Summer Exercise Tips With Pilates Expert Ana Caban
By Mercedes SanchezBeing a smart Latina is more than just knowing which products to use or where to shop for the latest styles. It's also about keeping our bodies healthy which results in natural beauty.
What if you don't have enough time to workout? What if you're out of shape or overweight and don't know where to begin? To help answer these questions, we spoke with Fitness and Lifestyle Expert Ana Caban.
"Beauty and fitness are very intertwined," says Caban. "We feel and look more beautiful when we are healthy and radiant. Exercise is so important and you don't need a fancy gym."
Back to Basics: Why Exercise is More Important Than You Think
- Improves your mood
- Boots your energy level
- Manages weight
- Helps you sleep better
- Gives skin a radiant glow
- Helps combat chronic diseases
- Puts a spark back into your sex life
- Makes you more fun
Here are five exercises to get you moving and toned:
The Pilates Hundred (pictured above)
For a super strong core, flat abs and good circulation
Lie down on your back on a mat or towel. Bend your knees and bring your legs to a table top position over your hips. Stretch your arms straight down by your sides and curl your head and shoulders up off of the mat or towel. Begin pumping your arms by your sides, as if you are slapping your palms down on the surface of water. Keep your abdominals firm and scooped in as you inhale and exhale for five counts each. The arms will continues to pump as you complete a series of 10 breaths, inhaling for five counts and exhaling for five counts each. Bend your knees into your chest and relax your head, shoulders and arms down to the mat.
The Swan Preparation
For a strong back and great posture
Lie face down on your mat or towel. Place the palms of your hands on the mat, underneath your shoulders. Keep legs parallel and slightly apart. Engage your abdominals, by lifting them up to support your back. As you inhale, extend your spine and lift your torso up off of the mat, press your palms firmly into the mat to assist you in lifting. Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible and slide your shoulders down. Deepen your abdominals in one more inch. Hold the position for five counts and lower your torso back down to the mat, lengthening your spine as you do so. Repeat four more times. Sit back on your heels and stretch out your back.
Full-body exercise for power and shape (If you only have time for one exercise, make it this one).
Kneel with your hands and knees on the ground. Engage your abdominals and extend one leg, then the other, back so that your legs are straight and you are on the balls of your feet. Imagine magnets on the inner portion of your legs that are pulling together to keep your legs firmly zipped together. Keep your hips and head lifted so that your body is completely straight and looks like a plank of wood. Keep your abdominals strong and breathe naturally. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat once more and hold for 30 seconds. With practice, build up until you can complete three repetitions, holding the position for one minute each.
For bigger women who want to lose weight:
Many overweight women prefer to do Pilates rather than other forms of exercise because the movements are all low-impact, causing less discomfort and stress on the joints and involve only their own body weight, no additional weights are necessary.
The Modified Hundred is great for bigger women because it strengthens the core and gets the circulation going at the same time.
Lie down on your back on a mat or towel. Bend your knees and place your feet on the mat about hip width apart. Reach your arms long by your sides and curl your head and shoulders up off of the mat or towel. Begin pumping your arms by your sides, as if you are slapping your palms down on the surface of water. Keep your abdominals firm and scooped in as you inhale and exhale for five counts each. The arms will continue to pump as you complete a series of 10 breaths, inhaling for five counts and exhaling for five counts each. Relax your head, shoulders and arms down to the mat.
For thin women who are out of shape:
The Single Straight Leg Stretch is great for thin women because not only does it strengthen the core, it also increases flexibility and tones legs.
Lie down on your back on a mat or towel. Lift both legs straight up into the air. Curl your head and shoulders up off of the mat. Reach both hands behind the back of your right leg (thigh, calf, or ankle). Bring your right leg towards your head and your left leg away from you, like your legs are a scissor.With your abdominals pulled in firmly, gently pull the right leg towards you for two little pulses, then scissor the legs and pull the left leg towards you for two little pulses.Â Inhale on the right leg, exhale on the left leg. Continue until you have completed 10 sets (right, left 10x). Bend your knees into your chest and relax your head and shoulders down to the mat.
The Food You Eat
But before we start doing last minute work outs to trim our bellies for the summer, here are some things to consider. "When wanting to get toned or lose weight, what's even more important than exercise is what you are putting into your mouth," says Caban. "You can workout all night and day, but if you are eating junk your results won't be great. I would say that what is most important in looking trim, is getting enough sleep and eating well.You won't lose that belly you are concerned about because the junk food (i.e. processed foods) can't be broken down by your body. So what isn't broken down properly gets stored as fat. So the best remedy for toning your tummy is to eat fresh and clean foods-- foods that aren't packaged and are cooked with little fat. Drink lots of water, in lieu of sugary, nutrient-lacking drinks and get at least eight hours of sleep every night and exercise several times a week."
No time to hit the gym?
- Find an activity that you enjoy that burns calorie like walking, dancing, cycling, joining a fitness class or cleaning the house
- Schedule your workouts weekly
- Join a friend. Want to catch up with a friend or two? Why not take an exercise class together, a walk, or go dancing. Your social outings don't have to revolve around food.
"Being a smart Latina is being a powerful, dynamic and conscientious Latina," says Ana Caban. "It's sharing your gifts and talents with the world in order to inspire and empower others and make the world a better place."
How do you stay in shape?