ski performance and minimum injuries. The best ski and snowboard conditioning regimens encompass much more than just strengthening the legs. Many of the recommended ski/snowboard workouts out there jump straight into training the muscles of the lower extremities (legs) along with agility drills and plyometrics. While these things are indeed important, it all starts with the CORE. Regardless of the sport or activity you might be training for, the core is the fundamental piece that must not be overlooked. Think of the core as everything between the shoulders and hips on all sides (front, back, and both sides of your body). Increased stability, endurance, and strength in the core (in that order of importance) will increase your athletic performance on the hill and decrease the likelihood of injuries to the knees and other joints. Your core should act as your anchor (practicing stability) from which you develop and project force via the hips and shoulders. Endurance in the core is important because you need to maintain good posture as you go down (or up) the hill. Endurance is the ability to maintain contractions in the core muscles which hold you upright as you ski or snowboard.
To start building endurance in your core, practice these exercises daily a week or two before you move into lower extremity strengthening and plyometrics, and then keep them in your regular routine.
2. Side planks-5 reps, 10-20 second holds each rep
2. Planks- 5 reps 10-20 seconds each rep
3. Bird dog (opposite arm/leg extension)- 10 reps, 10-20 second holds each rep
4. Crunches- 10 reps, 10-20 second holds each rep
REPEAT ALL ONE MORE TIME. Even if you can hold these positions longer, it is safer and more effective to get a good contraction for 10 to 20 seconds for each rep rather than holding the rep for a full minute and relying on the joints and ligaments to sustain you after the muscles fatigue. I like to do these in the beginning of the workout to turn the core muscles on and remind myself to keep a stable spine.
From there you can move on to the traditional ski and snowboard conditioning exercises such as squats, jump squats, box jumps, agility drills, etc.. I also recommend incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your workouts to really boost your fitness level. More on HIIT to come in my next blog. Happy winter!
Authors: Bill Fabrocini & Jeff Cooper
In the April Blog we discussed Functional Mobility and the necessity of dynamic flexibility. In this article we’re going to address the Functional Capacity of Strength. We’ll then review novel, new technology for training power -- the bridge between strength, speed and sprint endurance.
THE FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY OF STRENGTH
Strength is often defined as the ability of the muscle to exert maximal force at a specified velocity. For resistance training, we can measure strength with a 1 repetition maximum (1-RM) lift at a slow speed. That’s the greatest amount of weight we can lift without injury for a single repetition. Many believe that if we make a muscle strong through resistance training then that muscle will be strong for all movements and speeds that we use it for. At only a very base level this holds true. However, as we start to rise for better performance in sports, recreation or in compound (multi-muscle) lifts like the squat we have to add exercises and workouts that build us for specific goals.
Strength and speed are two ends on a spectrum: Slow and Heavy versus Light and Fast. Athletic performance and personal bests range on that spectrum. Different kinds of performance, muscles and physiques are produced by focusing within the force-velocity curve. Pure 1-RM strength is required by only a few athletic endeavors (i.e. powerlifting). Sports and recreation require strength at faster velocities and the stamina to sustain sprints, climbs or high-intensity sets. One does not get stronger on all points of the curve without incorporating specific training into their workout.
POWER AND ITS BENEFITS
Power is an important element of strength. Lower body power is THE key attribute underlying superior performance in most sports: sprints, vertical leaps, breakaway speed and reactive agility. The health and fitness gains of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are fueled by explosive strength moves and the body’s energy stores for sustaining powerful movements. Combining heavy and slow lifts with light resistance loads and explosive, full body jumps engages more muscle fiber and can multiply the work performed in exercise sessions. That equates with more calories burned from the exercise session and more muscle growth.
But power is not just for elite athletes, it is also a necessary component of everyday life. It’s standing up from a seated position, climbing stairs or quickly catching our balance and preventing a fall. For most recreational sports lower body power -- and the correct balance to apply it -- is what keeps us from taking falls and suffering set-backs. It’s a component of strength most needed when you least expect you have to use it. That’s why it’s something you want train on a regular basis, during your weekly gym visits.
Mechanically, power equals force x velocity. One can develop power by increasing strength or increasing movement velocity or both. On a spin bike, power is measured in Watts. If we gear down the resistance we can spin the pedals very fast, but without much power. It’s like riding on the flats in a very low gear: your legs are moving fast but you’re not covering much ground. And the corresponding work performed by your body is low. Likewise, if you put the bike in its lowest gear but can barely spin the pedals, power will be low. What makes the bike cover more distance, more quickly is when we can apply high revolutions at higher gears. It’s not much different from watching professional skaters. They may not be moving their legs very fast on the ice but they’re covering a lot of distance with just a few skating strides.
METHODS FOR DEVELOPING POWER
One popular form of lower body power training is plyometrics. A plyometric jump utilizes both fast muscle contractions and the elastic quality of muscle to generate higher velocities of movement. That’s why it is also referred to as “stretch-shortening cycle” movement.
The problem with plyometric or jump training is that without proper technique and a strong strength base (ie. The ability to perform a set of back squats at 150% - 200% of body weight), jarring landings and the repeated impact on joints can end up being counterproductive to reaching our training goals.
Jump Training is a great way to boost the metabolic effects of high intensity exercise because it uses large muscles at larger range of motion, which multiplies the calorie burn and cardio challenge of exercise. Unfortunately, improper jump training performed intensely, -- at time periods associated with the health benefits documented from anaerobic or HIIT power gains, (30 to 90 seconds per sprint or jump set) -- further increases the risk of injury. As we fatigue, form can break down and the chances of turning an ankle when landing or tripping on the edge of a box increase. But exercise that makes us sustain power (or builds anaerobic capacity) is “functional” as many sports and drills require us to accelerate through the final push, climb or set. We can vary the jump exercise to be less intense, but then it’s also less anaerobic. Aerobic jumping is fun and has a place in recreation but it is NOT the kind of exercise proven empirically to improve one’s anaerobic or power capacity, and the health benefits that go along with that. As a general rule aerobic cardio-vascular exercise does not improve Anaerobic Capacity but anaerobic activities improve both.
Seated on one’s backside, performing leg presses at light loads can reduce impact and fall risk. But it does not build muscle, lend itself to explosive strength production, or transfer well to multi-joint activities in a standing position. Ballistic weight loading conditions (jumping or throwing), where the resistance is accelerated throughout the movement, does result in greater velocity of movement, force output and higher intensities of muscle activity. Therefore, when sustained, upright explosive jumping burns more calories per time interval or jump set.
This is one place where exercise machines can provide the benefit of the exercise while incorporating extra measures of safety. One recent example is the Pneubounder exercise machine from Plyo Systems, LLC. The Pneubounder is a low-impact, plyometric or jump trainer that is engineered around the squat exercise movement. The Pneubounder allows the user to exercise in a functional, upright posture with light resistance loads and fast movements, using the major muscles of the core and lower body, especially the gluteals and quadriceps. The unique action of the Pneubounder provides ample opportunities for repetitions that train posture, core engagement and coordination of movement, at small or large range of motion, entirely up to the user’s own efforts. Stop jumping and the machine comes to an incremental stop, unlike sprinting on a treadmill that keeps running, even if the user doesn’t. And because it is a closed chain exercise, where the feet remain grounded on the platform during the exercise, there’s little chance of falling, tripping or landing wrong. That gives the user the confidence to keep up the tempo and push through exercise plateau’s, even when fatigue or leg burn sets in.
In these short video clips we’ll be looking at how to use the machine and for what purposes.
Whether it be bike sprints, HIIT jumps or Pneubounding, put some power in your workouts and make exercise novelty work for you!
So what does this take and how do you begin? Although there are many facets involved that I will eventually cover the first aspect of moving well is mobility. I like to think of mobility as the ability to move freely and easily into and out of positions that are essential for everyday life. If you can’t squat into a balanced position where your thighs are parallel with the floor, keeping your upper body upright, and keeping your feet facing forward you lack mobility. The lack of mobility maybe in your ankles or your hips and combined with a variety of short and tight muscles such as your hamstrings. The key point is that you can’t squat correctly because you lack mobility and that must be addressed. Makes no sense to overload your squat patterns with weights or to perform heavy leg presses until you establish a good squat pattern, otherwise you just wear your joints down.
So the question is how do you improve mobility. The first point to consider is that mobility is much more than muscular flexibility. Mobility also involves range of motion of our joints, extensibility of elastic membranes that surround our muscles referred to as fascia, among many other tissues including the skin. The traditional approach of simply static stretching tight muscles such as our hamstrings or quadriceps will do very little by itself to improve the way you move. Static stretching does have a place but it’s not enough. In order to move better we must also enhance joint mobility and put that mobility into motion. Hence a dynamic approach! In a dynamic approach one moves into and out of positions and with each repetition the joint being addressed is stretched a little more and the muscles being stretched are under tension. This results in greater range of motion that is both supportive and controllable by muscular contractions. This is the key to moving better. Don’t simply attempt to get greater range of motion but rather greater range of motion with control.
Here is a little insight for most of you. The areas of the body where most people begin to lose motion as they age is in the shoulders, the mid-back, the hips, and the ankle. Loss of motion in any of these areas will affect the overall quality of your movements in almost anything you do. If you need to lunge down to pick things off the floor you need mobility in your ankles, hips, and mid back. If you lack mobility in any of these areas there is going to be compensation in the way you move and some type of abnormal stress on one or more of your joints. Often it is the knees which is why so many aging people have knee pain. The best way to prevent knee problems is to make sure you have good ankle and hip mobility and the muscular control to support your knees as you move into and out of positions.
I spend a great deal of time in the gym, lots and lots of gyms all over the country. It is part of my job both as a physical therapist and trainer. Much of the time I watch and observe in frustration as people lift weights with no thought at all about the alignment of their joints, particularly their very fragile spine. In the task oriented world we live in it does in fact seem to be all about completing the task without any thought of the consequences. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions of squats or leg presses with a hundred pounds and you get a medal for finishing but no consideration is giving to the "how" you completed the exercise set. Did your knees buckle inward, did you round or hyper extend your back like a gymnast as you squatted down, did your head shoot forward like a turtle, did your feet turn way out like a ballet dancer?? I am here to tell you that things matter a great deal more than completing the set. Before I get into these intricate details let's first discuss why they matter and foremost what the objective should be in putting your body through the strain and hardship of weight training exercises in the first place.
Make no mistake the primary purpose for the typical exercises we do in the gym (whether at home or in a club) is to reinforce good patterns of movement that we need for every day life. Think about it, squatting is simply sitting in a chair, lunging is what we often do to pick things off the floor, pushing and pulling relate to a wide arrange of daily tasks such as lifting objects over our head and opening doors. These movements are also common to sports whether it be golf (rotational movements) or skiing (lateral lunges). In essence everything we do in the gym becomes an expression of what we do outside the gym. If we do things in the gym with proper alignment and form we train our body's to minimizing the loads on our joints and then we are more likely to repeat the same patterns in daily life. Most of the ailments people suffer from, ailments such as low back pain, hip or knee arthritis, tendonitis's , are simply because they performed the movements i discussed above the wrong way over and over again. Think about it, how many times have you squatted in your life, if you are around my age of 48 or older do you think a few hundred times, a few thousand times perhaps, think again. How about a few hundred thousand times to possibly over a million times. Same goes with lunging and these numbers probably only factor into daily life. If you go to the gym and work out with weights or machines add onto that the strain of performing these movements under loads and stresses that accelerate the wear and tear on your joints. That is why the blue print matters. Hey, think about it, have you ever picked up a hobby such as dancing, golf, or even something as simple typing. Imagine if you were taught the wrong steps in the tango, the wrong grip for the golf swing, or the hand position on the key board. Now imagine you rehearsed these skills the wrong way for several years. How much harder would it be then to correct these dysfunctional patterns. Probably be better if you started from scratch all over again because the original blue print is faulted. That is just the way our brains work, always has since the time you were an infant. Remember when you first learned to walk. If you don't simply watch a one year old going through the process. Every step is conscious effort, the step length, the width, the arm position, thousands and thousands of step analyzed by our main computer frame work the brain. Then over time the process of walking no longer becomes a conscious effort but rather automatic. I would hope that none of us really has to think about walking any more and that it is an ingrained soft ware pattern in our brain.
So where am I going with all of this. Squatting, lunging, rotating, pushing, pulling, etc. should be ingrained software patterns in our brains. The problem is that for many people the software is flawed because for years (decades) we have been doing it the wrong way. Not only that but those who exercise reinforce these poor patterns under loads and stresses. No wonder their body's eventually break down. It's time to learn how to walk all over again, to move away from task completion mentality to one of conscious effort of how we move. It should not simply be about simply going to the gym to lose weight or to lift weights to make our muscles bigger and stronger. On the contrary it should be all about performing purposeful movements that transfer over into everything we do in life. Of course we can still get fit along the way and develop muscle mass in a proportionate manner. However these are the byproducts of performing movements with correct alignment and form especially when under the loads of weights.
In some of my upcoming blogs I will explain the intangibles on how to do this and where to begin. It takes a little bit of work and some open mindedness but the benefits far outweigh the ease of repeating the same old stagnant program that will only break your body down. If you want to jump ahead and get started with a little bit of study feel free to check out our two DVDs, Thinner This Year Preparation for Movement and the Sacred 25 and Beyond.
I think you will the find the information precious to your longevity,
Bill Fabrocini PT, CSCS
Most of the terrain in Aspen Snowmass’s four resorts tends to favor skiers (aka the road bikers of winter sports) a bit more than snowboarders. Fortunately, there is some great off-piste terrain to be had on powder days if you know where to look.
In my opinion, almost all of the good stuff is in Snowmass. I know, I know, “Deep Temerity” they say; “the Highlands bowl”, they say. Nope, Snowmass has the goods.
On deep days my personal favorite is to start the day in Rock Island. Located through a gate on Sheer Bliss, Rock Island has some great pillow drops and small to medium sized (4-10ft) cliffs. There are a multitude of lines to choose from and on most days you can get lap after lap for hours getting fresh turns every time. Next up is Buckskin, also located through a gate off of Sheer Bliss, further below Rock Island. Buckskin has some good steep trees at the top with a great cliff drop midway down through the middle. The cliff itself is probably about 15 feet with a great steep landing before flattening out. The runout is fun too with lots of little jumps and drops.
The last fun spot on this part of the mountain is Burn Cliffs. As the name implies, there’s lots of cliffs, and a few big ones. The most popular way through is Stiletto, a narrow chute with a four-ish foot drop at the end over some rocks. There’s a rope to downclimb for people, usually skiers, that get in over their heads and don’t want to hike back out. To skiers right of Stiletto there are some large cliffs you can hike to that should satisfy almost any person’s need for thrills.
Leaving this section of the mountain I next like to head to Hanging Valley Wall. This is a pretty large area with a multitude of different ways through. I won’t try to guide you through other than to say I usually hike all the way (don’t stop at Roberto’s), strap in, and then keep to skier’s right at the beginning as far as you can go. Drop in once the track runs out. There is so much good terrain in here and it takes days to get fully tracked out after a good storm.
Finally, after a few laps in Hanging Valley Wall I like to end the day on Burnt Mountain. Burnt Mountain is located off of the Elk Camp chair. You take a short hike up after exiting the chair. Look for signs for Burnt Mountain and Long Shot. Burnt Mountain has some great glades, thick trees which stay deep for days, and a fairly sizable cliff which usually has a deep (but somewhat flat) landing. To get to the cliff follow Rio and stay on the ridgeline through the glades. You will see the cliff on skier’s right as you come to the end of the ridge. You will be thanking me in your head in colorful language as you do the runout later.
Those are my favorites but there is plenty, plenty more. The best part of Snowmass is that it stays good for days because most people go to the other mountains. Enjoy!
A few hours of rest in the beginning is okay. For most people, laying on your back with your knees bent and supported by pillows is the most comfortable position. Try to get up and walk after an hour or two and return to normal activities as soon as possible. Back belts can be used in the short term to get moving but should be weaned off of as soon as possible. Learn to use the body’s “natural back belt”, aka your core, to support your back as you walk around and go about your day. For more detailed information about activating your core, see my previous blogs. Get moving!
When was the last time you learned a new sport? High school? Maybe you took up yoga in your 20's. Maybe you swam competitively in college and haven't swum a lap since. Maybe you started skinning uphill when you moved to Aspen 10 years ago. Maybe you ride the same route every day.
According to Dr. Christina Miller, MD Integrative Medicine, "As you age, neurons in your brain and spinal cord begin to degenerate, and even die off, if not being used. Think of activities that you used to do that you no longer do now. You're likely losing, or have already lost, those neurons. This can range from complicated math problems or playing an instrument, to playing a sport or activity and have given up. The good news is that you can learn or relearn activities at any age, and promote growth of those, or nearby neurons, and regain function. This is the concept of neuroplasticity - regenerating parts of your brain and body that have gone latent with inactivity.
Learning a new sport is a great way to fire up some neurons, especially in the areas of balance, movement, focus and complex motor coordination. Neurons that fire together, wire together and will keep your brain and body functioning at a higher level."
With Dr. Miller's info in mind, I would like to issue a challenge to make January "Learn A New Sport Month". Find something that you've never done and give it a try. Or, how about that high school or college sport that you competed in and loved. What about a class at your gym that you've always said you would join?
Rekindle that fire. Regenerate those neurons!
In addition to our usual skiing, snowboarding, uphilling, fat tire biking, here are some ideas to get you started:
Spoiler Alert: next month will be "Take-Up-A-New-Activity-Month".
Think: learn a new language, instrument, hobby, etc.
Author: Dr. Christina Miller
Have you been indulging on sweet treats, comfort foods, and your favorite holiday dishes? Have you found that once you start, it’s hard to stop? There are literally sweet excesses and “treats” everywhere these days, even if you’re trying to be “good”.
Unfortunately, this can leave you to not only feeling guilty with difficulty buttoning your pants, but it also has a greater effect on your body and mind. Remember, food is information, and the message being sent is to increase inflammation, increase insulin, which leads to fat storage, and elevate dopamine levels, which leads to greater food cravings and the need to have more. I know this firsthand, as I used to experience significant food cravings and the need for more over the holidays.
How can you get back on track? Starting right now, it’s time to break the cycle.
Here are 6 easy tips to start RIGHT NOW.
Interested in learning more? Dr. Christina Miller along with Dawn Shepard are teaching healthy cooking classes that include recipes, food, tips and more starting this January. Learn more HERE.
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