The Natural High: Finding Your Inner Fitness Fanatic

January 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

By Tracey Fuller

Karie YankieFinding a workout to match your needs and lifestyle is daunting. Each month a new fitness craze promises maximum results via an “easy” routine.  But when the luster wears off and you’re still cursing the scale, it’s time for yet another change.  While simple, the following weight loss routines do exactly what they promise – work-you-out!

Pilates

Basics

Developed in Germany by Joseph Pilates, this system of stretching is designed to strengthen the core.  Breathing, precision and concentration are key components.

Long, deep breaths access the abdominal muscles and stabilize the body.  Additionally, Pilates breathing promotes increased range of motion and helps expel toxins from the body.

Pilates consists of precise movements, so concentration is essential. For example, some movements require you to lay naturally on your back with a “neutral” spine, while others are done with the spine pressed or “imprinted” on the floor. Concentration enhances body awareness and yields maximum results.

Benefits

When practiced regularly, Pilates improves range of motion, flexibility, circulation, posture and abdominal strength.  Pilates burns calories and sheds pounds, especially at advanced levels.

Where to Practice

Hardcore Pilates

3701 Kirby, Ste. 436

Houston, TX 77098

(832) 338-8091

www.onlinehardcorepilates.com

Sculpt

2808 Virginia

Houston, TX 77098

(713) 528-724

www.studiosculpt.com

Third Coast Pilates

1415 Harold

Houston TX 77006

(713) 529-1533

www.thirdcoastpilates.com

Yoga

Basics

Dating back to ancient India, Yoga harmonizes mind and body through a series of postures done in a meditative state. The practice has been lauded for centuries for its ability to naturally heal the body.

Hatha, Vinyasa and Bikram are among the most popular styles. Hatha describes a slow-paced practice that incorporates basic yoga poses. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, is slightly more vigorous. Bikram is a set of 26 poses practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, allowing muscles to loosen and prompting profuse sweating.

Benefits

Yoga improves flexibility, tones muscles and helps detoxify the body.  It’s often recommended for injury rehabilitation and can help ease back pain, arthritis, allergies and diseases.  Many people battling anxiety and depression credit Yoga with helping them overcome personal troubles.  More than an exercise, Yoga is a lifestyle.

Where to Practice

Bikram’s Yoga College of India

1854 Fountainview

Houston, TX 77057

(713) 781-5333

www.bikramyogahouston.com

Yoga One

3030 Travis

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 443-6466

www.yogaonehouston.com

Your Body Center

1415 California

Houston, TX 77006

(713) 874-0800

www.yourbodycenter.com

Running

Basics

The fastest way to improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories is to hit the ground running.  Starting a program is easy.  It doesn’t require equipment or instruction, just determination and a good pair of running shoes.

Researchers and health professionals suggest running three to five days per week to sustain optimal health.  When running, it’s good to keep your head towards the horizon with your shoulders loose and relaxed.  Arms should remain close to your body, moving back and forth, while the torso is tall and upright.

Benefits

Pounding your feet on the ground or a treadmill is a weight-bearing activity, proven to burn more calories than seated exercise. Additionally, running helps your heart pump stronger and more efficiently, lowering your chances of developing coronary heart disease.  Individuals who run regularly have increased levels of HDL cholesterol (the good fat) and decreased unhealthy body fat.

While running on a treadmill is an excellent form of exercise, you burn slightly more calories when making a run for it outside. Fresh air adds resistance to your run and hard ground is more intense than a treadmill.  Researchers say you can match the outdoor experience by setting a treadmill at one percent elevation.

Running Clubs

Houston Striders

(713) 797-8601

www.houstonstriders.org

The Kenyan Way

4304 Floyd

Houston, TX 77007

(713) 864-8872

www.kenyanway.com

Power In Motion

www.powerinmotion.org

It’s a good idea to consult your physicians or a qualified personal trainer before starting any fitness routine.  Setting ambitious, feasible goals is key to achieving ideal results.  Turn the channel on late-night infomercials peddling fitness fads and give these tried and true workouts a go.

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